PRESERVING THE SPIRIT OF HOUSE AS ELECTRONIC DANCE MUSIC PROGRESSES
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel recognized Frankie Knuckles as one of the city’s “most treasured cultural pioneers” in a statement earlier this week while social media tributes, dance floor dedications and parties in his honor intensify following the Grammy-winning DJ’s death at 59. An amputee and diabetic faced with long-term health problems, Knuckles traveled extensively and kept doing what he loved as an internationally respected mentor, producer, remixer and veteran on the decks.
“Over his long career Frankie made his way into the ranks of those artists and innovators who came to this city not just to contribute to a musical genre, but to create one themselves,” Emanuel said of the New Yorker who moved to the Windy City upon accepting a residency at The Warehouse in 1977 and later opened his own nightclub, The Power Plant, in the ’80s.
“In doing so,” Emanuel continued, “he also made his way into the hearts of those who knew him and the many more who followed his work.” Just a week prior to his passing, Knuckles celebrated with friends and fans at Miami’s 29th annual Winter Music Conference (lately overshadowed by its harder-edged EDM offshoot, Ultra Music Festival), then flew to the U.K. for what would be his final Ministry of Sound appearance. Often on a full schedule, he’d started to slow down according to those close to him, but he was set for more studio work and gigs such as this summer’s Amsterdam festival, A Day at the Park.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Today, I signed the Change.org petition to get the “Godfather of House music” on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. The list has already surpassed 10,000 signatures, but needs about 1,300 the last time checked. I appreciate the depth of what Knuckles’ embodied and why his influence has prevailed over the decades. My comments on the site reflect just an inkling of emotion expressed for this talented figure who shared his passion for music which crossed generations, sexual preferences, economics, ethnicity and faith.
Knuckles’ remix of First Choices’ Let No Man Put Asunder (released on Salsoul Records) signaled a seismic shift happening in the burgeoning electronic music scene of the day. House music would serve as the salve for a maligned disco era publicly shamed during 1979′s infamous record bashing at Comiskey Park in Chicago. Though the new sound didn’t take over the U.S. initially, House music erupted like wildfire abroad during the late 80s and 90s to spawn today’s multibillion-dollar dance industry filling stadiums and beachfronts around the world.
House music remains the great equalizer as it embraces the disenfranchised and permeates all walks of life (Questlove and The Roots crew recently paid homage on The Tonight Show). I got choked up when close friends and legendary DJs gathered Wednesday night for Louie Vega and Kevin Hedge’s long-running Roots party at Cielo in Manhattan in tribute. Most touching was a poignant David Morales who poured out his heart explaining what it meant to lose someone as special as Knuckles. “Frankie was a class act,” Morales told us before elevating the hushed room with Knuckles’ classic remix, Pressure, by the Sounds of Blackness, and a string of deeper-tinged grooves.
Loss can have a profound ripple effect on society as we try to grasp what happened and what comes next (April 4 marks the 46th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. This weekend also marks 20 years since the death of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, who committed suicide at his Seattle home on April 5). Even New York’s famed megaclub, Roseland Ballroom, will shutter after Lady Gaga’s sold-out shows end on April 7.
DO YOU REMEMBER HOUSE?
I am not a DJ or a music industry exec, but House music is deeply engrained in my soul. So yes, “I remember House before it was called House … when House respected House. I remember House when House was soul music and R&B, before House was disco … before the super clubs, before record labels sold the House (Palmer Brown preached on Blaze’s original track). I remember House when House was about love.”
Perhaps, it took Knuckles’ death to get people talking about the real foundations of this powerful music and subsequent genres flourishing now. With a range from soulful and reflective to provocative and frenetic, Francis Nicholls inherently knew he was a master of his craft long before mainstream caught on to what was felt instinctively at all-night marathon sets that gave Chicago’s black and Latino gay community sanctuary back in the day.
In an interview with The Chicago Tribune, Knuckles told the newspaper that music “is the one thing that keeps us sane … the one thing that calms people down. Even when they’re hopping up and down in a frenzy on the dance floor, it still has their spirits calm because they’re concentrating on having a good time, loving the music, as opposed to thinking about something negative.”
NPR’s Barry Walters reflects on Knuckles’ career and the dynamics of race, spirituality and societal influences in his April 2 article, which also praises The Whistle Song. Walters writes: “Like a lot of deep house, it’s simultaneously sad and joyous, as if it’s so full of emotion that it seeps out every which way.”
‘Five Defining Tracks’ by Frankie Knuckles: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/frankie-knuckles-5-defining-tracks-from-the-chicago-house-pioneer-20140401
Petition for DJ Larry Levan: http://news.traxsource.com/articles/1033/larry-levan-way
DEEP HOUSE WILL NEVER DIE
I’m stunned while typing this as reports of Frankie Knuckles‘ sudden death circulate online and around the globe. At 59, the Bronx-born “Godfather” of House music left behind an undeniable legacy following a lifelong career as a trailblazing DJ, producer, innovator and inspiration to so many connected to underground dance culture and beyond clubland. Forget the hype over the latest EDM wannabe icons and the sort — Frankie Knuckles (and others of a very special era) are the real deal who cannot be replaced rather revered for how they defined their lives and contributed to the bigger picture and greater good.
Knuckles’ approach to music speaks volumes, so I will honor what matters most to this househead right now despite a heavy heart. I came across one of his sets last year at the Boiler Room NYC (above) and hope you’ll get lost in the moment (below). Perhaps like me, you’ll find yourself anew as I have many times on the dance floor or wherever these sounds uplifted my soul.
Thank you, Frankie, for sharing your radiant spirit with us all.
More on Frankie Knuckles: http://www.metro.us/newyork/entertainment/music/2014/04/01/frankie-knuckles-iconic-chicago-dj-dies-59/
DOSHA POPS: EYE CANDY THAT’S GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT
We’ve all been there, done that trying to juggle everything under the sun while any semblance of balance eludes us. The demands of career, home, family and friends can overwhelm the best of the bunch yet we keep chugging along to the next project. Instead of becoming a cliché, Chicago native Peggy Andrews found herself turning to Ayurveda when signs suggested it was time to rethink her routine as a busy lawyer in Manhattan.
“A lot of people living in New York are out of balance,” says Andrews, founder of the boutique artisanal candy company and social enterprise Dosha Pops. “I was suffering from acid reflux. … I spent a lot of hours sitting down in front of a computer, then I’d have dinner late with friends eating rich foods and wine. I didn’t know what it was because I was pretty healthy.” Deductive reasoning pointed to sedentary excess taking its toll and no amount of antacids could get to the root of the problem.
“I wanted to make lifestyle changes,” explains Andrews during our recent chat this spring. The world traveler and “huge” foodie who loves sharing homemade treats began exploring holistic natural health care and took a few Ayurvedic cooking classes. Andrews learned a lot in the kitchen about herbal teas and herself in the process — such as what specific dosha fit accordingly (primarily Kapha, but some Pitta influences). Then, in 2012, she decided to create something “sweet and fun” for the holidays that would ultimately land her a coveted spot on the red carpet.
“It’s been a real Cinderella story,” says Andrews, whose botanical recipe blends of Ayurvedic herbs, spices and essential oils provide a spectrum of flavors for gourmet lollipops like Chai Me Up, Head Over Hibiscus, Inner Glow and Velvet Rope (with notes of chicory). Within an hour and a half of launching her website last December, interest piqued and calls poured in (among them: organizers for the Grammys and Oscars). Lucky celebs found her yummy organic candies tucked inside their swag bags this year!
Turmeric, ginger and cardamom are just a sample of infusions distinguishing Dosha Pops from typical snacks that may satisfy your sweet tooth. And, at 70 calories a pop, you just can’t go wrong! Andrews adds that Ayurveda’s key mission is simple: to bring the dosha back into balance. It’s also the mission of Dosha Pops, she says “but with the addition of confection and a portion of the proceeds donated to charities that address human well-being.” Besides coming up with new seasonal flavors, she’s excited to initiate more partnerships with like-minded organizations.
Dosha Pops: https://doshapops.com/
SPRING CLEANING: FRESH START ON ROAD TO HOLISTIC HEALTH
I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus from blogging and photography of late, mostly due to issues stemming from repetitive wrist strain, chronic lower back and knee-joint pain, etc. But, the road to healing is exciting as it redirects my attention to some old familiars (acupuncture, meditation, yoga, Pilates) and other holistic alternatives (including the age-old Ayurvedic practice of oil pulling — suddenly all the rage on the Interwebs).
In coming weeks, you’ll start seeing more health and wellness coverage when you visit my blog. Rather than focusing on passing fads, popularity contests or what’s trending online, though, expect new posts aimed at helping us make more of a profound, fundamental shift toward better living through natural chemistry. And, what a great time with spring finally here in all its glory!
EAT BETTER. MOVE MORE. AND, TAKE A DEEP BREATH
A year ago this week, my mother had a heart attack which nearly claimed her life. Always independent, she had been living alone upon moving from New York. Fortunately, a neighbor stopped by to check on her that day and paramedics responded promptly. A sobering moment in the lives of many every day.
Heart disease affects more women than men and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined, according to the American Heart Association. What I didn’t realize was just how pervasive this is in our society until my mom had two strokes and survived a third heart attack last March. The best defense is knowing the warning signs in men and women early on and acting quickly when it occurs. Reducing stress, regular doctor visits, eating better (less processed, more whole foods), committing to daily fitness routines to improve our strength, flexibility and overall balance of mind, body and spirit — all these things matter at any stage of your life.
Now in her 70s, my mom has lived with diabetes for more than 30 years — eventually going blind in one eye, hearing loss in an ear yet still managing the best she can with limited health care. Though chronic illness has taken its toll over time, her invincibly positive spirit remains intact, which always amazes me. We talk nearly every day and she’s excited about what each day brings, along with my aunt who she lives with now … and looking forward to planting a few fresh herbs for the spring.
DISCLAIMER: Health and wellness material on this blog is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, cure or to prevent any disease. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. You should consult a qualified health care professional before starting any diet, supplement, home remedy or exercise program, or if you have or suspect you may have a health condition. I encourage individuals to research all avenues for optimal overall wellness.
American Heart Association: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/
‘Go Red For Women’: https://www.goredforwomen.org/home/about-heart-disease-in-women/
Huffington Post article on well-being: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joe-polish/pillar-1-of-the-third-metric_b_4960080.html
Winter weather is full of wonder. Share the love …
‘Snowed In’ photo gallery: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ajournalist/sets/72157640976415464/
CITY’S UNIQUE MIX UNITES US ALL
Think you’ve seen just about everything in the Big Apple? Well, not if you’re missing what’s hidden in plain sight across five vibrantly diverse boroughs. Admittedly, that’s a lot of ground to cover whether you’re a tourist or live here. So, I suggest venturing out to view New York (Outer Borough) Stories, a new public art exhibit in Lower Manhattan’s financial center. In the spotlight: a series of captivating images captured by New York City-based artists living in the four “outer” boroughs—the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.
“We are incredibly excited to announce our latest collaboration with our friends at the NYC Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Urban Art Program, curating this outdoor exhibition,” United Photo Industries says in a release. The photographs are on display at two sites along the Water Street corridor—Gouveneur Lane between Water Street and Front Street, and Water Street between Pine Street and Maiden Lane. Featured artists include Christine Osinski (Staten Island); Marisol Díaz (Bronx); Irina Rozovsky (Brooklyn) and Sol Aramendi (Queens).
According to NYC DOT officials, the exhibit aims to provide the visitor with a “rare window into the soul of New York and to celebrate what makes it tick.” The public art project also is part of the city’s efforts to “revitalize and activate Water Street in response to the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy on Lower Manhattan.”
United Photo Industries offers more on the scope of its current project. A “Talk & Walk” with the photographers is planned later in the spring, as well. “In creating this exhibition, one photographer from each of the four outer boroughs was invited to collaborate with a locally based curator to share a story about her own community,” notes UPI. “The selected photographers come from different social and cultural backgrounds, grew up in different neighborhoods and at different times, yet all share an affinity for their city.”
Continuing, “New York (Outer Borough) Stories is more than an exhibition of photographs; it is a celebration of New York, of its unique mix and diversity of people, and of the pride that defines and unites them all.”
United Photo Industries (Special Projects): http://unitedphotoindustries.com/special-projects/new-york-stories/
NYC DOT Urban Art: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/pedestrians/urbanart.shtml
Meet Gilbert on Tumblr (big fan of NYC Urban Art): http://nycurbanart.tumblr.com/post/73429686216/our-biggest-fan-meet-gilbert-our-biggest-fan-he
WERK: INDIE ART CULTURE AND MORE
an outlet for my photos
Some observations from travels
Costa Rica Travel Blog is the current traveller, will-be traveller, has-been traveller, and should-be traveller's guide to everything costa rica. Information, stories, news, advice - written by the Pura Vida! eh? Incorporated team - costa rican insiders, outsiders, and everywhere-in-between-siders.
But really, everything is nothing.
From the people at www.visitnorway.com
The Art and Craft of Blogging
Addicted to Organic Food
serving up fresh analogue photo delights.
Crazy is relative. Just ask my relatives. And music!