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“I’m in the middle of a mystery and it’s all secret.”

April 27th, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon

Nothing makes television more fascinating than watching it through someone else’s window. Normal, boring stuff – folding laundry, watching people watch a TV program you don’t even like, eating dinner — it’s all hypnotic when you watch other people do it, when they have no idea that you’re there watching them.

When I was a kid I’d take forever to walk the dog, walking as slowly as I could so I could safely gaze into open windows while still moving down the street. Stopping to really take it in or moving closer into the bushes, that’s creep territory. Usually my dog would smell a squirrel or something and yank me away before things got TOO weird.

There are several high-rise apartment buildings across from my office building. Sometimes when I’m on the phone I look out there and see blinds opening and shutting, people walking in front of the windows, sometimes leaning out. It blows my mind, to think of all that eating, sleeping, cleaning and living that goes on right over there while I have my face up against this electronic lotus flower.

Somebody else must have found my tossing and turning the other night to be pretty mind-blowing, too. When I woke up yesterday morning, I could see two perfect handprints in the dust outside my bedroom window:
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The Toxic Leviathan Rides a Yamaha

March 26th, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon

(This post has a soundtrack. Open this in another tab and turn up your speakers.)

There’s a pretty powerful, fast-moving scavenger ecosystem in my neighborhood. People (I think) snatch up clothing, books, whatever like crabs picking over a fish carcass on the sea floor. There are a lot of forgotten bike frames chained to sign posts around there, stripped of their seats, wheels, chains, pedals — anything that is remotely mobile or useful. Sometimes you just see a chain looped around a sign post. Whenever I see that, I always think “Damn. Another one of those bike-eating sharks must’ve got that one.”

I’ve been walking past this bike that’s been locked up on Broadway under the Williamsburg Bridge for YEARS. It looks like it was dragged up from the ocean floor, doesn’t it? There’s the requisite grease and grime there, but it’s covered with a thick patina of dust, dried river mud and pigeon shit. The mirrors are useless, covered with old dirt.

It’s always sitting upright, though, and always in a slightly different position. Sometimes it feels a little warm, like it was ridden just a few hours ago.

I like to think that some slippery creeping beast shambles up out of the East River every night and stumbles to the bike with thick, dripping footsteps. Its shoulders steam with a green toxic runoff, and its face is half-eaten away, revealing a horrific skeletal grin. It turns up its moldering jacket collar and slides a Bob Seger tape into its Walkman, then sets out to cruise the neighborhood, working out some “Night Moves” …

The leviathan rides a motorcycle

Archives Posts

“Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” on Ukulele: Subway Magic

March 24th, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon

I was crossing through the Essex/Delancey subway last night at about 1, coming home from the incredible Cherry Pop Burlesque. One of the performers had done a stunning routine to Lou Reed’s version of “This Magic Moment” from the “Lost Highway” Soundtrack — which I’d never heard before. The routine and the song meshed perfectly in this grinding, menacing, but also sweet experience that had me all fired up and confused, just the way you should be when you see something amazing that you’ve never seen before.

And then I came across this guy playing cover songs on a ukulele:


He was on the natural stage there on the Uptown side of the F train, playing sweet, melancholy songs greatly aided by all the natural reverb down there.The singer/ukulelist goes by the name “Laustcawz.”He’s got a website here, and this is his theme song.

I got him to do a song just for me so I could share it with all of you:

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Sign Of The Times?

November 14th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

I saw this peeling, yellowed and filthy sign offering “Easy Credit” in a neglected storefront around the corner from my apartment the other day. I wonder if the store went out if business as a result of offering Easy Credit, or if it went out of business long before credit collapsed in this country.

Somebody came along with a marker and edited the sign to say “Easy Credit For Homicides.” I know there’s some serious gang activity in South Williamsburg – the wave of gentrification hasn’t created nearly as high as it has on the North side – but man, I hope that particular credit market has locked up, too. I just signed a yearlong lease by the Marcy stop on the JMZ …

Easy Credit for Homicides

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Secret Dreamlike Pig Neighbor

November 1st, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

Emmet is my neighbor. He’s a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig. His owners found him in a gutter in Louisville, Kentucky, a tiny little neglected piglet crying and dying in a pile of wet leaves. They rescued him, nursed him back to health and it looks like he hasn’t missed too many meals since.

Emmet is the physically densest mammal I have ever seen -he feels like he is made out of warm, bristle-covered cannonballs. He loves having the spot between his little piggy shoulder blades scratched.

I only ever see Emmet on misty, overcast mornings – the kind of mornings that really activate New York’s greyness, the ones that give this grey city some serious character and color. It’s like Emmet emerges from the city’s hazy, sleepy dream state. Nobody else is ever around to see him except for me, my girlfriend, and Emmet’s leash-holders.

We always talk about the South, me and Maggie and Emmet’s people. We talk about how great it is, what an amazing, rich and Gothic creepiness the South has and how we are so glad it runs through our blood. And how glad we are that we moved up here, too.

The South is a spectacular place to be from, but not always a good place to be at. Love the culture, hate the crippling willful ignorance, I say.

But enough gabbing. Here’s Emmet:

Wet, grunting, adorable

Archives Posts

Grimace Will Eat Your Children.

October 9th, 2009 by D.Billy

(I’m not even gonna try to source this. I saw it on someone’s Flickr, who yanked it from someone else’s LiveJournal, who stole it from someone else’s Photobucket. If you took the photo, drop us a line. Otherwise, relax and enjoy.)

Archives Posts

Funky Bald Lady Brings It On the L Train In Front of Bouncy Rides

July 20th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

The five minutes I spent seeing the band below play on the L train platform at Union Square were way better than the hour and a half I spent in the theater watching “Bruno” immediately afterwards.

But this isn’t a film review here – this is exactly why I live in New York. I just spent a little time in Missoula, and while there were plenty of dirty dreadlocks and bongos out in the street out there, there wasn’t NOTHIN’ like this. This was like The Flaming Lips meets Soul Jazz with just a touch of the bear-and-a-BJ clip from the Shining.

I accidentally covered the mike on my phone with my thumb there for about 30 seconds or so. The sound’ll come back, don’t worry:

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Aquaman Zen : Everyone Hears the Voice

July 17th, 2009 by D.Billy

Previously on Aquaman Zen: Alarmed Viewers | Giant Crabs Help

Archives Posts

King, R.I.P : Michael Jackson Memorial Graffiti

July 6th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

I was walking South on Seventh Avenue from Penn Station yesterday when I came across this great, rushed piece of Michael Jackson memorial graffiti:


It’s everything I like about folk art — public, not too fussy, and definitely puts passion over precision.

Archives Posts

Teachable Moment

May 29th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

One of my best friends from high school is a GED teacher for some really, really bad kids. He recently turned an act of classroom disrespect into a “teachable moment,” schooling the youngster in the art of writing an apology letter.

Apology Note

It’s all about the little victories, people.

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