Do You Suffer From MGOOMFA This Oscar Season?

Does watching The Oscars in your living room sound a bit dull? Do you crave that surge of communal disappointment and celebration upon the announcement of the winners? Do you like chicken tenders? If you’ve said yes to any of these questions, chances are you have a case of the MGOOMFA: Must Get Out Of My F@#$ing Apartment syndrome commonly associated with freezing climates and 4+ hours browsing Hulu daily. And with The Oscars coming up this Sunday, the perfect opportunity is upon you to get out of your apartment, and communicate with fellow NYers at official Oscars viewing parties across the city. Here is where to go:

SideBAR: Upscale sportsbar. Optional two-hour Bud Light & well-cocktail open bar at 7pm. Oscars ballot competition with $50 gift certificate for the winner. Personal bucket of pigs-in-a-blanket and tater tots. $10 entry, $50 with open bar. Chicken tenders.

The Windsor: High-end sportsbar.Free house-made gourmet popcorn. Free first glass of bubbly. Truffle grilled cheese. Starts 5pm. No entry fee. No chicken tenders.

The Bell House: Brooklyn’s wackiest events venue. Hosted by (my favorite) comedian & (erotic short story) writer Dave Hill. Raunchy, thought-provoking  analysis during commercials. $8 cocktail specials. No food/chicken tenders.

Brooklyn Winery: The sophisticated celebration. Oscar-themed sparkling cocktails. Seth MacFarlane hosts. Oscar ballots. First come, first-served seating. Starts 7pm. Get gussied up. Obviously no chicken tenders.

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Personal Faves: Rocking the Fuck Out of 2012 With Dave Hill

Instead of ending the year with a slew of Best Of lists, BlackBook asked our contributors to share the most important moments in art, music, film, television, and fashion that took place in 2012. Here, James Ramsay writes of the big year for comedian, musician, and suit enthusiast, Dave Hill.

The writer and performer Dave Hill owns about twenty suits for myriad moods and occasions. “I mean, I have some suits for the Explosion, for when I’m flopping around on stage and stuff,” he told me last week at QP & Monty Men’s Haberdashery in the West Village. A couple months ago when I first saw The Dave Hill Explosion, his comedy and music variety hour at the UCB Theatre, he came out in a velvet blazer but wound up topless and covered in silly string ten minutes into the show. You don’t go that route with a Paul Smith three-piece.

But the other day, he was looking for something a little more flop appropriate. The proprietor Ignacio insisted that every man needs a one-piece in his wardrobe. Dave wound up going with a multi-colored, striped 1970s jumpsuit with an easy access zipper at the fly. The best part, I figured, would be the ability to wear a sport coat over top of it, so you could walk into a restaurant and it’d just look like you had on colorful pants. “But then you take of the jacket,” Dave said, “and it’s like, next level.”

This is a man who knows a thing or two about shedding clothes. His new essay collection, Tasteful Nudes, which was robbed of a 2012 Thurber Prize, begins with a story from aboard a nudist cruise off Sheepshead Bay, wherein a group of aging swingers suckered him into getting naked on the upper deck under the guise of innocent naturalism (“’I’m also a member of a polyamory group,’ the earth mother cooed at me. ‘I’m shocked,’ I deadpanned.”).

The idea for the book sort of began over ten years ago with a story in Salon about a similarly odd sexual subculture—plushophiles, and one particular guy in Erie, Pennsylvania, who had a fondness for Meeko, the raccoon in Pocahontas. “It was the first time anyone had really written about that stuff,” Dave told me. Shortly thereafter, “Pleasures of the Fur” came out in Vanity Fair, giving plushie/furry culture the profile it now holds. But Dave’s piece caught the attention of a literary agent years later, leading, eventually, to Tasteful Nudes (which doesn’t contain the story). I asked what he thought of the trend of journalists following around porn stars and sadomasochists. He grimaced.

“I just don’t get when porn stars are like, ‘I’m not a prostitute.’ I mean—I have nothing against porn stars, I have nothing against prostitutes. But it’s the same thing. It’s like, you have sex for money.”

Besides the reported piece on the nudist boat, the book is made up of personal essays in the vein of Davids Rakoff and Sedaris, but with Hill’s faux-cocky rockstar voice that makes peeing in a sink at the Chelsea Hotel seem equal parts a noble right of passage and depressing red flag. He actually holds up the cliché of “I’m pretty big in Japan” after his band Valley Lodge got approached by a Japanese record label (“’Fuck yeah, motherfucker, you can release the fuck out of that album!’ I wanted to respond before instead writing, ‘Thank you.’”). The book contains perhaps the best title of any young love story ever told: “Loving You Is Easy Because You Live Pretty Close to My Parents’ House.” And his three day stint as a Pedicab driver made for the funniest failure at street working since Ignatius J. Reilly tried running a hot dog cart.

But the thread of Dave’s work, not only in his writing but also his music and comedy, is an underlying sense of sincerity and modesty that butts up against the incessant need for an artist to self-promote (at a Valley Lodge show in July, Dave remarked on stage: “That last song was in a hot dog commercial, and now we’re millionaires.”). And while there’s no actual posturing, he also doesn’t go the route of self-deprecation, which often seems to get conflated with niceness. In one essay, he chronicles his bout with depression as a twenty something and ends it with a noble refrain: “What the person suffering from depression doesn’t deserve…is pity. Not now, not ever. Unless, of course, that pity ends up leading to sex, in which case I’m all for it.”            

After suit shopping, he insisted we stop in at Big Gay Ice Cream on Grove Street. They’re preparing to make ice cream cakes, and Dave was trying to convince the owner, Bryan Petroff, to make a cake mold of the head of Danish metal god King Diamond (I asked him later if he actually liked metal; he smirked and went, “oh yeah.”). Over a Salty Pimp, I told him about a friend of mine who’s looking to become an actor because “you can make a ton of money, dude.”

“Well, those are the people who actually do it,” Dave sighed. “The most important thing is confidence, far beyond talent or intelligence—two things you can’t control anyway. I’ve known some people who are, like, total idiots, but they’re so sure of themselves. And the whole idea of self-promotion is just…so fucking ridiculous. You can’t just say, ‘come to my show, it’s really funny.’ That doesn’t mean anything.”

When I think about the art and entertainment I’ve observed this past year, the concept of self-promotion is always the inevitable lackey. An old boss of mine at a literary agency bemoaned the fact that authors would sit back after their publication date and just expect the book to start selling. But Dave is right, you can’t just say, buy my book, come to my show, listen to my album. At this point, it’s going on everybody’s sister’s podcast and tweeting like a madman that’s part of the gig, and if you can make that part of your art, and actually have some wit about it, then it only helps the cause. So for my pick of the year, I’m saying read Dave’s book, so that for once he doesn’t have to tell you himself. And if you see that he’s performing somewhere, the least you could do is stop by. After all, the man didn’t buy a striped onesie so no one would see it.

Follow James Ramsay on Twitter

Valley Lodge: Making Panties Drop From Tokyo to Park Slope

As an American, I’ve seen my share of people rock a fuckin’ basement, but few have rocked one harder than Valley Lodge did last night at Union Hall. For one, their frontman Dave Hill, also known for putting funny things on the internet and on paper (Tasteful Nudes), was wearing a floral brooch. Nobody wears a floral brooch on stage when they’re insecure about their rocking abilities. The other two axmen were sporting colorful jeans (white and yellow). Good enough.

Their self-titled album, released in 2005 and then re-released in 2008 by a Japanese record label, is loaded with classics. Valley Lodge is actually super huge overseas (“This next hit’s a real panty-dropper in Japan,” Hill introduced one song) from having toured there a few years ago. Meanwhile, they’ve picked up some acclaim in the States the way most rock bands do it nowadays—a bunch of their songs have been used in commercials for pick-up trucks and fast food.

My favorite of their jams, “Hey,” has sincere heart-melting power that’s only intensified from seeing Hill flip his hair around and do that Elvis thing with his knees. “Hey, little girl / I’m a little person / Tell me bout your world / tell me you’ve been hurting” is the battle cry of timid mole people like me. It’s pure inspiration, and features a great guitar solo. Actually, all the songs have great guitar solos, which are really impressive given the fact that Hill is, indeed, a little person, and his guitar is massive compared to his body. To reach around that thing and still maintain such dexterity is a feat unto itself.

Comprised of a couple band mates Hill knew from earlier days—John Kimbrough, Phil Costello (yellow pants), and Rob Pfeiffer—they’re still holding on like champs. “We’re at the peak of our powers, and this is the time of our lives where we should be doing this,” he explained between songs. “We’re like The Beatles for 40-year-olds.” Whatever that means, they’ve definitely got reason to be up there. One of the weird games I like to play at rock shows is to count how many of the band members have rings on their left hands. If the number is less than “all of them,” they definitely need to keep rocking.

“We have nothing to sell tonight, but that’s not what it’s about,” began another banter betwixt songs. “We will have intercourse with anyone interested. Actually, no—we have preexisting conditions preventing us from doing that.” Still, the idea was there.

“I sing with my lips against the microphone, and it’s like I’ve made out with the lead singer of every band,” explained Hill. “Some people work their whole lives for that.”

Of course, there came a time for Valley Lodge to cease rocking for the night. Then some horn players from a new band called Bright Moments, a Beirut spinoff project, went up on stage and started playing, which totally shifted the mood, but it was cool. So cool, they’ll probably get featured in a car commercial someday.