Entries Tagged 'Travel' ↓

Fear Of An Un-Toured Planet: Chuck D and Questlove Join GrindXDesign!

“83 tours, 82 nations.”

That’s Chuck D of Public Enemy, right, giving a terse description of his career as a global artist.

In other words, he has steadfastly carried the flag “in the name of hip-hop,” as he often notes, to many places, just to firmly, lovingly plant it. That’s the best reason for having him co-lead the Wednesday, September 19th GrindXDesign.com tutorial on working as an international artist.

(When I asked Chuck to speak and take questions on this issue, he said “Yes,” immediately. Immediately. He doesn’t say yes, immediately, to anything, certainly not to me. So, in part, that’s when I knew I was on to something.)

That he’s been so many places, though, is not my only reason to host him. The other one is that he often took me with him, and he didn’t have to do it. Ghana. Australia. Hawai’i. France. Brazil. The aforementioned Germany, and many more places. (That, above, is a picture I took of Chuck, one morning, in Egypt, in front of the pyramids.) These, and others, were all sites I never thought I’d see, but did, doing so on behalf of the culture, and P.E., courtesy of Mr. Chuck. Thank you, sir.

Getting someone else to help Chuck carry the ball for GrindXDesign wasn’t a struggle, though. (I say his, despite the fact that far too many U.S. hip-hop artists give side-eye to touring overseas. It’s the food, they often say.) That’s because I reached out to the inimitable Questlove, of the Roots, and bandleader at Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, right. (Before doing the TV show, his crew’s 200-shows-a-year churn was legendary, which is much of how they got so astounding as a live act.) In fact, when I DM’d him, Quest was, actually, on tour in Europe. Getting him booked required nimble mediation from his manager, Rich Nichols, to get it done, but it was.

Get on the horn and hear what these two giants have to say about this often overlooked aspect of being a modern musical artist. Purchase your ticket to the entire GrindXDesign series of 8 live, one-hour “modules,” presented one-per-week for eight weeks, by phone.

Tickets are $77 until midnight, tonight; $97 after that. (Save 20 bucks, spend it on more hip-hop.) Everything starts this Wednesday, August 15th, with Rap Coalition’s Wendy Day and Booth Sweet LLP’s Dan Booth. Subject: “How To Get A Record Deal.”

#gXd: Fear Of A Black Planet?

Americans travel less than almost any other people on Earth.

Most of the hip-hop ever made was created in America, its birthplace.

What are the implications of these two facts for touring, and the benefits artists can derive from going abroad?

Kaiku: The Sensual Sound of Cold Finland’s Hot Heart.


finlandmapNew York-based vocalists Jaana Kantola and Paula Jaakkola, above, record as Kaiku (“echo”), mostly singing in Finnish, the vowel-rich tongue of their icy, Northern European homeland, right. (Fully 25% of Finland rests within the Arctic Circle. In winter, at the country’s most boreal point, the cold season lasts seven months, void of sunrises for 51 days.)

But if your stereotype of Scandinavia is frigid weather; clean, efficient municipalities; socialized medicine; and people whose dispositions are as nippy as the climate, Kaiku’s new, self-produced album, Usva, may send you for a delightfully ecstatic loop.

l_a92d0c320d5c4781b7835b4bd5dd1f2fUsva—the word means “mist,” evoking the hazy confusion of unrequited love—layers lush soundscapes that more evoke a warm Mediterranean sun than a distant, gray, Nordic light.

Artfully blending accordion, cello, piano, and bass on compositions like “Stay Your Hand,” “Illusions,” and the title track, Jaakola and Kantola, above, consider their ardent, “organic sound,” not some Culture Day demo but, “a mixture of rhythmic world music and traditional Finnish songs.” “Sure we come from Finland,” Kantola notes, “but our music is more like via Finland.”

Jaana Kantola and Paula Jaakkola are the guests today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, April 2, at 2 pm ET.

Further, if you’re in New York City next week, Kaiku will be playing, Wednesday, April 7th, 8 pm, at Fat Baby (112 Rivington Street; corner of Essex).

You can hear these thoughtful artists’ ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

They’ve Got An App For That?


I’m gushing over version 2.0 of Exit Strategy NYC‘s cool, namesake application. It “features a zoomable, scrollable and interactive MTA subway map as well as bus maps for all five boroughs,” but that’s not the coolest part. As Core77 blog explains,

Exit Strategy NYC tells you which part of the subway car you have to board to wind up at any specific point at any station in the system, which seems totally absurd if you don’t live in a city that’s always in a rush, but will undoubtedly have value among those who are always looking to shave a couple seconds off their commuting time.

Look at the picture, above. Do only New Yorkers immediately get the value of this; of not having to figure out the fastest way out of the subway, because it’s all there on your screen? I’m in love. Now, all I need is an iPhone. Exit Strategy NYC, $4.99, at the iPhone App Store.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

[via Core77]

Casual Friday.


This is a Miami street, and, from what I hear, people walk around in all states of dress, or undress, this time of year.

My question, though: Does her bag really go with that outfit?

[via izismile.com]

So, That’s Why Those Guys From Bensonhurst Are Always Grabbing Their Nuts: They’re Just Telling You How to Get to Their Neighborhood.


They’re not being hostile, with their loud noises and passionate facial expressions. They’re excited about inviting you over! That’s what I realized after looking at Greenpoint, Brooklyn-based Cosmic Arts EnterprisesPenis NYC Subway Map. It imagines one of the world’s biggest rail mass transit systems as an even bigger male sex organ. (Go ahead: Click on the image to to, um, enlarge it.) Not only does the graphic rudely, though perhaps poetically, cast the most populous borough as the meaty scrotum of our great metropolis. Do you think I’ll see going from Harlem to Wall St., down the city’s flaccid shaft, to get to WBAI quite the same way ever again? Fuggedaboutit!

[via bangocibumbumpuluj.blogspot.com]

The Mountains of Manhattan.

“Skyscraper Canyon” by Yeung-Seu Yoon
“Skyscraper Canyon” by Yeung-Seu Yoon. All rights reserved.

“I don’t think you can say one place in New York is more beautiful than another, I think they are all beautiful in their own way. But I will say that for me, Bayside, in Queens, is very green and has a lot of parks. It reminds me of Kashmir. Naturally speaking, Kashmir is more beautiful than New York, but in a different sense. New York and Kashmir are both bigger than you are. And they say if you have a problem in your soul, then Kashmir will scare you. But if you are ok in your soul, then Kashmir will inspire you. I am sure New York is the same. Anything bigger than you is like that: it will magnify what you have inside of you. Because the buildings in New York are like the mountains of Kashmir. If your soul is ok, New York will make you feel really great. But if you have something wrong in your conscience, it will scare you. Just like Kashmir.”

— Tahik, former teacher from Pakistan, cab driver in New York for four years when asked, “What’s the prettiest place in the city?”

[via The L Magazine]

Uh, I Take That Back.

Did I speak too soon when, two weeks ago, I wistfully blogged that that I wanted to live a year in Iceland, below?

Rewind, selector….

It sure appears so, with the announcement yesterday that—gulpthe whole country is on the verge of “wholesale economic collapse.”

Wrote The London Times,

Queues formed at petrol stations as Icelanders rushed to fill up before reported fuel shortages, while savers who tried to withdraw money from banks or sell bank shares on the internet found websites were not working. …

Sources said that Landsbanki and the country’s third-biggest bank, Glitner, will soon be fully nationalised, while Kaupthing had been forced to take state loans.

Can you imagine?

But the man I want to talk to this morning is James Surowiecki, from The New Yorker‘s financial page. In an April 21 piece—April! Six months ago!—he wrote these words:

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