Native New Yorker Hari Kondabolu: Not a Political Comic

Categories: Comedy

Beth Allen
Hari Kondabolu
Between growing up in Queens and currently residing in Brooklyn, comedian Hari Kondabolu has appeared on Letterman, Conan, and NPR. With brother Ashok (Das Racist rapper Dapwell) he created the Untitled Kondabolu Brothers Podcast and fills in for Night Train host Wyatt Cenac when the latter finds himself out of town on Mondays. Kondabolu's debut album, Waiting for 2042 -- released in March on indie-rock label Kill Rock Stars -- receives the vinyl treatment this winter, and he headlines his first Carolines on Broadway weekend run this Friday through Sunday.

See also: Hannibal Buress: 'Bombing Can Be Good'

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Six Songs About NYC That Make People Hate NYC

Categories: 2013

Via Wiki Commons
There have been thousands, maybe millions, of songs written about New York City. You'll receive no argument from me that it's a special, special place. It's captured the imagination of imaginative young people around the world, and is responsible for something like a quarter of all the quintessential American artifacts. Part of that is the population density, sure, but there's no need to understate the broader influence. It's the most important city in the nation, and those who would argue that fact are simply out of ammunition.

All that said, there are plenty of things hilariously un-self-aware about that sanctified New York art. For all those great songs written from boroughs there's a whole lot of chaff. As a resident of Austin, Texas, I can confirm that some of those anthems you hold near to your heart have us laughing behind your back. It's time to clue you in. Here are the songs about New York that make people outside of the city hate New York.

See also: The 50 Most NYC Albums Ever

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Putting Aphex Twin's New Album Syro in Context

Categories: New Releases

An Aphex Twin logo, spray-painted on a sidewalk, building anticipation for the new album.
I'm ostensibly here to talk to you about Aphex Twin's new album, Syro, but first I need to admit to some Pavlovian conditioning. Over the years I've grown unreasonably excitable by the first few bars of "Xtal," the first track on his debut album, Selected Ambient Works 85-92. This has very little to do with the substance of the song, in which a seductive female vocal sample coos out nonsense syllables over twinkles and burbles almost gentle enough to qualify as a lullaby. It's not even the best track -- in particular, the dynamite closer "Actium" recasts and then anodizes the album's characteristic sleek platinum into something approaching anger, like furious expert oratory delivered on the floor of an intergalactic senate. But "Xtal" has on its side the anticipation implied by the start of a longform treasure. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

See also: Five Albums That Make Their Fans Insufferable

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Ask Andrew W.K.: My Friend Is Joining the Military and I'm Furious

Photo by Anthony Dubois
[Editor's note: Every Wednesday, New York City's own Andrew W.K. takes your life questions and sets you safely down the right path to a solution, a purpose, or -- no surprise here -- a party. Need his help? Just ask:]

Dear Andrew,

One of my closest and oldest friends just told me last night that he wants to join the Army. I was completely shocked. He had never seemed interested in this before and never really mentioned it, and now he's decided to not go to college but sign up with the military instead.

At first I just didn't say anything, but then I got really pissed off and told him not to do it. I believe in peace and am just so upset at the idea of someone I've known and loved for so long participating in this kind of violence. I basically told him that if he goes through with this, I won't be able to be his friend anymore. I can't stand by in good conscience and let my friend go kill people or get killed, can I?

Pissed Off Pacifist

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Rapper Tim Dog Is Dead

Categories: Obituaries

tim dog560.jpg
Tim Dog, of "Fuck Compton," grand larceny and kinda-faking-a-death fame.
In February 2013, word spread that Bronx rapper Tim Dog died of a diabetic seizure at the age of 46. While the hip-hop community mourned the loss of the rapper famous for "Fuck Compton" and his work with Kool Keith, within weeks rumors spread that Tim Dog may have faked his death. It wouldn't seem that out of character for the rapper -- who'd seen a resurgence in popularity thanks to a two-hour NBC Dateline special that covered his nefarious recent years of scamming women on dating sites out of money -- to pull off the ultimate con, but this week Dateline's further investigation may have put the rumors to rest for good.

See also: Rapper Tim Dog May Have Faked His Death

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Eugene Mirman Celebrates the Inimitable Robyn Hitchcock

Categories: Comedy

Photo by Alicia J. Rose courtesy of Yep Roc
It's like those videos of cross-species animal friendships, but even cuter: Daft comedian Eugene Mirman, impresario of the Brooklyn comedy festival bearing his name, onstage at North Carolina's Cat's Cradle club with daft psych-pop cult hero Robyn Hitchcock, the rare rock-era musician whose old-man albums outclass most of his young ones.

See also: Interview: Robyn Hitchcock

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Cheap Laughs: The Best Indie Comedy in New York This Week, 9/17 - 9/23

Categories: Comedy

Photo by Justin Stephens
Amy Schumer appears on "Gowanus Idol" at The Bell House this Thursday at 8.30 p.m.
This week in Cheap Laughs, we have special ed improvs, sexual Mazel Tovs, a talent show, anniversary blow, liberal lions, albino sirens, and the powerful energy of Macaulay Culkin. Here's our rundown of the best in independently produced New York comedy this week.

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Doom and Bishop Nehru Team Up for the Most Anticipated Hip-Hop Album of the Year

Categories: Feature

Photo by Klaus Thymann
Cornered: Doom and Bishop Nehru
Five years ago, I boarded a plane from JFK to Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport on the instruction that at some point between takeoff and landing the hip-hop artist MF Doom would text me from a secret cell-phone number and give me directions about how to meet him for an interview. The texts arrived in the form of a series of cryptic comments that played out as a treasure hunt across downtown Atlanta. They eventually led to a bar he'd turned into a super-villain's lair. (The password for the doorman: "Villain.") After a three-hour interview punctuated with pints of black-and-tans and whiskey shots, Doom rounded up his cronies (clad in stocking masks) and engineered an exit from the premises. At that point, the regular staff returned and acted as if Doom had never even been there.

That's just how it is with Doom. He's the self-styled super-villain of hip-hop whose scant public appearances always see him wearing a metal mask over his face. He revels in a role as the genre's ultimate recluse, and at one point became infamous for sending impostors to perform for him at shows (while he presumably sat home and counted up the cash, as dastardly masterminds are wont to do).

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Meet Lady Casa, America's Most Famous Raver and PLUR Evangelist

Categories: Feature

Photo by Dahn Le
Lady Casa
Lady Casa is perhaps the country's most famous raver, and something like a cult leader to her tens of thousands of fans. When the Miami native makes a pilgrimage to L.A. and hosts an event on Venice Beach the day after seeing DJ Armin van Buuren, it quickly turns into a mob scene.

Not far from the guy who walks on glass and an Italian tour group, hundreds of ravers wait for hours in a snaking line to get Lady Casa's autograph, hear her wisdom and, most importantly, hug her. The event is billed as her 26th birthday party, as well as a benefit for local animal shelters.

"I'm so nervous right now!" says an awkward twentysomething when he finally reaches the front. "You're awesome," she responds, writing a personalized note for him on a decal. She ends it, "Namaste, Lady Casa."

Lithe and pretty, with long, golden, Barbie-style hair, the woman born Michelle Casares wears a flower crown, scarf, leggings, and sunglasses shaped like hearts, all of it a mishmash of bright colors.

At raves she might wear go-go boots, pasties, bracelets, a thong, and a giant Native American headdress. Her signature logo, which she has applied to stickers and T-shirts, is a silhouette of this look. Some of her followers have it tattooed on them.

She does yoga. She protests Monsanto. She snuggles with ravers in "cuddle puddles." She preaches the raver's gospel of PLUR — peace, love, unity, respect. She says things about herself in the third person that probably sound cool if you're high.

See also: How Mega Rave Electric Zoo Will Try to Keep the Drugs Out

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That Time Chuck Berry Punched Keith Richards in the Face

Categories: Chuck Berry

Steve Truesdell
You don't mess with a man's guitar
Legendary Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards made an appearance on The Tonight Show last week to promote his new children's book, Gus & Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar. During the course of the interview, host Jimmy Fallon saw fit to ask Richards about his idol and early influence, Chuck Berry.

"I also heard this story -- and I don't know if this is true or not," Fallon says. "Did he punch you in the face once?"

See also: Chuck Berry Reviews Classic Punk Records in Unearthed Zine From 1980

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