Marc Spitz and His New Bowie Biography

Bowie_by_SpitzOh, so that’s what he’s been up to!  Quite excellent music journalist (and sometime playwright) Marc Spitz has written a new biography on David Bowie. In his introduction, Spitz answers the question you probably just asked in your head, “why do we need another Bowie biography?”    Indeed.  Well, after wrestling with himself, the decision was cemented in the author’s mind by a chance encounter on the street, one of those patented “New York moments.”  An excerpt: Continue reading

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Screenings: ‘Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyers Cut)’

The problem with a red carpet event in New York, in October, is that the vagaries of the weather might actually make the temps feel closer to that of a December evening, and it is likely to be windy, and there will probably be rain.  And so now some sort of water-repellent tents have to be erected around the check-in table, and guests are queued up umbrella to umbrella, and some poor publicist’s expensive shoes are likely to become soaked.

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That fairly represents the scene outside the  Ziegfeld Theatre for the screening of the new documentary “Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer’s Cut),”  being presented by IFC and coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the troupe.  The Pythons were also on hand to receive a special BAFTA award for Outstanding Achievement in Film and Television.

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Celebrity arrivals were photographed in the plush lobby, while attendees were ushered upstairs and proffered free concession stand staples:  popcorn and soda.  Which, yum.  Unless, say, you hadn’t had dinner, and on your trip to the bathroom you snagged a second bag of overly-salted popcorn.  Then it could be a tad sick-making!

Besides the honorees, comedian Steve Coogan, who is interviewed in the documentary, was present.  As was Jeremy Piven and two cast members from Mad Men.

An abridged, two hour version of the six-part series was shown to the crowd.  While the examination of comedy rarely yields laughs,  the documentary succeeds when it focuses on the absurd, groundbreaking material  rather than the gushy remembrances of fanatic talking heads.  The film doesn’t shy away from addressing the internecine squabbling, and took a touching turn in the  section devoted to the funeral of Graham Chapman.

The six Pythons (with Chapman represented by a cardboard cut-out) took the stage to a standing ovation for the Q&A portion.  Which, thankfully, questions were submitted beforehand, to minimize the awkward moments when a trembly kook of an audience member might, presented with a microphone and a captive crowd,  take the opportunity to meander on about labor strikes and grain prices in something not quite phrased as a question and only tangentially related to the proceeds at hand.  (There is always one guy!)  Not that there were not some awkward moments.  But mostly is was dry, droll banter and quippy interplay. (Perhaps you caught the live stream of that portion from the warmth and solitude of your living room?)

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The question session wrapped with Eric Idle singing  “The Galaxy Song,” after which each member was  presented with their BAFTA award.  Cleese deadpanned  to the audience upon receipt, “If you want to get a better view, this will be on eBay tomorrow.”

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A Supposedly Fun Thing I’m Doing For the First Time

My friend Kimber is getting married.  On board a cruise ship. Then a slew of us are going to set sail with her for a five day tour. (A five day tour.)  With our port-of-call being in Mexico.  So!  Drinking and bingo and intestinal distress, here I come!  Updates will resume upon my return. (I know though, right?  Another break? I’m like the Nikki Finke of unpaid bloggers.)

In the interim, do glance over the “Best of Ephemerist” page, where all the posts on this blog have been scrutinized using a complicated metric to determine their essential best-ness,  the top ones then being culled and compiled so that you might reacquaint yourselves.  Experience, as they say, the magic all over again. (Your mileage may vary.)

If you need additional reading material after that do visit the following F.O.E. (Friends of Ephemerist) :  Sassafras Junction; Matthew Gallaway; Thanks for Sharing; The Awl; White Girl With a Fat Ass; or just click on any of the other links listed in the sidebar.  Bon Voyage!

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Hanging Myself On The Telephone

phonecallFor a few years, off and on when I needed to make money, I would sit in the basement of a brownstone in Brooklyn and answer phones, pretending to be other people.

It wasn’t as exciting, or demeaning, as, say, phone sex, but it paid decently and wasn’t taxing. I was a role player for a company that facilitated mock scenarios for firms hiring prospective financial advisors.  I enacted the various cold calls and client calls, and then I would complete a behavioral evaluation of the candidates’ demeanor and  interpersonal skills.   In between calls I’d read a book, or refresh various blogs and gossip with my friend Laura, who usually worked beside me.  Though it involved talking to complete strangers, it was not in any way close to telemarketing. I had done that once, and it was the most miserable few weeks of my working life. I still haven’t managed to recapture the sliver of my soul I lost from that experience. Continue reading

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This Thing So Does NOT Look Like That Thing: Club 57

57 57

[Left:  a photo of some of the arty gadabouts of the original Club 57, an East Village hangout, performance space and party spot hosted by performance art den mother Ann Magnuson, which featured acts like John Sex, Klaus Nomi and Joey Arias, and art shows by Kenny Scharf and Keith Haring.  Right:  a new three floor Hell’s Kitchen dance party that features “Hot gogo boys everywhere and tons of surprises.”]

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‘Oh You’re Gonna Get a Big Love Touch’

I’ll just be upfront about this:  as as kid I really, really liked the movie Legal Eagles. I don’t know why!  It was not in the same way I liked Outrageous Fortune, which seemed sort of naughty and taboo, what with the swearing and the chair sex.  (Though in the film there is a quite good blowjob joke I never picked up on as a youngster.)  As Legal Eagles is now on Hulu I watched it again and nope, still don’t know why I liked it.  I did not want to be a lawyer when I grew up, and I had not an interest at that age in art world crimes.  But I remember vividly that I did, and kinda still do.  (Though Daryl Hannah’s performance art piece is so awful.  “Put out the fire!” Uh, yes please do and let’s never speak of this moment again, okay?)

I was struck though by the realization that I might, might have also been too fond of the Rod Stewart song from the film, “Love Touch.”  In my defense, in my preteen years I had zero, I mean zero, taste in music.  It was not something I sought out, it was just something that happened, when riding in the car or on the bus to school, just songs playing.  Too, I like how more often back then films had just one signature song, rather than now, where it’s just a grab bag of indie bands that anyone could curate by hitting shuffle on their iPod. (I’m looking at you, Amanda Scheer Demme.)

That was a long way around to explaining why if you click the video above you’ll be subjected to a terrible quality video of the Rod Stewart song.  (We won’t even bother to parse the lyrics, we’ve all got better things to do, like flossing or changing a lightbulb, which would be more edifying than a deconstruction of the sentiments in the song.)  So, then!  You’re welcome/I’m sorry.

Posted in Movies, Music | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

The Hair Apparent

Men_s_Euro_Wig_2I’m trolling the city streets late in the afternoon, the summer air still heaving with humidity, the sun washing the streets in a golden splay. I’m hot, sweat beading on my forehead and dampening my armpits, but my stride is purposeful.  I’m on a mission.  Just a quick one, I promise myself.  No frills, nothing fancy, not an expensive place, but not a dive either.  I had tried to stave off the urge for awhile, but my jones has gotten the best of me.  I end up in Chelsea, on 9th Avenue. Didn’t I read about a new place around here? I pass a storefront and circle back, the tan awning’s simple, bold lettering solid and inviting.  I peek in, and then decide to pass it by.  No, it won’t do.  Not here. I trudge on, scanning the rows of shops with increasing desperation.  Finally, with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, I head to 8th Avenue, to a place I’d been once before and vowed never to visit again.  After making the necessary arrangements and waiting an interminable fifteen minutes, I end up in Derek’s capable and tender hands,  as willing and pliable as putty.

I’m here to pay, in a moment of weakness, $40 for a shampoo and a haircut.  In Manhattan, where it’s not unheard of for a socialite or starlet to shell out up to six hundred bucks for a high class hairdo, the piddling amount I feel guilty for spending is chump change, bargain basement.  But I’m not a celebutante or model.  Rather, I’m a twenty-eight year old with a receding hairline and a bald spot at the crown of my head.  My once thick, full head of hair has been degenerating steadily over the last few years into thin, wispy strands, the kind that kick up in the breeze like puffs of cotton candy. This hair doesn’t deserve a forty-dollar cut.  It’s an unnecessary expense, and I feel foolish, a vain spendthrift.   I should’ve just gone to a barbershop as I intended.  I should have just paid twelve bucks, gotten a close trim, and been on my way.  But I needed a fix. Continue reading

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A Season In Coat Check

tip-jar-empty“Say, remember that episode of ‘Seinfeld’?  With George and the tip jar?”*

I automatically winced every time I heard that reference. It was usually uttered, a bit too exuberantly, sometimes punctuated by a guffaw,  by a middle-aged gentleman — and it is always a man –as he glides a crumpled bill into the cigar box that serves as my tip jar, affixed haphazardly with Velcro to the ledge of the dutch door leading to the cramped confines of the coat room. Everyone in his party would chuckle fondly at the memory of the teevee show, as I stood there, a forced, tight-lipped smile on my face, and waited for them to exit before I fished out the money and added it to my bankroll. I was only at the midway point of working a season in the coat check of a midtown steakhouse and it already like purgatory. Continue reading

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People Who Died: Jim Carroll

Jim CarrollSad.  Punk poet Jim Carroll, author of “The Basketball Diaries,”  died of a heart attack in his Manhattan apartment on Friday.  He was 60.

I happened to see him read, or rather struggle and shuffle and digress in the attempt to read, at the Brooklyn Book Festival two years ago.  He looked aged beyond his years, but was still scrappy and engaging.

Jim Carroll, I salute you brother. Read the New York Times obit here.

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‘Tis Pity She’s NOT a Whore?

Breakfast 80x62So, in a piece published in the Telegraph, the writer is all chuffed that a stage adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany’s running in the West End — which is not the musical!  Which long ago was the floppiest of flops! — is not going to present Holly Golightly as ambiguously whorey enough.  So Macy Halford is all, “what makes you so sure she was a pro in the first place?” and digs up an old Playboy interview with Truman Capote, who says this:  “Holly Golightly was not precisely a callgirl. She had no job, but accompanied expense-account men to the best restaurants and night clubs, with the understanding that her escort was obligated to give her some sort of gift, perhaps jewelry or a check … if she felt like it, she might take her escort home for the night. So these girls are the authentic American geishas…”

Or basically like a lot of those ladies under a certain age that moved to New York after imprinting “Sex and the City” onto their frontal lobes?  Because seriously, there is an American geisha glut all up in the Meatpacking District.

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Tin (Ear) Machine: The Attempt to Craft the ‘Ideal’ Bowie Song

In today’s intersection of David Bowie and science, Dr. Nick Troop, an expert in psychology from the University of Hertfordshire, analyzed the lyrics and chart positions of every Bowie song and album to craft what might be the ultimate, the “ideal” Bowie song:  “Team, Meet Girls; Girls, Meet Team.”  (Warning, the video begins all lecturey, so do not attempt to rock out until around the 4:30 mark.) But does it actually out-Bowie Bowie?  Let’s watch and learn.

Instant Verdict: It might sit alright on Bowie’s eponymous first album or on Hours.., where he attempted to unseat Sting as the adult contemporary king, but it’s no instant classic. No matter how alien Bowie fancied himself, he still had soul (however plastic).  And even his most coke-fueled lyrics weren’t this hippy-dippy bananas.

Maybe Placebo needs a new single, though, professor?  [Filter]

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Space Porn: New Sexy Images From the Hubble Telescope

omega centauri

Oooh, looky!  NASA has released a new series of images from the refurbished Hubble telescope.  They are super gorgeous, like the above picture of Omega Centauri.  I’m just going to sit here and stare at this space porn for a bit, I think.

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