Sufjan Stevens

Favorite Albums 2015

A late winter bus ride through the rolling, tree-lined hills of Appalachia not only introduced me to my two favorite albums in 2015 but confronted me with thoughts of pain and healing, injustice and equality while seated next to a stranger for hours on end. One album brought tears as I pondered the mortality of everyone I loved and my complicated feelings about the West Coast. The other brought anger – and a sense of awe – as it tackled racial inequality from a place of undefeated strength and joy.

2015 featured the aforementioned albums from Sufjan Stevens and Kendrick Lamar plus so many more I loved. Here are my Favorite Albums 2015 listed in descending order.

Continue reading

Macklemore

Four Thoughts On Macklemore’s “White Privilege II”

Grammy thief and alleged rapper Macklemore’s “White Privilege II” released today is perhaps the most Macklemore thing since, well, the last thing he did that made me roll my eyes. Once upon a time, when I lived in Portland and before the Heist became the de rigeur hip-hop album for people who don’t like the genre – I used to like him. I know, I should be forced to tell everyone I meet this – like some kind of good taste offender.

Continue reading

Aurora

Live Review: Aurora’s Voice, Hands Grab Attention in NYC

Seconds into her industry showcase at The Box in lower Manhattan Wednesday night, Norwegian teen songstress Aurora grimaced then halted her first song, “Runaway.” No errant guitar note – nor pink stage light, as the audience learned before song No. 2 – would distract the petite 19-year-old blonde as she wove intricate tales of escape, belonging, and sanctuary with her at turns delicate and demonstrative voice backed by soft guitar and drums. Her frantic, oft times jerky hand and arm flourishes buffered her song’s theatrics, ping-ponging between the gestures of a coked-up orchestra conductor, a street dice player with an OCD pre-throw ritual, and an electric chair victim. OK, maybe that last example is hyperbole.

Continue reading

Raury

2015 Favorite Concerts

Surviving in New York City is hard enough without a concert addiction and Ticketmaster fees bleeding you dry. In 2015, I caught over 50 shows in NYC, and more importantly did not go broke in the process. One day I will bore my grandchildren with the tale.

Below is my 2015 Favorite Concerts list, the fruit of many lengthy rides on the N/Q, G, L, and 7 trains. Special shout-out to Mixologi and Spectrum Culture for sending me to shows in 2015.

Continue reading

handguns

Prayer Won’t Save America From Its Mass Shootings Epidemic

I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian environment surrounded by people who swore upon the power of prayer. My mother, who I love and respect deeply, has a powerful testimony about prayer in her own life. I, on the other hand, never took to prayer.  Maybe I didn’t clinch my hands tight enough or shut my eyes hard enough or speak the optimized words, in order to hear God. The act itself felt like bargaining with some psychic reserve I sought out in hopes of a loan or a fix rather than a communion with the creator of the universe. In church, as a child, I often found myself looking around the room as others prayed. What were they seeking and would they find it, I wondered.

Continue reading

Bill Bratton

The Most Likely Target: Living With the Threat of Terrorism in NYC

Last night as I walked through Chelsea Market’s narrow strip of shops, past a bakery, a charcuterie, and a clothing pop-up, a disconcerting question grabbed my mind. Where is the nearest exit? Twin bolts of urgency and paranoia thundered from the deep recesses of my subconscious. To my left, down a ramp, a door to 15th Street stood a 20-yard dash away. The thought of a situation where I would need to dash to the door seemed absurd, and yet somehow it didn’t. People walked past me, talking, observing the art on the walls. Others sat eating. No one made any sudden or loud movements. I continued on my mission to find my parents an anniversary card. The thought of sprinting, while under attack, disappeared all together as I stared at books I wished to buy.

Continue reading

David Vitter

Two Vitter Endorsements Don’t Make A Right

U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-La.) promises not to suck as bad as Bobby Jindal once elected governor, and we wholeheartedly believe and support him in his quest to, uh, not suck.

There. I just gave you the Cliff’s Notes version of the Times-Picayune’s second endorsement of Vitter’s Louisiana gubernatorial bid – an editorial encore that calls into question whether this once vaunted New Orleans institution should be entrusted to pontificate about anything more substantive than the Saints’ desperate need to fire defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. (He still has a job?!)

Continue reading

French flag

An Act of War in Paris

I discovered the severity of the ISIS attacks in Paris Friday night while sipping a whiskey and ginger inside, of all places, the United Nations. A man sitting next to me on a couch informed a friend of his, “They killed everyone in the theater.” Prior to entering the UN, I read reports of a dozen or so casualties in coordinated restaurant shootings. Now Agence France-Presse’s official Twitter declared around 100 dead. The mostly young, mostly well-dressed contingent in the UN continued talking and laughing – their chatter creating a buzz across the expansive, open room that resembled an airport terminal minus the pretzel stands and news hubs. Amid the caterwaul of a thousand conversations, the plight of France, my ancestral homeland, weighed heavy on my heart and mind.

Continue reading

Beach Slang

Beach Slang – “Noisy Heaven”

“The night is alive, it’s loud and I’m drunk.”

As opening lines go, James Alex’s intro on “Noisy Heaven” is sublime – a blurry-eyed, present tense reverie whose veins run with 80 proof punk rock. The surging guitars that follow Alex’s opening salvo serve as tribute to the night’s total victory, any and all imperfections be damned. The sonic sum is like stage-diving into the waiting arms of the best night ever.

Continue reading

From the bayou to NYC and beyond, cher.

%d bloggers like this: