The Perfect Storm, Election, & Party

The perfect election distracted us from the destruction of the perfect storm. Those with power and comfort hosted those without as the election served as a bit of relief from immediate woes. Donald Trump, whose wig must be on too tight or his hair must be growing into his brain, provided comic relief with Twitter rants that underscore his new role. The Donald now plays the fool. We seek joy where we can find it as even the Obama win can’t allay our continuing anxiety.

I am still without heat, although space heaters powered by sacred electricity make my Sandy experience less frightful. I have no cable yet, but of course compared to so many neighbors I am doing brilliantly. The streets I saw as I traveled to a friend’s to watch the results were empty as election night seemed to be bad for the booze business. The debate still rages on whether the result of the election is good for business in general. Those seeking an Obama celebration stayed local, as  travel is still problematic. There are few events worth the fuel, and suburban NY, a huge part of the bottom line, can’t get here. They will come when they can as there still isn’t a place outside of our crippled town that can satisfy their party itch. I missed David Davis’ birthday bash last night over at Westgay. Frankie Sharp, through hard work and mad creativity, has made Westgay at Westway a must-attend weekly party. The L train, the lifeblood of North Williamsburg, is reportedly still packed with mud-keeping hipsters and wannabe hipsters and those too hip to go near that moniker near home. The local bars and restaurants are packed. I will go out, but will pick my spots.

There once was this little spot downtown, off Broadway and White, that thrilled us all back in the day. By all accounts and my experience the Mudd Club was one of the greatest places ever to be. I learned my business there and hobnobbed with celebrities and the fabulous people long before I sought a club career. It was heaven on earth for a young rascal who never would have made it in save for the kindness of doorman Richard Boch. For every person inside, there were 10 outside, and I was blessed that Richard saw something in me that he believed belonged. Tomorrow UNDER CONSTRUCTION, Works In Progress (and other adventures) will be happening at The Gershwin Hotel, 7 E.27th St. at 8pm sharp. There will be readings by Richard Boch from his in-progress manuscript: If You’ve Been Standing Here For More Than Ten Minutes: A Mudd Club Memoir 1979-1980, as well as readings by Maggie Estep. I will attend and expect to see many faces that have been swept into the corners of my mind.

Thursday night, man-about-town Nick Andreottola will use his resources to help The Lower East Side Girls Club. While most of the news focuses on the valiant relief efforts in Staten Island and Breezy Point and the Jersey Shore, there are people in our backyard who have lost everything. The storm surge flooded basement apartments in the LES and sent the poorest among us scrambling. Many still have no power or heat, diapers, food, and blankets. Nick’s legendary Champagning party will help raise cash and take in donated canned foods and supplies to make sure the young girls at The Lower East Side Girls Club continue on their journey to success. The event is tomorrow, November 8th, at 7pm at RSVP, 15 Watts St. at W. Broadway, hosted by Nicole Rose Stillings.

Your DC Inauguration Weekend Guide

Feels like just yesterday, huh? Well now we’re gonna do it all again. But better. Regardless of your stance on the election, the inauguration of Obama on Monday, January 21st is a good opportunity to head to DC, drink like you just got out of prison, and conquer the city’s top brunch and dinner places like a viking. Yeah, I want you to live it up. Not just because you only live once yadda yadda, but also because you paid good money for that train/bus/flight to be in the nation’s civic hub, so your weekend better be great. And with this Inauguration guide, it certainly will be.

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On The Verge: Piano Gladiator ELEW & His Rockjazz

When a new genre of music is created, the world takes notice. And in Eric Lewis’ case, the music industry took more than notice; with the creation of his own style of rockjazz, he’s set the scene on fire in a controversial, stormy way that suits the man and the brand that he is. Merging rock guitar techniques with pop and ragtime, and putting it all on the piano, Lewis – known onstage as ELEW – has outraged the jazz world, while awing the pop/rock world – especially when he plucks and beats the heck out of the piano’s insides and shield. Outfitted with armor on his wrists, a suit, and a vivacity that defies merely sitting on a piano bench, but standing and rocking the entire time he plays, ELEW’s renditions of pop/rock anthems and original songs on his latest record introduce a sound we’ve never heard before. As ELEW prepares for his Friday, Nov. 9th show at Le Poisson Rouge, he shared what gets him high, his favorite distraction, and when he played for a legendary celeb.

You’ve said you’re a huge fan of comic books, and that you feel superhuman and supercharged when you get on stage. What are some pre-show rituals you’ve adopted that you’ll use for Friday’s show? 
My workout. I call it "the ninja run.” I run through the forests of Riverdale with my hand in front of myself, like a karate chop or shark fin. I take on the ninja mindset. Like characters in Mortal Combat who intersect physical performance with the supernatural, I try to make my mind as much a weapon as my body. Before I play, I focus on combining my passion with precision, and vice versa.  

In a day, how do you balance working out with practicing and performing?
If I’m not exercising, I’m practicing, and if I’m not doing that, I’m playing chess. Or watching Dexter. I used to practice the piano all the time, but now the game has shifted to a perceptual challenge of the mind, and sometimes it’s very exhausting and painful. The improvisation I learn from chess is similar to what I use in music. But in chess, I’m going against someone. In music, it’s subjective to the audience, and it’s ultimately a battle with myself. But there’s such an ecstasy to it. 

Is there anything else in your life that gives you that kind of ecstasy?
Women. I’m a hopeless romantic. Being an entrepreneur, too. I have so many ideas for what I want to do next, so the power of creating those ideas is euphoric.

You crawl into the piano, plucking the strings like a guitar and beating the wooden case like a drum. Do you actually play these instruments?
I do know how to play the drums, and I played the violin for a year as a kid, but when I noticed horn players putting different objects in horns to make different sounds. I started experimenting. The things I do aren’t new exactly, but how I do it is. My way of branding it is. Alexander Graham Bell didn’t invent the telephone, but he invented the way he branded it. With my music, you want to dance to what’s going on. Playing without a piano bench and wearing armor – no one’s ever done that. I love to move, and I really want to rock.

You toured with and opened for Josh Groban for most of last year. What’s the #1 lesson you learned from him?
To be elegant. Touring with him made me re-record my latest record. Hearing the elegance of his presentation, delivery, and repoire made me want to re-record my music with that kind of professionalism. He’s so in touch with his brand, style, what it is he’s adding to the music scene, and he knows how to nurture it and present it elegantly.

What’s your ideal vision of the future for ELEW?
I want to be legendary. Yanni, Herbie Hancock, and Elton John, all wrapped into one. Hard-hitting. I want to collaborate with Lil Wayne and dubstep artists, and be like John Carpenter was to Halloween – write the story and the music for my own horror film. I want to create a comic book movie, a music festival. And I’d like to improve my chess game.

You’ve cultivated a fanbase of celebrities like Hugh Jackman, Obama, and Leonardo DiCaprio. Tell me your favorite celebrity story.
Al Pacino asked me to perform at a party he was having at his house. I started playing a crazy rhythm people could dance to, and suddenly Al jumped on one side of the piano next to me and started to play. I put his fingers on some of the notes as if we were playing "Heart and Soul," and we started playing and rocking together. 

Al Pacino

Lena Dunham Proves No One Has A Sense Of Humor Anymore

It wasn’t too hard to be tickled by Lena Dunham’s innuendo-laden "get out the vote" video comparing the first time voting to the first time having sex. "You want to do it with a great guy. It should be with a guy with beautiful … somebody who really cares about and understands women," she implored. Ha, ha, funny, right? Oh, that is, unless you have a log-sized stick crammed up your ass.

Now the story has not just become about Dunham’s video for the Obama 2012 campaign, but the (batshit) negative (over-)reaction to it from conservatives. 

A writer for the conservative copped a paternalistic pose, accusing President Obama of "exploiting" a 26-year-old grown-ass woman. Writes Ben Shapiro:

"[The president] exploits [young women] for insane commercials comparing losing your virginity with voting. Obama has young daughters. But that didn’t stop him from releasing this commercial. Because this is what Obama thinks of your daughters."

An editor for tweeted similarly paternalistic handwringing:

“How could a president with two young, blossoming daughters release an ad as disgusting as this”?

Then there were the conservatives who called Obama a "pervert" and decreed the provenence of Dunham’s ad "somewhere betwee the gutter and hell." At least someone who might have a sentence of humor joked there is "no morning-after pill to undo the damage" of voting Democratic. 

Lena Dunham herself is just chilling like she normally does:

Bisexuals? I think you mean "just confused," Lena Dunham.

ICYMI, her "Your First Time" video below.


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Jay-Z & Made In America Festival Make It Into Obama Campaign Advert

Last month none other than President Barack Obama introduced Jay-Z’s performance at Philly’s Made In America Festival. Now Jay is starring in a video for the Obama 2012 campaign called "The Power Of Our Voice" featuring footage of from the fest.

The short video is simply Jay-Z lending his star power to the campaign and encouraging folks to vote. Mr. Beyoncé says:

When the president got in office initially, what he represented to a nation of kids was hope, the hope of a nation who could look and see themselves and know the possibilities. … For so long there was a voice that was silenced out there, as far as exercising your right to vote. I think it was silent because people had lost hope. They didn’t think their voice mattered or counted. We thought it was just politics, people going back and forth. At the end of the day it didn’t trickle down to where we live. …  Now people are exercising their right and you’re staring to see the power of our vote. It means something for the first time for a lot of people, having someone in office who understands how powerful our voice can be.

It’s very West Wing-ish in the heartwrenching music department, which is to say touching.  



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Obama Secures All-Important Snoop Dogg Endorsement

In a stunning blow to Mitt Romney who may or may not have seriously received an endorsement from Nicki Minaj this week,  President Obama has clinched Snoop Dogg’s endorsement in the 2012 election.  

Speaking at the Toronto International Film Festival last night to promote the documentary in which he stars, Reincarnated, Snoop Dogg (who now goes by Snoop Lion) told the audience:

They need to give Obama four more years, man. Bush fucked up for eight years. So you got to give him another four. It’s not like they (Republicans) gave him a clean house. They gave him a house where the TV didn’t work, the toilet was stuffed up. Everything was wrong with the house. Anyways, he knocked down our most hated and most wanted, the one who had our terror (alert) on orange and red or whatever color it was on. He went and found him, the one that Bush couldn’t seem to find, the one who seemed to fly away on the day of 9/11 and all that. … And anyone who can go in peace now and walk around, he made that happen. So please don’t forget that. So give him four years to get his thing together. 

And there you have it: Snoop Dogg is the voice of reason on American politics.

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The 17-Minute President Obama Campaign Ad, ‘The Road We’ve Traveled,’ Is Here

This year’s presidential election will rely on more rhetoric and flim-flammery than ever, which is why the campaign to re-elect President Obama has commissioned a pretty nice piece of persuasive literature: The Road We’ve Traveled, a Tom Hanks-narrated documentary that makes the case for the president by recapping his first term in office. Over 17 minutes, familiar faces such as Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, vice president Joe Biden and former president Bill Clinton show up to reason for Obama’s success in the face of conflict. Covered: the financial crisis, the auto bailout, the unemployment surge, the universal health care debate, finally killing Osama bin Laden, and more. Not covered: how he decides which battleground state to patronize on his NCAA tournament bracket (You should’ve picked Kentucky this time, Mr. President. Maybe it’ll go blue this year!). Watch it after the click, via the Obama campaign.

In response, the Romney campaign released a well-reasoned counter-documentary, arguing against all of the President’s accomplishments with logic and good faith. Of course not! They just forwarded along the video for Kid Rock’s "American Badass," which is pretty juvenile. (Reached for similar response, the Santorum campaign sent back a "FAILURE TO SENDER" e-mail.) Don’t forget to vote in about seven-and-a-half months.

Watch Trailer for Tom Hanks-Narrated Obama Campaign Film, ‘The Road We’ve Traveled’

President Obama hasn’t really begun to campaign for re-election, mostly because it’s too easy to sit back and just watch the Republican fireworks. But his campaign machine is a well-oiled one and knows exactly how to extract every last ounce of hope out of his constituents’ hearts, which is why today, his campaign released a trailer for a powerful piece of persuasive literature: The Road We’ve Traveled, a 17-minute documentary narrated by Tom Hanks and directed by Academy Award-winning documentarian David Guggenheim that shows just what Obama’s been through in his four years as president. The auto company bailouts, the death of Osama bin Laden, the financial crisis — it’s all there, discussed by players like David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Diddy, and more. (No Hilary!)

"How do we understand this president and his time in office?" Hanks says over a somber soundtrack (not scored by The National, surprisingly enough.) "Do we look at the day’s headlines or do we remember what we as a country have been through?" The translation: "Don’t believe the hype, I’m still better than everyone else out there." Which, duh, but it’s interesting to see this new aspect of Obama’s campaign strategy — hope and change switching over to perseverence and fortitude, reminding us that it would be really, really dumb to hold every bad thing against him considering the opposition quagmire he’s had to wade through. Don’t you feel it in your bones? A campaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaign is coming!

The full version of The Road We’ve Traveled is out on March 15.

President Obama Joins Spotify

Because he is our most bloggable head of state, President Obama has made a "2012 Campaign Playlist" available for perusal on Spotify, the popular streaming music service. Posted to the official Obama Tumblr, of course, the playlist is filled with uplifting ballads, uplifting rockers, and… well, it’s pretty much all uplifting. Click here to queue up Spotify, and check out the entire playlist after the jump.

Two thoughts: 1) No rap! Way to let down the people in exchange for political correctness, or something. 2) Someone should tell the intern in charge of this that Bruce Springsteen’s "We Take Care of Our Own" is, like, half-irony about how we don’t take care of our own anymore. Or maybe he’s eminently aware of that and is saying we need to take care of our own, once again, just like Bruce sings it, in which case… well played, Mr. President/Mr. President’s intern. Okay, final thought: a sore, sore lack of Jeezy’s "My President is Black." Hubris is acceptable when it’s awesome.

The playlist, in order:

Raphael Saadiq – Keep Marchin’
Noah and the Whale – Tonight’s the Kind of Night
Bruce Springsteen – We Take Care of Our Own
Zac Brown Band – Keep Me in Mind
Aretha Franklin – The Weight
U2 – Even Better Than the Real Thing
Dierks Betnley – Home
No Doubt – Different People
Earth Wind & Fire – Got to Get You Into My Life (live)
Booker T. & The MG’s – Green Onions
Wilco – I Got You
The Impressions – Keep On Pushing
Jennifer Hudson – Love You I Do
AgesandAges – No Nostalgia
Ledisi – Raise Up
Sugarland – Stand Up
Darius Rucker – This
Arcade Fire – We Used to Wait
Florence + The Machine – You’ve Got The Love
James Taylor – Your Smiling Face
REO Speedwagon – Roll With the Changes
Sugarland – Everyday America
Darius Rucker – Learn to Live
Al Green – Let’s Stay Together
Electric Light Orchestra – Mr. Blue Sky
Montomery Gentry – My Own
Ricky Martin – The Best Thing About Me is You
Ray LaMontagne – You Are the Best Thing