Saturday, August 23, 2008

Leave Britney...Alone

So this showed up on our little BuzzFeed bar today--a video that supposedly lets you hear Britney Spears's live singing voice, isolated, from a concert in Las Vegas.

I'm not buying it. It sounds like someone doing a poor Britney imitation. Sure, she doesn't have the greatest voice in the world, but I also doubt that it's this bad. Like during "Lucky," for instance, the voice we hear is all breathy, as though she were dancing around stage, but she's just standing there with her arms over her head. And at times it almost sounds like the singing voice is trying to not break into laughter.

Is there any proof this is real? And can we all keep in mind for a second that almost no singer on the planet can sound great while dancing at the same time--without a backing track? That's what they're there for--to provide a vocal support system while whoever on stage is doing splits, twirls, and strip teases. If you're gonna isolate the live microphone feed for a performance like this, you may as well just cut the lights, send the dancers home, and refund the ticket money, because you won't have much of a show.

-Josh

And Now For The Most Depressing Thing Ever


It's Photoshopped, but still. My God.

(Bigger image here.)

-Josh

Greetings from San Francisco: It is obligatory that I now get depressing and nostalgic

I wrote this in City Lights, a bookstore that used to be able to drive me to tears. Contrary to the tone of this I am actually having a very lovely time in California and on our road trip in general. It was just one of those times where you're in a deep place so you feel like you have to act deep and then you actually end up feeling shitty and therefore writing something deep. See below.
Me looking emo by Pier 39 in San Francisco

In all fairness, I was upset before we got to City Lights, made sick by lack of sleep and intense bouts of driving and Diet Coke. We drove 3,000 miles to a place where all of my expectations and nostalgia and desires hotly coalesce, forced forward by a magnetic pull emanating from the left coast. When I was 16 I would sit in my bedroom listening to records (yes, records, even then I was pretentious) and reading “Howl,” knees pressed into my bedspread so that they’d turn up crinkled and raw. I felt San Francisco in my bones. You could tell the way it made me feel just by watching me while I talked about it: my eyes took on a certain glow, my hands fluttered about in awkward gestures, attempting to scoop up my insides and explain what they meant with those few jerky motions. I loved the city long before I knew the Beats. I spent summers picking blackberries in my Aunt’s backyard and desperately trying to enjoy the taste of tofu. I’d walk their dog around Marin without shoes on, because that’s what you did in San Francisco: you went barefoot and ate organic fruit and read poetry and stayed up late watching foreign films rented from the Blockbuster down the street. So I did these things and I did them with such joy that it felt absurd, because in San Francisco I was happy and back home I almost never was.

I feel too much. Is that possible? I used to think feeling was the only important thing in this world, but now I’m not so sure. I loved the Beats because they knew how to feel. They knew how to feel and they they knew how to write about it in a way that made others feel too. I was too sad for 16. My life full ahead of me and I spent most time in bed crying or reading. Summers in San Francisco were a needed escape from all that: my parents’ divorce, my Dad’s remarriage, my consistent and unwavering desire to plunge headfirst into whatever would fuck me or fuck me up most immediately. I came here empty and I left whole. I forced my Uncle to take me to City Lights and Vesuvio and restaurants in North Beach. To me, at 16, City Lights was the most important place on earth. Here was my mecca, where I could lift books by their spines and lovingly smell the old binding, where I could stare wantonly at old men in the poetry room, certain that they were Beat leftovers still living the lifestyle. It was in that poetry room that I admitted I wanted to be a writer. 15 years old, a copy of “Naked Lunch” in my hand and I made that declaration to an old friend of the Beats who flirted with me in front of the stacks of Kerouac books. I dreamed of meeting my boyfriend there, of working there, of one day selling my own books there. I thought the Beats were geniuses, their drug consumption almost as impressive as their writing. I saw myself in their hunger for freedom, their lust for the open road and independent lifestyle.

So now to explain what I feel in this bookstore at 20. It seems that lately I am one by one deconstructing childhood excitements and replacing them with cold reality. Where once I saw heroes, now I see humans. It’s a good and bad thing: good, because ever since my well-publicized “disillusionment” with other objects of my admiration, I have been learning to admire people without putting them on pedestals. But it’s also bad, mostly because it feels bad, and I have always been fundamentally unable to allow things to impact me in simple, minor ways. I lack the necessary filter that allows people to walk around without wanting to laugh one minute and sob the next, depending on strangers’ emotions or physical surroundings or weather. To me, everything is the most amazing thing or the worst thing ever. At 16, it was more profound. At 16, everything was life-changing: a visit to a dinky book store in San Francisco, a first date, a poem. These things shook me to the core. Going to City Lights used to make my insides squirm with indescribable delight. I was going to be the one to start my own literary scene, piggybacking off the ideals of the Beats but catapulting us into a new stratosphere. It would be Beat 2.0 with less sexism and more coherent writing.

For now, at least, all those intense feelings for City Lights and the Beats are gone. I still appreciate the bookstore’s landmark value, its delicious collection of texts, its location: but the undeterred joy and excitement that used to stimulate every sinew and follicle has subsided tremendously. I see the neighborhood and can no longer ignore the fact that it’s overrun equally with hobos, yuppies and tourist traps and I can’t believe I ever thought I could singlehandedly reignite this thing, or even that I thought it was a thing worth reigniting.

Slowly coming to grips with reality: this is part of growing up. And in my mind, it’s the worst part.

-Jess

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Oh By the Way

I haven't forgotten about my other site. In fact, I just updated! Here's the story behind some of the pictures:

About the second or third day I was home, a couple of friends and I went to a flea market where we heard an Elvis impersonator was going to perform. Indeed, at four o clock he came on and rocked the house! It was actually a very awesome show. You can tell both our faux Elvis (Felvis?) and his backing band were having a blast. Those old people dancing in a few of the photos motioned to me and I boogied down with them for a while. Seriously, I now have a love for Elvis. Elvis rocks. Elvis is the king. Elvis makes me go to flea markets in the rain.

Also, there are pics from the Radiohead concert. So awesome.

-Josh

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Really, Just Passing the Time

I am so bored at work. So, so bored. It's one of those things where I actually have work I should be doing, but I just don't have the energy. Seriously, 4:30 is just a prenatal 5 o clock, is it not?

Jess's road trip, for those of you not following along on her blog(s), is going well. She sends me picture messages of wolf's-head statues and rag dolls sold at gas stations. The midwest just seems like a weird place in general, though I myself would like to go someday.

Anyway, I wrote a poem:

There was a horse
Of course, of course.
The horse was a sloth,
Ate much chiken broth,
And blogged about media with force.

He was quite the talker,
Linked to by Gawker,
And laid bare all of his sins.
He was blasted by bloggers,
Chastised by loggers,
And learned on the Internet, nobody wins.

He went to some parties
With bunches of smarties,
Drank free booze to help shoot the shit.
But for all of his contacts,
No one gave him straight facts--
Even Huffington couldn't help him one bit.

So he blogged and he bitched
And then quickly hitched
Onto the fame of some others.
He stole what they wrote,
With nary a note,
Even though he was close to these guys--just like brothers.

Eventually it came--
That glorious fame!
The horse made front page of Jalopnik.
Twenty thousand hits,
A few media kits,
And soon the media world was sucking his dick.

They all wanted a piece
Of this horse (named Patrice)
So they emailed him, typing with smirks.
"How do you do it?"
"Are you gonna go through it?"
Referencing the book deal that was in the works.

Finally some young whazoo
Who went to N.Y.U.
Called the horse out on all of his crimes.
A scandal! A shock!
The horse was a cock!
The story even ran in the Times.

The horse apologized,
But nobody surmised,
That he was now being sincere.
"You lied before,
You equestrian whore!
Why should we listen to you here?"

His book deal now dead
And a pain in his head,
The horse returned to his barn to eat.
He then went to his site,
And--what a sad night--
Sighed and press the button "Delete."

Now feeling quite lonely,
And thinking "If only
I'd been truthful from the start,
I'd still have my fans
To buy me Ray-Bans
Instead of this pain in my heart."

"I have nothing to say and no outlet to say it;
What's the point of going on?"
So the horse shot himself and was turned into glue.

-Josh

I Fucking Hate Hollywood

Because it's responsible for shit like this. Yup, chest bones are "in," whatever the hell that means. Celebrities all over are eating even less and working out more to achieve this latest harmful and hardly glamorous trend.

Seriously? Shut up, Hollywood. Shut up, actresses who are startlingly skinny and play it off like they're not anorexic even though they actually are (I'm looking at you, Calista "I-Must-Have-Vomited-My-Career-Down-The-Toilet-Along-With-Last-Night's-Dinner" Flockhart.) Here's a news flash: If We Can See Your Chest Bones, You Have An Eating Disorder. It doesn't matter if you eat three meals a day; a latte and half a crouton doesn't fucking count as lunch. And so what if you're seen in public at a restaurant? Drinking half a bottle of wine while discussing who you're going to drunkenly fondle at LAX does not a proper meal make.
And like it or not, Hollywood, you're role models. You all are, but especially the young women. Millions of girls across the country look up to you and emulate how you dress, how you speak, what music you like, and even how you eat. It all goes along with the celebrity lifestyle to which so many aspire. So yes, Nicole Richie, when that girl who loves you develops anorexia because she's still a size 4, it's partially your fault. I know you probably don't care, and don't want to deal with it, but there it is. You have a responsibility because you are a public figure.

"But we have an obesity crisis!" you say. True, but I think that maybe, part of that is because our celebrity role models have achieved such unrealistic body types that we've gone the other direction; in other words, if I can't be like my favorite starlet and have a BMI of negative five, then I'm just going to eat whatever I want and never get off my ass, since I'll never be that skinny anyway.

And you should eat whatever you want. It's all about moderation! If you love chocolate pudding topped with bacon and lard, then by all means, go for it. Just...don't have the entire 6-pack of pudding. Know what I mean?


-Josh

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I Need Advice

I've been thinking a lot lately about changing my hairstyle. I'm not necessarily talking about a dye job--I've always sort of dreamed of being a blonde, but frankly I think it'd be a terrible look for me--but I want to do something with it. I'm just sick of the jet-black-and-bangs thing I've had going on since the end of freshman year.

So I turn to you, our trusty commenters. What should I do with my hair? Or, should I just leave it the way it is and stop bitching about it? Keep in mind that I was unfortunately blessed with body hair; it's manageable on my chest and back, but my arms and legs are rather bear-ish. I have also thought in the past about shaving my limbs, but whenever I think of the actual mechanics of doing that, I get all creeped out and have to remind myself I'm not a swimmer or bodybuilder or serial killer. Point is, light-colored hair might not be the best thing for me, what with my "hairy cockroach legs" and all (as someone on Oh No They Didn't once put it.)

Also, I won't go bald. And, to answer Jess's inevitable question, NO I WILL NOT GROW A MUSTACHE.

-Josh

Something Old and Something New

All the old anxieties are coming back. My social awkwardness, my phobias of change, the lack of familiarity (except for work; I never thought I'd be so grateful for work), the crushing prospect of impermanence. Last night I told my roommate that I was going to be alone forever, and what scares me is that I'm okay with that, even though I don't think I should be okay with that.

The new apartment's weird, man. It's got stairs, which is just not something you expect in New York City, or at least in an undergrad's apartment. Every morning as I leave for work, I'm always surprised by those stairs, as if they magically appeared overnight, as though they don't belong, and for a split second I have to remind myself I'm in the city and not home in Jersey, and as much as I love New York--and I do really, really love it--the realization that you're not home is crushing, and wakes me up more than coffee.

I just don't feel like I live there. This happens every time I move, which, living in New York, I guess I'll have to get used to. The pillowcases feel coarse and new, like a friend's pillowcase that I've just borrowed and will never have to sleep on once mine arrive. My room, or at least my half of the room, is pretty much unpacked, but my suitcases are stacked against the wall, quiet reminders that I'll always be on the move. I have trouble falling asleep because the place feels so new; I have no sense of ownership there. It feels like I'm living in a timeshare, and in another few days I'll move to my real home for the next year, some other dorm with the familiar wooden bedframe and desk with the rounded corners. It hasn't sunk in that I can smoke and drink wherever I please, since I smoked so much in my room last year, so I still feel like I have to be furtive about it. My toiletries are in the bathroom but I hurry my showers in case the real tenants need to take a piss. I brought my old bedroom TV to the apartment, so whenever we watch HBO in the living room I sense a strange mix of novelty and nostalgia, and I can't say I altogether like it. (I watched that TV every night during high school; many nauseous hours were spent distracting myself by the images flickering on the screen.) We don't have any food yet, so we have to order delivery, which only exacerbates the lack of homeyness.

Strangely, having a roommate--well, I have three of them, I suppose, but I'm talking about the boy with whom I share my bedroom--doesn't bother me at all. After living alone for a year, I assumed I'd need a while to adjust, but so far Stiven's proved to be as unobtrusive as a floor lamp but as pleasant as, well, as a friend, the friend he's been to me since freshman year. I can't wait for it to snow so that we can't leave the apartment and I finally have someone to share the scenery with. I can't wait to wake up and stay in my pajamas all day and cook pancakes with Andrea and watch 90s sitcoms with Dhani and just make it a good-ol'-fashioned snow day.

I'll eventually get used to the apartment. I won't hesitate when someone asks me for my address. I'll break in the bed, spill some wine on the sheets, actually put my new desk to use, get locked out and help carry drunk friends up the stairs--you know, turning the house into a home, and so on--but until then I can't help feeling like a traveller who's chosen to reside for a few nights in the room of his soul mate, a mysterious other person who also loves the Fiery Furnaces and David Sedaris, and who too has surely woken up in the middle of the night, terrified of how quickly he jumped into all this, reached for a cigarette, and found a strange solace in the passing of the cars on their way to the Brooklyn Bridge, tiny from the fourth floor, speeding reassurances that the world keeps spinning, providing the perfect background noise to a prolonged smoke at dawn.

-Josh

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Great Suggestion

Today I found out that someone from my high school had just come out of the closet. It was one of those things where we all sort of knew anyway, but nobody ever acknowledged it in high school since he wasn't that obvious. Like, yeah, he had the nasally lisp, but we come from a pretty Jewish--yenta-filled Jewish--town, and for a lot of fathers, that's par for the course. God, I love New Jersey. Plus he didn't really dress that well, and also he dated girls. I don't know. Oh high school.

Anyway, that got me (re)thinking about the whole coming-out thing. I wanted to see how America at large felt about it now, so I decided to browse online for "help coming out" (and, in the process, surely confuse whoever else might be checking my browser history.) There's a surprising amount of tolerance on the Internet these days, given the fact that it's easy to be anonymously hateful online and Internet culture can be especially homophobic. But every so often someone thinks up a gem and spreads the word, and I have (the weird and wonderful) Yahoo! Answers to thank for this one:

"But beside that one way to do it is make it over dramatic. such as
My cousin told everyone he was dieing wait for ppl to start freaking out then said just kidding i am only gay.
We were so relived that he wasnt sick that we didn't care he was gay (even though we all would have loved him with out the drama)"

And to think, I only thought to have a chat with the folks.

-Josh