30 August, 2011


On August 11th, the day before the Outside Lands music festival, we got a triple-header at the Music Beta by Google concert series. The bands Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and The Limousines, as well as solo singer Dawn Landes all joined us for a sunny afternoon at The Googleplex. The performances happened at Google's Crittenden campus, which determined the name of the whole affair.
Presumably in an effort to minimize the pause between each set, each of the three groups did a sound check before the show got rolling. If that was the plan, it seemed to work, because the transitions during the show looked pretty effortless.
During the sound check, a large portion of the audience members waited in lines for free food, drinks, and schwag. A number of food trucks were in attendance, including Junior Barbecue, Kung Fu Tacos, The Ice Cream Man, as well as Google's own Sneak(/Snack) Attack truck.

Above, one of the folks on Sneak Attack serves a customer.
The stage was pretty packed with gear by the time Dawn Landes kicked things off. Landes has released a number of solo albums, and is currently playing with The Bandana Splits, a New York-based trio which released its debut album this past month.
Second on stage were electro-pop duo The Limousines, with Eric Victorino on vocals and Giovanni Giusti playing a variety of electronic instruments including a talk box. During the performance, I was struck by how similar the group sounded to Daft Punk at times.

I chatted with Giusti a bit after the show, at which point he mentioned that the group Daft Punk is one of his role models. He further explained that they make extensive use of the talk box as well, which explains a lot of the similarity I had noticed.
The headliners were Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, a New-York-based band with five members. The group was on the West Coast for the Outside Lands festival, and is currently on tour in Europe following the release of their new album Hysterical.

CYHSY used a decent variety of instruments onstage, and two of the five would switch up from song to song. Frontman/guitarist Alec Ounsworth and bassist Tyler Sargent were pretty consistent, as was drummer Sean Greenhalgh (seen above), who played all manner of percussion. Robbie Guertin and Lee Sargent switched between guitars, keyboards, a toy piano, and percussion as the songs required.
A young member of the audience looks up at Dawn Landes as she listens to the end of the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah set.
Ice Cream Man Matt Allen hangs out after the show. I found him to be something of an enigma; thankfully, I had a chance to chat with him over a Vanilla icecream as he waited for the musicians to finish packing up their gear.

Put simply, Matt goes places to give people free icecream. He mentioned that one of his motivations is the ability of free icecream to catalyze spontaneous social interactions. Interestingly, ice cream is a perfect food to do that — it's free, so there's always a line; it's just unwieldy enough to keep people from really multitasking while they're eating it, but not so bad as to keep them from talking; and it takes long enough to eat that time arises for those spontaneous interactions to happen.

Matt also drives. A lot. He works hard in the service of free icecream. It seems like he follows music and tries to add a little bit of joy. When we spoke after Crittfest, he said that a couple days prior, he was empty (in the icecream sense) and in the middle of the country. He picked up some icecream on the way to Crittfest, and then had to pick up even more icecream before heading to Outside Lands the following day. Then during the festival, he did a short video with CYHSY: Summer Jammin' with Ice Cream Man.

Well, that's Crittfest. Click here to see the rest of the photos.

26 August, 2011

Autocross with Friends

Autocross was on my mind pretty frequently this past month. For one, I did my first ever autocross with the Porsche Club of America (PCA) (or any other club than the GGCBMWCCA, for that matter). Beyond that, when I went to the BMW autocross a week after the PCA one, I had 5-cars'-worth of company. Huzzah!
The PCA autocross I attended was with the Loma Prieta region, held down at Marina. It was neat seeing all varieties and ages of Porsches — sometimes a few Boxsters or a 911 (996/997) would show up at the BMW events, but at the PCA there were old 911s, 912s, 914s, 944s, plus a couple different Caymans and Boxsters (987) and some new 911s (996/997). It was also fun to see how fast/slow I was compared to people driving similar cars.

Unfortunately since there were only two run groups (as opposed to 3/4 for BMWCCA), I didn't get an opportunity to take photos of anyone driving.
People! After a couple months of prodding, I finally got my friend Shannon (center, white/orange) to come along, and she organized a group of folks. These are 4 of the 5 cars'-worth of people (one had to leave early).

I was surprised at how different an experience it was to show up with a group — suddenly it mattered which run groups people were in and who was working when. We drove down to Marina in a caravan as well, which was a big change from my usual routine of rolling out of bed let and hoping I got there on time.

More photos! Click here for PCA photos. Click here for BMWCCA photos.

24 August, 2011

Cloven (v)

In a storefront in Embarcadero Center. See also: cloven (v).

23 August, 2011


22 August, 2011

Thao & Mirah

Around a month ago, indie musicians Thao & Mirah played for the Music Beta by Google concert series. The pair had spent the prior ~1.5 months touring the country in support of their first album together, Thao & Mirah, and the set included a number of songs from the album.

As the group played, I was repeatedly struck by how expressive Thao (left) appeared. At times (such as above), she'd rock out on her guitar, hair flying this way and that, seemingly oblivious to the world. Then during those same rises, she'd yell at the microphone, mouth open so wide it seemed like she was going to eat it.
Then at the other extreme, she'd furrow her brow as she played, taking on what seemed to be a more somber mood. Above, Thao uses a slide as she plays during the song Squareneck, the closing track on their album.
Percussionist Andrew Maguire plays the vibraphone with a pair of bows during the song Hallelujah. This was pretty cool.
The musicians take a quick break and kick back with one of the organizers before meeting a throng of audience-members to take pictures and sign CDs.

Click here to check out the rest of the photos from the concert.

19 August, 2011


Last night, I saw a theatrical showing of the documentary Senna at Embarcadero Center Cinema around 10:00 pm. The large screen certainly did the film justice — according to director Asif Kapadia, the documentary was able to include around 80 minutes of footage from the Formula One archives.

Sitting in a theater full of F1 fans, it was interesting to hear the collective, knowing gasp when the day of Senna's final race arrived. Above, attendees watch and listen as Kapadia (far right) discusses the film after the showing.

I think that anyone with an interest in cars and/or car safety would enjoy the film, as well as anyone just interested in learning about a charismatic young man whose life and death changed the world around him. In my relatively short history of watching F1, I saw one of the safety innovations following Senna's death likely save driver Kimi Räikkönen from injury after his carbon-fiber suspension shattered during the 2005 Nürburgring F1 race.

One of Senna's multiple fatal injuries was that the right-front wheel impacted his head during the high-speed collision, causing severe skull injuries. In the video of Räikkönen's accident, you can see that the free wheel is restrained by a safety cable that became a requirement in the years following Senna's death.
People leave the theater after the showing, including Peter Habicht (left, farthest from camera), the organizer of the showing and president of the SF F1 watching group.

17 August, 2011

In Shadow

Not sure why, but I really like this. Shot at the Googleplex when the sun was low in the sky.

16 August, 2011

YouTube Presents: Colbie Caillat and Panic! At The Disco

Since the inaugural concert with Lenny Kravitz in early April, there have been two other "YouTube Presents" concerts, one featuring Panic! At The Disco, and the other, Colbie Caillat.

Colbie's set included 4 of her 5 Gold/Platinum singles, as well as the single Brighter Than The Sun from her new album All of You.

Panic! At The Disco had played a few weeks prior while on tour for their new album, Vices & Virtues. They played a short set which included the single The Ballad of Mona Lisa from that album, as well as (I believe) 2 other songs from prior albums.

In all of the bands that have played at YouTube Presents so far, the percussionists seem to have formed a sort of cornerstone for each group. Panic! At The Disco is (currently) a duo, with frontman Brandon Urie and percussionist Spencer Smith (although they play with another guitarist and a bassist at shows).

You'll recall that the drummer for Lenny Kravitz's band was pretty rambunctious, and with the Colbie Caillat performance, the percussionist was grinning from ear to ear while playing a cajón during one of the songs.

As a side note on percussion, I was particularly impressed when Colbie's band did synchronized clapping — imagine bell-ringing but with hands only — during their performance of Brighter Than The Sun (listen for the clapping in the YouTube video).

It's always neat to see what happens after the stage lights turn off. After the show, guitarist Justin Young (left) and bassist Jason (center) went outside to play some hoops in front of YouTube HQ's somewhat distinct mural.

Click here to see the rest of the photos from both concerts.

12 August, 2011

Mush! Mush!

Make of it what you will :o)

11 August, 2011

MIT '08 Pi Reunion

So, MIT has this weird tradition. About 3.14 years after graduation, we reconvene in Las Vegas for an event called Pi Reunion. The Pi Reunion for my graduating class was held a few weeks ago, and I managed to take some pictures.
After an early 4:00 am start to the morning, our coalition of 14 (including Adi) amassed at the check-in area, and then headed to the gate. The trip itself began with a technicolor dreamflight during which most of us caught up on sleep. Apparently this color scheme is typical for Virgin America, but this was my first time seeing it. Above, the captain tells us how short our naps will be before the crew prepare for departure.
I really enjoyed the diverse and sometimes plain weird decorations during our trip. We stayed at Planet Hollywood, which was apparently circle-themed, with a side of vibrant (or sometimes garish) colors. There were circles on the carpets, circles on the wallpaper, spherical lamps with cylindrical lampshades, and circular mirrors to boot.

Given all those circles, the plain, straight edges of the white table seemed a tiny bit out-of-place, but at the same time a little bit refreshing. The stark black telephone made for a little bit of linear and chromatic symmetry that was lacking elsewhere.
The following day, a subset of our troupe escaped the glaring lights and aggressive "hot girls" marketers of The Strip with a night journey to Old Las Vegas. It felt a little bit like an oasis of reality in the wonderland of debauchery that is Vegas. If The Strip is a tourist trap (which it is), then Old Las Vegas was at least part-way to "hole in the wall" status — there were still plenty of tourists and visitors, but it no longer felt like someone was trying to make money off of us at every turn.

Above, my friend Amy tries to call after a couple minutes spent fruitlessly waiting for one to pass — something that would never happen on The Strip. We ended up flagging one down and having a nice chat with the cabbie, a 14-year Las Vegas resident, on the way back to our hotel.
On the final day of our trip, we scrubbed plans to drive to Rachel (just outside of Area 51) or the Hoover Dam and instead opted for a non-driving excursion to the Mandalay Bay hotel's Shark Reef aquarium.

The aquarium was great for watching the animals both on the far side of the glass and the near. The sharks, giant turtles, rays, komodo dragons, and other varieties of unfamiliar animal seemed to awaken a deep-seated sense of wonder in people that at times seems to be all but missing.

Click here to check out the rest of the photos from our trip.

06 August, 2011

Through the Looking Glass

Sometimes a TSA agent is an Agent, and sometimes he's just a person…

04 August, 2011

Concert at Cakebread Castle

Right around two months ago, my artistic friend Dax invited me to come to his house, nicknamed Cakebread Castle, for a small concert that would feature musicians (both local and from afar) as well as puppets and, if you showed up early enough, homemade vegan blueberry pancakes.

I was already somewhat infatuated with Dax's creations, so it was a foregone conclusion that I would attend. Even so, the concert still exceeded my wildest expectations. You can find the full set of photos by clicking here, or read on to learn a bit about the players.
This is Dax Tran-Caffee, a puppet-maker, puppeteer, painter, musician, engineer, and craftsman all rolled up into one person. He has a tact for coming up with somewhat eccentric ideas and then making them work brilliantly.

The suitcase above tells a story. More precisely, as Dax turns the handle with his hand, a long piece of hand-painted canvas winds through the picture frame viewport, as a small music box (top-left of the suitcase) plays an accompanying ditty, while Dax himself narrates.

The simple beauty of it is that the canvas is simply one giant loop, and the end of the story takes you back to the beginning as well.
The cozy and casual nature of the performance area matched the style of the audience pretty well. I really liked the music-note tattoo on this woman's foot.
This is Avery Burke, the lead singer and guitarist for a band called Corpus Callosum, of which Dax and other Cakebreak Castle occupants are also members. Avery played a few pieces with his characteristic half-singing, half-shouting style, and invited us to shout along for some of the songs.
♫Only blue eyes can break your heart that way…♫
The concert also featured three touring musicians based out of Olympia, Washington, including Abigail Peachtree (pictured above), and Eleanor Murray & co (which included Peachtree, lead singer Eleanor Murray, and bassist Joshua James).

Finally, the concert included Oakland-based artist Ruby Mountain (left, facing toward right). I chatted with her after the show and she mentioned that it was her first time performing for an audience, given which she did admirably.

Click here to check out the rest of the photos.

02 August, 2011

Decisions, decisions…

A bird looks outside through the closing doors at Mineta San José International Airport.