Puttin' On The Ritz

More sophisticated by the second, etc.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Chuck Dukowski, etc.

Editor's Note: This was written under the influence of extreme exhaustion. Some minor changes have been made in terms of grammar and spelling (although perfection is far from guaranteed), but the general spirit and intention was left untouched. The opinions expressed here reflect those of the author and maybe a few of his friends or something like that. Actually, it doesn’t really matter and I didn't really edit it either.

I'm not sure what to believe anymore. This weekend was a tremendously long one, although I will admit I didn't spend any of in jail, unlike a few of our compatriots. Regardless, there are a few things we here at Puttin' On The Ritz have complete and utter faith in. We believe in having as much fun as possible. We fully believe that Jesus Christ may or may not have been our Lord and Savior, but to be honest we don't really think about it. We believe in throwing a bunch of shit on the wall and seeing what sticks. This weekend we threw a pretty good amount of shit on the wall, although it still remains to be seen what stuck.

August 27, 2004 -- Eat Records, Brooklyn
We thought we were going to play at like 9:30pm. We played a little before 11:00. Casey Block led us in with some sort of melodica solo, and then we started fucking around or whatever. We tried to turn in a low key set, what with whispering and quiet drums, but it is amazingly difficult for us to do that. It's weird to play shows at night sober somehow, it just doesn't feel the same. People seemed to like it, but it didn't feel like our best performance. There were maybe 10 people there (including us), but luckily for us the records store is a bit cramped so it didn't seem that empty. Not the best start for our tour, but I suppose it could have been worse. I might be forgetting something, but I'm a little hungover from the weekend so leave me alone.

August 27, 2004 -- Tommy's Tavern, Brooklyn
Kevin drank too much Wild Turkey 101 at Eat Records, so he was passing out by 12:30. We went on somewhere around 2. We got chastised for trying not to play last, but usurp a DJ set instead. All the employees and regulars at Tommy's love us, so playing there is always fun. Debbie brought her video camera, because she thinks her mother would really like us and she's a little too old to be hanging out at bars until all hours of the morning. She told me that after we're famous, she's going to use the video to prove that she knew us early on. I told her that no matter how popular our band is, we will always play at Tommy's Tavern. I think she might be more optimistic than us about the extent of our popular appeal. I suppose time will tell, but in the meantime I will not be holding my breath. We did play two encores, a new record.

August 28, 2004 -- Basement of 248 McKibbin Street 1J, Brooklyn
Again, we played last. We always have to play last. Shows always run late. We never get paid. Despite all these things, we had fun. Zeke was great, Fucking Lion was much younger than I expected, and I missed Fakers but I can't remember why. We went crazy and people were trying (rather poorly, I think) to heckle us. Yelling "Fuck You!" at a band isn't really as insulting or funny as people tend to think. Perhaps it would be better said that the people yelling such things find themselves much more amusing than they might actually be. But to be fair, I think I did ask for some sort of audience response, so it was all in good fun. It was quite hot in the basement and there were a bunch of other parties happening in a few of the neighboring lofts (it is sort of like a college dormitory there sometimes), so if you were there you got treated to a second set, just because we love you.

August 28, 2004 -- Garage of 248 McKibbin Street, Brooklyn
We took a snare and the music stand outside and went for it. The only difficult thing about playing unamplified is that it is not quite as easy to make clever asides, as they sort of have to be yelled and it's not quite as casual at I would like it to seem. Regardless, we got a bunch of people to come over and watch, and they all actually seemed to like it. I might need to get my jacket dry cleaned, as I've been rolling around on too many dirty floors, including the concrete one of this garage. The cops came shortly after our set and started cracking the whip on people drinking outside. Kevin was worried about getting arrested so we hurried his equipment into a car and got him out of there. I had to tell him three times that I wasn't going with him because my bicycle wouldn't fit in the car. When I finally got around to leaving the party, someone asked me if I was going to be allright getting home. I simply said "What difference does it make?" and rode off into the night.

August 29, 2004 -- Lyric Lounge, Brooklyn
Todd brought a bunch of vegan bbq goodies, which was nice. What wasn't so nice is that all the bands essentially played to each other. Luckily, we were all friends and whatnot, so we all actually watched each other and it ended up being fun. It was such a nice day outside, anyway. We played rather early, as Kevin had rehearsal at 6. We finished at 5:30, but Kevin didn't leave until 5:57 because he couldn't get enough vegan hot dogs. Kevin operates on his own schedule, I suppose. We were lucky to play with Zeke Healy, Benji Cossa, and Parenthetical Girls (who killed, by the way). Actually, everyone killed. I'm sorry you weren't there.

August 29,2004 -- The Tank, Manhattan
This was operating as some sort of post RNC protest party, or something like that anyway. Tianna was a little jumpy from having spent 30 hours in jail, which I suppose is understandable. We got Parenthetical Girls on the show as well, which was nice because their friends the Infernal Noise Brigade were playing as well (who were fucking great in a crazy, fucked up, marching band sort of way. It was intense, at least), unbeknownst to all of us. Somehow Tianna ended up sitting in with us again, which was a surprise to us all, somehow. Not an unpleasant one, of course. I think Kevin was using my shoe as a drum for a bit, he might have used my beer can as well. I was lying on Kevin's lap whilst he was playing the drums and I thought he kept playing my stomach (which hurt, by the way), but it turned out it was Tianna whacking me with her bow. Her pickup broke, which I gave her hell for because it seemed like the right thing to do. We're supposed to antagonize each other. I ended up talking a lot during this set, even more than usual. I think quite a bit of it may have been garbage, but I was so bold as to declare "Are we protesting yet? Have we started? If so, I have a list of grievances against Kevin Shea..."

There you have it. Our tour of New York City, six shows in approximately 48 hours. Fuck I'm tired. I feel like this band is starting to take over my life. I need at least three days to not even think about it, but I'm probably not going to get it. Alas. I will say that without telling you, we were holding a contest this weekend. The winner was the person who was at the most shows. Can you guess who that was? That's right, Zeke Healy! I mean, he was performing at several at them, but he actually watched three of our six sets, which he didn't have to do. For his generous contribution, he wins a free copy of all of our releases (whether he wants them or not) for life! He also gets an all expenses paid trip for two to a show of his choice! Well, what that really means is that we'll put him +1 on the list for any show he wants, but he has to make his own way there. Thank you, goodnight.

Erratum: People have been telling me that my comment about the overly aggressive girl at the Asterisk show was a bit cruel. I will admit that perhaps I exaggerated for effect, we here at Puttin' On The Ritz cannot be nice to everyone, all the time. We're cynics and bastards on occasion as well. Please take note, however, of what I actually said. I did not call her ugly. I did not say she was obese (which she wasn't). I said she was unattractive, with ridiculously thrown in because it seemed like a good idea at the time. I was not at all attracted to her at first, and then when she repeatedly tried to make out with me and got overly aggressive I became ridiculously not attracted to her. I think that's fair. People don't get better looking when they're making you feel uncomfortable. So I'm sorry if you were offended or think I'm a jerk, but that's what happened. I'm sure you all think my apology is heartfelt, and I'm sure now everyone is back to thinking I'm a nice guy. I'm not convinced that things work that way, and I'm sure this little erratum is having the opposite effect I intended. Oh well. What are intentions worth these days, anyway? What is my motivation? Where's lunch?

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Radio Free Tribeca, etc.

So last night I was sitting at work, getting ready to close up and go home. Kevin Shea telephones at 8:45pm to alert me that rather than rehearsing, we will be performing for Tianna Kennedy and her cohorts somewhere in Tribeca.

August 25, 2004 -- 40 Worth Street, Manhattan
I arrive to discover that while there will be all of several people in the room whilst we are playing, the reality is that we are playing the inaugural broadcast of the August Sound Coalition, who are streaming news about all the people trying to stick it to the man here in New York City whilst the Grand Old Party is in town. I know we're not all that politically motivated, but we do love to fuck shit up. Kevin turned up with the drum he used in the ocean; I turned up with a 40 and a 22. It was unfortunately the first informal Puttin' On The Ritz set, as neither of us had the opportunity to acquire suits or ties before the performance. Oh well, I suppose no one in radioland could see us anyway. I did my best to speak to all the listeners, despite that in all likelihood the only people listening were sitting in the room with us. We performed a new song, "Strangers In The Night", despite not really having practiced it. I think it went well, regardless. Tianna cut us off after five songs, but we decided we weren't done yet so we went into the other room and continued playing. The first song just for Tianna, but the second we actually stuck our heads out the window and played for the entire city. I was too busy making eyes at the skyscrapers to notice a few peoples' lights being turned on, most likely because I was screaming out the window with only a drum for accompaniment and they had previous to that been sleeping soundly. Alas. Tianna apologized for shutting us down, but then went on to say that they were planning to rebroadcast our performance when people were actually listening. Are we famous yet?

I have a call to arms for all you Puttin' On The Ritz fans out there. You see, my recollection of our performances is often a bit hazy due to the large amounts of alcohol I tend to consume at such events. Perhaps yours is a bit less hazy. If so (actually, it doesn't really matter one way or another, as long as you have at least a vague memory of the show), please feel free to post a comment about it, preferably under the entry that it pertains to. This is to further enhance the depth and sophistication of this blog, although I'm not actually sure how much being sophisticated is all that pertinent or even desired. Regardless, I hope to hear from you soon, you my dearest friends and acquaintances and perhaps even total strangers. Hugs and kisses, godspeed, whatever.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Psychotropic Explorations, etc.

Last night is a bit of a blur, but I'm going to do my best. Please bear with me, etc.

August 22, 2004 -- Asterisk, Brooklyn
If memory serves me, I had a ridiculous amount to drink. It would seem that Kevin did as well, although I doubt that he was doing absinthe shots. Alas. Kevin telephoned me at 11:30 (we were supposed to go on at 11:00) to inform me that I had neglected to call and give him directions. Thus, he arrived 45 minutes later already having hit the sauce a bit at his previous gig. We were supposed to play outside on the patio, but as we were setting up one of the residents notified us that it was a bad idea, at least as far as the dwelling was concerned. So we set up in the back room, where the DJs were trying to get people to dance and weird dudes were rapping poorly. When we were finally ready to play, some dude playing a sampler told us that he had just started his set and we would have to wait. We had no interest in waiting, we'd already waited long enough, thank you. Thus, we found ourselves playing in the hallway again. It was a little more successful this time, as there were less people walking around and unplugging the microphone. The one hitch was that someone had stolen all of my lyrics, but I surprised myself by knowing all the words to seven songs. I did demand that they be returned to me, or I would punch the perpetrator in the nuts or the tits, depending on the gender. It was very, very hot. Apparently people were a little nonplussed when they had to step over me rolling around on the ground to get to back room and/or outside. People kept handing me beer, I didn't even have to demand it as I am so prone to doing. It appeared to be a total success. Kevin and I even did a duet of sorts (although I can't really remember what song it was); that is to say that I was standing on top of my amp on top of a table and kept leaning down to and sticking the microphone in his face so he could scream some obscenity. Some ridiculously unattractive girl kept trying to make out with me, but I declined. Her response was to shove me around whilst we were playing and then grab my balls. She sure showed me. We got offered a show at some lame Manhattan club, but we accepted as it sounded like a good idea at the time and we might actually get paid for once. That is always the dream, isn't it?

We're trying to set up a tour of New York City this weekend. We only have one show confirmed, but we're going to try to play as many as humanly possible. We might even get arrested, god willing.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Puttin'-On-The-Ritz-Endorsed Standard

Where Or When

Lyrics by: Lorenz Hart. Music by: Richard Rodgers. From the Show: Babes In Arms (1937).

When you're awake, the things you think Come from the dream you dream. Thought has wings, and lots of things Are seldom what they seem. Sometimes you think you've lived before All that you live today. Things you do come back to you As though they knew the way -- Oh the tricks your mind can play.

It seems we stood and talked like this before. We looked at each other in the same way then. But I can’t remember where or when. The clothes you’re wearing are the clothes you wore. The smile you are smiling you were smiling then. But I can’t remember where or when. Some things that happen for the first time Seem to be happening again. And so it seems that we have met before, And laughed before, and loved before. But who knows where or when.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

If Wishes Were Horses, etc.

It’s that time again, kids. We’ve been busy, and we hope that you’ve been busying yourself with all sorts of good times as well. We will be performing again on August 22 at Asterisk, and August 28 somewhere in Williamsburg, although I cannot recall quite where or with whom.

August 13, 2004 -- Free 103.9, Brooklyn
We returned to the scene of the crime, so to speak. It seems like things have been cyclical for us as of late, our performance at 502 Warren Street went down literally in the same spot where the idea for this band was born. In any event, this show happened on a special day for me, as it was the 26th anniversary of my birth. I know, very exciting. You know how things go wrong just about every day of the year? And how, on your birthday, just for that one day, you want everything to go as planned, to exceed your wildest expectations? Well, that didn’t happen. Perhaps it was because it was Friday the thirteenth, it is unclear. The sound board blew out. Touring bands took their sweet time setting up. The cops showed up, and while they didn’t shut down the show, they did scare people off. Regardless, rather than going on around 12 or 12:30 (or whatever time we were supposed to play, but the show was supposed to be done by 1am sharp), we went on a little closer to 2am, a full two hours after my birthday had expired. Of course, most of my friends who had came to see us were long gone by that time, so instead of the 100 to 150 people who were there at some point, we played to approximately 20. These things happen, I suppose. I will admit to being put in a bit of a foul mood by all of this, however. It didn’t help that my father failed to telephone me, either. Cry me a river, I know. If you’re curious, Thirty Pack, Child Abuse, Nada Surf, and the Power-Ups all opened up for us. I wanted this show to be a bit different, a bit special, as it was my birthday and all. As a result, we recruited our good friend and confidant Tianna Kennedy to sit in with us on the cello. I figured a cello was the least intuitive instrument we could add to our little ragtag ensemble. It would have been anticlimactic, what with the show being a bit problematic, except we fucking ruled it. I subscribe to the Black Flag school of thought, that you play your fucking heart out no matter how many or how few people are there. We certainly did. I believe the music stand got thrown about more than a little (occasionally it was even thrown at me by one Tianna Kennedy, when she wasn’t busy bowing with it), but I think it actually lasted through the evening. There was much rolling around on the floor, screaming, and removing of shirts. It seemed like a good idea at the time, although I suppose I’ll have to let history be the judge. As it happened, the show was documented by Joly, who I’m sure will eventually put a clip on his website or something. So it would seem that you can be the judge as well, should you so desire. We played the longest set of our lives, although at this point I’m hard pressed to remember just what songs we played. I even threw one in that we hadn’t rehearsed with Tianna, just because I was drunk and it seemed like a good idea. I did drink a pint of bourbon and a few beers to boot, which was probably more than sufficient. So suffice it to say that despite our humble beginnings that night, we had maximum fun and everyone who stuck around did too. I suppose in the final analysis, if you weren’t there, you’re already regretting it. Don’t bother apologizing, as hard as we try we cannot turn back the clock. It’s futile to even try, I’ve found. There’s always next year.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Agnostic Prayers, etc.

Sometimes I wonder how us modern citizens, the godless masses, are supposed to atone for our sins. I have more than once found myself looking for salvation at the bottom of a bottle of bourbon, and I am sure that I am not alone in that. Somehow, it just never seems to be there, however much temporary comfort the soothing brown liquid might bring. Perhaps faith is the answer, perhaps the Christians have had it right all along. Just to believe in a better world is enough for it to exist; to believe is enough to save us all. Perhaps it is a mistake to confuse credulity with weakness, a mistake to confuse cynicism with strength. I suppose it all depends on what you have faith in, these days. There are many roads to heaven or salvation or enlightenment; Puttin' On The Ritz is but one of them. We are neither cynics nor saints, but we already died for your sins and we're still wondering who will absolve us of our own.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

On Humean Feeling

In an effort to understand society, I was just thinking about the thread of dominance in mysticism through the lens of Max Weber’s three basic legitimacy types of domination.

1) Traditional domination: belief in age-old rules/values; “eternal yesterday”; born into...habit to conform; patriarchialism[as a council of elders]/patrimonialism[as based on inheritance].

2) Charismatic domination: belief in an authority due to their charisma, devotion, and confidence -- a heroic leadership.

3) Legal/Rational domination: modern society is based upon impersonal methods as found in bureaucracy; people follow as it is assumed to be in the general interest of self/society.

Weber describes obedience to legitimacy types as based on our motivations of fear (fear of authoritative power) and hope (hope of good for oneself). This makes me think of Hume’s analysis of human feeling (why we believe in it in the first place) and Kant’s reaction to it -- how Kant reacted to Hume’s skeptical epistemological conclusion that there is no foundation for knowledge through induction, and therefore that there is no true knowledge. For Hume, one cannot experience the truth because there is no necessary relation between what is perceived and an actual thing out there a posteriori. But in the Critique…, Kant attacks Hume’s belief that observable reality is based on speculation by asserting that Hume’s method of reason confines itself to not knowing through empiricism (the world imposes upon us). Kant undermined Cartesianism and Hume’s belief that there is no proof to an objective, external world outside of our own mind and that therefore induction is irrational. For Hume, we can’t rely on existence because it is temporary and illusory. Kant revitalized science, and possibly mere pragmatism, but this brings up a whole new can of worms: to try and naturalize epistemology through neurobiology and psychology (Quine). This process of naturalization was begun by Marx in the 19th century and perpetuated the behaviorists and pragmatists such as John Dewey. Science might bring us back to Hume, in spirit anyway (direct synaptical correlations aren’t a necessary causality to venerated feeling).

In Puttin’ on the Ritz we are like you: our lust is to know/express final thoughts.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Everything (Including The Kitchen Sink), etc.

Guess what guys?

August 4, 2004 -- 502 Warren Street, Brooklyn
I love playing here. The two previous shows I played here rank among the best I've ever played. There was quite a crowd (although we lost a few before we went on), and it was quite nice outside. We were supposed to play in the kitchen but it was too hot and stuffy in there, so we opted to play in the backyard. Currituck County brought it, and it was nice to watch Zeke Healy play a Casiotone For The Painfully Alone song with Owen sitting right there. I of course was the one who requested it, but I like to watch people squirm. Owen was great, playing in Aron's bedroom. Our set went quite nicely, thank you very much. People sat and watched us, and seemed to enjoy it, at least. There was some moderate clapping. Kevin's cymbal kept falling over and he kept doing weird things with the snare. When he would go off on one of his avant tangents, I would sit in a chair next to him and examine my wrist (where my watch would be, were I to wear a watch). I kept announcing that we weren't doing comedy and Kevin kept giving me rimshots. I kind of prefer the stripped down set sometimes, just a snare, maybe a cymbal, and me projecting to the best of my ability. I feel like it keeps us honest, somehow. I guess we did allright, we got offered three shows immediately following our performance. And I was worried that we didn't have any more booked.

Furthermore, I feel like we need to just keep playing and playing and playing every night, every fucking second. Like people are going to forget about us if we go a week without playing or something. I guess I'm just really neurotic. You would be too if you were me, etc.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Queries, Answers, Pleas, etc.

Hello again. It would appear that we played another show, although it's taken me a few days to get around to commenting on it. I apologize for my tardiness.

July 31, 2004 -- Rooftop of 338 Berry Street, Brooklyn
Alice went through quite a bit of trouble to set this show up, but it was definitely worth it. Linda Haygood opened up, but I had to work so I missed it. In fact, I got several hours of sleep and then was quite dismayed with my alarm went off at 8:00am. Immediately after working I met up with Todd Patrick who gave me a ride to pick up tuxedos and top hats from David Ahuja, who was nice enough to show up later and film up whilst performing. We booked over to the show, just in time to see the beginning of Hot Nilla and Liquid Stars' set. They were fantastic. I was quite amazed when I got to the roof, although it was a six or seven or some amount of floor climb. Trees, rosebushes, a coy pond, a view of Manhattan, etc. Brilliant. Kevin was reputedly incummunicado in New Jersey, although he did manage to turn up in time for our set. This Invitation proved a tough act to follow, despite our top hats. We soldiered on. The wind was blowing the words around so as to make them unreadable (it eventually blew the music stand over completely); Lita was nice enough to sit and hold them for me. All I really needed was to read to Portuguese from The Girl From Ipanema, the rest of the set she sat there whilst I ignored the lyric sheets. It was a nice touch, I though. Immediately upon starting I got so many rocks in my shoes that I was forced to remove them. I'm not sure if that was a nice touch or not, wearing tails and wandered around in just my socks. People were a little less positive than I thought they'd be, as this was a fun, laid back, free rooftop party. I suppose I have to remember that just because people aren't watching you intently doesn't mean they aren't enjoying it. Lynn, who resides in the building, asked us to come back and play some art shows she's planning on having up there. We eagerly accepted. I managed to drink 62 ounces of beer in the two or so hours I was there, which while not all that prodigious, managed to get me quite drunk and then quite sleepy. Kevin was sober, having just come from hanging out with his young niece.

We're playing again tonight as well, at 502 Warren Street with a bunch of our friends. We try to mix it up, playing in front of hostile crowds as well as friendly ones. You can't do too much of either, it gets demoralizing playing in front of people who don't like you and you get soft playing in front of just your friends all the time. We haven't mixed our recording yet, I've barely even listened to it. I think I want to make videos for every song and add all our live footage and release a digital video disc rather than a mere compact disc. More expensive, but probably more fun too. We might need financial backing sometime soon, neither of us have any money to speak of. Do you?