Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Yo La Tengo: still killin' em with the requests

Friday turned out to be a good night to re-create what your ancestors might have done for yuks 60-70 years ago: Stay in and huddle around the radio! What a rip! Also, madly text and e-mail friends while Yo La Tengo, in an annual rite of prespring, play your requests on WFMU, or ones close to them.


The band played on. A ripping version of the Clean's "Getting Older," so many Beach Boys and related that they had to put the kaibosh on it, talk of the Saints, classic ’80s pop and, at the end, comic bits to replace songs they didn't want to-- well:

Ira: "M.I.A., 'Paper Planes'? That's a head-scratcher people."
James: "M.I.A. -- izzat a hardcore band?"
Ira: "The Pixies? Draw'n a blank!"

The band played on. They played everything loose and tight and joyful and right, and what came through is that in these particular six hands, there are no old songs or new songs. In Yo La Tengo's world, there are just songs. The good ones are to be revered, played fast and sloppy or slow and sacred; the lesser ones can still have their 1.5 minutes. The chasm between how Yo La Tengo sees music and how the anxious uncurious indie world they were once lumped in with sees music has never been broader. That world of fake-exciting tour-announcements and predictable dress-alike Forkcast picks and iPod campaigns and cornball Stereogum writing boringly about what's boringly already known. Echo-echo-echo-echoooo. Listening to Yo La Tengo on WFMU didn't make you feel like this soul-murdering winter was drawing to a close; it made it feel as if it hadn't happened at all.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Overheard in the park

I hate those blind "overheard on the train platform" items that populate all the shittier, lazier, more desperate publications around town. Nevertheless…talk too loudly in a public place and your shit may just find its way…[cue music]…to the Internets! [Danh-danh-dannhhh!]

At Tompkins Square Park earlier today. Sipping the best coffee in Manhattan and reading D.T. Max's piece on the late, great David Foster Wallace in The New Yorker, while also doing my No. 1 favorite thing: minding my own. Young woman, not unattractive though dressed in a black and gold "I'm corny, or lazy, or both" tracksuit, sits three benches away, and makes a phone call. Shrill voice, volume set at STUN, with accent, possibly Australian though hard to place:

"Ooh, I miss you already." [pause] "I have separation anxiety already!!!" [pause, then half-sings the next line] "Did you really have to be there at 10 or are you a liii-ar?"

I'm no expert in dating but at this point I could hear him checking for the fastest routes out of town. And who could blame him? (Or her.) Because if that wasn't enough:

"Ooh, I just ate the most yummy pork sandwich from Porcetta, OMG."

She did say "oh-em-gee," by the way. And had some pork on her tracksuit, and her face. It's hard to say this made her any less attractive.

Trust that I didn't want to hear any of it, but she forced it upon me (and a few others, so there's a good chance this isn't even the first blind-blog-item about it). But for a brief few minutes I was made to reappreciate the single life.