new york city loves to mess around with the LA sound, the LA sound…
in NYC for almost a week and i haven’t blogged! this just won’t do, no no no.
customs were jerks, i slept the entire bus ride, arriving in a new place and hating the journey or barely registering it in your brain is typical with greyhound . passing through upstate new york is basically passing one giant junkyard. as the new jersey turnpike came into view, i broke open the champagne bottle between my ears.
settling in astoria with Amber, i started immediately doing research on street culture, graffiti artists areas, and things i had to do in NYC that were un-tourist-y (seeing as how i’ve been here 3 times before and have done all that empire-rockefeller-times square-radio city-ellis island-wtc-5th ave-macys-brooklyn bridge bullshit) that gave me a sense of the subcultures, vibes, and shadows that only the locals know about. i could blend right in, disappear, become a ghost.
found out through so much digging that the following night pop-culture-icon Sasha Grey
was having a book launch in Soho.
i jumped on that quicker than a bread truck hauling bodies
if you don’t know about Sasha Grey, she became a porn star at the age of 18, immediately became notorious in her first film for asking her scene partner to punch her in the stomach while he was going to town on her….then she did an interview on Tyra Banks
which brought her into the mainstream consciousness. After years in the adult world, and doing lots of fashion spreads for Vice Magazine
and interviews in hipster mags, Steven Soderbergh cast her in his 2009 film The Girlfriend Experience
, which received mixed reviews veering mostly on the positive. Now she has a book out, fronts a band, and is trynna make it in mainstream films.
i haven’t decided how i feel about sasha grey. i will concede that she does occupy a place in the collective conscious, and has tapped into something that seems to hold people’s attention, mine included. but i’m not completely sold that what she does is “performance art.” she’s provocative and different and an incredibly saavy business woman, but i refuse at this junction to put her on the same level as Annie Sprinkle
or Chris Burden.
she’s definitely multidisciplinary and draws attention to the work she does in a cerebral and thought-provoking way.
but reading some of the sections in her book Neu Sex, i was actually quite disappointed with the quality of writing and the themes and motifs therein. she’s not a particularly unique writer. in fact, it was quite derivative. she quotes a lot of great philosophers in her writing, so at least we know who she’s thinking with, but she doesn’t seem to engage the intellect of the reader in a way that portrays her opinion on different veins of thought in question.
to be brief, her book sucks . . .
. . . and then swallows…
..and then takes it up the ass.
she’s definitely a beaut. and dressed rather demurely. i ALMOST forgot that i’ve seen inside her lady bits.
Sasha (the picture of dorian)Grey has admirers in high places.
but let’s remember that i’m not in NYC to schmooze with the celebs and star fuckers, i’m here to do research for my novel.
time to beat the street.
originally my research told me to check out places like Chelsea and the East Village and Alphabet City and St Marks Place….but these areas, after much inspection, really were only great for street art in the 70, 80s and 90s and kinda lost their pulse on the street culture nation after people like Basquiat and Keith Haring died.
that’s not to say, as you can see from my pictures here, that there isn’t still remnants of those great days left behind in the areas. they’re just cleverly hidden.
the core of street culture in NYC has moved to Brooklyn, and each year moves further and further inland. so off to Bushwick i went to strike out for deep water.
i was specifically looking for this piece because in my research i had read that it had just gone up on this wall a few days before and was garnering a lot of buzz online. this piece is called Helping Hand and the artist’s name is No Touching Ground.
apparently No Touching Ground actually has that memo notepad tattoo’d on his wrist, and just fills it in with Things To Do in pen. so when he decided to turn his wrist into street art, he decided that reminding himself and others to donate to the Japan quake relief effort was something not to forget. art + philanthropy= win.
you can read all about the backstory and creation of this piece here.
walking around Bushwick, you come across some of the most innovative and beautiful murals one never finds in a 4-walled gallery.
yesterday was a total coup for me because i managed to score an impromptu interview with Jake Dobkin
, co-founder of Gothamist
and head honcho behind Streetsy.com
, one of the best street art and culture websites out there. he was totally cool and chatted with me for an hour about his thoughts on the scene here and answered all of my questions and comments with such thoughtful and insightful responses. getting the backstory on the scene is invaluable info for my book, so it’s not like going to directly quote him or anything, but i will deffo give him a mega-fanks in my book when it’s published. jake dobkin, aka super awesome.
shit guy. totes. HI MUM!
street art is….what? what is it? TELL ME!!
I think i originally saw this piece online, generating some buzz, so when i found it, i got a bit giddy. fuck me if i remember who did it or what it symbolizes. i just think it’s fucking righteous.
this dude was skateboarding by as i was taking the shot, and i think he ducked down so he wouldn’t obstruct my view, but i actually wanted him in the frame and timed it perfectly, methinks. FANKS GUY.
the street art piece in the background is by Roa
it’s actually called Bogart street, as you can see below, but some clever git bent the sign back so it reads as ART street….and really, that is way more apropos.
i spent a few hours in the Bushwick area at Swallow Cafe which seemed to be populated exclusively by street artists, purveyors, carpenters, people working in mixed disciplines, and hot hot hot hot men in chuck taylors.
i’ll be back to that cafe, fo’shizzle.
the actual area is called WYCKOFF but someone put an A over the Y.
shock me shock me shock me with that deeeeeviant behaviour.
call me crazy, but i look at this, and i see either a replica or an homage to Keith Haring’s work….am i right?
welcome to ChrisTopia. Population: dis gal.
yes yes, ya’ll. i reserved my ticket to the show a month ago, and STILL hadda wait outside in the fricken cold to get in cuz even with a reservation, entry was first-come first-serve basis and i was in the middle-to-back of the line. i eventually got in the studio, but many who reserved were left out in the cold. GET A BIGGER STUDIO, JON! (ps love you)
this is what it says over the door when you enter the building.
they were playing The Kooks
on the speakers as i entered the studio. first the warm up guy Paul comes out and chats up the audience, gets us a bit giggly and stupid. when another person in the audience told him they were from Toronto, i screamed “yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa” and Paul focuses on me and goes “well you’re much prettier than the last guy.” (true story) So Paul asks my name and what i do. when i tell him i’m a writer, and he asks what kind, i say “I just finished my first book” and the audience gave me a rousing ovation.
so Paul asks what the title is.
having been in the audience for many a show where comedians rip audience members a new rectum, i said “errr, i don’t wanna tell you!”
cue audience laughter. others shouted “don’t tell him!” and here’s paul insisting “oh no, i wont’ make fun of it, i swear.”
yeah fucking right! so i said, “err…it’s called War and Peace, mkay?”
He got the hint. sorry paul.
so then Jon comes out and we all cheer like groupies. i’ve seen jon stewart live before, about 5 or 6 years ago he did a standup gig at Massey Hall, but for some reason, my memory of that event is rather hazy.
so jon asks if we have any questions for him, a kinda informal Q & A session, and my hand immediately shoots up. he calls upon me with a “yes madame!” yay, first person to ask a question=most memorable surely.
so i ask, “i was wondering if either you or Norm Macdonald (guest on show) have an opinion on the current heart-palpitating (sarcasm) Canadian election?”
and jon says with all the sardonic bite classic to his humour, “who DOESN’T have an opinion, there are too many opinions really…” audience laughs. “yeah your government collapsed, didn’t it” and this girl in the aud from vancouver says the government was “a sham!” to which jon goes “now now, we don’t want canadians fighting here! you do that often enough on the ice. your hockey games are brutal.”
a few more questions from the audience and the show starts. during the first two segments, it was kinda hard from where i was sitting to see jon as the cameras blocked much of his view, but i still could definitely see him. Jon Oliver’s segment about “oilfrica” in libya made jon piss his pants with laughter when the cameras weren’t on him. during the commercial breaks, two guys with headsets kept talking to jon and saying what didn’t look like too important stuff to occupy his thoughts. i’ve been the audience for other talk shows before, and the hosts there liked to talk to the audience during commercial breaks…not jon. sadness:(
anyway, norm macdonald comes out as the guest (i had perfect view, cameras had shifted position) and jon uses my question from the Q & A earlier to talk to Canuck Norm about our election and our government! i felt pretty chuffed about that. i DIRECTLY AFFECTED The Daily Show. all hail me.
so if you missed the episode, you can watch it in full in canada here or in the usa here.
PAY ATTENTION when watching cuz you can totally hear my laughter standing out in the audience. especially if you know how i laugh, you’ll undoubtably hear me. also when norm comes out and canada is mentioned, you can hear me squeal-shout a bit.
my laugh is kinda stupid-redonkulous and hard to miss.
hahaha, even when in another country, i’m STILL winning like a fiend at Roll Up The Rim.
i saw this car in brooklyn yesterday and had a braingasm. The Big Bang Theory car that sheldon would approve of, surely.
it’s been hard this past week being in NYC as well. the last two times i was here, it was to visit someone that i have decided i should no longer contact. no bad words have been exchanged between us. in fact, the last time we chatted, it was rather pleasant. i just think any contact now would be somewhat inappropriate.
problem is, i’m trynna make new memories in NYC and it’s hard when i pass by Union Square or the cinema at 19th & Broadway, or go for a run along the Hudson river….even going into Bushwick was a bit of a mind-fuck. i didn’t think i felt this strongly about a person that i really didn’t have that much in common with.
in fact, i’m not even sure i liked this person that much. but refraining from contacting them by my own choice whilst here has been kind of painful. there are ghosts all over the city, and it’s made me rather sad when i stop to think about it.
one good thing about here to work and to write is that i’ve gotten a free 2 week membership at Paragraph
, which is the NYC writers centre. I got it for free because i’m a member of the Toronto Writers Centre
and they have a reciprocal agreement. the other night after The Daily Show
, I was writing at the centre until about 1am. then i was gonna hop on the subway back to astoria….instead i walked up broadway for about 20 blocks in the middle of the night.
in the rain.
listening to misanthropic tunes.
i just needed to walk and to think….
i still have another week loaded with subcultural adventures to be had.
all i hafta say is, when trying to understand the nature of a city’s stone, don’t stick to the comfortable thin skins of bus tours, museums, and flashy lights. bite down into the meaty layers underneath. become a local. see what isn’t seen from the safety of guidebooks.
no i will not visit the Magnolia bakery or Zabars.
enough blogging, the day is still sunny and adolescent-esque. and the city is awaiting this young canadian lass….