Archive
Sgt. Pepper’s has been weighted down by expectations. Our staff attempts listening with fresh ears.
Dumb men take a stand their rights with public art and comic book movie screenings.
Pitbull brought America together this memorial day through a single, thoughtless tweet.
Make this summer the best one you’ve ever had with this cool music for hot weather.
Get filthy on the 40th anniversary of Star Wars and jump into hyperspace with these Star Wars sex toys.
Five key highlights from the finest small batch podcast the internet’s ever seen.
With its fanbase outraged over accusations of sexual misconduct, this feels like the end of the road for PWR BTTM.
The Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway was breached last week when the permafrost surrounding it melted.
A baker’s dozen of U2 deep cuts that show they’re much more than “With or Without You.”
When Songs of Innocence showed up in iTunes libraries, social media freaked out. Three years later, it seems ridiculous.
Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling (PPP) seemed to confirm liberal beliefs about how the public has viewed the last three months of the Trump administration. That could be bad news.
There’s a new sheriff in town. Just not the kind America was asking for.
In celebration of U2’s headlining 2017’s Bonnaroo festival, BTRtoday presents a series on how our editor-in-chief learned to stop worrying and love U2. Read part one here. Want to see Bono and the boys at Bonnaroo? BTRtoday is giving away tickets. Click here for info. I never had a guilty pleasure until I became a U2 fan. I never had to feel bad about liking stuff I liked. My favorite things have always been inherently cool, like Devo, James Brown or “Appetite for Destruction.” U2 doesn’t make it easy. If you’re thinking about getting into them, you have to take a deep breath, look at yourself in the mirror and compromise a little. I’ve made peace with my fandom, but for everybody else, here’s a cost-benefit analysis. Cons Bono’s Hard to Take If you subtract his humanitarian/political issues, Bono is a cartoon of a rock star. His self regard borders on sociopathy. Even when he’s trying to be modest he’s ego monster, like when he said U2 was reapplying for the job of best band in the world in 2001. U2 is good as hell but they got blown out of the water that year by the White Stripes, Daft Punk and others. The Edge is Kind of Hard to Take as Well, Honestly Watching “It Might Get Loud,” it’s hard to take the Edge. He’s a guitar effects master and can write a catchy tune but he struggles a rudimentary blues riff. It’s like watching a millionaire stockbroker (no joke; he drives a Mercedes to meet with Jimmy Page and Jack White) who needs a calculator to do subtraction. Their Status as a Global “Brand” Being a fan of U2 feels like rooting for Microsoft sometimes. And that’s barely hyperbole. When you consider the money sloshing around their international touring and marketing organizations, U2 is a corporation the size Twitter or Costco or something. And they lean into corporate culture by making strategic partnerships with Apple or Bill Gates and employing tax dodging accounting tricks. It sucks the joy out a lot of their music, honestly. Their Greatest Hits are Either Inherently Terrible or Overplayed to Death “With or Without You,” “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, “Pride (In the Name of Love),” “Where the Streets Have No Name, “One” and “Sunday Bloody Sunday” are like a murderers’ row of songs I never want to hear again. I have no idea if it’s because the songs suck or because I’ve heard them a billion times. The Lyrics are Distractingly Terrible It must have rained a lot in Ireland in the mid-’80s.  “Unforgettable Fire and “Joshua Tree” lyrics are like teleprompter copy for the Weather Channel. Everything’s about howling wind, the sky or the rain. The weather report is occasionally interrupted by nonsequitur Biblical allusions and fear of walls and blindness. Or maybe it’s just weird statements or oddly curated quotes like “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” or “in New York summers get hot.” (also: weather.) Pros Songwriting  Bono and the boys don’t just write choruses. They write anthems. From “I Will Follow” on and up to “Beautiful Day,” their best songs big-blast off in the refrains in ways songs by other artists can’t match. The melodies effortlessly soar. It’s uplifting music in an almost achingly literal sense. Bono’s a Great Singer It’s really weird that Bono is able to find a vocal melody over all the chiming guitars at all. The Edge’s guitar parts are usually comprised of three or four notes at the most. Bono’s singing doesn’t follow the chords. They’re often a counterpoint or a barely connected melody that floats over the rest of band. It makes an otherwise minimalist band seem really full. And beyond musical value, he broadcasts charisma and emotion. When he waves a big stupid white flag/mullet combo on stage it’s something that’s almost earned. Unassailably Dope Influences The members of U2 must have amazing record collections. Their influences are an encyclopedia of cool 20th-century sounds. Siouxsie and the Banshees? Roxy Music? Kraftwerk? Johnny Cash? Lou Reed? I’d let them DJ in a heartbeat. They’re not skillful mimics and they filter everything through their own sound. U2’s early new wave records sound indebted to post-punk bands like Magazine and PiL, but the Irish quartet defined themselves so clearly, it’s not accurate to say they were thieves. Unrivaled Consistency There’s no “classic period” of U2 music. They don’t have a classic album run like Rubber Soul through Sgt. Pepper or Beggar’s Banquet through Exile on Main Street. A U2 playlist of hits would span 30 years. “Out of Control” and I Will Follow” are great songs. So are “Zooropa,” “Lemon,” and “Beautiful Day.” As a point of comparison, in the same amount of time, Paul McCartney went from “I Want to Hold Your Hand” to “Give my Regards to Broad Street.” The Stones went from “Satisfaction” to “Waiting on a Friend.” Jimmy Page went from “Communication Breakdown” to the Honeydrippers. Infinite Headphone Depth The Edge and his producers Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno are master engineers of three-dimensional sounds. It’s only after hearing a U2 song three dozen times that you’ll notice some weird little chiming sound clicking off in the mix. The guitar tones are impeccable and impeccably recorded. You can feel the precision with which they placed a mic to capture the exact texture of how the pick scraped against an exact string. It’s like early Roxy Music, only direct to the heart instead of hiding ambition and sincerity behind irony and a sheen of theatricality. Or like Steely Dan without the fussy musicianship. It’s Just a Good Vibe Overall U2 has a specific mood. It’s not party music, it’s not mopey music, it’s not dance music, it’s not even really rock music, a lot of times either. If you’re in the right mood, it’s cheesy as hell. But sometimes you want to feel feelings and keep it positive. When U2 hits one of those spiraling into the vortex of the universe face-melting headphone moments, it’s friendly and hopeful.
During the show’s run, many of today’s fans were too young to watch. But they’re grown now and ready to smell the coffee.
BTRtoday is giving you and a friend a chance to win two free tickets to Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee.
In part one of our series on U2, Adam Bulger talks about becoming a fan of the superstar Irish group after years of dismissing their music.
It took two years—and writing this series to understand the totality of the experience and my family’s dynamic.
The whistleblower leaves prison for a world full of uncertainties for transgendered people.
Confetti meant to celebrate Hillary’s victory gets a second chance to shine in an art display.
2017 has been a year to look back. Time passes and people change. The same goes with your favorite bands. Popular groups from back in the day, like Broken Social Scene, The National, even Blondie, have rolled out new albums this year.   We millennials who grew up on social media know the “what the hell” reaction of looking back on your life in posts. That first profile picture where you still have that MySpace hair swoop? Cringeworthy. Even with the cringe, it’s fun to remember where you were and what was happening in your life way back when. This month, we noticed a Facebook trend where people took a stroll down memory lane and then sprinted back to the present day by posting their first and their current profile pictures next to each other. Those trips back in forth in time were so fun, we wondered how our favorite bands would look with their new releases side by side with their debuts.   Blondie s/t Debbie Harry and guitarist Chris Stein were in the honeymoon phase of their relationship and formed a band that would later become a standard-bearer in New Wave. Blondie released their  self titled debut in 1976. This album melded punk with reggae and funk in ways the world had never heard. Pollinator 2017 Their eleventh album, Pollinator keeps the disco-punk vibe, but adds more synth and futuristic beats to show that while they’re all-stars, they’re still very much in the game. At 71, Debbie Harry remains a rock ’n’ roll icon. Though she and Stein called it quits on their relationship in the late ‘80s, they stayed together as partners in life and music. Depeche Mode Speak & Spell 1981 The band was new and struggling trying to make it in ‘81 when Mute Records founder Daniel Miller gave them a chance to make a record. Speak & Spells came out October of that year and peaked at number ten on the U.K. charts, spearheading their career. Spirit 2017 With its members now in their 50s, Depeche Mode stays true to the group’s vibe. They still stick to eerie ‘80s synth beats but their years of refining their sound are evident in the polished album Spirit. The Jesus and Mary Chain Psychocandy 1985 Before their debut, the struggling band would show up to clubs claiming to be the opening act, sneaking in a quick set before rushing out. In late 1984 their set at ICA Rock Week ended with a volley of bottles thrown from the crowd. Thanks to that riot of a show, publicity for the band skyrocketed—Psychocandy was released less than a year later. Damage & Joy 2017 On their seventh album, The Jesus and Mary Chain still dare to tackle politically incorrect subjects. Following a 19-year recording break, the angst was at a boil—their wild, lost youth is embedded within their sound. Despite their age, they still feedback and squeal with their signature drug-infused rock ’n’ roll vibe. The Flaming Lips Hear It Is 1986 Formed in 1983, the band went through several lineup changes, eventually landing on Wayne Coyne for lead vocals, before the release of their debut album three years later. Coyne was still working at Long John Silver’s. The band signed to Enigma Records’ psychedelic branch, Pink Dust Records and released Hear it is in ‘86. Oczy Mlody 2017 With his Long John Silver’s days long behind him, The Flaming Lips are still growing strong. Oczy Mlody is just as bizarre as The Flaming Lips have always been, only slowed down and more contemplative. Many of their earlier albums have crazy jams and solos that emulated a melodic rocket launch.  Now they’re concentrating on strung out echoes, low buzzes and Coyne’s inner space voyaging lyrics. Spoon Telephono 1996 With an EP already under their belt, they were bursting to get an LP out. When Telephono was released on Matador Records it immediately received mixed reviews. Spoon honed their sound and became a pioneering force of a new musical blend of post-punk, psychedelic and pop. Hot Thoughts 2017 Lucky number nine, Hot Thoughts is their only other record on Matador Records, making this album extra special to Spoon’s heart. Hot Thoughts takes advantage of their musical talents by adding new and different instruments to the mix. They’ve lost a little of their initial garage-y vibe but none of what makes them fun. Gorillaz s/t 2001 Gorillaz was formed as a cartoon band to comment on the how vapid MTV had become. After their first EP Tomorrow Comes Today and the wild success of their single “Clint Eastwood,” they started taking themselves seriously. Their debut album hit number 6 on the U.K. charts. Humanz 2017 After a seven-year hiatus, still sticking to their animated portrayal and political views, Gorillaz have released their fifth album. They’ve embraced an even heavier hip-hop approach, with a different high-profile musician featured on almost every track. According to Gorillaz, with events like the U.K.’s Brexit and the U.S. presidential nomination of Donald Trump, a black cloud has rolled over humanity and this album gives us insight into the situation. The Shins Oh, Inverted World 2001 Formed by James Mercer in 1996, Mercer was depressed and fed up with the failure of his music. Things didn’t look up until the band scored a tour with Modest Mouse in 2000 which led to a single on Sub Pop. The wild popularity of their single got them a record deal, and boosted them to be the most anticipated indie rock albums of 2001. With the release of Oh, Inverted World, The Shins shot up in popularity. Heartworms 2017 Their first album in five years, The Shins haven’t changed a bit. Which is just fine with us. Their melodies are still just as uplifting, and their lyrics are still just as in-depth about life and love. Mercer is the only original member of The Shins, but is still good friends with the members of Modest Mouse. The National s/t 2001 Childhood friends Bryan Devendorf, Bryce and Aaron Dessner moved from Ohio to New York City and formed The National in 1999, performing free shows regularly in the Lower East Side at the Luna Lounge. They released their first album on a record label that the Dessners created, and their first album was met with high praise. Sleep Well Beast 2017 The highly anticipated new album will be released this September and will be the group’s seventh album. Their last release was in 2013 with the album Trouble Will Find Me, which Pitchfork described as their, “leanest and most aerodynamic record yet.” With Sleep Well Beast being released after their longest hiatus between albums, it’s anticipated to be their most productive one yet. Broken Social Scene Feel Good Lost 2001 This first album was recorded as a duo in 1999, between core members Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning with several different contributors who eventually became long-term members. Their music didn’t reach their charts until their third album (self-titled) in 2005, which won Alternative Album of The Year. Hug of Thunder 2017 Their first release in about seven years, Hug of Thunder will be out this July on City Slang/ Arts & Crafts. Also featuring several contributors like Feist and members of Metric, they shared their first single off the album “Halfway Home” on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and have already gotten praise from Pitchfork and Rolling Stone. Future Islands Wave Like Home 2008 Though formed in 2006, the band didn’t enjoy mainstream success until 2014 after performing on the Late Show With David Letterman. The clip quickly became the most viewed video on the show’s YouTube channel. The Far Field 2017 The band’s fifth album was highly praised, though not as highly rated as the band’s 2014 hit album Singles. Consequence of Sound describes The Far Field as, “a reminder of how skilled Future Islands can be when everything locks into place,” adding that the band often outworks most of their peers, it just took them a decade to find their audience.
A few weeks into training for the New York City marathon, Jasper Nathaniel had an epiphany. There was no nutrition company for the modern fitness consumer. Less than a year later, Nathaniel left his tech job to turn his idea into a reality. Mystics and artists once were alone in experiencing epiphanies. But today, entrepreneurs increasingly seek them and we’re starting to learn how they really work. But as human creativity becomes a commodity, do we risk losing what made that “a-ha moment” so valuable in the first place? Although the term has been around since ancient Greece, human beings have only recently started trying to quantify epiphanies. In Silicon Valley, epiphanies are the new currency. Idea-hungry entrepreneurs are eager to capitalize on them. “Epiphany” comes from the Greek “epiphaneia” meaning “appearance” or “manifestation” of the gods. It’s traditionally been used in religious contexts to describe a holy vision. In Christian tradition, the epiphany marks the passage of the three wise men traveling to baby Jesus. William Wordsworth, James Joyce and John Updike apply the concept of the epiphany to the secular realm of the artist. The writers define it as a moment of deep, transformative insight. The concept of epiphany has reached entrepreneurs. Moguls sprinkle new age words and phrases into their business practical language.  Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz recalls observing Italian coffee culture and realizing coffee was about more than just a beverage. The moment, he says, “was an epiphany.”  Similar stories among entrepreneurs abound – Ben Silberman of Pinterest, Sara Blankly of SPANX, and many more all claim an epiphanic moment as the foundation of their success. Scientists started studying the epiphany in the 1990s while the the dot com boom that laid the foundation for today’s tech-centric economy was underway. During that time, cognitive scientists John Kounis and Mark Beeman began to study what happens in the brain when the “aha moment” happens. Paradoxically, the pair found that epiphanies didn’t involve “seeing the light,” but instead were moments where the brain seems to blink. Instead of seeing a new vision, the brain shuts down its visual processing center and turns inward.  In order for a brain blink to give way to an epiphany, the person must either have high visual receptivity or be in a state which induces such receptivity. Jasper Nathaniel, for example, had just come in from a long outdoor run where he was exposed to the visual stimulation of passing scenery. He again confronted the problem of an intimidating sports nutrition marketplace full of supplements and recovery drinks containing obscure, hard-to-pronounce ingredients rather than real foods. This time a lightbulb went on: Why not fill the gap in the market himself? A few months later, Nathaniel and two colleagues founded Revere, a direct-to-consumer health startup on a mission to demystify and simplify the category through personalized, plant based sports nutrition. Nathaniel’s epiphany-as-company-origin story is par for the course in the startup world. As such, the epiphany has moved from a deeply personal transformative experience to a commodity that can be manufactured and sold. Tech conferences and news sites are rife with information on how to optimize your body for idea generation (get a good night’s sleep, be in a positive mood, exercise). Even Columbia Business School teaches a class on generating epiphanies: William R. Duggan’s “Napoleon’s Glance” aims to teach students how to generate quick epiphanies as they conduct business strategy. Scientists are scrutinizing epiphanies and studying their details. They hope to transform an unpredictable and unknowable experience into a step-by-step DIY project. Neuroeconomist Ian Krajbich at Ohio University investigates the mechanisms behind decision making. Recently, he and colleague James Wei Chen published results from a study on epiphany learning. Rather than one, big life-changing idea, epiphany learning tackles what happens when we go from not-knowing to knowing, as in the case of solving a puzzle. The study revealed that certain participants were more attuned to epiphany learning than others. Unlocking the formula for big ideas could offer enormous gains in human potential. But there’s risk. If we only consider people as idea generators, we lose track of what makes them people. We are asking them to function like machines, in the same way that industrial revolution-era assembly line workers were tasked to function. Those workers had few protections and were treated little better than the machines they operated. The dehumanizing conditions gave rise to the labor movement, which brought the modern 9-to-5 work week, worker health and disability benefits and retirement plans. The modern nature of work has moved away from manufacturing. The 9-to-5 rules no longer apply, but workers still need protections.  Epiphanies require rest, good health, and a positive mood. Creative workers can’t be expected to efficiently produce good ideas without the benefits of health care, breaks from work, and economic stability.  We may now know that the epiphany is an essentially human phenomenon – and in order for epiphanies to continue to drive our economy, we must meet the human needs of the workers behind them.
When I reach down to my ladybits, the last thing I want to see is a farm animal staring back up at me.
The implications run deeper than dropping likes as you scroll.
(Read Pt. 1 here.) Jeffrey Hamm signed his mother’s name, Marilyn Arlin, without her approval on a  $4500 check made out to “Jeffrey Hamm.” It wasn’t a surprise. He’d done things like this before. For years, he’s stolen TVs, DVD players and jewelry from the modest Boynton Beach home he shared with her. “The pawn shop owners knew Marilyn by name. She brought them receipts Jeff left around the house. One time she had to buy her own wedding ring back,” said Richard Ruth, Jeffrey’s brother-in-law. Marilyn learned of the account withdrawal while lying in a hospice bed, which she was admitted to days before Jeff withdrew the funds. Her daughter and sister, who had flown from New York for their final goodbye, spent the last few days of Marilyn’s life comparing documents, checks, letters and lists that contained her signature with hopes that they could get some of the money returned. “He is good, I’ll give him that,” said Marilyn’s sister, referring to her nephew’s forging abilities. Jeffrey abused drugs since he was a teenager, starting with pot in high school and escalating to crack cocaine. “I’ve heard many people say that once you start, you can’t grow past the age that you began using… It’s like Jeffrey is still 16,” said Donald Hamm, Jeffrey’s older brother. Jeffrey’s addiction caused him to miss out on skills average people learn in their young adulthood, according to Donald. “He lacks social skills, relationship skills, working skills, coping skills—basically life skills,” he said. This is why, his family agreed, Jeffrey never had a lot to talk about and why he always resorted to talking about cats or his computer. It’s why he never had a girlfriend or a job or a home of his own. It’s why he was unable to cope when Marilyn got sick. His solution was to get high at any cost. Shortly after hearing about the $4500 check, Donald kicked Jeffrey out of their mother’s house. “We didn’t know what else he would take, or what he would do if he were left alone,” he said. That night Jeffrey slept in the empty hospital bed next to his mother, his scrappy brown hair shielding his eyes from the parking lot lights that shone through the window that Marilyn kept open. Before Marilyn died she requested that Donald administer the money she planned to leave for Jeffrey, with strict instructions not to give it to him all at one time. “She was worried that he would spend it on drugs and get himself killed,” said his brother-in-law. Marilyn never got to say goodbye to Jeffrey. The day after he spent the night next to her in the maroon hospice room with parted curtains, he went on a binge. “Jeffrey entered hospice high,” said Donald, “and he ran into our youngest brother, James, who just walked out of Mom’s room.” The two brothers argued and Jeffrey stormed out. Two days later, Marilyn died. “Jeffrey’s addiction affects not only one person, but the whole family. All of our roles have changed,” said Donald. He said that his sister, who he described as being nourishing and filled with love and forgiveness, turned into his mother figure. “I turned into the father. I give him advice and deal with his money. Our father isn’t able to. He just can’t,” said Donald, as though it were an undeniable fact. “Dad was never there. He’d rather have a drink and not think about it,” said James Hamm, Donald and Jeffrey’s younger brother. “And James remains the angry brother,” said Donald. For years, Donald honored his mother’s wishes, giving Jeffrey money only when he saw fit. “It’s hard, though. He knows how to maneuver me,” said Donald. At a time when he thought Jeffrey was looking for work, he wired the halfway house he was staying at  $1500 so he can buy a used car. Within days, the money was gone and so was Jeffrey. He knew how to maneuver his sister, too. They had a weekly routine, even when he was on the streets. Every Wednesday, Jeffrey would call Lorri’s house phone and let it ring three times before hanging up. Lorri would then use the caller ID so she could call the pay phone back at no expense to Jeffrey. On a number of occasions when he was living on the streets, she mailed boxes of clothes that she purchased at TJ Maxx, Marilyn’s favorite store, to a local convenient store that she knew he was squatting behind; the owner knew her. It was he who called Lorri to tell her that Jeffrey was found dead on an old mattress behind the store. The third and final part of this story will run next week at BTRtoday.com
In honor of Mother’s Day, a look back at the mother of all doom rock music videos.
How do we get people excited about to science? Give them a reason to believe.
The King of Surf Guitar, Dick Dale, turned 80 this month, and surf rock is back. 
Stripped of politics and violence, the life of Based Stick Man is a miserable and familiar story.
The Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway is more than just an intimidating arctic fortress—it represents investment in the future of food.
A mama’s boy’s tragic downfall. The first in a series.
These dumb space movies have to stop.
Culture and lifestyles are different everywhere—this is no exception to music! BTRtoday explores the music scenes around the world.
And even cooler if you’re 87, according to some. It takes a certain type of personality to be able to handle the chaos of confined living, loud noises and unreliable transportation schedules that make up city living, and it is not one that can be learned with years of therapy, or so I’ve been told. The ambiguity with which I source my claims is intentional, as the topics of both coolness and preference for city living are as provable as the existence of God. Through various interviews with people who lived (or live) in cities—and have a strong opinion on the matter—I found a few common threads that help to give insight as to why some people get the high and others get the hell out: People who were born and raised in a city don’t get bothered by the close proximity, lack of transportation control and noise because it’s their norm; they don’t even notice it. Living with roommates in tight quarters is difficult for many, a fact that most city-dwellers—especially those who are still early in their careers—have to face, due to the rising price of rent. (In New York City, the average cost of a 1-bedroom apartment is $3,100/month. In San Francisco, the most expensive city in the United States, is $3,400/month). The multitude of cultures and languages stimulates some and frustrates others. Of the people I interviewed, though, the multiculturalism was a pro for city living across the board. The lack of yard space—and small living in general—is not ideal for raising children. The city is a great place to make career connections. Annie Corenthal: BTRtoday: Why do you think one may want to leave NYC after a certain age? AC: I grew up in New York City. My parents grew up in New York City. My grandparents grew up in New York City. All I know about where to live and thrive and raise babies is here in New York City. I have aunts and other family members that moved away to the country and I have seen other people come here to live for a year or two and then go back upstate. What I have noticed is that most people who leave New York—or are really miserable when they visit—is that their anxiety levels are super high while in the city. They can’t stand being so physically close to other people all of the time, the lack of control with public transportation schedules, the lack of privacy and quiet while living in an apartment building, and other things that I don’t even notice since I grew up here. BTR: What do you love about the city? AC: I love taking the subway. The fact that I have no control over when the next train is coming or how fast it’s going gives me some time to relax. Also it gives me time to read or play games on my phone. It forces me to have about 30 minutes a day to not do any thing productive and just chill. I am terrified of houses. There are too many ways to get in. I grew up in an apartment on the 7th floor with no fire escape. The only way in was the front door which had two locks and a deadbolt. I get nervous in quiet places. My dad always taught me in order to stay safe just stay in places “where there are witnesses.” I don’t listen to headphones when I walk about. I try to stay aware of my surroundings. I think some people find it exhausting to be aware all of the time. I tend to work well under pressure. The bustle of the city might keep my stress levels to ideal productive levels. BTR: What do you love about your city specifically? AC: I love so many things about my city! I love that you can find pretty much any cuisine you can think of, including crappy chain restaurants. You can also find every culture here. In my building, on my floor, there is a lady from Georgia who is constantly screaming in Russian and a family of conservative Muslims with the black headscarves. My neighborhood is a nice mix of Bengali, Russian, Hassidic Jewish, and some old school Irish Brooklynites. I love that there are so many 24 hour establishments. I love that the subway is 24 hours. I love there is something to do every night if you are so inclined. Currently I live near a big green park, the beach, and several trendy neighborhoods for bars and restaurants. I can do whatever I feel like doing! I love that there are so many inside jokes when you live here. I love that some people can’t handle living here; I’m quite the city snob. Kate Kosek: BTR: Can you explain what your relationship is with New York City? KK: I’ve lived in Brooklyn for 6 years and don’t want to be here much longer.  I gave myself a 10-year timeline when I first moved, so I’ll hopefully be out within the next four years. I wanted to be here for a good chunk of time in order to make connections and advance my art career while being immersed in a culturally rich environment. I grew up in the suburbs and was intrigued by the energy of urban life.   BTR: I recently read an article in Time Magazine saying that city living affects the brain and increases emotions such as anxiety and fear. Do you agree? KK: I completely agree, which is why I’m looking to escape sooner rather than later.  A couple years ago I started suffering from anxiety attacks; I thought I was dying because I had never experienced anything like it. No major events set my anxiety off, I think it was a lot of pent up negative energy from daily life.  Once I realized what they were, I started focusing on managing my stress. I’m lucky enough to have a car so I can escape upstate frequently to visit family and friends.   Also been living on my own for the past two years, which has really relaxed me.  I think roommate dynamics in small living quarters attribute to a lot of city life stress.  In regards to whether I think this brain change is a positive or negative thing, I think both.  Positive because I feel like a lot of city people are empathetic to human differences, city people are more open to race, culture and sexuality.  Negative because a lot of people dealing with the stress will turn to drug or alcohol abuse, or some people snap and end up harming themselves or others.   BTR: Do you think you are going to miss the city once you leave? KK: I have loved my time in Brooklyn but am looking forward to retreating to a more reclusive area.  I’ll miss living in a close distance to my friends, as well as all of the amazing art, music and food you can find on a daily basis in a close radius.  Oh the conveniences!  On the other hand, traffic and large crowds have become really stressful to me as I’ve become older.  I look forward to living somewhere that doesn’t smell like piss and garbage 24/7! Andriy Dyachenko: BTR: What cities have you lived in? AD: Kiev, Chicago, Boston, New York. I’m a big city boy since birth, but I’m not sure I like cities too much. Then again, I don’t think I’d make it in the countryside. BTR: What do you not like about city living? AD: I love nature and I hate noise when I sleep, but I love all kinds of ethnic foods and that is something you can only get in big cities. I also like yoga and tai chi, which is much more prevalent in big cities. Sometimes I wish I could live next to a big nature preserve on Long Island or even somewhere in Maine. Central Park is a joke and is always overcrowded. So it is a love/hate relationship with cities. BTR: Why do you think you would not make it in the countryside? AD: Country people would probably think I am huge weirdo because I am not from the country; I am an outsider and a foreigner with a lot of strange interests, such as vegetarianism. In my imagination, country people tend to be more conservative and focused on their established communities. BTR: Have you ever had an encounter with a country person that made you feel uncomfortable? Or is it more assumption? AD: Actually, I do have a lot of country relatives in Eastern Europe and I really love them (They are hardcore peasants!) When I was working with more remote communities in western Massachusetts, though, I did feel some hostility sometimes. It seems that there was some reservations towards “Boston people.” Also, I feel that the countryside in New England feels more cultured, organized and richer than, let’s say, the Midwest. BTR: It seems as though the racism came more from your being from a city as opposed to being from another country. And you are from Ukraine, correct? AD: Yes. I am Ukrainian. BTR: Do you think their cities are culturally different than ours in the US? AD: These days everything is global. I grew up during a different era. The younger generation is much more connected to the broader trends now: They eat falafel, became hipsters, hang out in Berlin, speak English, etc. Obviously, the older generation is still there as well, including people who grew up in the USSR when the country was isolated, but city living has the same traits everywhere.  There is always a degree of anonymity, of being lost in the crowd and that is nice!  
Democrats have declared their distaste for identity politics, but does that represent a meaningful change in the party’s future?

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