Archive for the ‘Guest Blogger’ Category

Guest Bloggers Frontier Psychiatrist Guide Us Through the SXSW Mayhem

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Taco truck in Austin

My first full day of music at South by Southwest began in a bike shop and ended in a church. From noon until three in the morning, three friends and I saw nearly 20 bands: indie rock and punk, blues and folk, glam and R&B, and a bit of hip-hop courtesy of A$AP Rocky. As I learned during my first time at the festival, SXSW is organized chaos, with thousands of people thronged in the streets all day and all night, lined up outside and packed inside bars and clubs to see some 2,000 bands play countless “official” and “unofficial” shows, categories that are somewhat fluid since most bands play both kinds of shows. It’s hard to imagine a place with more music per square inch or square mile, all within walking distance or a short bike ride. For any music maniac – especially one who loves tacos — SXSW is paradise.

The day began at  Mellow Johnny’s, a.k.a. Lance Armstrong’s massive warehouse of a bike shop, where we caught the last four songs of a set by Howler, part of a live broadcast by stellar Seattle station KEXP. Beneath a tricked out Bianchi Pista that hung over the stage, the skinny boys from Minneapolis plays good rowdy retro power-pop in the vein of The Strokes, Tokyo Police Club, and Surfer Blood.

Next we migrated to Waterloo Records, Austin’s iconic indie record shop slash tourist destination, where we caught a couple of bands and had free energy drinks which according to the can were a mixture of iced tea, lemonade, and bad ass. We were underwhelmed by the generic rock of London four-piece Tribes, then energized by the satirical glam rock and raucous energy of Foxy Shazam , who sound and act like a hybrid of Queen, The Darkness, and Spinal Tap, insofar as those three are different. Stage antics included keyboard surfing and smoking five cigarettes at once.

Energized by the neo-Freddy Mercury, we crossed town to the Red River District, one of the main drags of SXSW, where thousands of people were roaming the streets and enjoying free shows. The spacy R&B of Polica (pronounced POH-LISA) was the first and perhaps best show of the afternoon, led by the hypnotic voice and stage presence of Channy Moon Cassell, formely of Roma di Luna and now the lead female singer in Gayngs. Backed by bass, and two drummers who inexplicably often played the same beat simultaneously. Afterward, as walked around Red River we heard what we thought was a band covering Titus Andronicus. It turned out to be Titus Andronicus, though we caught only their last song (“No Future Part 3”).

At a Paste Magazine showcase, we  caught a pair of female-fronted bands who performed beneath a gigantic mural of the country music pantheon: Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Reba McInytre, Kenny Rogers, etc. Led by vocalist Amber Papin, Brooklyn indie pop trio Hospitality brought some pleasant jangly songs from their debut album Friends of Friends, which came out in January. We were more impressed with husband and wife duo Tennis, whose first album Cape Dory was inspired by their seven month adventure on a sailboat, and last month released their second record, Young and Old, inspired by a W.B. Yeats poem. The live show–especially Alaina Moore’s vocals–makes their records seem tame by comparison.

Tennis

After a brief break to bathe and refuel, we returned and made our first mistake of the night. We thought we were going to see Javelin. Instead, we went into the club next door by mistake, where we caught Fidlar who sounded like Warped Tour refugees, as confirmed later by their song “Wake Bake Skate.” We then entertained the delusion that we could get into the Fiona Apple, Sharon Van Etten and Andrew Bird showcase at Stubbs, Austin’s legendary BBQ joint. Then we saw the line. (Fortunately we have already seen Sharon Van Etten in Chicago and twice in New York).

For the rest of the night, we split into two groups. Assistant Editor Pete Lillis caught Zola Jesus, a.k.a Nika Rosa Danilova, the slow burn of Psychic Ills, and The Men about whom he will have much more to say later this week on Frontier Psychiatrist. The rest of us took a more mellow turn and headed to St. David’s Episcopal Church for three more mellow acts, each with a somewhat spiritual, if not exactly religious dimension. The star was Anais Mitchell, whose haunting baby voice of a drawl bounced through the pews as she sang songs from her new album Young Man in America and her 2010 breakout record Hadestown, a folk rock opera about the myth of Orpheus and Euridice. While Hadestown guest vocalist Justin Vernon did not make the show, Mitchell has more than enough talent on her own and her backing band – electric piano, bass, and a drummer who doubled on banjo—was perhaps the best musicianship of the day. Finally, we caught the bluesy set of alt-country singer songwriter Todd Snider. Perhaps only in Austin does a guy whose last album was called Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables play a gig in a church.

Amen. Bring on Day 2.

Frontier Psychiatrist is a Brooklyn-based blog about music, books, film, and food. For more coverage, check out their blog. Photos courtesy of Peter Lillis.

Guest Blogger: Eugene Delmundo, from InTheHive, Styles NYE for Brooklyn Industries

Monday, December 26th, 2011

With only 5 days left until New Years Eve, everybody is hustling to get their last minute party outfits together in time for the weekend. This year, Janine and I incorporated greens and reds from Xmas to transition from mistletoe to Moët. Whether it’s green or red, tartan plaids, all black, or bedazzled, we all need a festive holiday party outfit – ASAP!

I turned to my friends over at Brooklyn Industries to search for something dressy and festive, but not too dressy and festive. Janine and I wanted slight variations on red and green so we went with a subtle variance in the two tones, opting for a rich burgundy and a lime/yellowish green. We then built the rest of the outfits around those colors, Janine’s being more focused on the color, and mine more complimentary, using subtle accents here and there and accessories like my fair isle infinity scarf and a bow headband for Janine.

Can you count how many paterns I have in the above pic? There are four, to be exact – fair isle infinity scarf, marled sweater, plaid shirt and striped socks! Pattern mixing is definitely an art form – the right scale and proportion is always key.

Pile on the hand and arm wear for the party, and layer them like you’re layering up for the January weather.

What’s just as cool as mixing patterns? Mixing textures! I’m starting the weekend with this great speckled tweed blazer. It’s unstructured so it’s transitional and versatile enough for dressed up or dress down parties. I paired it with the Iron Marled V-Neck Sweater, another heavy texture and broke it up with a vintage denim vest to give it a little edge. The right mix of patterns and textures can make or break an outfit. In this case, I’ll go with MAKE!

With Janine, we complimented the sheen of her patterned dress with a ruffled corduroy jacket and added an element of coziness – a soft sweater snuggled around her waist. A little bit of shine and leather from her accessories further accentuates the prints and textures. As an added secret bonus, the Camelia Cord Ruffle Jacket also has a cool striped lining on the inside.

Janine’s latest craze are knitted headbands – she already has about 20! Mine are chain wallets, and tying shirts around my waste.

Preppy kicks are a nice contrast to a funky ensemble, or vice versa. I love the chocolate brown with yellow stripes.

For the final touches I added the no maintenance Eddie Scarf, clear frames, skull rings, glow-in-the-dark watches and tie bars on the lapel. Now everything else for a good time is up to you! Happy holidays everyone!

Shop the outfit:

Eugene: Unstructured Jacket, Iron Marled V-Neck Sweater, Lawrence Bridge Plaid, Eddie Scarf, Mavi Denim Daniel Black Skinny.

Janine: Nadia Shirt Dress, Camelia Cord Ruffled Jacket, Artistic Azalia Cardigan.

About Eugene: Raised in Hawaii and now based in Brooklyn, Eugene Delmundo is a stylist, blogger, and photograper for InTheHive, and a frequent stylist for BKI’s photo shoots.

GUEST BLOGGER: DANIEL DE WOLFF, DAY 6

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

So I’ve been thinking a lot about the phrase LIVE, WORK, CREATE. The fact is, the fast pace of New York, the sensory overload, the nonstop go go go ethos can be exhausting. Sometimes getting off the couch to write, to see a show or go to an art gallery, to do anything, can feel like such a chore—especially when living, surviving is an accomplishment. I’ve learned that the key to latching on to all the great creative energy that helps drive this city is to allow for some time to refuel (which is probably why I like to go to Ft. Greene Park whenever I can). These rare moments of downtime help me to process what’s going on around me. Personally, I think in terms of narrative. Everything is a potential story; everyone is a character, every detail counts. But I’ve got to be in the right head space to open myself up to all the great tales bouncing around this city.

Anyway, this is the end of my guest blogging stint. I’ve really enjoyed myself and I hope you have too. The good news is that I’m not done writing for Brooklyn Industries! Nicole and Joe recently asked if I would like to keep writing for the blog as a contributor to other categories featured on Words from the Watertower. So keep an eye out for my posts on wordsfromthewatertower.com.

Sincerest thanks to Joe, Nicole, Judy, and everyone else at Brooklyn Industries Headquarters who helped make this happen, as well as to all the readers who followed my posts throughout the week to find out how I Live, Work, Create.

Daniel de Wolff

GUEST BLOGGER: DANIEL DE WOLFF, DAY 5

Monday, April 12th, 2010

I’ve lived in apartments all over Brooklyn, but I’ve got to say that I’m really digging Bushwick. I feel like there is so much going on around here in terms of the arts. Just today I stepped off the train at my stop (Myrtle/Broadway) and from the station I could hear the heavy thud of drums and insistent baseline of a band practicing at the Market Hotel, which is a truly remarkable DIY venue that often showcases some of the most interesting and talented bands in Brooklyn. But bands aren’t the only thing happening over there. A friend of mine regularly hosts unbelievable late night dance parties, as well as a Sunday morning yoga event.

Tonight I worked on the website of a West Coast photographer named Kathleen Estrada, whose work varies between Central Coast landscapes and the underground low-rider car culture. I also jotted down ideas for my next article for The Fashion Spot. I think I’m going to put together a piece detailing the paradigm shift the fashion industry has been experiencing in the past few years as a result of new media and a shaky economy. I’ll keep you posted!

GUEST BLOGGER: DANIEL DE WOLFF, DAY 4

Friday, April 9th, 2010

Another gorgeous day in Brooklyn! I’ve been dog sitting for a friend of mine. Kata is a beautiful 80lb rednose pitbull. She is all white and just the sweetest thing. Because her owner is back in town I had to take her home today. I decided to use the opportunity to take a long walk around Brooklyn. I started out on Marcus Garvey and Myrtle Ave. and followed Marcus Garvey all the way up to Decatur. It seemed like everyone was out. The smoky sweet smell of barbecue was in the air, people were chilling on their stoops, the trees were starting to blossom. After dropping Kata at home I trekked through Bed Stuy to Clinton hill and on into Fort Greene. Smelling all the food made me hungry, so I called up my buddy Leif, who is the art director at Roadrunner Records, and we decided to do some grilling on my balcony. Today was a good day—even if, technically, there was more relaxing than creating going on!

GUEST BLOGGER: DANIEL DE WOLFF, DAY 3

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

After closing up the store at Grand Central I decided to head over to Le Poisson Rouge, one of my favorite clubs in NYC. The place is great because not only do they showcase fantastic bands, but they make a point of featuring the work of up and coming artists and hosting events like The New Yorker Party and Drag Queen Bingo. Another selling point for me is that my girlfriend is a mixologist/bartender there. Tonight I happened to stroll into a break dance party featuring some of the hottest B-boys and B-girls in NYC doing their thing, popping and locking, grooving away their troubles. It was impressive to say the least.

Inspired (and frustrated that I will never be able to dance as well as the aforementioned B-boys and B-girls), I wrote some new short-shorts. Here is one of the very short stories:

Dear Lover,

I have missed you. You are dripping with rubies, from the tips of your bangs to your broken heels. Your mouth is a topaz, your earlobes are emeralds. I have been coveting your fingernails: they are amber and obsidian and once carved hieroglyphs across my flesh. You are elegant – a puma with crushed velvet fur who dines on pineapple wedges. The jungle explodes with turquoise flowers; they are the same size as human heads, spiked and pungent like breadfruit. A gushing stream pulses through darkest night. The natives here speak of a blind shaman capable of brewing a bitter root-based concoction that will allow us to fly together the next full moon. Please reply via smoke signal. I will wait.

GUEST BLOGGER: DANIEL DE WOLFF, DAY 2

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Spring is definitely here. I’m wearing shorts for the first time in months and I cannot tell you how happy I am. Actually, I’m wearing my new pair of Theodore shorts. The fine blend of formal and casual is outstanding, and I’ve got a feeling they are going to be my go-to shorts for summer. After a solid day at BKI Grand Central I decided to head to Union Square. People everywhere are enjoying the weather. My first stop was Brooklyn Industries Union Square, where I popped in to Say hi to the store manager, Andrea, who is also featured in the new campaign. You can see how she embodies LIVE, WORK, CREATE by visiting our homepage.

And because I just finished reading Dave Eggers latest book, What Is The What, I went to The Strand (www.strandbooks.com), one of my favorite NYC Bookstores. In case you’re wondering, What is the What chronicles the life and times of one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. It is brilliant, Eggers gets out of his own way and lets the story come to life. After three hours of sifting through books at The Strand (I’m like a kid in a candy store when it comes to book shopping), climbing the ladders to reach the top shelves, I walked out with Michael Chabon’s The Mysteries of Pittsburgh and a copy of The Book of Evidence by John Banville. So far, Banville’s novel (which was a Booker Prize Finalist) is utterly engaging, lyrically reminiscent of Nabokov and chock full of wry wit that recalls William Burroughs at his best.

While riding the J train home across the Williamsburg Bridge a girl sitting across from me snapped photos of the tracks and the river as the slanting light of the sun cut through the skyline. To my right a couple conversed in Chinese and to my left a young man yelled, “Que paso!?” to a pack of his teenage friends. I took it all in, the metallic clank and rumble of the galloping train, the methodical squeaks and squeals, the rush of wind, and the feel of the cool plastic seat beneath me. And I don’t care how cheesy this sounds, but I thought to myself, “I love New York.”

GUEST BLOGGER: DANIEL DE WOLFF, DAY 1

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

I’m sitting on a swivel chair opposite Joe, Director of Store Operations, and while I’m excited that we’re discussing my role in the upcoming photo shoot featuring Brooklyn Industries employees who represent the company’s LIVE, WORK, CREATE motto, my eyes begin to wander. From my vantage point in Joe’s office I can see the Brooklyn Navy Yard huddled below. The historic grounds are a complex patchwork of shimmering and shattered glass, rust and soot stained roofs, and all manner of cranes, their necks jutting into the grey sky at odd angles. Beyond lies the East River, a murky trail of brown snaking its way to the sea. And in the distance Manhattan sprawls into oblivion.

“So what do you think?” Joe says. To be quite honest, I’m flattered that I’ve been asked to take part in a campaign that epitomizes what Brooklyn Industries is all about: the creative drive that informs our lives as we Live, Work, and Create on a daily basis. I’m also a little bit nervous. Aside from my girlfriend and my mom, I can’t think of too many people who want to take pictures of me and post them on the internet. I’m more accustomed to being behind the scenes, writing stories and articles that accompany photo shoots. But Joe ensures me it will be fun, and then he really makes my day. “How would you like to do some guest blogging on the website?” He asks. And this is where I have to pinch myself. I look around and see the Brooklyn Industries team hard at work. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that I can truly feel the energy that surrounds me. The whole place is alive with a creative hum. Next thing I know I’m discussing ideas with Nicole of the PR department (she’s also featured in the new campaign, by the way). So here I am, guest blogging for Brooklyn Industries. In case you’re wondering, the photo shoot went well. You can see the results on our homepage (that’s me, third from the left, wearing glasses). And, I suppose this is a good place to introduce myself. Here’s the short version: I grew up surfing in Southern California, before heading to Boston in order to attend college and earn my MFA in Creative Writing. I’ve been lucky enough work with some great writers, including Mako Yoshikaw and Pamela Painter. Now I live in Bushwick with my girlfriend Renee, who also happens to be an extremely talented artist in her own right. But don’t take my word for it. You can check out her work, as well as an interview, in Copious Amounts Magazine. Copious Amounts is the love child of pinup superstar/comic book vixen extraordinaire Andrea Grant. Ms. Grant also happens to be the managing editor of TheFashionSpot.com, where I am a regular contributor.

So now you know a little bit about me. If you want to read some more of my work, my most recent articles for TheFashionSpot.com can be found here and here and here. You can also check back here at wordsfromthewatertower.com, where I’ll be posting all week, so you can get a little taste of how I Live, Work, Create…

GUEST BLOGGER: DANIEL DEWOLFF

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

From this Tuesday to next, Daniel, one of our store associates at Grand Central will be guest blogging for us. Aside from being an awesome addition to the staff at that store location, Daniel is also a writer who just so happens to be featured in our latest campaign. Daniel is originally from California, earned an MFA in Boston, currently lives in Bushwick and is pretty good with a pen and paper. Enjoy!

SWORD-WIELDING PRINCESSES

Monday, December 14th, 2009

By Guest Blogger Joanna Smith Rakoff

A year or so ago, when I was pregnant with Pearl, I sat on the bench of a local playground with a pregnant friend, watching her daughter and Coleman race over a structure known in our neighborhood as “the jiggly bridge.” Neither my friend nor I had chosen to find out the sex of our babies and I, for some reason, asked if she and her husband would be glad to have a boy.

“Oh, God, no,” she replied. “Boys are a nightmare.”

“Really?” I said, an eye on my own boy, who, like all children, can certainly be a nightmare, but is usually a delight.

“Totally,” she said, and explained, at some length, that boys’ brains develop rather more slowly than girls, that boys tend to be less verbal than girls and, lacking the words to express their thoughts, they go crazy and have tantrums. “Girls,” she told me, “just have their shit together.”

I’m definitely no expert on brain development—my friend is much more the lay scientist—but all of this sounded a bit fishy to me. I am, after all, the mother of a boy, who happens to be incredibly chatty, and from a very young age has been pretty well able to articulate whatever’s going on in his kooky little brain. He also, of course, goes to school, and it didn’t seem to me that the girls in his preschool were, in general, more eloquent—or immune to meltdowns—than the boys.

As a rule, though, I tend to avoid massive generalizations, particularly those having to do with gender, and the older Coleman gets, the more annoyed I find myself at the way today’s children are intensely guided toward troubling gender divisions seemingly from the moment of their birth, when boys are flooded with blue baseball-themed onesies and girls are given pink T-shirts that say “sweetheart” and “cutie.” But I’m more troubled by the way parents have developed this tendency to tell themselves that girls are biologically programmed to envision themselves as Disney princesses and boys have a hormone-driven desire to build things with Magna Tiles and fight with swords. I know, of course, that there’s an extent to which this must be slightly true, but it’s equally clear that kids, from a very early age, pick up on social cues—like, for instance, their parents’ playground chatter about how they’re irresistibly drawn to fairies, or guns.

In other words, I sometimes feel like there’s a bit of wish fulfillment going on. It’s as though our world is so chaotic and confusing—particularly with regard to gender roles—that perhaps we seek a bit of comfort in girls behaving the way we’ve been conditioned to think girls should—even if we give lip service to our surprise at it, insisting that we did nothing to encourage this predilection for pink—and boys the way they should (er, like savages or miniature engineers). This is, I’m certain, also part of the appeal of Mad Men.

All of this is on my mind, I suppose, because of writing this blog about the difficulty of being an artist and a mother, a subject I was reluctant to take on at first, in part because, I realize now, I’m loathe to fall into the trap of traditional “women’s writing”—opining on subjects domestic—and in part because, paradoxically, I worried that the issues I wanted to broach were too slight to warrant attention. But a day or two into the project, my trepidation disappeared, for suddenly notes started coming in, from old friends and new, from strangers and relatives, all of them women, about the ways in which their lives—the tenuous relationship with whatever meaningful work—resembles the outlines of mine. One friend, the novelist Emily Chenoweth, sent on a strange and fascinating correspondence between two poets, Sarah Manguso and Rachel Zucker, about, basically, what it means to be a woman writer. Manguso, who has no children, utterly resists such definitions—to the extent that she doesn’t even want her work to appear in anthologies of women’s writing—while Zucker, who has three sons, feels that she’s defined by the fact that she’s a mother (“I feel very much like an egg-box,” she writes, at one point, which made me laugh out loud, though I’m not sure the humor was intentional). I read through the dialogue with an odd mixture of recognition and resistance, somehow agreeing and disagreeing with both of them at the same time. But perhaps the most strange and shocking moment came when I read these words of Manguso’s:

At this point in history, wife and mother are still noncomplex, nonqualifiable categories—they’re such powerful archetypes, they swallow all the others, even if a woman has been a writer beforehand.

This is undoubtedly true. But, at the same time these “categories” aren’t just archetypes, they’re actual, human experiences. And though having children—becoming a mother—might briefly trump one’s identity as an artist, it also lends an urgency and depth to one’s life and, without question, to one’s art. Maybe it’s good and necessary to allow ourselves to be consumed by another being once or twice in our lives, and to come out on the other side with the power to delineate a whole new set of experiences—and in doing so complicate those monolithic archetypes. Or at the very least, raise daughters who don’t want to be Disney princesses. Or, if they do, are happy to—like Coleman’s little friend Beatrix—engage in a swordfight while clad in their princess costumes.