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“A Modern Promise” From Francis and the Lights

August 18th, 2008 by Jeff Simmermon

Francis Farewell Starlite

Musically, our culture has achieved singularity. Every song ever recorded is dripping off the tip of the Internet’s long tail and into the ears of anyone with headphones and an iTunes account. Bands like the Black Lips and Interpol do solid service to sounds past, and Girl Talk mashes old songs together to make something new. While New York’s Francis and the Lights has one foot rooted solidly in Prince’s synth-heavy ’80s output, the other foot is rhythmically shimmying its way straight into the future.

I’ve mentioned them here before, several times, with good reason. They’re one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen, in New York or anywhere else.

This video for “The Top,” from the new mini-album “A Modern Promise” just made me scream. It’s shot on 35mm, pops in a giant new Quicktime window. Compared to Youtube videos, this is Batman in IMAX, except funky. Click the dancing Francis after the jump to see for yourself:
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Fight Club in Union Square: Followup, Much Better Photos

June 20th, 2008 by Jeff Simmermon

A couple weeks ago, we ran a big fat blog post about a bunch of people sparring in Union Square. They were practicing mixed martial arts (MMA), and letting pretty much anyone get in the ring who wanted to fight.

In writing the post, I tried to focus on the vibe in the air, how cool it was to witness the thing happening — as well as describe some of the utterly ridiculous videos David shot. The post got a ton of traffic (for us), and a corresponding ton of utterly retarded comments that totally missed the point.

David’s videos were pretty choice — and we intentionally focused on the ridiculous side of the thing to attract more attention. The blogosphere’s principal exports are bullshit and outrage, and its chief currency is attention. I’m not a journalist, I’m a storyteller, and I don’t mind altering the telling of an event to make it work better as a story. The thing about stories is, when you tell one story, you’re not telling another one.

All that aside, here’s some really spectacular photos of the Union Square Spartans by Anya Roz that really capture the dignified ballet of the thing, all the grace, training and prowess — and of course, tons and tons of rock-hard man-candy:



More photos and some video after the jump …

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Central Park from Space – I Just Want to Celebrate

June 12th, 2008 by Jeff Simmermon

I am writing to you from a command position approximately 1 mile above the Manhattan skyline. I am hovering upside down in the cool open sky, wearing only a tremendous pair of headphones pumping Rare Earth’s “I just Want to Celebrate” at a volume that will not only crack hardened Al-Qaeda operatives but convince them to climb aboard the P-Funk Mothership.

Occasionally, featherlike wisps of cloud will slip over me, caressing my body like cold, wet ferrets. When this happens, a perfectly tailored white linen suit with waterproof properties magically appears on me, protecting me from any dampness or discomfort.

This is what it’s like to have a minor manic episode — hovering high and naked and feeling music down to the DNA. Sort of. Music is mission critical to a proper manic mood. It’s got to be loud as it can get, preferably with a solid, somewhat corny groove. Lately I’ve been rocking the aforementioned Rare Earth song, but Lee Michaels’ “Do You Know What I Mean,” Sweet’s “Ballroom Blitz,” or any number of other cracker-funk jams will do. Soulwax’s entire “Nite Versions” album is choice mania music.

Imagine being a floppy hand puppet left in the corner of an abandoned office and feeling Rare Earth enter your body like a hand in a surgical glove, invisibly lifting you into the sky — then realizing that the guys in Rare Earth are the six-fingered hand of God who’s letting you dangle upside down in space and cruising you around the skyline for a while. The view is spectacular and the soul is invincible … temporarily.

Then comes the crash. I’m working on that part. I’ve enlisted a trained professional to teach some dismount techniques, and for right now, she’s doing a bang-up job. She seems to think that the high highs aren’t healthy either, but how can anything that feels that good be all bad?

Coming off the hand of God today wasn’t quite the triple-axel, point-and-stick landing I’d hoped for, but I’m back down to normal and I don’t feel like a dusty puppet in the corner again.

It’s all about the little victories, people.

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Heads, Gold Bikinis and Dance: More Remixed Subway Adverts

May 15th, 2008 by Jeff Simmermon

The previously mentioned lord and master of 21st-century New York subway graffiti is at it again. He’s started a Flickr page under the name “Poster Boy NYC” with a lot more images, but these are the ones I liked the best out of the current crop of new releases.


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More Subway Poster Remix Graffiti: Iron Man, Steroids, Fluffy Pink Cop Feet

April 29th, 2008 by Jeff Simmermon

Last week, I posted about the giant mashed-up colorform graffiti on the New York Subway system. The post got picked up by Gawker, Art Fag City, Neatorama and some others, garnering a little attention. My doctor prescribed me Lasix. I decided to search the Internet for the price and found this drug on I was taking it according to the prescription of the doctor.

A few days later, I got a comment that said:

i know the guy who does this stuff. i can get you more info and pictures of the originals if you’re interested. these pics don’t do the originals justice. you have pics of them after they’ve been tampered with …

I got a bunch more photos out of him, and he’s right … these are way, way more fun, especially this Iron Man remix:



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Subway Graffiti at 8th Avenue: “I Give You Finger, G.I. Joe.”

March 20th, 2008 by Jeff Simmermon

Shepard Fairey’s cool and all, and Wooster Collective rounds up some of the best graffiti on the streets. But me, I love the dashed-off graffiti in New York the best — the hastily scrawled line or two that completely cracks me up. Simply scribbling a dirty word doesn’t cut ice. There’s got to be wit, vision, or some kind of instant art. I saw a poster for Cats once where people had sculpted little genitalia out of chewing gum and stuck it on all the leaping cat-dancer crotches in a sort of wordless 3-D sculpture.

I don’t know why this adulterated poster in the 8th Avenue A/C/E/L station cracks me up so much, but it sure enough does:


Here’s a closeup:


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Hug And Run Screaming: “Shameless” at UCB Theater

February 25th, 2008 by Jeff Simmermon

Eliza Skinner is performing her one-woman show “Shameless!” for one night only at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theater on Wednesday, February 27th.

Time Out New York said that

Both in her writing and in her nuanced performance, Skinner wrenches humor from awkward circumstances and cringe-inducing comments … And you will love her.

It’s true. Eliza plays a catty girl at a nightclub, a young mother who seduces teenaged boys, and a mom whose need to be adored just barely exceeds her need to seem cool. All three characters are as lovable as they are loathsome. Their neediness is colossal — you just want to give them each a great big hug but run screaming at the same time.

Eliza just posted another video from “Shameless” on Funny or Die. Her other video from the same show got over 4000 Diggs and turned her into a weird kind of internet celeb when it posted a month or so ago … I wouldn’t be surprised if the same thing happened again.

If you look carefully, you’ll see that the video was done all in one take.”Shameless” is not to be missed … it’s hilarious and heartbreaking, and you’ll know that soon you can turn to your friends at a party and say “yeah, I saw her back when …”

Archives Posts

Overheard on the Subway: L Train to Brooklyn

January 31st, 2008 by Jeff Simmermon

So I told him that I had cheated on him while he was out of town. And you know what? He turned around and tried to use it against me!

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Hate The Hair, Love the Balls

January 25th, 2008 by Jeff Simmermon

I posted something last night about the worst haircut I’ve ever seen, complete with a cute little drawing to illustrate it. At about 6 pm, both BoingBoing and Gawker linked to it, increasing my traffic tenfold.

“Oh look,” I thought. “Everyone thinks I’m witty, brilliant and wonderful. It must be true if the Internet says so!”

Then I left work and got on the subway — and saw the owner of said haircut. I felt really, really bad. On the one hand, this guy was obviously seeking attention with his ‘do, and now he’s gotten it. But then again, taking cheap shots at strangers kind of sucks, I think, even if it does pay off in the dizzying sweet nectar of Internet attention.

When I got home, I saw this comment, which really made me think:

Style is a product of Risk Taking… & those of you who laugh @ people who take risks are simply too scared to be true inventors…

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Get Your Electro-Yacht On: Francis & the Lights at Mercury Lounge 1/26

January 24th, 2008 by Jeff Simmermon

Francis & the Lights at Galapagos

Brooklyn’s Francis and the Lights (free EP here) will be rocking their nervous relaxing jams at the Mercury Lounge this Saturday, January 26th with The Giraffes, Baby Dayliner and others.

They’re hands-down my favorite New York band of late — as mentioned on an earlier post:

They’re the musical equivalent of doing coke and drinking Fresca on the back of a yacht while wearing a white linen jacket.

The rhythm section is tight like the L train on a Monday morning, both drummers locked into each other perfectly with no room for error and every beat in the exact right place. Spare dual keyboards flow over and through the silky rhythms like robot bees flying over plastic flowers, and the singer’s high voice and ostentatious dance moves — delivered with occasional popped collar or shirtlessness — perfectly interact with the music to create something that is both self-consciously retro and very, very heartfelt.

It’s true, too. Their live show’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before, a jittery and confident mashup of James Brown and something from beyond the Phantom Zone. I saw the show in the video below, and it was way better than it seems here on Youtube … go on out Saturday and see ‘em for yourself if you can.

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