Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


Thank you, come again!

Filed under : New York City
On October 30, 2006
At 12:05 am
Comments : 18

Just a couple of days till Halloween. Or past Halloween. Depending on when you read this. As an adult I’ve never been a really Halloween-celebrating person. I kind of like my everyday persona and find no need to dress up. Or maybe I’m just no fun. When I was a kid, sure, I was all about the candy and if a costume was part of the effort to snag bags full of free candy, bring it on! Now, Halloween isn’t exactly a Jewish thing and in fact, it’s got kind of an anti-semitic history, but luckily we didn’t really buy into that and I was free to build up the fat and cavities.

But, in case you hadn’t guessed, this is actually another edition of “you live like that, we live like this.” I know, it’s been a while, non-New Yorkers, but here we are again. I grew up in the suburbs of the city and I had a Halloween probably a lot like what you see in your neighborhood. Kids dress up, walk around to the neighbors’ houses, ring the bell, and say trick or treat. Then they haul in the goods.

OK, now picture yourself in Manhattan, a place where the third deadbolt lock on your apartment is bigger than the second, where you only knock on your neighbors’ doors to tell them their music is too loud, where you avoid eye contact with anyone asking you for anything. No, it’s hard to see children knocking on strange doors in that scenario, isn’t it? As a matter of fact, in the building I live in now there are precisely two children of trick-or-treating age. It’s only got one-bedroom apartments, and the only non-infant children live in the apartment that used to be three and is now one. Believe me, those kids should be giving me candy.

But I digress. So what do kids do around here? Oh, it’s simple. They trick-or-treat at stores. Yes, the stores all have bags of candy and give it out to the kids or else the parents will never shop there again. Or I think that’s the case. By the time I get home at seven or eight, most of the stores have signs that say “out of candy” in the window. But still, there’s nothing like seeing gaggles of kids with parents in tow popping into Payless Shoes or even the liquor store to ask for candy. I know for some people the Village Halloween Parade is quintessential Halloween New York, but for me, it’ll always be children in tutus and baseball uniforms stopping in at Radio Shack (above, click to enlarge) to ask for candy.

Of course, I’m writing this while watching the Flavor of Love Reunion special, so I guess wacky is all relative. And if I were dressing up, I think I’d be Flavor Flav. But that just makes me wonder, does he make all those girls change his clocks for Daylight Savings Time? Because that must be a really sucky part of the contest.


Ministry – Every Day Is Halloween


iPod song of the week – Nitzer Ebb

Filed under : iPod Song of the Week
On October 29, 2006
At 6:30 pm
Comments :Comments Off on iPod song of the week – Nitzer Ebb

I actually had a request this week and I don’t usually take requests but this one was from one of my dearest friends (she doesn’t comment so none of you will know her, but she bought me dinner for my birthday, isn’t that enough for you?). Anyway, it was for a Tool song that I once put on a mixtape for her and she recently rediscovered (as well as an embarrassing picture of me, yay).

But anyway, I remembered after the fact that Tool is not available on any legal download services and this page is all about downloading legally. I think it’s probably the whole Radiohead artistic phenomenon of “our songs don’t stand alone but rather as full-length albums.” But it’s OK, I think in actuality she just wanted to see me write a few paragraphs about the song “Prison Sex.” Sadly for her and you, I will not be able to do that. What a shame.

Instead I bring you another hard-edged song that she and I used to enjoy back in the day. I can’t really speak to the lyrics just that there’s something so sinister and frantic in it, maybe it’s all those yelps, that it totally floats my boat. But also feel free to buy the Tool CD at your local Tower store which is going out of business and so it’ll be cheap.

Nitzer Ebb – Join In The Chant


Good clean fun

Filed under : Music
On October 26, 2006
At 5:30 pm
Comments : 22

Last night, KP and I went to go see The Killers at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden. Now, I’ve seen The Killers before and it was free. Well, actually it was $30 round trip on the Fung Wah bus to Boston since I saw them (with Interpol opening) at a WFNX show. But since I went with NewMother Jan, I consider the $30 as the cost to see her, and the show as being free. But this time I bought the tickets before the CD came out and you know how that is. New CD! Accompanying show! This is the kind of thing that induces you to pay $65 to see a band that used to be free.

I think the thing that struck us most about the show was how clean and fresh the whole place was. It didn’t really feel like you were at a rock show. Have you seen this venue? CBGB’s it ain’t. People were drinking cocktails with glow sticks in them. Plus, there was no pot smell at all. In fact, it kind of smelled like Bath & Body Works. As KP remarked, “this is the only show I’ve ever been to where people are moisturizing between sets.”

But it got more bizarre, because at some point this family arrived from a distant planet to sit right in front of us. It was a thirty-something guy, his 5 year old kid (holding a bag that said “Happy Birthday”) and a woman who was either the thirty-something’s elderly mother or else maybe his cleaning lady. We weren’t sure. Right after the band went on, though, the woman lit up a joint and proceeded to rock out, I kid you not. Then her son (or employee) pulled out a video camera and videoed the whole show (while singing along) and only took breaks to let the little boy do some filming. Because illegal videoing is a family affair, naturally!

To our right was a passel of five jock type guys who seemed to be playing a game where only four of them could be seated at any one time. So every few minutes another one would shift back past us and then yet another would leave. It was a little distracting. Well, KP and I were busy as usual cracking each other up like the 12 year olds we are, so maybe we were in fact distracting them. But come on, you gotta laugh at “Play ‘Touch Me I’m Dick!” OK, maybe it’s just me.

But it was a decent show even though for the second time now they avoided playing “Believe Me Natalie.”  And now that they have two albums they could play for longer than an hour. Not that they did by much. But I’m sure next time they come the tickets will be $125 and I’ll look back at this as the good old days. Or maybe I’ll just go to the mall and listen to “Believe Me Natalie” on my iPod at Bath & Body Works and forget the whole thing.

By the way, if you’ve ever seen The Killers live, do you think Brandon Flowers thinks he’s sexy? Maybe a little bit? Nah.


The Killers – Believe Me Natalie


Welcome to Circuit City, where service is in a state of nonexistence

Filed under : Rants,Stores
On October 24, 2006
At 12:30 pm
Comments : 26

I know you spend your days pondering the following: “I wonder what the worst electronics & CD store on the entire earth is?” Because I love to answer questions, I’ll tell you that I know this one and I know it well. Yes, friends, it’s the Circuit City on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Could there be a worse store for either electronics OR CD’s? How about customer service or the lack thereof?

I think last night might have been my final straw with them. But let me back up a little and just say that I have never, ever gone there with the intention of buying a non-new-release CD and actually found it. Sure, they have the stuff that was released last Tuesday, but their CD racks seem to be there just to tease you into thinking they might actually carry the pre-2006 CD you wanted. No sir!

And don’t bother asking anyone anything. They never know. I think my favorite customer “service” event happened last Christmastime when I went looking for a Discman for a gift for someone-or-other. My conversation with the salesguy went something like this:

Me: Do you have the El Cheapo brand Discman on sale in your flyer?
Him: I’m sorry, that’s not in my zone.
Me: Pardon?
Him: We each cover zones. The portable electronics zone is over there but the guy is on break.
Me: So you can’t step over 30 feet and show me where it is?
Him: I’ll get fired. Do you know what my rent is?

Uh, no. And I never found out. But that brings me to last night when I went with a friend of mine visiting from Israel, Naftali, whom I’m namechecking shamelessly to ensure he’ll read my blog from now on. It was clear the store would be closing shortly and it was nearly empty. We went upstairs, found the two external hard drives that were on sale and I proceeded to ask the salesguy if the no-name yet cheaper one was decent. He said, “I haven’t received any complaints on any of the hard drives.” Now, I ask you, when was the last time you complained to the store sales guy that your hard drive crashed? But, you know, that was what I wanted to hear so I went with it.

He got another guy to open the case for us and get me the one on sale. Or so we thought. Because they were closing soon, they had closed all the registers except the customer service desk. Which is fabulous because you get to wait on line for one cashier behind all the people with long, drawn-out issues. The woman in front of me won the prize, though, because she went ballistic and insisted she had pulled out her credit card and now it was gone. First she declared that the cashier had lost it. Then she moved on to contend that it had been stolen by some other customer. Because of that, she insisted the cashier let her use the phone to call Amex to cancel it that very second because someone was out using it to buy things RIGHT NOW. Of course, since she didn’t have the card, she didn’t have a number so wanted the cashier to find that for her. Naftali and I spent this time debating whether it was in her pocket or if she had left it at home.

By the time they got to me I was ready to jam the hard drive down someone’s throat. But finally, the cashier rang it up and it came up as double the actual price in the sales flyer. We determined that the guy upstairs had given me the wrong one. Great. So we went back upstairs (of course the security guard, who wanted to close up, tried to stop us) to find the salesguy who when I pointed to the one in the flyer, said, “oh yeah, we don’t have that one.” Naturally.

So why do I keep going back to this store? Because it’s the nearest one to me, at the moment I have a giftcard there, and it’s the cheapest thing in the area. Of course, things are always cheap when they’re not in stock and so you can’t buy them. But I’m counting on them for the new Deftones CD which comes out on Tuesday. I’m sure if I get there within 12 hours of its release they’ll have it. I just hope I don’t have to ask anyone for help.

The Polecats – Make A Circuit With Me


iPod song of the week – Wax and Wane

Filed under : iPod Song of the Week
On October 22, 2006
At 6:25 pm
Comments :Comments Off on iPod song of the week – Wax and Wane

This morning, Kay, well, actually Kay’s husband, Nigel the Brit, reminded me of a band I haven’t heard in a while, the Cocteau Twins. But even before that, I’ve been listening to one particular Cocteau Twins song song quite a lot this year, just not their version. See, one of my favorite bands, the Deftones, were inspired by many of the same bands that I grew up loving, and their last CD, B-Sides & Rarities, had covers of some of my favorite songs. If you know the Cocteau Twins’ ethereal, spooky soundscapes, and you know the Deftones’ uncompromising hardass yet melodic rock, you may wonder how it turned out. I’m here to tell you, it turned out great.

So, here are our two versions of the same song, joint iPod songs of the week.

Cocteau Twins – Wax and Wane

Deftones – Wax and Wane