Thursday, April 28, 2011

Music Make Me Happy

So as of recently I have had some people requesting to give them some new music suggestions. I personally droll at the thought as music is such a big part of my life, so when I was composing a list for my friend Deirdre, I realized that I might have gotten a bit more into it than I thought.

20 minutes into the email I realized I had just practically did a run-through of my iPod and covered it like the Rolling Stones album review section (not nearly as well though). So I figured why not tell the world? And since my photography is on a hiatus due to technical issues with my computer and hard drives, I figured, I'd drop some musical knowledge on you.

I hope to try and do this every once in awhile, refresh the ol' music library, so keep an eye out for it again. But for now, enjoy the music!

Mumford and Sons - "Sigh No More" ... little dated from last year's Grammy's but this album kills it
Fleet Foxes - "Helplessness Blues" ... newest album from the greatest travel music made
Feist - "Let It Die" ... most people don't have her first album since she didn't get popular but this one i think is MUCH better than her others
Florence + The Machine - "Lungs" ... another Grammy's boomer but she's unreal
Broken Bells - "Broken Bells" ... Lead singer of The Shins with some melo-hip hop is a lethal combo
Cut Copy - "Zonoscope" ... close your eyes and you'll think you're stuck in Ferris Bueller's Day Off straight outta the 80's but fun
Bon Iver - "For Emma, Forever Ago" ... Hands down, no sugarcoating, probably the greatest album made in decades. I could write novels on this album, but let's just say its on a cult-ish level and will surpass generations.
Blue Merle - "Burning In The Sun" ... pretty old (2005) but a truly incredible album by a band that has no other albums. sad.
Ben Harper and the Relentless7 - "White Lies for Dark Times" ... plain and simple, Ben Harper gets raw on this more rockish album.
Ben Folds - "Ben Folds Presents: University a Cappella!" ... Pretty much a "Best of..." album but with amazing a cappella arrangements from various universities. Blows Glee or American Idol outta the water. (word up, Chimes)
Beach House - "Teen Dream" ... Baltimore based "dream-haze" band, with the lead singer formerly a waitress at Holy Frijoles in Hampden. She's a good server but an unreal singer.
Aqualung - "Magnetic North" ... as ALL of his albums, this one is touching and incredible. Top 5 albums of last year on my iPod
Alexi Murdoch - "Four Songs" ... the quite literal album which is small but packs a punch in just four slow and smooth songs
Adele - "21" ... obviously hitting pretty famous levels now but the album is amazing and MIGHT top her debut album of "19". It's just unreal that only two years after the debut she's blowing up the charts and legally of drinking age (well she was in her native England at 19 anyway)
Guillemots - "From The Cliffs" ... a little dated but a cool mix of various kinds of sounds and melodies with some killer drumming and vocals
The Temper Trap - "Conditions" ... probably heard the popular song "Sweet Disposition" on TV, but the rest of the album is fire
Guster - "Easy Wonderful" ... their most recent album and it's already up there as one of my favorites and I only just started listening to it. "Bad Bad World" is a great song.
The Baltimore Argument - check out their site and see what is really good with Brutzy and the boys from Bmore. Newest single was released called "High Rise" and the free download is making some noise. Give credit when credit is due and give promotion to good talent... these guys deserve every bit of it.

... drop me some comments or line on what you think of any or all of these artists, I personally love them all but if you have any others that you think are worth talking about, I want to know.

Friday, April 15, 2011

สุขสันต์วันสงกรานต์ Happy Songkran! ~Travelog Thursday

Songkran mayhem in Chiang Mai.

In an effort to shorten up the writing on my Travelog Thursday, this week I will just give a brief description the special and famous three-day holiday in Thailand called Songkran. It is the Thai New Year celebration and kicked off every April 13th and ends April 15th through all of the regions of Thailand.
Wat Chedimon celebrating Songkran which bases off of the religious holiday of cleaning the temple and Buddha statues.
It is the country's most popular and fun holiday, as the entire country takes the three days to rejuvenate and start a new year on a fresh foot. Such a fresh foot that all of the harmful things we carry with us each day are to be literally washed away with chalk powder and water. A cleansing of the soul in some sorts. So for the three days, the country holds what could be best described as a massive, country-wide waterfight. Several other countries celebrate similar holidays or traditions with water, but Thailand is known for this incredible celebration. Everyone is a target to splash water on, not out of revenge or spite or anger, but because it is to give you good luck and wash all of the bad things in your life away. So when that stranger dumps a bucket of ice water over your head, they really are doing it out of celebration of the new year, AND they are actually helping you cool down as mid-April is the hottest time of the year in Thailand.
Phantom splashes surprise this young girl.

This songtaew (local taxi truck) drove by me and splashed me as it pulled around the corner. When I looked up, I saw a bunch of smiling monks looking back at me with suspecting smiles. That was a really beautiful experience, being involved in the holiday with even the monks finding a little fun in the water festival.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Black & White Wednesdays

Here are some more black and white photos that I have taken from all over; from India to New Jersey and Nepal to Philly, these are just a few more to add to my gallery. Enjoy

Monday, April 11, 2011

April 11th has a lot of meaning

Back in 2000, April 11th was the most painful, terrifying, and life-changing day of my life. Now, eleven years later, I can look back on that normal Tuesday and think about how much of a dramatic change in who I am started that day. A personal revolution per se. Eleven years ago today, I was diagnosed with cancer. Lymphoma Hodgkin's disease was what I was told, and at the age of 13, those words mean different things than they do now.
My immediate reaction was "death." I believed I was going to die. But now looking back on this day, I learned of the "life" that has come from that day. The person I am and the person I strive to be has 100 percent been because of this day. For practically eight years I treated this day with agony, sorrow, and as if someone had die. And in some sense, a person did die that day; my naive and still immature self at 13 years old. I look back and realize that at 13, it's ok to be a little immature still, but I had characteristics of selfishness and arrogance. So in hindsight, that immature young boy that metaphorically died that day gave life to something more important.
Because of my illness and my fight to survive for nearly three years, I grew in ways unimaginable. Today, I can confidently look back and see facets of my character that grew from specific events.
I had scars all over my body, radiation marks across my face, and no hair on me head. All of these things have shown me to not care what anyone thinks about me or what I look like. To feel comfortable in my own skin.
I fought, struggled, and beat cancer once... then it came back. I fought harder, struggled longer, and nearly lost the battle, but I didn't. My perseverance is something I pride myself on now.
I felt that I needed to find something more real, more spiritual to help me through my fight. I looked in many different directions and found help in many different forms. Today, I consider my spirituality a very key part of my life.
I learned what family meant and the feeling of support and love from them non-stop. In terms of immediate family, there was nothing greater, but also my friends and community came together to help me overcome my battle. I felt the importance of putting someone else first before yourself. Now I hope to be able to give back to them as much as they gave to me and my level of appreciation for that is beyond words.
Lastly, I learned a great deal about life. I learned to not disrespect or underestimate it, as it has the ability to be taken away instantaneously. I found that living life one day at a time can be the most fulfilling thing a person can do. To truly take advantage of all of the things life can give you. The beauty it possesses and the lessons it teaches you along the way.

Although subconsciously doing so, eleven years later I realize why THIS day is the one that I remember for motivation and not any other. It took me a long time to realize the goodness that today can bring me and not the negative. Most cancer survivors mark their "special" date as their last chemotherapy or radiation treatment. Or the day they got out of remission. Or the day they were officially pronounced "cured." But for me, I look at the day that changed my life as the one that's most special; the day that I was diagnosed. Maybe it was because I was so young and it was so terrifying. Or maybe it was just that I had never thought something like this could happen to me.  But whatever the reason I choose to mark this date, I finally can look at April 11th for the rest of my life as the day I was reborn.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Spring out Before Spring has Sprung

The first taste of spring, or maybe even summer, came and went through Baltimore yesterday. It was actually perfect timing as it was Opening Day at Camden Yards for them O's. People were walking around Charles St. in shorts, with their orange and black caps, shirts, and hats ready to see if the O's could make it a four game winning streak to start the season. Then today happened. From 81 degrees bright and sunny to 45 degrees dark and raining. So before I forget I wanted to drop some of my North Charles St. and Mount Vernon photos onto the website.(Check out the entire Baltimore gallery on W Michael Tirone Photography)

I took these photos about a month back with snow on the ground and the bitterly dry air keeping Baltimoreans indoors. No cherry blossom buds and tree leaves springing out just yet in these photos.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

An Anniversary for Annapurna ~ Travelog Thursday

I treat anniversary's of specific dates as a big deal. I don't know why or where that came about, but since I can remember I found knowing an important date in my life as a milestone, or marker that gives me perspective on the things that have changed in my life since last year or ten years ago at that time. I think that I treat important dates as my own personal New Year's Eve/Day. I have never had a massive revelation or moment on the last day of the calendar year because it never had any personal significance to me. But certain dates in my life stick out in my mind with significance.

Now that I am back in America, I look at random days of the year and think, “where was I last year? What was I doing? How long was my hair? Where was I mentally?” These questions come up often, and I am fortunate enough to remember a lot of special dates from at least last year's crazy travels. But sadly like everything, your memories begin to fade from year to year, and hopefully with all of my photographs and stories, the moments in my life will be remembered.
My Buddhist Prayer flags blow atop Mount Annapurna, Nepal
So today, I woke up and thought the usual questions of “where was I last year on this date?” Although, knowing full well that I would remember April 6th as a pretty exciting day for me in 2010.

The sixth of April, 2010 I was just finishing my last day of a grueling weeklong trek to the base camp of Mount Annapurna, the world’s tenth highest mountain. But what made this date so special was all that occurred prior to completing the trek.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Premiere of Black & White Wednesdays

To go along with our Travelog Thursdays, this week is the premiere of Black & White Wednesdays. The concept is simple, I'll be posting some black and white photographs of mine (or other artists). Enjoy!

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Tale of Two Matches ~ Travelog Thursday

Have you ever had a profound experience in your life that returns in smaller pieces later on in your life, almost continuing to remind you of that first initially amazing experience? Not de ja vu. Not anything abnormal, but just a moment in time that brings you back. I’m almost certain people have these occur to them quite often, because let’s face it, our mind makes connections with images, sounds, tastes, smells, and other stimuli with prior experiential things.
I’ve wanted to write a blog about all the different and specific places or moments in my life that a song reminds me of.  It’s a common thing for some people to write about as it is quite personal but yet interesting. But I am going to hold off with that topic and talk about an experience I had last weekend.
But instead of telling you both stories from most recent to longer ago, I’m going to splice it, going back and forth between last weekend and eight months ago where I had an incredibly similar experience.
Last weekend: I had gotten tickets to a soccer match between the USA men’s national team and Argentina at the New Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey. My girlfriend and I went with her two friends, and their boyfriends. 
Lionel Messi, World's Best Player two years running, takes the kickoff for Argentina.
In June: I had gotten tickets to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa with my good friend Colin, his girlfriend Kelsey and her best friend Emily.
Last weekend: Before the Saturday match, I decided to head up to Hoboken to visit my best friend Drew and hang out for a handful of days, catch up with friends in New York City and have a good time going out and seeing parts of the city. I was to start work the next week, so I wanted to take advantage of my last few free weekdays I had.
New Meadowlands jumbo screen with Landon.
Our emotional captain Landon, versus Argentina's great Lionel.