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Design Line: Strawser & Smith, Inc.

17 Feb
This is one of my favorite off-the-subway detours in Brooklyn.
Inevitably, when you step inside this showroom, you immediately start envisioning a dream house fitted with strong, sturdy, and beautiful things. Strawser and Smith present an impressive collection of handcrafted pieces reminiscent of  industrial factories  It’s like a mid-century museum, featuring a motley of perfectly proportioned tables and benches constructed of reclaimed wood and steel, 1960s pecan-hued leather armchairs, and delicious collectibles, such as old subway marker signs. The giant industrial relics are re-purposed old factory and machine parts re-fashioned into functional design for home, office, and loft. Cleveland Art, masters of the trade, are worth checking out, especially for you L.A. folk.  Check their website here.

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As you walk into the store, there’s an almost macabre sensation, maybe it’s just anatomical drawings or the vibe of  mid-century medical lamps or the cast aluminum U.S. Navy-commissioned barber chair. There’s also an old school bleacher bench recalling football games in the Midwest

The 1920s wall-sized world and survey maps accent the earthy and steel tones of the furniture.

Note: Between February 9-18, Strawser & Smith will only be open by appointment only!

Don’t forget to look around at the house itself! High ceilings are stationed on earth by roughhewn wooden pillars, and what seems like exposed brick for miles. I love going in when it’s afternoon, beautifully-lit, west-facing, receiving gorgeous afternoon sun.

Tarnished elegance nailed on its head!

All photos courtesy of the Strawser & Smith website. For more information, check their FACEBOOK.

Paz,

Nandini

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Esperanza Spalding’s Ponta de Areia

15 Feb

Bright new path forward for Best New Artist winner Ezperanza Spalding! Hexes on all the hormonally surplussed tweens hacking into her account to avenge the loser, J. Bieber.  This lady’s here to S-T-A-Y…

new horizons for miss spalding

Ponta de Areia, from the eponymous album, Ezperanza:

Daily Rotation(s): Toro y Moi

11 Mar

Not quite done with the lo-fi Daily Rotations for today’s installment. It’s this here warm spell in NYC. It’s a love jones I won’t name yet.

It’s Toro y Moi.

Musician Chaz Bundick’s project, by way of South Carolina-

Toro y Moi’s chill wave grooves are all about atmosphere, good times, kickin’ it, Spring Awakening, and shedding layers for smoother skin.

He’ll grace the Brooklyn Bowl stage with New Zealand psychedelic indie rockers The Ruby Suns on March 26th, 2010. Tickets are $5! Pretty voices, cheap tickets.

The video for “Blessa”:

and the boys playing with rockets in the video for “Talamak”:

Brooklyn Freestyle Sessions @ Rose Live Music

3 Mar

Mobius Collective, every Thursday at Rose Live Music in Williamsburg, BK

Mobius Collective celebrates their 3rd anniversary at Rose Live Music this Thursday.

Saxophonist/director Troy Simms, along with staple cipher Omar Little (trumpet), Borahm Lee (keys), and David Bailis (guitar), the Collective features guest DJ’s and musicians each session. Last week amidst the snow storm, the house was packed full of folks ready to go on a trip. Guest DJ–brilliant selector–Deejay Obah–filled in the blanks between sets, seamlessly taking us from a recording of Fela’s “Yellow Fever” into the band’s supersonic rendition of it. Keyboardist Borahm Lee brings it full force, slapping at his keyboard, mapping out intricate solos,  infusing the tune with an echo here, a reverb there–he’s a vision to witness in action. Jazz to warm you up in the beginning, dub to settle the whiskey in your bones (it’s cold outside, y’all), flowing into Afrobeat and Hiphop to get the people dancing.

There’s something to the venue too. The abuela wallpaper and jazz club stage has an old-timers vibe, a subtly complementary addition to the listening experience.

Mobius Collective, courtesy of the band's Myspace

Note about their name, “Mobius Collective,” it’s a reference to the Mobius Strip, a one-sided, single edged surface that has no beginning or end. This metaphor comes alive during their performance–the musicians contribute to the soundscape by carefully listening, evoking the continuity between them, between the genres they journey across in a few hours’ time.

Check it @ Rose Live Music, every Thursday!

What: 3rd Anniversary Party of Mobius Collective’s “Brooklyn Freestyle Sessions

Where: Rose Live Music, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on 345 Grand St. @ Marcy

When: 10 PM to 3AM

Dialog Box: Modality & Miles Davis

3 Mar

The third track on Miles Davis’ 1959 Kind of Blue, called “Blue in Green”:

You can see how thinking about music moves into mysticism–Kwami Coleman

This Sunday, I talked to my friend, musician & musicologist, Kwami Coleman, who resides in San Francisco, about modality in music.  I was listening to Miles Davis’  “Blue in Green”, a highly textured musical composition, from his record Kind of Blue, which is very modal. Now, I’ve studied music, namely violin, but still have lots of questions regarding the theories.  At first, Kwami broke down the basics of my questions, but then it soon delved into the relationship between music & tonality & its (unknowable) effects on human psyche.

When we hear a piece of music, it elicits a response from us. Whether we listen to Miles Davis, to get into a heady, reflective, sober condition or the energetic, multilayered, orchestrated spontaneity of Fela Kuti—there is an emotional response drawn out of us. We attribute emotions—longing, misery, whimsy, joy—to the melodies we hear. We all know this.  And we know that the reason for this will never be fully understood, there’s value in understanding what certain tones provoke in the listener.

To read the Dialog Box interview, click the title of this post.

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Haiti, the earthquake, and my family, by Edwidge Danticat

28 Jan

Beautiful words about her family, life and death, by writer Edwidge Danticat in the New Yorker.

via Haiti, the earthquake, and my family: newyorker.com.

RIP Howard Zinn

28 Jan

The People’s Historian, activist, and teacher Howard Zinn died of a heart attack on Wednesday, January 27 in Santa Monica, CA. I chose this excerpt from the article “The Optimism of Uncertainty” (The Nation, September 2, 2004), which was adapted from The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen’s Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear.

“Revolutionary change does not come as one cataclysmic moment (beware of such moments!) but as an endless succession of surprises, moving zigzag toward a more decent society. We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world. Even when we don’t “win,” there is fun and fulfillment in the fact that we have been involved, with other good people, in something worthwhile. We need hope.

An optimist isn’t necessarily a blithe, slightly sappy whistler in the dark of our time. To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places–and there are so many–where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”