Entertainment

Written by None - Do not Delete on . Posted in Best of Manhattan, Posts.


★ BEST ART HOUSE MOVIE THEATER WITH A PORN VIBE

Two Boots Pioneer Theater

155 E. 3rd St. (betw. Aves. A & B)

212-591-0434

Times Square was succumbing to its makeover, but there were still a few porn pits that hadn’t yet closed. A few of them kept running all night while showing DVDs of bootleg kung-fu films and old public domain movies. It was a lot of fun to stop by at 3 a.m. and watch these things. We’d sit in the cheap rows of seats nailed to the floor, look at the tiny screen and watch the occasional flash of a DVD menu while the features changed. We thought it would be our last opportunity to experience that kind of cobbled-together cinema.

We were wrong. In fact, the Pioneer Theater is a perfect approximation of the porn pit experience—and it’s also more fun than the Sunshine or the IFC or the Angelika. Management there insists that they don’t screen on DVD, and they discourage people taking advantage of their ability to screen on VHS. Still, the theater’s fine mix of documentaries, schlock and art films makes it constantly feel like you’re watching anything but an actual movie.

Interestingly, they don’t screen 16mm, either. It’s just that any 35mm print looks like 16mm by the time they’re done showing the film. We’re not complaining, though. No matter what we’re watching, it always feels pleasantly nostalgic.

★ BEST DESPISED BUT NECESSARY RETAIL OUTLET 

Kim’s Video 

6 St. Marks Place (betw. 2nd & 3rd Aves).

Yong-man Kim has finally gotten into the film business with 2005’s One Third, but his main hustle remains Kim’s Video. Long known in the city as the place to buy and rent videos from cashiers who would just as soon spit in your face as ring up your purchase while burly security guards stare you down, silently praying for the chance to toss you from the establishment, the NY chain lost its luster after employees were arrested for allegedly making illegal CDs and DVDs in the back room. Since then, several Kim’s stores have closed, and Netflix has become even more popular. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for that out-of-print Hungarian, rock opera, long form video shown only once at a festival in Berlin back in ’92, Kim’s is still your best bet. 

★ Best NY Director We Still Love to Hate  

Vincent Gallo

What man could get away with fondling a prepubescent Christina Ricci in his directorial debut, getting a real live onscreen blowjob from Hollywood starlet Chloë Sevigny, put a cancerous curse on film critic Roger Ebert (that worked!) and finally offer his sperm for sale on the Internet (unless, of course, you are of the brown persuasion)? It can only be Ronald Reagan fan boy Vincent Gallo. Thing is, with all there is to hate about him, he’s actually one of the few classic New York artists left. He played in a prog-rock band with the late artist Jean Michel Basquiat, dealt early B-boy aphorisms in the ‘80s on New York’s “Graffiti Rock” and (whoa!) was actually born in New York (Ok, Buffalo, but still …). Possibly the only New Yorker more neurotic than Woody Allen, Gallo still remains arrogant enough that it’s a miracle he hasn’t had his ass literally handed to him on some NY street corner. Only a real New Yorker could piss so many people off yet still have so many fans. 

★ BEST CLUB IN A NEIGHBORHOOD HIPSTERS ARE AFRAID TO VISIT

The Elite Ark

900 Sheffield Ave. (betw. Stanley & Wortman Aves.), B’klyn

718-649-6535

Let’s face it: East New York, while somewhat improved in recent years, is not a neighborhood most New Yorkers are willing to visit. Gentrification has made most formerly dangerous sections of Brooklyn safe for the bourgeoisie, but that wave has yet to reach Pennsylvania Avenue. The Elite Ark—which advertises itself as, and might just be, Brooklyn’s largest nightclub—has accomplished the Herculean task of bringing crowds of revelers to a desolate industrial stretch local cops used to call “The Dead Zone.” While events are primarily geared toward the Caribbean community (the club is owned by four Trinidadian brothers), The Game, Keyshia Cole and Rick Ross all performed there during their respective ascents to fame. With clubs like The Rock in Canarsie shut down, it’s currently New York’s pre-eminent venue for dancehall and soca music—Sean Paul even filmed the video for “Like Glue” there back in ’03. Yes, we had to go to Brooklyn for this one; Manhattan has been officially seized in a bloodless coup. 

★ Best Sports Money Pit New York Knicks

Los Angeles got it right. Chicago got it right. Hell, even Dallas and its disgustingly overzealous owner Mark Cuban got it right. But somehow, no matter how many millions of dollars James Dolan sinks into the New York Knicks, the city hasn’t been able land a championship in decades. Pat Riley came close, Van Gundy did what he could, and Larry Brown gave up after just one season. Despite the ineptitude displayed by Knicks President of Basketball Operations and now Head Coach Isiah Thomas, it’s pretty clear that this team is cursed. If you are an unmanageable, surly, middling skill-level wanna-be NBA All-Star who is grossly overpaid, chances are, you play for the Knicks. It’s no wonder that upon hearing that the New Jersey Nets will soon become the Brooklyn Nets, thousands of NY sports fans are suddenly pretending they loved the Nets all along. Meanwhile, Thomas busy trying to draft his next 6’2” power forward for $10 million a year. 

★ Best Pseudo NY Wanna-Be Thug TV Show  

“The Wire” 

The latest HBO obsession has moved from “Oz” to “The Sopranos” and now the ghetto fabulous “The Wire.” Created by former Baltimore Sun reporter David Simon, the show depicts the hardcore realities of drug dealing and drug enforcement in Baltimore (cue the authenticity envy music). In interviews, Simon often goes to great lengths to mention that New Yorkers don’t really know how hard “the ghetto” is outside of Manhattan (apparently, when in NY, he’s too busy doing power lunches at Sascha to venture out into the other four boroughs). Simon might have a bit more credibility if: 1) The show’s three main writers on a show featuring more n-words and hip-hop slang than XXL magazine wasn’t written by three 50-something, overweight white guys, and 2) the show’s two top drug villains weren’t played by Wood Harris (a Woody Allen alum and NYU Masters degree holder) and Idris Elba (a British native whose real voice sounds sweeter than Jude Law fresh from a bubble bath). Sure, seeing New York poet Sonya “Officer Kima Greggs” Sohn (who is not a lesbian) suckling the boobs of naked hotties is indeed edgy, but until “The Wire” gives us a police chief getting mouth raped by crackheads, a la “The Shield,” it can’t claim scariest police drama on cable TV. 

★ BEST UNDERGROUND RADIO STATION

Waah Gwan Radio (95.9 FM)

At night, the radio waves in Brooklyn take on a decidedly Caribbean flavor, with close to a dozen pirate stations broadcasting reggae/dancehall, soca, news from the West Indies, or some combination of the three. Dancehall DJ Steelie Bashment’s Waah Gwan Radio is the most popular and diverse of the bunch, with DJs from Jamaica, Trinidad and Guyana among other nations covering the gamut of Island music. Broadcasting from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. on weekdays and 24 hours on weekends, Waah Gwan (that’s Jamaican patois for “What’s Going On?” or, more literally, “Where We Going?”) also streams online at www.steeliebashment.com, giving it a reach far beyond its borough-bound signal; it’s well-known as far away as England. DJ Obsession, the station’s most charismatic host and the guy responsible for the massive remix of Sizzla’s “Solid As A Rock” over the beat from Bone Crusher’s “Never Scared,” holds court with a mix of hip-hop and dancehall on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday nights.

★ Best War On Terrorism Metaphor On TV 

“Battlestar Galactica”

In the world of entertainment, brilliance often comes from where you’d least expect. When rumors that “Battlestar Galactica” was coming back to television surfaced a couple of years ago, the snickers were audible amongst the hipster elite. But as episodes of the show (first shown in the United Kingdom) began to trickle into the United States. via Bittorrent, the verdict was quickly modified to a resounding cheer of geek adulation. Fueled by Cylon sexbots that fuck their way to supremacy, fighter pilots with space-heroin habits and deeply corrupt politicians with shifting motives and metaphysical quandaries, the show has now crossed over into the mainstream using present-day events to great metaphoric effect. This season, humanity, now enslaved by their robot masters (the Cylons) wage guerilla warfare, complete with underground rebel armies that strap themselves with dynamite and embark on suicide missions against the enemy (sound familiar?). After you get past all the shiny space ships, sex and drugs, you’ll notice that the metaphor here puts real-life humans (Americans?) in the role of hegemonic robots intent on world/universe domination. Whatever your politics, “BSG” follows the hallowed tradition of using sci-fi to make points about present-day society. And … did we mention the Cylons are hot?   

★ Best Cheap Date 

New York City has always been a haven for guys who like to date often but don’t have the six-figure bankroll to feed the hungry models and starving artist chicks. But as the city has slowly taken on a more opulent sheen (cheap coffee is now $3.95?), getting by on slick lines and creative sidewalk jockeying has become much harder. For the stalwart serial daters still trying to make due we suggest the following … 11 a.m. Twelve Chairs café in Soho, 56 Macdougal St (betw. Houston and Prince Sts.). All the snobbery and artifice of Europe for the cost of a croissant and (reasonably cheap) coffee. When empty, it’s even a bit romantic. 3 p.m. Central Park’s Strawberry Fields (west side of the park between 71st and 74th Sts.). Always festooned with colorful, fresh flowers and John Lennon-loving peaceniks, show your sensitive side with a visit to this city oasis. Bring tofu-turkey sandwich meat and small hippie blanket for best results. 8 p.m. This move is only for the bold. Purchase a bottle of $10 red from your local market (conceal in jacket or bag) and ride the elevator up to the Peninsula Hotel’s Pen Top sky bar and lounge (700 Fifth Ave., at 55th St.). Immediately make your way to the balcony space just before the bar on the right. This is where couples are usually left unharrassed by waiters understanding of the need for smooching privacy. Your date will swoon over your cheapskate daring and fuck-the-system ethics (if she likes you). Just be sure not to try and be a hero and actually walk up to the bar to buy drinks or you’ll lose a month’s rent in 30 minutes.  

★ BEST UNFORTUNATE ALL-YOU-CAN-DRINK DEAL

$15 for Unlimited Beer at Bar 4

444 7th Ave. (at 15th St.),
Park Slope, Brooklyn
718-832-9800

All-you-can-drink specials are the devil’s henchmen. No matter how much we pay, we always chug three drinks too many to prove to ourselves we got a bargain. Our favorite place to booze when we want to lose all self-control is Park Slope’s Bar 4.

Sunday through Thursday, this small neighborhood slice of foosball, couches and acoustic musicians offers the college-boy special: $15 buys all-you-can-drink PBR and Yuengling. It is a one-way ticket to blurry eyes and bad decisions. Fork over your fee and a bartender will tag you with a medical-quality wristband. And then you enter a boozy all-night amusement park where, if you remember to tip, you can drink enough to accomplish a miracle: You’ll get so tanked you’ll forget you are drinking in Park Slope.

★ BEST BROODING UNDER-USED LOCAL ACTOR

Jeffrey Wright

Over the last decade his widow’s peak, defiantly pouty mouth and drowsy eyes have become trademarks like Christopher Walken’s skeletal cheekbones, Ray Liotta’s pockmarks and Gary Oldman’s crazy blue eyes. His breakout performance in the Julian Schnabel produced Basquiat in ’96 was so powerful many seem to prefer Wright’s version of Jean Michel Basquiat to the real mccoy featured in Downtown ’81. The mostly unknown actor held his own in a cast that included the likes of Oldman, Walken, Dennis Hopper, Wilem Dafoe and David Bowie. In the tradition of the great New York character actors of the ‘70s, Wright’s onscreen characters are often more well known than he is. Despite earning a Tony on Broadway, as well as a Golden Globe, Wright exists under the radar for most casual film fans. Although he’s constantly working in some of Hollywood’s biggest releases, he can often be found in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene (where he keeps a home) chatting up locals at Moe’s bar or The Brooklyn Moon café. This fall he’ll appear as secret agent Felix Leiter alongside the new James Bond, U.K. actor Daniel Craig. Best suggestion for Wright’s next role, for the studios reading: the role of Hiro Protagonist in an adaptation of Neal Stephenson’s epic novel Snow Crash. 

★ BEST NEW ANNOYING HOMEGROWN MUSIC TREND                           

Reggaeton

Hip-hop began in the South Bronx with plenty of energy and originality, but lately it’s grown stale. The “hip” has mostly “hopped” off into the history books. Reggae suffers from the same problem: beat for beat, we’ve heard it all before—well, most of it anyway. Thanks to reggaeton, the two styles have merged under the same heading to form an unbelievably bland and repetitive new category of music. Sure, the Dem Bow beat, around which the reggaeton rhythm centers, gets the booties bouncing, and that Daddy Yankee song “Gasolina” is too damn catchy for its own good; but if we have to wake up one more time to those monotonous thumps blasting outside our windows on a Saturday morning from speakers hooked up to the bicycle of a passer-by, heads will roll. 

★ BEST NEW FILM PROGRAM TO KICK NYU FILM SCHOOL’S ASS

Ghetto Film School 

Ghettofilm.org

The NYU Film School’s fat head could use some deflating. Consider Ghetto Film School the Bronx-based pin to get that job done. The program began in June 2000 and has taught more than 500 students throughout New York City. The school provides classes and workshops in cinema studies—from technical training to understanding the classics—and the 15-month Fellows Program culminates in an annual public screening at Lincoln Center. Students’ works have appeared on CNN, The Independent Film Channel (IFC), “ABC News Now” and in film festivals around the globe. The best part is that the program is meant for people ages 14-21, meaning Ghetto Film School participants have the opportunity to receive hands-on training sooner and to get a jump on the competition. Maybe if Spike Lee had this when he was just starting out, he wouldn’t still be whining about not being able to sit with the popular white kids at the NYU cafeteria. 

★ BEST PLACE TO SEE THE HEALTHIEST/ UGLIEST NEW YORKERS 

New York City Marathon (November 5, 2006)

Nycmarathon.org

Over 35,000 people journey to New York City to compete in the yearly Marathon. These contenders come from diverse backgrounds, but on the day of the race throughout the five boroughs, they all have at least three things in common: good health, determination and profound ugliness. Runners trade in their designer daywear for old gym socks, unflattering spandex, white sneakers and cruddy T-shirts, ignoring the sweat slithering down their makeup-free faces. Sometimes they gasp and choke for air; sometimes they cry. It’s not a pretty sight. But to be fair, anyone running for 26.2 miles is going to be a little harsh on the eyes, even P. Diddy.

★ Best Sign That NY’s Downtown 


Life Is Dead 

When the hottest stories in the news about the NY club scene revolve around underage bridge-and-tunnel types getting roughed up, mugged, drugged and snatched by ex-con bouncers, it’s obvious that the nightlife game in Manhattan has changed. At first you might be tempted to believe that everyone has moved the party to Brooklyn, but don’t be fooled. Invite a Brooklynite to a Manhattan party and watch the event become over-run with the desperate whiff of Kings Borough refugees clawing their way over and under the velvet rope like Ellis Island immigrants in 1892. Worse yet, club king Peter Gatien has been exiled to Canada, smoking is banned everywhere, you now need a handheld-computer scannable picture I.D. to enter most venues (retina scan coming), the archiac cabaret law is still enforced (“YOU! No. Dance. Here!”), and the hottest new nightclub buzz is located at the bottom of a dirty abandoned swimming pool in the middle of nowhere (McCarren Park). If you think getting into Stereo to party with Nicole Richie is “hot,” you … are not.

★ BEST TREND IN BARGOING ENTERTAINMENT 

We’re so tired of shooting bar pool that we could stab ourselves in the eyes with cue sticks. Same goes double for darts. And even bocce ball bores us. That’s why we’re thrilled to peaches that more and more bars are starting to look like Coney Island. From Greenpoint’s LuLu’s to the East Village’s Ace Bar and Crocodile Lounge, saloons are embracing Skee-Ball. Oh, how we love bowling those smooth wooden balls down the lane, aiming for the 100-point hole, more often dropping into the 10-point chasm. But that’s OK. How can you grow angry at a game that so defined our Chuck-E-Cheese childhood?

Skee-Ball is the perfect alcohol activity: We can play it when we’re passing-out drunk or as sober as an Al Gore speech. We can roll when we’re alone or drinking beside a gaggle of friends. In fact, there’s only one problem with the bar Skee-Ball machines. Because they don’t spit out tickets, how are we supposed to win a bendy rubber pencil? 

★ BEST JAZZ FOR A SONG

St. Nick’s Pub

773 St. Nicholas Ave. (at 149th St.)

212-283-7132

The days of Sonny Rollins wailing on the bridge are gone. How can you find quality jazz on the cheap in an era when the swanky heir to Augie’s can run $30 covers, and even Smalls costs twice what it used to? In music, as in real estate, the best values and most authentic properties are Uptown. The pick of the litter is still the Monday jam at St. Nick’s, where you only pay the $3 music charge if you ask for a chair. Tourists crowd the blast zone by the drums, but pork pies, aviators and horns clot that dingy valve of a corridor between stage and bathroom. There’s no menu, but vats of grub can be had for tips. There’s even a back garden where—gasp—you can still smoke. It sure beats that band on the 72nd Street traverse. On the other hand, contributions on city property are strictly limited to one’s sense of shame.

★ BEST RADIO PERSONALITY TURNED CLUB DJ 

Bobbito Garcia (aka DJ Cucumberslice)

First coming to public attention as the host of the seminal hip-hop radio program, The Stretch & Bobbito Show in the early ‘90s, DJ/journalist/sportscaster/streetball fixture/barber Bobbito Garcia multitasks the way only a native New Yorker living in New York can. As former owner of Bobbito’s Footwork store, author of the 2003 book Where’d You Get Those?: New York City Sneaker Culture 1960-1987 and the host of the ESPN show It’s The Shoes, he’s also the world’s pre-eminent expert on sneaker culture. Though he was the personality, not the DJ, when he was partnered with Stretch Armstrong on the radio, as DJ Cucumberslice Garcia’s blossomed into one of New York’s most resilient selectors. Earlier this year his last-Monday-of-the-month residency at APT reached the five-year mark, an almost unheard of feat in NYC. Together with DJ Spinna, he’s also responsible for the annual Wonder-Full party which, despite its novelty (only songs by, written by or sampling Stevie Wonder are played) is now seven years strong. 

★ BEST IDIOTIC HOMEGROWN DANCE CRAZE 

Chicken Noodle Soup

It used to take years for dances to spread around the country, but thanks to YouTube, it now takes a click of a button. The first local dance of note since extras in rapper G.Dep’s "Let’s Get It" video popularized the Harlem Shake back in 2001, the Chicken Noodle Soup was created by Harlem high schoolers at local DJ Webstar’s teen parties. The 19-year-old Webstar recruited a 16-year-old friend named Young B to join him on a single of the same name, some kids taped themselves doing the dance and, like that, New York had its response to the Atlanta-based snap music craze. While the dance, in which dancers “let it rain” and “clear it out” before letting loose with a side-to-side freestyle dance, has been criticized as minstrelsy by some black leaders, 19-year-old Webstar points out that the tweens who’ve taken to the dance are so young they haven’t even learned history yet. (Stanley Crouch is already furiously penning his Anti-Chicken Soup Manifesto.) With New York hip-hop getting more pathetically irrelevant by the day, this amateurish teenybopper anthem with a monotonous hook and a skeleton beat sounds hotter than almost anything the city’s actual rappers have managed to muster out this year.

★ BEST MEDIA ROSETTA STONE

SPY: The Funny Years

Miramax Books 

Around Manhattan, media executives who should be checking the bottom line, analyzing spread sheets and improving their product can often be found stealing looks at Gawker, buttocks clenched as they pray their names don’t appear, and squeeling with glee at the sight of the next media pro’s embarrassing foible published on the site. After a recent Internet media gathering in Manhattan, Gawker creator Nick Denton told the New York Times “It made me want to move to Budapest, batten down the hatches and wait for the zombies to run out of food … Better to sober up now before the end of the party.” The vote of no confidence from the site’s creator, the firing of one of its editors and a buggy new redesign suddenly lowered the site’s profile as the posts went from witty insider gossip to predictable pop smaltz about the Lohan’s and Hilton’s. Right on time to pick up the slack came the re-launch of Radar magazine’s online component, which immediately asserted it’s dominance by outing Anderson Cooper’s CIA past (the print version is set to re-appear in 2007). But what many readers don’t realize is that both titles are direct rip-offs of Spy magazine, created by Graydon Carter (now Editor-in-Chief at Vanity Fair) and Kurt Andersen (currently writing a column for New York magazine) in the ’80s. 

Housed in Soho’s Puck Building (the original home of NY Press) most Manhattan media insiders acknowledge that Spy magazine forever changed the way media looked at itself. The next time you get your Huffington Post/Drudge/The Onion/Gawker/“The Daily Show” media fix, remember the original masters of schadenfreude—you’re reading their legacy of divine snark. 

Entertainment

Written by None - Do not Delete on . Posted in Best of Manhattan, Posts.






BEST NIGHTCLUB REMODELING


Best
Beatdown


Jeff Koyen vs. N. Scott Stedman


The “N”
is for ‘nocked-out. It started as these things always start: with a taunt.
In the June 11 issue of New York Press, we called the floundering fledgling
L magazine “dreadful.” We’d just launched our sister paper, New
York Sports Express, and both publications were to be distributed in orange
boxes. We didn’t–and still don’t–expect the Dumbo-based
L to survive very long, so we offered to buy their boxes for pennies on the
dollar.

The boys
of L, in an attempt to capitalize on the diss, challenged us to a soccer match.

How gay.

L magazine
is everything that New York Press despises. First, there’s the limp-dick
writing. From the opening page that cites Walter Benjamin to the shockingly
weak descriptions of everything from walking tours to DJs to art installations,
wasting so much space on so much neutered prose is a crime in an age when print
should be rising above.

Then, there’s
the “Neighborhood Guide.” Though readers are informed in agate that
these back-of-book pages are “sponsored” by advertisers, the fact
that they are identical in design and layout to the presumably non-sponsored
reviews causes us to cry foul. It’s our opinion that the editors are trying
to deceive the readers by not being more clear in the division between paid
and unpaid editorial. This is unacceptable.

Then there’s
the whole p.r. thing. Stedman admitted to us that he hired a public relations
firm to capitalize on the “feud.” More than anything else, this dot-com
approach to publishing makes us want to beat the living fuck out of the L crew.
We thought the p.r.-before-product mentality had disappeared, and we’d
taken comfort in the fiscal and professional demise of 25-year-old “new
media” rockstars who spent more time posing for photo ops than producing
anything good for the world. Their legacy survives in Stedman.

The pussies
at L declined our counteroffer of a bare-knuckle fistfight, so on Wednesday,
October 29, New York Press/New York Sports Express editor-in-chief Jeff Koyen
will take on Scott Steadman at Gleason’s Gym. Yeah, yeah, we know that
Koyen originally declined a boxing match, calling it a bit precious and citing
celebrity boxing matches for their despicability. But now that he’s been
training for two months and has thrown a fair number of punches at large black
men, he’s ready to beat the tar out of the wispy Steadman.

Last we
spoke with the noodle-armed N. Scott, he had more to say about his trainer’s
stories and his brother’s independent film and the “after party”
than the match itself. Clearly, our disgust and animosity failed to register,
so we urged him to start training more seriously, lest Koyen be demonized for
picking on the nerdy kid in the playground.

Yet he still
doesn’t understand the beast awakened. Expect a bloodbath.


Best
Nightclub Remodeling


Quiznos Subs


19-23 St. Marks Place (betw. 2nd & 3rd Aves.), 212-253-8444


‘Scuse
me while I toast this rye. What during the 1990s was a rehab center smack dab
in the middle of St. Marks Place, north side, was once the site of important
New York music venues of yesteryear. In the 60s, at 23 St. Marks were the Electric
Circus and Andy Warhol’s Dom club. A couple of rock bands you might have
heard of played here…like the Velvet Underground and the Jimi Hendrix Experience.

The development
company that bought the space is more interested in doing to the East Village
what’s been done to Soho than they’re interested in neighborhood history.
The first tenant is a national sandwich chain, Quiznos Subs, and boy doesn’t
that get us as mad as–

Oh, crap.
Who’s kidding who? St. Marks has been culturally irrelevant for 30 years,
so who really gives a fuck if there’s a sandwich shop where Hendrix once
banged Janis Joplin and then banged a fat load of heroin into his arm? Only
children and nostalgists–and childish nostalgists most of all–claim
that the good old days of rebellion should exist anywhere but in our memories.
Those who refuse to accept the corporatization of New York City are doomed to
be miserable. We’re not supporting the commodification and branding of
everything we’ve held precious, but neither are we mired in bitching and
moaning and Ohmigod, can you believe there’s a Madame Tussaud’s
where the old Harris was?

Like single-cell
organisms, like weeds, like roaches, like Challenger jokes–counterculture
springs up of its own accord. It doesn’t need fertilizer. Nor does it need
a museum erected on soil once so fertile. It will take root somewhere else,
always somewhere else, and just because you’re too old and stiff
and stuck in the past doesn’t mean it’s not there. You just don’t
understand it, old man.

And furthermore,
we’ll take Quiznos over another stupid t-shirt shop any day of the week.


Best
Party to Get Blunted At


Deep Space


Cielo, 18 Little W. 12th St. (betw. Washington St. & 9th Ave.), 212-645-5700


They call
it stormy Monday. Despite its being on a Monday night, Francois K’s Deep
Space party is filled every week with folks throbbing to the Frenchman’s
eclectic selection of dubby cuts. Mr. K, of Body and Soul fame, has the most
interesting, if not the best, fiesta in the city going right now, with Rasta
mons grabbing the mic to lead you on a spiritual journey to find your blunted
soul and spacey grooves that keep you moving all night.

Don’t
be intimidated by the party’s location: Cielo. Although on most nights
it hosts a jet-set of Euro-trashers and people with too much money, dressed
in designer labels, this party asks that you come as you are. Jah cigarettes
are discouraged inside the club, but it doesn’t hurt to load up beforehand.
The drinks inside will eat your paycheck. Dress to sweat your bum off.


Best Free Drug

Gymnopilus spectabilis


Manhattan’s
magic mushroom. We’ve found this large, robust and mildly hallucinogenic
yellow-orange mushroom growing in clusters on stumps and dead trees in Central
Park, Van Cortlandt Park, Cunningham Park and other areas of mixed woods hereabouts.
We were recently told that the strain growing around here will get you high,
but the ones in California won’t; we were able to catch a pretty good buzz
from the handful we choked down.

Legend has
it that G. spectabilis earned its nickname, “the big laughing mushroom,” when
a group of itinerant Japanese Buddhist monks came upon a group of nuns rolling
around on the road, laughing boisterously. When asked what was so funny, the
nuns could only giggle and point to the leftover mushrooms in their cookpot.
They must have been hungry: The fungus tastes like Ivory soap, and the concentration
of the psychoactive ingredient is pretty small. You’ve got to want it.

As with
all wild mushrooms, making a positive identification can take some investment
of time and effort. An overeager novice might, for instance, mistake Omphalatus
olearius, the poisonous “jack o’ lantern” mushroom, for the sought-after
‘shroom of dreams–in which case, it’s a bout of painful cramps
and trip to the emergency room for a stomach pumping. With luck. Please,
check a few mushroom field guides and get confirmation from an expert before
you chomp.


Best
Music Venue


Irving Plaza


17 Irving Pl. (15th St.), 212-777-6800


Headbangers
ballroom. We refuse to accept that every act we’ve seen at Irving Plaza
just happens to be superior. Whether the stage is filled with the aimless stomping
of a punk band like Zebrahead or the understated big band melodies of Keely
Smith, not a single show we’ve seen at Irving has sucked.

Okay, maybe
that’s the beer and whiskey talking, but Irving Plaza is still the best
venue of its size in the city. The owners have yet to succumb to the Clear Channel
monopoly and do their best to offer cheap tickets for headliners like No Doubt,
the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the Donnas. Sure, we’re fans of Knitting Factory,
Southpaw, Mercury and Maxwell’s, who usually find a respectable balance
between profit and respect for fans, but Irving has it down to a science.

We particularly
admire the way Irving hosts two-night runs. One show is usually 16- or 18-and-over;
the other, for legal drinkers only. Adult swim nights are typically sedate,
with the jaded flocking to the bar, opening a tab and relaxing beneath the eclectic
light-fixtures. You’ll find them staring up at the tiled ceiling, resting
their aging bones until the band plays their favorite song.

We dare
say that no other venue could pull off a night of Christian rockers Stryper,
with KMFDM, Pig and Bile scheduled for the next month and then, three weeks
later, three nights of Dark Star Orchestra. Something for everyone, as they
say, and we’re big fans.


Best
Foosball


Luna Lounge


171 Ludlow St. (betw. Houston & Stanton Sts.), 212-260-2323


Table soccer
to you. On a speed binge in a small town outside of Bratislava, we went up against
two Slovaks in a game of foosball. As outsiders not quite welcome in the room,
we were a little worried. Our table skills were lacking; these kids had been
playing for the whole of their short lives.

In other
parts of the world, foosball isn’t the fratboy pastime it is in the U.S.
It’s more like darts to England: an integral part of a bar culture that’s
in turn integral to the whole culture. They take their games seriously in Eastern
Europe, and are fond of badgering foreigners into wagers, the terms of which
may not be clear.

Then there
are the customs. Where we traveled, it’s worse than just pedestrian to
spin the handle (and thus spin the men). Do it once, get a sharp look. Do it
twice, a gutteral curse. Continue to offend your opponents, and you may end
up in a brawl. If they shut you out 10 to nil, you are expected to crawl under
the table. The ultimate humiliation.

We brought
home our fondness for one-on-ones playing with a drink resting precariously
at the edge of the table (which also serves to discourage table-lifting). When
we’re in the mood for a match, we head down to Luna where a dollar buys
a game and a five buys a pint. The action on the table is good, and there’s
plenty of room to maneuver.

If you ever
challenge us, though, be prepared to follow our rules. Spinning is for pussies,
and best be prepared to get on your knees. For the record, we took those Slovaks
in the second game.


Best Low-Hassle
Dead-of-Winter Getaway


Isla Mujeres, Mexico


Don’t
tell anyone. Late February. Freezing rain for weeks. Alternately confused, depressed
and angry, we wanted nothing more than to sun ourselves to a crusty bronze and
avoid other humans. So we took a chance on Isla Mujeres.

“Chance,”
you wonder? Well, Isla’s proximity to Cancun–eight clicks by ferry
boat–doesn’t exactly sync up with the notion of getting away from
it all, now does it? We overcame our jitters with a little help from some old-timers
on Lonelyplanet.com’s Thorntree board (worthy of its own “Best of” award
for no-bullshit travel advice). Too good to ignore were their promises of turquoise
waters, immaculate beaches and degrees of quietude ranging from “stone-silent
stillness” on the island’s western tip to “low, but bearable buzz” in its
small main town at the other end. Most persuasive of all was the assurance that
encounters with loud-talking, Teva-footed gomers would cease the minute we left
the Cancun airport.

The old-timers
knew of what they spoke. Isla Mujeres is a narrow strip of Mexican joy straight
out of the Corona ad. Bearing in mind its proximity to the States, it remains
in a relative sense, undiscovered. Had we cared to, we could’ve snorkeled
or gotten our scuba certification or swum with dolphins or sharks–Isla’s
full of that kind of thing.

But no thanks.
A few four-on-four hoops games with the locals was all the human contact we
needed (there’s a lit basketball court in town). Yeah, there were gringos
and gringettes to be found, but they were mostly there on post-Cancun detox
and too hung over to fuck with our tranquility. Isla Mujeres is no Tahiti. But
cheap peak-season accommodations (a good beachside room can be had for $65),
delicious food and an absence of annoyance do go a long way with us. At less
than four-hour’s flying time from JFK (plus a 15-minute ferry ride) it’s
a darn convenient option–one we’re sure to exercise again when the
doldrums set in.


Best
Anything-Goes Open Mic


Faceboyz


Sundays at Collective Unconscious 145 Ludlow St. (betw. Stanton & Rivington
Sts.), 212-254-5277


Freakz.
Sure, we suppose you could shell out $15 at some legit comedy joint to drink
$7 Heinekens and watch Tonight Show veterans tell Schwarzenegger jokes.

Better to
pick up a 40-ounce and drop $3 in the hat to keep a black-box L.E.S. performance
space alive and laugh to the most original and unpredictable comedy show in
New York. Every Sunday, Faceboy and a rotating stable of beautiful freaks and
straight stragglers take the open stage to drop weird science and believe-it-or-not
routines. Sign up and take the dive or just byob and watch; Faceboyz Sundays
commands a visit.

(Breaking
news: We’ve learned the Collective Unconscious has plans to shut the doors
as of December 1. We’ll keep you updated as the situation develops.)


Best
Contemplation of Jailbait


Lunatarium


10 Jay St. (John St.), Dumbo, 718-813-8404


Grass on
the infield. It’s Saturday at 3 a.m. and we know we’re drunk. Our
friends have all gone home to be couples, but we’re left, wretchedly alone,
still desiring some kind of crazy nightlife or action. More booze, maybe, or
someone to kiss. Some extension of the evening’s adventure. Yeah, we know
we’re too old for this. We should just go home and pass out in front of
the tv with a can of peanuts in our lap. Instead, we wander down Jay St., toward
the water where we know that Lunatarium usually has something going on.

As usual,
it’s packed with raver-kids in baggy pants twirling glo-sticks and dancing
like idiots. Off to one side there’s some stupid skater-type juggling flaming
batons with a lack of precision that really makes our heart race. Someone else
is making a finger-painting on a dirty mattress while dazed 16-year-olds try
not to look awkward. The music’s loud and obnoxious, and the sweat and
heat are disgusting, but–wandering into the corner of the room with our
plastic cup of beer, we come across a trio of them.

Lovely,
poised, elegant. Totally out of place. Now this may just be the twelve-pack
talking, but they have got to be the most beautiful people we’ve ever seen.
And when we move closer and see them silhouetted against the East River and
the Manhattan skyline, we’re convinced it’s love. Or something.

We head
over, slur out something about the view and a conversation ensues we’re
only half aware of, and there is a gnawing wondering of morality in the back
of our minds. Should we ask how old they are? Is it better not to know? Can
we really overlook the fact that they think this is the “coolest place in the
city”?

We don’t
remember what we decided, but in the morning we’re back at home alone,
splayed out on the couch with a can of peanuts upside-down in our lap and QVC
blaring at top volume.


Best
Dose of Died-Young Angst


Egon Schiele at Neue Galerie


1048 5th Ave. (86th St.), 212-628-6200


The horror.
Today, Egon Schiele would probably be an insufferably quirky web designer, and
his patron-mentor, the great Gustav Klimt, would be teaching multimedia at SVA.
Fortunately for the betterment of mankind, both were dead before the 1920s were
over: the 55-year-old Klimt fell to pneumonia on Feb. 6, 1918; Schiele, several
months later on Halloween. The latter was a mere 28 years old, taken by influenza
three days after his wife met the same fate.

Schiele
left behind a modest treasure of portraits and landscapes that continue to influence
artists. He presents his subjects in tortured twists, their hands tight and
locked, many women with their privates exposed and far-removed from the accusations
of “immorality” and “seduction” that landed him in jail for 24 days. His self-portraits
are exercises in self-deconstruction–sometimes agonizing, sometimes whimsical,
other times in between. They’re instantly familiar to anyone who’s
ever seen Aeon Flux.

Anyone interested
in digging into the soul of man–and woman–without regard for puffery
or pretty baubles should see firsthand the work of this Austrian Expressionist.
Locally, the Neue Gallerie offers a modest selection of Schiele’s work.
Stop by Sunday afternoon after a crisp autumn walk through Central Park and
soak up some good, old-fashioned tortured-artistry. Being dedicated to German
and Austrian art, the Neue also has a nice selection of Schiele’s predecessors
and peers–Max Beckmann, Otto Dix and the aforementioned Klimt.

When you’re
done, stop in at Cafe Sabarsky on the ground floor, named for Neue co-founder
Serge Sabarsky and loosely modeled after a Viennese cafe. There’s also
the requisite museum gift shop, but we can’t recommend buying reprints
of Schiele’s work. Simply come back when you need another dose.


Best
Double Features


Film Forum


207 W. Houston St. (betw. 6th Ave. & Varick St.), 212-727-8110


Let’s
play two. For almost seven years, we’ve been a member of this venerable
nonprofit (which gets us in for $5), and we savor the arrival of every calendar
in the mail. They’re always getting their hands on gorgeous new prints
of something or other, whether it’s Rear Window or Chinatown.
Film Forum’s popcorn is the best in the city, and if you’re hankering
for something sweeter, try a Cheryl Kleinman cake or a Toblerone bar.

Even more
compelling are the double features: two films for the price of one. In this
day and age, it’s a hard concept to grasp, but it’s the god’s
honest truth. Recent pairings: William Wyler’s The Desperate Hours
with Detective Story; Dr. Strangelove with A Shot in the Dark;
Ernst Lubitsch’s To Be or Not to Be with The Shop Around the
Corner
. A few summers ago, there was a lesbian vampire double feature. We
brought tons of friends and ignored the men who looked like they were playing
hooky from Tech Support.


Best Place for
Socially Inept, Geeky Male Writers to Stand Around in Circles without Actually
Speaking to One Another


Any New York Press Editorial Party


Four virgins
walk into a bar. Writers are interesting creatures. On paper, we’re the
bravest bastards on the planet. An article accusing the Crips of being a gay
social club? No fear–publish it. But stick us into a social situation where
we have to actually interact with humans, and watch our over-inflated pitbull
mentalities shrivel up like a Polar Bear Club member’s penis in February.

The best
place to see this behavior on display is at our own editorial parties–or
Sausage Fests 2003, as they’re affectionately known among local bartenders.
It can be hilarious watching a group of writers struggle to get up the nerve
to talk to one another.

“Umm…
Hey… Umm… How’s… er… How’s it goin?”

“Good. Who
do…uh… Who do you know here?”

“Koyen.”

“Yeah, me
too.”

And then
the two nitwits go back to staring at their shoelaces and the long silence resumes.
Thank god we serve alcohol at these things to get the conversation moving or
it would be like singles night for gay narcoleptics.


Best DJ Who Should
Be Producing


Junior Vasquez


Do go gently.
He alienated Madonna when he remixed a message on his answering machine from
the Kabbalah queen (“Junior? Junior, are you there? It’s Madonna?”)–even
if it wasn’t really Madge’s voice on the actual recording. But he
was Junior. The Man. The mixmaster who produced some of the biggest dance songs
of the 90s, the DJ who single-handedly transformed the old Sound Factory into
a melting pot of drag queens, uptown voguers, Chelsea muscle boys and glowstick-waving
ravers. With a scene that didn’t even get going until 8 on Sunday morning
and sometimes went into Monday, Junior helped establish the city’s reputation
as the club center of the universe.

This was
our church, and we were his acolytes. Even then, however, the Master (as he
was already calling himself) was given to temper tantrums–like stopping
the music for a few minutes if he didn’t think the dancers were paying
enough attention. But we put up with it because there was no one else like him.

Junior learned
his craft at the feet of Larry Levan, mythical sorcerer of the Paradise Garage,
and we lived for moments when he sampled the backbeat of a song like “Street
Life” in and out of Mary J. Blige’s latest. When Sound Factory morphed
into Twilo, Junior was back with his towel dancers, a seven-foot drag vamp named
Kevin Aviance and his signature dubbing of deep house into a trippy vibe. Only
this time he had his own DJ booth and private bathroom (soon to become his standard
demands).

When Twilo
fell victim to GHB fallouts, Junior moved over to the city’s largest club,
Exit, where he began his anti-drug crusade and tirades from the booth. He called
his Sunday morning party Earth, but for most, Pure Hell would’ve been a
better name. The Gestapo tactics of his special security force, who inspected
the inside of women’s thongs, intruded upon male patrons and forced open
the doors of toilet stalls, eventually turned off even the most avid Juniorites.

The nadir
of his spinning career occurred during Miami’s White Party weekend, in
which the crowd was so incensed by his antics that they bombarded the DJ booth
with water bottles. Having alienated every other DJ in town with snide asides
on his website and in the press, Junior, now in his mid-50s, just celebrated
another birthday in exile at the Roxy. The Roxy!

And so the
question hangs over the dance floor: Is the party finally over? We hope so.
Junior should get back into the studio where he belongs, and leave the journeyman
DJing to the young bucks.


Best
(and Only) Classy Comedy Club


Carolines on Broadway


1626 Broadway (betw. 49th & 50th Sts.), 212-757-4100


I’m
pretty sure I saw this guy on tv once. Most people avoid comedy clubs for two
reasons. The first: They never know what they’re going to get. Might be
an unknown genius, or you might have been better off saving the $15 cover and
watching Comedy Central. The second is that you might find yourself singled
out by a jackass on stage whose idea of humor is ridiculing you for having been
born in New Jersey.

Carolines
on Broadway has more or less solved both of these problems. It’s a headliner
club, which means you go there to see a specific comedian. If you want to see
Dave Chappelle or Mark Maron, you can buy tickets to see Dave Chappelle or Mark
Maron. You will not be subjected to the owner’s wife or the “comedian”
who stood outside the club distributing fliers or a walking catastrophe whose
only reason for being on stage is that he cajoled 20 friends into seeing him.
You’ll see the comedian you paid to see. Also, Carolines is a huge space,
more like a theater than a typical comedy club, making it rare for a comedian
to address individual audience members.

Quality
and civility don’t come cheaply. Carolines charges about double what you
pay at Manhattan’s comedy shacks. Depending on the headliner, it’s
worth the expense.


Best Revival of
a Lost Movie Tradition


Freddy vs. Jason


Get ready
to die, punk. The first time we walked by the poster in the subway, we
stopped, rubbed our eyes and pumped a fist in the air. We saw all the Friday
the 13th
and Nightmare on Elm Street movies as a kid in the
80s, and here was the ultimate battle between the baddest two supernatural villains
around. And they’re still on the side of evil!

In an age
in which the Terminator is an avuncular quip-machine and Wes Craven has turned
the horror industry into an offshoot of wacky teen comedy, here was a return
of honest-to-goodness machete-through-the-skull and knife-glove-through-the-guts
horror.

More than
that, Freddy vs. Jason also signifies the return of the lost “ultimate
match-up” genre, the Dracula vs. Frankenstein and Godzilla
vs. Mothra
tradition kept alive in recent years mostly in small-screen video
games. There is something very cool about plotless, decontextualized battles
between two great characters. Remember Kareem Abdul-Jabar versus Bruce Lee in
Game of Death? Even if you don’t, and even if you missed Freddy
vs. Jason
, that’s okay. We’ll explain everything when we meet
you in line for Alien vs. Predator.


Best Neighboring
Borough


The Bronx


No news
to C.J. On one short trip, you may see a bodega, a car wash and a castle. The
breakfast of choice on a 90-degree day is hot chocolate, and though we always
decline sugar in our coffee, some always seems to make its way into our cup.
We’re blond, so people say, “Good morning, teacher,” or gently inquire:
Are we looking for the school?

There’s
fresh challah on Fridays and pans of barbecued everything coming out of kitchens.
There are fancy pastries with guava or custard, and the beckoning of fried street
food. There’s salsa in the street. There’s a subway packed with workers
heading here, to jobs in schools and medical facilities and city posts. There’s
the occasional daytime drama–an attractive, well-coiffed woman in a stylish
leather jacket and gold jewelry banging her hands flat against the token booth
plexiglass: “Come out of there! I’ll bust your ass!”

There are
parks and pools. There’s a car culture, but we can still get around via
MetroCard. And once it’s time to get back downtown, there’s a million
black limo-cabs. Oh, and don’t forget that zoo and those bums in pinstripes.


Best
Place for Orientals to Get Down


Forbidden City


212 Ave. A (13th St.), 212-598-0500


Everybody
Wang Chung tonight. Johnny, the owner, used to be a chef at a Benihana, so he
knows how to throw a party. The food and drinks at Forbidden City are much more
sophisticated than at his previous employ, however, with sake–as just one
example–served in proper box-shaped glasses on tumescent green plates.
In this charged lounge bar, Asians and the people who love them get down as
self-mocking kung-fu flicks play on a huge screen at the back, and best of all,
you’d never know from the anonymous outside how truly swinging it is within.


Best Hiphop Album

The Ownerz, Gang Starr


Clip still
full. We’ve been devotees of Guru and DJ Premier since we stepped into
the arena in 1991. And 15 years after coming up, the odd couple from Boston
and Texas is still reigning supreme and with class over the jokers, showing
on The Ownerz that the patented Gang Starr formula is potent even after
the group’s canonization and the duo’s personal domestication. Guru’s
flow is as fine and semiconscious as ever, cutting down all fakers of the funk
with Preem behind him, crafting too-good-to-be-true beats worthy of the legend.

Despite
critical accolades, Gang Starr never hit the big, big, big time. Instead
of trying to catch up to MTV bandwagons, they’ve held cupped palms over
the flame of raw East Coast hiphop and produced full albums of material with
minimal filler. No faux thug bullshit, no poppy beatscapes programmed to please
the kids.

In The
Ownerz
, the Gang Starr ethos is alive and kicking in one of Premier’s
trademark slap-you-awake interludes:


Yo, what
the fuck is this shit y’all are listenin’ to nowadays on the radio,
man? You call that shit hiphop?… All you DJs are letting the program directors
handcuff you and sit there and tell you how to mix? You fuckin’ robots.
Fuck y’all.


Few in the
game have earned the right to spread this kind of fire like Premier. And we
couldn’t have said it better ourselves.


Best
Club Promoter


Rena Siwek


B.B. King Blues Club, 237 W. 42nd St. (betw. 7th & 8th Aves.), 212-997-4555


For love
of the game. As a rule of thumb, we do our level best to steer clear of p.r.
types. Like salesmen, public relations professionals are forever on the make–and
it always comes at our expense. Unlike the salesmen, they work under a more
obvious form of barter, usually initiating the relationship by handing something
our way. Free tickets for us, for our visiting in-laws, a chance for our little
brother to shake hands with the guy who impersonates David Lee Roth at the Van
Halen tribute show. That’s when the fun stops. Once you’ve bitten
from the carrot, you’re in debt, and the crafty p.r. pro has a memory like
a collection agency.

We first
spoke with B.B. King’s Rena Siwek a couple years back, and in the time
since, we’ve done nothing but take, take and take some more. Advance tickets,
last-minute tickets, special events–anything we ever need, we make out
like bandits. Unlike her peers, she’s never asked for much in return. Seems
that she actually enjoys promoting her club in the best possible light.

For being
an absolute doll when, more often than not, we don’t deserve it, here’s
a little reacharound to Rena, the Best Club Promoter in Manhattan, 2003.


Best Industrial
Band


Side 3


Get bent,
Trent. Do you like blood? How about latex? How about scary hard beats and hot
death boys? If you answered yes to any of these questions then you’ll second
our nomination of Side 3 as New York’s best industrial band. Not only do
Al Voili and Matt Slagle look extremely yummy while tearing it up on stage (does
this sound like a ym article yet?), but the music is vicious, dark and
intense.

Their latest
recording, Halfway Under, has an exciting moodiness, pure in emotion
and about as raw in sound as can be achieved with electronic beats. As important
as the music, though, is the stage show. More then two guys on a stage, Side
3 is a projection, literally, of images that reflect the emotion and energy
of the music. We always look forward to their next performance.


Best
CD Cover




Best
Armchair Traveling


American Museum of Natural History

Central Park West (79th St.), 212-769-5100


The fauxs
of Kilimanjaro. We’re always jonesing to travel, but our dayjob and cobwebby
checkbook conspire to keep us stuck here for a bit. Whenever we need a little
fix of flight, we head to the dioramas at the Natural History Museum.

Up the stairs,
past the pompous statue of Teddy Roosevelt and into the galleries where real
stuffed animals are set into cases depicting their natural environments. Sure,
the big blue whale and the newly renovated Hall of Ocean Life are impressive,
but for an afternoon of voyeuristic adventuring, we make a bee-line the mammals
every time. With the lights kept so dim that the displays seem to glow, the
shaggy musk ox flecked with snow and the gemsbok nibbling beardgrass draw us
like moths.

Each diorama
portrays a specific time and place, and the ceiling and back walls curve to
evoke a sense of open space. The beavers aren’t just gnawing away in some
random woods; they’re on a lake in Michigan in July, and the sun just set
half an hour ago. The fake plants, hidden lights, geological murals and somnambulant
animals in the landscapes replicate those of the natural world so obsessively
that they become their own studies in scientific devotion. They become their
own worlds.

Perhaps
it is this otherworldly quality that gives us the feeling of having returned
from far, far away when we emerge back onto Central Park West. We’re always
startled by how a collection of stuffed animals in lit, painted boxes can trigger
such palpable memories of places we’ve never visited. At least not yet.


Best Reason to
Get Over Rock-Star Worship


I Am Trying to Break Your Heart


Put down
that guitar, asshole. Most of us know that rock’s been dead for a long
time now, but this documentary should’ve proven it to everyone else. (Dylan’s
unintentionally hilarious Masked and Anonymous is the dark, dank soil
shoveled onto rock’s coffin.) It’s helpful to watch the DVD version
of I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco because of the
band’s commentary track. There’s nervous laughter. There’s acquiescence
to lead genius, Jeff Tweedy. There’s lots of mumbling stoner humor.

This shit
is so over. You can see it in the way the members of Wilco casually gloss over
the quiet, planned departure of former member Jay Bennett, the band’s creative
loony who got too real, man. The remaining players reveal themselves
as a bunch of yes-men pretending that yes-men don’t exist in their cool
little world. No more messiahs for the messiah complex.

As the boomers
slouch toward their wheelchairs, this type of rock star is dying. Which is great
news for anyone who wants music without the suffocating weight of cultural “importance.”
The next generation of music fans are already so fragmented, so resistant to
compartmentalization, that these false gods will never be heaved upon them,
and they’ll understand that what’s cool to them may mean nothing to
the kid next to them. And it won’t matter. Sounds like heaven.


Best Drug About
to be Criminalized


Salvia Divinorum


Um, did
you just see that? The first time we smoked salvia was a bit more than two years
ago with a then-girlfriend. She’d just taken her first hits, to no effect;
she reported feeling a little high, but there was no hallucinating, no “incredible
five-minute trip,” as her friend had described.

We’d
been warned. Smoking salvia divinorum is a bit more complicated than smoking
marijuana or hashish. First and foremost, use a butane lighter: The leaves must
be incinerated quickly and completely, and that Zippo doesn’t put out enough
heat. Second, use a bong or water pipe: The smoke must be inhaled immediately
and held for 30 seconds, and the water provides a cooling mechanism.

Native American
shamans have used salvia divinorum for years, though exactly how long is up
for debate. Shaman healers living in the Oaxaca state of Mexico are called curanderos;
in Mazatec they are called chotacine, which translates as “one who knows.”
According to the curanderos, they use it whenever they feel it necessary
to travel into the supernatural world in order to suss information that eludes
their corporeal selves. Uses include divination, diagnosis of sickness and disease,
and even locating missing persons and objects. The leaves, which resemble their
cousins in the mint family, are traditionally chewed and held in the mouth like
tobacco or crushed into a juice.

Research
shows it to be non-addictive, and users report no increased tolerance after
repeated use. In fact, some salvia enthusiasts report an increased sensitivity
after multiple uses. Presumably, their bodies have learned how to process the
active ingredient, Salvinorin A, more efficiently and effectively.

Our companion
tried two or three more times, yet still felt nothing more than lightheaded.
We refilled the little glass bowl, hit it with the sharp blue flame and sucked
in the cool, white smoke. Immediately, we felt something lurking on the edge
of our awareness, something a bit scary, a bit exhilarating. We packed another
bowl and lit it up and–

And like–that.
We were in another world. The room disappeared in waves of concentric circles,
like ripples in a pond. As we looked around, our bookshelf, couch, coffee table,
dog…all faded away as the waves pushed over and past them, sweeping them
out to an unseen sea.

While the
salvia trip was more intense than any acid or mushrooms we’ve ever eaten,
it only lasted a few minutes. The ripples slowe

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