Sunday, October 29, 2006

Next-Generation Gawker

Congratulations to Emily Gould, the new co-editor of Gawker.

To many, this hire of the site's formerly anonymous "Unsolicited" author is an intriguing choice. New York Magazine's Daily Intelligencer blog -- led by Jesse Oxfeld, no stranger to the Gawker masthead -- said "[w]e know virtually nothing about Miss Gould, except that she runs a blog called Emily Magazine". Later, he amended his post to link to two pieces she had written for the magazine.

Others quickly followed up, with this Galleycat post cataloguing some of her more recent articles and work in the publishing field. There, this line caught my eye-- "when reached for comment, Gould would only confirm that she wrote "Unsolicited," stressing that she was "under strict orders not to say anything more.""

Hmmm. And Gawker has been mum on the hire itself as well, allowing others to break the news. Anyone willing to bet that there is a feature article in the works that will unveil the new Gawker team in place, which is why they're staying mum? (Wouldn't be a stretch, really.) David Carr at The New York Times, care to comment? New York Magazine? Hello, New York Observer? Jon Friedman of MarketWatch, stay put in your corner.

Going with my gut here on this, though. As I said in my last post on Gawker here, Gawker has gone from 3 years combined experience of its editors in June to, now, two relative newbies (Gould and Alex Balk, who joined in July)-- this would be a good time to reintroduce the site to the marketplace.

Anyway, congrats to Gawker on what looks like a sterling addition.

UPDATE: Looks like I'm fantastically wrong as there is nary a peep from the major papers within the last month.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Someone Dances Horribly, I Cover My Eyes

I have no idea when this picture was taken (Megu?), but I love it-- funny as hell. That's Matt Caldecutt dancing in the background.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Ah, Bachelor Party Memories

It's that time of the year again. I seem to have been on a spate of bachelor parties recently, so I thought I'd share one memory that came awhile back. Names and locations have been omitted for the sake of everyone involved.

A group of 8 are at [popular NYU college bar], where a dance party has broken out. The place is, understandably, full of underage NYU types. Figuring that the bachelor would soon be a popular man, the best man informed the DJ that there was a soon-to-be-ex-bachelor in residence. The underage types blinked, look at the guy and resumed dancing, shifting away from the guy as if he had announced he was fungus-laden.

We ducked out five minutes later.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Show Doesn't Need to Go On

Encore: "An extra or repeated performance; usually given in response to audience demand."

A long while back, the concert encore was an extraordinary experience, done only on rare occasions. Now, sadly, it has crossed the chassis to be overdone. It has now become expected, de rigueur. Clap your hands, say yeah and chant the band's name-- they're more than likely going to be coming out again anyway. But how many times has a band truly warranted an encore, really?

While I'm all for getting more bang for your concert buck, the encore needs to become more special, returning to the status it once was. I've probably been to about 100 concerts in my lifetime -- the majority in smaller venues, not the arenas -- and can think of maybe one-tenth of those artists that truly deserved another round. The rest just played on some more, as I look at my watch and sigh.

Maybe I've been reading too much Idolator recently, but can we stop encouraging this for the lesser performances?

Friday, October 20, 2006

My "Daily Show" Nitpick

Is it just me or has "The Daily Show" laid an egg with its new "Seat of Heat" feature? The segment -- which reminds me of original host Craig Kilborn's "5 Questions" -- comes directly after the guest interview, where Jon Stewart posits an absurdist question to the guest. It doesn't make the guest squirm or really add anything, but more often than not falls flat.

Seriously, guys, you can do far better than this-- please add more Stewart/Colbert rapport or push the time to the front end of the show, please.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Pelecanos Brings the "Drama"

Talk about a novel staying with you.

Although I finished George Pelecanos' "Drama City" a few months back, I have found myself drawn back to the novel again and again-- it's truly his best work to date. It looks like the author's work on "The Wire" has carried over to his first stand-alone novel, as the sensibilities and the slow-boil pacing are very similar to the show; also, certain characters here evoke memories of some of the key players in the series' two recent seasons.

An urban portrait of redemption, it follows Lorenzo Brown, back on the streets after a prison term and trying to live a sober, straight life as "dog police". But after a number of senseless killings, he is drawn back into the fold of his former life, in order to try to do the right thing. It has shades of Richard Price's "Clockers", albeit capturing a narrower view of urban life.

Really, try it out. It's a rough, magnificent work by a more mature Pelecanos and I hope his next works continue along this track.

Related thought: Am I the only one who buys certain authors in a certain format? All of my James Ellroy novels are hardcover, all of my Pelecanos are softcover...and a certain Robert Wilson book taunts me from my bookshelf every morning, as it is the only non-trade paperback of all of his books I have. Damn you, "A Small Death in Lisbon".

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Jessica Coen's Freaky Fridays

Talk about a coincidental, weird occurence: The Friday before Jessica Coen was added to the Gawker team and masthead fell on the 13th. She started that next Monday (August 16, 2004).

And her last day at Gawker -- tomorrow -- also falls on a Friday the 13th. I take it that she doesn't suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia.

All the best to JCo, the longest-running Gawker editor ever and a genuinely funny person. I find it extremely sad that in little more than 3 months' time, Gawker has lost the two editors who had three-years-plus experience between them.

Here's to Alex Balk, the new co-editor and Chris Mohney bringing the funny as much as JCo and JKO did.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Insert Ferris Bueller Quote Here

For the first time in a long while, I found myself enjoying a day where I didn't have a single commitment on the calendar. After the hustle and bustle of the past few weeks, I haven't been happier to just do my "Seinfeld"-ian thing, which was absolutely nothing.

I woke up late, showered, answered a few e-mails, got my morning coffee and brunch at the Mudspot, and then debated going to an early afternoon showing of "The Departed". (An aside: The order of showering and the answering of e-mails might actually have been reversed, but I don't want to give you the mental image of me typing an e-mail in my boxers. Ha, happy Monday!)

But -- after deciding to save the flick for another day -- I was able to indulge in one of the simplest joys, to spend an afternoon perusing the Strand Bookstore, a voluminous used bookstore just below Union Square (16 miles of books!). Usually, I do a "quick hit" when I'm in there, looking at the newest releases, the bestsellers on the front table and, my personal favorite, the mystery cart. For those who are frequent visitors to the Strand and mystery fanatics, they probably know about it-- it's located towards the back on the main floor, a single cart loaded with paperback mysteries, teeming with authors like Chandler, Hammett, Leonard, Lehane and the like. For a mystery lover like myself, it's a must-visit.

But today I did more than hit up those three quick areas. I perused the store from top to bottom. And in doing so, I picked up a book I haven't put down since I started typing this-- Luis Alberto Urrea's "The Devil's Highway". A true tale, it tells the story of 26 Mexican men who scrambled across the border in 2001 and into a harsh and deadly area of the Arizona desert; only 12 made it across. It's a heartbreaking and amazing work.

And finding a treasure like this is what a nothing day is all about.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Picking Up the Pieces

I live and die by my "to-do" lists; I feel a certain smug satisfaction when I tick off something there. Sad, right?

I used to be an organizational mess, but now, today, I am a man who makes lists in order to tread water in a cubicle culture. Thank God for my OCD finally setting in later in life.
I wish I could make the metaphor that a project even making it onto the list is akin to being admitted to a popular club with the velvet ropes and whatnot, but that would belie my professional stature.
This week, I was confronted this week with something that made me feel uneasy and a little sick to my stomach-- I misplaced my list. My carefully, well-thought-out list of objectives and goals was nowhere to be found. Crap. A small panic attack set in. I felt off. After being dejected and unslewing a string of curse words, I tried to put together the magical list anew. I could tell certain projects were missing, something was off.
I'm glad when I found it a day later...the uneasiness was soon gone.

Monday, October 02, 2006

"Boys and Girls in America Have Such a Sad Time Together"

The Hold Steady at Irving Plaza, October 1. While I may have some minor quibbles with lead singer Craig Finn's distracting, frenetic mannerisms on stage, they put on a damn good show. Seriously...they were great and wonderful, although I'm pretty sure I broke a toe somehow.

And this is how to get an audience in your corner from the start, by saying the following: "We suggest you call out of work tomorrow, because we're heading to Hi-Fi afterwards and drinking 'til we can't stand. Come join us." Genius, guys.

(Photo by Steve Rogovin)