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Monthly Archives: September 2010

I really think the feminists should spend their time and energy pursuing a cause that matters.  Complaining about Mattel releasing News Anchor Barbie really shouldn’t be very high on their list of concerns.

My mother grew up playing with Barbies.  My sister and I grew up playing with Barbies.  We are both well educated, well-rounded women.  Neither of us grew up wishing we had mis-proportioned hips.  We didn’t dye our hair bleach blond.  My first car was not a pink corvette, and that was not a problem for me.

However, Barbie did leave me with some insight to life.  You can have a husband, a baby, a dream house AND whichever job you like.  If you want to be a nurse, you can be that.  If you want to be a teacher (and subsequently teach your never aging little sister, Skipper, year after year) then go for it. 

In his post, Joe Grimm seems to agree with that.  His concerns about the Barbie are the same as mine.  Why so much hooplah about a toy journalist, but nobody bothered by the fact that the number of women journalists in a newsroom is only a little over 36% of the actual workers?  Shouldn’t all of the sign wavers and speaker-uppers be a bit concerned with that?  Sexism in the workplace?  In 2010?

Mattel is creating the Barbie because little girls voted on it.  They want to see women in the newsroom.  What about the rest of the world?

 “Who wants to have my babies?” a college aged man yelled, while leaning out the 3rd floor window of a brownstone on Lark Street, waving around a red plastic cup. Two of his friends were also leaning out the window, heckling a small group of early 20-something girls on the street below them. “Come on upstairs,” the one in the middle yelled.  The girls laughed and walked away, much to the boys’ chagrin.

That was just one of many spectacles you could have witnessed if you were one of the anticipated 80,000 people who attended the 29th Annual LarkFest on Saturday.  Ten blocks were closed to traffic in the Lark St. neighborhood of Albany, as hundreds of vendors lined up, hoping to cash in on the turnout.  Walking into the festival was a bit of sensory overload.  The smells of sausage and smoke, popcorn and pulled pork, incense and marijuana all mingled in the air.  The sun not only provided a 77*F day, but also served as a spotlight shining down on various stands and aluminum cartoon character balloons, perhaps helping to catch the eye of a Larkfest spectator with money to spend.  Or, a toddler with an admiration for Dora the Explorer.

Many people seemed to decide the best course of action was to go with the flow, down one side of the street and back up the other, although the youngest and oldest attendants brought the hustle to a halt at times.  Guitar chords filled the air, propelling you towards either the Washington or Madison Stages to check out the live music.  Along the way, there were plenty of things to stop and check out.

Elda’s on Lark was selling 16 ounce Heineken cans for $4. Available outside their restaurant, near the corner of Spring St and the Washington Stage, the cute girls with short black shorts and tight Elda’s T-shirts didn’t have a problem attracting buyers.

For $15, down from the $40 charged on any other day, tarot card readings were offered by The Psychic Gallery, located at 221 Lark Street.  According to their motto, they will, “walk you into happiness, love and success.”  At Lark Fest, they were willing to walk you to that happiness for the same price you’d pay for a slice of cheesecake from the Cheesecake Machismo tent.  Most people seemed to choose the calories as their source of happiness.  In the Psychic Gallery tent sat a lonely looking, bored, beer drinking clairvoyant.  The employees of the Cheesecake Machismo, 293 Hamilton Street, were bustling to keep up with all of their orders.

Although their office on Lark Street is now closed, Planned Parenthood still manned a table, handing out both flavored condoms and candy. The organization was also offering brochures on safe sex practices.  The staff was chanting, “Don’t skip it – switch it,” – a new campaign encouraging people with no health insurance to take advantage of the free family planning services the office offers.

For something a little more G-rated, families could make their way to Incredible Larry’s show, outside of the Ben & Jerry’s shop.  The comic juggler was able to cash in on the heat, as several families settled on the curbs to watch his show and finish a cone full of ice cream.

The talk of this year’s LarkFest was the Silent Disco hosted by Bomber’s Burritos.  A silent disco is a party conducted through wireless headphones.  The concept is that two different DJs mix and play songs on stage, sending the songs out on one of two channels.  Audience members can tune into whichever channel they like, listening to the music through their headphones.  The disco was held from 12 to 5 p.m. in a roped off, tented area of LarkFest, on the corner of Hudson Ave.  Although still early in the day, the disco was, well, silent come 1:00 p.m., with only seven people participating. 

After national act Moby headlined last year’s Larkfest, the lack of a musical budget this year had been a source of contention and disappointment among usual Larkfest attendees.  Several were weary of the local acts that The Exit 97.7 had booked.  These bands were playing for free.  What do bands that don’t merit a paycheck have to offer?  Chris Wienk, head of The Exit 97.7 and the person in charge of booking the acts, had faith in the music his station was going to provide.  “The idea here, from our perspective, was to talk to up-and-coming artists who are hungering for a chance to play in front of a large audience like LarkFest.”

There were a couple noteworthy performances.  The performance of Rich Ortiz, Lake George, brought to mind songs of Matt Nathanson or Gavin Degraw.  Dressed in a uniform right out of Degraw’s closet– a newsboy cap, t-shirt and jeans, Ortiz played his acoustic guitar, percussion and harmonica – at times simultaneously-  and attracted quite a crowd during his thirty-five minute performance.  Voted “Best Acoustic Solo” in the Capital Region three years in a row in the Post Star Reader’s Poll, Ortiz’s pop-acoustic style is something to keep an eye on. 

A late edition to the LarkFest line-up, The Charlie Watts Riots (who will be performing early next month with Ortiz) have been present on Albany’s music scene since 2007.  Voted Best Pop Band in Metroland Magazine’s Best of 2010, the band can be described as Fountains of Wayne meets Simple Plan.  The band took the stage in slightly dishelved matching suits, white shirts and skinny ties.  In between filling their nearly hour long set, they had a comfortable stage presence and banter with the shy crowd of 60 something people who had formed, albeit at a noticeable distance from the stage.  “This is a great crowd but everyone needs to take five steps forward.  Even the people related to me.  You have 364 days to be a wallflower.  Not today. Today, you make my show,” guitarist Seth Powell joked.  The crowd obliged.

LarkFest is a chance for the people of the Capital Region – young and old, local and transplants- to come together and celebrate what is known as “Albany’s Greenwich Village.”  It is one of the few times a year where you can watch a mother bouncing her giggling baby along to the music of an acoustic guitar show and turn to see two cowboys in chaps – and not much else – making out in the middle of a street.  You can see a grown man wearing jean shorts over khaki pants, swaying along in a drunken stupor and cheering like a school girl at a Justin Bieber concert, while listening to punk music.  You can buy a sculpture made out of forks, sample Vegan snacks and take a picture with a member of the Albany All-Stars Roller Derby, all within ten steps of one another.  LarkFest is a time to embrace Albany’s diversity.  If only for the day, the drunken masses were as one.

With arts journalism being my niche of choice, I stay up to date on all things American Idol.  Apparently, after months of rumors and three judges down (See ya, Simon, Paula and Kara), Fox officially unveiled their new panel of judges this afternoon. I don’t think the choices really came as any big surprise to anyone.

New Idol Judges

Here they go again. Only this time, they brought their dogs. On Monday, the musical group Ok Go released the video for their newest single, “White Knuckles”.  Famously known for their (seemingly) one cut, one take productions, the group did not disappoint viewers with their canine choreographed creation.

In an era of flashy technology and digitally enhanced graphics, its refreshing to see the group has stayed true to form, making music videos that are both simple and elaborate at the same time.  The band first started off with a video choreographed by one the band member’s sister (and appearing more like a cheeky, cheerleader halftime show).  They are best known for the synchronized dance routine performed on moving treadmills for their song “Here It Goes”.

The “White Knuckles” video is filmed much of the same way – seemingly one take, stationary camera with the only movement in the scene coming from the band members and various objects they move.  This time, instead of treadmills, their prop of choice is man’s best friend.

Since I first saw this story on the Today show, I’ve seen it all over the internet.  A 6-year-old in Detroit was kicked off her cheerleading squad when her mother complained about the lyrics in a cheer.  The mother of  first grader Kennedy, Jennifer Tesch, wasn’t very keen on her daughter saying “Our backs ache, our skirts are too tight, we shake our booties from left to right!”.  Tescher spoke to the cheerleading coach, voicing her concerns that the cheer was a bit provocative for such young girls.  Having been a cheerleading coach for several years herself, she offered several different revisions of the cheer.  apparently, the coach and the squad’s general manager didn’t like what they heard. 

Trying to find support in her peers, Tresch voiced her concerns to other parents.  According to Tresch, nobody had her back.  No other parents seemed to have a problem with their six-year olds talking about their tight skirts and aching backs.  They subsequently voted little Kennedy off of the squad.  It’s said that she can return next season, if she wishes.

Personally, I would have been all over that cheer as well. In my opinion, it’s a completely inappropriate chant for six year olds to say.  I also think that if I were in the coaches shoes, regardless of how I felt about the cheer, if I had a parent upset, I would work with them to remedy the situation.  It makes me wonder what else had been going on prior to this.  Does something that trivial merit nationwide coverage?


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