Peter Pan or Miley Cyrus ?

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short to long
The day I decided to cut my hair short was Friday the 13th. It was a full moon, the door to my subconscious was fully open, and somehow I knew that today would be the day. I made the appointment and took the bus to the salon, where an apprentice would be chopping off my locks. I described what I wanted : “edgy, but not too edgy” and watched the loose strands fall away. My hair no longer holds emotional significance for me–it’s a waste of time in physical form. When I left the salon, mes cheveux were short, straight, and ready to stun everyone that knew me when my yarn-like tangle hung down to my waist.

I decided to cover a shift at the coffee shop even though I was coming down with a cold, because it was better than having to go home and listen to Riot Fest, which was conveniently located at my intersection. I took to the haircut like a pampered dog takes to water–hesitantly, with no goal in mind but to let myself grow accustomed to it with time.

During my break, I spotted two acquaintances (who I had contacted minutes before) imbibing themselves in the bar across the street. Coincidence ?

I went over to say “hello” and saw that one of them had shaved his mountain-man beard that same day. There was clearly something in the air inspiring people to change their outward appearance. I sensed a distance that could only be explained by my new, androgynous haircut, and welcomed the coldness for all it was worth. If anything will show you who your real friends are, it’s a new haircut.

As time went on, I debated between calling it the Miley Cyrus or the Peter Pan. Settling for the former helped me to joke about it. You know what they say about humor : there’s a grain of truth in every joke, and laughing is a release for discomfort. That’s why comedians love to make fun of themselves. It’s their way of making sure they say it before anyone else does.

Insecurity plagued me like a tapeworm, eating away at my self-confidence day by day. But I stuck with the cut, because every change in appearance leads to an inner adjustment. Haircuts bring out different sides of our personalities, and mine is only just beginning to surface. It’s been almost two months since I crossed the short-hair channel, and I must say that the grass really is greener on this side. Less time spent on styling means more time to daydream, create, and inspire. Oh, and productivity. There’s that, too.

If you are or have been contemplating making the cut, I have three words for you : Just do it.

Festival Fanaticism in Chicago

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Festival season is upon us. Now that the sun has come out and the snow and rain have stopped falling, we Northerners have left our homes to bask in the light of day. While some will shed their extra pounds jogging along the lake, others shed their skins and join the crowds at one of Chicago’s many festivals this summer.

From the Taste of Randolph, to the Blues Festival, to Midsommar Fest, the list never ends. The one I can’t wait to attend is the 2nd annual Wavefront Music Festival. From July 5-7, Montrose Beach will blow off the tops of not only Chicago house heads, but people from all across the map. Chicago’s music scene sells itself, but stores like Gramaphone Records and others have been selling tickets like hotcakes to eager gophers ready to get their groove on at Lake Michigan.

This is a massive shindig with the hottest, most talented electronic musicians planet Earth has to offer. Mainstream mavericks like Nicolas Jaar and Cedric Gervais will be spinning alongside newcomers like Nadia Ali and Fehrplay during the July 4th holiday weekend. Rain or shine, the sand will be shaking beneath your feet for 3 days straight.

Music lovers across the world now have something else to talk about that doesn’t involve where to get neon headbands and slated sunglasses. Some of Chicago’s finest will be performing alongside international talent, including Derrick Carter, Michael Serafini, Frankie Knuckles, Ralphi Rosario, Mark Farina, Jamie Principle, and Gene Farris.

For more information about this year’s lineup, visit the official Wavefront page.

Marketing in the Drone Age

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We are not cyborgs. At least, not yet. Robots don’t crave recreation and novelty, but humans do. The ideal communication curve follows the same trajectory as a frisbee when it sails through the air. The hardest part about getting people excited for new events and ideas lies in the proliferation of avenues to reach them and the distance between sender and receiver. Is it better to use Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, WordPress, or email ? All of the above.

The more engagement there is, the better your brand looks when it sparkles in the sunlight. As your culture of ideas develops, you’ll need something other than word-of-mouth to get your product the exposure it deserves. Just like in frisbee, your goal should be to get the droid-like being on the other side to catch your message before it hits the ground.

Tell them a story they want to hear. Make it short and sweet, and watch the buzz build. Humans care about connection, companionship, success, their country, and distraction. They love simple solutions and glittering generalities.

“At the end of the day, you know what you know.”

Knowing that we’re all still human, building a core group of followers can be a walk in the park. Just make sure you have their attention when you throw your name out into the virtual hemisphere.

Trust in Fangs

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tying knots in his head

it feels great to unwind at the end of the day

snail shell head band,

taking off the layers, frame by frame

and a tremor

of rivulets in a melting sweet cream cone

grey day in the middle world

there is no taste, just substance

sliding down shelves of skin like a blanched serpent

trust in fangs

to pierce and protect the daisy chasers

to sting and infect

the positively confident nods

creamy white, no respite

it knows your plight and

ravishes a bite,

just trust in fangs

Are Blogs the New Pamphlet ?

Orwell Pamphlet
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“Write without pay until somebody offers pay. If nobody offers within three years, the candidate may look upon this circumstance with the most implicit confidence as the sign that sawing wood is what he was intended for.” – Mark Twain

Since we live in a day and age where blogs are a booming avenue for aspiring artists of all kinds, a nagging thought has been bothering me. It’s a struggle that’s been sitting in the back burner of my mind for aeons.

Is blogging relinquishing the rights to your own material for the sake of gaining exposure ? Or is it a way to get noticed ?Blogger

It’s got to be a little bit of both. People sacrifice your rights for exposure. There are so many different publications out there that are accepting submissions from freelancers. Most of them are digital. In the olden days, people like Emile Zola, Balzac, and George Orwell would write political and literary pieces for publication and the recognition that would inevitably come with it.J'Accuse - Zola

Anyone with an internet connection can create content and post it online. There’s a difference between knowing how to blog well and knowing how to write stuff and click “publish”. Just because a hopeful blogger has hits, doesn’t mean they’ll turn into a blossoming book publisher. I used to think blogs were just channels for artistic noise, but now I see that without them, countless writers and photographers would go unnoticed. Photojournalism has gotten a huge boost from blogs; it’s an awesome phenomenon. Some of my favorites are Rania Khalek (social justice), Cristian Mihai (writing), and Ma Cuisine et Vous (French food porn).

Writers have the option of forgoing the harrowing publishing process and simply self-publishing via Amazon. Thought Catalog recently started putting out e-books. At $1.99 a pop, it’s no surprise that portable pdf files are a huge revenue booster for high-visibility blogs. They also give freelancers a chance to add a couple lines to their CV. It’s like in the HBO TV show ‘Girls’, when Hannah goes “You guys, I just wrote my first e-book !” (Sidenote : I don’t actually watch that show, I just turned it on when that line was being broadcast.)

Mark Twain’s quote rings true with all the artists hopping in to the blogosphere from every corner of this lonely planet. Before blogs, people wrote for pamphlets. All we can do is roll with the punches and learn how to navigate this complicated, virtual sphere.

What are your thoughts on blogging ? Is it a useful democratic tool, or a sneaky way to steal others’ content ?

Holistic Healing

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Serendipity is not dead. And I don’t mean the romantic kind, either. On my way in to the gym today, I sauntered over to the complimentary massage corner and asked the masseuse his name and if he would be finishing up soon. He smiled and said he was almost done. His name was Michael. I could hardly wait to get the tension out of my body.

Michael took 15 minutes instead of 5 because he said I had so much heat coming off my neck and shoulders. There’s something to be said about feeling the energy of another person when your bodies interact. Michael told me that heat was coming off of my torso in waves. Educated by a naprapath, he attended the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in Chicago. He chopped my back and arms while using traditional Chinese massaging method that he claimed would simultaneously prevent carpal tunnel, loosen the joints, and relieve stress.

It was a glorious 15 minutes. After the session, Michael advised me to go out and buy some Epsom salt. The magnesium, he said, would loosen my muscles and prevent me from being sore tomorrow morning. From my limited kinesiology background, I knew he was right. He also said it was important to drink a lot of water to hydrate my muscles before and after the workout. There was a lot to talk about–I mentioned Amos Soma’s book Stretches in Bed and Tough Like You, must-reads for any health and wellness experts. Holistic health is not just a fad, it is a legitimate alternative for people who are disappointed in their Western medical practitioners. Skip the chiropractor. Educate yourself.

Stretches in Bed

Amos Soma

The AlchemistPaolo Coelho’s book The Alchemist says that if you want something badly enough in life, all the world will rearrange to help you achieve your dream. Maybe that is what’s happening here. My dream of helping people get healthier minds, bodies, and spirits by spending less time in front of screens and more time in the natural world is slowly becoming realized. It’s not a matter of ‘if’, it’s a matter of ‘when’.

Eastern medicine gets a bad rap, but the truth is that it treats the root of your illness instead of the symptoms. It looks at the entire picture. Western medicine has its triumphs and benefits, but for those of us that are looking for a different path, holistic health is a credible alternative. Chinese medicine is rooted in a tradition that goes back much further than anything we have in the West. It has been tried and true for centuries, so giving it a try will not hurt anyone. What do you have to lose ?