Saturday, February 22, 2014

Tuuka Rask Thoughts

As I was watching Finland's men's hockey team slowly strangle a sad and dejected United States team in the Olympic bronze medal game, I texted a Bruins fan I know saying "now you see how I feel, Tuuka Rask was put on earth to deny me my hopes and dreams."  After a little bit of thought, I realized that Rask is probably more haunting to, say, Penguins (and team USA) head coach Dan Bylsma, who has found most of his aspirations in 2013-14 thwarted by said demonic Finnish Ray Liotta look-alike.

A quick rundown of other ways in which evil phantasm Tuuka Rask tortures Danny Bylsma:

-Bylsma opens fridge to make sandwich, Rask is inside the fridge, repeatedly poke checks the cheese away so that it seems perpetually within reach, but never actually close enough.

-Rask jumps out and slaps things out of Bylsma's hands, sometimes in the shower, sometimes in the grocery store. No hot drink is safe.

-Tuuka Rask walks into highway traffic, causing a pileup.  Bylsma is stuck in a jam for two hours as the Parkway is shut down. He begins to suffer from unexpected instestinal distress.

-Rask repeatedly changes the password on Bylsma's iPad Air.

-Tuuka Rask constantly pulling the chair from under Danny Bylsma as coach tries to sit.  Bylsma now stands up during all his waking hours, out of fear.  Coach now has terrible corns.

-Two-hand slashes to Bylsma's friends and loved ones.

-Deleting all of Coach's music collection, replacing it with one, 10-hour mp3 of Sandstorm.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Flavor of the Rhythm I Wrote

Here's a rundown of some of my recent writing on Vice Magazine's Thump sub-site.  I started a cooking column, wherein DJs from across the globe tell me how to make their favorite recipes.  Since DJs often cross into the restaurant and hospitality business as they get older - I've been able to recruit a number of restaurateurs and cook-book writers.  The rest are just professional foodies.  So far so good.

I have a few non-food related articles too, including an interview with the guy who did the legendary mixtape drop "Damn Son, Where'd You Find This?"

Cooking With The DJ: Halifax Donair With Rhek
Cooking With The DJ: The Hood Internet's Steve Reidell
Cooking With The DJ: Linguine and Slim Jims with Frankie Banks

With New Immigration Fees, Touring DJs Aren't Welcome in Canada 
Meet The Voice of "Damn Son, Where'd You Find This?"

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Grid, Thump

In accordance with my new vow to write only for publications with one-word names that describe either A) Noises or B) Elements of Cartesian Geometry, I have some stuff out for Grid (a Philadelphia-based sustainability magazine) and Thump (a dance-music focused sub-site of Vice Magazine).

Thump : We Met The Godfather Of SF's Gay Disco Underground
Grid: Philadelphia To Host Civic Horticulture Conference
Grid: Cook-Wissahickon School Wins State Energy Efficient Schools Award

I know, the Grid stuff is decidedly less exciting.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Drop Down and Get Your Eagle On

One of my favorite 21st Century harbingers of spring renewal is the yearly revival of live-streaming feeds from raptor nests across the world. When I was still doing ecology stuff, I was always fascinated by what are called "charismatic mega-fauna" - our peers in the animal kingdom. I'm a terribly unknowledgeable bird watcher, but I can easily identify all of the birds of prey native to the American Northeast.

So, as I sit down to work on some music in my studio today, I have a few raptor cams running on my second monitor screen. Here's what I'm watching today:

For me, the National Aviary in Pittsburgh is the OG of raptor cams. They have two - one in the Gulf Oil Building and one at University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning. Both are peregrine falcon nests - falcons have adapted to urban environments because they like to best in tall buildings that provide the same benefits as the tall trees and cliffsides they use in the wild. Since they often hunt small birds and catch them on the wing, this provides them with a good vantage point.

Cathedral of Learning Falcon Cam & Gulf Tower Falcon Cam
Two pairs Pittsburgh Peregrine Falcons (Falco peregrinus) and their incubating eggs

Alcoa Eagle Cam
Two Iowan Bald Eagles* (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) and their chicks. For my friends in Philly - there is a mating pair of Bald Eagles that hunts at the John Heinz Wildlife Refuge near the airport if you ever want to go check them out with me!

Friends of Blackwater Osprey Cam
This is a good one - a nest box set up for fish-hunting Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) in Maryland seems to have attracted a mating pair, who are collecting nest material and then may have some chicks. This one doesn't refresh as often, but there's a little more going on, story-wise. Also, Ospreys are my favorite birds of prey, because they have their own genus all to themselves, and because they are fucking badasses.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Caught, Can We Get a Witness?

Astrophysicist... or Black astrophysicist?  Philadelphia Magazine lets you know white peoples' thoughts.

The City is all atwitter about Philadelphia Magazine's sensationalistic cover story "Being White In Philly."  Reactions to the story are pointedly negative, and for good reason.  At worst, the story is described as a central casting conservative indictment of political correctness as the protective veil of the welfare state.  That gives the author, Robert Huber, and the suburban cow-tows at Philly Mag a bit too much credit.  The story is not a polemic, it's a disjointed mess.  More accurately, it's a purely lazy, disconnected series of interviews with white people lamenting their inability to talk about race while proving terribly bad at it whenever they try.   The author editorially acquiesces to their feelings with such unconscious ham-handedness I was surprised nobody mentioned that "they have a lot of black friends."

In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. stood in front of the Lincoln Memorial and said "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."  The speech is so famous, and King so hagiograph-ied that invoking it may seem simplistic.  Worse, maybe it's hyperbolic, especially in a comments-section-driven era of extreme discourse.

Fast forward 50 years, and Philadelphia Magazine made it known that Huber (and by proxy, the editors), the vast majority of his interview subjects and by inference, white people across Philadelphia, rue the day such a dream was voiced.  They wish nothing more than to ramble inconclusively about whether or not we need to use skin color as a meaningful descriptor of their fellow citizens... in order to sell magazines.

That's pretty much all the article is - rambling.  A bunch of people say "some black kid stole a chair from my porch this once" or "black neighborhoods have low graduation rates."  There are man-on-the-street interviews where Huber meaningfully records that "black guys whistle at me, white guys don't."  Interspersed is a bunch of meandering commentary by the author and his subjects about whether or not blackness is what's important here.  "Not that it matters.... but maybe it does ... but if it did could I say anything... I don't know."  On and on and on.

What's the message here?  Not that "there's a problem talking about race."  The message is that "people who believe race determines behavior are not sure why they run into problems talking about race, and a bunch of other people seem not to be sure why they are being probed for their opinions on blackness."

Huber's work is a lazily written reason to put some 100+ point font on the cover of Philly Mag, draw sales and provoke blog posts like this one.  It's a sophomoric series of anecdotes about Philadelphia's descent into poverty, drugs, segregation, violence and every other social ill you can think of, and the main message is "do you think that maybe this is related to blackness... or something?"  There's no attempt at explaining the correlations between race and class.  If "show me, don't tell me" was the MO, the analysis would be a bit more trenchant than some ramblings about pangs of guilt and uncertainty about North Philly's ills on a drive to his son's apartment at Temple.  Who knew white people were so lazy?  I thought that was black people!  Quick, what do seven randomly selected white people think?

Robert Huber, and sympathizers city-wide, here's my message for you - if you wonder aloud whether or not it's OK to discuss race in Philadelphia, you are contributing productively to a discussion.  If place race* first in any discussion about human issues, like poverty, violence, education, you are doing it wrong.  Doing so is dehumanizing.  Plain and simple.  My message won't sell your magazine, but it would have saved you the trouble of having to account for your half-baked article.

*-"race" being a distinct concept from "racism"

Tuesday, February 05, 2013


I wrote a few articles about football in December and January, none of it Superb Owl related, but interesting nonetheless.  I'm a Steelers fan, so I'd really prefer not to acknowledge Sunday's result anyway.

-First, a piece for the Haverford Alumni magazine about the early 20th Century controversies about violence in football.  I did some historical research (I'm talking digging up dusty, unpublished manuscripts) and the result is an interesting story about political maneuvering by a football-enthused medical doctor that led to the implementation of modern football rules like the forward pass and the ten-yard first down.

-A few weeks ago I made a brief return to my old column space at Philebrity to talk about the Eagles' hire of Oregon's Chip Kelly.  I make the argument that he is in the vanguard of college coaches with enough stature to bring a more experimental brand of football to the pros, but Philly fans need to give him enough leash to do so.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Bond Atomically

There's something going on akin to the 1960 "Missile Gap" issue - Kennedy said that the Soviets had more missiles than the US, and Nixon, being the Vice-President, knew this was untrue but knew that he couldn't say so because the information on missile numbers was classified.

Similarly, Obama can't acknowledge the very successful cyberworm attack on Iranian nuclear facilities (which the administration denies but there are books, articles etc about it), nor can he mention whatever number of covert operations are in progress. Consider, for example, if this election had occured in April, 2011, when Obama knew Bin Laden's location and was planning to execute an operation against him - Romney could have hammered him for not having caught Bin Laden, and Obama would have had to keep quiet.

Beyond the Iranian worm attack, I can't really begin to speculate what kind of stuff Obama's hands are tied on, but it's an interesting angle to consider.

That said, Obama looks strong on foreign policy. It's unlikely that any of the real "third rail" issues will come up, just like they didn't in debates one and two - surveillance, drone attacks and shadow wars. If they do, expect them to be dealt with superficially.

By the way, anybody who has not read Bob Woodward's book about the Afghan strategy review, Obama's Wars, is doing themselves a disservice.