Radiohead rocks, Outside Lands tests SF crowd control

Radiohead totally rocked the Outside Lands festival last night and the thousands and thousands of people who were there were into it.  At least that was our perspective from 100 yards back.  They played for the 2 hours that they were allotted and managed to get in a ton of songs and put on a great show.

The festival made for an exciting scene but it definitely showed some flaws in design.  First off, there are way too many choke points in the grounds.  The crowds are funnelled into these smaller spaces throughout the grounds.  This was bad enough between acts but at the end of the night it was a pain in the ass at best and close to suffocating at its worst.  There were many places where the crowds just trampled over fences in order to move around.  Second the lines for drink IDs, bathrooms and food were crazy.  Hopefully this will be better on the weekend and perhaps its just because everyone got to Friday’s show later.  Finally, who decides to put a stage down in a hollow so that it’s impossible to see the act?  We were really disapointed that we were completely unable to see Beck even though we were pretty close to the stage.

But I think the most frustrating thing about the whole show was the constant “Wall of tall.”  Since when have I been short?  I was amazed at the amount of big and talls at this show.  Is the younger generation taller than mine?  Is there something in thoses growth hormones we’ve been injecting into their food supply all these years?I found myself constantly straining my neck around some Amazon just in front of me.  I’m gonna have to invest in some risers if I’m gonna keep going to these shows..

New York Times video about Namibia

I just saw this video on the New York Times site.  It’s a nice quick overview of Namibia and shows a couple of the places that we (and most travelers to Namibia) went: Sossusvlei and Swakopmund.  Many of the images are similar to those that I (and most photographers) took shown here in this album from Sossusvlei

Lodging in upstate New York

My Brother-in-law’s family has owned this farm in Clinton, New York for generations.

Several years ago, one generation officially handed it down to the next and after figuring out exactly how that should work and who wanted to be involved, my Brother-in-law and his 2 brothers took over primary responsibility of the property.

They decided that they wanted to keep the property in the family, and be able to visit it and use it as a retreat for family get-togethers.  But they wouldn’t be able to use it all too often, so why not let others use it for the same purpose?  Why not allow people to rent out one of the farm properties for reunions, weddings or College-related activities (Hamilton and Colgate colleges are nearby) like Parents’ weekends or Graduations.

Years ago this would have been a complicated matter unless one of them was willing to give up their day job.  But in today’s information age, they’re able to make it work – even with one of the brothers out here in California – all thanks to the web.

They set up a site at and started marketing their property.  They don’t do a lot of active marketing but rather rely mostly on referrals from the colleges or word of mouth.  It would be easy for them to increase their marketing if they wanted to though, using the familiar tools like Google’s Ads, etc,  But they get enough business where this hasn’t been necessary.

The site also houses some tools that they can use to manage the scheduling of the property.  So that each of the brothers has easy access to the property’s calendar and can see whether the property is rented or not.  Add to that online banking with some of the national banks that we see these days and each one of them can access a local branch to manage funds.

What’s most impressive about this is that these guys were able to put together a website completely on their own to manage all of these activities – no outside consultation fees were paid to any company.  The web development toos are just that good – and they’re still using technology that’s several years old.  Now, you might recognize on their site the lack of a graphic designer, but that’s OK for a sight like this.  If anything, it adds to the down-home feel of the farm life that renters are signing up for in renting the property.

There are things that they could do to bring the site up to 2008 standards and they’re considering an overhaul of the site, but the site as is has served them well for the past several years and I’m impressed that they were able to accomplish it on their own.

33 1/3 series

Not too long ago, I read a great book that’s part of an intriguing series.  The book was The Pixies’ Doolittle (33 1/3) by Ben Sisario.  I’m a big fan of the Pixies and Doolittle is right up there with my all time favorite albums (though I do like the earlier Pixies albums a little better).  But this is not just about the Pixies. This book is part of a series that deconstructs well known albums from the past several decades.  This was my first foray into the series, and it will not be the last.

It’s really interesting to get behind the scenes and see how the musicians put the album together, one song at a time.  I found the book to be really inspiring as any good documentation about an artistic process is bound to get the creative juices flowing.  In this book, primarily through interviews with Black Francis, the reader is brought into the world of late-80s Boston when the Pixies were young and starving and at the peak of their creative abilities.  It’s also oddly compelling to listen to the story as told by Frank Black so many years later, driving around Oregon in a very different life.

Each song on the album is deconstructed – the thoughts behind the lyrics, the decisions about the instruments, the sound and the recording sessions that captured it all.  It’s also a good look into the recording industry at a high-level and can give outsiders like me an appreciation for the role of the record producer.  I especially enjoyed reading the book alongside my iPod, so that I could listen to the track, read about it, and then listen a few more times picking up the newly discovered little gems that I’d read about.

I have had an interest in music for most of my life, and lately I’ve been interested into the mechanics behind the albums that I’ve grown up with.  I’ve watched documentaries about tours and bands and the making of albums like Nirvana’s Nevermind or Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon (both of these documentaries I found in the used DVD section of Amoeba records). The 33 1/3 series provides an excellent read for so many albums that are of interest to me – and at such a small size, and easy-to-digest chapters (organized around the tracks) these books are no brainers for short commutes or moments that would otherwise be spent wasted.

Celebtiry Gossip

A few friends from StubHub left a while ago to start their own venture; a “Stealth Mode” startup as they’re known around here.  I was recently reminded that this is not all that common a phrase outside of the Silicon Valley world, and it can sound a little rediculous.  But, compeition is fierce around these parts, and it is important for people to play their cards close to the chest until they’re ready to reveal their hand.

My friends have recently announced their idea, along with their site, to friends and family.  It’s a “soft-launch” approach that allows them to test the waters before broadcasting out about the site’s existence.

From their announcement:

Noozler ( is a community website that provides unique views on the celebrity news landscape.

It’s a pretty interesting idea.  There are all sorts of sites out there with not a lot of aggregation.  And this is (coments about our civilization’s decline aside) a topic area that is showing a ton of growth.  There are all sorts of new faces in this scene, some are just individuals who have made a name for themselves, some are media companies, but the problem with most of these sites is that the sites themselves take on celebrity personalities and celebrity status, and nowhere is there a real community where no single entity is taking center stage.

This is where Noozler can really excel.  By providing an up-to-date aggregation of information from disparate sources, providing context around the latest announcements, along with a community experience not lorded over by some larger-than-life celebrity, it can succeed as a place where people come to get their celebrity fix.

I have to give Kudos to the team as well for launching the site.  Picture someone walking through a modern art museum with their murmurs of “I coud do that.”  Yeah, but the point is, you didn’t.  And there’s something to be said for the guy who did.  Which is not to say that I think what they’ve done is easy – there’s a lot of underlying technology that makes the site tick that’s pretty impressive – it’s more to give credit to the execution.  It’s one thing to come up with the idea (“I could do that”  … (with generous assumptions you could come up with the idea in the first place…)), it’s a whole other thing to buckle up and get ‘er done.

That these guys gave up their paying jobs, got motivated day-by-day not to sit around and watch tv, and built this site from just a rough idea, is really an achievement.  And to think; this is just where it begins.