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“Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street”: All This Offense is Offensive

October 20th, 2011 by Jeff Simmermon

My friend Brandon Bloch is a videographer here in Brooklyn. We kinda know each other two different ways. In one way, we know each other because he made a really awesome video promoting D.Billy’s artwork a while back. And we also know each other because as it turns out, his wife is a good friend of mine and a consultant that I work with very closely at my day job. Small world.

Brandon and his wife and me and my girlfriend hang out together and do couple stuff together. One of these days, we’re going to get D.Billy and his lady involved and have the biggest, brunchiest, triple-couple bouge-a-thon that Brooklyn has ever seen.

I was having lunch with Brandon and his wife the other day, and he told me what he’d been working on. “It’s pretty fun, man,” he said. “It’s a video piece that we’re going to call ‘Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street.’”

I was a little surprised. He didn’t really strike me as that kind of a dude, to be honest. “Just watch it,” he said. I did, and now I totally get it.

Now, I present to you: “Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street,” by Steven Greenstreet and Brandon Bloch:

Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street from Steven Greenstreet on Vimeo.

Not exactly what it sounded like when you read the title, was it? That’s kind of the point. As Brandon told me, “We noticed that all the coverage coming out of the Occupy Wall Street movement was either of freaks or young, unusually good-looking people. So we decided to both be honest about our motivations and make fun of media’s tendency to seek out pretty people, and we ended up with an inspiring, moving story. We just kept the title because we knew it would get some attention and hey, look — the kind of person that searches for and watches a video called ‘Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street’ is probably the kind of person that actually needs to hear this message pretty badly.”

He’s right. If they’d called it “A Sober and Respectful Look at the Underrepresented Womyn’s Voices at Occupy Wall Street”, would anyone have watched it?

Unsurprisingly, the Internet had decided to lose its collective mind over this. The response is both shocking, and not surprising at all. There is a particular type of person that is happiest when they are riled up and offended about something. This sort of person is found both on the right and the left of the political spectrum, and they just LOVE to write a blog post about their manufactured outrage.
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And I Am Not Lying Live Hurricane Makeup Show at Union Hall

September 28th, 2011 by Jeff Simmermon

I think that Hurricane Irene’s only real casualty in New York City was the And I Am Not Lying show. I was willing to wade to Union Hall and stand on top of the bar if I had to, but with the MTA shut down, not many folks would have made it. And plus, the place was closed.

But we’re roaring back with a rescheduled show next week on wednesday, October 5th. Here’s an updated poster, show info after the jump …

And I Am Not Lying, Union Hall 10.5.2011

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Don’t Call Me ‘Rock Star’

June 7th, 2011 by Jeff Simmermon

Two visitors leave the office along with me tonight. They’d had a meeting that went pretty well, apparently, well enough to break the silent force field that most people turn on in large New York elevators.

I’m also wearing shorts and carrying a bike helmet, so maybe they think I’m a bike messenger.

“Well that went well,” the man says, his voice lingering on the “well”, with a pause meant to cue his female partner. “Oh I KNOW,” she says, her hands fluttering, “you were just awesome in there! Especially how you stood up and gestured and threw all those comps to the side and everything — you’re such a ROCK STAR!!”

Whenever someone says “Rock Star” in an office setting, Keith Moon’s spirit buys a pair of pleated khakis at TJ Maxx.

My soul groans a deep and lowing tone, the sound of a majestic redwood that’s about to just give up completely. When I worked as a business banking researcher, my manager would refer to (other) members of our little team as “Excel Rock Stars,” or “research Rock Stars.” She would also leave photocopied prayers for strength and forgiveness on the office copier. Later in our relationship, when she was letting me go, she told me while shaking her head that I “just didn’t have a passion for banking research.”

“I think she’s buttering me up a little, don’t you,” he says, “trying to get some free drinks out of me before the train leaves for Connecticut.” She giggles a little more, and looks at me, saying “no, he was a Rock Star in there, he really had it together! It was incredible!”

“What do you think, man, is she putting it on a little here or what,” he says, totally milking her for more elevator-appropriate adoration.

What I think is:

Nothing says “you will spend the rest of your life in a beige and climate controlled purgatory” like being called “Rock Star” for showing up on time with a succinct PowerPoint presentation.

But I don’t say that. What I say is, “well, you have to be careful when you hear that phrase at work. It usually means something’s coming. I always brace for it whenever I hear that term.”

“Oh, stop,” she says, looking at her partner and laughing still. He’s looking at her, but asking me, “what is it, then?”

“In my experience in office settings, ‘Rock Star’ is the steam wafting off of a pile of corporate bullshit,” I say, before I can stop myself.

But look, people. We’ve got to think about our language a little here, go a little deeper into the subtext. Real Rock Stars show up at least an hour late and blow the hearts and minds of thousands of screaming people. They writhe and sweat, they put their hearts on the line night after night and leave the stage in a hail of cheers and underpants and then shower women way better looking than themselves with champagne at dawn. It’s the reward for years and years of having heart and eating beans, of nurturing the flames in their souls long after it’s time to compromise, shave and get a day job.

Every time someone calls me a ‘Rock Star’ it reminds me how far I am from that. And man, it just burns.

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Hogan’s Heroes – Revenge by Sitcom

April 1st, 2011 by Cyndi Freeman

My fascination with Wonder Woman started when I was a kid. Wonder Woman’s first season was set during WWII and she was a brunette just like me and kicking Nazi ass. This was the same year that I was learning about the Holocaust in Hebrew school

My other favorite show was Hogan’s Heroes.

There was no chick who looked just like me, but they were cool guys thwarting Nazis. This prompted me and a friend from Hebrew school named Janet to write our own script entitled Wonder Woman Meets Hogan’s Heroes. Alas, I do not have any documentation of this fine work of art. But for months we acted out the scenes that we crafted in her basement.

So while doing my research on my Wonder Woman show, I did a look into Hogan’s heroes and discovered. Almost all the Nazi characters were played by Jewish actors, many of whom had lost their families at the hands of the Nazis. There is a tribute site that has been set up for them – Hogan’s Jews - It is an informative and entertaining read.

But, here are some other things I’d like to share. Now the show has always had its critics and I have always disagreed with them.

Several years back The Boston Globe printed an article written by reporter Renee Graham, she had this to say about the show,

“Call this political correctness if you like, but under no circumstances should a film of `Hogan’s Heroes’ be made. For those who don’t remember, this was the 1960′s World War II comedy starring Bob Crane, Werner Klemperer and John Banner that presented the Nazis as the biggest cutups since the Keystone Kops. Let’s be clear here: Nazis are never, ever funny. Ever. So it’s with great joy that I report that the film version of `Hogan’ is on ice, at least for now.”

Where I respect her disdain of Nazis (yick!) I accept her outrage but counter it with this:

“I was never crazy about Hitler,” says Mel Brooks. Who was? But even now, more than 50 years after the fall of the Third Reich, the man who masterminded the extermination of more than 7 million people is still handled with care, as if the magnitude of his crime demands no less. Brooks had the guts, and gall, to realize that the simplest way to demolish Hitler was to mock him.

“If you stand on a soapbox and trade rhetoric with a dictator you never win,” says Brooks, 75. “That’s what they do so well; they seduce people. But if you ridicule them, bring them down with laughter–they can’t win. You show how crazy they are.”

Hogan’s Heroes was revenge through sitcom.
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The Underlying Horror of Cartoon Teeth as Demonstrated by Chuck Norris

March 18th, 2011 by D.Billy

Nine times out of ten, when I see an anthropomorphic cartoon tooth being used as a mascot for a dentist’s office or oral hygiene campaign, the cartoon tooth is smiling. With it’s teeth showing.

In case you need me to break this down for you: The TOOTH has TEETH.
It has tiny versions of itself in its mouth, and this freaks. me. out.
Let me put this in terms that the Internet can understand:

Here’s Chuck Norris, just chilling, waiting for someone to f*ck with him so he can destroy them any number of different ways. Nice smile, Chuck.

And here’s a little illustration I knocked up to show what it would mean if the “smiling tooth” principle were applied to Mr. Norris:

And now that I’ve made and looked at this awful thing, if I am ever in a position to choose the form of the destructor, I’m pretty sure that this is what will end up razing Midtown. A giant Chuck Norris with smaller Chuck Norrises for teeth, gnawing skyscrapers end to end like steel & concrete ears of corn. God help us all.

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Ernie, You’re Out of Your Element.

March 11th, 2011 by D.Billy

Comics artist and illustrator Paul Harrison-Davies recently tweeted:

Do you like The Big Lebowski? Do you like Sesame Street? Well my wife does, so I drew her this:

I’m fully on board with Paul’s casting here — “Oscar The Dude” definitely works — but still, a part of me can’t help thinking that “The Big Bird Lebowski” could be epic.

(Via Blog of the Nerduo.)


Filed under Art & Design, D.Billy, General Awesomeness, Pop Culture, TV having Comments Off

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The Standard Issues Podcast Launches Today.

February 2nd, 2011 by Brad Lawrence

I really love podcasts. They are intimate and portable little visits with people and ideas and information. If it is a podcast with a lot of interaction by regulars it can be like sitting in on a gathering of friends. And depending on the atmosphere – studio or a live audience, just two people talking or a bunch of folks jumping into the conversation – it can either be a really smart coffee break or a big rolling party. All while you shop for snow boots or wait for your train or make dinner. I would say about sixty percent of my entertainment hours are spent on podcasts. That leaves thirty percent for Buffy reruns and much less time for porn than one might have thought.

Anyway, all of this is why I decided to make a podcast of my own. The Standard Issues live show is now The Standard Issues podcast. However, a lot of storytelling shows are recording their performers and putting out a podcast. And we will be doing that as well. But for our first time out, we wanted to start off in a different direction right from the beginning and so I had a sit down conversation with some of the best storytellers in the New York scene to talk about what storytelling is and how they got into it. This will be a regular part of the show along with live performances and that is a combination that encompasses what makes the form so enjoyable to me.  I am feeling like this could be something really special. Here is the link.

Standard Issues on iTunes.

By the way, there is a very long discussion about the crafting of a story by Jeff for his recent GrandSLAM appearance. Hopefully, he will find a way to post some version of that very soon. And we will be recording new episodes of the Podcasts live on two dates this month – First at Domino Effect at Fifth Estate, February 15th, and then at The Standard Issues live show at Pacific Standard, February 22nd.

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Not the World We Know, But an Exciting Place to Explore!

January 31st, 2011 by D.Billy

I have learned that there is a SUPERVOLCANO (which is a real thing not made up by an 8-year-old kid, apparently,) underneath Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. This supervolcano has erupted in the past, and was possibly partially responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs. According to one guy (who keeps saying “million” when he means “thousand”, which you’d think would be problematic for a physicist,) it WILL erupt again, and everybody who lives in the huge area depicted here will be pretty well f*cked.

Coincidentally, on the same day that I learned that 11 U.S. states and 3 Canadian provinces are just incontrovertibly screwed six ways to Sunday, I came across this amazing and hilarious Jack Kirby drawing from 1972 of what our future might look like after “A GREAT CATACLYSM!”:

Image taken from Kamandi #1, Via the always excellent Comic Book Cartography.

Also, Discovery Channel has a pretty cool interactive explanation of the supervolcano.
BOOM. For real.

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Wonder Woman: A How-To Guide for Little Jewish Girls

January 28th, 2011 by Jeff Simmermon

Cyndi’s taking a bit of a break from blogging here to do something a lot more intense, personal, gratifying and fantastic.

You may know her from the NYC burlesque scene as the fabulous Cherry Pitz — she does a spectacular routine with Vincent Price’s disembodied voice. (Link goes to video that may be considered unsafe for work, but inarguably awesome.)

Now she’s working on a one-woman show show that traces her journey from a little suburban Jewish girl obsessed with Wonder Woman to a fabulous burlesque Queen in NYC.

The show’s called Wonder Woman: A How-To Guide for Little Jewish Girls.

Wonder Woman - A How-To Guide for LIttle Jewish Girls
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Harryhausen’s Outback Showdown: Deliver or Die, Skippy

January 20th, 2011 by Jeff Simmermon
Harryhausen's Outback Showdown

I’ve been writing and editing and re-writing my story for this Monday’s Moth GrandSLAM, just scribbling it over and over on a legal pad to make sure I’ve got it. The theme is “Into the Wild,” which poses a challenge. I’ve pretty much told and re-told what I like to think is a pretty solid story on that theme. I’ve told that thing right into the red dirt, to be honest. I’m sure my friends, family, and the odd person I am totally trying to impress is sick to their guts of it. I think I’ve worn a track in my brain from repeating it so damn much.

I got one of the best passive-aggressive guilt trips about this that I’ve ever had from anyone that wasn’t my own mother recently. She’s a great friend I met through the Moth, and when I suggested I wanted to visit that old incarnation of that story for the theme, she said “Yeah, I mean, you could do that. But if you won with it, I think you’d feel pretty cheap.”

She’s right. So I’m working on it, but brother, you never know you’ve got something until it’s over and done with. The challenge here is to find other material in that experience, stuff that didn’t make the first cut and massaging it into something brand-new.
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