Friday, October 10, 2008

Update: New Side Project!

I have been pretty slow to update here, but with good reason! If you follow this link to University Street Meet, you can find the newest street fashion blog to hit the Seattle area — and the only dedicated to the University of Washington and the surrounding area. Check up on that as colleague Nikolaj Lasbo and I keep developing the blog, and of course keep reading Reverb, The Daily Weekly, Thread Count and all the other great pieces of Seattle Weekly (I'll be there through December).

Thursday, September 25, 2008

It's Been a Damn Long Time

I haven't posted to the site since July — and I feel horrible — but with good reason. I've kept busy all summer with Seattle Weekly, and eventually gave up trying to link to my work via this site. BUT, you can definitely check out what I've been upto over there on the Weekly Wire and the blogs (especially Reverb). Now that I'm (sort of) back at school, I'll (hopefully) have lots more fun stuff. In the meantime, here's a slideshow of my photos from Bumbershoot 2008 at the Seattle Center; I didn't have a mainstage photo pass, but I did catch some great action on the side stages including Flobots, Anti-Flag, Bedouin Soundclash... well, you'll see. Take a look:

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

SW: Rooney @ Chop Suey

My review (and photos) from last night's show — also at Chop Suey. I'm hoping that it's a little more lucid than the last, if only because I'm writing it at 2 a.m. instead of 5. And though I only caught the last two acts (Rooney and opener Locksley) I'm pretty psyched on the night.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

SW: Freeway @ Chop Suey

My review (and photos) of last night's show at Chop Suey: Freeway, D.Black, Cancer Rising and Jay Barz. I love 206 proof hip-hop!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

SW: We Are Scientists @ Neumos

My review of tonight's (last night?) concert at Neumos. Hint: the opening bands rocked!

Monday, July 7, 2008

review: Beck - "Modern Guilt"

7.6/10

At first glance, Beck’s latest album is much easier to digest than his last handful of releases. “Modern Guilt” feels like some sort of return to the days of 1996’s “Odelay,” with upbeat and catchy melodies. If anything, however, a close listen makes it clear that the buoyant production is a counter for the increasingly dark and disillusioned artist.

Overall, the trouble felt by an artist who built his persona on fun is painfully tangible. The latest LP is more consistent than past albums, in both sound and lyrical content, but the two don’t match up. That may be a sign for the future of the artist known for his experimentation across nearly every genre, but for now there’s nothing to do but sit back and listen.

Though he doesn’t ditch the traditional nonsensical lyrics, Beck also balances the album with some politically charged undertones.

“Walls,” one of the album’s best tracks melodically, is also one of its strongest lyrically: “You got warheads stacked in the kitchen/ You treat distraction like an instant religion…/ Hey, what are you gonna do/ When those walls are falling down/ Falling down on you?”

Likewise, “Gamma Ray” combines a party beat with an environmental warning: “If I could hold hold out for now/ With these icecaps melting down.”

“Modern Guilt” shows signs of producer Danger Mouse’s handiwork if they’re being searched for, but — as in the case of his work with The Black Keys — the sound is still ultimately Beck’s.
The album also features indie-starlet Cat Power on the album opener “Orphans,” creating a beautiful purring harmony and at others.

The album is incredibly short, with 10 songs clocking in at just over half an hour. Short punches of melody and lyric make sure none of the time’s wasted, leaving the album to seem much more full than it actually is.

“Chemtrails” is the album’s best piece of Beck’s home turf psych-rock, featuring a drum backing by longtime collaborator Joey Waronker. Interestingly, it’s also the only track that doesn’t include any Danger Mouse beats or loops.

The album ends with “Volcano,” a strikingly personal prophecy of sorts: “I don't know where I've been, but I know where I'm going/ To that volcano/ I don't want to fall in, though/ Just want to warm my bones on that fire a while.”

LISTEN: BECK - "GAMMA RAY"

SW: Late Night Slideshow

My first Seattle Weekly Slideshow, this one on nightlife. If anyone was wondering what I was doing outside the bars, on Saturday night, here's your answer.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

SW: Falling from Fraternity Houses

My first Seattle Weekly blog post... which may or may not make it into the print edition. Enjoy!

Monday, June 23, 2008

photos: 5th Annual Dash Point Pro/Am Comp

This past Saturday was my second outing with Northwest Riders and the Dashboard Skim Board team, now for the 5th Anual Dash Point Pro/Am Competition. My guys did great — Richard and Issac both walked away with cash prizes! The event itself was a huge success as well; according to a few local experts, events that have been running for decades don't pull the crowds the Dash Point Pro/Am does. I'm constantly amazed at how successful these guys (who barely older than me, mind you) have been and continue to be. Another pretty cool aspect of the comp was the skill and age level. There were divisions for U16, Women, Amatuer and Pro, all of which drawing full and diverse heats.

I shot with my telephoto (70-200 f/2.8 IS) for the most part, but then switched to my wide angle (16-35 f/2.8) toward the end for some experimentation. It was a cloudy day, so I ended up overexposing a lot of my shots which was unfortunate… but on the whole it was a pretty good day.








Sunday, June 15, 2008

music: 107.7 The End Summer Camp II

After thoroughly enjoying The End's Summer Camp earlier today (yesterday?), I've made some important revelations. One, very important, was that I truly love music. The other, slightly less important, was that I cannot stand emo kids.

I was about to review this show, or day of shows, when I thought to myself, "You know, you're going to be reviewing music all summer — why not take this day and just enjoy it without critiquing?" So, that's what I did. The results were amazing.

I was able to just lose myself in the music. The feeling I got, especially during the sets of Flobots and MGMT, was surreal: I felt lifted, absorbed. I felt mesmerized. I felt these things and remembered why I was drawn to music in the first place and why I can never seem to escape (as if I'd want to).

The only thing shaking me out were the obnoxious emo/punk kids who were clearly there for either Armor For Sleep (the former) or Pennywise (the latter). I mean come on — who moshes while there's a cello onstage? It's an unspoken rule, or at least one I never thought would need to be clarified.

I was really proud of Nada Surf frontman Matthew Caws for calling these kids out during their set: "This isn't that kind of show you guys. If you want to punch each other in the face, that's fine, but do it somewhere else." That drew a lot of middle fingers, and one of the crowd threw a belt onstage. Between songs, drummer Ira Elliot buckled it around his neck and yelled out, "Hey, thanks, this is awesome! Brown on one side, black on the other — it goes with everything!"

I was part of an oddly diverse crowd. On one hand, there were hoards of brace-faced teens and tweens who really seemed to young to be at a punk rawk show. On the other hand, there were more than enough big, tattooed, beer-drunk men. Oh yeah, and the one guy wearing a slasher mask: really? But if nothing else, my fellow audience members kept the day interesting.

And, despite the need to defend myself from the annoying alcohol-and-testosterone-fueled antics of a few, my first experience at Marymoor Park was a great one; as usual, music conquered all. And, because I couldn't completely turn off the reviewer part of my brain, here are a few thoughts:

• Flobots' Brer Rabbit can dance. Like really, really dance, beyond words. Props.

• The lead singer/guitarist of MGMT, Andrew Vanwyngarden, is a total psychadellic badass.

•Destructive on-stage antics are only funny for so long. Luckily, Armor For Sleep frontman
Ben Jorgensen took the first dive, throwing his guitar and then falling backwards into a stack of amps. And when Nada Surf's Daniel Lorca threw his base, well, that was pretty great too.

•Putting a cymbal above your head is a really cool thing for a drummer to do, especially if you drum for Nada Surf. More power to you Ira.


•As much as I love them, Pennywise didn't feel as fresh as I thought they might. Guitarist Fletcher Dragge was so pissed off — first at the government, then the Microsofties, and finally the on-call paramedics — that it actually became a little tiring. Warped Tour might be a better home for the prolific punk-rockers.

• That being said, the "Blitzkrieg Bop" cover played by Pennywise featuring Flogging Molly's Dennis Casey on vocals was one of the high points of the day.

•Flogging Molly is, was, and forever will be the most talented and entertaining Irish musicians to ever explore and transform the punk genre. That, and the best spokesmen Guiness could ever hope for.
So, a really good day — good bands, good weather (suprisingly enough) and good friends to enjoy it all with. Thank you 107.7, KNDD, The End. Taking over the world.

Oh, and I officially have a small crush on Mackenzie Roberts, the lovely (and wildly talented) lady who is responsible for the viola behind the Flobots. Wow.

Monday, June 9, 2008

op-ed: Fox Anchor calls Obama "fist pound" a "Terrorist Fist Jab"

From a Huffington Post report, gathered from Media Matters:

During the June 6 edition of Fox News' America's Pulse, host E.D. Hill teased an upcoming discussion by saying, "A fist bump? A pound? A terrorist fist jab? The gesture everyone seems to interpret differently." In the ensuing discussion with Janine Driver — whom Hill introduced as "a body language expert" — Hill referred to the "Michelle and Barack Obama fist bump or fist pound," adding that "people call it all sorts of things." Hill went on to ask Driver: "Let's start with the Barack and Michelle Obama, because that's what most people are writing about -- the fist thump. Is that sort of a signal that young people get?" At no point during the discussion did Hill explain her earlier reference to "a terrorist fist jab."
I hate FOX News. If you can call it news. Check out the clip below.

photos: Jason Barber at Trabant

I just got back from a quick study break at Trabant Coffee and Chai, where my buddy and fraternity brother Jason Barber played a few of his songs at open mic. I popped off a few shots while I was there — open mics are a great chance to shoot live music in a chill setting — and headed back home. For the record, I was actually really impressed, especially with his first song. I'd never heard Barber play his own stuff before, but it's good to know I'm getting guitar pointers from a guy who knows what he's doing. Back to the photos… after a brief interruption by a drunken wrestling match that will surely go down in Xi Deut lore, I decided that editing up a few photos would be a much better use of my time than studying labor history. Screw you Samuel Gompers.

Enjoy.

review: Nas's "Black President"

The latest from NYC rapper Nas, in collaboration with DJ Green Lantern, is a the latest in a long line of support for Obama from the music community. The brilliant piece of pro-Obama hip-hop comes off of the new mixtape "The Nigger Tape," just after Bob Dylan's endorsement a few days ago and the viral Will.I.Am song and video "Yes We Can" from earlier this year.

Not only does he remix Obama's acceptance speech, but the hook is sampled from 2Pac's "Changes": "And though it seems heaven-sent, we ain't ready to have a black president."

The track boasts a smart set of rhymes, too; Nas brings up Calvin Coolidge's KKK connection and Andrew Jackson's mixed Native American blood. As the Obama clip in the beginning says, "They said this day would never come." And Nas respons with the rallying cry, "Yes we can, change the world."

LISTEN: NAS - "BLACK PRESIDENT"

Friday, June 6, 2008

news: No more bonfires? Say it aint so…

According to a Seattle P-I report, Seattle Parks and Recreation officials are considering reducing or eliminating altogether the fire pits at Alki and Golden Gardens. Under the proposal, in July the department would reduce the number of pits at Alki from the current 6 to 3, and at Golden Gardens from 12 to 7. The next year, they would have the option to eliminate them entirely.

This is the second time in recent memory that the waterfront tradition has been threatened: in 2004 a violation notice was sent from the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency to the city after someone set a couch on fire at Alki Beach. However, 1,200 people signed a petition to save Alki's bonfires, and 100 others signed a petition to save the ones at Golden Garden.

Now, environmental concerns are threatening the fires once again. According to a memo to the park board from the staff, "The overall policy question for the Board is whether it is good policy for Seattle Parks to continue public beach fires when the carbon emissions produced by thousands of beach fires per year contributes to global warming."

However, there are some strong arguments in favor of leaving the fires alone. More staff have been assigned to the two beaches, and the number of fires using illegal materials has dropped by two-thirds. Restrictions could cause illegal fires and fights over the limited number of fire pits. Charging fees to use the pits could cause disproportionate availability for youths and low-income people.

[Editor's Note] Do these fires really present a threat in the battle against climate change? Though I don't have much evidence in front of me, I'd wager the effect of even a few thousand bonfires would be far less than the carbon emissions of a handful of cars. Despite the environmentally friendly mindset of Seattle and its residents (myself definitely included), I'd be surprised to see a tradition like this be disposed of for minimal benefit. The Parks & Rec board meeting is next Thursday night… I guess we'll have to wait and see what happens. If you want to make your voice heard, show up at 7 p.m at the park department's offices (100 Dexter Ave. N).

Thursday, June 5, 2008

sports: NBA Finals, Game 1

In the battle of what ESPN's John Hollinger called the immovable object versus the unstoppable force, well... the old saying that "defense wins games" has been repeated for a reason. The Celtics sealed off Game 1 of the Finals series cleanly with a 98-88 victory, and their solid play on both ends seems like something they could easily duplicate three more times.

In this contest, it was Paul Pierce's reentrance and back-to-back threes in the third quarter — after he had been carried off the court and put in a wheelchair — that put momentum behind the Celtics not even Kobe could stifle. He did a good job of stifling Kobe, too.

On that note, the 2008 MVP didn't make the kind of blow-out performance he's known to make: though he dropped 24 points, he was only 9-26 from the floor and 0-3 from behind the arch. It certainly wasn't the 39 points he put up versus the Spurs last week.

KG double-doubled, with 24 points and 13 rebounds in a solid performance from the league's Defensive Player of the Year. There was an even distribution of points among four of the five Boston starters, all scoring at least 15.

Sam Cassell also deserves some MVP status; the guy's 38, but that didn't keep him from making some crucial plays tonight in just 10 minutes off the bench in the first half.

Monday, June 2, 2008

news and photos: Wing Luke Asian Museum

On Sunday morning, I trekked into Seattle's International District to report on the latter half of the Wing Luke Asian Museum's two-day grand opening extravaganza. Despite the fact that I was (literally) temporarily deafened by the traditional firecrackers that scared the living hell out of me, I really enjoyed the performances outside and the museum itself. This was definitely an experiment in my courage as a photographer; I didn't want to interfere with a culturally important ceremony, but I also couldn't get a shot from the middle of the crowd, so I hopped the rope and perched against the building literally right in front of the dance. The shots that resulted from that move were exactly what I wanted. Below are four of my favorites, in addition to the story I wrote from an amazing noodle restaurant about three blocks away.

The Wing Luke Asian Museum will be open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission is $8 for adults, $6 for students and seniors, and free for kids under 5. Admission is free on the first Thursday and third Saturday of each month. For more information, visit www.wingluke.org.

ABOVE: A young boy performs a routine with a traditional spear outside the Wing Luke Asian Museum. His routine, along with others, was part of the second day of festivities celebrating the museum's grand reopening.

ABOVE: Four performers dance during a ceremonial Lion and Dragon performance outside the Wing Luke Asian Museum on June 1. Each lion is made up of two people, with one in the head and one in the rear.

ABOVE: A woman dances outside the Wing Luke Asian Museum during its grand opening festivities as a part of the Lion and Dragon Dance performance.

ABOVE: A young girl pets a performer in traditional Chinese Lion costume. Many children were present and the ceremonial dance, and some continued on to the many children's areas inside the museum.

Wing Luke Asian Museum reopens to community's delight

Amid the deafening roar of fireworks, a cheer rang out from the crowd. The Wing Luke Asian Museum was perfectly situated into its new International District home.

On Saturday morning, the first day of the grand opening weekend celebration, supporters filled the block in front of the new 719 S. King St. to hear speeches from local politicians and to see a multicultural drumming performance. The next morning, a similar crowd turned out for a lion and dragon dance performance. As soon as the performances were finished, onlookers crowded to the entrance to catch a glimpse inside.

Joann Natalia Aquino, the museum’s public relations manager, was excited both about the museum’s expansion and the public’s support.

“The community has welcomed the museum with open arms,” she said. “We’re very glad to open and glad that the community has embraced us.”

The museum features peaceful lightwells, children’s areas, historic immersion exhibits, the Tateuchi Story Theater and the unique “George Tsutakawa: The Making of a Fountain” exhibition displaying fountains, paintings and sculptures of the Seattle artist.
The museum, a Smithsonian Institution affiliate, is the only Pan-Asian Pacific-American museum in the U.S. It focuses on three dimensions: contemporary space, historic space and a portal to Chinatown discovery.

Wing Luke was Seattle's first Asian city councilman. Elected in 1962, he served three years before dying in a plane crash after leaving an Okanogan County airport on May 16, 1965. A search, paid for by contributions from friends and supporters, found the plane over three years later in the Cascade Mountains.

Money left over from the search effort was used to start the original Wing Luke Museum, which quickly outgrew its 10,000 square foot original residence. The new location, in the old East Kong Yick Building, is about six times that size.

Originally a boarding house full of small rooms, the East Kong Yick building was often a first stop for those who had nowhere else to go when they arrived in Seattle. It has been mostly uninhabited for years, but after a five-year campaign by the Wing Luke Asian Museum that raised $23.2 million that’s no longer the case.

Architect Rick Sundberg made it a goal to save as much of the building as he could rather than gutting it, and in doing so saved the storytelling ability of the building. Century-old timber, refurbished and repurposed, lines the museum’s walls. Suddenly, the building became a source of pride for the community, combining past with future.

UW student Mitchell Fung, along with about ten of his fellow Zeta Kappa Epsilon fraternity members, helped with event staff to direct guests at the grand opening.

“We’re an Asian-interest fraternity, but for some of our members this is brand new,” Fung said. “This gives us a chance to learn about our culture and do what we can to help the community.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

personal: Past Love and a Singing Husky

George stopped singing a few days ago.

My little stuffed Husky (George, Washington... get it?) was a build a bear creation that had also been stuffed with a sound box that played "Beautiful Mess" by Diamond Rio. It was a Christmas gift from my ex-girlfriend. That was our song.

When a friend of mine squeezed him to set off the box — which I was convinced she'd do from time to time just to see my reaction — he didn't burst into slightly muffled song. I had to check for myself, but no… the stifled little voice was all worn out.

Never mind that she and I broke up over a year ago. Never mind that I initiated it. And now… now we're at different schools, with different friends, and have become significantly different people. It was weird seeing her in the grocery store back home, though, a few weeks ago. I hated my heart for beating harder. I hated myself for caring.

Love is a funny, funny thing. She was my first intoxicating brush with something that resulted in some of the best and worst times of my life. I think that will always stay with me. For some reason this line from Chuck Klosterman, from "Killing Yourself to Live," always resonated in my mind:

"The person who defines your understanding of love is not inherently different from anyone else, and they're often just the person you happen to meet the first time you really, really want to love someone. But that person still wins. They win, and you lose. Because for the rest of your life, they will control how you feel about everyone else."
In my mind, she was that person. Oh, Chuck, you're so fucking right.

Our relationship was far from perfect, and undeniably a little immature, but despite all its flaws that relationship is my realization of what love is. It was exactly what I needed then, an escape into something I didn’t really understand, but sort of liked. It taught me things I needed to learn, and not always “the easy way.”

I am over her. It’s been a year, and I’m a mature guy, and I can handle it. But every now and then a rogue thought slips into my head, maybe in passing, maybe in a dream. Maybe it’ll be some trip to jump off the docks at the lake, some hillside clearing where we watched the sun set, some formal dance where we had a little too much fun.

As great as those memories are, they’re still just memories. They’re in the past, and they’re not coming back. I’m OK with that.

And George will likely never sing again. I'm OK with that too.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

news: Ahhhh T.I. is coming to Bumbershoot!

When I heard that Ludacris dropped his appearance at Bumbershoot 2008, I was more or less crushed. After seeing Lupe Fiasco and Wu Tang last year, I know just how amazing a headlining hip-hop show at Bumbershoot can be (though tragically I missed Kanye the year before).

BUT guess what? It was just announced tonight that T.I. will be there in full force. How great will that be?

Check out the rest of the as-of-yet announced lineup here. We're talking Band of Horses, Stone Temple Pilots, Anti Flag, Neko Case, Minus the Bear, The Black Keys, Beck… and a whole lot more.

Can. Not. Wait.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

exlcusive!: Interview with Rainn Wilson

“The Office” star sits down at the Sasquatch! Festival with Nick to talk about music, his new movie “The Rocker,” and UW’s parking fine conspiracy…

Photo Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

What’s your favorite act so far?


I got to introduce The National yesterday and I just love that band. It was really cool to see them live because I only know them from their CDs. But, you know like most bands they just really take it up a notch live. It’s really interesting stuff.

Big music person?

I am, yeah. I’m a big music fan. I was just talking to Cold War Kids over here from L.A. and they’re one of my favorite bands too.

Very cool. So I guess, music, and what your new movie is… did you ever have the rock star dream as a kid?

You know, I never did as a kid. But it’s interesting because they always say that “all actors secretly want to be rock stars and all rock stars secretly want to be actors” and now that I’ve been more of an actor, now that my career’s taken off more then I start to have secret rock star dreams. But I’m not going to go that way, I promise you here and now I’m not going to record an album, it’s not going to happen. But I’m a big music fan and I love being able to meet the bands and see them live and kind of get to know the musicians. I just love what they do. When you see a group of people on a stage just with some instruments and then they’re able over two hours to just transport an audience to a whole other plane of existence, it’s really cool.

So I got a chance to catch “The Rocker” last week, and I liked it a lot. What did you think of the final product?

Yeah I really liked the movie, I think it’s really cool. I think it’s a really sweet rock and roll comedy, if there is such a thing. It’s kind of like a fun for the whole family rock and roll journey, with great characters and just a great comic cast. Everyone in the cast is really top notch and brings something.

How did you get into the role and get pulled into the project?

You know I met with the producers of it, and they were big fans of the office, and of course every script in L.A. goes to the biggest names first and go rejected by all of the A-list people — I think it got passed on by Jack Black and Will Farrell — and then they went to me. There’s actually a pretty funny story because the head of FOX was not going to green light it. He’s like, “You know the guy who plays Dwight, he’s an uptight guy, a weirdo in “The Office.” I don’t know, the rock and roll thing, I just don’t get it.” And then, that very week, the episode of “The Office” played where Michael and I are on the roof and we throw watermelons off the roof and we’re rocking out and playing air guitar and jamming out. The producer went into his office and said “Give me 17 seconds” and opens his laptop and plays 17 seconds of me and Steve rocking out on the roof and the head of FOX says “Alright, I get it, do the movie.”

You rocked those drums pretty hard in the movie — have you played any music before?

I played a lot of music growing up. I was in a lot of bands. I mean I was in a rock band in high school but I was also in “band” band and marching band and orchestra and played saxophone and bassoon, took piano lessons. So I knew how to read music and I kind of learned the songs from the musical charts.

So were you actually playing?

That’s me actually playing all through it. We recorded some of it, there’s going to be a soundtrack. Teddy Geiger, the lead singer kid, he’s a recording artist and that’s his real vocals. He’s got a great voice. It should be a good soundtrack.

How was working with the cast?

They were great. It was an insane shoot, we were shooting 6 days a week, and we averaged about 14 to 15 hours a day. And most of it was at night, so we would be called in at 4 or 5 p.m. and get out at like 8 or 9 in the morning. It was completely cockamamie. Mayhem. I look at some of the scenes in that movie and just remember shooting it at seven in the morning when I’d been up for like 20 hours, and I just look so friggin’ haggard and worn down, and I’m like “oh right because I got four hours of sleep and it was seven in the morning.”

And how about kissing Christina?

It was American male’s dream, and it was a dream come true. Now I can die happy.

Beautiful! So tell me about “Bonzai Shadow Hands.”

You know, it’s a script that I’m writing. I’m almost done with the second draft, and Jason Reitman is producing it and hopefully directing it. It’s cool, it’s about a down-and-out ninja, alcoholic, living in a halfway house in the San Fernando Valley. It’s kind of like the most fucked up karate kid you can imagine.

Are you doing more writing?

Yeah, there’s actually another script I’m working on with another UW alum. This guy named Matt Ross, from Big Love, I was in acting class with him and my current wife. We’re writing a script called “Renaissance Men,” and it’s a comedy set in a renaissance fair. We used to paly a lot of D&D and fencing and stage combat and we kind of drew on all that. So yeah I’m doing a lot more writing and maybe turning to directing too at some point.

Alright, well I have to talk a little "Office." Are you ever afraid of being pigeonholed as Dwight?

Sure, I mean I think any actor is afraid of being pigeonholed for what they’re best known for. I think that’s a very common thing and I think actors who don’t have a lot of range should be scared but I come from theater and it’s all about the process of acting and transforming. I feel like I transform into Dwight, not to get all artsy-fartsy about it, but when you do the haircut and the polyester suit and the annoying attitude, that’s not me it’s the character I’m playing. I think that I’ll have a long career with a lot of different types of roles.

What’s stuff like with John [Krasinski], when you don’t have to be rivals? And with Steve [Carell] and Jenna [Fischer] and B.J. [Novak]?

We all get along great, hang out a lot. John and I play a lot of Xbox together. Jenna and I play poker sometimes. We have a blast, it’s really like a family. There’s no weird rivalries or anything like that, it’s pretty cool.

Please tell me that Dwight and Angela are getting back together?

No comment. But I think we might see a Dwight-Andy kind of man love thing next season. I would not be surprised if that happened.

What’s your favorite UW memory?

Oh boy, I have a lot of them. I owed so much in parking fines to the University of Washington, I hope they never find me. I would just find ways to drive out of the parking lots without having to go through the arm. I would drive through the bushes in my old 1974 Volvo and just come over the curb. I just got countless tickets and never paid them. It must be now in the thousands that I owe UW and they’re never going to see a dime. They also offered me to be the commencement speaker last year and then pulled it. Who was the commencement speaker, it was some politician guy.

I actually can’t remember.

Yeah, it was that memorable. I think they found out about my parking fines and were like “Hell no, we’re not going to give that guy the commencement address. He’s going to set a bad example.”

exlcusive!: Interview with Dead Confederate

After a few bottles of bourbon, the five-piece band from Georgia — Hardy Morris (vocals and guitar), John Watkins (vocals and keys), Jason Scarboro (drums), Walker Howle (lead/slide guitar) and Brantley Senn (vocals, bass) — sat down with Nick at the Sasquatch! Festival to talk rock and roll.

Photo by Skylar Reeves

LISTEN: DEAD CONFEDERATE - "THE RAT"

So have you guys been having fun up here?


Walker Howle: No!

(laughing) Yeah I can tell you’re not having any fun.

Howle: Nope, no fun. Next question!

Alright, next question… so how was the in-studio at KEXP on Friday?

Brantley Senn: It was cool. I think the house party the night before with was better though.

Hardy Morris: We played a house party the night before that was really, really fun.

Oh sick, in just in Seattle?

Morris: Yeah, the Green House. We played with Clout and Loving Thunder.

Howle: They were a two-piece, fuckin’ badass. It was cool, getting to town and playing a local party. It’s so real, you know what I mean, and then you go do the KEXP thing, radio shows are just not so real. It’s cool going to a town across the whole country and fitting right in with the local people. It’s really cool.

So I hear you guys get called Southern Rock a lot, what do you think about that? Do you feel like you’re Southern Rock, like you’re the next Skynard?

Howle: Hardy is! But all of us are really more Metallica-based.

Senn: Yeah we’re just rock and roll from the South, not Southern Rock. Just cock rock, monitor rock — you have to straddle a monitor.

What about the Cobain/Nirvana comparisons? What do you guys think about that?

Morris: They’re definitely an influence, there’s no doubt. But we also do slide guitar and keyboards that they would probably laugh at.

Senn: Hardy’s influenced by them, but I write the other half of the songs and I’m not influenced by them.

Jason Scarboro: Of the two songwriters, only half is influenced by that and the other half comes from weirdo-brains over there.

What’s your influences then?

Senn: Sonic Youth, Pink Floyd, Alex Van Halen. I think Alex Van Halen maybe more than anyone.

So what can we expect from the new LP. It’s dropping soon right?

Morris: September 17 or 16, the record actually comes out. It’s called “Wrecking Ball.” There’s ten songs, right around an hour.

Senn: But it’s pretty lengthy, it’s got like a 12-minute song on there.

What’s the sound like, compared to your EP?

Morris: It’s a lot tighter. It’s reminiscent of the EP, but better.

Senn: The EP was a demo that we put together in like two days. This time we had a lot more time to live and record, it was a lot longer than just kind of going into a studio for two days and trying to hammer out vocals and songs and all that. I guess the record is still kind of live.

So after Sasquatch you’re going out with All The Saints right, then Bonaroo, then Drive By Truckers. You guys are keeping damn busy, are you excited about it?

Howle: I like the way you know what’s going on.

Scarboro: This is way better than the guy who asked us what the fuck we ate at Denny’s.

Howle: We had an interview about fuckin’ what we ate. It was like, “I’ll piss on your shoes.”

(laughing) So are you guys excited to be keeping busy and just being on the road a lot?

Senn: Absolutely. We’ll be going to California for the first time. And it happens to be with The Truckers so it can’t be all bad — lots of Jack Daniels and a lot of bourbon.

Yeah, it’s kind of a Southern gig.

Senn: It’s cool that they take out bands that aren’t exactly their genre. I don’t think, with the exception of a slide guitar, there isn’t much similarity besides that we’re all from Athens. So it’s kind of cool that they actually give us a couple of weeks to go out and do our thing because it’s hard to find someone to take you out on tour when you’re an up-and-coming band.

Howle: Especially when you’re loud or you’re not an open band. If you’re loud and distorted, you don’t want that opening up for you. But they don’t care. It’s really cool that they support things that they like.

Scarboro: Patterson Hood [of Drive By Truckers] is the coolest motherfucker in Athens, basically.

So what’s it been like in the Athens music scene?

Senn: Me and Hardy went to school there for a while, and that’s where we formed our relationship. We all moved to Atlanta as a band to start taking things seriously for about four years and now we’re back.

Morris: I moved back a few years ago, ya’ll moved back in January.

Scarboro: You moved like six months before we did!

Morris: I’ve been there for two years, I really have. Where’d you think I was?

Howle: So basically we’re confused about our upbringing, but we know what’s going on now. Now we know what’s happening.

exlcusive!: Interview with Dyme Def

After their early set at Sasquatch!, Seattle’s very own hip-hop trio — Brainstorm, S.E.V. and Fearce Villain — along with producer Bean One sat down with Nick to talk about the rap game, their past and their future.


LISTEN: DYME DEF - "THE GAME NEEDS ME"

So how are you guys liking the Gorge? Have you been here before?

Bean One: No! This is all of our first time.

Oh yeah? How did it feel?

Fearce Villain: Super sick! The energy’s great, the weather’s great, the stage is great, the sound is great.

You guys really filled up that main stage pretty fast.

S.E.V.:Yeah, for the first act. I think sound check helped us a lot because then people knew something was going on.

So you guys have been going since the ninth grade?

Fearce Villian: Pshh… more like the summer of eighth grade. We all just turned 22. Well, besides Bean One, he’s a fossil.

Bean One: I’m a fossil, ha! I’m 32.

I saw a picture of that homemade studio you guys made way back — does it feel like you’ve come a long way?

S.E.V.: Fuck yeah. A long way.

Bean One: All that they did, when they came to my studio they were so ready. They were some of the most professionals I’ve ever dealt with in the studio. You know what I mean, just from all that hard work they did prior to that.

“Space Music,” as far as compared to the rest of the Seattle hip-hop scene — I don’t know if harder is the right word — but it’s different, not like that Blue Scholars, Gabriel Teodros… do you think that’s an important thing for the Seattle scene right now?

Bean One: Yeah, I mean equally as important as their sound is, you know it’s just another representation of the art form. The high energy, to me, it relates a lot more to what people are typically used to hearing somewhat sonically, as far as the high energy and the aggressiveness of it. But at the same time it’s light hearted. You know, half the people put us in a party group, and I don’t know what the other half put us in.

Brainstorm: Some would say we’re “too hip-hop.”

Bean One: It’s definitely a big difference from Seattle because I was, you know, in a part of 10 or 15 other hip-hop groups in Seattle and it’s always been more of a mental and slow…

Brainstorm: And emo. I’ll say it. It’s emo shit.

Bean One: Yeah it has been. It was that era of hip-hop at the same time but the shows weren’t lively in the same way that these guys bring the live element to it.

So you guys have been playing some big shows lately… you did Pit Bull, Scarface…

Brainstorm: We actually backed out on the Scarface.

Bean One: The promoters called us to hook up the show and then waited until like two days before the show to ask us what we needed and the typical stuff and we didn’t think that was a professional attitude. We’ve done a lot of shows, like we went to Canada and did Mos Def and got kicked out of backstage. We didn’t get any drinks or anything.

S.E.V. After a lot of that we just don’t deal with bad promotions.

Bean One: But after the show they were so nice to us!

Fearce Villain: Yeah after they seen what we could do, because they didn’t know what we could do.

S.E.V.: Always, it’s always that way man when we walk in the spot they kind of just give us that look, but when we walk off it’s a whole different story.

Fearce Villain: That curiosity, you know what I’m saying, they’re already judging you as soon as you walk in there, looking at you like “What can these guys do?”

Do you feel like you have to prove yourselves a lot?

Fearce Villain: Yeah, well that’s what I love about it.

S.E.V.: It’s not even about proving, I mean it proves it but we go out there like we ain’t trippin’, like “think what you want.”

Bean One: We enjoy the challenge. Most of the crowds thatwe thought would be the hardest ones to win over have been the easiest.

Fearce Villain: I think our goal is kind of to make it hard for whoever’s going after us. Like, we make it really hard for them to put on a good show. So we like “You want to put us first? You sure?” and we go out there and do our best and make it real hard for that next person to come up.

Brainstorm: (laughing) That happened at the Pit Bull show. We’ve done that a lot.

So, me included, there’s kind of this white suburban fan base of hip-hop. Out there that was kind of all it was, how do you guys take that?

Fearce Villain: We never started saying we were making music for one set area. You know, we come from different parts of Seattle, and it’s not like we’re trying to make straight hood music. We’re making universal music for everybody. It feels real good when we can get that love from all parts. I mean, we love it.

Bean One: And like I said, I’ve noticed we get more from that than our own genre.

S.E.V.: Exactly. Like if we did a regular hip-hop show at Chop Suey, it’s cool but it’s not the same energy at all. But when we do a show out in the middle of somewhere where nobody really knows too much about who you are it’s just a whole different scene and whole different element. It’s crazy to be actually able to win over that type of crowd. It was definitely a good experience. It makes me feel good, shit, I won’t lie.

What are you guys expecting from your Warped Tour stops?

Bean One: Man! Fun, and a lot of people.

S.E.V.: Yeah, I think we’re coming back here again so I’m excited. I love it here, it’s crazy.

Fearce Villain: Definitely, it’s a real good venue out here.

So kind of back to the Seattle hip-hop scene, staying locally relevant is pretty huge. When you start to blow up — I mean you already are — but when you start to blow up a little more is that something that sticks with you?

Bean One: Yeah man! Seattle hasn’t had an icon visible to the nation since Mix-A-Lot. That’s like 20 plus years ago. And not that he needs to get out of the way or anything but you know it’s time for something new. Where every other city flips over monthly or yearly whatever, you know when we would take the record to record labels they’d be like “Oh, we thought you guys would sound like grunge” and it’s like “You know we actually do hip-hop out here too.” But Seattle has so much influence on our music, and you know the northwest doesn’t have a signature sound yet.

Brainstorm: We will be that signature sound real soon. Real soon.

So I have to ask you guys about the song “Let It Be”— I really connected to that song, I liked it a lot. What’s the story on that?

Fearce Villian: Man, to be honest, you know I had a lot of stuff built up. And that song wasn’t intended to do anything. I just wrote it and came out to Bean’s and was I like “Man I just want to get this off my chest. The sample was actually flipped totally different, that song didn’t really sound like that, and after I made it I was like “This is cool and I’m glad I got it off my chest” and then like two days later he hit me up and was like “Man you got to hear this song.” I think as a matter of fact I was picking up D. Black from the airport and I had the CD with me and I played it to him and was like “Damn, this song is actually good.”

Bean One: It’s one of the most requested songs at shows and stuff. It’s ridiculous. But that says something too. It’s so honest of a song. That’s the type of music that lasts forever.

Brainstorm: It’s some real shit.

S.E.V.: When we speak about the mixtape, there’s a lot more stuff that ever since we got started with “Space Music” til now, we’re getting more personal with our music. So with the mixtape you’re going to hear a lot more about what Dyme Def’s really about on the personal side. We’re just stepping up. If you like “Space Music,” you’re really going to like this new album. With the mixtape, we looked at that and it was our baby but you got to grow, the next album has got to be better.

When’s that going to be dropping?

Bean One: June 22, at the release party at Nectar. All ages. I think Kublakai, Neema, JFK, The Physics are all there.

There some big collabos on the album?

Brainstorm: We got one, well I got one with Young Buck. We got a lot of good drops and stuff from people, we got a drop from Bun B.

So what’s in the future for Dyme Def?

Bean One: It’s almost more just the future of the record industry. It’s like, where can we find an opening to do it? We’re ready. The album is ridiculous — nothing on the mixtape is making the album. These guys are definitely not lazy.

Brainstorm: We on some Pac shit. (laughing) It don’t even matter if it’s a song that’s going on anything, if it’s a song that needs to be recorded it’ll get recorded.

So you guys are pretty prolific, been doing a lot of recording?

Bean One: As much as possible. It’s tough with everyone’s life; I’m married with two kids, he’s a club monster, he’s got kids. We’re really all aiming to where we’re can make money so that’s all we can do. Just wait ‘til we can unlock that potential.

Monday, May 26, 2008

review: Sasquatch Day Three (Monday)

All the pieces came together for the festival’s last day — the sun was shining, the rain was gone and a nice breeze kept everyone comfortable. With the exception of a few acts like Ghostland Observatory, Battles and Delta Spirit, there was little reason to leave the Sasquatch! main stage.

The main stage kicked off early with Seattle’s own Dyme Def. The up-and-coming hip hop trio, along with producer and DJ Bean One, easily filled the stage presence requirement. Though it was early and the crowd wasn’t huge, those who were fortunate enough to see the “three bad brothaas” were captivated.

The Hives put on the ultimate rock and roll show, with all the pomp and circumstance and craziness of a supergroup. As they’re known to do, lead guitarist Nicholaus Arson went nuts on stage and lead singer Pelle Almqvist jumped onto amps and surrounding railing. It was one of the most fun sets to watch of the whole festival, and according to Almqvist if it had gotten any better The Gorge would’ve collapsed.

Sadly, Built to Spill sounded great but were boring to watch; even lead singer and guitarist Doug Martsch looked a little bored at times.

However, the mind-blowing talent of Mexican duo Rodrigo Y Gabriela was a sight to behold. When nothing but two acoustic guitars can whip up the pit and captivate thousands, something is going right.

Flight of the Conchords, though confined to a short set, proved to be a festival favorite. Their comedic brand of folk-style music even caused a fan to throw her bra onstage after the song “The Most Beautiful Girl (In The Room)” to the amusement of the New Zealand duo.

The Mars Volta thrashed around on the main stage to a full pit, but the sound was horrible and lead singer’s Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s antics (which involved throwing a cymbal and an electric fan at the audience) were annoying and dangerous. It was clear that the crowd was really there to see festival headliners The Flaming Lips and their surreal U.F.O. Show.

The actual U.F.O. was a gigantic disc structure covered in lights and mirrors, from which lead singer and guitarist Wayne Coyne emerged in a giant plastic bubble after it was lowered from near the top awning and rolled around on the hands of the crowd. The sound was great, and the show was surreal; the crowd was coated in confetti and streamers and the stage shrouded in fog.

The Flaming Lips got political too, urging audience members to vote — Democrat — and playing a rendition of “Taps” dedicated to fallen soldiers.

After Coyne mentioned that “The Song Remains the Same” by Led Zeppelin, which they were about to cover, always made him think of summertime and nudity, a group of naked girls rushed in from the side of the stage and began dancing with him.

“Alright motherfuckers, you don’t get to see that at every show do you?” he said. “Only at Sasquatch!”

Sunday, May 25, 2008

review: Sasquatch Day Two (Sunday)

Though the sun that was out and hot to kick off the morning was quickly dampened by on-and-off pouring rain, it eventually triumphed and resulted in a day worthy of the festival’s lineup.

The band Awesome and 65daysofstatic kicked off the Sasquatch! Stage, but the first big pit-packer was Seattle’s very own Blue Scholars. The duo repped “that real Northwest hip hop music” and played some new songs, possibly making the most crowd-pleasing performance of the day.

Indie rockers White Rabbits played an easy to enjoy set on the Wookie! side stage that was fun and poppy, not to mention the guys were all matching in their collared shirts and Ray Ban Sunglasses.

The pure voices of Tegan and Sara carried over an immensely packed main stage. The duo was modest and thankful, dedicating songs to producer Chris Walla and Death Cab for Cutie.

Back on the Wookie! side stage, Mates of State performed an energetic set as the weather finally began to cool down a bit. The duo’s sound was phenomenal, and the violin and cello backing brought the act together.

Michael Franti and Spearhead, whose sound can best be described as Bob Marley combined with Duran Duran’s “Rio,” whipped the crowd into a frenzy with his poppy and political tunes.

Though they were nearly an hour late going on, British act The Kooks still drew one of the largest sides stage crowds of the entire festival. Though they overlapped with Death Cab for Cutie, people stuck by their decision to see the act which easily could’ve been on the main Sasquatch! Stage.

Pacific Northwest favorites Death Cab for Cutie played an inspiring set, opening with “Bixby Canyon Bridge” from their new album Narrow Stairs and continuing on with a wide variety of new and old songs. The group was dressed in black, because, according to lead singer Ben Gibbard, “I’m so fucking excited to see The Cure you wouldn’t believe it.” He dedicated “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” to them.

Unfortunately, headliner The Cure was a boring performance. Though the smoke and lighting was brilliant, the actual band was less than captivating. That didn’t seem to matter to the thousands packing into the pit and spilling up the hillside.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

review: Sasquatch Day One (Saturday)

The first day of the Sasquatch! Festival was everything that it should have been.

Seattle low-fi indie group Fleet Foxes opened up the Sasquatch! Main Stage with a solid performance that kept fans excited throughout the day.

In the meantime, Southern rockers Dead Confederate made a solid — and very loud — appearance at the Wookie! side stage. The five-piece group from Athens, Ga. was the epitome of heartfelt rock.

Because of a bus breakdown, The National was forced to postpone their performance on the main stage and move to the Wookie! side stage. Fleet Foxes covered for their set.

Another notable side stage performance was Destroyer, whose lead singer Dan Bejar also plays in The New Pornographers. The two bands sets overlapped on different stages, but Bejar rushed over and made most of his other band’s main stage appearance. Both group’s performances were amazing, and The New Pornographers performed a fun cover of “Don’t Bring Me Down.” Covers seemed to be the popular theme, with The Breeders covering The Beatles’ “Happiness is a Warm Gun.”

M.I.A. was clearly the night’s biggest success, bringing even the audience sitting in the terrace to their feet. The act turned wild when she literally said “Well, fuck it,” and pulled fans from the pit to the stage, turning it into a packed dance floor. Security had no idea what to do.

Though some light rain thinned the crowd, Modest Mouse kept the energy going with a hit-filled set. And, apparently, every member of the band can play multiple instruments — other than the drummers every member played at least two instruments, including banjo, keyboard, piano, upright bass, trumpet on top of the usual.

The night was closed by oldie-but-goodie R.E.M, who put on the type of show that’s kept them successful for the last two decades. As lead singer Michael Stipe said when the band left, “We are R.E.M. This is what we do.”

Thursday, May 22, 2008

photos: The Red Carpet at the Seattle International Film Festival

Tonight was the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) Opening Night Gala featuring a debut screening of "Battle In Seattle," a semi-fictionalized telling of the 1999 WTO riot in Seattle. I was granted access into the "Press Pit," which is a glorified (actually, not really) name for the area where paparazzi are corralled while the stars walk the red carpet into the theater. It was my first red carpet, and I literally had no idea what I was doing or what to expect. I will say that this one, compared to many I've seen and heard about, was incredibly low-key. Still — and I won't say never, because that's not a wise thing to do — it would surprise me if I did many more red carpet events in the future. I honestly felt like such a total sell-out and worthless paparazzi, until, of course two things happened. First, I talked to Mike Urban, an extremely talented photographer from the P-I, who was doing the same job. Next, I was literally feet away from Michelle Rodriguez, André Benjamin and Charlize Theron. I don't know if starstruck is the word but... wow.

ABOVE: "Battle In Seattle" star Charlize Theron poses with boyfriend and writer/director Stuart Townsend on the red carped at the SIFF Opening Night Gala on May 22. The film merges dramatic performances with actual event footage to tell a semi-fictionalized story of the 1999 WTO riot in Seattle.

ABOVE: Actress Charlize Theron poses on the red carpet outside McCaw Hall on May 22 at the SIFF Opening Night Gala, featuring her latest film "Battle In Seattle."

ABOVE: Musician and actor André Benjamin poses with SIFF Managing Director Deborah Person (left) and SIFF Artistic Director Carl Spence (right). Benjamin plays the role of Django in the opening night film "Battle In Seattle."

ABOVE: Michelle Rodriguez throws up a peace sign for nonviolence at the SIFF red carpet on May 23. "Yeah, nonviolent protests," she said, responding to someone in the crowd. "That's what I'm talking about."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

photos: NWR Team Rider Jake Waldrop

On the same day of my shoot with the DB Skim guys, I got to catch up with Northwest Riders team skater Jake Waldrop at the Mill Creek skate park. The kid's only a freshman in high school, but he can shred. I only got to shoot with him for maybe half an hour, but he was determined to stick a few good ones; it was more about hitting them for him then for me or the camera though, and I respected that a lot. He's clearly a shredder, but he was damn modest about it. He took some pretty rough falls too, especially trying to (I think) crooked that rail in photo #2, but he never bailed on any attempts until he hit it or knew for sure that it wasn't the right day. His little buddy in the third photo, who's name I never actually caught, was pretty impressive too.

ABOVE: Jake attempts a kickflip-to-5-0 grind combo on a two-tier box at the skate park. Though he never actually hit this one, he came real close. I talked with him for a little bit about how it was dealing with an unfamiliar park and how Mill Creek was a little bigger than he was used to (though you wouldn't know that from how he kicked it there).

ABOVE: Jake boardslides a rail over a three-flat-three. He hit the boardslide on one of his first tries, but then had to push the envelope. He probably tried to crooked grind the thing for a solid ten minutes before he hit it, but in the end he stuck it beautifully.

ABOVE: Jake's friend, who I didn't actually oficially "meet" definitely deserved a photo posted up here. The kid, who is trying to get a sponsorship of his own, is a pretty rad skater himself. He hit some 180 kickflips over this two-stair (above), and inbetween Jake's attempts at a kickflip combo on the box, he nailed a few slick 5-0 grinds.

photos: My first NWR shoot with the DBSkim team

This summer, I'll be interning with Northwest Riders, a clothing company that sponsors a Wakeboard, Skimboard, Snowboard, Skateboard and Surf team. As their photographer, I'll be shooting sponsored competitions, jams with the team riders, catalog items, demos and clinics. My first event — tryout, if you will — was an "urban" skim demo at the "Wake-Up Sale" on Sunday afternoon, co-sponsored by Grizzly Sports and Blazing Onion. All of the team members there were great guys, and some were UW students as well. Unfortunately all but three of the team riders were either hurt or couldn't make it, and there was one mid-demo injury, but the event was clearly a success. The guys (and one girl, who wasn't there) run a sick company called DB Flatland Skimboards that not only makes and sells boards, but also runs instructional camps to get kids into the sport. Anyway, here are a few of my shots from the event; there will definitely be more to come all summer long:

ABOVE: Team rider Isaac Thomas launches off the ramp in the homemade pool constructed inside the Mill Creek Shopping Center. This is probably my favorite shot of the day, with crisp action and a dramatic upward angle. I'd definitely say Isaac was having the best day of anyone out there; unfortunately, he cut his foot up about halfway through the demo, but he literally taped it back together and kept riding. Props.

ABOVE: Isaac Thomas glides above his board at Sunday's demo. At first, I was shooting almost exclusively with my wide-angle lens, but I thought to try different angles with my telephoto — with amazing results. I'm always impressed by the crispness of that lens. I think I stuck with it for the rest of the event.

ABOVE: A young boy watches as team rider Richard Docter walks by after taking a run in the pool. I didn't get a long time to talk to these kids, but there was a group of them that had come down from the skate park about half a mile up the road to watch, and you could tell they were impressed. I just thought it was pretty cool to frame this guy who clearly idolized the team for riding as well as they did and being sponsored on top of it all.

ABOVE: Team rider Richard Docter spins after hitting the ramp. Right behimd Isaac, Richard was probably the second-most on skimmer of the day. I tried experimenting with angles and the telephoto lens, and this was one of the results.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

op-ed: Thank You John Edwards, It's About Time

Today's endorsement of Barack Obama for the Democratic Presidential nomination by former rival John Edwards was a huge step toward the legitimacy of Obama's claim for the presidency, and will hopefully bring this incredibly long Democratic Primary closer to its inevitable conclusion.

Though Hillary Clinton refuses to give up, she trails in pledged delegates, superdelegates and the popular vote. Her campaign is over $20 million over budget. The time for her to drop is approaching, and though she vows to fight on until the end, the window for her nomination is nearly shut.

Even Clinton herself made a nod toward party unity and support for Obama if (or when) the time comes.

"Anybody who has ever voted for me or voted for Barack has much more in common in terms of what we want to see happen in our country and in the world with the other than they do with John McCain," Clinton said on CNN's "The Situation Room."

"I'm going to work my heart out for whoever our nominee is. Obviously, I'm still hoping to be that nominee, but I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that anyone who supported me ... understands what a grave error it would be not to vote for Sen. Obama."

However, exit polls are currently indicating that only 36 percent of Hillary supporters would vote for Obama over McCain if he were the Democratic nominee.

What does seem promising is the potential benefit of an Obama-Edwards ticket. Following the nearly 2-1 Clinton victory in West Virginia, Obama's inability to pull white, working-class supporters has once again called into doubt. However, that key Clinton demographic was actually an even stronger Edwards demographic before he dropped from the primary race.

Though the partnership is no more than rumor and theory at this point, the concept carries some weight. The reality of an Obama-Clinton ticket is seemingly long gone. Bill Richardson, though a good candidate and running-mate, has been seemingly vacant from the public eye.

As it seems now, the support garnered by an Obama-Edwards ticket has the best chance for popular support and political success.

As Edwards said to the crowd gathered in Grand Rapids, Mich., "Brothers and sisters, we must come together as Democrats. We are here tonight because the Democratic voters have made their choice, and so have I."

photos: May Day Immigrant Rights Rally

It's been a little while — over two weeks to be exact — but I'm finally posting my May Day Immigrant Rights Rally photos. The rally was an incredible experience... though I'd been to one similar back in 2006 in Wenatchee, this blew that out of the water in every way. Though I haven't heard official numbers, there were definitely thousands upon thousands of people, legal and illegal, black, white, brown and other, all marching for peace and equality. That made me pretty happy. It was the first time I'd ever done anything like it, and I hope it won't be the last. What I do need to improve on, however, is my storytelling ability through photos; for instance, I wish I'd had a chance to talk with the man in the first photo. It all comes back to the idea that "everyone has a story," and the goal of photojournalism is to help tell it. A pretty image only goes so far.

These were all shot with my Canon 40D and 16-35 f/2.8 lens.

ABOVE: This is definitely my favorite from the day. I actually overlooked it when sorting through on deadline for publication at The Daily, but in retrospect this should have been my cover shot hands down. There's one lesson in the way of sorting through frames on a tight deadline. I think it's the cross-lighting that does it most for me, accenting his face and the American flag draped across his shoulders. There's a passion there, and I can feel it looking at this image the same as I could when I was looking at his face that day.

ABOVE: The hard hats and safety vests that a large group of rally leaders wore were really symbolic to me. I liked this image because it was crisp and really froze the action at a time where things were actually moving very quickly.

ABOVE: This is another more standard "chanting and marching" rally photo. Again, I liked that I was able to freeze the action in a very fast-paced moment. Backpedaling to keep up was intense, but worthwhile and necessary. I really like the framing of the man in front between the two behind him.

ABOVE: At the front of the procession, there were several people dressed in traditional outfits beating drums and chanting. Though I don't claim to understand what they were doing, saying or representing, I did realize the significance of connecting with history. On an aesthetic level, I think I liked this photo both because of the bright colors and the mysticism that the incense smoke added.

ABOVE: One of the things that was most interesting to me as a photojournalist was the presence of children at the rally. Though some were barely able to walk and clearly too young to understand what was going on, others (who were still quite young) were incredibly passionate about the cause at hand. This boy's sign reads "I don't want immigrants to leave to Mexico, because I want my family together!" This is actually the only photo posted here that was printed, but I'm glad that it was; I think it represents an important part of the day and the movement as a whole.

ABOVE: This boy was one of my favorites of the entire day. There was definitely a lot of emotion in his face, which I honestly don't think I quite captured, but I did recognize it. My friend David Kasnic captured an amazing shot of this little guy during the actual march.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

news: Red Bull Gravity Challenge held at TDX

PHOTO: Marked eggs were used to promote the Red Bull Gravity Challenge, held on May 9 at Theta Delta Chi fraternity at the University of Washington. The competition, a science fair egg drop "done Red Bull style," was accompanied by a grand prize trip to Flugtag in Portland.

It's not often that the opportunity arises to drop eggs from a scissor lift over two stories high, but that's exactly what several teams got to do at the UW Red Bull Gravity Challenge held at Theta Delta Chi fraternity on May 9.

The event, emceed by UW Brand Manager Ryan Berry and DJed by local cut-master DJ Dyce, was scored by three celebrity judges: Steve Rock of 99.9 KISW, Greg Young of Northwest Riders and a member of the Red Bull "Wings Team." Points were given for style, accuracy, egg survival and whether the egg actually touched the ground.

"Team Feldman," made up of two Theta Delts, took first place with 84 points and won the grand prize trip to Flugtag in Portland.

The winning contraption was colorful and complex, consisting of helium-filled balloons attached to a shot glass — the egg container — cushioned by other air-filled balloons. It was "engineered" to let the egg roll out onto the target, scoring extra points.

Many other ingenious and creative designs made an appearance as well, including one made of a styrofoam container that used streamers as air resistance and another that used a shock-absorbing jar of peanut butter as their main element.

The Red Bull Gravity Challenge has been making appearances on college campuses from coast to coast.


review: Minus The Bear Rocks Tour End

PHOTO: Fans cheer wildly for hometown heroes Minus The Bear at their North American tour finale on May 8 at Showbox at the Market. The sold out performance was a huge hit for fans and the band with a wide variety of old and new songs.

As far as hometown shows go — or any show, for that matter — Minus The Bear's triumphant return to Seattle and The Showbox couldn’t have gotten any better.

Ending the two month North American tour in the Emerald City was fitting. Though New York trio The Big Sleep and Alaskan trio Portugal. The Man are great opening acts, the crowd was clearly there to see the hometown heroes.

Make no mistake — these guys rock really hard. That’s the one thought that circled through my head during the entire performance, and there’s no other way to say it. The concerts they’ve been selling out from coast to coast since early March are a clear reinforcement of that fact.

The band played through their entire hour and twenty minute slot plus a four song encore, breaking between sets just long enough to switch equipment or take a breath. Factor in how hard they were going at it, and the performance has to be respected at the very least.

Though some bands sound better with the benefit of studio equipment and post-processing, Minus The Bear — whose name comes from an inside joke referring to the 80s TV show “B.J. and the Bear” — is not one of them. The energy of the stage performance translated into musical energy at the same time, and let the audience feel what a great concert should.

The 1100 person capacity of Showbox at the Market was completely consumed, and it’s almost hard to put into words how in love the audience was. It was clearly a symbiotic relationship: the band fed off of their fans, the fans fed off of the band and the show escalated.

Drummer Erin Tate definitely deserves a shout out for his impressive playing. Minus The Bear’s music is incredibly rhythmic, and watching Tate flail wildly with intense precision showed how the sound is made possible. It’s hard to imagine working as hard as he was for one set, much less an hour and a half.

There was no out-with-the-old mentality either, though plenty of songs from their latest album release “Planet of Ice” were played. Plenty of crowd favorites from every past LP and EP were eagerly eaten up by the audience, including the first song Minus the Bear ever wrote called “Lemurs, Man, Lemurs.”

It was a successful and fun, if short, reunion between the band and the city. The thumbs up that bassist Cory Murchy kept giving the crowd said it all: Minus The Bear was happy to be home.

LISTEN: MINUS THE BEAR - "PACHUCA SUNRISE"


Saturday, May 3, 2008

review: Pete and the Pirates - Little Death

8.2/10

Though they’ve been making lots of noise in Reading since before their European LP debut on Feb. 18, Pete and the Pirates’ US debut will undoubtedly be a spectacle.

“Little Death,” the Brit-popsters’ first full-length album, is upbeat, poignant, tender, raw, raucous and refined. Saying they bring a new sound to the scene would be a lie, but that doesn’t mean the well-kept rhythms and smooth, catchy melodies are any less impressive.

The sound really isn’t original; there are smatterings of Interpol, Bloc Party and Editors all mixed together. But, though I wouldn’t give them good marks for originality, it doesn’t matter in the end. The formulaic sound for successful and catchy British indie-rock is always a winner when it’s done well, and Pete and the Pirates do just that.

Though many of those bands, once up-and-coming, have moved on to bigger and better studios and a more refined sound, Pete and the Pirates do well to latch onto an urgent and energetic sound. Hopefully they’ll be able to hold on to that in the future.

One note to keep in mind is that the album is incredibly short, clocking in at just less than 36 minutes, but with 13 tracks it doesn’t feel undersized. The alternation of upbeat and slower songs keeps the album moving until the end.

The single “Mr. Understanding” is easily my favorite track on the album; it embodies everything that a pop-rock indie song should be. The music video is pretty entertaining too, in all of its apparently homemade splendor.

There are other great singles on the album too. “Knots,” the album’s first single release, is another great piece of pop-rock indie-ness, and “Moving” is a slowed-down track that rides on singer/guitarist Tom Sanders’ soothing vocals. Even the latest single, “She Doesn’t Belong to Me,” picks up after a slow start.

Though they don’t have any tour dates lined up outside of Europe yet, it would be worth it to keep watch. And now that “Little Death” has made it stateside, you should probably pick it up.

LISTEN: PETE AND THE PIRATES - "MR. UNDERSTANDING"


feature and photos: Red Bull Snow Warz '08

About three weeks ago I hitched a ride with the Husky Snowboard Team down to the Northstar-at-Tahoe ski resort in Truckee, Calif. for the third Red Bull Snow Warz competition. The trip was a blast, and I got an amazing opportunity to work on a few different parts of my journalism game. First, of course, was writing an "embed" type story, which I loved and really want to do more in the future; it was my first "gonzo" type experience, and it really reinforced my desire to pursue this as a career. Second, it was a huge learning experience for my photography. Shooting action sports is tough, and I really forced myself to get up in the action, even if it meant almost getting clipped by boarders on multiple occasions. And, after I had been shooting the jumps for a while, I wandered behind the scenes to look for other types of photos. Unfortunately, I wasn't good about getting names or other caption information... learned my lesson there. Third and final, it was my first time experimenting with audio — you can hear an exclusive freestyle clip from the event's MC below. I've also included five of my favorite photos and the story I wrote.

LISTEN: DUSTIN "DIRTY D" AMATO EXCLUSIVE FREESTYLE


Snow Warz: West coast comp tears up Lake Tahoe

It was time to roll out.

We were in the car, bumping Wu Tang out of a mini battery-powered iHome. The proverbial peace pipe was loaded. The boards were in back and the skis were strapped to the roll bar inside the roof.

It was a snowboard and ski competition. There were 14 hours of driving ahead of us. We were ready for Red Bull’s Snow Warz 2008 at Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort in Truckee, Calif.

After arriving and getting way too little sleep — the Hammer Award went to the rider who was “the last to stop drinking and the first to stop riding” — it was time for breakfast. There were tall tees and lazy beanies everywhere, and plenty of the riders were hung over.

But it didn’t matter that everyone had too much alcohol and too little sleep the night before; it was a perfect day to hit the mountain.

The sun was so bright and the sky so cloudless that anyone who didn’t have goggles or shades would go snow-blind. The only cold thing was the snow, and spring riding in 70-degree weather is just as good as it sounds.

The course was a legitimate pro construction. Through the gate was a down rail, followed by three jumps and ending with another down rail. It wasn’t huge, but it fit. The course flowed and was well put together, especially considering that the event is only three years old.

Snow Warz originated in 2006 as something completely different, a wakeboarding competition, at Western Washington University. Later that year the decision was made to trade in water for snow, and teams from 16 West Coast colleges showed up at The Summit at Snoqualmie. More than 230 riders registered at the 2008 event, more than tripling the first showing just three years prior.

“It’s grown a lot, and we brought it to Northstar and centralized it,” said Dave Goto, one of the original founders and this year’s organizer of the event. “It’s just huge. Kids are just killing it.”

Goto said he wants to see Snow Warz “taken to the next level” as a circuit for collegiate skiing and snowboarding, with a multiple-stop tour and a national championship. But even as a one-day event, the competition was a great opportunity for West Coast riders to show off their skills.

The day was definitely a good showing for the University of Nevada, Reno, the (almost) hometown heroes. Not only did all three of the school’s teams make it to the final round, but one of the teams, Eat Waffles, snagged the silver. Team Harvard, grabbed the gold, and Montana State University’s team rounded out the top three.

“The competition was off the hook!” said Dustin “Dirty D” Amato, the day’s emcee. “Team Harvard was throwing it down over there. They were wearing suits and ties, putting the cosine with the sine and doing their trajectory. Once they got the tangent lined up they had the right velocity and were just throwing it down.”

Team Harvard — called “Hard Vert” by the judges because of members’ ability to fly off the jumps — came up with its name when registration required a college association. They spent the rest of the trip convincing reporters, fellow boarders and even event staff that they had ponied up the cash to fly from Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, UW’s team Boss Tycoon didn’t fare so well. Though the members had thrown down big the day before at the nearby Boreal Mountain Resort, at Northstar they guys had a pretty weak first run and didn’t show for their second. While there was no Husky presence in the final heats, the team members were satisfied with their work.

“Snow Warz was dope,” said Parker Worthington, a freshman and captain of the UW team. “It was more about hanging out with everyone than the competition. It was like a Snoqualmie reunion. We had a lot of fun and kicked it with the homies.”

Washington’s roots in the competition showed despite the long drive, with three other teams from the Evergreen State making an appearance: Western Washington University, Central Washington University and Gonzaga University.

“It was a long way to go,” said Nathan Brown, a skier for Gonzaga’s team. “It’s a super sick event, almost all paid for, just a big party. It’s the last ski weekend of the year, and we can go out and just have fun out in the sun. You don’t need to be really competitive; we’re just here to have a good time, and everyone’s loving it.”

Even one of their teammates, who won the Tom Broke-Off Award for best crash — which involved him tearing a ligament in his shoulder after overshooting the course’s second jump — won a snowboard deck and seemed to be doing just fine.

The jump that he had an issue with gave other riders trouble as well, though there were no major injuries. Still, it brought light to the fact that there was a wide range of skill levels entered in the competition despite the course’s difficulty.

There was everything from skiers nailing 1080s and boarders throwing down switch backflips to riders who could barely clear the jumps. And, of course, one girl chose to hit the run in a chicken suit. But that didn’t matter; having fun was first priority. As one rider put it, “It was definitely more of a party mission than a snowboard one.”


Friday, May 2, 2008

review: The Roots - "Rising Down"

Here's my review of The Roots' latest (which, I'd just like to add, I rated the exact same as Pitchfork — crazy!):

7.8/10

“Yesterday I saw a big girl crying/I walked up and asked ‘What’s wrong?’/She told me that the radio’s been playing the same song all day long/So I told her ‘I’ve got something you’ve been waiting for…’”

So says “Rising Up,” the first single from The Roots tenth studio album Rising Down. The beats are steady, and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter’s flows are as fluid and seamless as ever. But the Philly hip-hop group, whose original lineup was formed over 20 years ago, doesn’t need to prove their musical worth.

Though the group always pushes the envelope with their sound, what’s much more important here is their message. The political nature of Rising Down is visible beyond the music. Its name comes from William T. Vollmann's 3,300 page treatise on violence titled “Rising Up and Rising Down,” and the release date falls on the 16th anniversary of the Los Angeles Rodney King riots.

The album was supposed to be headlined by the track “Birthday Girl,” an “easy pop song” with a chorus sung by Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy. Instead, the track was turned into an exclusive iTunes release, and I’m glad — it’s a great song, but would have been utterly out of place on this release.

Instead, “Rising Down” is a starkly real portrait of a Philadelphia where drugs, guns and a crime culture are pushing the murder rate higher than one a day and the mindset that its created.

“Criminal,” a track dedicated to Sean Bell, is a reflection on the streets and unjust persecution. Bell was shot and killed by New York Police Department plainclothes detectives in 2006 outside a Queens strip club. The four officers, who fired a combined 50 rounds at the unarmed man, were acquitted of all charges last Friday.

There are some powerhouse guest appearances, Common, Talib Kweli and Mos Def included. But to get a real feel for the deeper ideas and message of “Rising Down,” it makes all the difference in the world to listen to the album’s freestyles like “@ 15,” “Unwritten,” and the album’s hidden track.

As much as the group insists Rising Down shouldn’t be a downer, it sort of is. The opening track is a recorded shouting match, and the only real chance to breathe is the track “Singing Man.” Despite that, the message is what shines through any issues with sound or tempo.

As drummer ?uestlove said in a Vanity Fair interview earlier this month, “Our approach has to be that Looney Tunes image of that professor having the mallet behind his back — unsuspecting and then mashing it over someone’s head. We’ll see. I just don’t know if people listen anymore. That’s the problem. You have to spoon-feed it to them. We'll try to open some ears.”

LISTEN: THE ROOTS - "RISING UP"