Five Out Of Five Bobby Jindals for ‘Dosa Hunt’

“This never could have happened ten years ago,” Amrit Singh, the affable Stereogum blogger and director of the short documentary Dosa Hunt, explained to an audience Monday at Nitehawk Cinema in Williamsburg. “If you had told fifteen-year-old me that one day there would be guys in these great bands that looked like me, I never would have forgiven myself for not making this project.” The guys that look like him—Ashok “Dapwell” Kondabolu and Hima Suri of Das Racist, Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend, Yeasayer’s Anand Wilder (“the pretty one”), jazz pianist Vijay Iyer, and Alan Palomo of Neon Indian—filled a Dodge Sprinter for the one-day food excursion that had less to do with dosas and more to do with the sort of existential humor of being a first-generation American artist.           

Even with a cuisine as eclectic as dosa—an Indian crepe-like pancake stuffed with potatoes and chilis, served with chutney sauce—I still think of Lewis Lapham’s word on this stuff: “The pleasures of the table [are] those to be found in the company and the conversation rather than in whatever [is] the sun-dried specialty on the plate.” For however gastronomically educational the movie is, the interesting parts all center around the opinions and attitudes slung about in the van. Slumdog Millionaire sucked (“I’m biologically opposed to it,” quipped Kondabolu). The dosa rating system relies on “an alternate universe” wherein Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal doesn’t support bigoted, reactionary policies. Bollywood is embraced as camp. On every socio-political topic, the confident, progressive verdict is followed with a shrug of measured apathy. Bobby Jindal is just a guy. Slumdog is just a movie.

Singh contends, justifiably so, that “the film wasn’t just a vanity project,” but there’s certainly the mark of a fanboy filmmaker not yet jaded by the Merchants of Cool-hood of pop music. The scoring is fantastic—you could watch Yeasayer-laced footage of the Queensboro Bridge all day long. And the music itself, from the tribal beats of “Madder Red” to the Afro-pop tinge of V.W.’s “Giving Up The Gun”, is rife with the political multiculturalism/we-like-what-we-like kind of sentiment that informs most of today’s best popular art. Heritage and ethnicity are points of pride, but you can also say, write, wear, or play whatever you want.

In perhaps the best scene of the movie, Heems of Das Racist (“Well who’s that, brown, downtown like Julie / mixed-race British chicks let me in they coochie”) walks through the aisles of an Indian grocery store in Jackson Heights, knowingly name-checking Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Bisquick (ironic dosa ingredients) with his mug in the camera a la MTV’s Cribs. You sense that the emotional palate these guys have grown up with is part racial consciousness, part where-were-you-when-Kurt-Cobain-died (John Norris, a friend and mentor of Singh’s, moderated the post-screening Q&A). After the final meal, Heems hops in the van and wonders with cheek if the “dosa is a metaphor for the American dream.” Why not?

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Members of Vampire Weekend and Das Racist Go on a ‘Dosa Hunt’

The search for proper ethnic food can lead a man to madness, if nowhere else. How could mainstream eateries possibly recreate the traditional dishes prepared by mothers and grandmothers of yesteryear? In Dosa Hunt, Stereogum’s Amrit Singh looks to find an answer to that question. He and Das Racist’s Himanshu Suri collected a handful of NYC-based Indian musicians like Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij and Neon Indian’s Alan Palomo, among others, to comb the Big Apple streets in search of a proper dosa, the traditional South Indian crepe. As this promotional trailer opens up, the whole crew is collected into one car, with Palomo explaining his mission on the phone. "Just sitting in a van on a dosa hunt with a bunch of Indian dudes," he says, and from there it’s off to the races. 

Produced and hosted by Singh, it looks like a charming documentary/travelogue that will inform you about things that you’re not very informed about, like the best Indian places in town and just how Palomo gets his acid wash looking so fly. A release date hasn’t been announced, but you can follow the official Dosa Hunt Tumblr for more information.

Neon Indian Mines the ’80s in Slightly NSFW ‘Fallout’ Video

Among his chillwave peers who emerged from the post-Hipster Runoff scrum a few years ago, Neon Indian delivered one of the more satisfying sophomore outputs with 2011’s Era Extrana. Courtesy of the folks at Adult Swim, he’s got a new music video for "Fallout," one of the standout tracks from the record. For the video, Adult Swim corralled Flying Lotus collaborator Lilfuchs into producing a "homage to 80’s toons and sexy commercials" as they call it, one part Drive, one part Day Glo acid trip, two parts Saturday morning lineup.

Disclaimer: It’s a little NSFW, though all of the dirtiness is suggested and cartoon-based and thus maybe not that offensive. You can do what I do to avoid getting caught at work: open up two dozen little tabs, all layered over each other so that no one will really know what you’re really looking at. What place is it of a boss to limit one’s enjoyment of animated innuendo?

Party Overload: BlackBook’s 15th Anniversary, Charity:Water & NYFW Kick-Off

BlackBook will celebrate 15 years of fantastic relevance at the Dream Downtown hotel tonight. There will be “special appearances” by Das Racist and Neon Indian, and Don Julio will offer up its wonderful Tequila, while Heineken will provide the beer. I was still running joints when BlackBook first burst onto the scene, and I would book issue launch parties with them, which always attracted a hip, downtown crowd. I never suspected back then that I would end up writing for them years later. I’ll be there early before I pop over to Patrick McMullan and Patrick Fahey’s birthday bash to DJ.

Tonight is one of those nights when there are too many things to do, plus Fashion Week is just kicking off. Now, if I wasn’t doing the Dream/BlackBook thing and then the DJ thing, you would find me at the Fashion Night’s Out Debbie Harry Vintage Party and Sale at Post Script Couture. A 30-piece collection that spans Debbie’s journey will include vintage ’30s and ‘40s dresses. A Patrick Kelly chartreuse suit by Stephen Spouse, a Dolce & Gabbana, a Marc Jacobs…well, you get the idea. The collection will be up for a week, so I’ll stop by later. The collection will go on sale on September 14th at 1stdibs. A portion of the proceeds will go to Debbie’s charity, Riverkeeper.org.

If I actually made that event and air-kissed and glad-handed all of those fabulous folks from days of lore, I would then cab it over to the Dorian Grey Gallery for the Robert Carrithers curated Club 57 and Friends Exhibition. Everyone from the Debbie thing will rush over as well to see works from the likes of Keith Haring, Jean Michel Basquiat, Kenny Scharf, Clayton Patterson, Robert Hawkins, and Robert Carrithers. There will be many “Shadow” paintings by Richard Hambelton, one of my favorite artists. The shadow paintings were exactly that. Painted dark figures lurking in the shadows gave you a scare as you hopped, skipped, and jumped from one joint to another back in New York’s more treacherous 1980s.

Now, if I wasn’t doing the Dream/BlackBook thing and the DJ thing, I would rush off after the art things to the Last Magazine affair over at Madame Wong’s. Madame Wong’s, on the advice of many, tightened up its’ door and went from being super exclusive to being uber, ridiculously exclusive. This is a can’t-miss soiree that I will surely miss.

And if that wasn’t enough and if I was hypothetically not doing the Dream/BlackBook thing, then the DJ thing at Macao, I would absolutely, positively, without hesitation have attended the 5th Anniversary Party for Charity:Water at The Park. Daniel M. Koch invited me and in my eyes he can do no wrong. Daniel and Katie Gall posted this about the event:

Dear friends,

As many of you know we’ve been supporting a nonprofit organization called charity: water over the past years. They’re on a mission to bring clean drinking water to the world’s billion people living without it, and they’ve funded more than 4,000 water projects in 19 countries that will help over two million of those people get life’s most basic need.

On Wednesday, September 7th, they turn five years old, and will be hosting their 5th anniversary party at The Park on 10th and 18th Street. Their founder and ceo Scott Harrison is also turning 36 that night, and it should be an amazing event with more than 1,200 people. The event starts at 10 p.m., and they’re offering complimentary cocktails from 10 – 11 p.m. It’s only a $20 donation to attend, and you can get tickets and more info here. If you’re free, we’d love to see you there to support a great cause.

Before it all began, I would have tried to catch Diane Sweet at Le Pescadeux at 6pm. Her jazzy vocals would calm me before venturing out into the Fashion Week maelstrom. Fashion Week is not for the weak, so remember; wear comfortable shoes, drink responsibly and consume three or less 5-Hour Energy drinks…no matter what.

New York’s Own: Governors Ball Music Festival

Coachella and Bonnaroo have both claimed the year’s most popular and simultaneously unpopular band, Arcade Fire, to headline their annual music festivals. Now, New York will make a push to be noticed on the summer circuit with the first-ever Governors Ball Music Festival. The one-day, two-stage, twelve-hour concert extravaganza will take place on Governors Island, June 18, and has been billed as “a massive mid-summer dance party of epic proportions.”

Since the festival was only announced earlier today, it’s still too early to predict any surprise Kanye West performances, but the current schedule includes Girl Talk, Pretty Lights, Neon Indian, Big Boi, rapper Mac Miller, and a DJ set from Passion Pit, with more acts to be announced.

Sure, the lineup can’t compete with Arcade Fire and Eminem, or Kings of Leon and the Strokes, but if you struggle with time management, have difficulty making big decisions, or get simply get too zooted to keep track of your festival time slots, here’s the good news: No overlapping sets! Food, drinks, and games also come standard.

Neon Indian’s ‘6669 (I Don’t Know If You Know)’ Video: Not For Arachnophobes

Neon Indian’s excellent 2009 album Psychic Chasms is still paying dividends (metaphorically, people — no one gets paid actual dividends for music anymore) and the latest example is the excellent new video for the track ‘6669 (I Don’t Know If You Know).’ It’s full of super cool stop-motion spider animation, super cool colors, and a super cool song. Hit the break for the full super cool experience (unless you’re an arachnophobe, in which case “GET OUT OF HERE!“).

More bands should really use stop motion animation, especially when it involves the birth and growth of giant spider puppets. Rock on, Neon Indian.