Outrage surged again, though, when I took a hard look at the press release for Grammy-nominated pop star Brian McKnight's Monday-afternoon performance at Hammerstein Ballroom. (2/7, 1:30-2:30 p.m., 311 W. 34th St., betw. 8th & 9th Aves., 580-0835 for credentials.) Yeah, credentials. It turns out the event is actually a press preview and luncheon launching "a new collection of sexy, flirty and fashionable lingerie" called Lovable. Yet, be of good cheer, for despite noble McKnight's absorption by insidious commodity culture, we still have the shelter of our online hiphop-and-r&b communities. The snowballing success of these will, of course, eventually cause a glorious, suicidal rain of music executives from their conglomerates' office towers. Such can be expected to be one of the themes of "File Under," a panel discussion featuring Darryl "DMC" McDaniels and Carl Hancock Rux, Wednesday at the Den at Two Boots. (2/2, 8 p.m., 44 Ave. A at 3rd St., 777-2668, $5.)
But?egad?what's this? "The Internet, the Global Economy and the Coming Depression" [itals added]!? As usual, the Libertarian Book Club's Anarchist Forum knows something I and the rest of the media don't. And we'll have to wait until Tuesday, when "Dr. Reuben L. Norman, Jr., (aka Banjo) will present his analysis? Banjo says the death of the market is unlikely to be a happy occasion." (2/8, 7:30 p.m., 122 W. 27th St., 10th fl., betw. 6th & 7th Aves., 979-8353, contrib. requested.) Drat. Then again, some of us are doing our part to stem the free flow of information, thus preventing the anarchy that the Anarchist Forum, with its paradoxically lugubrious Banjo, paradoxically opposes. I'm talking about Chicago record label Drag City, fine purveyors of music for grownup rockers. The promotional advances of two new Drag City releases featured pleasingly inventive, guilt-inducing messages to would-be resellers. Flying Saucer Attack's Mirror augments the usual "do not resell" message with an outline picture of horned Satan with the reflective CD surface showing through where the devil's face would be. The promo disc of Jim O'Rourke's Halfway to a Threeway depicts a stubbly cartoon frog-as-pompous-rock-writer declaring, "Without the music press, no one would buy your records." It's my pleasure to report that the highly cultivated contents of both these new albums boast a puckish impudence commensurate with their label's, yet go as well with fish or chicken as with heartier fare.
Cheers must turn to jeers, alas, as we segue from toasting independent rock to lamenting the monthlong drought of new hiphop. It finally, definitively ends on Tuesday (2/8), when Ghostface Killah's repeatedly delayed Supreme Clientele will at last hit the streets. From the one preview listen I got, it sounded like Supreme Clientele is a full-blown masterpiece, relentlessly banging, offering absolute zero in the way of concessions to the mainstream or anyone else unwilling to go where only Ghost can. Since you have all week to wait, why not take a chance and follow my advice from a few weeks ago about picking up MF Doom's Doomsday, even though you haven't heard of the guy, or perhaps checked one of his singles one time and only liked it sorta? I assure you, MF Doom is a national treasure. Don't be like Jay Leno, having Ice Cube on the Tonight Show only after his movie Next Friday was the top-grossing film in America two weeks in a row. Experience the triumph of hiphop as it happens. Despite its title, Doomsday is seriously enriching.
Much the same can be said about "Kids vs. Kasparov in the United Nations of Chess," which will pit the world master against 30 children in 25 different countries. The incredibly hyped feat, originally scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, has been postponed until the spring. A launch stunt for the site KasparovChess.com, this otherwise-promising event arouses in me ugly memories of Jeremiad Banjo and the whole Brian McKnight ordeal. Again, baruch hashem, there is a silver lining: the New York Cycle World International Motorcycle Show, Friday through Sunday at the Javits Convention Center. With live performances by Team Extreme and cooking demos by Biker Billy, this should be as awesome as watching 30 brats get virtually walloped at once. No cyberpansies among the Harleys, I'll bet, and as the event's sponsor is Toyota Trucks, no conflict of interest either. (2/4, noon-10 p.m.; 2/5, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; 2/6, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., 655 W. 34th St. at the West Side Hwy., 800-331-5706, $12, $5 for children ages 6-11, free for children under 6; tickets also for sale at [doh!] motorcycleshows.com.)
Wow. Every time I start to think the whole world is skewed against justice, another press release comes forth, evoking all the coming forthness of that which came forth in tales of old, to restore balance. Just imagine how I felt, mistakenly culling from one faxed notice that this year's sole benefit for Tibet House will be a public dialogue between The Healing of America author Marianne Williamson and Buddhism scholar Robert "Uma's Dad" Thurman! (2/8, 8 p.m., at Town Hall, 123 W. 43rd St., betw. 6th & 7th Aves., 382-1875, $15-$20.) Naturally, I only needed to turn the page to see that all was right in the world: the annual performance by David Byrne, Philip Glass and Patti Smith will be held as usual, at Carnegie Hall Saturday night. (2/5, 7:30 p.m., 57th St. at 7th Ave., 247-7800, $25-$100.) Tibet House is New York's institution for the preservation of Tibetan culture, which is outlawed in Tibet. (Here in the U.S. fervent belief in theocracy and reincarnation is protected by the inalienable right to be widely laughed at.) One can learn about it by visiting the Tibet House Culture Center. (22 W. 15th St., betw. 5th & 6th Aves., 807-0563.) As someone who's been to Tibet, I humbly suggest that an adjunct lesson about Tibetan culture in America can be learned by contemplating how the Buddhist axiom "all existence is suffering" might mean different things to peasants in a freezing cold desert and wealthy celebrities.
Certainly life is rife with suffering if you're blind. As New York Press columnist Jim "Slackjaw" Knipfel once noted, in comics and films blind people tend to be even more powerful than sighted ones. This results in crushing disappointment for people like Knipfel, for whom going blind turned out to actually be sort of a drag, involving much more bumping into things, helplessness and depression (not to mention difficulty reading comics and enjoying the movies) than mystical kung-fu powers. But?hallelujah?it turns out fiction does not lie. Knipfel artfully turned his tale of woe into an entertaining, unwittingly uplifting book, Slackjaw. Praised by Thomas Pynchon and The New York Times, covered by 60 Minutes and more recently dubbed one of the best books of '99 by Entertainment Weekly, Slackjaw comes out in paperback on Monday (2/7).
If the blind writer can do what sharp-eyed ones can't, perhaps a weeded-out old hippie will win the Memoriad 2000 contest, which will be held Saturday at the Con Ed Auditorium. (2/5, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., 4 Irving Pl. at 14th St., 718-899-3056 or firstname.lastname@example.org, $25 to compete, free to spectate.) The Memoriad demands of contestants that they memorize 100 names and faces, a 500-word article, a 50-line poem and a shuffled deck of cards. The three highest-scoring "Mental Athletes" will be deemed eligible to compete in the World Memory Championship, scheduled for August, in London. Why not Amsterdam, dude? Tut-tut, for on this particular weekend extreme mental athletes will likely be drawn to the national NORML conference being held down in DC. (cures-not-wars.org for info.) Much planning for the National Millennium Marijuana March (5/6/2000) will ensue. Lose a Memoriad, win a drug war?it goes like that. To everything, there is a season.