It’s Steve Buscemi’s Birthday—Let’s Get Weird

One day in my sophomore year of college, I walked into my Contemporary American Cinema class at IFC Center and there was Steve Buscemi just chillin’ with my professor. I froze a bit—seeing him out of context was an odd thing at 9 AM on Tuesday, and is anyone ever fully prepared to just bump into the wonder that is the lovably wonky smile and buggering eyes of Steve Buscemi? He wasn’t doing anything particularly weird—just hanging out in a sweater before going off to pre-production Boardwalk Empire rehearsal. He had stopped by my class to screen and talk about his 2007 intimate drama Interview, which he wrote, directed, and starred in opposite Sienna Miller. And although nowadays he’s mainly known for his role as the anti-hero political/gangster Nucky Thompson on Boardwalk Empire—for which he has won multiple Screen Actors Guild Awards and a Golden Globe—it’s his early film roles that truly exemplify the talented but always weird Buscemi we love so much.

And as today is his 55th birthday, what better way to celebrate his career chock-full of cult favorites than to look back on his best roles—spanning from his work with Jim Jarmusch in the late ’80s, Tarantino and the Coens in the ’90s, and the other goodies in between and after. Enjoy.

Charlie the Barber in Mystery Train (1989)

Told through a series of vignettes all centered around one hotel in Memphis, Tennessee, JIm Maramusch’s 1989 ode to the spirit of Elvis Presley, featured Buscemi in the small but memorable role as Charlie the Barber in the final story of the film, “Lost in Space,” for which he was nominated for an Indepedent Spirit Award.

Mr. Pink in Resevoir Dogs (1992)

In 1992 Quentin Tarantino made his directorial debut with Reservoir Dogs, shooting his career forward and garnering him an obsessive fan base. And in the role of Mr. Pink, Buscemi was embedded as a violent and bizarro cult icon for movies to come. The role also won him his first an Independent Spirit Award.

Buddy Holly in Pulp Ficton (1994)

After Reservoir Dogs, of course Buscemi would make a cameo in Tarantino’s next and most acclaimed film, 1994’s Pulp Fiction. Unless you’re paying close attention you might not catch him, but he’s surely there as Buddy Holly in the iconic Jack Rabbit Slim’s Restaurant scene.

Carl Showalter in Fargo (1996)

As the star of Joel and Ethan Cohen’s Fargo, Buscemi got to sink his wonky teeth into the character of desperate criminal, Carl Showalter. The zany 1996 crime drama wasn’t only a career hit for Buscemi but also won an Academy Award for Best Screenplay.

Donny Kerabetsos in The Big Lebowski (1998)

Reuniting with the Coen Brothers again, Buscemi hopped onboard the cult favorite The Big Lebowski. In the 1996 comedy, he plays the timid bowling buddy Donny  Kerabetsos opposite the beloved Jeff Bridges and John Goodman.

Dave Veltri in The Wedding Singer (1998)

It’s been years since I’ve seen the ’80s-set Adam Sandler comedy The Wedding Singer, but when I look back on it, the first thing I think of is Buscemi drunk in a teal suit. His role as Dave Teltri is strange and ridiculous with that Buscemi creep factor you know and love.

Homeless Guy in Big Daddy (1999)

Reuniting with Sandler in the 1999 comedy Big Daddy, Buscemi makes an appearance as a homeless man. Enough said.

Seymour in Ghost World (2001)

Based on the graphic novel of the same name, Ghost World tells the story of two teenage outsiders, one of which becomes involved with a misanthropic older man, Seymour. Played by Buscemi with the right mix of humor and sadness, the role got him a Golden Globe nomination and won him a second Independent Spirit Award.

What Would Steve Buscemi Do: NYC’s Automatic Tipping Rules to Be Enforced

How far out can you move in Bushwick before you fall into some lake or find yourself actually out of the city or can’t access a subway. That’s what club and restaurant workers are asking themselves as more and more places begin to comply with the (sort of new) tipping regulations. Will tipped employees be able to support themselves now that IRS rules about mandatory gratuities (a.k.a., "autograt") are to be strictly enforced?

The latest update says the added practice of adding an automatic tip of say 18% more or less to large parties needs to be reclassified as a wage rather than a tip. All sorts of grief comes from this as payroll tax withholding and sales tax stuff, not to mention tons of added paperwork, which requires day staff an additional expense owners won’t enjoy or probably agree to.

It will be easier just to end the practice at the expense of the help. The server would have to be paid minimum wage instead of the lesser server wage. It’s a can of worms and the industry ain’t fishing. Autograt will be eliminated. Some places are fooling around with a suggested tip but this probably won’t fly with the government, which will see it as a scam to get around their concept. They would be right. The industry has changed over the years. Cash used to be king, but now its all about the plastic. Hiding or underreporting tips has become harder for those trying to make a living a buck or 3 at a time.

We live in a city where tourist dollars pay for the bread and butter and tourists—especially foreign ones who don’t tip as well as locals…if at all. Without forcing the issue and demanding tips, bartenders and wait staff will suffer. Gone will be the $500-a-night tips and a change in lifestyle will ensue. Without wads of cash, bar employees will spend less. There will be fewer meals in late-night diners and less disposable income for shoes and such. There will be peripheral damage to the economy in general. Staff will seek out cheaper rents in less attractive neighborhoods or live with more roommates. The industry will be less attractive to aspiring models, actors and artists who depend on tip money while they try to make it here.

New York City may become a less attractive option for artist types who just can’t pay the bills. Bar staff may become less attractive as other options surely exist for the beautiful. Fewer "B" models and aspiring actors will find financial support in hospitality and find other options or move back to Peoria or go to back to school and abandon their dreams of stardom. Starving artists working as waitrons may actually starve.

The sky may or may not be falling, only time will tell. But change will be felt come January when all need to comply. I think you might see a time where joints just pay a wage and keep all that tip money and pay the taxes on it as required. Instead of server wages, places may opt to pay a bartender $250 a night and let them grab cash tips as they will. Drink prices may go up a buck or 2, but have a "tip included" line added. Naysayers scream doom. But they screamed doom when smoking was banned.

See Grimes Turn Down Steve Buscemi & Vampire Weekend + Watch the Gang Paint Easter Eggs

I really hope these Steve Buscemi, Vampire Weekend promo videos never stop coming because they’re absolutely wonderful. And in today’s installment of strange and hilarious awkwardness, we first get Buscemi attempting to wrangle Grimes into coming over for Easter brunch with the band. Naturally, she turns down the offer, claiming to be pretty averse to children screaming and Easter in general. Buscemi is crushed of course.

And in the second video we see the ol’ gang painting Easter eggs as Buscemi apologizing for to the dudes to for making them explain their songs and explains just how much he really does love to bunny-filled holiday. Rostam explains that his family celebrates Persian New Year to which Buscemi seems confused and then goes on to feel left out after not understanding a funny tweet. You get the picture.

See for yourself below.


Steve Buscemi Goes Bowling With Vampire Weekend, Fun Ensues

Who knew that lovable weirdo and iconic cult actor and director Steve Buscemi would make such a beautiful comedic pairing with Vampire Weekend? And since they announced the collaboration to have Buscemi direct their upcoming show at Roseland Ballroom as part of the American Express Unstaged Series, the dudes and Buscemi have been teasing us with hilarious videos of their time spent promoting the concert together.

First, we saw them awkwardly in the studio for their "first meeting," and now we see the group out and about on a bowling trip. Buscemi, seeming to think Vampire Weekend doesn’t have much of a fan base, scrambles to put out flyers for their concert, attempting to wrangle folks into coming to the show. And then as the video continues they all head to the bowling alley where the Vamp guys all get strikes while Buscemi’s ball flies off into the gutter. A Big Lebowski joked is botched when Buscemi doesn’t get it and the whole thing is just a delight.

Take a look below.

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See Vampire Weekend and Steve Buscemi Get Weird in a New Concert Promo Video

In the beginning of the month, we posted the teaser for Vampire Weekend and Steve Buscemi’s upcoming collaboration. And if you had any reservations about the chemistry between our favorite bizarre and wonderful cult movie icon/director and the sonically-minded group of witty fellas, you can certainly allay those fears.

On April 28th, Vampire Weekend will take to the stage at Roseland Ballroom to be streamed live as part of the American Express Unstaged series with Buscemi directing, and now to promote the concert, there’s an awkwardly funny video of Buscemi’s "first meeting" with the band—prefaced with the fact that guitarist Chris Baio recently found out that Buscemi was distantly related to him, hence reaching out for him to direct the show. But in the video Buscemi seems to get everything wrong—from hugging the wrong Chris, to asking them to make their lyrics more accessible, to asking Rostam if he’s a DJ. And it’s a delight to watch.

So check out the promo below, listen to "Step" for the 1,000th time, and get ready for the release of Modern Vampires of the City on May 14th.

See the Teaser for Vampire Weekend’s Steve Buscemi-Directed Concert + Behind the Scenes Footage

Since posting earlier this morning about Steve Buscemi and Vampire Weekend’s latest collaboration, I have not stopped listening to their new song "Step." No, not have not stopped, cannot stop. But how apt, considering now we have a teaser for the upcoming Buscemi-directed concert that’s a part of the American Express Unstaged series. 

On April 28th the fellas will take to the stage at Roseland Ballroom to play tracks off their Modern Vampires of the City alongside their classic tunes, and for those of you that won’t be enjoying their performance in person, don’t fret—you’ll be able to stream the show live online.

And alongside the teaser, we’ve also got a new behind-the-scenes video featuring Ezra, Rostam, and the gang performing and taking us through the process of making of new song "Diane Young." Enjoy.

Steve Buscemi and Vampire Weekend Join Forces for a Live Concert Webcast

It’s simple: who doesn’t love Steve Buscemi? And moreover, who wouldn’t want to work with Steve Buscemi? So after we all saw this weekend’s Easter Parade in which the acclaimed cult-favorite actor, director, and writer performed his own top-hat clad version of Vampire Weekend’s "Diane Young," it now appears that he’ll be collaborating with the group of talented young dudes once again. 

Vampire Weekend bassist Chris Baio announced to Rolling Stone that the band will be teaming up with Buscemi as part of the American Express Unstaged Series when they hit the stage for their first New York City show in over two and a half years at Roseland Ballroom on later in the month. From the same series that brought you collaborations between David Lynch and Duran Duran, Terry Gilliam and Arcade Fire, etc. Buscemi will director a YouTube/Vevo stream of the concert, as well as some "bonus documentary footage." Speaking of Buscemi (who is apparently his distant cousin) Baio said:

He really is a great director. Growing up, I was a huge "Sopranos" fan and one of my favorite episodes is "The Pine Barrens", which he directed. Also, I just realized this morning he directed the ‘Leap Day" episode of "30 Rock" last year; that’s one of my favorites. I feel safe in his hands.

So yeah, no problems here; this is certainly a bizarre and wonderful pairing that I’m more than excited to see. Also, it’s only a little over a month til the high-anticipated Modern Vampires of the City comes out (via XL Recordings). So in the meantime take a listen to two of their new singles and watch Buscemi’s take on "Diane Young."

First Look at Jim Jarmusch’s Vampire Film With Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddelston

What I love so much about Jim Jarmusch’s work, is that no matter what the narrative, his films all feel of the same world. They exist in a universe entirely of his own creation—a minimalistic world but one that’s never void of eccentric characters wandering through fractured stories and vignettes. Those in his films come alive through his idiosyncratic dialogue where mood feels like a character of its own. And just as most great auteur’s tend to do, Jarmusch loves to recycle his casts—Bill Murray, Steve Buscemi, Jon Lurie, and of course, the other-worldly creature that is Tilda Swinton. So naturally, when it came time to make his romantic vampire drama Only Lovers Left Alive, she gets top billing.

The bloodsucking drama tells the story of Adam, a deeply depressed underground musician who reunites with his eternal and enigmatic love, Eve. Having already endured serveral centuries together, their love story is thwarted by the presence of Eve’s crazy younger sister, Ava. Swinton, Tom Hiddelston, and Mia Wasikowska take on the leading roles with John Hurt and Anton Yelchin filling out the supporting cast.

The first image from the film has been released and features Swinton looking like a stoic beauty with Hiddelston (sporting some new long locks) wrapped around her. And obivously with Jarmusch’s directorial hands at work, this will not be your typical Twilight fare. It’s been four long years since his last feature relase so I’m hoping this one makes it’s way to Cannes in May and swiftly into theaters.

only lover sleft alive

‘Boardwalk Empire’ As Performed By Muppet Birds on ‘Sesame Street’

Over the past several years, Sesame Street, perhaps in an effort to compete with Phineas and Ferb (that’s a kids’ show, right?) and stay hip with kids and adults, has featured more celebrity guests (ain’t nothing cuter than Elmo and Neil Patrick Harris dancing together) and, perhaps to keep parents interested, more parodies of very, very adult television shows. A 30 Rock spoof to teach kids how to count to 30 featured “Liz Lemon” (an actual lemon) and a Muppet that actually looked a lot like Alec Baldwin; a more recent sendup of Mad Men taught children how to articulate their emotions far better than Don Draper can.

In the latest adult TV for kids send-up, kids can learn the art of compromise—as well as what sound a chicken makes—thanks to Boardwalk, er, Birdwalk Empire. “Nucky Ducky” and his gang of flappers run into “Clucky Luciano” and his pack of chickens, and a flap breaks out on the boardwalk. Luckily, Agent Von Cuckoo is on the scene (with a predictably mid-Atlantic accent) to help the rivaling fowl gangs set aside their differences. The best part of the whole thing is the main title sequence, which is pretty on point wit hthe show. Watch.