Photo by Dena Grushkin.
Photo by Dena Grushkin.
Mike Huckabee responded to the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage with this gem; he said, “The Supreme Court can no more repeal the laws of nature and nature’s God on marriage than it can the law of gravity.”
Whether you believe in a creator or not, it is fantastical to equate the laws of physics with an institution that serves humans.
If I recall correctly, podcaster Dan Carlin, has actually made the point that the idea of gay marriage should be irrelevant because he does not believe that marriage should be a government institution. If anything, he has argued, governments should provide a notary public to protect legal rights of a couple but that marriage should not be its business.
But, as long as marriage is a governmental institution for heterosexuals, homosexuals should be entitled to it. The worst and the best heterosexual marriages do not impact my own, so why would a homosexual marriage impact it?
Love is love.
Interview conducted by @KralTunes
Question: What does the member of an alternative, glam, post hardcore, hard rock band do to occupy his time when said band decides it’s time to pause?! If you’re Foxy Shazam’s Sky White, you become an importer/exporter in the fine tea biz. I needed a conversation with the ‘Art Vandelay’ of tea.
Frustrated with tea shops and vendors that routinely price gouge their customers, Sky started to buy tea straight from overseas sources. The problem? When ordering tea from exporters overseas, you have to order quantities that are “not suitable for the average private consumer”. Thus, like anyone else would, Sky’s solution was to establish a business. He asserts that Wendigo offers a square deal on tea that “beats the world’s most strict organic standards or complies with EU regulations which have much more strict pesticide control standards than the US”.
Not only does Wendigo Tea offer some of the best tea that I’ve ever tasted, but he is spicing up the centuries old biz by developing a line of fine tea leaves named after world-famous cryptid beings (e.g. Bigfoot and Loch Ness Monster)! Sky White graciously took time to share his love of tea and he company he has created.
KralTunes: What’s the more glamorous lifestyle, hard rocker or tea importer/exporter?
Sky White: I’d have to say tea importing is more glamorous mainly because there is no way to have a pile of rock dudes working hard all day on tour and have it not smell real bad. Also the usual way that people want to show appreciation for musicians they like is buying them a drink… As CEO of Wendigo Tea Co. I get tea sent across the planet packaged in what looks like an ancient scroll from a farmer talking about how this tea has never been on American soil and that his family has been guarding these tea trees for a thousand years.
KT: I am a big fan of tea, (green tea, specifically). I first got into green tea on a trip to Japan several years back (couldn’t stand it at first…the real, unsweetened deal is certainly is an acquired taste). That trip really opened my eyes to the world of green tea and the variety and complexity behind it. When did you realize that tea was your go-to beverage?
SW: I may have a cup of some nice coffee once a month but made a pretty strong transition to tea about 10 years ago. Not sure if it is a coincident or not but that was the same time Foxy started heavily touring.
I’m jealous of your trip to Japan. I have to get so much stuff shipped here to try to find the best available from a region. I tried maybe 100 different high-end Japanese green teas before finding my Wendigo Green Tea. KT: Speaking about the tea, the free stuff they give guests in the hotel rooms is 10X better than any store-bought brand here in the U.S. Just sayin’.
KT: To quote you from your ABOUT page:
Most American tea drinkers LOVE TEA but don’t know that America is the dumping ground of the world’s bad tea. Many store-bought tea bags are filled with ground-up old, bad, or dead bits that fall off of the good tea leaves, then are scented or flavored with fruit or herbs to improve the taste.
Why do you think America is the dumping ground for the worlds bad tea? From my experiences, people do find it arduous to have to seek out quality products and would rather settle for the inexpensive alternative.
SW: There are a ton of reasons that help explain why we have poor taste in tea. One of the biggest is our geography. We happen to be on the exact opposite side of the planet of where most of the world’s tea has always been produced. And until very recently, it had to be heavily oxidized or fermented as to not spoil before it gets here. You just would never do that with a good tea. So there was no way to avoid that bitter taste for generations unless you overpowered it with some sort of scenting or flavoring.
As for modern times, we can get the best tea in the world shipped here in a few days but it for some reason is still appealing to most people to buy really bad tea that has been flavored with flowers, extracts, and chemicals. I can order from China a garbage bag of the stuff that fills your tea bags for a few bucks. But never would because it doesn’t deserve to be anywhere but in that above stated garbage bag.
KT: I notice you regularly use mason jars for drinking tea. Are mason jars the optimal tea drinking vessel, or is it a personal preference?
SW: Yes there are proper size and shape tea cups. But I disagree with all of that so do the opposite. I like my tea to cool quickly so the large amount of glass of a mason jar lets more heat escape so I can get that delicious tea into my body faster. Tea cups are thin and delicate so the liquid stays hot as long as possible.
KT: For me, A good green tea goes a long way. What is the ultimate, most enjoyable tea leaf for your money?
SW: Honestly my Wendigo Green Tea is my favorite tea on the planet right now. I just tried a Japanese green tea that is 10x as expensive as it and don’t think it came anywhere close to being as enjoyable. I love the grassy taste of Japanese green teas but sometimes you get the “kelpy” taste in there too with a fine leaf tea. I enjoy Wendigo Green Tea so much because it has none of the unwanted flavors ( unless you brew it weird) and also has an unusual amount of natural sweetness.
KT: Lets see if you can help me with this one. My local tea shop is run by a great guy, who offers a wide variety of tea leaves. As I was perusing the current tea catalog, I noticed a green tea (Uji Superior Gyokuro) that was priced at over $50 per 100 g. Now I like my green tea, but $50 for a few leaves!?! Im not asking if he is ripping me off or anything, but can tea really be that pricey and worth the money?
SW: I have had that kind of Uji Gyokuro, or at least one very similar, and it was pretty darn good. With tea I always say just go for it and see what it is like.
That example right there is one of the main reasons why I started this company though. I am sure that this tea place has 100 or so teas right? (KT: you would be correct) That makes a lot of shipping costs for the business and with that many to deal with it becomes easier to deal with american wholesale companies rather than import from each specific area. Which will double the cost of tea to the consumer. The business model for a tea shop really works a lot better for carrying many different kinds of relatively cheap teas. Otherwise if your one ridiculously high-grade thing doesn’t sell such as that Gyokuro you might end up eating a multiple thousand dollar loss or be forced to sell it long past when it is at its freshest. I bet I could nearly half that price if I were to get that exact tea just because of the difference in our business models. I only carry very good tea because there are so few people selling it because most business models don’t work well with them. But mine does…
KT: As of now, you deal primarily with a small handful of teas. Do you hope to branch out with more of a selection? Any future products/teas coming soon? How do you decide which type of tea leaves to work with? Is it a long process?
SW: I only want to sell something if it is special. I don’t see myself carrying more than a dozen or so teas. The goal is to find, in my opinion, the best of every kind of tea and then a few just super unique or interesting finds along the way. I tend to fall in love with teas that have a natural sweetness and a complex flavor a bit different those of similar styles. I’m about to put in an order for some samples of stuff that I didn’t even know existed and seems like no one on the internet has heard about either…
KT: Now, being a fan of Foxy Shazam, I had to at least ask one question, as I may never have this opportunity again. You probably have been asked countless times, but fuck it..you guys are on a bit of a break at the moment. Is there a future for Foxy Shazam (if the answer is not what I am anticipating, feel free to lie to my face and tell me everything will be alright).
SW: We think so.
KT: Short, sweet, and under 4 syllables. For now, I’ll take it!
Written by Kimberly Cecchini
(Text reposted from the Montclair Film Festival site: Sunday, May 10)
Thursday night’s headline for the Montclair Film Festival was a film event that fit its subject; it was larger than life and totally outside of the box. The live documentary screened at the Wellmont Theatre was a tribute to R. Buckminster Fuller, who according to a television host, had been called a “genius”, “the Benjamin Franklin of the space age” and a “crackpot”.
Director and producer Sam Green narrated a series of clips and stills from the late Fuller’s archive in harmony with indie band Yo La Tengo’s original live soundtrack. From the other end of the stage, the music’s tone alternated between foreboding, hopeful, eerie and Space Odyssey-esque to follow the rhythmic loop of triumphs and failures that made up Fuller’s life.
In a soft, bedtime story voice, Green took the audience on a trip of the architect, inventor and author’s life with a mixture of humor, empathy and a bit of reverence. Green also smoothly went off script and reminded the audience that it was a live performance with a “bless you” to a sneezing ticket holder.
On script, Green first marveled at the expanse of Fuller’s archives; there is a wealth of telegrams, letters, photos, blueprints and anything else that “crossed his desk”. The audience laughed as Green gestured towards an image of Fuller’s Social Security card and grinned, “I love this s**t!”
Fuller’s life began ordinarily enough; he married in 1917 and had children. However, a series of misfortunes led him to the brink of suicide. Legend says “a voice told him he couldn’t take his own life, that he had to dedicate his life to humanity instead”. And, Green added, “In some versions of his story, he even levitated”.
Whatever happened in that mythologically tinted turning point, Fuller heeded the voice. He initiated his own design revolution with the creed of today’s environmental conservationists, “do more with less”. By applying this philosophy to invention, Fuller believed that peace would be created as humanity could circumvent fights over resources.
To illustrate Fuller’s vision, Green shared a number of his sketches and prototypes. Fuller dubbed many of these ideas with a blend of the words, “dynamic, maximum and tension;”: dymaxion.
Perhaps Fuller’s own term was the most apt title for his designs. After discussing Fuller’s futuristic car and mass produced house concept (both of which “went down the drain”), Green placed his most famous invention in context, “Alexander Graham Bell got a phone, Thomas Edison, the lightbulb, with Buckminster Fuller, its the geo . . . dome– he’s the dome guy”.
It was his first success. In the 1950s his dome plans were used for botanical gardens, aquariums, radar stations, churches, and, of course, Fuller’s home. Green identified this success as another turning point, “he was no longer a fringe figure”. Yo La Tengo highlighted that transition with strains of hope.
“Opposite of Soundbites”
In from the fringes, the “huge egomaniac” was pictured on a 1960s Time magazine cover and became a lecture staple. When it came to lectures, though, less was not more.
Not only did Green credit Fuller as “the most impossible person to edit I’ve ever come across” because he spoke in “the opposite of soundbites,” but he also shared that one of Fuller’s lecture series was entitled “Everything I Know”.
At 42 hours, that title might actually be the opposite of hyperbole.
Was R. Buckminster Fuller a genius or a crackpot? Or perhaps a bit of both? However you slice it, Sam Green’s project is fitting for either personas.
See more information about the Montclair Film Festival and all its great events at the Montclair Film Festival page. View more photos at the MontclairFilmFest Flickr.
(Reposted from the Montclair Film Festival site: Sunday, May 10)
Mavis Staples often starts out a performance with a whisper to bandmate Rick Holstrom, “I don’t have much tonight.”
But a few songs later she’ll turn around to him and exclaim, “I got it back!”
Staples didn’t need to get it back on Friday at the Wellmont; she brought it.
After cheering her performances on screen during the documentary, Mavis!, the MFF audience gave her a minute long standing ovation. She and Colbert then jumped right into a lively, crowd-pleasing banter.
Through interviews and performances, Director Jessica Edwards created a tribute to the master of soul, R&B, jazz, gospel, rock and blues. Mavis! tells the story of the Staples’ tightly woven family and their progression singing gospel for congregations and then follows their evolution through multiple generations of music. On screen, music industry heavyweights such as Bob Dylan and Bonnie Raitt praise the Staples’ influence and Mavis’ transformative voice.
And everybody loved ‘Pops’ Staples. Even Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Mavis’ father had experienced the brunt of segregation in his southern upbringing and on tour during the Civil Rights Movement, his family also endured it. After hearing King speak, Pops was inspired to write freedom songs and told his children, “I think if (King) can preach it, we can sing it.”
Today, Mavis carries his inspirational spirit in her voice and his familial love in her heart, “Pops taught me that the family unit is the strongest unit in the world.” These are not just words to her; older sister Yvonne always travels with her. Moreover, Mavis has expanded the definition of family to include her band and dear friends. She holds a similar sentiment for Wilco’s Tweedy as he has become a close collaborator in her renewed solo career.
Thank You For Being.
Stephen Colbert warmly welcomed Mavis Staples into their conversation by simply thanking her “for being.” Having worked together in the past, there was an easy affection between Staples and her “friend and brother.” Over the hour, they fluidly transitioned from serious themes to cracking each other up to an impromptu duet of Fats Domino’s “I’m Walking”.
After a spout of laughter from the audience, Staples teased, “What’s the matter with them?”
“They just love you, that’s all. They’ve never seen anyone make me quiet for this long.”
As few people can, Colbert broached topics with a mix of humor and reverence. He apologized when he brought out notecards for his questions, “I’m afraid I’ll forget because I’m too enchanted.”
Staples spoke about growing up with other musical greats like Sam Cooke and Curtis Mayfield in what they called Chicago’s “Dirty Thirties” between 33rd and 35th Streets. Colbert followed up, “Can you do gospel and be bad? Were you bad for gospel people? Because you sure were sexy; was it okay to be sexy and do gospel?”
Even on a more serious subject, Colbert made Staples giggle. He asked her how she had once “accidentally integrated” a laundromat in Mississippi, “Did you do a load of colors and a load of whites at the same time? That’s bold.”
Staples laughed, “Col-bert!”
It’s Still the ’60s . . .
Colbert and Staples spoke more about her having to walk a “fine line” in the South during the Civil Rights Movement. He paraphrased her father’s guidance to “not stir up any trouble,” but to “not let anyone push you around.”
At Colbert’s prompting, Staples also reflected on their freedom song’s contemporary relevance, “All the songs that I sing fit today . . . it’s still the ’60s as far as I’m concerned.” Staples continued, “When we first started singing protest songs . . . we thought we could change the world. Man, we did pretty good, but not everybody got on board.”
From freedom songs and gospel to the blues and rock n’ roll, Mavis Staples sings across genres without a day of formal
training. She said that when she works with a new producer she always tells them, “if it’s too high, bring it down; if it’s too low bring it up and eventually it’s right in there.”
Colbert quipped, “That’s the Goldilocks method of singing.”
Perhaps Staples crosses genres so easily because she doesn’t see a big difference between them. She demonstrated as the audience clapped along, “Jesus gave me water, Jesus gave me water,” and then she switched it up, “My baby, he gave me water . . .”
But even Staples had once resisted going to clubs because her hero Sister Mahalia Jackson did not perform in them. As always, though, Pops had a way of changing her mind by giving her purpose; “Ok, Daddy, I’ll take the church to the club.”
In appreciation, Colbert responded, “You’re taking the church to us.”
Text & photos by K. Cecchini
Locked out, but not to worry. We reached through the bars with our iPhones to grab pics of Harif Guzman’s art at the Asbury Park Carousel House. The shadows? Three of my favorite girls; happy birthday, T!