“Art, at the dawn of human culture, was a key to survival, a sharpening of the faculties essential to the struggle for existence. Art, in my opinion, has remained a key to survival.” – Herbert Read
Located in the heart of Downtown Seattle near the Seattle Aquarium, Pike Place Market and steps from the Starbucks Reserve and colorful bane of my germaphobe existence – the historically disgusting gum wall, the Seattle Art Museum sits surrounded by towering skyscrapers and moody skies – depending on the time of year at least. One of three sister facilities with the Seattle Asian Art Museum and the Olympic Sculpture Park, the Seattle Art Museum opened it’s doors in 1993 and plays host to over 25,000 unique pieces of fine art, sculpture, pottery, design and experimental immersive exhibits from around the world.
Many Art Museums tend to lay their focus on the European, or Western, historic artistic influence – but one of the many wonderful things about the SAM, is their focus on art and artists from around the globe, and because of that have renowned and fantastic collections of African, Native American, Aboriginal, Oceanic and Islamic Art in addition to more traditional collections of Modern, American and European art.
I was lucky enough to go at a time where there were two fantastic exhibits – which have both catapulted to personal favorites after the Yayoi Kasuma Infinity Rooms at the Broad, and the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. Finally, at the age of 34, I saw my first Georgia O’Keeffe collection in person and found the colors, shadows and textures mesmerizing and meditative; needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed viewing a retrospective of her body of work.
Another favorite rooms in the SAM was the Porcelain Room; an exquisite collection, immaculately laid out in a wonderfully chromatic aesthetic. Brought in from around the globe, many of the pieces on view can be dated back as far as the 17th century – and are dichotomous and beautifully paired with modern retrospective kiosks which can engage and educate you on each piece. Photos simply can’t do the room justice, either; the innocently creme and pastel colors, paired intricate attention to detail on each individual piece, makes the entire collection even more stunning to take in.
I don’t know what it is about art that works up an appetite for wine, but every time after I go to a museum – I come away with a silly cultured craving for some bubbles and snacks, and couldn’t have been more thrilled to discover Purple Cafe + Wine Bar just a hop, skip and a jump from the museum. Featuring a fantastic array of flights, it’s the perfect afternoon beverage and snack break, and they also have an incredible menu if you’re looking for a full meal.
For a sneak peak into the Seattle Art Museum, peep this fantastic new concept – the First Thursdays Virtual Art Walk hosted by the adorably engaging duo behind By The Hour.
In every corner of the country, albeit the world – there are many businesses that are suffering because they are agreeing to stay closed for the betterment of all of our health, and the preservation of our humanity – and our arts – for the future. If you are in a position to do so, please help your local art and music communities by donating where and when you can. To donate to the Seattle Art Museum, head here – and for more on the Seattle Art Museum, including proposed reopening schedules and practices – head to their socials:
It’s not so often that you would recommend reading about mathematical history, but here I am – having finished Mario Livio’s wonderful retrospective on art, history and use (or purported use) of the Golden Ratio.
As a resident number nerd, and someone that their entire life claimed they detested art history and history itself – I have to say that Livio succinctly and sweetly would the three topics together into an enthralling tale of mis-attribution and cultural intrigue. All the while, pulling in both the natural math savant, art fluency and historical perspective within all of us.
Though it initially seems a bit silly to read about numbers, but books on mathematics illuminate the whole mind into understanding the world around us – and within us – at a different frequency. Once you begin to understand what the Golden Ratio is (below), and the common natural occurances of it in the world around you (above) – I dare you to not be astounded that a natural phenomena can be so intricuately detailed within the permutation of a constantly recurring irrational number, phi – Φ.
As easy as it is to believe that a book about mathematics and history could be dense, Livio’s book The Golden Ratio is a poetic and poignant tale of something that we can all recognize in the world. Math is supposed to be accessible by everyone, as it’s the language of the universe, and Livio reminds you that it’s both both within and around you.
For more ‘books about numbers’ and some additional insight into art history, I highly recommend:
With Thanksgiving right around the corner and the impending Winter rush of familial holiday functions, the bombardment of imposed holiday cheer is here and ready to rear it’s seasonal head. Maybe it’s the fact that I grew up splitting my holidays between two homes, or it could be that I wasn’t raised under any form of religious guise – but the holidays themselves essentially passed me over; the only thing I ever gathered from them was they were a great time to be with loved ones, reminisce about the year that was and postulate on what’s to come while not slipping into a glorious food coma with sports on (which, let’s admit, is still pretty damn fun).
In the decade since I left college, I moved the opposite direction from home – and spent half of that time living by myself re-establishing my baseline, and questioning much of the world around me, including the day to day moves we make and overarching traditions most of us have blindly followed for part, if not most of our lives. Though my parents were raised Methodist and Jewish, they chose to raise me as as a scientist – to not accept the world at face value, and approach each situation with a childlike sense of wonder and an adult sense of amusement; where the world and nature were my church and the elders were my leaders. Now that I’ve moved up to a new state with my husband, we’re looking to make traditions of our own – which got me thinking.
Though our schooling would have us believe a very different story, Thanksgiving was a construct of the pagans and the very first one was not at Plymouth Rock. With Thanksgiving falling on a Full Moon for the first time in almost 71 years – I thought it was the perfect time to explore the actual societal roots of the holiday.
Unlike Easter and Christmas which are steeped in slightly more obvious Christian roots, stories and traditions with true roots in Pagan Holiday, Thanksgiving itself is one of the few secular holidays celebrated around the United States and it has an interesting, sorted Colonial history as well as a – you guessed it – Pagan based backstory.
In 1621, the Pilgrims completed their voyage to the new shore – and after a tumultuous time at sea, and losing a menagerie of ship members, they gathered what they could in the cold month of November with the locals and had a winter’s feast; and so started Thanksgiving.
Kinda. That’s what we learn in school at least, and it’s basically completely wrong, starting with the erroneous fact claiming it was the “first” Thanksgiving. Secondly, the Pilgrims were not the first to land in the new world – but this isn’t that history lesson.
Fast forward to our first President George Washington and the formulation of America – there was a suggestion among the constituents that as a new country, it would behoove them to create a nationally binding yet seemingly secular holiday. So, in October of 1789, Washington issued a formal proclamation that designated November 26th as a national day of thanks. And now, 225 years later – we have Turkey, Pumpkin Pie, and Football to celebrate with us. So where did Thanksgiving actually stem from…?
Believe it or not, but having a “Day of Thanks” transmutes almost all cultural walls, and essentially time itself; you can find an ode to it in essentially every ancient culture. The Egyptians celebrated Min while the Chinese held holiday for Chung Ch’ui; the Israelites celebrated Sukkot, the Babylonians worshiped Marduk and the Persians had Mirthas; the Romans had Cerelia while the Greeks honored Demeter and Celtic Pagans took to Mabon. Each of these civilizations had a day designated as a Fall Harvest Feast where they would tend to the end of their crop season, and enjoy the bounty in communal celebration.
After the Romans invaded Nazareth, the cradle of Judaism, in the 3rd Century, their civilization and culture began to seep into Israelite texts and traditions – including Roman Fall Festival Cerelia, which worshiped Goddess of the Harvest Ceres. As the global power of the time, this transmuted the Pagan celebration across any and every culture they touched…which was a lot.
A few hundred years later, Roman rulership had reached England and Cerelia evolved into the Harvest Home Festival under the Church of England. Between the 600’s and 1600’s, the tradition transformed over and over, for both secular and religious groups – but over time, and catalyzed by the separation of the Church of England from Roman rule, many groups within the church splintered off and chose to try for a new life in America; the rest is history – but apparently very poorly written and researched.
And since we’re here – traditional Thanksgiving fare and lore also have cultural roots that you might not expect. That Cornucopia, known as the horn of plenty, full of festively fall items? In Ancient Greece – Amathea the goat broke off his horn, presenting it to Zeus to earn his favor – in return, Amathea’s image became transfixed in the sky as Capricorn. Not to mention, that other things like corn, the Harvest Queen and poppies are all odes to the Roman Goddess Ceres, which the holiday Cerelia celebrates.
This year, instead of giving into a tradition that has been incorrectly hardwired into our brains, try one of these one-offs for size – or even better, use this as an excuse to make your own festivites.
Not only are the holidays a perfect time to reconnect and rekindle your relationships with those you hold dear – but they’re an equally excellent time to forge a bond over an amazing meal and delicious libations. For Friendsgiving, bring the whole squad with you – new neighborhood transplants that aren’t going back to their old stomping grounds, friends, coworkers and even their friends and coworkers. Friendsgiving isn’t relegated to any particular part of the holiday season, but I definitely recommend that it’s on a Friday or Saturday so you can enjoy your food coma into a lovely, lounging Sunday where you can marinate in the memories of your family you chose for yourself just a little while longer.
Raise your paws if you’re one of those people who has a timer on their phone for Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Good, no one – and if you’re rocking with me, I honestly didn’t think so. I always found it a bit untoward that one day we’re wrapped up in giving thanks, and then the next day we’re wrapped up in spending our money – it’s pretty anachronistic to me. Anyways! A few years back, REI started their #OptOutside campaign – shutting down their storefronts, giving their employees the day off and encouraging them to enjoy the outdoors; I love the effect that it’s had on the world at large. Instead of giving into the urge to purchase, get off your cute little butts and get outside; not only is exercise one of the highest rated New Years resolutions, or most common Friday after Thanksgiving traditions – but it feels pretty damn good.
Altruism is by and large one of the best gifts you can give, because it really does keep giving. If you don’t feel like having your own celebrations this year, or are looking for a way to make an impact in your community – find a local shelter to volunteer with, help in their soup kitchen for the holidays, donate your time to a senior center and spend the holidays with those who could use the support, or find an animal shelter to give our furry friends something to smile about.
25 Days of Gratitude
Like I mentioned in the beginning, being thankful and gracious aren’t only applicable to the holidays, though they do allow a wonderful time for pause and reflection, as I’ve found a good memory is kindling to the fire of the heart – especially on a chilly winter’s night. As a kid, I loved those little you games you got on Thanksgiving that counted down the days to Christmas with candy.
This year, ditch that Advent Calendar, which may as well be called the Countdown to Capitalism as an incredibly Protestant Christian ideal that has been transmuted into the public arena without much thought, make your own ‘Gratitude Calendar’. Grab a notepad or old scratch paper, a few favorite pens and a jar – something you can decorate and want to look at. Each day, instead of taking something out – write down one thing that you’re grateful for, date it, and toss it in. When Christmas arrives, spill the jar out and read through each note one by one, you might even be surprised at how many presents you already have in your life.
I have to admit that being in a new state for the Holiday, and married, I’m incredibly excited to start some new celebrations with my husband and my family. With Thanksgiving falling on the Gemini Full Moon, I’m eager for the hearty conversation and lively company for the day.
Whatever you celebrate and whoever you celebrate it with, make it memorable – always.
What new traditions are you excited to start this year?
Let me know in the comments below – I can’t wait to read how you’re spending the season.
If you’re keen enough, smart enough, on a mission enough – you might find them hiding between lines of sexual misconduct, email scandals, and personality flaws during this perverse and conflicting election season. You’ll catch a glimpse of them as the scurry from the darkness into the light, more often than not you’ll find them neglected or negated, swept under rugs or just simply brushed aside – what are they, you might ask? Well, they’re facts. They’re the real issues and real problems that you’re somehow not being bombarded with because the news is controlled by media companies so succinctly feeding the press stories – not truths – that it becomes hard to tell who the chicken and the egg are. But at least you can admit, to a point – they’re both clucking mad.
According to an infographic from 2011 that’s since gone viral, in just under twenty years – the media has gone from being owned by 50 different companies to just six by 2011: GE, News Corp, News-Corpiacom, Time Warner and CBS. Based on the recent merger between AT&T and Time Warner, you better believe that number is only going to get smaller over time – and that’s downright terrifying. One conglomerate to control them all could (unfortunately) make sense in a fascist dictatorship, or under communist rule – but we have either an oligarchy or plutocracy that masquerades around as a “democracy” – which makes it all the more terrifying how much “they” control the “news“. Because let’s face it, whether locally, nationally or globally – news continually slips through the cracks while the semblance of a political psycho-circus is always lurking just around the corner. More often than not, I find both media outlets, as well as my peers, are consumed with what I consider to be the wrong issues. Right now for me, that issue is the Dakota Access Pipeline.
For those with a terrible short-term memory, back in 2011 – there were ample protests against the cross-continent implementation of the Keystone Pipeline XL. An extension of the Keystone pipeline that would stretch from the oil fields in Alberta, Canada all the way down into Texas. The cliff notes version: Alberta’s TransCanada energy company wanted a pipeline to travel to refineries in Houston and Port Arthur, which would bring 830k barrels of oil through a day. Through much protest (that America heard very little about) the motion was passed in Canada. Their intention was to piggyback on the existing Keystone pipeline, which was given a green light by George Bush in 2008. The new XL pipeline would instead carry tar sands oil: a heavier, more corrosive and more carbon intensive oil than the conventional oil. Translation: less ecofriendly, more emissions, more pollution – and more of a mess to clean up.
The almost 1200 mile pipeline was set to disrupt wildlife while pushing out indigenous tribes that have lived in synchronicity with the land for eons. The pipeline was raising more questions than answers, increasing our carbon footprint and forcing climate change as we frack for crude oil instead of searching for more eco-conscious and sustainable solutions. The ideology behind the XL pipeline was so terrible that troves of tree huggers, nature lovers and generational leaders came out of the woodwork in protest – including most notably the president of the Sierra Club, who broke their 120 year stance on civil disobedience to drive their point home. Though a Republican Senate passed the Keystone Pipeline approval act, President Obama thankfully rejected the decision in 2015.
But that was Keystone XL, and this is the Dakota Access Pipeline. So, what’s different now? For starters, not much – and that, in my opinion, is the first problem. Since the industrial revolution, humans have continually trolled the land, stealing and pilaging what we can from it without giving much, if anything, in return. The DAPL proposes to take crude oil from currently untapped regions Bakken Oil Pipeline that are estimated to hold upwards of 7 billion barrels of oil. The problem with pipelines, as we’ve seen in the past, are the ways they can burst, break and wreak havoc on their surrounding environment, creating unlivable human conditions and decimate any semblance of animal life. As the pipeline is currently drawn, it would drive itself into the heart of the Sioux Indian Tribal Lands, disrupting the way of life of not just the native human population – but the continually dwindling animal population as well. And speaking of animal population, it feels like they’re listening – just watch this video of Bison travel down to Standing Rock to give their energy, and then remember how large packs of bison actually used to be. This is our doing, this is is our destrution, this is humanity’s Midas touch -and we pour salt in our own wounds on the daily.
It’s a shame that so many of us believe that the earth is theirs to inherit, it’s not ours, the same way it was never our grandparents, or their parents before them – this land belongs to my great granddaughters who I’ll never meet, and their great granddaughters and so forth. Our time here is a continual investment in the future, not a past debt owed to us that we can exploit over, and over again. According to the World Wildlife Foundation’s biennial Living Planet Report, in the last fifty years the marine life has been decimated by 36%, terrestrial populations have declined by 38% and freshwater popluations have shrunk an abhroent 81%. They project that in the next fifth years almost 2/3 of the wildlife in the world will go extinct for a various number of reasons, most of them manmade: climate change, pollution and the destruction of the animal’s natural habit; a hat trick of terror that humans have enacted onto the world that we simply can’t turn back the clock on – but we can stop ourselves from getting greedy with the planet and going overboard.
Ways to Help
Sign The Petition
Start small but think big. Sometimes, it’s difficult to think of one voice as being strong, loud and resonant above all else – but then you’re stuck in a room with a mosquito and it all clicks. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and the signed petition gets heard: thankfully, the White House petition exceeded the number of signatures necessary against the Dakota Access Pipeline, but there’s a second petition here through Credo Action that could also use some love.
For all the wonder and splendor that the United States has to offer, I never once thought I’d put North Dakota on my travel bucket list – but until now, I’ve never been so crystal clear on what could actually affect change in our world.
Though I’m typically not a proponent of Facebook activism per say, in this case – it can do wonders to disrupt, dismantle and discombobulate the network of decision making by authorities. Though the tactic is currently under investigation by Snopes as to its actual validity, checking in at Standing Rock on Facebook is a wonderful gesture to demonstrate your solidarity, not to mention a rallying cry to get others in the know.
The earth is much more than nature – it’s nurture, and it’s time for us to protect and love the earth the same way she has loved us. Stand up for Mother Nature – stand up for Standing Rock.
A picture might be worth a thousand words, but what they often won’t tell you are calamity, chaos and all around entropy surrounding those perceived moments of serenity.
Just minutes before I found my mental zen at East Los Angeles’ Lincoln Park, I was frustrated to my boiling point with the DMV – infuriated that we’d wasted over two hours of the morning and I’d had essentially had it up to my ears with any semblance of ‘humanity‘ before the clock had even struck noon. There are few tribulations that we can all share here in this world, and dealing with the Department of Motor Vehicles is definitely one of them. As we were gallivanting throughout the city’s side streets on the way to the DMV, I noticed glimpses of pastel and primary colors in delicious dichotomy with the multitudes of green in a park across the street. against the multitude of greens. And now that the morning had manifested in its own auspicious way, it felt like the only remedy was to delve back into whatever nature I had found as soon as I could.
The second we parked, I couldn’t get out of the car fast enough – I took a breath of Spring air as I gingerly skipped from the parking lot pavement to the grassy landscape encroaching the tranquil lake. Technicolor buildings reflected against the lake in a kaleidoscopic fashion as we slowly made our way around in a giant pseudo-circle. Strolling in synchronicity, we shared a bakers dozen of laughs – enjoying what little time was actually left of the morning hours, blissfully aware that under any other circumstance we would have been tethered to our work lives and inundated with tasks that would require us to stay in doors.
Like treasures tucked away in uncharted territory, there are a plethora of small city parks located around the city of LA simply waiting for you to discover them. I’ve loved Echo Park Lake for a long time, but Lincoln Park is almost a miniature version and a whole lot less populated. Founded all the way back in 1881, Lincoln Park was originally named East Los Angeles park, only to be renamed ‘Eastlake Park‘ in 1901; you wouldn’t know from looking at it now, but the park used to house a full zoo, cactus garden and a private alligator farm. Renamed Lincoln Park in 1917 after the local high school, this portion of paradise has been a staple of Los Angeles’ beautiful cross section of counter culture humanity and the arts.
The park itself comes equipped with a menagerie of of activities for all ages, lush lands to picnic on, a playground that has adult swings (yeah, you heard right), a skate park designed by a professional, BBQ pits, fishing in the lake and last but most certainly not least – the wonderful Plaza de la Raza Cultural Center for the Arts + Education, a prominent meeting spot for the community and the only multidisciplinary building of its kind in the city. Not to mention, my favorite touch, sprinkles of large scale art around the edges of the park.
For more on Los Angeles’ Lincoln Park, head to their social media pages – or better yet, just drop on by and pay it a visit.
We’ve started the year with two cultural schools of thought, on one hand there’s the loud and slightly ridiculous Stacey Dash phenomenon and on the other, we have the #OscarsSoWhite. So thank goodness that the Queen is back to shake things up and push us forward, Queen B that is. This past weekend, just the day before her highly anticipated Super Bowl collaboration with Coldplay and Bruno Mars, Beyonce dropped the world on it’s head with the release of her latest empowered single,’Formation’. More than just a song, ‘Formation’ is a statement – ‘Formation’ is a movement; ‘Formation’ is an ode to the rise of Black Feminine Energy – and it’s time to get in line.
Let me back up for a second.
After 31 years on this pseudo-green Earth, I’d be kidding myself if I didn’t admit that the ideas of race, ethnicity, cultural adversity and then diversity run rampant in my veins. If you are who you surround yourself by, I’m socio-culturally middle class, with a multicultural twist. Minority Report, Oreo, Chocolate Sprinkle. My nicknames say it all, but it runs deeper. When standardized tests were distributed in school, I always took longer than everyone else figuring out which box to check for ethnicity – what if I didn’t see my box? Does that mean I didn’t matter – do I not count? Can I check more than one box? Where do I fit in here?
The multiracial, only child of a split family, I always had issues reconciling my ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and the notion that they might invariable be two different identities were always kept at bay. Remember Sun In? That shit turned my hair bright orange, not to mention warnings about sunscreen never seemed to apply to me. When my dad remarried to my step mom and the three of us would go out together, people would infer I was adopted; fast forward twenty years later, and they mistake my fiance for their son.
Spot the Amanda
Silicon Valley born and raised, I grew up in the tiny and incredibly educated suburb of Menlo Park with my mom, and Palo Alto then Los Altos with my father. They were nice areas to be raised in and all that jazz, but let’s get one thing real for a second, they’re not the most diverse areas of the country; in fact they’re pretty monotone, sometimes painfully so. Whether it was with family, or in social endeavors, I always felt like the technicolor sheep of the family – never fitting in and always standing out.
Mentally, sonically, emotionally, I grew up in a boombox, self-identifying with Hip-hop and rap, including Janet Jackson’s anthemic Rhythm Nation 1814; but academically and socially, I attended programs where, in one way or another, I was the diversity. Whether it was attending Castilleja Middle School during the academic year, or their BRIDGE Program over the Summer, I wavered between a drop of milk in oil and a drop of oil in milk; an ever ebbing cascade of racial complexities that arose from a bi-cultural background that up until that age hadn’t been explored. Then, by the time I transferred back into Public School as a Junior in High School, Menlo Atherton High School had gotten national recognition with a center spread in ‘Teen People” as the most diverse yet segregated High School in America.
Serendipitous to consider it now, but it was around that same time that Destiny’s Child came out with their debut, self-titled album. In a moment where I couldn’t find a cultural footing, somehow, with them, I found resonance, a voice, a mainstream media identity – or in my eyes, hope. At 16, while away at an out of town basketball tournament, I walked into the room while several of my teammates were discussing their disgust with interracial relationships. As I slowly sulked into the shadows, shuddering at each syllable, I faintly but distinctly overheard the words “…they shouldn’t be allowed to marry, and definitely shouldn’t be allowed to have children.” My heart and ego sank in time as my head hung low for the duration of the tournament. After, in an effort to reconnect to my roots, my aunt escorted me to a seminar in Los Angeles for Young African American Women; around the same time, I became a camp counselor in West Menlo Park and was quickly adopted under the wing of East Menlo Park’s more diverse subset of counselors where I became a master domino player, learned the proper way to eat fried chicken, not to mention the difference between sweet potato pie and pumpkin pie. And in whatever down time I could muster, I buried my head in multicultural literature from James McBride’s The Color of Water to timely tomes from Danzy Senna, Caucasia and Symptomatic.
Combined, the ideas drilled in my head lead me to believe the next large sociocultural revolution would be a mixed race revolution, and we would be leading at the helm. But invariably, the events themselves, made me feel even more alone. It was then, that the idea was finally and formally drilled into my head that there was a difference between being genetically ‘African American‘ and culturally Black.
Beyond the entertainment value, viral witticisms masquerading as lyrics and a host of regal outfits – the video contains a not so subtle history lesson delivered with a passionate one two punch in under five minutes. Starting with emotional imagery and vocals that ask ‘What happened in New Orleans‘, Formation’ delves into the modern Black experience, exploring the nuanced variety of genetic variability. Cascading through Southern cityscapes and landscapes, including estates and plantations, ‘Formation‘ offers a bevvy of emotional imagery: a cop car – and city -underwater, a breakdancing toddler stalling a line of police with their hands in the air, ‘Stop Shooting Us’ haphazardly spray painted on an otherwise barren wall and coordinated feminine empowerment.
Imagery that grew only stronger with her performance the next day at the Super Bowl’s halftime show; decked out in gear halfway reminiscent of the 1970’s Black Panther movement spliced with Janet’s Rhythm Nation video, Beyonce urged a generation to mobilize and get in ‘Formation’. The end result was a provocative performance of a ‘visual anthem‘ sure to live in cultural infamy.
Fast forward to three days later, and you’ll meet exactly what’s wrong with this country and could invariably elect someone as ignorant as Donald Trump; In light of the controversial dance ‘Formations’ and dress during her performance invoking the Black Panther Party, Malcolm X and supposed dissent against the police -not to mention a display of their own cultural ignorance – protesters are heading to NFL’s New York Headquarters on February 18th . Not only have people willfully avoided history textbooks or contextualizing social issues like the suffrage and civil rights movement, but on top of that their ignorance has become ego driven arrogance; and I’m not sure what frustrates me more – an echoed rhetoric that minorities, especially women, are only here to entertain and not educate, or the idea that people are more offended by the message of the song than the actions that drove the creation of this performance.
I’ll be the first to admit that I never paid much attention in my European History classes and found most of my United States history courses beyond boring; but when it came to the Civil Rights Movement, I had an uncanny desire to devour all available knowledge. And I know this: The Black Panther Party was made of revolutionaries that fought for a culture that had been undermined for their entire cultural history to be recognized as equal. Yes, they were born out of the failed non-violent Civil Rights Movement of MLK Jr and Medgar Evers but the movement didn’t promote violence, it promoted fairness while protecting the community from the racist behaviors of others while simultaneously pushing citizens to police the police – an idea that is still echoed in today’s society.
To the calls of it’s Football and not Hollywood, last time I listened to Sportscetnter I got a whole earful about girlfriends and wives, houses and style; things that invariable have jack all to do with competitive sports. And now, we’re taking a critique to a traditionally all white variety of Halftime Entertainment. So for a second, let’s talk about the NFL. Let’s discuss the amount of sex crimes and prostitution rings that are cracked down on during high profile games every year, the egregious amount of drunk drivers that get into accidents leaving games or the fact that from start to finish, NFL games are riddled with advertisements parading the US Military as a revered enterprise. Yet a five minute segment that gives weight to a population more often misrepresented and underrepresented in mainstream media receives a bevvy of backlash? It’s time that people get their priorities in formation
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:
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?