On Monday, Dec. 15, the Transom ventured out to Varick Street’s Chung King studios, where Tim Harrington—the bearded, antic frontman of art rock band Les Savy Fav—had gathered a group of his friends to film a spoof of Michael Jackson’s 1985 “We Are the World” extravaganza for his series Beardo, which airs on Pitchfork.tv, the video arm of tastemaking music Web site Pitchfork.com.
In the hopes that the session would act as something of a mixer for his mostly unacquainted pals, Mr. Harrington had helpfully distributed name tags to the assemblage of musicians, comedians and “people from the neighborhood.”
Name firmly affixed to our lapel, the Transom introduced ourselves to musician and club owner Andrew W.K., who lamented the lack of student presence at his Santos Party House, located across the street from N.Y.U.’s Lafayette dorm. Apparently, the residents generally walk right by the dance hall’s usually crowded door. “We really want to involve that enthusiastic, excited portion of New York,” he said. “Where do they go—Bleecker Street or whatever?”
The New Pornographers’ A. C. Newman was wary of the tape recorder. “Don’t make me sound like I am,” he said. O.K., sir!
Eventually, a group including musician Moby and Saturday Night Live’s Fred Armisen was corralled into a recording space to film the video (sample lyric: “We’re giving cash to all the trust fund kids this year”). Mr. Harrington acted as conductor, stomping like Mick Jagger.
Out in the hall afterward, conversation turned to the relative difficulty of becoming the most famous person to emerge from one’s hometown.
Battles guitarist Ian Williams first suggested that Johnny Weissmuller, the swimmer and 1930s Tarzan, was his most serious competition before remembering that he also had Charles Bronson to contend with.
When pressed to name our hometown’s most prominent son, the Transom could only cite the members of various jam bands, which prompted much teasing.
“I come from the land of jam bands, and I am pleased to say I never got into jam bands,” said Okkervil River frontman Will Sheff. “Phish and the Dead and all that stuff. Dave Matthews Band!”
Did Moby have such discerning taste as a child?
“I wish I could say yes,” he said. “But I liked everything when I was growing up. If someone was putting it on the radio when I was 9 years old, that meant it was good. Though there’s some music that scared me when I was little because it seemed too grown-up. Like Meat Loaf—“Paradise by the Dashboard Light”—because I knew there was something weird and wrong going on there. You know, the Phil Rizzuto part. Literally, from the time I was 8 or 7 until I became a punk rocker, I liked everything. I was utterly indiscriminate.”