Thursday, September 24, 2009

Best Coast

It's been a long debate. The East Coasters love their winters, and the West Coasters know the sun is better. It's a debate without an answer, and I will not argue that one is better than the other. That would be futile. But, with regard with one aspect of the issue, it's no contest.

Pacific Time is better than Eastern time, when it comes to television. Not only is prime time television at 8:00, just the same as the east coast, but we get sports three hours earlier. We get day baseball at 10:00 am, Sunday football at 10:00 am, but Monday night football ends at a reasonable time. The World Series doesn't go until 2:00 am. Advantage: West Coast.

Don't even get me started on Central time. Prime time at 7:00? Sure, it means the 10:00 shows come on at Nine. But who is home in time to watch the Office at Seven? Sorry, central time. You just offer very little in the context of the time zone argument. Same goes for Mountain; just not a lot going on.

I'm sure there are arguments that I am missing here. Go ahead, argue for your time zone in the comments. We'll review later.

Per usual, thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Timbaland is wrong.

It's not too late to apologize.

While my posts tend to be impersonal in nature, the subject of repentance has been on my mind as the Jewish new year and Day of Atonement draw closer. We all know that none of us are perfect, and that throughout the year we wrong other people (insults, for instance), as well as commit general wrongs against the world (littering). Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur (the aforementioned holidays, for the Gentiles out there) provide an opportunity to start fresh, and repent for the sins of the past year. It's like Catholic Confession, but once a year, and with actually going to the source. The people source, as well as the God source.

While the past year hasn't been anything out of the ordinary as far as sinning goes, something struck me this holiday season about the idea of being encouraged to approach others to ask for forgiveness. Our wrongdoings are not simply forgiven; it takes the thought and recognition that we have wronged others, and the courage to approach those we have wronged to recognize it to them.

It's hard to apologize. We all have this sense of pride that generally makes apologizing difficult; for me, it's always hard to admit that I've messed up. While it may be somewhat required during this season of repentance, we should try to carry the impetus to apologize when needed throughout the year, in a sincere, meaningful way. I think our relationships with each other could be improved simply be admitting to a friend that you have wronged them, and that you're sorry. While this doesn't mend the thing you did, it may help to get past it.

Finally, the new year reminds us that it is not too late to apologize. So while general apologies aren't preferable, I apologize to you, 17 readers, for my general lack of proper spelling and grammar, in addition to anything else I may have done to wrong you.

L'shana Tova, and per usual, thanks for reading.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Street Scene!

This article was written for the LA Times Sunday magazine, which is why it is sort of LA focused. I was granted permission to also publish it here.

Street Scene

San Diego’s Festival Worth a Drive South

Coachella may be Southern California’s best known music festival, but San Diego’s Street Scene has been putting on quality music for 25 years. With smaller crowds and a friendly feel, last weekend’s Street Scene offered a more intimate feel than the desert Coachella. The two night event featured forty-five bands on five stages, many of whom also played at this year’s Coachella. Downtown San Diego provided the perfect setting, capitalizing on convenient transportation, easy navigation throughout the festival grounds, and views of the sun setting over the San Diego Bay. While both festivals have a definite Southern California vibe, Street Scene offers a cheaper, more intimate way to see great bands in one place.

Headlined by hip-hop artists The Black Eyed Peas and M.I.A., this year’s Street Scene also featured great artists rarely heard over the airwaves. Girl Talk stole the show Friday, turning two blocks of downtown in to a dance party with his innovative mash ups. Coming off a year in which his album was rated #4 on the list of Top 10 Albums of 2008 by Time Magazine, his set featured non-stop beats, a video screen he used to communicate with the audience through text, and a stage full of dancing audience members. He capped his set with a fireworks display, setting the crowd off in a final frenzy.

Friday’s best main stage acts included Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, led by the former Bright Eyes singer, as well as a gritty performance one would expect from Modest Mouse. Friday also featured festival mainstays Band of Horses, and the up-and-coming Cage the Elephant, and Matt and Kim (whose single is featured in a popular alcohol commercial). Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band brought in LA staple Jenny Lewis (of the LA-based band Rilo Kiley) for one song, playing Bad News as well as the original artist. Oberst’s blend of folk and rock were a perfect fit for playing between Band of Horses and Cake, and Oberst’s strong vocal performance easily won over the crowd.

Los Angeles’s presence was felt during Street Scene, as LA’s bands No Age, Ozomatli, and The Silversun Pickups were featured throughout the weekend. Grammy-winning Ozomatli gave their usual crowd-pleasing show, mixing Latin, Hip-Hop, and Funk in to one cohesive, lively set. The Silversun Pickups also represented for the City of Angels, giving one of the weekend’s best performances. The band mixed in songs off all of their hit albums, ending their show with the new single Panic Switch, and Lazy Eye, the hit from their second album, Carnavas.

The Silversun Pickups rock was preceded by the contrasting Of Montreal performance, which integrated a variety of theater elements in to the performance. Of Montreal is as known for their over the top costumes as for their music, and lead singer Kevin Barnes did not disappoint, appearing in a fantasy-like cape and suit. The band played well, but the music was overshadowed by their incredible stage theatrics, which included a full story line played out in kabuki-style theater.

In addition to the Silversun Pickups and Of Montreal, Street Scene’s Saturday lineup featured Jack White’s new venture, The Dead Weather. Along with Alison Mosshart of The Kills, Dean Fertita of Queens of the Stone Age, and Jack Lawrence of The Raconteurs, White put on a classic rock show. Mosshart’s vocals and emotion put this band on par with White’s prior projects, and the Dead Weather’s live shows leave nothing to be desired.

Saturday’s lineup also had a definite funk feel to it, opening the main stage with Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears and ending the side stage with Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. Both groups put on lively performances on the heels of Friday’s Trombone Shorty show. While Black Joe Lewis played to a small crowd as a result of being first on the bill, Ms. Jones performed at the same time as headliner M.I.A., resulting in a smaller crowd than she deserved. The two performances were both energetic and fun, getting the audience to dance the entire time.

Though LA bands made the trek down, San Diego bands also were featured throughout Street Scene. The Dirty Sweet led off Friday, which also featured Anya Marina, a former San Diego DJ. The Crocodiles played opposite Black Joe Lewis on Saturday, and local favorites The Delta Spirit finished off Saturday’s set on The Green Stage, a solar powered side stage.

While Street Scene doesn’t offer the sheer size of Coachella, it does offer the variety and talent level seen in the desert. For those who want the chance to see their favorite bands (and some soon-to-be favorites) right from the rail, Street Scene is well worth the drive down I-5.

per usual, TFR.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Concert Going

I had the joy of covering San Diego's Street Scene, a large two-day festival downtown, for the LA Times Magazine. The festival was awesome- performances by the Dead Weather, Silversun Pickups, and personal favorites Ozomatli were enough to entice me to go, and the shows did not disappoint. While a full review will hopefully be published, there were non-review like observations I wanted to throw out there.

1) Concerts are fun. Even if you don't like dealing with crowds, there's something about live music that is exhilarating. There's always something different than the studio cuts, and there is a definite shared experience that is a good time. A good performance, live those of the Dead Weather and Silversun Pickups, can really make you like their music a whole lot more.

2)If you're a rock star, don't act like one. Live music doesn't always make you like a band more. The lead singer of Cake, for instance, was a total douchebag. He spent the first two songs complaining about the stage crew and things that went wrong, and acted above the crowd. Despite it being long past sunset, he wore his dark glasses and hat. We left after two songs as a result. Despite liking Cake's music, I'm going to have a sour taste in my mouth about the band.

3) Techno sucks less live. I'm generally not a fan, but the live shows (like Girl Talk and Chromeo) were a blast. Going back to point one, there is a shared experience there, and when it turns in to a giant dance party, it's awesome.

4) You can't spell Funk without Fun. The two most lively shows not named Girl Talk were Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. Both bands had great front (wo)men, but seemed to be backed by a section of White Jewish dudes. Love it.

While I'm no concert connoisseur (this was my first multi-day concert), I'm looking forward to going to more live music in the future. Go see some shows, people!

Per usual, thanks for reading.