To Be Happy in New York

Joan Didion was famous for saying, Goodbye to All That.

Until she moved back there.

Happiness in New York is like the latest latte. The Cascara latte, just under the shell. Just under the surface, just around the corner. Happiness in New York is waiting for you at the dime store. At Coney Island, in Central Park. It’s waiting on the subway, and waiting at the ice cream truck. Happiness is a slice of pizza, it’s a bagel on a Saturday morning. It’s knowing you can pay your rent on the 1st, and can walk the streets one more day.

Unless you’re an Angeleno.

In which case you think, Well, aren’t there bagels in LA? And, aren’t the tacos much better? And isn’t everything cheaper – like by about, half?

The happiest people I met on the East Coast were from suburban Midwest, the rustbelt, or from the South. For them, New York is the chosen land! Opportunities, diversity. Beauty. Opulence!

But for an Angeleno, you always have that nagging feeling like true happiness is waiting not just around the corner, but on another coast. In another global city that is…your own. And doesn’t have blizzards. Or summer thunderstorms. You can enjoy beauty and opulence on your own time, in the sunshine.

Happiness, like time, is a relative thing. And to each his or her own. But for me, I’ll choose to have my cascara latte with a full-frontal view of the San Gabriel Mountains.


The Rainbow Effect

Pop culture right now is all about Play. Apparently, Rainbow Bright was a Material Girl, and the little girls who grew up playing with her haven't forgotten that.
The look of artists like Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, and Lovefoxxx (below) is Rainbow Bright, but with a decidedly...erotic twist.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uviwxdcpGSg]
This stuff is an aesthetic sugar rush, a hipster fantasy cracked out on agave syrup. It's excessively sweet, and excessively excessive. Decked out with jobs, adulthood, and real responsibilities, maybe the Rainbow Bright generation just really misses playtime.

Occupy Wall Street's Unexpected Successes

Is Occupy Wall Street a real-life version of Rage Against the Machine's song "Bulls on Parade?"

I recently published an article through HyperVocal.com about how Occupy Wall Street has shaken up the activist exercise. In less than a month, it has brought about the following results: 1) It created an unexpected coalition between liberal whites and activists of color; 2) It changed Americans’ understanding of history and class; 3) It illuminated the failures of the Professional Left; and 4) It showed the shortcomings of traditional political strategy. Read the full article here.

Whatever its long-term results are, Occupy Wall Street has brought people out onto the streets, and put (Wall Street) bulls on parade.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=my6bfA14vMQ]

The Bird's the Word

In 1963, The Trashmen knew the bird was the word. Their song Surfin' Bird topped the charts.

Zuzuka Poderosa, below, has a beautiful new song out called Ms. Sandra (Dona Sandra).

Hipster chic has fashioned the video with, well, birds. But apparently that's the word...hipsters have moved on from being obsessed with deer to being obsessed with birds. Whatever works...it's a haunting piece with a slight sensation of being in flight.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7hlXJGydhU]

The All-American Schlep

Why did I schlep around in the rain the other day? For America.

Not really.

But kind of.

I went car-less for environmental reasons. In my hometown of Los Angeles, I would spend two hours a day in traffic, and in 2006, I decided to move to the East Coast in order to live in a walkable city and get around the old-fashioned way: on foot.

Standing drenched in the rain the other day, though, clinging to a pathetic bounty of three CVS bags, I suddenly thought of my Irish forefathers in Bedstuy, Brooklyn and wondered, “(Why) am I… living like them? They left the East Coast for California so they wouldn’t have to do errands on foot… is this history repeating or just my dumb ass being stubborn?”

I imagined them looking at me, shaking their heads. Thinking, poor girl…100 years and a Masters degree later, and she's still living like this.

For the record, I would have taxied my errands, but npf (non profit salary). And I would have skipped church and the two mile walk there, but it’s Lent, and I do my Jessica's Affirmation's Catholic-style.

In the words of David Brooks, groups are smarter than individuals. Last year, a bunch of young people here in DC did a Tweed Ride, in support of “19th century transportation solutions.” They dressed up vintage and spent their Sunday afternoon on bicycles.

They did the All-American Schlep the smart way = in style, and in the sunshine. 

Their event was an enormous success; because the end of the day, the All-American Schlep is a pretty good thing.

Just not when it’s raining.

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/7662983 w=400&h=225]
DC Tweed Ride from ReadysetDC on Vimeo.

The British Invasion

Brits haven't sung the soul of the American South this well since the Stones.

She wants to be the new Aretha Franklin, and maybe she sort of is. The white British songstress of this our Black Atlantic.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lazyDlfaptM]

Hapa Pop Show

As per usual, Brazil is beating the U.S. at its own cultural game. Hapa musician Curumin, a mixed Japanese Brazilian, gets the sound of (inter) American life right.

Curumin's music ranges from Samba Japa, which layers auto-tuned Japanese chants on modern beats, to the crunk, 90's club style Caixa Preta.

I don't know who the American equivalent of Curumin is. Who does pop like this? Where can we hear Chinese L.A., or Pilipino San Francisco, in fun young music? 

Let's get going. I want to hear it.  Cuz serious musicianship + playful mixing = la cosa nostra.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TEtoRbJBtM]