Archive for February, 2010

In Rotation 2/27/2010: what’s playin’ in Duncan’s mix

Daniel Merriweather, Usher, Lightspeed Champion, Sarah Melson, Temper Trap and more!

I’m so happy with this week’s music. Another interesting week of new and old music. I have to say I’ve been blown away by the Temper Trap, revisited the Watson Twins album and found the “very listenable” debut from Daniel Merriweather. There’s a sexy track from Usher, a sweet little piece for Sarah Melson who’s from around here btw, a soul drenched number from Daniel Merriweather, a surprisingly tasty dish of pure ice cream from Lightspped Champion, the energy loungey “Tuesday” from the Lovebirds, and a bad ass head nodder from Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley and Nas. There’s some other hidden gems too for you to discover, baby! Feel it?

To order any of this music, please go to Luna Music! Click this link below.

Shutter Island: Deceptive, tender masterpiece

Leonardo Di Caprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley and Martin Scorcese brings a masterpiece to life

Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo in Martin Scorcese's Shutter Island

Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo in Martin Scorcese's Shutter Island

Mark Ruffalo and Leonardo DiCaprio in Shutter Island

Regardless of what you read or see, Shutter Island is worth seeing. Its a fantastic film. Scorcese has taken a brilliant book and lovingly brought it to life with painstaking detail. Sure, its a seemingly deceptive script. Sure, it’s not completely faithful to the trailer. But it’s actually better than trailer leads you to believe. Yes, its an uncomfortable film. It will shock you at times, and move you to question everything you see on screen. It’s a happy thing to see that a solid film can be successful at the box office. I propose that it is, in some ways, the trinity of American film today – Scorcese the father, DiCaprio the son, and Ruffalo is the holy ghost (he’s a vastly under appreciated actor). Listen, here’s the deal – screw the bad reviews. Take a risk and go embrace this film. It will f#$% you up. In a good way.

By the way, Ben Kingsley (I’m an Indian American and I refuse to call him Sir) is a multi-faceted, uber-talented actor and contributes significantly to what makes this film memorable.

– Duncan Alney

New York Art: Catherine Lepp

Based in NY, Catherine Lepp’s work in at once intriguing and complex. Passionati’s Angela Alney caught up with Catherine. Here’s how it went.

Catherine Lepp - Belly

Catherine Lepp - Ceiling 1

Catherine Lepp Ceiling 2

Catherine Lepp - Flying

Catherine Lepp - Kick

Catherine Lepp - Whirlpool

Catherine on Catherine:
I see the open water as the last truly unquantifiable and ungovernable frontier. Its controlling tides dictate our ebb and flow and its rhythms remain beyond our authority. The flux of water questions our senses and threatens our equilibrium, as it also challenges our survival instincts. Of all the elements, water seems to have the most emotional impact upon the human psyche, as the perception of ourselves can change as rapidly as the water around us.

I am presenting an exploration of this psychology of water through abstraction and figuration. In particular, how a figure deals with the complexities of water and its unpredictable force, whether it is a figure trying to stay afloat or survive a wave. To date, my images have been probing the memory of figures within water, and how to translate that idea into paint and mark making. I am searching for ways to convey the sensation of swimming, floating or surfing through colour and line. My figures emerge from the water and dissolve below, as feet and hands and heads push through the water towards the air or are distilled and distorted by the refracted light underneath. The figures are un-located in their environment, they are not held by a shoreline, but I am trying to pin down their movements with paint and to capture moments in time with shifts in space and colour.

My first paintings were conceived as diptychs, as concurrent moments of time and memory in the water. These were to be viewed on the ceiling to remove the figure from the vertical plane, thinking of the Baroque and Rococo paintings where figures fall from a limitless sky. Recently, I have been working on drawings on a long scroll, where the figures exist in a time line of their movement in the water. The ink drawing is suspended in the white of the paper, held by the narrative of the scroll. The images are abstract in construct and concept, but figurative in interpretation, they are slow to read, the line a metaphor for the mystery of evaporation, of how things can be read then disappear.

Passionati:  Which artists have influenced you?

Catherine: The artists that are in my mind as I create these paintings are Joan Mitchell, Francis Bacon and Michealangelo. How they deal with figures in landscape, appearing and disappearing with the line or mark.

Passionati: What musically inspires when you are creating your work?

Catherine: I like the randomness of my iPod on shuffle, I have 3 days worth of Dub from my brother in the UK, Scientist, king Tubby and Lee Scratch Perry. I listen to lots of British music & radio stations from Jarvis Cocker to Shirley Bassey.

Connect with Catherine

Catherine Lepp near water

In Rotation Mix 2/20/10

Four Tet - One word Review - Brilliant

A pretty decent week as far as listening is concerned for me. It’s always good to listen to Candles, which is a ghost story, by Brazil. I’m curious to see what you think. Out of the archives, a lush track from My Bloody Valentine and heart felt piece of nostalgia from Chris Isaak. Check out the China Crisis song so you can get your 80’s fix (gives you a bit of perspective on where Washed Out and Neon Indian come from, doesn’t it?). Then sink into your most comfortable couch and ease into the new Wu Tang Clan. What! That’s right. Others you should listen to are: Paolo Nutini and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band (my new Mardi Gras favorite), Time for Three (who I just saw in concert), Four Tet (brilliant), Carolina Chocolate Drops, Black Kids, Daniel Martin Moore and Ben Sollee. Happy listening and melting snow baby!

– Duncan

In Rotation 2/20

To order any of this music, please go to Luna Music! Click this link below.

Unpublished Lady Ga Ga Photos by Greg Perez

Lady Gaga makes for dramatic photography

Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. Who? Lady Gaga that’s who. She’s on Akon’s label, Kon Live (under the auspices of Interscope). These unpublished photos were shot by Greg Perez, a frequent Passionati contributor, fashion and rock’n’roll photographer, uncomprising artiste, and beautiful person. Enjoy!

Lady Gaga (c) Greg Perez

Lady Gaga (c) Greg Perez


Greg Perez is a Cuban-American. He’s the happiest guy I know. Invested in his work 100%, he’s a process photographer. Painstaking in his approach, and committed to aesthetics and bringing his value system to his images. Greg Perez is on the rise.

– Duncan Alney

President’s Day: Kevin Darbro’s “President”

Kevin Darbro on his debut single “President”

Oh American Land of the We - from the song President by Kevin Darbro. (also a passionati fan)

This is a song about the game show that is politics and the process of running for President—told from the candidate’s perspective.

The song is heavy. It’s over the top. It’s probably based in my political science background, and the knowledge I gathered firsthand regarding how politics actually works.

Here’s an example: I went to a George Bush Senior rally at Ohio State University in 1988 during a campaign stop of his. As I was a Political Science major thinking about going to law school and eventually running for office, I couldn’t miss this event. I traveled to OSU with the Wittenberg University College Republicans. Yes, I was one of them. We’d made pro-Bush signs and the Ohio State people had made signs to wave as well. As I was there, and had met our counterparts at OSU and we all knew what signs we had.

Well, somehow, at the actual event and minutes before President Bush took the stage, somehow a multitude of handmade signs flowed into the crowd of students. These were designed to look like college kids had made them with markers and the like. But, we didn’t. It was all orchestrated to make it look like the entire crowd was fervently supportive of the candidate. Things that make you go “hmmm”, indeed. After the signs, a sea of small American flags emanated from seemingly nowhere. As I unraveled my free, plastic stars and stripes to wave affixed to a wooden stick, I looked at the writing on the inseam. It read, “Made In Taiwan.”

It left an old glory hole in my heart.

I felt like I’d been randomly screwed by strangers my whole life.

That was the moment I decided to leave the pursuit of both law and politics. It sickened and saddened me. A little knowledge goes a long way.

So, weary of the antics and fervor of the 2008 Presidential Election, and being a strong supporter of the potential President Obama, I felt I had to write this song. I wanted to call attention to the hoopla and madness that surrounds the presidential election and I hired the best sonic Jedi Master I knew, Dick Hodgin at Osceola Studios in Raleigh, to produce it. So, the sound is really his vision, and I’m eternally grateful to him for the result.

Of course its pro-Obama. And even though I support the President, there’s something about running for President and being President that is pretty surreal. There is tremendous ego involved. McCain made an easy target, and essentially, this song is a tale told from what I imagined was his perspective. But at the end, the voice of the song deliberately changes to a universal voice of we the people. The us. The everyman and everywoman. It’s our country, not theirs.

Odd mess, America,

What you could be.

Odd mess, America,

Land of the We.

Vocals/Guitar/BU Vox – Kevin Darbro

Bass – Michael Foxmann

Drums – Bill Eagan

Hammond Organ – Chad Barger

Choir – Bill and Bonnie Nichols, Ann Marie Thomas, Phil Abruscato, Kevin Darbro

Produced by: – Dick Hodgin at Osceola Studios in Raleigh

Video footage culled from YouTube and various sources.

Kevin Darbro lives and works in North Carolina.

Valentine’s Day: In Rotation Mix 2/13/10

Albatros by Besnard Lakes

Happy Valentine’s Day Everybody! Here’s this week’s In Rotation Playlist. There’s some cool new stuff and as usual a couple of gems from the past. This week my friend Justin Keller welcomed me to my new favorite album, and it just might be that, The Beach House’s “Teen Dream” is just gorgeous. There are so many great tracks on here. I’ve been listening to the new Sade album. How does that woman stay looking so young and beautiful? Thanks for Keenan for recommending the Julian Casablancas album (he’s also in the Strokes). Love love love the AM track. You’ll notice a Patsy Cline number in here – and although Jim Reeves has billing – where is he? There’s the reappearance of Spice 1 and a remixed Luniz track. Not to mention two songs from the Valentine’s Day soundtrack. Of course, there’s the Broken Bell track – uber-talented Danger Mouse (Gnarls Barkley, Gorillaz’s “Demon Days” and Beck’s “Modern Guilt”) collaborating with The Shins frontman James Mercer – its a soft-rock electronica milk shake!

Lastly, the video for “We are the world” part 2 – it will move you! I love to see talented people coming together for a greater cause. Download the song. Support the people of Haiti!

Enough of this, listen to the mix. Kiss someone you love. Hug someone you like. Call someone that loves you forever. Be sweet to yourself.

– Duncan

To order any of this music, please go to Luna Music! Click this link below.

Tiger Tiger Burning Bright

What the hand dare seize the fire

India’s population has crossed the billionth milestone. In this teeming milieu, Corbett National Park’s 525 square kilometres of priceless virgin forest and grassland are a blessing to the tiger. Mercifully, its numbers are now imperceptibly rising, despite poaching. It is also a windfall for all the other wild creatures that dwell in Uttaranchal’s lush and abundant ecosystem. The incredible variety of wildlife and beauty of Corbett Park is difficult to match, and here I was in this wonderland, to see, experience, photograph and write about its most renowned denizen, the tiger. The possibility of spotting one in the middle of the day is not impossible, but it is rare as the beast generally hunts during the dark hours. However, two fruitless, wasted weeks later, I was advised that my best bet to photograph wild tigers was to go deep into the parkland or the heavily wooded groves, on elephant back. So the next morning I hired yet another guide, and mounted on an old elephant, we delicately picked our way through the thick underbrush. The mahout assiduously prodded the beast with a metal instrument to nudge and direct the pachyderm.

Several hours later, we had seen no signs of a tiger. Then unexpectedly, the warning bark of a sambar ― an animal of the deer family, splashed in all directions. His warning silenced the denizens of the grassland and the few trees it sported. A palpable pall of silence abruptly spread over the land as all creatures within hearing knew that a tiger was in the vicinity.  The sambar is at the top of this predator’s menu along with the chital, and the stag directed its warning at his female harem, foraging in drifting groups. A few fleeting moments of nervous tension shrouded the shrubbery, and the creatures now frozen and hiding in the tall grass. Birds, beasts and even our tiny group of humans remained stock still, listening with thumping hearts to the slightest sign of danger.

Suddenly my guide grabbed my shoulder and pointed. My eyes followed the silent direction of his index finger, searching desperately as I waited with bated breath, thrilled at the faint hope of spotting a tiger. One moment there was motionless silence in the undergrowth, and then, abracadabra, a single magnificent male tiger stood there in all his glory. An iconic symbol of raw, brute power. In the next instant, his mate joined him. Today was indeed my lucky day. However, the tiger was not looking for prey. He nuzzled the tigress and then, in a single, soft, smooth, silken motion of affection, he stroked his arching body against hers. Armed with a long lens, the motor drive on my camera purred in empathy with the purring of the majestic beasts. My cup of joy filled to overflowing, as the regal pair moved out of sight, and every hidden creature of the grass jungle drew its first deep breath, as it realized that the king had already fed and was not hunting, today.

The male tiger (c) 2010 Don Alney

The Tiger Couple (c) 2010 Don Alney

by Don Alney

If you enjoyed this check out Candy and the gardens of Joy

*The title of the piece is a line taken from William Blake’s “Tiger Tiger Burning Bright.”

Don Portrait

Don Alney is a freelance travel writer and photographer, seeking the ‘forever moment.’ Email don d at Check out this stuff here.

The Watson Twins: 10 songs we can’t live without

To celebrate the new album, Talking to you, Talking to me, we have the follow up story to the interview with The Watson Twins.

It’s the 10 song they can’t live without!

Song the Watson Twins cannot live without. Hello?

  1. Sammi Smith “Never Been To Spain” – I heard her version recently and was blown away by her soulfulness, the perfect part of GREAT country music, SOUL.
  2. Etta James “Stop the Wedding”- “don’t do it, don’t break 2 hearts” amazing!
  3. M.Ward, Vic Chesnutt & Howe Gelb “Way It Goes”- An Alelandro Escovedo tune covered swimmingly by 2 of my favorite voices. Vic, you are missed.
  4. Tegan & Sara “On Directing”- Loving this song so much, twins are cool.
  5. Francoise Hardy “Le Premier Bonheur Du Jour”- The mood of this song is perfect.  It always puts me at ease.
  6. Cat Power “New York, New York”- We started a TWT tradition, when we roll into NYC, we play this jam.
  7. Santo & Johnny “Sleepwalk”- slow dance anyone?
  8. Bob Dylan “If Not for You”- This song is a prefect love song, the lighter side of Dylan… man has some serious dimensions.
  9. Carl Perkins “Honey Don’t”- Since my last visit to Memphis, Carl found his way into my heart.
  10. George Jones “He Stopped Loving Her Today”- His voice is one of my ALL TIME FAVORiTES!  This song puts a tear in my beer every time.

– The Watson Twins

by The Watson Twins – Chandra and Leigh Watson

Editor’s note: Thanks to the Chandra and Leigh Watson for this list of songs that they can’t live without. We couldn’t track them all down, although we tried our best!

To order any of this music, please go to Luna Music! Click this link below.

Duncan’s In Rotation Playlist – 2/6/2010

Gorillaz return with Stylo

Hello hello! Some great stuff in my playlist this week. Lets start with a great new track “Stylo” from Gorillaz that features Mos Def and Bobby Womack. What what! Its definitely a bad ass return-to-form. Also, new music from Corrine Bailey Rae and Spoon. There’s also recent goodness from Massive Attack, Sade (who has a new album coming out shortly), and Jimmy Wayne. I decided that Jimmy’s rendition of “Sara Smile” could make it on to the list because of its sincerity, even though it lacked in adding anything new in its interpretation. There’s a new piece from Akon that has a lot of energy (yet it seems strangely forgettable). I found myself nodding and dancing to Shiny Toy Gun’s version of “Major Tom”. Even a lovely seductive listening experience from Groove Armada and Cat Power. Enjoy and until next time – I wish you ear exstasy. (Note: there’s a list of YouTube links for our international friends).

– Duncan

To order any of this music, please go to Luna Music! Click this link below.

What would you do with 4 months of vacation?

Beach? Porch? School? Talking to friends? What would you do with 120 days?

The question is simple: what would you with 4 months of vacation? The answers were all over the place. Travel and actualizing aspirations seemed to dominate the answers. Read on. What would you do? Where would you go? How would you feel?

Carissa Newton I would pack my flip-flops, music, lots to read and head to a beach!

Melissa Higgins piece of cake. I would spend the 1st three months working and one recuperating. month 1: kenya, because it’s rapidly becoming a second home to me and I want to nurture and grow my company’s economic dvlpmt projects there. month 2: haiti. for the past year I’ve been yearning to get to know the country & its people, and dig my heels in there. the need is higher than ever & before too much longer the focus will turn to rebuilding villages & economies. I want to play a role in that. month 3: afghanistan. I’m mildly obsessed with the country and am seriously entertaining tackling farsi & pashto so I can better learn how to empower women there. month 4: round up my beloved but geographically scattered family on the beaches of southern thailand. this will be my chance to unwind with them & come full circle as I connect my new discoveries with my roots. that’s all. 🙂

Heather Blume I’d write a book. Wait… that’s what I’m doing 🙂

Melissa Halpern Here’s my selfish answer: Follow U2 on the 2nd leg of their 360 tour which begins June 6 in Anaheim and runs through October 8 with a show in Rome. And since I’m assuming this is paid vacation, I might actually be able to afford tickets for one third of the 36 shows. Wait, better yet, I’ll use the money to make a generous donation to help end world poverty and Bono will ask me to travel with the band to show his gratitude. It will be then that he falls madly in love with me and decides to…sorry, you didn’t ask for our wildest fantasies, did you?

Benjamin E Sutton Easy! I would pack up all of the music gear and head to my cabin in the middle of the woods and spend a month recording an epic album. I would then drive to Kentucky and go on another bourbon tour…. hit the places I missed last time. That will probably take a week or two. I would head back to the album for 3 weeks (bourbon in hand) and finish the Mini-Wood-Album. I would fish for a week, followed by a week of nothing. Absolutely nothing but taking it easy. I would head home and feed my dogs. (Not that they were not fed while i was gone, but I would like to do it for a bit.) While back, I would sit in front of the office I work at and eat popcorn while I watch people come and go. I would not rub my extended vacation in their faces, but simply want to eat popcorn in front of the office. Let’s see, I have a little under 2 months left. What would I do? I have some family in Canada so I will head that way and spend a week in Toronto before heading to Sudsbury for a few weeks. I would try to find a bear to pick a fight for. If I find the bear, I will run away; if not, I will tell stories of how I tracked bears in the woods to fight. I would come home and hang with friends and family until I had to return. Oh, and I would probably try to hang out with the girlfriend on the last day and apologize for not taking her with me on my epic journey.

Sindy Thompson Wolthoff I would catch up on life! Talk to people, see things, orgainize my house and everything else. And at the place I am in life right would take 4 months!!

Vonda Skinner You need to specify 4 months paid or unpaid vacation. If it was paid, there would be an endless amount of things to do. If it was unpaid, I would be counting the days until my “vacation” was over, to go back to work. 4 months vacation, sounds like unemployment.:)

Anil J N Shukla Do what I do…. I travel to far off distant places. Lonely Planet and a backpack to get you around. Make friends with the locals and see the country the way they do.

Renee Lewin Williams Go to Haiti, and help however I can!

Sarah Zike Finish my Master’s.

Christophe Samuel a month each with family in India, US (touring LatAm / East Africa) Australia & NZ; and a month rehearsing for a new play

Serge Bhachu Train for and climb Mt. Everest.

Sudipta Banwar Karnik eat, drink, sleep, travel …

Jeanine Gresham Cater Spend the time to seriously map out my own business – not sure what exactly;) but a supplementary business that could grow and allow me to be my own boss.

Rajina Utreja-Lustig Travel to many exciting destinations. Eat, drink, and be merry! No stress and no obligations.

Emily Chew Off the top of my head, I would: spend quality time with my family & record some of their stories & music; totally take advantage of experiential learning (Spanish language immersion, sea kayaking, swimming, drumming or piano lessons, etc.); volunteer, garden, cook; visit friends and go on spontaneous adventures in their cities; write about and photograph it all. Hmm, maybe I’d need 4 months a year for the rest of my life. Is that an option?

Annie Hernandez Agree!

Roger Williams Beat Borderlands on my Xbox.

Laura Johnson spa and once I’ve recouped from daily life, prolly adventure!

Colleen Daugherty Asia

Roger Williams Emily, it is Europe!

Behind Sting’s “Englishman in NY”

If you’ve listened to Sting, you’ve definitely heard this song and specifically the line “It takes a man to suffer ignorance and smile, be yourself no matter what they say”. Branford Marsalis’ groovy, yet slightly sad sax stays with you long after the song is over. I always thought the song was somehow about Sting and his early days in New York. Instead, the “Englishman” in the song is none other than the  famous eccentric Quentin Crisp.

According to Wikipedia, “Quentin Crisp (25 December 1908 – 21 November 1999), born Denis Charles Pratt, was an English writer and raconteur. He became an icon of homosexuality in the 1970s after publication of his memoir, The Naked Civil Servant, brought to the attention of the general public his defiant exhibitionism and refusal to keep his sexuality private. Sting wrote the song not long after Crisp moved from London to an apartment in New York’s Bowery. Crisp had remarked jokingly to the musician “…that he looked forward to receiving his naturalization papers so that he could commit a crime and not be deported.”

The beautiful video was directed by David L. Fincher, and featured scenes of Sting and his band in New York, as well as the elusive Crisp. At the end of the video, after the song fades, an elderly male voice says: “If I have an ambition other than a desire to be a chronic invalid, it would be to meet everybody in the world before I die… and I’m not doing badly.” In many ways, the true star of the video is the city itself with Quentin Crisp making appearances. You’ll also see glimpses of the twin towers – like ghosts in the distance. Sobering.

Sting – English Man In New York
Video link:

John Hurt reprising his famous role as Quentin Crisp


  • An Englishman in New York, the movie which was released last year, stars John Hurt, who reprises his famous role as Quentin Crisp. The film focuses on the later years of Crisp’s storied life.
  • The Black Eyed Peas sampled the track for their song “Union” which also features new vocals from Sting.

To order either of these CS’s please click:

Blind date: a very short film

I’ve got a lot of friends back on the dating scene – looking for a spark, updating their match profiles, and going out on dates. This is dedicated to them! God forbid you should find a persistent hair!

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

When it comes to enjoying life’s unique pleasures, there’s one that I have especially perfected over the years. Sleep. Not the kind where you hit the sack because your eyes won’t stay open any longer. I’m talkin’ bout the sleep you long for throughout the day. Where you pine for your pillows and your blankets beckon from afar like sultry seductresses.

Now I know everyone has an opinion about sleep: 6 hours or 8 hours? Back, belly or side? Which side of the bed is best? But I don’t pay much attention to these analytical musings. I prefer to ponder things more aesthetic. Pillow-top mattresses…room-darkening blinds…bed-warmers….ahhh. Heaven.

This kind of sleep adoration has been integral to my lifestyle for as long as I can remember. And I have no problem being the Pied Piper of Zzzzz’s, instructing snooze-loving sidekicks in the art of irresistible repose.

Note: If you are the type to “power nap”, you’ll

want to stop reading now. The following details will be lost on your hyperactive, over-stimulated little brain. (And to whomever coined the phrase “power nap”…shame on you.)

First, let’s talk sheets. Pick your passion – 600 thread count Egyptian cotton, flannel, satin – whatever makes you smile when you caress it, fully knowing that your entire body will soon be consumed by it. And make sure they really fit your mattress. No bunching allowed. It’ll mess with your sleepy-time mojo.

Next is pillows. They’re a little like martinis. One is definitely not enough and two is perfect. Three or four? Now you’re just being naughty.

Room atmosphere? Think cool and dark…like Samuel Jackson. Make the room as dark as possible. I’m a big fan of room-darkening shades. They keep the morning light from piercing your eyelids like daggers from hell. As for room temperature? 63 degrees. Max. The cooler the room, the better the snuggle time.

And let’s not forget one of the most important elements…my favorite F word. FAN. The ultimate white noise, gentle-breeze-across-your-face device since palm fronds. In fact, if you’re like me, you have one in every size for every occasion: a travel size for those out-of-town trips at a hotel; a giant box fan for the summer time (to drone out rowdy cicadas and those chirpy, 5:00 am feathered friends), and a nice oscillating fan for winter time to minimize direct blasts.

And speaking of winter, one final must-have is a bed-warmer. Not an electric blanket, my friends. But a lovely, heated bed-warmer that goes over your mattress and under your sheets. You wouldn’t step into a freezing cold shower and wait for the water to heat up, would you? Then why in the world would you jump into a freezing cold bed instead of a toasty warm bed? Trust me. Invest in one. You’ll sleep happily ever after.

– Elizabeth Gilstrap


Life and laughter junkie, Elizabeth Gilstrap is a marketing diva by trade and an ardent music-film-travel-foodie at heart.