Chicago-based online T-shirt collective Threadless is going to open its first physical store outside its Ravenswood-neighborhood HQ. The shop, set to open in Lakeview, used to house a leather-goods (read: whips, harnesses, chaps, etc) store. The Sun-Times reported that skinnyCorp, Threadless' parent company, received an undisclosed infusion of cash from New York-based Insight Venture Partners to expand the retail arm of the company and boost worldwide distribution. While the first shop to open will be in Chicago, Threadless, which reportedly claims $20 million in annual sales, there's no word yet on locations of additional stores.
The beauty of Threadless lies within its community focus. The company, founded in 2000 by then-art students Jake Nickell and Jacob DeHart (now 26 and 25, respectively), invites its 400,000-person user base to submit T-shirt designs, which are then voted on by the rest of the community. The shirts then get a limited print run and when they're gone, they're gone.
[via Gapers Block]
By now, the word is out that the Arcade Fire's extremely anticipated next album will be titled Neon Bible and is expected some time in early spring. The band posted the the first single, "Intervention," to iTunes, but there was some confusion. Lead singer and band mastermind Win Butler put a note up in his section of the band's website stating that "Intervetion" was to be posted as a charity single on Dec. 28 with proceeds going to benefit Partners in Health. Unfortunately, someone from the band's record label, Merge, posted the wrong song ("Black Wave/Bad Vibrations") two days early and the song leaked onto the web. The band is asking that people make a donation to PIH since many have gotten the song for free.
I just purchased what is labeled as "Intervention" from iTunes, but based on this information, I'm not sure if I'm listening to the correct song. After calling 1-866-NEON BIBLE x 7777, I am somewhat confident that the song I got is "Black Wave." Either way, if both songs are indicative of what's forthcoming from these guys, the album is going to once again put the Arcade Fire at the top.
Go to iTunes and buy it yourself.
The band also recently announced they're going to take up a five-night residency at New York's Judson Memorial Church Feb. 13-17. Tickets for those shows go on sale Jan. 5 at 9 am EST. They're also playing London's St. John's Church Jan. 29-31 and then Porchester Hall Feb 1-2.
Announced in February, a project headed by Nicholas Negropante of the MIT Media Lap, One Laptop Per Child aims to deliver usable technology to the children of the world's poorest nations. Currently there's a massive chasm in regard to worldwide education. OLPC set out to design and create $100 durable laptops to be purchased by governments that will then distribute the computers to children. The machine will have a 500MHz processor and 128MB of DRAM with 500MB of Flash memory, come equipped with four USB ports and wireless broadband that will connect with nearby laptops in the town or village to create a mesh, or local area, network. To sidestep the need for electricity, since many of these small villages may not even have running water, the computer was designed to run on wind-up power.
The current plan is to ship between five and 10 million units by the end of the year to China, Brazil, India, Egypt, Argentina, Nigeria and Thailand. I recently chatted with a spokesman for the organization who told me that 3,500 machines are set to be delivered to launch countries (Argentina, Brazil, Nigeria, Thailand and Libya) in January and February. A minister was selected in each country and will receive the XO machines to distribute to certain children for testing. He added: "Once we are past the launch stage, we will be in a position where we can make the machines more broadly accessible to countries and NGOs."
This morning I heard a story on NPR about the reconstruction of towns and villages devastated by the tsunami two years ago in Indonesia. Some of the homes were poorly built and residents don't want to move in. They fear the walls will come crumbling down and their homes could potentially be swept away again. I also recently read about a product that helps create stronger homes and external surfaces. Grancrete is a spray-on material that's similar to yet stronger than concrete that when applied over inexpensive foam panels (or wood, or anything else that can create a structure -- bamboo?) creates a sound structure that's impervious to water, fire, vermin and termites -- and it's non-toxic. It's a solid, durable material that can be used to build a home in a few hours. At a time when so many people have been dispalced due to natural disasters, war or other factors, this seems like a good, easy, inexpensive solution to the world's lack of good shelter.
[image via Inhabitat]
When you brush your teeth, do you turn off the water? Do you finish all the water in your bottle or toss it out when you've had your fill? Do you ever take the time to think about the fact that for most of the world, running water is a dream?
It's true. We take advantage of the idea that we can go to any faucet, turn it on and get clean running water. About 80 percent of all illness in the world is attributed to unsafe, unclean water that carries parasites and other water-borne disease. But you can help. charity: water is an organization founded by former New York club promoter Scott Harrison to build clean water wells in Ethiopia, Malawi, Uganda and the Central African Republic.
My friends at Flavorpill are helping by asking readers to donate money to help build a well in Ethiopia. By purchasing a virtual bottle of water for $20, you can help build a well that will provide clean drinking water for a village for 15 years. Flavorpill is donating half the cost of a $4,000 well and ask that we pitch in the other half. And if they get more than $2,000, they're going to build more wells. Best thing is that 100 percent of the proceeds go to the project.
So donate now.
It's a big day for Harry Potter fans (including myself):
Joni Mitchell's getting the tribute treatment -- think she gives a shit? The oft-outspoken critic of the music biz has one of the most well-regarded catalogs of any singer songwriter of the last 40 years. It's for that reason that some of the other best singer-songwriters have come out to pay homage to the smoky-voiced chanteuse. More details will come in the new year, but for now, here's a track listing for A Tribute to Joni Mitchell:
Free Man in Paris -- Sufjan Stevens
Boho Dance -- Björk
Dreamland -- Caetano Veloso
Don't Interrupt The Sorrow -- Brad Mehldau
For The Roses -- Cassandra Wilson
A Case Of U -- Prince
Blue -- Sarah McLachlan
Ladies Of The Canyon -- Annie Lennox
Magdalena Laundries -- Emmylou Harris
Edith And The Kingpin -- Elvis Costello
Help Me -- k.d. Lang
River -- James Taylor
It's never easy whittling down a year's worth of great releases to a couple handfuls of select music. Why these? What makes them stand out over the rest? This year, it was a combination of things: did it grab me when I first heard it? was it enhanced by a live show? did it get continued rotation? For all the albums on this list, the answer to all three questions was a resounding yes. There were other albums that I toyed with but for one reason or another, they got pushed down (EP? too young? not released in the US?). For those, I added an "honorary mentions" list. So, without further ado and in no particular order, the SomethingGlorious Top 10 Albums of 2006 (click the band name to buy the CD):
ARCTIC MONKEYS: WHATEVER PEOPLE SAY I AM THAT'S WHAT I'M NOT
The Arctic Monkeys came out of nowhere. By the time anyone had any idea what was going on, they'd already broken the all-time first-week debut sales record in the UK. Then they hit America and their shows sold out faster than you could sneeze and say "bless you." Any band that could cause this big of a frenzy deserves to be mentioned. But on top of it, they're talented. When I interviewed Alex Turner in January (he had just turned 20), I expected to talk to a young, cocky kid. But he was smart and directed. The Monkeys music is fast, tight, thrilling and smart. WPSIATWIN is a solid debut from any band, but this is just the beginning for these guys. I expect bigger and better things -- especially now that the hype has died down. Look for release No. 2 in April.
RACONTEURS: BROKEN BOY SOLDIERS
When the White Stripes came up at the same time as the Strokes, I always leaned toward the Strokes. I appreciated what Jack and Meg did, but never really got into the band. But as soon as I first heard BBS -- Jack with Brendan Benson and the Greenhornes -- I was hooked. The sexy, sultry, engaging first chords of "Steady As She Goes" are as good as those of any great rock song ever written. Then seeing them perform at Lollapalooza solidified it. This is one of the tighest five-pieces around (yes, five -- Dean Fertita was a tour-only member). BBS is a witty collection of rhythmic, thinking-man's rock. The countryfied "Yellow Sun." Rubber Soul-era "Hands." The spooky "Level." Pure brilliance. When I ran into them at ACL, even Jack smiled. Something must be going right.
Plant. Ozzy. Andrew Stockdale. Anyone who graced the presence of Wolfmother in 2006 knows there are few live acts to hold a candle to this Australian trio, who re-ignited the classic '70s arena rock flame. Wolfmother's grandiose stage posturing combined with just the right amount of fantasy once again made it acceptable to hang psychedelic felt posters on your wall. Their music is a rolling thunder of stampeding elephants coming to knock you over -- and if you didn't get out of the way, you likely got swept up. It'll be interesing to see what else Wolfmother is capable of; but if this is it, they made an indelible mark.
In the last 10-15 years, we've experienced a proliferation of upscale boutique hotels that cater to our every whim. If you don't have a plasma TV, free Wi-fi, select music and fancy tea in your room then you're not in the right place. If we desire to stay in places that treat us well, why wouldn't our pets? So many of us spend ridiculous money on our dogs already, what's a few extra bucks to pamper them while you're away getting pampered yourself? Stay, which bills itself as a modern dog hotel, is a boutique destination for dogs in Chicago that officially opened on Dec. 18. The 30,000 square-foot facility sits on the edge of the Chicago River's north branch adjacent to a park with trails, trees and wildlife. Like any hotel, bigger rooms come with a higher price, which isn't that high when you consider what you're getting. The Standard, at $40, is a basic space, but if you really want to spoil your pooch, go for the deluxe -- a 160 sq ft all-glass room with a window that overlooks the river. For $75 a night, it comes with bedding, a toy chest, fresh flowers and black and white prints by Keith Carter. But the biggest draw for me is Stay's indoor canine lap pool with swim-in-place currents to help with endurance and muscle strength. Each dog is fitted with her own life vest. Sure, it's a little crazy. Some might say they're just dogs. But would you rather stay at the Peninsula or Rodeway Inn?
With the number of drunk driving accidents and deaths caused by drunk driving rising every year, it's a surprise that services like this haven't sprouted up in cities across the world sooner. When I was in London, I noticed a poster in a bathroom at a pub for ScooterMan, a service that, if you drink too much and you drove to your destination, they'll get you home ... safely. ScooterMan, like LA-based Home James, is a service that utilizes collapsable scooters that fit in the trunk of your car. The idea is that when you're too wasted to drive (which is pretty much whenever you've had 2-3 drinks -- according to a recent billboard I saw that read: "driving buzzed is driving drunk" -- apparently someone dies every 30 minutes as a result of drunk driving) you call this service, which then dispatches one of its drivers to fetch you, who puts the scooter in the back and drives you home. This way, you and your car arrive home in one piece. Sure, it's going to cost you -- but the price of getting home in one piece is seemingly worth it. Just think of all the money you'll save on legal fees when you don't get pulled for a DUI.