Thursday, October 28, 2010

CMJ Music Marathon 2010 Photos and Discovery

Headed out to see some
Awesome Music

The concerts, films, roadside shows and all-around CMJ madness left town as quickly as it arrived.  And, while it didn't quite have the same effect on me as a nuclear explosion, I did feel a bit beat up after the weekend.  Some of the images and stories below.

Littlefield's stage

As I mentioned in my previous post, CMJ has become a good friend to me.  A trustworthy amigo, I use to gauge what type of music I should be paying closer attention to and venues I should check out more often.  This year, I found an awesome new venue and an amazing artists (this is where I'd pat my CMJ blow-up doll on the back if I had one).  So my theme for this year is, 'Discovery.'

On Friday night, Belinda, Erick, Jerome and I headed over to Littlefield's out in Brooklyn.  I'm not to sure what to call the neighborhood this venue is housed in, but it's between Carroll Gardens and Park Slope, so let's call it Carroll Slope for now.  Littlefield's in Carroll Slope turned out to be an awesome venue, with a unique set up that provided guests with a realized, quite entrance and bar space and open, semicircle lounge and concert space.  The concert space is tucked away neatly in the back of the venue, and only accessible through a long hallway, covered in art pieces and brightly colored walls.  The thick metal doors open to a typical style small concert space with random chairs along the walls and an open space for dancing, listening and cheering in the center.  We were mostly the listening and cheering type, but I certainly got my feet moving a bit. 

The bands, of which Brass Bed from Layette, LA was my favorite, all had to deal with a severely challenged sound engineer, or lousy soundboard (I couldn't quite tell whose fault it was), but overcame the odds and put on a great show.  Once the sound is fine-tuned and the system is back on track, it will be rated as one of the coolest NYC venue's I've ever visited.

Then, Jerome and I went to Piano's on Saturday afternoon to catch one of my favorite songwriter artists, Dan Magan.  We arrived early, to score some prime seating in the small upstairs lounge, unsuspecting participants in a musical experiment.  I'm no music producer, but usually acts are clumped together in genres or at least similar sounds.  The artist who played before the Dan Magan Band was absolutely nothing like them, or like anything I've ever seen before.  

K.Flay at Piano's

The artist, K.Flay tore up the small space by what I could only call a DJ's dream of a Renaissance woman.  She stood on stage with nothing more than her laptop, a turntable, and a mic.  She began each song by laying down a couple of beats (drums, melody, etc.) and edged her way in with her lyrics and pre-recorded chorus.  And, seriously, I had no idea a white girl could rap like this.  She spilled her words into the mic as fast as any MC I've seen and lapped up the applause like a champ.  She also has a somewhat strange, relaxed stage presence I had trouble pin pointing.  She dressed in a t-shirt, jeans and over sized sneakers reminiscent of RUN DMC.  She bounced to the lyrics she rapped, but rarely bordered on dance.  And, while speaking to the audience her voice eluded to an Irish accent (perhaps due to her Irish via San Francisco roots).  She was incredible and I'm so happy I was turned on to her.  Check her out if you're interested.

Robots Need Love Too...

Annnnd, headed home

Of course, the Dan Magan Band also put on a stellar performance and spent some time chatting with me and my group after the show.  They even did one of my favorite songs, Robots Need Love Too, from the bar stools.  Funny, funny fellows.  Check out their rendition of Robots at Mercury Lounge the Friday night before -

Monday, October 25, 2010

Book Review: The Piano Tuner

The Piano TunerThe Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A beautiful tale of a life changes, unique experiences and history.  I would recomend this to anyone who is willing to offer a book a touch of patience, undivided attention and a willingness to learn.  It opened up a creative box in my head that had been closed for years.  Many thanks to the author.

View all my reviews

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friendship Tribes

I read a great article in The New York Times today about the changes in society that have created friendship tribes (I love this term!). The article discusses the revolution under the umbrella of latest wave of television shows, which the reporter calls 'flock comedies.' The author, David Brooks, compares the direction of these new sitcoms to the past focus on family comedies. Has friendship replaced family in my generation?

The beginning of this compelling article breaks down why and how this shift took place and what impact it's having on the current programming line-up.

Last week, in a discussion with friends I caught myself passionately talking about a television program for the first time in years. I was just wondering why I have finally fallen back in love with prime time television (particularly Modern Family, Chuck, and Glee). Well now I understand, and can celebrate the fact that they are a reflection on my generation and my life choices. For the last few weeks I thought my new appreciation for prime time television was the slow fall of reality TV and invention of Hulu, which allows me to avoid commercials.

As a thirty something girl (I'm still avoiding the word woman), who focuses on finding the most intriguing friends, work, adventures and experiences in life, I can proudly say I have an awesome friend tribe. My friend tribe has experienced countless explorations, and adventures with me.  Perhaps it's because I found the love of my life 10+ years ago, but I'm not in a huge rush to take on the responsibility of a family. I'm certainly not running from it, and look forward to it one day. But my responsibility to volunteer in my local community, plan parities with friends and create the damn best NYC sightseeing list ranks higher on my personal priority list for now.

While I don't agree with Brooks description of "flock friendships" which are more heavily weighted in networking relationships and loose acquaintances which he calls "group relationships," the full article is well worth a read.  And, while I may have created my own definition of friend tribe I don't think I'll ever use flock friendship in a dinner conversation with friends.

Brooks blames the shift to "flock friendships" on technology and the evolution of social networking, which everyone does.  And, while I don't try to pretend I understand the 20 somethings who have 500+ friends on Facebook and swear they would invite every single one of them to their mom's house for dinner, I do know enough of them to understand plenty of them still value one-on-one individual relationships.

Luckily I have,"the long, uninterrupted bonding experiences that they (most people) no longer have time or energy for anymore," in my life.  I don't long for the friendships on these sitcoms, as Brooks suggests, but relish in the fact that there are writers, or characters, out there experiencing the same thing.  As society continues to evolve and change, there will always be naysayers and frustrated outsiders. 

But, hell, if it's finally making television enjoyable to watch again....maybe it's worth it (mwhahahahahah -evil laugh).

Check out the full article:

The Flock Comedies -
"These flock comedies serve an obvious dramatic function. In an age of quick cuts and interlacing, frenetic plots (think “30 Rock”), it helps to have a multitude of characters on hand zooming in and out of scenes.

But the change also reflects something deeper about the patterns of friendship in society. With people delaying marriage and childbearing into their 30s, young people now spend long periods of their lives outside of traditional families, living among diverse friendship tribes. These friendship networks are emotionally complicated and deeply satisfying — ripe ground for a comedy of manners."

Wagging Tails

Ok Go - the genius' behind 'Here It Goes Again' or as it more commonly known, the treadmill video - just released their latest single-take video. And, apparently to please me, the added the most amazing, sweet, happy dogs into the mix. The song is great, but the talented pups in this video and their wagging tails truly won me over. And, aside from the amazing choreography and production skills this video took, I love this band for flashing dog rescue organization links on the YouTube version of the video. I heart Ok Go and their talented furry friends! Check it out here:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

CMJ Music Marathon

I'm going to have to make this short and sweet, since I'm dashing off to enjoy the very festival I have to share with you but it's music madness week.  Of course, music madness is just my name for it but that's what it feels like.  I normally grow weary of searching Time Out New York, NY Mag, FlavorPill, etc. for good weekend concerts that will get my blood pumping and allow me to loose my mind for a little while.  But, this week CMJ made my life a whole lot easier.  They simply hand-picked hundreds of amazing artists for me and laid them out in some of my favorite venues over the next 5 days.  It's like having a really cool friend who tells you what to listen to and where to see it, based on your tastes.

I'm off to see Dan Magan at Mercury Lounge tonight and will be hitting up Littlefield's tomorrow night for a variety of artists.  We'll see what comes after that.  But, I highly recommend checking out the CMJ Music Marathon and Film Festival this weekend.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Rules of the Road: A NYC Cyclist Story

From a New Urban Cyclists, the Top 5 Rules of the Road:
  1. Taxi drivers and pedestrian’s entering and exiting taxis are the primary enemy.
    1. What other object stops randomly, without warning, uses the bike lane as a spot for occasional swerving and takes sharp turns on green lights? Only taxis, that’s who.
    2. When cab drivers stop to pick up a fare – you’re in for even more torture.
    3. ADVICE: Yell and scream loudly at taxi drivers when necessary.
  2. Make eye contact with drivers and other cyclists
    1. When given the opportunity, make eye contact with drivers, cyclists and even pedestrians at stoplights or intersections. Once someone sees you and recognizes you’re a human, they are less likely to miss you in their rear view mirror or step out in front of you when a light turns from red to green.
    2. ADVICE: Eye contact and a smile go a long way.
  3. You are smaller than a bus
    1. When forced to use a bus lane, speed through as quickly and safely as possible. Because, a bus horn is almost as scary as a bus.
    2. Don’t challenge a bus to a left hand turn, they cut in so far that pedestrians regularly have to take a step back on the sidewalks.
    3. ADVICE: Respect the city bus.
  4. You’re bigger than and Interceptor
    1. Seriously, NYPD, when the Department of Transportation set up bike lanes throughout the city, did you think they were setting them up for traffic cops to use for tagging tires and checking meters? I don’t really care if you don’t have anywhere else to go, it’s a royal pain to get stuck behind you when you could easily pull off to the side and let me by.
    2. ADVICE: Yell softly and try to avoid kicking them when you do have to go out into traffic to get around them.
  5. Claim your space
    1. Now that you understand your stature in this city, be sure to claim your space and puff up as much as necessary to show you deserve a half of a traffic lane or the small piece of bike path you’ve been allowed.
    2. ADVICE: This is where smiling doesn’t come in handy. Just look like you know what the hell your doing and act like you’ve done it 100 times before.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Journalist Jen and Scrabble-Man Gus

After party at the Wonder Bar
Embarrassingly, in high school I won a made up award from my friends for being the "Promenator," a honor I received for attending several proms in one year.  Now, if such an award existed Jerome and I have become know as the wedding professionals.  As you may know, we did not obtain this expertise from having a wedding - quite the opposite, as we've also become known as the unmarried married couple - we simply attend a lot of weddings.  

We both had the good fortune of creating amazing bonds with several friends when we were young that we've held onto firmly with both hands - and primarily from all the way across the country - which was an excellent decision since I'm not sure where I'd be without them today.  Since then, we've moved around a bit, and come across some of the most amazing people this world has to offer, not that I'm biased or anything.  We're at the age when many of our friends are getting married and have attended quite a few weddings over the past 10 years.  Although if you talked to my very open minded mom, you might hear that Jerome and I have been at the age to be married for quite some time but that's not part of this story.  

Getting ready for the wedding
This is a story of a wedding in Asbury Park, NJ, where my good friends Jen Brown and Gust Hookanson got married on October 2.   One of the best weddings to date!  As I've done on previous posts, I think at top 10 list is the best way to describe a big event.  So, here goes:

1. Introductions at the rehearsal dinner: Each person in the 20-25 person seated dinner was asked to stand up, introduce themselves, say how they met  Jen and/or Gust and an interesting fact about themselves.  Jen's interesting fact was that she nearly became a CIA agent, before turning to journalism.  The introductions gave us all an understanding of where everyone fit in and made for a nice wedding celebration the next day with plenty of familiar faces.

The view from the venue,
The Watermark
2. Gift bags: When each guest checked into their hotel room, they received a gift bag with such goodies as: a small beach ball, extra strength Tylenol, a bottle of water, 2-for-1 drink coupons at a local bar, and maps of the local area.  Thank you Joan Brown!

3. Scenery: The wedding activities were set along Asbury Park's boardwalk, which is beautiful wooden walkway that offers amazing views of the beach front.  Due to the weather, which hovered around 65 degrees, the beach was fairly empty on Saturday which left miles of beach in its natural state.

4. Casual after-parties: The couple, who met in a bar and still enjoy a good beer or cocktail, choose relaxed, casual venues for the Friday night welcome drinks and Saturday night wedding after party.

5. Personalization: The ENTIRE wedding was personalized to reflect Jen and Gust's characters from the lounge themed venue to the pre-drafted vows.  It felt more like a party in their living room, albeit a fancy living room, than a formalized ceremony.  Isn't that every wedding guest's dream?

The ceremony

Our tattoos of choice
The amazing couple
6. Wedding treats vs. wedding favors: A fortune teller and some temporary tattoos gave me plenty to remember October 2 by.  And no, I can't tell you what the fortune teller told me but if I go see her, just a couple more times, she'll tell me what the one thing that I need to change in my life to unlock all the happiness I've created for myself.  Hummmmm....

7. Sunshine: The wedding day was full of sunshine and perfect for an indoor/outdoor venue.  The ocean breeze and views where awesome!

The outdoor area of the Watermark
8. Specialty cocktails:  Jen and Gust picked a few specialty cocktails for the wedding and served champagne to guests as they entered the wedding venue.  It was an extra little personal touch to relax the guests and make sure everyone was having a good time....which worked.
9. Mix of live music and DJ: Through the duration of the day we were treated to an acoustic guitar player who strummed lovely tunes before and during the ceremony, a DJ who took requests and helped guests of all ages rip up the dance floor and a live band who rocked the after party.  There was no way you could couldn't have fun.

10. Relaxed Sunday brunch: Following a full day of wedding madness, including a lovely ceremony, dancing, drinking and even singing we were all invited to a relaxed brunch at Jen's parent's house a few miles away from the Asbury Park.  I've seen people do these types of brunches before, but they've always been at a restaurant and far to structured for a large group (particularly when more than half of them have hangovers).  The relaxed setting and serve yourself tasty treats were a perfect way to say goodbye to a weekend of celebration.

Additional Photos of the ceremony and the fun that followed:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

100th Post Celebration!

Wooooooooo Hooooooo!  I've hit my 100th post and have decided to celebrate by running out and exploring this city a bit more to uncover some new adventures and friends.  Thanks to my dear friends for reading my blog and inspiring me to write more.  I appreciate your emails and comments on Facebook about my continued efforts to keep up with Lost in Harlem.   Thank you!  - Andrea