Dakar on the Charles
Posted on October 30th, 2009 at 4:55 pm by Steve

An amazing night last night at the Lizard Lounge! Malick Ngom and Aziz Faye joined Lamine Touré & Group Saloum for a rollicking night of Senegalese mbalax. In the picture above you see Malick (seated, left) and Aziz (standing, center) playing sabar drums in the foreground; between and behind them, Paa Seck is also playing sabar, while Lamine (right) is singing. You can catch a glimpse of Hiro Sakaba playing bass, behind Malick and Paa, and Masa Sasaki (far right) playing guitar.

Not pictured above is world-renowned djembe player Billy Konate, who’s in town teaching workshops with The Drum Connection. Billy sat in with the band for a few minutes and shared some amazing licks.

It was incredible to have such a confluence of West African percussion talent gathered in the basement of the Lizard Lounge! I’m grateful to be connected with such an amazingly talented group of people from around the world.

Malick and Aziz are members of the Sing Sing (Faye) family, who are the hereditary géwël of the Cap Vert peninsula, where Dakar is located. Friend of the blog Professor Robert Sipho Bellinger has a web site that explores the significance of the Géwël Tradition in Senegalese music and culture. Professor Bellinger is the Director of Suffolk University’s Black Studies Program; in that role, he has brought members of the Faye family to Boston as Distinguished Visiting Scholars (see more information about the program, which is open to the public). Sipho is also the producer of several CD’s that feature members of the Sing Sing family, including the eponymous Sing Sing Juniors release from 2007.

As an added bonus, check out the video below; it shows Paa Seck and his brother Babacar Moha Seck tearing up the sabar in Providence this fall. Enjoy!

More Convenient Than Paper Towels!
Posted on October 30th, 2009 at 3:57 pm by Steve

Best. Caption. Ever.

Wait, Only ONE of These is Fake?
Posted on October 29th, 2009 at 5:22 pm by Steve

OK, so we all love The Onion‘s news coverage, right? But check out this screen shot of the bottom of an Onion page that I snapped today. The story with the photo is an Onion news story teaser; the story on the right is direct from CNN’s web site. WTF?!

While we’re on the subject of The Onion, did you see this article from June?

Report: 90% Of Waking Hours Spent Staring At Glowing Rectangles

PALO ALTO, CA—A new report published this week by researchers at Stanford University suggests that Americans spend the vast majority of each day staring at, interacting with, and deriving satisfaction from glowing rectangles.

[…]

According to the report, staring blankly at luminescent rectangles is an increasingly central part of modern life. At work, special information rectangles help men and women silently complete any number of business-related tasks, while entertainment rectangles—larger and louder and often placed inside the home—allow Americans to enter a relaxing trance-like state after a long day of rectangle-gazing.

P.S. We’re doing it right now!

Yes.
Posted on October 29th, 2009 at 12:34 pm by Steve

Brown Sharpie, via the Daily What.

You’re still not reading The Daily What?!

The Big Lebowitz!
Posted on October 23rd, 2009 at 4:14 pm by Steve

I love me some Fran Lebowitz. Was just reminded of this quote (citation needed!) today:

If you removed all of the homosexuals and homosexual influence from what is generally regarded as American culture, you would pretty much be left with “Let’s Make a Deal”


She rocks!

fuck these creative types, wtf were you thinking anyway fuckers?
Posted on October 23rd, 2009 at 3:56 am by jaz

i mean, we should have public forum to humiliate the creators of creative shit that sucks, right?

exactly.

handmade? it looks like you made it with yo feets

Can Michelle Be the President Instead?
Posted on October 22nd, 2009 at 11:30 am by Steve

‘Nuff said.

(Source: UPI)

Oh, What a Few Billion Dollars Could Do…
Posted on October 20th, 2009 at 7:13 pm by Steve

Went for a ride through the Central Artery Tunnel at 10:30 pm on Sunday night, and – as usual – the road was down to just one lane. Several police cars, a few parked construction vehicles, and two workmen standing next to an idle machine that comrade E. assures me is a concrete cutter. I actually can’t recall driving through Boston after 10pm on any night of the week without having the Central Artery either reduced to one lane or closed completely. The maze of on-ramp closures and diversions has, on occasion, been severe enough that I’ve unintentionally ended up in East Boston.

How much does it cost to have a highway that stays open all night long?

How much does it cost to build an integrated urban transit system that actually makes sense? In 1990, the Commonwealth committed to doing things like building the Green Line out to Medford, building the Blue Line out to Lynn, adding walking paths and bicycle trails, and restoring commuter rail service to the southern burbs on the Greenbush Line. If you follow the money, you can guess which ONE of these options has actually come to pass (yes, the Greenbush Line — probably the least useful in terms of passenger-miles, but the most vociferously demanded by relatively wealthier suburbanites).

Another proposal that was prominent throughout the planning stages of the Big Dig related to passenger rail service. Currently, all the rail lines into Boston terminate either at North Station or at South Station. The two stations are about a mile apart, and there is NO direct transit link between them – Amtrak advises passengers with luggage to take a taxi, although they could also walk down to the Red Line platform, and board a Red Line train to Downtown Crossing, then walk up and over and down again to the Orange Line platform and ride the Orange Line to North Station, and then go up two levels and into North Station itself to board their continuing train.

The Big Dig entailed digging a huge tunnel in which to bury the Central Artery highway…eight lanes of traffic underneath downtown Boston, stretching from… yes, you know this by now… North Station to South Station.

People with an ounce of fucking common sense insisted that the planners include a provision for TRAIN TRACKS in the tunnels that would be built from NORTH STATION TO SOUTH STATION.

What happened? Here’s an excerpt from a Boston Globe article from 1994:

Calling a proposed rail link between North and South Stations too expensive, a panel of transportation specialists yesterday threw cold water on a Weld administration plan cherished by supporters as a way to help solve Boston’s vehicular chaos.

The final report of the three-day “Boston Conference: Shaping the Accessible Region,” held last April and May, said alternatives should be sought for the $2 billion to $4 billion link designed to unite Boston’s communter rail systems.

In the report the panel endorsed development of the 14-mile route known as the Urban Ring.

So… in 1994 the Commonwealth killed the idea of linking North and South stations via rail because it would have added $2 billion to the cost of the project.

Fast-forward fifteen years: the Globe estimates that taxpayers will have spent over $22 BILLION on the Big Dig, including debt payments… and that 73% of those costs are borne by Massachusetts alone.

For what it’s worth, the original project estimate was $2.6 billion.

Missions to Mars
Posted on October 20th, 2009 at 1:56 pm by Steve

A beautiful infographic by Bryan Christie Design graces the the IEEE Spectrum special report, Why Mars? Why Now?:

We Found the Cap to Your Toothpaste…
Posted on October 19th, 2009 at 6:03 pm by Steve

…it was in the stomach of this baby albatross. Photographer Chris Jordan explains:

The nesting babies are fed bellies-full of plastic by their parents, who soar out over the vast polluted ocean collecting what looks to them like food to bring back to their young. On this diet of human trash, every year tens of thousands of albatross chicks die on Midway from starvation, toxicity, and choking.

He and a team of creative folks are documenting what they find in the Midway Atoll and posting their work on a blog. It’s devastating.

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