“Ned Kelly is one badass motherfucker,” one of my peers said, walking out the Old Melbourne Gaol where the Australian outlaw spent his last days before his execution on November 11th 1880. Prior to relocating to Australia, I never heard of Ned Kelly, yet once I heard his story I found myself eagerly hoisting the fiberglass replica of his iron armor over my head, peering out of the rectangular slit, slinging my hands in the air mimicking the shape of revolvers.
Continue reading “The Moral Conflict of Romanticizing the Legend of Ned Kelly”
It’s easy to imagine yourself confidently stretching your arms over your head and folding your legs in some intense yoga pose on a sandy Bali beach, but going on a yoga retreat requires more preparation than a once over of Eat, Pray, Love.
Why Take a Yoga Retreat:
“Yoga retreats are for everyone,” says Ganga Grace, the director of the Himalayan Yoga Institute in London. People usually go on yoga retreats to relax; it is a vacation after all. The main goal of a yoga retreat is relaxation and rejuvenation of your body, mind, and spirit, as well as learning healthier habits and improving your yoga and meditation skills with like-minded people. Participants must be willing to make a complete break from their daily life to engage in healthy activities and should reintegrate these habits into their lives back home. Yoga retreats are an ideal environment for healing and change because there is ample opportunity to reflect and to restore health. Simply connecting with like-minded people can help your renewal.
Continue reading “How To Go On a Yoga Retreat”
At 14,000 feet above Cairns, I am strapped to an Australian man with dreadlocks and a hoop nose piercing that I just met 45 minutes ago, but his unabashed proximity and debatable personal hygiene routine are not what’s worrying me. My instructor Mike and I are belted to the buzzing floor of a petite plane about the size of a gas-guzzling Hummer. The words “Skydive Cairns,” painted on the plane’s side in all capital letters in muddy red crackled paint, resemble an abrasive bellow from a melodramatic tot. This rickety plane’s mechanical hum is less than soothing, but humid, tropical air sputtering in through the sliding garage-door exit reminds me exactly where I am.
Through the grubby window plastered with tiny foreign bugs, I can distinguish the turquoise water of Mission Beach curving onto the blond sand, the lush spans of emerald rainforest, and the Great Barrier Reef. Just when the fraudulent wave of vacation calm washes over me, the plane door swooshes wide open and I warily slide my feet over the edge until my black suede Puma sneakers rock turbulently over the blurry stretch of clouds. Mike squeezes my clear plastic goggles on so tightly that they cut into my ruddy cheeks. “Ya’ ready, mate?” he asks slapping my hand, which I think is meant to be a high-five. “One…two…three!” We plunge out of the plane face first, freefalling for a full 60 seconds at approximately 120 miles per hour through the normally distant haze of the Queensland sky. Continue reading “Taking the Plunge Down Under”
There’s a fine line between bandmates and soulmates for the LA-based indie rock band Grouplove. This affable band is responsible for the beachy single “Colours” off their 2010 self-titled EP that caught enough global attention to snag the band a supporting spot next to musical forces like Florence and the Machine and The Joy Formidable.
The group formed on a whim when painter Hannah Hooper “fell in love at first sight” with musician Christian Zucconi after his solo show in New York City; she texted the guitarist just days later with an invite to an artist’s residency in Crete for almost two months. The duo was both at a contingent position in their lives where they “had to decide if we wanted to give up being full-time artists and work permanently on a nine to five—so instead of figuring it out, we just went to Greece” where “there wasn’t much else to do other than create” vocalist Hooper laughs. “We both needed to get out of New York at that time and thank god we did,” Zucconi reflects.
The quintet rounded out in the remote, mountainous town of Avdou the where Hooper and Zucconi met LA guitarist Andrew Wessen and his childhood friend, drummer and producer Ryan Rabin along with English guitarist Sean Gadd for their adult “summer camp” experience. All five members moved to Los Angeles to continue generating music once the program ended. “It was instinctual,” Zucconi says. The band has consummated their relationship with quirky bonding rituals like matching tattoos, a five-person tee-shirt with the phrase “Never trust a happy song” scrawled across the chest, and an online family photo album-style blog with everything from Hooper’s drawings to photos of the group’s collectively-owned dog and photos of Hooper giving her bandmates haircuts.
Songwriting proved to be just as effortless as the band’s cohesion, with the band’s buzz-worthy first single, “Colours” Zucconi states: “I just kept singing that song and let my unconscious kind of flow out. The first or second time I played that for the guys they really liked the hook and they just built the song around the original riff that I had.” The band is largely inspired by their personal lives along with influences from the “big, kind of cliché bands” like Nirvana, The Pixies, Fugazi and Neil Young—“they inspire you to think it’s okay to scream and get these emotions out,” Zucconi says.
The band is currently recording their full-length debut album scheduled to be released mid-2011, renovating the band’s innate “rawness, power and harmony to a new level—when we first recorded that EP we weren’t even a real band—I mean, we recorded it in Ryan’s parents’ house. We’ve really grown as a unit and the music’s gonna reflect that.”
Bird on a Wire, The Machat Company
“We’re too broken up to go on,” announces self-proclaimed Montreal chansonnier, European folk singer and synagogue canter hybrid, Leonard Cohen, with sticky tears clinging to his swollen eyes in Jerusalem, the final destination of his 1972 European tour. At the reflective age of 37, Cohen is usually the unwavering eye of the storm—either lulling hits like “Suzanne”, writing poetry while taking a bath or doodling hearts on a fan’s t-shirt amidst the backstage bedlam of flirty French groupies and combative German fans demanding a refund. This 106-minute documentary, directed and edited by Tony Palmer, is a snapshot of Cohen’s career and gripping, voyeuristic reality television before it existed.