Check out the latest video mashup “premake” by Ivan Guerrero – a trailer for a 1952 version of The Avengers movie, based on Marvel’s “Secret Invasion” storyline, spliced together from over 50 different sources of footage:
And then, to get a real sense of the buckets of attention to detail, skill, love, and sheer nerdiness that went into this, watch it again with Ivan’s annotations (below). He calls out all of the character and location cameos that you might have missed, and even breaks down the typographical references in the title cards! (Pause the video each time a note box pops up.) Read the rest of this entry »
Times Square. I started crafting my own adjective-laden metaphor for that nexus of sensory overload, but then I realized that it might work just as well to list a few results of a web search for the phrase “Times Square is like”. So… “Times Square is like Las Vegas times 10!”
“Times Square is like Disneyland. Really!”
“Times Square is like some great cosmic porch light, and we’re all moths to the flame.”
“Times Square is like getting a root canal.”
And my favorite pair, which came up in direct succession: “Times Square is like no other place in the world!”
followed immediately by: “Times Square is like Piccadilly Circus in London.”
But I was surprised that it took until the fifth page of search results for someone to say something like “Times Square is like the holy grail of promotion”. ‘Cause hot damn is it ever true.
But a gentleman from The Netherlands by the name of Justus Bruns has decided to make it his mission to turn as many of the Times Square ad spaces as he can, for however long he can, into places to display art. He’s calling the project “Times Square to Art Square”, or TS2AS, and this is his pitch:
So, going to the Madagascar Institute’s shop in Gowanus, Brooklyn is like visiting an embassy of Bartertown from “Beyond Thunderdome.” It is all raw steel and piles of scrap metal stacked on old cable spindles, in a space that looks like the garage where one might keep a souped up dunebuggy that had spikes and a harpoon gun welded to it. I was three feet in the door and already waiting for Tina Turner to walk up and explain that “The real power here is shit. Pig shit.” For a certain generation, even with current situations being what they are, that possibility still gives a little thrill.
Instead, I was greeted by a pretty woman who was dressed like a hard drinking, but sexy, car mechanic. She handed me a release form that absolved her and her employer of any liability should I burn my face completely off before the day was out. After I had signed away my right to recoup my precious flesh, I was introduced to Leif and Hackett, who looked like they were the stars of a post apocalyptic, Chuck Norris – Predator, buddy flick. These were the guys who were going to teach me how to make a flame thrower.
When Napoleon went to his final exile, they sent him to a place that was really – really – really remote, a place from which he could never escape, St Helena Island. I was curious to learn what’s up with St Helena today.
To find out what’s going on, one must go to the most reliable source, high school girls. These girls live there and they are on a mission to get local news on TV. They show us around the island, interview the acting governor His Excellency Andrew Wells and the editor of the St Helena Herald – who was head girl at their school last year.
St Helena is 1,200 miles from Angola, the nearest land mass, and 1,800 miles from Brazil. A 47 square mile island, it is one of the most remote islands in the world. Current population is around 4000. There is no airport – yet. All goods are sent in via Royal Mail Ship: The RMS St Helen. The ship also has rooms available for if you want to cruise there.
Political cartoonistshad a great time taking shots at Napoleon and most artwork portrays the island as a rat infested hell hole. In this one Napoleon leads an army of rat soldiers on the Island of St Helena – 1815
This is what the place really looks like. Which is not to say they don’t have rats. They have rats.
I saw this while walking through the East Village last month — some enterprising street artist scrawled “Become Your Dream” on a forgotten, stained mattress.
Stuff like this makes my soul sing. On the one hand, it’s inspiring and hopeful, maybe from a mattress who’s supported the butts of slumbering royalty, seen the worst of the world and doesn’t regret a thing. Or maybe it’s a cautionary tale: no matter what your dream is or how hard you try, you’re going to end up left on the street to be pissed on by dogs and drunks alike.
Jen Lee is a friend of mine from The Moth, and I just love her stuff because she pours it out straight from the heart. She’s not trying to be liked, she’s just trying to be true to the story itself. She’ll talk about some difficult stuff, and the way she handles it is masterful. She’s not an emotional exhibitionist and she’s not trying to launch her comedy career by making light of dark stuff. She’s a writer who happens to publish with her mouth, and every time she tells a story it’s different and better than the last time.
This is a video of Jen Lee from a Moth slam a few months ago. The theme was “Good Intentions.” Jen grew up as a fundamentalist Christian, and here she explains the hilarious, embarrassing reality behind swallowing fundamentalist doctrine and saving it for marriage — and makes it sound like it’s not necessarily so bad. She’s so funny and awkward and sweet here, and I just had to give her a huge hug when she was done.
I have, over the last year, stepped away from my street artist, punk rock, DIY background and actually done something in the way that things are done. I put together a book proposal and started writing a book. And I was an over night success. The End.
This process can make you feel like an ant trying to work its way to the top of a Jello Mold from the inside. You have meeting after meeting and the agent might come and go with nary a nickel on the bedside table. (I am pretty sure mine has gone, if anyone sees him tell him, y’know, call me?) There are going to be parts of the business that glimmer like the city on the hill and others that smell like a dog run on a hot summer day. And, in the end, it just becomes easy to sit and stare at a phone.
But that is the restricted lane, toll road to a nervous breakdown. I have had to make myself remember at times that the work is mine and mine to do and mine to keep doing. You can’t wait around for people, unless you decided to be a writer because being suspended in misery is just what you’re into. In the end, I like what I do and I hope that always co exists with the business of editors and agents and publishers. If it doesn’t, I have taken a wrong turn.
All of this is to say – Having worked on the book for the better part of the last year, I am now sitting on a heap of material that I can use for the various weird projects I am involved in all over the city.
One of my favorites is The BTK Band, a fully improvised live music, storytelling, burlesque extravaganza. This project started out as a rough ride on an overgrown trail with a flat tire and is quickly becoming one of the tightest and most innovative live shows happening in New York. I can toot that horn, because most of the credit goes to the rest of the outfit and its leader, Peter Aguero.
But we are here to talk about me. This video is something I put together from an audio recording of one of the performances and it represents a piece of the book transformed for a new use. So enjoy that, and then check out my blog because there are a bunch of shows I am doing this coming week that I am really happy to be a part of and they are all listed over there, and there are sample chapters from the book, too. – Enjoy.
One more thing, If you are enjoying Cyndi and I on the blog, we will be appearing together as our burlesque alter egos, Cherry Pitz and Johnny Angel, at Seth Lind’s Told on Monday the 19th, 7 o’clock, at Under Saint Marks Theater. We will be there as wigged, lycra clad relationship counselors. You need our help.
Brad and Cyndi run Hotsy Totsy Burlesque on the third Tuesday of every month at the Delancey, right there at the base of the Williamsburg Bridge in the Lower East Side. Cherry Pop Burlesque happens at the same place, the fourth Tuesday of every month, and I can’t recommend either show enough.
You can pay as much as you want in this city any night of the week for entertainment, but for eight bucks you can get right into something wild and weird that you won’t find anywhere else in the country for ten times as much cash.
The storytelling and burlesque scene have a fair bit of overlap in New York. Emotional nakedness and physical nudity are close relatives, and folks like Brad and Cyndi (our new bloggers) work hard at both. Ultimately, both communities are powered by passion and a love for the art form. Lord knows we’re not in it for the money.
That’s why I came to this town and it’s why I’ll either die here or leave a piece of my soul behind when I have to leave this magical, filthy island.
The ladies at Cherry Pop Burlesque were kind enough to let me photograph a show a few months back. What follows here is a loose collection of observations and photos from that night. You can see an expanded photo show here, too.
Seeing burlesque shows at the Delancey feels like something from the bad old days of New York that made me want to move here in the first place. It’s seedy enough to make any loving mother uncomfortable, but not so seedy that I wouldn’t take my girlfriend.
Even the sign for the basement gets me all excited. It’s at the end of a long, red hallway glowing like the understated gateway to hell. Or at least the world of sin that tent revival preachers used to warn against/advertise. This photo reminds me of the Pink Room with maybe a little less overt menace.
If you’re reading this now, there’s a decent chance that you heard my story on the “Pro Se” episode of This American Life. I’m told it’s being re-run this week, which just tickles me to no end. It was an honor and a thrill to be on that show. When I told my sister about it, she got all stoked and said “That’s right, dog, build the legend. BUILD. THE. LEGEND.”
If you took the trouble to follow Ira Glass’s mention of this blog, you probably liked the story okay. I originally performed it at The Moth’s Grand Slam back in April of 2009. There’s a video of it here, if you want to hear the story again or watch my hands wave around while I tell it or something:
If you liked that one, I’ve got a bunch of other stories that you might get into, too: