It’s like someone took the crappy paper that some grizzled, 50-something Socialist guy tries to sell you at the farmer’s market and gave it an absurdly high design budget. Except whoever writes for it is, depressingly, part of my generation instead of an acid-fried, aging hippie. And, of course, what this person chooses to complain about is… the emptiness of hipsterdom, as though that tiny piece of upper-middle-class paraculture somehow speaks for all of us.

Quoth Adbusters:

“We are a lost generation, desperately clinging to anything that feels real, but too afraid to become it ourselves. We are a defeated generation, resigned to the hypocrisy of those before us, who once sang songs of rebellion and now sell them back to us. We are the last generation, a culmination of all previous things, destroyed by the vapidity that surrounds us. The hipster represents the end of Western civilization – a culture so detached and disconnected that it has stopped giving birth to anything new.”

If I had a penny for every time someone called something “the end of Western civilization”…

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Well, this is just great. I was literally one move away from finishing a very close Scrabulous game when I heard. Apparently, it was the game’s developers, not Facebook, who blocked US and Canadian users. It’s little consolation that clicking on the Scrabulous icon gets you a screen that asks for your e-mail address, so the developers can keep you updated on the games status.

Who do I blame? Hasbro, of course, the makers of Scrabble. This is all the result of their lawsuit against the Scrabulous makers, who are based in freakin’ India and probably aren’t subject to the same copyright laws that US developers would be. What’s really dumb about the whole thing is that Scrabulous has undeniably incited enthusiasm for offline Scrabble-playing, too. The NYT points out that Hasbro has created its own Scrabble Facebook app, but their blogger and others have had trouble using it. I’m annoyed enough to not support Hasbro in any way, so I think I’ll be ignoring their game. Meanwhile, you can still access Scrabulous through its non-Facebook website.

And though I support the developers, I really wish they would have given us a week of warning before taking down the app.

Someone sent me this video accompanied by the words, “Beth Ditto, feminist.” So I expected something kind of cool. Instead, I got this. I mean, it’s nice that the Gossip singer has a necklace that says “feminist” on it. And I guess it’s cool to see her shimmy around in weird costumes. But does that really justify wasting a minute and a half of my time? Not so much.

I’m not particularly fond of Black Kids. Sure, their song “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You” was catchy and kind of cute. It made for a good party-mix track. The Killers-like attempt at gender ambiguity in the lyric “You are the girl that I’ve been dreaming of/Ever since I was a little girl” seemed gimmicky. But okay, whatever, I was willing to give their full-length a chance, depending on what the reviews looked like.

So I scooted over to Pitchfork to see how the site had reviewed the band whose reputation they made. The writer, Scott Plangenhoef, gave Partie Traumatic a 3.3 rating. And here is the entire “text” of the review:

Uh, you mean you jerks hyped this band to high heaven on the strength of a measly EP, and all you can give us is a picture of two sad-looking dogs and a lame “sorry”? Did Pitchfork get swallowed by I Can Has Cheezburger while I was sleeping? Are you so inept at admitting you bought into an utterly craptacular band that you aren’t even going to bother to explain what went wrong? I really hope Plangenhoef (who is also, frightening, the site’s Editor-in-Chief) doesn’t get paid by the review.

I mean, I understand what they were doing with their Jet review. They had never championed Jet, and they were just trying to say that the album wasn’t even worth considering. But I think publications are responsible for the hype they create, and with that in mind, this is totally unacceptable.

As Dan Gibson of Idolator wrote in a spot-on IM conversation posted by Maura Johnston, the site’s editor, “I would appreciate a more extensive apology.”

The question is, does Pitchfork want to be a reputable publication, or does it want to be a repository for hipster-douchebag humor? I appreciate irreverence as much at the next 20-something, but I wish they’d understand that you can’t have your elitism and eat it, too.

Mermaid Parade

I’m a little late to the party this year (and I was a little late to the parade, too, due to a huge line at Totonno’s), but here are some Mermaid Parade photos from 2008. It was a gorgeous day for the event, just hot enough to be beach weather, but not so hot as to be oppressive.

Check out the slideshow here.


“Young New Yorkers Make a Brand New Start of It, on the Cheap”

“Adam Leibsohn, a 27-year-old communications strategist who makes roughly $60,000 a year and pays $1,650 a month for his own apartment in the East Village, says the trick to squeaking by in the city is to swear off impulse purchases and credit cards. He cooks for himself, pirates wireless Internet access and buys electronics from Craigslist or eBay. If he wants new clothes, he unloads old ones first at the Salvation Army, keeping the receipt for his taxes. ‘It’s kind of a spartan lifestyle,’ he says. ‘I eat a lot of street meat for lunch.’

Let’s unpack this for a minute, Adam Leibsohn.

You make roughly twice as much as I have ever made.

You don’t actually need to have your own apartment in the East Village: you could have your own place in a perfectly respectable Brooklyn neighborhood for about $1200 a month, or you could have a decent-sized room in the same kind of area for little more than $700.

Cooking for yourself, last time I checked, was not a sign of poverty.

The fact that you pirate wireless (which is an indulgence, not a need, to begin with) means that you must have a computer with a wireless card.

That you buy electronics on eBay and Craigslist means that you have the disposable income to buy electronics in the first place, regardless of whether or not you’re getting a good deal on them.

That you have enough dispensable clothing that getting rid of it provides you enough money, from tax deduction, to buy new clothing tells me that you probably have more clothing than you ever needed in the first place.

And finally, eating “street meat” isn’t roughing it. I would imagine that many New Yorkers think that buying any kind of prepared food at retail is an unthinkable luxury.

Verdict: Yes, New York is ridiculously expensive. No, I don’t think that on a $60k salary with your own apartment in a trendy part of Manhattan you have any right to complain. I don’t even think I have any right to complain. You know who has a right to bitch? People raising families on minimum wage. The rest of us are left to decide whether to feel embarrassed that people much wealthier than us are referred to as “scraping by” in The New York Times or pissed off that the same publication isn’t at all interested in poverty that is as real and literal in their own city as it is around the world.

Ben Folds Five

My first concert ever was Beck, Ben Folds Five, and, I think, poor Elliott Smith. At the time, Folds was by far my favorite, though now I’d probably place both of the others ahead of him. I was 13, and I went with this boy who had liked me for a year before and would continue to be interested through my sophomore year of college. His father sat a few rows behind us, chaperoning. And during an intermission, I ran into the 16-year-old guy that I (and every other girl I knew) had a crush on at camp earlier that summer. It was pubescent awkwardness at its best.

This is all kind of tangential to the fact that, a few nights ago, someone mentioned the Rockford Files, and I got Ben Folds Five’s “Battle of Who Could Care Less” stuck in my head. I probably hadn’t heard the song in at least five years, but I suddenly needed to listen to it. Thank heavens for Last.fm.

It’s actually kind of a great song. It’s sort of about the same thing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is about, only less dramatic (okay, less classic) and more sardonic. I don’t think I even fully appreciated all the humor back in the ’90s. It’s packed with hilarious lyrics:

“I know it’s not your thing to care. I know it’s cool to be so bored. It sucks me in when you’re aloof.”

“Watch some Rockford Files and call to see if Paul could score some weed.”

“Unearned unhappiness. Well, that’s all right, I guess.”

“I’ve got this great idea. Why don’t we pitch it to the Franklin fuckin’ Mint? Fine pewter portraits of General Apathy and Major Boredom singing, ‘Whatever and ever, amen.'”

“See, I’ve got your old ID, and you’re all dressed up like The Cure.”

At the time, I must have actually thought that all of this boredom and apathy and getting stoned was pretty fucking cool. Now that I know how much of adult life is actually just like this, I understand what Ben Folds was making fun of.

Oh, fuck. I just tried to play the song for the fourth time in a row, and Last.fm cut me off. At least I still have YouTube.

Dear Man Man,
I have liked you for a while and was excited to see you perform for the first time. I heard that you were great live. Well, you started off on a bad note, torturing the audience with multiple between-set replays of “Don’t Worry Be Happy” and “Kokomo.” You didn’t really say anything once you were onstage. I wonder how much of the forty minutes it took you to set up were devoted to donning those dumb, white costumes and face paint. Your music was still fine, but it wasn’t worth it.
Love,
Judy

Dear Yeasayer,
You at least had a nicer onstage persona. But what was with that guy in the wifebeater, long, curly, hair, and mustache? Hipster fashion and redneck fashion have finally become indistinguishable.
Love,
Judy

Dear Brooklyn Masonic Temple,
You may want to look into never hosting concerts again. Your sound is horrible.
Love,
Judy

Dear Crowd at Brooklyn Masonic Temple,
I guess it’s “hip to be square” these days. Learn to hold your liquor.
Love,
Judy

The crowd skewed young and trashed at Monday’s Black Lips show. Everywhere, mini-hipsters were dancing around, all skinny and disaffected. One guy was regaling a group of friends with the story of how long his hair was the last time he saw the band.

I hadn’t seen Quintron & Miss Pussycat before, but I had heard tell of Quintron’s invented musical instrument, the Drum Buddy. It’s a strange contraption, full of holes and pipes and lights and spinning coffee cans. But it was pretty cool to see it in action. The music was a catchy but noisy blend of upbeat soul and synth pop. Quintron sat behind a keyboard decked out with a vintage Chevy grill, and Miss Pussycat contended with a fussy, flapper-like costume that involved what looked like a head band with a Koosh ball on it. I enjoyed the energy of the performance, which definitely got everyone dancing, but this is strictly party music. Great live, but I’m guessing they’re not nearly as interesting on record.

Oh, and when their performance ended, Miss Pussycat hopped behind the curtain of a big, strange, inflatable puppet theater she had brought with her and did a puppet show. Really.

Despite the drunken yelling, shoving, crowd-surfing, stage-diving, and beer-cup-throwing, the Black Lips were pretty great. They may have been rushing through songs a bit (and seeing the crowd, who could blame them?), but the frenetic element worked for them. An old-fashioned rock band that doesn’t resort to fancy outfits or contrived, onstage theatrics, they’re a purist’s dream. By the end of the set, the guys were completely soaked in sweat, and if that doesn’t signal a good night, I don’t know what does.

The headline?

“All Hail Brooklyn: Alt-Rock Thrives in Alt-Borough”

Choice excerpts?

“For rock bands this is a great time to be weird and independent in Brooklyn. After years in which the sound of New York was defined by various shades of retro monochrome — the new wave minimalism of the Strokes, the disco-punk of the Rapture and LCD Soundsystem, the moody Anglophilia of Interpol — a new generation is making music that is indefinably eclectic and complex, and finding acclaim around the world.” Wait… really?

“The success of bands like Yeasayer and Vampire Weekend is to some degree an indication of a thirst for new ideas in a rock landscape that, from mainstream radio down to the underground, has been sorely lacking in them.” I don’t know where you’ve been for the past few years, dude, but the underground ain’t lacking for ideas. They’re lacking for audiences, and paychecks.

“With the promotional powers of the Internet and a network of increasingly sophisticated independent labels, bands that don’t have an obvious shot a mass popularity are finding fewer reasons to sign with the majors.” What are these mystical “internets” of which you speak? Please, explain to us their strange and magical ways.

All in all, another beautifully redundant Times trend piece. Thanks for that, Ben Sisario. I give it 10/10. A+. Best New Music… etc.