April 2012

38 posts

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DESERT GOLD INTERVIEW : ALEX PASTERNAK OF LEMONADE

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Alex Pasternak grew up in Half Moon Bay, California playing punk and hardcore and jazz bass. He studied ethnomusicology and anti-boasts a repertoire of rare magic from all four corners of the planet including Turkish Cifteteli, North African Rai, samba-reggae and Folklorico, and he mixes it all with two-step, grime, kuduro and cumbia digital. He lives in Brooklyn, plays drums with Lemonade, has reigned over the decks in the lobby at Ace Hotel New York, and will be gracing us poolside tomorrow at Desert Gold, with a 5-piece Balkan brass band. Dude makes it happen.

Read on for more background on his degree from the School of Hard Knocks and advanced certification in Variegated Horizons & Shifting Sands. And we’ll see you tomorrow — see the schedule and get a room.

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What are some roadside attractions that have…attracted you?

I really loved having a picnic at Shoshone Falls a few years ago on tour with Delorean. If you’re ever passing through Idaho, it’s a great relaxing stop.

Also, Tammy’s Truro Tavern in the middle of fucking nowhere Iowa is amazing Americana.

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If you could be any highway or US route which would you be?

Highway 1. Eeeeaaaaasy. Called the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway in So-cal) though Hwy 1 is me. I was raised on it, literally, between San Francisco and Santa Cruz at a little cove named Martins Beach and have driven that road all my life. From Mendo down through Big Sur to Santa Barbara, I love it.

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Who is your ideal road trip mate, living or dead?

My best buddy Chris White. We’ve been taking road trips and surf trips together down the California coast since junior high. Headed to Mex with him this May to find some waves in Oaxaca and visit my sister in Mexico City.

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Favorite song or band to listen to on a road trip? Do you have any songs you search the dials for? Be honest.

My classic California road trip album is Neil Young’s “On the Beach.” Makes the sunset especially bright when cruisin down Hwy 1 and somehow ties my dad’s generation and mine together.

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Best unexpectedly amazing thing you’ve seen on a road trip.

One time I lost the keys to our rental Mercedes Sprinter in Vancouver and freaked out, not knowing what to do. The ONLY spare was in SF and there was no way to make one in time to make a show in Minneapolis. I somehow convinced my little sister Anna to pick up the key for me in the Mission District and drive to the airport with hopes of sneaking it onto a plane to Vancouver. Years ago I worked for SkyWest Airlines and still know a few folks there. I called the gate and found someone I knew though to my dismay she said she was too busy to run outside of security to grab the key…. Desperate, I told my sister to ask someone near the ticket counter for an extreme favor. Not sure how but she got the key (and electronic clicker) through security with some baggage dude and onto a plane to vancouver with the flight attendant. I took a taxi to the airport, grabbed the key, cabbed back and we were on our way. Phew.

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DESERT GOLD INTERVIEW : VANESSA WRUBLE OF OKAYAFRICA

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Okayafrica editor Vanessa Wruble co-hosts a night of live music from the heart of Africa in the Amigo Room Saturday April 21 for Desert Gold. Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 present Chief Boima from Sierra Leone and Sinkane from Sudan, with Afro-futurist visuals by Just A Band from Kenya. See the full schedule and get a room.

Put some Okayafrica in your life long after the fires have cooled in the Amigo Room — check out their sick mixtape series, Africa in Your Earbuds, and tune into their video series, The Roots of…, where they trace artists’ DNA back to their real ancestral roots in Africa. So far, they’ve explored where ?uestlove, Q-Tip and Black Thought have come from on the continent. You can also catch them at The Roots Picnic in Philly in early June.

For now, take a little road trip with Vanessa. And we’ll see you Saturday night through the haze.

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What are some roadside attractions that have…attracted you?

The Okayafrica team hasn’t traveled soooo much in the good ole US of A recently, but we’ve been wowed by plenty of roadside attractions on our various travels to the Bright Continent.

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Some of these include: a gorilla orphanage and a metal church built by Gustave Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower fame) in Gabon, some unexpected child-manned checkpoints and roads covered by smashed mangoes during mango season in Sierra Leone, a hidden island full of magic and mermaids in Corisco, Equatorial Guinea, jungle-grown airplanes in Principé, flower farms in Sao Tome, and, one of our all-time faves, the Hot Sweet & Jumpy Relaxation House (a “ramping shop” – google it!).

Also don’t want to forget our favorite ride –- a “poda-poda” called “Destiny Is Unknown.” Holler.

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If there was a highway named after you, where would it begin and end? Points between?

It would go from Freetown, Sierra Leone, to Brooklyn, NY –- an overpass (longest bridge in the world?). How cool would that be???? Maybe we’d name it after our hot ride: “Destiny Is Unknown Overpass.”

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Who is your ideal road trip mate, living or dead?

Fela Kuti –- riding around in his speedos, smokin’ spliffs and raging against the machine –- what could be better? This is how we picture him…

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Favorite song or band to listen to on a road trip? Do you have any songs you search the dials for? Be honest.

The FOKN BOIS make us feel good n’ dirty, Bajah + the Dry Eye Crew gets us hyped, Just a Band puts us in an electro groove, and Fela Kuti gets our “yansh” shakin’. You can find alla them here.

Best unexpectedly amazing thing you’ve seen on a road trip.

A double rainbow. Kidding. Kind of.

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DESERT GOLD INTERVIEW : FRED ARMISEN

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Fred Armisen, half of comedy duo ThunderAnt with Carrie Brownstein, has an impressive resume of comedic characters ranging from Brutus, “a monkey who has been having sex with a doctor,” to Manuel Ortiz, host of The Manuel Ortiz show on Television Dominicana where he “helps with whatever it is” his audience members are going through. Fred is extremely helpful. Tonight, he impersonates a DJ and horses around with Ms. Brownstein in the Amigo Room at Ace Hotel & Swim Club for Desert Gold.

What are some roadside attractions that have…attracted you? 

There’s a small family vacation/amusement park area north of Chicago called The Wisconsin Dells. It has these sort of homemade attractions, and one is called Robot World. It’s just a sweet place.

There’s also this amazing place (pictured with Fred above), an incredible record store/record label in Nashville. We visited a nearby record pressing plant nearby as well. Here’s xcess vinyl that’s stripped off and then used again for another pressing.

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If you could be any highway or US route which would you be?

I’d be the 405 North.

If there was a highway named after you, where would it begin and end? Points between?

It would start in Baltimore, then circle out, then circle back, then out again, and back over and over, so that the highway resembled flower petals around the city. It would be the country’s only recreational highway.

Who is your ideal road trip mate, living or dead? (But this involves pretending they’re alive, not a corpse in your car.)

Boris Karloff.

Is that a pun? Also, what is your favorite song or band to listen to on a road trip? Do you have any songs you search the dials for? Be honest.

I search for Howard Stern if I’m in a rental with Sirius radio. And for music, dub is always nice for roadtrips. Yo La Tengo too. 

Best unexpectedly amazing thing you’ve seen on a roadtrip.

Nevada City, California.

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(The Portlandia travel group.)

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DESERT GOLD INTERVIEW : CARRIE BROWNSTEIN

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Carrie Brownstein really requires no introduction. Early sightings include basement punk shows in Portland, OR with Sleater-Kinney and recent sightings include Portlandia and Wild Flag — both projects are taking off like rockets. Carrie DJs with co-pilot Fred Armisen Tuesday night for Desert Gold at Ace Hotel & Swim Club, and they’ll throw in some hijinks and group fun, so come ready.

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What are some roadside attractions that have…attracted you? Along the lines of Ball of Yarn, BFI, Roswell, or any number of the lesser known or unknown pit stops or oddities along America’s shoulders?

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Prairie Dog Town and Wall Drug. In the case of the former, I’d say it repulsed me more than attracted me. In fact, I am afraid to Google Prairie Dog Town because I really hope that it no longer exists. Basically, it’s an animal freak show with 5-legged cows and other oddities. It’s very squalid. In the gift shop is a pit of live snakes. The best case scenario is that one day the snakes will eat the owner. It’s a feel good movie waiting to happen, replete with an animal uprising. Wall Drug is one of those things wherein you’re beaten into submission via signage. Then you stop and it’s nothing and you move on.

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If you could be any highway or US route which would you be?

I would want to be a logging road or some dusty stretch of road in the western part of the US.

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If there was a highway named after you, where would it begin and end? Points between?

Probably the same answer as above, just somewhere quiet.

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Who is your ideal road trip mate, living or dead?

My dog, Tobey. He has traveled with me across the country and back. He isn’t a great driver but he is easy to talk to and he lets me pick the music.

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Favorite song or band to listen to on a road trip? Do you have any songs you search the dials for? Be honest.

Lately, I prefer podcasts like This American Life, Savage Love, Freakonomics Radio or Marc Maron’s WTF. I like listening to stories while I drive. If I’m listening to the radio, I’m never disappointed to stumble upon some late-night Sam Cooke or Otis Redding tunes; their songs always sound good under a starry sky.

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Best unexpectedly amazing thing you’ve seen on a roadtrip.

Seeing a frozen Mississippi River is pretty surreal.

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DESERT GOLD INTERVIEW : DAREK MAZZONE OF KEXP

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Darek Mazzone is a coat of many colors. A DJ with 20 years notched on his belt, he’s a crown jewel at Seattle’s community radio station KEXP, is currently working some magic with Microsoft (top secret stuff) and Native Instruments, and he’s also partnering with Dubspot, a NYC-based electronic music production and DJ school whose aim is to get thousands of youngsters DJing from their labtops within the next year. His Balkan Beat Box is in-studio now at kexp.org — go have a listen.

Darek spins by the pool for Desert Gold at Ace Hotel & Swim Club tomorrow, Saturday from noon to 5pm with Kane Mathis and J Boogie. Read on for his most memorable road trip memories and musings, and we’ll see you by the pool.

What are some roadside attractions that have…attracted you? 

The fake and true to size Stonehenge on the Columbia. Dinosaur Town with the Volcano toilets.

If you could be any highway or US route which would you be?

Route 1 or Route 99.

If there was a highway named after you, where would it begin and end? Points between?

The beginning.

Who is your ideal road trip mate, living or dead?

Hunter S. Thompson or Jack Kerouac.

Favorite song or band to listen to on a road trip? Do you have any songs you search the dials for? Be honest.

Any good classic rawk. The Who, Zeppelin. I always turn up Radar Love especially on a long road trip.

Best unexpectedly amazing thing you’ve seen on a road trip.

Left my wallet at a cafe. Discovered it was missing 200 miles into the trip, turned around, went back to the cafe and it was still on the table.

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DESERT GOLD INTERVIEW : AWESOME TAPES FROM AFRICA

Brian Shimkovitz is curator of Awesome Tapes from Africa — an outfit that formed out of a blog he ran for years posting, you guessed it, awesome tapes from Africa that he found while traveling. He now releases new LPs, CDs and MP3s from African artists and tours the world playing both his finds and his releases. The forthcoming release from Awesome Tapes From Africa is by a gentleman named Bola from Northern Ghana. He plays the kologo (a two-stringed lute), expanding a traditional style of praise singing and frenetic strumming into a minimal drum machine and synth-laden future sound. Check it out here.

Brian be spinning poolside this Friday at Desert Gold at Ace Hotel & Swim Club, and his marks the first in our “Roadside Attraction” interviews with Desert Gold luminaries — stay tuned for more, and eat your heart out in the meantime.

What are some roadside attractions unknown pit stops or oddities along America’s shoulders that have…attracted you?

I grew up in Chicago and my sister went to college in Kansas and Missouri so we used to drive around the Midwest a lot. I was always obsessed with the Elvis Is Alive museum, which is along the road between Kansas City and St Louis. Recently I was very attracted to (pleasantly fulfilled by) Andersen’s Split Pea Soup joint along the road between LA and SF. 50s diner meets Danish culture in coastal California was really bizarre.

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If you could be any highway or US route which would you be? I-5? Route 69? Manlove Rd. in Rosemont, CA? (Technically not a highway.)

I’d be the Pacific Coast Highway around Big Sur. Best air ever, a seasonal view of elephant seals and an annual Philip Glass festival.

If there was a highway named after you, where would it begin and end? Points between?

It would start in the hills of southern Indiana and end in the swamps of Louisiana, passing through Vermont for maple syrup and Brooklyn for Jamaican food. Not an express route but lots of mountains, floral diversity and epic roadside gift shops.

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Who is your ideal road trip mate, living or dead? (But this involves pretending they’re alive, not a corpse in your car.)

My ideal road trip mate is my dad because he sleeps most of the time and won’t ever comment on the music I play. He will stop to eat any time, any place.

Favorite song or band to listen to on a road trip? Do you have any songs you search the dials for? Be honest.

ABBA on the radio and Grateful Dead on the tape deck.

Best unexpectedly amazing thing you’ve seen on a road trip.

The Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD sounds really lame but it is mind-blowing! It’s a huge theater with a facade covered in murals and designs made of corn and corn cobs. Super intricate and surprisingly cool, classic small town American genius.

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To see the full schedule for Desert Gold and to book a room, visit the DG HQ.

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March 2012

27 posts

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#Events #PSP #Music #Dinah Shore
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#PSP #Events #Palm Springs Art Museum #interview #interviews
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Bruce Pask presents a charmingly OCD guide to graceful packing practices, at Ace Hotel New York for The New York Times.

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INTERVIEW : GEORGE LOIS

We had the incredible pleasure of visiting iconic designer George Lois, pictured below with his son Luke, in his studio for an interview in anticipation of his book release party at the Art Director’s Club down the street from Ace Hotel New York on March 14. Lois’ new tome Damn Good Advice! is out this month from Phaidon. If you’d like to attend the release, let ‘em know at dga@phaidon.com or 212-652-5217.

You didn’t have Photoshop when you were designing the iconic covers for Esquire. The raw cut and paste look of say, the Warhol in the soup can cover fit well with the times and conveyed a sense of urgency. Is there a point where technology’s obliteration of traditional limits for design becomes constrictive in its own way?

These days it’s so easy for anybody, with talent or not, to pack and overlay images with multiple ideas -– so that there’s not a chance in hell that one, simple Big Idea can shine through. My images are understood in a nanosecond, precise visual statements that you instantly understand, but make you think long and hard about what I am saying.

Are there any publications now — paper or online — that, for you, consistently have a kind of visual impact that moves you?   

No. That’s why I wrote DAMN GOOD ADVICE — trying to teach talented people how to unleash their creative potential. I’ve got plenty to teach them if they’re smart enough to take my advice.

Much has been said about how those covers had very spare text. Browsing a magazine stand today, on the other hand, you’ll often find the images overrun by rogue text. If pictures are worth a thousand words, why is it so hard to trust the images to speak for themselves? What made you uniquely able to do so?

Those dozen cutie pie content blurbs on most magazines in America prove that none of them believe in their brand! I am called a cultural provocateur because my Esquire covers were powerful, jarring and prescient monthly statements on a mass magazine that became essential to the iconography of American Culture. People literally bought them for the power of the covers, understanding that a magazine with such a uniquely uncompromising point of view would certainly offer an exciting read each and every month. No story blurbs were necessary on the front cover! One of the reasons I was uniquely able to make those visual statements was that Esquire’s great editor, Harold Hayes, allowed me — indeed, begged me — to fire away! (And he took most of the heat.)

When you started in the creative business, network television and radio meant there was an almost universal frame of reference. With the proliferation of choices it’s more splintered now. Can a slogan or a “big idea” be identified with on the mass level that it could in the days of “I Want My MTV?” Should it?

Of course it can, and why not? It just takes a big, bold, courageous talent.

Why does America love Don Draper?

Don Draper is a talentless hack who dwells in a glamorous office where stylish fools hump their appreciative secretaries, suck up martinis and smoke themselves to death as they produce dumb, lifeless advertising, oblivious to the inspiring Civil Rights movement, the evil Vietnam War, the Women’s Liberation movement, and other seismic changes during the turbulent 1960s. So you tell me why America should love Don fucking Draper!

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