You know, sometimes I don’t understand the white children. I really don’t.
I go to Spa Wednesday night to see Dead Combo, a band that plays what the press release describes as “very cool electro type music.” What I got was some horrid white girl MC in latex jeans (with a tag totally sticking out of her ass) screeching out-of-tone song notes and stilted rap lyrics. “Let’s kick it! Fo’ real though,” she commanded as her partner in a chapeau started pounding out pain-inducing guitar-esque sounds on this rinky-dink synthesizer.
“This is horrible, yo!” I told photographer Ryan McGinley as some rankled thuds drummed into my ear and the bitch was tepidly chanting, “Fast cars! Fast women!”
“Even bad art is good art,” suggested McGinley before trying to retract the statement. “She’s a friend!” Too late! I stood back to imagine the possible professions the poor girl could pursue should she actually quit her day job.
Sitting next to him swigging a beer was Imitation of Christ muse-—creative director Chloë Sevigny, who wasn’t trying to give a statement. “I got in a lot of trouble talking to the press the other night,” she said before shrinking into her bottle. Fair enough. (If you must fawn over the becurled one, you can read all about her in Romano’s column next door.)
But returning to my earlier tirade, is this what culture in this city has been reduced to? How many more bad electro bands and fake happenings must be endured before something of worth is unearthed?
Hey, don’t get me wrong. Electro can be fun. Sometimes I go to Luxx and have an excellent time, although the music is kind of derivative—but whatever—it’s all very cute, very current and edgy, you know, very that. But deliberately horrid music is something I have little tolerance for. I found myself scrambling to the White Room (ironically, the only room at Spa where any black folks were to be found) to refresh myself with the funk and ’70s jams that the B-boys were popping and locking to.
“It’s the thing to do,” said Phiiliip (spelled with four I’s just to be extra annoying?) of this latest trend of half-assed synth-pop impresarios. “But everybody just copies each other now.” His own band, also called Phiiliip, is performing Monday at some club. After I told him what I thought of his friend the shrieker, I handed him my business card. Wrong fucking move. Phiiliip riipped my shiit up.
I know that these clumsy stabs at coming up with something original in this town harken back to a reminiscing of the ’80s (or what I’ve read about the ’80s) and punk/hip-hoppified New York, when young creative minds supposedly slummed together with open arms, and musicians and socialites and graf artists shot heroin together and forged new worlds of creativity. I know it’s about looking at New Romantic London or Madrid during La Movida and the whole concept of scenes built on people’s ability to create looks. But dude, I am fucking sorry! Scorching bad guitar riffs from a $20 drum machine is not exciting. I was but a babe in the days of the fabled Mudd Club, but I know the shit wasn’t like this.
Spotted on the way to that atrocious Spa show was actor Liev Schreiber walking his cute-as-buttons Jack Russell on the Bowery. “Your dog is cute, Liev!” someone on the street called out. “Thanks,” he called back. It was a tender moment.
Divas come in all sizes and shapes, don’t they? Haughty, pretentious, and kind of a mediocre remnant of the supermodel era, Veronica Webb is actually more notorious for her short stint in journalism five years ago, when she used an Interview magazine piece to carve Mary J. Blige out as a raving bitch. It was interesting to see Ms. Veronica continuing her modeling career, with the occasional spread in the very cutting-edge O, the Oprah Magazine, and coveted contracts with such fine liquor products as, um, Alizé.
“You know, if they have a check and a dress, I’ll show up,” she casually explained as she was leaving RED, a huge party that retail behemoth Target sponsored for LIFEbeat—the Music Industry Fights AIDS. Webb’s been a longtime speaker for LIFEbeat and is engaged and ready to continue the domestic life and raise a family. “I’m ready to be a Martha,” she sighed as a LIFEbeat official waved down a limo, and she clicked away on her mini-heels.
Target is making moves to get a piece of the urban pie, hiring urban marketing firm Persaud Brothers to pack the place with every black face they could find, notable or otherwise. The random assortment included N’Dea Davenport, male model Tyson Beckford, rapper Guru, comedian John Witherspoon, actress Kim Fields, interior designer Todd Oldham, plus-size model Angellika, actor Leon, model Amy Wesson, and BET’s 106th & Park host A.J. Inside, “eclectic r&b” chanteuse Amel Larrieux was finishing up a performance. She exuberantly talked about her life changes, a new album, and some song she based on model Waris Dirie‘s tale of female mutilation. Come again? “It’s not that deep though,” she reassured me.
She’s preparing a new album after dealing with drama from her label, Epic. “They’ve done some interesting things in the past, like putting out remixes without telling me.” It’s all been straightened out somehow, due to the heavy hand of her manager-husband, Laru Larrieux. “They’re into commercializing artists. That’s fine. I wanna be myself,” she said.
106th & Park host A.J. told me he’s opening a new store called 480 on West Broadway that will stock urban gear, Hugo Boss suits, and customized jewelry. It sounded mildly interesting, but I was more intrigued by a potential crossover episode of 106th & Park, where he and Free host the show with computer-generated hootchie VJ Ceta (by the way, can somebody tell me why the darkest sister on the network isn’t even a real person?). Or more pressing, now that BET is moving its studios off 106th and Park and into Viacom’s newly acquired CBS Studios on 57th, would the countdown show be called Close to Dave? He just kept supplying the corporate answers, though.
New York needs another pretentious style magazine like one needs a pimple on one’s ass, nevertheless, Cut, a new photo title, has just been heaped upon the masses. The first issue is devoted to Vivienne Westwood, for whom I dutifully skip a month’s rent every spring to buy clothes from. While fashion magazines mark off pages of space to do tired tributes to the “innovations” of YSL, many trends that Vivienne introduced show up all over the place with nary a wink to the woman (peep this season’s fascination with boxing accessories, something she introduced three seasons ago). I expected to pay homage to Westwood in person but she was nowhere to be found. In her stead were hoards of pointy-toed fashionistas boozing it up on the free Absolut.
I caught Gabi of As Four chomping on a cigarette. Was Westwood a big influence on the quadruplet designers? “Not on us,” Gabi blithely offered. “But she’s somebody we like. Everybody’s an influence on us.” What are you doing lately? “We’re doing ourselves.” He offered me a cigarette to smoke before—ouch, fucker!—swatting me in the face with his shawl!
Spotted on the scene was DJ Spencer Sweeney, in a Paradise Garage tee he hand-silkscreened. He’s starting a new party at the Hole, as yet unnamed. Newly commissioned Target product designer Stephen Sprouse looked nonplussed. “This is a nice loft,” he scowled with a deadpan stare. Stephen, as you may know, made marked-up Louis Vuitton bags last year’s must-have accessory, but is apparently finishing up his corporate obligations. “I’m painting,” he huffed with another grumpy gust. That was my cue, and off I dipped into the smoky air to find a friend. Work—dirty deed that it is for me these days—is work, and this night’s shift was over.
“Fly Life” by Tricia Romano