Thursday, November 10, 2016

shit's about to get real

Dear friends,
We are about to face a very difficult and dark future. In the very upcoming future, our voices will be ignored and dismissed, mocked and ridiculed, or silenced all together by any means necessary. Our resources and support systems will be cut off, our networks deemed unnecessary, unsavory, and undesirable.

night castle firefly nathan fillion outside

The relationships that government have with their people always resemble the parent / kid relationships. The government has an authoritarian position. Allegedly, it has more wisdom and experience to know what's best for you, it's supposed to lead by example, and to provide the basic necessary means for you to survive. And we, the people, always push back the way we push back against our parents. Sometimes that push is gentle and more of a conversation. Other times, we push harder. Sometimes our governments get abusive and beat us into submission and other times we say enough is enough and we stand our ground and beat them into a bloody pulp. Obviously, an ideal situation would be the one where both parties listen and respect each other but this isn't what's in store for us. We are about to get a very harsh dose of an evil stepmother.

Image result for stepmother gif

Well, guess what? This isn't a children's story and a fairy-godmother won't magically appear and save our asses. So it's time to make like Snow White an GTFO of the house and start taking care of our own shit. There is nobody can help us.

Image result for time for some thrilling heroics

You care about a cause? Well, it's gonna be up to you to keep it going now. There isn't going to be a far away omnipotent figure keeping Planned Parenthood afloat. It is now your job! And showing your support for it on social media won't be enough. You will have to actually give them money or get involved otherwise - like reach out and see how you could volunteer because without your support, they won't have a dime.

Image result for broke gif

You like arts and culture? Well, you are now the philanthropist supporting them. You are now to a local artist what that old rich blue-blooded lady is to Boston Ballet - a donor and a patron. Because guess what? This artist won't have health insurance now. They are not considered a contributing member of society anymore. They are entertainment of questionable value.


The time now is to be more than just vocal. We can't just sit there and express our displeasure while this government does away with what little progress we've made. It will be up to us to stand together and keep our communities and our values alive during this time. It will be up to us to protect our families, our friends, our lifestyles, our beliefs. The time is now! The time to get involved, reach out, donate, volunteer, support, attend, join, create, and stand your ground! Cause i don't know about you lot but

Image result for serenity gif

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Started my morning with some Boston subway racial tensions

This morning on my way to work, I witnessed an interesting scene on the subway. The more I think back about it, the more I find it to be pretty illustrative of racial issues in American society.
My morning commute starts deep in the suburbs of Newton - one of the largest well-off middle class suburbs of Boston. It is also predominantly white. I get on the train and make my way all the way to the back to find a seat. The car is still semi-empty. All the way in the back of the train there are two black dudes. One of them has a hard hat on the seat next to him. I sit down one seat over so that he wouldn't have to move his stuff and get my book. From snippets of their conversation I can gather that they are both coming back from a job because they are talking about time sheets, etc. They are not anyhow threatening but they are louder than what people on this subway line are normally used to. The train slowly gets more and more filled as we move towards Boston. Eventually a hipster looking white guy wants to sit on the seat currently occupied by the black guy's hard hat. Aware of this, the dude takes his stuff and moves it out of the way. The white dude sits down and somehow get's in the black dude's way in the process. Instead of saying anything the white guy is totally silent basically just treating the black guy like an inanimate object. He is trying to avoid confrontation by not even making eye contact or acknowledging the other person as a human being. This doesn't sit well with the black dude and he says something grumpy. A short exchange of unpleasantries follows which ends with the black dude saying "I will knock them stupid glasses right off your face." It doesn't escalate further than that threat though and we all keep riding on the train. A few stops later the white guy leaves and there is a seat available now. Some woman stares at it and walks away to sit elsewhere. The black dude follows her with a "What are you so scared off? I won't do anything." He turns to his friend "They are all so scared..." At this point in time I decide to be a smart mouth and say "Well, you did just threaten to knock the glasses off someone's face like 5 minutes ago." The dude starts to laugh "Yeah, I guess I did, didn't I..." His friend is cracking up too "She got you there man!" The three of us chuckled at this situation and went our separate ways when we got to Park Street. End of story.
That's it. There was no villain and no victim. Did one of them provoke the other with what can be described as inconsiderate and rude behavior? Sure. Did the other immediately threaten with physical violence? Yes. Who is at fault? Hard to say. But both parties left this situation with feelings of resentment towards each other. Thoughts?

Friday, April 3, 2015

Funny Dog Adventures: Maggie and Janie (and Sheeba)

I think the time has come for me to start sharing some of the stories from my pet sitting adventures. I'll begin with my current charges: Maggie and Janie. Maggie is a little spunky papillon mix and Janie is a big lab-ish something-or-other. In the grand tradition of dog family dynamics little Maggie is the bossy alpha and big Janie is a gentle goofball. They also have a gorgeous black cat Sheeba that suffers the presence of plebeian dog creatures with poise and grace. 

dog sleeping couch
cute dog papillon mix begging

dog and cat friendship
Sheeba completely mortified by Janie's affection
Maggie and Janie are foodies There isn't a food-related subject that they are indifferent to. Every time I go to make something in the kitchen, they follow me and observe. They sit there and watch my every move with the same interest as my culinary academy graduate ex would watch Iron Chef. They are curious about the end result and the process. If there were a "call and vote" option for them, they would totally do it. In a way it actually makes the insufferable cooking activities more fun for me. It's like I have my own private cheer squad. I can almost hear their thoughts... "You are putting an egg in your spinach??? This is so amazing! I wish I had an egg in my spinach. You are a food goddess and we worship your every move!"
cute dogs begging for food
Janie (left) and Maggie (right) cheering my cooking efforts
Seeing how my feelings towards cooking are similar to my feelings towards root canals (as in let's get through this process as quickly and painlessly as possible and never think about it until we actually have to do it again), having the girls there does make things more fun.

For meals all four of us sit down together. I sit at the head of the dining room table, the cat Sheeba sits on the table facing me, and the dogs sit on either side of my chair. While the dogs' interest in joining the festivities is purely gastronomical, Sheeba the cat is actually there for a chat. She enjoys her privileged position on the table since dogs aren't allowed there. My ranking in her eyes is higher than the dogs' probably because I am allowed at the table as well. We aren't equals in her eyes, but at least I don't embarrass her like the dogs do by barking at the mailman. I think Sheeba views me the way a millionaire views some worker bee - she knows I try hard and she almost respects my effort. The dogs in her eyes are just free-loading idiots who don't even aspire to be cool and sometimes (oh gawd!) even chase her. 

At night big Janie is supposed to sleep in the crate but she doesn't want to. Dogs are amazing manipulators. I consider myself pretty immune to their efforts, but Janie puts on such a sad face that I don't have the heart to drag her in the crate by force. Now sleeping with two dogs in the bed is tricky. You have to establish the boundaries right away. I recommend splitting the bed into human side and dog side. 
awkward sleeping position with dogsAt first I tried the "I take the middle half and dogs get the two quarters on either side" technique. In the morning I felt like that one really awkward tetris piece- you know the one that doesn't comfortably fit anywhere no matter how you turn it. The dogs were sprawled out on either side, and any time I had to turn and disturb them they sighed in a very dramatic fashion. 
The next night I split the bed into East vs West wing situation and the night went relatively disturbance free. I represented the prosperous West while the dogs were in the more densely populated East. Since their side was missing formal leadership Maggie tried to usurp the power and started the morning by humping her sister's face. Let me tell you, nothing gets you out of bed faster than humping you are not a participant of. I think I may have stumbled upon a new alarm clock idea. It's a little difficult to execute but very effective.

Janie and Maggie spend most of their days sitting on the back of the couch in the living room and keeping an eye out for trouble. After all every passerby is a potential Stranger Danger alert. They do that while I it in a chair and write about their funny adventures.

Monday, March 9, 2015

How I quit smoking cigarettes

Let me start off by saying that this won't be a legitimate know-how on quitting smoking. It also won't be a post about my great personal struggle and achievement. This is merely an honest account of what happened to me. I won't be preaching about the dangers of smoking. Every smoker out there knows everything there is to know about how bad cigarettes are and yet they smoke despite knowing all the facts. The vast majority of smokers have quit and relapsed at least once in their life. I know this because I was one of them.
I started smoking cigarettes when I was 13. I grew up in Russia where people are a lot less health conscious than in the US. My mom was a smoker. She was also a stage actress and her bohemian friends and co-workers were heavy smokers too. Basically, growing up I knew very few people who didn't smoke. It seemed pretty natural to pick up the habit. It was a bit difficult to buy cigarettes in the US at the ripe age of 13 but where there is a will, there is a way, and I got by with a little help of my friends. I loved smoking. I loved everything about it. I even loved how much people hated it. There are so few smokers in the US, it's almost like you belong to a special club. At a party you make instant friends with other people banished to the stoop or the balcony. It was always a great excuse to get out of an awkward situation. That first morning cigarette with a cup of good coffee... mmmm. And is there anything better than taking a smoking break at the restaurant and coming back to find that the server brought your food out? 
Cut to the age of 30. This is probably when I first started seriously thinking about the fact that I should quit in some distant future. Cigarettes were costing over $10 / pack now and I couldn't run even a quarter of a mile without being totally winded. I kept making excuses not to quit though. At this point in time, I was pretty heavily involved in the music industry and producing a weekly club event. My rationale was "I am at the club for 5-6 hours at a time and if I don't have a reason to go out side for a break, I am gonna go stir crazy". I played around with a few things to cut down like switching from Marlboros to American Spirits or e-cigarettes. I tried once to quit cold turkey. I was expecting headaches from nicotine withdrawal but got emo mood swings instead. I started crying over some stupid little incident that I normally wouldn't care about and this scared me right back into buying a pack. In my head I was doing society a favor by eliminating emo-PolarVortex. 
I wish I could understand and explain what happened with me but the truth is I don't really know. I just remember one day waking up and thinking "I think I am not gonna smoke anymore". There was no great catalyst for this, no event or interaction that preceded this decision. At least not that I remember. And this is why I don't consider my quitting to be a great achievement. From that moment quitting smoking was actually really easy. It wasn't a struggle. It was a series of unpleasant steps I took but nothing more. If I can compare it to anything, it was like getting antibiotics for strep throat. You start taking them and you still feel shitty for a few days but you know that the end of your misery is coming - in 3-4-5 days you will feel better and eventually go back to normal. I didn't quit cold turkey but rather gradually cut down. I used e-cigarettes for social situations such as the events that I was attending or producing. I started running more. I didn't give myself lashings for the few times I did have a cigarette. It was all just a process. The most important part is it didn't feel forced. It doesn't make much sense but I wasn't making myself quit, I was just not smoking. 
Couple of years later, I am fairly confident that I have quit for good. I never crave cigarettes. I don't even think about them. I am not at all bothered by cigarette smoke and can hang with other smokers without grief. I sometimes still use the e-cig in social situations but more as a bonding mechanism. I don't need to smoke, but it's weird to just hang with smokers and not at all participate. So I take a few e-cig puffs here and there. I can now run a couple of miles without losing my breath. When I reflect on what happened, I realize one thing. I always imagined that my cigarette addiction was this thing that had its hooks in me, but in reality I am the one who had my hooks in it. I carried it around with me for reasons probably best analyzed by psychologists. I carefully guarded it, and protected it, and paraded it around until I didn't need it anymore. And once I didn't want it, I just left it. I sometimes feel guilty about how easy it was for me to quit especially when I hear stories from other people about their painful processes. I wish this post contained more useful information on how to kick the habit, but it doesn't. All I can say is I quit because I just let it go.  

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Visualize Somerville

Went to Visualize Somerville last and here are some photos. Held at Brooklyn Boulders / Aeronaut Brewery space this was a pretty amazing undertaking. Brooklyn Boulders is a rock climbing gym. For this one night while the gym continued to be open for climbers and non-climbers alike, the place was video mapped and people were able to enjoy projections on the gym's enormous walls. The Brewery and community business space next door also featured an art show. Awesome event! Left with my favorite feeling in the world - I am so lucky to know so many talented people who chose to do really amazing things with their time. Thanks to everyone who made this event a possibility. Special s/o to Jeff Mission on the visuals and Dabu on the sound.

and them some pieces from the Brewery next door

 By Jane Chakravarthy

Friday, February 6, 2015

London Trip 2015

I guess the time has come to write about my London trip, although the more I think back about it now the more depressed I get about my current surroundings. Sometime between Boston's snowpocalypse #637 and snowmageddon #835, I got on a plane and got the f**k outta dodge.

US Airways terminal looked like an evacuation scene from a Soviet WWII movie. There were 5 flights all departing at once from the near gates, children crying, adults pleading their standby cases, old people preparing to make this their final resting case, etc etc. 

I had a layover in Philly that was long enough to leave the airport and see some friends from Seclusiasis. I didn't think that Philly would be the place I'd eat gator, but it was. Do you see the size of this sandwich? I swear they used an entire freaking gator to make it. It was delicious btw. Philly's food game is stroooooong.

Eventually I got to London on a red-eye. Do you know what 45F and overcast feels like after -20 and buckets of snow? Throw in functional public transit system into the mix and it feels like paradise. Now the purpose of this trip was exclusively nightlife. I've been to London before and did all the touristy stuff. This means don't be surprised at the lack of Big Beg and Houses of the Parliament mentions.

First night, Dalston Superstore. Caught a super-chill disco night called White Leather Viper Club. Small place, only regulars there on a Wednesday. Everyone was super-friendly. I ended up chatting with the djs for a bit. It's funny how the moment you say Boston in London, everyone is like "Oooooo, Soul Clap, John Barera, Will Martin!!!" This is so much better than traveling in DR and having locals get all excited over Big Papi.
Second night: I hit up some theater on night two and saw the Merchant of Venice at the Almeida Theater. This wasn't my favorite production. It's a difficult play to do these days because while it wasn't necessarily written with the purpose of being an antisemitic manifesto, it certainly reads this way now. There is an option to just blatantly ignore this issue (kinda like they do in Russian productions) or to focus exclusively on it thus bringing the comedy to a drama with a completely bizarre plot. Also, I am not a huge fan of modernizing Shakespeare's productions. It always makes me wonder whether they just couldn't afford the costumes. This one was particularly difficult to swallow since they brought the plot to Las Vegas and rendered all characters various regional American accents. For whatever reason Portia just sounded and looked exactly like Nicole Sullivan's Vancome Lady character from MADtv. I was slightly amused at first but got kinda tired of it quickly.

<<<<<< Susannah Fielding as Portia

On the other hand, one of the actors was Larry from one of Doctor Who's most famous episodes Blink. You know, the one where weeping angels appear for the first time. A Whovian in me was pretty happy about this.

Night Three - fabric. Oh man... I know that there are some Londoners who are no longer impressed with fabric. It's big and it's filled with random young people who wanna party hard. I get this sentiment; however, I've been to the Boston version of a big club filled with hard-partying young crowd and left fearing for the future of our society. Firstly, the music was awesome, but I knew this prior to going in. I went to catch specifically Divided Love - a bimonthly party curated by Daniel Avery. I got a chance to see sets by Object, Lee Gamble and Kassem Mosse. Jimmy Edgar was in another room. I spent a bunch of time in room 3 as well. Sadly I never checked the lineup. Hats off to boy/girl club etiquette in the UK. 1) Men actually make eye contact with you before they approach you. 2) If you don't encourage someone to approach, they don't. I feel a bit like a fool for pointing this out, but we could really use a great bit of this in the US. Nothing ruins a night out more than unsolicited groping.

John Barera and Will Martin on the upcoming lineup FTW! :)

Night Four - dnb in the hood :) Somewhere on this trip I met a great guy who offered to take me to a jungle night that would be slightly off the beaten path on famous music venues, so we ended up seeing Zomby and Randall at the Bloc. Seeing Zomby again was hilarious. Granted this crowd would probably not tolerate his antics as well as Cambridge did back in the day, so he was well-behaved and didn't flick any cigarette butts at the audience. His laptop has a giant "Miley" sticker on it which was awesomely amusing to me. His set was actually pretty good too. Randall - OG. It was really cool to see him in this environment. Can't wait for him to return to Elements one day :) This night was probably my favorite from the trip.

In conclusion a couple of observations:
1) about 90% of the male population in London under the age of 35 are sporting an undercut. Luckily they haven't gotten into beards. Overall I am optimistic that London will avoid the lumbersexual craze (thank gawd!).

2) wooden disposable spoons are an amazing invention and we suck for not utilizing them more. Cmon 'merka!!! They just make sense!

3) There are some interesting food establishments in London such as the Mississippi Fried Chicken (WTF?) and Indian owned American BBQ joints that serve chicken and lamb burgers but no beef. That was surprisingly the best chicken burger I've ever had I think. Overall the food situation has greatly improved with all the awesome ethnic eateries since my last visit.

Gate 12 anyone? Anyone???
4) You know what hasn't improved since my last visit? Heathrow! It's kinda mind-boggling to end up in that mecca of clusterfuckery after the super-efficient London tube. If you think I snapped this pic at gate 12, you would be dead wrong. No, I snapped this pic in the beginning of my "to the gate" journey while waiting for them to announce my gate with only 15 minutes left before end of boarding. Kinda surprised that with my luck I wasn't leaving from gate 12. No, I was leaving from gate 25 which one would think would be located somewhere between gates 24 and 26, and that "one" would be a complete moron because gate 25 is actually somewhere around gate 22.

Anywaaaaaay, I got out of Heathrow on time, but seriously these WOW Airline flights from Logan to Gatwick can't come soon enough. Although once I actually got to Boston, I had to seriously reassess why I didn't just stay in London cause this is what I came home to and there has been another foot of snow since I took this pic.

Friday, January 2, 2015

My Favorite Shows of 2014

In an effort to wrap up 2014, here is a list of the best shows I've been to this year. Other than the first 3, the rest aren't in any particular order of preference. Looking back, I feel extremely fortunate to be able to compile this personal creme de la creme list. These were my favorites but there have been so many others that i think back fondly on. I hope 2015 has more great music in store for me because I never want for this to stop.

1. Loxy at Reconstrvct (Brooklyn, NY)
I wrote about this show in the past. It was tits! Luckily there is a recording of this set available. Now I didn't think I had to mention this; however, a few people actually surprised me, so now I do. If you choose to check out this set on shitty computer speakers (or in an otherwise inadequate listening manner), you should probably retire from listening to electronic music and just stick to Bieber in the future.
Since the show at reconstvct, Loxy has also played at Elements in Phoenix Landing, which was amazing. It took all I had not to go into complete fan girl mode after the show. 

2. Martyn at Verboten (Brooklyn, NY)
Verboten has been bringing in some serious talent. The club itself is also quite enjoyable. I mean, yes, there are still douches (can't really escape them unless you venture deep into underground or awesomely gay territory); however, the sound system is fantastic, the layout is smart, the staff friendly and respectful, and, again, the lineups are ridiculous.
This here isn't a recording of the particular set I saw but it's one of my favorite Martyn mixes, so enjoy!

3. Sohn at Sinclair (Cambridge, MA)
Sohn... I am gonna start off by saying that I went to this show only because it was the opening show for Together Boston. All of my friends were going, so I went in cracking jokes about how it's going to be this "emo crowd standing around, not dancing, having feels, etc". This has been my experience at James Blake and Moderat in the past. The show started and, no, i didn't turn into the "emo crowd", but I was completely swept away by the music. Sohn manages to create something that is simultaneously tragic and beautiful which in my opinion is basically what life is like. There is tragedy in beauty and beauty in tragedy (or at least there should be).
Sinclair was also the most perfect venue for this show. It was the perfect size to make this performance feel so intimate.

4. DJ EZ at MOMA PS1 (Queens, NY)

In a recent flyer I saw for DJ EZ, his music was described as "old skool/new skool, bass music, underground house". Yep, that's pretty much it. He will take you from one genre to another in a matter of seconds. You find yourself dancing to music you never thought you'd like. He will jump between decades of music, mixing disco into grime and literally blending boundaries between generations.
MOMA PS1 also features the best outdoor sound quality I've ever encountered.

    5. DJ Sprinkles at La Bleury (Montreal, CAN)
    Do I even need to say anything about DJ Sprinkles? I don't think I can possibly say anything that would do justice. I am just gonna say that it's more than music, it's an experience, and a very rare one at that. I deliberately don't want to post links to any sets or tracks because those of you living in Boston have a unique opportunity to understand exactly what I mean on January 15th. Make It New is hosting DJ Sprinkles at Middlesex Lounge on Jab 15th. I highly recommend you make an effort to see this.

    6. Matthew Dear / Daniel Avery / Roman FlΓΌgel at Verboten (Brooklyn, NY)
    Yes, these are 3 separate sets that I morphed into one bullet point. Is it cheating? Maybe, but the reason I did it is because the night was curated in such a beautiful way that to split these three performances would be flat-out evil. One artist perfectly lead up to the next and they complimented each other's styles perfectly. Roman Flugel's set is basically a musical story of robots falling in love. He played until 7 AM and finished his set by putting on Kraftwerk and jumping onto the dance floor with the remaining patrons and staff. Amazing...

    7. Om Unit at Elements (Phoenix Landing, Cambridge, MA)
    Om Unit is probably my most favorite bass music producer at the moment. His tracks are so minimal yet so big. The sound is never overbearing. It always feels like the tip of the iceberg, with an endless depth behind each note. Sometimes I meet people who find bass music to be abrasive. Perhaps they got their introduction with one the popular "chainsaw" producers. I love putting on Om Unit for these people. Their mind is changed immediately. Listening to an Om Unit track is like putting your ear against someone's chest and listening to their heartbeat. It allows you to feel someone's internal rhythm. It's beautiful, and intimate, and forces you to shut up and really listen.

    8. Jacques Greene (Live) at Sinclair (Cambridge, MA)
    It's always interesting to see an artist go from a dj set to a live performance. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I really love how it worked out in Jacque Greene's case. While I enjoy his DJ sets, there is always the inner grunge chick in me that rebels against the r&b and pop aspect ever so present in them. The live show is so different though. It's complex and challenging and viceral in a "soul deconstructed" kinda way. The visual accompaniment was superb - a perfect compliment to the show.

    9. Tiga at Make It New (Middlesex Lounge, Cambridge, MA)
    Oh Tiga... Music aside, in my entire life I don't think I've ever been in the same room with anyone who had as much "presence" as Tiga does. I am fairly certain that anytime anyone talks to him, they are thinking "You are so cool!", the same way Alabama thought about Clarence. Someone called this video "Wes Anderson of music videos". I kinda have to agree with this statement.

    10. Ali Berger (Live) at Sinclair (Cambridge, MA)
    Being one of the lucky ones to live in the same city as Ali, I've been to a fare share of his performances. He manages to do something completely different every time I see him, and he is always the harshest judge of his skill and talent. The set at Sinclair opening for Simian Mobile Disco was particularly memorable for me. There is something about live techno that is just unequivocally awesome. Perhaps for me personally, it's the fact that I find techno to be more of an intellectual vs an emotional genre. Ali set that night was a treat for the mind as much as for the ears.
    I have no idea if I will ever see something similar to this particular performance since, again, every one of his sets is very different from the rest, but I am looking forward to whatever comes next.