A Good Barber


I was checking out The Sartorialist blog this morning and was delighted to see a very familiar face.  Let me introduce you to my barber, Robby.  He is a native New Yorker and is of the coolest dudes I’ve met since I moved here.  Whenever I need a cut, or whenever I need info on a hotspot in the City, he puts me on.  He’s a barber and a walking NYC almanac.

The relationship between a man and his barber is a special one.  You have to like them (Robby gets my hard-earned cash almost every week, so I had better) and you have to trust them (I wouldn’t feel comfortable with just anyone holding a sharp razor to my face).  I liken getting a haircut to going on a roadtrip with a friend—there are moments when you want to talk and then there are moments when you just want to be quiet and fade off into the hum of the engine (or in this case, the buzz of the clippers).  A good barber can tell the difference.  Conversations can range from “what is my purpose in life?” deep to “did you see that girl who just passed by?” shallow.  A good barber can sense when each type is appropriate.  

I’m actually going to see him this afternoon and after he daps me up he’ll undoubtedly ask me the same question he does everytime I climb into his chair: “What are you getting done today?”  And everytime my answer is the same: “The regular.” And then, without any further direction, he gets to work.  Because he knows his client, a good barber will already know the answer to this type of question.  But out of courtesy and for the sake of professionalism, he asks it anyway.  Robby is a good barber.

You can catch Robby at Changing Faces Barber Salon at 692 Fulton St. in Brooklyn.





The Meaning of Michelle Obama

By Nancy Gibbs and Michael Scherer

Time Magazine

It was just two days after the Inauguration when an e-mail went around to Michelle Obama’s staff, instructing everyone to be in the East Room of the White House at 3 that afternoon. The First Lady’s advisers arrived to find the room filled with ushers and plumbers, electricians and maids and kitchen crew gathered in a huge circle, and Michelle in a T shirt and ponytail, very casual and very much in charge.

“This is my team that came with me from Chicago,” Michelle said, pointing to her communications staff and policy people. “This is my team who works here already,” she went on, indicating the ring of veterans around the room. Many of the household staff had served for decades; some had postponed retirement because they wanted to serve an African-American President. And so the two groups formed concentric rings and spent the next hour or so making sure that everyone had a chance to meet everyone else. I want you to know that you won’t be judged based on whether they know your name, Michelle had warned her advisers. You’ll be judged based on whether you know theirs.

The White House became as much Michelle Obama’s stage as her husband’s even before she colored the fountains green for St. Patrick’s Day, or mixed the Truman china with the World’s Fair glasses at a state dinner, or installed beehives on the South Lawn, or turned the East Room into a jazz lounge for a night or sacrificed her first sock to the First Puppy. Of all the revelations of her first 100 days, the most striking was that she made it seem natural. She did not spend decades dreaming of this destination, and maybe that’s the secret. “I’m not supposed to be here,” she says again and again. And ever since she arrived, she has been asking, “What are the things that we can do differently here, the things that have never been done, the people who’ve never seen or experienced this White House?”

For the rest of the article visit Time

I never tire of seeing and reading about our First Lady.  The picture above is absolutely awe-striking.

A couple more pictures below.


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"In hoc signo vinces (You'll Win Under this Sign)" by Bettina Werner; NO.3 panels 80 x 24 inches each © Bettina Werner 1993;Painting created with textured colorized salt technique invented by Bettina Werner in the early 1980’s

A human being
is a unique being,
single and unrepeatable.
Work hard at fulfilling yourself.
With courage,
mark out in your life
irreversible red cross,
and keep going, erect,
along your marvelous path.
Learn to be alone
and keep yourself company.
Let your mind listen and absorb.
Let the most dazzling secret salt of the earth
penetrate you.
Demand intransigence, rigorous verticality.
Don’t be afraid of facing the unknown,
and with violent desire
say YES to life.

–Bettina Werner

A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine invited me to a cocktail party in this really great penthouse overlooking the East River.  The view was magnificent, but what really caught my eye was the painting above and, particularly, the poem that accompanies it. 

In hoc signo vinces in Latin means “in this [sign] you will conquer.”  As the legend goes, while marching with his army Constantine looked up in the sky and saw a cross of light and the Greek words “by this, be victorious!”, (or In hoc signo vinces in Latin).   That night, Constantine had a dream in which Christ told him that he should use the sign of the cross against his enemies, making it one of the earliest Christian symbols.  Centuries later, acclaimed Italian artist Bettina Werner used the same symbol and phrase when creating the artwork above. 

Both her painting and her poem inspire me, and I hope they provide inspiration for you too.  For more information on Bettina Werner and her artwork click HERE.

“YES” indeed,


Tea Time


Despite generally crappy weather, thousands of people across the country came out for today’s Tax Day Tea Parties to protest the Obama administration (or just Obama in general), big government, “socialism,” Congress, Democrats, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

I don’t agree with these people, but seeing them make their voices heard about the things they believe in (even in this case, lol) reminds me of how great our country is.  I imagine that for many of you, most of the images will make your blood boil, but I encourage you to take a step back and appreciate what these protests represent—democracy.

More pictures below.  To read more about the “Tea Parties” across the country CLICK HERE.




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blood_86203dImages: The Guardian

I don’t agree with their method or most of their message, but from a photo-journalistic perspective these images from the anti-capitalism (among other things) protests/riots in London during last week’s G20 Summit GO SO HARD!

More photos below.

Activists or Anarchists?


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Sign of the Times

jobapprPew Research Center for the People & The Press

Via Pew Research Center:

For all of his hopes about bipartisanship, Barack Obama has the most polarized early job approval ratings of any president in the past four decades. The 61-point partisan gap in opinions about Obama’s job performance is the result of a combination of high Democratic ratings for the president — 88% job approval among Democrats — and relatively low approval ratings among Republicans (27%)…

The growing partisan divide in presidential approval ratings is part of a long-term trend. Going back in time, partisanship was far less evident in the early job approval ratings for both Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon. In fact, a majority of Republicans (56%) approved of Carter’s job performance in late March 1977, and a majority of Democrats (55%) approved of Nixon’s performance at a comparable point in his first term.

I think this is so telling of where we are as a country and where we’re going.  I must say, though, that I’m not at all surprised.  Just last week, both the House and Senate passed President Obama’s budget with ZERO affirmative votes from Republicans.



Texas Toast

This makes me want a bike.

For more Click here.

Have a great weekend,



The European continent is having its first taste of President and Michelle Obama: The pair arrived in the French city of Strasbourg this morning, which is co-hosting a two-day NATO conference with the neighboring German city of Kehl. Obama is scheduled for one-on-one meetings with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel before the conference. At the conference, he will push allies to pledge more NATO troops to Afghanistan. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told The Times of London that NATO allies need to “take a hard look at what they believe is their highest and best contribution”. She added, “We’ll begin talking in specifics at the NATO summit in Strasbourg.”

SOURCES: The Daily Beast, The London Times

Even though Nicolas Sarkozy makes me cringe sometimes, his ex-supermodel wife Carla Bruni makes me smile.  But despite her disarmingly beautiful looks, I must admit that the first thing that caught my eye in the picture above was Mrs. Obama. 

Nevertheless, the two ladies in the middle of that photo create a beautifully neutralizing effect to what would’ve could’ve been an awkward photo given Sarkozy and President Obama’s recent disagreements.

More photos below and after the jump.


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The most recent Gallup Poll indicates that Americans’ favorability rating of Michelle Obama is even higher than her husband’s.  According to the March 27-29 poll, the First Lady barely edges the President out with her 72% rating to his 69% rating. (Both of which are particularly high).


Now, it’s not at all uncommon for the First Lady to have a higher favorability rating than the President.  In fact, while they were in the White House, both Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton were more popular than their husbands.  But what makes Mrs. Obama’s rating especially interesting is how far she’s come in the minds of the American people.  At one point during the presidential campaign people thought that she might actually be a hinderance to her husband being elected.  Check out the graph below to see how her favorability has progressed:


It should also be noted that Presidential Favorability is different than Presidential Job Approval—favorability is likability, job approval is quite literal.  Either way, the Prez is doing well right now as has consistently ranked in the low 60s in the daily Gallup job approval poll since he took office. 


 More pics of the Obama’s first trip to Europe after the jump.


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If you went to www.Google.com today to search for anything, you probably noticed an announcement just below the search bar that read Introducing CADIE: a singular upgrade to your online life.”   If you proceeded to click on the link, you were probably thinking “WTF?!?” But don’t worry, it was just the April Fool’s Day prank that Google pulls every year.  Read this year’s below:

Cognitive Autoheuristic Distributed-Intelligence Entity

March 31st, 2009 11:59:59 pm

Introducing CADIE

Research group switches on world’s first “artificial intelligence” tasked-array system.

For several years now a small research group has been working on some challenging problems in the areas of neural networking, natural language and autonomous problem-solving. Last fall this group achieved a significant breakthrough: a powerful new technique for solving reinforcement learning problems, resulting in the first functional global-scale neuro-evolutionary learning cluster.

Since then progress has been rapid, and tonight we’re pleased to announce that just moments ago, the world’s first Cognitive Autoheuristic Distributed-Intelligence Entity (CADIE) was switched on and began performing some initial functions. It’s an exciting moment that we’re determined to build upon by coming to understand more fully what CADIE’s emergence might mean, for Google and for our users. So although CADIE technology will be rolled out with the caution befitting any advance of this magnitude, in the months to come users can expect to notice her influence on various google.com properties. Earlier today, for instance, CADIE deduced from a quick scan of the visual segment of the social web a set of online design principles from which she derived this intriguing homepage.

These are merely the first steps onto what will doubtless prove a long and difficult road. Considerable bugs remain in CADIE’S programming, and considerable development clearly is called for. But we can’t imagine a more important journey for Google to have undertaken.

For more information about CADIE see this monograph, and follow CADIE’s progress via her YouTube channel and blog.

Did you fall for it?