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.
Look – when we go into a place of business, sometimes things just happen, that’s all. Whether it’s a coffee shop or a fried chicken joint, events have conspired to provide us with some experiences that we have been moved to share with you, our lovely readers. Experiences that many of you have then chosen to share with others in turn. The internet is a bigger, crazier, more tricked-out vehicle for sharing consumer feedback than Al Gore could ever have imagined back when he invented it, and the right (or wrong) kind review on the web can conceivably launch a place or shut it right down.
But while some of us run to Yelp to post a review and tell all of the other consumerist nerds to check this place out or stay the hell away from that place, some folks still like to keep it analog. And I respect that. Here are a few ad-hoc, word-on-the-street* “reviews” that I’ve personally stumbled across:
*Clearly, the word is not the only thing on the street. This was one block away from the Dallas BBQ… and if that substance on the paper is what I think it is… well, that had to be some mighty fast Sharpie work to draft part A of the review before part B asserted itself. To me, this is almost like a quick & dirty sort of voodoo ceremony.
Okay, this is ridiculous. This Types of Bitches post has gone completely nuts. It’s gotten a ton of traffic. I told my mom, and she doesn’t know WHAT to do. On the one hand, she’s proud of me. On the other, it’s yet another piece of tremendous public profanity that’s now associated with the Simmermon name.
in the last two years, I’ve said “bitches” and “motherfucker” on “This American Life,” been written up in the Washington Post and a number of news wires for writing “fuck you” on a dollar bill, and now this. My mom’s as proud of me as she can be while still being ashamed to tell her friends at church. Read the rest of this entry »
Wait a second. You know this is going to be good, when it starts with “My friend’s cousin.”
My friend’s cousin is a teacher at a charter school in Washington, D.C. She found this on the floor of a 3rd grade classroom and recognized it for the gold mine that it is — scanned it into a fax-to-PDF scanner immediately.
I talked to a bunch of folks about it ahead of time, none of whom could make it out. Fair enough. Zach’s a nice young man, and was kind enough/self-promotional enough to post the video on Vimeo. Here it is, see for yourselves:
A few years ago, I saw God’s most hated haircut rocking around Williamsburg. And I was motivated to write a blog post about it, complete with a drawing on my office’s whiteboard of the thing. “Thing” is a relevant term here, too.
BoingBoing picked it up, and so did Gawker. It was fun while it lasted, watching the traffic spike and getting a bunch of comments and generally feeling brilliant and witty and bright.
I started feeling pretty bad about all this fun at someone else’s expense, though.
But whatever. Fast-forward two years to last week when I got an e-mail from a nice young man named Zachary Timm:
I am making a short film about the infamous Williamsburg Hair, that you made so popular a year or so back. The film is going to be screened exclusively at the Filmshop Presents Unprotected film screening @ Music Hall of Williamsburg, on Saturday, February 27th. The film is basically about his experience and unwanted celebrity that came from the coverage on your site and gawker. Since you had such a big part in the story I figured this would be a great follow up blog post for And I Am Not Lying since this will basically be the first time Chris speaks up about the experience.
You read it right. My blog post two years ago was the impetus for a short film that’s screening at the Music Hall of Williamsburg at 66 North 6th Street, Brooklyn this Saturday, 2/27. Doors are at 8PM. Click on the image of the poster (above) for more details.
I’ll be damned. I’ll be there to check it out, shake Chris’s hand and have a laugh — hope to see you all there, too.
I checked with Zachary — wanted to make sure there wasn’t any bad blood or anything. He assured me there wasn’t, and sent this photo as proof:
Have you ever noticed how some people put a pair of headphones in, and it’s like it’s the performance version of Thor’s hammer? Like by putting those buds into their ears, they are suddenly blessed with an incredible singing voice, perfect pitch and total invisibility? Put on some sunglasses and an iPod and all of a sudden nobody is on the train except Simon Cowell and Dr. Dre, and both of them are hiring. It’s kind of like having a low-budget version of Rock Band that only plays R&B.
You never hear anyone singing Coldplay or Dave Matthews, is all I’m saying. I prefer it that way.
And don’t get me wrong here — sure, sometimes the phenomenon is a little annoying. But other times it is completely the most awesome thing that can happen to your whole week, a beautiful, off-kilter accident.
Like this guy that sat across from me on the J Train last weekend singing Chris Brown’s “Winner.” Check this thing out, it’s beautiful. I love how he doesn’t let his performance stop him from pouring himself a little sip of something from his thermos, then gets his soul stole by the music before the cup hits his lips … and caps it all off with a shameless crotch scratch. Also of note is how quickly the guy next to him stops giggling and starts ignoring the whole thing.
Don’t let me spoil it for you, though – check this out for yourself. It’s stuff like this that reminds me that the world is alive and beautiful and full of strange surprises …