Archive for the things you should know Category

Ladies and Gentlemen… Lindsay Pagano!

Posted in things you should know on May 20, 2010 by wfon

About nine years ago, I was looking through the CD Singles (remember those, anyone?) at a Best Buy when I happened across a track called “Everything U R” by a new Warner Bros. artist named Lindsay Pagano. From the picture on the sleeve it was clear that she was quite young, so I assumed she was Warner’s answer to Britney Spears, X-tina, Mandy Moore and/or Jessica Simpson: a cute teen artist in an era of cute teen artists. This, of course, was six years before the Disney triple-threat juggernaut of Miley, Demi and Selena. Strangely, though, Lindsay didn’t fall into the ‘tween’ category where her music would be labelled ‘for kids’ but right there on the regular shelf with everyone else. (‘tween’ hadn’t really been coined yet, anyway) Times have changed. If I may digress for a second, Miley Cyrus is having a hell of a time getting any sort of adult respect at seventeen because of her association with the kid-friendly Hannah Montana but Lindsay at fourteen was recording a duet with Sir Paul McCartney. She wasn’t pigeonholed as a kid performer and she ended up in a long line of teen stars (dating back to Stevie Wonder) who had the respect of adult listeners and weren’t dismissed as something “my daughter listens to.”  So, while Miley is selling millions of records, she’s being forced to amp up the sexuality to prove that she’s not just a little girl anymore. At times it looks a lot like dress-up and it takes away from the true depth of her talent. Years ago the same thing happened to Deborah “Debbie” Gibson when she quit playing to the college guys who came to her shows and decided to be a spokesperson for little girls. “Thank Heaven for Little Girls”, right?  Well, maybe… except that little girls grow into fickle teenagers in about two and half years and if you’re selling your wares to them, your window of opportunity is roughly proportional to their attention spans and interest in you… which is roughly two and half years.

Lindsay, in my estimation, didn’t have this problem. Her first single was picked up as the AOL theme song and all the reports suggested this little girl from Philly was on her way. The eventual record that followed “Love and Faith and Inspiration” was produced by Jude Cole and featured the aforementioned duet with Macca. However, the hype built up around the single wasn’t kept aflame by the label and no second single appeared. The album, released during the initial implosion of the record industry, more or less disappeared. Fingers cannot be pointed at Lindsay in this mess, she was a personable, pretty teenager with a big voice. Someone needed to know how to sell that. But, chances are, everyone was looking for the next little girl who had no problem posing for the cover of Rolling Stone in trashy lingerie. This, I hazard a guess, is not Lindsay Pagano’s style. I follow her Tweets, am Facebook friends with her and she seems to be, for all intents and purposes, a sweet city girl with the Philly attitude for taking no shit from anyone. She’s Italian, too… so you know her blood runs hot!

After the Warner’s debacle, Lindsay had a strong opportunity when the Matrix (the production team behind Avril Lavigne’s initial success as well as countless radio singles for other stars) signed her to their fledgling label, Let’s Hear It. The first single there was called “Bang” and it had a mix of Philly soul with the high-concept pop that the Matrix was known for. Alas, for whatever reason, the label never happened and the single disappeared. Currently I hear the members of the Matrix are Dr. Luke’s housekeepers… just kidding. (You need to know your current pop music events to get that one!)

Lindsay went back to Philadelphia, finished high school and started college, while continuing to record demos, work with other artists, etc. This winter she was featured on a single by Josh Colon entitled “Dance Wit Chu”. That’s the Josh Colon of MTV’s Real World D.C. This week (May 20) Lindsay is back in LA presumably to take some meetings and enjoy this great spring weather and that’s why I’m writing this post. I know how important it is to have someone champion your work or say a few good things on your behalf. Recently, I’ve decided to no longer entertain anyone who doesn’t approach their work or dreams with integrity and professionalism. In a town full of talkers, we’re blessed this week with the return of a singer. A professional. Not someone who approaches life like a hobby, something to fill the time between hikes and trips to the wine bar. Nor someone who rides the coat tails of their dubious acquaintances. No! This is a performer who is dedicated to her craft and who deserves people to write blogs in support and introduce her and her music to their friends and peers.

So, to Lindsay, I say welcome back… thank you for reminding me that there are people out there who take their talent and dreams seriously. Fortunately, the others are easy to spot and easier to avoid: you’ll find it in the vacant stares, the put-on poses, the self-important introspection and the indulgent pride. That ain’t Philly soul!

-Jesse Pomeroy, Hillrose Street

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RUNAWAYS

Posted in things you should know on March 19, 2010 by wfon

Floria Sigismondi’s take on the original GRRL group, the Runaways, is a hybrid of teen girl angst, rock and roll rebellion and the rise, fall and redemption of a rock band. Before this film got off the ground, and with the high-watt star power of Kristen Stewart (thanks to Twilight) getting people interested in the story and the band, the Runaways probably weren’t very well known… certainly not to fifteen year old girls today… but without the Runaways it’s fair to say we would never have seen the likes of the Go-Go’s, the Bangles, Vixen, Girlschool and a host of other all-girl rock and roll bands. Girls who played their instruments and wrote their own songs. As the guitar teacher early in the film says, “Girls don’t play electric guitar!”  Don’t forget, also, that the Runaways gave us Lita Ford (doesn’t everyone love the duet with Ozzy “If I Close My Eyes Forever?”) and, far more importantly, Joan Jett – a true rock and roll star. Sure there was a svengali in the form of Kim Fowley, the guy who made Joan’s dream a reality but, frankly, every story like this has one: there is always an opportunist (Fowley), there is always a visionary (Jett) and there is always a star (Cherie Currie) and, more often than not, that star is such because of their innate dysfunction and pain. This is the story of the Runaways.

The performances of Kristen Stewart (no doubt my favorite of the current crop of young ingenues) and Dakota Fanning anchor the film and keep it from succumbing to its weaknesses. Michael Shannon plays Fowley extravangantly and over-the-top in a good way. He also keeps the film afloat. The tour scenes feel a lot like Almost Famous and the drug-fueled sequences reference The Doors, which is okay, but the film (and it’s obvious low budget) feels very grounded in a Hollywood re-imagining of the mid-seventies. A tour of Japan is a few cars driving around the lower level streets in downtown LA. So it never really rises to the level of the aforementioned films it feels akin to. Hard to do, granted, with limited funds.

Using Cherie Currie’s book Neon Angel to lay the groundwork for the story also seems a little odd since Joan Jett is an executive producer on the film and there is no doubt the Runaways is her story. However, since the dramatic tension hinges mostly on Currie, her at-home family dynamic and eventual spiral into drug use, it makes sense that Sigismondi used the book as source material. I’ve read reviews of the film that suggest it plays things safe and I’m not sure about that: Dakota Fanning is pushed to the limit of teen porn provocation (especially since she was 15 when the film was shot) and the romantic encounters between she and Kristen Stewart are, sorry for the pun, titillating and sweet – played real but not to make too fine a point. Is it Sid and Nancy? No. But the story doesn’t tread the same sort of hopeless despairing waters of the Sex Pistols story. The girls in the Runaways were Valley girls, squeaky clean for the most part, who threw in the towel (in the case of Currie) when the reality of it all was just too much. She did what teenage girls do… she ran away.

And why do we still know Joan Jett? All these years later, why is she even more of an icon then when she first strutted out on her own? Because she was the one with the dream and she never gave up on it. I’ve always liked Joan Jett but after getting this glimpse into her background I’m even more of a fan.

Also worthy of mentioning are the incredible re-recordings that Kristen and Dakota did in making the Runaways songs their own, as the roles required. Both sound so close to their real-life counterparts that it’s scary and seeing 15-year-old Dakota growl the “hello dad, hello mom, I’m your ch-ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb” lyric nails the feeling of how groundbreaking and rule-breaking the Runaways were in their time. Go see it!

The Bigger Macque

Posted in places, things you should know on November 23, 2009 by wfon

I learned long ago to not question when the Plant-Based Dietitian makes a suggestion. So, last night after another taxing day in the trenches of Going Veg, Julieanna said we were going to dinner at her favorite place, Madeline Bistro. Conveniently, this cozy little spot is about a mile from me, on Ventura Blvd, just west of Reseda, in Tarzana –  a mere block from the soon-to-be-overly-frequented new Whole Foods (what part of ‘build faster’ are they not getting?). I’ve been around enough vegan food recently to know I can find a thing or two to nosh on even if I still can’t stand tofu – CAN’T STAND IT! So, off we went.

Walking in, Julieanna said we had to have the Bigger Macque. I replied “sure, why not” having no idea what she was talking about. Turns out, Madeline Bistro have invented a veggie burger complete with special sauce, ‘cheese’, lettuce, pickles and two non-beef patties. And yes, it tastes just like a Big Mac down the street at MacDonald’s, without the greasy compliment. I’m not kidding when I tell you, I could head over there right now and get another.

Along with the Bigger Macque, we had a Maki roll (avocado and asparagus in a sushi roll), asparagus risotto, butternut squash soup and mixed veggies. Even some sort of organic English lager. Are you hungry yet?

I’ve keeping telling Julieanna that, when it comes to this project, we have to avoid certain obstacles (i.e. general opinion of vegan culture) and instead introduce people to the healthier alternative that eating Plant-Based provides. A lot less of the ‘doom and gloom, you’re killing yourself with your food’ rhetoric that comes from certain militant vegan cliques and a lot more positive re-inforcement. She’s on the same page and visiting a place like Madeline Bistro (which I think we will be shooting at some point) only helps our cause. This is a great place, with good food, ’nuff said. The closest comparison I can draw to my adventure in the Plant-Based world so far, is when you introduce someone to sushi, someone who’s got it in their head that eating raw fish is gross, bad, etc. Come to think of it, Julie introduced me to sushi – fourteen years ago! I’d dabbled on a trip to Japan but she set me up with a taste for it. Years later, I’ve introduced a lot of people to sushi, including my parents who until they actually came to Makoto Sushi and closed their eyes, held their breath and had their first albacore (with Mako’s garlic ponzu sauce) would never have considered chowing down on raw fish. They’ve been back to Mako’s three times since and have sampled sushi in other parts of the world. See? This is how it works. Get past the activism and try the food. Your tastebuds are going to tell you everything you need to know.

So, I would suggest to anyone who’s interested in trying something new, new flavors, tastes, etc, check out Madeline Bistro. Have a Bigger Macque. And then tune into Going Veg with the Plant-Based Dietitian as we bring more examples of good eats and tons of info to the program. And just take a look at the picture below… doesn’t that look tasty? I’m lovin’ it!

And in non-Vegan related news…

Posted in people, things you should know on November 17, 2009 by wfon

Yes, there is a world outside of leafy greens and nuts…

Last night, one of the funniest guys in the world had one of the brightest, young Disney stars on his new late night show. That’s right: George Lopez had a sit-down with Demi Lovato! Viva la Raza!!!

check it out:

What I’ve learned on my Vegan Vacation: Part 1

Posted in people, places, things you should know on November 16, 2009 by wfon

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meeting T. Colin Campbell, author "The China Study"

Hollywood is almost always all talk. People talk while ‘doing lunch’, people take ‘meetings’ to talk… people in Hollywood really just like to talk. After awhile you get used to the fact that 99.9 percent of the ‘talks’ you’re having will produce absolutely nothing… but more talk. So, when my nearly-life-long friend Julieanna Hever (a.k.a The Plant-Based Dietitian) called with an idea to combine our talents and produce a television program as a guidebook for those interested in going vegan (Plant-Based), at first I thought, “well, that sounds interesting, sure, a year or so from now we’ll still be thinking about it…” Okay – Julieanna is not Hollywood. She is not about ‘talk’… although she loves to talk. I say this because within a month of that first call, we were climbing aboard a Continental flight to Newark to begin conducting interviews with prominent vegans, Dr. Joel Fuhrman in New Jersey and T. Colin Campbell in Ithaca, New York. For Julieanna the experience was akin to me getting to sit and chat with George Lucas or Steven Spielberg, or so she tells me. Our guest subjects were incredibly warm and welcoming and their associates, families and friends certainly made us feel at home right away. Again, this is Julieanna’s territory, I’m either a pilgrim in a foreign land or an infidel. I went so far as to dub myself “Broccolini” so I could blend in with the vegans a little better. Here’s the scoop: I’m not vegan. I’m not even vegetarian. But I also don’t chew on cows regularly. So it begs to be asked: what have I learned on my Vegan Vacation so far?

A few interesting facts: 80% of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D. Protein is plentiful in vegetables, you don’t have to eat animal products to get it, and in fact the protein you get from vegetables is better for you. The ‘statistics’ you get from the FDA and other groups, especially when it comes to Daily Values is corruptible and influenced by lobbyists like the Dairy and Beef industries (imagine that, something else that is manufactured by big business.) I also learned that if meat wasn’t subsidized by the government, beef would cost $90/pound. Roadkill and euthanized animals are re-processed into feed for cattle. Yum. When it comes to food, there really is no room for a Free Market. I still don’t like Tofu.

As a filmmaker, this project is intriguing. I’m used to working from a script. Here we’re making the script up as we go. We’re off to a good start: Google names like Dr. Joel Fuhrman, T. Colin Campbell, John McDougall, Mike Anderson and you’ll find that we’re sitting down with the biggest names in the vegan world. The time is right for this collaboration. And it’s a project with its heart in the right place, my producing partner is on a mission to save the world… I’m on board to document her efforts. I will continue to let you all know what we learn.

In the meantime you can follow our progress and adventures at www.goingveg.net. You can also keep up with Julieanna HERE. More to come!

New Video from the Naperville Independent Film Festival

Posted in people, places, things you should know on November 2, 2009 by wfon

A little memento of the trip to Naperville in September. Thanks again to Edmond, Glessna, Daniel, Gary, Ed and, of course, Pat Trapp!

U2 360 Rose Bowl

Posted in people, places, things you should know on October 26, 2009 by wfon

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As always, an evening with U2 is a bit of a religious experience, a communal give and take between the band and the audience. It’s arguable that any stadium show is too big and the case can be made for that with the current 360 Tour, but with its open architecture and in-the-round feel, it’s hard to imagine anybody being able to bring the show closer to the masses than this outing. Unfortunately, this tour suffers from having to support U2’s weakest effort since Pop and the inclusion of six of No Line On The Horizon’s songs seemed only able to dampen the energy stoked by the show’s best moments: a cathartic Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, furnace-hot Vertigo, funky Elevation and one of the more moving takes on One that I’ve heard live in awhile. Hard to say why the band continues to flog With or Without You since Bono seems so uninterested to the point of barely bothering to sing it. The true star of the 360 show is the stage, the well-documented and discussed Claw that manages to put all the stadium-show superstructure up out of the way, on top of four legs, allowing for a 360 degree view (or pretty close) in the vast setting. It’s every surface lights up, pulses, expands and contracts; concentric rings allow some of the audience up close while also bringing the band members within reach even to the 50 yard line. An incredible 550,000 pixel, 880 light LED array brings sharp live images to a round screen over head that expands downward making a screen twice its size. There’s even a disco ball at the very top, 179 feet above the ground. Band? What band?

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Our vantage point near one of the rear legs gave us a good look at the behind the scenes and an up-close-and-personal view of the scale of this endeavour. We were also just above the VIP tunnel and got to wave at a number of celebrities as they came out before U2’s set. Among them: Pierce Brosnan, Barbra Streisand, Paris Hilton, Ben Stiller, Pau Gasol and Slash (who did a rocked up Sweet Child O’ Mine with openers The Black Eyed Peas). A start-studded event, no doubt.

It was a long day spent at the Rose Bowl but a spirit of positive energy and the immensity of a pure rock and roll show pervaded the Arroyo and for a little while all was good.