Watching the GOP debate tonight?

Found this article in the New York Times to be super interesting…

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Since Trump’s being ‘challenged’ in the polls by Ben Carson, he does what politicians in the U.S. always do: Go after his religion! (Not policy, duh!) —> “I’m Presbyterian,” Mr. Trump proclaimed at a rally in Florida last Saturday. “Boy, that’s down the middle of the road, folks, in all fairness. I mean, Seventh-day Adventist, I don’t know about.”

And, last Spring, so, too, did the Southern Baptists –> “Dr. Carson is a Seventh-day Adventist,” a group of pastors from the Baptist organization B21 wrote in protest of his visit. “Their official theology denies the doctrine of hell in favor of annihilation,” they wrote, “and believes that those who worship on Sunday will bear the ‘mark of the beast.’ ”

NOT THAT Carson is the most loyal Adventist —> ... some Adventists have been disappointed in a perceived lack of tolerance regarding Islam from Mr. Carson, who said recently that he did not think a Muslim should be able to be president. His fierce opposition to the Affordable Care Act, which he has compared to slavery, has also rankled some in the community who say the law is in keeping with the religion’s focus on promoting health.

“It was certainly disappointing for me,” Sam Geli, a retired Adventist chaplain who considers himself an independent, said of Mr. Carson’s remarks about Muslims. “It was very sad.”


So .. YEAH, religion! Super important in this, er, debate. I’ll be paying attention to that.

Read the rest of the article here.

I saw my dog in a dream last night…

I had to put my dog down last month and, though I have absolutely no qualms about putting an end to his suffering, it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to experience. Seeing him forced to sleep, and then knowing the second injection would end his life.

I miss him so much.

Skunky on his last week alive. :(
Skunky on his last week alive. :(

Last night, I dreamt I was in a large, hospital-like building, and Skunky was walking towards me, slowly. He was so thin. He wasn’t having breathing problems like he did on his last weekend alive, but he was malnourished.

In my dream, the drug used to end his life didn’t work, and he awoke, and was looking for me to feed him. I was tortured in this dream, crying, repeatedly pushing on an elevator button so I could take him back to the vet (in my dream, he was on another floor in the same building) to have him put back to sleep. So, I dreamt I was trying to have him euthanized — again!

What does it mean? Here are a couple of interpretations I found online:

From the Times of India: If you see your pet suffer in it along with yourself, and wake up with a sense of loss, it’s most definitely a negative dream that is indicative of a burdened subconscious. Adds Sheesham, “It is important to let go off the emotion; by clinging to it you are only nurturing negativity.”

When the emotions are extremely deep-rooted, we may try to seek solace in our dreams and eagerly await one in which we can be together with our pet. But do such unions in dreams have a bearing on our real lives? Elaborates psychologist Dr Kamal Khurana, “Death of a pet is an emotional break off, and it’s our mind’s way of grasping the events by trying to complete that thought in semi-sleep state. But if such dreams have a disastrous effect on you to the extent of hampering your social life, it’s time you corrected it.”

From Dreaming the DreamsIf the dog is dead or dying in dream, then it symbolizes a loss of a good friend.

And from a random message board on ParanormalSoup.comI agree that it may either be a visitation (using dreams as a medium for cummincation) or your heart’s way of reassuring you that you did the right thing and that your puppy is at peace and still loves you as much as she ever did.  

R&B heat you need to hear: ‘Doing the Most’ by Kirby Maurier

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Kirby Maurier

Most of my music writing centers around South American artists & you can find it over at the U.K. -based Sounds and Colours. (I’ve written about lots of recent hot, new music here!) But on the rare occasion I find myself having to rave about non -Latin or global sounds, I do that here.

Meet Kirby Maurier: an Arkansas-born R&B artist from the Miami area, who happens to be the highest selling independent R&B albums in the South Atlantic Region. Her album, Doing the Most (via Valholla Entertainment), debuting at #162 on Soundscan’s Current R&B charts (US) and I can’t recommend it enough.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 10.08.23 AMHere I go aging myself again (damn you, Internet!), but I went to college when hip-hop R&B / hip-hop soul was at it best. (Don’t we always remember it that way?)

I’m talking about the time of Mary J. Blige, Aaliyah, Faith Evans, TLC, SWV, Total, etc… Those were the divas we brown kids were drawn to at the time. It was their lyrics we sang to on repeat when were in love or licking our wounds over a broken heart.

Maurier reminds me of that. An EP of hers, “Class of ’96,” encapsulates that (as she sings over the beats to many of the R&B beats of that era).

You can hear a good interview about her origins, the new album, and more, over on the Red Light Special podcast. And grab that EP via Worldwide Mixtapes here.

Finally, cop her Doing the Most album over at iTunes, and follow this artist on Facebook. Let’s hope her star continues to rise and she keeps on the focus on good, old-fashioned R&B. Though her lyrics exude more stark confidence, rather than the “come back to me” romance of that 90s R&B (Times have changed; this fits in line with powerful black female being celebrated these days), Kirby Maurier is obviously one to keep you eye on.

Cuba’s MANANA festival: where Afro-Cuban folkloric sounds will mix with electronic sounds

Photo by me!
Photo by me!

By now, you should all know about MANANA, the music festival happening in Santiago de Cuba in May 2016, right? No! Well, head to Sounds and Colours to learn more.

Basically, it’s a non-profit festival connecting Afro-Cuban Folkloric music with the pioneers of the International Electronic music community. Its organizers are crowdfunding for the three-day event (May 4, 5, 6 2016) via Kickstarter.

If you’re thinking, oh no, the embargo getting lifted means a bunch of molly-popping, daisy crown-wearing millennials overdosing and passing out, fear not. While no one can prevent from those fitting that stereotype from attending if they buy a flight and ticket, that’s not what this festival is aiming to be.

Consider this rumba track by Manenaje Al Benni, which the folks behind Manana shared via their Kickstarter page. I went to Cuba in 2013 and can tell you talented musicians are ALL over that island, playing on the streets, in cafes, and restaurants. (Watch this short clip I shot there.) I am so excited for artists like the ones I saw to perform on a big stage, reach new audiences, and make connections from the electronic dance world for future collaborations.

The following artists have already agreed to play if this Kickstarter is a success. 

  • Dubstep pioneer, Mala (Read an interview with Red Bull here)
  • Puerto Rican electronic rumba act, Grupo ÌFÉ
  • Tropical DJ’s, Sofrito
  • “Godfather” of Cuban drumming, Galis
  • Santiago rumba masters, Obba Tuke
  • The legendary Compañía Ballet Folclórico de Oriente

By the way, I asked for clarification on travel permissions for those traveling from the United States, as the embargo isn’t fully lifted yet. The good news is a tourist card allows you to travel legally from the U.S. The cost of the visa/tourist card is £20 per person and the courier charges by DHL would be around £70. More info on that here.

So, please contribute to the Kickstarter if you can. Every little bit helps. And, if you’re able, make travel plans to attend! Cuba was one of the best places I’ve ever been to so far. The people are lovely and the architecture is beautiful. And the food is delicious.

There is so much culture, dance, music, and film, not to mention the country’s world class education. Don’t miss MANANA!

Photo by me from El Bodeguito del Medio, where I drank wonderful mojitos.
Photo by me from El Bodeguito del Medio, where I drank wonderful mojitos.
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Let’s Not Talk About Gun Control


Written by a GUN OWNER.

Originally posted on IdleHands Workshop:

It’s uniquely terrifying to consider the absurd extent to which many gun people are willing to suspend reason just so they can remain armed and dangerous. It’s like they are all in abusive relationships and every time there’s another shooting, they show up at work the next day with a black eye and a split lip. And they say, “You don’t understand. My guns LOVE me. They’d never do anything to hurt anyone. It’s the rest of the world that’s wrong.”

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Art in Jersey City! #JCAST2015

@pandasuwann's art!!! Love this girl! #JCAST2015

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I moved out of Manhattan and into Jersey City two years ago, but in the first year, I only slept here. Since most of my friends live in New York, my social life was there, so I essentially treated Jersey City like a bedroom community.

This year, despite spending lots of time between Fair Lawn and Clifton, visiting my dad in the nursing home and my mom at her home, I decided to make an effort getting to know Jersey City a little better. At first, that meant actually hanging out at my neighborhood bar, something I rarely did when I lived in Washington Heights. (I was always downtown, which was silly.)

Then #JCTwitterDrinks happened (thanks to local artist and instructor at School of Visual Arts, Amy Wilson) and I met a community of cool people! And by following them on Twitter, I learned about The Jersey City Art & Studio Tour (#JCAST)– a citywide showcase of the arts, featuring nearly 1,000 participating artists in hundreds of venues that include private studios, galleries, local businesses, and pop-up and public spaces.

At the last minute, I decided to go for the bike tour (with the super cool folks from BikeJC) on late Saturday (Oct. 3) afternoon. Unfortunately, rain from Hurricane/Storm Joaquin marred those plans, but I decided to venture out on my own (on foot, thanks to all the bike parking in the Grove Street area) and see some art. Here’s a bit of what I saw:

The artist of this piece, BeelZan, is from Israel, and he is also a psychologist, who owns a counseling center for families, couples, children, and adolescents. It’s called Footprint. His show was hosted at Indiegrove, a super cool co-working space in the Grove Street area. If I was a freelancer, I’d rent space there.

I then headed over to LITM (great bar, btw) and caught “Thaw,” by artist Beth Achenbach. She explained the concept came to her when she watched frozen cherries thawing out. Pretty cool stuff.

#thawartexhibit Wishing @laylathelion was here for this tour! #jcast2015

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While on the tour, I kept bumping into the awesome street art murals that are popping up all over the city.

#streetart #mural #jerseycity

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I met these two cutie pies at 150 Bay Street, an awesome work/live loft building, which is many artists call home.

Love these girls! #JCAST2015 #jerseycity

A photo posted by ginavergel (@ginavergel) on

#flavaflav #JCAST2015

A photo posted by ginavergel (@ginavergel) on

Sadly I lost the above artist’s business card, but she had a very cool apartment, served great sangria, and is a professional lighting designer, so all of her art deals with light. Also, she’s a Las Vegas native. Wish I remembered her name!

Stacy Lund Levy’s art celebrated women’s bodies.

#JCAST2015 #StacyLevy

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Loved this stuff by New Jersey native, artist Piersanti.

#JCAST2015 #jerseycity

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I also met Ashley Pickett, a photographer who showcased some very cool photos she took in New York and Paris (sadly, I deleted the photos by mistake!), and also her late father’s art. Her dad, Paul Jansen, designed album covers for artists such as Jimi Hendrix!

I ended the night (far too late, of course!) by hitting JCAST after party at the super cool 660 Studios, where I met J Hacha de Zola (a musician) and saw Sunnyside Social Club perform. I also drank too much jaeger, but that’s another blog post! ;)

More art! ;) #JCAST2015 #afterparty

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Skateboard decks line a wall at 660 Studios.

The fun didn’t stop there. On Sunday, I popped over to a space in Journal Square to see Amy Wilson’s fiber work!

JCAST is actually celebrating 25 years this month, and the celebration continues through October for Jersey City Art Month.