Thursday, December 08, 2005

Ollie Gelfand

The inventor of the Ollie, a skateboard jump that leads in to other tricks, wants to start collecting money from companies using his name to profit on various products with his name on them:

) -- The skateboarder who invented a sudden hands-free jump named for him, Alan "Ollie" Gelfand, wants a cut from Disney and Sega for using his name.

Ollie also is a model of board made by Flowlab, and Gelfand is suing the companies for more than $20 million, accusing them of trademark infringement.

His nickname appears in a Disney video game, and a Sega arcade machine. It's also listed in the Oxford English Dictionary as both a noun and a verb.

Gelfand owns Olliewood skateboard park in Hollywood, Fla., and says companies that want to legitimately license his name for skateboarding products are now asking why they should pay in light of the major corporations' usage.

Since inventing the jump in 1976, 42-year-old Gelfand has made money from it, but not enough to live off, he told the Miami Herald.

"I'm just a skateboarder," he said. "I'm not a huge, mega corporation ... yet."

Friday, November 18, 2005

Drew Danburry

One of my favorite singer/songwriter/skateboarder/filmmaker will be in full force this winter, coming to a town near you. Check him out here. Check out his band site. Drew rocks! See for yourself:

Nov 18 2005 8:00P
cafe flo chico, CA
Nov 19 2005 8:00P
magoo's livermore, CA
Dec 1 2005 8:00P
balcony lights las vegas, NV
Dec 2 2005 8:00P
neckbeards tempe, AZ

Dec 3 2005 8:00P
Pinetop High School! pinetop, AZ
Dec 8 2005 8:00P
somewhere near BYUI rexburg, ID
Dec 9 2005 8:00P
kilby court salt lake city, UT
Dec 10 2005 8:00P
the bistro!!! grand junction, CO
Dec 15 2005 8:00P
molly's grad party!?! moscow, ID
Dec 16 2005 8:00P
house show by the train depot boise, ID
Dec 17 2005 8:00P
we'll see... pendleton, OR
Jan 2 2006 8:00P
unconfirmed evanston, WY
Jan 3 2006 8:00P
unconfirmed provo, UT
Jan 4 2006 8:00P
unconfirmed st. george, UT
Jan 5 2006 8:00P
unconfirmed las vegas, NV
Jan 6 2006 8:00P
don't know yet.... riverside, CA
Jan 7 2006 8:00P
che cafe san diego, CA
Jan 9 2006 8:00P
morning glory music santa barbara, CA
Jan 10 2006 8:00P
billy o's ventura, CA
Jan 11 2006 8:00P
unconfirmed san luis obispo, CA
Jan 12 2006 8:00P
unconfirmed bakersfield, CA
Jan 13 2006 8:00P
unconfirmed los angeles, CA
Jan 14 2006 8:00P
house show mesa, AZ
Jan 16 2006 8:00P
the living room tucson, AZ
Jan 17 2006 8:00P
macy's coffee house flagstaff, AZ
Jan 18 2006 8:00P
unconfirmed santa fe, NM
Jan 19 2006 8:00P
unconfirmed las cruces, NM
Jan 20 2006 8:00P
unconfirmed roswell, NM
Jan 21 2006 8:00P
the pod amarillo, TX
Jan 24 2006 8:00P
unconfirmed lubbock, TX
Jan 25 2006 8:00P
unconfirmed dallas, TX
Jan 26 2006 8:00P
super happy fun land!!! houston, TX
Jan 27 2006 8:00P
house show austin, TX
Jan 28 2006 8:00P
unconfirmed ft. worth, TX
Jan 30 2006 8:00P
unconfirmed denton, TX
Jan 31 2006 8:00P
unconfirmed oklahoma city, OK
Feb 1 2006 8:00P
unconfirmed arkadelphia, AK
Feb 2 2006 8:00P
unconfirmed monroe, LA
Feb 3 2006 8:00P
unconfirmed tupelo, MI
Feb 4 2006 8:00P
skatepark of memphis cordova, TN
Feb 6 2006 8:00P
cafe coco nashville, TN

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

James Frey In NY

For fans of A Million Little Pieces and My Friend Leonard, James will appear in NY Dec. 5, according to James' blog:
Doing a reading at Barnes and Noble, Union Square, NY, NY, on Monday
December 5th at 7:00.

Come to Cali!

James Frey

James' lunchbox raised money for charity

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Dalai Lama endorses war

Either the reporter took it down all wrong or the peaceful Dalai's lost it. The new politically correct Dalai?
Here's the AP story:
SAN FRANCISCO, United States (AFP) - Waging war for the cause of freedom can be justified but not in the case of Tibet's dream of autonomy from China, the Dalai Lama told an audience at Stanford University.

During the first of a two-day visit to the university in the state of California, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader Tenzin Gyatso touched on topics ranging from television viewing to abortion, cloning and the idea of just wars.

The allied victory in World War II "saved Western civilization," and conflicts fought in Korea and Vietnam were honorable from a moral standpoint, the 14th Dalai Lama said in answer to questions.

But he ruled out armed struggle for Tibet's grievances with the Chinese government.

"In the case of Tibet versus China, violence is almost like suicide," the Dalai Lama said. "If violence, then bloodshed. Bloodshed means more casualties among the Chinese and, again, more hatred."

"We must follow nonviolent principle so that later we can live happily."

Fighting a war of independence with China would also take a vast arsenal that Tibet lacks, he added.

Tibet's cause enjoys growing support among the Chinese people, but not the government, the Dalai Lama said.

"There are some among us who say our neighbor only understands the language of violence," the Dalai Lama said. "It is easy to say 'jihad,' but actual implementation is very complicated, very hard, and too risky."

The Dalai Lama, 70, has lived in India since he fled from Chinese troops in 1959, basing his government-in-exile in the hill-top northern Indian town of Dharamsala.

The Dalai Lama said Tibet wants to keep its culture, language and spiritual customs autonomous from China but would benefit from close economic ties.

Asked about the US-led invasion of
Iraq, he said it would take a few years before it becomes clear whether the US military action was the right course of action.

If handled improperly, the situation in Iraq could go from "today, one (Osama) bin Laden, next few years 10 bin Ladens, then 100 bin Ladens," the Dalai Lama said.

The spiritual leader made his comments during an afternoon session entitled "the heart of nonviolence." Earlier in the day, he led a packed auditorium filled with 7,000 people in a meditation session.

While fielding questions, the Dalai Lama said that there were no clear right or wrong answers to controversial topics such as euthanasia, abortion or genetic cloning.

The issues should be looked at "holistically," with situations evaluated case by case, the Dalai Lama said.

The Dalai Lama joked at times. A question about whether to cut television from people's lives prompted him to quip that "society would be more boring."

At one point he smiled, touched his balding, shaved head and remarked: "Less hair, more shine, more wisdom."

He closed the afternoon talk by saying that China was undergoing a transition toward a more open culture and that he has reason to be hopeful for future relations between Beijing and Tibet.

The Dalai Lama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his non-violent struggle for Tibet, has been pushing for greater autonomy for the Himalayan region, as the head of an unrecognized government and de facto diplomat.

Scheduled to visit Washington DC next week, the Dalai Lama was expected to appeal to US
President George W. Bush to lobby China on Tibet's behalf.

The International Campaign for Tibet, a group promoting civil rights for the people of Tibet, said the Dalai Lama was coming to Washington at a "key moment," citing the current Sino-Tibetan dialogue on the territory's future status.

The first-ever talks between the Dalai Lama's envoys and Beijing officials outside Chinese soil were held in the Swiss capital Bern in July.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Celebrity Designed Lunch Boxes

This is the coolest thing! A lunchbox auction. I love lunch boxes. I found it on James Frey's blog. He designed one of the boxes. So far, David Bowie's lunchbox is the highest bid. The auction raises money to buy lunch for poor kids in Africa and New York City.

David Bowie & Family's box

James Frey's lunchbox is the second highest bid

Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers

Mike D of the Beastie Boys

Charlize Theron's box

Note: These photos are by Thomas Dozol

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Oprah and James Frey

***update James Frey will be on Oprah's Oct. 26 show
Read my review of A Million Little Pieces here or at blogcritics
Fans of either or, this is your post!

Thanks to Ruthie of Chicago, who allowed me to live vicariously through her.

I found her blog about "A Million Little Pieces," one of my favorite books. She wrote that she was in the Oprah show audience when Oprah announced the return of her book club. She was invited back yesterday for the taping of the show that featured James, the author of the book.

So I asked her a few questions and she kindly responded. So if you ever wanted to know how to get an Oprah ticket or what she's like or what the show is like, read on.
First, Ruthie's observations of James:

The whole show was devoted to James Frey and A Million Little Pieces. His mom and dad and brother were in the audience. Oprah showed several video clips. In the first one, and Oprah camera crew took James back to the small town in Michigan where his trouble with drinking and drugs really began. It was the first time he'd been back since they lived there, and just being there brought back a lot of bad memories and feelings. He pointed out the street where he would buy drugs to sell to other kids. The next clip showed a woman who credits James and A Million Little Pieces for saving her life and getting her into rehab for her addictions. The entire Oprah studio audience was made up of people who had written in to Oprah about the book, so there were a lot of people there who had been through similar experiences themselves, or had a family member struggling with addiction. James in person is a lot like I imagined he would be from reading his writing: frank, honest, and incredibly tough. When Oprah called on the audience to ask questions, several people asked very probing personal questions about material in the book, such as "Did you ever speak to your college girlfriend again?" and "Where would you be now if Lily hadn't died?" and James admitted that talking about painful events like those is still very difficult for him.

One of my favorite moments of the show was when Oprah brought up the agonizing scene in the book when James gets two root canals without any pain medication or anesthesia. James' response was something like, "Physical pain is just physical pain. I can deal with that. Emotional pain is so much worse. I would much rather get my teeth fixed again than get my heart broken again."

Another great moment came when Oprah asked about the non-standard punctuation and style of the book. James responded that when he decided to be a writer he wanted to be a really great writer, so he went and looked at Morrison and Faulkner and people who had written truly great books, and the one thing they had in common was that when their books came out nobody had seen anything like it before. So he decided to strive to do something really new and different that hadn't been done before, which was to tell a true story about addiction and rehab and do it in a completely honest way, and in a conversational style. He also mentioned that A Million Little Pieces was a nightmare for proofreaders because of the non-standard punctuation, line-breaks, and capitalization.

There was lots more, but I don't want to give everything away! I was actually in the Oprah show audience the day she announced the book club selection as well. James' mom had been planted in the audience as a surprise, and her reaction when she heard Oprah say the name of her son' book was priceless. It was neat to see her again, this time all made-over with a great new haircut and stylish outfit. Someone in the audience even asked to give her a hug before the show started, and both parents got a standing ovation.

James Frey is married and he has a baby girl. The video clip of James and his wife playing with their baby at the park was very touching. The whole show was very touching, really. Oprah always makes me cry, but if you've read A Million Little Pieces or have been personally affected by alcoholism or drug addiction, definitely plan to have some tissues ready when this show airs.

Next up, a Q&A:

What was Oprah like in person?
Oprah is poised, beautiful and funny, just like on TV. She doesn't interact much
with the audience at all, and we were told ahead of time not to ask for a hug or
a picture. There is very tight security coming in, and the security guards
confiscate and hold any paper they find in your purse, even receipts, so that
nobody will be tempted to ask Oprah for an autograph. One thing that she
talked about the first time I went was that she has a big scar on her shin from
wearing too-tight boots when she was visiting hurricane victims in New Orleans.
She said she didn't say anything about it at the time because it would have been
silly to complain about her boot when everyone around her was in such terrible
condition. She mentioned the scar again this time, too, because she had to wait
to start the show until her make-up artist had come out and dabbed some
concealer and powder onto her leg.

What happens during the commercials?
Because the show is not live, the commercial breaks are really only a few
seconds long. Oprah says "We'll be right back." Then one of her staff runs up on
stage and dabs some powder on Oprah's face and runs a lint-roller over her
outfit, then the producer counts down and Oprah leads right back into the
discussion. She reads her lines off of a prompter which is right above each main

When will it air?
They don't have an air date yet, check for this week's listings. It's not
on this week, so hopefully it will air next week.

How did you get tickets to the first show?
I got tickets by emailing Oprah about my interest in the topic. Someone from
her audience department called me on the phone that same day to arrange

How is the audience treated? it seems like she'd do something special.
The audience is treated well, but the whole process takes up a lot of time. You
have to get there early and wait in line. Then everyone checks their coats and
goes through security and a metal detector. Everyone waits in a nice waiting
room with pictures of Oprah with various celebrities on the walls. As you come
in you get a consent form to sign and a survey to fill out with questions for the
guest. The consent forms are numbered, so after the VIPs names are called out
and they get seated, people get seated in batches according to the number on
their form. Certain seats in the studio are reserved, and the Harpo staff who
usher everyone in sometimes pull aside people who are particularly attractive
and well-dressed to be seated in those special seats. After the show everyone
files back out, collects their coats, and there is a Harpo staff member standing
right by the exit of the building handing out any give-aways from the show.
James Frey gave everyone in the audience a copy of A Million Little Pieces,
autographed and inscribed "I [heart] Oprah!"

Is James working on another book?
He didn't say, I don't think. He did speculate on who was going to play him in
the movie version of the book, though! He used to work as a screenwriter in
Hollywood, so he has a lot of friends in the movie business. From the way he
was talking about it, it sounds like a movie is already in the works!

How did his wife handle the Lilly questions? that must be tough on her.
His wife wasn't there, we only saw her on a video clip. He did mention that he
met her when they were neighbors in LA. One day he called her up and said "I
think I love you and I think you love me. I think you should leave your boyfriend
and marry me," and she did.

Is he funny? I imagine him as funny.
He was funny in a very dry, serious way.

Does he speak like he writes?
Kind of. He's very straightforward, honest, real, and tough.

I've been to his blog. Does he do his own blogging? i don't know if they talked
about that :-)
They didn't talk about the blog, but one of the video clips showed him sitting at
home on his couch typing on an iBook. He also talked about going to the message boards and interacting with the people who were posting
there, so he probably does write his own blog.

What is the new studio like?
The new studio is just like how it looks on TV: Like a big shiny spaceship. The
audience seating is broken into smaller sections that nearly surround the main
stage where Oprah sits. The background is made up of big, tall screens which
sometimes blend in with the decor and sometimes have images specific to the
show projected on them.

Thank you Ruthie!

visit Ruthie here
James here
Oprah here

Consumerism or Survival

Here's an interesting take on why American's are in debt. Typically, debt is blamed on consumerism, using the almighty credit card to get goodies beyond your means. But this story says people are using their plastic to keep afloat.
I'm taking the liberty of posting because I believe it's a gnarly subscription procedure, albeit free, and it's a really interesting article (though I'm not sure I agree).
By Dayana Yochim (TMF School)


Forget everything you thought you knew about America's debt problems. It's not reckless spenders racking up a record $800 billion in balances on credit cards that's the problem. The problem is with average Americans just trying to make ends meet, according to a new study.

In the past six years, credit card debt has nearly tripled. And last year, 1.8 million people declared bankruptcy, up from 616,000 in 1989. What are those who owe putting on plastic? It's not designer duds and criminally priced movie theater popcorn. It's basic living expenses.

"The Plastic Safety Net," released Oct. 12 by policy research and advocacy groups Demos, the Center for Responsible Lending, and the AARP, reveals what's on our credit cards, why it's there, and what we're doing to manage our financial obligations.

More than 1,000 households were surveyed. (To participate, they had to have credit card debt for three months or longer and household income between 50% and 120% of the local median income, establishing them as low- and middle-income households.) Their answers provide context for the growing void between the haves and have-nots and reveal the fallout from more than a decade of irresponsible lending practices, increasingly predatory fees, and growing economic instability.

What's on your credit card?
The study found that most debt-strapped households use credit to cover unavoidable expenditures, not discretionary purchases. We're increasingly relying on plastic loans to pay our rents, mortgages, utilities, groceries, car repairs, and insurance premiums.

Seven out of 10 low- and middle-income households surveyed reported using credit as a survival safety net. One household out of three said it was forced to put these charges on a card for four out of the past 12 months because the household didn't have the cash available to cover the bills.

The average amount of debt carried by survey respondents was $8,650; 29% were strapped with more than 10 grand on credit cards, while 24% carried between $2,500 and $5,000, and 31% owed less than $2,500.

Unfortunately, debt tends to linger. The average amount of time of debt was about three and a half years, according to the survey. Lenders certainly aren't rushing consumers to pay down their balances, despite the recent increase in minimum payment requirements. Last year, banks made $80 billion in interest charges, and the industry raked in an all-time high of $31 billion in fee income, which includes annual fees, cash-advance fees, balance transfer fees, and merchant fees.

Why can't you pay it off?
Layoffs, major medical expenses, education costs, and bad transmissions are evidently the things that separate the economically vulnerable from the fiscally stalwart. When asked to cite what contributed to their current level of debt, respondents cited the following:

  • Car repairs (48%)
  • Home repairs (38%)
  • Major appliance purchase (34%)
  • Basic living expenses (33%)
  • Illness or necessary medical expense (29%)
  • Layoff or loss of a job (25%)
  • Tuition or expenses for a child, spouse, partner, or self (21%)
  • Money given to family members or used to pay debts of other family members (19%)
  • Tuition or other expenses for a child who's high school age or younger (12%)
  • None of the above (12%)
  • One or more of the above (88%)

Misinformation about establishing credit was also cited. Thirteen percent of consumers said they were carrying debt to improve their credit score. But it's not how much debt you carry that boosts your score, nor is it that you keep a balance on your credit card. It's how you handle the credit extended to you. Time (the longer the better) and the responsible use of credit (paying your bills on time and keeping your debt-to-available-credit ratio well below 25%) are the best ways to build a solid credit history.

What are we doing to pay it off?
Despite stereotypes of deadbeat debtors, just 11% of survey respondents said they would continue to use their credit cards as they had in the past. Nearly half said they had immediate plans to keep their cards in their wallets so they could pay off the debt, and 33% said they would like to do the same but that they would have to use credit as needed.

In fact, nine out of 10 customers try to pay more than the minimum required payment each month (the average amount paid among all respondents was $700) -- and 41% of those paying more said they planned to pay two to three times what lenders required to get rid of their balances quicker.

Slackers, these customers aren't: Two-thirds of households said they were budgeting to control expenses. More than half had cut back discretionary spending in the past six months.

But good intentions aren't enough, particularly when lenders are watching every move their customers make. Increasing penalty rates -- and the growing reasons for instituting them -- are certainly keeping debt-strapped households in the cycle.

This year, credit card companies will rake in $16 billion in penalty fees -- what Mark Peace, the president of the Center for Responsible Lending, calls the penalty-pricing trap. Not only are late fees at an all-time high (less than half of consumers said they had missed or were late with a payment in the past year), but lenders also now hike interest rates after a single late payment -- even if it's a bill from another lending institution altogether.

More than 40% of lenders now use the universal default clause. Via routine credit report checks, they see whether you have been behind in any of your bills, thus marking you as a higher credit risk. Lenient lender-consumer card agreements stipulate that they can increase a customer's interest rate two- or three-fold if they want. (The average default rate is 25%. Companies cited as "steep chargers" include Providian(NYSE: PVN), Bank of America(NYSE: BAC), and MBNA(NYSE: KRB).)

A 25% penalty rate translates into more than $1,100 in additional interest costs each year for a household with the average debt load of $8,650 originally at 12% interest. "Dear valued customer, thanks for the $16 billion bonus!"

The ultimate bottom line
Covering their assets is certainly within lenders' rights. But responsible lending practices seem to have taken a back seat to bottom-line results.

Credit card companies aren't just encouraging card-shuffling -- hopping from one lender to another -- when they send out 5 billion solicitations annually. They're cheering on consumers to take on more credit than they can handle. "Treat yourself right this month," they tell us with "convenience checks" loaded with fees. "Oh, and if you slip up and we find out about it -- and trust, us, we're looking -- forget that sweet low-rate deal we just mentioned. Everything you've charged up to now and from here on out will be subject to a meaty interest rate."

When the bankruptcy bill goes into effect on Oct. 17, lenders get yet another hand to play in their favor. The Plastic Safety Net study shows that even the best-intentioned debt-strapped households -- and most of them are diligent about their finances -- are living in a house of cards.

For more, check out:

Dayana Yochim owns none of the companies mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy is cemented in stone.

Friday, October 14, 2005

A Million Little Pieces

When I read about author James Frey in “Poets and Writers” July/August magazine, I marked in red the part where Frey said: Alcohol is not a disease. It is a choice.

I have always believed that. I was surprised to hear someone say it. I was more surprised because Frey was an alcoholic.

To say “I’m an addict and I’ll always be an addict” seems self-fulfilling. What else could you be? I say this without being ever having experienced drug or alcohol addiction. But Frey proved the philosophy works. He proved it by staying sober.

Then when I read Frey was a fan of Charles Bukowski, I knew I had to read his book, “A Million Little Pieces." Bukowski writes like no other, sparingly and raw and raunchy. He curses. He writes a lot about alcohol and sex.

In Frey’s memoir, recently picked for Oprah’s book club, Frey winds up in Hazelden, a well-known drug and alcohol rehab clinic in Minnesota. He gets there after a long and viscous spree that should’ve left him dead. He gets there at age 23 in the worst physical shape from his decaying teeth to his rotting insides. He spends much of the beginning of the book violently vomiting, describing the toilet as a familiar friend and describing the contents of his stomach.

Frey uses literary devices such as repetition of a word or a phrase. He writes sparingly, never uses quotation marks and disposes of proper punctuation. He gives the Fury in himself life by capitalizing the Fury. He curses plenty.

Hazelden uses Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program and Frey fights it all the way. Instead he leans on a book his brother gave him, "Tao te Ching," which offers simple wisdom such as: “There is simply what is and that is it,” “Detach and become,” and “Let go of all and you will be full.” Eventually he passes the book along to Miles, one of his friends at the clinic, an addicted clarinet player and judge. Miles, like all the men at the clinic, is looking for hope.

Frey also rejects the notion of God or a Higher Power, one of the tenets of the 12-step program. But when you finish the book, you could conclude that Higher Powers were on the job and I wonder if he now believes in a Higher Power.

Frey gives and receives more love in the clinic than some see in a lifetime. He meets friend for life, Leonard, the subject of his second book, “My Friend Leonard.” Leonard is wise and caring and teaches Frey one of the main themes of the book: Hold on. No matter, just hold on.

Frey gives love and hope to Lilly, the vulnerable girl with the smile. Their love breaks the clinic’s rules. Women and men aren’t supposed to talk to each other.

Frey gives and receives love from society’s hardcore abusers. He shows the reader their humanity and ironically, their innocence. He shows the reader that the gangster and the boxer and the judge are the same. Frey never judges. He never blames.

Some of his friends there are criminals and worse. Frey makes sure the reader knows that he was a criminal, too. He reminds us throughout the book. He pulls together his crimes and evil deeds near the end of the book. Then he drops a final bombshell.

But it was his relationship with Lilly, perhaps the most desperate person at the clinic, that we hope for. At the same time, we hope that they got caught. Lilly had been through enough heartbreak. Her life was brutal. How she lived through it is beyond comprehension. What Frey did for Lilly was remarkable.

The book conveyed that when it all goes down, we're all the same. We're frail, we have our vices, we've done evil deeds and have had them done to us and we need each other.

It also conveyed that addiction is brutal and your chances of surviving after once becoming an addict are slim.
James Frey's blog.

Some other links to Frey and his work:

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

World's Largest Skatepark China

Here's the world's largest skatepark. It's just outside of Shanghai China.
Here's the World Cup of Skatebooarding's North American Ladies Rankings.
The Ladies Street rankings.
This page leads to the World Cup of Skateboarding rankings for several events.

Thursday, October 06, 2005


This is an AP Photo/Xinhua, Liu Bingsheng
The only bummer about this photo is, according to the caption, the piggies were made to race for some kind of human entertainment.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Panda Baby

This photo is from the National Zoo. He's so cute.

Hurricane Dogs

Anyone who's looking for a dog might want to consider a hurricane dog: Underdog Rescue

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Salary Envy New York Magazine Survey

This New York magazine survey is a look at people's annual salaries.
On the list is 50 Cent, Tom Stewart, a Tower Records stock clerk, John Lennon, writer Malcolm Gladwell, Martha Stewart, Lori Lyons, a garbagewoman, and David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker magazine.
I've included a partial list below. It's not in any order. The list is interesting, funny and sad all at the same time.
Who Makes How Much

Sister Marie of the Precious Blood
Cloistered nun

Cocaine dealer, Lower East Side
($275 per one-eighth ounce)

50 Cent
$50 million
Rapper, hyphenate

$36 million
Rapper, superhyphenate

The Strokes
Rockers, Room on Fire (570,000 copies sold at roughly
$1.50 per album)

Wynton Marsalis
Artistic director, Jazz at Lincoln Center

John Lennon
$21 million
Deceased singer-songwriter

Frank Sinatra
$5 million
Deceased singer-songwriter

Mark Ronson

Tom Stewart
Tower Records clerk

Lorin Maazel
Conductor, New York Philharmonic

Joseph Volpe
General manager, Metropolitan Opera

Renée Fleming
Mezzo-soprano, Metropolitan Opera
($15,000 per performance)

George M.
Street musician, Astor Place subway station

Jennifer R.
(last name withheld) First-year broker

Hector Norat
Superintendent, 209 W. 97th St.

Malcolm Gladwell
$1.5 million
Author, Blink
(advance, plus $250,000 New Yorker salary and $30,000 per speaking engagement)
James Dolan
$9.5 million
Chairman, CEO, and president, Cablevision

Edgar Bronfman Jr.
$6.3 million
CEO, Warner Music Group

David Neeleman
Chairman and CEO, JetBlue Airways

John Thain
$4 million
CEO, New York Stock Exchange

Chelsea Clinton
Consultant, McKinsey & Co.

Jake Gyllenhaal
$3 million
Actor, Jarhead

Maggie Gyllenhaal
Actress, upcoming untitled Oliver Stone 9/11 film

Rosario Dawson
$1 million
Actress, Rent

Peter Sarsgaard
Actor, Flight Plan

Sarah Jessica Parker
$38 million
Gap spokeswoman
(plus $1 million for the upcoming Failure to Launch)

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Back On Track Care Packs

Another way to help the hurricane survivors, Back On Track Care Packs.
Here is the letter from the mom of four who started it:
Hurricane Katrina refugees are without and in need of our help. Perhaps you have already donated $$$ or offered your services in some way. However, many of us are unable to physically help.
Since the victims must be able to carry their belongings the idea of providing a backpack stuffed with necessities is our core goal. As a mother of four, I am particularly aware of the needs of families.
I am asking everyone who reads this to purchase a backpack (or donate a gently used one). Please fill this pack with any of the items on the FEMA approved list (see FILES).
Sample backpack

In addition, since my #1 concern is for the numerous children displaced by the storm, who are in strange places without any comfort items.
I am requesting you fill these care packs with a child in mind, from newborn to teen, and pregnant mothers, as well.
See FILES for my suggestions for EXTRAS specifically with children in mind.
FEMA's list has the basic necessities for survival, but let us not forget there are children affected.
Life should not be ONLY about survival for ANY CHILD IN THIS WORLD.
But for chances of birth & life any of our families or us could have been one of those uprooted by this natural disaster.
Please read the messages on this group page, as I have included many pertinent details and instructions. Also, see FILES for a copy of my original letter urging my friends and family to help out. READ THE LETTER COMPLETELY so you understand fully the Back on Track Care Packs Project. You may use it to forward to all of your friends and family.
Addresses and contact names will be listed under DATABASE.
This Page is constantly being updated and FILES added. Check back as needed, and feel free to e-mail me at anytime @ I will reply as soon as possible with answers and information.

The effort is part of the Big Mama's Church, which posts the addresses of where to send the backpacks.

Other distinct ways,,

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Next up, earthquake

This from the Los Angeles Times:

U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Lucy Jones remembers attending an emergency training session in August 2001 with the
Federal Emergency Management Agency that discussed the three most likely catastrophes to strike the United States.

First on the list was a terrorist attack in New York. Second was a super-strength hurricane hitting New Orleans. Third was a major earthquake on the San Andreas fault.

Now that the first two have come to pass, she and other earthquake experts are using the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as an opportunity to reassess how California would handle a major temblor.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Jon Humphries' The Dream

If you're a skateboarder, you're going to love this short movie by skateboard photographer Jon Humphries.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Berlin's John Crawford's Solo CD

Any Berlin fans out there?

John Crawford, founder and former Berlin bassist, has a new solo CD that is being sold only over the Internet at this point. You can check out all of the tracks here here.

MinneNAPolis at Mall of America

update 5-18-06: no one wanted a nap. the place with the cute name closed.

The gigantic spread of a retail center in Minneapolis has a new store where you can buy a nap for 70 cents a minute. I'm wondering if they have alarm clocks.
Here's the story:

This megamall experience will put you to sleep

Chris Serres, Star Tribune

As a longtime janitor at the Mall of America, Jim Jones thought he'd seen just about every retail concept imaginable.

But even Jones, who cleans floors and wastebaskets on the third floor of the mall, was taken aback by news that a "napping center" would be opening next month near the Nordstrom department store.

That's right, the same mall that brought you a 74-foot Ferris wheel, a shark tank and a children's dinosaur museum has leased 1,076 square feet of space to a company that charges 70 cents per minute for nap time.

"A lot of people are tired around here, but I'm not sure they're ready to lie down, stretch out and fall asleep," Jones said.

Founded by a company called PowerNap Sleep Centers Inc. of Boca Raton, Fla., the new store will be called MinneNAPolis.

It will consist of at least three themed rooms: Asian Mist, Tropical Isle and Deep Space. Each suite will have its own unique ambience and walls thick enough to drown out the sounds of squealing children at Camp Snoopy.

To read the rest, click here.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Yahoo Domain Renewal Rip

Beware... Yahoo! billed me two weeks early on my domain name. They are supposed to bill annually, if that is how you originally registered the domain. So I called and the guy on the other end said it was another one of those unexplainable computer glitches. Two weeks is not a big deal but it's still a ripoff and it could add up if you had a lot of domains. Intentional? Not sure. But what a great way for Yahoo to earn some extra cash.

Oh, and while I am it, without notice, T-mobile got rid of its loyalty minutes (50 mins.) for longtime customers. So don't count on the minutes anymore. If you do get charged for overages, they will credit you only once.
Just for Fun!

Snoop Dogg Skateboard Company

When he's not coaching football...
This from the Ireland Online:

25/08/2005 - 12:23:17 Hip-hop star Snoop Dogg is venturing into the world of skateboarding, with the launch of the Snoop Dogg Board Company (SDBC).

Hip-hop star Snoop Dogg is venturing into the world of skateboarding, with the launch of the Snoop Dogg Board Company (SDBC).

The rapper's older brother, Bing Worthington Jr, came up with the idea to create the company, which will boast a complete line of long and short skateboards, accessories and backpacks, according to

Duane Pacha, president of Pentagon Distribution, says: "Snoop Dogg's brother, came to us with a vision of bridging these two industries together because there is already so much crossover between skateboarding and the rap/hip-hop market."

Plans are also in the pipeline for SDBC to launch a complete line of high-end
Snoop Dogg luggage and travel bags, which will hit stores in January.

Friday, August 19, 2005


This from the latest edition of the Video Static newsletter:
"This video is so uncool that it is unbelievably cool. Not only did OK Go create their own dance routine to "A Million Ways" and practice it until they got it perfect, they actually committed it to tape. And, not only did they tape it, they posted it online and it's now airing on music video channels and shows."

I had to check out OK Go, a Swedish band. Video Static was right, the video is cool and the the song "A Million Ways" is cooler still.

While we're on the subject of cool, Video Static is one of the coolest blogs out there. It tracks video production. This from the blog:
Video Static is the creation and work of Steven J Gottlieb. The site is meant to be the SOURCE for keeping track of music video production. Video commissioners, label executives, executive producers, director reps, directors, managers and even fans can find out what videos are going to be hitting their TV screens next. Also included are the weekly music video adds to the major national channels, music video DVD releases and much more

This week on Video Static, we see that rocker Tommy Lee has finished shooting a video for "Good Times," the themes song to his new reality series on VH-1.

Video Static gives us the director and other fine details:
SHOT: Tommy Lee - Dean Karr, director

artist: Tommy Lee
song: "Good Times"
label: TL Education Services
director(s): Dean Karr
production co: The Mine
The beautiful Tommy Lee, photo by Statia Molewksi

Monday, August 15, 2005

Andy Land

Proving that you never know who you're going to run into on the Internet, here is Andy Land, the blog of a Chicago comedian who is strangely attracted to penguins. He's got them all over his blog and happened to visit me on the day I posted about penguins!

Then there's the manager of one of my favorite rock bands. I sent him a message, thinking no one will read it or a handler will read it and send me back a pat response, but I'm pretty confident that the message back was the real deal.

Yet another time, a member of a now-defunct band, which was one of my faves, saw my post and contacted me. He's now playing in Darby O'Gill.

One of my recent favorite online meetings was Drew Danburry. I blogged about his skateboarding documentary -- he's a musician and a filmmaker -- and he sent me an email to set me straight. Glad he did, cause he ended up sended me his CD, which has rocketed to permanent spin status.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Penguins rock!

oh, I couldn't resist. This photo is from the LA Times "my best shot"
Here's the description:
March of the penguins
David Hurwitz, a rheumatologist from Calabasas, and his wife, Cindy (who is his travel agent), took Orient Lines’ Marco Polo Antarctic cruise ship with 14 friends in January. At Port Lockroy he photographed these Gentoo penguins. “They are very noisy,” he said. “And they don’t smell great either.”

Monday, August 08, 2005

Marilyn Monroe not suicidal but wacky

The Marilyn Monroe transcript printed in the Los Angeles Times a few days ago leaves the impression that Marilyn had zero plans to commit suicide.

In fact, she comes across as nothing more than one of those wacky wealthy celebrity types with not much to worry about except the science of the day, psychology, Freud in particular, orgasms or the lack of in her case, lesbian affairs, her dalliances with men, the joys of enemas, spankings, how she couldn’t tell Bobby it was over, and the way she looked – “My breasts are beginning to sag a bit. ... My waist isn't bad. My ass is what it should be, the best there is. Legs, knees and ankles still shapely. And my feet are not too big. OK, Marilyn, you have it all there. It is decision time.”

She also was fond of the F-word, which was represented throughout the text with ellipses.

She comes across as arrogant during her “free associating” session with a tape recorder “Dear Doctor,” she starts, addressing her psychologist, Ralph Greenson, whom she’s obviously flirting with throughout. She thinks that her idea of free association (a Freudian technique for uncovering memories by letting the patient say whatever pops into their mind) into a recorder is such a good one that she “offers” it to her shrink as a revelation.

“What can I give you. Not money. I know that from me that means nothing to you. Not my body. I know your professional ethics and faithfulness to your wonderful wife make that impossible. What I am going to give you is my idea that will revolutionize psychoanalysis.”

The funny and ironic part about the transcript is that the sexually-charged beauty that she was had to fake her own orgasms until the doctor told her how.
You said there was an obstacle in my mind that prevented me from having an orgasm; that it was something that happened early in my life about which I felt so guilty that I did not deserve to have the greatest pleasure there is; that it had to do with something sexual that was very wrong, but my getting pleasure from it caused my guilt That it was buried in my unconscious. Through analysis we would bring it to my conscious mind where we could get to the guilt and free me to be orgasmic. Well, we sure worked it and got nowhere. I'd go home and cry and vomit from the frustration. Then you said for the orgasm problem we'll try a different approach. That you would tell me how to stimulate myself, that when I did exactly what you told me to do I would have an orgasm and that after I did it to myself and felt what it was, I would have orgasms with lovers. What a difference a word makes. You said I would, not I could. Bless you, Doctor. What you say is gospel to me. By now I've had lots of orgasms. Not only one, but 2 and 3 with a man who takes his time.

And later in the text:
Speaking of Oscars, I would win overwhelmingly if the Academy gave an Oscar for faking orgasms. I have done some of my best acting convincing my partners I was in the throes of ecstasy. If he were alive I'd have Johnny Hyde be the presenter. ...Johnny Hyde was special. He wasn't a lot to look at. A little shrimp. Little shrimp, is that redundant or tautological. I always get them mixed up. Anyway, he only came up to my chin.

But moreover, the transcript shows she had ambitions:
I'll take a year of day and night study of Shakespeare with Lee Strasberg. I'll pay him to work only with me. He said I could do Shakespeare. I'll make him prove it. That will give me the basics Olivier wanted. Then I'll go to Olivier for the help he promised. And I'll pay whatever he wants. Then I'll produce and act in the Marilyn Monroe Shakespeare Film Festival which will put his major plays on film. I'll need you to keep me together for a year or more. I'll pay you to be your only patient. Oh, I made you another present. I have thrown all my ... pills in the toilet. You see how serious I am about this. I've read all of Shakespeare and practiced a lot of lines. I won't have to worry about the scripts. I'll have the greatest script writer who ever lived working for me and I don't have to pay him. Oh, Monroe will have her hand in. I am going to do Juliet first. Don't laugh. What with what make-up, costume and camera can do, my acting will create a Juliet who is 14, an innocent virgin, but whose budding womanhood is fantastically sexy. I've some wonderful ideas for Lady Macbeth and Queen Gertrude. I feel certain I'll win an Oscar for one or more of my Shakespearean women.

She ends:
“What is amazing is I solved my problem just through the free associating I did for you. ...
Well, that's something for you to sleep on, Doctor.
Good Night.”

Read the accompanying stories here. and here.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Paltry purses for Women skateboarders

While one of the best female skateboarders Cara-Beth Burnside earned $2,000 for her victory, Pierre-Luc Gagnon won $50,000 for winning men's skateboarding vert. That's according to a story in today's San Diego Union-Tribune.
The North County Times wrote the story a few days earlier here.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Las Vegas 100 murals

Las Vegas is keeping its artists busy for a change, commissioning 100 murals throughout the city. Neat idea. Here are some of the works.

On Monday, Las Vegas artist Jerry Misko gets a turn to unveil his mural titled "Chase" at the Cashman Center. Misko, co-owner of Dust Gallery in the Arts District, mostly focuses on neon signs. The acrylic mural is about 80-feet long by 7-feet high and was inspired by the neon signs stored in the adjacent Neon Museum Boneyard.

The Boneyard, one of the many things that make Vegas interesting, is a resting place for the city's old neon signs such as the famous Silver Slipper that used to sit atop the sign at the Silver Slipper hotel.

It is open for tours Tues. through Friday. I knew i forgot to do something in Vegas. Check out some of the restored signs here.
This site has more on Vegas' fabulous signs.

Here's an interesting neon tidbit that not many know. When the University of Las Vegas Nevada put up its new dorms (yes, Las Vegas has a university), they decorated them with pink neon tubing. But the university quickly took it down. It was a bit gaudy, but soooooo Las Vegas.

John Frusciante assists Mars Volta

Dang it!
If you want to see John Frusciante these days, you got to see the Mars Volta.
This from the Rolling Stone:
System of a Down have had an ambitious year, releasing Mezmerize -- the first of their two-part album Mezmerize/Hypnotize, which debuted at Number One -- and touring Europe, as well as playing a guerilla tour of small venues in nine U.S. cities. Considering their bombastic year, which culminates in the release of Hypnotize this fall, System's massive new tour is less of an arena-rock spectacle and more straight-up rock & roll.

Opening for System at the sold-out Long Beach Arena in California were fellow guitar-heavy, counter-culture rockers the Mars Volta, who provided a far more visual show with oversized psychedelic projections. Guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez was in fine form after recovering from a stomach ailment that forced the band to cancel its European tour dates earlier this year. And while rumors of an onstage collaboration between Rodriguez-Lopez and System frontman Serj Tankian proved to be just that, Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante surprised the audience by guesting on nearly the entire Mars Volta set.

Once System hit the stage, they powered through an hour and a half of material. Although they opened with cuts off of the latest album, the hard-hitting "B.Y.O.B." and "Revenga," System's set list featured several tracks off their eponymous 1998 debut and follow-up, 2001's Toxicity. In contrast to the Mars Volta's environment, System's set was sparse, save for a few plush rugs, minimal L.E.D. projections and a nice long row of Marshall amps. For such a big arena show, the stripped-down set seemed to underscore the sense that this band has nothing to prove.

Read the rest here
The Man

Monday, August 01, 2005

Razorlight, Up All Night

Look out! This is a review I wrote that first appeared on

If you’re the type who likes to find good music before the rest of the crowd, better get to your favorite record shop for Razorlight’s debut CD Up All Night.

The London band is about to make a splash in the U.S., thanks to a car ad. The British hit “Golden Touch” is now prominently heard in a TV ad for the Honda Accord. But unlike the one-hit wonder of Dirty Vegas’ “Days Go By” made popular by a commercial for Mitsubishi, “Golden Touch” isn’t the only hit on this record.

Other bona fide hits include the title “Up All Night,” “Rip it Up,” “To the Sea,” “Rock and Roll Lies,” “Dalston” and “Leave me Alone.” A British friend introduced me to the band, already a smash in the U.K., by way of “Golden Touch” via email. The CD was released last October.

The whole darned CD is a rollicking good time. It's been called "brash garage rock." I would call it my Pacific Coast Highway jam… windows down, music cranked, driving along the coast of Cali. Zen. The CD also will do quite well in your iPod for morning runs or workouts.

This quartet of boyish-looking mates, all in their early 20s, also got some exposure at Live 8 and recently supported U2 in Sweden.

Up All Night is not heavy by any means. It’s Pop to the tenth. “Golden Touch,” for example, is about a beautiful girl who’s got some jealous friends:

But then all they know is how to put you down When you're there, they're your friend But then when you're not around They say, "Oh, she's changed" Oh we know what that means Well it means they're just jealous But they'll never do the things That they wish that they could do so well

“Rip it Up” simply commands: Get on the Dance Floor! Rip it up Girl. That’s what it’s there for!

Yes Sir.

On “Leave Me alone,” the first track, lead singer Johnny Borrell strikes out – screaming Just Leave Me Alone. And you know he's getting sweaty. The song starts with a gentle piano and then leads into one beat, then another on top of that and another on top of that. Three layered driving beats lead to a final question: “What part of that don’t you understand?” Leave Me Alone!

Rounding out the band is drummer Andy Burrows, who gets a major workout on the CD; Swede Björn Ågren on guitar and backing vocals and Carl Dalemo, bass and backing vocals, also from Sweden. Andy is the band’s second drummer. The first one left for “health differences.” Hope that’s not a sign of a quick shot to stardom for this band.

What’s bad about this CD you ask? Nothing really. But if I was being picky I’d say Razorlight likes to spell out words such as L-O-N-D-O-N and L-O-V-E, which reminds me of the Bay City Rollers -- S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night. In my best English accent, "it's a bit corny, but it works for the CD."

The band also ends virtually every song on a manic high but Johnny’s charming English accent and fierce vocals are magnetic. On “To the Sea” Johnny gets himself so worked up that it’s as though he’s crawling along the desert toward the watering hole. He cries out: to …. the ……. Sea taking his last gasps of air. Give that man a drink!

So soon, you might be hearing a catchy tune:

I know a girl with the golden touch She's got enough, she's got too much But I know, you wouldn't mind You could have it all if you wanted You could have it all if it mattered so much

When you do, you’ll see.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Funky Fresh Freddie's Fine Art is Fab

Okay. These paintings may not be the art you want to hang over your fireplace but FFF's would fit fine in your home office, the den, your very cool workplace, the garage, the playroom (do people still have playrooms?)
These works of art are by Funky Fresh Freddie. I think they rock. You can see more on his site but if you don't have an open mind, save yourself the trip. FFF is radical.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Jossip Gossip

My new favorite site... It has news (gossip) about the magazine industry. It's got the lowdown on Nadine Haobsh, the (former) beauty editor at Ladies Home Journal, who was blogging and apparently telling it like it is (or was) on the job, unbeknownst to her bosses. They know now. The NY Post broke the "story."
This from Nadine's site:
It would be an understatement to say that this was the weirdest week of my life. On Tuesday morning, I had a job I loved, a nice salary and was living in blissful oblivion. Flash forward to today, and I've given interviews to the New York Post, Fox 5 News and CNN (are you kidding me??), have a very, very big interview set for tomorrow (until it actually happens, my lips are zipped), have meetings this coming week with multiple book agents and—oh, yeah, that—am quickly approaching the poverty mark. 24/7 ramen: can't wait!

I say it was a publicity ploy (and a good one at that)!!! Nadine is trying to get a book published, now she's all over the news.
Let me say here that I don't and won't blog about my job and that I like my job, thank you very much.
Jossip also had the news today that Jane Pratt of Jane magazine is leaving the magazine she started in Sept. No word on why.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

CD Baby

All I did was order a CD... CD Baby was efficient and funny.
Here is my confirmation:

Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with
sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.

A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure
it was in the best possible condition before mailing.

Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over
the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money
can buy.

We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party
marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of
Portland waved 'Bon Voyage!' to your package, on its way to you, in
our private CD Baby jet on this day, Saturday, July 23rd.

I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did.
Your picture is on our wall as 'Customer of the Year'. We're all
exhausted but can't wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!

Thank you once again,

Derek Sivers, president, CD Baby
the little CD store with the best new independent music

Friday, July 22, 2005

Domino Harvey

An interesting -- and well-written -- story of a privileged girl trying to make her way through life, battling a drug addiction, working as a bounty hunter. Ultimately, you know how this one ends, her funeral was July 1, autopsy pending.
You have to register with the LA Times to read it but it's well worth it.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Big Pharoah

I heard about this site on NPR today. Insight from Egypt's "The Big Pharoah"

Here's a quote from his site:
"I will tell you something that you ought to never forget. Write this statement on a piece of paper and stick it on your fridge: The sky is the limit with terrorists. If a terrorist in Baghdad found legitimacy in slaughtering over 20 kids who were receiving candy from US soldiers, then another terrorists will find his own "legitimacy" in attacking a target in Cairo, Riyadh, Paris, and London. Don't worry; they have a bag full of "legitimate motivations."

Oh, and while we're at it, yesterday our local newspaper wrote a story about the number of civilians dead in Iraq because of the war. I was surprised they wrote it -- Iraq Body Count's research team is made up of peace advocates. Turns out, Iraq Body Count put out a release and it was covered by the AP and several media outlets.

In short, about 24,000 Iraqi civilians are dead; 37% of those were killed by US-led forces, according to the report.

Here it is:

New analysis of civilian casualties in Iraq: Report unveils comprehensive details

"A Dossier on Civilian Casualties in Iraq, 2003-2005" is the first detailed account of all non-combatants reported killed or wounded during the first two years of the continuing conflict. The report, published by Iraq Body Count in association with Oxford Research Group, is based on comprehensive analysis of over 10,000 media reports published between March 2003 and March 2005.
Findings include:
Who was killed?

* 24,865 civilians were reported killed in the first two years.
* Women and children accounted for almost 20% of all civilian deaths.
* Baghdad alone recorded almost half of all deaths.

When did they die?

* 30% of civilian deaths occurred during the invasion phase before 1 May 2003.
* Post-invasion, the number of civilians killed was almost twice as high in year two (11,351) as in year one (6,215).

Who did the killing?

* US-led forces killed 37% of civilian victims.
* Anti-occupation forces/insurgents killed 9% of civilian victims.
* Post-invasion criminal violence accounted for 36% of all deaths.
* Killings by anti-occupation forces, crime and unknown agents have shown a steady rise over the entire period.

What was the most lethal weaponry?

* Over half (53%) of all civilian deaths involved explosive devices.
* Air strikes caused most (64%) of the explosives deaths.
* Children were disproportionately affected by all explosive devices but most severely by air strikes and unexploded ordnance (including cluster bomblets).

How many were injured?

* At least 42,500 civilians were reported wounded.
* The invasion phase caused 41% of all reported injuries.
* Explosive weaponry caused a higher ratio of injuries to deaths than small arms.
* The highest wounded-to-death ratio incidents occurred during the invasion phase.

Who provided the information?

* Mortuary officials and medics were the most frequently cited witnesses.
* Three press agencies provided over one third of the reports used.
* Iraqi journalists are increasingly central to the reporting work.

Speaking today at the launch of the report in London, Professor John Sloboda, FBA, one of the report's authors said: "The ever-mounting Iraqi death toll is the forgotten cost of the decision to go to war in Iraq. On average, 34 ordinary Iraqis have met violent deaths every day since the invasion of March 2003. Our data show that no sector of Iraqi society has escaped. We sincerely hope that this research will help to inform decision-makers around the world about the real needs of the Iraqi people as they struggle to rebuild their country. It remains a matter of the gravest concern that, nearly two and half years on, neither the US nor the UK governments have begun to systematically measure the impact of their actions in terms of human lives destroyed."

Monday, July 18, 2005

The Boy Who Didn't Want to be King

This is a poem by Iva, who lives in Serbia and Montenegro. English is not her native language but you wouldn't know by reading it. I thought was beautiful and wanted to share it here.

By Iva
The Boy Who Didn't Want To Be The King

The boy who didn't want to be the king
Dug himself a well by the sea, jumped in it
And drank poison instead of water every day.
He replaced the big world for a nightmare,
Shadows and demons from the other side of his eyelids;
He was begging them to come, he wanted them to take him away.

Where is he?
He's about to die. No one can help him.
Maybe he won't make it until midnight.
What is he doing?
He's melting like snow. Disappearing.
Only the legend seems to be right.

Suddenly, he snapped out of it and he took a look around,
He was scratching the side of well with his nails and climbing up,
And he started breathing life every day.
He replaced the nightmare for a long road home,
The healing hands and friends who were coming back again,
He was begging them to come, for there was a way.

Where is he?
He's coming back. Taking deep breaths.
He's staring at the rainbow after the thunder.
What is he doing?
He's looking at dry branches getting leaves again.
There's life on this side and it's a wonder.

A wide smile, gleam in his eyes and energy,
The prodigal son from the past is an angel today,
And every day he's planting trees and shooting stars.
Wherever he goes, the storm is turning into a breeze,
Sorrow is disappearing and love is crashing the barricades,
And so, every day, he's saving another soul from behind the sadness bars.

Where is he?
He's doing miracles by the speed of light.
He's bringing dreams from the future.
What is he doing?
He's creating. For him, every day is a long jump, a diamond ring;
Yes, that's him, just right, the boy who didn't want to be the king.

Iva is a student and Web designer. You can visit her here

Monday, July 11, 2005

Danny Way Does China

This is from one of ochairball's readers: You gotta watch these clips even if you hate skateboarding. The jumps are narrated in Chinese -- that's fun. Way is out of his mind.
There's also a Q&A on his site. Here's one of the questions that I'd for sure ask, and his answer:

Q: What are you thinking when you are standing at the top of a ramp before you begin your roll in?

How soon until I can get to the bottom of this thing?! Some people may not believe this, but I am not a fan of heights, and the sooner I can get down from the top in one piece, the better.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Nine Inch Nails

Trent Reznor learns he can write sober-- an interview from Dimple Records

He Hurt Himself Today
By Gary Graff
June 2005

It's been six years since Nine Inch Nails' last studio effort; suffice it to say, architect Trent Reznor didn't spend all of them making With Teeth. Much of the period after 1999's double album The Fragile was pretty bleak, in fact. Reznor-a Pennsylvania native who started recording under the Nine Inch Nails moniker in 1987-had gone through rehab to overcome substance abuse prior to that behemoth. It proved to be a stopgap measure.

"I wasn't ready to completely believe that I was an addict," Reznor reveals. "So The Fragile comes out, debuts at #1, and I feel that I'm cured, so I start having drinks. We immediately go on tour for a year, and it's the worst year of my life. I almost die several times. By the end of the tour, I come back utterly defeated, spirit broken, soul gone, hating myself. That lasted a couple more months until I finally had enough and did whatever it would take to get better or I was gonna die."

Reznor resolved to take time off in 2001 and returned to rehab with a new mission in mind. "I needed to figure out who I am, what my priorities are, what matters to me, and what doesn't," he explains. He would eventually change residences-from New Orleans to Los Angeles-and ditch his longtime manager and friend John Malm in an effort "to do everything on Earth I can do to stay healthy and get my brain out of the living hell that I'd put it in.

"It was the best move I think I've ever made," Reznor says now. "I spent a couple years learning, listening, realizing I'm not the smartest guy in the world and I'm not the only person in the world, that the world doesn't revolve around me. Maybe I do need other people. Other people actually can have good ideas. Maybe I do need love. Maybe I need help occasionally, and that's okay.

"Mostly I learned that my way wasn't working, so I needed to find a new one."

Reznor worked on music throughout that process of self-discovery, too, but his priority was healing, not recording. He dealt with not only his substance addictions but also their root causes, which included self-esteem alarmingly low for an artist with three multi-platinum albums and a reputation as a leading force in and beyond the industrial rock world.

"I hadn't ever realized how governed by fear I had been up to that point," he explains. "I could walk backstage at a show, into a party-for me-and feel like I don't belong there, or I wasn't good enough to be in that room.

"That had also crept into the studio and the music environment that I thought I was confident in. There was always a nagging self-doubt that was plaguing me."

By the time Reznor started writing in earnest for With Teeth in January 2004 he felt healthy-but there were different kinds of doubts. As he sings on the album, "I think I used to have a purpose/ Then again, it might have been a dream."

"I wasn't sure that I could do it," he explains. "I didn't know if I'd destroyed my brain or could write sober."

He didn't have to worry long. "I started with lyrics and ideas just poured out of me," Reznor recalls. "It was the most creative burst I've probably ever had in my life, and during that time I regained my confidence on a musical level."

With Teeth was written over a period of five months, Reznor says, during which he came up with about 50 concepts for songs, as well as a somewhat convoluted thematic thread for the album-"It had a number of pretentious elements to it," he acknowledges-that was eventually abandoned. Instead, he held on to the best ideas, some of which were recorded with chief Foo Fighter Dave Grohl on drums.

"It all kind of happened at once," Reznor says of the album. "It wasn't any one song that came out that I thought 'Hey, this is really good.' It was just a lot of ideas, and I'd prepared myself that no matter what I did, it was going to be okay and I'd just keep writing more until I was happy.

"When I thought about it, I'd never turned to drugs or alcohol or anything for inspiration. It was always just to try to not feel so bad."

Reznor still vents much of his tortured soul throughout With Teeth, but there are also moments of unconflicted happiness. And of new musical ambitions. The opening track, "All the Love in the World," begins with hushed, foreboding ambience and builds into soulful, almost gospel-style testifying over a buoyant piano pattern.

"I thought it was kind of daring, starting with a track that was probably the least like Nine Inch Nails, but it seemed like the right thing to do," Reznor says. "I realized that the ultimate criteria really should be what it always has been, which is do I like it, and is it great? Do I get goosebumps when I listen to it? Yes? Then, okay, that's what it is.

"I don't remember sessions going like that in the past. They seemed to be a lot more cerebral, a lot more chin-scratching and thinking and discussing. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but this was just a different feel. I like it a lot better now."

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Blog Leave, really

I'm really taking a 2-week hiatus this time. Really.

The Cove in Santa Monica June 17

The Cove skatepark opens in Santa Monica Friday. The real Z-Boys are expected to be there.
The park looks quite lovely, a tree planted right in the middle.
For more info about the park designer and other events, visit Juice magazine

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Blog leave

I reiterate my two week blog leave to work on a couple of book projects.
John Frusciante rules!
Thanks mate for The Bicycle Thief tunes. Love em.
I highly recommend Drew Danburry's new CD
"the way all the trees sway was way too clever to be a mistake."
Thank heavens for music.
Nobody reads the New York Times.
newspapers will be dead and gone in 10 years.
get a skateboard!
peace. out.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Blog leave

I'm taking a blogging leave of absence to focus on two book projects. So unless something really compelling comes up, or the need to vent, I'm not going to post starting today for the next two weeks.
See you soon!

Friday, June 03, 2005

Go Skateboarding Day June 21

Go Skateboarding Day is around the corner. Check out
Skateboarders will stream through the streets in Philly to draw attention to LOVE park, closed skateboarders.

Skateboard Park cards

This is such a cool site: Skaters from all over fax in their membership cards and they're posted on the site.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

John Frusciante at Silverlake

John will perform to benefit Flea's Silverlake Conservatory of Music next Wednesday, along with Flea, of course, Tracy Chapman (who's in the studio), jazz musician Charlie Haden and Grant-Lee Phillips (the guy behind Grant Lee Buffalo). For a fundraiser, tickets are fairly reasonable, $200 for one, $350 for two.
The first annual Hullabaloo will raise money to help students music lessons. Thanks to my British mate for that bit of news.
In other John news, he was nominated for a LA Weekly Music award.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Lords of Dogtown

Next week, June 3, The Lords of Dogtown opens. Can't. Wait.
Here's to get you up to speed:
Village Voice
Don't forget to rent the Dogtown & Z-Boys documentary first! if you can.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Lords of Dogtown

A cool story in the NYT about the director of Dogtown, Catherine Hardwicke. She also directed the movie Thirteen.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Ireland to get skateparks

The Irish government is set to give 1 million euros (about $1.25 million U.S. dollars) to build local skateboard parks.
Way to go Ireland!
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada isn't getting a park quite so easily.
The BBC Sport Academy tell us how to build a skateboard. We also learn that that Tony Hawk would like to be called anything else but "Birdman."

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Danny Way

Get this man a cape. Way also is going to attempt to jump over the Great Wall of China June 19. "I want to expose skateboarding to the world," he says in the story. OK. We believe you. Just make sure you wear your safety gear.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Pro-Tec Pool party results

Some pics here
More coming!

The women first:

1. Cara-Beth Burnside/$2,500
2. Lyn-Z Adams Hawkins/$1,300
3. Mimi Knoop/$700

I was surprised by the outcome. I thought Apryl Woodcock would've won but what do I know. Apryl is the youngest in the group, 12 or 13. To see Apryl in action, visit the Side Project or click here

The Masters:
1. Chris Miller - $10,000
2. Jeff Grosso - $6,000
3. Lance Mountain - $4,000
This site has the men's results. It also has some good pics.

The judging for the mens competition seemed right on. Chris Miller and Jeff Grosso definitely put on a good show. I particularly liked Jeff's style as he was always grinding along the lip of the pool and then diving back in.

The Pro results:

1. Rune Glifberg - $25,000
2. Omar Hassan - $15,000
3. Brian Patch - $8,000