Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Snowy Memories from Colorado

Its hard to bounce at this altitude….
clearly, I should switch to snowboardering
Yes, this Gondola has Jewish Guilt

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Little Betty Boop Turns 50

Last night I saw the Disco Biscuits for the fiftieth time. I haven’t done many things fifty times and, if I’m not careful, the Disco Biscuits are going to wind up surpassing Phish in my Phantasy Tour stats, so I decided to take tonight’s show off visit some friends in Boston (yea, I know…).

Like many, I first heard of the Disco Biscuits while reading the Pharmer’s Almanac and from combing rec.music.phish when, in retrospect, I should have been learning how to master any number of things (think proofreading and pussy). But I first actually heard the Disco Biscuits while in my friend Kenny’s room freshman year. A few months earlier, I had helped a couple of my buddies secure a ride from Skidmore’s Wait Hall to Albany’s Pepsi Arena (a rather hard journey at the tender ago of 18). Like any trek from Skidmore to the Pepsi, I think they ended up switching cars three dozen times before leaving campus and somehow ended up in a flatbed truck blasting the Disco Biscuits’ Unciviled Area. A month earlier, the Disco Biscuits, still young enough to barnstorm small college towns, had opened for Deep Banana Blackout at a small strip mall called Northern Lights. By and large it is a forgotten night, but this kid happened to pick up a copy of their sophomore CD. Marty McFly would likely say something about the space-time continuum leading directly from that moment to my first Relix cover story, but, instead, I’ll cut this short by saying I’m glad he bought Uncivilized Area instead of Deep Banana Blackout’s Feel the Peel.

Phish offered an average performance and after returning home the only thing my friend Eric could talk about was the music he heard en route to the show. He bought the CD at Borders and spun “Little Betty Boop”---at the time the Disco Biscuits’ only pure trance-fusion number---in Kenny’s room one cold, smoky Saturday night. If I remember correctly, Nick put the CD player on repeat and “Little Betty Boop” kept spinning all night. Lost in a haze of second hand smoke, I forgot where “Boop” began or ended and suddenly everything else---ambient, funk, space---just seemed naked. I found Bisco.

In March, I dragged my friend Viv to the Wetlands to see the Disco Biscuits (at that time reduced to a trio somewhat affectionately dubbed the Triscuits) during spring break. I didn’t know a single song they played, but ended up staying at the show until 5:00 AM, at which time police busted the show quicker than one of Excelsior parties senior year. We had breakfast, set our alarm clocks and fell asleep as the rest of the world was preparing for a new week. It seems like a rather inverted way to fall in love with a band but such is life in search of Bisco.

It took me only 3 shows to hear “Little Betty Boop” and another dozen to hear it again. But, for a while, I went to see to Disco Biscuits purely hear “Boop.” It seems funny now, when people (myself included?) seem to be going to concerts more and more to socialize instead of hear any music, let along a specific song, but for a while I traveled to hear this little ditty of a song. I heard Boop once more in 2003 and, as the Disco Biscuits, slipped into a semi-hiatus so did my dreams of rediscovering the virginal innocence I’ve long associated with “Little Betty Boop.”

At lunch yesterday, Intern Adam asked me what song I’d like to hear at my 50th show and I mentioned “Boop.” It seemed like the type of cyclical coincidence which only flies in jam-nation and, much to my surprise, after a quick, metallic jam, the Disco Biscuits kicked off the proper portion of its set with my freshman song. I bounced like a mad man and spent the rest of the show trying to avoid a horde of tweakers from rolling over my favorite loafers (pun intended).

After the show, as word spread backstage that Particle has asked Scott Metzger to be its new guitarist, Marc Brownstein looked at me from across the room and smirked “is it up on Jambands.com yet.” I smiled something nervously and slipped out the door. I guess you can accomplish a lot in 50 nights---except, of course, for mastering those two elusive Ps.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

My Night with Natalie

Above: She's Like Every Girl I've Ever Dated, But Hotter

I’m not quite sure if I’m in love with Natalie Portman or her character from Garden State, but either way she’s high-up on my list of celebrity crushes. But, unlike most unobtainable Hollywood hotties, Natalie (yes, we’re on a first name basis) always seemed to exist somewhere on the fringes of my very tangible social circle. She attended Harvard with my best friend, danced at a wedding with a co-worker and, most importantly, falls comfortably into my limited area of female expertise: short, Jewish and neurotic (oh come on, she grew up on Long Island after all.)

Since I’ve always fashioned myself something of a Zach Braff character, I imagined our first encounter would be somewhat cinematic, set against the Shins’ “New Slang” or awash in Simon and Garfunkel’s “Only Living Boy in New York.” So, you can imagine how off guard I was when I found myself sipping Icelandic vodka just one seat away from Ms. Portman at the overstuffed, over priced, Maritime Hotel. It happened last Thursday at a Sigur Ros after-party, sometime during a heated jamband debate with two of my closest cubical neighbors. While on some (in-retrospect) embarrassing Disco Biscuit-tangent, I noticed my friend’s eye moving slowly to my right and then down to my shoulder. After a few seconds of self-conscience confusion, I glanced over only to find out that I had been sitting next to the one and only Natalie Portman for the past fifteen minutes (and apparently she didn’t find my Disco Biscuits dissertation attractive--dam). Before I could utter the words “carrying is creepy,” she moved across the room, leaving Elizabethtown the lone cinematic depiction of my Garden State dream.

After finishing my vodka, I cut my losses and walked home to find my narcoleptic/or alcoholic roommate passed out on the sofa and my IM flickering for attention. As if walking into a bonus track on the Garden State DVD, my computer displayed cryptic message from a female friend which once accused Zack Braff of plagiarizing her personality (and I don’t disagree), beginning a weekend chase which also culminated with a GS-quote (alas, “We're not gonna make out or anything, okay?/Oh, I'm sorry. I just totally ruined that moment, didn't I?”)

I don’t need to recreate Garden State, I’m living it. Except for the whole paraplegic mom plot, my parent’s only disease is Jewish guilt.

On a somewhat related tangent how, have you enter noticed that things tend to sound just a touch deeper when set against the Shins’ “New Slang.” Turn it on and chew on this: I’m not sure what the meaning of life is, but I’m pretty sure the Shins scored its soundtrack.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A St. Valentine Reflection: A Happy Day and Then You Pay

In general, I’m not big fan of Hallmark Holidays, 4/20 included. But, since Valentine’s Day is the Rosh Hashanah of greeting card celebrations, I thought I’d make an exception just this once…

In my life, I’ve made three different girls cry (and, no, that doesn’t count the time I hit Tuppy Steuer in the head with a dogeball). Once was because of something nice, once was because of something mean and once falls somewhere in-between. I credit the first to cliché high school rhymes and blame the second on a particularly strong 7&7. But the third I take sole responsibility for, not because of what I did but because of what I didn’t do.

I often joke that I exclusively date crazy girls. But, in retrospect I think I might be the one making them crazy with my indecisiveness (my nice guy curse the fear of being too aggressive) leading to the tear filled mutt of a rejection/breakup mentioned above. After all it, takes meteorologist to upgrade a flirtatious tropical storm to a full-scale emotional hurricane.

As an open valentine/apology to all the hurricanes I’ve caused over the years (and to Tupy Steuer), I offer the following message from Elliot Smith. Its either the happiest song he ever wrote or the saddest song anyone else ever has, depending on how filled you like your glass.

we broke up a month ago and I grew up I didn't know
I'd be around the morning after

it's always been wait and see
a happy day and then you pay
and feel like shit the morning after
but now I feel changed around and instead falling down
I'm standing up the morning after

situations get fucked up and turned around sooner or later

and I could be another fool or an exception to the rule
you tell me the morning after
crooked spin can't come to rest
I'm damaged bad at best
she'll decide what she wants
I'll probably be the last to know
no one says until it shows and you see how it is
they want you or they don't
say yes

I'm in love with the world through the eyes of a girl
who's still around the morning after

Monday, February 13, 2006

Help on the Way

Above: A Clearer Vision of an Unreal Situation

Left: My Dream Presented in Lo-Fi Resolution

As an unabashed, all around dork, I’ve often joked that life couldn’t get much better than watching Phish and the Grateful Dead jam together while chugging a tall glass of chocolate milk. Well, on Sunday, my lifelong (am I old enough to utter that phrase?) dream came true when Trey Anastasio joined Phil Lesh for his entire set at the Beacon Theater. To top it off the Beacon gave out free hot chocolate all night, resulting in a sensory overload not even the drunken text message could properly convey (though G-d and my phone bill both know I tried).

It was one of those sleeper show nights, a cold, snowy Sunday at the start of a pre-vacation work week. I had actually planned to go to the concert with my parents and a friend, but unfortunately, all three were snowed into suburbia. So, at the last minute, I called a handful of my most bankable concert buddies and offered them free tickets to a Phil. There was a requisite amount of bitching: the weather, work and, of course, too much Warren. But, as someone once paraphrased, good shows are bound to happen every once and a while to those who spend seven nights a week seeing live music, and Phil and Trey offered, simply put, the best show I’ve seen since IT (no, shit!).

Like many, I’ve been rather hard on Trey since Coventry and last night’s performance confirmed my previously criticisms. Comparatively, pretty much everything Trey has done in the past two years has, quite frankly, sucked. I’m not sure if Phil unlocked some secret Deadhead touch in Trey’s fingertips or just gave him some good coke, but, for at least one night, I remembered why I spent 72 nights of my life watching Phish play 1277 songs in 21 states.

It was the type of night where nothing else mattered: not work, not global worming, not even an nonsensical text from some friend turned full-time ulcer (slightly tweaked here for your perverse pleasure: “Is there a line that I could write/Sad enough to make you cry…”)

I’m sure I’ll write a formal review for some much headier publications, so I’ll cut this short by saying sometimes its nice to dork out to music like a screaming girl at a Michael Jackson concert. By the end of the night even Lesh has lost his voice (insert your own joke here____), leaving Rob Barracco to “cover” his nightly organ downer rap. He did a good job too, proving, once and for all, that the Zen Tricksters can play any Dead song to perfection. Help on the Way, oh yes, “give me your organs.” Heady days indeed….

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Cold Rain and Snow

New York, 2:10 AM, with no hope for a snow day.....

Friday, February 10, 2006

My Favorite Year

(I'm not even drunk: the neurotic Jew on the left is me, the neurotic Jew on the right plays in the Disco Biscuits)

As 2005 drew to a close, I had the rather cool opportunity to compile a year end retrospective featuring a number of my favorite artists (and co-workers), which was then sprinkled on Jambands.com throughout January. At times it felt like organizing a really big dinner party, figuring out who to place where and next to whom (‘cause ya know Keller and the Biscuits don’t get along so well). The final installment is now posted at (www.jambands.com/Features/content_2006_02_10.00.phtml) so be sure to venture over to and let me know which party you’d most like to attend.

Encore (www.jambands.com/Features/content_2006_02_10.00.phtml):

Billy Martin, Chad Urmston (State Radio, Dispatch), Cyro Baptista, Jason Smart (Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey), Reid Genauer (Assembly of Dust), Andrew Southern (RANA), Ivan Neville, Mike Clark (Headhunters), Annabel Lukins (Jam Cruise, Langerado, Bonnaroo), Josh Rouse, Ryan Miller (Guster), Col. Bruce Hampton, Steve Molitz (Particle), John Popper, Tom Ledermann (JamCam Chronicles), Rob Barracco (The Dragonflys, Phil and Friends), Ray Petron (Moonshine Still), Keller Williams, Dave Vann (Photographer), Adam Aijala (Yonder Mountain String Band), Jimmy Herring, Ben Kaufmann (Yonder Mountain String Band) and Rob Salzer (U-Melt)

Set 4 (www.jambands.com/Features/content_2006_01_29.00.phtml):

Bob Weir, Erik Yates (Hot Buttered Rum), Jamie Shields (The New Deal), Kevin Shapiro (Phish Archivist), Alex Botwin (Pnuma Trio), Wayne Coyne (The Flaming Lips), Chris Zahn (BB King Blues Club), Tony Markellis (Trey Anastasio Band, No Outlet, Unknown Blues Band), Josh Baron (Relix Magazine), Robert Mercurio (Galactic), Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars), Jess Besack (Sirius Jam_On), Justin Peroff (Broken Social Scene), Paul Glace (Phantasy Tour), J. Bau (Hard Head Management), Calexico (Joey Burns and John Convertino), Jon Topper (moe. Manager)

Set 3 (www.jambands.com/Features/content_2006_01_19.01.phtml):

Dave Schools (Widespread Panic), Steve Adams (ALO), Fuzz (Rolla, Deep Banana Blackout), Jonathan Schwartz (Relix Magazine/Records, Sirius Radio), Donna Jean Godchaux-MacKay, Alecia Cohen (Global Rhythm Magazine), Todd Stoops (RAQ), Russell Batiste (PBS, Vida Blue, Funky Meters), Aaron Kayce “Kayceman” (JamBase), Al Schnier (moe.), Andy Bernstein (Pharmer’s Almanac, HeadCount.org), Bill Laswell, Tom Hamilton (Brothers Past), Evan Winiker (Steel Train), Pete Shapiro (The Jammys, Green Apple Music Festival, Wetlands), Eric Lanese (ekoostik hookah), Hunter Brown (Sound Tribe Sector 9)

Set 2 (www.jambands.com/Features/content_2006_01_13.00.phtml):

Jake Cinninger (Umphrey’s McGee), Jo Jo Hermann (Widespread Panic), Mike Gordon (Phish), Steve Bernstein (Relix, Rex Foundation), Gabby La La, Jeff Mattson (Zen Tricksters), Howie Schnee (Creative Entertainment Group), Charlie Hitchcock, Rajiv Parikh (New Monsoon), Ed Harris (Lake Trout), Kerry Black (Superfly), David Gans (Musician, The Grateful Dead Hour), Jamie McLean (Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Jamie McLean Band)

Set 1 (www.jambands.com/Features/content_2006_01_07.00.phtml):

Marc Brownstein, Steve Kimock, Bela Fleck, Aeve Baldwin (Relix Magazine), Rob Marscher (Addison Groove Project), Mike Doughty (Mike Doughty’s Band, Soul Coughing), Kevin Morris (SCI Fidelity Records), Rob Koritz (Dark Star Orchestra), Josh Clark (Tea Leaf Green), Andy Blackman Hurwitz (Ropeadope), Dennis McNally (A Long Strange Trip).

Thursday, February 09, 2006

City Folk

So, I'm not exactly a morning person. Its not that I like to sleep, its that I like to stay up really, really late. The evening inspires me to write, socialize and, more often than not, procrastinate from writing by socializing. In an ideal world, i.e. college, I'd stay up until 4 AM every day of the week, sleep until noon, comb my latent Jew fro into an outdated bowl cut and begin my day with a causal bounce. But even Relix's liberal bylaws require me to be at my desk by 9:30, making a goodnight’s sleep all but a wet dream.

Before I inevitably break it fidgeting at a bar, I decided to use my new camera phone to document some of the cooler sights I usually glance over in a hung-over haze en route to my cup of coffee. For musical accompaniment, be sure to pull out your copy of Oh, Inverted World or From a Basement on a Hill, the meat of my morning playlist. (PS If your just tuning in, or want to see a choice shot of me in my Friday prime, be sure to check out last week’s equally self-indulgent entries in the "archive" section to your right)

The origin of an obession: the site of my first tuna

Are they taking appilications!

Our New Relix Interns

The Avalon: Do you know how much E has been done in this church?

14th St: Like Crossing the Red Sea Every Day

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

My Space Embargo

Above: The Remains of a Great Civilization

Trust me, I enjoy the comfort of the online social network as much as the next insecure suburbanite, but I've yet to join My Space. Actually, that’s not completely true: I do technically have an account to research bands who refuse to write press releases and to research random hookups who refuse to reveal their last names, but I’ve yet to create a profile for myself. Its not that I have an problem emotionally undressing online (as this blog surely proves) its that I’ve already invested too much time in Friendster. It feels like some odd form of cyber social climbing to switch this late in the game . Plus, I think its pretty creepy that My Space allows you to choose your top eight friends. It reminds me of that episode of Seinfeld where Jerry is vying for a top spot on his girlfriend’s speed dial---just unneeded social pressure.

Its been at least eight months since My Space first made a splash in my social circle and, so far, I’ve held firm. Maybe when the next version of Friendster/The Face Book/My Space hits the web I’ll get in on the ground level. Until then feel free to contact me by phone, e-mail, wikki, IM, text, evite, Friendster message or, even, through face-to-face contact. Just keep your My Space away from my place.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Earplug Alert!

Some cool shows I hope to check out this week:

2/8: Steel Train @ Mercury Lounge, New York, NY

2/8: Papa Grows Funk @ Lion's Den, New York, NY

2/9: Sigur Ros @ Theater at MSG, New York, NY

2/11: Apollo Sunshine @ Mercury Lounge, New York, NY

2/12: Phil and Friends @ Beacon Theater, New York, NY

Monday, February 06, 2006

Go Steelers!

Trey and Jon "Jimmy" Fishman in Pittsburgh

Since my Super Bowl knowledge is limited to the bands playing the halftime show, I have no real basis to root for the Steelers. But, I did have my peak musical experience at a Phish show in Pittsburgh and have felt a need to support all things Steel Town ever since (but apparently not enough to actually watch the game…). So, as of tonight, I am on Steelers Tour, eagerly crossing my fingers for a “Harpua” breakout sometime fourth quarter.

Given my obsessive-compulsive personality, I really should have been a sports buff. But for some reason, sports never really interested me growing up, which is probably why I ended up attending a college whose lone varsity team majored in ultimate Frisbee. Like anything in life, I guess I can blame my lack of testosterone on my parents, who lulled me to bed with Peter, Paul and Mary records, and my learning disability, which made me as coordinated as Ray Finkel in Ace Ventura (how’s that for a sports allusion).

Looking back, it wasn’t always easy growing up in suburbia without sports and I still lose my entire high-school clique for six months each year when fantasy baseball is in full effect. But, over time, I’ve slowly cultivated a “jock-identity” for myself. For instance, since I tend to root for underdogs, I fashion myself a Mets fan (as opposed to the Yankees, who I'm sure have some secret tie to Clear Channel, man). On a similar note, I guess getting drunk on Super Bowl Sunday without watching the game is kind of like tweaking in Bonnaroo's lot without hearing any music. So, since I’m still beat from my recent jaunt to Chicago, I’ve decided to forfeit my ticket to Suman’s annual football party in good conscious.

I pondered going to a friend’s house to listen to the Schwartz/Foley Phish Bowl on Sirius instead, but since I get paid to hear Schwartz talk on a daily basis I’ve decided to take this drinking holiday off to listen to a mix tape I made sometime around lat year’s Tibet House benefit. Plus, I think Adam Foley may have accidentally killed a goldfish at my party last weekend…ah, the spoils of being part of the “jamband industry.”

Well, back to work for me and back to procrastinating for you. I’m actually going to be in NYC this weekend (for a change!) so if anyone wants to visit an east village watering hole let me know….

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Wrapped Around Chicago Set 2

The Original Pizza Uno: Not quite a pilrimage to the Wailing Wall, but close!

My Chicago crew, right where I left them in June 2004 (don't move an inch, I'll be back soon!)

Tea Leaf Green, 2/4/06: According to my female friends (and Andy Gadiel) these guys are "hot"

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Wrapped Around Chicago

Since Phish stopped touring, my desire to venture outside the northeast (or even north of 14th St for that matter) has dramatically decreased. And, without realizing it, I let almost two years slide by without venturing to the Midwest to catch up with the Chicago contingent of my Skidmore crew. A rare paring of my two favorite touring bands, moe. and the Disco Biscuits, seemed as good a reason as any to venture to the Windy City. So, tonight, I find myself camped out on Brill’s sofa, trying to figure out where exactly on the Oregon trail soda became pop.

Chicago has always treated me well. Becca, my college girlfriend, hailed from Evanston, IL, a suburb located just 30-minutes from the Sears Tower, and I spent some time exploring the so called “north shore” during Winter break senior year. At the time, Evanston was described to me as the “White Plains” of Chicago, as opposed to the “Scarsdale” (which apparently is referred to as “Highland Park” in these parts). Its a sure sign of something that after having visited four continents, eleven countries and 42 states I still describe any place I visit in terms of Westchester’s hamlets. But its still nice to know that the Midwest is equally capable of producing neurotic suburbanites living out their own Seinfeldian fantasies.

Friday, February 03, 2006

R.I.P. Verizon Cell Phone #2: 2004-2006

After a two month long struggle with poor reception, I finally put my cell phone to sleep last night. It was a bittersweet day, filled with both pain and excitement, plus an underlining fear that my phone book would be lost in some digital Bermuda triangle along the way.

We had a May-December relationship for sure. After a collegiate cycle of cellular bliss, I lost my first phone, #1, in a snow pile while loading a beer truck into the Jammys. I finally settled on a replacement, #2, only to have a somewhat confused Penn Station patron reunite me with #1 just three weeks later. #1 and I spent one final night together, before I banished her to the attic like Edward Rochester's first wife in Jane Eyre and spent the next 21 months (that'’s 62 in cell phone years) caring for #2 as if she were an extension of my right ear.

In our 22 months together, my cell phone and I survived a lifetime: a head on coalition with the sidewalk, two trips to Bonnaroo and, during one ten day period, no less than 57 text messages from a particularly psychotic member of my crazy girl harem. I'll hold off until sundown to light a yartzeit candle, but, for now, I'’d like to formally introduce you to my new cell phone, #3. She comes with expanded media capabilities so expect regular Greenhaus Effect photo updates, plus, I'’m sure, a higher monthly phone bill.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Lingering Childhood Addictions

As anyone whose had the unfortunate pleasure of dining with me can attest, my eating habits haven’t progressed since the first grade. In fact, in an ideal world my entire diet would consist of tuna sandwiches, cheese omelets, spaghetti, pizza and chocolate milk. Basically a carb and a dairy product topped with some form of tomato sauce. It’s not that I haven’t tried different types of food or, as some have claimed, that I am psychosomatically rebelling against my upper middleclass suburban background. Its just that I have really simple taste buds. You wouldn’t believe how much people can talk about how little I eat. Its like I live in an episode of the Twilight Zone where eating spaghetti without a fancy topping is as socially incorrect as double dipping a chip while eating a briscket with your bare hands. In fact, I honestly think my worst career choice was choosing Tuna for lunch on my first day of work at Relix. But, at the end of the day, I boil it down to knowing what I like and sticking with it---kind of like exclusively dating immature crazy girls and consistently leaving my shoes untied while bouncing around the city. Come to think of it, maybe I should have paid more attention in the second grade....

Social Schizophrenia

A friend of mine recently asked me to make a playlist. I think it captures my mood circa Fall 2005- Spring 2006

When I'm Happy: Benevento/Russo Duo: Best Reason to Buy the Sun ("Becky")

When I'm Sad: Elliot Smith: From a Basement ("Twilight")

When I'm Pensive: Ryan Adams and the Cardinals: Cold Roses ("Sweet Illusions")

When I Want to Feel Like a Hipster: Ambulance LTD-Self Titled ("Anecdote")

When I want to Feel Like a Hippie: Steel Train: Twilight Tales from the Prairies of the Sun

When I want to Feel Like a Hickster: My Morning Jacket: Z

When I want to Get Laid: ALO: Fly Between Falls ("Girl I Want to Lay You Down")

When I want to Bounce: Brothers Past: This Feeling Called Goodbye ("The Cal"l)

When I want to Pretend Like I Discovered Something New but Really Know Everyone Else Knows About It: The Postal Service: Give Up ("Sleep In")

When I want the Dead to tour again: Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers: Bring in the Noisemakers ("Lady with a Fan")

When I'm Feeling Academic: Sujan Stevens Illinois

When I'm Feeling Like a character on the OC: Wilco Yankee Foxtrot Hotel

When I'm Feeling Like Mikey circa 1999: Guster, Keep it Together, ("Backyard")

When I'm Wishing I Saw Soul Coughing: Mike Doughty, Skittish ("The Only Answer")

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Honestly, I am Sober in this Picture

The neurotic Jew on the left is me, the neurotic Jew on the right plays in the Disco Biscuits