Monday, November 17, 2014

Soundtracks

My life is in flux right now and because of that I've been sorting through CDs. Many CDs are labeled "For Adalena" and I often don't know who they are from or what they contain. Even when a platonic friend makes you a mix, there's a bit of romance and sentimentality. One CD comes from a man who gave me many mixed signals but he annotated a mix in great detail (ok, so maybe his signals weren't that mixed--I finally told him to stop contacting me if he was going to continue to complain about his unrequited workplace crush). I also found a mix I made for J and I looked over the track mix to see what I thought was important in 2006 or whenever I made it. I closed out the CD with an Animal Collective track, "Baby Day". I couldn't remember the song, and after investigating I see that it's a b-side from a single for "Who Could Win a Rabbit". Turns out I was right. It's a great song! It's like a Beach Boys song if they were into primitive percussion. It goes without saying that break ups are hard and revisiting these mixes and songs, versions of who we were, is bittersweet.

This is an amazing song I probably wouldn't have heard if not for J. I'm going to retire this song:



Chairman of the Board, "So Glad You're Mine"

Animal Collective, "Baby Day"
The Beach Boys' nostalgia song, "Do It Again"
The Beach Boys, "Wild Honey" Some critics call it California Soul.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Review: Dunkin' Donuts Croissant Donut

In homage to J. Robert Lennon's Reviews, I will review the Dunkin' Donuts Croissant Donut. (P.S. His short story collection, See You In Paradise is out today, so buy it!)

 The Dunkin' Donuts Croissant Donut comes in an individual box. That means you've got a premium product on your hands. (Edit- The Statue of Liberty on the front of the box is my "I Voted" sticker. I'm in NYC so we get to brag about Lady Liberty.)

It's election day. You might have heard someone bragging about voting. Not in person, but on the Internet, where most bragging is done these days. I had to call in sick but I was determined to do my civic duty, so I went to my polling place which is a predominantly Caribbean church a few blocks from my apartment. My neighborhood is changing. I know that my non-white neighbors rightfully believe that all of me is part of the problem, but because I am part Asian, I'll be honest and say I only feel about 50% guilty. That's the thing about being bi-racial Asian-- you get to have only 1/2 of the guilt, but also only 1/2 of the privilege of being white. Not that my neighbors see it that way, nor should they. When I notice new white people in my neighborhood it's always the amused and knowing Asian half of me that's doing the noticing. It's that same part of me that shakes my head and says white people, with a range of inflections depending on my mood and the level of inanity I've just witnessed. So, though my neighborhood is changing, the majority of the voters at my polling place were elderly black men and women, and the atmosphere was full of earnest excitement. A poll worker was happy to give me my sticker and I was proud to take it.

Since I had that smug glow of accomplishment that only liberal voters get when they do what people should do as a matter of course, I decided to diminish it by going to Dunkin' Donuts to try the new croissant donut. A few words about Dunkin' Donuts. This is the kind of place I like in theory rather than practice. I like the folksiness of the dropped 'g' and the apostrophe at the end of the word dunking. I like that there is a special sign in the Dunkin' Donuts by my job that advertises bananas. I especially like the giant replica coffee cup that stands on the roof of my workplace Dunkin' and is a beacon to the drivers on the BQE. Do I like the coffee at Dunkin'? No. It's terrible, but their iced tea with lemon is a good cheap hot weather beverage.

Now for the croissant donut. You know you've just purchased a premium product because it comes in an individual box and it costs $2.71 cents, which is almost $2 more than a regular donut.






What is a croissant donut? If you judge by the photo, you see that like a regular donut it is glazed, but look at that cross-hatch section. It has layers like a croissant. To be more specific about this donut, it is a hexagon, with glaze on the top and sides, but not the bottom. I didn't like how the glaze cracked when I sliced into the donut because I imaged that if I actually ate this thing the way Dunkin' had intended me to eat it, by biting right into it, I would have gotten crumbs of glaze all over my face and down the front of my shirt. This inferior glaze spoke to the freshness or rather the lack of freshness of the donut.

I alternated bites of donut with coffee, tea, and orange juice. Tea was clearly the most complimentary beverage for this donut because the tea cut through some of the sweetness. Coffee also works but orange juice is too sweet.

I have to say that the only croissant-like thing about this donut is the illusion of flaky layers. Sure, there are layers, but they don't have the buttery crunch of a good croissant. So you have something that's no better than your average yeast donut, but decidedly inferior to the average croissant, and at a greater cost.

Would I buy this product again? Am I drunk? No? Then definitely not. Anyway, when I'm drunk I'm more apt to want french fries. To give you a good indication of how good or how bad this product is, I wasn't even tempted to finish it. There is still 1/4 of the croissant donut sitting in its individual box, not living up to its potential, growing stale; a cheap metaphor for our current moment.

Here's White Fence covering Johnny Thunders' "You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory"



And here's a great little essay from Aquarium Drunkard on songs that give you a glimpse of recording studio shenanigans, using Al Green's amazing cover of the Beatles' "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" as an example.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Superstitious

I interviewed writer Victor LaValle for Electric Literature. We talked about his Grand Unified Theory of Fear among other things.

Halloween is one of those things that often seems more fun than it actually is. I went to the 99cent store to buy toilet paper (that is only notable because my mother stockpiled enough so that I haven't had to buy any since July and it is now October) and I glanced at the Halloween costumes and said, "I bet there's a racist costume," and lo and behold there was a geisha costume and a fu manchu-like costume. I wasn't burn-it-all-down angry, I was just shrug-your-shoulders, that's-fucking-typical annoyed. I had this idea that if someone asks me what I'm supposed to be I'll just start singing "Listen, the Snow is Falling" and if they say "Oh, Naomi Yang" I'll say "Fuck you, I'm Yoko. We don't all look alike!" and if they say Yoko I'll say, "Fuck you, I'm Naomi Yang. We don't all look alike!" I look like neither of them.

My favorite Halloween was the time my friends and I went to a haunted house upstate. We waited in this long ass line and they played a black and white movie to help us pass the time. When I got close enough to the film projector I started making a shadow puppet so it looked like my hand was cupping and scratching the balls of the man on screen. The guy running the projector yelled at me and said, "There's kids here!" My friend's boy friend was really embarrassed but listen, it was past 10 o'clock. If parents let their kids stay up that late, a little shadow fondling is the least of their problems.

This seems as good a time as any to share a story of mine, "Superstitious". It's about an uncanny visit to a healer.

This song, "Superstitious," by Elisa Ambrogio is really good. Naomi Yang directed it!






Mr. Noah Lennox AKA Panda Bear released a new single, "Mr. Noah"






 Slicing up eyeballs?
Panda Domo cannot be contained.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

No more books?

I interviewed writer J. Robert Lennon for Gigantic Magazine. You can buy a copy. It's about humor. He also has a book coming out in November, See You in Paradise. It's funny and affecting. Read it!

And another book I loved was Rainey Royal by Dylan Landis. It's about a girl who grows up in a falling apart Greenwich Village brownstone with a free jazz musician dad who's built a cult of acolytes around him. The book takes place in the 1970s, but it captures an atmosphere anyone who grew up in NYC in the 1980s will recognize. That time is long gone and is moving further and further out into Bushwick or Ridgewood, or wherever culture ends up living in this city. I walked around Manhattan this summer and realized I will probably never be able to live there again in my lifetime. I had 26 years there. I guess that's enough.

Two songs:
Ex Hex, "War Paint" check out that solo

Seeing Ex Hex at Glasslands. They're closing. Pretty soon we'll have to go to gigs in Long Island.

I'm really into this Purling Hiss record, Weirdon, but Drag City actually makes you buy their records (no DL codes on vinyl!) So check out this teaser. If you get the record, I'm particularly fond of the last song, "Six Ways to Sunday". I'm seeing Purling Hiss play a warehouse near a cemetery in the netherlands of Bushwick or whatever. I go to these places and all I can think is "where the fuck am I?" I'm bringing a friend because I don't mess around in NYC on Halloween.

The window at the recently shuttered Shakespeare & Company bookstore on Broadway. The graffiti reads, "No more books?"

"im bring booty back"





Of course not everyone is content to let Malkmus be the glory that is Malkmus. You know those guys. They have to stick it to Malkmus. They fret over his popularity, his conventionality, but what really bothers them is that Malkmus is too fucking handsome.

(That NYT article is full of laughs. That guy's mad because he can't discern if a woman's discernment is authentic enough.)

Did you see that? Malkmus led off a scrabble game with onanism. Sly dog.

BTW. I own two copies of Malkmus's live record of his cover of Can's Ege Bamyasi. Make me an offer.



Friday, July 18, 2014

"Who Do You Think You Are?"

 I don't know what's going to go in this space on Vanderbilt but this was spray painted on the outside. This place used to be a bodega.

I wish this was me.
This is actually me somewhere on the Upper East Side. I was born in Manhattan, lived in Manhattan for about 29 years, but I can't imagine ever living there again. It's not the same place I grew up in, and I'm sure most people feel the same way about the place they grew up but I suspect this is always true about Manhattan.


In June I was obsessed with this song, "Riding for the Feeling," by Bill Callahan.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"You Can't Have a Tea Party Without T&A"

Corner trash can at 5th Avenue and 3rd Street, Park Slope.

I think your favorite "bad" Rolling Stones song says a lot about you. For today mine is "Little T&A". Here's an instrumental outtake.