[The Audiofiles] A Little Bit Softer Now: Red Rocks Amphitheater Subject to New Noise Restrictions

One of the few natural amphitheaters on the globe, Red Rocks Amphiteater in Morrison, Colorado manifested from enormous sloping rock monoliths that have been carbon dated back to the Jurassic Period – complete with sea serpent, flying reptile and marine reptile fossils from over 160 Million Years ago.  The Rocks have been called many things, like ‘Garden of the Angels’ and ‘Garden of the Titans’, and at one point, Red Rocks was considered one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the World‘.  Anyone who’s been there, including me, will vehemently agree with that statement.

As Dance Music continues to dominate the music industry, the landscape of musical acts at Red Rocks has shifted accordingly; and now that we’re in 2015 –  ‘Pop’ has become pseudo-synonymous with EDM.  If you’ve been living under a Rock, or at least living under ‘Rock and Roll’ – EDM is an uber generalized term for the bass heavy, synth rich Dance Music you hear coming from those Tweens, 20-anythings and young professionals in the car next to you… or, at the gym, on the sidewalk or in a State of the Union address. Honestly, it’s just everywhere at this point.  And that includes Red Rocks.

“Over the 50 years, the biggest and brightest pop stars in the music industry have graced the Amphitheater stage…” – but even that’s a loaded statement. For some, ‘Pop’ is the culmination of redundant records on the radio, for others, it’s the ‘Sound of the Youth’ and even then – you can just make the argument that ‘Pop’ is simply what sells.  All statistics aside, ‘Pop’ is a simple, watered down version of the complexities of ‘Underground’ Dance Music that’s made acceptable for approval by the masses.  Starting in the 60’s, fans at the Rocks bore witness to the musical genius of The Beatles, The Grateful Dead, John Denver, Fleetwood Mac, Rush and Jimi Hendrix. This is the location where U2’s fabled ‘Under a Blood Red Sky‘ was filmed.  As we catapulted into the 90’s – Rock Bands from Dave Matthews, Incubus and Oasis to A Perfect Circle, Phish and Colorado’s own The String Cheese Incident have all hosted musically monumental events at Red Rocks.

As we ushered in a new millennium, Red Rocks witnessed a parallel changing of the guard.  In addition to raucous rock and roll evenings, the night air at Red Rocks is filled with the delirious, delectable Electro sounds from industry greats – for at least one night a year.  In 1999 local radio station KTCL hosted the first ‘Rave on the Rocks‘ with The Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim; and in, 2000, Moby became the first solo EDM artist to perform at Red Rocks.   Rave in the Rocks eventually disintegrated and reappeared as Global Dance Festival – a recurring, now multiday, Music Festival at the Rocks in the Summer.  And let’s not forget,  the grounds also play host to annual events like Punk at the Rocks,  ‘Reggae on the Rocks’ ‘Opera on the Rocks’, The Mayor’s Jazz Festival and more.

As the decade wore on, there were spotted dance acts including Paul Oakenfold in 2002, Daft Punk in 2007 and STS9 starting in 06 (who never left the bill, and trust me – no one is complaining about that!) but the only real EDM show in town was Global Dance. It wasn’t until 2011 that the people of Morrison were truly taken for a spin.  Yes, it’s true that there were more shows in general – jumping from 74 events in ’08 to 98 in ’11, but a larger proportion of acts also had deep roots in EDM.  In one concert season, ears and eyes feasted on Bassnectar, Pretty Lights, The Glitch Mob, Thievery Corporation, Benny Benassi, and LMFAO – a 700% increase in solo performance EDM nights at the venue compared to previous years. The amount doubled the next year, with 2 nights of Bassnectar and Pretty Lights (not combined, mind you, I would have known about that one…), Avicii, Kaskade, Skrillex, and Justice in addition to previous performers. And it was only uphill, or downhill, from there – depending on how you want to look at it.

Between graduations, Festivals, Concerts and community events – 2014 has been the heaviest scheduled event season ever at Red Rocks with over 150 Scheduled Events – and over 10% of them were EDM.  From Flux Pavillion to Zeds Dead, Global Dance to 2 nights of Skrillex, it went off this Summer at the Rocks. Red Rocks even went HARD thanks to Gary Richard’s – and now, the city of Morrison wants us to go home.

The first time there was a crack down on the musical mayhem at Red Rocks it was almost 50 years ago.  Back in the 70’s,  a rowdy group of Jethro Tull fans changed the game for the next five years as non-ticket holders attempted to crash the festival – this led to a ban on ‘heavier sounding’ acts that was finally dropped in ’75. And now, it’s happening again.  The heavy metalhead turned dubstep producer and most epices of DJs, Bassnectar literally brought the noise – busting out his own speakers and incurring over $100,000 in fines at the Rocks – on multiple occasions.  Over time, this pushed the residents of Morrison– and then the city of Denver – to enact a new noise ordinance on the area.   In a tour de force, the music community came together to help contribute to the atrocious fine as well as speak up in support of his decision to be heard loud and clear, but that doesn’t change how the legislators and residents feel.

In 2013, the city of Denver imposed several sound regulations over Red Rocks. And now again in 2015, we’re witnessing yet another schedule heavily riddled with EDM and a city with residents that want the genre banned all together. Set in motion at the beginning of the year, there are some new regulations for artists to take notice of. Instead of having a to tone down the music, 2013’s music regulations are now extended to the entire set. The entire show must be at or below 105 dB for one minute averages, and the bass levels are limited to 125 dB between 25 and 80 Hz for one minute averages.  The weekday music curfew has been moved a quarter of an hour back to 11:45 pm, and on weekends – the music has to shut off by 12:30am.  The sound levels are measured independently by the city’s equipment at the Front of House, and performers can be fined $10,000 for every five times the one minute dB limit is surpassed – not to mention $5,000 for every half hour they go over curfew.   Going into effect January 1st, the new laws stipulate that the City of Denver has the authority to ban any offending artist for the subsequent concert season.

Though some artists aren’t happy, others – including Pretty Lights labelmate Michal Menert don’t seem to take issue:

 If anything, this is going to bring more dynamic out in the music because it will allow more frequencies to breathe…It will be less in-your-face sound coming at you and more dynamic.

As an audiophile myself, I whole heartedly agree.  Though there’s a lot of music I love listening to loud and proud, when you change the volume on any song – you’re presented with new nuances in tonalities and melodies, a novel way of interpreting the melodies and a richer understanding of the song.  Generation Y, Y-Not, or Generation NOW seems to disagree – and has brought an influx of music that effortlessly blends together in a barrage of bass defaced by drops.  When you add that on top of rocks that are already breaking apart and falling on fans, well, you’re going to have a bad time.  So, bring on a new era of music at the infamous rocks and let’s see how (or if) this season’s musicians – including Adventure Club, Excision, Chromeo and Odesza – fare under new regulation.

Do you live in Morrison or does your city have amplification regulations?

Are you a musical artist that feels slightly devalued by their sonic restrictions or do you merely see this as a minor obstacle?

Or, are you a fan that just likes your music loud, bass filled and proud?

What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below?

[Traveling Tales] Zion So Nice, We Visited Thrice – And Bits of Colorado and Bryce

On the way back home from Colorado we made an executive decision to not just visit the park at Zion one more time – but to get some double duty in by visiting at dusk and during the day, all the while gallivanting through places Black Dragon Canyon, Red Canyon, Dixie National Park and Bryce Canyon while checking them off of our bucket list.

Before we left for Utah and Red Rocks, we went on a itty bitty adventure to Best Buy where I finally made the perfect purchase of a lifetime: a Canon 6D with a started lens, a 50mm f/1.4 (and yes, I’m in lust!!). I still need to get a wide angle lens to round out the camera package but holy hell, can this thing get those fantastic shots I’ve always wanted! The color, the depth, the timing (and OMG, the lasers at concerts!) – this camera turns every shot into verifiable gold. So, on the last leg of our journey we busted it out and much to our chagrin we captured some of the best nature photos that I’ve ever been part of. From the stars of Zion at night to the beauty of the Checkerboard Mesa during the day, I was swept up in Wanderlust from the second we left California and honestly – was slightly sad to return.

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Colorado was equally extravagant with her lush rivers and winding roads. Driving along the Colorado River was a fantastic addition to an already amazing adventure and seeing the water diverge in the continental divide was beyond trippy.

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Once we got to Utah, we couldn’t help but take advantage of the frequent Rest Stops and turn outs along the way. Starting with Black Dragon Canyon, we were in awe of the sweeping sand dunes topped by obsidian looking stones.

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Cruising back closer through Zion, we roamed near Red Canyon and decided immediately that it was our favorite spot in the whole national park.

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As the sun went down, we got to know the winding roads and breathtaking views of Bryce Canyon – and pictures barely do it justice. Last, but certainly not least – we doubled by Zion at night and I saw – not just stars – but galaxy clouds, I danced underneath beating bat wings and stood, silently, stunned by the wonder of our world.

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The next morning, we took one last ride through Zion – comparing and contrasting the sweeping daytime scenery with our limited night vision. Forever thankful for the opportunity, we did one last circle around the park and picked up a few gems and minerals to remember the trip by. Also, apparently I have a new obsession now lol. This journey was my first formidable road trip – and is the perfect stepping stone for our trip to Salmo, BC next week for Shambhala Music Festival. Until then, I’m fine living on a pixelated diet of nature pictures and images of the wonder of our world.

I’m always looking for new adventures and ideas, so tell me – what’s your favorite road trip, or national park – and when do you plan to return?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[Traveling Tales] To Zion and Beyond

Last Thursday, my boyfriend and I started on one of the most epic adventures I’ve ever been on – road tripping from Los Angeles, through Las Vegas, dashing through Arizona and then into St. George, Utah – a quiet little town near the border where we took refuge for the night. In the morning, we rose with the sun and galavanted our way through Zion National Park. To be honest, I was almost okay missing the first day of Global Dance Fest so we could relax and explore – but, hey – always another time, right?

After Zion, we passed through Bryce and then zipped and zoomed through Utah as fast as we possibly could. Don’t get me wrong now – its a lovely state…to pass through. By late afternoon we’d made it to the continental divide and Grand Junction, and by early evening we arrived at our AirBnB then it was off to the races for Global Dance Fest at Red Rocks! This marks my first time here and I’m in absolute awe of all the natural beauty I’ve witnessed in the last 96 hours. Today’s our final full day in town so we took full advantage of the morning – going into town, picking up brunch, enjoying some refreshments by the Creek. And now, we wait patiently for the third and final day of GDE; I can’t wait to dish about the festival but that can wait til it’s over. Until then, here are some of my favorite snaps from the trip so far!

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Now that Ive had a taste for the open road, historic parks and epic views of nature I’m already planning another trip – the only question is: where to??! What’s the last roadtrip you went on? Or, what’s next on your bucket list?

Ps. I couldn’t leave you hanging, here’s a quick sneak peak of the magic

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[Roadtrippin’] The Road to Red Rocks

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As the Super Moon rose through swaying palm trees, I perched on the love-seat in our kitchen – breathing in new opportunities and breathing out dissuaded anxieties with every beat of my heart. Silence ebbed and flowed through the room, engulfing it one minute – then a cackling laughter would chase it away.  My mind raced in circles as my fingers traced a path on the top of my phone. 20140716-143948-52788229.jpgThere are exactly 1,000 miles from my doorstep to Red Rocks Amphitheater out in Morrison, Colorado; 1,000 miles between my bedroom and my first music festival outside of California.  And it couldn’t come at a better time.  For the majority of this calendar year, I’ve been at a mental and emotional crossroads; I’ve been made incredibly aware of my aptitudes as well as my downfalls, and through hard work and dedication – I’ve built an incredibly succinct vision of what I’d like to do with my life.  Between my craft (writing) and my crafts (and arts), I need a jumping point to get me to the next level and attending the 16th anniversary of Global Dance is just that.

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Zion National Park, Utah

For all the festivals franchises I’ve been to – HARD Presents, Insomniac Events, Go Ventures – I’m still a novice as far as the Global Dance events are concerned; and to cover the event on top of it? If there was a word that summarized – honored, thrilled, anxious, flabbergasted, stressed – the whole kit and kaboodle.

What’s more, is that my best friend – boyfriend – Danny – my partner in crime – photographer – whatever you want to call him, he’s coming with me and we’re making a huge road trip of the event.  Last weekend we celebrated one year of loving each other and what better way to celebrate than gallivanting through Zion and Red Rocks!  Back when I was in college, I spent a little bit of time in Breckenridge – but that was during the winter and under starkly different conditions!  Instead of flying in between two monstrously large blizzards, we’ll be driving from LA through St.George, Utah where we’ll be able to rest our bones for a bit before we bounce to Zion National Park! I’ve heard so many fantastic things about it but to be able to see it physically with my own eyes, I can’t properly express how monumental this is for me – for us, really.

Then – it’s off to Morrison for Global Dance! Thanks to some quick thinking and good luck with Air BnB – I found an exceptionally fantastic place within close proximity – and for only $40 it’s a certifiable steal (Like, seriously – if you’re ever going to Red Rocks let me know and I’ll give you this guy’s information!)  For all the research I’d done on GDE, I don’t know how it escaped me that there’d be more than one stage (I mean, duh; how many festivals are just one stage anymore….) – but I was truly hoping that with Red Rocks as a backdrop that it would more or less work out that way.  Anyhow, now I have to navigate through time conflicts and hold DJ death matches in my head to plot the best plan of attack.

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This is the reason I’m so willing to put up with my normal 8-5; this is why I’m so dedicated to working day in and day out on my craft.  It’s big moments like these that pave the way for monumental events to happen – and I’m so excited to share my journeys!  Now, before I get back to being a glorified excel monkey – let me leave you with some of my favorite songs from the GDE: Red Rocks arsenal – enjoy!

[The Audiofiles] The 10 Most Anticipated Sets of GDE: Red Rocks

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Whether I like it or not, it seems that my life’s mantra is never a dull moment, even when I want one.  With how crazy my life’s gotten over the past few weeks, when I finally poked my head into my emails for a breath of technologically enriched air – I realized that I had a golden ticket (two, to be precise) to my first Global Dance Festival out in Red Rocks, sitting plush in Red Rocks Park, Colorado.  A world renowned natural open-air amphitheater, Red Rocks without a doubt has been part of every music lovers bucket list.

Fun fact – once upon a time, Red Rocks was considered as one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the World’; thankfully, it’s still revered as a wonder of the natural world – and rightfully so! Red Rocks Amphitheater is the culmination of gigantic naturally sloping rock monoliths that date back over 160 million years to the Jurassic period,  and is littered with the fossil fragments of flying reptiles, marine reptiles and sea serpents. The northern side is referred to as ‘Creation Rock’ while the southern side is ‘Ship Rock’ – and they’re both bigger than Niagara Falls.

Back at the turn of the 1900’s, a railroad pioneer by the name of John Brisben Walker discovered the area and had a pipe dream of perfect acoustics married with the breathtaking surroundings of Denver.  Within the next decade, he’d performed multiple times on a temporary platform he built in the spirit of live music.  At the behest of the manager of the Denver Parks, Walker sold the property to the city of Denver – who, in turn, took his vision and ran with it: building a permanent stage. in 1927. By the mid 30’s, it was evident that Red Rocks was in need of a formal design – but it couldn’t be just any design with a landscape like that; it has to play with the natural beauty of the park – enter esteemed local architect Burnham Hoyt.

In a length span of 12 years, the Amphitheater’s plans were drawn, the location was dedicated and then finally during Easter of ’47 – Red Rocks opened in all of her currently glory, attracting some of the most talented acts across the genres, the decades and around the globe.  In the 60’s, it was The Beatles playing the only non-sold out date of their US tour; in the 70’s,  a rowdy group of Jethro Tull fans changed the game for the next five years as non-ticket holders attempted to crash the festival – this led to a ban on ‘heavier sounding’ acts that was finally dropped in ’75. And then, the big dogs came out to play: The Grateful Dead, John Denver,  Fleetwood Mac, Rush, Jimi Hendrix,  and not to mention where U2’s monumental  Live at Red Rocks: Under a Blood Red Sky  was filmed.  While the 90’s came into focus, so did Alternative and Rock bands – Dave Matthews, Incubus, Oasis, A Perfect Circle and Phish have all hosted monumental events there; and with the turn of the century, Red Rocks witnessed a changing of the guard – in addition to raucous rock and roll evenings, the night air at Red Rocks is filled with glitch heavy bass sounds from artists like Bassnectar and Griz, jam sessions from infamous acts like STS9 and Umphrey’s McGee and deliriously delicious trance sounds from big name groups like Above & Beyond.  Last but certainly not least – Red Rocks is the official home to events and festivals like Global Dance Festival and HARD Red Rocks – which will bring in heavy acts like NERO and Dillon Francis, an offshoot of the Los Angeles HARD Festival series.

What commenced as ‘Rave on the Rocks‘ back in ’99, has triumphantly catapulted into a massive, multi-day, cross genre production that solidifies itself as the top music festival in the Mid-West; for those of you that couldn’t make it all the way to Morrison, Colorado for the event – don’t fret, there’s a sister event in Kansas City, Missouri with multiple stages and a equivalently epic lineup featuring some of the same artists. Anyhow! As one of the longest running festivals in North America,  Global Dance Festival has been bringing the lights and love to Morrison, Colorado for the last 16 years.  Back in the olden days of festivals, we didn’t have to hike up hill both ways or anything – but we did only have one stage and we were all in it together.  From beginning to end – bouncing, dancing, spinning, laughing and prancing through it all –  we collectively move to the melodies, heartbeats entwined and eyes transfixed on the glory of the artist, band or whatever live entertainment was radiating in front of us.  With only one stage this year, GDE takes us all back that simpler time: where you didn’t have to worry about a meeting place, where you didn’t have to stress about set time conflicts and where you could simply dance your worries away into the night.

Now – though Red Rocks stands as a natural Amphitheater, that doesn’t go to say that sound hasn’t been artificially enhanced – nor does it mean that it’s gone over well. The heavy metalhead turned dubstep DJ Bassnectar decided to bust out his own speakers, and has seemingly racked up over $100,000 in fines at the Rocks – on multiple occasions.  Over time, this pushed the residents – and then the city of Denver – to enact a new noise ordinance on the area.   In a tour de force, the music community came together to help contribute to the atrocious fine as well as speak up in support of his decision to be heard loud and clear.   As of June 1st, 2013 several changes were put in place: the noise level at the festival can’t reach above ‘105 decibels one-minute averages after midnight‘  As for the bass, it ‘can’t exceed 125 decibels at the low-frequency levels of 25-80 hertz for one-minute averages’; music also ends at midnight on weekdays and 1am on the weekend.  Measured by the city’s own equipment at the front of house position, performers can be charged $10,000 for every five times they’re found in violation of the new law. Though some artists aren’t happy, others – including Pretty Lights labelmate Michal Menert : If anything, this is going to bring more dynamic out in the music because it will allow more frequencies to breathe…It will be less in-your-face sound coming at you and more dynamic.

10 Must See Acts of GDE

With just 10 days until we get down with our bad selves at Global Dance Festival, it’s only right that I present the 10 artists that you definitely have to catch over the weekend.  From Trance to Trap, Dubstep to Drum & Bass – this festival has it all, so open your ears and get your dancing feet ready for three nights of massive music.

Adventure Club
Somewhere between the emotive, dubstep laced soundscapes and the high energy, glitch fueled basslines – I feel head over heals in love with the music from this dynamic Canadian duo.  Best known for their emotive remix of ‘Crave You’ from Flight Facilities’ and their Superheroes Anonymous Podcasts, Adventure Club has more than earned a spot on my top 10 ranking.

Andy C

Essentially known as the Godfather of Drum and Bass, Andy C not only turns out some of the most beautiful beats in the business but he’s also been the bossman at RAM Records he was 16.  22 years later, and the label is currently home base to acts notable acts like SubFocus, Chase & Status and Wilkinson.

Odesza

Hailing from Seattle, Odesza has been on the rise over the last few years with “My Friends Never Die” – their debut EP – releasing in ’13.

Destroid – which, technically, counts as 3.

With their powers combined, Excision, Downlink and former Pendulum member KJ Swaka have formed bass heavy uber group – Destroid! The trio don’t perform together often, so suffice it to say: bring your ear plugs – things are about to get 100% bonkers at the Rocks…

Because I couldn’t find any live recordings of the group, enjoy some individual ones:

Infected Mushroom

Sometimes they play DJ sets, other times they play as a live band – but any way you spin it, this Israeli Psy-trance duo is one of my favorite live bands I’ve ever seen.  Formed almost 20 years ago, they’re currently one of the top performing and best selling groups in Israeli history both in domestic and international sales; if you don’t understand why, you’re in for a real treat.

Kastle

Expertly fusing R&B with dark, dubby beats and wobbles – Kastle has more than made his mark using his signature sound.   One of my favorite remixes of his, Drake – Hold On, We’re Going Home – is to this day one of my favorite, feel good tracks.  I’ve only seen him live once so I absolutely can’t wait to get my fill of him a second time!

Gabriel Dresden

Trance me!! If there’s one thing that GDE is severely lacking this year, it’s trance – in the past, the festival’s been home to the likes of Armin, Oakenfold and BT but as the tunes changes, so do the times – and there’s a lot more of a demand for body rattling bass than there is for uplifting, ethereal trance.  Thank goodness we’re leaving it to Gabriel & Dresden to change the game on that over the weekend;  best known for their epic track ‘Without You Near’, the two have a combined 26 years in the business and are just as adept solo as they are collectively

Zedd

Last, but certainly not least – how could I forget: Zedd! The 19 year old German prodigy has had his youthful little paws  on some of your favorite remixes and albums – and quite possibly without you ever even knowing.   Gaining notoriety via Beatport remix competitions, Zedd has produced muliple songs on multiple albums for Lady Gaga, not to mention assisting in the Bieb’s -‘ Beauty and a Beat’.  Not only can Zedd read the crowd, he knows how to play them, to elevate them and to move them – so make sure those dancing shoes are on tight, we’re about to have the ride of our lives.

Even though this post was initially about the ten acts to not miss at Red Rocks, the truth of the situation is that with only one stage: as long as you’re physically present, you’ll be seeing the entire breadth of the roster. So to send you off, is a playlist of my favororite songs from each and every artist that’ll be gracing the stage of Red Rocks next weekend – enjoy!

Wednesday Watercooler: Election Edition

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One of the many great things about being an American is the right to vote and the freedom of opinion; yesterday, we got to exercise that right. From President to Senator, and right down to using condoms in pornography and labeling genetically modified foods – there were plenty of important measures and ideals on the ballot.  For some, today is a day of excitement and joy, for others – maybe not so much; but to me, today is two very important things – first, it’s the end of our quadrennial slew of grotesque political advertisements (amen!) and secondly (and of moreimportance to myself) there’s only one month left until my birthday!    More about the later at a later time – let’s get down to political business.

Go-BAMA: 

First, we elect our first black president – next, we reelect our first black president! He delivered one hell of a victory speech last night – and I have to say, Mittens’ concession speech wasn’t half bad either.  Sure, it was a little – erm – short…and potentially something he hadn’t prepared for – but I appreciated lines like the following: I believe in the people of America. And I ran for office because I’m concerned about America. This election is overbut our principles endure.

Puff, Puff, Passed:

Last night in a historic vote, Colorado and Washington both passed laws yesterday that  tax and legalize the use of marijuana and Massachusets voted to become the 18th state to okay it’s medical use; Arkansas’  ballot measure, not surprisingly – but unfortunately, did not pass.

Legalize Love:

Marijuana laws weren’t the only sign of progress on the ballot last night. Three states – Washington, Maryland and Maine – voted to approve same sex marriage, and Minnesotans voted against a same-sex marriage ban.  This brings the number of states that allow same sex marriage up to 9almost 20% of the union for you math people; America, fuck yeah!

We’re #51!:

If Puerto Rico and the United States had a Facebook relationship status, last night’s vote pushed it from “It’s Complicated” to “In a Relationship.”  Last night, Puerto Ricans voted on a two part referendum to evolve it’s 114 year relationship with the USA and become the 51’st state. Before the election, President Obama gave the nod that he would support this decision in case of a clear majority.  With a 61% vote for statehood, 33% vote for sovereignty and a mediocre 5% vote for independence it looks like we should start planning for a revised American flag.