Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Thoughts From My Cousin's Wedding

I was in Chicago over Memorial Day for my cousin Kate's wedding. It was a wonderful weekend, I got to see a lot of family and spend time in my favorite American city. Here is a smattering of thoughts from the weekend.

-Chicago has gorgeous weather all the way through the end of May, except when it dumps rain. Which happens every day.

-There is nothing more frustrating than staying up until 130AM watching the Cubs blow a 3 run lead in Los Angeles, after acquiring that lead in the 7th inning.

-There is nothing more frustrating than the Cubs losing the 3rd game of the series by walking the bases loaded, then hitting Juan Pierre, thus bringing in the game winning run.

-There is nothing more frustrating than the Chicago Cubs

-My family is wonderful, and I love spending time with them. Ok, some of them.

-My father does the best 'Dad At The Bar Mitzvah' dance. The contest is over.

-I actually heard the words, 'poop in the refrigerator', in that order, during the best man speech while 400 people were eating the main course.

-It is possible to eat too much 4 days in a row.

-Sometimes touristy things are a lot of fun, like the Chicago Architectural Boat Tour through the Chicago River. Highly recommended.

-It is an odd feeling to know for a fact that you have now been to the nicest wedding you will ever attend.

-Despite the beautiful newlywed couple, relatives seeing each other for the first time in months, and any number of small talk topics, nothing was more discussed than the S&M convention taking place in Chicago.

-It is possible to have a classy wedding and still serve macaroni and cheese.

-I am thrilled to now be back in New York City for more than 2 weeks after nearly a month of travelling (famous last words).

Hella is almost done, and I might be starting in on some milk money work for the summer. You will now be updated weekly on the minutia in my life.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

My Mother Will Not Enjoy This Film

Jay's roommate found this and felt the need to interrupt our editing session. I am glad he did. This is real family fun right here. I might head down to the local school and kidnap some kids to bring to this movie. I think all children need to know that this is what happens when you take steroids. This, or you become rich.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Guy Behind the Guy

Would you believe me if I told you that both of these guys have girlfriends? I didn't think so.

This photo was taken almost exactly 5 years ago today, on the closing night of the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. If you can believe it, that's me on the right. I had just spent 6 months living in Spain and made the trip up north bringing with me my excitement to meet new people and my gorgeous flowing mane of hair. On the left is Jay Bender; a guy I met at the festival, a movie geek from upstate New York with whom I found I had a lot in common. It turned out to be a fortunate meeting for the both of us, because years later, Jay has become my editor and has cut all of my projects (psst..look over here------>). For Jay I have become....uh....well he's cut all my projects. My presence in his house is a gift.

When I showed up at Jay's place in Sherman Oaks on Tuesday night to begin editing the Hella video, I was nervous about the results. It had nothing to do with Jay's ability, which have been well documented in various niche trade magazines and non-televised award shows, but more with the serious possibility that I had not done a good enough job shooting the video. Given that this is my first video for a band on a record label, my first video for a band with a real following, and my first video that I am positive will get press and lots of views, I was a little scared. I have to say, as well, that as I drove home at 5:00AM on Wednesday morning after spending 6 hours studying the footage, I didn't feel much better. Well around 5:00PM yesterday, all of that changed. We are about half way done cutting, and the video is so much more than I imagined it could be. Thanks in part to Spencer, Josh, Zach and Aaron's ability to improvise (under my strict guidance, of course), the video is funny, strange, at times scary and very enjoyable. Jay's ability to find those moments, put them where they need to be, and show me all available options is truly priceless (which is good, because he's not getting paid).

If this video is a success, which I really think it will be, Jay will have been an enormous part of it. Many times I think that filmmakers want to take all the credit themselves. I like to do that as well, but this time I just can't.

Jay is also a director himself. Check out his handiwork here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Finally, A Reason to Thank The Lord

I try to stay away from politics and religion here, but I think it is safe to say that the world is now a much better place.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Another One in the Books

Sorry I haven't updated, I have been pretty exhausted. I spent the weekend shooting the Hella video at my parents' house in Sacramento. It was a terrific experience, and the guys were great to work with. I am a bit nervous only because I like them so much and want them to like it. I leave for LA tomorrow to edit with superstar Jay Bender, and once it's done I'll post it. Hit me up in the comments if you want photos.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Low Budget Diary

Producing a low budget music video (or any film, for that matter) is a tough endeavor, especially when some crew members are long distance. On this job, we are shooting in California, with the producer still in New York City until tomorrow night, and the cinematographer about an hour North of Sacto at his parents' house. The band is scattered all over the city, while the de facto leader is on vacation in Canada. All of these things must come together by Friday morning when we begin shooting. We must pinch every available penny that we can, so we are looking for things for free. We need an old bike for a prop, we need a camera, and some memory cards for the camera (memory cards are the new digital video tapes). We also need crew members for free, which is hardest to find. I am ending up asking friends to come out and help, which is great, but most, if not all of them, have never been on a film set before.

Things are starting to get hectic and I am beginning to feel very nervous. I have made a shot list with which I am confident, I have even designed a schedule. Making the schedule is something that, under normal circumstances, I wouldn't be responsible for. Given the low budget and the lack of crew members, however, it falls under the umbrella of things I have to do. In any event, I have prepared very well and I am confident with the idea. This happens with me every time I begin to shoot something. I get nervous and feel like I can't figure it out. That anxiety goes away usually the morning of the shoot and I enter this zone and all of a sudden it is lunch on the first day and we have done 10 shots.

On the Secret 6 video I had no idea how I was going to shoot any part of it. I hadn't storyboarded it, I hadn't done any kind of shot list, and I hadn't even thought about a visual style. The only thing I had done was scout locations and figure out where we were going tp shoot. We changed the location for the house the night before we shot there, so I had only looked at it once. Luckily this time I know the location really well (it's my parents' house), and I have a great sense of how I want it to look. I hope things turn out all right, as this is a huge opprotunity for me to shine and have lots of people see it.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Jack Frost

The man just ripped the pants down and forcefully inserted himself into Conan('s show). What a way to cap off an incredible week of Conan shows in San Francisco. Baron Davis and Jason Richardson even showed up to congratulate themselves once again for completing one of the greatest upsets in sports this side of Sawks/Yanks 2004.

But anyway, Tom Waits rules, so does Conan, the Mavericks do not.

Hella goes this weekend. I will try and update every night after we shoot. Wish me luck, I am nervous as hell.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Coachella 2007-Day 3

These are my entries I wrote after each day of
Coachella. Some of them are long, so if you get bored, then I'm a lousy writer (definitely possible). The pictures were all taken by yours truly.

Day 3
No fanfare in the morning, no fanfare here. Let’s get into it.

We showed up really early, beating the crowds.

Fair to Midland-I have this good friend from college named Grant. Grant is a drummer, and a good one. In college he was always trying to defend bands like Disturbed, Godsmack, Nickelback, Creed, and the like. Because of this, we started to call all music like this GrantRock. Fair to Midland is GrantRock.

Grizzly Bear-The blogs love Grizzly Bear. Grizzly Bear is fucking boring.

Explosions in the Sky- I was curios about Coachella’s choice to put EITS on the main stage in the middle of the day. Not that Explosions wasn’t able to play to a big crowd from 50 feet in the air, they just shouldn’t be expected to. Well, all of my fears were laid to rest for good as they absolutely rocked what little crowd was there in the blazing sun at 4:00PM. The music was cranked up loud, and they were fantastic.

The Roots-The Roots are a total anomaly in the hip hop world. They play instruments, have socially/politically aware content, and have spectacular live shows. This may explain why they can’t really gain much of an audience in their own demographic, but are huge in the festival circuit. The audiences at festivals appreciate a well polished live show, and the Roots certainly have that. The highlight was undoubtedly an interpretation of Bob Dylan’s Masters of War, which included the music of the Star Spangled Banner. **?uestlove introduced the tuba player by his real name, than saying, 'AKA, Tuba Gooding Jr.'

CSS-I love CSS. They are completely ridiculous, and they’re from Brazil. The singer looks like the love child of Bjork and my friend Lucy, but in a purple shiny onezie. They ended with their hit, ‘Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death From Above 1979’. Nuff said. Also, Paris Hilton was there. Start the clock to demise.

Manu Chao-This guy is the biggest music star from Mexico. He absolutely rocked a crowd that could not wait to see Rage Against the Machine.

Rage Against the Machine-Though most of the kids in the crowd were 10 years old when Rage broke up, it appears that they have learned how to mosh. 60,000 of them doing so can be a bit scary.

So on the way home, after 3 long days on my feet, my ears ringing, my legs burning, my back spasming, this is what I had to endure:

Yeah. That just happened. Amanda and Liz will not be forgiven.

Celebrities Seen: 3
Paris Hilton (at CSS)
MTV’s Rob Huebel and Aziz Ansari
Urinations: 2
Defecations: 1
Meals eaten: 1
Bottles of water: 10+
Pair of boxers ruined: 1

Weekend Wrap-up

Most Surprisingly Satisfying Set:
Manu Chao

Most Disappointing Set:

Holy Shit I Am Glad I Went To That:
Peeping Tom

I Was So Tired Before This Set, and Now I Am Soaking Wet But So Happy:
Girl Talk

This Set Rocked, but I Have No Interest in Seeing This Person Again:
Mike Relm

I Danced My Ass Off Despite 100+ Degree Weather:

I Kind of Wish I had Seen That:
Bjork/LCD Soundsystem/Ratatat

I Went to this Set Beyond Despite Better Judgement, But I Am Glad I Did:
DJ Shadow

Best Overall Set:

Way to go guys!

Have to rest up for Coachella 2008

Coachella 2007-Day 2

These are my entries I wrote after each day of
Coachella. Some of them are long, so if you get bored, then I'm a lousy writer (definitely possible). The pictures were all taken by yours truly.

Day 2 begins with a whimper for Mike

Coachella Day 2
No soiled appliances today, just some fine fine music. I woke up early, at around 930, and immediately felt like I couldn’t get up. My back hurt, my knees hurt, and I suddenly felt as if I had aged 40 years overnight. I almost considered going back to sleep, but I realized that if I did I wouldn’t get up until the late afternoon. I went and got everyone breakfast, and shuttled us out the door by noon. We arrived on the grounds at around 230, and the day formally began. Here are some highlights:

Pharoahe Monch- We only got to see around the 2nd half of Pharoahe’s set, but it was nice to see him back in action. I couldn’t help but notice the swath of white people enjoying a set by the man who famously said, ‘I buttfuck MC’s’. I guess white people just love the hip hop music. ‘Simon Says’ did tear the house down.

Chuck Dukowski Sextet- Only four people, not a sextet. Mike commented that it appeared they had gotten together via Craig’s List. A kid from my Boy Scout days recognized my camp t-shirt and I talked with him for a while. It is wild to see these kids for the first time in 9 years. It reminds me of how old I am.

Hot Chip: These dudes rock. Their music is fantastic, and it is brought to life even more by the fact that they look like the five guys in your PE class who never participated. They are either very fat or very skinny, they all have glasses and their attire is ridiculous but believable. Plus given their age, it looks like they just turned the D&D club into a dorky Devo tribute band, then decided to write original material. They played a fantastic version of ‘And I Was a Boy From School’

We took a small break to eat, and while Peter Bjorn and John played, Aaron Mike and Andrew got some food and a beer. Well, Mike got the beer, I stared at this guy in the beer garden who I swear was on my study abroad program in 2002.

!!!-Jason Goldman chastised me for wanting to see them, given that we are going to see them in New York in May, but I couldn’t resist. Mike, Andrew and I weaseled our way in way up front to be with the kids who dance. I overheard someone behind me talking about Capitol Garage, a small venue in Sacramento (home of, among other things, !!! and me), and when I struck up conversation, it turned out the two girls were the sisters of !!! guitarist/LCD Soundsystem bassist Tyler Pope. Small world. Oh yeah, !!! were amazing, and I haven’t had that much fun at a show in a long time. They had the most energy of any band so far. A great show with a 10 minute finale of ‘Intensify’

Ghostface/Arcade Fire-I wanted to see Ghostface, but it was garbage. I don’t think it was Mr. Coles’ fault, hiphop shows at venues like that are difficult. The sound was terrible and he had a crew of hypemen, which was annoying. Mike and I ate Indian food, Andrew had something Asian. We went over to the beer tent and listened to most of the Arcade Fire’s second Coachella set in 3 years. They were completely solid, as usual. They are a great live band, and even sounded good from about 400 yards away.

Girl Talk-Everyone loves Girl Talk. Party kids love him because he keeps all the songs familiar and never stops. Hipsters love him because it gives them an excuse to dance to all the Top 40 hits they secretly love. Paris Hilton loves him because, well, he’s just hot right now. Unfortunately her presence onstage with him may have signaled his saturation point, but the show was fabulous. Balloons, confetti, kids dancing on stage, all of our favorite hits from yesteryear, and today’s radio mixed together for an amazing party.
Notable Quote: “Are you ready, Coachella? This is the best time of our lives”. If only life were that simple.

Mike Relm-Since I had just seen LCD Soundsystem 2 weeks ago I decided to check out something new, on Dave’s recommendation. Mike Relm is a sort of audio/visual DJ. He scratches well, plays familiar beats and songs and also scratches DVDs for added effect. A favorite skit was the scratching of the notorious ‘Oh face’ routine from ‘Office Space’. Some of the clips he chose didn’t really fit, but it’s originality was great, and the show was very enjoyable.

The Black Keys/The Rapture-Musically, the night closed with these two acts. The Black Keys were great, but I am not sure the venue was right. Their 2 man blues rock would certainly fit a lot better in a dive bar somewhere in the Midwest. Great stuff though, and I am glad I saw them. I also caught the last two songs of The Rapture’s set, which was nice. The crowd had emptied out as the final acts on the main stage grabbed most of the people.

I had to wait out the last 20 minutes of trance DJ Tiesto’s set. It sounded like one song. One long, boring, repetitive song. With keyboards. Annoying.

Day 2 Stats
Celebrities Seen: 3
-Human Giant/UCB comedian Rob Huebel
-Paris Hilton on stage dancing with Girl Talk
-The big guy from Parker Louis Can’t Lose and ER

Urinations: 1
Defecations: 0
Meals: 3
Bottles of Water: 10+

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Coachella 2007-Day 1

These are my entries I wrote after each day of Coachella. Some of them are long, so if you get bored, then I'm a lousy writer (definitely possible). The pictures were all taken by yours truly.

Coachella Day 1: Intro

The adventure began for us long before we entered the Coachella gates. I arrived at the Ontario around midnight and was sort-of-promptly by my good buddy Mike Cassell and we took off on our way to Palm Springs.

I was excited to arrive at the house, but upon entering I discovered something somewhat terrible: not only was there no electricity, but opening the refrigerator revealed that there had not been any for quite some time. An indescribable stench emanated from the fridge. I mean it when I say indescribable; the best I can do is to say that it is something like the inside of a camel’s rectum smothered in rotten peanut butter. Of course, because I was the discoverer of said mess, I was responsible for cleaning it up. But not tonight. The group of us, Mike, Jay, Andrew, Dave, Amanda, and Liz, had a few beers and went to bed around 3:30. Mike and Andrew slept outside, to avoid the hot temperatures, and I slept in all of my clothes in the bed once shared by my grandparents.

Day 1

I woke up around 9:00AM on Friday morning, jived and ready to go for the first of three exhausting days of Coachella. It is always important to remember that a festival like this is a marathon and not a sprint. Enough metaphors. Let’s get down to business. I had a holocaust of a fridge to clean. I got to work with Mike, and we emptied it, and cleaned it. It took me about 2 hours, and it was horrible. The mold, the water, the rotting fruit…I am pretty sure the cure for several diseases were in there, and are now gone. The fridge only smells mildly putrid now, but it will have to do. Thanks, Uncle Barry.

After the fridge incident of 2007, I tried to cleanse myself in the chlorinated waters of my grandmother’s pool, then a shower where I cleaned my hands will steel wool and I was ready for breakfast. We went to a satisfying but expensive meal at the Manhattan deli, and took off for the show.

The drive in was miserable. It appears they are trying to get all 60,000 people into one entrance, and that creates problems. Both Amanda and Liz took multiple naps, and Mike invented some new curse words. The anticipation made it even longer, but we got in around 3:30, just to catch the last 20 minutes of the Tokyo Police Club. At that point it was Mike, Amanda, Liz and myself. After about 5 minutes of TPC (oh yeah, we’re tight like that), Amanda and Liz split to find water. Sissies. It was only 98 degrees that point. In any event, Mike and I began to wander around after Tokyo Police Club, and found ourselves watching a band called the Satellite Party, which we were stunned to see was fronted by Perry Farrell. The band sounded exactly what you would think a Perry Ferrell band would sound like: a bad version of Jane’s Addiction mailing it in. We waited around for that to finish, and watched the LA band the Silversun Pickups with our old college friend Erik Slemon.

Erik enjoys a tasty beverage
They put on an enjoyable enough show. They have two great songs that are catchy, and the rest sounds like low rent Smashing Pumpkins. Not completely memorable, but not a bad way to spend the afternoon. After their show ended, Mike and I realized that we hadn’t eaten anything since 10AM, so we decided to quench our hunger.
Understandably, in the 100+ degree heat, Mike had a hankering for lamb, so we found a proprietor of Greek food. He had a lamb gyro, and I had a veggie gyro. What is a veggie gyro you may ask? It’s a pita with lettuce and tomato. It really filled me up.


We relaxed in the shade for a bit, and by 6:30 were back at the main stage for the highly overrated set by the highly overrated Arctic Monkeys. Lame. It was either them or Stephen Marley, and after listening to half of a song we were having flashbacks of freshman year of college and returned to the Monkeys. After their set we tried to wait for the beginning of Peaches, but she decided she didn’t want to show up on time so we went to see The Jesus and Mary Chain. The set included two things that did not seem to belong together:

The completely brilliant 80’s song ‘Head On’

Scarlett Johansson singing backup.

Good set, especially for a bunch of old dudes.

The true surprise of the evening came in the form of Mike Patton’s new band Peeping Tom. After a strange introduction by Danny DeVito, the band, including Dan The Automator, took the stage and Patton soon joined, wearing a bullet proof vest. The show was spectacular. Screaming, yelling, swearing, the throwing of obscene gestures…it had everything.

By now it was 9:30, and I was hungry again. Mike, Jay and I got a burrito and listened to Sonic Youth rip through a set while waiting for DJ Shadow. I know many people got angry when I told them I was planning on skipping Bjork for Shadow. Keep in mind, I have seen Bjork several times, and truthfully, if you’ve seen a Bjork show, you’ve seen them all. They are all a little bit different, but she plays the same hits, wears a goofy costume, and has an entire middle school’s worth of girls with sun dresses crying at the sight of their Icelandic queen. For me, Shadow was the way to go.

Despite his short set, he did not disappoint. His video show was great, and the added material he has gives him an even better ability to remix his own tunes live.

It was fantastic. It is now 1:30AM, and I have been on my feet since 1:30PM. I just arrived home and it is 3:15AM. We have to be up in several hours to go back and do it all over again.
Celebrities Seen: 0
Urinations: 1
Defecations: 0
Meals eaten: 2
Bottles of water: 10+
Pair of boxers ruined: 1