Saturday, June 27

In my world anarchy is by royal command and even chaos must adhere to budget.

Saturday, September 20

There is a risk that the risk will change!!
Investors who ignore changing risk will take too much leverage and too much risk.

Wednesday, September 10

let us have the serenity to embrace the variation that we cannot reduce, the courage to reduce the variation we cannot embrace, and the wisdom to distinguish one from the other. 

Thursday, August 28

A legal narrative -- how people tell the story of their rights -- is a construction: for it to stand, it must have consistency and its own internal logic, as well as external reference points to which others can relate. And it must be communicable.

Sunday, August 24

a switch from a desire for praise to a desire for praise-worthiness.

Friday, August 15

خدایا، هرچند نیستی، اما چرا به داد ما نمی‌رسی؟

Monday, July 7

-- Bounded Rationality--

Neoclassical economics created a unified framework for "explaining" that virtually all human behavior is produced by an Olympian process of utility maximization that recognizes no limits to the knowledge or thinking power of the human actor.

-- Organizations and markets as the solution to our coordination problem? --
Substantial stability of manufacturing, consumption, and trade is essential to markets’ working effectively. And, of course, social institutions, and governmental organisations in particular, play an essential role in maintaining (and occasionally destroying) that stability. When the qualifying conditions for the stability of markets are not met--e.g. wartime--we see a rapid movement toward centralized planning as the preferred coordinating mechanism for many activities.

Saturday, April 19

I transcribe my text with no concern for timeliness. In the years when I discovered the Abbé Vallet volume, there was a widespread conviction that one should write only out of a commitment to the present, in order to change the world. Now, after ten years or more, the man of letters (restored to his loftiest dignity) can happily write out of pure love of writing. And so I now feel free to tell, for sheer narrative pleasure, the story of Adso of Melk, and I am comforted and consoled in finding it immeasurably remote in time (now that the waking of reason has dispelled all the monsters that its sleep had generated), gloriously lacking in any relevance for our day, atemporally alien to our hopes and our certainties.

Tuesday, March 25

The technique of linear perspective, a sub-branch of astrology, was pursued and ultimately invented in the basic conviction that all visible experience is reducible to numerical equations. This mathematical order, it was believed, is a reflection of the divine order of the universe. In this context, the overriding prominence of the perspective itself becomes meaningful. Ottavio called on Piero, the master mathematician, to provide an important perspective framework, with astrological overtones, to illustrate the inevitable place of consolation within the scheme of God's order. 

Monday, December 2

And death? I believe that the purpose of death is the release of love.

Tuesday, November 19

What do you think has become of the young and old men?
And what do you think has become of the women and children?

They are alive and well somewhere,
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the
end to arrest it,
And ceas'd the moment life appear'd.

All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.

Tuesday, October 22

"the Sun rose in Florence sometime after Dante"  ????

Friday, October 11

Conversion of Constantine

For the church, was this turnaround a providential sign, or a Trojan horse gift in which the church would now be so tied to the official culture that it would never be able to shake off Rome, administration, and bureaucracy to get back to its original, charismatic, individual, powerful foundations?

And hence a century later comes Saint Augustine.

Where in Manichaeism matter is evil and soul is good, neo-Platonism asserts the inferiority of matter and superiority of spirit as the spirit is eternal. Unlike Manichaeism  everything is good in Platonism but there are inferior goods. Matter is not evil in itself, it is just inferior. Here, evil comes from the preference of the inferior to the superior. Evil comes from not realizing the superiority of the spiritual and not acting on it. In Platonism, evil is a falling away or turning of your vision; a misperception; a result of poor education. 

And hence comes the evil as the absence of good and in a way the banality of evil.

Augustine: we, for all our learning, lie here groveling in this world of flesh and blood, while they storm the gates of heaven.

The problem of Evil occupies him. Why does an omnipotent and good God allows Evil to flourish?  Further, compared to the Greek writings, the Bible seems rhetorically and conceptually very crude.  Thus, he is shifted to the ideas of Manicheans where God is not omnipotent; there is another evil God: God of matter and flesh, Yahweh, the creator God, the God of the old Testament. But we are of the flesh, and hence Manichaeism offers an involvement in the world. In a way, Manichaeism is not a completely ascetic belief or world renouncing, but it identifies body as the source of Evil. This is different from Christianity in that the body is also exalted in Christianity. The body as well as the soul is resurrected, and there will be bodies after the last Judgement in heaven and in hell.  
God hence has created the world and everything is good. He explains the nature of evil by turning to Platonism. Evil is not a thing in itself, it is rather the absence of Good. Evil then, a deprivation of Good, is nothingness; it is the absence of being and meaning. Now turning away from the Good, the Sun, and preferring things of the flesh over things of the spirit (lust and desire, ambitions and greed and material goods in comparison with spiritual goods) is a human problem.  Humans generally do not understand what they are on Earth for, according to the Platonists.  

And hence the metaphor of The Cave from the Republic, as the classic depiction of this wrong preference. 

So for the Platonists, Evil is the result of this error in perception. How do you get rid of this? By education. This the whole point of Platonist Dialogue: dialogues with questions and answer; didactic dialogues. There is no dualism in Platonism. Evil is lower compared to Good in the hierarchy of values. Human beings are in the middle of this hierarchy and unlike mud, rocks, bugs, angels and demiurges and deities, they can move up and down the ladder.  

And hence the free will; being humans.

Evil is ascribed to ignorance in Platonism; in Christianity it is ascribed to sin. Sin is deliberate unlike ignorance.

And hence the pear stealing. The pear stealing is the sin, a gratuitous act out of boredom. Human beings are hence sinful. How does he get out of sin? Not by education, but by feeling, by instinct, by conversion. Pontecianus had seen the shamens, uneducated Christian monks in Egypt, intoxicated with God and love, and was not just impressed by felt humiliated at the thought of himself still being concerned with his career. These uneducated monks do not know about the Republic, the Hortensius, the Satires of Juvenal, ..., yet they have an apprehension of the Divine that causes them to renounce the world. 

otium cum dignitate: no no. He became a bishop, very much involved in the world. His understanding of a Christian's duty in the world is that we cannot lead a life of sin-free contemplation or perfection.  We all are sinners. He becomes the philosopher, theologian who combats perfectionism. He becomes the philosopher of the irrational. He  believes that humans are irrevocably sinful and cannot in any way earn salvation. They are saved by a mysterious process called grace. Grace by its very meaning is undeserved. There is no contractual relationship between God and men (Reformation believed this as well: good deeds and merits on Earth do not get you into heaven), but a generous arbitrary decision opens the doors of heaven to you. This is a very harsh doctrine of predestination; periodically rediscovered and dropped. This is at the heart of the people who settled Massachusetts and Connecticut. It is at the heart of Calvinism and Puritanism: the belief in the elect.

(Liberals believe in human perfectibility: if you educate, encourage and help people and provide government subsidies for them, they will become perfect and you will build a better society. Conservatists respond people are the way they are because they want to be that way or that they have made wrong decisions. Helping them will not change them. Education does not make people perfect. Hitler and Stalin were connoisseurs of art.)

Hence his opinion of forced conversion. He is behind 3 main ideas: opposition to perfectionism, exaltation of the grace, the notion of sin as indelible.

Tuesday, October 1

-self coercion vs coercion coming from outside-

man doesnt know what he wants; man wants what he doesnt want; man doesnt want what he wants; man wants to want and cannot achieve it; he feels within himself a force more powerful than himself.
if he is wise, he cries out and says who will rescue me from this.
if he is stupid, he gives in, and calls his weakness happiness. 

-immigration of free thought-
Why do these people come? They come because they are a shiftless element. They come because they are not happy at home. Persons of good character who possess property, believe in law and order, and are virtuous citizens do not emigrate.Persons who emigrate have something wrong with them, and by allowing in all these immigrants, by allowing in all these persons who are evidently not happy at home, who are fidgety and unable to establish themselves, you are simply importing a disintegrating element which in the end will prove the undoing of your great empire.

-repository of tradition and wisdom vs language of science-

But an international language would shed precisely those peculiarities, precisely that accumulation of what might be called local, provincial, historical accretions which gives each language its unique quality and produces those words which 
shape our minds, which shape us educationally along those 
traditional lines along which the natural development of human 
beings and societies must lie if they are to be traditional, if they are to be peaceful, if they are to have regard to their own past, if they are not to be left without ideals and without principles.

Jacobins, socialists, liberals, scientists, Protestants, Jansenists, perfectibilians, Jews, Freemasons, atheists, freethinkers, those who made the French Revolution, those who made the American Revolution.

Tuesday, September 17

Monday, September 9


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Saturday, September 7

we must begin to walk on air against our better judgement.

 - where the language fails -
if the storyteller has been true to the story, the silence speaks. 

Using detail in fiction is a way of stepping on time's receding tail.

a person as utterly stereotypical as irreplaceable, irrepeatable and different. 

Self-consciousness is deadly.

Monday, July 1


French Revolution

OH! pleasant exercise of hope and joy!
For mighty were the auxiliars which then stood
Upon our side, we who were strong in love!
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very heaven!--Oh! times,
In which the meagre, stale, forbidding ways
Of custom, law, and statute, took at once
The attraction of a country in romance!
When Reason seemed the most to assert her rights,
When most intent on making of herself
A prime Enchantress--to assist the work,
Which then was going forward in her name!
Not favoured spots alone, but the whole earth,
The beauty wore of promise, that which sets
(As at some moment might not be unfelt
Among the bowers of paradise itself)
The budding rose above the rose full blown.
What temper at the prospect did not wake
To happiness unthought of? The inert
Were roused, and lively natures rapt away!
They who had fed their childhood upon dreams,
The playfellows of fancy, who had made
All powers of swiftness, subtilty, and strength
Their ministers,--who in lordly wise had stirred
Among the grandest objects of the sense,
And dealt with whatsoever they found there
As if they had within some lurking right
To wield it;--they, too, who, of gentle mood,
Had watched all gentle motions, and to these
Had fitted their own thoughts, schemers more mild,
And in the region of their peaceful selves;--
Now was it that both found, the meek and lofty
Did both find, helpers to their heart's desire,
And stuff at hand, plastic as they could wish;
Were called upon to exercise their skill,
Not in Utopia, subterranean fields,
Or some secreted island, Heaven knows where!
But in the very world, which is the world
Of all of us,--the place where in the end
We find our happiness, or not at all! 


Saturday, June 29

Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive.

Friday, June 28

reading is an unlimited activity. reading anything.

Wednesday, June 19

Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beautya beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show. The true spirit of delight, the exaltation, the sense of being more than Man, which is the touchstone of the highest excellence, is to be found in mathematics as surely as in poetry.

Saturday, June 8

Thursday, May 30

From A Brochure for Comprehending the Cultures of the Coalition Forces, a twenty-eight-page pamphlet published by the Afghan Ministry of Defense and distributed to Afghan troops. Translated from the Dari by Noorullah Dawari.
When members of the coalition forces are getting excited, they show their feelings by touching another person’s shoulder. They may do the same to you too, for doing a good job. If you are insulted by that, ask them not to do such a thing in the future.
Most of the members of the coalition forces are interested in sharing photos and stories about their wives, children, brothers, and sisters with their friends, so they may ask you about your family members, including females. They just want to have a very friendly relationship with you.
As you all know, Afghans do not blow their noses in front of other people in personal meetings, but in the cultures of the coalition forces’ countries, this is a very normal thing.
You know that in Afghan culture putting your feet toward someone is considered an offensive act, but in the culture of most coalition forces’ countries, this is not considered offensive. In fact, when a member of the coalition forces wants to feel comfortable around you while talking, he might put his feet on his desk. He doesn’t mean to insult you at all. He either doesn’t know anything about Afghan culture or he has forgotten.

Wednesday, May 29

Political power grows our of the barrel of a gun.

Saturday, May 4

This was woman herself, with her sudden fears, her irrational whims, her instinctive worries, her impetuous boldness, her fussings, and her delicious sensibility.

The author is therefore the ideological figure by which one marks the manner in which we fear the proliferation of meaning

Tuesday, February 26

"anyone who represents himself in court has a fool for a client and an ass for an attorney".

The pallid shades of memory struggle in vain with the life and freedom of the Present.

It is in fact, the wish for rational insight, not the ambition to amass a mere heap of acquirements, that should be presupposed in every case as possessing the mind of the learner in the study of science.

To him who looks upon the world rationally, the world in its turn, presents a rational aspect.

Only when the dusk starts to fall does the owl of Minerva spread its wings and fly.

Wednesday, February 20

what is tradition if not a perfectly acted but unbearable comedy which because it has become so incomprehensible makes our laughter freeze, in this atmosphere that makes us freeze.

Wednesday, February 6

We must not expect more precision than the subject-matter admits. The student should have reached years of discretion.

Our discussion will be adequate if it has as much clearness as the subject-matter admits of, for precision is not to be sought for alike in all discussions, any more than in all the products of the crafts. Now fine and just actions, which political science investigates, admit of much variety and fluctuation of opinion, so that they may be thought to exist only by convention, and not by nature. And goods also give rise to a similar fluctuation because they bring harm to many people; for before now men have been undone by reason of their wealth, and others by reason of their courage. We must be content, then, in speaking of such subjects and with such premisses to indicate the truth roughly and in outline, and in speaking about things which are only for the most part true and with premisses of the same kind to reach conclusions that are no better. In the same spirit, therefore, should each type of statement be received; for it is the mark of an educated man to look for precision in each class of things just so far as the nature of the subject admits; it is evidently equally foolish to accept probable reasoning from a mathematician and to demand from a rhetorician scientific proofs.
Now each man judges well the things he knows, and of these he is a good judge. And so the man who has been educated in a subject is a good judge of that subject, and the man who has received an all-round education is a good judge in general. Hence a young man is not a proper hearer of lectures on political science; for he is inexperienced in the actions that occur in life, but its discussions start from these and are about these; and, further, since he tends to follow his passions, his study will be vain and unprofitable, because the end aimed at is not knowledge but action. And it makes no difference whether he is young in years or youthful in character; the defect does not depend on time, but on his living, and pursuing each successive object, as passion directs. For to such persons, as to the incontinent, knowledge brings no profit; but to those who desire and act in accordance with a rational principle knowledge about such matters will be of great benefit.
These remarks about the student, the sort of treatment to be expected, and the purpose of the inquiry, may be taken as our preface.

Wednesday, January 16

- a philosopher, a men who dreams of fewer things than there are on heaven and earth. 

- Bradley defined philosophy as the finding of bad reason for what one believes by instinct. As if one believed anything by instinct! One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them. Finding bad reasons for what one believes for other bad reasons--that's philosophy. 

Exposing what is mortal and unsure to all that fortune,
death and danger dare,
even for an eggshell.

But I dont want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want good ness. I want sin. In fact, I am claiming the right to be unhappy. Not to mention the right to grow old and ugly and impotent; the right to have syphilis and cancer; the right to have too little to eat; the right to be lousy; the right to live in constant apprehension of what may happen tomorrow; the right to catch typhoid; the right to be tortured by unspeakable pains of every kind.  I claim them all.

Saturday, January 12

A physical shortcoming could produce a kind of mental excess. The process, it seemed, was reversible. Mental excess could produce, for its own purposes, the voluntary blindness and deafness of deliberate solitude, the artificial impotence of asceticism.

Tuesday, January 8

This video from Abteen Bagheri is killing me.

Tuesday, November 20

شاید  برای خوشه هاست که رنگشان چیزیست میان شیر و عسل. این ها گل مرواریدند. نور که بهشان میرسد میشکند و سایه هاشان را به دیوار می اندازد. بر عکس آویزه های بلور به راحتی نور را از خودشان عبور می دهند و نور چیز حقه بازی می شود بین هفت رنگ، تا وهم را در تو به کمال برساند

Tuesday, October 30

Monday, July 2


...appalled by its raw vigor that chafed under the old euphemisms and by the too obtrusive fate that herded its inhabitants along a short cut from nothing to nothing.

Friday, June 22

Musicians, promoters, and influencers in Brooklyn (left to right): A.P. Smith (Chief/Bodega), Joe Ahearn (Silent Barn/Showpaper/Clocktower Gallery), Conrad Carlson aka DJ Dirty Finger (Black Label Bicycle Club), Pat Noecker (RAFT/These Are Powers/Liars), Edan Wilber (Death By Audio), Carlos Valpeoz (Bikes In The Kitchen), Michelle Cable (Panache Booking). Photo by Benjamin Lozovsky


To preface: this is an ongoing project. I hope to continue to meet with people who have stories to tell of Brooklyn in the 2000s, or before, and possibly beyond. And I hope to expand on the stories outlined here in this article. I consider this to be an oral history, an archiving of events paired with not only my own personal anecdotes but also those of anyone else who was there.

The initial concept for this project came out of a long conversation I had with the musician Pat Noecker (Liars, These Are Powers), just reminiscing about shows that still stuck out in our mind as memorable and perhaps important? And having spent the last two weeks meeting with people and friends and discussing our own personal histories, it seems that maybe it is worth exploring, and documenting, preserving and sharing.

Please contact me directly if you’re interested in participating in this archive.



Ten Years of Music – A Williamsburg Oral History: 2002-2012

by A.P. Smith

Tod Seelie, 33, moved to Brooklyn in 1998 to go to Pratt Institute in Clinton Hill because it was the least expensive school that accepted him. And that says a lot considering the annual tuition was $30,000.

“People comment on that period of Pratt, the late 90s, early 2000s,” says Tod Seelie. “All these really motivated and impressive people came out of that time – Swoon, Japanther, Matt and Kim – and everyone’s like, ‘Yeah, there must have been something in the water,’ I think it was something in the financial aid office.” Tod smiles. “They brought in a lot of people who had a lot of potential and were able to realize that because they were able to go to a good art school and grow.”

And I think he’s right. I enrolled at Pratt in the fall of 2000. I had never been to New York, never visited Brooklyn and suddenly I was left to my own in this new place, this massive city. I remember that first night, after college orientation, a group of my newly found friends and I braved the subway into Manhattan to see a Pedro The Lion show at The Knitting Factory on Leonard Street.

Just a year later, not long after 9-11, living in Bed-Stuy and collaborating with all these incredible creative people at Pratt… it felt like something bigger than the “college experience” I had expected or learned about from the movies.

In the wake of 9-11 we were free to do whatever the hell we wanted. The paranoia and overreaching authority hadn’t settled in yet. Everyone sort of walked around like a celebrated survivor, like the little things didn’t really matter because at any moment a true and massive tragedy could occur. Those first years after 9-11 really felt like we could do anything.

Ian Vanek, and Matt Reilly, of the performance band Japanther, also attended Pratt Institute in the early 2000s. “We traded music with each other, “Vanek says. “Mix tapes we bought on the street from bootleggers. And we made our own tapes and traded those and just started making music. We were playing, like joking around, like how children play – that’s what we were doing, just staying in that mindset. Making a joke because we were supposed to be doing our homework. Going to college we were supposed to be making pictures but we were making songs because it wasn’t what we were supposed to be doing. “

Brooklyn was our stomping ground, at least that small section of Brooklyn, seeping slowly towards Bed-Stuy, Ft. Greene, and eventually Williamsburg. But even then, Williamsburg was much different than it is today. And certainly even more so earlier on.

Pat Noecker moved to New York in 1997. One of 12 children on a farm in Nebraska, Pat grew up to play in bands out of Omaha and eventually toured the USA before moving to New York. Seeking out collaborators, Pat answered a flyer’s call for a band mate and met Angus Andrew and Aaron Hemphill. And so they bought a van for $600 and started a band named Liars, playing their first show for a small circle of friends at a dive bar in Midtown Manhattan called Siberia.

Around the same time, other bands were beginning to play in Manhattan and parts of Williamsburg, bands like Lightning Bolt, !!!, Les Savy Fav, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

“We were at this gay bar on Grand Street called Luxx, now Trash Bar,” says Seva Granik, 37, co-founder of MyOpenBar.com. Born and raised in Bensonhearst, Brooklyn, Granik first started exploring Williamsburg in the late nineties, early 2000 after a friend from college moved to Greenpoint. “Suddenly Luxx gets completely packed – this was a weeknight I think,” Seva says. “And we get pushed to the back where there’s this scrawny guy on stage setting up all these pedals and he’s looking confident but he has a really complicated set-up with loops and pedals… then he starts playing and the drummer comes out and he starts playing – you could tell the drummer was amazing – and then this girl just blows onto the stage, naked with pieces of tape on her nipples, maybe a bikini or something and just goes wild: pouring beer on herself, breaking bottles, bleeding… The whole place is going insane, and she’s amazing…. And that was a band I’d never heard of, called Yeah Yeah Yeahs.”

Pat Noecker remembers this time very well. “By the summer of 2000,” Pat says, “everybody knew that shit was happening in New York City. And there weren’t a lot of alternative spaces in Manhattan so everyone started playing shows in Brooklyn for Fitz. This guy John ‘Fitz’ Fitzgerald, living in South Williamsburg, saw the potential of music in alternative spaces – taking it out of the bar and doing it for the music, for the art, getting musicians money and putting them in front of audiences that didn’t consider it entertainment, they saw it as art. And it started working.”

These events occurred during the advent and rise of the Internet. These early shows, shows in the early 2000s, were not covered in the media. These shows didn’t have photographers with digital cameras in the audience. To put it into a larger context, it was January 2001 when iTunes launched. And it would be another 10 months before we had iPods. This was not only the beginning of a new era of music, music out of Brooklyn, but also the beginning of the end of the music industry as it existed then.

That year, 2001, also brought us albums like “This Is It” and “White Blood Cells” by The Strokes and The White Stripes, respectively. Not to mention other breaking bands like Interpol, Radio 4, We Are Scientists… the list goes on and on.

As a 19-year-old art school student in 2001, discovering these great bands, experiencing new technologies, going to these raw concerts in loft spaces and house parties in Brooklyn, I was absolutely blown away. It was incredible. And while every corner seemed new and fresh to me, I certainly wasn’t first to the scene. And to be frank, I feel like I tuned in just around the same time that mainstream media had taken notice and began broadcasting these bands throughout the country.

Suddenly, this entire generation of “Brooklyn Bands”, which hadn’t existed before then, was thrust into the public eye, and the public ear, and, in more ways than one, put Brooklyn on the map.

There was a show in 2002 called The Junkyard Show, organized by a group of people called The Twisted Ones (Fitz and Arthur) across the street from the DIY venue Mighty Robot. Liars played. “It was jammed,” Pat Noecker says. “People all around, people in the loft, people on buildings, on rooftops, decks, fire escapes, 360-degrees, and the Williamsburg Bridge is right there and the catwalk is packed with people watching from the bridge. MTV was there. Everybody. It was the apex of that time.”

And then things really got cooking.

Enter Todd Patrick. Having moved to NYC from Austin and previously Portland, Oregon where he operated an all-ages venue, Todd P first began throwing shows in lofts and bars in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, Brooklyn in October 2001.

“Todd P took what the twisted ones did and expanded on that idea,” says Pat Noecker. “He got interns, paid cops to do security and built an infrastructure that allowed it to get bigger but keep its purity. And every band in the country that had any sense of a punk aesthetic, no matter what the music was, wanted to play a show with Todd because the idea was the most pure.”

Todd Patrick aka Todd P, Brooklyn all ages promoter and recent father. Illustration by Mike Force

Todd P threw shows in the tiniest back rooms of dusty dive bars in Greenpoint. He threw shows in strange basements and cafes in Queens, places that some would remember by name, like Uncle Paulie’s, and other places that maybe never even had a name. Needless to say Todd P booked hundreds of shows with thousands of bands over the years, including bands that would grow and tour and reach larger and large audiences. Matt and Kim is probably the most popular of these bands.

“The first Todd P. show I was a part of was with the Amanda Noa dudes playing with Japanther at a space on Kent and Broadway?” recalls Matt Johnson of Matt and Kim. “Remember there was that space there, that was upstairs – the something café? – I can’t remember the name of that space, it didn’t last, but that was the first time I met Todd.”

Matt Johnson and Kim Schifino came from that generation of Pratt alumni in those early 2000s. “Kim wanted to learn how to play drums,” says Matt. “I was just trying to learn how to play this cool keyboard I found in my neighbor’s garage when I was younger and then… Ian from Japanther found out we were playing music and he said, ‘You have to do a show with me.’ And we said, “We’re not a real band. We don’t have a name, we don’t have any songs,’ and he said, ‘I don’t care you’re gonna play this show.’”

And this particular show, in a basement space in Long Island City, Queens, was indeed organized and promoted by Todd P. Listed on the flyer, along with Japanther, was “Matthew and Kimberly.”

“We shortened the name,” Matt says. “But we thought, ‘Yeah that works, that’s fine.’ So, in a way, Todd P did kind of name our band.”

That was in the fall of 2004.

Meanwhile, another community of young Brooklynites had formed in parallel with the performance bands from Pratt or bands booked by Todd P. One year earlier, 2003, brought us the first Bike Kill, a sanctioned block party on a dead-end street in Bedford-Stuyvesant organized by a tight-knit group of people who were calling themselves The Black Label Bicycle Club (BLBC).

The story of Black Label extends back beyond New York and this timeframe, all the way back to 1992 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 2000 a Black Label member named Leo moved to New York and ultimately met enough like-minded people that he founded a Brooklyn chapter of Black Label.

“The Bike Club brought us together,” says BLBC member Conrad Carlson aka DJ Dirty Finger. “But that summer there were also other groups I was around that all came together… Toy Shop Collective, the Madagascar Institute, Black Label, and Critical Mass, which pre-RNC Critical Mass was insane.”

Many things changed in 2004.

In February 2004, at a Greenpoint, Brooklyn venue called The Warsaw, there was a passing of the torch moment during a gig the included Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Liars, and relative newcomers TV On The Radio. And in many ways, this closed one chapter in the Williamsburg history books and opened yet another.

For me personally, I graduated from college that summer and traveled the USA interviewing leaders and inspirational figures for a documentary television show called Roadtrip Nation. Having had a very politically charged road trip that summer, traversing the USA while Bush and Kerry made their own campaign trips, I returned to Brooklyn just before the Republican National Convention.

The presence of the RNC and the actions taken by the authorities during the RNC very much permanently changed the atmosphere of New York City. Thousands were arrested that week. “The Critical Mass just before the RNC was the first time the police used kettling,” says Tod Seelie. “What’s kettling? Sealing off two ends of a block and just arresting everyone inside… Detaining people for three days on a greasy floor in a concrete warehouse throwing bologna sandwiches at them once in a while.”

It was a dark time for New York City and for our country. And yet somehow Williamsburg and areas of North Brooklyn seemed to be operating under a different paradigm.

Brooklyn DIY event promoters (left to right): A.P. Smith (Chief / Bodega), Todd Patrick aka Todd P (ToddPNYC), Seva Granik (My Open Bar/ABRACADABRA). Photo by Eddy Vallante

Not long after Seva Granik first saw Yeah Yeah Yeahs at Luxx in 2000, he moved to Williamsburg. Working as VP of Intranet at Morgan Stanley, Granik saved most of his large salary. And after 9-11 he quit his job to pursue music.

Cut to 2005: having spent five years living in Williamsburg, playing in bands (Like Yesterday) and spending the savings he earned working at Morgan Stanley, Seva was suddenly broke and bored.

His roommate at the time was running in this scene of open bars, “mostly promotional vehicles for beers and liquors, mostly in the Lower East Side,” says Seva. “And so we would just go get wasted for free.”

Seva maintained a blog about his misadventures in NYC and started including information about upcoming open bars. He then noticed an increase in traffic to his site. So he published more open bar information and saw more traffic. And so then he built a very rudimentary website, included an email list, called it MyOpenBar.com (his roommate’s idea) and overnight 1,000 people signed up.

“For some reason people just loved it,” says Seva. “The NY Times did an article, every major newspaper and magazine in town was calling to figure out what the fuck was going on.”

And the website continued to garner more and more traffic and collect more and more subscribers to their weekly newsletter listing open bar events all over New York City. Slowly at first, but eventually it became a go-to resource and guide for nightlife, particularly free events.

“Somehow it evolved into this business with a marketing component and an events arm that made a ton of money and managed to hold people’s attention for a little while, a couple of years. But Becky [Smeyne] and I fucked it up. We just wanted to do this “DIY thing” and we have a very DIY attitude and we wanted everything to be cool. But. Business and cool don’t really mix.”

Seva and Becky wanted to make “happenings,” something more than just a show. At the time, events and parties were reaching well beyond this idea of a “show” where bands play and everyone watches and listens.

Seva and Becky hosted some of the craziest events I’ve ever experienced, namely a Halloween party in 2007 at a warehouse on Wythe Avenue with DJs from the Black Label Bicycle Club including DJ Dirty Finger.

And of course, the Bike Kill events in Bed-Stuy, hosted by Black Label will be forever burned into my mind as the most chaotic community celebrations I’ve ever witnessed neigh participated in. Those events, those happenings were inspirational and resonate with me now still because of the pure freedom those events granted me and everyone there.

“You pay to be everywhere you go in New York,” says Conrad aka DJ Dirty Finger. “Because it’s expensive, you spend your whole life in New York trying to pay for life. Anytime you can go somewhere and not feel that… There’s a freedom. The best are house parties.”

And if you’ve been to parties at The Chicken Hut in Bed-Stuy, you know that those were absolutely the best house parties. In many ways that’s what it seems to be about, looking back on it now: this group of people, these groups of people throwing some of the biggest, craziest “house parties” in Brooklyn. Often times, these parties weren’t even at houses but rather multiple story warehouses, vacant lots, dead-end streets, rooftops, subways, Chinese buffets, and twice even on the middle of the bike path on the Williamsburg Bridge.

Front row, left to right: Conrad Carlson aka DJ Dirty Finger (Black Label Bicycle Club), Carlos Valpeoz (Bikes In The Kitchen), A.P. Smith (Chief/Bodega); Back row, left to right: Joe Ahearn (Silent Barn/Showpaper/Clocktower Gallery), Edan Wilber (Death By Audio), Pat Noecker (RAFT/These Are Powers/Liars), Michelle Cable (Panache Booking). Photo by Benjamin Lozovsky

In January, 2006 there was a show at warehouse on Ingraham Street in Bushwick. It was a Todd P show called Brooklyn Vs. Baltimore, which featured musicians “battling” against each other. That night Dan Deacon, USA IS A MONSTER, Future Islands, Double Dagger and These Are Powers (Pat Noecker’s band after Liars) played in front of 2,000 people in what almost everyone remembers as a highlight and a turning point for this community.

“At this point, the music industry really starts to sink its teeth into it,” says Pat Noecker. “And with any scene that gets bum rushed or commodified… shit starts to get weird.”

Things did get weird. In 2006, Japanther participated in The Whitney Biennial. A feature-length docu-drama about The Black Label Bicycle Club was released. Creative center 3rd Ward opens on Morgan Avenue. And Google buys YouTube for $1.65 billion.

Gentrification continues throughout Brooklyn while rezoning of the Williamsburg waterfront promises to change the neighborhood forever.

In July, 2007, Matt and Kim play the first ever show at The Music Hall of Williamsburg. “It was supposed to be Patti Smith,” says Matt Johnson. “And we were supposed to be the second show. But they were still assembling things on the night of the Patti Smith show so they had to move venues. And I remember going in for sound check, that official first show, and there were still guys welding in the railing as we were sound checking, getting everything done last minute.”

Also that summer the DIY venue Death By Audio opens on S.2nd in Williamsburg. Similarly, Silent Barn opens in Ridgewood, Queens. And the first issue of Showpaper, a free all ages events listing newspaper, is published through the efforts of a small team of people including Todd P and Joe Ahearn.

Joe Ahearn grew up in New York City, not far from where the former all ages venue Wetlands was in TriBeCa. Having left New York after high school to travel the USA, Joe returned to the city in 2006 and got a job bartending in DUMBO. Soon he began booking shows there for friends and bands he met while traveling who were now touring through New York City. But it wasn’t quite a good fit. Because of management and neighbor’s complaints, Joe was often forced to be the bad guy and ask bands to lower their volume or shorten their sets.

Right around then Joe went to a Todd P show at Uncle Paulie’s in Greenpoint in the midst of a tumultuous downpour. “I get there and the venue is literally flooded,” says Joe. “No one was there and one band was setting up and Todd was there with a broom trying to sweep the water out of the venue. And I was totally in love with the whole situation; I thought it was the coolest most mysterious thing. So I interviewed Todd and wrote this article for my school newspaper about the experience and I started helping him out. I stopped working at the bar and I started helping Todd with shows, and I started helping Todd answer emails, and I sort of just did that and nothing else for about a year.”

Ultimately, Joe believes this may be why going back to college didn’t work out.

“I just thought this guy can do anything he wants, so I’m gonna do whatever it is he needs so that I can figure out how to do whatever it is I want.”

And Joe was not alone in this thinking. Other young kids were eager to help Todd P and hungry to learn the tricks of the trade, including Edan Wilbur, an NYU graduate.

Edan Wilber, manager and booker at Death By Audio. Illustration by Mike Force

“I had loved music forever,” says Edan, “But through school I got into film and I was doing that for a while but I just hated that world because it was such an ass-kissing world and it was such a world where you don’t get anything done unless you have a shit load of money. And I think I just clung to shows because you start with zero dollars. And people just get there and were like, ‘Alright we’ll see what we can do,’ and everybody involved was down for that. We’re not going to make any guarantees but we’ll ask everyone to donate some money and then you’re gonna make some money and you’re gonna get to your next spot. And I just thought that was so pure, and such a better world.”

After having gone to Todd P’s 2007 showcase at Ms.Bea’s in Austin during the SXSW Music Festival, Edan, a shy guy, found the courage to approach Todd at a show and complimented him on his Austin showcase. That night, Todd P invited Edan to return to Austin with him to help with the 2008 showcase.

“This was right at the point when you could tell something was about to happen,” says Carlos Valpeoz, a Pratt graduate who has been organizing shows under the moniker Bikes In The Kitchen since 2006. “This was about to be a part of popular culture.”

It was that 2008 SXSW showcase that Carlos partnered with Todd P to host a slue of Brooklyn bands once again at Ms.Bea’s. The lineup that year included Matt and Kim, Ninjasonik, Team Robespierre, The Death Set, Best Fwends, Juiceboxxx, The So So Glos and The Vivian Girls.

“It just seemed like Brooklyn owned Austin for that one night, at least in my eyes,” says Carlos. “And it felt pretty special.”

For me, looking back on that weekend in Austin, Texas…. It was the validation that we needed. To take all of this talent out of NYC and showcase it before a new audience in a completely alien environment gave us all the validation and approval that I think we’d been seeking. It gave us the confidence to return to Brooklyn and continue to wholeheartedly pursue our passions for music and events.

It was that summer, the summer of 2008, that myself and my then business partner, Ed Zipco, leased an old grocery store on Broadway in Bushwick and opened the DIY venue Bodega.

“Bodega was completely renegade,” says Tod Seelie. “Market Hotel was kind of like that too.”

The summer of 2008 really opened the floodgates for a lot of DIY venues. At it’s height: Market Hotel, Bodega, Silent Barn, Death By Audio, Glasslands, and more.

And people loved it, going out almost every night because there were suddenly shows happening at easily accessible locations where you could truly, freely enjoy yourself.

“They’re not legit,” says Tod Seelie. “They don’t have all the restrictions and concerns and the bullshit. It’s a double-edged sword but you can’t go to the Bowery Ballroom and have those experiences because the Bowery Ballroom has security and insurance and bartenders who don’t give a fuck and have a bottom line to meet.”

Running a music venue and/or a bar is a massive undertaking that requires a team of hardworking individuals. For me, running Bodega, ostensibly an illegal music venue with an illegal bar, came with the both the demands of legal establishments as well as the innumerable obstacles and problems of an illegal establishment: remaining under the radar, maintaining community relations, even something as simple as disposing of trash because a clandestine activity.

It was dangerous and exciting. Looking back on it today, I cannot see it as anything more or less than exactly that: dangerous and exciting.

“I just remember thinking this was such a cool, big space with so much potential,” says Matt Johnson about Bodega. “It had multiple floors and high ceilings, but it came to this point with that sort of no rules atmosphere where someone wants to be, but where it clashes with it actually being sustainable, while I’m watching people piss in the corner on the floor and fights were breaking out and it sort of felt like this great no rules situation but it felt like nothing that could continue. It couldn’t be sustained; you can’t just have a place where it’s ok to piss on the floor anywhere… I remember beer just getting poured on the PA and it keep getting unplugged and I was just a show-goer and I ended up being the one trying to keep it plugged in, trying to keep the beer whipped off it, just trying to keep it going. It was great in its chaos but it won’t be able to last.”

2009 brought with it the demise of many of these ideas as well as the physical venues. Studio B closed after numerous battles with the community and the community board. Additionally, Ed and I decided to close Bodega, the result of nearly equal parts fatigue, creative differences and police enforcement. We aimed to continue to work towards legalizing the space and, remembering it now, that didn’t seem like the end. It felt like we were taking a moment to regroup and that we would come back bigger and better. But ultimately, it was over.

“We were all the beneficiaries of a more lax enforcement structure that previously existed,” says Todd P. “Clearly Bloomberg has pushed the whole city towards a more compliant, more orderly, more law-driven system. A system very arbitrarily enforced, in my opinion. The idea is that it’s across the board enforcement. In practice it’s completely arbitrary, spotty enforcement based on tattletales calling 311.”

It was not long after Bodega closed that the NYPD shut down a show at Market Hotel and so Todd P and crew decided to close the venue. The eviction of the events space Rubulad followed soon after.

In 2011, Cinders Gallery, a staple of art and creativity in Williamsburg is forced to leave its home on Grand Street where it’d been for over six years due to rent increases. Manhattan promoter and show organizer Ariel Panero passes away and a concert in memoriam is organized at Death By Audio where These Are Powers performs the last show of their 6-year legacy.

And it seemed to only get worse: the four residents of Silent Barn are evicted by the New York City Department of Buildings and then immediately robbed of all their possessions and equipment. Not even a month later the venue Glasslands is also robbed of thousands of dollars in equipment. Nearby, Monster Island closes, denied the opportunity to renew their lease.

Todd P, having stepped back from the scene, moves to Ridgewood, Queens and has a baby boy named Alyosha Kai.

“Whether or not you can say that Williamsburg 1995-2005 was a historical art movement,” says Todd, “It certainly had that sprit and that potential that you think about for SoHo in the late 70s, or the Lower East Side in the 80s, or Greenwich Village in the 60s. That spirit is what has made New York City an attractive place to live for a lot of folks who have talent. It’s an exciting place to live because exciting things happen here.”

Ultimately, we all want to be a part of something important. We all want to inspire others and leave our mark in someway. And perhaps it hasn’t been long enough to be able to fully understand our influence. Only time can confirm or deny that.

Today, some of these figures are still working towards the freedom of alternative spaces, DIY venues, all ages shows and loft parties. Edan Wilber books shows at Death By Audio as much as seven nights a week. Joe Ahearn, after years of managing rehearsal spaces at Secret Project Robot and living at and booking shows in Silent Barn, now works at The Clocktower Gallery in lower Manhattan as the Curator of Performance and Installation. Pat Noecker currently plays gigs under the moniker RAFT. Seva Granik works as a event coordinator under the moniker ABRACADABRA. And Michelle Cable of Panache Booking works steadily to provide gigs for local and touring bands in venues that appreciate the experience, often Death By Audio. It’s these people that younger musicians and emerging bands can truly rely on today and hopefully for days and years to come.

Ian Vanek, artist, member of the band Japanther. Illustration by Mike Force

For most of my life, I’ve been able to rely on the music I was listening to in order to place moments and happenings in my life. But for most of the last decade, it all blends together. I imagine it’s like what most 30-somethings experience: a blurred remembrance, the highest of the highs leave no room for anything else and you find yourself softly packing it all together into something like a time capsule, something not for you but for future strangers. You compartmentalize the decade, as the media has done for all the decades before… but yours is not easily pronounced, not agreeably defined: the aughts? The 00’s?

Today, as I write this now, today is my 30th birthday. And I welcome the self-reflection and nostalgia that I’ve encountered as a result of reaching this milestone. I’m not as wild and rambunctious as I used to be. I’m ok with that. I’m ok with changing, though I can’t help but feel old.

“To me,” says Ian Vanek of Japanther, “Being 30 years old is really young for an artist. Maybe it’s old for a rock n roller or old for our Internet social media life that we have going on now, but for me it’s a very young time for an artist.”

And I think Ian is right. It’s all about perspective.

What is the current state of DIY? Is it now worse or less important than it was in 2008 or 2006 or 2002? Has another era of Brooklyn DIY come and gone and with it, my twenties?

“Nightlife in America is still as interesting,” says Ian. “There’s a lot of speakeasy restaurants and speakeasy bars going on in NYC all the time. It’s the responsibility of the viewer to find these places and enjoy them. I think you have to stay dancing, ya know? Stay on your toes.”

Yes indeed, Ian. I still love going to see Japanther; I’l be at your next gig, like I was at the one before that and the one before that. May your next show be someplace I’ve never been before, someplace in a strange neighborhood, far from the subway, on the third floor of a rotten warehouse where a new community of artists and musicians are beginning a new wave of shows and parties… may your next show be part of the most glorious house party of a new decade, a new decade for all of us.

I can only hope the great Robert Earl Keen was right when he sang, “The road goes on forever, and the party never ends.” In Brooklyn, and beyond.


A.P. Smith is the author of a collection of essays and interviews titledWelcome to the Land of Cannibalistic Horses. His writing has been published in The Village Voice, Vice, and Colors Magazine. He has a BFA in Writing from Pratt Institute and a MS in Publishing from New York University. He lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. http://apsmith.net/

Sunday, June 17

EC2 + MATLAB = disastrous saturday nightmares

Monday, June 11

Tuesday, May 15

- What Fools These Mortals Be -

Like tables of standard functions, most of the computational wisdom of previous generations seems to be regenerated rather than learned or inherited (But hope springs eternal, so I shall finish this book).

Friday, April 13

making love to Stokely Carmichael

Wednesday, March 28

yall better check out my friend's music:

027 of 100milkteeth - everything's running

Sunday, March 25

DURING the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country ; and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher. I know not how it was - but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit. I say insufferable ; for the feeling was unrelieved by any of that half-pleasurable, because poetic, sentiment, with which the mind usually receives even the sternest natural images of the desolate or terrible. I looked upon the scene before me - upon the mere house, and the simple landscape features of the domain - upon the bleak walls - upon the vacant eye-like windows - upon a few rank sedges - and upon a few white trunks of decayed trees - with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the after-dream of the reveller upon opium - the bitter lapse into everyday life - the hideous dropping off of the veil. There was an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart - an unredeemed dreariness of thought which no goading of the imagination could torture into aught of the sublime. What was it - I paused to think - what was it that so unnerved me in the contemplation of the House of Usher ? It was a mystery all insoluble ; nor could I grapple with the shadowy fancies that crowded upon me as I pondered. I was forced to fall back upon the unsatisfactory conclusion, that while, beyond doubt, there are combinations of very simple natural objects which have the power of thus affecting us, still the analysis of this power lies among considerations beyond our depth.

Tuesday, February 14

A narrow logic of numbers

By using checklist of symptoms about emotions, you have gone out and confused normal human responses to life with mental disorders, and therefore you've created an illusion of a vast epidemic; a medicalized illusion. And obviously a situation where you medicalize is a situation where your focus will not be on social change. It will be on controlling the individuals to fit in properly. That's the subtle and overall danger here, that it could serve our kind of social economics system's needs in a way in which we would become more efficient but less human.

Monday, February 13

the chilly enduring odor of bear

Sunday, February 12

Langston Hughes on "when Harlem was in vogue"

It was a period when, at almost every Harlem upper-crust dance or party, one would be introduced to various distinguished white celebrities there as guests. It was a period when almost any Harlem Negro of any social importance at all would be likely to say casually: "As I was remarking the other day to Heywood--," meaning Heywood Broun. Or: "As I said to George--," referring to George Gershwin. It was a period when local and visiting royalty were not at all uncommon in Harlem. And when the parties of A'Lelia Walker, the Negro heiress, were filled with guests whose names would turn any Nordic social climber green with envy. It was a period when Harold Jackman, a handsome young Harlem school teacher of modest means, calmly announced one day that he was sailing for the Riviera for a fortnight, to attend Princess Murat's yachting party. It was a period when Charleston preachers opened up shouting churches as sideshows for white tourists. It was a period when at least one charming colored chorus girl, amber enough to pass for a Latin American, was living in a pent house, with all her bills paid by a gentleman whose name was banker's magic on Wall Street. 1t was a period when every season there was at least one hit play on Broadway acted by a Negro cast. And when books by Negro authors were being published with much greater frequency and much more publicity than ever before or since in history. It was a period when white writers wrote about Negroes more successfully (commercially speaking) than Negroes did about themselves. It was the period (God help us!) when Ethel Barrymore appeared in blackface in Scarlet Sister Mary!  It was the period when the Negro was in vogue.

From The Big Sea by Langston Hughes (New York: Hill and Wang, 1940)

Thursday, February 9

and the new discipline called behavioral economics has been studying whether people really do behave as the simplified model anticipated; their studies show only two groups in society actually behave in a rationally self-interested way almost in all experimental situations: one is the economists themselves, the other is psychopaths.  hahahahahaa!

Tuesday, January 24

The prosperity of our people rests really on the oil in the Persian Gulf, the rubber and tin of Malaya, and the gold, copper and precious metals of South- and Central Africa. As long as we have access to these; as long as we can realize the investments we have there; as long as we trade with this part of the world, we shall be prosperous. If the communists [or anyone else] were to take them over, we would lose the lot.

Thursday, December 29

SOME say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Wednesday, December 21

The Ecchoing Green
The Sun does arise,
And make happy the skies.
The merry bells ring
To welcome the Spring.
The sky-lark and thrush,
The birds of the bush,
Sing louder around,
To the bells chearful sound.
While our sports shall be seen
On the Ecchoing Green.

Old John with white hair
Does laugh away care,
Sitting under the oak,
Among the old folk,
They laugh at our play,
And soon they all say.
Such such were the joys.
When we all girls & boys,
In our youth-time were seen,
On the Ecchoing Green.

Till the little ones weary
No more can be merry
The sun does descend,
And our sports have an end:
Round the laps of their mothers,
Many sisters and brothers,
Like birds in their nest,
Are ready for rest;
And sport no more be seen,
On the darkening Green.

That was a way of putting it—not very satisfactory:
A periphrastic study in a worn-out poetical fashion,
Leaving one still with the intolerable wrestle
With words and meanings.

Tuesday, December 20

she turned her back to the diverting spectacle on the silent screen where the evening news led off with the inevitable skeletal parade scantily tailored in garments of pounded bark against an arid landscape, distant Mozambique this time, a woman with milkless dugs lofting a child deprived of food had there been any by a mouth fungus in the swelling vanguard of Africa's twenty eight million famine orchestrated candidates for oblivion... 

Monday, December 19

By the shores of Gitche Gumee, 
By the shining Big-Sea-Water, 
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis, 
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis. 
Dark behind it rose the forest, 
Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees, 
Rose the firs with cones upon them; 
Bright before it beat the water, 
Beat the clear and sunny water, 
Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.

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