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The Art of the Ad-Hoc Consumer Review

July 8th, 2010 by D.Billy

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.

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Coming To America Wrapped in Plastic and Cardboard

July 7th, 2010 by Brad Lawrence

My wife, Cyndi (who all of you got very acquainted with yesterday) and I live at the corner of three neighborhoods. To the Northwest is the Mexican neighborhood, Southeast is Chinese, and Southwest is Turkish. The restaurants have Cumbia Karaoke, the grocery stores have water chestnuts in a can and wasabi paste in a tube, and the coffee shops have hookahs and they’re for men only.

And by men, they don’t mean me.

So, it’s always an education. But some things are not spelled out and it is up to you to figure out what it all means. And so, I give you Defa Lucy and her packaging. There are an infinite number of ways Lucy’s cryptic copy can be interpreted. The simplistic view is “Oh, those crazy foreigners who can’t speak English.” But I tend to think there is more going on here. You have to think of the demographic.

These dolls are being sold to the children of people who have left their homes to come to a place that is (no matter how many planes land at JFK in a day) far away from everything, because they have some idea of what the place offers them in the way of a future. There is something in this broken English that speaks to me of what these folks want and what they expect and what they think is expected of them in their new home.

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Vincent Price Returns From The Dead To Help Me Take Off All My Clothes.

July 6th, 2010 by Cyndi Freeman

Hi all! I’m a storyteller, actress, and burlesque producer — and I’m not just a producer, I perform, too under the name Cherry Pitz.” I have been running Hotsy Totsy Burlesque with co-producer Joe The Shark for 3 years, every 3rd Tuesday of every month.

You can learn more about our shows here -www.hotsytotsyburlesque

or friend us at Facebook: Hotsy Totsy Burlesque

Our next show is:

Tuesday, July 20th 9:30
Hotsy Tostsy Burlesque@ The Delancey lounge 168 Delancey – just two blocks from the F/J train stop.
$8. Use the secret pass word “Cherry” and get in 2-for-1!

I wanted to share with you one of my acts. A couple years back I found a record album in the the spoken word section of a used record and CD store. On the cover was a suave and smiling Vincent Price, the album was called Co-Star: The Record Acting Game. And it promised YOU act opposite your favorite stars. And so I decided it was time to bring Vincent Price back from the grave and give him a chance to be part of the NY Burlesque scene! Most girls strip to music. I like to strip to the disembodied voice of dead people. This act has become my signature piece. Hope you enjoy!

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New Mules in the Old Stall: Brad Lawrence and Cyndi Freeman

July 4th, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon

Brad Lawrence and Cyndi Freeman (as Cherry Pitz)

Originally uploaded by chinese_fashion

We’ve got a couple more mules kicking in the stall here at the And I Am Not Lying stable.

It’s all well and good for me to log in at a whim (which is apparently every three weeks or so) and blog about my feelings and stuff, and for D.Billy to contribute his take on art and design, but we’ve been getting a little stale.

Not blogging is a lot like not working out: it’s pretty great until you look around and realize what happens when you haven’t been doing it for a long time. You’ve got all this free time, all this energy to do other stuff, and then you start feeling a little flabby and the next thing you know your traffic’s fallen off and you pants don’t fit and nobody is writing you little notes about how great you are.

Or what an asshole you are. There’s no middle ground online.

We’re experimenting with a few things here, and one of the biggest most exciting things is the addition of two new bloggers — Brad Lawrence and Cyndi Freeman. They’re both great friends of mine, and part of what makes New York’s underground performing scene weird, wild, but ultimately cozy and comforting.

Cyndi actually gave me my first shot as a storyteller at a tiny little bar out in Bay Ridge, a place so far out on the R train I thought I was going to have to have my passport stamped. It was at this weird little divey biker bar with a coffee shop and Internet cafe sort of tacked onto the side. You had to be careful when you went into the bar side to use the bathroom — the door opened up directly into the line of fire for the dart board, so it was entirely possible to walk in with a full bladder and end up with a pierced ear. Or eyelid.

She’s encouraging, loving and generous, with a bottomless patience for truly crazy people — she’s also a Moth Slam champion and fantastic storyteller herself. She helped me edit one of my Moth stories the night before I competed directly against her in a Moth Grand Slam. For Cyndi, it’s about helping people and building the community.

Cyndi’s also working on a one-woman show about the life and times of Wonder Woman, which she may actually perform in a Wonder Woman costume. She does gigs at sci-fi and comic conventions dressed up as Wonder Woman sometimes, so it’s not really a stretch.

Furthermore, Cyndi performs around town as the burlesque queen Cherry Pitz. She co-produces Hotsy Totsy Burlesqueand also co-produces a new storytelling show called The Standard Issues at Pacific Standard, at the corner of 4th Avenue and Saint Mark’s Place in Brooklyn.

Brad Lawrence and Cyndi Freeman are married, see – -and they co-produce Hotsy Totsy Burlesque and The Standard Issues together. I know — it’s adorable. And it’s some wild, weird, and fertile crossover territory, too.

Brad is a two-time Moth Grand Slam champion. He did it back-to-back, too, sort of a greatly scaled-down version of Ian MacKaye starting both Minor Threat AND Fugazi. Brad’s pretty much one of the most charming, laid-back dudes you could ever hope to meet. You can take the guy literally anywhere and he makes it all better, because he’s seen so much worse. He’s got his own blogging concern over at Billy Joe’s Boy, and book proposal in the works. He’s also a member of the BTK Band, New York’s only improv-comedy storytelling rock band, and one of the only bands that can guarantee every single audience member a hangover whether or not they even drink anything.

Here’s Brad, telling a story at Seth Lind’s “Told!”:

Brad and I have pretty much the perfect 21st-century dude-friendship — we’ve done home improvement projects together and drank whiskey and shouted together at burlesque shows, and he’s also helped me move. You cant’ ask for a better guy than that.

I’m really stoked to have these two join us. Not only do I love them as friends, I respect the holy hell out of them as artists and I love their weird eclectic tastes. I hope you guys do, too.

Archives Posts

Tate’s Poem : Sure as Sh*t

June 22nd, 2010 by D.Billy

Spotted on the subway platform at Union Square:

Dear Kara,
There’s no rain
there’s no me
I’m tellin ya man
sure as shit.


Archives Posts

Performing at Seth Lind’s “Told!,” Monday, June 21st

June 17th, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon

Man – it’s been a while since I’ve been on here. On the one hand, I’ve been trying to focus more on writing more stories — which, if you want to do it well, is pretty much the opposite of blogging.

And on the other, my God, the Internet just sucks my soul out through my eyeballs. So much blather, so little quality.

But whatever. I’ll be performing at Seth Lind’s “Told” on Monday, June 21st. Show starts at 7PM, but here’s the exciting thing: they’re filming the thing as a TV pilot! It’ll take up some extra seats and they’ll shut the doors for real once the theater fills up, so you might want to get there a bit early.

I’m honored and flattered to be asked, really. I’ve been kinda below the storytelling radar for a while, and this is a great chance to bust up out of the darkness.

Here’s the list of storytellers and more, cobbled from Seth’s promo e-mail:

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One Year After: When the Curtain Calls for You

May 17th, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon

I had a little cancer last year.

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Free Fun Prizes: New Site Intervention from D.Billy

April 23rd, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon

My self-promotion-averse co-blogger D.Billy has been colossally busy as of late. He was responsible for having to help prep Cooper Union for Obama’s visit this week, a task that I’m sure glad I didn’t have to perform. I can barely remember to put out a fresh roll of toilet paper when people come over to my place.

D.Billy’s also been slogging it up and down 95 on various buses to see his lady, a process that I am abundantly familiar with. That really, really sucks, because you can’t even complain about it properly. I mean, shit, you still got a girlfriend at the end of the bus ride, right, so who are you to fuss?

There is ALWAYS somebody who is either 1) freestyle rapping to their headphones 2) eating something deep-fried or 3) wearing huge sunglasses and an empire-waist dress and talking in a nasal whine about some guy they’re “just hanging out with, whatever,” on the four-hour slog out of New York on the bus on a Friday night, though. And lady at the end or not, that gets mighty old.

None of this is a valid excuse for not blogging much, though. The real reason this blog’s been fallow lately: we both just tired as hell.

I’m pleased to report that D.Billy has not been too busy or tired to throw up a new Site Intervention, though. Check this bad thing out:

Free Fun Prizes

You can see the rest of his Site Interventions here.

Archives Posts

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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