Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Kwanzaa Celebration at UMass Campus Center

Tonight The Malcolm X Cultural Center and The University of Massachusetts, Amherst and People of Color United and Amherst Regional High School presented their Community Kwanzaa Celebration. The celebration was scheduled from 6-9 p.m.

Me, Andrew, Katelyn, Kasey, Mike and Eric got there while keynote speaker and UMass Professor John Bracey was giving a speech to the attendees. Katelyn interviewed Bracey, check it out here.

Concluding Bracey's inspirational speech, students from UMass and Amherst High lit candles for each of the seven symbols of the Nguzo Saba (the seven principles of Kwanzaa.) Mike reported on the history and origins of Kwanzaa, if you want to know more, check it out here.

After the light ceremony performers took to the stage. Here is a video of the Cape Verdean Student Alliance dancers.

Two poets from ARHS, Briana Figarella and Kindyl Tolson spoke and a UMass Grad, Denise Daley. A drummer performing in the West African Tradition, Backa Niag performed. Niag got the crowd clapping. A singer from ARHS, not noted in the program performed. After him, the UMass Gospel Choir sang Psalm 23.

Eric talked to the crowd, check out what he reported here.

People found that the symbols and colors come together and create a greater impact, “The music and songs are nice, but it is the symbols and lessons we have learned from our past that makes this such a great holiday, “said Simone Williams, “People need to be reminded that our struggles are not over, even with a black president coming into office.”

Andrew was live twittering the event, check it out here.

Then it was time to bless the feast. Kasey covered the decor and the Karamu (feast) here.

See the event in photos here.

Love Is A Mixtape

My friend Mike let me borrow a book of his called "Love Is A Mixtape" by Rob Sheffield recently. It was a short and sweet read, only took me about 2 weeks. The chapters were generally short and each started with the track listing of an actual mixtape of his, then he would reflect on that time in his life.

Sheffield is a former contributing editor for Rolling Stone where he wrote the column Pop Life.

The story really centered around Sheffield's relationship with Renee Crist, a fellow rock critic. Their story was adorable. After I finished I googled Rob and Renee and to my surprise found a couple pictures of Renee via Google. In the book it said she had dark curly hair, in the picture I can see it's very much like mine!

This is Renee with a different boyfriend, Jimm, not a very good pic of either of them, but the other pic of Renee and Rob together was really rather tiny.

I really related to the way Sheffield related music to events and times in his life. Many songs just really bring me back.

I suggest this book to everyone!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Christmas Time at Burlington Mall

My Thanksgiving break was pretty low key, a lazy holiday followed by get togethers at my friends' apartments. Not the most exciting idea for a blog post, but I decided to write about my trip to the Burlington Mall on Sunday.

This is the mall that I lived and worked at in high school. I spent two seasons working as counter help and a waitress at Brighams there, I worked a Christmas season at their American Eagle and I spent a few years doing part time work at their Lord and Taylor during my college years. I have a lot of memories of being a semi-mall rat here also.

You can never really go home though, the same mall is quickly becoming a suburban Newbury Street. Within the past year stores like Nordstroms, Betsey Johnson, Lush Cosmetics, Free People, Jasmine Sola and Burberry have moved in alongside Sears, Brighams Ice Cream and Bath and Body Works.

Within the past year the latest Kevin James, star of King of Queens, flick "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" was filmed there. The mall is up and coming now and it's very strange to walk through it now.

While I was there I admired the Christmas Window displays and took trips down memory lane with my friend Sarah. I came across one specific store I hadn't yet even heard of.

Ruehl, I found out, is a fairly new division of the Abercrombie and Fitch company. The clothing seems to be exactly the same. I don't see the point. The outside of the store is made to look like a brown brick type building that you'd see on a city street. Inside it's as dark as a dance club with some low mood lighting. There was no sign of Christmas inside or outside their windows.

The mall was bustling, especially since it was rainy. But when I was inside the Gap, I couldn't help but think it should have been busier though.

P.S. No one tell on me for taking pics inside the a store. Not allowed y'know, couldn't resist though.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Two Tongues

Saves The Day has been my all-time favorite band since sophomore year of high school. I've listened to a bit of Say Anything, though not my favorite. I recently learned that two members from each group have formed a sort of super group called "Two Tongues." The group consists of Chris Conley and David Soloway of Saves The Day and Max Bemis and Coby Linder of Say Anything.

On their myspace, Max Bemis said:
"Chris has been my favorite songwriter since I was 15. Ten years later he is now is one of my closest friends. The Two Tongues record is really an expression of the yin and yang; how two "opposite" souls stimulate and battle each other in any truly loving relationship."
Once I met Chris Conley and it was the best day ever. I am planning to get a Saves The Day related tattoo in the early spring.

I like the new song, here it is as a still youtube video. The song is called "Crawl"

The record won't drop till February 3, 2009.

Wilmington Town Crier

OOF! This is pathetic. This paper is always at my parent's house, though rarely read. Apparently it is the "newspaper of choice for people of Tewksbury and Wilmington." Hardly. I open the website for the homepage to say that the requested URL is "not found". The website is already largely unimpressive.

I called the phone number listed on the site to check that it still exists. The phone line still works, got the machine... but their site hasn't been updated since 2004. Guess they aren't into writing for the web.

How good is it you ask? - I'd say it pretty much sucks.

What economic model do they seem to be following? ...I'm gonna go with... none. Not online related?

What could they be doing better to reach readers like me? First off - they could update their website at LEAST once per year, that'd be minimum, it could be running, the pages might work. I would enjoy that. Being out of town I can't pick up the paper so their whole no website at all model kinda doesn't reach me at all.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Neutral Milk Hotel

Neutral Milk Hotel released In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, one of the most highly regarded albums of the 1990's, 10 years ago. The album was a concept album based around the Holocaust. The band quickly dropped out of the spotlight following their most highly acclaimed release, never recording another album since.

After years of seclusion, playing his last known show in 2002, Jeff Magnum, the creative mind behind the band showed up and played at numerous shows this fall including the Elephant Six Collective Holiday Surprise Tour. Magnum is a member of the original Elephant Six Collective which also consists of members from The Apples in Stereo, Of Montreal and Olivia Tremor Control. The label seems to have an affinity with psychedelic pop rock music as well as psych folk and indie influenced work.

You'll have to excuse me for not plowing over a bunch of kids whose hearts had stopped just to snag a few photos of Jeff playing "Engine" in the near total darkness. It was an experience best not encroached on by our culture of rampant documentation technology anyway, and yet who could blame the folks haphazardly setting off flashes in the hopes of capturing something they might take home with them. Still, you've got to hand it to Mangum for finding a way to play out in the sort of intimate spaces that befit Neutral Milk Hotel, even as the project's stature has grown well beyond them.

I would have killed to see Magnum live.

Here's a live video of "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea", my favorite song of theirs, at a 1998 show during their heyday. It sounds pretty good considering it's a homemade recording.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Put a Ring On It

I was starting to wonder what happened to good old Beyonce. Her singles are always really fun. She is dropping a new album this month and her first single off the dance CD of her double disc is called "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)."

Honestly i can't stop listening to it. My roomie and I are trying to learn the dance hahaha. Failing miserably so far but having fun doing it. The dancing is crazyyy.

i guess last Saturday SNL spoofed the video, with Beyonce but the back up dancers were Andy Samberg, Justin Timberlake and newcomer Bobby Moynihan. Someone had put it on youtube where it garnered over 600,000 hits but NBC had them take it down, yet they haven't posted it to NBC.com yet! i have only seen small clips of it, but it looks good.

Beyonce's video.

E!News has some of the clip in this online feature.

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