Tuesday, July 31, 2007

five things I've learned in the past week

(quite possibly in order of importance)

1. even if you order overnight shipping and then take a cab home with the surliest, most misdirected Chinese man you've ever met (how about being waved off while trying to give directions over the Queensboro Bridge and two minutes later finding yourself entering Central Park from Sixth Avenue?) to make sure that everything gets home in one piece so you can play all weekend long, you still cannot make Guitar Hero II work on a PlayStation 3 machine unless you have a Pelican adapter (and good luck finding a place that'll sell you one of those (even in "the city that never sleeps") after 9:45 on a Friday night).

2. that whole "anaphylatic" spiel the doctor gives you right before she bruises your arm trying to inject the barium so they can do the CTscan might actually have some relevance. my skin hasn't been this bad since junior high.

3. Beyonce Knowles' daddy is from Gadsden, Alabama and spells his first name with only one t.

4. just because there was no rain even though it was forecast for two straight days, if, on the third day, the forecast still calls for rain and you're going to be outside photographing for a while so you're carrying your backpack anyway, you might as well take an umbrella.

5. a lot of acquaintances are quite surprised that I have yet to see The Simpsons Movie in its first three (make it four now) days of release.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

us airways gripes my ass

partly because of the trip (and partly not) it's been a week since I've scribbled here and in that time there have been a number of both Southern and non-Southern firsts (let's say that the most pleasurable was my first active Guitar Hero 2 experience, courtesy of one of my lovely nieces who owns a PlayStation 2), enough doctor's appointments to last me several months (though they won't - several more this week (I'm fine . . . probably . . . well, maybe)), some good visitations and some good food (including a very satisfying stop at Highlands Bar and Grill down South and one at Porter House New York) and a bunch of pictures taken.

it rained upon our return (all day) which helped remind me that my distaste for businessmen (and women) on narrow sidewalks carrying golf umbrellas is a near evenly matched opponent for my distaste for US Airways. they managed (no exaggeration here) to screw up every single part of our trip possible (to such a degree that the airline really deserves its own entry): we were overcharged when we booked (we had a companion ticket that wasn't credited), it took four employees (including one supervisor) over the course of two twenty-five minute phone calls before we finally found someone who could issue a refund.
our flight down was cancelled (the only one on the board with that status - lucky us), we weren't put on the standby list until we arrived in Charlotte where we were told that there was but one available seat on the earlier flight (the only shot at avoiding a six-hour layover) and ten people already on the list so we received tickets for the 4:10.
well, someone can't count because the two of us, and every other standby passenger made the 2:30 flight (only three and a half hours late arriving in Birmingham), but since we didn't use the issued tickets for the 4:10 flight the itinerary for our return trip was cancelled, which we didn't learn until we arrived at the airport on Sunday, which means our window and aisle seats had vanished and we were supposed to be grateful that we received middle seats in the back row for both legs, the second of which was delayed an hour before taking off which means we hit LaGuardia after midnight when there were very, very few cabs available (read: really long wait).
the only positive item from these multiple snafus was the extra reading time.

last book read: Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran (highly recommended)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Monday, July 16, 2007

rock rock rock rock rock 'n' roll photomagraphs

so it's well after ten p.m. on the east coast and thus far my dinner consists of a Drumstick and some Fritos.
such is the life of a Hungarian lit (in translation) reading rock rock rock rock rock 'n' roll photomatographer.

(you say, Buda. I say, Pest.
Buda! Pest! Buda! Pest!)

but pics are up.

the last concert I ever photographed (Cafe Tacuba) is here.
and the last concert I ever photographed before that (Michelle Shocked - see above)is here.

(and the last book I ever read is Peter Esterhazy's She Loves Me, which, while better than The Book of Hrabal, still wasn't good enough to explain why I keep reading Esterhazy)

Sunday, July 15, 2007


this past Friday was not only significant because it was day number 13 of the calendar month. no, no, no, mon frere. just about thirty years, two days and three minutes ago (July 13, 1977 if you're counting at home; but it was a Wednesday back then), my adopted city of New York experienced the most significant power outage in its history (my personal in-the-dark NYC experience is limited to the more recent grid failure, the one where we tried to "Blame Canada").
Son of Sam was still on the loose and Spider-Man was nowhere to be found. the Yankees were on their way to a world championship (four games to two over the Dodgers) while the Mets would finish dead last in the NL East, 37 games behind the Phillies (not-so-Smokin' Joe Frazier started the year as manager while Joe Torre was at the helm for the unexciting conclusion).

my spouse and I marked the occasion by venturing to the Rubin Museum of Art (very friendly and accomodating staff, by the way), a rather interesting establishment on West 17th Street specializing in the art of the Himalayas. Friday marked the beginning of their summer concert series, "Naked Soul," and featured Michelle Shocked performing not only acoustically, but unamplified as well.
I took pics from the (nearly) soundproof tech booth above (a little taste above; others, more finely rendered, will be posted at last concert I ever saw soon enough) while my spouse ventured to the extremely intimate (listed capacity is 137) auditorium below, meaning she could fill me in on at least some of the large amount of audio I missed.
on my own I was able to make out that Ms. Shocked's fiance, David Willardson, was supposed to paint her portrait during her set but, alas, his paints failed to arrive (my spouse told me later that UPS was the designated culprit).

Saturday we headed to Central Park, Summerstage where I (and about 150 other photographers) fought the photo pit crowd for shots of Cafe Tacuba (some of which will appear tomorrow morning within the Village Voice's Sound of the City blog). and later we hit the Burger Joint inside Le Parker Meridien (earlier note and picture found here, but you've got to scroll for it) and even managed a run by Whole Foods.

today was more sedate. the N and W trains continued to run in the wrong direction (for the second day in a row), and no return trip would be complete without the inevitable delay to let another train pass around 36th Avenue. yet we were still able to arrive in time for our regularly scheduled Sunday morning project before making a run to Union Square where I finally located a copy of Wall of Voodoo's Call of the West (hopefully more on that later) at the Virgin Megastore and a copy of A History of Hungary (which I didn't even realize I was looking for), published in 1990 (God, I hope nothing's happened since then) by Indiana University Press, at the Strand.
cutting the day's festivities short allowed us to not only do laundry, but to catch up on some more not very good movies on our recently available HBO. the recent list includes Monster-in-Law (so very, very trite), The Devil Wears Prada (at least Stanley Tucci was good), The Break-Up (not really, no) and The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (at least it was ambitious). which soon enough should damn well teach us that just because a movie's free doesn't mean it's worth watching.

Friday, July 13, 2007

oh yeah, happy friday the 13th

yea verily, though I walk through the eve of friday the 13th, I have no fear. because thursday the 12th was such an indisputedly reverse Midas (everything you touch turns to shit) day that things can only turn up from here.

for starters, I accidentally (of course) threw away my thirty-day Metro Card (like the incinerator threw away; not the garbage can threw away). and though they can be replaced or refunded if you purchase with a debit or credit card from a Metro Card vending machine, I buy mine through work. so shit out of luck. and it took a ten minute phone (eight minutes of navigating through various and sundry meaningless (to me) Metro Card promotions before confirming that fact.

and speaking of debit or credit cards, my ATM debit card expired. I found out today. on my way to lunch. no replacement card reached my mailbox. go figure.

and then there was a pair of phone calls to US Air totalling forty-five minutes (and four US Air employees, one of whom, a supervisor, was the least helpful of all) in order to get them to correct a mistake they had made a month ago with my upcoming reservation (we'll see Morrissey in Birmingham, AL next Thursday night).

and blah blah this and blah blah that, until the reverse Midas was irrefutably confirmed when either several birds, or a single bird with some severe gastro-intestinal distress, shat upon me while I waited to cross the street near the southeast corner of Central Park.
you can talk about good luck all you want, it's still no fun walking around Manhattan with half your shirt (oh, why exaggerate? call it one-third of a shirt) speckled with bird poop.

song of the day: Chris Thile's cover of the White Stripes' "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground," which I must've listened to a dozen times on Thursday (ed. note: it's a great song and I'm not quite superstitious enough (yet) to think that repeated listens brought about any of today's unfortunate occurrences).

pearls of wisdom from Crystal Zevon's I'll Sleep When I'm Dead

from William "Stumpy" Zevon (Warren's dad): "Life was shit. We were poor, and it was either too hot or too cold. There was never enough room to move around in, and never enough food to eat. My best memory is one birthday. I was around ten, and my father came home with a cucumber. We never tasted a cucumber, and he took out his knife and divided it up. We each got a slice. It was cool and it tasted like candy to us. What did we know? We never had candy. That was the best birthday I remember. What I knew was I had to get out of that shithole. And, I did."

from guitarist Waddy Wachtel: "The first time Warren offended me was after a gig in Greensboro, North Carolina. He was so rude and cold and scumbag-like. He was trying to sing and he was falling off the bed, and he threw this guitar at me. 'Here, take this,' treating me like some piece of shit. It turned out he was taking Quaaludes. I didn't even know what that was at the time. He had a bottle of 'Ludes, plus a snootful of booze, and he was despicable.
Then the next day, he'd just be the other asshole. Still an uptight guy, but able to laugh at a joke or at himself. But that night he was without humor and without caring, and it was really offensive to me. I'd never been treated like that by anyone, especially not someone I thought was a friend. I found out it was drugs, but I always say it's a poor workman who blames his tools."

from Crystal Zevon: "At my request, Warren told Ariel he wouldn't be coming home anymore, then he went inside and started stuffing stuff into paper bads. The party was still going on, but he'd done his duty and he was clearing out as quickly as possible.
Warren said, 'Kim and I would like to pick Ariel up tomorrow and have our own birthday celebration with her.' I agreed, even though I knew he was drinking. They were supposed to pick her up for lunch the next day, and they were about three hours late.
I still have this hauntingly beautiful black-and-white photo of Ariel, all dressed up for her daddy, sitting on this big boulder in front of our house, waiting. She stayed there for a full two hours, refusing to come inside."

from (former Rolling Stone writer and girlfriend) Merle Ginsberg: "One of Warren's favorite thing when we would come home was to look at his answering machine, and if there was no blinking light, he'd say, 'My favorite person called.'"

from (Artemis Records owner) Danny Goldberg: "I wanted to meet Warren to make sure he knew what he was getting into in terms of what the business had become. The business keeps changing every two years as far as what artists need to do in order to have a chance.
I brought a guy who works with me named Michael Krumper to lunch. Warren was incredibly polite and focused and wanting me to like him. He was wearing a suit and looked perfectly coiffed, and clearly wanted to send a message that he was not going to be difficult to work with and that he knew where the business had gone as far as his place in it. He was almost painfully polite. I didn't need him to be that polite. I just wanted to be sure he wasn't out of his mind."

more Danny Goldberg: "The people at the company grew to like Warren. He went through this period where he would insist on Mountain Dew in his hotel room, and kind of torture people over it. One day Daniel Glass, who works for us, was sitting next to him on a plane and he said, 'Warren, everybody loves your music, but what is with this yelling at people if there's no Mountain Dew?' He says, 'Well, I figure that people respect me more if I act like an asshole.' Daniel says, 'No, they really don't. Please stop it.' He says, 'Really? They don't?' He says, 'No. In fact, it's not a good idea.' And he never did that anymore. It was like he turned off a switch."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

they say reading's on the decline

(no, I don't really know who "they" is either) and it's certainly true of the vacation. of course, when you do all your reading on the beach and the weather costs you a couple of days the number of optically devoured pages will likely decrease. then you have to throw in (down? out?) a couple of false starts on books whose covers were more appealing than their introductory chapters.

I veered away from Hungarian fiction long enough to make it through Crystal Zevon's compiled oral history of her late ex-husband I'll Sleep When I'm Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon (thanks Will Blythe for loaning it out - good stuff - give it four stars), then made it back for Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon (also recommended with a four astral bodies out of five) before finishing the week with Peter Esterhazy's The Book of Hrabal (not so much - maybe dos de cinco). which did have its (odd) moments, including a too little, too late saxophone lesson given by Charlie Parker and received by "the Lord" (that last sentence might be considered foreshadowing, though I'm thinking "the Lord" won't be reappearing any time soon).

a Hrabal excerpt:

“Sometimes, when the writer did not speak all day and just sat in the room, Anna did not dare look in, for he would make the most awful faces, snarling and that sort of thing. He even chewed his nails, which Anna detested, it was a bit much, from a man of forty. (But at least this was action; Hungarians hold action in high regard, meaning exclusively physical labour, so that a thinker thinking, or a writer writing does not necessarily merit attention, unless said thinker or writer happens to plant trees as community work, let’s say – now that would be action. In which case the benefit to literature would be the shade the tree provided for the reader . . . ) At times he gnawed the end of his pen, like some rodent. The writer clung to his pens with superstitious tenacity. He used to have a Parker, which he handled so much that he just about dented it; he lost it on a commuter train. (For Anna, ‘Parker’ had another meaning: she thought of the great Charlie, the ‘Bird’ . . . I might add that Charlie Parker lost several saxophones in the subway.)”

Monday, July 9, 2007

we're back

did you miss us?

why the hell not?

(pics from our 4th of July, Asbury Park (featuring The Pietasters) over at last concert I ever saw . . . more to come)