National Public Radio
Sometimes a show isn’t really a show, it's an event. You finish with a set at the Bowery Ballroom, let’s say. It’s 1 a.m.: Time to hit the bars or go home. Exits flood. Simple. But the Shins in the basement of LPR was an event—one I got into because I freelance for the show’s sponsor, National Public Radio. The occasion: no, not the upcoming new Shins album, but the unveiling of a new iPad app. But aside from two machines set up in the basement lobby for people to play around with the app, no hard-sell went on, fore or aft, unless you count James Mercer’s hard-sells of the band via repeated mentions of when the songs were from the new album.
At 6:30 p.m. on May 6, downtown on Church Street, homebound commuters were streaming by what’s been built of 1 World Trade Center. The sun over the Hudson River beamed off the newly installed glass on the lower section; a building nearly a decade in the making was taking shape.
The day before, the whole area had been on lockdown. Osama bin Laden was dead, and President Obama had visited ground zero to lay a wreath for the victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Things had returned to normal. At the corner of Fulton Street, a man handed out cards for a nearby strip club. On the next block, another man was distributing leaflets advertising Judgment Day on May 21.
As Rakoff’s collection moves towards arguments against the constructed worlds of Rent and of LDS Utah, though, the sense of Rakoff’s book being hard to argue with becomes a weakness, not a strength. (This is leaving aside, for the moment, his lengthy condemnation of the Bush administration in the first essay—none of Rakoff’s demographic will disagree, but some may be hungry for some fresher red meat.)