Monday, January 31, 2011

Vampire Weekend: Too Cool For School

Sometimes you just have to be standing in the front with two hundred other crazy fans bouncing up and down while dodging plastic cups filled with beer. The experience sure beats... sitting down.

Terminal 5, which was once the location of the famed club Exit popular in the late 90's for being a maze of themes and pumping bubbles on to the main dance floor, is now home to hosting a variety of popular musical acts. From M.I.A. and Massive Attack to She & Him and Smashing Pumpkins, shows at Terminal 5 are bound to be sold out. It is a standing room venue with multiple floors. The second and third floors form a perimeter on top of the main floor. If you hang out there, it will be like watching a concert from a balcony. The height is vast yet still intimate in proximity to the stage. One thing that stays the same at the transformed space is that it still feels like a crowded club.

The activity at Terminal 5 was the perfect setting for college band Vampire Weekend. Their youth soared and the stage was tight enough to display their unity without taking anything away from their sheer musical talents. They even had room for a miniature orchestra.

Fast forward two years later. The band celebrated their second album Contra with another tour. This time, at larger and fancier venues. Radio City Music Hall gave them a sense of elevated success with three shows in one week. Sadly, the setting was too large for them.

The fans were slightly subdued sitting down in the comfortable chairs. There was a smattering of empty seats and the stage was too big for Vampire Weekend's presence. They played almost stationary and covered Bruce Springsteen's I'm Going Down which prompted booing from the crowd. Perhaps this is what happens when kids try to grow up too fast?

Vampire Weekend has a long way to go before they are ready to play in the real world. Hopefully, they learned a few things during their Fall semester abroad. In the mean time, why rush?

Terminal 5
610 West 56th Street
New York, NY 10019

Radio City Music Hall
1260 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020

Vampire Weekend

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Multipurpose Furniture Meets Urbanite Needs

Real estate comes and goes in the ever-changing SOMA section of San Francisco. The location once belonging to the urban furnishing giant EQ3 is now the discount store 9th Street Designer Clearance. Fortunately, for space challenged apartment and homeowners, EQ3 still stands in Emeryville.

Josh and Caroline Quick, who brought EQ3 to the Bay Area, added to a market not yet fully tapped. EQ3 fits the niche for quasi-adults who are transitioning into "grown-up" furniture and those who have somewhat "made it" able to splurge on items quite trendy and cool looking, less than traditional but very functional. Not quite part of the Thomasville or Crate & Barrel crowd, EQ3 is a step above IKEA and in the ranks of CB3.

EQ3 has a wide selection of couches, dining room and bedroom furniture, patterned linens, sleek accessories, and punchy throw pillows. Prices start at around $85.

The number one selling point of EQ3 is that their furniture is modern and multifunctional, which is popular among urbanites. The former SF Assistant Manager Dolph told me, "Particularly in San Francisco, houses are smaller and income is less disposable." Dual function furniture becomes a must have and want for many city dwellers. For example, one of the bed sets sold at EQ3 can easily be turned into a couch simply by moving the headboard. That bed is only one example of the versatility the furniture sold at EQ3 has to offer. "If your needs change later on, a nightstand can become an end table," Dolph added.

Quick, who owns EQ3 with her husband, said, "One of the biggest benefits is that a lot of people in cities are renters. As you move, multifunctional furniture can move with you." Lofts and tight quarters are examples of spaces where versatile pieces can be useful. "Sometimes people want to use their bedroom for entertaining. Rather than it looking just like a bedroom, multifunctional furniture gives you an option to define the space," explained Quick.

EQ3 is a reliable resource for those living the city lifestyle, those who want to get twice the usage out of their furniture and anyone who has a space they want to transform. The budget friendly prices, stylish options, and functionality of EQ3 make it a big contender in the furnishing world.

5603 Bay Street
Emeryville, CA 94608
T 510-601-0400

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I Heart New York

I've come a long way from Chevron gas stations.

This is what I see from my windows now. I don't need to romanticize New York anymore because I am living it.

a close - up version

How many New York landmarks do you recognize?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

My First Place

I lived in a storage center much like the places rented out for sixty dollars a month.

It doesn’t sound pretty or even livable but it actually was. My landlords called it a junior one bedroom apartment. It was 530 square feet of fun. The layout was simple. A hallway entrance led into a living room adjacent to a small kitchen and in the corner tucked away was the bedroom, all the closet space a woman could want, and bathroom. As a bonus, it all spilled out onto a balcony. I had a lovely view of the street and Chevron gas station.

For the first two months, I didn’t have much. “We all started out that way,” friends told me. I had my clothes, pots and pans, my childhood twin mattress, one chair, some stools, and a loaned futon which doubled as my couch. I didn’t have a television, a proper kitchen table or anything else. My kitchen table was the portable picnic table that came in the trunk of my 2003 Honda CRV. It felt good to eat on an $18,000 piece of plastic. I may not have had much furniture but I did have a high end piece.

I began to acquire stuff. My needs turned into wants and my wants forced me to become resourceful. My monthly budget left me with little money for decorating. I turned to friends and family for hand me downs and to salvage what was collecting dust in their homes. My apartment became the storage center for items that were no longer used in other people’s homes.

It was a simple trade. I freed up space in their homes and I got use out of my newfound treasures. I had chairs in all different styles. I got a full size mattress and box spring along with a dresser. My twin mattress went back to my parents' house and I finally had a big girl bed. While these items looked like clutter in my relatives' homes, they looked brand new in mine. Some of my best hand me downs were a brand new magazine rack, a director’s chair, various kitchen utensils, bowls and cookware.

When everything had taken shape, I decided to host my very first housewarming. I invited way too many people over for my space. My friends spilled over into the bedroom and out on to the balcony. The noise level was deafening and the lack of food prodded me to order four large pizzas for delivery. I was drunk when the delivery man came and I stiffed him on the tip because I couldn’t count. I vowed never again to get blasted at my own party. A classy hostess has everything under control.

My housewarming was a success. It gave me a chance to show off my digs and catch up with friends. I even got a few gifts. I will never forget my first apartment. It was, and always will be, the home where a pack of raccoons decided to stalk me. I remember that I was so scared one day that I hid in my car for half an hour.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Shea Stadium That's Still Alive

From stadiums and arenas to theaters and rooms, it is a tough gig for bands who are just starting out. Unless they are the opening act, getting on stage is just as hard as winning the lottery. For bands with arena sized dreams, Shea Stadium may be a good place to start. The crowds cheer as if they are at the World Series. As for fan gear, Shea Stadium is a plethora of plaid, neon tights, unruly hair, and skinny jeans on a Saturday night.

This Shea Stadium isn't in Queens and it's definitely not in Manhattan. It resides in Brooklyn and is regarded as one of those experimental spaces. Think indie indie type bands. It is also a space where bands can go to record their music and have their live shows taped.

The vibe is free flowing complete with beach balls in the air. Shea Stadium has the feel of a high school gymnasium and a suburban garage. The decor is makeshift with decade old couches and cartoon canvases. The stage even dons a wooden jagged border with light peaking through. It's elementary and raw.

One night’s lineup can be as varied as the genres of music played. One act played with their backs against the crowd. Another jumped so hard it looked like the stage was going to collapse. The best band of the night did not stand on stage but in the middle of the crowd and had a country twang. They played acoustic and it was refreshing to be able to understand them clearly. At times the bands at Shea Stadium sounded like a garbled mess. The instruments were louder than the vocals, making it difficult to understand what they were saying. In addition to country, the music verged on alternative with a mix of rock influenced by the sounds of the 60's. Shea Stadium is an all ages music venue, recording studio, and open forum. It is part of the young Brooklyn scene and what goes on there is fluid.

Shea Stadium is housed in an industrial warehouse. The setting is a bit rough. Cover is the price of a beer and the collection process left a lit cigarette rolling on a flat surface without an ashtray. Shea Stadium gets warm inside. For some cool air and a smoker's break, one can sneak away to their balcony which stares right at the Empire State Building. There are surprising little gems like these in Brooklyn. All one needs to know is the address.

Photography Credits: Jerome Serrano

20 Meadow St.
Brooklyn, NY, 11206

Yes, we can, can, can, can, can, can, can, can, can!

I first learned about Canstruction two years ago when I was flipping through The Outdoor New Yorker's Flickr.

As a fan of public art, I was immediately intrigued. Canstruction is a nationwide non-profit organization that builds awareness through design competitions. The challenge? Construct a structure made out of canned food. After the competition, all of the canned food is donated to local food banks and feeding programs. If you go to the exhibit, please donate some canned goods to the cause.

Last year's Canstruction was displayed during the month of November at the World Financial Center. What do you think versus the real thing? Pretty neat, huh. I can't wait to see what the teams come up with this year.

The BabushCAN
by Thornton Tomasetti
3,472 cans

A-Salt on Hunger
by Ferguson & Shamamian Architects
2,700 cans

CAN Mario 1-UP Hunger?
by Severud Associates Consulting Engineers
3,600 cans


World Financial Center
200 Vesey St.
New York, NY 10281

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sarah Tracey + The Old Ceremony @ Joe's Pub

It only took one Midwestern songstress to steal the show from five southern boys from North Carolina. Sarah Tracey is not just an opening act. She can easily hold her own, especially at a venue such as Joe’s Pub. Joe’s Pub has a flare of sophistication, a scene perfect for the sultry sounds of Tracey. She graced the stage ever so delicately, her band seamlessly blended in, and the crowd sat in silence mesmerized by her words and her bombshell good looks.

The night was in celebration of Tracey’s new album Cards on the Table. Her voice, rich and refined, is one of class. With the saxophone, drums, and piano in the background, she taunted the audience, “Do I inspire you to desire me so deeply that you’d swim across the sea for me?” It was easy for the crowd to want more. Tracey’s album has a mere six songs. All poignant and bluesy, she sang them with heart and eased the audience into a more upbeat and jovial band The Old Ceremony. The transition of two sounds could not have been smoother.

The Old Ceremony did what they do best: a blend of subtle vocals with an orchestrated twist on folk rock. They are a band made up of non-conventional instruments. In addition to bass and drums, The Old Ceremony is heavy on the violin and organ. The result? Melodic tunes and a sound stronger and more talented than Maroon 5 before they went mainstream.

The Old Ceremony sang a wide range of their music. Spanning the past three years, they introduced the crowd to Our One Mistake, brought it back to Walk on Thin Air, and sang a few from their upcoming Tender Age.

The Old Ceremony’s rendition of Talk Straight was more solemn than the original. Perhaps it was tailored to the New York City location, a downtown crowd who showed up for the early show at 7 PM? Bao Quain is sung in Mandarin. Who knew that the lead singer Django Haskins could flawlessly execute such a feat? And Tender Age was danceable, complete with a few toe taps and maracas. The Old Ceremony showed the range of their capability and pleased the crowd with their southern charm.

The night was a relaxed one at Joe’s Pub. From the bottles of wine on the tables and the dim illumination at the bar to Sarah Tracey and The Old Ceremony, downtown looked and sounded pretty swanky.

Sarah Tracey

The Old Ceremony

Joe's Pub
425 Lafayette Street
New York, NY 10003

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

How Not To Write About Food and Still Write About Food

Rox: They sell gyros (pronounced yeer - ohs!) at Wrap-N-Run.
Judi w/ an i: Euros?
Rox: Gyros (pronounced yeer - ohs!)? Gyros (pronounced jhi - ros)?
Judi w/ an i: Oh you mean gyro (pronounced jhi - ro)?
Rox: I swear it's gyro (pronounced yeer - oh!). I saw it once on a commercial.

I was referring to an old Jack in the Box commercial. I like to prove that I am right. So I Googled it.
  • Greek pronunciation: "Gyear-oh, with the 'g' kind of aspirated."
  • "Official" American pronunciation: Like the prefix in "gyroscope" 
  • In practice: "Americans trying to pronounce it in the Greek manner sound just as stupid as when they overpronounce French names for food in restaurants."

Wrap N Run 
788 Lexington AveNew York, NY 10065