Category Archives: Arts & Culture

Eating Ethnic: Embrace the Journey.

You know it’s good when you are the only one who doesn’t speak the language.

Growing up, I thought I knew what good Chinese was: always-reliable hot-and-sour soup, fried-then-sauced sesame chicken, thin pancakes stuffed with pork and rolled into burritos. It was Americanized MSG at it’s very best, and a staple in the Baker family dining rotation.

But one faithful night in college, a friend (whose Mother was Chinese) invited me to his favorite Cantonese restaurant. And it forever changed the way I viewed ethnic food. Continue reading


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Butch Walker: Out of Focus

 In a time where America is wonderfully consumed (and sometimes obsessed) with self-sustaining culture and all-things-authentic, I’m not surprised this finally happened: a documentary on Butch Walker. Despite his day job of producer/songwriter for radio wonders (Weezer, Pink, Panic at the Disco), he has continued to write, record and tour successfully on his own as an independent artist. He’s never come close Continue reading

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The Magic of Subtlety (Lesson Courtesy of The Whigs).

I had a lengthy talk on Monday with Julian Dorio, the drummer for Nashville (via Athens) jangle-y rock darlings, The Whigs. Julian sent me 20-or-so songs they’re considering for their fourth album, and after spending a few weeks with them, I realized something.

While The Whigs are very good at playing big rock songs in big rock arenas (see: multiple tours with KOL), when they play delicate tunes, they are something truly special. Their catalog undoubtedly skews towards power trio, but their down-tempo numbers have this unique quality of being beautiful, melodic, and honest … but without hitting you over the head. And I think that’s where the timeless magic lies. If a song is understated and catchy, it’s like you can’t ever get enough of it.

While I obviously can’t leak any of their new stuff, I can say one song (“Thank You”) possesses the same special subtlety as my favorite Whigs tune (“Written Invitation,” above).

When it comes down to choosing songs for the new album, I just hope they think as highly of it as I do.

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2011 Atlanta Film Festival Preview

This dude needs to see a good film or two. Photo: Thomas Grillo

Discovering new art is reviving… it’s simply good for the soul. And there’s nothing quite like finding a film that truly inspires you. Scanning Netflix or browsing trending videos on YouTube can certainly lead to occasional discovery, but seeing up-and-coming indie films in a filled theatre filled with other art buffs is priceless. Luckily for Atlantans, the Atlanta Film Festival (April 28-May 7) boasts a wonderfully broad scope of buzzworthy productions.  

Here are my favorite 10 picks of the festival, when and where they are airing: Continue reading

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Life is Simple Under the Moonlight.

The Strokes played SNL over the weekend, and while they blew through their sock-hop / retro Strokes-of-old anthem, “Under the Cover of Darkness,” they surprisingly debuted a brand new song for their encore performance. “Life is Simple in the Moonlight” is the last track on their upcoming album, Angles, and it reaffirmed that at least two songs have re-captured the magic of a decade ago. The song is gentle and melodic and reeks of the innocence that was first heard on the title track of “Is This It,” something that has become less and less existent in their later years. On Moonlight, Julian Casablancas sounds like some hip lounge singer from the 60s fast forwarded through time. Rarely are catchy melodies delivered in subtle ways, but when they are … God, it’s like you can’t get enough. 

It’s a tune that makes you want to cautiously shimmy in place and wish for the moment you were that guy. 

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What Killed the Magic of Anticipation?

Gone are the days...

The Strokes are releasing their new record next month, and after downloading their bouncy single, “Under Cover of Darkness,” I can’t wait for the album to hit shelves. This is the first time in years that I’ve been on pins-and-needles about a release. And it’s not that my favorite artists (Radiohead, The Whigs, Beck) haven’t been putting out new music, but the child-like anticipation has been missing lately.  

So I was talking to a friend at work today about what killed the Christmas Day-like anticipation for things as we get older. Record releases, vacations, seeing a concert, going to a ballgame. Is it just getting older that makes the magic disappear? Or is it because we now live in an always-connected, download-savvy, app-happy society?

Maybe it’s a little of both… Continue reading

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So Long, White Stripes.

RIP White Stripes.

Every generation is defined by a rock ‘n’ roll band. An iconic artist that stands for progressive brilliance yet magically seems to be someone that everyone loves. Bands like the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, REM and Nirvana highlighted the 1960s-1990s. But who filled this all-important role during the new millennium’s first decade? The Strokes somehow remained merely critical darlings through their three albums, and Brandon Flowers’ heartthrob croon singlehandedly vaulted The Killers to arena overkill.

But the artist that classically defined the last decade was The White Stripes. Continue reading

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