Tag Archives: TJ’s

Actual Occurrences: The punk rock island we once knew and loved

[Here’s the deal with this post: I wrote this more than a year ago with intentions of posting it here, then on a whim sent it off to NY Press, who responded that they would love to run it in the 8 Million Stories section. And, after a few follow up emails of reassurance … they never did. So whatever. But while wandering around the Brooklyn waterfront yesterday, we happened to pass by Ted Leo at the promenade, so in this blog’s grand tradition of letting no unpublishable work go unpublished, I decided to pull it up from the graveyard and post it. NOTE: all time-sensitive elements are related to Nov. 2009, just shy of a year since I first moved to Brooklyn.]

I have found the nexus at which punk rock musicians and struggling journalists who’ve written about them collide, and it is TJ’s.

Yesterday at reg in the midst of the inescapable writhing mass-of-humanity shitshow that is a sunny Sunday afternoon at Brooklyn’s favorite grocer, I was ringing up the purchases of a young, groovy looking couple in refreshingly good spirits considering aforementioned shitshow that often causes much grumbling among other customers (note: YOU ARE HERE ALSO TAKING UP SPACE).

The girl looked at my name tag which lists my hometown as “Hilton Head, S.C.” and asked me how long I’ve been in New York, if I came directly from South Carolina, etc.

The guy turned to her and said, “Oh, that’s where we played that show that they said it was like the ‘first punk show’ ever.”

Strange gears began to come alive and click together in my head as an improbable slide of memory pushed in reminding me that, not only had I heard that comparison before, but — hold on a second — I wrote it.

Turns out the guy was Marty “Violence” Key, the bassist for Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, who I interviewed last year before their head-explodingly nonsensical (but awesomely embraced by the five punksters on Hilton Head, four of whom worked at the newspaper) appearance at Stages on the island.

It included this:

Question. We did a little bit of research, and we think this may be the first punk show in Hilton Head history.

Answer. I used to go out with someone who lived on Hilton Head. I used to actually go down there a lot and visit her and we’d hang out and see shows in Savannah.

But there was one night where some ska band that I actually knew from New York was playing at like some crazy frat bar, and we went. And I remember her being so freaked out, like, ‘God, this is so weird, there’s actually a band that’s not like the String Cheese Incident or Widespread Panic or something that’s playing here.’

Wow, but I would have figured since then, that since there are kind of ‘punk’ shows everywhere, I’m surprised to hear that I’m the first.

Q. How does that feel?

A. It’s exciting. It’s auspicious. I had no idea. Continue reading

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You’re now shopping with the mother&*#@ greatest

Finally, after two years since opening, Jay Z has come to Trader Joe’s Brooklyn:

Hova loves HABA (<—grocery store humor)

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Akwarian Sea Rebel EP release FRIDAY

Occasionally we turn over this blog space to help promote some friend-of-the-blog happenings, and this week is a going to be a fun one:

Akwarian Sea Rebel, aka Trader Joe’s artist-in-arms and all-around groovy person Mandy Heck, is holding an EP release party Friday at Matchless featuring several things you probably haven’t seen before at a show in Williamsburg.

1) Dancers
1) A) Dancers in MASKS
2) More drunk Trader Joe’s employees per square inch anywhere outside the Brazen Head.
3) A Sesame Street-featured artist performing live!

That last one is awesome, and loyal blog readers (ha!) will remember reading about this earlier. Since then, Mandy and MJ had their cartoon accepted by Sesame Street, where it will run on the venerable children’s program Nov. 3. (Suck it, Katy Perry!). Watch it again to get it stuck in your head before Friday, and click through for more details about the show. Oh yeah, and it’s a FREE SHOW!:

Lonely Eleven

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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How do you get to Sesame Street? Practice, practice, practice

When people ask if I like working at TJ’s, I usually say yes (depending on whether that question was preceded with the dreaded “Where is the end of the line?” inquiry, to which the only appropriate response is a throttling with the large neon-green sign that says indicates the END OF LINE), and the reason I say yes really boils down to one thing: nearly everyone who works at TJ’s doesn’t just work at TJ’s; they’ve all got some other pursuit outside the building that doesn’t quite cover the bills yet, which most often means music, acting, art, DJing, writing, but also includes pottery, jewelry making, graphic design and the occasional journalist here or there. The walls of 130 Court Street hold some serious creative talent, ensuring that it’s never a dull place to work, and never one where anyone can take the daily shortage of white bean hummus too seriously.The following is the best example to come along that I’ve had the pleasure to highlight.

These two videos are for a Sesame Street contest on the animation-sharing site Aniboom. The animation is by Mari Jaye Blanchard, one of the store’s artists who produced much of the large-scale art on the walls, with music by Mandy Heck (aka Akwarian Sea Rebel), and the second one features the voice of crew buddy James “Bones” Cunningham. The more views and votes they get, the better their chances of getting a deal with Sesame Street, so take a look at these, and think about how much you enjoyed these kinds of interstitial cartoons as a kid:

Inspector Nose Private Eye

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Lonely Eleven

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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News miles: Rethinking your info diet

This story is fucking riveting and you better be reading it:

Held by the Taliban, reporter David Rohde’s account of being kidnapped and held prisoner by the Taliban for seven months until finally escaping. Loaded with intense moments like this one:

On the first day there, I went to the bathroom and returned to find Tahir with a fresh cut on his calf. It looked as if someone had drawn a line across his leg in red ink. A local Waziri militant had taken out his knife and tried to cut off a chunk of Tahir’s calf, saying he wanted to eat the flesh of an Afghan who worked with Westerners.

Part 1

Part 2

The story is also notable for the execution of one of the most successful — and largest — media blackouts ever when the Times asked other news orgs to not run the story out of concern for complicating the release of the prisoners.

Yeah, guess which one of the below have similar stories to share?

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My trusty laser gun

I agree that the technological wonderment directed at the price scanner, maybe the first widespread omen hinting at the flashy, beeping future of scifi, has been diverted into other streams. By the time lasers became pocket-sized, they were an annoyance driving us insane at Seacourt Cinemas as we groaned loudly, turning about to see who was responsible for the sudden red boil on Robin Tunney’s face.

Our sense of wonder is painted over and the original base coat can’t help but look mundane.

But still, when I’m at the register at TJ’s and some reluctant kid is gripping tightly to his box of animal crackers, I just say to him: “Hey buddy. Can I shoot it with my laser gun?”

Works every time.

From NPR’s All Tech Considered:

Bar Codes: The Thrill Is Gone

A barcode read by a laser.

A package’s barcode is scanned by a laser. (Scott Vickers / iStock.com)

By Eyder Peralta

I remember as a kid, the one thing that made me want to be a grocery store clerk was the bar-code reader. My mom would warn me over and over that lasers hurt your eyes. “If you look into those machines, you’ll go blind,” she screamed. Mind you, my mom said the same thing about microwaves and televisions but I always looked.

I looked and saw the silver drums spinning and that array of dangerous, crisscrossing red lines. I ran my hands on top of the machine in hopes, perhaps, that it could tell me something about my life and in fear that the red lasers could cut right through my skin. None of that ever happened, of course. But, on at least a few occasions, I snuck a can or a box across those mesmerizing lasers before the cashier had a chance to ring up an item. And sure enough, like magic, the computer would know that it was a can of Goya red beans or a box of Corn Flakes.

Read the rest.

Warping through a TJ’s work day

Working at TJ’s is far from difficult most days, save for the occasional jar-of-salsa-explosion or Total Refrigerator Melt Down Disaster (sorry cows, looks like your death was in vain). There’s also a lot of idle brain time, as it turns out putting cans on a shelf and carrying on light conversations about the weather doesn’t occupy much brain activity, leaving about a good 97 percent free to window shop down the streets of your inner psyche,  dropping change into the cup of homeless pursuits, or to traipse through the garden of imagination, willing new flowers to bloom at each turn.

The unshackled  imagination is what helps turn the ordinary, and often quite repetitive, nature of the work into something fanciful, or at least a cartoonishly fascinating version of itself.

I quickly realized the nature of the work at TJ’s has the qualities and cyclical challenges of an 8-bit video game. You know the kind I’m talking about, the ones before cartridge memory was really available so the games forced you to relive the same tasks over and over again to varying degrees of difficulty simply because there wasn’t that much depth or range to the games (e.g.: Spy

keep driving, it doesnt end

keep driving, this road doesn't end

Hunter, Donkey Kong, Elevator Action, Wrecking Crew, etc). The challenge becomes not in whether you can complete the tasks at hand — which are often ceaseless and without true terminus — but the efficiency in which you can complete them, the perfection of the process, and the stylized methods through which you can overcome the digital hurdles. There were no hidden bonuses, secret endings or completion percentages back then. It was up to you and your grade-school friends to continue to milk the enjoyment out of that cartridge of Dodgeball, because you knew your parents weren’t buying you another game until at least Christmas, and maybe not even then since you didn’t listen to them and refused to wear a raincoat over your mummy costume at Halloween because you were standing up for the realism of the outfit and they just wouldn’t listen to logic that no mummy, no matter how heavily it was raining in ancient Egypt, would have left the pyramid wearing a raincoat, especially not  a Members Only raincoat.

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