sidewalk musicians

Sidewalk musicians on Bedford Avenue @ N 7th July 2nd 2009

By the end of June people who can afford it have left town for two months, or at least every weekend. The moneyed leisure class get tans, sit on the dock or the deck drinking champagne, and contemplate early retirement. The rest of us wander the streets between July 4th and Labor Day looking for a party on or off a rooftop, cruising the nearly empty streets and braving the inevitable spike in violent crime. The unmoneyed leisure class (a.k.a. the unemployed) have plenty of time for idleness, and idle hands are indeed the devil’s weekend in the Hamptons.

Porn Swap at VOD, 99 S. 6th Street in Williamsburg

Porn Swap at VOD, 99 S. 6th Street in Williamsburg

I called up my peripatetic pal J. D. and told him our old friend Joan from the nabe was hosting a “porn swap” at a little club she runs with Johnny Holes. VOD is at 99 South 6th in Williamsburg, right under the bridge. I don’t think anyone will call me ungenerous when I say it’s a small club. Up a flight of stairs, two rooms about half the size of your average walk-in closet in Montauk serve sometimes as a performance space, sometimes as a gallery, but last Thursday it was a swap shop. The idea was to bring your old pornography — whether that be magazines or VCR tapes — and exchange them for different ones. It’s a laudible idea, though I don’t think anyone mentioned to the organizers that no one has used a VCR in the 21st century, or that print pornography is to internet pornography what flip books are to Pixar.

I lie. Someone did mention it. Porno Jim was there to give a smaller version of the Porno Jim Show, and he pointed out that NO ONE looks at people having sex via magnetic tape anymore. Get digital people! Heck, soon DVDs will go the way of Virgin Megastores. It’s all on the interwebs you old fogies! And for the most part it’s free, so you don’t even have to “swap” your precious, well-worn, dog-eared hard copies. Porno Jim’s show is awesome, by the way. If you get a chance (and you’re over 21) check it out at The Slipper Room next Thursday, July 16th. As you can see from the picture above, VOD was turned into a theater with four rows of folding chairs and a white sheet as a projection screen. Jim gave his spiel on porn genres, what makes good porn, and what makes bad porn, and then fielded questions from the audience. I learned a lot about how diverse pornography is these days.

There is a word for this phenomenon: Ubiquitous. Porn is now ubiquitous, meaning very close to socially acceptable. I personally find the complete ruin of American culture hilarious. You have David Brooks, on one hand, lamenting the loss of dignity in the American character, and on the other hand, you have many wildly popular soft-core porn shows (The Hills, Rock of Love, Flavor of Love, and the brand new, all New York show NYC Prep) where grown adults (except NYC Prep) act like colicky toddlers screaming for the kind of attention that has made Sasha Grey a legitimate star. That is to say, these days even the “social conservatives” like Mark Sanford and Sarah Palin will prostitute themselves most graphically and publicly, without feeling a twinge of shame. Porn, my friends. It’s the 21st century American fast track to the only thing that counts: celebrity. Mark my words, in the next ten years we’ll have “America’s Next Top Porn Star” on Fox. Now middle aged women take pole dancing classes. Soon they’ll take disco stick dancing classes. And the gang bang challenge will weed out the non-hackers on “Iron Hoo-Ha.”

Mobile art truck on Bedford and N 7th

Mobile art truck on Bedford and N 7th

J. D. and I left after Jim’s show. We wandered up to the epicenter of Williamsburg and happened upon an art truck. This is a truck with art in it, part mobile gallery, part hipster P.R. stunt. Meh, that’s not completely fair. The lady running it was very nice. She is from San Diego. And the art was OK —  the kind of pop art that was pioneered ninety years ago by the Dadaists, and that never seems to go out of fashion in the modern age. (If they want to get celebrity and fame though, they need to make the truck into a mobile porn studio.)

Inside the art truck

Inside the art truck

Some examples of the art.

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More art.

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Everybody loves gangsters. Just ask Johnny Dep.

***

The 4th is the last big party before the summer doldrums set in — a rooftop party, naturally. The rooftop in question was connected to my old apartment in Bed-Stuy. We grilled. We ate. We drank. Then we saw a building across the street was having a party on its roof too. J. D., who was gracing our affair with his presence, turned to me and said, “Hey. Let’s go crash that party.” So he and I trundled down the stairs and across the street. We fell in behind three guys in their mid-20s who looked like they were headed to our destination. They rang the buzzer, the door clicked, and we followed them up to the roof. Hilarity ensued when we searched for the host and told him we are benevolent party crashers, witty conversation professionals, guaranteed to make any get together more fun. He seemed a bit sketched out, but his friends loved us and showered us with free beers and food. (Yuck. What an image. How about, “they GAVE us free beers and food.” Meh.) Of course, the friends we left across the street saw us and waved. We waved back. They called us on our mobile phones. We waved some more. I plotted making a zip line harpoon gun with J. D. to get our people over to the other rooftop, but before we could implement the plan our people had taken the much more practical route across the street and up the stairs. Around dusk, after having made some complete stranger’s party into a true 4th of July rager, I took French leave with a lady friend and headed to ANOTHER rooftop party in Manhattan. We got a car across the Manhattan bridge, and we could just see the Hudson river fireworks through the skyline of Chinatown buildings as we descended on the Isle of the Manhattoes.

Drunkzig was the name of the party. The main feature of this patriotic do was Wii Garage Band, projected onto a 60″ screen, on a rooftop in Chinatown. What can one say about that? It was fun. Not “smack yer momma” fun, but fun. The big fun was trying to get back to Brooklyn. We stopped a cab, and when we told him we were headed across the East River, he said, “No traffic across the bridges!” Of course, I thought he was just being your typically douche-y taxi driver, not wanting to go to Brooklyn. But when we looked at the traffic on the Bowery something was definitely wrong. My companion and I strolled up to Delancey to see what the hubbub was all about, and then we saw this burning truck. Fun! Someone was taking their fireworks a little too seriously.

burning truck 02

Truck on fire on Delancy July 4th 2009

What a way to end the evening!

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