Two years ago I saw the only episode of HBO's Bored to Death I have ever seen and this has bugged me since that day:
If you're from NYC and take the train even semi-regularly, that should stand out like a sore thumb. The typeface is completely wrong and the terminal station on the left is in Queens while the train is going, ostensibly, to Brooklyn (plus the train reflection is all weird and swoopy). This is how it is supposed to -- and did -- look earlier in the episode):
My guess? They had footage from inside of the train station and either cut corners or simply forgot to take footage from the other side and decided to 'shop it, or whatever the video-editing equivalent is.
Little did they know that I would blow the lid right off their little secret two years after it had any relevance to anyone.
I've never actually seen West Side Story, but I've loved this song ever since a sociology professor played it for a 101 class I was taking. Mainly, I'm fond of the genuinely ambiguous stance it takes on "social ills" ca. 1957 and the failure of institutions -- legal, mental, social -- to either diagnose the root of a problem or constructively deal with it. These kids live their lives as full as they can, having been repeatedly failed by the system and marinated in pure vice from day one. What you're hearing is the ideological roots of punk rock.
I have been absolutely obsessed with Law and Order: Criminal Intent. One night, a few weeks ago, my girlfriend suggested we watch some actual television -- most of our viewing is via Hulu or Netflix -- and we caught an episode of Criminal Intent. I was hooked immediately. While I'm fond of mysteries and crime fiction, I never got into the franchise before. What got me was that unlike vanilla Law and Order, CI doesn't feature the courtroom scenes which, in my opinion , detract from the pace of the plot. SVU, meanwhile, isn't really an option as I actively avoid reading/watching anything involving rape and sex crimes. But this show hit all the right notes.
Detective Robert Goren's character is what really got me involved. His investigative and interrogation styles are a perfect sweet spot between old-school, Holmsian detection and aggressive Chandlerian interrogation. Goren sees patterns, makes deductive connections, and uses all those other detective skills I feel has been lost in modern mystery dramas -- replaced, at least in part, by unrealistic technology. When faced with an individual, he unbalances, annoys and lies to them in order to get them to slip up, to tear a hole in their own cover story. He also regularly violates the rules which former-cop P.I.s in noir fiction usually attribute to making them leave the force and go into business for themselves. Goren comes off almost as a family-friendly, less sociopathic prelude of Hammett's Continental Op.
Anyway, this post isn't going to be about gushing over Criminal Intent. Rather, it's about set design minutia, a topic which I've previously revealed to be an interest. For instance, in Season 1, Episode 2: "Art", there's the blink-and-you'll-miss-it Crass poster (for some reason disguised as one for a band called "Pocket.") Appropriately enough, it's on an art student's dorm-room wall.:
Next, in Season 2, Episode 22: "Zoonotic", a man appears wearing a Vash the Stampede shirt, from the anime series Trigun. These sorts of shirts, although worn much looser and untucked, were rather popular around this time this episode was filmed. It was always strange seeing kids walk around school wearing shirts with characters from anime they've never watched and video games they've never played. The knock-off ones were even better, featuring near approximations -- just near enough to be uninfringing -- of said characters. (As an aside, the actor on the righthand side is James Urbaniak who, among other roles voices Dr. Venture on The Venture Bros.):
Finally, from Season 4, Episode 12: "Collective", is a Bruce Timm framed painting (?) of Two-Face, as he appeared in Batman: The Animated Series. The scene takes place in, from what I could tell, is an actual collectibles store, so it may not have been a conscious choice to put the object there. However, the brief shot was intentional, so I can only imagine it was a momentary thumbs-up to Timm:
This is all I could find in the first few seasons, or at least all that really stuck out at me. I went through Netflix's entire Instant Watch CI archive, so once I get my hands on some more, I may follow this up.
This Friday, I was sitting at work listening to NPR when a short feature on hyperlocal blogging came up. Needless to say, anytime the phrase "future of journalism" comes up, as it did, I become somewhat skeptical. The end result of my skepticism was a tweet-off between my friend Sarah (with a few contributions from her husband RJ.) This is a bit inside-baseball for those of you not residing in the five boroughs, so feel free to ask me to further disparage my hometown in the comments. Now, without further ado and in no particular order, a series of potential hyperlocal headlines for Brooklyn:
Gerritsen Beach: Tales of insane backyard wrestling and the east coast's only Juggalos.
Boro Park: Is your sheitel out of style? Summer '10 sheitel street fashion.
Kensington: Is there such a thing as too much tacky fake fur? The results may surprise you. (Answer: No.)
Marine Park: Local stuff do to: nothing.
Sheepshead Bay: Jesus Christ lady you're 55 time to put away the leggings and miniskirt.
Brighton Beach: Tourists: tired of having horrible opinions about Harlem? have we got the neighborhood for you!
Carroll Gardens/Fort Greene: Not Park Slope but an incredible simulation.
East New York: "East Bushwick" is too a neighborhood, realtors say.
Red Hook: Hello? Anyone out there? We have a Safeway. Hello?
Park Slope: Are baby carriages awesome? We survey Frank from down the hall.
...and one for Queens:
Astoria: More shit to do in Astoria because you sure as hell aren't going anywhere and no one is visiting you.