Stefon’s Guide to NYC

December 8, 2010 at 6:04 am (Uncategorized)

At the start of every TV season you hear the chatter…SNL is good again…SNL is funny again. It reminds me of when people say a neighborhood of DC is “up and coming.”  Just arrive already!  I’ve been faithful to SNL through the ups and downs, and with the amazing Kristen Wiig and Bill Hayder this year feels like it’s inching up.  Especially with the birth of my new favorite Weekend Update guest star: City Correspondent Stefon.

If you’ve missed Stefon’s New York City guide for tourists check it out here and here and here.

Stefon’s colorful and often 90s-referenced suggestions warrant a second take.  We need a list of things tourists can find in the Big Apple/”coked-up gay candyland.”

“lights, psychos, ferbies, screaming babies in Mozart wigs, sun burned drifters with soap sud beards, answers to the question WHAA?, trance, slits, throw up music, an albino that looks like Susan Powter, teddy gram people, a Rabbi that looks like Joaquin Phoenix, Goths, carnival barkers, groups of guys in Afros and graduation caps, human fire hydrants (when high-waisted midgets where red pants and have a big ass), twinks, gypsies, grown men in wedding dresses, a cat from a Bodega, puppets in disguise (like when Alf wore a trench coat so he could go out in public), the door is guarded by ten jacked homeless guys in old fashion bathing suits, ice sculptures, winos, germfs (German Smurfs), a Teddy Ruxpin wearing mascara, an old lady with Kid ‘n Play hair, DJ Baby Butchoi (a giant 300-pound Chinese baby who wears tinted aviator glasses and spins records with his little ravioli hands), glass, steam, bear traps, and just when you think the fun is over–knock, knock–who’s there–it’s Black George Washington!… a room filled with human bath mats (when midgets have dreadlocks and lie face down on the floor), stainless steel doors, you’ll be greeted by Pierre (the Muslim Elvis impersonator), clones, freaks, sneezing, a Russian man on a pre-paid cell phone, at the door just do the Cosby face, geeks, shirpas, a Jamaican nurse wearing a shower cap, room after room of broken mirrors, look in the corner is that Mic Jagger?, no it’s a fat kid on a slip and slide–his knees look like biscuits and he’s ready to party, ghosts, a banjo, Carl Paladino, a stuck up kitten who won’t sign autographs, Furkels (fat Urkels)–after you been with one of those guys you’ll be asking yourself ‘Did I Do That?'”

Over the Thanksgiving break, my mother asked for my advice on where to meet an old friend in the city.  I couldn’t help but wonder what would Stefon say?

Mom: Where can I go to catch up with an old dental school friend in the city?

Stefon: If you are looking for a good time in New York look no further.  New York’s hottest new nightclub is “STEAM ROOM ‘No Girls Allowed.'”  NY Club owner Franky F. spared no expense.  It has everything…   disco era lights, retired alcoholics, Timothy Geithner, labradoodles in J. Crew sweater sets, the fuck buddy from SATC, Zoroastrians, unemployed Boomers, Strong Islander Lindsey Lohan between arrests, derivatives, the Prime Minister from Malaysia, desi-licious cabbies from New Jersey, Mario Lopez, divas from VIDA, Guilio (the guy who worked the Bar at SAIS Bologna), under-aged armed guards from Penn Station.  Wear your Quinceañera tiara on Friday nights for a discount. Me gusto.

Mom: I think I’ll go to the Morgan Museum/cafe.

Kudos to SNL’s writers for coming up with this stuff! And what if Stefon had to review our fair capital city?  …douchebag lobbyists, generic girls in black suits, promiscuous Hill interns, Democrats who still like Obama…  We might need to work on DC’s randomness in 2011.

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The Legacy of the Nineties

November 21, 2010 at 1:39 am (Uncategorized)

I’ve spent a number of posts claiming the resurgence of the final decade of the last millennia, but, in reality, a person from a particular generation cannot legitimately claim his or her own era’s modern-day relevance.  It’s like the reverse of the old-Seinfeldian notion (not be overtly stereotypical) you have to be Jewish to make Jewish jokes.  I, a ‘90s teen, can’t really say the ‘90s are cool.  It’s just not appropriate.  That task is up to my older compatriots and, dare I say it, today’s elusive, trendsetting tweenyboppers.

I can say that ‘90s memorabilia and references are penetrating commercial American society this holiday season.  For example, the resurrection of the McRib.  Also, check out Rolling Stone’s new–in time for the holidays–epic coffee table book: The ‘90s The Inside Stories From the Decade That Rocked.

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Who is the target audience for this book? Who will actually buy it?  As someone who owns Trivial Pursuit ‘90s Edition, I can’t say that I’m above the merchandise fray.  If this $29.99 HarperCollins anthology is going to sit on my peers’ IKEA coffee tables (i.e. people who want to reminisce and test their high school memory), then I don’t know if we can claim, as the Rolling Stone does, that “at no time since the rock & roll explosion of the 1960s did music matter more than in the 1990s.”  It’s just too early for real historians to make that call.  However, if non-Gen X and Y/Millennial shoppers buy this book, it could be proof that the decade’s musical relevance will stand the test of time.

Unlike Seinfeld, you can’t “convert” your formative years for the inside jokes.  I would have loved to have been a teenager in the late-1960s or Suffragette eras.  But, I was, thankfully, handed civil rights and the vote by birth and some totally dope music as a teenager.

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BU vs Harvard Girls

November 18, 2010 at 4:43 am (Uncategorized)

Even though I have publicly stated a fear of Facebook, I’m fascinated by Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher’s The Social Network.   If you haven’t seen the movie, it captures Shakespearian levels of betrayal and ambition at a generation Millennial’s iambic pentameter.  Vanity Fair, the New York Times, and the New Yorker have all given good reviews to the film balancing thought-provoking and entertaining.  I saw the movie opening night, but have only now digested its most disturbing quality.  (Apologies–this post is so early October 2010.)

The movie is an action flick for the nerdier set with comic relief.  I LOLed at various scenes, especially the ongoing background jokes between my alma mater Boston University and the esteemed Harvard.  A rivalry that doesn’t even exist.  In the opening scene a BU lady gets picked on for “not having homework,” but goes on to represent the only seemingly intelligent and likeable woman in the entire film.

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According to BU’s student newspaper the Daily Free Press, Sorkin said in an interview with the Boston Herald he has nothing against BU students–his sister was one. “Although the movie opens with a joke about BU girls, the BU girl may be the only class act in the movie.”

I’m not the only one who found the films portrayal of Coeds a bit too geeky, tech-groupie, Asian fantasy-like.  Stephen Colbert lambasted Sorkin while he promoted the film on the Colbert Report in September. When talking about Zuckerberg’s faux BU girlfriend Colbert states,

“She’s super smart and she definitely gets the best of him–the other ladies don’t have as much to say, because they are high, or drunk, or fucking guys in the bathroom.  Why are there no other women of any substance in the movie?”

Sorkin simply replies the other women (besides Rashida Jones’ character) are “prizes.”

I have personally observed enough “prizes” during my days and nights on BU’s Comm Ave to understand the sentiment.  The Warren Towers “ZOO” was an excellent vantage point to observe other inhabitants’ behavior.  Especially as I never technically lived there.  But, this is not the most disturbing part of the film for me–there are flickers of brilliance and craziness and stupidity within all young women and men from any caliber University.

In retrospect, the aspect of the film that bothers me most was the fact that you never see Zuckerberg having a female friend.  Fact or fiction? I don’t know.  Was he was a loner without many platonic relationships, but with one steady girlfriend?  Perhaps there really were no women involved in the founding of Facebook?  Regardless, in this day and age, let’s hope during his truncated years in Cambridge he made one sensible opposite sex friend without benefits.

And if he couldn’t find a worthy one in Cambridge, he could have just crossed the River Charles.

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Honoring Ida Blankenship

September 30, 2010 at 11:11 pm (Uncategorized)

The MURDER! of Ms. Blankenship was very unexpected and sad. I don’t like it when they create a really cool character just as a plot device. “Are you going to the men’s room!?” Hilarious.

Mad Men fan and ChaseAndBeenChased’s good friend with good taste

Astronaut Ida Blankenship, You GO GAIL!

Shame on you Matthew Weiner.  You take us back to the early 60s every Sunday night, shake things up at the new SCDP office, and needlessly kill off the best new character of season four!  Revive Ida Blankenship! She was a hysterical admin assistant with an accent only a mother (or a New Yorker) could love for a man who can’t hold his liquor or keep his pants on.  She was Don Draper’s contrapasso! With perfectly delivered lines like “How was your siesta? Do ya feel refreshed?” in the best, raspy, jaded, deep female voice on TV since Patty and Selma Bouvier, I will miss how Blakenship made me feel at home–bringing  the LIRR Babylon line to my little DC apartment.

Matthew Weiner, like everyone else, is evoking the 90s with a revolving set of sectaries a la Murphy Brown 1994.  Is Kramer going to be one of Don’s next assistants? He’s probably not the right bra size.

TV.com recently put together a funny list of Top 15 TV Administrative Professionals.  And while Mad Men claims the Number 1 slot, I believe it is with the wrong leading lady.

Viva Ida Blakenship!

*Thanks to person on Twitter for taking the time to Microsoft Paint this enduring image.

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Ken Burns Figure Skating

September 29, 2010 at 10:29 pm (Uncategorized)

With Ken Burns’ latest documentary, The Tenth Inning, airing on PBS this week, I had a chance to combine my nerd love of history, the 90s, baseball, and PBS in two glorious hours.  Picking up where his monumental Baseball left off in the 1992 season, The Tenth Inning replays the ups and downs of the 90s and the Aughts from the player’s strike and steroids scandal to the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry.  As Stephen Colbert aptly pointed out Monday night, the Chicago Cubs still don’t win in this edition, however, the BoSox Cowboys of 2004 will surely make an appearance given that Burns is a Red Sox fan.

Ken Burns, I beg you to create a Figure Skating documentary.  Just think of all that drama, all that glitter, all that jazz (oh wait, you literally made a fabulous 10-part series on Jazz already)… all the Cold War references!  Or as Colbert stated, maybe a Ken Burn Fuseball edition?  We just can’t let the NFL take over America. With the amount of excitement for the start of the football season I feel like Americans forgot that Mr. October and Mr. November are baseball players.  The Superbowl isn’t until the dead of winter!

If you refuse to make a Figure Skating documentary series, then what about less George Will and more Doris Kearns Goodwin.  Yes, she’s my favorite Red Sox fan if I don’t have to stare at Will’s helmet hairdo.  Can’t wait till next installment even if it’s to relive the 2004 season!

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Quotes of the Day

September 27, 2010 at 12:44 am (Uncategorized)

Don’t point that gun at him–he’s an unpaid intern. —The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

“Fuck You” is a middle finger to gold diggers, so it’s kind of genius that 50 Cent answers back here, rapping “it’s nobody’s fault but your own you’re not rich” like he’s a gangsta Fox News pundit.  -J.D., Rolling Stone

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Mr. Stewart Goes to Washington

September 17, 2010 at 4:05 am (Uncategorized)

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Bringing Sanity  and Humor to the National Mall

After inadvertantly walking into a Tea Party Protest last Sunday on my way to cheer a friend at the National Triathlon, I’m happy to see a rally that won’t advise attendees to stay away from DC’s scary green/yellow metro lines.

Don’t forget Colbert’s “Keep Fear Alive” Rally–same day, same place.

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Summer is Overrated…There I Said It

September 13, 2010 at 12:47 am (Uncategorized)

fall tree

It’s official–summer is winding down and most of my friends are in denial.  Sure, I love me some beach side time–sun on my face, toes in the sand, burgers on the grill.  But is that really the day-to-day reality of summer in the city?  More like humidity in the face, mosquitos on my skin, and office AC that freezes my sweat before I can log on.  DC has a lovely fall, a mild (even with last year’s snowmaggeden) winter, and a very noteworthy spring (see previous post).

My summer loving friends, this is not the end–it is the start of crispness!

So put away the Ts and tanks and brown flip flops (they aggravate plantar fasciitis anyway!). It’s time for the annual change of the wardrobe guard.

Hello grandma sweaters–I missed you!

Hello stylish boots–forgive me, while some girls wore you all year round I lie in wait for an appropriate breeze.

Corduroy that stays dry in the rain–nice to meet you again–it’s been a while!

Hola scarves and pashminas; Bonjour mon béret!

Gloves and jackets of leather and suede.

Capes, trenches, hoodies: a family that I respect.

Black, brown, blue, green, and heather charcoal gray.

Turtlenecks, I didn’t forget about you!

Hail the return of cozy nights, dark hot chocolate at CoCo Sala, and spiced brandy apple drinks at the Tabard Inn!

Autumn on the East Coast, I’ve been waiting for you.

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On 9/11, I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!

September 11, 2010 at 3:31 pm (Uncategorized)

Doesn’t anybody notice this? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills! I invented the piano key necktie, I invented it!

I didn’t know when I watched Zoolander for the first time I would link it to the solemn day of 9/11, but this 2001 movie has one scene that continues to help me get through reading the newspaper.

Between the Florida Koran book burning talk, the Tea Party gathering in DC at the Lincoln Memorial, and the “near” to Ground Zero Islamic Cultural Community Center debate, I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!  After nine years of grieving, of fighting, of missions not quite so accomplished, how we can let this side of American opinion dominate our conversation during a time that should be devoted to building bridges, remembering the victims and heros, and finding a new path toward understanding?  I’ve often written, with pride, about being a New Yorker, born in Queens–the most diverse county in America, if not the world–and I’m ashamed of the New Yorkers who have protested and angrily spoken out against a legitimate community building a cultural center legally in Manhattan.  If New Yorkers can act so ignorantly and short-sited of the impact their actions, then I am sadden that in the past nine years we as a nation have not really learned much about this important part of the world beyond characters of the fringe extremists.

This week I’ve found that Gail Collins–the New York Times OpEd Columnist and major girl crush of mine (I heart her the way I heart Jim Lehrer…a lot) gave the only explanation I could swallow for the Koran book burning and Islamic Cultural Center drama:

When this sort of thing happens, it is important to remember that about 5 percent of our population is and always will be totally crazy. I don’t mean mentally ill. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, 26 percent of American adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year. So, basically, that’s just normal life. I mean crazy in the sense of “Thinks it is a good plan to joke with the flight attendant about seeing a bomb in the restroom.”

There is nothing you can do about the crazy 5 percent except ask the police to keep an eye on them during large public events, where they sometimes appear carrying machine guns just to make a political point about the Second Amendment. And, in situations like a Koran-burning, make it clear that the rest of us disagree.

So for what it is worth, this American disagrees.

And for what it is worth, isn’t Gail Collins  funnier, sexier, and a better pen than Ms. “hot-red” Maureen Dowd?

They say anyone alive during 9/11 will remember where they were that day.  I was in Madaba, Jordan just about to swear in as  Peace Corps Volunteer in the Arab world.  It’s shaped indelibly the way I remember the day.   People around the world love New York because it is the kind of city where an Islamic Cultural Center would be modeled after a Upper West Side Jewish Community Center in the neighborhood where terrorism killed our nation’s innocence so devastatingly nine years ago. How could it be any other way?

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“Hey You Guys!” New Wave at 5o, 80s at 25

August 11, 2010 at 7:32 pm (Uncategorized)

2010 marks high- low-, and midbrow film classic anniversaries; French New Wave films reach 5o, the Goonies hit 25, and John Hughes teen classics hover in the quarter century range.  Reviewing films you loved as a child can be tricky territory like getting back together with an ex–you start to wonder why you loved it so much the first time around, question your past memories, and you often chalk it up to youthful digressions.  But, all films, and exes, are not created equal.  I wanted to test my favorite classics at 30 to see if they held up.  To be safe, I thought it was best to start celebrating this year’s film anniversaries with a 1960 classic I had never seen.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless (“À Bout de Souffle”), a restored version of the film with new subtitles screened for one week only in the DC area at the AFI, Sivler Spring (the best cinema in “DC” located in Maryland). There were only seven people at the Monday night showing, but the weirdness and coolness of mid-century French New Wave was present.  It was my first time seeing the film, but I had read about the play on Hollywood cliché: the brooding, handsome, lead French actor with his cigarette and fedora, the attractive American blonde wearing his pinstripe, white collared shirt post-orgasm.  Actually, the Mad Men (hooray for the return of Season 4!) craze makes watching the 60s aesthetic seem fresh, hip, and very now.  Check out the old trailer for the film here.  All in all, I was thrilled to have the chance to see this film on the big screen.
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Meanwhile, rewatching The Goonies as an adult was a bit disappointing.  I couldn’t believe how cheesy it was.  This kid classic that is imprinted in the brains of all 80s babies was so, well, Spielberg cheese.  I’m sorry to say that the Goonies, as much as I loved it as a kid, did not hold up the test of time.  The saving grace of rewatching the cult flick?  This scene made me LOL after all these years.
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John Hughes films have weathered a bit better.  Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, etc. are also reposted to the big screen this month at AFI, Silver Spring.
After the aged Brat Pack-led tribute to the late director at the Oscars, AFI honors the best of 80s teen cinema by screening all of Hughes’ classic works.  I mean this amazing scene from Pretty in Pink still makes me smile.  I’d take “a little tenderness” form Duckie– then and now!  There are numerous websites and tributes to John Hughes’ films, and while many of us where on the young side when these movies were released they have survived well proving that there is still a little bit of a red-head, insecure, teenage girl inside us all.

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