Saturday, May 30, 2009

Eric Lewis, DNA Lounge in San Francisco on June 4th

Darn, darn, darn...

I got this message the other day about there being another fundraiser at the DNA Lounge featuring Eric Lewis. I'd love to go again since I had to cut out early to see the LINES Ballet that night*.

Now that I'm on the other coast, I won't make it, but maybe you can go if you're in San Francisco.

Here is the information:

He's back, he's better than ever *and* there's an open bar for the first two hours of the event sponsored by Fame Route (

This is another fund-raising event for DNA Lounge.

Please RSVP via Eventbrite and bring a friend! The more people who's lives are touched by Eric Lewis, the better.

See you there!

Cyan, Oren, Eric, Nancy & Fame Route
(Bad timing all around because I just heard The Roots are going to be at Davies Hall tonight and, yeah, I'll be in Manhattan...go figure. I missed their show in Seoul too. Boo!)

Anyway, Lewis kills on the piano in ways you never imagined. If you've got a chance to see him, go.


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Friday, May 29, 2009

Kyung and the Dressless

Kyung and the Dressless

Okay, it's not because she's Korean, but it doesn't hurt ;) I got an email from Daily Candy on this custom dress shop and I just think it's a grand idea. When I was in Asia, I had a few things made for me. It's great to have something made just for you.

It seems they have a few standard patterns. Then you pick the fabric. After a couple of weeks, your dress is ready.

Now, honestly, the end results of their dresses I didn't think were so great. However, if you've got a strong sense of what works on you and what doesn't you can go here, pick something and have your own custom made frock.

Yes, it's much cheaper and probably quicker if you know how to sew, but I don't. This will have to do ;)


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These rumors CAN'T be true...

Bonnie Sweeten, another lying white woman.

Update: June 5, 2009 @ 4:27pm

I found another good analysis on "the black guy did it" liars out there: Top 5 “The Black Guy Did It” Excuses By White Criminals

Update: June 2, 2009 @ 6:34pm

This is a good article that talks about the and other cases:
'Black Man Did it' Hoax Sparks Outrage

Sorry, but why can't they be true?

Okay, let me give you the background first. I'm in the Philadelphia suburbs right now. There is a case involving Bonnie Sweeten. She called 911 claiming that she and her daughter had been abducted by black men on some busy street in a Philadelphia township. She allegedly called from the trunk of the car where she and her daughter had been thrown.

The first question is, um, why didn't anyone see this? This was a busy road.

Can it be another case of a lying white woman?

Um, yes. Because she was found with her daughter at Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida.

They're trying to figure out what drove her to concoct this huge damn lie.

Oh, get this. Before she left she had the brilliant idea to ask her friend if she could use her friend's driver's license. She made up some b.s. story and her friend let her take it. It ends up that she bought air tickets and got through airport security using her friend's identity.

What irks me is the content of her lie. Just like the Jennifer Wilbanks, the runaway bride from a few years ago; Susan Smith, child murder; or Peggy Seltzer, the liar who escalated it to the point where she wrote a memoir, you've got a lie revolving around minorities and crime.

Now the news agencies are running around Philly and interviewing friends and family. Everyone is claiming shock. Everyone is talking about what a great person she is.

You know what? If this woman were black the news agencies wouldn't be taking this angle at all. Friends who were claiming surprise wouldn't even get any camera time. Instead, they'd have analysts talking about the criminal mind or some b.s. like that.

I was watching Bonnie's husband being interviewed on a morning news show this morning. He had the audacity to tell people not to believe the rumors swirling around her. Okay. I understand that he wants her to get a fair shot. But then he went on to say the rumors can't be true.

Sorry, dude, these rumors most definitely CAN be true.

It's just that from what I can see, even if they are, people will still make excuses for her. It's going to be the stress of the economy, a bad childhood, or some mental illness she's suddenly diagnosed with. Another case of a poor white woman simply unable to control her urge to lie and implicate blacks or other minorities while she's at it.

It's irritating to see another case of a blatant liar is getting every benefit of the doubt and given every excuse under the sun. Then when a black woman like myself sees a clear difference in how it's handled and how everyone is struggling to accept that she indeed just might be a bad person, I risk being accused of playing that dreaded race card. You know what? I'm in pretty good company because I'm not the only person upset by this case.

Look, if race still wasn't such a huge factor in so many things out there, I wouldn't mention it. Yes, my country now has a black president. There is progress for sure, but there is so much more than needs to evolve and change.

It would be a done deal if black Bonnie told this lie that she'd be on the fast track to some time in jail. Let's see what's going to happen to white Bonnie.

An AOL news summary of her case:

Some other bloggers on this topic:
PoliceMag: There Should Be a Special Punishment for This Crime (I agree.)
The Field Negro: Next time blame the Mexican guy. You might have more luck. (Ha!) Stop Demonizing "Black Men" (Mother Faked Kidnapping) (she goes through quite a few former cases of liars capitalizing on race.)


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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Awful Library Books

This is a pretty funny blog that I learned about from FishBowl LA.

I don't know if I agree. The truly awful books maybe should stay as a testament to what not to write ;) Then again, I'm not a librarian.

Posted via web from Regina's posterous


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NYC Mugged | Exploring all the Best Coffee in New York City

This is a great discovery. Thanks to today's Thrillist NY newsletter: With looking for work and going into NYC for interviews, it's a guarantee that I'll seek out a coffee bar/cafe with wi-fi to park, plug-in and surf the want ads. Since Starbucks has wifi, and I've got Boingo wireless. I just plug in the zip code of where I am and let my Blackberry tell me where to go.

However, I'm feeling like I ought to give the smaller and independent spots a chance. I just don't know where they are, and I'm always ending up somewhere that's new to me. That's exciting but that also means I just don't know the layout. The trick is finding out where the hell they are.

This is where NYC Mugged can help a newb. For me, getting coffee or tea is a waste of money if I don't have wifi and a place to plug in the laptop. I'm hoping this will guide me to those spots. If you're not tethered to your laptop like I am, you'll have more of a range. This is a great idea.

So onward with more caffeinated wi-fi Internet surfing!

Posted via web from Regina's posterous


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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

An English Teacher Under Quarantine in South Korea

Okay, this is the inverse of the great health care system they've got in South Korea. Someone has decided to quarantine off over 50 English teachers there.

Click above for the link to the blog written by the dirty foreigners who are quarantined because of N1H1 virus fears in South Korea.

I've got to say, it's crap like this that does make me happy I'm not there anymore. Here I don't have health insurance and here some people grab their purses tighter when I'm nearby, but still I don't have to deal with being an outsider more often than not.

Last I checked the virus originated in Mexico!

Now I've gone back and read how it started. They were working with someone who came down with it, but I think they'd have it by now. Okay, I'm not a doctor, but this really seems to be over the top.

(Okay, yes, the USA has it's dumb leader moments too...we just had 8 years of it.)

Posted via web from Regina's posterous


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Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Emergency Room Visit :(

Update: May 27, 2009 @ 2:59pm

Much better now - my stitches are out and the wound is doing its best to heal (taken June 5th) ;)

Well, between Twitter and Facebook, I've gotten a ton of well wishes. Thanks everyone.

I'm recovering now. Unfortunately, I am sporting the domestic violence victim look. I know, I know. I ought not say that, but come on. It is what it is.

When I was in the ER, the nurse who took my history asked me straight out if I felt safe where I was staying. I'm glad they're checking because if it were domestic abuse I'd want someone to help me.

Instead, it's simply a diabetic snafu. Good intentions (my friend trying to get me out of a hot car) coupled with my over-zealous insulin use resulted in an accident which required 5 stitches and a prominent piece of gauze taped to my forehead. It's not pretty, but sometimes life just isn't pretty.

The one thing that is irritating? When you KNOW people want to know what happened and they don't ask. That's so much more about them and the internal drama in their minds than about me. I'm in Manhattan today. In the two hours I've been here, I've gotten four "what happened?" questions. Not bad Big Apple ;-)

It's much more fun than the awkward side-eye. Just ask people, really. If the person ends up being mean to you or short with you, you'll have your answer real quick. The person probably got popped upside the head. I'm thinking since I'm on the other side of it right now that it's probably not as bad as it looks.

After a weekend of drinking in Avalon on the Jersey Shore, I get back and I'm steps away from my friend's door. Only THEN do I fall down face first. I'm all good now.

Here is an ER pic taken by my friend:

I MIGHT update later. Then again, I might not.

I've got a few stitches, and I got a CAT-scan, so all seems to be good ;)

What I'm not looking forward to, that EMT and ER bill. Maybe I ought to send this to the White House's email too!


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Thursday, May 21, 2009


Illustration from The Diabetic Plan - When Your Blood Glucose Is Too High or Too Low webpage

How do I write this without coming off as preachy? I'm not sure, so I'm just going to write it.

I spent the day in Manhattan. I started off with an interview with a recruiting agency and then kicked around the city until it was time for a networking event in the evening. I didn't get back to Philadelphia until it was almost 11pm.

When I made it to the platform, I saw a man sitting down on the platform rather than on the benches. It was sort of odd. I initially thought that maybe he was drunk. It's common to see middle-aged or older men on the Seoul subway or trains drunk and on their way home after a night out with the folks from work. We definitely see drunk people on public transit in the States too. The train was set to arrive in a few minutes, and I noticed the man was having trouble getting up. I also noticed that the benches on the platform were full.

My first instinct was to help him. However, I had to think about it. What if he was drunk?

Good for me, my positive side kicked in because the competing thought was "what if the man is diabetic like me and just has low blood sugar?" There have been a couple of times where I've had very bad insulin reactions or hypoglycemia to the point that I was almost unconscious and people have thought I was drunk or sleepy rather than in the middle of a medical emergency.

I asked the man if he needed a hand getting up. Sure enough, he was sober and he did. He then explained that he had a really bad knee. Doctors have given him various explanations, but the bottom line is he has trouble with it. I explained that being diabetic, I've had people assume I was drunk when actually I needed help. Of course, people were looking. I made sure to say it loud enough so that the people around us to could hear. I do think the point must be made: appearances are often deceiving.

The man was really thankful that I helped him. The train approached and as we went to get on, he went out of his way to shake my hand and to thank me again.

It felt good. I learned. It was just reinforcement to think it through when I start to act on a negative assumption. I also hope the people around me learned that point too.

Okay, g'night.


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Monday, May 18, 2009

Korea Beat › Happy Teacher’s Day

Okay, Teacher's Day was last Friday in South Korea. It always caught me by surprise when I was there, so it's no surprise it's any different now that I'm away. I always thought this was a great day and something we in the States should be envious of.

It really is such a simple and nice way to say "thanks" to the people who work so hard to teach.

Posted via web from Regina's posterous


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Sunday, May 17, 2009

We Love Eric

Click over, read more and please help Eric.

He's uninsured and needs a heart transplant. Petition Senator Reid and members of the US Congress to get him on the list.

Thanks so much.

As yet another uninsured American, I think this is one of the most serious issues out there. Our system is flawed and needs to change, NOW.

Posted via web from Regina's posterous


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SNL: Cheney & W Reunite

Will Ferrell on SNL last night was hilarious ;)


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Friday, May 15, 2009

OMGICU | Thrillist

OMG. This scares the crap out of me and I'm not even famous.

But really. Really?

Posted via web from Regina's posterous


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Coldplay - free download

Okay, one benefit of using Twitter, you hear about cool stuff like this first ;)

Coldplay fans? Download their live album "Left Right, Left Right, Left" for free today, May 15th. Get on it!

Left Right, Left Right, Left - download here:


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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

It's on...

My view of the Empire State Building last night from the spot where I board the bus to Philadelphia.

Good morning from the east coast. I've been here for just under one week. Man, I'm already tired. It's not in a bad "I wanna go home way," but in a really good way.

There are some things that are pretty similar to what I left behind in South Korea. The most obvious thing is the ease of transport. In California, the idea of taking buses or trains to connect to nearby cities is pretty much unheard of. You have to get in your car and blow pollutants into the air and, if you don't have a car, well, you're out of luck.

It's not impossible. You can do it. I've heard the stories of friends who decided to take the Greyhound bus from San Francisco to L.A. or vice versa. It ends up that you're on the bus with ex-cons, drug addicts and goodness knows who else. So while you CAN do it, your average person doesn't WANT to do it. In contrast, in the US northeast you can be on the bus from Philadelphia to Manhattan with a drug addict, but that drug addict had to pay at least $10 to get on the bus and is probably heading into university or to work.

The prices for the trains are much steeper in the States. The train ride on Amtrak from Philadelphia to New York ranges from $45 to, get this, $143! Now the rates shift based on the class you choose and the time, but a similar hour and 45 minute train ride on Korea's KTX, their high-speed trains, are comparable at the basic level. It's around 44,000 won, so that's about the same. However, the first class rate maxes out at around 65,000 won. The prices compare for the bus system, but the coverage doesn't. In Korea, the intercity bus system is exhaustive. And this is just a link to one bus system. There is another. You can get on an express bus to get you anywhere in South Korea from Seoul. A two hour bus ride from Seoul is about the same in terms of price, so that's good. But the sheer coverage of where you can get to is truly overwhelming until you're used to it.

This transition is going to be interesting, at least to me, and I'm going to want to share it. From that perspective, this is officially now an east coast/NYC blog with a Korea blog past ;) There are so many little interesting and different things I'm seeing.

Just watching the famous demeanor of New Yorkers is entertaining. I was in the Lexington and 53rd St station. I know this because it's the same station I went to for my job interview last week. I was going back to exchange the umbrella I bought during last Thursday's deluge. One lady needed a refund or a replacement Metro card. She went to a booth where they weren't equipped to do that. Based on her reaction, you would have thought they'd called her every name in the book. I thought it was a bit odd to loose your cool over something like that.

I factor in the pain in the butt aspects of transactions these days and expect that I'm going to get a bit of a run around. That's simply because it's too expensive to keep staff standing in multiple spots to give you a refund. It was the late afternoon and the trains were definitely going to be running for many hours more. Her choice to verbally abuse the folks there just seemed excessive. Plus, unless provoked, I really am a firm believer of being nice and saying "please" and "thank you." I'm noticing what a huge anomaly that is in Manhattan. Now don't get me wrong. I've also not been in a city where the men have been hold open for me almost constantly. So some New Yorkers might be snappish but they'll help you get through the door.

I think yesterday was a bit of a challenge for me because I'd booked myself on a real early bus leaving out of Philadelphia, so I got moving around 4:30am to catch the train to 30th Street Station. From there, I realized I needed to print up my resume. I wasted both time and money taking care of that. BTW, if they offer the laptop docking station at Kinkos aka FedEx Office -don't do it. Just give them your USB flash drive. They actually charge you to doc your laptop and print. That's just such a greedy level of stupid to me that I won't do it.

After printing, I was off. I got my resume in to one recruiting agency, chit-chatted a bit, got their recommendations for lunch and headed out. I got to the lobby and *snap* the heel on my right ankle boot just collapsed. These are a great pair of boots that I got when I was in Paris. I can probably get them fixed, but that lead to a complete detour.

Good for me that I was right at Union Square and had passed a big shoe store on the way to this agency. They were having a sale: buy one get the other at half-price. Okay, I can work with that. I found a great pair of Steve Madden flats and a nice pair of black patent leather square-toed pumps with a strap. Both shoes are cute but reserved enough for interviews. Plus, I only had one pair of brown shoes suitable for interviews and needed another pair. So the boot collapse made me do something I was going to have to do anyway. It's just I'd not planned it and it ended up sucking a good 45 to 60 minutes of my day away. I could have bought shoes out here in Philly's lovely western suburbs! Believe me, the King of Prussia mall is no joke. But there are also tons of other stores like Ross nearby too.

I didn't get out of the shoe store until lunch. Inside, there was another cranky New Yorker who just couldn't wait until the cashier was done with me and went on and on about needed quarters for the meter. Good for me that I had four quarters in my wallet. Helping her out was the way to get her to hush and say "thank you". Granted, it was to me, but I just wanted her to bring down the anxiety level. Four quarters isn't worth getting everyone around you all riled up. Really, you know the deal, so grab a roll of quarters at the bank and keep them in your change purse. After that, armed with a cute pair of shoes, I got to prance through the farmer's market at Union Square and have a great lunch. However, after that, my spirits just plummeted.

I think it's because I'm starting my job search in earnest now and, as much as I love Manhattan, even for me, it's an assault to the senses, which is exciting but it's also overwhelming when you're feeling anxious. Let's be honest, searching for work under the best of circumstances is stressful. I was okay after lunch for a bit. I got to a Starbucks to leech their wifi and figure out which recruiting office I was closest to. It ends up one was just a five or so minute walk away, so that was the one. The receptionist was just not nice and that threw me into a funk. I think actually having a plan, with resumes in hand and winding my way around brought it home that I'm really doing this. Dealing with a shrew reminded me that it's really on me to hustle and do my best because the random person just might not give two cents about me. I've had it in my head since I was about 15 or 16 that I wanted to move to NYC, so the reality that I'm actually doing it made me made me a bit overwhelmed.

Good for me that there are Episcopalian churches all over the city. When I was in Seoul, I attended Seoul Anglican Cathedral regularly. When I got to San Francisco, I switched to Grace Cathedral. Yesterday, I needed to decompress and saw a church with the Episcopalian flag and was just so relieved. I went into Saint Thomas Church on 5th Avenue. It was relaxing, for a moment, but the tourists with the flashing cameras drove me away. I then decided to walk to the 5:30pm networking party I had scheduled rather than take the subway and found Saint Bartholomew's Church on Park and 53rd. I went in, grabbed a prayer book, relaxed and just collected my thoughts. I came out in a much better mood.

So just imagine me, your relocating blogger rushing into NYC's Episcopal churches to recharge. I seriously needed it yesterday. I got to my networking event in good spirits and ready to go. I was a bit amused by how serious folks were. I think one distinguishing thing about me is I really do want to smile and enjoy every possible moment, so I get put off by the folks so driven that they forget to enjoy the ride. I met some good folks, and I hope they feel the same. Maybe one or more of those connections can turn into work for me or vice versa.

Anyway, it's views like the one I snapped a pic of last night that remind me that I'm on the right track. Now that things are getting interesting, I've got a feeling I'll be updating a lot more. Stay tuned.


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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

From - Korea Book Sales Skyrocket

I'm recovering from a bit of low blood sugar and procrastinating at the same time. That gave me time to click on the blog. Of course, this caught my attention.

Read on.

Korean Book Sales Skyrocket

090501_p15_korean2.jpgWhile American publishers struggle through the recession, Korean online booksellers have posted impressive gains. The online Korean bookseller, Kyobo Bookstore, reports that first quarter sales increased 35.7 percent and Korean literature sales skyrocketed 36.2 percent.

According to Korean Times, other online stores have seen similar gains. The article attributes some of the sales to the bestseller "Take Care of My Mom" by Shin Kyung-sook.

Here's more about the book: "Since it was first published in November, about 700,000 copies have been sold, a mega hit given that it is hard for a novel to sell 100,000 copies in the sagging publishing industry. Most readers of 'Take Care of My Mom' are women in their 20s and 30s who have strong buying power." (Via Book Bench)

When someone smugly assumes I spent eight years in a backwater country, I'll point at least people are reading in South Korea. I'll also mention that, simultaneously, American booksellers' sales are dismal. In the midst of an economic crisis, a book might be one of the best forms of entertainment and education. Too bad for the US publishing industry, not many here agree with me and maybe it's just that there isn't an American version of 엄마룰 부탁해. Unfortunately, I seriously doubt that's the reason.


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Korea Beat › Another Great Year For the Lotus Lantern Festival

I'm getting a bit "homesick" for South Korea, so I headed over to Korea Beat to see what's going on.

This past weekend the Lotus Lantern Festival happened and I missed it!


Posted via web from Regina's posterous


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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Move - Phase II - The Ultimate Metropolis

I've got an interview on Thursday in Manhattan and, duh, please tell me why I packed all my professional clothes and shipped those via the slowest way possible? If you read the other post I made today, that's why I was shopping.

Anyway, I'm totally excited but also completely terrified. I'm hoping against hope that something comes of this interview. I'm also seeing some great ads for places in NYC, so I hope I find one that works for me. I'll head east early next week, and I'll stay with a friend.

The nerves are part of my personality. In contrast, I was in the same state when my interview for Ewha Womans University's GSIS program was coming up. I had the same paranoia when my law school applications were out. Hell, now that I think about it I was a mess when I was waiting for word from UCLA way back when. I recall with both law school and UCLA that, ironically, I wasn't at home. Both times, someone got the mail, opened the letter (because they knew I was waiting for the result) and I heard it from them. For UCLA, it was my mom who told me (and initially punk'd me because she said I didn't get in....cruel.) For law school, it was my roommate in San Francisco who told me. (My parents had passed away, I'd moved, but I was in L.A. sorting through stuff and dealing with probate.)

I'm feeling the same way right now - nervous. However, all those other situations worked out, so I'm reminding myself that, if the trend holds, NYC will too.

What's funny is I didn't have these nerves when I quit my job way back when and got on a plane to Korea. I think that was because I knew I was going into a pretty stable situation. I had a job, I had an address and it all was set. Granted, I was going to a completely different culture, but in terms of the basics, I had a job to report to and there was someone waiting for me at the airport.

I'm sure the more I think on it, I'll figure out what the difference is and why I literally catch myself holding my breath in the approach to heading to the east coast.

I've given myself tonight as my last night of doing nothing. The next three days will be me packing, moving stuff into storage and sending stuff back east before Miss Kitty and I fly east on Tuesday evening.


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A real shift?

I saw this when I was shopping for clothes today. I had to buy it. Liberal left beliefs being associated with red, white and blue? Wow! So here it is on my desk on top of some of my notes.

With Obama in office, I do think the political tide has shifted significantly. I wouldn't say I'm a bleeding heart liberal, but I tend to land more often than not on the liberal side of the spectrum when it comes to politics.

I think Libertarianism, in theory, is ideal. However, I simply lack faith in a non-regulated system to do the right thing. I mean just look at the current economy, the health care system and the education systems in the US. The system is in shambles. The non-regulated system simply has failed people. Less government doesn't always yield the right result. I think that's simply because people are more out for themselves than for the greater good.

Anyway, in the post-9/11 environment the political environment regarding US politics was very much about attacking anyone who was critical of George W. Bush and the Executive branch. I was very critical and, even if you toughen yourself up, it's hurtful to have people imply that you're un-American because you disagree with government policy. They seem to forget that in a democracy, that's what happens. You get to solutions by discussing your differences, not by attacking those who disagree. Not everyone agrees and that's seen as a positive aspect of the system. I'm glad to see that it's more acceptable now to accept disagreement.

I'm just glad to see that the new attitude has made it into the market. Maybe all of us liberals will see this mug and help out the economy by actually buying something ;)


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Friday, May 1, 2009

Repost: - "Here we are now, entertain us"

I was there! I got word of Eric Lewis playing at the DNA Lounge via Twitter when Brian Solis let people know it was happening. Problem though. This was last Saturday, April 25th and I already had plans to see the LINES Ballet with some folks from UCLA. However, I had some time between this impromptu performance and meeting people. The decision was then to rush out early into the unknown or pass?

I'm so glad I went. I'll be honest and say I'd not heard of Eric Lewis beforehand. However, I took the time to go to his website and listen to some of his music. That's when I knew I HAD to go even if just for a bit. I got there early. I felt horribly conspicuous because I arrived by myself and knew I'd also have to run out during his set. I saw Lewis talking to someone and decided to apologize beforehand for running out.

I also found out about the trouble The DNA Lounge is having with the powers that be here in San Francisco. Basically, they're fighting being shut down. The DNA Lounge is a crucial part of music history here in San Francisco. So, please click over to The DNA Lounge's website to find out more and to support them.

I knew I'd miss something great in doing so too. Read on.

Here we are now, entertain us

Episode 25: In which a live piano performance that had to be seen to be believed restores my faith in reality

Eric Lewis

Yes, this is the Real Eric Lewis. Photograph: Ray Tamarra/Getty Images

"Eric Lewis? Isn't that the guy who Michael Howard threatened to overrule?"


"Nothing - that joke doesn't really travel. Eric Lewis is the piano guy from TED, right?"

"Yes - didn't you see the Facebook link I just Twittered?"

"No, I'm out shopping, and until I get a social security number I can't get a proper phone with the internet on it."

"Jesus. Well, just come down to the DNA Lounge. It's going to be amazing."

And so it was that I found myself, this past Saturday, standing at the back of The DNA Lounge, waiting to experience something amazing. The DNA lounge, it turns out, is something of a San Francisco institution. Owned by open-source hacker Jamie Zawinski (who bought it from Deuce Bigalow), it used to be famous for hosting surprise gigs by the likes of Prince, Metallica and – most recently – Green Day. I say "used to be" because now it's better known for its ongoing battle with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which wants to shut it down. Specifically, the department has accused DNA of being "a disorderly house injurous to the public welfare and morals" following some alleged "lewd behaviour" during the club's gay and lesbian nights. I'm not kidding, they actually used the phrases "lewd behavior" and "injurious to the public welfare and morals". In San Francisco. In 2009. Eat that, Lenny Bruce.

But while I wouldn't normally need an excuse to visit a disorderly house, on Saturday I definitely had one: a 35-year-old jazz pianist, wearing a checked jacket and sitting at a Steinway piano. It's pretty much a cast iron certainty that, unless you were at the recent TED conference in Long Beach, you won't have heard of Eric Lewis. Not yet, at any rate. But you will. Because rumour has it that in a few weeks he's playing at the White House for Barack Obama – and he's going to raise the fucking roof.

You see, Lewis doesn't just play the piano. Rather he owns – pwns – it. Reaching inside the lid, he pulls and pounds at the strings, creating a magic eye pictures of sound – walls of noise that suddenly snap into focus as you realise you're actually listening to the opening bars of Evanescence's Going Under, or The Knife's Heatbeats or Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit. And just as you've worked out what's going on with the strings, Lewis starts on the keys – reinventing songs you've heard many times before in ways that you'll probably never hear again. Jesus Christ, the man's so good he could cover Coldplay's Clocks and make it sound edgy and frightening and weird and brilliant. And so he did.

Just in case any of us in the audience doubted how much effort and passion it takes to make Coldplay sound good, the pain was written across Lewis's face: eyes tightly shut, teeth clenched and features contorted into a mask of – I dunno, rage and talent, I suppose. I really can't describe it – there are photos but really you'll need to check out the videos on YouTube. Actually no, that's not true either. Even if you do watch the videos, you still won't get it. What it felt like to be in that room seeing a man in a checked jacket make a piano do things it had no idea it could do, watched by an audience of maybe 100 people, all smiling and gasping and clapping and – this is America after all – whooping.

Once the set had finished and the standing ovation ended, I turned to my friend - almost two hours had passed and we'd barely touched our drinks - as we tried to find the right words.

"That was..."


"I mean, I don't know what the word I'm looking for is. I don't want to sound wanky but it was..."

"It was Real."

Yes. That's it. It was Real. And not in that meaningless, wanky, "urban" way but Real in the way that so many things in today's virtual world simply aren't.

In recent years, Real social experiences have been under constant attack from technologically simulated ones. Where once schoolkids would buy a CD and invite their friends round to listen to it, now they forward those same tracks or share them on MySpace from the comfort and loneliness of their bedrooms. The music is the same, but the experience of listening to it is almost entirely virtual. Where once there was something exciting about buying a DVD and settling down with a special friend and a bottle of wine to watch it, now we download the same movie at work in 10 minutes and watch it on the train on the way home. Music and film have become commodities: digital, virtual and decidedly unspecial.

Even that last hold-out of the Real – the book – is facing a digital threat from the Kindle and the Sony Reader. It's not the physical feeling of holding a book that we'll miss when it's gone, but the potential for social interaction it could lead to. How many conversations between strangers have started when they both noticed they were reading the same book? How many relationships? Kindles don't have covers, so the possibility for that interaction will die with the printed page.

Even our relationships with our friends have become less Real. On the face of it, services like Twitter bring us closer to people we know than ever before. At any given moment, we know where they are, what they're doing and, often, what they're thinking. And yet actually, that virtual closeness is actually making us more distant. Before Twitter and its ilk came along, if we wanted to catch up on the minutiae of our friends lives, we'd have to actually phone them up and have a conversation – or better still, invite them out for dinner or down the pub. Now we can happily go for months without seeing someone, and still feel like we haven't missed them at all. I suppose we should be glad we still have friends at all, given that for the generation following behind us, a "friend" is just an avatar and a username.

The great thing about entertainment – whether that was a movie, a book, or just gossip from a friend – used to be that it gave us an excuse to get together and have Real experiences. Now, it's possible to imagine a hideous dystopian future where we went for years at a time without ever glimpsing a human being but where technology still fools into thinking we're connected and entertained.

And that's precisely the reason why seeing Eric Lewis on Saturday made me feel so deliriously happy. It made me realise that imagined dystopian future will never exist. Because no matter how cool technology gets, it will never feel truly Real in the way that standing next to my friends while a man played the shit out of a piano felt Real.

And sure enough, just when it looked like we might all up-sticks and relocate to Second Life, the technology pendulum has started to swing back the other way. Look at how the way we use Twitter has evolved, moving from simple status updates to organising real world meetups (although we could definitely survive as a species without the word "tweetup"). Facebook use has adapted too, with more and more people using it as a way to manage party invitations and to publicise events rather than simply collecting old school friends like Panini stickers. If I'd have been able to access Facebook from my crappy pay-as-you go phone, I'd have seen just how many of my friends were going to be at the Eric Lewis gig. It's lucky one of them phoned me to tell me about it; the resulting amazing experience, shared with friends, is something a YouTube video alone could never recreate.

This move back to technology as a trigger for Real social interaction should also come as a huge relief for the entertainment industry. Only this week we've seen the RIAA finally settling a four-year-old lawsuit (for a mere $7,000) against a computer illiterate mother who ended up with Kazaa installed on her home computer. We've seen the MPAA continuing its case against RealNetworks over the hypothetical possibility that its software could be used to pirate DVDs. And we've even seen Lawrence Lessig receive a takedown notice from Warner Music over one of his own presentations appearing on YouTube. When they're attacking Lawrence Lessig for copyright infringement, you know the entertainment industry is panicking.

And yet while CD and DVD sales are undoubtedly screwed, with printed books probably next to go, the increasingly virtual nature of our lives makes us willing to pay higher and higher premiums for shared social entertainment like live gigs and going to the cinema. Certainly I've spent many times more money in recent years on tickets to music events than I've ever spent on CDs, and they've brought me and my friends many times more joy. (Technology has a part to play there too: before Eric Lewis, my previous five gigs were all bands I've discovered through

Even authors are getting in on the act – faced with poorer and poorer advances and dropping book sales, they're realising just how lucrative public speaking gigs can be. In fact, several authors I know have accepted advances that didn't even cover the cost of their writing time, safe in the knowledge that the five figure sums they earn for each personal appearance on the back fo the book will more than make up for the shortfall.

Back to consumers, and, thanks to the rise in smartphone ownership, the use of technology as a trigger for Real experiences looks sent to explode. After leaving the DNA lounge a group of us went for dinner at Mission Street Food. Before we'd even ordered drinks, everyone (except me, dammit) took out their iPhones and started tapping away at their screens. They were "checking in" to the restaurant using Foursquare, a service that tells your friends where you are, and invites them to join you. If San Francisco is anything to go by (and, when it comes to social media, it usually is), Foursquare is very likely to become the new Twitter – moving away from the idea of "what are you doing" and asking instead "where are you doing it?".

Foursquare isn't available in the UK yet but, like most of these things, it will be soon. Until then, Brits can sign up to Google's Latitude which uses GPS to track your whereabouts which can then be shared with trusted friends. Latitude lacks many of the features that make Foursquare so cool but if, as seems likely, Google releases an API for developers to build their own Latitude services, we're likely to see a zillion other location-based services launching in the coming weeks and months. Oh, yes, the future's bright ... the future's social.

All of which means, I suppose, I'd better get my finger out and get a proper smartphone so I can stop worrying about missing out on this brave new world of Real. But while I work out how to make that happen, if you should find yourself doing something amazing in a disorderly house injurous to the public welfare and morals, do make sure you tell me about it won't you?


• Paul Carr is author of Bringing Nothing To The Party: True Confessions of a New Media Whore. He blogs at


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