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: www.myspace.com/feldbergmusic

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)