A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of hosting one of the Across the Narrows shows, a two-day musical festival held simultaneously in two stadiums (Staten Island and Coney Island). I emceed the Staten Island show (and my friend Demetri Martin emceed the Coney Island one), headlined by the Killers (they revived new wave two days before the Bravery, sorry Bravery, you’re just following) and Oasis. Also, Jet (the foreign Strokes, as I almost introduced them), the Lemonheads, Interpol, Tegan and Sarah, and a bunch of other bands played.
I didn’t know much about the Killers (other than they have two catchy songs, though previously I thought it was one, until they played it twice at different times and they sounded different.) I thought the lead singer’s name was Brendan Handsome, but it’s actually Brandon Flowers (I was essentially right.) Still, he said something I thought was very funny (but not on purpose! Snap!) Intro-ing a song, Brendan (I can’t believe I spelled his name wrong, I could’ve fixed it) said, “A lot of people ask me if my songs are fact or fiction. And I’d have to say it’s 50/50.” Right here would be a great place to put a joke about better questions you could ask Brandon (Have you ever had sex with a fireman? Did you know that the History Channel has a series called Wild West Tech? Is Hotel California about the infighting of the architecture community?) But instead, people are constantly like, “Bran (can I call you Bran?), did somebody really tell you some girl had a boyfriend who looks like a girlfriend that you had in February of last year?” And Bran has to be like, “Yes. That actually is from my life.”
Because the event was sponsored by Playstation, Demetri (the host of the Coney Island half) and I had to interview bands about the new, super thin PS2 and JakX, an all-terrain racing/shooting game, that takes place in an Elvin world (shattering my stereotype that elves just sing and float—that’s right, people are so petty we have stereotypes for made-up races.) Neither Demetri nor I knew anything about the game (Demetri hates video games, and I like playing, but not promoting them) but we were given some facts (the new PS2 is about the size of a small book! Holy shit, yes! JakX has 24 maps and 20 different cars, which totally blew my mind.) They wanted us to talk about it excitedly, which we failed at.
When I was told the day before I’d have to do this, all I could think about was the awkward time I’d have asking Oasis to describe JakX and them saying, “Fuck off!” in a fake German accent (They are so hot-tempered that even in made-up scenarios they are unpredictable.) Instead, I interviewed the lead singer of British Sea Power, who did a good job enjoying the game, though we were probably not the best choices for promoting something geared at 14 year olds. Example—Me: “This is better than reading.” Him: “No, it’s not.” I kept repeating how thin it was and saying, “It’s so small. It’s the size of a really thick magnet.”
The next day they didn’t have us do the Playstation thing. They thankfully swapped us out. But to not hurt my feelings, the guy directing the promos said, “The video editor yesterday thought you were really funny. He liked you more than the other guy.” He of course didn’t know I was friends with Demetri, or who either of us were, but I’m glad he erred on the side of pettiness.
Overall, it was funny seeing all the bands in their different stages of Rock and Roll. Some bands were sleepy, and some were like, “I look forward to being on the radio.” And other bands were like, “I’m going to sign to a major label, and then my album will be shelved for no reason, and I will become a dentist.” Still, Rock and Roll can be crazy. In fact, there is one genre of Rock and Roll that can be particularly crazy—Punk Rock. It’s got no rules—no boundaries (except for what defines something as punk, of course, but that boundary is a necessity of language.)
Here is a video in which I am Punk. On a side note, the intro music for this video is by a band called Les Adolphes. They are a Belgian band that took the words from a parody art video I made, and turned it into a song called “I Am Eugene Mirman.” Here is the song as well.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 21, 2005