SuperDee's House

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Remembering Katrina

I love you New Orleans!

Photo taken May 2006 in the LGD

For those of you that have never seen Spike Lee's "When the Levees Broke" documentary, they are airing on HBO today.

When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts
As the world watched in horror, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans on August 29, 2005. Like many who watched the unfolding drama on television news, director Spike Lee was shocked not only by the scale of the disaster, but by the slow, inept and disorganized response of the emergency and recovery effort. Lee was moved to document this modern American tragedy, a morality play witnessed by people all around the world. The result is WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE: A REQUIEM IN FOUR ACTS. The film is structured in four acts, each dealing with a different aspect of the events that preceded and followed Katrina's catastrophic passage through New Orleans. Read more.

A Few More Bookeaters Photos

These photos came to me this morning via Jen Snow at 826NYC (thank you!). I already posted my ramblings yesterday but how can I not share these beautiful shots taken by Joe Pacheco.

Mmmm... Jimmmm...

Jim with his Omnichord

See ya tonight, Feist!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Eating Books is Indie-Fabulous

[Thanks to Susie Martinez for the photos.]

The summer begins to wind down and another school year is about to start. For us 30-somethings, we may not be buying pencils and books but there is a lingering memory within all of us that comes up with the approaching season. Were you inspired to learn and create as a child? Many of us were lucky to have a supportive and stimulating early education but there are tons of kids running around that don't. Enter 826NYC - "a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write." It's also a kick-ass Superhero Supply Store in Park Slope.

On a balmy Sunday evening in August on the Upper West Side, indie-rock darlings gathered together at the Beacon Theater to perform a benefit concert for 826NYC - Revenge of the Bookeaters. Daily Show contributor, comedian Demetri Martin was our irreverent host for the evening, "sprinkling jokes" in between musical sets. First up was A.C. Newman (New Pornographers) who was accompanied by the warm sounds of violin and cello. He sang "Come Crash" (with the "Christine come crash on my floor" refrain) and then told us how he just met a girl named Christine a couple of weeks ago which he thought was pretty f*cked up. Dreams really do come true (for indie-pop stars anyway).

The second act was my favorite pleasant surprise of the evening - Grizzly Bear. They've opened for many bands I admire and Jeff Tweedy put them on his list of new favorite bands. I tried to listen to their albums a couple of times and I just didn't quite get it yet. But now I do - seeing them live was like the much-needed lightbulb. Grizzly Bear is four very talented and slightly creepy guys (especially the impish Chris Taylor with his mind-blowing falsetto) blending perfect vocal harmonies and odd instrumentation (oboe, whistling, accordian) with just a dash of reverb giving it that other-worldly quality. Their songs gave me the sense that I was looking in a crystal ball and seeing a fuzzy image of the past and the future all at once. There was one song called "Marla," originally written by singer/songwriter Ed Droste's great aunt in the 1930s, that was stunning and dreamlike with an old-timey circus-esque organ melody played by drummer/keyboardist Chris Bear. In-house superstar Feist joined the boys for a beautiful number giving a little potential foreshadowing to their show together tomorrow night at McCarren pool. (Demetri Martin later said they should be Feisty Bear - cute!) The song that made my jaw drop was guitarist Daniel Rossen's deconstructed cover of Paul Simon's "Graceland" which became wistful and spooky. When he sang "losing love is like a window in your heart," I could almost actually feel the wind blow.

After a great joke by Demetri about jello shots ("I like virgin jello shots. I guess I just really like to eat jello really fast"), and some heckling from and to some jerk in the crowd, it was time for my true love, Jim James. He began with an out of tune guitar, unfortunately, on a song I did not recognize but gave me goosebumps on goosebumps at the end with gorgeous falsetto oooooooooooh's. A beautiful "Bermuda Highway" followed. He then traded his acoustic for the coolest thing ever, the Omnichord (thanks to Dindas for the research), with which he synthesized a band for "What a Wonderful Man." "A lot of people think that song is about G-d, but it's not," he said. Jim, looking like a preacher man in a three piece suit, always likes to comment on his surroundings ("You are all ponies!" - High Sierra 2006) and he told a story about his church growing up that had a big eyeball in the ceiling which was supposed to be G-d looking down on them making sure they were all being good. Where is he going with this? Well, the chandelier at the Beacon kinda looks like a giant drill bit so he said this was Satan's house and he was drilling down to get us. He's such a weirdo and I love it. "A lot of people think this song is about G-d, but it's not," he repeated and then sang "Gideon." During the end of the song when he was rocking out, he turned around to headbang with his band that wasn't there like an amputee. He played "Anytime" to finish his set and comically recreated the changing drum beat at the end with the awesome Omnichord. Oh, please don't go away Jim.... Ok, ok, more music to be had ahead.

Journalist, humorist, and 826NYC board member Sarah Vowell took the stage to talk some more about the organization. They presented a few hilarious trailers of movies created by the kids during their summer film workshop. The best was a Scream-like trailer for "Death Is Calling" with the tag line, "your life is on the line." Bwahaha! Sarah then mediated a skit acted out by comedians Leo Allen and Eugene Mirman who both portrayed a character named George Washington (no relation) who was tutored and not-tutored (respectively) as a child. Obviously, the non-tutored adult played by Eugene ended up being executed by lethal injection and his last words were, "Ice cream!!!!!" Hilar.

Next up was the seductive Leslie Feist who read two stories written by the kids of 826NYC. The first was written by an 8-year-old about a lonely boy named Paul who lived in iCity (run by Mac). Paul met Steve (who was in a punk band called Black Luster) who showed him how to use iChat to communicate with other people and all was well. The second story, written in tandem by a group of kids at the center, was about a peanut named Mystic Water who was a model, lived in a jar, and had a wife named Jellytaker. Ya gotta love the limitless imagination of the youth... Feist then sang "The Water," a hauntingly beautiful song from her album The Reminder.

After Feisty was Kevin Drew from Broken Social Scene who's got his own solo project at the moment called Spirit If.... He was accompanied by his BSS brother, Brendan Canning, and the two played a few songs including Kevin's "F*cked Up Kid" and BSS's "Superconnected." The final performance of the evening was by Spoon's Britt Daniel who started his set with "I Summon You" from Gimme Fiction followed by "Black Like Me" from the new album, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. Britt's got great stage presence and the Spoon songs were delivered with fury. AC Newman popped up to sing a song with Britt and that closed the show.

It was an amazing night of music for a wonderful cause. Kudos to Bowery Presents for their insightful booking. They no doubt raised a good deal of money for 826NYC, helping tons of kids to unleash their imaginations, use their superpowers for good, and to be ever vigilant and ever true. Learn more here:

Monday, August 20, 2007

Tom Hamilton, The Scribe. Camp Bisconess.

I went up to Camp Bisco this past Saturday and one of my favorite parts was reading Tom Hamilton's (American Babies) description about Bustle In Your Hedgerow in the program:

Bustle In Your Hedgerow by Tom Hamilton
What a cool jamband idea to have some heavy jamband hitters put together a Led Zeppelin tribute jamband! You have the Benevento/Russo Jamband, the ripping ex-guitarist from the west coast jamband Particle (LOVE THEM!), and the bassist from Ween who isn't a jamband but jamband fans seem to really like. This is a jamband fan's fantasy jamband and I can't wait to hear the Bonham like drumming of jambander Joe "I Love to Jam, Jam, Jam" Russo, the insane Page like jambanding of Scott "Four on the Jamband Floor" Metzger, the brilliant John Paul Jones' rhythms and arrangements split between Marco "Jazz Farmer Jam" Benevento and Dave "I Love te Untzzz" Dreiwitz, and finally of course the Golden-God/King of the Bulge/ Robert Plant like vocals of..... Jamband "Jamband" Jamband. Jamband jamband jam band. Jam, band jam bandjam ba. Nd jamband jam jam jam band band band. Jamband.

Bustle In Your Hedgerow, the jamband, with jamband special guest Jamie Shields substituting for Marco on keys.

Scott Metzger

Lyrics Born

STS9 at dusk.

Tommy Hamilton sings "Take a Bow" by Muse with The Disco Biscuits. Wow.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Air Guitar is here to stay, whether we like it or not.

Last night I had a once-in-a-lifetime (hopefully) experience at Irving Plaza at the Air Guitar National Championships. NYC local "William Ocean" was crowned the winner and he will represent our country at the Air Guitar World Championships in Finland (yes, I said "world.") Currently Japan has the title, apparently, and judging from the sold-out crowd last night, USA is ready to take it back. (I say let 'em keep it.) With the exorbitant amount of press in the house recording every last moment, this seemingly was a pretty big deal. As the emcee / mastermind (or complete and absolute idiot depending on your perspective) Bjorn Turoque said, "If you're holding an air guitar, you can't be holding a gun." Air guitar for world peace. Right on, man.

Anyway, I went out in support of a good friend of mine from my college years who was the regional champion from Columbus, OH. We shall call by his stage name, Derek Not So Smalls (DNNS's qualifying peformance). Derek was criticized pretty harshly by the esteemed panel of judges who included Malcolm Gladwell of "The Tipping Point" fame (I wish I was kidding you), ACLU attorney Ben Weisman (who's best line of the night was, "Air Guitar is not a novelty act."), Rachel Dratch from SNL and 30 Rock, and the Daily Show's Jason Jones (who probably got his ass kicked after the show.) Contestants are judged on technical merit, stage presence, and "airness." And, of course, there may be no actual guitars on stage.

Beer cans were thrown at judges and contestants alike as crowd favorites and villains took the stage to show their... um... stuff. Standouts were Ricky Stinkfingers from San Francisco mostly because of his name and his seven pieces of flare and the 2006 champion Hot Lixx Hulahan because lets face it, if you don't come up with a good name, why are you really doing this? The two guys from Texas, Stryker and Big Rig, were the winners in my book due to their display on balcony during the "Freebird" finale. Stryker, clad only in gold shiny tights, almost took a nose dive before the caring and daring Big Rig, himself wearing merely a stars-and-stripes speedo, pulled his air brother to safety. But only one of these brave individuals can be named winner and this year the honors went to the local fave, William Ocean, who graciously accepted his prize while bleeding from his face. (Beer can injuries seem rampant around these parts.)

As Jason Jones reminded the crowd with his final thoughts while flipping everyone the double bird, "Just remember, there are no winners. You are all losers. All of you."

A few photos in case you don't believe me:

Ricky Stinkfingers from San Francisco

The smack-talkin' judges

Derek Not So Smalls in action.

More Derek...

...and one more.

Derek and some fan

2007 Champion William Ocean is crowd surfing on stage during the "Freebird" finale.

People who definitely have really bad hangovers today.

Last but not least, the darling Texas boys who stole my heart.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Three Years Ago Today

My JamBase piece from three years ago: Pharewell My Phriend.

Nice day for a dip in the pool.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


It was only a matter of time before I went mobile! Writing to you from under a tree, in the ocean air, with heady friends, eating almonds and listening to Keller Williams (and Bob Weir just sat in). Greetings from gathering of the vibes in Bridgeport, CT.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Hold Steady in Prospect Park

It's the last weekend of shows in Prospect Park for the summer - wah! The Hold Steady was great last night. The Big Sleep and The Teenage Prayers (with The Dansettes girls on backup vocals for a few numbers) opened.

Monday, August 06, 2007

SuperPalooza: Afterword

Lollapalooza happened. If you feel like reading my ramblings, head over to JamBase and check it out. I am completely spent in the best of ways. I am currently delayed at O'Hare so I've got nothing to do but write to you friendly folk. Some of my favorite moments of the weekend include (in no particular order):

1. Karen O sticking the microphone in her mouth and growling into it while holding it in her teeth.

2. Dancing barefoot in muddy gravel during My Morning Jacket.

3. Rodrigo Y Gabriela's cover of "Wish You Were Here."

4. Discovering new (to me) bands that I will be looking into: Cage The Elephant, MRNORTH, and Los Campesinos!.

5. The LCD Soundsystem > Daft Punk Friday night robot rock freak out dance party.

6. Kidzapalooza.

7. Craig Finn's emotionally grateful moment.

8. Headbanging during Muse.

9. Eddie Vedder.

10. Jim James.