NYT Columnist Rob Walker visits NYU and Other Celebrity Sightings

 

Little surprises have a way of spinning one’s miserable day completely around, making a comparably awful day in Manhattan closer to being bareable. 

Friday was my last day as a CNN intern. Needless to say, I was to sad to be leaving. To make matters worse,  I never got a chance to experience anything other than panic and disappointment throughout the day. My workload was fairly mammoth and my patience had expired days before along with the carton of 2% milk I bought last Sunday , a casualty of my final exams, papers and multimedia projects.

And for the brief second I was in the bathroom (after  like 17 cups of barely palatable Keurig coffee… way to splurge Ted) I missed out on meeting Maria Shriver who was in my news room for all of 15 seconds. All I wanted to do was go home and begin working on my night cheese.

But instead of going home, I ended up at NYU to grab my last pay check which apparently hadn’t arrived because of a clerical error. I figured I’d end up watching People’s Court and sobbing into my night cheese if I went home, so I stayed to work on some personal projects in peace. The place was all but abandoned; why would ANYONE hang out at school on the last day of the semester other than me? What is my problem?

To my (anti) chagrin, New York Times Magazine “Consumed” columnist, Rob Walker –one of the writers I intend to surpass in greatness– was not more than 20 feet above me discussing his predilection with American consumerism to a crowd of marketers and media hounds. 

And at least one dumbfounded fledgling journalist.

Something I appreciate about Rob Walker is his ability to poke fun at how Americans perceive themselves, especially the aspects of what they consider to be their “brand.”  Many people –myself included– are under the impression that what we purchase defines who we are. You see this a lot in New York (and in college:) the stores people shop at, the clothes and merchandise they buy, the clubs they’re seen in are all a simulacrum of their constructed personality. 

I’d go on, but it’s complicated. Read Walker’s last column about big Cheetos here.

Odd celebrity sightings is something that happens in New York all the time and it’s one of the reasons this city is unparalleled in it’s cool. Your heros will appear out in the world like regular people, just the like the US Magazine “Stars: They’re Just Like US” section.  All too often they go where you go, which is odd because you’re there too. My roommate recently was at a pizza parlor in the East Village with Juliette Lewis. My co-worker saw Whoopi Goldberg in Whole Foods buying oatmeal. I keep seeing the red-haired Verizon Fios guy on the L Train. I’ve gotten used to this and now I can typically walk up to famous people and say “Hi” without feeling like it’s an earth-shattering, bowel-disrupting event.

Before leaving CNN, my desk was directly outside of Roland Martin and Jeanne Moos‘  offices. Anderson Cooper walked by every 15 minutes or so. And this all became normal after a dreamy period of adjustment. 

Seriously. Courtney Love could sit next to me on my flight tomorrow and I’d probably still find a way to fall asleep.

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Dark is the Night at Radio City Music Hall

Last night at Radio City Music Hall, I fell in love, died, came back to life and found God all under one internationally renowned roof.

Legendary Rock n’ Roll demigod, David Bryne –of Talking Heads fame– headlined theimg_1543 most captivating rock, folk and soul concert I’ve ever been witness to: Dark Was the Night, a four-hour sonic gift for a crowd of about 5,000 at Radio City Music Hall from a few of the most stunning performers from the past and the present.

Before the night was over, Bon Iver, David Bryne, The National, Dirty Projectors, Feist, My Brightest Diamond and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings all graced the stage.

Dark Was the Night is a benefit  concert where all proceeds from the door sales and merchandise go to AIDS research. In the 20 years the concert has been going on –David Bryne was the first artist to sign on in 1989– they’ve raised over $10 million for the global fight against AIDS.

img_1563Each artist played around 4-5 of the most heart-wrenchingly, achingly beautiful to wild, raucous tunes they could muster. Bryne obliterated the crowd repeatedly with his world-music drenched harmonies and Feist, Bon Iver, The National and My Brightest Diamond kept the mood of the hall dreamy and ethereal with many duets and low, folky melodies reminiscent of boxcar-Americana music from the Great Depression.

And tostamp out the evening, Sharon Jones and the Dap King set the house ablaze with their post ’60s melange of soul and funk with a hint of the late-James Brown.

img_1552The evening closed with a full-on sing-a-long with many of the bands singing a lite-hipster version of “My Country ’tis of Thee” … that is until Sharon Jones reemerged from backstage to tear it down once more.

It was quite possibly the best show that’s ever happened in the history of musical performances.

My buddy Justine

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My friend Justine (that’s her on the left) sent me a message on Facebook yesterday about how she almost got to interview preternaturally horny musician, Peaches, for an article she’s writing. 

Justine is pretty much my Peaches buddy. She and I met in Berlin in November while we were on Fulbright Kommission scholarships for journalism. She’s a J-student at Northwestern in Chicago and is a big fan of fun generally. I’m confident she partied more in Berlin than half the journos on the trip combined.

She’s pure excitement.

Over getting-to-know-you hefeweizens in bar in Prenzlauer Berg on our first night in town, she came across a flyer for a Peaches concert the following Thursday with Santogold and Hercules and Love Affair. Our joy could not be contained. We giggled like Swedish milk maids and had feverishly rapacious conversations about the potential fun factor of our upcoming Peaches adventure.

Like the poor planners we are, we didn’t have tickets and the show had sold out weeks before. But we went anyway hoping to either scalp tickets of be the lucky beneficiaries of someone’s kindness.

As it happens, Germans are a generous lot. Upon approaching the ticket gate, a group of people with VIP lanyards were leaving. A couple of them walked up to Justine and I and asked pleasantly, “Would you like these?”

We DID want them.

We were without the matching wristbands that validated the passes, so we couldn’t go in the main entrance. But since fortune was beaming it’s unusually sexy smile at us, we were able to get in around back where the guard was pleasantly drunk. He waved us through and we made our way to the main space where we met two girls from London (their names escape me) who begin voraciously dancing with us.

Good times. Fantastic show. And that’s why I love Justine.

A Taste of my Latest Investigation

So I’m Back at the NYU Journalism building… again. I’m so backlogged with reporting chores, I’ve started to think about becoming some sort of exotic dancer instead.

I’ve was here for about 12 hours yesterday and will be here for likely the same amount of time today working on my investigative article about same-sex taxation. It’s due on Friday. I have SO many interviews to conduct today and tomorrow and so much writing to do. I’m close to being sick with stress.

But I’m convinced that this artcle is something great and it’s a story that needs to get out BADLY… so I’m going to focus on that.

Here’s a taste of my investigation thus far:

On the date feared round the country, Tax Day, Michael Sabatino stood on the third step of the main branch of the United States Post Office in Midtown Manhattan –in plain view of Madison Square Garden, Penn Station and Empire State Building—holding his wedding photos and shouting “No Taxation Without Representation,” a shout out to his colonial brethren.

Sabatino, a Yonkers resident, married his husband eight years ago in Canada. In 2008, when New York Governor David Paterson issued an executive order that allowed same-sex marriages performed outside New York State to be recognized, his marriage became legal.

But every year when his fills out his Federal Income Taxes for the Internal Revenue Service, he wantonly commits a crime: perjury. Instead of filing jointly with his husband, he is forced to lie and file as a single person.

Sabatino is also paying substantial amount more than most heterosexual married couples he knows because the Federal Defense of Marriage Acts makes it impossible for the IRS to recognize his marriage.

Effectively he and his legally wedded husband are considered strangers in the eyes of the federal government and they are not eligible for the deductions and tax credits made available to straight married couples and they receive far fewer benefits.

Let me know what you think!!

Bio-Char, Part 2: Morgan Avenue

 

My fascination with Bio-Char has gotten some attention recently.

img_15121After my initial foray into making homemade Bio-Char, I was contacted by a Brooklyn-based company, Re:Char, that produces fresh (and so clean) Bio-Char in addition to Bio-oil, and methane gas –all all from one fantastic, fast-operating mechanism.

This impressive apparatus, or pyrolizer, is a tower of steel and environmental enthusiasm built by Re:Char owner, Jason, a Princeton graduate and Bio-Char enthusiast.

He explained to me how this pyrolizer produces the char, the oil, and the methane, but since I sometimes get headaches when people speak science to me, I’m afraid you’ll have to hear the full story later once I produce a full segment on his company.

While the pyrolizer isn’t complete as of yet, Jason is confident that he will have it up and running by Friday. As such, I will return for a test run. Stay tuned.

STM has fun with Twitter!

twitterIf you didn’t read Wednesday’s New York Times blog post about the Twitter recipe challenge, here’s a quick taste:

In the Dining section of the Times, Pat Gurosky edits recipes mercilessly, making every line pull its weight, or else. When she’s done, it’s tough to find an unnecessary word; trim another phrase and you risk plunging the reader into confusion. I’ll think, this is as short as a recipe can possibly get. And then I discovered that some people were using Twitter to tweet recipes. The 140-character limit enforces a radical new brevity, as Lawrence Downes writes in his exploration of the “twecipe” phenomenon.

Lawrence came up with this one. I want to try it at home: Mango yakisoba: saute 2T oil/thyme&garlic/c leek&shroom 9m; +c mango/.5t redcurrypaste/4T lemon/T tamari&mint. Toss +4oz/100g al dente soba.

I’m co-opting this brilliant challenge as a springboard to my own FANSTASTIC Twitter challenge: The Twitter Songster Off.

This is a fun challenge for all you tech-neurotics out there that are dually obsessed with Twitter and have a working knowledge of recording and audio software, such as Garageband or Pro-Tools. Craft a short song–no more than one minute to a minute and half in length– where the lyrics consist of no more than two 140 characters tweets, one being the verse, the other being the chorus.

It can be in any key, time, or tempo. You can repeat phrases to your heart’s desire (up to 1 1/2 minutes.)The best songwriter gets one free album download of their choice from iTunes (up to a $10 value.)

So good luck and happy recording!

At last! I’ve made it to the front page!

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Victory at last! My interview with Of Montreal is the front page story in Cincinnati CityBeat this week!

I’ve been waiting for this coveted event to happen ever since I started freelancing for this paper  in my junior year of undergrad at the University of Cincinnati.

It only makes sense  in my oft -ridiculous bizarro  journalism career that I would garner a front page piece AFTER moving to New York City. Har!

Read the full text here!