I was recently asked to come up with two playlists — one, a playlist of “guilty pleasures” and the other a playlist of “hidden treasures.” At the top of my hidden treasures list is an album, Mattachine!, from a band called The Ballet, which I’m happy to report still exists.
If you click on that link, you can listen to a near-flawless song called “In My Head.” You can also click here. The lyrics are insanely entertaining, and also very smart. (Read them here.) It occurs to me that one of the lead vocalist’s many virtues is his clarity — he sounds a little like an American Ian Curtis. As good as “In My Head” is, and it is particularly good if you’ve ever been taken with a difficult person, it is perhaps the fourth best song on the album. I’ve only seen The Ballet once, at Cake Shop a few years ago. The lead singer was wearing a bathrobe. I was a little perplexed, but I had the sense that I was in for something memorable. The songs are definitely not to everyone’s taste: one brilliant song is a celebration of casual infidelity, and other songs feature Proustian deceptions and recreational drug use.
A few weeks ago, my friend Laura talked very seriously about opening our own Cake Shop-like venue that would, among other things, sell furniture. I was inspired in part by a basement party that featured a performance by Rainbow Arabia. “Why can’t I get these guys to play in my basement?,” I thought to myself. But I think this plan will have to wait. I hate the idea of having to card people. We could serve nothing but juice and enforce a strict curfew, but that’s pretty stressful.