Thursday, October 23, 2014

Students' Guide to Public Transportation

Boston's fall season! It's a magical time a year full of anorexic urban foliage

pumpkin spice EVERYTHING

over-exuberant Bruins victory celebrations 

settle down people, we got 80 more games to go for godssakes!

and everyone's favorite - return of the students.

Now many locals absolutely loathe the little scholars. After all students are usually pretty intellectually challenged. They must be since it costs like 30K+ a year to teach them the basics of life. Not I though. I think students are awesome. They are just as annoying and ill-equipped for life as toddlers, but if you smack a student for being stupid, bystanders cheer for you instead of calling the cops.

Somehow I don’t get the same reaction for smacking toddlers.

That said, there is one thing that students do that infuriates me beyond all control. As a reasonable adult though, instead of beating them, I will teach them. Hopefully someone will decide that this knowledge I'm about to drop is worth 30K/year and pay me for it. Here we go:

Students' Guide to Public Transportation

Dear Grasshopper,
I understand that when you got the acceptance letter to one of Boston's prestigious colleges, your head immediately was filled with fantasies of what a magical time you college life will be.

Taking the subway, or as the locals say the T, seemed like an exciting adventure. I am sure that in your head you imagined this experience as being picked up by a magical choo-choo train full of love and delicious blueberry muffins. On your morning commute you'd drink lattes and share amusing anecdotes and stories, and maybe one day even meet a sexy stranger on this ride. I get that this was your fantasy, I do! It must have been tragic to find out that the T is used by hundreds of other people who are so inconsiderate that they are focused on their own commutes as opposed to cater to yours. Ugh, these disgusting townies and white collar clerks who are rushing to work or whatever the lame thing it is that these adults do. They are sooo totally rude finding ridiculous asinine things to yell at you for every day. My little grasshopper, I am here to help you. I will teach you how to avoid being called a stupid moron by fellow T riders.


Let’s say you are waiting for a train at Harvard Avenue stop and omg! it has started to rain and you don’t have an umbrella. This would be a total disaster, but today is your lucky day and a train pulls up right away. You try to get inside as quickly as possible, but all these assholes getting out of the train nearly trample you. Dafuq is wrong with them? Don’t they understand how detrimental rainwater is to your perfect hair?
Let me explain this in a way you may understand. Have you ever tried to make a screwdriver cocktail in an orange juice bottle to discreetly take with you somewhere? Remember how you had to pour out some of the juice to make room for the vodka? It probably took a few tries, I know, but I am sure you finally got it. Well, little grasshopper, a train car works similarly. You have to let people out first if you want to make room for others. Practice at home and you'll get it. This is easier than that Die Hard riddle!

Sometimes though there aren't any people leaving the train but there are a whole bunch of people waiting to jump on one. This is, again, especially true in the rain or snow scenario. Dear grasshopper, if you don’t like the idea of an entire line of people imagining various scenarios of your death, let the people with Charlie cards in their hands go first, and only then proceed to board and pay the entire $2.50 fare in nickels from your piggy bank.

Sometimes though, a train pulls up and oh dear, there are only a couple of empty seats left. I know these heels are killing you or maybe you are aching from doing all these squats, but please don’t push a 9 mo old pregnant women out of the way just to secure a seat. I realize that overpopulation is a serious global issue, but maybe you could battle it by wearing a condom instead of sending women into premature labor.

Being actually on the train is a very stressful experience. I am certain that there is some sort of an urban legend, a type of MBTA lore that students distribute among themselves. The story goes: “At any given moment the bell of doom would sound, the train may open it’s doors for 5 seconds and then the ground would swallow it whole. Those passengers that didn’t jump out of the train in these 5 seconds will forever be tortured by demons of the underworld.” I know this lore exists because it’s the only reasonable explanation for someone boarding a train and standing in front of the door (instead of moving into the middle of the car) for the entire duration of 12 stops!!! Dear grasshopper, I assure you the thing about opening doors for 5 seconds is a lie. When the train is swallowed by the ground you will have no chance to escape. You will go down with the rest of the passengers. Those closest to the doors will be made examples of by the demons and eaten first. So please, unless you are only going 1 stop, move into the train!

After 30+ years on planet Earth and 5 years of working in the music industry, I am sure of one thing. There isn’t a single song in the world that’s liked by everyone. I know you are merely trying to educate these plebes on what’s the latest totally amaaazing track that everyone is into, but, alas, life is full of haters. If you don’t like the crazy drunk homeless dude singing along about how he also came in like a wrecking ball, then invest in a pair of headphones. Also

One of the things that I always found to be helpful when riding the subway was paying attention to the stops. I’ve even gone as far as looking up the name of not just the stop that I need, but also the one preceding it. I know it’s a radical suggestion, but it comes in surprisingly handy in these over-packed rush-hour trains. I don’t know why you think the words “Oh shit, that’s my stop!” would part people akin Moses parting the Red Sea. I am no theologist, but I am pretty sure these are not the words he used. Unless you do figure out the magic words, plan ahead.

Lastly, sometimes the train is packed and you managed to squeeze in. (Granted it’s probably not really packed. It just has a bunch of students standing in front of doors refusing to make their way inside the car). The next stop the doors open and you are stuck in the scariest predicament of your life. You are hanging on by a thread for dear life over a giant cliff possibly filled with fire and demons while all these people are rushing past you doing all they can to make you let go of that handlebar. In moment like this it’s helpful to look behind you and realize that the fire-filled demon-infested pit is not in fact there. So feel free to take a step back onto the platform and let these people leave the train in peace.

Follow these simple rules and your public transit experience will be so much smoother, dear grasshopper. Oh, and if you ever do this, I will laugh and laugh and prob high five you.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What I hate about music festivals

Summers are a time for music festivals. With the growing popularity of electronic music, music festivals have been sprouting around like mushrooms after a rain. Pretty much every weekend from June to September there is a music festival somewhere driving distance from everywhere. And every time I am out, people ask me "So are you gonna go to Moon Gathering Of The Holistic Vibes Festival? And every time I say "Absolutely not!" Why? Cause I fucking loathe music festivals. Here are a few reasons why.


Yes, I am a total urbanite. Just the other day I found myself standing in the middle of Boston Common thinking "Yep, that's pretty much the extent of "nature" that I truly enjoy - a park in the middle of the city". That said, I can see how other people may enjoy camping in the woods. I can see how falling asleep by the fire with sounds of forest creatures or maybe a little brook is a peaceful and pleasant experience.
                    Ahhh, much serene! Very peace! Such nature! Wow!                            

Rwandan refugee camp
This is NOT what festival camping is like though, is it? Pretty sure the outdoor living arrangements at festivals are called "camping" because they closely resemble refugee camps not "outdoor explorer" camps.
Some random music festival camp

Festival camps are loud, dirty, and crowded. Sounds of nature are replaced instead with sounds of "human nature". Best case scenario - the people in the tent next to yours are engaging in a little pre-bedtime drunken fornication. Worst case scenario - someone is saying a very loud good bye to what they ate earlier that day. Ugh... No thanks!

Lack of Hygiene

Look people there is a huge difference between things that are just gross and things that are a health hazard. I have been a vet tech for over 10 years now. I've seen shit that you wouldn't wanna hear about. Literally! So believe me when I say that there are very few things at this point in my life that really gross me out, but festivals are one of those things. Here is a little visual illustration:


is a scary combination to someone even mildly versed in western medicine. Hmmm, do I want a slice of Hep. A or E. Coli with my festival grub? I think I'll pass.

Spiritual People

Oh, spiritual people - the bane of my existence. It's finally become culturally frowned upon in our little liberal bubble we call Boston to push your religious views on other people at social gatherings, but for whatever reason this only applies to organized religion. Everyone rolls their eyes at the dude passing out Jesus-related literature, but somehow spiritual people don't get the same response. Here is the part I hate the most. "Oh, you are an atheist? I am not religious either. I am spiritual" Guess what? To an atheist "religious" and "spiritual" is the same thing. Just instead of a government-sanctioned faith you decided to mix your own version of cool-aid which is most likely a combination of non-scientific aspects of astrology with a bastardized version of some eastern religion accompanied by a dash Grateful Dead lyrics and wee-bit of paganism crafted in a state of chemically induced "consciousness".


Do I think it's bullshit? Maybe, but I wouldn't have a chance to think this if you didn't decide to suddenly dump this insight onto me uninvited. Somehow back in the city conversations about "existence" are reserved for cocaine-driven after parties, so you can at least enjoy a show at a club in piece, but not at festivals. At festivals for whatever reason it is acceptable to latch on to a complete stranger like a human tick and try to infect them "knowledge".

Friday, September 19, 2014

When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong

Violence against women... This has been the talk of the media lately. It's proven to be a pretty touchy subject, where some people's opinions have definitely driven this woman to consider physical violence against them. I managed to restrain myself though, and unfortunately no misogynists were harmed in the making of this blog post. I have, however, been thinking a lot about some of my favorite moments in pop culture where victimized women were able to get their revenge. For this purpose I am making this list of my personal favorites:

1) Alabama vs. Virgil (True Romance)
This scene is probably my all-time favorite in this list because the initial power between characters is so uneven. Alabama isn't some spy or soldier or super hero. She is just a girl standing between a gangster and a suitcase of cocaine. The odds are so much against her that it seems completely crazy that she would win, which makes her victory just that much sweeter to me.

True Romance - You've Got A Lot Of Heart, Kid (HD) from K7vn on Vimeo.

2) "How sexy am I now?" by Mallory Knox (Natural Born Killers)
OK, so don't get me wrong, I do know that Mallory is a psychopathic serial killer; however, there is something deeply satisfying about how this whole encounter turned out for the lusty redneck.

3) Buffy finally kills Caleb (Buffy The Vampire Slayer)
Oh Buffy, perhaps my favorite female hero of all times... This particular scene is towards the series finale. In this scene she finally defeats Caleb - arguably the shows most unpleasant villain (who ironically enough is portrayed by Nathan Fillion - one of the most likable actors ever). Caleb is a misogynistic preacher with evil super-powers who gets off on torturing and killing women on the basis of their being dirty. Real winner here folks. Prior to this awesome moment, Caleb has managed to beat Buffy, kill her protegees, and tear out her best friend's eye. Let's just say his demise couldn't come soon enough.

4)  Beatrix vs. Elle (Kill Bill Vol II)
By the way, I hope you understand that this isn't a rant against men on my part. I am equally pissed at women beating women as well. So Kill Bill is a story of a woman getting her revenge. Obviously it's filled with all sorts of awesome ass-kicking moments, but my favorite line of all is "Bitch, you don't have a future!" which Beatrix says to Elle. It's just so freaking poetic in its brevity.

5) Lisbeth Salander vs The Rapist (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo the original one, not the remake)
I won't include the video because frankly it's pretty long and without seeing the preceding rape scene is almost too gruesome. Long story short though, after being raped by her social worker, the protagonist decides to take revenge. She ties up the dude, performs a bit of penetration with a dildo, and tattoos the words "I am a sadistic rapist" on the his chest. And if this description makes you cringe, trust me, by that point in time you hate the guy so much, you cheer Lisbeth on in every one of the steps.

So yeah... I think these are my top 5 favorite moments when women in pop culture ended up overcoming their abusers. Obviously there are many more female characters that I am a fan of such as
Aeon Flux 
River Tam

Veronica Mars
As a finishing act, I will post a little reminder of why every girl who grew up in the 90s favors the words "suck my dick!" so much. This video doesn't really fit into the "women taking revenge" type category since the aggressor here falls under the category of being benevolent underneath it all, but the video is still inspiring despite the overall "meh" of the actual movie.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Montreal Shenanigans

So I hate retelling stories multiple times to different people. Also, I never know who actually wants to hear about my travels and who is just too polite to tell me to shut up hence this blog post. Long story short, I went to Montreal this past weekend with 3 of my friends. Sarah, Paige, and Phil went with specific plans to go to Piknic Electronik and Arcade Fire, while I went mostly because I LOOOOOOOOVE Montreal and I rarely get to go. Let me start off by saying that in my opinion Montreal is by far the most fun place one can easily drive to from Boston. Don't get me wrong, I love going to NYC, but to be honest I'd pick Montreal over NYC any day. I'll try to explain why as I go.

We made a brief stop in Burlington, VT for lunch, beers, and a bit of oceanic scenery. 
Paige and Phil unknowingly posing for a Hallmark card
 Cute town, lots of good-looking dudes :) but after a quick meal and a hang it was allons y to Montreal.

I was lodging separately from the rest of the crew. I ended up getting a room right on St. Denis - prob one of the more lively streets in Latin Quarter. I met my awesome host Dominic (more about him later) and was off exploring St. Catherine Street. I set out with a distinct objective to NOT buy everything I see. The problem with Montreal you see is the abundance of really awesome clothing and shoe stores. I managed to dodge a bullet at the Tibetan and Nepalese clothing store. Items procured at that place have magical powers on hippies and psytrance kids. If I wear one of their patchwork jackets to a gathering of some sort, moments later I am usually followed by a flock of dreaded kids who have imprinted on that jacket like a bunch of baby ducks. Luckily I was able to resist getting any new hippie bait this time. I did some brief recon, snatched a pair of pants from Jacob that I did need and a dress from Le Chateau that def didn't need, and found a shoe store that I vowed to come back to next day because it was closed, but it looked like it had a bunch of cool stuff in it.
At this point the rest of my crew informed me that they wanted to chillax in their neighborhood, so I was left to my own devices. I stumbled upon an outdoor movie showing in Place Des Arts. 
It was pretty amazing. They were showing this movie in the middle of the city and all I kept thinking was "this would never fly in the US." Someone would complain that this content is too offensive for the general public, that their kid is now traumatized for life because Bruce Willis said "oral pleasure", etc etc. I mean seriously, you can't show this to people in the US without first making them sign some sort of a waiver. And here it was, all out in the open for everyone to see and no one was having convulsions over it. Amazing... This feeling of "this'll never fly/happen/be allowed back home" is probably the most common emotion one feels when in Montreal. 

I finished the evening at a little club called Le Bleury and caught a pretty amazing set by DJ Sprinkles. Unfortunately the place didn't have AC and when 200 people dance in a little room for a few hours, it can get a bit intense. I left around 1:30 or so and came home to find my street Rue St. Denis to be in full party mode. My apartment had a roof deck with a hammock and I passed out for a bit in it to the thumping beats of Jump Around from some downstairs bar. 

I started the next day with more exploring. Stumbled upon some cool graffiti 

got weirdly artistic with some church and clouds...

found a very Canadian building 

and proof that conspiracy theories know no international boundaries.

Perhaps my favorite piece of street art was this awesome maze they built in Gay Village.

It's illuminated at night with different pics on different walls. 

I then revisited the shoe store I mentioned earlier. It's called Berti and it was worth every second of my time. I walked in and was immediately drawn to one shelf in particular that featured boots of some of the most original designs I've ever seen. The owner of the store an Italian gentleman named Philippo came and asked me quietly "Do you know what samples are?" My heart fluttered and I whispered "Yes". "Good, then you know I only have all of these in one size - 37 (US 7)" If you don't know what samples are, let me explain. A shoe designer will often times make models of shoes that for whatever reason don't go into mass production. They are used at shows and other industry related situations. They are always in women's size 7 and men's size 9 or 10, and they are one of a kind. The boots in this store in particular were from AS 98 - a company that made boots for Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Every one of then was like a piece of art. As I admired the boots, the owner focused his attention on me more and more finally ignoring all other customers. He complained to me how nobody likes interesting hand-made shoes anymore and how everyone wants Michael Kors with a "made in china" stamp for $700. I said I didn't want Michael Kors and that I'd take pirate boots over Michael Kors any day. At this point I am sitting on a bench all Cinderella-like and the dude is on his knees lacing up my boots completely ignoring everyone else in the store. "Excuse me Sir. I'd like to buy these shoes" exclaims some lady. "Well, so? Do you expect me to drop everything for you?" scoffed my Italian friend. This whole experience was turning into a farce. My Boston crew finally joins me as I am paying for my boots. It didn't take much persuasion on my part but the two ladies I was traveling with ended up buying boots as well. Philippo and I parted as friends, and I can't wait to come back. 
The Three Musketeers
Later that night we ventured out to a party called Piknic Electronik on an island one subway stop away from Rue St. Denis. Imagine a set up similar to Flux or DOTC but much much bigger. Again, my friends and I have mentioned more than once throughout the night "no way this would be allowed back home". I think this one of the things I like most about being in Montreal - the general laid-back atmosphere when it comes to partying. It's an amazingly refreshing and foreign feeling to us who are now constantly subjected to body and property searches when entering a concert. I guess, according to locals this mellow attitude is something that one sees in Quebec more so than in other Canadian provinces. Well, whatever it is, I love it! Despite the lack of security, Piknic had an amazingly well-behaved crowd. People were drinking and partying but somehow everything was done with some degree of healthy moderation. Everyone had fun, but no one was raging. This is DESPITE the fact that they were selling alcohol there by the buckets. Literally!
In the middle there is an already empty bucket of mystery booze punch.
I called it a "Bucket of Bad Decisions" although in retrospect I made none.

Also, hats off to Canadian dudes for not preying on women at these events. Everyone was friendly, but no one was being a creep. Add to this another weird phenomenon. When you look at the crowd at Piknic, I swear it's like they shook Montreal, and the 10% most attractive people ended up at this party. The music was excellent! We were particularly excited to hear a set from Jamie xx and we weren't disappointed. He started and finished his set with disco and played pretty much every genre in between.
My friends had tickets to Arcade Fire later that night on the same island, but I ended up going back to Montreal to hang out with my airbnb host Dominic and his friends. We had drinks on the rooftop and chatted. Dominic is a stage actor, so he and I talked about Russian theater a bunch. When the Boston crew was too wiped out to party more after Arcade Fire, Dominic invited me to tag along with him and his friends instead. We went to a club called Apollon in Gay Village and it was an absolute blast! The sound system was banging, they played good deep house all night. I think between Piknic and this club I danced for 7-8 hours that day.

In the morning, I had enough time to run out and buy a bunch of pastries to bring home to my family. If I manage to sell this awesome dress that I bought at Le Chateaux but definitely don't need, i'll be ecstatic. Hit me up if you want it :) (size 2-4).
Montreal Stats:
Music +++++
Art +++++
Shopping ++++
Fun +++++

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Dear women, forgive me for I have failed...

Something happened with me today - something that hours later still has me filled with anger and regret. While waiting in line to get into the Mad Decent Block Party, I saw a guy wearing a shirt that said "Sober Bitches. Ain't Nobody Got Time For That". I am filled with incredible regret that I was so stunned by this shit that I didn't actually say anything to this asshole and let him disappear into the crowd. I mean what the actual fuck people? Where are we as society of humans that we tolerate this? This dude wasn't causing a riot. Everyone seemed completely ok with sharing their good times and space under the sun with this asshole. I keep thinking that as I was standing there in the crowd with other women who are smart, strong, driven, ambitious, caring, interesting, beautiful and so much more, and we've all just been reduced by some douche to "sober bitches" and apparently not worthy of his time. Oh, doI need to point out the obviously predatory nature of the statement. Is the dude preying on drunk inebriated women? How does this exist???
I have only one wish for this loser. I wish that these stupid words would somehow be tattooed on his forehead. I wish all women all the time everywhere would see what he really thinks of them. I wish that normal men everywhere would see what he thinks of women. I wish the people he works with, the people who serve him food, pump his gas, sell him groceries, and the doctors who treat him when he's sick knew what he thinks. I wish his mother and sisters if he had any would know what he thinks. And if you think that his shirt is funny, I wish for you to step forward. Don't be shy! We want to know, we have the right to know.
Ugh, somewhere there is another loser who thinks of these awesome little garment statements and then goes to mass produce them. Obviously it's a flourishing business. So here is my contribution. A line of shirts for predatory assholes everywhere:


I honestly just don't get it. Maybe the only logical explanation is that this dude is actually married and this garment was put on him by his wife as a form of a present day chastity belt. Because how could anyone ever get laid wearing this shirt? I guess maybe if he tries to only prey on women who are so drunk that they cannot read which in my opinion is basically the same as date rape...

Dear women everywhere, I am so deeply sorry that I let him escape into the crowd today without saying anything. I am sorry that I never got a chance to tell him all of this to his face. I am sorry that I never got to point out how obviously wrong this is to the rest of the people standing in the crowd. I am sorry that this loser didn't get his face beaten in. I am ashamed that I have failed you today, but I promise not to let this happen again. In the words of Mass transit police "If you see something, say something" and I swear to you that next time I will!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Figment Project (NYC & Boston)

This post has been brewing in me for some time, specifically since I attended the opening weekend of Figment Project in Governor’s Island in NYC back in June. I waited until now so that I could include pictures and impressions from Boston’s Figment as well.
If you are completely unfamiliar with what Figment Project is, simply put, it is an Outdoor celebration of Interactive Creativity. Let me elaborate on this a bit.

Figment NYC
Figment NYC

The outdoor aspect of Figment allows people to see that art does not have to be something that lives in a museum, or a theater, or some other "art-designated" place. Most adults these days balance long work hours and social obligations leaving almost no room in their lives for creative enrichment. The Boston Figment location in particular sees a lot of people who were just walking down the street where they maybe walk to work every day, and then they stumble upon something beautiful, or weird, or even scary, but nonetheless imaginative and inspiring. By taking away the intrinsic pomposity associated with museums, Figment succeeds in making art available and approachable thus encouraging us to make it a part of our daily lives.   

"Honey, look! It's reacting to the thing!" I overhear a grown man exclaim with childish enthusiasm. Yes, not only can you touch the art but the projects are also extremely interactive. 
There are tree houses to climb into, headless horses to ride, tunnels to hide in, drum canoes, weaving stations, dolls to dress - plus a whole menagerie of objects that make sound, or flash lights, or talk to you when you walk by them, or push an inviting button, or pull a string. 
Figment Boston (look at the eyes! I call this Electrocat selfie!)

Figment NYC

Figment NYC
Figment NYC
Figment Boston

Figment Boston
Some projects are simple and others extremely technologically elaborate, but all of them invite you to explore. In many ways, the process reminds you of what it was like to be a child first getting to know the world around you. Your mind was soaking up new experiences like a sponge, and EVERYTHING was interesting and exciting. You were captivated by the most mundane activities such as socks turning around in a dryer because you've never seen this before and had no idea how it worked. I miss this feeling and find that I rarely get to encounter it as an adult. 

Speaking of socks in the dryer though, perhaps my most favorite pieces of art at Figment are the ones that take ordinary every day boring objects and find a unique and imaginative way to use them. When I was little, I played this game with my mom when she'd hand me a household item and ask me to imagine it to be something else. For a few glorious moments a hair brush would stop being a hair brush and become a space ship gear stick or some weird communication device. I think many of the artists at Figment played the same game. 
Figment Boston

Who says a traffic cone has to spend its life entire life being a traffic cone?

Figment Boston

And why can't a fully functioning synth have staplers for keys?

Figment NYC

Close-up of the structure above
Figment NYC

a slightly different way to recycle cups and plastic bags

Figment Boston

Another line I overheard in the crowd was "I don't think you are supposed to understand this" in regards to the silent theater project.
I hated this word "supposed" in this context. As adults we constantly surround ourselves with these "supposed's". We act the way we are supposed to act, think the way we are supposed to think, and feel the way we are supposed to feel. We constantly reinforce these self-constructed walls and guard them from within. I won't burrow into the magnitude of the question as to why we do it, but I think any time that we give ourselves an opportunity to act, feel, think outside the box is a good thing. All of this stimulates and encourages our imagination and this leads us to the most important question of all - why do we need it? Why would someone outside of the artistic careers need imagination? And in my opinion it's because without imagination we are reduced to just our basic functionality. It's our imagination that allows people to love each other beyond the "compatible mate" mode, it's our imagination that allows for such terms as hope and compassion, it's imagination that lets us dream of a better tomorrow and then take steps to make it come true. In all honesty, I won't ever put it more eloquently than Terry Pratchett's Death did in Hogfather. Ramble on Figment Project! You have my endless love!