Monthly Archives: March 2012

the new Monochrome Set album is here

Platinum Coils front cover

Cover image politely (in spirit) borrowed
from their booking agent Julie Tippex here.

Platinum Coils! Not here literally, but it will be soon: I ordered my copy first thing Saturday morning, before I’d even gotten out of bed. Yes of course I have email alerts for important events like this. I’m particularly excited because I heard the first track on it on the Marc Riley show last week and became a bit obsessed with it. It’s called “Hip Kitten Spinning Chrome” and you can have a listen (and buy the album, if you are tasteful) on the band’s site here. It’s a song about being in hospital — strangely thrilling subject matter for me, after a year of battling my own Health Issues — but it’s got the same larky wit all my other favorite Monochrome Set songs have. Not just in the nimble lyrics but in the intricate rhythms it unfurls, too.

Apparently I got a bit hormonal about having to wait for a CD to arrive in the mail, because later that afternoon I found myself in Kim’s looking for Monochrome Set vinyl to alleviate my distress. Voila, there’s a new-ish release of White Noise (new to me, at least) with some of my favorite songs from Black & White Minstrels, which I previously had only a crap mp3 of.

The Monochrome Set Early Recordings front cover


“Inside Your Heart” is a favorite among favorites. Press play, or go check out an old but still nice mixtape starting with it that I made for my food blog.

I also somehow found myself poking around the internet as if in preparation to make a sort of blog post-shrine to the Monochrome Set. A weird, candle-lit shrine complete with an old pin-up of Bid. Go ahead and get your special post-punk pants on, it’ll still be here when you return.

light yr candles

Bid pin-up

Bid pin-up via Northern Scum’s Tumblr.

Sorry, I don’t know whether there’s a matching one of Lester Square. If there is it will presumably turn up at the unofficial Monochrome Set Tumblr, which in the meantime has other delights.

Related reading: There are early reviews of Platinum Coils here and here, at Louder Than War and Retro Man, respectively. If you’ve been reading my post here and wondering who are the Monochrome Set, there’s a brief but effective Guardian music blog post here, after which you’ll doubtlessly want a look at the “History” section of the band’s site, where you can torment yourself with photos of super-fun shows you weren’t at.

signs and symbols

signs and symbols

On Saturday I met a friend at the Met. We I got there late so we only had a few minutes to pop in to the Egyptian wing before closing time, but sometimes a few minutes is enough to notice something interesting enough to mentally chew on for a couple days.

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This time it was these two statues, which are of the same guy. He had a little army of them in his tomb, one for each year. Youthful pecs gave way to man-boobs. The older figure on the right also has a longer skirt, more relaxed shoulders, a slightly pouchy tummy, and a shorter stride. Imagine these for yourself!

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Hopefully yours don’t appear progressively grumpier with age. Many of mine would have bobbed hair because I started young. No. 35 would be accompanied by an IV drip to commemorate Health Issues, but all my most important scars are invisible to the naked eye. So several of my Madeleinettes would have to wear little badges saying “Ask me about my love life,” etc., if they were to convey anything of their inner state to viewers passing by. Probably this is true for most of us who have not yet reached the longer-skirt years.

the pink collection

The first two images are my pink rocks, most of which are from here. The rest are from who knows where, credited when possible.

the pink collection, gritty

the pink collection, close up

Pink nebula.

pink nebula

Wendell Castle pink floor lamp (“Pinkie”) at 1stDibs.

Wendell Castle floor lamp

Twink, “Ten Thousand Words in a Cardboard Box,” from the album Think Pink.

Naive mountains i.e. sans Evian.

naive pink mountains

Moroccan rug at 1stDibs.

Moroccan rug

Close-up of Tadanori Yokoo’s The Dream Merchant Fairies via 50 Watts.

The Dream Merchant Fairies close-up

Vashti Bunyan, “17 Pink Sugar Elephants,” from the album Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind.

Rose pashmak / fairy floss / cotton candy / whatever they call candy fur in your motherland is available from Pariya.

rose pashmak

London toile wallpaper by Timorous Beasties.

London toile

Shell fragment chez Lunar Camel Co.

shell fragment

Pink Bamileke headdress from Cameroon at 1stDibs.

pink Bamileke headdress

Wire, “It’s So Obvious,” from the album Pink Flag.

Let’s go down to the water.

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Mentally this is where I am today, contemplating the many moods of Maine seaweed, its life and loves. If you follow a path along the tree line on the right side of the photo above, on the edge of the goldenrod, it leads to an esoteric little beach on the island of North Haven. Last year I didn’t get out to the island until September and because of the way this summer will unfold, I think the same thing will happen this year. It seems intolerably far away.

Bring your sunglasses because the goldenrod is eye-searingly bright on clear day.

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The beach is down here, at the bottom of a sort of natural stairway. It doesn’t look like it but there are comfortable places to put your feet, and you won’t spill your coffee. At the top of the stairway there’s a skull keeping watch over things.

IMG_6101 Colorcross

IMG_6106 Colorcross

There isn’t much to do down there. Sit on rocks, look at the water, watch boats go by. Lots of schooners and sailboats pass by on their way to or from Camden. There’s one of each in the distance just visible here.

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Looking at other islands is also an option. These are small islands so they’re best viewed large.

IMG_6339 Cinema

IMG-20110917-00457 Colorcross

IMG_6141 Colorcross

20110917-00403 Colorcross

Here is yr green drink.

You know, for St. Patrick’s Day. I got my green drinking out of the way early so I can spend the day itself indoors with other green things of my choice, away from festive novelty hats and the fluids so vivaciously discharged by people wearing them.

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Anyhow, this drink was one of the nicest I’ve had in a long while. It’s called a Wadsworth and it’s made with gin (Beefeater), Luxardo Triplum, lemon, green chili, and coriander. It’s greener in taste than appearance and very well-balanced, and you ought to go have one. It’s at a restaurant called Gwynnett St. in Brooklyn and I had such a nice dinner there yesterday. The place isn’t new but I hadn’t heard of it before; I was just walking around after a Thing nearby and there it was. I think it’s an excellent choice if you should find yourself hungry and in or near Brooklyn.

I had whiskey bread and chicken. The bread was terrific. I’m not sure I would’ve been able to decide it had whiskey in it had I not known in advance, but it would be interesting to try it again with a whiskey-based drink for accompaniment. I’m not normally an orderer of chicken but I was drawn to this one because ash was listed as one of the ingredients. Our waiter explained that the meat is brined and then coated with a mixture of smoked hay ash, garlic, and (I think) grapeseed oil. I would order pretty much anything with hay in it. It’s lo-fi, and I am famously into that. Hay, leaves, sap, or grasses, yes please. This was very, very good. Smoky, yes, though less so than my friend’s equally-delicious striped bass with smoked oyster cream. The deep garlic savoriness reminded me of Hide-Chan’s black garlic ramen, but it wasn’t pungent such that I felt like I needed to go into hiding afterwards. (Doubtlessly the beet and brown butter vinaigrette helped there). The hay gave it bonfire qualities without the barnyard-y note dishes like this sometimes have. This was more urbane-pagan than chef-daydreaming-of-farming.

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As long as we’re on the subject, I feel compelled to admit — is this why I brought this subject up? — I’ve been thinking about reviving my food blog. There are a number of reasons why it’s sort of a perverse time for me to do so, and yet I think it may be inevitable. I have so many other things I ought to be doing right now (very much including this blog) but I tend to get more things done when I have more things to do. If I add one more to my list, I might be able to finally make some real progress with those other things, along with the new (old) thing. I’ve got a new iPad that was just delivered today, which should be a tremendous help in terms of blog-infrastructure. Things I can do from bed or beside a turtle pond are far more likely to get done than things that require me sat at a desk. I also have a healthy backlog of material to get re-started with, having continued mentally food blogging during the entire dormant period (and having snapped plenty of photos and made plenty of notes too, just in case the secret mental blogging became unsatisfactory). I hadn’t looked at the list of e-mail subscribers to that blog in many, many months until yesterday, and there are now more people on it than there were when I was writing the thing. The newest was from this Tuesday! Knowing that people are waiting around for words I’m not producing makes me feel devious.

UPDATE: If you’d like to see a well-lit, technically perfect photo of that deliciously lo-fi smoked hay chicken, there’s one in the New York Times review of Gwynnett St. that just came out today (April 4, 2012). Wells liked the food a lot but thinks that “[m]ore attention to lighting in the dining room would flatter both the food and the faces.” As ugly as my BlackBerry photos above are, I disagree. I’d much rather have a sexily dim dinner than an easily-bloggable bright one.

turtle yoga

Sunny and 70° F in NYC today, just the sort of weather that inspires the turtles of Morningside Park to take up a fitness regimen.

turtle yoga

Actually the photo is from last spring, but I don’t expect to catch them at it this year, not after that big NYT piece about the dangers of recreational contortion. It really made the rounds, that thing, and turtles are notoriously cautious. The ones devoted to retaining their youthful snap will probably have turned their little attentions to the latest algae diet.

writing assignment

As in, I am soliciting one. Or many. It depends. This morning I was reading Der Spiegel’s interview with art forger and “hippie-like desperado” Wolfgang Beltracchi and I think his idea — somewhat problematic in execution, though strictly speaking it’s his €34 million in ill-gotten gains that are problematic — was a good one:

Beltracchi’s principle was not to copy the paintings of the Expressionists, but, as he says, to fill the gaps in their bodies of work. Either he invented new paintings and motifs, tying in to specific creative phases in the artists’ lives, or he created paintings whose titles appear in lists of the respective painters’ works but which were believed to have been lost — and of which no images existed.

I am going to spend the rest of the day browsing this list of lost works. An immediately tempting assignment-to-self: “Several pages of the original screenplay for Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes were reportedly thrown out of the window of a bus after one of his football team-mates threw up on them.” There are also some Mayan codices no one has seen since 1562, an Elizabethan-era play called “Hot Anger Soon Cold,” and the journal of an ambassador’s wife “burnt by her daughter on the grounds that it contained much scandal and satire.” If any of you keep a mental list of writers’ works believed to have been lost, you are very welcome to suggest something.

The Wondrous Mushroom

a mysterious book looking back at you:
it’s The Wondrous Mushroom: Mycolatry in Mesoamerica via BeatBooks

This and that No. 6

The proper disco for your Tuesday afternoon: B.T. Express, “Peace Pipe,” on Soul Train, via an impassioned comments-section debate about disco (“a bunch of fucking reactionary hippies” vs. people who say otherwise) over at Dangerous Minds. I think this is from 1975.

Alisha Chinoy’s “Zoo Zoo Zooby Zooby” is, strictly speaking, Bollywood Italo disco. The video starts with an ad and the song gets off to a slow start, but I think it’s totally worth sticking with. Use that time to lie down on the bed or the floor of your office and zip yourself into your disco pants. Based on the wiki page for the movie this performance is from, I think the creepy-looking guy in the audience is her brother. Or maybe the “rich and powerful man.” One or the other. Creepy guy vs. disco.

Groupies. I don’t know if they inherently go with disco, but in my mind they are linked. Here are the archives of Star magazine, a short-lived publication about teen groupies. There were only five issues published, between February and June of 1973, and you can flip through all of them.

Foxy Entertainment for 1973


This and that No. 5 is here.

definition of wit

I’ve been dipping into William Hazlitt lately, The Fight and Other Writings, and liking the little I’ve read so far.

William Hazlitt self-portrait

William Hazlitt self-portrait, 1802.

Here he is re: The Definition of Wit:

It is the polypus power of the mind, by which a distinct life and meaning is imparted to the different parts of a sentence or object after they are severed from each other; or it is the prism dividing the simplicity and candour of our ideas into a parcel of motley and variegated hues; or it is the mirror broken into pieces, each fragment of which reflects a new light from surrounding objects; or it is the untwisting of the chain of our ideas, whereby each link is made to hook more readily to others than when they were all bound up together by habit, and with a view to a set purpose. Ideas exist as a sort of fixtures in the understanding; they are like moveables (that will also unscrew and take to pieces) in the wit or fancy.

They left out the bun.

Earlier this week the New York Times turned its attention to Hartford, Connecticut, which reportedly “could probably rival the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco as a wellspring of psychedelic imagery . . .” I was born there, so naturally I rolled my eyes at the obviousness of this observation. The Times is always so behind on this sort of thing. Yes, and?

NYT on Hartford pull quote

Indeed there are, everyone already knows it. And? Oh yes, the Mark Twain house. Which, like any Hartford kid, I visited regularly on school field trips. And which featured in a recurring dream I had several times between, I think, grades 2 through 5. (Kids in grades 6 and above don’t seem to get taken on as many field trips, probably because by then it’s difficult to prevent them sneaking off to enjoy the cigarettes and schnapps they purloined to make the bumpy bus ride worth its while).

Mark Twain house

photo by Andrew Sullivan for The New York Times

Mark Twain house floorplan

the house’s innards via marktwainhouse.org

It was popular during the Victorian era to keep a lock of a loved one’s hair as a memento after their death, often incorporated into a piece of jewelry. In the Mark Twain house there’s an entire bun under glass. I think it was his grandmother’s. In my memory it hangs above a mantle, though in reality it may be elsewhere. Wherever it is I’m sure it is still catching the eye of little Hartford girls and boys. It’s grotesque, dry and scraggly-looking and bereft of its owner. In the dream I’ve lingered behind in the downstairs room with the hair in it – the drawing room? – while my class has moved on to another part of the house. The glass falls to the floor, and a moment after it shatters, the bun uncoils and skitters away to hide under the nearest chair, making a faint rasping sound on the floor as it does. I am paralyzed with fear that if I move, it will come out and wind itself around my feet or, worse, crawl up one of my legs.

You can get your own wellspring-of-psychadelic-imagery buns on Etsy if you don’t already have some object that plays that role in your mind:

hideous Victorian buns