04.28.2020
Fiona Apple
Fetch the Bolt Cutters

If you're reading this in the future (and of course you are, because that's how this whole reading and writing thing works), more specifically, years or perhaps even a decade or two into the future, I wonder what you think of Fetch the Bolt Cutters. Do you think anything of it? Do you think it's a laughable mess and wonder how on earth it got rave reviews upon its release? Or has it grown into an all time classic, an era-defining work of art? What's Fiona up to these days? What did she do after this? And like, did we ever make it out of this mess?

Those are things I wonder. But there are a couple things I need you to know about this album at this time. Foremost is that, for a brief moment, one late Thursday night through the weekend, it was Special. Truly, genuinely, heart-achingly special. This is a shitty time we're living in—not just the pandemic, but everything surrounding, leading up to, and being borne out of it. The bad guys just keep winning, and everything is hopeless. Shit sucks. And not to go too philosophical, shit has sucked for a lot longer than this difficult time. It's sucked specifically women for a whole lot longer than that. And then, just a couple Thursday nights ago, Fiona Apple (already beloved amongst the more in-touch populations of music nerd-dom, and perhaps even beloved-er over the last year after her classic song "Criminal" appeared in a memorable scene in the pretty-good movie Hustlers), decided she was going to release her new album early, and it was exactly what we all needed.

For a couple days, none of the other shit mattered. Fiona was saying everything we've wanted to hear, spewing fire, line after line, song after song, truths we've all been thinking for years now. This world is bullshit. It immediately got rave reviews from outlet after outlet. It famously, in a matter of just a couple hours, got a 10 on Pitchfork, and you'd have a hard time finding anybody who didn't think it deserved every decimal of it. People on Twitter were losing their shit, changing their screen names to bolt-cutter-related puns, changing their avatars to Fiona. Something about the music on this album—the primitive percussive pounding, the gut wrenching vocal missives, the hot knife sharp lyrical veracity—got into not just the zeitgeist, but deep into people's psyches, like no other music release I've experienced in my lifetime. More than Kid A, more than any Kanye release, more than Lemonade or 1984. Which is especially impressive considering this album is nuts. And beautiful. It brought me to the point of tears 4 different times on my first listen. Which I don't mention because I think bringing someone to tears is a reliable sign of a good piece of art, or that I'm trying to cash in some woke points for being a sensitive male or some bullshit—simply that Fetch the Bolt Cutters contains a power that transcends music.

You're in the future, and I have no idea how that statement will land with you. Maybe we're all suffering mass psychosis. Maybe it's just a noisy, fussy follow-up to her actual masterpiece The Idler Wheel. Maybe everyone makes jokes about that "10" that's still sitting on its Pitchfork review. To be honest, after that first weekend finished and Monday rolled around again, and the bullshit of this world kept on piling up and the people in charge kept on shoveling onto it, we all moved on. But for about 3 days, we felt like we might actually win, and Fiona was leading the fucking charge.

You're in the future, and I hope the bolt cutters have been fetched.

06.30.2012
Fiona Apple
The Idler Wheel...

I'm amazed at how many words have been written in the last few months about Fiona Apple, and what she means to modern music and how she's handling adulthood and her angsty lyrics and her powerful stage presence and on and on. It's like she disappeared for 5 years and came back a living legend, and every 30-something music geek is melting into a puddle in front of her feet. But with all that, I feel like there's comparably little being said about the actual music on this album. And the music is great. Of course. But nothing written about it that I read prepared me for just how odd it is. Good odd. Take the strangest moments of Extraordinary Machine, strip away 90% of the orchestration, and imagine what the demo recordings of it must've sounded like. There's not a single rock/pop drum beat to be found here; the percussion is truly percussive. Organic loops of stomping and knocking, only the occasional upright bass pounding away. Choices are made all over the thing to break songs apart and put them together, pretty much laughing at the idea of composing a hit single. It's all very assaulting, but smart. And she can still sing like nobody's business.

03.07.2012
Fiona Apple
Tidal

I passed it off as girl-power-Lilith-Fair junk when I was a teenager, passed it off as mid-90's detritus when I was in college, and passed it off as her radio-friendly early career work when I finally started paying attention to Fiona Apple back in 2005, when she released Extraordinary Machine. But I'm eating crow. Big time. (This is a food blog too, right?) Tidal is great! Exclamation point great! I feel like a schmuck for being such a schmuck about it (and her) all these years. Other than "The First Taste," which sounds like a throwaway track from a Sade album (in a good way), everything here seems pretty much flawless. Especially "Criminal"; I heard it so often back then that it lost any impact. But hearing it now, and really listening to it... what a song! Just a great piece of songcraft, with hilariously obvious Jon Brion flourishes, which I never bothered to notice or care about back when I was too busy convincing myself this was crap. Which it is not.


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10.22.2020 - by Steve
Talula'sAsbury Park
Pizza

Some review I read had the gall—the gall—to say this cute lil bougie pizza place in the cute lil bougie downtown district of Asbury Park is maybe the best pizza on the entire east coast. The gall.

Except, shit. It might actually be?

10.22.2020 - by Steve
Mike's SeafoodJersey Shore
Lobster, crab legs

I'm so far behind on food updates that I'm just gonna leave this one here and hopefully get back to it later. Things have been crazy, ok?

10.16.2020 - by Steve
Pastrami QueenManhattan
Pastrami sandwich

Holy shit I forgot to write about Pastrami Queen! Yikes. This goes all the way back to the "early days" of the pandemic—which simultaneously feels like years ago and just weeks ago—back when everything sucked but was still somewhat novel rather than being the full-on idiotopia that we currently find ourselves in.

Everyone knows Katz's, and I know I've raved and wept about Katz's on this site, or maybe to your face. And Katz's is indeed beautiful. I've also maybe typed one or two posts about other pastrami-heavy Jewish delis around town, how they've been disappearing for a couple decades, how there are still a handful still hanging around, blah blah blah. Well the one that seems to get the most attention outside of that (beautiful) place is Pastrami Queen.

Compared to its big competition downtown, Pastrami Queen is practically invisible from the street. It looks like it could be just about any other random shitty deli—cheap sign that was seemingly just put up a few years ago, bad logo that was probably designed by someone in Power Point two decades ago, and the space itself isn't much more impressive. It has a bit of an old school feel, but it's mostly just a quick take-out counter and fridge full of drinks. It's not nearly the spectacle that Katz's is.

But that's not really the point. The point is that their pastrami sandwich is damn near as good! And almost as expensive! I finally had an opportunity to stop in sometime back in May or June, when I finally decided to brave the pandemic and bike up through Manhattan. That's a whole other blog post—the whole island was such a weird unsettling ghost town for a couple months there. But anyway I got my sandwich, sat outside and ate it on a construction barrier, and enjoyed the hell out of it.

10.13.2020 - by Steve
Hamburger Construction CoJersey Shore
Taylor ham

I'm so far behind on food updates that I'm just gonna leave this one here and hopefully get back to it later. Things have been crazy, ok?

10.13.2020 - by Steve
Scarr's PizzaManhattan
Pepperoni pizza

I'm so far behind on food updates that I'm just gonna leave this one here and hopefully get back to it later. Things have been crazy, ok?

10.12.2020 - by Steve
ZuriLeeBrooklyn
Jerk chicken pizz

I'm so far behind on food updates that I'm just gonna leave this one here and hopefully get back to it later. Things have been crazy, ok?