Lera Lynn: More than Just the Sad Bar Singer on “True Detective”

As I’ve been watching HBO’s “True Detective” Season 2, there have been so many questions: “Can female detectives really wear skinny jeans and cool shirts on the job?” (according to a real cop – turns out this is true, as long as it doesn’t restrict your motion), “Did Vince Vaughn known when he was filming ‘The Internship’ that he would once again get a chance at a serious acting job?’ (No, maybe?), and probably most important, “WHO IS that sad-eyed lady singing those heartbreakingly depressing songs in the bar that Frank and Ray (and sometimes Ani) frequent?”

If you Google “singer true detective bar”, the internet responds by letting you know the lady is American singer-songwriter Lera Lynn. But why stop there? Here are 10 cool things to know about her:

1. She was born in Texas, raised in Georgia and Louisiana, and now lives in Nashville.

According to Wikipedia, Lynn has had a life-long helping of good Southern living — giving her the perfect material (and musical influence) for coming up with ideas for those sad sad songs that evoke the darkest bits of the American experience.

Lera Lynn
Photo by Ixchel Lara

2. Her manager hooked her up with ‘True Detective’ musical supervisor T Bone Burnett, and the rest is kinda history.

Lynn’s manager, Sheri Sands, knew Burnett from working together on the Robert Plant + Alison Krauss album Raising Sand. Sands asked Burnett if he would be interested in using a song off of Lynn’s new EP, Lying in the Sun, for “True Detective” and after taking a listen, he asked for a meeting with Lynn in Nashville. Once he had Lynn there in person, Burnett asked if she would like to write some original songs together for the show. Lynn jumped at the chance.

She even got to co-write with Rosanne Cash on the haunting song “My Least Favorite Life” from the show:

3. “True Detective” showrunner Nic Pizzolatto gave her super-vauge concepts to write songs about, and hardly any time to practice them once written.

Out of fear of leaking any plot points or major twists about the show, Nic Pizzolatto gave very little information about the story arc to Lynn. He’d basically just give her a sense of the mood/tone he wanted — maybe a basic concept like “write a song about church ruins” that that was basically it. After the song was written, Pizzolatto would rush to film it — Lynn told Noisey, “[Nic] wanted very languid performances and it was difficult to do that because we’d just write the song and then immediately set up the mics and I’d record it.”

4. She doesn’t want to be tied to the Man. She self-releases all of her own music, thankyouverymuch.

For Lynn, artistic control is most important, and that’s why she self-produces and releases with the help of artist-friendly outfits like Slow Records. She told the Chicago Reader that’s she’s had offers from labels, “but the most important thing … is being able to make the music that I want to make, and to be able to perform it the way I want to perform it. That’s not always in line with the business side of things.”

5. She credits her mom with introducing music into her life in a significant way.

Lynn’s mom was a singer in a rock music cover band, and that’s how she first got introduced to music. Mom also would play all sorts of artists, from Vince Gill to Joni Mitchell to Michael Jackson around the house, giving Lynn wide exposure to all sorts of musical genres.
Continue reading Lera Lynn: More than Just the Sad Bar Singer on “True Detective”

“Ballers” Theme Song is My Jam of the Moment

Have you been watching the new Dwayne Johnson show on HBO, “Ballers”? You know, that show where Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg got in a HBO pitch room and said “Imagine a show that’s ‘Entourage’ meets ‘Jerry Maquire’ meets ‘Friday Night Lights’!” and the TV exec’s eye’s lit up with delight and he spontaneously threw a pile of money at them? Yup, that one.

It’s my new guilty pleasure — which is funny because normally my guilt pleasures involve an egregious shade of chick-flicky-ness. Perhaps it’s my inner ‘roided-up jock, but I do a little dance every time the theme song comes on, which had me wondering, who sings this delightful little ditty that references liking “chicks in twos”?

Scratch your head no more — because the song is “Right Above It” by Lil’ Wayne ft. Drake, the first single off of I Am Not a Human Being, which dropped in 2010. Why the “Ballers” team chose a 5 year old song to pop open their 2015 show, I have no idea. Perhaps it’s to evoke a simpler time in sports money management?

Whatever it is, it’s working for me.

“JAWS on the Water” Movie Screening: Cool and Absolutely Terrifying

Ok Austin, in the contest for coolest movie screening concept ever, you very well may have won the grand prize. I pretty much flipped out last night when I saw this picture of an Alamo Drafthouse screening of Jaws where people were watching the film while floating in the water on intertubes.

JAWS on the Water moviegoers
Photo by P. Young

Unbelievably cool! My friend, who was at the screening, shared there were scuba divers intermittently pulling people’s legs under the water during the film. So mean, but so hilarious! I guess the bright side of getting piss your pants scared during this screening was no one was ever likely to discover your indiscretion.

According to the Alamo Drafthouse, they originally executed this concept in 2002 at a different location, but for the 40th anniversary of the film they decided to bring back “JAWS on the Water”, but this time doing a suped-up screening at the Texas Ski Ranch in a man-made lake they normally do wakeboard and waterski lessons.

Based on the Twitter feedback, it sure seems like JAWS on the Water was an amazing experience:

NYC sure has some amazing movie screenings, but really nothing like this. Color me jealous!

Annual Running of the Movie Lovers: Bryant Park Free Movie Night for Ghostbusters

One of the great things about living in NYC during the summer months is getting a chance to watch free movies at Bryant Park. Out of all of the free movie screenings in the city, Bryant Park is the best because of the awesome sight lines, quality movie screen, good sound system, and access to great food stands and restaurants lining the park. It’s also pretty magical when the sun goes down and you are nestled amongst these large buildings — it is definitely one of those “only in New York” types of feelings.

Well this year’s Free Movie Night kicked off with a screening of the 1984 classic Ghostbusters. Yes, how cool is that – being able to watch the scene where they run through the reading room at the New York Public Library main branch… which is right behind you! Super awesome.

What you might not realize is there is a long-standing “running of the movie lovers” that goes on at the start of every screening. They open the lawn up at 5pm on the dot and everyone runs from all sides of the park and stakes their claim to the land as quickly as they can. It can be pretty intense. I did the securing once, and when someone stepped on the back of my shoe, flicking it off my foot, I had to keep running out of fear I would be trampled on. (I later recovered it by shouting “Anyone see a shoe?” to the crowd.)

Someone was smart enough to video tape the first run of 2015 – possibly from the BOA building. I have been told by folks that work there, every Monday they line up against the windows to catch all the crazies as they run for a spot. As this video and commentary will demonstrate, it’s a sight to be seen: “It’s like ants surrounding a dead cricket.” “It’s like we just watched something bloom.”:

Stumbling Through Japan: Arrival in Tokyo

EDITOR’S NOTE: I originally hand planned to write about this trip soon after I had taken it — in fact, the majority of this entry was written while I was actually on the trip. But the tried and true blogger excuse — I got busy (aka – I got lazy) — kicked in and whelp… here we are a year and a half later. (If there is some form of extreme blogger repentance I should be doing, please let me know.) I know that I have probably forgotten a lot of the details of the trip that I would have liked to remember — the exact feelings and thoughts that were running through my head at the time or the funny little things I had noticed — but I’m going to do my best to try to pound this sucker out… you know, for posterity.


In April 2013, I took an amazing trip to Japan — all by myself. No friends or family to rely on, just me, my suitcase, and my pocket Japanese phrasebook. At the time I was in the midst of tending to the wounds of a recent heartbreak, and I needed to get out and do something that would force me to challenge myself.

My plane took off around around 12 noon from JFK on a 14 hour flight to Tokyo’s Narita Airport. I’ll admit, I was a little afraid I would go stir crazy, or the time would just drag on and on, but I actually found that the time flew by so fast, I hardly had time to sleep.

I flew ANA, which I had read was one of the best airlines to Japan, and rightly so. The food was fantastic — a healthy Japanese dinner (salmon, sushi rice, fruit salad, soba noodles, and a whole load of pickled things, with a miso soup and green tea AND a tiny carton of Hagan Daaz ice cream for dessert!) and a not-so-Japanese penne pasta with fruit for lunch.

The plane, a Boeing 777-300ER, was super comfy and modern – with multiple USB ports to charge devices, ample leg room, and cushy seats.

Spending the majority of my time listing to Japanese language lessons and music on my phone, it was only in the final hour or two of the flight that I finally cracked open the checked-out Rough Guide to Tokyo library book I had brought along. Whoops, so much for “planning on the plane ride”.

NOTE: I will pause here and report to you without remorse I pretty much played Maroon 5’s Overexposed album on repeat the entire time, with only a bit of the 20/20 Experience by Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift’s Red, and my “Japan” Rdio playlist mixed in. When flying, I want the audial equivalent of Dipsy Doodles and mac ‘n’ cheese.

In hindsight, I will tell you, for me, the hardest thing about traveling in Japan was simply getting out of this airport:

Not shown: My look of utter confusion
Not shown: My look of utter confusion

I’m not kidding. It was probably a mix of jet lag and the barrage of unreadable Japanese words written on every backlit, glassy surface that spun me into a spiraling whirlpool of “HUH”? Never before and never since then have I ever been so confused as to how to even get OUT of an airport. I swear I must’ve spent at least two hours sorting through some mass confusion of locating the *correct* booth where bullet train tickets into the city were sold and hunting down my bank ATM. By the time I found the JR East office (where the issue the combo deal SUICA card + N’Ex pass), I saw this crazy line:


I headed back up to the smaller booth for N’Ex passes only that was upstairs, only to find that they closed EXACTLY at 5pm (it was probably 5:02). Back downstairs to the dreaded line. Took FOREVER, and they wouldn’t issue JR Passes unless you were activating it that day due to “high volume”.

Safe and sound on the Narita Express or N’Ex, as the cool kids call it, I headed into Tokyo proper! From here on in the transport was pretty much smooth sailing. Not only was this train incredibly clean and modern, outfitted with comfy red stadium seating style seats, but it had awesome digital graphics in both Japanese and English that told you exactly what was going on and where you were:




Getting off Shibuya station, my taste of Tokyo was being plopped right into the classic Hachiko Square scramble crossing — neon signs hanging from every imaginable building surface, casting a other-wordly glow on the hordes of people walking every which way with shopping bags and briefcases in hand, shuffling through a pedestrian crosswalk that split in endless combinations. All the while cars impatiently waited for the light to turn green, seemingly ready to mow down anyone who dared to still be in the scramble once the vehicles regained control of the road. It was the equivalent of getting off in Times Square, during the theater rush, while on LSD, on Black Friday:

An accurate depiction of what it looked like through my jet lagged eyes at the time -- tree obstruction and all.
An accurate depiction of what it looked like through my jet lagged eyes at the time — tree obstruction and all.

Here’s a video (not mine) of what it’s like:

Continue reading Stumbling Through Japan: Arrival in Tokyo

Roseland Ballroom Is No More. Here’s Me, Not Shedding a Single Tear.

Today I read something shocking: Roseland Ballroom closed down for good last nightand people are sad about it!

I get it guys, we are all getting soft in our old age and love the nostalgic feelings we get thinking of our concert-going days of yore. But there is no way you will sucker me into a warm and fuzzy revisionist history of Roseland. (Next thing you know you will be trying to convince me that the horrible blue neon sign at Sin-e did NOT burn holes in your corneas when you accidentally looked at it.)

Look, I can’t vouch for what it was like there pre-2000, but based on my own personal memories and experiences at that place, I am pretty sure that ROSELAND BALLROOM WAS THE WORST VENUNE IN NEW YORK CITY. PERIOD. That place had horrible sight lines, terrible sound, and for some reason it always was full of mean frat boys who would spill beer on you. (Except for that one time I went to see David Gray with my friend Joe… then it was pleasantly filled with mellowed out DMB fans and lesbians.)

Do you want to know how I know this? Here are some examples from the archives re: dear ol’ Roseland:

May 2, 2006: Review of a Yeah Yeah Yeahs show:

Tonight’s Roseland show defo had more enthusiasm since many more people knew all the new songs, but the crowd was lame in that “Roselandy” way we are all too familiar. You know what I mean. Something about going to Roseland always brings out crazy dudes who just want to push little girls down to the ground. I saw two guys get into a fight as one guy was leaving. Seriously, who gets into fights just as they are about to go? Some drunk guy turned around, screamed at me and gave me a face full of his Jack and Coke scented breath as I walked out of the concert for no real reason. The wonderful Maxwell’s show it was not.

November 25, 2003: Post from the Little Room message board about a White Stripes show at Roseland:

Only towards the end did security stomp through the crowd and remove just 1 of the idiots. One poor girl had to be taken out of the crowd she was so banged up. Then during the encore, Jack announces they got 1 song left for us – It’s Boll Weevil.

They begin – and the crowd surfing has started to pick up. Jack tells Meg to stop. He says “We’ll just wait until this guy finishes (referring to a crowd surfer)”. Then he goes “So Everyone get their teenage angst out tonight?????!!!!!!” Of course he was being sarcastic but the idiots didn’t realize it. Bollweevil resumes. Then during a solo, that’s it. Jack has had enough. He throws down his guitar and leans over the stage and starts screaming at a crowd surfer. He gets back to Mic:

“I am sick of these Frat F*ckers crashing our gig! People are just trying to have a good time, not have some A**hole crash down on their neck!!!” He takes a breath. “And now the last verse, which is about myself”. And the show ends smoothly.

April 3, 2006: Describing the worst venue I’ve ever been to in the USA, the Electric Factory in Philly, in the only way I knew how:

I think it was a combo of the fact that the EF is the pit of hell (think of Roseland, but worse–luckily I was in the balcony.

So there you have it folks, I’m definitely not sorry to see that place go.

On a related note, congratulations to Terminal 5 – with Roseland no longer in the game, you now officially the worst venue in NYC!

IKEA Discontinues EXPEDIT Shelf; Offers Record Collectors KALLAX as an Alternative

When IKEA announced that the EXPEDIT bookshelf was being discontinued, devotees of the beloved storage system unleashed a torrent of disbelief across the internet.

The EXPEDIT is especially dear to record collectors, since its shelf dimensions are perfect for storing vinyl. Will record geeks be forced to spend money on custom shelving instead Vault subscriptions? Has IKEA pushed vinyl hoarders into a life of crime; striking America’s supermarkets in a spree of milk crate thievery?

Well, not quite. In order to quelch some fears, IKEA announced plans to replace EXPEDIT with a new, nearly identical bookcase called KALLAX. KALLAX looks very similar except for the fact its outer edge uses less wood, giving it a less hefty look. IKEA is quick to point out that even though the sides are thinner, the inner shelf dimensions will match that of the EXPEDIT.


But why change the popular shelf in the first place? According to Gizmodo, it may have to do with IKEA’s desire to advance on their promise of sustainability.

The Swedish fast-furniture supplier accounts for 1% of the planet’s commercial wood usage, and likely sells tens of millions of EXPEDITs. Therefore shaving off an inch or two from EXPEDIT means less shelf, but it also means a lot more trees stay standing.

Although the EXPEDIT will be missed, you can’t really complain against saving a bit of forrest.