Why My Facebook Went French

On Friday, November 13, terrorists struck Paris in what was the deadliest attack on the country’s soil since World War II. Explosions were reported across the city, shootings in a restaurant, a hostage situation at a concert hall. The attack left more than 120 people dead, with another 400+ wounded.

Over the past week, we’ve read up on every development—who organized these attacks, the retaliation from the French government, responses from other countries, and most importantly, the stories of hope that comes from the tragedy. You see, in the wake of every terror attack, we have to rely on each other to move forward. In Paris, direct victims will feel the effects for the rest of their lives. Residents, tourists, businesses, etc. in the city will see immediate regulations put in place to prevent future attacks, and the rest of the world will be on high alert, even if for just a short time. We’re still figuring out how to deal with this—it’s an ongoing battle.

For those of us who were not in Paris, who had to watch this attack unfold from our TVs, and we want to do something to help, if for nothing more than to show the victims that they are not alone. Some may donate money, some may pray, and for the millions of users on social media, we tend to turn to the simplest task that can still make an impact—we change our profile picture.

The Paris attacks are not the first time this has happened—we tend to use this tactic every time tragedy strikes. The colors and design change each time, but the message is always the same—we are thinking of the victims, we understand what happened, and that we stand with them. It’s the same reason we wear yellow ribbons—to silently remind the world that we are thinking of the troops fighting overseas. These little posts, they are symbols that offer some comfort to those who were directly affected. They remind us that we are together in this.

Since the Paris attacks, my Facebook page has turned into a sea of red, white and blue. Among the twitter of news headlines, funny cat videos, and Star Wars trailers, we’ve created a unifying reminder that as our lives move on, we are still thinking of those affected by the terrorist attacks. Days will pass, and slowly the social media site will go back to the way it was, exactly as the real world grows and moves on from each tragedy. But for those few days, our pictures act as a symbol that shows we are there, and that we feel their sadness. It’s our gesture to comfort those facing the unimaginable, and if it makes one person feel a little better, then I will be satisfied.

Unfortunately, not everyone has the same idea. Countering the posts of hope and love, I’ve seen so many people feeling compelled to criticize the profile picture change. They take a tragedy and, in an attempt to display their wider social view (?) or maybe their negative look at the world (?), and turn the argument into the weight of these pictures. They make the tragedy about them, showing how their self-righteous decision to NOT change their picture will have a better impact on the world. They could not be more wrong.

Some make fun of the concept, saying that it’s pointless to change your picture because it will not make a difference. But let me remind you, these pictures are meant to inspire and replenish hope to those in need; it’s just one little step in a bigger structure to make the world a better place. By pouring your negativity into that, you’re not helping. You’re just trying to tear our structure down.

Others may argue that instead of changing your picture, you should donate money. I agree that donations are appreciated, but sometimes people are in situations where they can’t make a donation. Or maybe they choose not to. But these people, the ones bitching about the pictures, are just looking for the pat on the back—it’s not enough that they donate money, but they need to be acknowledged as a good person for doing that. They’re missing the point—this isn’t about you.

Now yes, it may be a bit hypocritical of me to write about this, but the more complaining I see online, the sadder I feel. There is so much negativity in our world that it gives me anxiety—I shouldn’t feel guilty for changing my picture. I shouldn’t feel angry when I read these opinions. If I am feeling this way, I’m sure your negativity is not making anyone else feel better, especially those who are trying to piece back their life in Paris.

I chose to change my profile picture to the red, white and blue French flag to show my support, to let the world know that Paris was on my mind. If it makes one person smile, then it will be worth it.

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Music Festival Business: The First Issue

In 2013,  I was approached by a sales rep within my company to help start a B2B publication that focused on the production of music festivals. At the time, festivals were just starting to grow into the phenomenon they are now, so we wanted to get our hands into that side of the industry before anyone else. What we came up with was a tabloid publication with vignettes of various festivals held throughout the year, interviews with organizers and sound companies involved, and tech specific features for the pro audio/ live sound members of the festival circuit.

My role, as editor, was to plan and execute all the editorial, from assigning the freelance articles, to writing my own articles. I also worked closely with the rest of my editorial team, managing the production and layout of the final copy of each issue.

While the publication is a once-a-year product now, I am still heavily involved in the planning and executing of each edition. However, of all the issues we’ve produced, the premier 2013 edition is still my favorite. Here you can access a digital copy of our first edition: MFB_09_13

‘Hamilton’ on My Mind

Our rappin' founding fathers.

Our Rappin’ Founding Fathers.

How does a Broadway superstar, adding to his repertoire, transform the tale of a founding father into a hip-hop legend selling out every night? Ok, so I tried to rhyme against Lin-Manuel’s Miranda’s narrative beat from his hit Broadway show, ‘Hamilton,’ but unfortunately I don’t think I have the creativity to write for the stage. But that doesn’t mean I can’t gawk at the sheer brilliance of Miranda’s latest sell out hit.

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months, I’m referring to ‘Hamilton,’ a hip-hop musical that tells the story of our “Ten Dollar Founding Father,” Alexander Hamilton, and his contributions to the American Revolution and the birth of the United States. It’s a mix of rap narrative, meshed with hip hop/ pop numbers that will leave you humming the tune every hour of the day, all while teaching you about the start of our country. I never thought I’d see the day when American history would seem sexy to me, but then again, you never know with today’s creative minds.

I’m not sure if I can pinpoint my favorite part of this musical—since I discovered the soundtrack on Spotify last week it’s been the only thing I’ve listened to (unfortunately tickets are sold out or insanely expensive all the way into July 2016, so unless you are Beyonce of Obama, you are stuck listening to the recordings). If I’m being honest, ‘Hamilton’ is the only thing I’ve TALKED about in the past week, hence why I was compelled to write about it. I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription is more Alexander Hamilton.

I’ve listened to the entire album start to finish more times than I can count. Work, subway, before bed, it’s really consumed my life. I’ve over-analyzed every line, researched every battle, and I figured the easiest way to discuss it was in list form, since I’ve had a piece of paper by my desk for three days where I jot down ideas about why I love this so much.

  1. Immigration Pride. ‘Hamilton,’ while it may be about the start of our nation, has many themes that are still relevant today. Most notably, the theme of immigrants coming to this country to make a name for his or herself rings through every song. America was founded by immigrants, it relies on immigrants, and sometimes we forget that. But one of the things that makes me most proud to be an American is that you can come to this country and work your way up—we’re not perfect yet, we’re still fighting for full equality, but we have more opportunities than other countries. ‘Hamilton’ reminds us just how important this truth is.
  1. Strong female characters. The Schuyler Sisters are pretty badass. Especially that Angelica, who knew how to work a crowd to get what she needed, but will also fight for her sister before anyone else—even herself. And you have to love her best line in that catchy, all-girl soul number—“We hold these truths to be self-evident/ That all men are created equal/And when I meet Thomas Jefferson/ I’m ‘a compel him to include women in the sequel!”
  1. Aaron Burr. As the narrator of the tale, Burr kind of has this Antonio Salieri vibe—Hamilton was this young, unknown name who quickly rose in the ranks. You can sense that jealously and tension as Burr and Hamilton’s relationship progresses, much like Salieri felt over Mozart in the classic film, ‘Amadeus.’ Of course, we know how the story ends, in a duel between the two men that (spoilers) ends Hamilton’s life, but the story is so well told in this musical that the final songs bring you to tears. And you feel for Burr—like in the song “The World Was Wide Enough,” he says his decision to shoot Hamilton made him the villain of the story, even if he wasn’t the worst person ever. (Related: there is an Aaron Burr card in Cards Against Humanity and I hope to God I get that during my annual Christmas Eve game with my extended family).
  1. The lyrics. Miranda is a lyrical genius. I’m not throwing that term out lightly either—it’s a rare thing to really see the story through just the words, and yet in every battle scene, every argument that I listen to in the story, I can see it in front of me. In “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down),” you can see the surrender as the man in the red coat stands on that parapet (also, who else looked up parapet when they heard that part?). You can see King George prancing around in his hilarious numbers. And when some of the characters get their shouts outs (Hercules Mulligan! Lafayette!) you want to stand up and cheer with them. The words alone bring you back to the 1700 and 1800s, just with a badass twist.
  1. Leaving a Legacy. Hamilton is obsessed throughout the musical about what his name will mean after he dies. “Non-Stop” really plays this with the line “Why do you write like you’re running out of time?” Of course it’s dramatized a bit since we know what happens to him, but it still shows truth behind how much the real Alexander Hamilton worked to help this nation before his early death. And as Alex says, ‘a legacy is planting flowers in a garden we never see.’

To be honest, I didn’t know much about Alexander Hamilton before this musical—I had to take some time to research each battle and his role in the American Revolution. But Miranda’s work is doing what so many history teachers have tried to do—make history cool.

    I've become so enamored with 'Hamilton' I get emotional over the ten dollar bill.

    I’ve become so enamored with ‘Hamilton’ I get emotional over the ten dollar bill.

    AES Delves Inside Mixing Late Night TV

    The Audio Engineering Society held its annual Convention at the Javits Center in New York City on October 29 to November 1, with lectures, panels, and a show floor of the latest products from the Pro Audio industry. My role at AES each year is to make sure the hottest events are covered for the show daily magazine. This year, the session that stood out was the Grammy Soundtable: After Hours—Mixing for Late Night TV. You can read my coverage here or at its original location here.

    The faces of late night television have changed dramatically over the last few years, ushering in a new generation of hosts. In 2014, Jimmy Fallon moved up from his NBC late night gig to take over for Jay Leno on The Tonight Show. David Letterman, who hosted Late Show with David Letterman since 1993, retired earlier this year, handing the show over to Stephen Colbert, the comedian, actor and former star of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report.

    Late night television’s hosts weren’t the only changes though—with these new shows also came complete overhauls of the show studios, which are designed first for visuals, then audio, giving the shows’ sound engineers a special challenge of mixing clear audio in the smaller studios.

    In this year’s Grammy SoundTables panel, moderated by Will Lee of the CBS orchestra and Late Night with David Letterman, a panel of sound engineers discussed their positions in late night television and how they adapt to each show’s unique challenges. Panelists included: Harvey Goldberg, Late Night with David Letterman and Late Night with Stephen Colbert; Josiah Gluck, Saturday Night Live; and Lawrence Manchester, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

    “In general, making music for TV is not always the best acoustic environment,” said Goldberg. Since Colbert took over, Goldberg said he could tell what acoustic changes were made to the theater when it was redone. The same occurred at Fallon’s studio 6B at 30 Rockefeller Center in New York.

    “Jimmy (Fallon) wanted the new studio to sound fantastic, for both him and the audience,” said Manchester. While each show has its own unique format, one of the most common challenges each producer faces is mixing audio in a short time span. For Manchester, Fallon’s writers will come up with a musical segment a few days (and sometimes a few hours) before filming, leaving him with the challenge to create a plan as fast as possible. This is usually for Fallon’s musical impressions, or collaborations with guests throughout the show. “The experience relies on ample time—you don’t have a lot of time in late night but that forces you to come in with your best plan,” he said.

    Over at SNL, Gluck said they usually start figuring out recording plans on Thursday— two days before the live performance. For the 40th anniversary special, Gluck said they used a lot of wireless for the musical performances to add flexibility to the show.