Dirty Blonde: Subway Calamity, and the Return of the ’90s


The week before last, I tried to get to the Museum of Modern Art for an experimental-film screening offered in conjunction with the current gallery exhibition, “Looking at Music.” The program, “Art and Music in Popular Culture,” spans 25 years of avant-garde music videos and film shorts, including Andy Warhol’s 1984 video for the Cars’ “Hello Again”; Sonic Youth’s ode to Karen Carpenter, “Tunic,” shot by Tony Oursler in 1990; and a 2007 Apple GarageBand demonstration directed by Cory Arcangel, which pitch-corrects Jimi Hendrix’s performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” (MOMA’s press release refers to him as “Jimmy Hendrix.” Ha.) I was actually running early (for once), and the next stop was mine. But the V train came to a normal pause, started moving again, and then came to a less-normal pause following an enormous sputtering of air and movement that nearly rocked one of my car’s less-balanced inhabitants to the ground. The train’s chi had been sucked out.

And yet no one freaked out. No one. Twenty minutes passed, then 30, then 40. I searched the faces of the other riders for signs of anger, panic, exasperation—anything that echoed my own thoughts—and they just sat there, happy as clams. Getting stuck on a train is funny, because if you have a seat and a book and an iPod, it’s kind of fun: You have an excuse for not being at work, not making it on time for some insufferable party, not meeting that guy for drinks whose face you can’t remember. But when you actually want to be somewhere, and need to be there on time, and you’re two goddamned blocks from your destination, it’s infuriating.

When I eventually popped out on 53rd Street, the show was more than half over. So I took a cab to the Rusty Knot and drank Mai Tais for a few hours. And as it turns out, MOMA is screening the videos again Saturday, September 6, at 2 p.m. So all’s well that ends well.

A few hours after that, I finally made it to Bowery Electric for “Loser,” the ’90s night hosted every Thursday since mid-July by Greg K (one-third of the MisShapes) and Lesley Arfin (Vice‘s “Dear Diary” columnist and the newly appointed editor-in-chief of Missbehave; congrats to her!). As we all know, the ’90s are back before you ever had a chance to miss ’em (thanks, Mary-Kate!), and I’ll be taking full advantage of a high-school redo: same flannel and same two-handle-and-a-long-strap colored bag, but with better hair. I want those horrible, all-consuming crushes like I had when I was 14, where if I don’t see him one time all day, I might actually die. Wasn’t that fun? Just kidding—it was awful.

The party was cool: not too packed, very low-key, mostly made up of clusters of friends clutching their chests and squealing at the first strains of Björk’s “It’s Oh So Quiet” (and alternately rolling their eyes at selections from Joan Osborne, Sixpence None the Richer, and Counting Crows). I saw a couple of girls bopping around, but that was about the extent of the dancing (fine with me); one was wearing debatable jeans and a high pony, but I don’t think she was intentionally channeling the decade in question. Check it out this week—it happens just two days after the premiere of the new Beverly Hills, 90210, which I think is about as likely to resemble the original as I am to wear cargo pants again. But don’t show up before midnight.