Sunday, August 31, 2008
Yesterday morning, while at the Union Square Greenmarket (aka farmer's market) in NYC, I picked up an artichoke flower for my wife. During my walk through the market to the subway entrance, and my subsequent subway ride back to Brooklyn, no fewer than two dozen people stopped me to ask what I was carrying.
By the time I returned home, I became convinced of this fact - an artichoke flower may perhaps be the cheapest and quickest way to meet someone in the city. Men and women of all ages stopped me to inquire about my purchase, which cost all of $5. In NYC, this attention is typically doled out upon only one other object - puppies, the cutest of which can cost upwards of $5,000. So, for 1/10 of 1% of the cost of a canine, I received the same amount of attention as the bearer of a cockapoo or puggle.
So, to all those people looking to meet other people, I suggest skipping the walking, the plastic bags, and the shredded shoes, and just pick up an artichoke flower. Hermits, shut-ins, and other socially-averse types, on the other hand, might want to steer clear.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
I may not be "the music guy" in the dealnews offices, but it's probably safe to say that I have one of the most eclectic collections of the lot. One of the more peculiar styles that I happen to fancy is French hip-hop. I don't know why I like it as much as I do - I do have francophone-leaning tendencies (I support the French national team in international soccer over the US team), and I guess my last name could be construed as French (many people try to French it up as "kahn-TRAY" - it's "hacked" Lithuanian, people!) - but I just really dig it.
Back in the 90s I started listening to MC Solaar, but that was pretty much it until a trip to Montréal back in 2000 introduced me to the poppy, tacky, and wonderful stylings of Yannick. (And apparently it wasn't just me, some productions of Jersey Boys start with an even tackier rendition of Yannick's "C'est Soirées-Là", which samples heavily from The Four Seasons' "Oh, What A Night".) This track was the catalyst that sent me deeper into French hip-hop, where I discovered deepr, more interesting artists like Oxmo Puccino, Kool Shen, and 113.
While it was relatively easy to find new artists by using the French iTunes store's singles chart for rap and R&B, I pretty much knew that I was only getting access to the most popular - and not necessarily the best - artists.
So, while futzing around this weekend, I happened upon an excellent podcast called Yo La La! While the commentary is heavily accented, it's in English and well produced. The host curates each show into different topics (religion in hip hop, women in rap, Swiss artists, etc.) and spins more underground artists - 90% of who I've never even heard of. It's "monthly", but there's only been three editions this year. However, there are 36 podcasts available dating back to 2005, and if you're not familiar with the style, then most of these tracks will be new to you. For a starter, I'd check out podcast #32, which focuses on Franco-American collaborations and features tracks from IAM, Suprême NTM, and Guru. Don't worry if you don't understand French - the beats and the flow are still catchy no matter what language you speak. Profitez-en!
(If you want to subscribe to this podcast, paste this URL into your iTunes account or wherever better podcasts are listened to: http://www.yolala.org/yolala.xml .)