Great Moments: The Downbeat

Last summer I walked into a clothing store on Michigan Avenue in Downtown Chicago with my sister and was immediately drawn to the music playing in the store. Right away, I asked the store greeter about the artist of the song, but was disappointed to learn that no one, not even the store manager knew anything about it. “It’s just part of the playlist that they told us to play” was all I got. Read more

NEW music

Searching for some GREAT new music? Thursday night at Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa always offers an eclectic mix of local artists, but last night they featured a particularly exciting emerging band. On their website, Max and the Moon describe themselves as “an indie rock, harmony rich, beat-driven band from Chino Hills, CA.” Bassist Zachariah will tell you they hail from a nice little horse town, and guitarist/vocalist John will tell you that Zachariah loves everything. We love that. Read more

GREAT music

I recently had the pleasure of seeing multi-talented performer Donald Glover- AKA Childish Gambino. You may have seen him as Troy on NBC’s Community or laughed at his jokes on 30 Rock (where he worked as a writer from 2006-2009), but if you have not experienced Childish Gambino, you are missing this man’s genius. Read more

International Artist SPOTLIGHT: Michael Carroll

No matter the location or occupation of his subjects, Aletheia Photos co-founder and UK photographer Michael Carroll finds the heart of every human and exposes it on film. None of these Karen National Liberation Army rebel soldiers carrying guns and walking on plastic legs are threatening or defeated. Instead, amused, weary, alert and curious, they sit for portraits and plot tactics against the Burmese army, thoroughly human, fueled by love for their families and a desire for salvation from oppression.

There is more to a soldier than just his gun and what he does with it.

International Artist SPOTLIGHT: Mai Iskander

One of my favorite films is Egyptian-born director Mai Iskander’s haunting and untethered Garbage Dreams, a documentary on the ultra-resourceful lives of Egypt’s Coptic Zaballeen. The documentary is significant not only because it tracks the slow degradation of an already marginalized minority group in a tumultuous nation, but because the issues of garbage and recycling will never, ever go away, anywhere.

Iskander introduces us to Cairo’s Zaballeen, Arabic for “Garbage People,” who recycle more than 75% of the garbage they collect by hand, turning it back into raw materials shipped to manufacturers around the world. The Mubarak-era government replaces the thrifty Zaballeen with wasteful multinational collection firms that recycle less than 25% of the garbage they collect, sending the rest to enormous landfills. The film follows the lives of a few young adults affected by the change: one, a scoundrel, and the others, heroes.

After tracking down the director of this excellent film a year later, I recently discovered, but have yet to watch, Iskander’s follow-up: an elegant, deceptively simple film, Words of Witness, which follows 22 year-old amateur journalist Heba Afify on her struggle to cover her country’s democratic evolution.

Anyone up for a viewing party?

Artist SPOTLIGHT: Robert White

Animator Robert White is wrapping up three episodes of a cartoon he’s created with his brother, Philip. The talented Nipomo, California resident draws inspiration from first-person shooters, dubstep, the ukelele, Steven King, Shinichirô Watanabe and animators the world over.

My friend, Robert White

I met Robert through my twin-soul ENFP, Aimee, while up at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Robert moved temporarily into his best friend’s grandfather’s shag carpet castle near Disneyland to build his animation portfolio, but he’s back up in Nipomo now, half an hour from my alma mater, working on his cartoons outside the LA bubble. The brothers White and their project are a local rarity–a breath of fresh air in an otherwise small, sweet, unassuming coastal town.

Disney study

Disney study