Passionati

Opinion

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.



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 now..it 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!


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

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


What would you do with $10 million?

I decided to do a story with real input via Facebook. So I posted the question and here’s the reactions. Clearly people are still focused on bigger things than themselves. Bravo!!

Passionati Question of the day: If you had $10 million dollars what would you do? Answers to be featured in a story!

Jenni Edwards 1. Pay off my debt/student loans. 2. Give away money to AIDS research. 3. Set up an annuity for living expenses. 4. Travel for a year or two. 5. Provide for my family/friends.

Bandana Singh I would help the ones I need to and then save some and spend some. Watch out now!

Lisa Mowry Trosien Right now, I’d definitely be giving a lot of it to Haiti.

Lisa Mowry Trosien As you eat your food, drink your clean water and rest your head on your pillow in your home tonight, think of the people of Haiti and say a prayer for their safety.

Tracy Shannon I’ve always had a soft spot for kids and there are so many worldwide who are in desperate need of help. I would probably start in China where girls are thrown out at birth – and i mean thrown out- like garbage! Too many places to start. How sad is that!

Justin Keller $1m – Buy a lighthouse. $1m – Travel around Europe and write a book. $2m – Assorted shenanigans. $1m – IRA. $5m – set up a fund to encourage rock and roll in the schools.

Andrea Webster Johnson $4M off the top goes to the tax man. Let’s be realistic. $4M invest to by food, wine, golf club memberships, annual cruise around the world and other basic living expenses (10% of investment income goes to help those who can’t afford it get an education). $1M house in the mountains. $1M house in the desert. Done.

R.J. Anthony Wall Truthfully I would first spend 2 years covering the globe and exploring as many cultures as I could. I would return to start an organic farm the sustained 2-3 bistro styled cafes that offered up cultural dishes from all over the world. I would try to employ ex-convicts and homeless individuals who are trying to make a positive change in their lives as that I have had success with this in the past. I would also purchase a Land Rover and a vintage Triumph.

Jean Claude Garay First I would get a tax lawyer so I didn’t get screwed on taxes. Then I would pay off all my debt. Then I would pay off the debt for my brothers and sisters but just to bring them up to zero. After that, they are on their own and my debt to them is done. I would set my daughter and grand daugher up with a trust fund. I would then donate a substantial amount to the chemistry Department at Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne. Then I would go back to work and be the biggest asshole at work. I would pay my coworkers to do shit for me and pay them to take time off with me to go hang out. I would declare that I would pay anyone’s salary for the rest of the year if they quit with me, to threaten the boss for minor things like flavored cream in the break room. I would have so much fun at work!

Angela Alney 10 milion! I would first and foremost take care of my loved ones to include giving my Mother her Dream house and Cadillac. Next I would put money into my business Air-Tan as it is my passion. Also contributing to preventing skin cancer (as this is the most deadliest form of cancer). I would save some money for the future. I would have to travel the globe, can’t really think of a place that I would not want to see. This would allow me to discover new yummy foods, music, art and culture.  Given my personality I would get bored after awhile if I was not contributing in some fashion so I would be trying to make a difference some where with (if there is any) the rest of the dough.

Serge Bhachu Take half and invest it in a few start-up companies, keep the other half in more conservative investments, and see how long it takes for me to grow it to 100M.

Tami L Siewruk 3/4 to Smith Barney and the remaining 1/4 I would give to my team

Jennifer Wallace Chapman I’d give a lot of it to charities involving children. Compassion is one we support now by sponsoring a child. I’d also like to start some sort of house for women who are trying to get back on thier feet after tragedies/abuse or just life in general…especially women with children. I would also give a big portion of it to fund books in schools where they have a big need. As an elementary teacher in a high poverty area, I see soooo many needs I would like to help with. I’d also do something selfish and pay off my student loans from grad school. I don’t want to live a wealthy life so I wouldn’t spend much on buying lots of things. I’d prefer to do something to make a difference.

Floyd Marie as much good as possible…then disappear…

Andrea Cranfill Kick start the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s endowment campaign

Lee Rodgers Pay off my mom and I’s bills. I’d then invest most of the remaining in Urban Revitalization Projects here in Indy.

Carissa Newton Take 1/4 and help a ton of kids, 1/4 secure school/money for my own kids, and finally take last 2/4 and sit on a beach.

– Duncan Alney


Xmas Day 2009 note and play list

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I didn’t get to see my mama and daddy for christmas this year. And my wife didn’t get to see her family either. She and I spent the day together. We did the simple things. We ate together with a close friend. We laughed. We talked on the phone and Skyped. We listened to music. We watched a film. We napped. We played with our cats. In a year, highlighted by personal challenges with health and the economy, I’ve recognized once more how insignificant one really is in this massive stream of humanity and life. That the moments mean more than the whole year does sometimes. I’m also careful not to give into revisionist thinking. Things are what they are. And, yet again, it becomes clear, that we Americans don’t make enough time for our families or for ourselves. I’m sure you’ve got a lot on your mind. I’m writing this in the light of a christmas tree. I wish we had world peace. I wish there was no hunger. I wish I could see my family. It could be a lot worse – I’m happy for all I have and for the people in my life. That’s where this list of songs is coming from. Please take care of yourself. And remember somebody loves you very much.

– Duncan Alney

Thank You! Thank You!

Celebrating 2 months!

We’re officially 2 months old, as of yesterday. September we were still getting organized. I’ve put together a little celebratory play list. Thank you to all the people that write, thank you to Greg Perez and Don Alney for constantly offering brilliant photos, thank you to my wife for allowing me to do this, thank you to all of you who read it, and to those I’ve forgotten to thank – there are too many of you. Thank you thank you thank you! The songs I’ve picked are old friends, some classics, some slightly off-beat, some just nuts. Enjoy the list and I love you all! We’ve got lots more coming – more opinion,  film suggestions, more food, more photography, and of course more music. We’ve even got a facebook fan page. Search Passionati on facebook!

Stories - Love

– Duncan Alney


Cities: Philly and Pizza Love

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I’m often asked by family members, acquaintances and the like, WHY (oh yes, in caps), OH WHY, DO YOU LIVE THERE?

Because – I LOVE PHILADELPHIA. Philly is a marvelous, magical place full of the most passionately crazed folk. Black, white, brown, blue, red, rainbow – we’ve got all types, all stripes. We’ve got spunk, fire, and, although a bit rough at times, we do appreciate great things.

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Like…

Sports: Attend any sporting event, and you’ll see us in our primes. We know our teams, love our players, and hate them when they do wrong. As it should be…

History: Walk down any street in Old City, and you’ll likely collide with Mr. Franklin, or Ms. Ross, or any number of colonial folk strolling about. Plus, Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Constitution Center, 1776

Libation: Belly up to any bar, and you just might make a friend while treating your taste buds to the brave new world of craft beer. See also: Philly BEER WEEK

Art: galleries, fantastic museums (including the Philadelphia Museum of Art: not just for Rocky’s training regime anymore), over 3,000 murals, fantastic local musicians…and…DID I MENTION THE FOOD?

From the chefs – Garces, Vetri, Mori-freakin-moto – and those are just a few – to the restaurants at every corner, each little Philly neighborhood is full of good places to eat, drink, and love our city. Which I do – often, and zestfully.

KD_pizzaOne of those delightful places, Rustica, is owned by my friends Frank and Mary Maimone – who asked me, one day, to join twitter on their behalf as another way to reach customers. And thus, “tweets from the biggest fan of the most unusual pizza and sandwiches,” aka @Rusticaphilly was born. Their artisanal pizza shop in Northern Liberties is a prime example of why Philly rocks. This isn’t just your typical large-plain-pie-half-pepperoni-all-mediocre place – this is a place where foodies flock; where pies like the Bistecca del Tartufo – truffled steak and caramelized onion (fancy a fancy cheesesteak, anyone? – because it’s also available as a sammie) and the Federico – pulled chicken, salsa verde, and fresh cilantro – are the norm. Specialty pies coupled with decadent sandwiches topped off with calzones (which, as a tweeter pointed out just last night – “are simply phenomenal!”) – Rustica’s food is, quite simply, delicious.

This little pizza gem is just one more reason I love Philadelphia. And tweeting about it and my journey as a citizen of this city is so much fun.

– Kate Dalbey (Click Kate’s name to follow her adventures via twitter) All City Photos by Gloria Bell.


David Hoppe on why we are nothing without stories

David Hoppe is so many thing to me. He’s a former ad-man, an advocate for change, a believer that everyone can make a difference, a writer, a story teller, and above all a compassionate, kind human. We caught up with him recently and talked to him about the importance of stories to our lives, our culture, our way of life…

– Duncan Alney