This week I wanted to start with a long rhapsody on libraries, since the new North Beach branch just opened, but I fear I've already gone a little hogwild with links to share. Instead, come to my housewarming party May 31 to hear that story in person!
And if you're in North Beach, check out the new library on Columbus at Lombard. They did a pretty nice job with the building, and there's a lovely little plaza with steps on one side.
Lastly, my new piece for Her.meneutics is up today. This time I tackle the ever-complicated question of male-female friendship. Maybe I'll have to see if the library has When Harry Met Sally in...
:: tunes ::
- This slow-jam version of the Ducktails theme (H/T Voloe) tipped me off to one of the more creative acts I've heard in a while: Postmodern Jukebox. The Canadian ensemble, which features a rotating cast of vocalists, specializes in unusual covers of pop songs:
- Klezmer version of "Talk Dirty"
- 12 variations on Peggy Lee's "Fever" in the style of Michael Jackson, Kanye, Bizet, the Eurythmics and more
- Motown spin on Avril Lavigne's "Sk8tr Boi"
- Swing cover of Beyonce's "Drunk in Love"
- Doo-wop take on Miley Cyrus' "We Can't Stop"
- Barn-dance version of "Blurred Lines"
- A surprisingly catchy, 1930s influenced "Call Me Maybe"
- "Thrift Store," as it might have been performed in an Old West saloon
- New Orleans soul version of "Sweet Child of Mine"
Sure, it's a shtick, but they do it very well and many pop songs prove surprisingly singable when you strip away the top-40 production. Buy their album from various digital vendors. And if you'll be on the East Coast or in Europe this summer, you might even catch them live.
- Australian band worth checking out: Lately I play a lot of jazz radio at home, but the other day in the car I had KFOG on when the kind of song began that made me listen eagerly for the end to hear the credits. I didn't write it down, but I'm
pretty sure what I heard was Australian band Boy and Bear's song "Southern Sun." Check them out if you like Ivan and Alyosha or the Jayhawks. They don't seem to tour the U.S. much, but they'll play a handful of shows here this summer (note that "CA" on their calendar signifies Canada, not California, alas).
- The Black Keys' new album Turn Blue just came out. In this NPR interview,
the musicians talk about their songwriting process and working with
producer Brian Benton (aka Danger Mouse). Story includes a couple new
- New Katie Herzig: The Ten out of Tenn alumna recently played her song "Walk Through Walls" on VH1. (Herzig's one of several musicians Charlie Peacock has mentored or produced. In 2008, Paste magazine featured her as one of 22 new artists to watch.) "Walk Through Walls" is the title track of her new album.
- Andrew Bird to play Saratoga: Of all the Bay Area music venues I've been to, Mountain Winery might be my least favorite. It's beautiful, sure, but the narrow road up to the venue quickly backs up and parking costs $20/car. BUT, for Andrew Bird -- who plays there Saturday, Aug. 2 -- I just might make the trek. Paste reports he's touring with a "Hands of Glory" band this summer, musicians to include Tift Merritt. Hands of Glory, which draws on the American folk songbook in sound, was my favorite of his last few albums. And if his December SF set with Tift and bassist Todd Sickafoose is any indication, this summer's shows should be a real treat.
- Belgian singer to watch? My neighbor's son introduced me to Stromae the other night. I'd never heard of him till now, but he's apparently developed a huge following in Europe, which this PolicyMic story puts in the larger socio-economic context. He was also on a recent Time Out cover. Though he seems to sing mainly in French, I wouldn't be surprised if you start hearing his songs in hip clubs, restaurants and tapas bars.
:: visual art & design ::
- Coit Tower reopens; anyone want to plan a post-work field trip to check out the repaired murals?
- How onion tears differ from sad and elated tears: This fascinating photo series by Rose-Lynn Fisher explores the chemical differences in tears. BuzzFeed recently surfaced the story, which first ran on the Smithsonian site last fall.
- Women use art to challenge street harassment and fetishization:
- In her 'Stop Telling Women to Smile' poster series, Brooklyn-based artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh uses portraits to challenge street harassment. Since 2012, she's used poster versions of the portraits to stage a public art/PSA mashup on the walls of Brooklyn streets. (A little brag: After I mentioned her work to a Paste editor, they wrote a short piece on her portraiture.)
- Fellow Brooklyn artist Donna Choi's project is even more pointed: Her eight-piece guide to "yellow fever" responds to the fetishization of Asian women. I can't figure out where/how she's distributed the series, however, aside from the HuffPo piece cited here.
- Misrepresenting kidnapping victims: In recent days, the #bringbackourgirls hashtag has exploded on social media, in response to the kidnapping of nearly 300 Nigerian school girls. Unfortunately, one of the posters instrumental in spreading the hashtag used photos of young women from Guinea Bissau, photographed over the last two decades. The New York Times' Lens blog spoke to the photographer, Ami Vitale.
- Painter of Beat poets dies: I didn't know of Robert LaVigne's work until a poet acquaintance shared his obituary, but I have a soft spot for the North Beach artist scene, thanks to two now-deceased men I met at Cafe Trieste during my first year or so in the Bay Area. You can get a flavor of LaVigne's portraits and experience of the Beat years in this essay he wrote several years back.
:: reading/food for thought ::
- Finding humor in injury: Falling beneath a subway train has brought unexpected attention to a New York comedian, who recently performed a routine that drew heavily on her many surgeries and months in the hospital.
- Vocations in media: My friend Joe Kickasola was recently featured on the Center for Faith and Work site. One of some of my dearest friends in New York, Joe leads a Baylor semester-in-the-city program for communication students.
- 'There's more to love than "True Love"' - Alissa Wilkinson on friendship, love and romance in the movies and life.
:: food ::Several months back, I tried a recipe that called for black pepper simple syrup, which involved filling a plastic bag with pepper corns and whacking them several times with a cast-iron skillet. Literally. Unfortunately, I didn't love the cocktail that much, so I'm left with a lot of simple syrup. Fortunately, you can use black-pepper syrup in other ways, though it may threaten your non-hipster cred: