St. Joseph's Church (38 Ten Broeck St., Albany) has been getting a lot of love lately, and for good reason: The defunct Catholic sanctuary is one of the most spectacular buildings in Albany, not to mention one of the coolest art/music spaces around. Following last month's art extravaganza HEAVY comes the Restoration Festival, a two-day music festival featuring a huge selection of local bands. If you can't read the fine print on the poster, the lineup includes Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned, We Are Jeneric, Matthew Carefully, Railbird, Beware! The Other Head of Science, Scientific Maps, Swamp Baby, RESTYS, Alta Mira, The Red Lions, Aficionado, Grain Belt, El Duke, Que Caro, Barons in the Attic, Goodship, LMNOPF, and the Mathematicians. Whew!
It's this weekend (Aug. 28 and 29) for the low low price of $15/day or $20/weekend. Best of all, 25% of proceeds go to Albany Historic Society's St. Joseph's Restoration Fund. Tickets are available through the Web site, or at Last Vestige and the River Street Beat Shop.
Associate Editor Kathryn Geurin rappelled down the State Street side of the Albany Crown Plaza today.
You can read all about it from her perspective in the next issue of the Ye Olde Metrolander; for now, here are some pics by Kim Hugo.
Comedy’s Kill Screen
By Kathryn Geurin
Colonial TheatRe, Pittsfield, Mass., Aug. 14
Chances are you know John Oliver as the Daily Show’s Senior British Correspondent. Perhaps you’ve heard that “adorable accent” on his TimesOnline podcast, The Bugle, which recently celebrated its 100th episode. Maybe you’ve seen his comedy special Terrifying Times, or his six-episode John Oliver's New York Stand Up Show, or any number of his other assorted appearances on stage and screen. The guy’s only been in the U.S. for four years, his green card is still sparkling—and already he’s rocketing up the ladder to comedy stardom at surprising speeds for such a gangly chap.
So the question really isn’t “Was John Oliver funny?” Because, yes. Yes, of course, he was funny. Brilliantly, preposterously funny. The kind of funny that leaves you stretching the ache from your jaw the next morning. The kind of funny that, between reminiscing laughs on the ride home, smacks you with the fleeting fear: “What if I just experienced the funniest hour and a half of my life? What if all humor is downhill from here?”
Yes. He was that kind of funny.
Oliver tumbled onto the stage already laughing, beaming under his dark tousle of hair, an impishness brewing behind his wire-rimmed glasses. His “fake news” correspondent’s suit was retired for the evening in favor of sneakers, slim khakis and a plaid button-down.
“The Colonial Theater,” he snickered, surveying the golden balconies of Pittsfield’s historic opera house, “the Colonial Theater. You have to understand what it does to a British person walking into Massachusetts . . . such a defeat. I should be standing on this stage in a delightful red jacket shooting a musket and shouting instructions. Instead, you’ve called me here to dance for you like a jester.”
And so began the brief love affair between John Oliver and the Colonial Theater audience—a dazzling tryst of the type most performers only dream. Oliver deftly rolled between his intended material and comfortably hilarious, meandering riffs born of his rare chemistry with an audience that he facetiously asked to “laugh a bit less,” cursing their collective travel experience and swooning over the hearty response he got to a Galileo joke. “Even your heckles are good,” he smirked.
When he dropped to his knees, gasping, “What kind of Narnia have I stumbled into?” the cynic in me flinched: You probably say that to all the gigs.
And maybe he does, though I thoroughly doubt it. But it’s really irrelevant. Because either way, he made us laugh, and think, and love our madcap country anew. He convinced some hundreds of folks in Pittsfield that each wingnut story he spun, each intimate laugh and quirky observation was crafted in that moment, for that moment.
Oliver offers cultural commentary from an outsider, not in the broad, tired strokes of partisan stereotype, but through the specifics, the eccentric details “under the hood” of our nation, be it a 70-year-old tour guide with a hockey-stick crutch and a self-set leg in upper Michigan, a Guiness World Record set for most rattlesnakes held in one’s mouth (10), or the fact that the Colonial Theater was for decades, ludicrously, a paint store. What Oliver does best is hold a mirror to America, and the reflection he creates echoes with surprisingly resonant mix of savvy criticism, insightful amusement and genuine affection.
“Oh, Pittsfield,” he sighed, having run unexpectedly overtime, “I will remember this gig much longer than you will.”
Doubtful, John Oliver. Doubtful.
Ladies and Gentlemen, "Say No To ACO"
"I know this is not the first time Ms. Grafflin has used her blog as a way to advance her personal vendettas and quench her insatiable desire to cause drama where none exists. If you have a story about a personal experience with Ms. Grafflin and her blog, Albany Citizen One, please e-mail me at email@example.com. I'll be happy to share your story, while guaranteeing absolute confidentiality to the e-mailer.
It is time for Ms. Grafflin to start acting like a responsible journalist."
UPDATED To include a link to ACO.
Recently, President Obama appeared on the morning talk show (at
least, I think it’s on in the morning) The
View, where he was playfully quizzed about his pop-culture knowledge. He
did approximately as well as a sitting American president should do, in my
opinion and based on a single
clip viewed on the Internet: He knew that Lindsay Lohan had been jailed, but
had no idea who
My own pop-culture awareness, though apparently greater than the president’s, is, inarguably, less than it once was—and deepest in categories and on subjects that may no longer be considered, exactly, relevant.
Curious what younger generations know, I determined to survey them, comprehensively. Fortunately, I’ve got one of ‘em close at hand. (I had an excellent household response rate of 100 percent.)
Subject: 8-year-old female.
Lindsay Lohan: “She’s an actress. She’s really good, but she’s in jail.”
Lady Gaga: “A singer. She freaks me out when she sings about ‘disco stick.’ I don’t think that’s a polite thing.”
Snooki: “Chicken. Why ‘chicken’? I don’t know. I didn’t know what else to say.”
Twilight: “That’s a book. I’ve never read it, but I think it’ll be good when I’m old enough. It’s a movie, too.”
Vampire: “Twilight. One of the actors in Twilight is a vampire and wears a lot of make up.”
Housewife: “Cleaning. My mom calls herself a housewife, and that’s what she does.”
Desperate: “Does that mean ‘worried?’ Or it means you want something you don’t have.”
Jesse James: “A guy? I have no idea, so I just guessed it was a boy. Is it?”
Bombshell: “That’s something that explodes.”
American Idol: “ Soup can. I don’t know what ‘idol’ means, but I like soup cans because if you cut off the bottoms and tops you can put them on your arms and pretend they’re lasers.”
Pixies: “Pixies are related to fairies in Neverland.”
Guided By Voices: “I don’t know. Is your heart guided by voices?”
Album: “The Jonas Brothers have a new album that has more than one song, it has 15!”
Gothic: “I don’t know.”
Goth: “That sounds like Gohf. G-O-H-F, which is black with spiky things.”
Punk: “It’s ‘mean.’ Like, “Don’t be a punk.’ ”
Rimbaud: “Like a bow? I like bows in my hair.”
Download: “That’s printing. You can print Hannah Montana wallpaper!”
Jon Stewart: “That reminds me of Robbie Ray Stewart. Are they related?”
Rush Limbaugh: “Sounds like a dragon.”
Glenn Beck: “Is that a girl? I don’t know.”
Kim Kardashian: “That’s an animal in a movie. A Kardashian is an animal with two wings and one foot and a big, large tail. It was a fairy-tale movie.”
Insane Clown Posse: “That must be the circus.”
Magnets: “Some go together, and some push away. Maybe because they have microchips in them?”
Meme: “ That reminds me of ‘meow.’ So, kitties.”
Keyboard cats: “Like in The Aristocats. All the baby cats step on the piano and make music.”
Goatse: “Bathtub. If I had a goat, I’d name her “Goatsy.” If she smelled, I’d put her in the bathtub. If it was a boy, I’d name him ‘Cowboy.’ ”
Facebook: “ Contact. On Facebook, you can contact people and make friends.”
Tumblr: “That’s clumsy people.”
Big Bang Theory: “A clock. In
Christian Slater: “That rhymes with ‘skater.’ It’s about skateboards.”
The Replacements: “It’s a TV show about a girl and a boy, who don’t like their teacher, cook or golf teacher. Whatever they do, it turns into a disaster.”
Salvation Army: “That’s war. The 1982 war. I think there was a war in the nineteens.”
Vinyl: “That sounds a lot like ‘violence.’ ”
Vegetarian: “That’s no meat. I don’t like being a vegetarian. I like chicken, or steak.”
Rap: “At the salad bar, my mom can get a cheese wrap.”
Rap music: “Some people, when they rap , wear cool stuff like gold and heavy necklaces. One guy had a double ring that said, ‘Bling.’ ”
Bling: “In Big Time Rush, Wayne Wayne wears a lot of bling. His real name is Wally.”
Justin Beiber: “He’s a really good singer. My favorite song is “I Thought You Could Always Be Mine.” He’s cute. He has really cute bangs.”
Mad Men: “That’s just angry guys.”
Inception: “I have no idea what that means.”
Leonardo DiCaprio: “He’s a painter. I think I’ve heard of him in school. I haven’t seen any of his pictures.”
Personal brand: “Private. Because ‘personal’ means ‘private.’ ”
Blog: “Writing. People write things on their blogs. You write things about you, or what happens in your life, on the computer.”
Graphic novel: “I don’t know what that is. A novel is a book.”
Comic books: “Wonder Woman. She has bulletproof wrist things, and a rope that she ties around people and they tell every secret they ever had. Or the truth. I get those two mixed up.”
President: “The leader of