Showing posts from November, 2009

Vegan Apple Pie

This recipe was an absolute hit wherever I took it last week. Even those people, who would ideally choose to eat a cheese steak every day, proclaimed it “pretty good”. While I sincerely doubt there is such a thing as a pie that’s good for you, this pie is healthy as compared to most pies. Free of trans fat, relatively low in sugar, and featuring whole wheat, this pie is quite possibly the smallest guilty pleasure you can indulge in this holiday season.

The crust recipe was developed by my incomparable Aunt Judy, and the filling recipe is an attempt to quantify my largely eyeballing measurements. Particularly, if you prefer to taste more sugar than spice, you may want to adjust the quantities to suit your tastes. The dough for the crust is probably more delicate than you’re used to, so I strongly recommend following the instructions for rolling it out.

*** Yields one 9" pie with top crust. ***
Vegan Apple Filling
4 Large apples (I prefer Stayman Winesaps, but any apple with some tart…


My digital camera has been on its last legs for a while now, and I really need to invest in a professional DSLR. However, I have found an interesting intermediate solution: disposable cameras. I miss the instant gratification of being able to review my pictures as soon as I take them, and I miss the convenience of previewing shots on a screen that is visible even when it isn’t directly in front of my face, but there are benefits. I think having to use the viewfinder forces you to pay better attention to the framing of a shot. Also, since you only have 27 tries per camera, you are more thoughtful about the value of each shot you take. Finally, there is a certain quality of pictures taken with real film that cannot be duplicated digitally…something about the way light is exposed and captured. Unfortunately, I am not an expert on cameras, and cannot speak more definitively on this. It seems like photos taken with film instead of digitally have better contrast, but that could just be due …

Because it is bitter, and because it is my heart.

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, "Is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter -- bitter," he answered;
"But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart."

From The Black Riders and Other Lines (1895) by Stephen Crane
I was first introduced to this piece in an American Studies class I had at Smith College in the fall of 2004. The moment I read it I was completely captivated. I knew I had just read something that would stay with me until the day I died. This is neither a frequent or passing feeling. I have only ever had it with a handful of other pieces. "Harlem" by Langston Hughes had a similar effect on me my freshman year of high school, and now over a decade later is still imprinted on my mind and soul.

I suppose it had such a profound effect on me, because it spoke to me on both a personal and universal level, at least the universe as I com…

French Quarter Festival: New Orleans, LA

This past April, I decided to drive down to New Orleans. I hadn’t really explored the Southeast too much, so I planned my trip be as comprehensive a review of the area as I could manage in a week. I went down the Blue Ridge Parkway, spent a night in Asheville, NC, hiked around Great Smoky Mountains National Park, had a friend show me around Birmingham, AL, and finally ended up in the French Quarter of New Orleans. When I got settled in and started exploring, I found that the general consensus was that my plan to leave on Friday was a travesty, because that Friday was the first day of the French Quarter Festival. According to the handful of people I talked to, the French Quarter Festival was the best music festival New Orleans had to offer, and it was free.

Even on the Thursday before things were officially kicked off, as I was exploring the French Quarter I could feel the sense of excitement, and see the preparations being made. Several streets had already been closed off by the police…

Art and Environmentalism

There were two stories from the BBC today that caught my eye, and they both had a similar theme: using art to help the environment. I know that this might sound cheesy or largely ineffective, but give it a chance. A true shift in the sociocultural milieu, significant enough to change behavior, requires integration on a deep and broad scale across all areas of society and culture. I feel strongly that an environmentalist ethos will have to permeate throughout the entire sociocultural landscape before widespread environmental change can occur. Therefore, as art is a part of culture, it is also important for environmentalism to integrate with art.

The two articles were In pictures: Helena Christensen exhibition and Mexico’s ‘giant underwater museum’.

Helena Christensen went to Peru to photograph the effects of global warming on rural Peruvians that rely heavily on regular snow melt to sustain their farming and economy. Her photos are truly works of art. In particular, her portraits seem t…

One of the First Interracial Recording Sessions

As I was slogging through this evening's rush hour, I heard a very interesting report on National Public Radio (NPR). Apparently a CD reissue of one of the first interracial recording sessions has been recently reproduced and re-released. The reissue is of a recording by Polk Miller’s Old South Quartette made by the Edison Company in 1909. Read the full report from NPR: Polk Miller: An Unlikely African-American Music Historian.

I find this absolutely fascinating for a number of reasons.

1. The American Ethnomusicology Significance
The blending of music traditionally associated with the culture of White people and music traditionally associated with the culture of Black people has given rise to some of our best loved music as a multi-cultural nation, most notably: rock and roll. This is one of the earliest aural documentations of such collaboration, and it is now available in a format that can be played with technology the average American actually owns.

2. The Power of Music to Unite

2009 Year In Review for XPN

One of my favorite radio stations from Philadelphia is XPN. They are UPenn's public radio station, and they play a really wonderful mix of eclectic music without commercials or inane commentary. Plus, their news breaks come directly from NPR. If you live outside the Mid-Atlantic area, you might have heard World Cafe with David Dye, a radio program they produce that is syndicated around the country.

Growing up in the Mid-Alantic, and having a mother with good and prolific taste in music, has meant growing up listening to XPN. Every year they do a countdown of the best songs and albums of the year based on listener submitted lists. This year for the first time, I participated. I based my list off of albums I bought this year, albums that got a lot of good buzz, songs I found myself listening to over and over again online, and songs that every time they played on the radio I couldn't help but move to. As my primary venues for discovering new music are XPN and Pitchfork, I will ad…

Conception & Execution

Once upon a time, there lived a 20-something, college-educated, under-employed human being with a well developed sense of humor, sarcasm, and creativity. A large part of her job entailed browsing blogs, and fairly early on in the process it had dawned upon her that she could write things of equal or greater value with minimal effort.

And so it began, that this young woman, who was prone to thinking too much and saying everything she thought, decided to start a blog. Several weeks of conceptualization and procrastination sped by, until finally she executed her idea by registering for a Blogger account. Thus, this momentous potential for greatness, or at least a mildly interesting compendium of random instances, was innocuously conceived.

From the onset she defined the blog's scope based upon her areas of interest and practice. They were as follows:
- Documenting sociocultural events and trends, especially those of the avant-garde and underground persuasion.
- Reviewing music, includi…