Local


At long last, I have taken the big step of urban living, and bought a bicycle for myself. For so long I have depended solely on the MBTA for my transportation needs (because if you need to depend on something…) but now that I live more than a ten minute walk from Davis Square, I’ve made the big move.

And, most importantly, found a veritable treasure trove of vintage objects (aka antiques) in the process. Enter: Cambridge Antique Market. This place is ridiculous. They have multiple stories of jewelry, furniture, random items, and fun old things. Not to mention the basement, where in is housed Cambridge Used Bicycles.

Joyus Above-Ground-Transit Enjoying Fellows

Joyus Above-Ground-Transit Enjoying Fellows

If you (like me) spend a fair amount of time walking around Cambridge and Somerville, you have probably seen the gorgeous vintage bikes that these dudes chain up with little signs on them. Well the bicycles in store are just as fab as the advertisements would lead you to believe.

They have a fairly large, almost constantly rotating selection, so chances are if they don’t have anything for you when you go in, they will soon. It’s best to call ahead to check (as the Antique Market is not exactly the most accessible location for self-locomoters), but when I went in, they found a bicycle for me, and had it all fixed up and ready to roll out within a few hours.

Prices for most bicycles range between $150 and $250, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll find the right one for your fine self. But the staff is great– totally on top of their game and helpful, and will do their best to get you out the door on wheels. I also got some beautiful woodblock prints for about half of what the price was listed as, so definitely check out everything they’ve got anytime you stop by.

And now begins a new chapter in my life, a chapter where I will no longer be a sad, delayed and anxious subject of the MBTA’s whims!

…Until it snows. Eff.

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What follows is the story of the power technology can have on one little boy’s life.

The Technology:

Que Glowing Lights and Angelic Chorus

Cue Glowing Lights and Angelic Chorus

Imagine, if you will, a young, courageous boy, riding the T, reading a free daily (The Boston Phoenix ) while riding the T. While reading the music listings for the week to come, he sees– can it be? Yes! — that Mother Mother will be playing at TT the Bear’s Place the following night.

Boy:

"Gasp."

"Gasp."

“But wait!” Thinks the gallant young lad, “I wasn’t able to get into the last two concerts I attempted to attend, as I failed to procure tickets ahead of time!” Our hero had, of course, not brought his computer with him, and so began thinking what he could do to insure that a tragic three-peat did not occer.

And then he remembered he had his iPod Touch in his bag.

In one great leap, the lad catapulted himself to a place of assuredly free wi-fi internets: The Boston Public Library.

Majesty Incarnate.

Majesty Incarnate.

And then– well, let’s just say that the fair lad will be seeing Mother Mother at TT the Bear’s Place tomorrow night.

Boy:

The Man Pictured is a Metaphor for the iPod Touch.

The Man Pictured is a Metaphor for the iPod Touch.

That iPod was my iPod. That boy was me.

Technology– is there anything it can’t do?

(And by “Technology” I of course mean “Apple”)

10

1. Getting my socks blown off by Yjastros, the Albuquerque-based, internationally acclaimed (and preemenent in America) Flamenco Repertory Company.

Dancing so fierce you'll dream of tigers and pumas.

Dancing so fierce you'll dream of tigers and pumas.

Seriousy, if you ever get the chance to see their artisitc director, Joaquin Encinias, dance, take it. He will mesmerize and enthrall you. And the rest of them won’t exactly fall down on the job, either.

2. Drinking coffee

This is a picture of the interior of my chest.

This is a picture of the interior of my chest.

Dear Satellite and Winnings Coffee Company: You are both welcome for your respective profit margins. It was my pleasure.

3. Going to Austin, TX.

I have no idea who these Hipsters are, but they fairly accuratly depict my feelings about Austin.

I have no idea who these Hipsters are, but they fairly accuratly depict my feelings about Austin.

Highlights include The LBJ Presidential Library and Museum and Redbud Lake.

Lowlights (blacklights?) include Lone Star Beer and The Sun.

4. Doing a lot of Vintage Shopping in Austin, TX.

Me, in my new Vintage Texan duds

Me, in my new Vintage Texan duds

If you go, definetly check out New Bohemia (and adjacent New Brohemia) in the fashionable South Congress neighborhood (also known as SoCo if you’re an alcoholic [read: Texan]), as well as Cream Vintage on Guadalupe St. boarding the Campus of the University of Texas (I am told this stretch of Guadalupe St. is known as “The Drag” by fashionable “Longhorn” students and “Locals”. For what it’s worth, I think “The Drag” is a really poor choice of title for any part of a city that is supposed to have fun things to do on it).

Both establishments (as well as their many fellows) are surprisingly affordable with a smashing selection. Very cool stuff.

5. Being surprised by the existance of something cool in Texas outside of Austin (in Amarillo, of all places).

The 806

The 806

The 806 is, from what I can tell, the only coffee shop/vegetarian eatery in the city of Amarillo. They have really quite fantastic coffee as well as incredibly tolerable food, though my nachos did take about 19 hours to cook. The only knock against this place, really, is that you have to pay for water (sort of understandable, given what West Texas looks like). But overall, a definite gem in the rough. They even have art! On the walls! In West Texas!

6. Not being in Texas.

Overall, I think a positive choice given the alternative.

7.  Watching a lot of Harvey Birdman

Harvey Birdman, in a moment of agony.

Harvey Birdman, in a moment of agony.

Best program on Adult Swim ever. Bar none.

(Except for Cowboy Bebop, of course. Also, Metalocalypse is a close second. A very, very close second.)

[Squidbillies is terrible.]

8. Reading a biography of the 32nd American President.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Nations first "Balla-dent"

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Nations first "Balla-dent"

I continue to chug along of Conrad Black’s exceptional and truly epic Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Champion of Freedom. Weighing in at over 1100 pages, this tomb is one of the most incisive, wide-ranging, detailed and thought provoking Historical works I have ever read. Not only does it provide a vivid portrait of the man himself (both laudatory and critical, in turn), but also the unprecedented events he presided over and confronted, and descriptions of just about every human being ever involved in those events. Fantastic, fantastic stuff.

9. Seeing world renowned improv and sketch comedy in Albuquerque

The Pajama Men

The Pajama Men

The Pajama Men (Shenoah Allen and Mark Chavez) have received plaudits from such diverse sources as The Chicago Tribune, The Albuquerque Alibi, The Scotsman (of Edinburgh), and The London Times and awards from just about every fringe festival worth mentioning in the UK, Canada and Australia. And they’re currently premiering a new show, in Albuquerque, at the Q-Staff Theater. Oh, and it’s freaking hilarious.

Check these guys out, they’re gonna be superstars.

10. Watching a lot of Baseball

"Awww, Snap!"

"Awww, Snap!"

Let’s go Red Sox, let’s go.

(I lead a successful life.)

Now, to be quite honest, I have liked Made in Bangladesh (MiB) for quite a while. It is worth noting that two of the members of this band are people I have known since I was about 6, and thus I have seen them play live more times then probably any other group of people on earth — these guys are rocks of the Albuquerque scene. That being said, as far as political ska-core/experimental punk goes, there aren’t a lot of bands I enjoy more.

Sir Sean "The Duke" P. Ward of MiB

Sir Sean "The Duke" P. Ward of MiB

The reason why I’m taking this particular moment to shill these guys is that a week or so ago, they released (finally) there first LP– and it just so happens to be pretty damn fabulous. It’s always a gamble to listen to the recording of a band you’re so familiar with live, and sometimes fairly disappointing, but “Earth is an Airplane” definitely delivers.

MiB doesn’t slip into the easy traps of bands of it’s type, resigning themselves to endless brassy break downs interspersed with power chords and screeching (though, of course, there is enough of that to go around). No, they are willing to do things just a little bit differently, like when they throw a little waltz into “VGB”, or the funky, synthy grooves of “Rocksteady Tango” and “Rise Up”.

So yes, not my usually indie rock/folk/electro-pop stuff, but good just the same. Sometimes it’s good to take a step back into the punk rock phase of your life (don’t be ashamed, don’t even try to be).

Check out their website for more of the ol’ info.

Kyle Johnson is a rock star.

Kyle Johnson is a rock star.

I recently had the opportunity to check out some of the exhibits running at two of the biggest Art Museums here in Boston, most notably “Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice” at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and “Shepard Fairey: Supply and Demand” at the Institute of Contemporary Art.

Now, I like Renaissance art in general, though at times the emphasis on portrature can become a tad annoying(oh my, the nephew of the Archduke of Milan holding a duck… marvelous!), and the repeted depictions of certian biblical scenes can get a bit tiresome. This exhibit, though, just about floored me.

Tintoretto, Kickin' it like a Gangsta

Tintoretto, Kickin' it like a Gangsta

The first thing I loved was the way that it was designed. Similar paintings by Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese are not only placed side by side so that you can compare their interpretations, but also placed in relation to each other, so that you can see how one particular artist’s conception of a theme evolved. Very cool stuff.

Likewise, the selection is just plain masterful. With such a huge variety of art to pick from, it would be easy to just throw up as many paintings by the artists as the museum could get it’s hands on– but instead, this exhibition was restrained and pointed. Every painting served as a specific and unique element to the exhibition as a whole.

Where the Venitian Renaissance Exhibit wowed me with it’s design and thoughtfulness, the Shepard Fairey just kicked my ass. It’s easy to dismiss Fairey once you’ve seen the 800th or so iteration of the “Obey” theme, but this exhibit (the first ever of his work) showed a depth of interest in style in his prolific career that you miss from the scatter shot stickers, t-shirts and murals that now coat most major American cities.

"War by Numbers"

"War by Numbers"

While it’s hard to pick out any specific piece of his art as a master work or anything like that, what’s clear from this exhibition is that Shepard Fairey has managed to create a phenomenon– even if it is one with out a clear purpose or message. The brilliant thing about him is that he has managed to create a booming voice for himself based on the non-sensical “Andre the Giant Has a Posse” campaign, and it is only lately that he has begun to use that voice to any actual effect. Very, very engaging stuff.

Also worth checking out at the MFA are the exhibits currently running about advertisements from the late 19th Century (I’m a sucker for Art Nouveau) and their Photography galleries… pretty much always. The ICA also has a cool exhibit on experimental situational film running that’s worth looking at, and it’s worth the price of admission alone for their permanent gallery and the fabulous space it’s housed in.

And since I couldn’t be satisfied with just one representative Fairey picture…

"Two Sides of Capitalism: Good" (Not pictured: evil.)

"Two Sides of Capitalism: Good" (Not pictured: evil.)

A quick note: I have been doing well. Week 7 was a screening of the Directors Cut of The Exorcist at the Harvard Film Archive. Week 8 is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Both deserve more commentary, but I am unfortunately running off to Dreamation and don’t have the requisite time. I will say that Exorcist is a very good film, but I find it a little dated, and not for me as an audience member; and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind appeals so strongly to my hopeless romantic side that I can’t find anything to criticise about it, which I suppose is a bit of a criticism in itself.

So, here’s the current rankings, as 2/19/09:

New Releases

  1. Milk (Week 1)
  2. Gran Torino (Week 2)

New To Me!

  1. The Exorcist (Directors Cut) (Week 7)
  2. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (Week 8 )
  3. Hellboy (Week 3)
  4. Serenity (Week 5)
  5. Formula 51 (Week 6)

Old Favorites

  1. Hook (Week 4)

In this dispatch: Chiptunes, Goth/Darkwave/Industrial, Local Scenster Rock.

CHIPTUNES

So I’m a fan of weird music. There’s a whole scene of people making music from old Game Boys, Ataries, etc. Chiptunes/8bit/videohack, whatever you wanna call it, I love it. If you don’t know 8bitpeoples, you should. They have a couple new releases that I’m listening to RIGHT NOW.

gWem/Counter Reset Live From Hell

gWem/Counter Reset Live From Hell

80s Metal, funnelled through an Atari, a drum set and a Marshall Amp – oh yes. Recorded live in London, I’m digging the over-the-top lyrical stylings (which are STRAIGHT FROM HELL) with the bleep bleeps. Get it for free here.

M-.-n, Disco Dust

M-.-n, Disco Dust

More “traditional” (if thats an appropriate word), this is the right blend of dance and bleep for my sensabilities. Some chiptunes are a little too far off in videogame land for me to really enjoy for more than about a minute; some, such as this album, involve sexy dance beats and mix in the rawk. So, check this out if that’s up your ally. Download for free here.

If you’re interested in exploring more, I heartily recommend pretty much anything by Mesu Kasumai and Nullsleep.

GOTHDARKWAVEINDUSTRIAL

Ego Likeness (pic by Kyle Cassidy)

Ego Likeness (pic by Kyle Cassidy)

I became aware of Ego Likeness through Kyle Cassidy’s LJ, and they are an awesome goth/industrial/darkwave/trip-hop kind of outfit with fantastic vocal structure. And I was really excited a couple of weeks ago, because on their website they had a directory of free songs to download, so I snagged about 20 songs from their various albums and have been listening to them non-stop. No worries, I plan to invest in some disc realsoonnow, but it appears that the domain has tragicially expired! Well, they are still easy to check out on MySpace, and I’ll keep checking to see if the website comes back up soon. If not, maybe I’ll shoot them an email and see if they mind me hosting those free songs, cuz they really are worth hearing. Who knows.

LOCAL SCENESTER ROCK

Cure For Static Live!

Cure For Static Live!

My buddy Brian is in this band called Cure For Static. I have lots of friends in bands, but I usually don’t pimp them unless (a) I think they’re good and (b) they are being smart about promoting themselves – and these guys are both, so thats cool! You can check them out on MySpace, of course, but they are also offering the digital version of their 5-song EP Higher Ground on CDBaby for $1.00. I invested that measly buck, and it’s totally worth it. It’s a tight recording, with a kind of mid-90s alternative vibe infused with more recent indie/pop hooks and sensabilities. Also, it’s the kind of music to which you can dance with girls while listening. So, check out the 1$ EP on CDBaby, if you wanna support a solid local act.

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