Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sound Set 08 - Part 1

Hey there. Been a lack of updates lately, I was busy running around Minneapolis with Joey covering the Sound Set Festival for a few sites/magazines. I put together a short post for Frank 151, but there will definitely be more to come.

In the words of the bodega guy, "take it easy"

Monday, May 19, 2008

Cool Kids Interview - Was "Blue Magic" Inspired by Cool Kids?

Alright, so one QUITE hungover Thursday, I got to interview Mikey Rocks from Cool Kids for MetroPop Magazine (hence all the fashion questions). Mikey was extremely cool and we got a chance to talk about Zubaz, the art of collaboration, and how Jay-Z's "Blue Magic" sounds more than a little bit like a Cool Kids track. Then the tape ran out...

CR: First of all, do you ever get tired of being asked about your clothes?

MR: Umm yeah sometimes, it depends on what kind of questions...there’s really whack questions about clothes and then there's some good ones as well, but most of the time they're whack questions, so most of the time I don't like 'em.

CR: I understand, but as Cool Kids, you get tied to your fashion because you look pretty awesome, so it goes hand in hand.

MR: Yeah, I don't mind them, unless they're just terrible questions.

CR: What’s a terrible question you've gotten?

MR: Like, hey, uh, you guys like gold ropes and shell toes and uh, and old windbreakers, guys, where's your high top fades? Where’s your airbrushed shirts man?

CR: Jesus, there goes half my questions.

MR: Well, I'm glad I knocked 'em out.

CR: Ok, so I'm broke as hell and I wear horribly whack clothes, like, its disgusting. I don't have a lot of money, but what basic elements can I put into my style to look OK.

MR: Well, actually, all my clothes are relatively cheap. I get by with 2 dollar shirts and jeans that are maybe like, 30 bucks. The only thing that’s kind of expensive that I might wear is some shoes, and that’s cause I like a lot of Jordans and stuff, and those usually cost a good amount, Other than that, all my stuff is pretty cheap, you can just get like cheap shirts that look cool. You don’t gotta buy all kinds of high end Japanese jeans and all that crazy stuff because it really doesn't matter, nobody even notices anyway. Just buy cool stuff that’s cheap man. There’s lots of cool cheap stuff, actually, actually theres more cool cheap stuff than there is cool expensive stuff. Because a lot of expensive stuff is just like for like you know corporate club guys...all the guys that slick their hair back with a lot of mousse and like really wide flared boot cut jeans. The really expensive stuff is usually directed towards those type of dudes anyway, so, you don’t really want to wear that. A lot of the cheap stuff is cooler anyway – at thrift stores and gas stations, wherever you can find it.

CR: That’s good advice

MR: yeah

CR: So, when it comes to trends in fashion and music, trends are something we really can't avoid it sucks, but it happens. What trends do you want to see a little bit less of, and what would you like to see a little bit more of?

MR: A little bit less skulls and stuff. Skulls need to die. Skulls and crossbones definitely need to rest in peace, like they were already dead,

I would like to see a little bit more of white kids in Jordans. There's not enough white kids that wear Jordans. There's some, but there needs to be more.

CR: Alright, I’m buying a pair.

MR: More fitted hats too. More flat brims I should say yeah, more flat brimmed hats, for everybody. More flat brims for everybody.

CR: I was reading in one of your myspace blogs that you wanted to bring back the whole flannel shirt and workgloves situation that the DRS [Dirty Rotten Scoundrels] were rocking. You seem to be into bringing back or incorporating older elements into your style, is there anything else you'd like to bring back.

MR: I’m in the process right now of getting a lot of cool tank tops back into rotation. Tank tops, jerseys with no shirts on underneath them. Pretty much, the cool summer stuff. Cooler shorts too. Shorts need to get cooler.

CR: You're right, shorts don’t get enough love, at all.

MR: Naw, shorts don’t get enough love. Cooler shorts, like uh, you remember Zubaz shorts and stuff.

CR: Fuck yeah.

MR: Yeah yeah Zubaz shorts and the ones with all those crazy patterns and stuff....they kind of look like swimming trunks a little bit, but they're not swimming trunks....yeah...patterned shorts.

CR: My grandma used to make knockoff Zubaz called Scubas, and they were fucking terrible.

MR: Yeah, more scubas and more zubaz, yeah, definitely man. Just uh, cooler tanktops and cooler shorts need to get more love.

CR: As far as the music questions I was just listening to your track "Action Figures", that’s going to be on your new record.

MR: Yeah, yeah that will be on there.

CR: The subject matter is a little bit heavier, a little bit more mature. Is that kind of what you are going for with your new stuff?

MR: Yeah its kind of like uh, that’s just what I felt like expressing that day. All of our songs they just depend on what we feel like saying at the time we're recording them. I wrote a long verse about it basically. As far as new stuff that we're making. Its just, basically, everything will be better than what we've done already. We just try to constantly top what we've already done and just keep improving stuff , like, that’s our main goal. Our main goal is just to keep making everything better than the last song that we had, you know. Definitely jump stuff up with this new joint and have people be like, “aw man, this is killing all the old stuff”. If we could do that with every project we do, that will definitely lead us to classic status.

CR: I also wanted to ask you about that track that Jay Z came out with, blue magic? when I first heard it, I swear to god I thought it was a Cool Kids track.

MR: Man, a couple other people said that too man.

CR: Really? So I’m not alone.

MR: No, no man

CR: How do you feel about that?

MR: Hmm. I could see where that could come from. But, I doubt that, he probably didn't know who we were back then, so I cant say he took any influence or anything like that so, its gotta be just a coincidence.

CR: I was thinking about that, you were kind of coming up around that time, and you made a pretty decent mark in the scene, its weird how influence trickles around to people and I’m sure he caught some of the vapors off what you were doing.

MR: You think?

CR: I think man, I don't know, it seems too happy of a coincidence.

MR: I could see that because it like reeeeealy did sound like something we probably would have did. Even like down to the wordplay and the flow and stuff like that. But, I don't know I’m gonna guess it was just a coincidence.

CR: You're going to stay modest and go coincidence?

MR: Yeah, I’m gonna go coincidence cuz I’m a big fan of his, and definitely think he's one of the greatest ever. I’m going to just say coincidence.

CR: Alright, alright, I thought that was cool to hear that your kind of sound was in the mainstream or in the public eye on a big record like that. That was dope.

MR: Yeah that’s dope man, if it wasn't a coincidence I’m glad uh, that he was diggin' us.

Jay Z - Blue Magic

CR: Is there anybody like Jay or any classic artists that you guys would want to work with?

MR: Nas is like my favorite of all time. But I don’t know, I'd be scared to do a song with him cuz he's like. You know when you admire somebody so much, that you don’t know if you'd be able to like do the perfect song? You know I wouldn't want to like, tarnish that. So I'll probably never do a song with him. But I'd be like, too nervous, if I did, I'd be like man, “this the dude I’ve lived up to my whole life. I don't know if I'd be able to match up”, you know? So it’s one of those situations.

Other than that I’ve been saying in a couple interviews that I wanna do something with Cam’ron man, cuz like he gets a lot of flak sometimes from people, “nah man, he’s not good he sucks blah blah blah” but, I know deep inside he’s a monster man cuz you can hear it in his old stuff and even in a lot of his new stuff too like his wordplay his flow and like, his whole bounce about him is just super dope, and I just wanna bring the best out in him, in a song together, and see if that could work, but I doubt he'd do a song with somebody like me though. But, if he did though, it would be ridiculous.

CR: Like, that would make sense if you get him in your world, I think he'd really shine there because he's so creative.

MR: Right, right, and just kind of like, challenge him you know what I’m saying. When people are put in a situation where they are challenged that always brings out their best shit. So, just kind of put him on a really, really dope song and just kind of challenge him to just kill it? You know? I think that'd be good for him. But, he probably wouldn't do a song with a dude like me, but if he did though, it would definitely be ill.

CR: When you do work with people like that, is that kind of how you approach it?

MR: Yeah if we ever try to get into a collaboration with anybody our main goal is to not to do the song that you would expect them to do. You know not put ‘em on a song they would be really comfortable on and blah blah blah just try to put them on a song that you would like theoretically want to hear them on, I would want Jay Z on such and such beat, or rapping about such and such cuz I think he could kill it but he never does it. Like, put them in a situation like, where they're on a song that like, you would hear in a dream, like man, I heard Cam’ron on this one beat talking about this kind of stuff and he killed it, so just put ‘em on a song that you would like, want to hear them on, not the song that you would expect to hear them on.

That’s where a lot of people make mistakes at with collaborations, like, they'll take the hood rapper and put him on the hood beat, and put him on the hood song. Instead of taking the hood rapper, putting them on this like backpacker sample type joint and having him rap about some shit that he doesn't usually rap about but, you think he'd be able to do it. So that’s kind of like our aim with every collaboration that we would ever do.

CR: Yeah, it seems like a lot of artists get on auto pilot, and they just phone in verses and whatever.

MR: Right, right, right, they got like pre-written joints all ready done just like real generic songs already done and...[tape runs out]

Yup, I'm a genius with excessive foresight. Just as Mikey and I were waking up a little the tape ran out and I have no idea what was said after that. Journalistic integrity!

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Anyone who is in NYC this weekend, cancel your plans to go to Home Depot and GO TO KORRUPT. Put on by my girl Katie and her crew, and hosted by the oh-so-famous Jules of Bijules NYC, I guarantee a good time.


All the info you need is there. Go to that party, try not to say you know me you leg humpin' maniacs...

Holga Shots in Sunnyside

I'm not much of a photographer, but I can really understand what draws them...

I took a night a few weeks back, a clear night. I think it was Sunday. The week had piled its typical heap of stresses and ideas on top of me, and I reacted by grabbing my crappy tripod, and my crappy-on-purpose Holga (plastic hulk of a camera) and hit the streets of Queens.

There is some bliss in walking around, looking. You enter a mode where you look at everything, looking for the highest content of beauty possible in any subject. Its a cool mode to be in, to surrender most of your other senses to your sight, and to how what you see makes you feel.

It was a good time. Photogs, I feel for you guys. I get it now.

Here are some highlights from that trip, and a bonus one I took of my Dad at the lake.

Have a good day.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Someone give Mark Samuelson a medal

Another gem of a comic from our friend Mark. I guess you will have to click and zoom in to see it. or...just view it here.

Fiction - "Pete"

Wrote this fiction deal awhile ago...enjoy.


As I wandered back into the Hotel St. George, it was summer, and my mouth was still sticky from the wine tasting next door. Pete, Pete, possibly the greatest human that had ever lived was there, in the doorway, holding his cart, his beads around his neck.

He did look a bit like a homeless person, but he was not. He was so “not homeless” that it pissed me off when he was regarded as such. He was old, weathered, educated, alive. “Helooooo, Ryaaaaaan, how are you?, are you getting good maaarks in your school?”, he dragged every word out, each syllable passing through its own accent, French, Jamaican, English, erudite, academic, compelling. This man could read the phone book to me and I would sit, glassy eyed and cross legged in front of him until the birds stopped singing.

He said the most amazing things whenever we spoke. Things that I had wished I could write down and remember. I never had a pen, but his words found a way into me, forgotten until they would be released at the most perfect moment. The guy was liquid inspiration.

A hitman wandered by, mumbling to himself, dragging one foot, the other kicking up dry leaves on his way in to murder the guy who lives above me.

Pete thought I was a student. I never had the heart to tell him I had just graduated and moved here to start working. I told him I was doing well, and asked him how he was, taking great care to enunciate my words and hold my shoulders straight.

“Well you seeee, I’ve just come from the doctor, and my eyes, they have been fixed”, he dropped the word ‘fixed’ about three octaves, ten years of emphasis in one word. “My cataracts, seeee. This doctor has helped me. This street, I haven’t seen it in ten years, all of you look so much younger nowwwww, the trees, they are bloooooming, and I can see so much in the light.”

He smiled. He had the most fantastic smile. 12 minutes had passed since I came in. Pete hadn’t seen anything clearly in 10 years. Ten years and everything was milky to him, and today, he started seeing everything that we take for granted.

I suddenly hated everyone in my building. I hated them for being so caught up in their own minor dramas; getting their mail from the doorman, staying glued to the TV’s latest crisis, signing in their visiting boyfriends, getting stabbed in the neck, quibbling over details. Here we had something actually magical, and they all still treated him like he was a beggar.

I shook hands with Pete and wished him well. I’d see him again.

Night came and I was on the roof with a bottle of cheap wine. The city looked hazy from my perch in Brooklyn, the lights looked like everything I’d pictured from home. I still had the eyes of someone from David’s “Big Country”. I still saw it all as a teeming pile of smelly opportunity. I knew I could barge my way into that beast and write my name all over its insides.

I chose music for the moment, but who knows where I would end up. I wanted greatness, and my eyes were wide enough to look for it. For now though, I was sitting on top of the stairwell to the roof. I was sitting on the door-high cement structure called a “Steve”, as my friend Cliff and I had once named it in a fit of hallucinogenic giggles.

The Steve swayed a little as the door opened. Someone else was on the roof. I didn’t want company, so I crossed my digits, hoping that they didn’t climb up here too. This was my Steve, damnit. I looked over the edge and recognized him. It was the walk. He had a limp, an old injury that never healed right. I recognized him from the lobby earlier, I wonder if Pete saw him too.

He didn’t know I was there as he shuffled to the edge of the roof. He was facing the side of the building that looked over nothing really…no street, no other roof, just a small gap between the buildings that was full of junk and stagnant water. He threw something into the gap. It glinted in the spare light as it went down. He then pulled out a rag, wiped his hands, and threw the rag into the gap.

I was frozen and worried. I couldn’t move or he would see me, and something told me that I did not want this guy to see me. I looked up and there were so many planes in the sky, bringing people like me here to join the chase. Someone had their window open and I recognized the song…

“Up on cripple creek, she sent me….”

I looked back and he was vomiting. Retching and coughing and dumping so much dark fluid onto the ground, over the side. He held his head as he did it, as if he was trying to resist the force coming out of his mouth. Then he was screaming, making terrible pained noises through the liquid, through his teeth. He threw up for a long time, the noises got worse and worse until he stopped.

Now he was crying, holding his head, now he was punching himself in the head, teeth, eyes. Crying and screaming, he came apart right there in front of me. I’ve never seen a person betray their composure so completely, not when my father died, not when the bridge in my hometown collapsed and the wife of the man who was trapped, fused into his burning car, was caught on film. It was a destruction so complete that I knew this man would never be made whole again. He knew this, and instead of coming apart figuratively, he chose to physically dismantle himself.

I was horrified. I didn’t move for what seemed like hours. He eventually took himself up, wiped his mouth, barely removing the mess he had made of his face, and shuffled towards me. Towards the Steve, towards the door. I pulled back from the edge. I laid as flat as I could. I didn’t move.

The air stayed cool. The city shuddered. It was built on so much granite, and just to remind everyone of its charge, the granite shrugged, just as confused as everyone it was carrying. Support girders cracked, but not enough for anyone to notice yet. The veins running through the island spit their blood all over the streets. The streets spit blood back into the veins. Nowhere was a heart. Every liquid cranked into alcohol and grease, every molecule saw itself in a mirror and was scared.

A star came down, didn't crash, but came closer, just to make sure it was real. The divine left in disbelief, muttering nothing under its breath. Rock became soil, human became soil, soil became nothing but a novelty. Something for people to take pictures of and send home.

The wind blew and the air above me smelled sweet and human. It smelled like the inside of something. I felt dirt and gravel grinding beneath my shoulder, hurting, almost tickling. I turned my head and realized. I had fallen asleep. The wind blew a little more and it was another song I recognized...

"Doctor my eyes have seen the years..."

I was glad, and it was still night. I must have been out for an hour or so. The wine must have gotten me, oddly, but I was thankful for the bottle that was rolling around near my feet. What a terrible dream. The wind blew again, and there was that smell again, human, pungent, sickly and sweet. Again, and it wasn't sweet anymore, it smelled like bile and bad breath.

"YOU WERE DREAMING. TELL ME ABOUT YOUR DREAM", belched a huge, wet, ragged voice, just inches away from my face. Something dripped onto my nose.

It was him, fuck me, it was him. Adrenaline shot through me and my heart flipped and jumped up to meet my face. I ratcheted around and scooted on my butt as far away as I could. I hit the back ledge of the Steve hard, bruising my tailbone, almost falling off. There he was, just far enough up the ladder that he could see over the edge. I looked him dead in the face. His dead, mess covered face twisting, "well, what happened in your dream?", he choked and wiped bile and snot from his lips.

"I, I...."

"Ack. Eye?", he grinned as he pointed to his wide right eye. It was crisscrossed with thousands of burst blood vessels from all of his retching. He kept pointing though, until he was touching it. He touched his eye harder than anyone should touch their eye, pushing stomach acid and dead skin cells right up under his eyelid.

"I didn't see anything, I didn't see you."

"Neither did I" he said, staring. "Come with me you little shit."

He grabbed my leg and dragged me off the Steve, my head hitting the rail ladder on the way down, knocking me into a daze as I landed flat on my back on the roof. "Get up", he spat, as he hauled me to my feet. Into the stairwell.

He walked me down to the room right above mine, room 523.
He showed me the man he had murdered. He showed me where the blade went in, right underneath the Adam’s apple. He showed me where he extracted his pound of flesh. He showed me the money he received to murder him. It was a lot of money. He showed me the pictures of the man’s family and friends, now with no precedent or reason to be in the room. He showed me what his blood would look like when they found him.

He took me outside and walked me through the streets, he took me past happy restaurants and bars, full of happy people and friends. He smashed my face against their windows and made it clear that none of them could help me. He pulled me by my arm until my collarbone broke. He dragged me underground. He showed me where the rats lived. He showed me how to lie down with them and listen. He showed me how to wait there for him to come back. They crawled over me and left their waste in my mouth. Stopping in back alleys he made me watch as he used a broken beer bottle to remove living things beneath the skin of his arms, legs, hand, calves, eye. He vomited and spewed, he pulled chunks of his hair out and showed them to me.

He took me to the freeway and showed me what the car looked like after 52 bullets went through it, before the cops put their guns away, before the driver stopped twitching, before they called it in. He showed me my idols, rock stars, in the privacy of their lush homes as they beat their wives and snarled at their children. He showed me the foam under the pier, the foam in the mouth of an army of rabid dogs, neglected and staring me right in the eyes.

He showed me the girl I would fall in love with. He let me feel the love. She was so beautiful. He showed me everything as he murdered her right in front of me. He slowed down time so the loss crept through me molecule by molecule, so I could feel every millimeter of pain and sadness as the light left her eyes.

He never obscured anything. He wasn't capable of metaphor or any other mechanism. He wasn't capable of anything that wasn't literal. He laughed at me when I broke, when he laughed he lost teeth. When I cried he lost more teeth and they dropped all around me. He disintegrated and pulled himself apart. His clothes became only an idea as his bones showed, splintering when he needed to pick me up, to make me see whatever it was he had to show me.

He showed me a man. This man had a name sort of like mine, and a face that was another sort of like mine. He showed me how dark this man was, how consumed by his own greed and sapped of creativity. He was so sad as he wept into his last dose of some drug whose name he could not pronounce. As this man kicked his legs and foamed at the mouth he kicked up regret, only pieces of his own horrid history. Pictures of mistakes. Signed documents that proved his lies. One by one. This man was weeping and dying and he wouldn't let me look away. I felt his horrid fingers break against my chin, breathed his skin flaking off as he struggled to keep my head up and seeing.

I crouched and hoped for darkness, hoped for nothing. He was on my back screaming into my ear. All awful breath and dried out gums.

He showed me nothing. He told me everything. His hate came out of him in the most vile voice imaginable, each syllable more putrid and hateful than the one before it. His was the language of metal on metal, of bones breaking in echo chambers, of frequencies beyond hearing, wavelengths that made me deaf to everything except his voice.

He told me of civilizations devouring each other alive for no reason. He told me, in detail, about the deaths of everyone I had ever known. He told me every secret I have ever failed to keep. Called me every name anyone ever called me behind my back. He took all the pity and mercy I have ever given and turned it into a vicious rant, condemnation, spraying the opposite of love deep into my ear. His hate went deep and infected me. It turned my whole being as black and deep as the center of his eye.

"YOU WERE DREAMING. TELL ME ABOUT YOUR DREAM!", he screamed. I didn't think he could get louder, I prayed he wouldn't. But he did.

My eardrums buckled under the bulk of his words. There was a wind now. It howled out of him, screaming and ripping his now frail body into twisted jerky poses. His hands still held me, and as they broke and snapped they only got stronger. His grip grew tough, like a closing vice with no 'off' switch. There was no mercy in his grip. I felt my jaw collapse. My screams now mixed in with the roar around me. He vomited dust and bad ideas, his last two fingers crushing together until there were only teeth between them, then dust. I choked on my own teeth and swallowed my tongue just as his final finger broke.

He was unable to hold me anymore so he just lay on my back, his mouth still licking horribly at my ear, beating his handless bones against my ribs, cracking them, frustrating his scream to an even higher pitch. I beat my hands, started pounding them on whatever I could, screaming as the blackness screamed back, loud as a train falling down a set of stairs.

The more I pounded the more my hands hurt; I beat them until they were raw. I beat them on the ground until I could finally see them in the storm raging around me. I beat them one more time and....light....

My eyes started to clear a little in the sunlight. They felt dry, wasted. The light hurt. All around me the world was tearing itself apart. There was noise, sirens, and chaos. I could hear fire burning, smell smoke. People were screaming everywhere. The wind blew and I felt wet. My clothes were sticking to me. I was covered in blood and my mouth was full of something vile, something…substantial. The smell was awful.

What had I done? I took a step forward as the contents of my mouth fell out and slapped my chest and I almost slipped…the ground at my feet was slick with something…hands, teeth, hair, insides, all wiggling about. My eyes were so dry, I blinked, but they did not focus the dark figure in front of me. One step closer and I saw. It was Pete! I was so thankful, “Pete, what happened? What have I done?” I was so terrified, but I knew Pete could help me. As I tried to speak though…I couldn’t…nothing came out but a dry croak from the back of my throat. No words, no communication.

“Please help me, Please”, but he could not hear me. I only dragged my vocal chords into a horrible moan. This made me angry, and the hate He had spattered so carelessly all over my insides started to make itself known. “Destroy him. Negate him”, His words echoed from a dream that did not end. As the wind kissed the blood on my arms I saw Pete’s face, and he raised one arm.

“Help me”, I said one last time.

“I can seeeee you now, my friend”, he said.

A click, and the hammer came down….

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Cool Kids - MetroPop Feature

Here is the feature I wrote on Cool Kids for MetroPop. Newsstands. Now.

Cool Kids get asked about their clothes a lot...I mean, look at them. So I ask Mikey Rocks, one half of the group he shares with Rapper/Producer Chuck Inglish, if he ever gets sick of the fashion questions. “Yeah, actually, yeah…we do, we get some horrible, hey, uh, you guys like gold ropes and shell toes? And old windbreakers? Guys, where's your high top fades? Where's your airbrushed shirts man?”

Shit…there goes half my questions.

As I'm talking to Mikey over the phone I can hear his people spinning up the instrumentals for their 5+ shows at South By Southwest in Austin. One track stands out, “Black Mags”, a mini-anthem about the kind of wheels we all used to roll before we got cars. It sounds like if Pharrell, Sly, and Robbie all produced a grime track about sweet BMX bikes.

“Black Mags” was the first in a long line of tracks that built the Cool Kids and the wave of hype they cruise on every day, every minute - and you will not find it in any record store (whatever that is). The Cool Kids do not have a “record” “out”. They aren't doing the “pay what you like” or “pay if you like” model, they work the “lets make awesome tracks and leak them all over the internet to our friends for free” model.

Its worked so far. After a series of sold out shows all over the world, Mikey and Chuck are touring the States, using their free time to finish up their next record, an album without a release date, title, or even a format...and fans are already salivating.

“As far as new stuff that we're making...everything will be better than what we've done already. If we could do that with every project we do, that will definitely lead us to classic status.” Classic status should be guaranteed, I mean look at them.

Cool Kids' 'Bake Sale' EP is out on itunes May 20th

Cool Kids - Action Figures

Cool Kids - Oscar