Showing posts from May, 2010


April 17th through the 25th was this year's annual National Park Week when the usual entrance fee is free. To celebrate I headed to my closest national park, Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. I drove Skyline Drive, climbed Blackrock, and wandered around Big Meadows. Shenandoah is the first national park I ever went to, and it always gives me a lot of comfort to be there especially when I go by myself. Of all the parks I've been to it feels the most like home, if you could ever even try to claim something so grand. I tried to capture that duality of both the intimate and infinite with these photos.

The Weekly Roundup: 5.28.2010

Shit is getting crazy. I’ve certainly been living up to my live fast motto lately. Every day this week I’ve woke up dirty. Sunday it was grass from running around a state park. Monday was mud from flashlight tag. Tuesday was dew from sleeping on my porch. Wednesday was ants, and ant bites, thanks to a terrifically large ant nest my friend and I found to poke at. Yesterday I woke up still wearing the jeans I had gone dumpster diving in. Today it was axle grease from changing my tire. And, thanks to a beach camping trip I’m taking, tomorrow is almost guaranteed to be sand. No sleep for the wicked, or time to shower for that matter. In all this glorious mess there hasn’t really been time to properly prepare a weekly roundup. So instead, this week I’m going to serve you up a bunch of my all time favorite videos from interwebs. Savvy?

Tuesday Is For Tunes: Breakbot

Sorry for the delayed Tuesday Is For Tunes, dear readers. I spent all of yesterday screaming into the great and fabled existential void, which is not conducive to comprehensible music reviews. But that was yesterday, and today is Wednesday. Let’s get happy, cut a rug, and shake what our good mommas gave us! Breakbot wants to groove us right ‘til the end of the night. A Frenchman and a DJ, I’ve been loving his tracks for a few months now. Dance me to Paris, Monsieur Breakbot!

In middle school I used to go to the roller skating rink at least once a month, and that really came to define what the 90s looked and sounded like to me. My favorite outfit was concocted of the following: stonewash jean short shorts, black crop top, oversized floral print flannel, velour Blossom hat, and rollerblades with neon buckles. Fortunately, they also played good music. Boyz II Men, Technotronic, C&C Music Company, Rob Base, Montell Jordan, Show Me Love by Robyn S., and many songs from the Jock Jams com…

Vegan Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

'Tis the season for strawberries and rhubarb. Spring is ending and summer is starting, which means it’s that wonderful time of year when fresh strawberries and rhubarb are available at the same time. I went to the local farmers market this Sunday with my friends, and was inspired to get cooking. With some zesty lemon and ginger, this is a great dessert to take to the next BBQ you get down at.

***Yields one 9"x13" crumble.***
Vegan Strawberry Rhubarb Filling
4c Whole small strawberries
4c Diced Rhubarb
3/4c Sugar
1 Lemon
2tsp Grated ginger
1/4c Tapioca flour

Wash the strawberries and remove the stems. Using the strawberries whole keeps the crumble hearty, but if you’re using larger strawberries, you’ll want to cut them in half. Wash and dice the rhubarb stems into roughly 1 inch pieces. Do not use the leaves or branches, because they are toxic. Mix the strawberries, rhubarb and sugar in a 9”x13”x3” baking pan, making sure the sugar thoroughly coats the fruit. Sprinkle the juice an…

The Weekly Roundup: 5.21.2010

Exquisite Corpse
I am very fortunate to live in a college town. On Thursday nights while class is in session, a bunch of the English majors hold an informal, public coffee house that they call poetry night. People read original pieces, recite their favorite poems, and singer-songwriters perform in the living room of a small house off Main Street. If you drift out to the back porch you can overhear research topics, party plans, and book recommendations. The whole thing just buzzes with creativity and positivity. This is the artistic ferment of my hometown. By 1am the air is thick with cigarette smoke, and with bellies full of wine the poets and their supporters attempt to reenact the best moments of the beat generation. They are the bohemians of postmoderity, still worshiping at the hallowed shrine of Bacchus, wildly rollicking up to the stars, yelling words loud enough to be heard at the end of the night. If you are not fortunate enough to have such doings in your town, I've found …

Be Kind

One of the reasons I'm quitting my job is that at my job I see a lot of greed, misogyny, complacency, apathy, and disrespect. It's really an unhealthy environment that goes against how I was raised to act, and what I was taught to value. I believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person. I believe that all human relations should have justice, equity and compassion.

Today I realized that I've let my job get to me. Lately, I've been cynical about humanity. I've been rude to and judgmental of other humans. Admitting this regrettable behavior to myself was hard. No one can disappoint you more than yourself.

So why am I declaring this on the all-public internet? I hope the transparency of this medium will help hold me accountable. I simply cannot excuse my lapse in moral integrity. I am resolved be kind. I will live my life with more empathy and compassion. And, I will be a better and happier person for it.

As a humanist, nothing can be more depressing than loo…

Tuesday Is For Tunes: Mountain Man

I’ve been rather attached to folk music and it’s slightly wilder cousin, folk rock, lately as that is good music for roadtripping. And while I have no issues with keeping The Tallest Man On Earth and Titus Andronicus on repeated play, I thought it would be good to seek out something new for my new excursions. Thusly, I found Mountain Man, a folk trio from Vermont, not to be confused with the Massachusetts hardcore band of the same name that I also enjoy. (Let it never be said that I lack eclectic tastes.)

Like the sirens down by the river in O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Molly Erin Sarle, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig, Amelia Randall Meath are three honey-throated ladies that create hypnotizing harmonies. But unlike those infamous sirens, they are real women making real music. Steeped in the traditions of hills, hollows, and hymnals, Mountain Man sing songs like arcadian dreams. Their awe-inspiring a cappella style is occasionally set with sparse acoustic guitar. Still, they keep things simple…

To Travel Is To Live

"crossing and recrossing the country every year, south in the winter and north in the summer, and only because he had no place he could stay in without getting tired of it and because there was nowhere to go but everywhere"

from On The Road (1957) by Jack Kerouac
Today I gave notice at my job that my last day would be June 4th. Instead of working my miserable job that violates many of my values, I will spend June and July living in my car and traveling the country. I'm very excited and slightly terrified.

It's so easy to say you want to do things or live a certain way, but it's much more difficult to actually take action on your dreams. When I was 21 years old I vowed to visit all 50 states before I turned 25 years old. But, on my 25th birthday earlier this month I had only been to 43 states. Somehow I got sidetracked. I fell into mainstream beliefs that the only way to survive into adulthood is to slow down, settle, find someone to marry, and make enough money to …

The Weekly Roundup: 5.14.2010

Least-Visited Monuments
Continuing my lists promoting the National Parks System, this week the LA Times published a list of the 20 least-visited national monuments. A lot of the included monuments feature ruins, petroglyphs, and fossils, which I think is pretty exciting. Despite taking several real anthropology classes in college, all archeologists still look like Indiana Jones in my mind, and all archeological work still involves escaping booby trapped tombs. Success! Here are five from the twenty that caught my interest.
Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve: raft through a dead volcano in Alaska only accessible by boat or plane with no facilities or campgrounds, and consistently life-threatening weather conditions.
Fossil Butte National Monument: located in beautiful Wyoming, visit on Friday or Saturday in summer to hike to some of the richest fossil deposits in the world, and help excavate and collect fossils for research.
Hovenweep National Monument: explore six ancestral Puebloan…

Local Scene 2

Continued studies of my local music scene and hometown friends. Earlier studies at Local Scene 1.

Love vs. Passions

"Yesterday it was love. Today the great passions of unity and liberty disrupt the world. Yesterday, love led to individual death. Today, collective passions make us run the risk of universal destruction."

- Albert Camus, October 1957

Tuesday Is For Tunes: The Black Keys

I love how dirty The Black Keys can get, and Brothers, their new album, is gritty in the best way. It sounds like a bottle of bourbon dropped in mud, kicked in dust, and then thrown through a dive bar window. To put it in sonic terms, it’s reminiscent of times when blues had to be played loud just to be heard over moonshine drunks at backwoods speakeasies, or when distortion was created by inchoate amplification technology and broken speaker cones held in place by wadded up newspaper. Yep, The Black Keys are a band for all of who were not fortunate enough to be born in time to witness the inception of great blues careers the likes of Robert Johnson, Ike Turner, and Buddy Guy. Does Dan Auerbach sound like he sold his soul to the devil for guitar chops? Or, am I just prone to waxing overly romantic? Probably the latter.

Still, Brothers is such a solid album. Every track hits hard with absolutely no apologies, and drips with soul. It comes out May 18th, and I simply cannot urge you enoug…

The Weekly Roundup: 5.7.2010

Around The World
Nicolas Rapp is living a life I could only dream of. He quit his job to attempt to drive around the world in an old Toyota. He's already circumnavigated the globe, and now he's taking on various continents. Nothing I ever do may ever be as awesome as that. You can track his progress at Trans World Expedition.

Lee Arnold
I was introduced to the work of Lee Arnold last month at a contemporary art exhibit I visited that featured three of his moving images pieces. I'm not usually a big fan of more modern fine art, but I really enjoy when artists utilize mass media in a ways that transcend technology. I think Lee Arnold does that very successfully. This week I finally got around to looking him up on the interwebs. He has a great website that features a lot of his work, including the work from the exhibit that captivated me the most. This isn't quite as impressive as seeing it projected ten feet high on the wall of a dimly lit room while listening on large head…

National Parks

Thank all the powers that be: we are entering vacation season. National parks are some of my favorite vacation destinations. Each is a unique showcase of America’s natural splendor. Of the 58 official national parks (national monuments, seashores, forests, etc. aside), I’ve only been to ten: Shenandoah, Grand Canyon, Hawaii Volcanoes, Death Valley, Redwoods, Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Glacier, Great Smoky Mountains, and Acadia. But, I’ve got big dreams of making it to all 58 before I die. Here are my top five favorites that I’ve been to, as well as the top five I’ve spent many hours dreaming of visiting.

Top Five Visited National Park
1. Glacier National Park, Montana

Activities: drive the famous Going-To-The-Sun Road, walk the beautiful Trail of the Cedars nature trail, hike to Hidden Lake from Logan Pass, watch for mountain goats, see the glaciers, and take the Saint Mary Lake boat tour.
Tips: there are very few roads in the park, so the best way to see it is by foot. This takes more a…