Infographic showing ethnic diversity in Austin, NYC and other cities

In 2009, Bill Rankin created an infographic of the ethnic distribution in Chicago. It was pretty awesome. Awesome enough that a couple of months ago Eric Fischer took the 2000 US Census Data and did the same thing for 40 other cities.

I love Chicago and spent a lot of time there between '04 & '08. It had always struck me with that city that you can walk across the street and literally feel like you are in a completely different place. Just on a level of race, Rankin's work seemed to support that notion.

Two of my other favorite cities in the world are listed below and they tell very different stories. Each dot represents 25 people. Pink is white, green is asian, yellow is hispanic and blue is black.


Austin is a great city. I haven't spent too much time there, but my girlfriend is from there and I feel like I know it pretty well. The population density is pretty low overall and there seems to be a pretty good mix of ethnic diversity within the various communities.

New York City

Not surprisingly the density of NYC is drastically different than Austin. Although Manhattan at street level has an incredible ethnic mix most of the time, it's hardly surprising that it's so white in terms of residents (except for Chinatown & Harlem).

It's really interesting to see other cities such as Washington, LA, Detroit and SF as well. I've also been watching a lot of The Wire lately, so seeing Baltimore was also pretty interesting.

Really pushing this band: Fanfarlo

I've been pumping the tires of this band since I discovered them this spring, and they are likely my favorite musical-act-of-the-moment.

I got a bit of validation a couple of weeks ago when I was at a party in Austin. I met a writer for Soundcheck Magazine and when I mentioned I'd gone to SxSW we began comparing some of our favorite acts from the festival. There were a couple of bands I'd never heard of before, but I felt that I was able to keep up for the most part. I have to say I was pretty envious of his insider knowledge - he had access to a lot of bands that didn't start making a name for themselves until or after SxSW. I was most curious about who he felt I should keep my eyes on (of course the ones I remember are the ones that I already know, such as Freelance Whales).

Later in the evening he came up to me and said that the band that I absolutely needed to look in to was Fanfarlo, he had just come back from Bonnaroo and had the opportunity to interview and hang out with them a bit. He felt they were going to be huge but nobody knew who they were yet. Well I knew, and I must say I was/am hugely impressed with myself (I realize that this makes me a huge nerd).

I love to pump up music that I have an appreciation for, but also has a quality that could give it mass appeal. Sometimes it works out for me (I pushed Oasis huge in '94), other times it didn't (Kula Shaker in '95)... now that I've been validated I will definitely be increasing my PR efforts. I've had a couple of people tell me that they think the band is just 'ok' (IDIOTS!) so we'll see how it goes.

I apologize to any real life friends or acquaintances who will be annoyed with my pushing.


The Best Video Store I've Ever Been To

Video Store?

"Brian," you might be saying, "you're at the leading... no, BLEEDING edge of technologies and the internets, why are you going to a video store? That's so pre-2007." Well, first of all, thanks for the recognition. Secondly, I happen to like to rent the odd video and I especially love independent video stores.

In Calgary, we have Bird Dog - which is awesome & you should go there if you are from Calgary and haven't been. While in Austin, I went to I Luv Video. It was great. A few things that made it so great:
  • Giant mural on the back wall incorporating images from everything from Star Wars to Oldboy.
  • Canada was a foreign films section.
  • The wall of shame, which names the people who didn't return their videos.
  • My favorite: comments from the staff taped on the covers of notable videos.

(for the record, we rented 'Tim & Eric Awesome Show Great Job, Season 3' and 'Broken Embraces'... but only saw the former)

There isn't much room for video stores in today's day & age. Big name stores in Canada (and I'm sure elsewhere) have been creating a lot of available retail space recently. The shops that survive are going to have to make sure they carve out a niche for themselves if they will survive for the next 10 years. Bird Dog & I Luv Video have done a good job of that so far - it is enjoyable to go to those places. They have created a brand for themselves that has allowed them to thrive when the big players are suffering big time.

They are a few years behind what the record shops have been experienced at the hands of the internet. In the music world, the likes of Virgin, Tower and HMV are all but extinct. Megatunes, a Calgary & Edmonton institution, is now also closing up shop. I hope that in the next few years that Bird Dog and I Luv Video will be able to adapt & avoid the fate of their record store counterparts.

Before I forget...

I have 4 SXSW tabs open in my browser, which I didn't want to close until I had a chance to write about my last few days at the festival. I'm not necessarily known for my memory so keeping tabs open helps me remember what's what. However, now that I'm back in Calgary, I have had trouble finding the time to blog, etc. I have a very compelling reason to be traveling again in mid-April so right now I'm working my ass off to make that happen.

I would like to come back later and review a band or two, but for now I'm just going to list out some of the bands that I was able to see on Friday & Saturday...

Japandroids, The Drums, The Very Best, An Horse, Suckers, The Antlers, She & Him, Chico Mann, Washed Out, Real Estate, Yelawolf, Sleigh Bells, Bone Thugs & Harmony, Junius, the Uglysuit, Athlete

The bolded acts were good to great. Sleigh Bells rocked their last song (Crown on the Ground, which was the only one I knew) but otherwise was pretty lame. Yelawolf was probably the most randomly entertaining (think 2010's bad-ass Vanilla Ice who throws out jeans, shoes that are in the shoebox, and full cans of Budweiser in to the audience) but were horrible musically. I had been listening to a lot of Uglysuit when I was in Brooklyn, so was really happy that they put on a great show... maybe my favorite set of SXSW. An Horse lived up to their name, Bone Thugs taught me a thing or two about different years in hip hop as well as dead rappers, and Athlete put on a really good acoustic show (which was probably good because the lead singer was drinking my water).

I saw a bunch of other music in bars, restaurants, taco/beer gardens, and on the street (including one of the better bands I saw, who are behind Cousin It in the above photo... I can't remember their name).

SXSW 2010 was a success. I will definitely be back next year with a few things in mind:

- pace yourself
- ABC's of SXSW are Always Be Charging
- bring business cards even if you're just hanging out
- don't expect to be able to do everything
- expect dumb questions from the audience
- expect dumb answers from the panel
- don't stick around if the session you're in is bombing
- you will meet important people just standing around
- get a hotel downtown
- breakfast tacos are a great cheap meal
- Fogo de Chao is a great expensive meal
- Sunday is free breakfast day
- rsvp to the parties
- rsvp with a +1
- don't rely on the SXSW web site for all of the event info around town
- don't rely on my.sxsw at all
- prepare for low urinals
- eat whenever you can and drink lots of water
- tequila to start the day, not to end it
- don't bring red wine in the hot tub room
- just because it's Texas doesn't mean it doesn't get damn cold
- suits are overkill and douchey, no need to pack even as a precaution
- packing extra socks couldn't hurt because the ones you packed might have giant holes in them
- Franks, Buffalo Billiards, Driskoll, Chupacabra, Stoney's Pizza, Iron Cactus, and Imperia
- spend more time in South Congress
- make time for Uncommon Objects
- even though giving the cab to the white supremacists might seem like a good idea, maybe just take it yourself as they may have left some friends behind.

Wicked Day

Yesterday, after a late start, I met up with my new friends from Wednesday's Fader Fort lineup. They wanted to see a separate band, but I was pleasantly surprised that Bowerbirds was about to start a set when I got there. After some initial sound problems, they had a great set. Then the group split apart a bit, a friend (Ashlea) and I went to go see the Delta Spirit at the IFC. They were filming something for the IFC channel to promote their new album, so we wanted to get in to see that. Ashlea doesn't have a pass, so she wasn't allowed in to the venue - however after a bit of fanangling we were able to get in and be part of a 30-person audience. Was very cool.

After high on our luck, we decided to celebrate with some rapid-fire margaritas and tequila shots. It was about 4pm at this point. I was convinced that it would get the party started right and also called a pussy for trying to pace myself. Telling me that I can't do something is pretty much the best way to convince me to do it. With a good buzz on we headed down to the Fader Fort to catch most of the day's lineup. The highlight was the Columbian band Bomba Estero. We hung out with some of the local crowd afterwards and saw GZA from the other side of his venue's fence. Apparently Bill Murray was there, which is odd (I guss GZA and Murray were in a film together).

With several more beverages in our bodies, we thought that for sure we'd be able to get Ashlea in to Stubbs to see Drive By Truckers, Band of Horses and Broken Social Scene. Everyone pretty much guaranteed that wouldn't happen as they were clamping down on wristbands and passes to the bigger shows. However, we got in no problem and was able to see all three bands perform great sets. Emily Haines and James Shaw from Metric came out for one song, which was awesome.

I'm now at the hotel getting ready to see the Japandroids and start my Friday.