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Jan 29, 07 02:22 PM

Oh 90s.

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A video by Whooliganz that I found. Amazing psychedelic early 90s beat. Their obscurity is probably due to the fact that America did not need to hear what Kriss Kross would sound like if mated with Cypress Hill. Which is a shame. The curly-headed kid grew up to be the Alchemist.

I had this track on cassingle. I had a big collection of cassingles, bought by the armload in the basement of Tower--99 cents a pop.

Posted by Mike at 2:22 PM

Jan 24, 07 11:49 AM

Celebrity Artifacts.

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Probably few of you guys recognize the name on the CD. The 45 King is an eminent hip-hop producer; the guy who did the classic "900 Number" beat, aka the Ed Lover Dance.

My fine fine drummer Pete McNeal did a gig backing Redman at the Canal Room last night. Scrap and I went. Fantastic gig. Redman's presence is HUGE onstage; Soul Coughing toured with him, and when he would come out for a tune I would feel suddenly dwarfed. The guy just radiates.

He's also a very sweet man, and still completely flabbergasts me by calling me N___a.

Anyway. The 45 King is standing next to Scrap and I, waiting for an audience. As he's walking away, Pete says, "You know who that is? The 45 King."

WHAT?! I say. You want to meet him? says Pete. He calls out to him, I shake his hand. The 45 King reaches into his jacket and produces CDs for Scrap and I. Apparently he just rolls around with CDs of his new beats.

That's the 45 King's phone number on there! What am I gonna do? "Hello, 45 King? It's Mike. Have you been eating your greens?"

Posted by Mike at 11:49 AM

Jan 20, 07 07:37 PM

Lola Montez and the King of Bavaria.

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I first encountered Lola Montez, "the Spanish Dancer," at a show of 19th century daguerreotypes (early photos) at the I.C.P. two years ago. There were dozens of pictures of her. I Googled her the next day; she was an Irish girl, reared in colonial India, who ran away to Paris, reinvented herself as the exotic Lola, and became the toast of Europe for her trademark "Tarantula Dance."

I ran into Lola Montez unexpectedly when I was in Germany. It turns out that she was the mistress of Ludwig I, the "Mad King" of Bavaria. Ludwig built the fabulous Glyptothek and Pinakothek museums in Munich, and some amazing castles in the Bavarian mountains. The most famous is Neuschwanstein, on which Walt Disney modeled Cinderella's castle.

After an affair with the composer Franz Liszt ended violently (she shot a pistol at him; he left her by locking her in their hotel room and leaving money with the front desk for the furniture he was sure she'd destroy), she ended up at a party at the King's palace in Munich. The King asked her if her body was a work of nature or of art. She ripped open her dress to show him.

The madness he was accused of came not only from his obsession with Lola (he made her a countess), but from his castle-building and the money he lavished on opera productions. He stepped down, under pressure, in 1848; Lola fled to America, where she found grand success lecturing on tragic literary heroines for gold miners.

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Posted by Mike at 7:37 PM

Jan 12, 07 10:37 AM

Berlin: Last Glance.

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Vienna was gorgeous, but Berlin's the place. I'll be going back.

And after this post, I will stop torturing you with European cities.

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Posted by Mike at 10:37 AM

Berlin: Konnopke's Imbiß.

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Currywurst: pork sausage smothered in catsup and curry powder. Life-changing. Trust me.

Konnopke's Imbiß, finest Currywurst in Berlin, open under the train in Prenzlauer Berg since 1930. Survived Communism with its weirdly half-exotic speciality intact.

And that's mayonnaise on the fries, Euro-style.

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Posted by Mike at 10:20 AM

Görlitzer Bahnhof, Kreuzberg, Berlin.

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Posted by Mike at 9:43 AM

Jan 7, 07 10:50 PM

Seat 11K.

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Scrap just dropped me off at home!

Posted by Mike at 10:50 PM

Jan 4, 07 05:21 PM

Wien (Vienna): Meet My New Girlfriend.

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She's so bewitching. Yeah, Vienna and I are totally going steady.

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Posted by Mike at 5:21 PM

Wien (Vienna): Meet My Käsekrainer.

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It's a Wurst with cheese in it. Fucking excellent. A Viennese specialty. This one's from the legendary Deninger on Hoher Markt, but to be honest the ones I had at other stands throughout Wien were just as good.

Posted by Mike at 5:19 PM

Wien (Vienna): Meet Aïda.

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Aïda is a Vienna coffee-and-cake chain. I spent a few hours wandering around the city tonight photographing every Aïda I could find.

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Posted by Mike at 4:50 PM

Wien (Vienna): By Night.

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Posted by Mike at 4:49 PM

Jan 3, 07 04:04 PM

Wien (Vienna): Dig My Schnitzel.

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When in Wien, you get the Wiener schnitzel. I went to one of the legendary places, Zu den zwei Lieserln. This schnitzel killed me softly with its song.

Sadly, I'm skinnier today than I've been in two months. That's not sad in itself, what's sad is that when I get home, and I'm not walking five or ten miles a day around European cities, I will not be able to eat like this and stay that way.

Posted by Mike at 4:04 PM

Wien (Vienna): Mariahilferstraße.

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Mariahilferstraße is a main shopping drag. Man, this city is entrancing. Home of Egon Schiele, Freud, and Falco.

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Posted by Mike at 1:04 PM

Jan 1, 07 06:02 PM

München (Munich): Silvester (New Year's Eve).

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The wildest New Year's I have ever been witness to.

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Munich was a letdown for me. Berlin amazed me; I've been emailing my friends telling them that the bohemian neighborhoods there look like they got hit by an art bomb. A great energy, and I can't wait to go back. Munich, on the other hand, is a moneyed, comfortable town, quite awesome in its own right, but certainly not with Berlin's excitement.

What it does have is Old Stuff. Observe:

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Tremendous, right? I loved seeing it. Not the best for me, though, because I don't really photograph that kind of thing particularly well; one would do better to buy a coffeetable book. I'm more attuned to this:

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But it was fun walking around the Altstadt, where all the churches were, and the Marienplatz, and the Frauenplatz, and all the fantastic edifices. It was, of course, lousy with other tourists. Strangely, they were 90% Italian. I mean, the streets were packed with beerdrinking Italians. The beer, of course, is the other thing Bavaria is famous for. It seemed that all of Northern Italy took the train up to drink some.

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I shocked the hell out of myself by constantly getting annoyed at the Italians for speaking English. Like, how dare this boorish Italian guy assume the guy selling him his wurst speaks English! Why can't these people learn a few German words, just to be polite?

(My own German, PS, is coming along, although I wish my vocabulary was bigger. But most of my conversations over here have been entirely auf Deutsch! Whenever I depart from one, I feel a tingly feeling, almost like I'm getting slightly teary. Seriously. I am way into this German speaking thing.)

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I wasn't doing the beer, myself, but was eating the bejesus out of everything I could get my hands on. The Bavarians know something about meat. There's an area near the Marienplatz called the Viktualienmarkt, little stands, each with a specialty, and I had one of everything.

What was it all made of? Don't know. Don't want to know. Clearly parts of pigs and cows. It was all delicious.

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Silvester--that's what the Germans call New Year's Eve--arrives. I'm wandering around the Altstadt, and I happen upon the Hofbrauhaus. The Hofbrauhaus, is like, you know, the Germany you've seen in movies: Oktoberfest, huge beer steins, people in lederhosen and waitresses in dirndls bearing eight beer steins at once, oompah brass bands. I decide to go in and maybe grab a prezel.

You've seen The Sound of Music. Lederhosen, those kind of hats and coats and dresses and stuff? That's called Tracht. It's Bavarian traditional clothing. They are still rocking that shit. In fact, one can go and buy superexpensive designer versions of it, like I saw in this store window:

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It's about 7 pm. I wander in (despite the 18th century style of the place, there are Tracht wearing bouncers out front, with earpieces, worthy of some faceless L.A. club). There are long wooden tables filled with Germans kitted out for Silvester in their Tracht. But not so many of them. Mostly, it's Italians. It's kind of scary. One table starts singing an Italian song, it's an anthem of some sort, a soccer song maybe? The whole joint erupts into a roaring singalong.

I grab a Käsebrez'n and hotfoot it out of there.

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It occurs to me that maybe I should chillax at the hotel for a few hours, then go out to the Marienplatz, where there's likely to be a bunch of people, catch the switchover to 2007, then go to sleep and wake up and wander the streets until I catch the old Zug to Vienna.

I emerge at 10:30 and find that they're setting off fireworks in the Marienplatz, right in front of the beautiful old town hall. Just a bunch of kids, setting them off, pell mell. Everybody else in the square is giving them a wide berth, they have this huge circle in which they're just creating fiery chaos. So close to the beautiful old building, I figure, the cops must show up soon.

I get out of there and wander around some more. I find more of the same, in smaller doses. People are setting off fireworks--like, real fireworks, not wimpy ones, right between the old buildings of the Altstadt. Just regular half-drunk folks.

I walk up towards Schwabing, the neighborhood where the university is--the old hippie neighborhood (sadly it isn't anymore). I notice that I am moving against a tide of people, many of whom have backpacks spilling over with fireworks.

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Oh my God. What's this gonna look like at midnight?

I come back from Schwabing and it's sheer mayhem. Every little square is full of people getting drunk and exploding things. There'd be a big circle around people blowing stuff up, and then suddenly I'd realize that people are also blowing stuff up behind me. Oh great. I'd go looking for another square. Dodging fireworks overhead the whole time.

I'm getting a little uneasy. What a square, you are, Mike! I think.

It gets crazier and crazier. I get back to Marienplatz and it's just astonishing how many fireworks are going off. It's close to midnight. The crowd is mixed--lots of Italians of course, who are so into this it's unnerving--but lots of older, well dressed folk--expensive Tracht--young couples with kids--younger people. Everybody. And we're all dodging fireworks. Walking along, suddenly sparks fly overhead, a roman candle shoots comets a yard from your foot, you're showered in ash.

There was this one particular firework which I thought was very beautiful and clever, a green screaming whirligig. I came to fear it. I saw it go twirling up in the sky, then nosedive and smack into a guy's head. Nothing happened, but the guy was pretty worried about his hair.

And what of the buildings? These old, amazing churches? The faces of the saints, are they going to have gunpowder marks in the morning? I keep seeing missiles shoot over the roofs. Who knows where they're landing?

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I realize that I'm not the only one who's freaked out. Everybody is freaked out, or drunk. Initially all the females present are trying to present this vibe of Ha-ha, look at me being scared like a girl. Then every woman and girl looks completely terrified, and half the men look like they're trying to hold it together.

It's midnight. The thing I wanted most was to hear all the church bells--they've been going off at various points during the day, just beautiful. I figure midnight would be bananas. So, yeah, the church bells are all clearly ringing, but I can barely hear them above the fireworks.

I'm trying to find a way back to my hotel that does not involve walking a gauntlet of fire. Things are getting worse and worse. By the Frauenkirche, some dudes are lighting bottle rockets in their hands and shooting them at each other. This is pretty much the moment that I realize that this is fucking scary.

By the time I make it to the Tal, near my hotel, it's a mixture of insane mobs blowing stuff up, and fleeing mobs. I have never seen people more desperate to find cabs.

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This morning I got up and the guy at the desk cheerfully acknowledged that it's like that every year. The tradition of fireworks comes from a pagan ritual to scare away the evil spirits for the coming year, right? IT WORKED.

I went back to the Hofbrauhaus. I shared one of those long wooden tables with a family of really nice Spanish tourists (they asked me to translate some menu items into English, which, again, very strange).

There were some old Bavarian dudes in Tracht. They probably did the traditional local thing, and kept their HUGE steins locked up in the back (you can see the racks of lockers near the bar, with a sink to wash them in before you put them back). One of them was this very sad, old drunk guy with whom I kept making jokes that I could half-understand about his friend's dog, an elderly beagle that never took his eyes off my sausages.

Goodnight, and frohe neues Jahr, to all, from your friend Mikey, in Vienna.

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Posted by Mike at 6:02 PM

München: the Blues King of Marienplatz.

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Posted by Mike at 6:00 PM

München: Crests.

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Let's talk about crests. Bavarians dig crests. They dig the Bavarian crest, with the blue and white diamonds, and they sometimes have their own crests. Families, businesses, organizations--it's like, they go, "You know, our thing is getting kind of happening here. Maybe we should think about getting us a crest."

Below, you see an example of a big crest surrounded by smaller crests. You see this a lot. It's a way of saying: these are people whom I am down with. Check out their crests.

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Posted by Mike at 6:00 PM

München: the Hacky Sack King of Marienplatz.

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Posted by Mike at 5:59 PM
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