Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Live from Bowery Poetry Club 7/10/09

Here are three videos from my band Turkuaz's latest show at Bowery Poetry Club on July 10th. You can see an excellent review of the show here. It was a great night of music that started off with afro-beat band Zongo Junction, followed by the beautiful, ever-talented Nicky Egan and her band The Majority, with Turkuaz ending the night. As always seems to happen when we play BPC, once we finished playing I proceeded to spend all the money I'd brought with me at the bar, and that's even with significant discounts from Diane, my favorite bartender in the world! She is the exact opposite in every way from her male counterpart, this douchebag with glasses and a disposition similar to the characters in Grumpy Old Men, except without the endearing, lovable softness underneath. No, this curmudgeonly pudge-ball is all douche.

I hope you enjoy!

In this next one, I must thank my friend Jos for showing love for the saxophones!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Ode to My Fellow Booze-Slingers

We are the night crawlers,
restless adventurers,
craving intense doses of interaction with strangers,
each night a new slew of faces,
a story here and a shot of Beam,
three Absolut Cokes and a Redbreast neat to table twenty three.
We are the insane jugglers on a crowded stage
bathed in intoxication and bar light and 
loving every miserable second of it all,
the madness and the beautiful women,
dropped drinks and the joy in your eyes.

We sleep when you work. 
We work when you play. 
We play when you sleep. 

Good morning, good night, 
it's all relative anyway.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My Couch Pulls Out But I Don't

Last night marked another victory for the most fierce team in the Air Ball division of New York Urban Professionals Basketball League. My Couch Pulls Out But I Don't won our third game, making us 3-1 for the season. Yes, our team is called My Couch Pulls Out But I Don't, named by team captain Benjamin Cathers pictured above in the red trunks next to me. A source of both pride and shame, depending on the gender and age of whoever I'm telling it to, the name still makes me laugh every time I say it. 

What I found most fun about last night's game is that for once I was actually the Big Man compared to the other team. Normally I'm taller than everyone on the opposing team, but am usually out-muscled or simply out-massed by at least one or two shorter but stockier foes. Specifically, I have no ass, which makes it hard to box out someone with a larger derriere when rebounding. But last night there were no big butts or exceptionally broad shoulders, giving me free reign to grab rebounds in the paint. It's fun being tall sometimes.

I also got to feel like a tough guy. Dear friend and teammate Yoni had the ball inches from the sideline and was blatantly pushed out of bounds by a pudgy semi-thug frustrated by his lack of actual basketball skills. Yoni then complained to the ref, who had yet to blow a whistle, when suddenly the aforementioned pudge ball forcefully shoves Yoni and gets into rumble mode. Wanting to aid my friend and feel tough, I run to the scene and get in the idiot's face, exchanging some un-pleasantries and engaging in male posturing. My teammates held me back, the kid was kicked out, and we won by a very comfortable lead. I felt pretty badass. 

There is one development that both amuses and worries me... I think I'm becoming that old Jewish guy who grabs shirts and throws hidden elbows and knees into younger, more in-shape opponents! And it's fun! I'm still a good sport and not in the worst shape on the court, but I've found myself getting dirtier by the game, fouling hard early on to let the other team know I mean business. I hope to get in better shape so I don't need to resort to semi-foul play, but I think I'll always add a dash of dirty to keep things interesting. I remember hating those old, bony farts whose bodies were composed solely of sharp edges and calloused bones, who would grab your shirt in a fast break, trip you in the corner, and then be the first to call a foul on you at the slightest infraction. There was always at least one Old Man River on any given night at the JCC courts, and they always seemed to have so much fun. Now I know why.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Check out Turkuaz playing 'Coast to Coast' at Bowery Poetry Club last Friday night. Thanks to Noah Schwartz for filming and editing it. It's a bit dark, but still pretty cool.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Fresh Kicks

Soak it in.. the kindergarten red and blue, the funky lines, the totally sweet Hexalite technology, and in size 15! After a year of wearing out my same old Pumas, pictured below,

I was in dire need of some fresh footwear to feature and foster my funk. Salvation came in the form of a hookup inside Reebok (thanks again, Spencer) who let me check out the store in their international headquarters in Canton, MA. I was pumped as I walked into the big store, ogling all the funky colors and styles. Then came the always-dreaded question.. 'what do you have in size 15?' I've been relegated to the back storage room at so many shoe stores that I had long ago given up buying shoes outside of the interweb. So when the salesman raised his eyebrows and motioned for me to follow him to the dreaded dungeon, I cried a little on the inside, expecting to be presented with the usual choices of some ugly high-top basketball sneakers or the all-black leather orthopedic retard shoes. To my great surprise, I actually had some great sneakers to choose from! While the red, white and blue ones pictured above were the only ones that fit me properly, it was nonetheless refreshing to have real options to choose from like a normal, dignified shoe-shopper. Best part is, they match red and blue Turkuaz jumpsuits! Later that night, as I donned my blue jumpsuit and stepped onto the stage at Matchless (after announcing to one and all that there was about to be a free funk show), I felt the funk bubbling up from my fresh-ass feet. Glorious was the night. Especially since Spencer left his bag at my place, a bag filled with some of the funkiest threads I've ever seen. Spencer, I borrowed your wolf t-shirt for my show on Saturday. Don't worry, it's being washed as we speak. The shirt is funky enough without me adding my own. 

Some Designs

This is a Turkuaz t-shirt design that my good friend Spencer Wyatt over at Reebok designed for me. Well, I did the type, but the rest is basically his doing. The gray part on the front side is just to show where the neckline is. The idea of the shirt is to represent funk in its original form, i.e. 'that smells funky', hence the sweat stains oozing from the armpit and the middle of the back. But instead of fearing your own funk, this shirt proudly displays the funk in bright pink on black, my favorite color combination. It might be tricky and more costly to produce this design since the pit stain continues from the front to the back, but hopefully someday soon you'll see me hustling these bad boys at a Turkuaz show alongside the Turkuaz shirts I designed that we already produced:

By the way, 'Dollar Store' is the name of our first album. And yes, the orange creature is in fact a deer lawn ornament named Randi who is the unofficial mascot of Turkuaz, and yes he had an untimely death at the blade of an axe back in Boston. Oh, the lifeless eyes, the spattering of ceramic across the unforgiving asphalt..

Just a Few Things..

I just uploaded a bunch of photos from my iPhone to my computer. They span the many months since I was regularly posting. May they give you a brief, absurdly random description of what my life has been like.

This is the wonderful display at Village Fried Chicken up in Harlem. Their nugets were indeed very special. But after ingesting the fried morsels and guzzling my free can of soda, I was yet unsatisfied. My sweet tooth was aching for something cold and delicious...

Perfect! They have fried chicken AND exotic ice creams? I guess Ram. must be short for something, and that something is 'delicious'. They really packed in the raisans with every bite. I also sampled their finest Pista Shio ice cream, although I personally am preferential to a good Mista Shio or a Sista Shio. 

After a particularly raucous night in the VIP room at my old job after hours, my punishment the following night was to help the bartender take inventory on every single bottle, keg, and box of beer, wine, fine spirits, juices, condiments, what-nots, scaddlywinks, and what-have-yous. It took five hours, and was absolute torture.

Ah yes, the world-renowned Brothers Shmuck and their traveling antique road show. Since 1929 they've been peddling the finest of trinkets, tchotchkes, knicknacks, doodads, and various gimcracks and gewgaws to the open arms of those hungry for frippery and foppery. This quality emporium is located on the corner of East 125th Street and 3rd Avenue, its name a constant source of merriment for East Harlem's robust Jewish population.

 I was on the L train heading into Manhattan one day when a band of merry pranksters boarded the train, clothed in the bizarre trappings of deranged animen (half man, half animal), with snouts and claws and paper mache all about. I took one of their postcards and discovered that these creatures were part of Draw-A-Thon Theater, a weekly event in which nude models get adorned with bizarre costumes and sculptures and pose for people to draw or paint. Throughout the evening, the costumes, models, poses, and scenery change, adding a dramatic, ever-changing aspect to a normal nude modeling session. 

This is my old manager Joe. He is riding a mechanical pony. Behind me, midget porn mixes with 1960's B-movie footage on an old TV set above the bar. I can't recall the name of the bar, but I shall never forget the porn and ponies. 

This is the first photo of my freshly-shorn cranium. From thenceforth I would be a new man.

This is me and Emily. She's a fairy god mother. She's the second of her kind that I've met, the first helping us find our warm place at the tail end of a crazy night in Boston back in November. We are pictured here posing in our newly acquired favorite shirts, she sporting my 'DJs scratch their 12 inch' Flava Flav shirt, and I posing proudly in her Stamp Collectors T (Stamp Collectors is a band.. listen to 'Never Too Late') that says 'this is a t-shirt' on the back. Shame on you! All that was exchanged were shirts, ideas, and wondrous vibes in a wondrous home in Cape Cod with three beautiful dogs and a bushel of friends and the warm glow of the morning sun. And that was on a Wednesday.

Here we have Greg and Dave just after the above-pictured shirt-swapping. Gregory was just the height of silliness and applesauce, all flapdoodle and jive with the rising of Thursday's sun. We all made magic things that night, that morning.

This was a fun Friday night filled with sweaty jumpsuits, blistered tambourine hands and disrobing audience members. 

If you are one of these three audience members, email me. Please.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I'm Back Baby!

I must give great appreciation to my multi-talented cousin Spencer, author of his own new blog. Reading his words inspired me to return to my own blog. I had forgotten how fun it was to share my discoveries and random thoughts with the world (if by world I mean my immediate family). So I am now making a solemn oath to myself and all who may read these words, a solid pledge to post at least a few times each week. Well, here goes nothing.

My world has changed a bit since last we spoke. Or since last I spoke at you. No longer am I employed at an establishment we'll call LS for anonymity sake. LS, we had a great run there. Through thick and thin, we stuck with each other and somehow saw it through. I'll never forget those crazy nights I'll never remember. Like the night we hosted the Lebowski Fest. I knew the second I saw the bartenders making vats of white russians that it would lead to bad things. Sure enough, I woke up at the end of the L train in Canarsie with no jacket or anything close to a recollection of how I got there. Oh, those were the days, when a 12-hour shift on a Saturday night would surely be topped off by a raucous good time in the VIP room, bowling and dancing and drinking ourselves silly into the night, laughing at our foibles and pitfalls during the previous shift. You taught me to be able to not cringe after taking a shot of Jameson. And another one. Better make that three. I am eternally grateful that I can now not feel like a 12-year-old girl when I drink whiskey. Although I don't know that a 12-year-old girl should be doing anything with whiskey.

And then there were the crazy Arabian nights working the private parties for that Saudi prince and his entourage. Oh, how I ran down the street to purchase boxes of Kleenex tissues for His Highness's coke-shoveling crew.. how I would help the Prince blatantly cheat, letting him bowl frames over, and over, and over again until he got a strike or a spare, his confidantes kindly looking the other way.. how I also helped one of his ministers cheat, probably costing his clueless opponent an oil rig or a virgin or two... how the managers (long fired) pocketed tips that were intended to go to me, the lowly shoe boy, server of tissues and bowling advice, perspiring peasant. And how on the second night they returned, one of the lovely Arabian ladies took my number, pleading with me to hurry up as her unsuspecting boyfriend was coming towards us.. how she called me the next day, informing me in her heavy accent that she would be at her hotel until 10pm.. how I was unable to fulfill her needs as I had to play a concert that night, but then called up Mubarak, one of the prince's ministers, and came to LS at 4 in the morning to drink from their liquor and learn traditional Saudi dances from their elders. And the following night, how I saw what Manhattan can do to someone when another Saudi Prince, this one having lived in Manhattan for years, had a private party, his waif-thin model-type female companions treating me like the perspiring peasant I deemed myself earlier, his whole crew just obnoxious and not dancing wondrous Middle Eastern dances and not talking to me much at all.. and how at the end of the night I saw 10 untouched gourmet pizzas they had brought, and how, thinking of my humanitarian cousin Morgan, I knew there was work to be done, so I scoured the city at 7 in the morning in the Sebring convertible (top down, chromes spinning) for a soup kitchen, a homeless shelter, any place to deliver the delicious pizzas, and how, having found them all to be closed, I happened upon a church in the East Village with some downtrodden individuals lounging about who graciously accepted the parcels.. oh, how the bouncers would slam a man's head onto the control desk, his arm held behind him, how the management would make changes in prices or practices effective yesterday, how the pins would fall from the machines like drunken sailors when a group would first arrive to the lane, or the lane would black out, or any other number of mechanical issues I would occasionally fix myself until I had a 16-pound ball hit my ankle, thereby ending my brief but glorious mechanic career.. and how the customers, grown, educated, middle-aged corporate servants, would, upon imbibing our somewhat-reasonably-priced drinks, transform into mischievous children, bowling two balls at once or intentionally hitting the metal sweeper with their balls, prancing about with glee when I would come to angrily inform them not to do so.. how I would work Sunday afternoon shifts, still drunk from the night before and growling at booger-eating bratty children to stop them from setting the lanes on fire, cursing the loins of their happily-apathetic parents watching the havoc.. how I would be made to look like an utter imbecile nightly when I would have to answer for the mistakes and mishaps of the higher-ups.. oh how the patrons would wait for two, three hours just to throw plastic balls into plastic pins for more money than anyone should ever pay to do so, and how, while waiting, they would return every fifteen minutes to inform me that they had waited another fifteen minutes, and how they would all somehow forget the actual wait time I had informed them of, insisting that their buzzer must be broken for it had not yet buzzed! And how the management changed weekly, the power vacuums and politicking making for excellent buzz in the gossip circuit, that information chain dispersing delicious dirt, and did you hear that one of the employees shat his pants?! And who got fired? Who slept with WHO?!

Yes, LS, you were my gateway into the crazy world of the service industry. I applied to be a barback and instead you handed me a pair of bowling shoes, and I was forever changed. You helped me realize that I will never be able to work a 9 to 5 desk job, that I need to be on my feet, entertaining people and aiding in their fun, just as I had done for 6 years while hosting countless parties at my house in Tenafly, bringing together different cliques from different towns, picking up cigarette butts in the backyard, ushering drunk freshmen girls away from the front yard, informing my father that I hadn't the slightest why the bathroom door was broken for the third time (someone got locked in and we had to bust it open), blaming the lingering scent of 'cigarettes' in the garage on our housekeeper (I love you, Margie). But that is another volume of stories for another time. LS, you allowed me to stare at beautiful young women wearing boots, fishnet stockings, dangerously-short skirts, and tank tops, bending over daintily to serve drinks (was that a blue thong?). I worked hard, I played hard, and I did it all with (mostly) great individuals that I now consider friends. I like to think that our relationship was symbiotic, that we both benefitted from each other. Every time I take a shot of Jameson I'll think of you.

My new place of employment is Brooklyn Bowl, the AMAZING new bowling alley, 600-capacity concert venue, and Blue Ribbon restaurant situated conveniently in Williamsburg, a mere 10-minute walk from my apartment! It just opened this past Tuesday and it's been a blast to work in. Their 9 huge screens play concert footage from the best music acts, namely Bob Marley, Talking Heads (Stop Making Sense), Radiohead, The Band (The Last Waltz, complete with the glistening shimmer of cocaine in Neil Young's nose), The Who, Led Zeppelin, and many others. The sound system is the best I've ever heard, which you'd expect from a team that was involved with jam scene institution The Wetlands, Relix Magazine, and The Knitting Factory. And how they feed us! Though the restaurant is not yet open, we've been getting sloppy joes, baby back ribs smoked on-premise, collard greens with bacon, fish and chicken tacos, garlic mashed potatoes, baked ziti with eggplant, hot pitas with goat cheese spread, gumbo, homemade cole slaw, and many other gourmet comfort foods, as oxymoron-ish as that may sound. They feed us well before our shift, and then they feed us well towards the end of our shift too! Gone are the days when I would hover around the buffet table that a 4-lane party had barely touched, waiting for them to leave so I could abscond with a tray of fried mac n' cheese bites and stuff my face with said fried goodness in the supply closet like a bulimic girl shamefully hoarding (I still love you LS!). Now I can eat out in the open, and at a leisurely pace. Back then I wasn't eating, I was feeding. There is a big difference. 

Another interesting change with my new job is I'm at least for now a drink runner. I quickly discovered that carrying a tray is much harder than it appears! My left wrist is much weaker than I realized, which will hopefully change soon after getting nightly workouts carrying 6 full pints of beer! Carrying the tray is one thing.. taking the drinks off is a whole 'nother can of beans. It's a delicate process in which my fingers have to move to compensate for the drastic shift in weight as I remove each drink, hoping to the heavens that I don't spill anything on a customer. To make matters worse, occasionally a well-intentioned customer will try to help me by taking their drink off my tray, throwing off the balance completely. I (knock on wood) have yet to spill a drink on anyone, but know that it will inevitably happen. I just hope the customer won't be wearing a white shirt. 

Also, the new version of that I designed is in the final stages of going live! Our web team sent us the working version of the site, so we are now in the process of troubleshooting and making some final touches. I'll let you know when it's ready. 

I now leave you with a cool video of Moby at Brooklyn Bowl.