April 11, 2003

This Might Catch On

Hey, this whole "pre-emptive" strike thing is getting popular. It's rocketing up the charts with a bullet.

April 10, 2003

The "I Can't Believe It's Still This Cold" Songs For The Morning Walk

"A Movie Script Ending"--Death Cab For Cutie from The Photo Album
"Ann Don't Cry"--Pavement from Terror Twilight
"How Near, How Far"--...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead from Source Tags & Codes
"Nothing Is Ever Lost Or Can Be Lost My Science Friend"--Liars from They Threw Us All In A Trench And Stuck A Monument On Top
"John The Baptist"--The Afghan Whigs from 1965
"Guess Who's Birthday's Coming"--Awek from Awek
"You Must Be Stopped"--Chavez from Ride The Fader

April 09, 2003

Hey...Why Not?

Do you like war? Do you stayed glued to the television waiting for a bigger explosion to eclipse the next one? Do you enjoy seeing photo after photo after photo of U.S. and British troops ripping down or otherwise defacing statutes and murals of Saddam Hussein? Or letting Iraqi's know who rules their land now? Can you not get enough of thankful jubilant Iraqis welcoming their Western saviors? Are you disappointed that Hussein was voted off the island too soon? Do you think this guy is waving victory signs or is screaming for an IV for his friend without any arms? Do you think the second season of WAR needs some more conflict? Do you think there needs to be more and more mankisses and homoeroticism? Well, you may be in luck.

According to a story on Yahoo "The United States on Wednesday warned countries it has accused of pursuing weapons of mass destruction, including Iran, Syria and North Korea, to 'draw the appropriate lesson from Iraq.'"

I guess the lesson is, we will invade you and topple your leader if you pursue weapons of mass destruction that we already have and might use against you. Beating up on a weakened military state in a ethnically fractured state as Iraq which has no national identity is one thing. Attacking Iran, Syria and North Korea is another. Somehow I doubt that Iranians would lay down their weapons and run away. But who the hell cares, right? This just plays into everything I feared about entering into this war.
[John R. Bolton, U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security] was asked about a U.S. poll that showed that half of the United States population supports U.S. military action against Iran if it continues to move toward nuclear weapons development and 42 percent of those surveyed said the United States should take action against Syria if it was helping Iraq.

What the poll didn't note is that only 10% of those questioned could find any of these countries on a map, and 5% answered "ummm...could you call back later? CSI is on."

This whole thing reminded me of a Salon article I read about Jon Stewart and The Daily Show and this bit:

[M]ost recently, after showing a clip of Donald Rumsfeld scolding Syria, Stewart said, "Did you see what he just did there? We're in the middle of a war and he's starting another war. We're already fighting Iraq and he's like, 'By the way, Syria? You want a piece?' ... There's nothing like a cantankerous old man who takes a 'Hey, you kids, get off my lawn!' approach to foreign policy."

Or even this here.

Mixed Bag

Yuck...between the smoking ban churning out drunk loudmouth after drunk loudmouth to the streets to smoke, we have this. There goes the neighborhood. Although I've said that a bunch of times now...and that's why instead of saying "There goes the neighborhood" I am now saying "There goes The Huffer." May some "trendy" late-coming fashionista snob get my tiny spot on Dufresne Street...I mean Clinton Street.

Speaking of the LES, last weekend Field Mouse and I saw one of the best films so far in 2003...if not the best. Raising Victor Vargas. It's a film that restores your faith in indie filmmaking and makes you wonder why big film studios just don't get it. What's "it"? "It" is believable acting in real life situations. Where people stutter and repeat themselves. Where people speak as they do in real life

Raising Victor Vargas is simply one of the most "realistic" films I have ever seen. It's funny (really funny at times), heartwarming and sad. The acting is top-notch. The film isn't playing outside a few theatres in New York yet, but is scheduled to come to Boston, Chicago, and California in the next coming weeks. I highly suggest you get your ass out there and see it. Plus, you'll get to see where we live...when it's nice and warm and people are hanging out at the public pool a couple of blocks away. You can check out movie clips, showtimes, etc...at this intoxicating media-infused site.

Finally, in honor of their current trip to NYC (Field Mouse and I are going tomorrow night), here is an interview with Britt Daniel from Spoon in which Daniel asks the interviewer...oh wait a minute...I now see that Pitchfork has edited this. Interesting.

Originally, the interview contained an aside between Daniel and the interviewer after Daniel had been asked whether or not he "doesn't like indie-rock at all." At that point in the interview, Daniel shut off the tape recorder and asked the interviewer whether people thought he was an asshole. The interviewer told him that he had been warned that Daniel was "difficult." The interviewer then noted several other articles that had mentioned similar critiques. According to the interviewer, Daniel appeared "hurt" and angry...especially by the other article mentioned by the interviewer. Daniel then said something like "I don't want this article to be about things like that."

I guess then that Daniel probably wouldn't have wanted that whole "off-the-record" aside printed as part of the interview. Which makes sense. Which also probably explains why it was removed from the site. I tried to find the original cached version on the internet but Google hasn't gotten it yet.

Too bad...it was one of those parts that makes Pitchfork interviews so funny and interesting. It always seems there's a bunch of young guns there trying to make indie names for themselves by actually asking indie stars weird or tough questions. Like how in this Spoon interview he annoys Daniel about what records symbolize specific things for him. Or in this Cat Power interview, where Chan Marshall gives the interviewer the gas face. Or in this interview with The Rapture where a band member recalls how Pitchfork called them a "mediocre garage rock band." I'm sure there's more.

Hmmm...maybe Daniel is an asshole then.

Finally, I'd like to note that Boston does not appear to be one of the top seven targets for terrorism in the United States according to this New York Times article. The top seven?

1. New York
2. Washington, D.C.
3. Los Angeles
4. Seattle
5. Chicago
6. San Francisco
7. Houston

The Eight Songs I Listened To When I Was Wondering When Winter Would End

"Custom Concern"--Modest Mouse from This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About
"On The Way"--Dinosaur Jr. from Where You Been
"Relative Ways"--...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead from Source Tags & Codes
"Debaser"--The Pixies from Death To The Pixies 1987-1991
"As Sure As The Sun"--Black Rebel Motorcycle Club from B.R.M.C.
"We Rule The School"--Belle & Sebastian from Tigermilk
"Directions"--Josh Rouse from Home
"No New Wave No Fun"--McLusky from McLusky Do Dallas

April 08, 2003

It's Time To Move On And Reanimate

Today has blown. It has only really steadied my resolve (Do you like that Bushism? I was thinking of adding in something like the word "firm") to make wholesale changes. I don't like what I do for most of my day...which means I don't like what I do for most of my life. I would be less concerned about this if I was convinced that I would walk this Earth again. However, my application to invincible deity school was denied years ago.

Anyways...I have a long night of work ahead of me. I was tempted to simply walk out today but some sort of early Huffer child-rearing lesson kicked in about pride or something. Who knows. All of those lessons are so much more complicated when one attempts to apply them to real life situations. I mean, what is the worth of pride? And how do you know when to be proud and when to stuff the money in your pockets and run like you stole something?

Since I have other activities, I will simply toss out a couple of links...here is a website that shows the pitfalls of dating and the benefits of commenting on people's blogs. It may save your life. So if you're a longtime lurker be a first time commenter and break out like SARS on the comment-o-phone.

Here is a link to what Farkers came up with in a photoshop contest to place FoxNews Channel reporting other big points in history. Quite entertaining.

The other day when we were getting an unwelcome April snowstorm an ESL colleague of mine told me that we were all getting "4-8 fat inches." I snickered and snickered for minutes before I just burst out laughing uncontrollably. I don't think he entirely got it...but later he asked me where he could find out how many "fat inches" we were getting and I suggested he check out www.fatinches.com. (I haven't checked out this link...somebody let me know what it is. I mean, I'm at work...I can hardly read Inches here. BTW, don't click on that if you aren't ready for lots of inches...or meters.)

Thank you Lord for the iPod but the Lord could have given it a longer battery life.

April 07, 2003

Ouch...

This looks like it hurts...a lot.

The Seven Songs I Heard In The April Snow

"Insignificance"--Jim O'Rourke from Insignificance
"The Guestlist/The Execution"--Spoon from Series of Sneaks
"You Fucked Yourself"--Quasi from Featuring "Birds"
"Debaser (live)"--Pixies from Death To The Pixies 1987-1991
"Engine Heart"--Mirah from You Think It's Like This But Really It's Like This
"Werewolf"--Cat Power from You Are Free
"Take The Bench"--Sloan from One Chord To Another

April 06, 2003

The Brokers of Brooklyn

During our search for an apartment in the mighty borough of Brooklyn, the Field Mouse and I went through broker after broker trying to find that magical spot. For those of you not from the New York City area, congratulations, you don't have to pay a broker an outrageous sum of money for simply showing you a couple of apartments. It blows. Of course there are those who have found apartments without brokers and will scoff at us as willing victims of the whole thing...and to those people I say...well aren't you special.

Of course it can be done...but it's a tad bit more difficult and takes a lot more effort. So we're lazy and willing to shell out the money...which in Brooklyn ranges from a month's rent to 12% of the total yearly rent. Here is a ranked list of the brokers we came across while looking for a one bedroom apartment under $1500/month in the Park Slope and Prospect Heights section of Brooklyn.

1. Warren Lewis--We found our apartment with Warren Lewis, a spacious one and a half bedroom garden apartment in a brownstone in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. The apartment is probably twice the size of our current place. The apartment was in pretty good condition with several juicy amenities such as a dishwasher and two working gas fireplaces. We had use of the backyard and lots of storage. We talked with two brokers at Warren Lewis who were both young, hip and not selling us a lot of BS. We were shown a total of three apartments (all within our price range) with Warren Lewis, all of which were good quality apartments. No horror shows whatsoever. The brokers were courteous and prompt and let the apartments speak for themselves.

RATING: Highly Recommended.

2. Betancourt & Associates--We almost found our apartment with Betancourt. They were the first brokerage to show us decent apartments in Park Slope. In fact we entered into negotiations with a landlord for one of the apartments which unhappily ended up falling through. The broker we worked with at Betancourt was hard-working and always showed us quality places that didn't waste our time. During our lease negotiation she worked hard to get the deal done despite some issues with the landlord. However she lost her luster a bit after our lease for the apartment fell through. For two straight weeks she was unable to show us more than two apartments, neither of which were acceptable. The low point was when we got shown an eyesore of gentrification on the corner of 4th Ave and something. It looked like a poorly renovated crack house. The landlord had attempted to create a second bedroom in a floor-through apartment through the creation of a hallway hugging one side of the apartment. The second "bedroom" had no windows. Instead, the landlord had cut out two air/light holes where the walls met the ceiling. It was swell. Then they were charging $1600/month for it...on the corner of 4th Avenue. For those not in the know, 4th Avenue is barely Park Slope. It's an eyesore of a commercial boulevard with gas stations, free-standing fast food places and a median strip.

RATING: Highly Recommended

3. Brooklyn Properties--We walked into Brooklyn Properties on a lark to see if they could show us any apartments that day. The broker was a decent guy who worked around a couple of existing appointments to show us two quality apartments. One of them was a gorgeous one and a half bedroom in a Prospect Heights brownstone that had a brand new kitchen. Our broker told us that the apartment was going for $1600/month but that he was confident he could get it down to $1500. It was a real possibility that if the price had dropped to $1500, we would have taken it. Unfortunately the broker had read the landlord wrong and the landlord was sticking at $1600/month...therefore it was out. Besides that however, the broker was pretty good.

RATING: Recommended

4. Maximus Real Estate--We went to Maximus on a recommendation from a friend. We were only shown one apartment...a one bedroom on Prospect Park in Windsor Terrace. The apartment was a good deal but had bad views. Although the apartment was on the park, it's views were of an alley and trash cans. I was disappointed that we were shown a place in Windsor Terrace considering we had indicated that we were interested in Park Slope. Nothing is more infuriating looking for an apartment then the broker attempting to expand your desired geographical location. It's a tactic. Our broker was different than all of our other brokers in the way that he was at least 60 years old. He took an old school approach to selling us the apartment which might not work for everybody. Only one apartment shown, too.

RATING: Okay

5. Corcoran--This was the most well known and the only multi-borough brokerage we used. They have a great website for browsing apartments. Our broker was 30 minutes late for our appointment. After her arrival we were forced to wait for another 15 minutes or so for her to get her act together. After that she told us she could no longer show us the apartment we were interested in. She also remarked that it might be tough finding us an apartment because "one bedrooms in Park Slope generally start at $1500/month." This comment pissed me off because I knew it was not true. I had researched rents in Park Slope for months and knew that there were plenty of quality one bedrooms below this price. Our broker was thoroughly unorganized. She showed us one very so-so place that had moldy windows and a third-world kitchen. She then attempted to show us a second apartment. For some strange reason Brooklyn brokers like to drive their cars while showing off apartments. The "park" in Park Slope does not refer to cars. There is no parking in Park Slope. So we ended up going around in circles looking for a place to park her stupid car. She finally dropped us off like two children in a mall parking lot while she attempted to find a space. She told us to go to a certain address and ask for a landlady named Rosa or something. The Field Mouse and I proceeded to that address where we rang the bell. Nobody was there. The Corcoran broker came around on another parking sweep for her stupid car and told us that she had actually gotten the address wrong. It was a block up.

Whoops...sorry about that. When we went to that address she remarked that that address wasn't right either. At this point, Field Mouse and I were late for our next broker appointment so we cut ties with Corcoran. The Corcoran broker forgot to give us her card. We had a constant feeling with Corcoran that we would overpay on any apartment that we saw and that we were constantly getting fed bulslhit.

RATING: Sucked

6. Aguayo & Huebener--I called Aguayo early on in our search for some information. The person who answered the phone told me that it was too early to begin searching for an apartment but that he would contact us when he had some leads. We never heard back from him. We decided to go to Aguayo a second time one afternoon while apartment hunting in Park Slope. We begun a conversation with a female broker and had started to fill out some renter profile forms when she received a phone call. She stayed on the phone for approximately 10 minutes, ignoring us while we stood in front of her waiting for her to finish. Right before she got off the phone another broker at Aguayo asked us if we were being helped. We didn't know what to say. Finally, the broker got off the phone and tried to push a place at 4th and 16th on us. Fuck you. Make me wait ten minutes for 4th and 16th? Fuck you. I replied that that was a bit too far out of our desired area. She said that she would contact us later with some leads. She never did. We tried to use Aguayo twice and they never seemed to wanted to help us.

RATING: Inept

7. Donawald Realty--Makes you wonder how you could go below Aguayo when Aguayo didn't even help us. It may be a bit unfair then...but...probably not. We were shown three places by Donawald and this ranking could solely be placed on one apartment. We were shown a one bedroom apartment on 5th Avenue for $1500 that wouldn't be worth that much if it came with a naked Tyra Banks and a swingset.

It was a tiny apartment (400-something...and listen...our apartment right now is 400 something...and I know that tiny could mean smaller...but this is Brooklyn.) that had a tight-assed spiral staircase leading to a second floor with a 7 foot ceiling and a tiny window. The second floor was worthless because you couldn't get any furniture up the spiral staircase. It was like a small loft where you could keep small children that you had kidnapped. That's about it. It was stupid. When a broker shows you a shithole straight off, your entire rapport is up shit's creak. The second apartment had recently been painted...PINK. It had supposedly been renovated but somehow they had forgotten to level out the floors. Not only that but the apartment was $1650/month....way over our quoted price range. The third apartment was a garden apartment on busy 7th Avenue. It had access to a garden...but the garden was currently just a dirt pile. The layout of the apartment demanded that the bedroom be in the front of the house which was visible to loads of passersby.

Once Field Mouse and I got home, we looked up all of the buildings profiles to see what their history of violations. The landlords of the spiral staircase apartment were basically slumlords who were embroiled in several lawsuits with their current tenants. Oh yes, and they had a serious vermin problem. Nice.

RATING: Worthless

So there you go...good luck out there....it's a jungle.