Summer is already moving too fast. I feel like July 4th is equivalent to the season’s halftime. I wish there was a way to slow down the passage of time and control the seasons…Hey, whaddyaknow! Seems Fleet Foxes had that same idea when they came up with the video for “White Winter Hymnal” from their recently released self-titled debut. You’ll have to check it out at Pitchfork since they have the exclusive, but it’s a sweet video. Employing claymation to great effect, the video depicts a group of friends, likely the band members, controlling the seasons with the turning of a wheel. The song is poignant and the album as a whole is even better. Listening to it might even help you relax and keep the summer from getting away from you.

Here’s a live version to hold you over until you catch the video:

The Wackness generated so much buzz at Sundance this year—even taking home the Audience Award for Dramatic Film—that I was unable to see it at the festival. I finally caught it yesterday during its New York City theater run at the Angelika Film Center on Houston St. I had been eagerly anticipating the film, largely due to its setting: the summer of 1994 in New York, an era in which the city was still viewed as a gritty and dangerous place, a perception then-new mayor Rudi Giuliani was eagerly trying to alter. I was also excited to see the film for its soundtrack, overflowing with mid-90s East Coast hip hop including tracks from Nas, Mobb Deep, Wu-Tang, Tribe and Biggie. In the summer of 1994 I was 12, and like most summers, I spent a week or so in the city visiting family. I listened to rap almost exclusively back then, and for me hip hop provided the perfect backdrop for a city I viewed as immense, exhilarating and intimidating.

It was with this mindset that I watched The Wackness, and left the theater having seen my favorite movie of the summer thus far. The film tells the story of two lost souls: Luke (Josh Peck), a student graduating from high school, and Dr. Squires (Ben Kingsley), a psychiatrist and the father of Luke’s love interest, that form a friendship as they battle their demons, deal with women and try to grow as men. (Luke also deals Squires weed). The story has heart and is laugh-out-loud funny, particularly with the slang-heavy dialog full of words like fly, dope and fresh. It also made me want to get a boombox and switch back to cassettes. The soundtrack was the icing on the cake, and paid a lot of respect to Biggie, whose debut Ready to Die was released in ’94.

In honor of The Wackness and Notorious, here are some classic vids from Ready to Die:

“Warning”

“Juicy”

“One More Chance”

This morning I celebrated the birth of our nation with a big ass helping of Frosted Mini Wheats (Maple & Brown Sugar edition). The site of those sugary nuggets tumbling into the bowl had me feeling giddy and I eagerly coated them with 2% milk. As I shoveled the last scrumptious morsels of rectangular goodness into my face I began thinking: what else epitomizes democracy and free will, the very cornerstones of our nation’s founding, better than cereal? Honestly, when one walks down the cereal aisle, the options are endless, and quite frankly, sometimes overwhelming. I firmly believe that if John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were to take a gander down the cereal aisle at the local Food Emporium, they would be overjoyed at the abundance of choices with which Americans are blessed. If forced to make a choice themselves, I believe they would go for Cheerios, the most fundamentally sound cereal on the market. Rich with nutrients and solidly composed of honey and oates, Cheerios are quintessentially American and would have JA and TJ ready to engage in semantic battles in no time.

I then began thinking of all the cereals that I’ve consumed in the quarter century I’ve spent on this earth. For nearly a decade of my childhood I was a loyal customer of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. It was one of the few cereals my mother and I could agree upon. From her perspective it was healthy enough, and from mine, Cinnamon Toast Crunch had just enough brown sugar to earn credibility amongst my peers. As I slowly gained autonomy from my mother’s dictatorial breakfast food decision making, I began to venture into more sugar coated cereals, namely Cocoa Puffs and Frosted Mini Wheats. There’s nothing better than eating a cereal that leaves the milk a completely different color than when you began eating. As I’ve grown older and wiser, I’ve begun to appreciate the merits of a healthy breakfast and have gravitated towards more fiber-rich cereals like Kellog’s Smart Start and even Raisin Bran, a cereal that I detested as a child. I believe that if my ten year-old self saw my 24 year-old self eating Raisin Bran, he would kick my ass. But now there’s a variation that includes crunchy bits of granola that livens up the taste. When I’m feeling adventurous these days, I’ve been opting for Cocoa Krispies, which much like this blog, explode with flavor.

As many cereals that I’ve eaten in my years, there are so many that I haven’t even tried. I’ve never spent much time with Cap’n Crunch, Count Chocula or Kix. Never explored Life, Apple Jacks or Chex. Never tasted Honey Bunches of Oates, Boo Berry or Smacks. There are so many in fact, that one could probably pick one cereal to eat each year for the duration of a lifetime and still not try all of them. That’s what I call choice. God Bless America.

Let me know what some of your favorites are and if you’re bored, check out a full list of cereals here at Wikipedia.

Chill Swedes

July 3, 2008

I’m feeling rather lazy, being that it is the holiday weekend. It’s also hot as balls in our apartment, which is never conducive to creative thinking. In a feeble attempt to cool down our living room, we’ve propped up a box fan in front of the a/c unit to spread the cold air. It’s not really working. MacGyver would be ashamed.

So, to ice down your eyes and ears on this sweltering July evening, I thought I’d share a few chill tunes from Swedish electropop acts Tough Alliance and Air France. The first video is for “First Class Riot,” my favorite song from the Tough Alliance’s most recent release A New Chance. The second is for “Beach Party” by Air France—this video makes me really want to go back on vacation. (Air France was just deemed “Best New Music” by Pitchfork by the way).

Feel the breeze.

“First Class Riot”:

“Beach Party”:

Hong Kong

July 2, 2008

Boasting a spectacular skyline, tropical climate and cosmopolitan sentimentality, its no surprise that Hong Kong has earned a spot in the pantheon of iconic metropolises alongside cities such as New York, Paris, Milan and Tokyo. Having visited once before several years ago, my return last week on vacation confirmed that Hong Kong is without a doubt one of my favorite cities in the world.

As soon as one steps off the plane, one can sense a tangible vitality and spirit of progress. As my buddy informed me, the airport itself is a feat of technological prowess, resting on a man-made island. Like any great city, Hong Kong has great nightlife, (particularly Lan Kwai Fong, where the bars are known to spill into the street, Mardi Gras style), culture and shopping (the high end retailers in Central rival any of those in Midtown Manhattan). Being a financial and shipping hub, Hong Kong is also a city of tremendous wealth—it’s not uncommon to find yourself gawking at the Ferraris and Lamborginis that seem to drive by every several minutes. And let’s not forget that the fashion industry in the city brings with it boatloads of beautiful women. If you’re one of those people who isn’t overly enthusiastic about Asian women, I challenge you to visit Hong Kong and return with the same mindset.

Yet beyond all of these elements, what sets Hong Kong apart for me is the city’s topography and breathtaking skyline. Hong Kong is a mountainous tropical island and seeing massive buildings jutting out of the side of lush green mountains is a site to behold. Furthermore, taking the ferry across the bay to Kowloon provides a panoramic view of the coolest and most colorful cityscape on the planet.

If all of this isn’t enough to convince you, Hong Kong even provides the backdrop for the most anticipated film of the summer The Dark Knight. See the movie, then save up your dough to visit the city where it all went down. Or better yet, see the movie in Hong Kong. You might even get one of those cool new water proof ten dollar bills as change when you pay for your ticket.

For a little eye candy, here’s a new trailer for The Dark Knight. Peep the IFC 2—the tallest building in the city—in the beginning and the end.