Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Upcoming Event! Boogie Rally Too!

So, you don't want the summer to end? Who does?! Here's an upcoming party that I told my new friend, Herbert Clark I would spread the word about -- The Boogie Rally Too - bike rally in Cookeville, TN!
Here's the skinny: Sept 22- 23 -24, at 115 Waterloo Road, Cookeville, TN 38506.
$20 will get you an armband good for 3 days of music, partying and FUN! Age 21+, please. Ice and beer at the entrance or BYOB, no glass. Free camping, hot showers and firewood... how nice!

A portion of the proceeds will benefit the local fire department AND community center -- even nicer!


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Check the Pulse

I am a frequent diner of the Pulse cafe in the Sports Club/LA in Rockefeller Plaza. For my birthday, (today, August 16th), I decided to treat myself (well, okay, my dad was treating!) to a sit-down full meal lunch in the restaurant.

Always a happy customer of the cafe, I was confident we'd have a great experience in the more formal dining room. And I was not disappointed.

Considering my lunch hour is truly just an hour, time was of the essence. The dining room was packed, but most people looked like they were finishing up so I didn't think we'd have to worry about the timing.

My father and I were seated in the back, against the wall, so we had a great view of the entire restaurant.

For appetizer he had the miso soup, which was "delicious" in his view. [That's a big compliment from my father.] I ordered just a simple mixed greens salad, which was served in a gorgeous green ceramic bowl. The salad was just right. The dressing was light, fruity with a little tang and not overpowering at all, which is the worst thing you could do with just greens. The cherry tomatoes tossed in added just the right amount of flavor and color to the big dose of green.

My entree was another appetizer of Lobster Spring Rolls. They were as I expected them to be--light and delicious. The vinegary sauce was just light enough to add some tang and was also perfect. My father ordered the fish special, which was a Wild Sea Bass. And while he ordered the prix-fixe menu, they gave him an entree-sized portion! I sampled the fish and the local tomatoes and it was just sublime. Light, flakey, perfect seasoning--very light. Just perfect!

For dessert, my father had ordered the fruit skewers with chocolate dipping sauce. I thought I was in heaven just sampling the fresh succulent fruit with the chocolate, but since I'm in a celebratory mood and announced that it was my birthday, they brought out two complementary espresso-sized cups of chocolate pudding with whipped cream and a mint garnish. What a superbe luncheon!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Adam Pelty's new venture: Moveable Arts - Tamar Alexia Fleishman

When veteran Broadway star and choreographer Adam Pelty is not teaching at Interlochen Arts Center or playing the lead in shows such as Syncopation, he is dreaming up ways to help the community. He and two partners have just founded Moveable Arts, a nonprofit educational center that trains young adults for the business of being a Broadway performer. Moveable Arts differs from the traditional arts camps in several ways. First of all, its target student is a little older -- college aged and a bit beyond. Also, Moveable Arts takes aim at the practical business and living aspects of a Broadway career. Imagine for a moment that you have a big brother who was "in the business", and you get all the secret insider information.

All great performances require a splashy opening; brilliantly, Adam inaugurated Moveable Arts with a NYC "retreat". Students had to send in audition materials and only a select bunch were carefully chosen for the three day intensive workshop. Fifty of Broadway's hottest performers and backers were on hand to share their wisdom, including David Hyde Pierce.

I first met Adam in high school, at North Shore Country Day in Winnetka, Illinois. After he left for boarding school at Interlochen, we met up again at its summer camp. His father was one of Chicago's truly favorite entertainers, Lee Pelty. This opened up a bunch of opportunities for Adam. I can tell you, he was an "old soul", even as a baby-faced 14 year old. He was appearing in movies with Sean Penn. He was dancing in Chicago Ballet's Nutcracker. He sang the national anthem for his beloved Cubs. His buddies included "Taxi" theme song writer, Bob James. There were tales of women in their twenties chasing after him. When you think about what most boys are like at 14, it was easy to foresee that Adam Pelty would soon have the world at his feet. Adam is using his superpowers for good, and the world is a much nicer place for it.

To get in touch with Adam and find out more about Moveable Arts, check out www.moveablearts.org.

Cyber Scene Interview: Ken Block of Sister Hazel - Tamar Alexia Fleishman, Esq.

Ken Block has been the lead guitarist for the alternative rock group Sister Hazel for over 10 years. With over a million records sold, the group's five distinct personalities came together in the Florida college town of Gainesville. At the time, the Southeast was a hotbed for homegrown talent. Sister Hazel worked out of the area in concentric circles, gaining popularity as they gained comfort leaving home. Sister Hazel is the only band who has gone platinum, whose entire roster are college graduates.
Chasing Daylight is the band’s first self-released album since 1996. Sister Hazel opted out of its deal with Universal Records to maintain control not only over the music, but its means and rate of delivery. For example, the CD was released a week early via the internet for fans. Even without the benefit of traditional retail sales, the album debuted at #1 on the Billboard Internet chart, and #6 on Billboard’s Independent Label chart.
Tell me about the Rock Boat. It seems like a cool alternative to a tour bus.
It's great! It's an end of the tour party for us and a thank you for our fans. We made the cruise an annual event. We invite other artists that we know and we're friends with, we respect their music. I thought, "How could I make this cool and fun?" All the concerts are acoustic. The bands only have to play their half dozen strongest songs. It's truly a guilty pleasure. It's an intimate venue, like having your own private concert. When you play acoustic, there's more emphasis on color and lyrics. I always say, "It's Spring Break for people with jobs". We control the entire ship, over 2,000 people, music going on all the time in 11 rooms. We get to know our fans at deeper levels. There are a lot of bands it wouldn't work for, they have an image to keep up. It's like Woodstock on the water, without the bad acid. We are all for our fans. They allow our army to march. People spread the word, spread the love. We never take that for granted. Like all artists, we're eccentric at times. But we also have families.
What charities are you involved with?
We work with a lot of charities: Make a Wish, Muscular Dystrophy, leukemia, any charity. We also do things with the Humane Society, 9/11 Relief, the Red Cross. We have always had the mind set that if our vehicle can help, we should. Now, we are asked to do so much, so many organizations come to us, we have to cut some out. We started our own foundation, Lyrics for Life, to do charitable work. It does research for children with cancer and funding camps for them. We didn't want to just fund research, we want to treat the whole person. When I was 20, I lost my 18 year old brother after 4 1/2 years of cancer. I don't want to get over that battle. All the guys in the band have family members who are survivors. Both my parents are cancer survivors. We do an auction; artists hand-write lyrics on anything, like a cocktail napkin. Elton John sent a song book. All the information is at www.lyricsforlife.org.
Many people have to work in an office or on a team; how do you resolve arguments within the band?
We are much better at it than we once were. We have been together for ten years. With art, there's no right or wrong. We are so passionate. We have embraced our individual strengths and gifts. We defer to the person who brought the song in. We pick our battles. We used to argue intensely. Now we ask, "Is this gonna matter six months from now?" It's not easy, we're together 24 hours a day. We're more than friends, we're more like brothers. We have our intense moments, but we have a love I've never seen with other groups.
But what about the Beatles? John and Paul thought that they were the songwriters, they thought they were working things out. Meanwhile, George was simmering for years, thinking he had something to offer.
Ha, ha. It's not what you say, it's how you say it. It's difficult when people want to grow in new roles. We're more collaborative. Sometimes, I write something, and the rest of the band says, "I don't get it". Sometimes, it's painful. We are very democratic. On our latest CD, we had 70 songs that we narrowed down to 15. Of those, 10 were unanimous. Then, we were picking out the other few. We had to make sure that the songs had different colors, you can't have an album of the same sounds. You can't take it personally. You have to check your ego at the door.
When you first started out, how did you get gigs?
I did it all. I'd go to a little club owner and ask for the worst time. I'd say, "Give us this night, this day". I'd give demo CD's. So, we'd have bodies in there the first couple times. Then, I'd go to other owners, and say, "Call this club, he'll tell you we packed the place". It's a lot of work. We'd ask for half the door. Sometimes, we played for free. You have to eat it a lot of expenses. You have to be willing to go into debt, to play anywhere at any time.
What about your marketing?
Sure, we do our marketing. We pulled management together, they are all people we knew from different clubs. We're really a hands-on band. We all know what's going on with our promotion, marketing and web site. We have an understanding of it. Whether or not we are recording, we make a living. I remember our first paycheck -- we made $142 a week each. We had a van and a trailer. If we sold some T-shirts that night, we'd get a hotel room and a shower.
Have you held any other jobs?
I have been making money in the music business since I was a kid, with different bands. In high school, I was a tree surgeon. I have a Master's degree in counseling psychology; I was a case manager with Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Strong and HOT real women

Taking the term "hot woman" to another turn, the REAL HOT 100 organization held its 1st celebration at the KFMK Galleries in New York City on August 10th – 12th. Starting on the 10th the gallery showcased artwork by some of the winners of the REAL hot 100 (http://therealhot100.org) and other artists.

Two days later, these women and other honorary "hotties" convened at a brunch to network and highlight each other's successes. Later that evening the festivities continued as more women (and men!) came by to continue the celebration. I stopped by for a short while to see just who is hot and why. When I arrived, chocolate, candies and rose petals were strewn around the gallery (on West 29th Street).

The REAL hot 100 are 100 young women who are breaking barriers, fighting stereotypes and making a difference in their communities and the nation. The non-profit was founded in 2005 in an effort to combat the lack of positive, strong images of young women in the media. It promotes positive, realistic images of younger women in the name of media justice. In addition to celebrating them, it helps them realize their goals.

Gwynn Cassidy who's involved with therealhot100.org and girlsingoverment.org introduced me to political social cartoonist Mikhaela Reid and Donna Riley, who is a professor at the Smith College Picker Engineering Program (http://www.science.smith.edu/departments/Engin/), which is the first engineering program specifically for women. For the past five years this program was the first and only program with a female professor. Sweet Briar (http://www.sbc.edu/) in Virginia will be joining the ranks soon. Smith is breaking ground by having 6 women out of the 10 engineering professors against the national rate of 7%. Deanne Zandt was a spiffy dresser in her short-shorts and tuxedo top--she's equally adept at commanding an audience in her work with key progressive organizations including the Independent Media Institute, Free Speech TV. Catch her blog at AlterNet's "The Mix." Her mom, Rachel Zandt, made it into town to support her strong multi-tasking daughter. Jennifer Pozner, executive director of Women in Media & News, told me about their Power Source project (http://www.wimnonline.org/psp/experts.html ) and the efforts of this media analysis education and advocacy group. F-Word zine-ster (thef-wordzine.com) Melody Berger was in town from Philadelphia. She told me she is also is editing an anthology of young feminist writer for Seal Press.

Mid-party I got a "reading" by intuitive reader and consultant Nan O'Brien (http://whisperonline.com) who told me I'll meet my next significant other in October. If your name is Gary and you like to go to the park—let me know! ;) She told me about Phoenix-based disability advocates Amy Rocker and Samantha Johnson who hosted their own fundraiser so they could get to New York for the event. Amy is on the Phoenix Mayor's Commission on Disability, works for the Arizona Spinal Cord Association in Community Relations and does a whole host of other community-related efforts. Samantha is also a Commissioner on Disability Issues for Phoenix, AZ when she's not providing home and community-based services to the elderly and disabled population as a Long Term Care Case Manager.

Eloquent and elegant cousins Maureen Saint-Cyr and Farrah Marguerite Saint-Surin both advocate for women and are involved in their student governments, women's organizations Haitian American organizations and missionary work. They were just a few of the so many amazing and diverse women at this event. What they really represent is a small but growing percentage of women who are active in their lives and communities and thus affecting change for the world (economically, business-wise) and who are creating positive role models for young girls and the next generations of HOT women!

Angry cartoonist Mikhaela Reid's (mikhaela.net) paintings adorned the walls above the promotional and swag table. The pop-art bold graphics were a great visual complementing the bold women in the room. Other swag that pushed the point: In true Girl Scout style, the Girl Scouts had iron-on patches available and postcards where you could register as an alumna. (Daisy and Brownies included too!) girlscouts.org/alumnae; a "NY (heart) (women symbol)" pin; The Feminist Press at the City University of New York; a National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health pin; a TranquiliT.com 10% coupon; info on screenings for the "I was a teenage Feminist" (trixiefilms.com); information on the performance "In Her Image: Producing Womanhood in America" by Julia Barry (http://juliabarry.com/inherimage/); a $100 coupon for SkinKlinic; a V2 in-store music sampler (v2music.com); plenty o' pro-choice temporary tattoos, stickers and flyers; flyers for more bands; a 10% coupon for HaloPottery.com; info on TigerEye Design (tigereyedesign.com); postcards for GirlsinGovernment.org; the annual report for Women+Girls Foundation of Southwest Pennsylvania (who effectively got Abercrombie + Fitch to stop sexist ads/clothing); a postcard for "First Moon" books and journals (http://www.newworldlibrary.com/productdetails.cfm?PC=309); a copy of Bitch magazine (http://www.bitchmagazine.com/) and, of course, a copy of Ms. Magazine (http://www.msmagazine.com/).

Well, whether your angry, hot, a feminist or not, you can't deny the power that certain women in this world have. Amen to that!

Friday, August 11, 2006

First Usability's First Party

After being involved in the new media biz for fifteen years and one year at First Insights, Lon Taylor (principal at First Insights) threw a shindig for friends, colleagues and clients to celebrate on Wednesday, August 9th at the punchy-colored Punch restaurant on Broadway.

Upon entering the crowded room I landed upon Jodie Kahn who told me she's right now at Right Media. She filled me in on all the amazing-ness of Right Media and then we chatted about Burning Man! I went in 1998, but she's a multiple-timer and got hooked early on. Now she's a Media Relations Captain.

Steve Masur and Bonnie Halper were chatting with respective friends and I was in Lon-central: chatting with Marc Zelanko (a VP at MTV) who grew up with Lon, Margo Sanchez, who is one of Lon's cousins who works for a NGO and does lots of cool charity work and another man who dated one of Lon's cousins (different cousin).

Well, upon first impressions of First Usability first party, it was packed and packed a punch!

Check out the fun party pictures!

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Cyber Scene in Portland, Oregon

by Tamar Alexia Fleishman.

It seems that no matter how old we get, the concept of Summer vacation never really vanishes, right? Hopefully, you have been enjoying yourselves in the sun. This week, I had the pleasure of visiting Portland, Oregon for the first time, to check out their 8th Annual Pickathon.

I have traveled to and fro, but it’s been a long time since I have seen a place so brimming with natural beauty as Portland! When you fly in, you see the Columbia River dividing Oregon from Washington, with the Cascade Mountains all right there. Gorgeous!

At Portland’s airport, near gate C-13 in Southwest’s corridor, they have a passenger service center. This is a convenient room where there’s an ATM, copy machine, cell phone chargers (bonus for me, who always forgets to charge things), phones, computer ports and a currency exchange.

Pickathon (www.pickathon.com ) is a roots music festival that is deliberately loosely defined. I was invited there by my friend Roy Batchelor that I’ve told you about -- he is the guru behind www.bootliquor.com , the Internet’s bad-ass country radio station. Many of the folks associated with Pickathon stayed at the Doubletree Hotel, with their fine Pickathon group rate and commitment to "green" business practices. When it was time to go to the festival, a bio-diesel bus was provided by the Oregon Bus Project (www.busproject.org), a grassroots nonprofit that provides volunteers to Oregon political candidates who are committed to green policies.

So, onto the music! Many different groups played, from traditional bluegrass -- like the Earl Brothers -- to more indie rock. Not everybody was a "picker", either. Iris Dement played piano. Pickathon had three different stages, including an intimate barn that was used for smaller acts and workshops. The workshops ranged from banjo to clogging. Concerts were going from 11:30 am to past 2 am both nights.

One of my favorite acts was Danny Barnes. He did everything from rocking electric guitar on the big stage to delicate improvisational banjo, accompanying 8 year olds! His style is that of quiet genius -- Roy calls him the "Frank Zappa of country music".

When you’re at a festival, don’t you always think about food? I do. Pickathon had a lot of healthy choices, but I would have like to have seen some more affordable options, as well. One great item I snacked on was a vegan coconut ice dream, made of pure coconut milk and seasonings. Terrific! What made it even more terrific was their suggestion to go by the gate and pick myself some wild black raspberries for free to use as a topping.

The weather was picture perfect for both days, with absolutely clear skies. Clear skies does equal sun-damage, though. One great solution was the shaded beer garden, which had chairs and tables. For $6, you could get yourself one of 4 different types of micro brews and listen to the concerts in comfort. After 1 am, the barn also served beer. I am proud to say that I led a revolution in bringing chairs into the barn. I wasn’t really going out on a limb; the place had a laid-back atmosphere. I figured nobody’d get too mad if I moved chairs from outside to inside the barn.