Can’t Afford the Germs

Text by K. Cecchini

Some people literally can’t afford to get sick. In the United States, workers are not guaranteed sick days and, therefore many workers – particularly lower wage workers – do not get paid if they are out sick or tending to an ill relative.

Grass roots organization, New Jersey Working Families, is leading the charge to change this situation for workers in Montclair. On Tuesday, November 4th, Montclair residents will have an opportunity to vote for the municipal public question to guarantee paid sick days for employees within the town.

According to Working Families, if the proposal becomes law, workers in businesses with more than 10 employees or those of any size, for the interest of public health, who serve food, work in day care and nursing can earn 5 sick days a year and workers in smaller businesses can earn 3 sick days a year.

Perhaps this is a small step towards relieving some stress for workers? What do you think?

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Run The Jewels 2

Text by @KralTunes

American hip hop duo Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P) have returned to right all that is wrong with the world with one of the most bad mama-jama rap albums I’ve heard in a long time.  Now I may not be a connoisseur of the rap game, and my track record in such maters may not be so stellar  (I probably assumed that Ice Ice Baby was the greatest thing since my Cinnamon Toast Crunch back in the day), but I am pretty confident when I say that Run The Jewels 2 is probably the best rap/hip-hop album you will hear all year.

What makes this one a clear winner?  The fact that one album can be so ridiculous one moment and then immediately flip on its head to offer you some truly interesting and thought provoking lyrics the next. On the ridiculous side, you get quality lyrics like “Blockbuster Night Part 1″s epic: “No hocus pocus, you simple suckers been served a notice/Top of the morning, my fist to your face is fucking Folgers” (you see?).  Not to be outdone is “I smoke the kush/I eat the puss” off of “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry”.

A polar opposite to the recently reviewed MILO album, this release is full of self-aggrandizing, self-importance, boasting, braggadocious, unyielding, cocky (I’m running out of adjectives) , and every bit fun as that sounds! As an added bonus, we are treated to a less than subtle male/female reproductive anatomy lesson courtesy of the duo and Gangsta Boo on “Love Again (Akinyele Back)”, with lyrics that my boss @tonightatdawn wouldn’t dare let me reprint here.

Even while the content can be ludicrous at times, there are moments of seriousness baked in, such as in “Early” with Killer Mike spitting out “I apologize if it seems I got out of line sir, cuz I respect the badge and a gun/And I pray today ain’t the day you drag me away right in front of my son,” and that’s right before things turn grave”. “Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)” is a highlight, which is only made more pleasing with Rage Against The Machine’s Zach De La Rocha on loop.  What’s more, it is another example of cleverly written verses that pull no punches on its target:

“The vision becomes a vow to seek vengeance on all the vicious Liars and politicians, profiteers of the prisons The forehead engravers, enslavers of men and women Includin’ members of clergy that rule on you through religion (So strippin’ kids to the nude and then tell ’em God’ll forgive ’em)”

  The beats come fast and furious with little give, matching the energy and intensity of the lyricists blow for blow.  This is a collaboration in the truest sense; each member pulling their weight throughout.  Everything about this release works perfectly.  Some tracks may not be as great as others, but they all mesh to reveal what will hopefully be a long and creative future for the rap game.

The Twilight Sad: Gloriously Gloomy

Text by KralTunes

Who doesn’t like an album that seems to be made for the season?  I personally have my favorites (Pearl Jam’s RIOT ACT is a perfect snow shoveling album, and I defy anyone who would doubt that).  For me, The Twilight Sad’s latest, Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave embodies the flavor of Autumn.

Although I am a newer convert to The Twilight Sad, they have become a favorite on my playlist.  James Graham (vocals), Andy MacFarlane (guitar), and Mark Devine (drums), (and formerly Craig Orzel), are a Scottish indie/folk/post-rock/noise-rock/etc. band, and as an aside, are my first review of a band from this region of the U.K. (nice).

Sonically, the band has almost always leaned on that tried and true indie-folk rock sound (with some synthesizer thrown in for good measure).  With this release, however, the Scotsmen try their hand at a much more atmospheric and electronic sound.

Post rock droning and delay effects riddle this release and are aptly coupled with very dreary overtones.  Even the tunes that sound like they could take a poppier turn (“Last January”; “Could Give You All That You Don’t Want”) wind up anchored down into this bog of despair – and that’s not a complaint from this guy.

In fact, one thing the band has always been comfortable with is darker subject matter, and fortunately they provide tons here – with plenty to spare.  This is particularly true with the opener, “Theres a Girl on the Corner”; its haunting synths set the mood quite well and the just as dire lyrics provide just as much discomfort:

“There’s a girl in the corner
And she’s crying for you
Gonna die for you
She’s not coming back
She’s not coming back from there
And you’re not coming back
And you’re not coming back again…”

Not only is this piece an emotionally hard hitting way to open to the album, it is also a very accurate precursor for what is about to follow throughout the entire 44 or so minutes.

Even “Drown So I Can Watch”, which opens like a lighter, all sunshine and sunflowers type track, ends up smacking you over the head with lines like “I put you through hell/But you carry it so well”. An early favorite of mine, this song showcases how well the band’s writing skills have evolved over the years; it is a nice, folk-ish song laid over a melody that is more complex than any that you would hear on the radio.  Even with the morbid lyrical imagery, this is a track you’ll rewind again and again.

Another highlight is the title track; I had to immediately listen to it again with decent headphones.  At first it seems like it’s gonna be a silent juggernaut; it builds and creates an expectation that they are leading us towards a huge release. However, when The Twilight Sad finally delivers the punch, it is not in the form of a sonic boom – it’s more like a sonic crackle – but it is as effective as if they are trying to blow out your eardrums.

Finally, “Sometimes I Wished I Could Fall Asleep,” is another gem with a much more subtle piano-based melody accompanied with a pulsating bass and ‘tear my heart out’ moan (“There’s nothing left for us/You don’t need me anymore”).  It’s also the perfect way to close out the whole of this depressing affair.

Although The Twilight Sad have never been the Pantera of their genre, they usually throw in a few rockers like “That Birthday Present”. This collection is notably a more subdued and serious effort from the The Twilight Sad.

In all its dreary goodness, ladies and gentleman, what we have here is an album.

Unlike the folk rock music of the ever popular Mumford and Sons, where folks select a few tracks for their playlists and leave the rest, this is a complete vision that the band follows from beginning to end. While you may not be inclined to put Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave on at any old time, this one may have the lasting power to be an annual favorite for when the days get shorter and those cold breezes start to pick up.

Mark Lanegan: God Is In The (Phantom) Radio

Text by KralTunes @tonightatdawn

Sadly, two words come to mind when thinking about Mark Lanegan’s latest offering: deflated, as in the overall delivery of the vocals and lack of any real dynamics here, and present, simply because there is nothing outright bad to be found here in these 10 tracks, but nothing to text home about either.  These tracks, much like Queen’s 1982 album, are simply taking up (hot) space…if you get that reference, you deserve to be reading this entry.

Immediately this Phantom Radio is at a disadvantage with the subpar opener “Harvest Home”.  Not good, not bad, but simply, ‘present’. Shit doesn’t start to get real until we get to the halfway point.

“Seventh Day” I like (that’s I have to say). “Killing Season”, even as it sports dark lyrics and overtones, it seems like the odd song out with its pop sounding melody and synths.  It certainly is unexpected, and can be off-putting on first impression, but becomes much more enjoyable upon further listens.

We go into Fistful of Dollars territory with “I Am The Wolf” (which ends up being more like a fistful of quarters).  “The Wild People” and “Death Trip to Tulsa” are highlights on this album; the former somewhat reminiscent of QOTSA’s “Mosquito Song”, while the latter showcases that more Blues Funerals influence.  “Death Trip” feels like the only song with real bite on the album, but ultimately suffers from the same flatness as the rest of these tracks.

Momentum seems to be the main culprit with this album, as Phantom Radio never really takes flight.  A stronger second half somewhat makes up for the lackluster opening, but for every “Killing Season,” there’s several “I Am The Wolf”s to follow.

Subdued vocals and instrumentation leave something to be desired and results in a not too exciting release form the Mark Lanegan Band.  There are some really nice tunes to be found on the back half, and while the album as a whole is a nice listen, it offers nothing that warrants a spot on your playlist.

2nd Class to Paradise

Text & Photos by K. Cecchini  @tonightatdawn

From the foreign perspective, Switzerland is synonymous with the Alps. If in Zürich and can’t make the trek all way out to touch its great peaks, you need to seek out bucket list-worthy local views. Nearby Uteilberg Mountain and the city of Lucerne seem to be the next best thing and, although tourist destinations, they are not inundated with traps.

Towering Over the Alps

View of Zurich from Uteilberg
View of Zürich from Uteilberg Tower

We took the bright red local train out to Uteilberg on our second day in country. The train runs regularly throughout the day which allowed us to explore the area without the stress of catching a trip back to town. At the trains stop, there’s a small restaurant and a beautiful view of the Alps- but there was no need to linger there as the view is more pristine as you delve move up the paths.
It’s a ‘choose your own adventure’; the trails are marked with approximations of trek lengths ranging from an hour to most of a day.

Uteilberg Tower
Uteilberg Tower

A quick climb up past lights embedded in the antlers of mosaic reindeer and we had reached the main tourist summit with a hotel and restaurant. We ascended the steep stairs on the metal tower lookout to capture a breathtaking panoramic view of Zürich to the left and the Alps in the other direction.

We then continued to hike through well maintained trails and glimpsing at the Alps through the trees as the morning clouds dissipated.

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Luzern/Lucerne

Less than hour by train from Zürich, we were surprised to find that 2- 2nd class train tickets to Lucerne would cost us around a hundred American dollars. Yet, the information clerk declared it to be a “special place” so …all aboard!

My husband and I settled into a seat on the train and the conductor came to check our tickets. Oops, we had settled into a 1st class car; “up the stairs, then down, and to the back,” he insisted in his thick German accent.

We reclined back in our new seats; 2nd class wasn’t too shabby. But, alas, he compelled us forward again; “up the stairs, then down, to the back!”.

We went up, down, and to the back until we came upon what was unmistakably the lower class car; we are not first class travelers by any means but after the reclining chairs and peace of the other cars, the difference between classes was stark. The smells of cheap food assaulted us as soon as the car door open and people were spilled out over the floors.

Fortunately, if the train ride was not quite worth 50 bucks, Lucerne was every bit the special place that we were promised.

Lucern
Lucern

We spent the day wandering the winding streets of Lucerne and the banks of its river. 35 francs for an hour on paddle boat allowed us to float ever so slightly closer to the commanding Alps where they appeared to rise above the pristine blue lake. We enjoyed lunch in one of the many European squares and dined near the river bank.

Before heading back to the station and our 2nd class world, we sat and watched the moon rise above the peaks in the distance.

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Lucern
Lucern

Other Swiss Adventures:

WOOOW ZURI

Art & DADA in Zürich & YADA Yada Yada

Langstrasse – Has Zurich’s Red Light Been Replaced?

Dr. Nina’s What You Need to Know: Busting Cold Weather Myths

Text by Dr. Nina Radcliff/Feature Photo by K. Cecchini

Myths, Tall-Tales, and (Un)truths

“Rain rain go away. Come again another day.” I have some important edits to this nursery rhyme. First, it may be necessary to substitute “snow snow,” “hail hail,” “sleet sleet,” and “cold cold” for rain. Second, I would like to make a special request that it does not come back tomorrow. Like most of the East Coast, I am feeling the crisp fall cold and am bracing for what is expected to be an exceptionally cold winter.

Dr. Nina’s What You Need to Know:  Busting Cold Weather Myths 

Myth: Cold air makes you sick. 

Cold weather does not cause you to “catch a cold;” but it makes it easier to spread germs. In fact, germs grow best when it is warm. However, when it is cold outside, we tend to stay indoors and remain in close contact. This makes it easier to transmit germs. Additionally, research has shown that viruses spread more easily through dry air. Not only is there less humidity outdoors, but central heating dries the indoors.

Myth: I should not exercise in the cold.

Do not store away your running shoes. Studies have shown that race times are actually faster and as a result you can burn more calories in less time. Additionally, exercising boosts your endorphins which can help fight off those winter blues. But before taking a jog make sure that you do a warm up first and you are properly dressed for the elements.

Myth and Truth: Allergies go away in the winter

If you suffer from indoor allergens, they may get worse. The cold weather makes it more likely that your pets will stay indoors, that you will shut those windows and not get fresh air, and that certain molds will thrive. However, if you suffer from pollen allergies, then your symptoms will improve.

Myth: I skip the sunscreen in the winter 

Don’t let the freezing cold fool you! During the winter months, we are closer to the sun and are exposed to more harmful rays. Additionally, ice and snow are great at reflecting harmful ultraviolet rays. This means you get a double dose of exposure (from the sun and then again from the reflection off the ground). So don’t forget to apply that sunscreen.

Myth: Dry skin just an annoyance

When skin becomes dry, it can result in small cracks that serve as passageways for germs to enter the body. To avoid this, experts recommend moisturizing at least twice a day—after showering and before bedtime. Because our hands are more prone to drying and cracks, keep lotion in your bag or at your desk, in the car and next to the soap in the bathroom so you can moisturize throughout the day.

Myth: Eating chicken soup helps you fight off that cold. 

Chicken soup may not only be good for your soul, but also your cold. Studies have shown that chicken soup stimulates your immune system, specifically, your white blood cells. Additionally, the warmth of the soup can help reduce sinus and throat pain.

Myth: Cold temps cause hair loss

Mother nature gave us hair to keep us warm. Thus, it makes sense that during the winter months, we hold onto our hair more tightly. Not convinced? Look at your pet dog Kujo to see how thick his fur gets in the winter. Studies have also shown that we have the greatest hair loss in the summer.

For more news on Dr. Radcliff:
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Notice: This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither Dr. Nina Radcliff or Kimberly Cecchini take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.
Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies. Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness.

Enter…Your Adventure Goddess!

Text & Photos by K. Cecchini   @tonightatdawn

Your Adventure Goddess is grown-up play dates for women who say YES to fun!

At the official launch party on Saturday, founder Bettina Peets invoked the need for women to seek a reprieve from the demands of our daily lives, “We say ‘yes’ to so many things everyday; our kids, work…sometimes, we need to say ‘yes’ to ourselves”. We also are often lacking a sense of community as we get entrapped by all of our demands.

Adventure Goddess is the antidote we need! With her ease of spirit, outgoing personality and fabulous ideas, she already fostered a community amongst the women at the launch party. This first adventure was at a rock climbing gym and a few minutes in, she had broken the ice amongst strangers and we were cheering each other on as we literally scaled new heights.

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Afterwards, we joined together in celebration of the new venture and of the new community. We may have been physically tired, but we were elated from enjoying a new experience with new and old friends.

Climbing the walls was just the beginning; Your Adventure Goddess welcomes all women who say ‘yes’ to fun because, as Peets says, “Fun is the New Black!”

We are all anticipating our next triumph…belly dancing! To join this North Jersey/New York adventure group, visit:

www.youradventuregoddess.com

Facebook: Your Adventure Goddess

Instagram: Your_Adventure_Goddess

Your Adventure Goddess tackling the wall.
Your Adventure Goddess tackling the wall.