Sunday, September 25, 2005

Micheal Franti @ The Park West

Micheal Franti is many things to many people. He's a musician. He's a poet. He's an advocate for some and a curmudgeon to others.
He has an opinion, and openly says what he feels. Should we all be as lucky as he!
Sure not everyone agrees with him because of his views. Often times some people get trapped up in perspective... because they only see one side of the story they only know one side of it and that is what they say. I think Micheal Franti sees the big picture without compromising the small, but meaningful values he's learned in his lifetime. What makes him a great artist is that he is open. He is open to learn and he is open to change his mind and I give him much respect for this!
Tonight he played at the Park West. I could have made it up to Milwaukee and quit working to make it to the Benevento Russo & Something For Rockets show there, but I felt compelled to stay and work and see this show. I'm all the better for it. Micheal is passionate and heartfelt and its hard not to pick up on his flow while. Sure, he says "How you all feelin'!!!" far too many times, but its the thing in between... the "All the Freaky People Make the Beauty of the World!" "Every single soul is a poem written on the back of God's hand," & "Don't fear the darkness, cause the monster know that you're divine" type lyrics that help him carve out a place with in the family groove.
Plus, you can dance to his music! It's polyrhythmic and fun. Anyone who's looking for some Possitive Roots Neo Soul should check him out!
At tonight's show he brought out a floutist and a Erhu player (a 2 stringed violin type instrument) and that took me to that other / some worldly / asain level.
I took a number of pictures from this show on a variety of other people's cameras and was left with my cell phone shot! Here's a picture of that!

The show was brought to us by Lonely Planet which encourages us to learn more by travelling outside the U.S. September is their national passport month... they encourage you to get one or renew it! You never really know who you are until you walk a mile, or several thousand outside your own skin.


Thursday, September 22, 2005

Do You Remember the last time:

1. hurricane season went to the end of the alphabet?
2. waters have been this warm?
3. coastal cities were flooded and were destroyed?
4. you heard a politician say global warming isn't happenening?

Ok, now lets hear about the data climatologists are looking at. Click here to see a lil report about warming sea temperatures and its effect on storm strength.

Right now, Hurricane Rita's winds are at or above 160mph and looks like its coming up to LA & TX. So add another category 5 hurricane to the data!


Sunday, September 18, 2005

Seu Jorge @ Logan Square Auditorium - Chicago Greg Stewart Stewsday

Me working overtime seems like its becoming dangerously commonplace lately, but its still a rare condition and usually there's a good reason for it. I worked all night on Saturday so I could enjoy myself on Sunday. Seu Jorge played at the Logan Square Auditorium tonight. I couldn't miss the show. Phil & Valqueria would probably forgive me if I didn't go out, but how could I pass up the opportunity to chill to the sounds of real samba & bossa when I get a chance.

Who is Seu Jorge? You might remember him from a couple of movies, like A Life Aquatic, where he played a bunch of David Bowie covers (like Rebel Rebel & Space Oddity)or from the Brazilian film City of God (in my top 100) where he played the role of Knockout Ned convincingly. This is not a hard concept to grasp once you realize he grew up in the favela (the shanty/ghetto/slums of Brazil). In fact, a lil piece of trivia I learned from IMDB, when Knockout Ned kills his first guy and is congratulated by a crowd, the first woman that comes up was actually Knockout Ned's real life mother.
Back to Seu... he's kind of a cult icon in Brazil and ranked right up there with Gilberto Gil, Jorge Ben, Marissa Monte, Caetano Veloso, Tom Zé & all in my book. The same concert in Brazil would be at a much larger venue and cost twice as much, but in Chicago, I paid $12 bucks to see it with ~600 other folks! Also, if you saw him at home, he'd probably play a bunch of his new music, but because its the bulk of the crowd's first time seeing him, he is playing all the hits including a solo acoustic section where he hammered out the expectant Bowie tunes! He ended the night talking about the Favelas (its a social problem), reintroducing his band and saying goodnight. He spent the better part of the next hour entertaining his fans and signing autographs!
Again, most of the crowd didn't grasp what he sang about. Many couldn't speak or understand a word of portuguese and they knew little more about him than the he is part of Team Zissou. They didn't know when to clap or when to sing or how to dance (something I'm still trying to work out), but they had great energy and it was one of the most diverse crowds I've had the pleasure of being a part of.
I love Brazil! I love ChiTown!


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

From The Big Apple to the Big Easy

WOW! NYC can be so much cooler than ChiTown sometimes.
Mainly I think this because of the concert density in the city.
On Sept 20th Tom Waits will grace the stage with a number of other great artists.
I would LOVE to go to this show!!!
Alas I won't be in the city until 2 weeks after! *SiGH*
If you get a chance check out this concert!


Monday, September 12, 2005

Micheal Moore's Open Letter to W.

I thought I'd post an open letter from Michael Moore to George W. Bush.
I said I wouldn't play the blame game, because I'm not qualified, but Michael Moore is! Enjoy!

Friday, September 2nd, 2005

Dear Mr. Bush:

Any idea where all our helicopters are? It's Day 5 of Hurricane Katrina and thousands remain stranded in New Orleans and need to be airlifted. Where on earth could you have misplaced all our military choppers? Do you need help finding them? I once lost my car in a Sears parking lot. Man, was that a drag.

Also, any idea where all our national guard soldiers are? We could really use them right now for the type of thing they signed up to do like helping with national disasters. How come they weren't there to begin with?

Last Thursday I was in south Florida and sat outside while the eye of Hurricane Katrina passed over my head. It was only a Category 1 then but it was pretty nasty. Eleven people died and, as of today, there were still homes without power. That night the weatherman said this storm was on its way to New Orleans. That was Thursday! Did anybody tell you? I know you didn't want to interrupt your vacation and I know how you don't like to get bad news. Plus, you had fundraisers to go to and mothers of dead soldiers to ignore and smear. You sure showed her!

I especially like how, the day after the hurricane, instead of flying to Louisiana, you flew to San Diego to party with your business peeps. Don't let people criticize you for this -- after all, the hurricane was over and what the heck could you do, put your finger in the dike?

And don't listen to those who, in the coming days, will reveal how you specifically reduced the Army Corps of Engineers' budget for New Orleans this summer for the third year in a row. You just tell them that even if you hadn't cut the money to fix those levees, there weren't going to be any Army engineers to fix them anyway because you had a much more important construction job for them -- BUILDING DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ!

On Day 3, when you finally left your vacation home, I have to say I was moved by how you had your Air Force One pilot descend from the clouds as you flew over New Orleans so you could catch a quick look of the disaster. Hey, I know you couldn't stop and grab a bullhorn and stand on some rubble and act like a commander in chief. Been there done that.

There will be those who will try to politicize this tragedy and try to use it against you. Just have your people keep pointing that out. Respond to nothing. Even those pesky scientists who predicted this would happen because the water in the Gulf of Mexico is getting hotter and hotter making a storm like this inevitable. Ignore them and all their global warming Chicken Littles. There is nothing unusual about a hurricane that was so wide it would be like having one F-4 tornado that stretched from New York to Cleveland.

No, Mr. Bush, you just stay the course. It's not your fault that 30 percent of New Orleans lives in poverty or that tens of thousands had no transportation to get out of town. C'mon, they're black! I mean, it's not like this happened to Kennebunkport. Can you imagine leaving white people on their roofs for five days? Don't make me laugh! Race has nothing -- NOTHING -- to do with this!

You hang in there, Mr. Bush. Just try to find a few of our Army helicopters and send them there. Pretend the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are near Tikrit.


Michael Moore

P.S. That annoying mother, Cindy Sheehan, is no longer at your ranch. She and dozens of other relatives of the Iraqi War dead are now driving across the country, stopping in many cities along the way. Maybe you can catch up with them before they get to DC on September 21st.


I Miss New Orleans

Everyone in New Orleans I was looking for has turned up in one place or another and they're safe, but many lost everything. I'm not sure what the future will bring for New Orleans and its people. I can only hope that our world acknowledges the best of the city and help them to rebuild. If they have a New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival next year. I would like to go. I would like to go for two weeks and I would like to help the city in another way... Maybe just one household at a time. Imagine if everyone who had a good time at Jazz Fest committed one week to working in New Orleans helping rebuild homes and fixing foundations and putting up drywall?
I'm not going to make a big stink about how everything was handled so far, though I'm not happy. I won't play the blame game, but I do believe squarely in accountability.
What I will say is:
Levees in New Orleans need to be shored up to Cat 5 hurricane strength. They knew this was a probable threat for years, but what happened to the money that was supposed to go to fixin' them up? Afghanistan? Iraq? It seems like Homeland Security has their priorities mixed up.


Friday, September 02, 2005

Grandma's 90th Birthday

So my Grandma Dorothy just turned 90 on Sept 2nd. My Uncle Ken and Aunt Pat hosted us at their home in Scottsdale. Phil flew in from Rome. Mom, Dad, & I came in from Chicago. My Uncle Bob and Aunt Diane from New Jersey. My cousin Allison is now living in LA area... actually she was placed in Compton by Americorps. My Great Aunt Amy & Uncle Paul drove (I know... really!) from Wisconsin! There were a few people who didn't attend from the Cassata's, but not many. Even my second cousins Roxy & Sandy made it out from Riverside CA! I'm lucky to have a tight knit family on both my mother's & father's side.
I decided to get her a card and gift. I went to 4 stores to find a Happy 90th Birthday card before finding one and when I got there I found a bodaciously small selection. I went with the least somber, which was still pretty morbid, but whatcha gonna do when the bulk of your life is behind you? I took my time writing the card and decided to scrap it and write an all together different card which seemed to go over really well. It was light and humorous which joked about getting her a 40 year old and a 50 year old card because I couldn't find a 90, but maybe I could give her three 30 year old cards or a combination there of. Then I proceeded to tell her how hold she'd be in dog years, but then in how its really relative because she'd be only 6 in dog years. Of course, it also held birthday thoughts, prayers etc... and told her that she, being the matriarch of our family was due the honor of being named Queen of the Cassata's. Then I gave her a Tiarra!
It wasn't an expensive gift, but she loved it. She loved all her gifts, but this made her feel pretty and I think that's what she wanted. She's a beautiful and vivacious grandma even at 90.
My grandma was a wizard in the kitchen. She taught me how to cook. I almost never go out for Italian because it is a let down compared to what I can make at home. There are secrets of our Sicilian kitchen and I swear she knew em all.
Anyway, here's a picture of us at the party!