My second day in San Fran was all about the Love Parade, or Love Fest as it is called now since Berlin reclaimed the Love Parade name this year. It was an amazing event. An electronic music parade in the streets and a festival in front of City Hall that lasted all day. Young and old, gay and straight, ravers and hippies, rich and poor, every race, every sound, every style. The Love Fest was an event of unrivaled beauty and freedom that I will not soon forget. The best part was when my friends went back to the hotel and I was left to wander the festival grounds on my own. The beauty and love that I experienced was like a dream. I met a variety of characters that made me feel at home in this strange place. It reminded me that you are never truly alone. The universe is always there to take care of you.
Later that night it was off to the after parties. First we headed to the Civic Center for the official after party. This was just okay. It was a rave style atmosphere in an enclosed civic center so it had a "been there done that" feel. We headed over to the SOMA Arts Cultural Center for another after party called Love Infusion. This was the proper vibe for me and my crew. A chill outdoor area with trees and bean bags was the centerpiece of the venue, but there were three rooms inside playing breaks and trance. I was able to meet more San Fran people in an intimate environment. All around this was an excellent trip. I will be returning to San Francisco soon enough.
Friday, September 29, 2006
Thursday, September 28, 2006
I am back and fully recovered from my wonderful trip to San Francisco. I went there to cover the San Francisco Love Fest for Prefixmag.com but also finally get to see the city since I have written several stories in Black Meetings & Tourism. Thank you to Tim at the CVB and Debbie at the Hilton San Francisco for everything. I got a excellent press kit from the CVB that had passes to many of the city's attractions as well as a pass for the train and the bus that really came in handy.
I arrived in San Fran early on Friday morning (around 9:30) and I took the train to my hotel. The Hilton is located on O'Farrell street, three blocks from Market street, and close to Union Square, so basically it is in the heart of San Francisco. Everything was in walking distance. No sooner had I sat my bags down was I back out the door to explore this magical city. San Fran reminded me of New York but much cleaner, not as crowded and with nicer people. It is just beautiful and I snapped photos of everything.
In one day I explore Union Square, Chinatown, Nob Hill, Market Street, The Modern Art Museum, The Embarcadero, The Waterfront, Fisherman's Wharf, I walked from one end of Powell Street to the other, Haight Ashbury, and the Castro.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Label: A&M Records
3 out of 5 stars
By Norman Mayers
Stacy Ferguson aka Fergie has had a long, hard journey to get to this point. She appeared on the cheesy 80s show, Kids Incorporated before becoming a part of the girl group Wild Orchid. But it was her addition to the lineup of stagnant hip-hop group the Black Eyed Peas that made her a star, transforming the group into a Grammy-winning, multi-platinum monster. Hate her or love her, Fergie's strong voice, multi-cultural look, and vibrant energy made all the difference for the Peas, so it was inevitable that she would release a solo project. With last summer's major hit "My Humps", Fergie established herself as a ghetto diva that kicks old school rhymes and loves teasing men with her banging body. With "The Dutchess" Fergie attempts to broaden her sound into various genres, but her attitude and style is truly best suited to playful teases.
Despite the fact that "My Humps" was a massive hit there are plenty of those who hate it. I, for one, am a fan of its throwaway charms. It was meant to be a playful homage to old school female raps and electro bass conventions. So it is no surprise that what works best on "The Dutchess" are the tracks with uptempo 808 beats and silly throwaway rhymes. Tracks such as "Fergalicious" and "Here I Come" are fun and flirty and contain silly lines like "My body stays vicious/ I be up in the gym/Just working on my fitness." But they work because of the dancefloor productions that not only reference 80s hip-hop but 60s Motown sounds as well. The album's highpoints are the bombastic first single "London Bridge" and the brilliant "Clumsy", which contains a Little Richard sample over some blippy beats. When the album strays into other territories things sometimes fall apart such as on the cheesy ballad "Finally" and the even cheesier "All That I Got (The Make Up Song)". There are some successful attempts at depth as on the ska-flavored "Voodoo Doll", which frankly deals with Fergie's much publicized drug addiction and on the sexy R&B of "Velvet".
Fergie is definitely talented enough to compete with the likes of Gwen Stefani and Christina Aguilera but the material on The Dutchess simply isn't strong enough for her to reach those heights on her first solo effort. With some more time in the studio, Fergie is bound to truly shine.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Thursday was definitely a busy night for me. I was out again to catch a performance by MC Tali and Reid Speed. I had set up an interview with Tali for my site Nu-Soul and I wanted to catch her sing and get to meet her. Which I did. It's cool that now I am the boss and I get to coordinate and just meet and greet rather then do the interview itself. Feels kinda nice!
Like I have said before my life is all about different vibes. I went to a reception on Thursday September 7 at the Fairmont Newport Beach in Orange County. It was a bit of a drive so I had to leave the office at around 2pm just to be sure that I beat the traffic for the 5pm event.
I was a bit skeptical since the event took place in Newport Beach which is known to be lily white but the city still has always advertised with Black Meetings & Tourism so it was important that a representative be present.
The hotel itself was a very upscale business property and it was very nice. They had site tours available so invited guests could see the rooms, the pool area, and all that. But what was great about the reception was that no matter where you went in the hotel there was food and drink right there. I mean, they had a bar set up in the 7th floor hallway!
At the pool area they were making shrimp and scallop kebobs and serving Coronas and Margaritas. The lobby, lounge, restaurant, bar and private dining areas on the main floor were the best though. Fancy hors d'oevres and wine were being served in every nook and cranny of the place. It was all really top shelf stuff. They even had an ice martini bar.
Then they opened the ballrooms and outdoor event space for the over 600 people that showed up. The outdoor space had sushi bars and some fancy cars that were being raffled off. They were from Lexus but they sure looked like Scions.
The ballrooms were also filled with activity. The larger room had a huge salad bar and carving stations for the meat lovers. A bar was situated in the middle of the room with a jazz band elevated in the middle of it. The smaller room had a ridiculous dessert setup. It had white chocolate fountains and berry, whipped cream thingies and chocolate delights. I really love my job!
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Label: Sony Urban/Columbia
4 out of 5 stars
By Norman Mayers
Destiny's Child front woman turned solo superstar Beyonce doesn't seem to get much vacation time. She returns to the spotlight once again with her second solo release, "B'Day". Recorded in just two weeks after B wrapped the big budget film Dreamgirls, "B'Day" finds Beyonce at the top of her game. Its a joyous uptempo album full of vibrant vocals, fierce production, and boundless energy. The only complaint is that it's over too soon.
Beyonce is pretty much the dominant force in mainstream R&B and with good reason. The extremely polished songwriter, singer and performer delivers the goods every time. "B'Day" builds on the strengths of "Dangerously In Love" and multiplies them. No one can touch Beyonce on an uptempo track and the album is packed with some of the best dance tracks of her career. Besides the funky lead single "Déjà Vu" standouts such as the Rich Harrison produced "Freakum Dress" and the Neptunes helmed "Kitty Kat" are destined to become classics. Musically the album seems to incorporate more of a live sound, the prime example being the 70s funk flavored "Suga Mama". Every track has a fresh approach in terms of production and will probably raise the bar for R&B production in the coming year. Second single "Ring The Alarm" is true evidence of Beyonce's willingness to take chances. The aggressive shouting and rock edge found on the Swizz Beatz production is the last thing anyone would have expected from the superstar diva, which makes it all the more brilliant. The tempo of the album drops for the last track, which is expected, although it would have been nice if Beyonce completely committed to the dance vibe. But at just 10 tracks the album feels slightly incomplete. For an artist with this level of talent the fans deserve another three cuts.
Beyonce's place at the top was probably solidified at the Grammys two years ago but with "B'Day" she continues her winning streak. In the world of contemporary soul, everyone is just catching up to her.
Columbia Records site
Monday, September 11, 2006
This weekend I went to the Gay Erotic Expo with Pink Mafia Radio. It was a lot of fun just milling around and snapping picture with the various adult entertainment personalities. I got to meet one of my current favorites, Brian Hansen. He is a little guy from Australia but so cute.
I also was involved with an interview of Tiger Tyson and the Pitbull Productions models.
We also got to interview the people behind Flavaworks and chat with some of their models.
It was nice to meet the people in this industry and see them as people who are working and promoting their business instead of just seeing them as horny freaks.
Hope you enjoy these pics.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
I recently went to Las Vegas to cover Zumanity for Pinkmafiaradio.com. I set everything up directly through Cirque du Soleil, so I had front row seats, access to the backstage and a half price rate on a room. The goal was to interview Alex Castro but he was out sick so we got some of the other stars.
The show was absolutely amazing I have to say and this was by far the best trip I ever took to Vegas. It makes such a difference when you stay in the heart of the strip and get a free show!
The interview with the cast members was also fun. We got to go back stage and chat with a few of the gay cast members about the nature of the show and their part in it.