False alarm, you guys! Wikipedia was so very, very wrong. According to other, more reputable sources (read: pretty much the rest of The Internet) Huey Lewis is only 63. Adjust your fantasies accordingly.
Huey Lewis is 69 years old. Let that sink in for a sec.
I don’t know which I love more: the fact that The Beach Boys used to advertise their services by handing out business cards (For Your Entertainment Pleasure!) or that the company selling it for $900 bones decided to photograph it with what looks like the Vaseline-coated lens of a Motorola Razr. “GOOD PICTURE? NAAAAH, THIS THING’S GONNA SELL ITSELF!”
Should we talk about the weather? Should we talk about the government? Or should we talk about how R.E.M.’s Green album came out 25 years ago today, which will immediately lead into a conversation about Michael Stipe’s torso, about the Out of Time sticker we slapped on our Trapper Keeper and about how we’re starting to wonder whether we need to start using a more potent undereye cream.
From The Current: “Green still sounds fresh today, in part because it hasn’t been overplayed. Everyone’s heard ‘Losing My Religion’ in the grocery store, but you’re unlikely to hear, say, ‘The Wrong Child’ wafting through the produce section. The songs on Green make you want to turn the radio up instead of off.”
A friend wrote these sentences in an email and meant for them to be a How To when it came to filming concerts for him at a local rock club. But it works pretty well as all-around life advice too.
Fuck up. You’ll do just fine.
GPOYW: ‘I Don’t Even Know Anymore’ Edition
If you pre-order Nick Lowe’s new holiday album from Yep Roc, you can receive it pre-wrapped in this rad Nick Lowe paper. I’m not exaggerating when I say I would commission a set of curtains made from this pattern.
At one time, a DJ would just turn up at the disco, spin a few cuts, tell you whose birthday was coming up and maybe ask the owner of a green Vauxhall Viva to shift it from the fire exit. Now they don’t even introduce the records! They just go thumpity-thump in between. It’s all sirens, whoops and whistles. God knows how they can tell when the fire alarm’s going off. They just go ‘Uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh’ all fucking night!
Saxondale: Series 1, Episode 7
I hate to call out the BBC, but there was absolutely NOTHING that was super about Mike & The Mechanics.
Elvis Costello: The Monster Went and Ate My Red Two
I had no idea that Mister MacManus ever made a Sesame Street appearance but now it’s pretty much my favorite thing of all time.
My second favorite thing? This comment from YouTube: “Elmo was by far the most literate and diverse of the ‘angry young man’ songwriters emerging from England in the late 1970s, no small achievement in light of competition that included first-rate talents like Graham Parker, Joe Jackson, John Lydon, Shane MacGowan, the Strummer/Jones pairing of the Clash and Elvis Costello.”
1) It doesn’t matter which hotel key I slip into my pocket or which front desk has my credit card information (so they can discreetly charge me if I accidentally put the table lamps in my luggage), I always feel like a fraud when I’m in Manhattan. Those midtown hotels have been carefully designed for maximum coolness and—because I look like your middle school gym teacher—I’m pretty much the opposite of that. I recently stayed at The Hudson, which was no different: sleek modern décor, dimly lit public areas and rooms designed for people whose sex lives are more exciting than mine, a category that includes every other guest I saw in the elevator, most characters from Victorian literature and pandas in captivity.
My room was boss though, with mirrors lining both walls and a shower that had a giant glass panel that faced the bedroom, presumably so whoever was lathering up with the swanky C.O. Bigelow shower gel could put on a super steamy show (thanks, non-skid flooring!) for whichever of their friends or relatives were sitting expectantly on the bed. That works for the people who, when wet, look like Daryl Hannah in Splash. I look like a raccoon that was just sucked into a storm drain.
BUT the ambient darkness of their lobby-level pickup bar meant that no one could see me in there at midnight, hunched over my Table for One while I made out with a bad decision called Peanut Butter Pork Ribs.
2) Last Thursday night, I saw Wesley Stace at City Winery, and it was a fantastic show. He’s spent the past twenty-something years filling records with perfectly crafted pop songs as John Wesley Harding, but has recently dropped the name that he borrowed from Bob Dylan and is recording under the one that was neatly typed on his birth certificate.1 The show was to celebrate the release of Self-Titled, his, um…debut album, an intimate (and excellent) set of songs that essentially tell the stories behind every scar on his heart.
That night, the only track he borrowed from John Wesley Harding’s back catalog was “I’m Wrong About Everything,” which everyone who’s seen High Fidelity will recognize as the song playing when Rob recounts the end of his relationship with Catherine Zeta Jones, her Revlon Colorstay lipstick and her sweet-ass Pretenders t-shirt. That song—which has aged better than John Cusack—has one of my favorite lines ever (“Then we lie awake/And watch headlights climb the blinds”), which totally nails the feeling of being unable to sleep beside the person that you’re sleeping with.
1 His own reasons for the swap are here, which is a totally entertaining read.
On Friday, I caught the Waterboys at the Bowery Ballroom. Frontman and scarf enthusiast Mike Scott and fiddlemonster Steve Wickham are the only members remaining from those LPs I’ve shelved beside the turntable, but they put on one tremendous show. Of course they played “The Whole of The Moon,” which I’m pretty sure everyone in the crowd had rollerskated to at some point, but they also did a blistering version of “We Will Not Be Lovers,” ten-plus minutes that swapped the bitterness of the original for what sounded like vindication.2
Before the show, while the techs were tuning the guitars and taping setlists beside the mic stands, I noticed a guy standing a couple of rows in front of me, right at the edge of the stage. He was squinting at the Sharpied song titles through chunky glasses and had a haphazard haircut that looked like he might have done it himself, possibly while riding a log flume. BUT he was cute in that Ira Glass-slash-Hot Nerd sort of way and the way we’d make eye contact and then quickly look at our own shoes made me think we were equally matched in Social Awkwardness. So yeah, he seemed promising.
By the time the ‘Boys took the stage, I was already debating what kind of Doritos we’d serve at our rehearsal dinner (COOL RANCH OR THIS WEDDING IS OFF) when I noticed that instead of clapping, he was doing that aggressive finger-snap thing that people do at poetry slams or when they’re signaling for the check at an airport concourse Applebee’s. I immediately canceled the imaginary order for our Save the Date cards and added ‘finger snapping at concerts’ to my list of Signs We’re Never Sleeping Together, right between ‘Says the word ‘co-inky-dink” and ‘Knows the words to a Christopher Cross song.’
2They’re also the only group other than the Charlie Daniels Band that can prompt an entire room full of people to start playing Air Fiddle.
3) Last music-related bit: I caught up with some friends in Greenpoint on Friday morning and, immediately after hearing their door close behind me, broke into a sprint to hit some record stores before heading back to the G train. I thumbed through crates in several spots but the biggest and best haul was courtesy of the Record Grouch: a Robyn Hitchcock “Flesh No. 1 (Beatle Dennis)” single—on blue vinyl!— a crazy rare copy of The Loud Family’s Plants and Birds and Rocks and Things and several other pub rock-era LPs that I had to somehow shove into my carry-on bag. Actually, I’m just putting this paragraph here to remind myself why I’ll die alone.
4) When I wasn’t loading up on R.E.M. bootlegs (did I mention that one? It’s on the illustrious Pharting Pharaoh label) I shoved a lot of art into my eyeholes, hitting the Met, the Jewish Museum and MoMA. The Met currently has a Balthus exhibition called ‘Cats and Girls—Paintings and Provocations,’ which provided an unsettling combination of all four of those capitalized promises. Most of the collection focused on his infatuation with painting young girls in suggestive poses, 14-year-olds who flashed bored expressions and their white underpants in equal amounts. The gallery was reasonably deserted when I was there, although the two groups of people staring at his canvases seemed to be either the ones who were totally offended by the entire exhibition (“He’s sick!” a seventy-something woman hissed to her wheelchair-bound husband. “He’s a sick, sick man.”) or those who were totally on Balthus’ side.
Two men in matching berets and mock turtlenecks would move from painting to painting, turning to face each other for a 150 decibel discussion of what they’d just seen. Because my level of Art Knowledge is being able to recognize which Van Gogh painting is screenprinted onto a novelty tie, I listened. “You’re being subtly manipulated here,” the one with the louder voice and louder pants said. “Yes, and look here,” the other said, moving his finger around the edge of the tablecloth in the Still Life. “This could be a vagina. And this could be a vagina. This also.” The other man nodded before they continued into the room to the left. I went right.
My stop at MoMA was for their Magritte exhibition, because his surreal paintings appeal to the same part of my brain that Robyn Hitchcock’s lyrics do (the second largest part of my brain, right behind the part that remembers the words to 1980s sitcom theme songs. STAAAAANDING TALL! ON THE WINGS OF MY DREAAAAMS!) After fighting the massive crowd—going on Saturday morning was a tactical blunder—and being delighted at the inclusion of La Lampe Philosophique,3 I made my way to the 4th and 5th floors, which I love.
A harried looking family was rushing through the Painting & Sculpture I gallery, all four of them carrying identical Abercrombie bags that crashed into their identical khaki-covered legs as they stopped to avoid plowing into strangers. One of the kids grumbled and the mom turned, pushed her bangs from her forehead and said “I just want to see Starry Night.” She switched her bag to the other hand, adding “That’s the only reason we’re here.” Like, I’m not going to judge anyone, but if that’s the only thing you want to see, why not save yourself $25 bucks a head and go into any freshman girl’s dorm room? I swear they’ll have an even bigger copy.
3 Which is the cover art for Alan Hull’s excellent Pipedream record, one more thing to file under ‘Alone, Will Die.’
5) A total stranger followed me for half a block, saying nothing until a red light stopped us side-by-side at the same intersection. “Hey,” he said, leaning in with a serious expression that made me think he was about to diagnose me with a terminal illness. “You have some bionic titties.”
Robyn Hitchcock - “The Ghost in You” (Live; Psychedelic Furs Cover)
This seems appropriate for today.