Thursday, January 22, 2009

a change is gonna come (at last!)

It's official, friends and family. Barack Hussein Obama is the 44th President of the United States of America:
January 20, 2008 marks an instrumental day in our nation's history. I, for one, will always treasure and remember this day. Definitely in my heart and mind, but also in poster and t-shirt form. : ) I couldn't help but purchase the newest Shepard Fairey poster and Zac Posen t-shirt design a couple of weeks ago:
I'm sure you've all feeling saturated with images from Inauguration Day, but I wanted to share a collection of pictures I came across while perusing various newspaper websites.

The Capitol steps, all decked out for the big day, was quite a sight to behold:
Even more amazing was the enormous crowd that filled the Mall (approximately 1.8 million!) that showed up for the swearing-in ceremony, even with the frigid weather:
As cold as it was, I only wish I could have made the time to trek down to D.C. to just be in the thick of things! The mass of people looks amazing:
This is actually one of my favorite pictures from the day. I found President Obama's short moment of solitude before stepping out for his swearing-in extremely touching. Even he needed a moment to compose himself before it all started:I love Sasha and Malia. They seem like such precious little girls. Now that the inauguration is over, I'm going to try to stay away from media coverage of them. I hope they are able to hang on to some semblance of a normal childhood, even under such intense scrutiny:The big swearing-in moment (although a bit marred by Chief Justice Roberts' line-feeding snafu, later given a do-over opportunity):
President Obama then gave his much-anticipated inauguration day speech. Although there are many critics of his speech (expecting something bigger, more epic, I suppose), I was moved and inspired by his speech --- even with his bleak description of the current state of the union and how far we have to go. Some of my favorite parts were (a) the rejection of feeling forced to choose protecting our country's safety at the expense of holding true to our country's ideals; (b) our need to lead once again by also remembering the importance of injecting humility and restraint into our actions; (c) descriptions of our nation's "patchwork heritage" and the importance of every piece; (d) the line " . . . we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist"; (e) historical references . . . . okay I'll stop there. You've all seen the speech, I'm sure. Yeah, I cried at parts.
And one of the President's most important critics, Sasha Obama, apparently loved the speech too:Soon after the swearing-in ceremony, the Obamas and Bidens escorted the Bushes to a helicopter that would take them to the plane that would ultimately bring them back to Crawford, Texas.
Keeping in mind the celebratory mood of the day, I will respectfully decline to provide any other commentary on the Bushes' departure. Except to say that the above picture is awesome. : )

Parade time! I didn't see this, since I actually had to get some work done --- but I'm impressed by Michelle Obama's ability to rock Isabel Toledo without an overcoat. The woman really is Chi-town through and through! (By the way, Barney's re-did their windows as soon as they saw that Toledo did Obama's day look --- pretty cute!)
I caught the highlights of the many inaugural balls the morning after the inauguration. Wow, did the President and First Lady look gorgeous, or what?
I thought Michelle Obama's choice of this decadent, fairy-tale Jason Wu number was exquisite. I'm sad to see how many people are so mean about some of her fashion choices (ahem, NY Post). Although I am *crazy* about fashion, one thing I've vowed to do now that the the big to-do is over and the Obamas are officially in the White House ---- no more commentary on Michelle Obama's clothes. I think she dresses in such a fashion-forward way and with such a great sense of what works with her proportions. But: The woman is a Princeton University and Harvard Law School educated woman who has juggled an extremely successful career and her family. No more commentary and judgment on her sartorial choices (for good or for bad!) from now on. Only commentary on her policies, ideas and service to our country. The substantive stuff.

My second favorite moment of the day was the First Couple's first dance of the evening at the Neighborhood Ball. Beyonce rocked the song "At Last" --- I love her expression at the very end of her performance. Even Sasha Fierce herself was moved that night and seemed to have a sense of awareness about the amazing moment in history that she was a part of.

Nick and I did our part to celebrate that evening by attending the Think Blue Inauguration Party at the Tribeca Cinemas Gallery.
We met up with a friend of mine from work and his lovely wife.
There were many festive folks who joined us at the sold-out party:
My Asian glow was provided by unrestrained joy from the day, along with a heavy contribution by the open bar (and its numerous gin and vodka tonics):
Next step: The celebration is over, it's time to get to work. My thoughts and prayers are with the Obama administration. We're in a big mess, but we've got some amazing talent leading our country now. Here's to better days ahead for everyone . . . .

Monday, January 19, 2009

happy martin luther king jr. day.

His words continue to resonate. I hope you all take the time to reflect on Dr. King and his legacy today.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

winter concert wrap-up.

I've been doing tons of cleaning in honor of the new year. I collected about 10 large shopping bags full of clothes to donate, along with pulling together a pile of books and random stuff to sell on eBay (I made over $400!!). After a deep cleaning of the place, it's looking much more in order. Next task: Organizing my computer. My computer is only a few months old, but it's amazing how much stuff I've accumulated, from work and just random personal stuff. I started last night by sorting through the piles of digital pictures I have in one large folder and came across a number of photos from concerts I went to between September and December 2008 and wanted to share. I feel compelled to share because, for some reason, almost all of the concerts were put on by artists I've loved since high school (or in a couple cases, junior high!). My descriptions will be short because my old-lady head can't remember lots of details anymore. : )

First up, a small selection from the All Points West festival, in fair New Jersey. It was the second year of the festival, and pretty great as far as festivals go:
Sia was the first act we managed to catch. I love a girl who has the eggs to go pants-less in public. Her, her lack of pants, adorable Aussie accent, and gorgeous voice were a great way to start the festivities.
We were too busy eating our way through the food court to catch all of the Kings of Leon set (my appetite is a force to be reckoned with, even if I love a band!). First, the food was the best festival food I've eaten (very vegetarian friendly). Second, I look forward to seeking KoL later this month at Madison Square Garden ---- this venue was just too busy and warm for me to really get into their set.
The Roots rocked it. Their set was way too short, but I still loved it.
Le sigh. I love Chan Marshall/Cat Power. My massive girl crush caused me to swoon for just about all of the one hour set.
The Secret Machines' set wasn't that great. I used it as an excuse to eat a funnel cake and take a nap.
The key to lasting through a long festival like this was lots of water, deep-fried treats and nap breaks. Preferably all three, in that order within a short time-frame.
A screen shot from the Ben Harper set. The set was way too short --- and we were stuck in the back, so it wasn't that great. But check out the later pics I have from the recent Ben Harper show that Nick, my friend Effi and I caught in a teeny-tiny venue last month!
The Jack Johnson set was exactly what I expected: Laid-back surfer-boy music better suited to a smaller venue. I do enjoy listening to his music on occasion, but his music doesn't do much for me in this type of environment.

Now these guys know how to fill a huge venue with amazing sound. Radiohead just killed it. I've seen them a number of times at this point, and this show measured up to my high expectations. There was something especially great about hearing them perform with the lights of NYC and Lady Liberty as the backdrop. The setting fit the mood of the show, that's for sure. I'm already looking forward to my next opportunity to see these guys again.

There were a couple of months where Radio City Music Hall hosted some of my favorite musicians from the junior high/high school era. I love that venue: I can drink while sitting and watching a show. Plus I don't even have to strain my eyes because all of the seats in the place are pretty awesome. It appeals to the aging music fan that I'm becoming.
Lady Alanis rocked it. First, her voice is sounding stronger than ever. Second, the girl looks amazing (take that, Scarlett Johansson/Ryan Reynolds). I have no shame in admitting that for 90 minutes, I treated a concert like a sing-along (which is high on my list of don'ts in terms of proper concert etiquette). I shed a tear inside when she did "Everything," and brought out my inner teenage angst when it came time for "You Outta Know." Nan and I squealed like schoolgirls between songs. It was fantastic.

Two more Radio City Music Hall shows, both were throw-backs to my high school/early college days.
First up: Death Cab for Cutie. I completely forgot to take pictures during the show, so the best I could do was a camera phone picture from outside of the venue. Regardless of the fact that the crowd made me feel not a day younger than 65 years old, and disregarding the band's huge post-O.C. exposure, I still had a great time. I especially enjoyed the show because I came across my old 1997 cassette release of "You Can Play These Songs With Chords" (re-released in 2002) just a week before the show. I swear that 1997 wasn't that long ago, but after seeing the kids that night . . . . I suppose time just flies when you're having fun.

Maxwell remains terribly dreamy & his music impossibly hot (even Nick had to admit it once the show was over!).

A week or so later, Nick and I caught one of Beck's sold-out shows at the United Palace Theater. MGMT opened, and what I could catch of their set wasn't bad. Apparently the kids love MGMT. I thought they were fun, but not really a band I'm interested in following too much.
The show was fun and the set list included some great Beck classics. However, I couldn't help but think that the poor guy seemed exhausted or (even worse!) bored. There was an energy that was lacking that night; an energy I've seen in most of his other concerts.

The venue, however, remains beautiful.

United Palace Theater is one of my favorite venues. On the down side, it can get very hot and stuffy (but what concert venue doesn't). On the up side, the place is just beautiful --- just look at the pictures! Even the ceiling is amazing.
To wrap-up a pretty busy concert season, Nick and I were lucky to get tickets to a Relentless Seven show for us and a friend of mine. Relentless Seven is Ben Harper's side project with some guys that played on his last album. The show was at Kenny's Castaways, which is a bar in the West Village that doesn't hold more than 200 folks tops (its claim to fame, btw: Springsteen's first NYC venue). We had a great view of the show, right near the stage.
Our friend was a sweaty mess. I'm not gonna lie, he was a fine-looking sweaty mess. The man knows how to rock a mic and some fierce tattoos.
They played a number of entertaining covers. My favorite was "Purple Rain."
The guitars the guys ran through were also sweet.

Given how crazy my schedule was over those months, I can't believe I managed to make time for all of those shows --- I'm proud! I guess that's what sleep-deprivation will get a girl: 14+ hour days at the office plus good tunes. I hope I continue to make time for shows this year!

Friday, January 16, 2009

a miracle on the hudson, that's for sure.

I'm sure all of you have heard about yesterday's incident involving the emergency landing of U.S. Airways Flight 1549 into the Hudson River. If the story remains consistent after the investigation, this whole situation really was amazing from start to finish.I can scarcely believe that everyone walked off that plane with the most serious injury being hypothermia and one person with a broken leg. Everyone involved did such a great job, including the folks on the plane, handling the situation so well. Apparently it took about 2 minutes for the paramedics and cops to respond and five minutes for the divers to reach the water. Yeah, it's true --- our first responders rock.Another group that deserves high praise = the ferry and water taxi operators. As soon as that plane hit the water, they immediately jumped in to help the passengers and crew.The fact that the pilot managed to make a perfect landing in the Hudson River was nothing short of a miracle. For those of you who have visited me, that's the river right by my apartment. It's not very wide --- you can clearly see Jersey City across the way.
You could see much of the action from Nick's office. In the above picture, Citi is the tall + wide building to the far left. Let's just say that he got really nervous when he heard there was something going on with a plane flying out of LaGuardia . . . . planes doing anything out of the ordinary anywhere near lower Manhattan brings back terrible memories for folks who lived through 2001 here.
The highest praise must be bestowed upon the pilot, Capt. Chesley B. Sullenberger III, for handling a difficult situation with such skill and confidence. It could have been so much worse for folks on that plane (and on the ground). Thank God it all ended up okay.

Meanwhile, it's back to normal for everyone! Aside from a few comments first thing this morning, it's business as usual.

Reason #1 I love NY: It's full of resilient & unflappable folks.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

holiday wrap-up

I had a feeling I would never end up putting up a post from the holidays if I kept putting it off . . . . Although we're already a couple of weeks into the new year, I suppose it's still better late than never.

The holidays were great, but quite a whirlwind. Given time constraints, I was only able to make it back home for three days. The first thing to greet me after I got off the plane?:
My family (of course) and lots of snow! This actually isn't a great picture to demonstrate how much snow was on the ground, but take my word for it: The weather was bananas, especially for the NW. I haven't seen snow like in the NW (aside from trips to the mountains) since I was a little kid! I love that my bro threw on an old school Seattle Supersonics hat (RIP!) and a Khmer scarf. Gotta represent.

We were snowed in for most of my visit. Nick made it down from Seattle for a day, which was a treat for the fam. We opened up some gifts, ate lots of dim sum . . . the typical You family holiday fare:

We also continued a tradition that we started last year -- Hours upon hours of playing Rock Band and (new addition) Sing Star. Although we spent way too much time playing these games, I only remembered to snap one quick picture of Baron:
I didn't get to see many friends, which was a bummer, but the time I did get to spend back in the 'Couv was terribly relaxing and a great way to re-fuel. I also read a pile of books to relax, so if anyone needs a recommendation, shoot me a note!

Poor Nick got stuck on a plane for New Year's Eve, so I was sans date for the occasion. I had a great time ringing in the new year at a 20's themed party back home in the city with one of my best friends, Nan. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures now. I vaguely remember lots of cameras making an appearance that evening, but haven't tracked down any photos yet! It's safe to say that we were far away from this madness:
I thought the picture of Times Square was quite pretty, and far better than experiencing that madness first-hand.

And now we're into the new year and back to the grind. Hope you all had a lovely time celebrating the holidays with friends and loved ones!