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“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:

photo.jpg

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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The Williamsburg Hair: A Short Film by Zach Timm and Matt Rivera

March 1st, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon

Regular readers of this blog know about the Williamsburg Hair Man — first documented here, then on BoingBoing and Gawker.

I’m not letting this dog die, dammit. Not yet.

Zach Timm and Matt Rivera’s brief documentary about the Williamsburg Hair Man and subsequent Gawker phenomenon debuted at Filmshop’s “Unprotected” last Saturday at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. I went with D.Billy and some other folks, and had no idea what to expect. And as it turned out: it was really good! I loved it, and it definitely got the best crowd response.

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:

The Williamsburg Hair from Aligned Creative LLC on Vimeo.

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UNPROTECTED at the Music Hall of Williamsburg – featuring a short film based on this blog

February 25th, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon



UNPROTECTED at the Music Hall of Williamsburg

Originally uploaded by chinese_fashion

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.

I’m not opposed to outlandish spectacles or ridiculous self-expression, mind you. I made that pretty clear, 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:

Williamsburg Hair

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King Kong Smash My Job

January 27th, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon

Do you ever make something and then just sit there looking at it because it thrills you so damn much? Maybe you can’t stop eating your own cooking — or listening to a riff you just recorded. It doesn’t have to merit a footnote in the history of all that has ever been created, but it tickles you in just such a way?

That’s how I feel about this photo of King King attacking my office, below. I’ve got a McFarlane King Kong toy on my desk, and I just snapped it against the view of the skyline from my office window. Ran it through a couple apps on the phone, then finished it off in Photoshop, and we now have a visual representation of my whole thing: monster movies, screaming giant gorillas, low-res output and a lot of love.

King Kong, Office View

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Reading/Telling a Story for “How I Learned” at Happy Ending

January 24th, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon



happy ending (302 broome st., new york, ny, 10002)

Originally uploaded by cjkershner

It’s late and I’m screwing around instead of writing. I’m tired, too tired to get any meaningful writing done, but not so tired that I can’t sit here and stare at my lava lamp and wait for it to really start gooping around in earnest.

What I’m supposed to be doing is preparing a story for the “How I Learned” series, which I’ll be performing in at Happy Endings (302 Broome Street, Manhattan) this Wednesday, January 27th. The show’s at 8, doors are at 7, and there’s no charge. Happy Ending used to be a seedy massage parlour in Chinatown/Lower East Side, but now it’s a cool bar with pretty good drinks, most of which have names that are cheeky double entendres. I’ve found that if you get there early, it’s a good time. Stay too late and the Ed Hardy Army starts to creep in, though.

Don’t let the outside fool you — there’s no sign that says Happy Ending. If you get to a place that looks like the photo on this post, you’ve got it.

I can guarantee that I’ll be reading/telling a story. What it’ll be is eluding me right now …

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J Train is the Soul Train: Thirsty Man Sings “Winner”

January 20th, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon

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 …

Archives Posts

Where I’ve Been: Wearing a Wet Laundry Spacesuit, Fighting a Big Black Bird

January 19th, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon

Last May, I used this blog to announce to the world that I had developed a very sudden and statistically rare case of testicular cancer. I had surgery, had the thing removed. Which remains, to me, a totally unacceptable way to lose a testicle. Maybe at the tip of a pirate’s saber, or while wrangling a giant octopus deep under the ocean, those’d be okay. But a regular old organized cellular rebellion — fuck that.

I wrote a series of posts that talked about my condition, what I was facing, and how I was holding up. It seemed only natural to me at the time, the best way to keep friends and family posted while I was dealing with something I really didn’t want to talk about on the telephone any more than necessary. Folks commended me for my bravery, for my sense of black humor and optimism, and told me how well I seemed to be healing up.

And yeah, in a way I was healing up. But in this other way, I really, really, wasn’t.

As my body was healing up, my mind was slowly donning a space suit made out of 400 pounds of wet laundry that never dried up and never, ever came off. Food all tasted the same, and I’d find myself flying into sudden rages when individual air molecules struck my skin.

Every night I’d lie awake and just look at the dark air above my bed, watching the little glowing fireflies that live in my retinas while an enormous black bird whispered very, very destructive and completely logical things into my ear.

Actually, I have a story about that part, which you can see here — the audio’s a little problematic, but you should get the gist:


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The King Is Here

December 7th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

We were getting off the C train when I heard it – tinny and distant, sure. But unmistakable, still: the theme to “Superman.”

It was coming from some guy’s cell phone. I couldn’t tell whose at first. Then I saw a short, rotund man shoving people and shouting “make way, make way! Here come the KING!”

As soon as he got off the train he spun towards the rest of us and held his hands up in a regal Superman pose, allowing the strains of Donner’s super-score to wash over him. And then he announced it real, real loud, in case any one didn’t catch it:

“I AM the KING, baby. The king is HERE!”

You’ve got to admire that kind of self-esteem…
The King is Here

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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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‘Roo Shooter at The Moth

November 13th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

Kangaroo, Ute, Moon

In early 2004 I was an assistant to a kangaroo shooter in the Australian Outback. Pretty much the only experience more bizarre and terrifying would be if I were to have worked with a kangaroo shooter at the National Zoo.

Before you go getting all fired up, remember that kangaroos are pests in Australia, and people eat their meat all the time. And meat does not just cheerfully lie itself down on the burger bun, either. Kangaroo meat is as free-range and organic as it gets, but you’ve still got to do a fair bit of old-fashioned killing to make it happen — and the process is disturbing, gory, and pretty hideous. Not unlike the rest of nature, the parts they don’t show you on the television programs.

But not a day goes by that I don’t think of that experience in some way or another. It taught me a lot. I learned to get tough, how to do some hard, hard work, and how to put aside all my pussified city liberal ideas and face the realities of the food chain.

I told this story at The Moth on October 22, 2009. I’d told it at the Moth last year, as well as at The Liar Show, Risk!, and Seth Lind’s Told. I’ve also told parts of this story to pretty much anyone that will sit still in my presence since early 2004. I think D.Billy, my co-blogger here, has seen me tell the thing each time, too.

I’ve pitched it to This American Life twice now, and had Ira Glass personally tell me to my face, that while he really likes the story as long as he is a broadcaster in the United States of America, it will not appear on his show. He was actually really nice about it – and he’s right. The story, in its original and best incarnation, has tons of appalling gore in it, the killing of defenseless baby kangaroos and uses the word “cunt” more times in ten minutes than most Americans have heard in their entire lives. And cutting that stuff out kinda neuters the whole enterprise.

If I’m this sick of telling this story, I can only imagine how tired my friends are of hearing it. And I’ve sure made a lot of hay off the experience on this blog.

Unless something tremendous happens, I feel like I can safely say that this story’s been done to death and put to bed here in New York City. It feels good to be all the way through this one and kinda wipe the slate clean for a batch of new stuff.

On the other hand, I’m about to go to Australia again for two weeks starting Saturday. And if I can claw my way in front of a microphone after a couple or six VBs, this thing might rise again. If any of you know of storytelling shows or reading series or something similar in Adelaide or Melbourne, please let me know. I’d love to try this or other stories in front of an Aussie audience.

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