Ed Sheeran’s SING

A few years ago I randomly discovered Ed Sheeran on YouTube. At the time, he was not really known in the United States and you couldn’t even buy his debut album in the States. Of course, he had already seen some success in the United Kingdom and Europe at this point.

Ever since first discovering “The A Team” video on YouTube, I have been a big fan of everything that this guy does.

When I heard that he had a new album coming out, I was a little bit worried as a lot of singer songwriters have a great first album and then a really, really bad second one. That’s why they call it the sophomore jinx. And I was really worried that he would have it.

The first time that I heard the new single from the second album, I was a little iffy on it. It doesn’t really sound much like his style on the first album. And I really am not a fan of the bits where he sings real high like Pharrell. If I wanted that, then I would give a listen to “Happy” or the like.

But, after a few listens, I have come around on the new song. No, it is not the greatness that I’ve grown to love so much in “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You” or “Give Me Love” – but it is still better than most of the crap that is out there. I have not yet had a chance to listen to much of the second album, so I have no idea what I actually think about his second album as a unit. I think that he is mad talented, so I just hope that the album is at least close to as good as the first one. While I’m remaining optimistic about it, I am also realistic enough to not actually expect it to be as great. Time will tell though.

If you have yet to hear the song, then you can check it out below in the live performance clip from The Ellen Show.

Overall, I have decided that I really enjoy the beat of this groovy little tune. It’s turning out to be a pretty good thing to listen to when I’m on the home rowing machine or pounding the pavement outside. Try it for your workouts and see if you don’t agree!

Herb and Dorothy

He was a postal worker. She was a librarian. Modern art collecting meets frugality in Herb and Dorothy, a 2008 documentary about a retired couple based in New York who had proven that “you don’t have to be a Rockefeller to collect art.” Together they scrimped, saved and haggled with (then unknown) artists to collect over 4,000 pieces of art that later on became collectively worth millions of dollars.

I saw this documentary last year and instantly made a connection: they’re the Warren Buffetts of the contemporary art world — living simply since the 1960s (in a rented one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan) to be able to buy things that were undervalued and holding on to them — forever (they never sold a single piece). Even when the Vogels (as they are often referred to in the film) were granted an annuity by The National Gallery of Art for the temporary exhibit of their collection in the museum, they did not use the money for food and medicine (as the museum had hoped for) but rather for purchases of more artistic work by contemporary artists. How’s that for passion?

HERB & DOROTHY tells the extraordinary story of Herbert Vogel, a postal clerk, and Dorothy Vogel, a librarian, who managed to build one of the most important contemporary art collections in history with very modest means. In the early 1960s, when very little attention was paid to Minimalist and Conceptual Art, Herb and Dorothy Vogel quietly began purchasing the works of unknown artists. Devoting all of Herb’s salary to purchase art they liked, and living on Dorothy’s paycheck alone, they continued collecting artworks guided by two rules: the piece had to be affordable, and it had to be small enough to fit in their one-bedroom Manhattan apartment. Within these limitations, they proved themselves curatorial visionaries; most of those they supported and befriended went on to become world-renowned artists including Sol LeWitt, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Richard Tuttle, Chuck Close, Robert Mangold, Sylvia Plimack Mangold, Lynda Benglis, Pat Steir, Robert Barry, Lucio Pozzi, and Lawrence Weiner.

After thirty years of meticulous collecting and buying, the Vogels managed to accumulate over 2,000 pieces, filling every corner of their tiny one bedroom apartment. “Not even a toothpick could be squeezed into the apartment,” recalls Dorothy. In 1992, the Vogels decided to move their entire collection to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. The vast majority of their collection was given as a gift to the institution. Many of the works they acquired appreciated so significantly over the years that their collection today is worth millions of dollars. Still, the Vogels never sold a single piece. Today Herb and Dorothy still live in the same apartment in New York with 19 turtles, lots of fish, and one cat. They’ve refilled it with piles of new art they’ve acquired.

HERB & DOROTHY is directed by first time filmmaker Megumi Sasaki. The film received the Golden Starfish Award for the Best Documentary Film and Audience Award from the 2008 Hamptons International Film Festival. It has also received Audience Awards from the 2008 SILVERDOCS Film Festival and the 2009 Philadelphia Cinefest. Palm Springs International Film Festival named HERB & DOROTHY one of their “Best of Fest” films in 2009.

from: http://www.herbanddorothy.com

Herb and Dorothy teaches us a beautiful lesson: not-so-ideal circumstances are no match for passion.

The footage in the documentary’s ending credits is a bit of an easter egg (or so I think). It shows Herb and Dorothy going to an Apple Store, picking out a Mac and bringing it home. The ending of the ending credits? Dorothy checking out her brand new Mac, sitting in the same place where the Vogels have a new and growing art collection. A-ha.

Windows fans need not make a comment.

1 Man, 1 Year, 52 Jobs

Only a handful, I’m sure, knew what it was they wanted to do with their lives the moment they graduated from college. The rest (that includes me) had been absolutely clueless. An exceptional few didn’t get to finish their undergraduate studies – that’s how certain they were of their calling – but ended up tech billionaires or manufacturing tycoons.

It’s a precious thing, this self-awareness, this certainty of what it is you truly want to do with your life at a very young age. If I could go back in time to talk to my younger self (don’t take that banking job, you’ll be happier in a creative field!) I would. Better yet, I would have done what Sean Aiken did: try a host of different jobs for a year.

Sean Aiken, author of The One-Week Job Project (cumulative GPA a perfect 4.0), had the same career dilemma but was more proactive in his soul-searching (or should I say calling-searching?). He took his what-am-I-going-to-do-with-my-life quandary to the next level (and wisely so): try out 1 job per week for a year and find out what it is he’s truly passionate about. In the course of a year, he became a bungee jump master, an advertising executive, a tattooist, a dairy farmer, a pest exterminator and a town mayor, among other interesting one-week pursuits. And I thought I had this wild idea of trying out a temporary life as a barista!

“I admit, my idea was a little wacky, especially when compared with the traditional route: Go to school, get a job, buy stuff, start a family, buy more sutff, retire, die. But far more wacky is the number of people who get out of bed in the morning and absolutely dread going to work because they hate their jobs. I was trying to avoid that fate. I wanted to find something that I’d love. Something that I’d gladly spend forty hours of my life doing each week and that would allow me to pay the bills. Whether this was possible or simply the unrealistic hope of an inexperienced, idealistic twenty-something, I wasn’t sure. But I worried this same hope could easily become regret if I didn’t find out for myself.”

I liked this book for the nuggets of wisdom it succinctly summarized at the end of every job. You also get to pick up a few cool stuff from the numerous people he meets along the way. One of the things that I’ve filed away for future geeky conversation party poopers is this (from an astronomer Aiken has worked with):

“Actually, the edge of the visible universe is the beginning of the universe,” he said. “When we look at the edge of the universe, the every edge of what we can see, we’re looking at the baby picture of the universe – the moment the universe opened up and the light was allowed to shine. That’s the edge that we can see from where we’re standing, but if you were to travel to that edge, and look back at us, you would see the same baby picture.”

And of course, wisdom can be gleaned not only from the intellectual encounters but from the mundane ones as well: “Socialize more, study less” (from his fellow Radio DJ).

Aiken’s book is not only about a young man clever enough to have thought up the idea of immersing himself in different jobs. It’s about a journey to finding one’s own passion (whatever “passion” means to each person).

The One-Week Job Project lets us in on a young man’s adventure: He experienced hours of hitchhiking rejections by the side of a lonely road, almost quit one job because of a power-tripping demi-boss, got interviewed by CNN, was offered to star in a gay pornographic film and found love along the way. Isn’t that  a lot like life?