That Time I Shot and Posted a Video to Instagram and It Became a Beat

Last week, a few of my friends and I went on a tour of four breweries in the Hudson Valley. At Plan Bee Farm Brewery in Poughkeepsie, they had a cornhole set up and a basketball court on the side of their building.

A cornhole board rests against a barn wall underneath a basketball court.

It was a cold day—somewhere in the low 30s—and the cornhole board was put away, resting against the barn. Also, because it was the coldest day in memory, we were all bundled up in winter coats: our unacclimated bodies weren’t yet used to 30° F.

One of us grabbed a basketball and took a few shots. I shot a few photos, and also a couple of videos. My friend Jackie, wearing a winter coat and boots, took a jump shot and made a basket. I had starting shooting just before she took the shot, and I stopped it after she walked away triumphantly. The video lasts all of two seconds.

I posted the short video to Instagram as a post. Over the last few months, I have really taken to posting Stories, but something told me this would be a good video post.

Watch the Instagram video with the sound on. It should loop, and if you listen to it a few times, you should start to notice a beat. I hadn’t noticed the beat until my friend Walter posted a video of my video playing with the sound on and looping. All the while, his girlfriend starts singing to the beat.

View this post on Instagram

Saw Juan’s video. One take.

A post shared by WALTER PLUFF (@walterpluff) on

The song is one made popular by Sam Cooke, “Bring it On Home to Me.”

It was one of the coolest things I have ever unwittingly and unknowingly participated. A lot of things had to go right:

  1. Jackie’s shot had to hit all of the things it did: first, it hit the basket and the rim. It also had to hit the out-of-place cornhole board and the concrete below. Also, our friend Ian had to affirmingly comment offscreen “there it is!”
  2. The start and end points of the video had to be in the right spot. Remember that I shot and posted the video without any editing. Also, I’ll confess that I forget that recording and posting videos to Instagram include sound. In my mind, I was shooting silent—or MOS, if I can use a term from film studies.
  3. Instagram had to loop the video and maintain a low and consistent latency to keep the start the loop again without missing a beat—so to speak.
  4. Walter had to have his Instagram app with the sound on. And he had to be in the room with his girlfriend within listening range to notice the beat.
  5. Walter’s girlfriend had to have a song come to mind and begin singing it.
  6. The two must have had two iPhones nearby: one to play my looped video, and one to record her performance.

For someone who studies creative works all the time, but can’t make anything to save his life, I am thrilled to have been a part of this. But all I did was having the right friends do the right things at the right time.

Scary Sounds! The $1000 Quintron Digital EP on Bandcamp

Quintron and Miss Pussycat are back with an EP, Erotomania: Quintron at the Chamberlain, and a tour. The tour comes to New York on Thursday, October 31—Halloween!—at the Knockdown Center in Maspeth, Queens, as part of Jonathan Toubin’s New York Night Train Haunted Halloween Hop party. The party, by the way, will also feature a bunch of cover bands, The Make-Up from our nation’s capital, NOLA’s Three Brained Robot, and Protext, who I once called my favorite Irish band of all time.

I found the entire Erotomania EP is available now on Apple Music, but I wanted to buy it to throw a few shekels towards Q & Ms. P’s way. Erotomania is available for preorder from Mind Meld Records on Bandcamp with one track, “Bohemian Caverns,” available now to stream.

I had considered preordering a digital copy—or even a physical one—but evidently only the “digital album” was available for an eye-popping $999 or more.

Yikes! I really like Quintron and Miss Pussycat, but a thousand dollars is simply too steep. Let’s hope that’s a typo. Otherwise, let’s hope I can scoop up something more affordable from the merch table at the Halloween Hop show.

Update: According to the organizers, King Khan and the BBQ show have replaced Protex on this show because Protex could not secure visas in time for the show. The organizers are offering refunds for those who want them. That’s cool because I really like King Khan and the BBQ Show, even if I just saw them at Our Wicked Lady two months ago.

Today’s Branded Podcasts Are the In-House Radio Stations of the 1920s

In a widely circulated article in the New York Times, David Yaffe-Bellany writes about major companies releasing branded podcasts as a promotional and public-relations tool.

With podcasts rising in popularity, it’s no surprise that companies are producing their own. What’s more surprising is that people are actually listening to them.

Yaffe-Bellany estimates that there are about 750,000 podcasts available on the Internet, and I would argue that the large number is because podcasting has remained an open platform. The podcasting medium is not dominated by a single or a small group of companies, or at least not yet.

The phenomenon reminds me of something I remember reading about early radio broadcasting. Before it was centralized by the Federal Radio Commission—the predecessor of the FCC, schools, department stores, churches, and small communities operated radio stations into the 1920s. Chronologically, this was more or less between the amateur period of the 1910s and when the Commerce Department began classifying radio stations—Class A, Class B, and amateur stations—and prioritizing the large professionals, such as those stations run by AT&T, Westinghouse, and General Electric.

The amateurs were pushed out because they were deemed unprofessional and unpolished. Radio was a fairly open medium 100 years ago in the United States would later be dominated by as few as two radio commercial networks—NBC and CBS—and a handful of radio set manufacturers.

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Beach Day, Plus a Century to Montauk

Since last summer, I have been taking a weekday trip to the beach with some friends who work in the bar-and-restaurant trade, or “the industry” as they refer to it. Beach Day been a highlight of each week. And although this has been a pretty sad summer for me, it’s hard to be sad while I am at the beach. And that’s why I’ve been going so often.

I skipped Beach Day this Monday because I had invited my friend Moira to go to the Mets-Marlins doubleheader. We had a blast! Since I had missed Beach Day and because the temperatures were going to be in the high 80s on Thursday, I figured that I would go to the beach that day instead. However, only one friend could go on Thursday so I decided to head to a different beach and bring my road bike with me.

Beach Day… with a Twist

I arrived at the Nostrand Avenue LIRR station to catch the 6:40 AM outbound train to Jamaica and then on to Babylon.

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From Babylon, I planned to ride the 108-mile course to Montauk—the one that I have done many times—and stop at one of the Long Island beaches along the way. I hadn’t decided which beach I would visit, but my candidates were:

  • Cupsogue Beach in Westhampton
  • Ponquogue Beach in Hampton Bays
  • Coopers Beach in Southampton
  • Main Beach in East Hampton

As silly as it sounds, I was really motivated to head east was because the forecast called for a favorable tail wind. Bicycling on Long Island sometimes feels like sailing because the terrain is pretty flat, especially on the south shore, and the wind can make a huge difference. And because the wind was coming out of the southwest, it would more or less push me across the island.

After riding through Babylon, there was in fact a very strong tail wind. With little effort and little training this season, I was cruising at nearly 20 MPH on some stretches of the route.

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A Flat Tire and then Lunch

I continued for about thirty miles into the ride, and then I got a flat. I got off the bike to find a piece of steel belt, likely from a car or truck, lodged into my tire. I removed it and proceeded to change the tube. After filling the tire to about 90 PSI with my hand pump, I continued to ride.

A few miles later, I came across a bike shop, East End Cyclery. I stopped to go in to get some water, buy a new patch kit, and to fill my tires to my usual 120 PSI. They were very helpful but, because they used a compressor, they were only able to fill my tires to about 100 PSI.

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There would be a bit of foreshadowing after leaving the bike shop. As I cruised through the Moriches, I saw a sign that pointed the way to Riverhead and to Montauk. For some reason, I stopped and snapped a photo of the sign—as if thinking there’s no way I would be going to Riverhead if I was planning on riding along the south shore en route to Montauk.

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By about 11:30, I got hungry. Because I was riding alone, I could heed my hunger and stop whenever I wanted. Citarelli Deli in East Moriches seemed like a reasonable place to stop. It was right off the route, they served sandwiches which is what a hungry cyclist wants on a long ride, and I got a good feeling about it because it reminded me of that market in Oyster Bay that we frequently visit for lunch on club rides.

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A Torn Tire

Just a few miles after leaving the deli, I was riding on a quiet road when I saw a couple of runners along the shoulder in front of me. I veered to the left to give them room to continue their run, and as I veered back to the shoulder, I heard a loud pop. The tube in my rear tire had exploded.

I stopped to inspect the damage and to repair the tube only to find that the tire had a cut in the side wall. The only fix here is to replace the tire. Ugh!

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I looked for a bike shop, but there were only two within a reasonable distance:

  1. Twin Forks Bicycles in Riverhead, about 8 miles northeast.
  2. Rotations Bicycle Center in Southampton, about 20 miles east along my route.

In either case, I couldn’t just walk to the nearest bike shop. I would have to try to ride there.

Every experienced cyclist knows about using a dollar bill to temporarily repair a torn bike tire. I had never had to resort to such a method, but having few other options, I decided to try it.

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Since the beginning of the year, I have been going to the bank to get two-dollar bills. I enjoy paying with them—especially leaving them as tips—because it always gets someone’s attention. People think these bills are rare, but as my mother pointed out, you can just go to the bank and ask for them,

This idiosyncrasy came back to haunt me: the smallest denomination bill I had was for two dollars. I wrapped the two-dollar bill around my new tube, and I found that the bill did not adequately cover the tube. Just a few spins of the rear wheel later, I found that the bill had torn and the tube was seeping out of the ripped tire wall. Had I just carried one-dollar bills, my lesson would have been half as expensive.

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My next attempt was to use a wrapper from a Clif Bar.

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The wrapper held for about six miles, as I rode towards the shop in Riverhead, until the tube popped out of the tire and my last tube exploded. For the remaining two miles or so, I resorted to a combination of both walking my bike and riding on the flat tire—hoping that I was not damaging my rim.

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Ahoy, Riverhead!

I arrived in Riverhead about an hour and a half after sustaining the first blow out. The bike shop—Twin Forks Bicycles—was a full service bike shop. They carried my preferred bike tires: the Continental Grand Prix ($75) and the Continental Gatorskins ($55). I opted for the less expensive of the two and bought a couple of new tubes, too.

Ahoy, Riverhead!

The shop proprietor asked if I wanted him to install the tire, and I explained that I would prefer to install the tire myself since my ride had already gone over budger. A few minutes later after paying for the tire and tubes, I was ready to roll.

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To make up time, I sought a more direct route towards the Hamptons. I went southeast on NY-24 which then would connect me back on Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton.

Along the way, I passed the famous Big Duck in Flanders.

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The Beach!

By about 3:30, I arrived at Coopers Beach in Southampton.

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The beach is as beautiful as the photos I saw during my research.

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The only thing was that I felt out of place among all the well-healed locals.

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My attempt to fit in with the Hamptons set.

Also, the water was very choppy—almost too choppy for swimming.

Choppy Water at Coopers beach

I didn’t stay at the beach long. The logistics of changing from bicycle clothes to beach wear and back to cycling gear was very time consuming. I also wanted to get to Montauk by 7:30 or so, as it starts to get dark relatively early out east during this time of year.

Snacks and Hills on Montauk Highway

One of my favorite parts of riding to Montauk is the final ten mile stretch after Amagansett. The road is rather desolate except for a few notable stands.

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After passing the “Snack Corridor” there is a fork in the road, and either one will take up some hills. The views of Hither Hills are cool because it is one of the few times on this ride that you see “terrain.”

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Also, from the top of Hither Hills, you can see the end of Long Island—and the Atlantic Ocean—in the distance.

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At Last, Montauk!

Just before 7:30, I arrived in Montauk. I had considered riding out to the point and the famous lighthouse, but I had done this years ago. Also, I didn’t want to get stuck riding back from the point in the dark. So I just decided to find somewhere to eat and hang out until my return train departed just after 10:00 PM.

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After a bit of exploring, I realized that I had never been to Montauk unless it was part of an official Ride to Montauk. I quickly realized that I think I like Montauk more as a concept than as an actual destination. This is peak tourist season for the Hamptons and Montauk, and the crowd resembled the kind of people I avoid in New York.

Also, this place is expensive. For example, one place had a Fish and Chips on the menu for $26.

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I skipped it, and ultimately, I went to a Montauk Circle Burger and eat a Really Good Burger for $18.

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Heading Home

By about 9:45, I headed towards the train station to embark on The Long Train Ride Home.

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It takes about three hours for the train from Montauk to Jamaica. I then had to change to another train to Woodside, and then pedal home from there. After a shower and uploading my route to my Ride with GPS account, I was tucked in bed by 2:00 AM.

As far as beach days go, it was a long one, lasting over 20 hours. It was also my first beach trip that included a century ride. But even with some stressful and expensive bike repairs, nothing makes me happier than being at the beach.

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King Khan and the BBQ Show Played a Surprise Show on Sunday

At some point on Saturday, King Khan and the BBQ Show (KKBBQ) announced a show at Our Wicked Lady in East Williamsburg. As luck would have it, Our Wicked Lady is about a block away from where I live.

This is not my first time seeing King Khan (a.k.a “Black Snake”) play with Mark Sultan (a.k.a. “BBQ”). There was a show back on November 2015 at the Brooklyn Knitting Factory.

King Khan and the BBQ Show at Knitting Factory, Brooklyn
King Khan and the BBQ Show at the Knitting Factory, November 2015.

And there was another show the following November at the Bowery Ballroom in Manhattan.

King Khan and the BBQ Show play The Bowery Ballroom in New York, November 2016.

Our Wicked Lady stages their shows outdoors, and for a while, I was concerned that it might rain on us.

Other than a few drops of drizzle, the rain held off. The show went on, although it was unusual in a number of ways. First, there were lots of people who jumped on stage to dance.

King Khan and the BBQ Show at Our Wicked Lady

KKBBQ shared the stage with “Uncle” Joe Coleman, who came on stage to address the crowd for a minute.

King Khan and the BBQ Show at Our Wicked Lady

King Khan also celebrated Jen from the Lower East Side on stage for, among other things, attending all of their New York shows for almost 20 years.

King Khan and the BBQ Show at Our Wicked Lady

Perhaps most memorable was the woman who came on stage and almost immediately fell into BBQ’s drum kit.

King Khan and the BBQ Show at Our Wicked Lady

And then she grabbed the microphone and made some unintelligible moaning sounds.

King Khan and the BBQ Show at Our Wicked Lady

Finally, she went over to King Khan and proceeded to dance with him.

Despite all the on-stage theatrics, which included a lot of banter between the two performers, they continued to put on a great, raucous show, complete with a few sing-a-longs with the crowd.

KKBBQ Sing Along "Why Don't You Lie?"

Another unusual thing about this show as that it ran really long—over two hours.

King Khan and the BBQ Show at Our Wicked Lady

I could see stage manager anxiously pacing around the stage and gesturing towards KKBBQ to move things along. You can see him kvetching behind the stage—on the right of the photo below.

King Khan and the BBQ Show at Our Wicked Lady

The show basically ended when, around 11:30 PM, BBQ walked off the stage. However, King Khan wanted to continue playing and stayed on-stage to play a few bars on his guitar. Finally, the stage manager apparently disconnected his guitar amplifier, thus ending the possibility of any more music…or any further on-stage banter.

King Khan and the BBQ Show at Our Wicked Lady

One concern for the lenghty show was that Jonathan Toubin’s weekly dance party was supposed to start around 10:00 PM, but things didn’t quite work out that way. It started closer to midnight, but no one who came to see KKBBQ on a single-day’s notice seemed to mind.

Remembering Edward Branigan

Professor Edward Branigan at the 2005 SCMS Conference in London.

Over the weekend, I learned that Professor Emeritus Edward Branigan had passed away on June 29, succumbing to leukemia. During my time as an undergraduate at UCSB, I took only one class from him—Film Studies 192A: Classical Film Theory. The class was one of the most intensive classes I took at UCSB, although it would be unfair to characterize my other classes as easy.

The Classical Film Theory course was very different from most other college film courses. First, there were no film screenings. There were only readings, and there were a lot of them. Second, the class met three times a week, for a hour each day, plus a discussion section with a TA. Third, the class was not actually about film. It was a philosophy class about film. So rather than stressing concepts like aura, montage, or realism, the course was based around concepts such as ontology, epistemology, and aesthetics. And we used those to understand not just how to criticize a particular film—but to understand the nature of all film—those that had been produced and those not yet even imagined. Many students struggled in this course, but I was managed to stay afloat largely because I had already taken an experimental film course. And that course helped me understand that film was much more than we see at the movies.

The Department of Film and Media Studies posted a memorial tribute to on its website. It chronicles many major milestones of Branigan’s life and catalogs his many achievements in film studies. He lived a rich life, serving in the military during the Vietnam War era and practicing as an entertainment lawyer in Hollywood before transitioning to academia in the 1980s.

One accomplishment from that tribute that I would like to highlight is his developing Film Studies 146: Advanced Film Analysis, a class that “weeded out” the students who could not keep up with the major. For those of us that remained, it was an important part of crafting film scholars. Professor Branigan didn’t teach 146 when I took it: Donna Cunningham did. But now that I think about it, it is clear that this was a “Branigan class” in that it was not like the other film classes.

Unlike Classical Film Theory, we did screen films, but only ten of them. We met three times a week—once on Monday afternoon, again that same evening, and once more on Wednesday afternoons. On Monday, we would watch a film and study how it employed a specific narration technique: such as space, time, and sound. We talked about it some more on Wednesday. Then, the following Monday afternoon, we would screen a different film—which would be unknown to the class—and be asked to write an eight-page paper on the film’s narrational techniques by Wednesday afternoon. We would repeat this pattern four times throughout the semester. If anything, it taught me to quickly identify the “moral” of the film and to outline how the film communicated that moral through cinematography, editing, sound, mise-en-scène, etc.

The last time I saw Professor Branigan was in 2005 at the SCMS Conference in London, which is where I snapped the above photo of him. I was at NYU at the time. My friend Scott, from our UCSB days and who was studying at Berkeley, was with me. Scott and I approached… no, we cornered… Edward at an evening reception on the conference’s first day. The Film Studies department at UCSB in the 1990s was pretty small, and the students had a very close relationship with the faculty: we even called our professors by their first names. I believe Scott asked him about his new role as the department’s Director of Graduate Studies. I feigned surprise and brashly asked Edward, “Wait! They put you in charge of the graduate students?” Everyone was aware that Edward had married one of his former graduate students, who herself passed away in 2016.

He responded with a smirk on his face, with a tone of sarcasm, and in his distinctive raspy voice: “Oh, I like graduate students.”

Rest in Peace, Edward.

Update: David Bordwell wrote a touching and personal memoir of Edward Branigan, one that spans decades and maintains close contact throughout that time. Because of the Independence Day holiday, I didn’t keep up with Observations on Film Art as closely I usually do. I only found out about his passing from the UCSB Alumni newsletter.

Stay Busy

Perhaps because I am a stereotypical Cancer, an overly emotional, empathetic, and moody person, I was brought to tears reading the story of Jamie Jarrín, the Dodgers, Spanish-language announcer, whose wife died earlier this year.

When Vin Scully retired from broadcasting Dodgers games after the 2016 season, he was rightly celebrated perhaps the best announcer in the history of US sports. Part of his legend was his longevity: he has started calling Dodgers games in 1950. But what most people likely don’t know off-hand is that the Dodgers still have an announcer that has been calling games since 1959. If Jarrín keeps working for another six years, he will pass Scully as the Dodgers longest tenured announcer.

Jarrín had planned to broadcast only a few games this season as he wanted to spend most of his time with his wife. But after she suddenly died, he asked the Dodgers to return to full-time duties, including traveling with the team on their long and grueling road trips. Although that sounds stressful, especially to an eighty-three year old man, it is common knowledge that only time can heal emotional wounds, and that to overcome such grief, it is necessary to stay busy. I can imagine it would be much worse to be alone in the house he shared with his wife.

Ticker-Tape Parade for U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team

Ticker-Tape Parade for U.S. Women's National Soccer Team

Yesterday, New York City hosted the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team for an old-fashioned ticker-tape parade to celebrate their championship in the recently completed Women’s World Cup. I attended and snapped a few photos.

Ticker-Tape Parade for U.S. Women's National Soccer Team
In the age of flash trading, ticker tape has given way to confetti.

Having been in New York since 2001, I felt it was high time that I saw a ticker-tape parade. These parades were so called because the offices of financial firms lining Broadway would dump out their spent ticker tapes to shower the celebrants. Also, I felt that I could at least show some support for a group of amazing women who are currently fighting for equal compensation to what the men’s team receives, even though the US Men’s National Soccer Team failed to even qualify for the most recent World Cup tournament. There were some isolated chants of “USA! Equal Pay!” before and during the ceremony.

Also, it had been a while since I had used my SLR so I figured this would be a great opportunity to use it and post some photos.

Ticker-Tape Parade for U.S. Women's National Soccer Team

As I was arriving downtown, I began noticing fans wearing replicas of the women’s team jerseys. Many of them were little girls who looked genuinely excited about being there to see the athletes they so admire. I didn’t shoot any photographs of these girls—I feel uneasy photographing children I don’t know unaware—but I did get find a good moment that might communicate the excitement many kids were apparently feeling that day.

Ticker-Tape Parade for U.S. Women's National Soccer Team

However, now that I look at it, it looks as if the adult, male chaperone is lecturing the girls. I hope he’s just explaining that they could be parading down the Canyon of Heroes some day.

Although this was a celebration of these women athletes, I want to draw attention to the presence of two politico men that paraded with the women.

Ticker-Tape Parade for U.S. Women's National Soccer Team

First, there was Bill de Blasio. He apparently has taken a break from his presidential campaign to award the team the ceremonial key to the city. I hope he wasn’t too shocked at seeing so many people at a public event.

Ticker-Tape Parade for U.S. Women's National Soccer Team

Second, Governor Andrew Cuomo was also there. He had just signed into law the New York State Equal Pay Act. You have to give him credit. He’s a shrew politician and has a opportunistic sense of timing. Perhaps this is why de Blasio and Cuomo don’t get along and why they rode on separate floats. Or perhaps it’s some weird Italian in-fighting thing that I don’t understand: like how one’s ancestors eat pizza with a fork, and the other’s don’t.