Author Archives: Laura Rossi

Posts: 15 (archived below)
Comments: 10

The Man Behind The Music

No questions had to be asked for the interview to begin. Matt Feldman, the 19-year-old music supervisor for the US version of popular British show Skins was extremely anxious to discuss all his new ideas and plans for his future.

“Let me show you what I’ve been working on” was a reoccurring statement Feldman would make that would be quickly followed by snippets of mixes his newest project called GirlBro have had completed. “It’s a seventeen minute multi mix that I made with my partner Sophia Sanpapous and we really just wanted to think of ways to get everyone on the dance floor and the way to do that is to play music that we know they like. People respond well to things they already know.”

This is a basic viewpoint that is apparent throughout everything that Feldman has currently worked on in his music career, including what could be considered one of his greatest accomplishments, getting to pick out the music selection for an entire season of Skins, the MTV drama that revolves around six kids and their lives in suburban America.

Over the seven month period of choosing music, Matt had gone through at least 900 song choices before he had to narrow it down to 20 songs per episode, which meant only 200 songs were going to make the cut.”It would be one thing to be picking music for my own picture” Matt explains “but it was totally different trying to figure out what music fit for someone else’s, it was a super intense process.”

As he puts it, the job just sort of found him. Before Skins, Feldman would participate in paid studies and questionnaires. One day, his friend told him of her friend who was an intern for the boss of Skins. They were looking for a group of teenagers to be in a writing group to gain realistic ideas they could potentially use for the show. Matt joined but was only concerned about one thing; the music. He asked about it until he was told to make a demo of his song choices.

Feldman featured in Billboard Magazine

Through his upcoming success, Matt was interviewed by Billboard Magazine (which he has proudly framed on a wall of his basement studio). The article led him to be reached out by other kids who were inspired by his accomplishments. After the article came out a young manager of the eclectic dubstep group called Night Kids reached out to Feldman asking him to go to one of their shows. Night Kids has already shared the stage with Major Lazer and B.O.B and Feldman felt rather intimidated by the offer.” I felt really honored that he thought so highly of me because I have never been in a band or managed a show, so this kid seemed to be more experienced than me.” Regardless Matt went to the show and instantly fell in love with the band; “They’re so beautiful” he gushed.

For being so young, Matt has already dived deep into the business and creative aspects of music, but his biggest dilemma has been choosing which one he would like to concentrate on. “Look at Starscream, they’re a great example of the business perspective.” Starscream consists of Matt’s close friends George S. and Damon H. who use a Gameboy and a drum set to make upbeat dance songs which classify as a genre of Chip Music.

Matt has gotten involved in their career by placing their songs on the Skins soundtrack throughout the season and got the band to perform live on the season finale. “I didn’t help them so much as someone just really liked their music.” Matt insists they’re a “cool” example of the business aspect of music because they have gotten their name out on their own. “They’ve accomplished everything themselves, from their own clothing designs to key chains to even the crazy visual affects they put into their shows, it is really amazing. Even after all that they ended up pressing records and were in the top 10 sales for 2 days when their EP came out. Their business tactics paid off.”

Yet, Matt remains uneasy with just sticking to the purely business aspect of things “I have all these ideas, I was even thinking of becoming a pop star like David Bowie.” Feldman wants to continue making dance music. He spends his two months of downtime from Skins mixing beats, playing instruments, writing lyrics and really getting into the creative process. “Its time to shake things up, there are so many things that I want to do and I will do them all and it’s going to be so much fun.”

Posted in Music | 201 Comments

The Final Goodbye

yeah, we're sad.

Well, we start this post on a sad note because we cant believe it is the last day of our blogging journey. It was fun while it lasted, remembering the great times we had from dining at Blue Smoke, our new favorite barbecue restaurant,  to watching Boyz Noize perform and listening to his music explode through the speakers. We drank and danced the night away and built a stronger relationship than any other. We also laughed and cried together while viewing the 6 Oscar nominated short films and only two members of H.A.M were the only ones to predict the winner, so I guess you could also consider us film critique extraordinaires.

We feel like we have grown together as a group and have all improved in our writing/blogging styles. As we leave this class we take with us the dreams to aspire to make it in the journalism world, even through blogging. (Our member Chris has actually been offered to write for the The Couch Sessions!)

We may travel on different paths but in our hearts we know we will always go HAM… over and out.

PS. Have you ever had sex with a pharaoh?

it's ok though.. we'll always be HAM

Posted in Who We Are | 2 Comments

Boys Noize Brings The Funk

“When do you think he’ll come on?” seemed to be the question of the evening floating around Webster Hall. Though no one seemed to have a definite answer, it wasn’t really a concern to the hundreds of guests in attendance for the Boys Noize concert on Good Friday. The venues multiple party rooms seemed to have everyone preoccupied until then.

Webster Hall was first built in 1886 and quickly changed the ideas of a typical nightclub experience. The venue has the capacity to hold 2,500 people a night and consists of five separate party rooms. It opened as the biggest and first modern nightclub in the United States. Over time it also turned into one of the world’s most famous concert venues. Big name artists to up and coming bands have all had a chance to perform on one of Webster Halls’s multiple stages.

On April 22nd, the spotlight was on Boys Noize, or rather Alex Ridha, a Berlin-based DJ and producer who has made quite a name for himself in the electronic music industry at only twenty five years old. He began producing and DJing at early age and first worked with American DJ Felix Da Housecat and DJ Hell who influenced Ridha’s style the most. He has now gone solo with his stage name Boys Noize and has grown popularity in the rise of Dubstep, which is a particular genre of electronic dance music that has an overwhelming bass line and a reverberant beat. To many, Boys Noize is one of the best electronic DJ’s in the industry now, even winning multiple awards including Best Electronic Artist on Beatport.

Boys Noize Album Cover

Though it is argued that the sounds of electronic music and dubstep tend to get repetitive, it should be said that Boys Noize, most of his live performances, though playing his hits also include him mixing and remixing on the spot, which adds to the excitement of seeing him live.

The crowd seemed to be put in a trance when he began. They all moved in unison to the beat and a sense of euphoria ran rampant in the air. It was obvious from the cries and frantic dance moves that everyone felt extremely happy to be there. The crowds response shows the sort of power that Boys Noize upheld throughout the course of the evening. For someone who simply plays around with noise (literally) there is something in his music that was like an intoxicating rush that everyone felt and responded to gladly. The vibes that Boys Noize and the crowd were feeding off each other was something special that only a certain type of artist can bring to their fans.

Overall, it is true that Boys Noize sounds as stereotypical as the next dubstep/electronic artist, he really served the point that all artists and their music should which is to genuinely bring happiness and enjoyment to your fans which is exactly what Boys Noize did at his performance at Webster Hall.

Posted in Independent Film | 2 Comments

A Feeling of Home With A Twist

 David Burke Townhouse has been described in an array of word choices; whimsical, playful, elegant and even visionary, yet to my father Massimo Rossi, a devoted captain at the restaurant for the past seven years, his favorite adjective used to describe this four-star restaurant is simply “interesting.”

True, it is possible that Rossi has become jaded by the individualistic style choices made by David Burke on this unique restaurant, but he continuously gives credit where credit is due by insisting that Burke is his most favorite chef. “The innovative style that David uses in his food ideas is really mesmerizing,” Rossi begins “The cuisine choices that David makes really represent his personality, which is rather extravagant.”

Interior of David Burke Townhouse

The restaurant, located in an actual townhouse, provides a home like comfort while still remaining ornamental and focused on detail. Rossi says that the restaurant can relate to a broad variety of customers because the food itself is “accommodating to all tastes.” Rossi’s favorite meal is the cavatelli with shortribs. This platter consists of mushrooms, truffle mousse of course all over braised short rib. Rossi says the short rib is never short of “perfect”, always being tender, hearty and satisfying.

The Catavelli with Braised Short Ribs

 One perk of visiting my father at work is to be reunited with my favorite dish, the Cheesecake Lollipop Tree

It is one of the treats that the restaurant is most famous for. Each lollipop is elevated on a stand and when eaten enriches ones mouth with a different flavor, whether it be chocolate crunch cheesecake or regular with strawberry creme on top, each flavor is sure to please. To add to the creativity behind this dessert, The tree also comes with bubble gum whip cream. The Cheesecake Lollipop Tree was featured on The Best Thing I Ever Ate on The Food Network.

The Cheesecake Lollipop Tree

One cannot help but be mesmerized at Burke’s decorative, original and delicious creations while also being captivated by the modern art shown throughout the restaurant. The pieces he selects to be shown bring about a discreet yet glamorous aura to ones dining experience. One collection of drawings Burke has showcased is called The Key to the Kingdom created by Tony Meeuwissen. The drawings are fantastical and bring a artistic ambiance to the Townhouse that make it more like a gallery that happens to have amazing food. The balance between art and cuisine is shared perfectly in David Burke Townhouse.

Interior to David Burke Townhouse

Burke also combines his interests in cooking and art while remaining a true entrepreneur and inventor. David Burke Townhouse has been critically acclaimed. It won New York magazine’s Critics’ Pick, A 24 food rating (meaning very good to excellent) from Zagat 2011 Edition, and Time Out New York’s Critic’s Pick. “At this theatrical little restaurant … it’s a pleasure to watch the restaurant’s staid Upper East Side clientele gawk at Burke’s decorative and generally delicious creations as they go by.” Said New York magazine and Time Out New York commented “David Burke, the culinary merry prankster that knows how to cook.”

David Burke has made himself one of the leading pioneers in American cooking. He grew up in Hazlet, New Jersey and has always been inspired by French chefs and their techniques. He has a fascination with the power that individual ingredients have over the entire meal and the components he puts into his meals to turn them into works of art. Burke has a career fueled by creativity that provides him to have revolutionary products and cooking techniques. He has been featured on Iron Chef America and has opened seven restaurants throughout America.

Winning numerous awards for his culinary skills, it is understandable why David Burke is considered one of the best modern American chefs by one glance at his menus. Ranging from pretzel crusted crab cakes to tuna burgers with lemon French fries and spicy mayonnaise show how avant garde Burke can get with his meal choices.

Massimo Rossi has had prior experience as a captain at Le Cirque 2000 when it was at the Palace Hotel. With these duties, it is Rossi’s responsibility to not only direct but to supervise and train the fellow servers in the restaurant. He monitors their work habits in the dining room while handling the seating arrangements for the guests. He will at times serve tables to which he suggests food courses and appropriate wines to ensure that the guest has an amazing dining experience.
Rossi always knew he wanted to be in the restaurant business. He left his small hometown in Italy and went to the Culinary school in Switzerland when he was 16. Since then on he has worked on world-wide cruise liners and top of the line restaurants but claims that working for Burke has been one of his favorite experiences “I have really watched the restaurant grow and develop into this amazingly elegant yet casual restaurant that is nothing like anything else around. I also think its great how accommodating the food is to every palate, it makes me feel good that what I have invested my life in what can make a lot of people happy.”

Posted in Food, restaurant reviews | 4 Comments

Hip Hop and Ya Dont Stop…or Do You?

Please and Thank You

Imagine it is the early 90’s, Gameboy colors and Macintosh computers were all the rage, girls were shamelessly wearing mom jeans and keds and boys had colorful windbreakers and were bumping music through stereos they’d carry around on the street. Saved by the Bell and Beverly Hills 90210 were some of the popular shows of the time and Hip Hop music was breaking through onto mainstream music.

Dj Kool Herc

Hip Hop first originated through DJ Kool Herc, a native New Yorker who collaborated music and soulful lyrics together and inspired many rappers to do the same.  Artists such as Jay Z, Nas, The Notorious BIG, 2pac, Mobb Deep, Run DMC, Dr. Dre, Pete Rock, A Tribe Called Quest and countless others started breaking onto the airwaves and set impeccably high standards for the definition of hip hop.

As years have passed, I (along with I’m sure everyone else in the world) have come to realize that this beautiful and once respected genre of music has sadly taken some crazy out-of-control turn into what I can’t even begin to claim is hip hop anymore. Newest artists on the rise include Waka Flocka Flame,  Wiz Khalifa, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj (Team Lil Kim forever) and others have turned Hip Hop into some kind of joke. An example of this can be seen in a new song by YG (I know…who?) called “Toot it and Boot it.” These are the disgraces that are being played on the radio and that oddly enough the younger generation seems to enjoy.

Oh really?

Even the OG’s of hip hop have sold their soul and have began to demean their talents just to get played on the radio. (like hello… Snoop Dogg is featured on every track ever made) This leaves me to wonder… what is going on here? Why is it that great rappers like Jay Z and Dr. Dre feel the need to turn their talents and make them “pop”ish just to get fans to like them? You could blame it on the kids but I’m sure if rappers just stuck to their roots and produced the once amazing tracks there once were there wouldn’t be such controversy.

This also brings on the scary thought that maybe all the good hip hop has just simply died out. Maybe, every amazing track has already been made and after a while it could simply just get repetitive? I’m not one to be pessimistic, so I will say that there are definitely new artists who are trying to bring back the true meaning of hip hop. If you want to check them out you can click here but in the meantime I guess we all just have to hope for the best and listen to old school hip hop to remind ourselves it was once amazing.

Posted in Music Rant/ love song | 7 Comments

Maybe the Original is Better?

Tamar Kali’s music video for Pearl Remix is nothing less but strange.  Not only did my ears bleed from the horrible song but the concept of the video, which follows the lives of 3 or 4 women (I lost track) experiencing different life altering experiences before attending a party on a Brooklyn Rooftop and jamming out to Kali’s song. Kali has an amazingly strong voice but I couldn’t understand anything she was saying, and the main message of the video doesn’t seem to match up with the song or really make any sense. Overall, though this was my first time hearing anything by Kali, I would not recommend her music or her music videos to anyone.

Posted in Independent Film | Comments Off on Maybe the Original is Better?

Lotus Flower Boogie

After listening to King of Limbs, Radioheads newest  album masterpiece, one of my favorite songs off of the album was Lotus Flower. The music video for the song is certainly unexpected, for it is the lead singer in a bowler hat, white collared shirt and skinny gray jeans dancing in a sporadic yet rhythmic matter to this once seen as slow and mellow song. The mad dancing counteracts with the slow and meaningful tune to most certainly leave the viewer confused. I personally enjoyed it and thought it added to the spontaneity and yet deep meaningfulness that is Radiohead.

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A Cloudy Review for Blue Smoke

Frantically pacing down Park Avenue, I was on a mission. I turned the corner and got to 27th street and before I could even pull out my Blackberry for the directions, I knew I had found it. That neon blue “Barbecue” sign hanging off of the building was like a north star leading me to barbecue heaven, or in other words Blue Smoke.

Upon entering the dimly lit fairly spacious restaurant, the overwhelming floor to ceiling windows allow natural light to flow into the restaurant and you are hit with a sudden sense of southern hospitality mixed with a modern metropolitan aura. The bar itself takes up half of the restaurant, with the entire back wall filled with bottles. Their alcohol selection is one of the largest, to the point where it takes up three pages on the menu, while their food options only take up one.

The Blue Smoke Burger (11.95), though simply named, could be a contender for one of the best burgers in the city. It is relatively small but makes up for it through its height. The moist and juicy beef patty, which is perfectly seasoned, is almost as good as the fresh ingredients that come with it. One bite and it leaves your taste buds mesmerized.

Their side dishes are rather impressive and could even be considered meals of their own. The French fries were the perfect balance of crispy and salty while their creamed spinach literally melts in your mouth. What really won my heart was the baked mac and cheese (7.95). Served in a deep dish, it was like a bowl of thick, delicious, melted cheese drenching the macaroni noodles.

The Kansas City Spare Ribs [half rack) 14.95(full rack) 24.95] were another story. “Big, juicy, spicy and sweet, slathered with our KC Sauce” makes them sound utterly delectable on the menu, but in real life they were quite a disappointment. The texture of the ribs was almost rubbery and made it more of a hassle to eat them rather than a pleasure. The specially advertised KC sauce was barely on the ribs at all. Luckily, they keep a variety of extra sauces on the table.

The dessert varied. Some of the amazing types were the apple crisp and the banana cream pie. The apple crisp consisted of glazed baked apples, crispy crust and topped with a scoop of cinnamon ice cream. The banana cream pie tasted incredibly fresh with banana slices and whip cream. Yet, the chocolate mousse cake was dry and grainy tasting and the key lime pie tasted too tart.

All in all if you crave a chill jazz scene with good foods and good friends, Blue Smoke is highly recommended, but ironically enough, don’t count on their barbecue.

Posted in Food, restaurant reviews | 2 Comments

“Have a plan A, and then a plan B”

Adrian LeBlanc

“This is a lucky business that lets you learn about the world,” Adriane Nicole LeBlanc shared to a room of aspiring journalists “I felt very at one with the world.” Leblanc was the source of infatuation of everyone in attendance to her reading at the Newman Library Conference Room on March 22nd.

Random Family, Published in 2003

LeBlancs wittiness and humor towards the serious matters she addresses in her book, “Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble and Coming of Age in the Bronx,” helped keep the mood light and the crowd intrigued to find out about the lives of LeBlancs subjects within the book. The story follows the lives of two young girls named Jessica and Coco and documents their trials and tribulations of growing up in the ghetto. Leblanc described it as a “chronicle of extended family living in poverty, but in my heart of hearts, it’s a love story.”

LeBlanc provided insightful advice continuously to the young crowd. She described journalism as a long apprenticeship. She insisted that it takes a long time for every journalist to find their voice. “The world is coming in through you. I used to say, in order to receive more of the world, you have to take yourself out of it, but now, I feel you have to do an inventory of yourself first.” LeBlanc serves as an inspiration for young writers everywhere. She shows that you can successfully execute having an opinion about the world around you, no matter how long it takes for you to get there.

Posted in LeBlanc Talk | 4 Comments

Health Inspection Grades Put the “F” in FDA

Sample grading form

There is nothing more distracting than craving a juicy, succulent, amazing burger in the middle of the day. When you want a burger, you really can’t think of anything else. You get up and decide to go to your usual favorite spot and can’t help but notice a sign on the window. “Sanitary Inspection: Grade Pending.” “Okay, cool.” You think to yourself but as you continue to go back, you realize the sign hasn’t changed. You’d figure that after about a month, their results would be up but they’re not. Two months pass, the same signs still there. It is then when you realize that that your favorite burger joint might never put its results up, which leads you to question…why?

What started in 2010 in southern California has made its way to NYC. The FDA has implemented a food-safety grading system which has the sole purpose of making sure restaurants provide safe food and service to its customers. Now, this is only fair, considering in a city like New York where there is a restaurant (or five) on every block, definitely putting a “subtle” influence on New Yorkers to go out and eat at least once or twice a week.

The least a restaurant can promise its customers is a benign and health-conscious environment. Instead, restaurants make such an effort to hide their disturbing sanitary truths by not posting their true grades.

This grading system holds a lot of bias towards particular restaurants though. Don’t get me wrong, places like McDonalds and Burger King are happy to rave about their A scores. This is because of the all fast food places are meant to follow a certain set of microbial standards. These standards happen to be incredibly easy to follow, with examples such as setting meat temperatures above 160 degrees and using pasteurized milk, my own kitchen could pass them.

Not only that, but then one has to take into consideration the more “high end” restaurants in the city. I mean, they should also be just thrilled about this new grading policy, correct? Not quite…

The way how the grading system works can be seen in the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Principles and Application Guidelines. These set of rules are a lot more rigorous than those of fast food chains, leading to more atomicity from the restaurants end. Though the guidelines seem never ending, the Food and Drug Administration also allows restaurants who get a C or D to put up their grade pending sign and get re-evaluated again months later.

This whole ordeal with grading restaurants has caused nothing but controversy within the food industry. It really is all a matter of who you are willing to trust. Some consumers have taken it upon themselves to dive deep into the dirty laundry of restaurant culture. Dont Eat At, an app developed by a current NYU student, provides a simple analysis of the restaurant of your choice and tells you whether or not they are at risk of being closed down due to health code violations.

Moral of the story: I think I am going to re-evaluate my favorite burger place, with its favorite “Grade Pending” sign in the window.

Posted in Food Rant / love song | 2 Comments