Wednesday, December 16, 2009
The Garden is a documentary created by Scott Hamilton Kennedy in 2008 about the South Central Farmers plight. The South Central Garden was a garden that was farmed on by roughly 350 families, they relied on this garden as not only a livelihood but also for their own personal use. The movie tells about how the garden was sold to a private contractor who closed the garden and bulldozed the garden. It was located within South Central Los Angeles at the intersection of East 41st Street and Alameda Street. This area is very industrial with many large buildings surrounding the area where the garden once was. Prior to the space being used as this garden the Alameda-Barbara Investment Company owned it, then the land was taken over by the city of Los Angeles through eminent domain. The city was going try and use the land to introduce a new idea of a waster to energy incinerator in a project known as LANCER. Following the 1992 riots in Los Angeles the land was converted to the 14-acre garden for use by anyone who wants to grow on it. The reason that the garden was originally made was to give people something back following all the riots and what had been happening in L.A. prior to and during the riots. One of the people who were involved in the Alameda-Barbara Company sued the city for breach of contract; in the original agreement Alameda-Barbara Company could repurchase the land under certain agreements. Ralph Horowitz, the partner in Alameda-Barbara, settled with the city for around $5 million. The on January 8th, 2004 Horowitz informed the farmers of the garden that they would until February 29th, 2004 before he was going to take over the land. The collective group of the South Central Farmers obtained legal counsel and filed a suit against the sale of the property to Mr. Horowitz. The Los Angeles County Superior Court issued a temporary halt on Mr. Horowitz progression on the land until all the lawsuits could be settled. Eventually the famers lost their lawsuit against Mr. Horowitz, and he was given the right to evict the farmers from the land. He gave the farmers the right to buy the land back from him, but at an outrageous price, he wanted them to pay $16.3 million. The farmers had raised $6 million prior to finding out the amount that Horowitz wanted for the land, and after they found out the price the continued their fundraising efforts. Finally, on June 7, 2006 Annenberg Foundation said that they would donate the money to buy the land back, Horowitz rejected this offer because it came after the deadline he had stated for the farmers to raise the money. The people who farmed on the land where rightfully outraged at the actions taken by Mr. Horowitz. They tried to protest what he was doing with the land in any way possible, finally on July 5, 2006 bulldozers began to bulldoze the land, and 10 of the protestors were arrested. This movie brought up some great points about what’s going on in the country on a greater level through the use of this farm in South Central L.A. People are overlooking doing good for the community around them in order to make money, or just because they don’t feel like doing something good for the community. Yes, Mr. Horowitz went through proper legal channels to obtain the land and he has the right to do what he wants with the land, but it was very shady meetings through which Mr. Horowitz was able to acquire this land. He met in closed-door sessions with city council to try and debate and reach agreement on a price for buying back the land. I do of course realize that we live in a capitalist society and a free society where people can do what they want, to a certain extent, with the land they own, and people do need to make a profit, but the farmers got the amount of money he wanted for the land but he rejected their money because they were two weeks late. That to me makes no sense, it seems that this man had it out for the farmers because some of them had said some things in anger about him. Everyone says stupid things when they are angry, but this man took them very personally, and affected all the 350 or so families who farmed on the land. Mr. Horowitz for me represents the quintessential American businessman today, a person who overlooks emotions to make money. He overlooked his emotions, I’m sure he wanted deep down to help these people, but his mind took over and he realized that it would be beneficial to him to hold onto the land. I have no problem with people wanting to make money, but something about the way he went about handling the whole case with farmers seems unethical and wrong, but there is nothing that can be done about it because he followed the law in every way.
It has been in family for many generations to be a fan of the New York Yankees. When I go to visit my grandfather I normally get to hear stories about him taking the train from Newark, NJ to the Bronx to see a Yankees game. Whenever the games come on me, my dad, and my grandfather all sit down together (when we are together for a game) and normally do not talk much and instead just take in the game. After the game we will; normally talk about what players we felt played well, and who we felt did not play. After the Yankees won the World Series this year the first I called to discuss the matter with was my grandfather, the next person I called was my father. The Yankees play a role in maintaining my relationship with my family. Talking to other friends who are Yankees fans also, I have found that their family is normally similar in the fact that the being a fan of the Yankees is something that is shared throughout the generations. That is something you find when you have a sports team that has been around as long as the Yankees have, and when you have a team that has been as successful as the Yankees. Have yet to venture to the new Yankee stadium, when I do I hope I get to go with my grandfather, as he took me to my first ever Yankees game along with my father. That is a memory that will stick in my head forever. For me, being a big baseball fan, the first ever Yankees game of mine is one of the most important memories and it will be a story I’m sure I will tell many times as I get older. The tradition of following the Yankees is one that I hope to continue and pass down through my family in the future.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Phish was founded while Trey Anastasio, John Fishman, and Mike Gordon were all going to University of Vermont together. That might be the official founding of the band, but to understand the music and the band all together one should go back to while Trey Anastasio was still in high school there he had founded bands along with his friend who goes by the title the “Dude of Life”. They wrote songs that today are used by Phish in performances and songs that have influenced Phish, two songs that Trey wrote in high school that are performed today are Golgi Apparatus and Run Like an Antelope, Antelope when Trey originally penned it and performed it was called Run Like a Space Antelope, Space Antelope being the name of one of Trey’s high school bands. Now we can get back to University of Vermont and the founding of Phish. Originally when Phish was founded the members of the band were Trey, Mike, Fish, and Jeff Holdsworth. At their first performance they titled there band the Blackwood Convention, the date of this performance is not known exactly, it either believed to be October 30th or December 2nd, it was held in the basement of Mike Gordon’s dorm which housed many ROTC members leading people to believe it was an ROTC dance when it was not. They performed using hockey sticks as mike stands, and ran through a set of about 7 cover songs, repeating Proud Mary. As the band took their set break, the people at the show decided to blast Michael Jacksons thriller instead of listening to the band. In September of 1985 Page McConnell joined the band of keyboards. Jeff Holdsworth left the band having graduated from UVM in 1986. Starting in late-1985 after the three band members who went to UVM (Trey, John, and Mike) transferred to Goddard College and there they began recording tapes and circulating them amongst people at the college. This tape became known as The White Tape, a much different sound than is heard from the bad today; it was very experimental in the way that they were using the studio machines to mix sound. For his senior thesis, Trey wrote The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday, this was a nine song studio album about a fictional world called Gamehendge, it is a mix between The Chronicles of Narnia and Rush’s 2112. It had nine songs on it all introducing a different character or theme of the fictional world. Wilson is the evil King of Prussia who stole the helping phriendly book, which enables him to control Gamehendge, Colonel Forbin is Wilson’s nemesis he tries to end Wilsons reign as the head of Gamehendge. This was the beginning of Phish following in the footsteps of Grateful Dead. With the following that gathered after the White Tape and with the first album Junta was made Phish started to garner a following that was similar to the Dead in the sense that these people made their lives revolve around the band. They started to have constant touring starting in 1988, and by the mid 90s they had become the band for jam/rock music. Rolling magazine named Phish one of the most important bands of the 90s. Phish also, in a way, created the music festival that we have today. Some of there past music festivals influenced the creation of Bonaroo. The first of these festivals was The Clifford Ball, held August 16th-17th, 1996. This was a two-day festival in Plattsburgh, NY. Around 70-80 thousand people attended the concert; they created a sort of city at the festival with rides, a restaurant, and a post office. The success of this event led to Phish staging other such festivals. The next festival The Great Went was a follow-up to Clifford Ball, it was held on the same two days but in 1997. It was held in Limestone, Maine right near the US-Canadian border. Part of this festival was shown in the movie Bittersweet Motel, a documentary on Phish’s touring in 1997, 75,000 people attended this festival. Lemonwheel was also held in Maine, this time it featured other bands performing, and was attended by 60,000 people. Camp Oswego was the fourth weekend-long festival held by Phish. It happened on July 17th and 18th, 1999 at Oswego County Airport in Volney, NY. 65,000 people attended this festival. Fans, as with the other festivals, camped out in tents, and made a sort of community at the event. Big Cypress was the largest festival held by Phish. It was held at the Big Cypress Indian Reservation in Florida, it took place on December 30th and 31st, 1999. It was the largest millennium concert held, part of the concert was shown on ABC. On New Years Eve Phish played a 7 and a half hour set that lasted from midnight New Years Eve till sunrise New Years day. This was voted by 3 of the 4 members of Phish to be the greatest Phish concert ever, and it was voted by phans in pharmers almanac to be the greatest concert ever. It was the 6th festival to be held, it was held in Limestone, Maine. 60,000 people attended, and this festival made Limestone the only place to hold two Phish festivals. Coventry was the 7th festival held, it was held in Coventry, Vermont. Initially when Phish started to make Coventry it was supposed to be the conclusion of Phish. This was supposed to be the last concert before Phish broke up. It was a very emotional concert, with members of Phish crying during some parts of some songs. Phish Festival 8 was held from October 30th – November 1st, 2009. It was held in Indio, California where Coachella is held each year. As is done on Halloween by Phish often, they had a musical costume which in the past had been voted on by fans, but this year they did an amusing animation to set up which album they are choosing. They had pictures of each of 99 album covers they might cover and they slowly killed each one off until it was revealed the album they are going to cover was Exile on Main St. originally by the Rolling Stones. More than the music the fans (phans) make the band what it is. They are a legion of dedicated people who go to each and every concert that they possible can. They tape shows and distribute them in the parking lots of each concert, along with other “goodies”. The parking lot scene of Phish is similar to the Grateful Dead’s, its even named after a Dead song being the lot being called Shakedown Street. There are many groups that follow Phish and these groups are dedicated to many various activities. Phish is a band, but it is also a sub-culture unto itself. There is a whole group of people whose lives revolve around the band and the music.
About two days ago I had a meeting on the opposite side of campus from where I live, I was going from upper cents to Warren Square. The meeting was set for 3, and I wanted to get there about five minutes early to make me look like I’m on top of everything and not running in the door at exactly 3. I left my dorm building at 3:40 expecting the walk to take anywhere from 10-15 minutes. As I started to walk I got distracted, I had never had time to just look around the campus when it’s empty, as it was while I was walking. People where in classes or the library or done for the day, it was just me and the trees and buildings. I had not had the chance to observe the campus as I did yesterday since the times I came here as a high school senior and junior to look at the school. I was very happy that I had this opportunity to do this, because had I not had this meeting I would only walk around when I had class and normally then I’m thinking about what work we had for class, if I did that work, and what I am going to say about it. I have heard from other people who came to look at Lehigh this year as juniors or seniors how beautiful the campus is and all I normally do is nod my head in agreement because I had forgotten about the beauty of the school. I had forgotten about how nice the church is or how well everything is kept up and made to look the best. I forgot about all the tress scattered around campus that add to the rustic look of the campus. When you’re living somewhere you become so used to your surroundings that you don’t even look around and take in the scene, instead it just always there. People rarely stop and just look around instead they are running to class or trying to get to the next place they have to be as quick as possible. From now on I am going to try and look around, take in where I am and what’s around me. Today, since it just snowed, I’m going to try and walk around the campus and just see it covered in the snow, take in that site because I have never seen it before. The snow-covered trees and white everywhere will make me feel as my friend said last night “like we are in a winter wonderland”.
The Amethyst Initiative is a group of college presidents and chancellors who feel that the current drinking age of 21 should be reconsidered along with other related drinking laws. John McCardell, the founder of Choose Responsibility, started this movement; the Initiative is a project of Choose Responsibility. Currently 135 college presidents/chancellors have signed their support for the project by signing a statement saying, “It’s time to rethink the drinking age”. The name Amethyst comes from Greek and Roman mythology, supposedly amethyst protects its owners from drunkenness. The initiative was started because of the amount of college students that binge drink, and this is supposed to help to curb that and to protect the students. The Amethyst Initiative states that, in their experience as university presidents, they have observed, "Alcohol education that mandates abstinence as the only legal option has not resulted in significant constructive behavioral change among our students," and therefore they urge lawmakers "to invite new ideas about the best ways to prepare young adults to make responsible decisions about alcohol" (http://www.amethystinitiative.org/statement)
Critics of this movement claim that by allowing these kids to drink, there will be a greater number of drunk driving incidences. It is also believed that a greater number of fatalities resulting from car accidents will occur as a direct result of lowering the drinking age. Many groups are against the initiative such as MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the American Medical Association, and the National Transportation Board.
Those are the facts about the movement, now I am going to explain why I feel this movement should be brought forth to Congress, and why the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 should be repealed. As of now when students go on to their first year of college they cannot go to bars and legal places to drink so instead they go to frat parties or other sorts of illegal parties. At these parties people binge drink, they want to get as drunk as they possibly can. These kinds of parties are not normally the sorts of places where people causally have a drink or two with their friends, instead people go to get extremely drunk and act upon impulse. There is no one there to protect them, to tell him or her when they have had to much, since all the people have been dinking just as much as they have. The only indicator that is accepted for when someone has drank too much is when they throw up, at that point someone will normally say something or tell that person to leave. There is nothing to protect the people going to these parties from having more than they can handle. Whereas if we had a drinking age that allowed people to legally drink once they are 18, everything that I wrote above would not happen in most instances. Instead people would go to a local bar to hang out with friends; there they have a bartender who is keeping some sort of attention on how drunk each person is. There is also more effort and attention would be put into each time you have to get a new drink. Instead a night would go more like this; two or three friends would meet up at a nearby pub. They would each get a drink talk for a while, slowly drink their first drink. If they get into a deep enough conservation, they may even sip on these drinks for an hour. Once they are ready and have a chance they will get their second drinks, and repeat what they did with their first ones. In a night lasting three or fours hours at a bar, going by the time chart I have set people could have 4 or 5 drinks, compared to the 10 or more drinks they could consume at a party in a single hour or two.
Europe should also be brought into the discussion when talking about lowering the drinking age. I have been to London where the drinking age is very confusing, but to give a very simple explanation of it if you’re over 16 and your eating a meal with an adult you can drink wine, beer, or cider, and if you are over 18 you can drink whatever, wherever, whenever. In England you do not see nearly as much binge drinking from people, especially from people in the 18-21 categories. While in London I was able to sit at a pub order a beer and watch a rugby match, whereas here I could not do that, I did not sit down with the intention to get drunk, I just wanted a nice cold beer to enjoy as I watched rugby. To give another anecdote about the differences between the legal drinking that occurs in the U.K. to the illegal drinking that occurs here, my good friends from high school goes to Edinburg University in Scotland. There it is completely legal for him and friends to go the bar and drink, or to drink in their dorms We have spoken about whether binge drinking occurs or not amongst him and his friends, and from talking to him and comparing it to what I have seen here at Lehigh it seems that the amount of binge occurs that there is way less than the amount that occurs here. No one he knows has had to go to the hospital from drinking, and I have known two people who have had to the hospital as a result from drinking too much. The current drinking age we have in America is not working, too many kids have the ability to get alcohol, but they do not respect it and understand the consequences from drinking too much. This causes a ton of binge drinking to occur, and it causes a lot of these kids to get sick from the amount they drink. By lowering the drinking age to 18, I think it would help to teach people to be more responsible with the way they drink, and my peers and I would not binge drink and do many of the stupid acts we do when drunk.
As I was searching around trying to find some sort of list of top albums of the decade, or top bands of the decade, or even top songs of the decade I came across a blog for Paste Magazine. This blog has lists of the day; I went through looking at these lists and came across their list for top 50 albums of the decade. I found myself agreeing with many of the choices that they made, and I enjoyed reading about the music I did not know. What I did after reading this is I chose my top 5 albums from that list, and then I chose my top 5 albums from the decade that were not on this list; below I am going to write about why I feel my 5 albums should be on the list and the contributions they made to music, and I will discuss my feelings on the 5 albums I chose from their list and I’ll summarize the reason the blogger put them on his or her list. Also, here is a link to the full list in case you want to see some of the albums that I did not choose to discuss: http://www.pastemagazine.com/blogs/lists/2009/11/the-best-albums-of-the-decade.html?p=5
My 5 Albums
Dave Matthews Band- Stand Up
Stand up by Dave Matthews Band is my favorite studio album by them. Although DMB is known more for its live performances than its studio albums, this album just hits the spot when I’m feeling some Dave. This album is also particularly memorable for DMB fans because this is the last album with LeRoi Moore, the saxophonist for Dave Matthews Band who died in August of 2008. Some of my favorite songs on this album are Everybody Wake Up and Dreamgirl. To me the album feels like it’s a call to stop being so lazy, to stop letting everything move right by. It calls for people to stop this apathy that we have grown so used to having, and to become active participants in whatever it is you feel needs to be changed or has problems.
Girl Talk- Feed The Animals
This album is my favorite by the mashup artist known as Girl Talk. I included this album on my list as much for the music, as I did for the way that Girl Talk chose to release the album. Instead of paying a set amount for the album, you could pay as much or as little as you wanted, even nothing for the album. If you choose to pay nothing for the album you get asked why you chose to not pay and are giving some answers to select from, but if you choose to pay more than $10 you get an actual CD not just the mp3 version of the album. I liked the way that he was able to incorporate so many different songs into one and make them sound like they were supposed to be used like that. Every song on this album is fun and high-spirited, they all just make you want to have a fun time.
Green Day- American Idiot
This album, although considered to be a sellout album by many hard-core Green Day fans, really felt like it worked really well. It took on what was going on in the country at the time, the Iraq War and the disapproval of what George Bush was doing and put it into song form. It expressed the ideas of the nation in terms of an album that was fun to listen to and easy to agree with. With songs like American Idiot, Holiday, and Wake Me Up When September Ends, this album is both entertaining and it was up to date with current events. This is my favorite Green Day album; it represents the way that I was thinking at that time and what I thought needed to be done for this country to turn it around.
U2- All That You Can’t Leave Behind
This album is just so well composed, it has such great songs on it that all meld together amazingly to form an excellent album. Beautiful Day is my favorite U2 song, Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of is also right up there. This album is perhaps the best U2 album, it all works perfectly. The way it was produced engineered, it was perfectly made to listen to at any time. Its calming and makes you feel what Bono was feeling when he wrote these songs. There is so much emotion portrayed through these songs, it’s just a perfect album for me.
Red Hot Chili Peppers- By The Way
This is my favorite album on this list. After reading Anthony Kiedis’s biography, and understanding what this album is talking about, I feel like it enhances it by an unimaginable amount. Each of the songs on this album could be a single. Each song is amazingly composed and each one tells a different story. By the Way, the song, continues the story of this girl Dani that was started in Californiaction and ends in Dani California. Whenever I listen to one song off this album, I am drawn to listen to the entire album. It just works so perfectly and fits together to tell an amazing story.
5 Albums off Paste Magazine List
This is an album that I bought about 2 months ago. I was sitting in my room and I was craving some Outkast, I checked my library and found that I did not own Stankonia, and I felt the need to have it. That ended up being an amazing purchase, you have two totally different rappers on this album. You have to slow drawn-out flow of Big Boi, and Andre 3000s craziness, his fast raps, and ridiculous lyrics. With featured performers like Erykah Badu and Slimm Calhoun amongst others, this album does it all.
White Stripes- Elephant
I still remember the day that I first heard that seemingly heavy bass line, but actually a guitar riff, in Seven Nation Army to start off the album. People where not sure what to expect from this album, with the White Stripes having released a prior album that was good but people where not sure where Jack White would go with this album. He ended up producing perhaps his best work of his career, and definitely the best work with the White Stripes.
Radiohead- Kid A
This album followed Ok Computer, which when it came was predicted to be Radiohead’s best album of there career. No one thought they would be able to make anything that could top it, but they did. Kid A with its experimentation with various sounds and effects just did it. There is no other way for me to put into words how this album is or how it works, it just does. Every song seems to say something new to me, and paints a very vivid picture in my mind.
Wilco- Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
This album is very new to me. I have only begun listening to Wilco since sometime in the summer, after there new album Wilco came out. This album is a little less poppy and has a little more edge to it. The record company dropped Wilco after hearing this album, and instead the band streamed it for free, then a new record company picked them up and released the album, and through all of this the band stuck to the album as they had originally made it.
This album is kind of surprising one to be thrown on this list. I had not heard about it until I read this for the first time two weeks ago, since then I have listened to the album several times, I found that it is much different than the MIA that I know, the only song being Paper Planes prior to this. She made fun music to listen to, about very serious topics. Its incredible how much different the lyrics are from what you would expect from the melodies of the songs. When some of the songs are played on MTV and other such channels, some of the gunshots and other noises and lyrics have to be censored because of the picture she is trying to show. She is trying to show the world that she was raised in. Her father was involved in the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam which is a violent groups that wants to break away from Sri Lanka and create there own country. This album tells the tale of the life that she led, and how she grew up with everything that there was around her.
All of these albums I would highly recommend to people to listen to. They are all very different from each other, and all bring up different points in different ways. I would also recommend reading the full list of the 50 best albums of the decade, there are some really excellent albums that I heard about and began to listen to from reading about them in that list.