Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Blau!blau! Chimp-gun

Have recently started reading the book Can't Stop, Won't Stop by Jeff Chang. In the first two chapters Chang describes the social climate of both Jamaica and the South Bronx during the seventies. Both were plagued by poverty, unemployment, corruption and violence. The plight of the people in both locations was eventually given voice in the form of hip-hop.

Though I'm sure the parrallel has been drawn before, the story reminds me of the favellas of Brazil and their recently globalized form of expression baile funk. Much like early hip-hop, baile funk relies on repurposed samples of largely disparate forms of music. Miami booty bass lines frequently grind up against the horns of more traditional portugeuse-brazilian music. All the while, favella youngsters spit their unique portugeuse influenced, growl rap overtop, preaching a gloriously rock'n'roll sermon on the virtues of their sex, drugs and money lifestyle.

It's alternately fascinating, and barely listenable. You don't have to like it but everyone, and I mean everyone, whether you care about music or not, should at least listen for a second to what these kids have to say about life in one of the world's most violent areas. I don't pretend to have anything beyond a wikipedia knowledge of this but I do know of a couple places to get started. Here are a few jumping off points.
#1 #2 #3

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Big Slowdown

It's an exciting time to be alive. I know people are concerned about energy prices, inflation and the collapse of credit and so on but I can't help but think that in the long run all of these economic negatives have positive social effects. People have already started driving less and using their bikes and public transportation more. Maybe not being able to afford a new Chinese made couch every two years is a good thing. Maybe not having the option to pay for a vacation to Cancun on credit will make people look towards their own communities for leisure.

We've been so wealthy (and getting wealthier by the minute) for so long that we've forgotten to appreciate how much we have. We've been running around in an indulgent dream for so long, inundated by ever improving toys, ceaseless entertainment etc that we've forgotten what the real world is. All the economic woes are going to slow everything down enough for us to realize how immature we've been. I think we'll emerge as a wiser country if not a wiser world

Friday, June 13, 2008

Practice and Mastery: In both slices and sentences, repetition fosters growth.

Hotlips Pizza

The last couple days at Hotlips I've noticed myself having a much easier time remembering what to do and when to do it. I'll soon be able to operate without thought, a regular pizza-bot. It's been fun to be conscious of the way that the job is changing the way I think. The slice line provides a good example of this. My first day I struggled to remember the system we use to keep orders together and to recall whether an order is "for here" or "to go." After I got that down I struggled to remember people's requests such as to only heat the pizza for a couple seconds or to cut it when it came out. Now I'm able to remember those requests with ease and am able to pay attention to what everyone else around me is doing.

None of this is astounding but I've tried to be very aware of the way I've adapted as time has gone on. I think the job has improved my ability to focus on small, individual tasks away from work as well.

With that in mind I'm trying to be more diligent about writing. If I want to pursue writing as a career I need to stay involved in the process. I need to be practiced and ready to approach a keyboard without having to hesitate before I begin typing. I need to be more fluid in my ability to turn thoughts into clear concrete sentences. I kind of take for granted that I am a good writer and tend to forget that being good at writing, like anything else, requires practice.

I remember being in Reporting last year and being amazed at how quickly my writing improved as I was forced to produce focused, clear articles in short amounts of time. Just like the slice line, I was quickly able to get past focusing on the nuts and bolts of writing and was able to focus more on larger order concerns like structure and tone. I just need to keep writing everyday, hone my skills and stay in pursuit of opportunities. While it feels good to be on the road to pizza mastery there are some bigger goals I hope to accomplish down the line.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Youtube Meditation

One of the most intimidating sites on the internet is the Youtube homepage. Lurking behind that initial wall of featured and most watched videos lies an army of potential entertainment. Where to begin?

Lately I've been exploring new ways to find undiscovered videos. I like searching for videos with titles that include words or subjects I've been thinking about lately. I'm usually able to find something interesting within the first 10-20 videos that show up. From there I follow whatever interests me. letting my self get swept up in the video current. One of the things I find the most interesting is how quickly I tend to return to familiar videos. It's like a sixdegrees of separation game for neurons.

Anyhow here are a couple things I've stumbled upon lately. I can't tell you how I ended up at them, that kind of mapping is the hardest thing to accomplish on youtube and is usually pointless anyway.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

jack and leah's bikeblog

check it

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Poynter/Romanesko: Want a Well-Designed Newspaper? Go to Europe.

I read an interview from the Columbia Journalism Review with Scott Goldman, the head of the Society of News Design. Every year SND hands out awards to the world's best designed newspapers. This year, for the first time no American paper was on its' top five list. There wasn't even an English speaking paper among them.
Goldman says American papers are falling behind because they are being to conservative with their graphics. Papers in other country's and especially smaller papers have adapted more quickly to the growing demand for graphically rich news and have had more confidence in producing complex design.
It makes sense that the older institutions in the U.S. would be resistant to giving up print space in favor of graphics. As news moves more and more to the web though I think it will be imperative for news organizations to be able to present their stories graphically. When you look at the winners of the SND competition their front pages almost all look like website front pages. The stories contain a headline and a lead paragraph and then are jumped to another space in the paper. It seems like a sort of reverse engineering where first the websites were built to look like the front page and now the front page is being modeled after the web page. Our brains are being rewired by the internet and our papers are going to have to fight to keep up.

Beat Blog #2

The Amazon Community garden is beginning to see more activity as the winter is coming to an end. On late Tuesday afternoon the garden was full of people churning dormant soil, mixing in composts and organic fertilizers in hopes of raising a productive summer crop. Chris Hope,a gardener for the last four years, is planning to grow mostly lettuce, "because it's easy," but also plans to make his first attempt at peppers later in the season.
"I do it mostly for fun," he says. "It's a good way to meet people and you get to stick your hands in the dirt."
Gardeners here also produce corn, onions, garlic, peas, tomatoes, potatoes, zuchini and squash to name a few. Plots are in high demand and are awarded a via a lottery system. To enter you must register by completing an application by March 16th and delivering it to the City parks and Open Spaces Department. Forms can be downloaded from the department's website here.