It's a rarity that my home doesn't have a container of red pepper hummus in the fridge. So yesterday when my partner came home with a brand we'd never had, I was eager to dig in. Sabra's Fresh Roasted Red Pepper Hummus is likely the best store-bought RRP hummus I've ever had. Like the hummus you get in any Mediterranean restaurant, this package had the cluster of red peppers and olive oil gracing the middle, waiting to mix in with the surrounding chick pea goodness. And the result: near heaven. There's something about this hummus: is it the creaminess? the fresh roasted red pepper? an extra whipping of the chick peas? If your grocery store (and if you live near a Safeway or one of its subsidiaries, you'll likely find it) has it, I implore you to grab it along with some fresh pita and dare yourself to stop eating it.
Ray Lamontagne's new album, Till the Sun Turns Black, is a brilliantly depressing collection of soulfully sad music. With one exception. The track "Three More Days" sees Ray in a moment of jovial exhilaration. In three minutes and 36 seconds, Ray conjures the ghost of Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding and every member of the Commitments. You can almost see two cats with dark glasses blowing sax and three female backup singers wearing frilly skirts working it behind Ray as he sits at his keyboard, pounding out some serious funk-tinged bluesy rock where his voice is at his raspiest; his music the most honest. If the entire album had this edge, it would be one of the year's best.
Check it: Three More Days
"It's not about the world of design. It's about the design of the world."
Kicking off this weekend, Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art will attempt to convey, through [sustainable] design, the state of the world -- and where it's heading. The new exhibit, Massive Change: The Future of Global Design, will attempt to change the way we, as a collective human race, look at design -- in the same way design is forcing us to re-examine the way we look at the world around us. The world has entered a new phase -- we are on the cusp of serious morphing, on every level. We, as people, have the ability to force change. This exhibit, conceived by designer Bruce Mau, begs us to look at how we can make change possible through the idea of design as an ever-changing force in our lives.
Massive Change kicks off on Sept. 16 and runs through Dec. 31 -- New Year's Eve. How will you spend the next year? Look around you, decide how design plays a role in your life and how you can welcome it into your world.
dear president bush,
stay out of new york.
you don't like us and we don't like you.
90% of us voted for john kerry in the last election. we don't trust you, and we believe, based on your record, that you've been a terrible president.
you're supposed to come to new york city today.
you're not welcome here.
you only come to new york city when you need to bolster your poll numbers.
you came here after 9-11 even though you ignored warnings of terrorist attacks and cut funding to anti-terrorist programs.
you came here for the rnc convention even though your policies have made america less safe.
you are not welcome in nyc.
go back to texas where you can cut wood for the tv cameras.
or go back to washington d.c where you can watch dick cheney run the country.
you are a liar.
you are inept.
you are probably the worst president that the united states has ever had to endure.
you are not welcome in nyc.
we are not your cheap whore, to use whenever your poll numbers are in the toilet.
we are not your crappy prop, to use when you're worried that you might have to deal with the consequences of your failed policies.
you suck, and we don't want you here.
everything you've done has gone wrong. you are in the pocket of the oil and defense industries, and the poor idiots on the religious right actually sometimes believe that you care about them and their agenda.
you only believe in issues that will keep your corporate backers happy.
you are an awful, inept, corrupt, and tragically incompetent president.
and i'm sorry that you've chosen to come to new york city on 9-11.
we didn't vote for you and we're not in any way happy that you're here.
go home, gw, and let us just get on with living our lives in the city that was attacked
due to your pre 9-11 ineptitude and incompetence.
Last night, the Gossip stormed into Chicago. With screaming fans coaxing them out, the trio that makes up the Olympia, Wash., dance punk band hit the stage hard with a searing "Keeping You Alive." The floor was jammed with rabid fans pushing up close to get a taste of Beth Ditto, the band's Rubenesque powerhouse frontwoman.
Watching the hourlong show, which many fans complained was too short (more the venue's curfew than the band's desire to play a truncated set), one thing came to mind: you know the music is going to be great but what really makes the show hot is Ditto.
This 25-year-old bright-faced singer with a booming, soulful punk-edged voice has the vocal chops of Janis, the dance moves of an early Go-Gos-era Belinda Carlisle and the energy of a Karen O (ok, maybe not as extreme as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman, but Ditto has the proclivity to turn it on).
But Ditto has this incredible stage presence that's so engaging. She dances hard, chats it up with the audience, shares their drinks -- just has an overwhelmingly positive attitude on stage. It's like she's having a big party in her living room and everyone there is an old friend. She even sang happy birthday to someone in the audience.
During the show, the band threw out hot performances of "Jealous Girls," the ballad-y "Coal to Diamonds," from which Ditto shook off those "slow jams" and kicked out the vibrant crowd starter "Standing in the Way of Control," the group's most recent album's namesake, and the somewhat call-and-response track "Listen Up!" At one point, when guitarist Nathan aka Brace Paine, had trouble with his guitar pedal, Ditto told the crowd they needed a 9-volt battery and asked if anyone had a vibrator, which garnered loud cheers. This kicked off a five-minute diatribe where Ditto egged on the tech to do some cartwheels on stage, shared a vodka drink with a fan and sat down to chill out on stage.
Another thing that struck me is that if you're a halfway decent singer/rocker/performer and you're an out lesbian, as Ditto is, you have an automatic fanbase. The lesbian community has this great loyalty that can hold up a band or singer -- and it doesn't have to be Melissa or the Indigo Girls. The Gossip has toured with YYYs, White Stripes, Sonic Youth and other heavy indie rock hitters and has huge crossover appeal. But the crowd was heavily planted with young, feisty, punky and, in many cases, sexy, rocker lesbians. It was a great scene.
The buzz downstairs at Smart Bar after the show where DJ Colette was spinning, was that this was one of the hottest Gossip sets they'd seen. In comparison with the band's last turn in Chicago at the Abbey Pub, the Gossip were tight, fiery and sassy -- exactly what people turned out for.
Opening up the New York Times Magazine this morning, while sitting down with my coffee, my eyes immediately focused on the words on the front page: "The Taste of Flavorpill." I quickly turned to the article on page 44, titled "Virtually Cool," and laughed when the beaming face of founder Sascha Lewis stared back at me. I then laughed, while holding the paper version of the magazine, read the lead sentence, "If you're not reading this on a screen ..." Fortunately, I qualified for the next two criteria: having a blog and having a phone not leashed to a wall.
Flavorpill is an amazing conglomerate of weekly e-newsletters started by Lewis and his biz partner Mark Mangan, based out of an expansive if not cluttered loft a few floors above the bustle of SoHo's shopping district on Broadway. Flavorpill has been mentioned in the Times magazine a couple of times before, but this, I believe is the first full feature tracking the growth and influence the cultural purveyor has in cities including New York, Chicago, SF, LA and London.
What started as a small, text-only weekly email highlighting hip happenings around New York 326 issues ago in late 2000 following the burst of the Internet bubble, has exploded into a powerhouse of 10 diverse email newsletters highlighting culture, entertainment, world news, fashion and music.
I've known Sascha, one of the most grounded, happy guys I've ever met, for about four years when I started writing for Flavorpill SF shortly after its launch, and met Mark a couple of years ago when the pair was in Chicago launching this city's version. If you don't know Flavorpill and itch to discover interesting, eclectic, sometimes underground happenings in your city (assuming you live in one of the 5 aforementioned enclaves or Miami and Austin, which are up next), check it out and sign up.
OK, now for some good news: Massive Attack has rescheduled some of the shows they had to postpone earlier this week due to immigration visa issues. The good news: Montreal and Chicago were both rescheduled, with Montreal adding a second show; Toronto is still up in the air; and Detroit got bagged altogether. Sorry Motor City.
The new information I just got:
The Montreal show has been postponed to October 8th. Tickets for the show on September 11th will be honored for October 8th. The unexpected date change gave the band an opportunity to add a much-needed second show on October 9th due to overwhelming demand. The Chicago show has been postponed until September 27th. Tickets for the September 13th show will be honored for September 27th. At press time, a date in Toronto has not yet been rescheduled. The Detroit show was unable to be rescheduled.
And the good news just keeps rolling in ... just received word that Arab Strap is calling it a day after releasing six studio and three live albums. To mark the end of their decade-long relationship, following last year's studio release The Last Romance, Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton will release a compilation titled Ten Years of Tears, the album comprises b-sides, demos, live tracks, new recordings and some Peel Sessions. And they're going to launch a farewell tour, but at this time, it seems like it's only going to be in the UK.
The end comes at a point when the guys just want to move on. No fighting. No anger. Just time to end.
According to Moffat: “There’s no animosity, no drama. We simply feel we’ve run our course. The Last Romance seems the most obvious and logical final act of the Arab Strap studio adventure. Everybody likes a happy ending.”
Sorry to once again be the bearer of bad news. Yesterday it was Massive Attack. Today, Keane announced they are canceling their North American tour. Just got this information:
Keane have taken the difficult decision to cancel their North American tour, including the recently rescheduled dates.
Tom Chaplin is currently being treated for alcohol and drug addiction and will not return to the road until he, and the doctors handling his recovery, feel that he is ready to do so.
Tom's bandmate Tim Rice-Oxley said: 'Obviously it's crucial that Tom is given the time to get better properly. With the first dates in America only a fortnight away, his doctors feel there is undue pressure on Tom to rush through rehab and get back out on the road. That's why, between the three of us, we've decided to cancel the US tour. We'd like to apologise to the fans who've bought tickets, but we've done this in the best interests of our friend - which, ultimately, is in the best interests of the band too. At this stage we plan to go ahead with the tours of the UK and Europe in October and November. We'll be keeping in close touch with Tom and his doctors about how he's progressing and we'll keep you posted."
This means Keane's following US/Canadian shows are all cancelled.
• Wed 13 - New York, Carnegie Hall
• Tue 19 - Montreal, St Denis Theatre
• Wed 20 - Toronto, Hummingbird Centre
• Sat 23 - Baltimore, V Fest
• Sun 24 - Boston, Bank of America Pavilion
• Mon 25 - Atlanta, Tabernacle
• Tue 26 - Upper Darby, Tower Theater
• Wed 27 - New York, Hammerstein Ballroom
• Sun 1 - Vancouver, Orpheum Theater
• Mon 2 - Seattle, McCaw Hall
• Wed 4 - Portland, Schnitzer Concert Hall
• Sat 7 - LA, Greek Theatre
• Sun 8 - Berkeley, Greek Theatre
• Mon 4 - Chicago, Auditorium
• Tue 5 - Detroit, State Theatre
Refunds will be available from the point of sale.
DJ duos is no new thing but Flosstradamus -- J2K (Josh Young) and Autobot (Curt Cameruci) -- started turning up the heat in Chicago and it doesn't look like the anything's going to cool them down. Hell, they were even named to URB's most recent Next 100 list.
After many attempts, things finally synched up and I got to see Flosstra spin last night at Chicago's Subterranean in Wicker Park. These two Chicago natives, who have a monthly residency at the tiny Town Hall Pub, draw in the hipster crowd to check out their mash-up blend of, well, everything. They toss in a little hip hop, funk, rock, pop -- you name it. Last night they went from Daft Punk to Deee-Lite to bringing up a female MC for a little smackdown with J2K.
These guys -- along with groups like MSTRKRFT and Cut Copy -- are defining a new dance genre that I dubbed Hipster House. The blending and mixing of rock, pop and hip-hop set to house beats is steadily growing and, personally, I dig it.
Josh and I are going to sit down for a chat in the next few weeks, so look for it.