In The Know | #10

A weekly roundup of interesting, inspiring, delicious and beautiful things that I’ve stumbled upon recently.

Listen:  Paperwhite
I first heard the Brooklyn “Dream-Pop duo” Paperwhite at OTB Live, the intimate performance featured in last week’s In The Know (#9).  Live, they performed a stripped down version of 4 of their songs, which was a great introduction to their music, and Katie’s vocals. My favorite song of the evening Take Me Back reminded me of Haim, and I was hooked.

Read:  A Founder of Secret, the Anonymous Social App, is Shutting it Down | NY Times
An article about the most recent company to start, raise millions, and then shut down. With a lifespan of a mere 16 months, Secret represents the faddish nature of so many startups who raise money and initial buzz, only to be nonexistent in a matter of months. But to me, this article also represents a more disturbing trend. One of the reasons usage of the app declined and eventually shut down, was the amount of trolling and cyber-bullying that it promoted. But seeing how it began as an anonymous app with the intention of being “an outlet for people to speak honestly about things that would otherwise result in career damage” – was anyone really surprised that this concept would attract people with hateful, negative things to say? I see an increasingly frightening disconnect between smart people with great ideas who are apparently oblivious to the fact that much of todays technology can be used for just as much bad as for good… Ah, but thats a rant for another day.

Watch:  Questions No One Knows the Answer To | TED Talk by Chris Anderson
We know the answers to more about our universe than we ever have as a human species. Yet there is still SO much that we know absolutely nothing about… and will probably never know. That might be frustrating for some people, but I find it fascinating. We know so little –there’s so much to learn, to question, to wonder at!  This TED talk puts life into perspective, and helps illustrate (literally!) the unknowable questions all around us.

Taste:  Nitecap
Small, dim, intimate cocktail bar under Schapiros restaurant in the LES. The coolest menu design I’ve seen includes a huge drink list, food, plus fun + games to entertain yourself while waiting for your date. If you still don’t know what to order with all the options on the menu, ask the bartender to whip you up something special and you won’t be disappointed.

Explore: The Dean
A recent addition to Providence, Rhode Island is The Dean – a design conscious boutique hotel that seriously ups the cool factor of my little hometown city.  Set in the perfect downtown location, it’s the best way to explore all that The Best Small City has to offer. Weekend getaway, anyone?

The Lives We Lead

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“Every dreamer knows that it is entirely possible to be homesick for a place you’ve never been to, perhaps more homesick than for familiar ground.” 

– Judith Thurman

A whiff of perfume, a song through my headphones, the sight of a tree standing brilliantly against a clear blue sky – makes me reminisce about places I’ve never been but that I am sure I know very well.  Sometimes I am transported to a a tiny street where I can find a dusty cafe playing jazz music and serving red wine, other times it’s a glamorous world of cool marble foyers and high ceilings and open windows looking out across an ocean. Sometimes it’s rolling hills and olive trees and the smell of burning grass and running and climbing and tumbling… sometimes it’s a room with a fire and creaky wood floors and the smell of hot cider and the feel of wool blankets and snow outside for miles and miles. Sometimes I long for the scenario so badly it aches, like its something I once had that has since been ripped away from me in some tragic turn of events.

A large majority of my life has been based around these fantasies of what I imagine that life is like, or could be like, in different places, countries, houses, jobs, different scenarios, with different people – influenced by stories read when I was 11, thick books of stock photos of exotic places and houses I would pour over when I was 14, or songs I listened to at 17.

But which scenario do I pursue? Is it possible to have and experience them all? Each of these lives are possible if fully pursued, but how do you pursue a desire that literally changes with the wind, with the sight or smell of something new?

* * *

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”

– Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
* * * 

And yet during all this, I am living another life, the one that is my “reality”, the one I’ve created that includes little pieces of all these dreams and childhood picture books and stories and songs. Life is a little bit of all these fantasies, but at the same time it is never fully any one, individually. Is it possible for anyone to be completely satisfied and fully involved in the life currently being lived without ever dreaming or fantasizing of another?

There have certainly been many moments of sublime contentment, weeks while traveling, days exploring a new place, moments while surrounded by good friends or people I love, where I have thought YES, this is exactly where I want to be, exactly the life I want to be living right at this moment. But for the most part, we move forward, striving towards something we dream of, that may or may not be.

Then again, our physical reality is viewed through the individual lens of our mental reality… So as on that waterslide in Ohio, am I not exactly the person that I feel that I am, living that life I imagine, even just for those few moments?

In The Know | #9

A weekly roundup of interesting, inspiring, delicious and beautiful things that I’ve stumbled upon recently.

Listen:  Laura Mvula – She
Recently came across British singer-songwriter Laura Mvula, and was enchanted by her powerful voice and often orchestral arrangements.  Drawing from her acapella and gospel backgrounds, She is one of my favorites, starting off delicate and dreamy, mostly acoustic with a choir in the background, almost hymn-like. As it progresses, it layers and gains complexity for a moment, before returning full circle and fading out as gently as it began.

Read: How One Stupid Tweet Ruined Justine Sacco’s Life | NY Times
I just finished Jon Ronson’s book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. This NY Times Magazine article he wrote was what initially sparked my interest, as it covers three case studies of individuals profiled in the book.  I’m not even on Twitter, and I remember the Justine Sacco debacle well – that’s saying something. Really interesting look at the psychology of “public shaming” via social media and the destruction it causes in the lives of those who have unwittingly found themselves on the receiving end of it.

Watch: American Shokunin | Ryan Bush
A beautiful video about the art of Bonsai. Ryan Neil talks about his work, the similarities between trees and humans, and being a “master” at your craft.  An elegant look at the intricacies this incredible art form.

Taste:  Cafe Clover
Beautiful design, delicious food and elegant branding. I am shocked that Cafe Clover isn’t hyped more, though the fact that it’s recently opened (January 2015) means there’s still plenty of time for word to spread. Far from touristy, it was filled with what felt like the most in-the-know crowd in the village. Though you wouldn’t guess it from the flavors and variety, each item on the deceptively healthy menu is vetted by a nutritionist first – one of many reasons to return.

Explore: OTB Live
Brooklyn art and sound design studio One Thousand Birds hosts it’s monthly OTB Live series at it’s Bushwick location. Three local bands (new or established) play sets of 4 songs each with breaks in between for food and BYO drinks. Launching in SF soon, it is an evening full of great people, great food, and great music.

In The Know | #8


A weekly roundup of interesting, inspiring, delicious and beautiful things that I’ve stumbled upon recently.

Listen:  Wet – Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl
Mellow, sad and beautiful. Slow jam anthem of anyone who’s ever wanted to say “You can’t do me right // So I decided that // I don’t wanna be your girl no more”

Read:  The Lefsetz Letter – Catalina on Shark Tank
If you’re wondering Who The Hell is Bob Lefsetz, he’s a former music industry nobody, who began writing his opinions on the industry and has subsequently gained the respect (and wrath) of hundreds of thousands of people who subscribe to his newsletter. Besides music, he writes about technology, culture, and society as a whole. The thing is, he’s spot on in most regards, which attributes for his large following (and the haters). “Catalina on Shark Tank” is one of my favorites, as it touches on some of the same ideas about intelligence as this recent piece I wrote. There’s something I really like about Bob. You don’t need to have made it big to have a valid opinion. You just need to be right.

Watch:  The Now – Ray Collins
A short video on the photography of waves, as captured by Ray Collins, an Australian coal miner turned photographer. Being colorblind, it’s especially interesting to hear how he looks for the changes in light, the shape, and the dark vs. light instead of color.  His transition from coal mining – a job that could not be further from photography and the ocean – to the present day awards and accolades for his creative work is inspiring. Who knows what hobby or passion of ours could blossom into something utterly unexpected?

Taste:  Cheeky’s
There are only good things to say about this New Orleans inspired spot, and their sandwiches. The best kept “secret” of the LES, everyone who stumbles upon this tiny unassuming shop, or is referred there by a friend feels like they’ve just been initiated into a secret society of serious sandwich lovers. Two guys man the counter, one taking orders and the other crafting the most perfect mouthwatering delights, like fried chicken on a biscuit and braised short rib on challah.

Explore:  Uprise Art
A super cool startup for the next generation of art collectors. Uprise Art boasts an incredible selection of work by the best contemporary artists, showcases them in their online gallery and through various events and exhibitions, and makes it easy to purchase the work or give it a “trial run” by paying through monthly installments. Their gorgeously curated website even includes a peek inside the homes of some of their collectors, which serves as both artistic and interior inspiration.

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