Wednesday, December 1, 2010

UPDATE! Vanity Fair online recommends Assange takes refuge in Kazakhstan

Read this post!

Cancun, Miami, and Iceland as a refuge for a pretty crazy Australian

 Woody circa awhile back...

So what do Mexico, Miami, and Iceland have in common? 

And yes--I did just say Miami, and not the United States.  Call me a statist, or in this case a city-ist--but I see the U.S. more as a group of city-states rather than a whole nation with one resounding perspective--especially thanks to the powers of bipartisanship visible in these last midterm elections...

But wait!  This blog is not about politics.  Personal point taken.  Moving on...Let's do this in parts.

Mexico--or rather at the moment, Cancun.  What you say?  Cancun has come up twice in the last few months?  Well yes--it has.  At the moment, it's the epicenter of the world's 16th set of international climate talks, and its/our (say as you please) next attempt at creating a follow up of sorts to the Kyoto Protocol.  Copenhagen was an interesting experience last year in December, so of course, international policymakers, think-tankers, governments, and companies decided going to Mexico in the beginning of North America's winter would be more conducive to consensus.  JOKE, but wouldn't it be cool if that is how they actually decided to get down to Mexico?  I hope the better weather does inspire these important people to be honest (God know I get the worst case of seasonal depression, thanks a lot to growing up in Chicago).

SO yeah--so far, no such great news, but the talks just began.  There is a really fantastic article that was put forth by the Harvard Kennedy School of Government recently, outlining the point of climate policy and legislation, and what might encompass the best possible outcomes from Cancun.  Honestly--it was the most concise and clear and CORRECT piece of policy recommendation I'd seen in a long time.  Read it here. Some lovely ladies at The Climate Group agreed with me as well--so it ain't just my environmental soap box.  In essence, we need to look at 2050 not as a goal by which to decrease emissions by a certain percentage, but rather as a time in the future where we look to obtain a certain number when measuring our natural resources.  Does that make sense?  In other words--limiting carbon emissions by percentages is contentious globally, especially since not everyone (see crazy people) believe in climate change, but what is reasonable is knowing what amount of carbon in our soil and our air and amount of pollutants in our oceans could be acceptable (i.e. we can live with this).  Capiche?  It's a pretty fair perspective indeed.

Well, as of right now--as in literally, at this moment right now, the U.S. negotiators in Cancun decided to announce that we would have a climate bill passed within the decade.  Okay...that's a lofty announcement considering how this all went down this year, but it would clearly make me a happy camper!  I'm just a bit confused as to how we are making such promises when this is not necessarily how our democracy (congress) is this article in the National Journal (thanks for the link Bryan Walsh) succinctly states, "it's a promise that the U.S. continues to make and break decade after decade..."

But yes--there's your update on party city Cancun, with their international conferences, their underwater sculpture gardens, and their really good drinks.

Miami--the hostess with the mostest when it comes to Latino culture, nightlife, dancing, a warm beach, fun people, and another darn good place for conferences and events (and I can't forget Grandparents too!).  Today, at Florida International University's Americas Venture Capital Conference, social innovator fund Tres mares gave a grip of money to a South American company focused on combatting Cancer.  This is lovely, but the big picture here is that there is an Americas Venture Capital Conference, and that there is a group investing in social innovations in Latin America! 

After my recent trip to my new favorite country, Colombia (which I went to on a whim thanks to my discovery of a deal on Twitter--no joke, I kid you not), I came back ever the more intrigued with finding out about how nations in Latin and South America are dealing with not only resource and weather related issues, but sustainable and infrastructure related development.

Lucky me I work at a company with loads of information, and even more, super smart writers and analysts who have been able to quench my thirst.  Speaking of thirst--since I left, Bogota and Cartagena have been dumped upon by the rain gods and are experiencing crushing floods--displacing people from their homes, rendering drinking water nonpotable...yes it's very bad indeed.  And this country, for some reason, just doesn't get the same amount of international coverage as would a Haiti or Indonesia per se.

But yes--so good things are happening in South America for the most part in relation to development, improved democracy, infrastructure, and social innovations.  It may be slow--but this continent, and especially the Pacific countries (Chile, Peru, Colombia, Panama and Ecuador if they ever get over their "marriage" to Chavez) are the next places to dare I say invest?  Not to mention--it was a whole bundle of fun to visit and meet the incredibly beautiful and warm and inspiring people who I met down there.  Colombia--que chevere!

But yes--thank you Miami for housing this conference.  Oh yeah--and Art Basil is this weekend too, but this is something I will not address out of pure jealousy since I won't be there.  Hmmph.

Finally--last but not least, let's tackle the awkward kid in the corner that is Iceland.  Dude!  Reykjavik, what has been up over the last year?  The crazy volcano that essentially put a stop to European American business and trade for a few weeks, and now, you housed Julian Assange's WikiLeaks operation?  Don't you know that Australians with white hair and who moved 37 times when they were way too young can't necessarily be trusted not to hamper your international image (and broke ass bank account too while we're at it)?

Listen--I'm not taking a stance on this leak.  It's too complicated to even remotely address in this blog post.  I believe in transparency and openness and digital and media democracy, but I also studied international diplomacy and relations and politics and as such have a very structured belief system.

But, I think an interesting angle here is looking at how Assange decided to go to Iceland--a country which is named as such originally in order to keep people out of it!  You know--Greenland is really the icy mass, while Iceland is the beautiful, lush and tourism worthy destination.  The sneaky settlers who named Iceland in an attempt to keep other people away--little did they know they would attract an international causer of chaos per se!  Maybe they read it in the cards, but I think it's pretty darn funny that he went to Iceland and shacked up in a house with the windows closed all day.

So back to the entire point of this post.

Important international and environmental and socially innovative (good or bad or neither) things happen in the darndest of places.

That's all.

Happy Woody Allen's 75th to you all. One of my favorite quotes of his, and particularly relevant to this post:
“To you I’m an atheist; to God, I’m the Loyal Opposition.” – from Stardust Memories,  

In other (erica) words: It's all about your frame of reference. 




Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The value of 40 Billion dollars (and why 12/02 might be the new 4/20)

 This image taken from my latest favorite website,

Sorry for the month long lapse--this past October was a wild one needless to say, full of the College Music Journal (CMJ) music festival here in New York (more like a marathon might I say--and I'd even venture to bet that everyone who participated left with at least 3 years taken away from their lives, yet very few regrets), pre-midterm election flurries (VOTE NOW PEOPLE), a rally to restore sanity (that restored my faith in 10,000 Americans), a particular person's best birthday ever (24--so old), a trip to Salem, Massachusetts, and a 21 day (currently on day 16) long cleanse (sans alcohol, caffeine, dairy, soy, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers, gluten, corn, sugar, oranges, bananas, you get my jist) and LOADS of goings on in the environmental sphere.

What might you ask has been going on?

Oh--the US Department of Energy has given $5 million to ocean energy research into offshore wind and other oceanic energy projects...that's a fantastic precursor to hopefully what becomes more of a worldwide norm in alternative energy growth.  Wind--for those of you who don't know it intimately like a person from Chicago as myself might, is extremely powerful, naturally occurring, and quite a genius way indeed of harnessing natural processes to supply our man/woman made needs.  Palm Springs, California has had wind farms for as long as I can remember, and not only are they an interesting addition to the desert landscape, but they are efficient, cheap and earth-healthy ways of powering the population there.  They may not produce the most energy in comparison to some other manners, and yes maybe they aren't the most attractive, but how cool would it be if artists became involved with offshore wind projects and really turned them into collaborative communities for art, energy harnessing, science, technology, and who knows what else?!  This is my ideal world :)

Related to that--have you seen what has been going on off the coast of Cancun over the last few months?  If you didn't know, hurricanes, climate change, atmospheric carbon, and changing conditions have been bleaching and deteriorating the underwater topography and coral reefs of coastal Mexico for a long time now.  Enter Jason de Caires Taylor, a British sculptor who has been outfitting the underwater environment with lifelike human sculptures--hundreds of them.  The goal of this underwater museum of sorts is not only to distract tourists away from the reefs, but also to create a new habitat for which marine life may flourish.  The sculptures are made from ocean and eco-friendly concrete, where hopefully algae and other organisms will populate and grow into a blossoming underwater community alongside the naturally occurring coral reefs.  Ted Sorenson, JFK's speechwriter, who sadly passed away yesterday, said that "Our problems are manmade; therefore, they can be solved by man."  This underwater museum is a great example of a man--an artist at that--creating a beautiful resolution to an arguably manmade (at least 75%) problem.  Yay, Jason!

So, two great environmental occurences thus far...but what else might you ask?  Many might view this next one as a so called "bad" headline.  Today, BP announced that they were upping the projected cost of cleaning up the oil spill from $7 Billion to $40 Billion (yes, I typed 4 0).  Their stock shares did not drop, and they reported a profit (YES A PROFIT).

How, on earth or in water or in the sky or on land, you might ask, do I see this as a potentially good thing?

I'll try to suss this one out for you succinctly now.

At first, earlier in the day, in my smart elevator traveling to my desk job, I gawked at said numbers and the fact that they as a company are still profiting.  About an hour later, after I tweeted the headline, I thought to myself, thank god oil companies make so much freaking money--because who else would be able to sustain the costs to clean this kind of disaster up?  Backwards logic--but just a thought.

And then, a few hours after that, I though wow.  What if they had kept the estimate low, and really only tried to spend less than needed (for whatever reason--cost cutting, public perception, trying to downplay the depths of the environmental degradation, impact, etc)?  Then, I started thinking that at least it was good that they were willing to up their numbers almost 6 fold so abruptly, right?

The point is this: the spill and its effects will last for a long time.  Time = money.  BP is indicating that this is going to be a bitch of a clean up, that there are unknowns, and that it's going to cost a crazy amount of money (more than in Ducktales, when the rich uncle dove into his giant pile of gold coins).  The fact that they are still profiting (while as crazy as that may seem--and if this doesn't prove to you how backwards the extractive industry is around the world, and maybe how crazy financial markets really are, I'm not sure what will) is actually probably a solid happenstance.  Why?


Right.  I hope their stock stays strong.  That money for cleaning up, for supporting the fishing and oystermen communities which they destroyed, for the failure of tourism in the Gulf this summer, for the pending seafood related issues, and for much much more will be sorely needed in this clean up.

Who knows--maybe one day they'll invest even more of their money into:

a) alternative energy (like algae-- Solazyme has my favorite of all--look, now you can even eat it in your cookies!!!--Bryan Walsh of Time Mag did)

b) helping to sustain and be involved in the communities in which they are extracting oil or

c) in helping to build a better regulatory environment around protecting the areas from where they are profiting thanks to oil or whatever natural resource.

Maybe this is optimistic.  But how can I not be an optimist on today, when many of my friends and family (based in California), are voting on global warming AND legalization of Marijuana legislation!!!???

If these votes (against 23 and for 19) pass the way I'd like them to...12/02 is the new 4/20.


~peace (no pun intended)


Friday, October 1, 2010

Ear-ticklingly Good Music for your Fall Adventures

The Songs of the Month this time are the best of BK and LA and everywhere in between (to me).  Beware--there's some pop music in this one! Happy fall :)



Volunteership and how Joan Jett played in a dusty field in Maryland and Virgin Mobile paid for me to go and party...

 Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros playing at VirginMobile FreeFest, Saturday September 25, 2010

It was a swelteringly dusty day at Merriweather Post Pavilion this past Saturday where Joan Jett performed in Columbia, Maryland, to a sold out crowd of fans from the DC and Baltimore area.  Fresh off of her tour with her latest backing band, the Blackhearts, Jett performed with vigor that most other 52-year-old women might not manage. 

Aging with grace for her rocker lifestyle, Jett’s black eyeliner and mascara and lipstick were impeccably placed for the entirety of the performance, her ripped arms strumming her electric guitar in a thin black tank top and tight black jeans (not so far from her 2008 CBGB performance in a bikini top).  Madonna and Debbie Harry might just barely hold up to Joan—together that is.

Her set list included classics like I Hate Myself for Loving You, I Love Rock and Roll, Deadbeat Summer, and Naked (some off her album Sinner), singing the songs with a Runaways esque attitude, chomping on a piece of gum all the while.

The crowd adored her, young and old, even after her tangential side notes, including about how Naked was really about seeing through yourself, psychologically that is, and trying to figure out who you are and why you are such a way (in which she acknowledged that she probably just confused the entire crowd and apologized for it).  Jett got meta…

Other acts included Pavement (who after a week of shows in New York played a fair set at Merriweather), a far too intoxicated to even nail her own songs MIA, Ludacris (where said writer discovered that a live Luda show meant he sang over other people’s songs he had produced), and really strong sets by Sleigh Bells, Chromeo, Yeasayer, Thievery Corporation, Neon Indian, Jimmy Eat World (who shared the words Crimson and Clover, Over and Over with Jett on the same stage earlier that day), Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and closing out with an epic performance by none other than LCD Soundsystem.

All in all, for a free festival (Virgin Mobile sponsored it in partnership with other corporates like Kyocera and Toyota), it was an exciting day full of good music, corporate branding and advertising opportunities, sweaty masses, and lots of fluorescent green bandanas, to which were tied to the festival goers mouths and faces in order to avoid dust inhalation.

Rather than joining in and perceptively shielding my lungs, I confusedly navigated the green kerchiefed crowds only to 8 hours later understand one of the wiser (albeit unattractive) choices music lovers have made at a festival in years.

Sorry lungs, but it was worth it.

Now, onto why this concert and how I got there is even more relevant...

How did I end up there you might ask?  Well, VirginMobile sponsors this festival every year (at least for the last three) and they give out tickets for free.  Did I receive said billets gratis?  Nope.  My internet failed me and they "free'd out."
So I put my brainpower to work, and decided to apply for a press pass.  I pulled up the site, got my boss to write a letter of "sponsorship" i.e. proof that I'm an editor...and promptly missed the application date.  Typical (kind of).  Let's just say I had lots of other things on my mind and plate.

So I was perusing the VirginMobile FreeFest website sadly a few days later when all of a sudden...a streaming sentence popped up: Win tickets to FreeFest through Free IP!

But what was Free IP?  Well--it turned out to be yet another incredible example of the Virgin companies doing their part in trying to make the world a better place, locally, and from the ground up, through empowerment and fun activities.  Basically--they are one of the only large companies that "get it."

Free IP is a program launched a few years ago to combat youth homelessness and to empower high risk youth to take charge of their lives.  In Brooklyn specifically, they work with the East New York Adolescent and Youth Employment and Education Center.  In order to receive my free tickets (yes, they provided me with two), all I had to do was give school supplies, a backpack, and help rejuvenate the center by painting a room for 4 hours with 6 other awesome people.  Really?  I almost felt as though I was scamming them.

But you know what?  Incentives are the key to "kickstarting" people and volunteership (I think I just made up that word, but I like it, stewardship and volunteer combined) and community service projects.

Ever since I graduated, I have not been super involved in on-the-ground community service, which I spent at least 5 hours/week doing at USC.  I've been focused on other things, including finding jobs to support myself, and working on social innovation concepts with other awesome do gooders here in New York.  But participating in Free IP made me realize not only how awesome volunteering can be, but also how much I missed seeing a difference being made--in person, on the ground.

So, not only did I get free tix--they also curated the entire weekend for us...meaning they rented a MegaBus, had a dinner party before the bus trip, had games and music and food on the bus, gave us 2 free nights in fancy-ish hotels, drove us to and from the concert, and bussed us home on Sunday--all for volunteering our time and donating school supplies.

I was pretty speechless after the whole experience, after making some incredible new friends, having a wonderful and exciting weekend, and even after understanding that we were their material for the branding of the Free IP experience (loads of photos and videos were shot all weekend).  Moreover, their partnership with AfroPunk, a very cool art/music collective based in NYC that's been around for the last two decades, introduced me to a whole different scene in my city.

Needless to say, although most volunteers don't receive such a substantial incentive and experience out of their service--I have to give my hats off to Virgin for reinvigorating my community orientation and for proving that a company can not only make a difference (regardless of brand related intentions), but also inspire others through service, music, friendship, and programming.

In essence--they are improving our environments (local communities in this example) through promoting volunteership and music.

Yay, Virgin--Yay.  My love for Richard Branson and his triple bottom line and global impact continues to grow.



Friday, September 17, 2010

Bronados and other unexpected climatic events

So last night, a Tornado touched down (but did it really actually?) in Brooklyn.  And if it wasn't scientifically a Tornado, or didn't technically make a landing, it sure as heck looked like one! (if you don't usually click on my links, please, for your viewing and humor generating pleasure, do click on the one in the sentence prior--it will make your day and bring you back to reminiscing re one of my favorite duos-Ashton Kutcher and Sean William Scott).

Although this bronado (shout out to Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic for his way appropriate/awesome name for the tornado) is a strange and rare event in New York, and such flash storms as the one last night that include hail, rain, winds up to 70 mph (sorry Staten Island, that must have sucked) are few and far between--it all begs the question: With the plethora of seemingly terrible climatic events over the last 5+ years, is the world doomed to experience more serious weather related catastrophes in the future?  Or, au contraire--is there simply  more immediate and pervasive media coverage of each event, making it seem more unusual, awe-inspiring, and terrifying than its predecessors?

I would venture to say that it must be a combination of both.  Serious catastrophes have been happening for as long as the Earth is old, and for all of recorded Human history (drought like events throughout the East that led people more towards Western Europe from Mesopotamia way back when, a devastating volcano in Pompeii, Italy,  Tsunamis in Asia, Earthquakes in China and Latin America, Hurricanes in New Orleans, and to bring it back to close the circle--Icelandic volcanoes [apparently volcanoes like to erupt in countries starting with the name I]).  But what has increased over the last few years?  Let's think about it.

It is possible that climate change has a heavy hand in all of these recent tragedies.  Actually, I'm pretty sure that our emitting of gases that have shifted the way the Earth retains heat and sunlight have most definitely impacted the nature of weather and climatic events.  But to what extent--nobody really knows.

It's too hard to track this data historically for a long enough period of time!  I mean, just the other day, a marine paleontologist (yes, they really exist), decided that he probably proved that a bunch of comets hit the earth thousands of years ago around the ice age because he found tiny microscopic nanodiamonds in an ice layer in the arctic.  No really.  It's true.

Pretty cool eh?  Right.  But the point is--if those comets sparked the ice age (one of my favorite movies, not just one of the most interesting and perplexing times in the history of the Earth's weather cycles) then, climate change is unpredictable historically on account of random events such as invasive rocks hitting the Earth!

So--we can't really tell how much we personally as Humans have impacted the Earth.  But we can postulate and gather a lot of significant data, and see enough extreme change since industrialization to realize that, although we may not be as powerful as an inter-space comet, we're pretty freakin' destructive.  I'd blame it on our intelligence and our brains--our blessing and our curse. 

But back to the more important topic--The Bro(oklyn) Tornado.  That sh@# was crazy!  I'm glad I had to stay at work late.  But for those who had to weather the storm, I'm sorry.  I'm sure it was terrifying.  Really.  But I have to say, from the way things are looking, it's not gonna get better in the coming years.

For some reassurance re New York, who is learning to become more prepared for a more "aqueous" city, go to MoMa and see this exhibit.  It rocks, and makes me feel a lot better about Human potential and our ability to use our brains to save our race.  (It's kind of fun to write like a doomsayer sometimes, apologies.)

But, to argue another point--I think the media and the presence of the internet and mobile internet have made natural disasters and odd weather events even more terrifying and odd.  On the one hand, the mass media has amplified everything and made things seem quite extreme...on the other hand, media has enabled more awareness and more social action.  Organizations like Digital Democracy have leveraged media attention and new technologies in media in order to help those affected by disasters, especially in Haiti.  This is quite cool indeed.

But the whole point of this post is this: everything must be taken in moderation.  There is no one side to explaining the increasing (is it?) presence of natural disasters.  We are exposed in different ways to more climatic events thanks to media coverage from around the world.  This both helps and hinders.  There is an information overload, and a call for empathy that many may not be able to digest.  However, whether or not climate change due to humans is causing these disasters, or whether media is making them more apparent, or its a combination of both, or simply the Earth's natural cycles, we should all take care to learn more about the context of what we learn.  

We all need to take more responsibility for our opinions, and back them up with more knowledge, more information, and better formed arguments.  Knowing how to peruse new medias and topics of relevance is one thing--actively understanding the news and why certain things happen when they do, and learning about all sides of the story is a whole other level of awesome.

Integrity and innovation are my two favorite words. Have integrity with your opinions, ideas, and share them.  You never know who you might start a conversation with, and how it will impact their lives and our collective futures.   



Thursday, September 9, 2010

URGENT NEWS RE DANCING (and how it relates to music, the environment, and your future partner)

So today, in the lovely Newspaper group that I work for on the business (see dark, evil to quote our brand manager) side, we published an article about a scientific study.  This seems far from out of the everyday, ordinary happenstances here at The Economist, (I assure you if you are not a reader.)

But this study in particular, was particularly awesome AND amusing.  Why you may ask?  Has anything you've written about re the environment and re music been amusing yet?  How is this next tidbit of a blog post going to be funny?  Or even cogent?

Well, this study was the shit simply because someone managed to get someone to pay them to find out how dancing sexually attracts one human to another--and specifically, what kinds of gyrations are more attractive! YES.

So, get your pen and paper out and get ready to take notes.  If you'd like to attract another human, regardless of your physical attractiveness levels (I say this explicitly since the way the study was conducted involved an AVATAR [not Zoe Saldana or Sam Worthington, sheesh, those are 2 hot Avatars] and this avatar allowed for the people undergoing the study to not see in any shape or form the dancers physiques and faces), please do and dance the following:

1. Your head must move--a lot.  Not just back and forth alright, they have to be dynamic movements around the entire plane around your head.  yeah, that's right.  Like this.  Well actually, they explicitly stated that doing that alone is not enough.  It's gotta be more of this--actually, I think that dude is pretty well off in the natural selection re dancing area now.  Good for him!

2. Your neck must also move.  On account of the Englishness (Britishness) of our Newspaper, I don't actually know what this means.  I'm going on an investigative journey during my lunch break in the Editorial dungeon to find out.

3.  The "trunk" and yes I quote directly trunk of your body must also move.  At first, I though it was just your butt.  As in, this.  But alas, I was wrong!!  It's the whole of your body from your neck down to the beginning of your legs. 

In essence, we could have been far more concise and said the following:  Those who move their bodies while dancing from their heads to the beginning of their legs are more sexually attractive. 

How does this all relate to music and the environment?  Well dancing obviously relates to music.  Natural selection and attractiveness relates to the environment and how many better dancers will populate this Earth and deal with climate change in the future.  Dancing is clearly at the intersection of music and the environment (we even referenced how certain bugs dance to attract each other in the article).

So yes, aren't you glad you now know what to do the next time you are dancing clear-headed and concentrating on attracting a mate?

Good. I am too.

Here's the link to the article:



Thursday, August 19, 2010


What I left out in my rush to get out of the office after finishing this post last night at 6pm was a very important statement of opinion re the below debate.

I think that each of these cities and their respective music scenes are intextricably intertwined.  You very rarely can foster your band in LA and only be present must be involved with the New York scene as well (see Local Natives, an LA band signed to a New York label with a New York PR firm).  The same goes for New York bands looking to hit it big on the West Coast.

In other words, being successful in the U.S. indie scene demands a presence in both scenes on both coasts, and bands that manage to connect with LA and New York audiences have been the most successful over the last few years.

Therefore, below is simply my heartfelt opinion about, if I had to choose, which music scene I delight in more and why.



Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Los Angeles VERSUS New York


 And so, the epic debate begins--I have been posing this question to myself for the last 9.5 months.  In essence, I have gestated it like a child (the child could have even been 2 weeks late, okay).  I now feel like there has passed a sufficient amount of time to have decided the answer to a very flamingly hot burning question bearing down upon my mind:  

Of the two main larger cities in the United States, which one has the best music scene?

My final answer, after being an on and off resident of both (and being particularly non-bias as I grew up in Chicago and have family on both coasts) will have to be: LOS ANGELES.

What?  "Blasphemy!! Downright unacceptable!  Kick her out of Brooklyn!  Send her back!"...I can imagine all of my current Brooklyn and New York City friends and neighbors shouting whilst planning my demise.  But do me one, and hear me out.  I promise there is a logic to this whole debate, so here goes something (not nothing).

Sidenote (more like middle note preceding the following)
In an effort to continue my ongoing fight with organization, this will be ordered by topics.

LA v.s NY: a furious and orderly debate.

Variety of music: TIE.  There are too many people, too many types of people, too many different scenes in each city, and too many different influences to have decided this debate on variety of music alone.  We can all agree to disagree.

Quality of venues: LOS ANGELES.  Thanks to the plethora of old theaters (oh Hollywood, how I bow to you), the absolute variety, spread, and sheer number of insanely incredible, acoustically stunning, and aesthetically beautiful venues in LA alone beat New York.  Yes, New York has historic venues (The Fillmore, The Blue Note) and great warehouses (Bushwick, thank you) and even a sick bowling alley venue (Brooklyn Bowl), but the likes of Mercury Lounge, the Music Hall of Williamsburg, The Bowery Ballroom, Webster Hall (cringe, ack), Terminal 5 (dude, as Michael Cera so perfectly implied in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World [it was the Chaos venue in the film] what a douchey spot) and The Living Room (with it's free entry but must-buy-a-drink for each artist you see bs policy) cause me to end up at the following conclusion: LA kills it. KILLS. The Orpheum Theater downtown (where Thom Yorke chose to play his first solo show), Spaceland in Silverlake, The Echo, The Palladium, The Greek Theater, The Music Box at Henry Fonda...the list continues on fairly endlessly (and I've left out all of the incredible smaller venues). Sorry New York, your public transportation may be awesome for show hopping, but your venues just have not been pleasing me or my slowly dying ears in comparison to those of LA.

Musicians per Capita: NEW YORK. Obviously there are more musicians (and maybe even relatively successful ones at that) per capita in NYC and especially in Brooklyn.  It's easier to get around, it's easier to tour internationally, you don't need a car, yada yada yada.  Hence--therein lies part of the reason I moved to the East Coast.

Extent of Scene: NEW YORK. Yes, you know what.  I'll say it.  Brooklyn is a hot scene.  The fashion, the ridiculous looks and judgements held between each passerby on Bedford avenue.  Vice Magazine's offices being in Williamsburg.  The Sartorialist being in New York, and this whole Grand Life NYC business (a fantastic ploy by the Tribeca and Soho Grand hotels to control the downtown Manhattan scene that so far has gone more than well).  I mean c'mon, it's obvious.  New York wins the sceniest of them all contest.  And you know what?  It's kind of fun and exciting.  But, I don't think it's a very sustainable lifestyle.  And it seems like it takes a whole lot more illegal substances to keep it fueled.  I thought celebrities were bad in LA.  But visually, the place is freaking brimming here.  And in terms of having something to do, all the time, every night, and sometimes even for free--New York beats them all!!!  Yay!!! Move here if you have an inordinate amount of energy all the time.  Do not move here if you have FOMO--fear of missing out.  You will constantly be in fear.  But us New Yorkers, we love being busy.

Quality of Life: LOS ANGELES. "But you have to have a car!" You might protest.  I would like to argue that in fact, especially in the next 3-5 years, you will no longer need a car in LA.  Especially if you try really hard (like everyone does in NYC anywho), and you live in Silverlake, Echo Park, Downtown, or Los Feliz, work in a nearby area, and generally hang out around there with a weekend foray to the beach via bus or via the new trains.  More people have bikes now and it's not a very unsafe place to bike either (no ghost bikes in LA).  Carpooling is key in LA as well, and Prius's are just as frequent as bikes in Brooklyn.  We all know California makes it easier to live an environmentally conscious lifestyle, so I'm sure we'll be seeing an even more interesting dimension emerge in the next few years re LA and public transportation (oooh, a connection between music and the environment again! sneaky me.).

Attitude of Musicians: LOS ANGELES. Okay guys, let's be super honest here.  The musicians in Brooklyn and New York are SELF INDULGENT.  Is it me, or do you feel like some of the music coming out of the East Coast is replicating itself and the other bands that are all on the same slew of indie record labels and with the same PR companies?  It's almost chemical and maybe even mathmateical: one part synthesizer, other parts guitar and base, add drum set, reverb, and an attractive singer or just member of the band, and walaa!  You have an "indie success."  How could I forget--edgy or trendy attire.  And make eyes with the crowd, part your hair to the side, and for men--don't forget your mustache (even if it's teeny weeny). For girls--either you are teeny tiny and adorable, or you're allowed to be bigger if you are actually a talented musician...

Okay, that was all far too mean.  But it's kind of resoundingly true.  I have seen some incredibly talented bands (Hymns, Twin Shadow, Class Actress, and Beach Fossils just to name a few) but I've seen far too many bands who just sound so much like each other I can barely stand it anymore.

The LA musicians that I know and love hang out with each other and live in similar neighborhoods (just like they do in New York and Brooklyn) and maybe even went to college together, yet somehow, I find more unique and distinct characteristics between each band, separating the music from one another (think Fool's Gold, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Local Natives, Superhumanoids, Chief, White Arrows, The Franks, The Henry Clay People, The Outline, etc).  It's all got folk influences, and I'm pretty sure most people would be able to see or hear an overarching theme or two, catch the whole guitar, drums, bass, maybe banjo or mandolin, keys, and vocals aspect, and even the similar clothing styles,  but in the end--the compositions and the instrumentation are different and pleasingly so!  Iamsound put out a great LA collection this past spring...check it out to see what I mean.

So I guess this is more than just attitude--it's composure.  I think LA musicians have a purer attitude and a better composure not only in regard for their musical creations, but in regards for how they interact with each other and their environments.  And, this burgeoning LA scene--it's newer.  New York has had the music for a long time.  And LA has had talented musicians as well.  But the group that's currently hitting the venues is on a whole other level...

I could go on about this one forever, but I'm not an anthropologist, sociologist, or historian, so I won't.

Music: LOS ANGELES. Don't get me wrong.  I LOVE experimental indie rock, and love the scene and the style and the essence of what is going on in New York.  But, I think it is far more ethereal than that of the current music being created in Los Angeles.  Look at the followings of LA groups like Edward Sharpe and I dare you to find a similar audience for a New York band.  I guess it comes down to international relatability.  Since I write for a music blog focused on international, multi-genre, independent artists--keep in mind--i'm utterly and absolutely biased.  But I think good music is universal, and I just have this feeling deep down in my gut that the indie music in LA at the moment is more lasting and more globally relatable and universal than that of the music coming out of New York right now.

Final Tally: NEW YORK: 2, LOS ANGELES: 4.

These are just my continuingly forming opinions from my last two years plus observing of both places. (summer 2008-summer 2010).

This is all not to say that I don't think that things could change in a matter of months.  They really could.  But in this time and in this place, I'm having a hard time finding an incredibly inspiringly mind-blowingly good band in New York, whereas last year, I felt like I stumbled on these once every 2-3 months in Los Angeles.

To that point--if you do know of an incredibly talented and passionate band in New York, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let me know about them.  Send me an email at

And on a final note, I adore living on the East Coast and think that New York is one of the most inspiring and important places to live in the world (and that almost everyone should try it) and believe that it is in fact more conducive to the production of original and creative and lasting, passionate art that many other places around the globe.



Thursday, July 8, 2010

Environmental Resource Management: Less can actually be M O R E!

So, The Economist, the lovely publication that I work for currently (in the brand innovation businesses department, not editorial--no I'm not that cool :), published a really well stated article this week about protected areas-i.e. on effective conservation.

Their argument, thanks to Thomas Brooks, a biologist, stated basically that it is not about the size of the area you are conserving, but about the biodiversity and number of different species present in a given area that matters most.

When I was reading the article, I envisioned something like the following: large areas of forest in SouthEast Asia, all as a reserve, whilst a small plot of land near there was delegated for mining of natural resources.  But in fact, it was that small plot of mineral rich land that housed the highest density of species of plants and animals.  So while it was nice that this large area of green space was preserved, the most important area was being mined.

So who came up with the genius idea that less can be more when it comes to conservation?  The Australians of course--the people on that island way over yonder.  They get it.  And here's my uber-complex theory about why.  This is relatively what they are given naturally!  Think about the amount of dry outback lands compared to beach, reef, and forest in Australia.  They understand the value of smaller amount of intensely bio-diverse and lush lands.

And guess what's even more exciting about all of this?  The author of the scientific study citing all of this jazz is arguing that designing smaller reserves around more bio-diverse areas can be more cost efficient. 

Being environmentally intelligent and saving money at the same time!?  Yep, it's pretty. darn. awesome.

Thanks Australia, and of course, to my company for employing me and engaging readers around the world about topics for which I care deeply.

You can see the article here: under our Green.View blog of sorts.

Special added bonus!!  The NatureServe people (Thomas Brooks the biologist works for them outside of DC) have published a really interesting "three-pronged response" tactic to the Gulf Oil Spill disaster (now the largest environmental disaster in recorded history--that's right).

Educate yourself on what's happening, what's not, and what SHOULD be.  Then formulate your own opinion.



Monday, June 21, 2010

Is all the bling in music in Copyrights now?

Check this article out to understand more about the restructuring of the EMI group and how they plan to make money in the future.  Apparently, all the bling is in selling songs and rights to television, broadcast, commercials, and film, no more to records...hmmm.



Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Creators Project and Why I need to be more Awesome

So, this new ish project has hit the international independent ish art and music and technology scene.  You guessed right, it's called The Creators Project.

So what exactly is it?  As far as I can tell, it's basically this list of musicians, artists, interactive media geniuses, and creative directors/agencies who have come together to showcase their work and talk about their processes.

Bla bla bla...basically, it's kick ass people all over the world throwing exclusive events and hanging out with each other, promoting connections and culture and creations, even more than they already do.  Yep, I didn't make the guestlist for the New York launch, even though I edit a pretty cool music website, work on the creative team at The Economist Newspaper/Magazine, and dress the part I suppose.

Bitter?  It's kind of hard to be.  Rather, I've had this strange reaction to the whole thing.  It's made me EVEN MORE MOTIVATED to become more creative and artistic and to be successful even sooner.  Oh bother.  Who's got the time?

Well if you know me, I don't sleep much, so maybe I was made for this.

Find out more about this really intriquing partnership between Intel and Vice Media, which is supposedly a media channel and a foundation,  and watch the dozens of videos on each of these "creators" on their website here.



Friday, June 4, 2010

Your definitive guide to plastics: which can be recycled and which should be reused or made into something artsy fartsy for your empty walls, duh.


I learned something new the other day.  From who you may ask?  My somewhat tipsy roommate, in a rant about recycling, to her adorably hipster 2 best friends, as they were having Taco Tuesday at my apartment (more like Boozy Tuesday with a side of Tacos that is).

She was talking about how bad she felt, always drinking so much wine and beer from bottles, and having to recycle all of them, i.e. she was just using too much glass.  See why I live with her?  LOVE THAT.

Moving on, after her friends responded, 'At least you aren't using a ton of plastic," she replied, "Yes, I know.  But did you guys know that not even all plastics are recyclable?"  This is when I took off my headphones (I was in my room, writing music reviews) and started to really listen.

She went into a whole conversation about the different variety of plastics and the numerical system that governs the type and whether or not a recycling facility would accept one versus the other.  Apparently, she had learned all about it at a past job (she is a stylist).

So, the next day at work, I myself decided to research the matter more.

Here, I present to you my findings, as to ensure that you, my dear friends, are actually bothering to recycle what can and should be recycled, and alternatively, using what can't be for other purposes (I'll go into some ideas about those at the end of this post).

So, it is legally regulated that plastics must be marked and coded as to what type they are.  Where can you find this awkward little marking?  Generally on the bottom of the item, and most of the time, it's safe to assume that it is difficult to see and read (another fun reason why recycling can be a bother).

They look like this:

Here's a great description as to what each number signifies:

Moving on, I'll get to the point of this.  Mainly, plastics 1,2, 3, and some 4 are appropriate for placing in your recycling bin.  Only some super fabulous recycling facilities will take 5, and most will not accept 5, 6 and 7.

Who knew...

Our favorite red solo cups are 5, i.e. mostly NOT RECYCLABLE.  Think about how many of those are lying around in dumps and in the ground, stinking of beer and fraternity parties and roofies weee!!!

Yogurt cups are also a 5, i.e. not recyclable (it's the nature of the container, i.e. the open top).  How sad is it that a food that can be so healthful is held in containers so bad for the environment? 

But what can you do about these non-environmental plastics?  Check out Terra Cycle, a company that upcycles non-recyclable goods and makes them into a reusable product.  They and their creator, Tom Szaky, are pretty. freaking. awesome.  They started off their business making worm poop into fertilizer.  Princeton dropouts.  Canadian stoners.  Typical environmental entrepreneur.  Hopefully I'll follow in their footsteps one day (even though I finished university and am not from Canada).

Anywho, now you are more informed, thanks to me, and my lovely, tipsy, environmentally conscious roommate.

Have a fabulous weekend!



Thursday, May 27, 2010

Festivals Schmestivals

So, considering the blasphemously torturous heat and humidity that has descended on New York City and Brooklyn over the last two days, I've started to think about the summertime music festivals, held in similar weather conditions, but much more enjoyable/tolerable in comparison to that of sitting in an office (which I am doing currently).

What is looking to be the most exciting thus far?  See the following list to find out what may or may not be worth your time and lovely money in the upcoming months. 

1. Sasquatch Music Festival, The Gorge, Washington.  Memorial weekend (ie this weekend fools).
Vampire Weekend, The National, OK Go, Miike Snow, Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, Mumford and Sons, Fools Gold, Dawes, LCD Soundsystem, Tegan and Sara, Kid Cudi, The XX, Avi Buffalo, Local Natives, Freelance Whales, Simian Mobile Disco, MGMT, Band of Horses, She and Him, Passion Pit, The Temper Trap, Dr. Dog...what is this, the best Brooklyn indie bands meet the best LA indie bands meet the Coachella 2010 line up and explode into amazingness in a gorge in Washington state?  ME THINKS YES!!! Gosh darnit, why aren't I on a plane now going there???  It's not like I don't know people in a few of these bands or anything.  Oh right. I have a desk job. And bills to pay.  And live across the country.  YouTube videos post-festival, here I come!!!
Potential to be awesomeness (PTBA) rating scale (1-10, 10 being the best): 11.  Awww hell, 15!!!

2. Bonaroo Music and Arts Festival, Manchester, Tennesee. June 10-13.
All I can say for this one is BonaBOOOOOO.  Seriously, this is the line-up they pull together?  Do they really believe that this line up is not only worth the sky high cost, but the unearable heat and mud conditions, and the dirty camping-only choice for which each festival goer must opt?  In the past, this festival was of epic proportions.  Now, it's gone to the mud.
PTBA Rating: 2 

3. Harmony Music Festival, Santa Rosa, CA. June 11-13.
I just have to throw this one in there because get their tagline: Music, Art, Ecology, Healthy Living, Spirituality.  Celebrating 32 evolutionary years of new ideas, community activism, environmental awareness, spiritual wisdom, holistic products, etc BAHAHAHAHA.  However, the Ms. Lauryn Hill is playing for god's sake!  Hello music, the environment and true hippie culture in the modern day.  Should be worthy of some hilarious journalist and music lover's adventure, and I would go if I were in the neighborhood.

PTBA Rating: 3 for music (8 for L to the H, but otherwise, meh) and 5 for potential to be full of amazingly awkward hippie wiccan types.

4. Glastonbury Festival, Pilton, England. June 23-27.
Looks like the Coachella of the UK this year, with a fair amount of Euro indie talent.  Add some Norah Jones and Stevie Wonder and the age demographic widens (if they can handle the rainy weather that usually descends).  I like this festival a lot in that Oxfam and Water Aid and Greenpeace all benefit.  Here we go with music connecting with the environment again!  They get an extra point for that.  They might be docked a half a point for the lagging navigability of their line up page though.  See here:
I would be more enthused for you and I did not most of us live in North America, not the UK or Europe!  For those of you over the pond, this does look to be one of their best line ups as of late, and I know for a fact that the people at this festival are SERIOUSLY attractive (accents included).
PTBA Rating:8, but 6.5 for being far/for being on the British Pound Sterling and costing mucho!
5. The Northside Festival, Williamsburg and Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY. June 25,26, and 27.

This one packs quite the up and coming indie punch, and at only $50 for a 3 day pass, amongst drink specials, hot mustached hipsters (not the girls clearly), and general debauchery, who would pass such a thing up?  I'll be there. Obviously.  Check plus! for that.
PTBA Rating: 7.5

6. Pitchfork Music Festival, Chicago, IL. July 16-18.
Thank you to one of my favoritest indie music blogs for pulling what is looking to be the best and most succinctly put together indie music festival this summer!  I have featured many of the bands myself on this blog and on the other website I edit,, and I have to give P to the Fork major kudos on pulling all of these styles together for what shall be one fantabulous weekend adventure in one of the most fun cities in the summertime (not to mention affordable locales) for a music festival to take place.  If you are in the midwest, I might even choose this over the loved Lollapalooza (if one sadly had to choose)!  LCD Soundsystem, Real Estate, Modest Mouse, Beach House, Sleigh Bells, and my personal faves and buddies, Local Natives round out this amazing festival, so make it your festivus for the rest of us and give me a drunken musical holler on your cell so I can enjoy from my distant land in BK.
PTBA Rating: 9

7. Lollapalooza, Chicago, Il. August 6-8.
Lady Gaga, The Strokes, Phoenix, and Arcade Fire all in my hometown all at once!  This will either be really silly and sweaty and beerish, or really freaking fun.  They've got some of the definitive by coastal indies that are clearly hitting the tour circuit this summer (a la Edward Sharpe and Mumford and Sons and Dawes and the xx), but regardless of how enjoyable their line-up is, it's still a bit lacking in the cohesivity department.  I'm sure it will be great, but that pizazz just ain't there for me (new website designer might help their cause maybe??).  If you're in town, don't flake out and miss it though, it's where all the cool (and trying to be cool but seriously uncool) Chicago kids will be anywho.
PTBA Rating: 6.5

Others worth mentioning:

North by Northeast in Toronto in early June.  This one is full of music and films a la South by Southwest but not as famous or Texan.

All Points West, New Jersey/New York area (but it might not happen this year eeek!)

Benicassim, Spain--camping, beach, music, sangria and cava, what else more could you want?

Techno music festivals in Eastern Europe.  I think there is a famous one in Croatia. DANCE DANCE! 

Alright, and I'm spent.



Friday, May 14, 2010

How can you help to stop Oil spills and Coal Mine collapses? Yes, You!!!

So these last few weeks have seemed to have been dominated by environmental disaster type situations that have had a clear impact on us, i.e. humankind.  In a BIG way.

The volcano from Iceland.  Who thought Iceland could ever impact our lives at all?  Yeah, well so much for that.  Turns out that weather patterns really can be seriously shifted due to one natural climatic occurence.  While it's nice that the volcano didn't result in many deaths (or any at all specifically in Iceland), I think it's fair to say that a few billion dollars in damages and lots of people being stuck in places they didn't want to be changed the way that we think about weather and the world in general.

And let's not forget about the general atmosphere of uncertainty that has descended on any and every traveler, considering we don't really know how our new favorite explosive mountain thousands of miles away will behave--for the next 200 years or so.

To relate this climatic event to music, let's just say that a few good bands and attractive music lovers could not make it to Coachella this year thanks to (here goes nothing) eyjafjallajokull.  Music and the environment connected again (this time, not in such a fun manner).

Moving on to events that could have been prevented: the coal mine explosion in West Virginia (the largest amount of deaths in such an accident since the 1970s) and the massive Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Beyond looking at safety and regulatory issues, what do I mean by prevention?  And what do I mean by you can help stop these kinds of accidents?

Basically, these accidents happen as a direct result of our needing these resources, and a large amount of these resources at a rapid pace for our high level of consumption standards.

So, what can you do, that won't really dramatically impact your quality of living, but might help to improve the quality of life of those who labor for these resources for us?

1. Buy better quality goods (i.e. ones that will last longer and have been made to suit higher standards).  While they might cost a bit more, if you take a longer term view/approach, these appliances will last longer, serve you better, and less often have to be disposed and replaced!  Energy Star is a great ratings system to go by if looking for a new appliance.

2. Take public transportation or ride your bike 1 extra day/week.  Even just one day means less coal and less oil! (oil fuels our cars, coal fuels our homes, hot water (so use cold water more often than hot, it gets the job done just as well), electricity, heat, air conditioning, etc).  Also, if you are interested in not supplying your home with coal-based energy, you can actually pay a bit more to get your energy from wind farms!!!  Check it out here:

3. Keep your home warmer in the summer (especially when you aren't chillaxing there) and cooler in the winter (we all know we love to sleep better in colder temperatures, like sleeping on the colder side of the pillow, like sipping hot tea and cocoa, yada yada yada).

4. Use less plastic.  Plastic is oil based!! Did you know that?  Glass is a great substitute, especially for non-klutzes (which I totally am, but I deal with it).  Ceramic is great as well.

By buying less products that are made from these non-renewable, labor-intensive products, we can improve the standards under which the miners and rig-workers are working, and heighten the chance of safer conditions!

Inspiring, ain't it?



Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Why Welsh peasants make better music.

So, last night, for the second time in just over a year, I saw the Welsh band Los Campesinos! (peasants in Spanish) play a show (the first being at Coachella Music and Arts Festival in April 2009 outside of Los Angeles, and last night in New York City).

I had originally stumbled across one of their feverish, sometimes impossible to decipher lyricked (yes I just made that word up) dance songs on a free sampler from Roxy (yes, the surf company).

Well, the first time I saw them, I was a sweaty, over-heated, sunburned, hot mess of a thing.  But I was jumping up and down like a 4 year old at Discovery Zone (RIP house of fun). 

I then got to meet them at a record signing after the same show, and took a picture with the lead singer to my heart’s may (opposite of dismay, obviously).

Even better yet, the adorable violinist complimented my denim dress (which as we all know, I’m not particularly stylish, so this comment absolutely completed my “high”).

Last night, I was press passed to review the band Cymbals Eat Guitars (see the review on May 28th on, they don’t deserve to be on my personal blog wa wa).  But the entire point of this (fine 80% of the point of having gone to this show) was to see Los Campesinos! again, but this time, indoors at a small, historic venue (The Fillmore at Irving Plaza).

Let’s just say that again, I was sweaty and overheated, but this time, even more ecstatic.  Hearing them inside an actual theatre (in honor of their being English , the English spelling of the word theatre) was fantastic, exciting, energetic, energizing, urgent, and pretty darn fun and perfect!

Their songs about fun things, finer things, dramatic relationships, overdramatized situations, regardless of whether the topic is serious or far from it, are all so beautifully intense and passionate.

Not in a serious way, but in a dancey, sing-a-long type, cult following type, very marketable way.  Yes, maybe I don’t understand many of the words (until I look them up later).  Maybe I’m distracted by the general good-lookingness of the band.

Maybe I’m distracted by the heavy Cardiff accents.  The outfits.  The dancing. The on stage performance.  Or even, the moshpit down below me (as I was watching from above the stage).

Regardless, their loudly played, speakingly sung, urgently danced, and smiling faced music is undeniably addicting and quite the natural upper.

Mmmm…thanks Wales!



Sunday, April 4, 2010

Didn't I tell you music and the environment intersected?

So, as I was perusing the Earth Day NYC events for this upcoming April 22-25th, I stumbled upon a particular extravaganza that made my heart quite happy and a giant smirking grin grow on my sunburnt (let's pretend it's sun-kissed though for good measure) face.

What is it you may ask?

The Bowery Ballroom (one of the better venues here in New York) is holding an Earth Day concert and comedian show, for kids and adults alike!  Real Estate, indie brooklyn buzz band (who I referenced back in January ahem ahem) will be headlining.

The whole show is referring to the bands as "Earthrockers."  Talk about some AWESOME branding work.  Kill it Bowery, kill it!

Regardless, bring your cousin, kid sister, person you babysit, or any other young person (mind you, please do not steal them from their parents and pretend they are orphans in need like you are from Idaho or something crazy ;)), and help them rock out and learn about environmentalism and awesome indie music.

After all, music and the environment are connected in more ways than we may know yet...

The journey continues.



Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Unfairly Adorable (even though I still don't love the voice)

Oooh Zooey plus some Bring it on choreography = another reason I can't wait for Coachella!!!

Plastic begets more of the same Plastic?

How much do you know about plastic, besides the fact that the material is in an incredible amount of substances that we use and see each and every day?

Well, here's an interesting tidbit to add to your knowledge base about one of the coolest and most difficult to deal with man-made materials: you can only recycle plastic ONE TIME.  Yep, one time.  That's it.

So, the fun people at IBM and Stanford University (the smart people and companies that run our country and then some) have discovered a new process to help catalyze the recycling process such that we might be able to recycle plastic continuously, rather than only once!

This is a HUGE FREAKING DEAL.  Why?  Because it would mean that we could create a continuous stream of recycling, and win a little but more of the waste battle.

They have a really good example in this here article:

Basically, the example is that your plastic water bottle (which I know none of you use anymore after my posting on eco water bottles) can be recycled and made again into another plastic water bottle, rather than into some low quality infrastructural material.

The thing is... this kind of stuff has supposedly been discovered in the past.  But maybe, IBM and Stanford won't lie this time?

Here's to hoping for a new generation of recyclable and malleable (organically that is) plastics to fuel our high consumption needs.

And on that note, buy less new things this week and see how good you might feel (you and your wallet)!



Monday, March 15, 2010

Awkward Musical Situations and A Band from Iceland

So, sometimes, when you are a music writer, like I am... you are forced to attend shows by yourself.

It's a lonely and awkward time for the first 10 minutes, but more often than not, I tend to find someone to shoot the shit with, or pretend to flirt with at least.

Last week, I had quite the evening of shows ahead of me.  I saw 3 bands at 2 different venues.   The first show, I attended with a group of friends, and it was enjoyable to say the least.  After the set was over, I jetted off around the corner to the next venue to see 2 more bands play (one of whom I was reviewing).

It was a Thursday night, and it was 1130 pm.  I was getting to that point where the tiredness becomes grumpiness and awkwardness expressed on my face and in my body language.  I was this sluggish mess of my prior self.  It happens to all of us, I know it does (or at least that's what I tell myself).

Reflecting back on my body positioning, I must have looked pained and strained to anyone in my vicinity.  This is an odd look to have at a music performance.  Ooops, my bad.

I don't really try to disconcert others from coming up to me, but it just happens sometimes.  Even when I was younger, strangers in the street would tell me to smile, cheer up, wake up, the works I tell you.  In response, I learned to tell them that saying something like that to a downright stranger was in fact going to make said stranger feel worse.  And then, I just started walking around with either a forced smile on my face, or with wide doe eyes, just so people would stop bothering me.  ...Analyze me later, please, read the rest of this now.

Long story short, I'm sure you are wondering where is the music bit of this whole post?

So I got approached by this very very tall person.  He was so tall, I could almost not hear him speak to me.  After about 5 minutes of awkward conversation, attempting to talk loudly enough above the music, and my being on my tiptoes and such, you would think this man would have given up.

Alas, but no!  He did not, and hung out next to me for the rest of the evening.

IT WAS AWKWARD.  I had thought that I was perfectly portraying one of those sullen, dreary moods that most people would be deterred from, rather than encouraged by.  Not this man.  Apparently my attitude and body language was a welcome challenge?

Now, I am not complaining.  He was good looking and charming in that awkward manner.

But, later on, we ran into 2 of his extremely wastedly drunken friends.  They proceeded to gush about his musical stylings and incredible bass playing, like he was the God of Williamsburg.

I had thought that things could not be more awkward...but they quickly became so.

Why do people think that it is charming to brag about a friend to one of said friend's new friends/romantic interests?  IT'S JUST AWKWARD.  Especially if they are saying that he is the. best. musician. ever.

I guess they didn't know they were talking to a person who writes music reviews.  I should have said something.  But, I was exhausted.

On that note, a band that I really really really like right now, that probably is one of the best bands coming from their country at the moment, is Feldberg, from Iceland.  My friend Chuck manages them, and they just won the best song of the year award at the Iceland Music Awards this past Saturday.

They are a combo of singer/songwriter/laptop jockey Eberg (Einar Tonsberg) and his eerily beautifully voiced a la 1920s early Jazz era Rosa Isfeld.  Essentially, they have this whole ephemeral feel, what one might call an icy and cloudy like sound.

Feldberg uses electro, experimental, and folk tones to create dream-like, swimmingly pleasant stories through vocals and melodies.  I'd like to think that their music is best suited for a flight above Iceland, peering down at the landscape below.

Yeah, weird right?  I know.  But listen to their album, it's awesome.

Check them out here:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Who would've thought this would or could be 100% compostable?

So, early this afternoon, I was minding my own business in my neighborhood organic bodega, conveniently located on the corner of my block.

I had gone with the sole intention of buying some dish washing soap and bananas, then hurriedly walking back to my apartment to shower post a run and yoga session.  In case you weren't aware, it is 65 degrees fahrenheit and sunny here in Brooklyn/New York today.

I am elated to experience Spring, as I have never had this season before.  Chicago does not have a spring, but a mind blowing leap from below 30 temperatures up to the mid 50s for less than a month, to a scorching 85 and 85% humidity for the entirety of the summer (thus, why I no longer live there).

LA is hot and dry most of the year (except for the torrential downpour, flooding, and mudslides I so inconveniently found myself in the last time I was there).

But New York.  Oh New York.  Spring has sprung, mind you, relatively early, and it is probably my new, most favorite season of all.  To wake up one morning, bathed in sunshine and warmth, after the prior day having been windy and gray, and to have this happen multiple days in a row, when least expected, is a most joyous sensation.

But, back to the bodega/grocery store.  The teller was talking about how expensive tomatoes were currently (probably due to transportation costs and not being season and such, duh).  While I was waiting for him to finish, out of the corner of my eye, high on top of a shelf, I saw a big sign printed in yellow on the top of a chip bag.

Now 100% Compostable.

I thought to myself, really?  And then saw that the bag was a Sun Chips bag.

Now historically, Sun Chips have been some of the healthier chip choices, even before the baked not fried craze, and the multigrain/fiber craze.

But little did I know they were innovative as well?

For those of you who don't know what composting is, it is essentially the decomposing of living materials to make fertilizer.  Many people have compost piles in their yard, where they place their unused food scraps, and then add microbes to break the pile down to make into their own soil enhancers.  It's pretty nifty if you ask me!

Anywho, apparently now if you are Sun Chip fan, buying the chips and eating them won't leave any bag to waste after all.   Simply throw it in your compost, or your neighborhood's compost (sometimes, neighborhoods have these).

If you want to get in on this easy and fun environmental activity, the lovely (bahahaha) Environmental Protection Agency has a site where you can find your closest pile.

Sun Chips has a great site promoting environmentalism and education too.

Party on Sun Chips!!!



Monday, March 1, 2010

A newfound respect for an indie band gone mainstream

A few weeks ago, I found myself at Barnes and Noble's Union Square store, a 4 story massive flagship type store, overlooking the city in all of its bookish and cafe glory. Indie bookstore like Blue Stocking on the Lower East Side or McNally Jackson in Soho it may not be, but hard it does try!

How you say? Well, they have this free monthly series entitled Upstairs at the Square (Catchy, eh?) that pairs a buzz band with an author or poet. I attended last month's with Vampire Weekend and Jamaican poet Kwame Dawes, and to be honest, walked in there with a cynical mindset and smirk on my face.

An hour and a half and a massive crowd, ranging in age from 15-75, later, I walked out with a completely different sentiment about Vampire Weekend.

Why? Well, at first glance, their Columbia University education finally shone through. These guys are intelligent, intellectual, articulate, and compassionate. And, they were playing a stripped down set, and had quite the back and forth dynamic with the poet.

They spoke of Contra's (their new album) influences in music like that from the Caribbean and Africa, and of the power of poetry and the written word to influence modern music. They also addressed how even though they themselves were not of these countries or histories, they still felt like they could use this influence in their music to create powerful and meaningful pieces. They said that their experiences from the outside were valuable in and of themselves.

So this is why I feel like it might be necessary to announce my newfound respect for an indie band gone mainstream.

Vampire Weekend are more deserving of their widespread popularity, if not only for their likeable music, but for their intellectualism and honesty. Hopefully, their fans will learn about why and how VW's music matters rather than simply listening for listening pleasure.

Check out Contra, their new album, and get yourself to Coachella Music and Arts Festival to see them live! (also, look at the songs of the month to the left to see their hilarious new video with Jake Gyllenhaal and Joe Jonas and Lil Wayne)



Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Could the best kept secrets be our newest hopes?

For the past decade, Silicon Valley has been brewing something other than tech start ups and crashes (and of course, Facebook fanaticism).

Today, Bloom Energy unveiled what it has been developing over the past 10 years, in the Silicon Valley of California; but this time, it's an alternative energy technology so exciting, and so private, that companies like Google and Bank of America already have it (Wal-Mart too, but I'm still on the fence about Arkansas).

Essentially, the issue is this: fuel cells are expensive, and burn fuels and materials that are expensive. This is the most basic way of explaining why they have not been made more pervasive over the past few years. They also are not (as of now, this day) perfected. This is inevitable with a newer technology!

Bloom Energy, a secretive start up headed by an ex-NASA Mars project employee and scientist, supposedly has found a way to allow fuel cells to not only run at higher temperatures, with cheaper materials and catalysts, but also to enable through these changes, a decrease in overall greenhouse gas emissions.

They will be made for businesses and homes, and are meant to decrease our energy bills and costs, both to individuals and the environment around us.

Sound too good to be true? Maybe. We'll have to see over the next day, weeks, months, and year. The thing is, from a publicity standpoint, their secretiveness and their selective interactions were a business development move of genius.

They've already got 3 huge corporations that "power" (teehee) our economy who have installed and currently use the product. They've got a press conference with Schwarzenneger and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. They've got The New York Times covering their unveiling, real time, on its blog.

And with an expected 3 year payback period (hello, that's teeny tiny), I am hoping for some more good things to come from Silicon Valley (besides my new MacBook Pro that I am typing this on of course).

Check out other exciting Green news on the NY Times blog: