The Lowdowners

October 10, 2008
Spike Hill
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

The Lowdowners played a commendable show this Saturday night at Williamsburg's ambiance driven Spike Hill. Spike Hill is a rare venue that fosters and showcases live musical talent every night of the week at no cover. The Lowdowners were, in this post punk, emo driven indie rock world, a refreshing throw back to Allman Brothers, or even Tom Petty, with a country meets new age Brooklyn rockabilly sound. Their lyrics followed faithfully in the blues tradition with simple and classic songs about broken hearts , love and story telling.

The four members, all hailing from Brooklyn, were each accomplished and strong instrumentalists in their own right. One half of a lead vocal duo, Peter Cole (vocals, guitars and dobro) brought a Bruce Springstein, Bod Dylan-esque vibe to the performance- in visual appearance as well as lyrics and voice. A master of his guitar and a keen ability to switch from soft handed ballads to a more rocked out and gritty sound, he had a solid presence that stole the show. An interesting contrast in style and dress, Byron Isaacs ( vocals, bass, dobro) offered an urban cowboy aura aesthetic and lyrical blues overtones. He often sang the more sensitive side to the lyrics and, while at times a bit saccharine and his voice proving best on recording, one had the feeling that just a bit of true vocal training the kid could truly rock the house live. He was one of those rare, true tenors with the style and musicality that can't be taught but who just needed the technical ability to reign it in. The gist of what he attempted to do with his voice was brilliant and much more discernible in his recordings but he lacked the strength to deliver a true live follow through. At least live, Byron was at his best with songs that took themselves, and in turn himself, less seriously.

The greater part of the show's first half was comprised of a plethora of love song ballads with Peter and Byron taking turns leading them. This started to drag on a bit but, by the end, when the group brought out songs that were less lyrics driven and more team oriented, they just truly rocked out and showcased their instrumentals and vocals in unison. It was then that the Lowdowners really. got. down. The group shines most using this formula and should continue in this direction. Byron and Peter had a great stage chemistry and the timbre of their voices worked well together. Byron's bass playing was solid and confident. Adam Goldfried on pedal steel, guitar and harmonica was masterfully versatile at all of his instruments, switching between them often and flawlessly. It is also worth mentioning that he was of the sort of dark and quietly stunning good looks and demure stage presence that added a balance and polish to the group as a whole. Tony Leone (drums, mandolin) was masterfully solid and a humble player, very much staying in background but silently holding his own and, in turn, holding the group together in a way that only a really talented drummer can execute.


Warning: Women in the corporate work place might eat you alive no matter what you taste like (even if its overacted daytime soaps)

Working in a corporate environment over the past three years has taught me, if anything, about how mean women can be to each other. It has also taught me that I ultimately don't want to work in this environment. To be sure, all work environments are not without their share of problems and I am sure there will be a huge share in the world of fashion that I am about to enter- where cattiness abounds. The thing with banking is that instead of everyone being ultra, uber bitchy and feminine as they are in fashion (even the men), the women are ultra uber bitchy but trying to act as they perceive men act. This results in an experience similar to that of watching an overacted, horrible, melodramatic daytime corporate soap opera. This particular soap however would not exist because it would SUCK so much that it would flop and be taken off the air in two weeks.

There is a woman at my banking job. She is my former supervisor and, up until this morning, a person who I would have also considered a close friend. We have worked together side by side, day after day, for about three years. One night several months ago I confided in her over drinks, when she was in tears about a work situation, that I had plans to return to school change careers, and hence leave work shortly. This confidence was under the strict understanding that it was only between us and not to leave the restaurant. Today, several months later this same colleague called me into her office and let me know that my boss knows that I am leaving and "she couldn't imagine how she found out," she tried to pin it on another close work friend of mine and said that "...anyways, xxxx(my boss' name) deserved to know earlier than two weeks because she had been a good boss to me and had a business to run." When I asked her if this was her decision to make, and pointed out that I had told her in confidence, she didn't say anything. She did however give me an angry, entitled, I am "doing this for the team" stare. She then more or less admitted that she had indeed let my secret leak when I revealed to her that she was the only one that knew so she could have been the only one to tell the boss (not true- but I knew saying this was the only way to get her to admit her offense). After all, our colleague who she had tried to pin it on has no relationship with my boss and would have no reason to tell her. Stupid error #1 : faulty, poorly thought out lie). Not only did this woman break my confidence, but she lied to get someone else in trouble for it (stupid error #2).

This is not the first time I've experienced similar underhanded maneuvers from women at work. It didn't really surprise me as much as disappoint; another reliable female colleague bites the dust. I did let my ex-friend, ex-supervisor know that I had caught her red handed (stupid error #3: I'd like to think that I am a good contact and good person to know, she is now permanently off my list for anything). I think she was surprised I figured it out so fast. All the color drained from her face and she had no words for the first time in her life. It is sometimes sickening how much women in their mid-thirties underestimate their younger, more attractive colleagues. Oops. Did I just say that? Yup. But really, I am unfortunately not the nitwit a lot of women would LOVE for me to be. This really pisses them off.

The story with my ex-supervisor is that she used to work under my boss and was recently demoted from the supervising position. She is now trying to get back in "good" with my boss by capitalizing on her knowledge of my leaving. This morning I caught her in a lie (stupid error #4: don't get caught, stupid). If she had been more savvy she would have just let my boss know, sworn her to secrecy to keep her name out of it, and I would never have known that she had said a word. Instead, she called me into her office and told on herself: stupid. My boss could have started looking for my replacement, had a jump start on preparing for my departure. All hunky dory. If you are going to try and play hard ball you at least better keep your bases covered. Thank God I am learning through other people's messy mistakes although hopefully I won't ever strive to capitalize on the abuse of others confidence to further my career.


NYC Apt Hunting: Installment I

I have been admittedly absent from this blog lately and - as my mother pointed out to me yesterday- my absence has been during a time when I should be writing the most! Life has been busy, crazy and in upheaval. But I guess what's been keeping me from it is that I've been going through a lot of different things and it is hard to decipher what is blog material and what should be left for my personal diary! I certainly don't want this blog to be a journal- I am a little too private for that and besides, my innermost personal musings are in actuality probably pretty boring . But surely I have many observations and anecdotes that are universally amusing and that I should share with you as I travel on this voyage of my mid 20s emancipation.

Here is installment one of a brief recap: A bit ago I went to NYC for a week to look for an apartment. I stayed with my lovely college friend Ed who always shows me a spectacular time and chats with me for hours about all the sort of musings that I love. I had a great time but unfortunately did not end up signing on anything. I found a beautiful, wonderful apartment in Parkslope, Brooklyn with a rad chick from Cali who writes screen plays and puts on Burlesque shows. Under Ed's wise guidance I decided that the commute would be too long to campus in Manhattan from Parkslope (a good 45min). No luck the first round in finding digs, however all was not lost. What made it all worth it was having some of the most spectacularly socially awkward, strange experiences in apartment hunting, going to roughly three different apartments a day for an entire week and meeting strangers who might let me live with them. My personal favorite apartment hunting experience was one loft I saw in the outer edge of Willamsburg, Brooklyn (ie the ghetto). There, two women, one an artsy Asian and the other an apparently mute French girl who gave me the "eye" and refused to shake my hand, greeted me at the door. A carefree artsy guy kind of joyfully saluted me as he hung from the rafters ADD style. The girls chastised me (only words out of the French chick- the rest was the up and down eye movemnt for the next 10 minutes) for being five minutes early and the Asian chick proceeded to skeptically ask me if I knew what living in a loft was like. I paused, confused, and deciding the right answer was "no" said so with a smile to appease her and she answered, "Well, to live in a loft you have to be VERY open minded". Obviously, I had been deemed as not open minded over the past 30 seconds. If by being open minded she meant being OK with the fact that the make shift second floor might cave in at any second, call me straight laced but I truly was a little scared. I climbed the "stairs" (ie slats of rotting material, could have been wood, maybe not) to see my prospective "room". The "door" to the "room", which was no more than a piece of wood stuck into a gap between a hole in dry wall, left a good window to the hallway overlooking 1st floor below. In the room I found a girl with tats from head to toe, dressed in all black. She gave me a sisterly heart-to-heart gaze and warned me that when the house mates smoked pot, which was normally as frequently as all day long, it seeped through the slats and filled her room with its skunky aroma. I asked her if their partying was a problem- and she answered with a firm "yes...that's why I'm leaving" and this girl didn't look like she was too shy herself of a drinking a Colt 45 and a taking a line or two. When I returned down"stairs" to the glaring French girl and pretty, but personality-challenged Asian girl, the later began an intense interrogation process. She asked me if I had any "habits" she should know about. At that moment I would have killed for some track marks that I could shove in her face or at the very least a crack pipe to pull out of my pocket. Once I offered my reason for moving to New York she informed me that she was ALSO a Parson's student "BUT in graphic design". She proceeded to "let me know" about the Parson's fashion design program, asking me if I was aware of how cut throat it was and what "type" of people attended.... Apparently she had some issues with my future department. She ended our conversation with, if you don't have any more questions for me "you can take off" and take off I did indeed. As I scurried out of the loft, I mused about what it had to offer- all that physical endangerment, tormented female drama (I kind of got the vibe they were both sleeping with Mr. ADD hipster weirdo and were a little threatened that I might want to become numero cuatro in their love fest: no worries there girls- one man has always been plenty enough for me to handle much less two bitchy chics thrown into the mix) and no sleep because the roommates party all the time: all for a sweet price tag of $1000 a month. Happy Day! My friend Stan, who had bravely accompanied me this fine day and had stood beside me, silently, like a rock withstanding the indignity that is NYC apartment hunting, whispered even as we were pretty far away from the building, "Those were caricatures of people". I laughed and agreed...or, I thought to myself, just mid-20-somethings living in NYC: a breed of their own I was beginning to think after this past week of meeting a large random sampling in their own habitats. Scary. I can't wait to get here. The scarier thing is I am not being sarcastic.


A Spring Walk: the end of an era

The other night I took a long walk through my Cleveland Heights neighborhood.

My impending move to New York city has no doubt elicited in me a strange sort of perspective and nostalgia , giving me pause. Granted, these feelings are normal and to be expected with a big move and a life change. But Sunday evening, after a long afternoon rain, the sun was setting at dusk and shining brightly for the first time that day and I was struck by the uniqueness of Cleveland and its unmistakeable and overlooked beauty.
And I, who am fairly well travelled and have travelled far to see beauty, came to the conculsion that Cleveland Heights has a firm place among a list of beautiful places in the world. And perhaps we are very mistaken to presume beauty and worthwhile are mostly found in the exotic and require a plane ticket to visit. Anyhow, surely my little neighborhood would be exotic to many people in the world and upon this conclusion I saw my neighborhood with fresh eyes; I thought I should share.

I passed the estates and gardens and compounds of a neighborhood of epic or perhaps fairytalesque proportions, once the living grounds of some of the most elite and wealthy people in America. The homes have now been purchased and are maintained in general by people of considerably less wealth with a soft spot and a respect for old architecture and a desire to maintain these relics of the past. These patient souls grasp and grapple, out of appreciation (or is it admiration?) with the headaches and maintenance of these old, cumbersome beasts. I'd imagine that they labor with the understanding that they are maintainting an architectural artistry that is no longer. Surely these types of homes will never be built again- the materials and manpower that went into building them are now lost arts and out of reach economically.

At a certain point I was weighed down with a sort of sorrow. The sorrow was not only for what I am personally leaving behind but also a sorrow for the city of Cleveland and its suburbs. Kind of like the sorrow one might have had for Elvis in his bloated, dark drugged out, Vegas days. In other words- the city is a "Has Been" and I am the first to admit it. Today when one says the word "Cleveland" mostly ghastly images come to mind: lakes on fire, obese people people with ankle fat wearing Cleveland Indians t-shirts, and run down steel mills billowing smoke. People forget (or never knew) that this city was also once a great cosmopolitan American epicenter of commerce. It was home to some of the worlds most powerful and influential figures as such turn of the century Robber Barons, JD Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie. In fact Rockefeller is buried in the Lakeview Cementary in Cleveland Heights.
Cleveland was once a thriving center of wealth and opulence and Cleveland Heights architecture is sometimes a rather sad reminder for me of better times. There is a beauty that proudly and stubbornly shines through despite the city's economic decline and despite that fact that it is over a century past its heyday. Come to think of it, perhaps Cleveland has gone out a little more gracefully than the bloated and bedraggled Elvis.
I love the window of this house- the curtains entice me to decorate the room behind them with my imagination.

For at least 6 moths of the year Cleveland's lake effect precipitation creates a relentless environment of precipitation and grey skies. But all this water also leads to one of the most spectacularly verdant and breathtaking springs I have ever seen anywhere. The foliage extends everywhere and flowers blossoms literally burst out of gardens. Everything is crisp, refreshing, and smells of fresh dirt and leaves.

During spring and summer days Cleveland is truly and undeniably a magical place. These moments keep Clevelanders in their place until they hole up for the next winter and, with the first blizzard swear as they do year after year that they'll move to Florida. But for now you will see them gliding along the sometimes slippery limestone sidewalks, heads to the sky and eyes sometimes closed.


I opened today's paper to see the following:

"Iraqi government figures show April was the deadliest month for civilians since August last year." "Double Suicide Blast Kills 30 in Iraq", By REUTERS, Published: May 1, 2008

What are we to do? Is it just me or is this war turning into a carnal nightmare?

I am currently reading a book about Vietnam, "Lizzie's War" by Tim Farrington. The novel desribes Vietnam in straightforward and horrendous prose and begs me to wonder about our own current war: "Where are our protests now in this first decade of the 21st century; Where is our sense of injustice; What is this apathy to real lives being lost, mostly innocent civilians and American boys; Why do we, as Americans, not really seemed concerned?" At least our concern seems to pale in comparison to the group outrage expressed against Vietnam only a generation ago. And I wonder what is wrong with us. What is wrong with our political/social/economic climate that we have left it up to the current election's nominees as the first really public figures to stand, this late in the game, on their soap boxes and loudly spout what has been so glaringly obvious all along: that we are at war, that people are dying for no good reason, that this was a mistake?


Yesterday Afternoon into Last Night

This is possibly my favorite corner in the city of Cleveland. Unfortunate it currently looks like a war zone but that is because they are revamping Euclid Avenue- I hope it turns out well. Yesterday felt like summer and I enjoyed being downtown with the heat of the pavement and that surreal feeling you get when you wander a city on a hot afternoon, boxed in by buidlings, warm and still.

We crossed the bridge to from the East to the West side and the sunset was impressive.

The lights at the restaurant looked like hanging skirts and i was captivated.

Sometimes a background is so cool you just have to strike a pose and shoot a picture.

or a room...

...or a flourish. My friend Chelsea's apartment was so beautifully done I hade to share with you all.


I want one. I want one bad. I saw these hats first on JC Report. They hail from the new cult brand Official. One of my favorites has a unicorn image composed completely of the silhouettes of different automatic handguns. Rad. Each hat's design is a limited edition so you won't find everyone and her little sister wearing your duds. While intended for skate boarder types these hats would also be ravenously SEXY on the more conservatively inclined . My suggestion would be to wear with black skinny pants and a black sleeveless shirt.


Since Last Week.....

i have been:

1. violently ill for three days straight.
2. figuring out what i am going to do about housing at parsons....think i might do the on campus thing.
3. training in a new position at the bank. my department recently shut down but fortunately a position in international, that required a Spanish speaker, came up. perfect timing. life seems to work in strange ways like that doesn't it? i must say however that working in banking right now, especially where i work, is especially stressful and strange . sometimes i feel as though living in this country at this moment in time is like being strapped to the mast of a sinking ship. my morale is especially low since my day-to-day is effected tremendously by the credit situation in the u.s. market and it is speculated that my bank is about to be purchased. that could possibly leave 10,000 Ohioans out of work. this prospect is dim and can't but help to lead me muse about if there will be a space in time for me and my future design career albeit the current retail outlook. it should be interesting to move to NYC during this period however. the city is apparently in a state of great flux now that the wall street kings have fallen/are falling from grace because of that unfortunate tragic flaw of greed. my hope is that there will be a Manhattan renaissance where artists take over and reign once more, as they did in days past when rent was actually affordable. who knows. perhaps this crisis will incite tremendous creativity: it would be my hope that the strife will engender in the design world some especially innovative, reactive, and insightful resolutions.


Dog Sitting (and cat sitting on my head)

I've been having fun looking after a really sweet dog named Shelby (and a cat that I can't remember his/her name and I feel bad about it). Unfortunately Shelby the dog snores in his sleep and woke me up at 3 am. To add insult to injury the cat sat on my head at 4:18 and wouldn't stop crying until I fed him/her. I really wanted to shower this morning, truly. But after all that early morning chaos I just fell back asleep only in time to wake up and arrive late to work.


Few: An Alternative to the 'Elliot Spitzer Fund'

Yay! I have an alternative to the self sacrificing 'Eliot Spitzer Fund' plan. Sorry New York politicians. Turns out Parsons not only loves me (of course they do) but they are also putting their money where their mouth is and giving me a substantial scholarship. That's right biaaaatches. Now I'll probably only have to work 1/2 as many nights for creepy dishonest policy makers with beautiful, accomplished wives who have sacrificed their lives and youth to stay with their sad, cheatin', asses. Toodles- I've got to go and make a psychologist appointment to work on my obvious anger issues and a psychiatrist appt. for those black out inducing meds that will give me the strength go forward with school fund raising endeavors..oh yeah and make a trip to Walmart to buy a jumbo pack of brown bags.


Food Allergies

So I think I am allergic to wheat. Just puttin' it out there. If I can't be honest with my little blagaroos then God help me, right? Anywho, on top of being a Lactard, you'd think my life was over. But, alas: Do Not Worry! Calm down! Tranquila mi amor! Do not start grinding your teeth at night with worry about me and my nutrition!! With fab stores like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods in driving distance I have a plethora of wheat free/gluten free/lactose free options. And man does my stomach feel better for the first time since I was 22 after just a week of cutting wheat out. Hallelujah.


The Eliot Spitzer Fund: Paying for Smart Broke Hot chicks Since 2000

Eliot Spitzer has like totally given me an idea about how I am going to pay for school. Sike! Gotcha. You thought I was serious, right? That's funny. But reallly $5,000 per night x 25 nights in a row under the influence of serious pychiatric black out inducing meds or with the use of costume games like the "bag over the head game"= $125,000. Bim, Bam, done, over with. School paid for. I'm a fuckin genius.


Sometimes Everything Stops

Sometimes everything stops in Cleveland, Ohio. Especially on the East side where Lake Erie most intensely blesses us with her lake effect snow. We are all told by the local news to stay inside because no amount of snow plows on this earth would successfully clear the amount of precipitation falling from the sky. On a Saturday afternoon, when emancipation has left me tired and drained and I'd rather sleep the day away, this involuntary shut down on life is most welcome .


Last night's Big Surprise: Parson's School of Design Fashion Studies AAS program Loves Me

Last night I worked out at my little gym. I love this gym, not because they treat you well there, which they don't. The employees are mainly disgruntled college students who haven't been in the real working world yet and they think that just because you pay to go there does not entitle you to be treated civilly or like a guest. For example, the girl at the front desk threw my car keys at me and grunted when I returned my locker key last night. One time they gave me the wrong car keys back and refused to give me my own but that's another story for another self indulgent blog. I love this gym despite its lackluster customer service because it is a two second drive from my home, and near one of the more beautiful, funky and soulful areas of Cleveland, and to top it all off I get to drive over a brick street to get there.

At the gym I was on the elliptical for a half hour and was watching "Big Brother" on the TV overhead; for some mysterious reason I had a ton of energy and I switched machines. This is a pretty dangerous adventuresome thing for me (going with my "emancipation theme", see). I pretty much am a one machine per work out kind of girl so this snazzy move from the elliptical to the treadmill was a BIG CHANGE. The move found me in front of another TV, where I found myself watching "Project Runway", and then I began waxing sappy in my head about the fact that I hadn't gotten into FIT several weeks ago (spent last 6 months learning to sew and draw for this damn application). I was comforted by my international web cam interview in the morning but still felt a tinge of melancholy. I drove home in the freezing Cleveland rain, went to my mail box and found a large envelope addressed from Parson's School of Design. My first thought was that it was kind of mean of them to taunt me with more information selling their school before they sent me a rejection letter but I opened it anyways. Low and behold: I. was. accepted.!!!! Nuts huh? Woohoo!!! Now i have some emancipation decisions to make as my web cam interview with the Spanish press agency this morning went well too. A few years of working for this company and being paid to travel the world would help me save up to pay for an education at Parsons which is like a billion dollars a year. Emancipation in harder than I thought.


My First Time


This is the start of my public "Mid 20s Emancipation", which is not to say the movement hasn't been going on for a while., considering the fact that I am 26 (aka I am several years past my mid 20s). Anywho - this blog I dedicated to all ye in favor of leading an unconventional life. I don't know about ya'll, but my twenties started out pretty rough. Pretty rough indeed. They were a time when I felt like I should know where I am headed, but didn't, and all those things that the adults had around me growing up, that I always believed I'd eventually come to want, I found I do not want, at least not yet: the suburbs, the rock on the finger by 26, the bun in the oven by 28, the American Dream. Lately, after futilely preparing for the GMAT, LSATs, ramming my round self into a square hole for about 3 straight years, I have given up. Or, better said, given myself over to, well, myself. I am embracing all that I am in all my unconventional ways. I am admitting I might just never want to get married, or have kids or have a yard. Perhaps I will. But I don't right now. And that's OK!!! I am looking to return to work internationally, as I did so for my first few years out of college, and get out of the corporate humdrum I feel I have given away several precious years of my life to in a Mid-Western city that is just not ME. This blog will document my journey. Tomorrow morning I have a web-cam interview with an international press agency in Madrid. Wish me luck!!

Also, I'd just like to mention that Hillary won Ohio and I might not be myself for the next few days (does she have to smile so much about it? i even saw her piggy face on the front of "El pais". its really grossing me out.)