We are in the midst of capitalism’s favorite time of the year. Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday kicked things off. Our favorite shows have been overtaken by ads for the latest iPhone, the hottest video game, and the shiniest car that we most certainly do not need. And a few of these ads even boast about how their products are “Made in America” (or “Designed in America” in Apple’s case). But the businesses I want to tell you about are usually smaller than “small” and their proprietors are more likely to call them passion projects than “businesses.” For many of them their products are not just made in America but sometimes in our own neighborhoods. Across the US, there are over 3.4 million creators who make and sell their crafts online. The craftsman is making a comeback, and it’s being led by women. Read More
In 1973, Kool Herc invented hip hop—or, at least, gave it a huge shove forward—while DJing rec room parties in the Bronx. He played soul and funk records but focused on the breakdowns of each song. By blending, looping and extending the breaks, he created a whole new sound, a beat-driven type of music instantly recognizable, today, as hip hop.
Then, as now, hip hop was much more than a music genre, it was a cultural movement. The pillars of the movement were known as the five elements of hip hop: DJing, rapping, beatboxing, breakdancing, and graffiti. It was graffiti that introduced Kool Herc, after he emigrated from Jamaica, to the movement and to American culture at large. And, of course, the growing popularity of breakdancing is why he started extending breaks to begin with. Read More
During the height of the pandemic, all I wanted to do was get away from my neighborhood—and, yes, my neighbors—for a while. I’m sure others felt this way. I love where I live, but I spent so much time dreaming of getting out of there. A vacation would have been fantastic, but a day or two in the office would have done just fine too.
The funny thing is, when I finally got vaccinated and could travel a bit, I missed my neighborhood terribly. After returning home, that home sweet home feeling did not rush over me the minute I stepped in my front door, but, rather, when I went out to grab dinner for the family at our favorite local restaurant. Read More
Fall is officially here and with it one of this country’s most beloved past times: college sports. There remain open debates on who suffered more during the cancelled seasons: college athletes or their fans. But in the midst of a global pandemic that shined a glaring light on systemic health and resource disparities, the future of our college athletes was under an additional layer of uncertainty. However, following a recent decision from the U.S. Supreme Court, some of that uncertainty has been resolved. Read More
Back in January, Spotify was granted a patent for technology so creepy that it sent a chill through the music industry that still hasn’t subsided. The company has been planning for years, apparently, to listen into our conversations and background noise in order to recommend us music. Spotify told the Patent Office their technology could obtain “content metadata [that] indicates an emotional state of the speaker,” and that once it has gathered enough so-called “emotion objects” it will use them to tailor what it plays next. The paragraph detailing Step 205 of the procedure seems to imply that making users happy is the goal, but then ends with a dire warning that, “Numerous other examples are possible.” Read More