More Ozone Park: Snapshots of Mokom Sholom

In the Jewish community, Mokom Sholom and its sister cemetery Bayside have been embroiled in controversy for several years–I’m not entirely sure what the noise is about, and it would take serious research to get it straight, but what follows is my rough summary of the situation.

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Adventures in Queens, Part 2: Ozone Park

In trying to find the in-process piece that I saw a street artistworking on Thursday night when I was returning to Manhattan on the above-ground subway, I got confused where the A branches between Lefferts Blouvard and Far Rockaway. I ended up walking from Rockaway Avenue all the way to Lefferts, which meant I inadvertently discovered a captivating little place called Ozone Park.

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Adventures in Queens, Part 1: Rockaway Beach

Rockaway Beach, 1949. photo compliments of New York City Park archives.

Rockaway Beach, 1949. photo compliments of New York City Park archives.

Replete with housing projects, retirement centers and curious rows of crowded, weed-ingested bungalows, Rockaway Beach is the quintessential everyman’s urban beach town.  Even as Beach 116th Street holds more (sub)urban standards such as Duane Reade, a local firehouse and the Rockaway Diner than surf and swim shops (Blue Bungalow apparently only traffics enough business to open one day a week), the crumbling duplexes continue to bear proud front door plaques with statements such as “If you’re lucky enough to live at the beach, you’re lucky enough,” while tan kids with sun-bleached hair terrorize the boardwalk on bikes and skateboards. So what if Playland (the poor man’s Coney Island) closed in 1985 and half of the neighborhood’s housing is government supplemented? Rockway Beach still has (somewhat crunchy) sand, a boardwalk and beachfront snacks and, perhaps most importantly, real (dangerous!) waves and a Ramone’s song. Continue reading

Soundpainting and Rockaway Beach

This week I discovered:

1)    Soundpainting

2)    Rockaway Beach

First things first: On Monday my friend Eric Eigner’s band, Mysterium, played at Spike Hill in Williamsburg. It was a late show and the bar folk were low key. People sipped cocktails at tables or hung out in the back, maintaining a respectful distance from the stage and the video tripod in the middle of the room—which is why I thought it strange that this one guy—stocky and bearded, in a nondescript t-shirt—was hanging out merely inches from the stage. I had overheard Eric’s roommate, Bruce, trying to explain the band to some perplexed and increasingly defensive man at the bar earlier—“Soundpainting,” Bruce called it, murmuring something about improv and jazz. Continue reading

Mumblecore the Interview: starring Robin Pecknold

At the Newport Folk Fest I managed to catch up with Robin Pecknold, frontman of Fleet Foxes, for some backstage banter. Except that as soon as I found myself sitting cross-legged on the grass, facing the person behind the ethereal songs that got me through last winter, I knew I wasn’t quite prepared to conduct a professional interview. I blame it on lack of sustenance (did I really expect a bagel to last upwards of 12 hours?) and dually, the sun.

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Cheree: I guess, um, tell me about yourself. How did this whole thing happen? You guys have been together a long time, right? Someone just passed your tape to Sub-pop?

Robin: Um, we started the band about three years ago and I think we were kind of like, we started to work [for the record/on the record? This part is illegible due to me moving the voice recorder] and my friend Phil was helping us record it and he’d done a lot of records for Sub-pop so he knew the people there and once we were kind of like halfway done with it, and then um—

C: Well how did you guys meet? You and the guys in the band?

R: Me and Skye with to school together, and Casey and Christian we met once we started playing music in Seattle, doing this thing called Crystal Skulls.

C: And then, I guess, so this whole year has been when everything’s sort of blown up for you guys?

R: I mean, last year was a much busier year, I think for us.

Keeping reading at When You Awake.

Way Down South in Dixie

When we first stepped up to the plywood building, off some unfamiliar highway somewhere between Starkville and Montpelier, I was psyched to be going to a real Mississippi roadhouse.

Keep reading here.

A Life Less Mumbled

Andrew Bujalski mumbles a bit about his new film Beeswax, which is playing in New York at Film Forum right NOW and comes with my highest recommendation. Though Bujalski eschews the term “mumblecore,” I, and it seems much of the blogging community out there, consider this film to be “mumblecore grows up.”

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