Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson's Last Dance at the Apollo: Impersonators, Love Letters, News Crews and Tchotchkes

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Above: The most popular Michael Jackson vigil in New York City last night was at the Apollo in Harlem, where a spirited tribute was paid to the late "King of Pop".

Above: Michael Jackson fans danced to his beats all night long at the Apollo. This photo was taken at around 2:00 a.m. on Friday morning. The Apollo festivities began during the early news of Jackson's death on Friday afternoon.

Above: Coined "DJ Standpipe" by the guy in the hat on the left, this Jackson fan played "what the people want to hear" all night across from Apollo Theater.

Above: A video of the Apollo Theater Michael Jackson tribute dance party in action.

Above: A well-received Michael Jackson impersonator with someone I think looks like LL Cool J.

Above: CNN Senior U.N. Correspondent Richard Roth (also an NYU grad) reported live from the Apollo in Harlem.

Above: Four cardboard boxes were taped in the entrance of the Apollo, where fans poured their hearts out to Jackson, leaving both notes of peace and love.

Above: Finding space on the cardboard memoir was difficult for late-comers.

Above: Another Michael Jackson impersonator appeared in Times Square. Less welcomed than the impersonator at the Apollo, this guy stood awkwardly in a sea of camera-happy tourists. A group of angry fans approached him at one point for his tasteless act. I feared that he was on the verge of getting beat up.

I stayed at The New York Times building until 11:30pm last night after work, staying updated on the latest news on Michael Jackson's shocking death. By around 10pm, I had a game plan. I learned of the two vigil sites by then. One took place at Times Square outside the recently-closed Virgin Records Megastore. After hearing about it, I highly publicized that one on Twitter and Facebook, to get the word out.

Shortly after, it occurred to me that the Apollo Theater in Harlem HAD to be the most spirited MJ vigil in NYC. Why? The Apollo is where he first performed as a 9-year-old boy with The Jackson 5. It is also where the band won the coveted Apollo Amateur Night award in 1969.

Weikai (my boyfriend) and I decided to check it all out. After a brief visit to Times Square, where we saw an awkwardly still Michael Jackson impersonator, we headed to Harlem. Exiting the subway, we heard MJ music blaring from many passing cars. The two-block walk to Apollo was pretty eventless, but upon arriving we heard music from various sources filling the air, saw a much more graceful and tasteful impersonator, spotted a few news crews (including CNN), witnessed fans signing a piece of cardboard in memory of Jackson, and passed by a few tchotchke-sellers.

Within about 20 minutes, I even saw my supervisor, Soraya, who directed me a few blocks away from the Apollo where hyped-up fans were chanting "Michael, Michael, Michael...". A few minutes after arriving to the new site of fans, it was broken up by the NYPD who told the fans to go around the corner (out of the street) to a safer place.

By that time, it was nearly 2:30a.m. and Weikai and I were getting sleepy. I left feeling like I had witnessed a part of history -- a moment in time that many will remember for years to come.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson Vigil TONIGHT at MIDNIGHT: NYC Times Square Virgin Records Store

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Above: Michael Jackson in London in March 2009 (Photo: AP)

Michael Jackson Vigil
Where: Times Square Virgin Records Store
1540 Broadway, between West 45th and 46th Streets)
When: June 25, 2009 at Midnight

Calling all Michael Jackson fans. Come celebrate the life and music of Michael Jackson, the "King of Pop". See you there!

And before you come, feel free to share your thoughts and photos on the "Michael Jackson Legacy" page on

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jon & Kate Gosselin: The First Ten Years

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Above: A screenshot of the video player on TLC's homepage, advertising the next special episode of Jon and Kate Plus 8

Last night, TLC played the special 1-hour episode of Jon & Kate Plus 8, in which Jon and Kate Gosselin, the parents of twins and sextuplets (8 children in all), announced that they had filed for divorce earlier on Monday (yesterday). Minutes before the end of the episode, a black screen with white text read:
On Monday June 22, 2009, legal proceedings were initiated in Pennsylvania to dissolve the 10-year marriage of Jon and Kate Gosselin.
Now, on, the network has already begun advertising the next episode, "Jon & Kate Plus 8: The First 10 Years". The trailer goes:
A lot can change in a decade. For the first time, go back to the very beginning to see the complete story of Jon and Kate's ten-year marriage. It's a special one-hour retrospective with a look at what's ahead for the family.
Wow. The network is relentless. I guess it's totally expected, though, as everyone's out for money these days. Ugh. What a depressing past few days it has been for the Gosselin family.

Monday, June 15, 2009

I Love Harney and Sons Fine Teas

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This post is definitely long overdue! While at the 2009 Coffee and Tea Festival NYC in April, my friend, boyfriend and I happened to meet Michael Harney, Jennifer and Jess from Harney & Sons Fine Teas. We were all volunteering, as we're all tea fanatics. We had no idea that Harney & Sons would be at the festival though, and coincidentally they are both Joanne's favorite tea and mine, too! How so, you ask? Joanne actually included Chinese Flower and Wedding teas in her wedding favors! And as for me, I drink Harney & Sons Tea every day at work to start the day off right! My desk collection is pictured below.

Above: My Harney & Sons tea collection at work includes Chinese Flower, Winter White Earl Grey, Pomegranate Oolong and African Autumn. I can't start my day without a cup of fresh tea!

Above: While at the Coffee and Tea Festival, Michael Harney gave us full tins of Wedding, Mutan White and Lung Ching teas! So generous! I was so happy to extend my collection!

Above: Michael Harney showed Weikai how to mix the new Matcha tea! We were among the first to try the first shipment! That's Jen in the background. She's in charge of Harney & Sons multimedia and marketing, including the website, blog, catalog, Facebook page, and Twitter page, which are all very impressive and full of information!

Today at work, I tried the Harney and Sons bottled juice. To go with my fresh mozzarella sandwich, I picked up an Organic Lemonade and Tea, as pictured below. It's a 50/50 combo of lemonade and tea (like an Arnold Palmer) and absolutely tasty. It quenched my thirst and made my lunchbreak a lot sweeter! Even better, the cap had a sweet message, "Relax!"

Harney & Sons is my favorite tea company for a lot of reasons, but most importantly:

1.) Their teas are tasty.
2.) They think global and act local. It's a local company with global tea sources, for the best quality teas but from a friendly, local manufacturer.
3.) They have a family feel to them.
4.) They have an unmatched variety of teas from locations all over the world.
5.) Their packaging can be reused for storing almost anything! I love those tins!

If you haven't tried their teas yet, check them out! They're from Millerton, New York, so you can also check out their Tasting Room if you're in the area!


Don't Be a Victim of Flat Hair! ... Or Attrociously Large Hair!

Has anyone seen the newest infomercial about Bumpits, by Big Apple Hair? If not, please enjoy above. This commercial is outrageous, featuring big-haired moms, cheerleaders and a 10-year old dress-up girl... so intriguing, I wonder who this is actually targeting.

If I had to guess, I would say the Bumpits is perfect for Middle American girls and women, going out on the town... or to the local high school prom. Of course, this infomercial features women at the beach, at work, out and about, and just hanging out at home. So, I guess this hairdo could work anywhere.... if you're going for the "alien skull head" look. Ugh. This is absurd.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cannes MoFilm: OMO "Dirt is Good"

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A few good friends and I created the video that you see above for the Cannes MoFilm User-Generated Content Initiative, judged by Spike Lee!

As you might remember, we created our film all in one session at Central Park. We staged a huge dirtball fight and got a lot of people smiling and laughing. Now, we want to share our film with the world! So, click above and visit our YouTube channel: And if you're really into it, plot your own dirtball fight and post it to our channel!

The Incentives

OMO is offering the chance to win a once in a lifetime travel experience – by inviting the winners to become their roving OMO reporters traveling to countries of choice, meeting mums and kids, telling stories around playing outdoors and child development. All they ask is that the travelers record their stories and encounters both on camera and online to be showcased as a travel log on the global OMO website. (Total prize value of €10,000!)

In addition to over $100,000 worth of brand prizes the winner of each of the 12 brand contests will be judged by Spike Lee and 4 leading marketing professionals. All 12 winners will have their work on display at the Cannes Advertising Festival and the top 3 finalists will be invited all expenses paid to attend Cannes France for the festival. Additional prize money of $21,000 is up for grabs with the winning finalist taking away $12,000 and an apprenticeship with Spike Lee himself!

I could totally see my team taking part in any of the above-mentioned prizes! Wish us luck!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Salute to Israel Parade 2009

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Above: Israel pride. That's me in the middle.

Above: The EL AL Airline float.

Above: Super Israel Girl

Above: A clever passerby placed an Israeli flag into the arms of a Central Park statue

Above: The grand finale float.

My friend, Mike, invited me to the Salute to Israel Parade this year, and I was glad to go. While there, I learned a little about Israel, but a lot more about Judaism. Here are the top three new facts that I learned... ok, they may not be facts, but they were new pieces of information lodged into my head via conversation:
  • Married Jewish men and women are not allowed to physically touch other men and women. So, let's take "Jane" for example and say she's a married Jew. She is not allowed to touch anyone except her husband. That is, if she's really religious.
  • Jewish women must cover their heads after marriage. Some women do not like to wear the head coverings, so they choose to wear wigs instead. That is why so many Jewish women wear large headbands (to cover their wig tops).
  • The most popular Israeli airline is called EL AL.
At the end of the parade, we went to the Israel Day Concert, where it began to rain and a falafel sandwich put me out $5.

I'd say the parade was a success. :-) After witnessing such peace and happiness, I was warned that the National Puerto Rican Day Parade is a total disaster. Last year, it apparently resulted in rape, assault, sexual harassment, and the sale of candy that contained marijuana. Wow. I'm not sure if I'll be going to that one, but if anyone's interested, it's on June 14th, 2009 at 11am, along Fifth Avenue (from 44th Street to 86th Street.


Buitoni Turns 14th Street Subway Stop into Pasta Art Exhibition

Above: From a distance the Buitoni ads appear to be framed works of art with labels denoting the "artist", "title" and description.

Buitoni, the pasta brand owned by Nestlé that claims to be "The Italian Art of Food", has recently turned the 14th Street Union Square subway start into a pasta art exhibition.

This is definitely one of the most creative subway ad campaigns I've seen in a while. The creatives behind this one deserve a big pat on the back for thinking of such an interesting idea. Besides adding a little class to the Union Square subway stop, they also had multiple people stopping by the title cards, reading for more information. And, although I didn't get a picture, Buitoni also had turnstyle advertising at this station.


Bing Takes Over

I was just stopping by, when a huge Bing (Microsoft's new search engine) advertisement (as pictured above) frightened the heeby-jeebies out of me. What the?!?!?! It was so huge, I thought it was a pop-up ad. I guess whatever brings in the bacon for The New York Times is good enough for me, but jeeze, this is pretty extreme.

What do you all think? Are huge advertisements a good source of revenue or just total brand killers?

Friday, June 5, 2009

H&M Invades my Pandora

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Above: H&M's "Fashion Against AIDS" campaign in action at their storefront

Above: H&M invaded my Pandora today

Above: Cute H&M tagline, followed by world-savers, U2.

Today, H&M invaded my Pandora "Pop/Rock" playlist with their "Fashion Against AIDS" advertising campaign. Cute tagline, though: "Be smart. Do your part. Think Twice. Wear one." Hmmm, what a mystery... what could they possibly be talking about? ... hmm.

Anyway, my favorite part? It was followed by U2 and their glorious song "Mysterious Ways". How appropriate. I wonder if that was planned out.

Search for "Sustainability" on and Get a Prius Ad

Above: I searched for "Sustainability" on and found a Prius ad.

I tried looking up Sustainability on and indeed, a lovely Prius ad was served. Other words that served a Prius 3rd Generation Solar Roof ad included "Solar Power", "Green", "Moonroof", "Hybrid" and "Hybrid Car".

Oddly, when I looked up "Prius" (definition: "Before; former"), the ad was not served. Iiiiiinteresting.

To read more, check out this All Thing's Digital article, entitled Prius Takes Over's Home Page.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Great Firewall of China Strikes Again!

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Above: My friends, Maria and Andrew, at Tiananmen in 2006

Anticipating the 20th Anniversary of the June 4, 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising, the GFW (Great FireWall) of China has struck again! For those of you who have never heard of GFW, it's a method by which the Chinese government censors out anything that they don't approve of. For example, if you look up "Tiananmen Square" on Google in the U.S., you'd see a mix of photos, some of which include photos from the June 4, 1989 uprising. However, if you look up "Tiananmen Square" on Google in China, you see smiling pictures of tourists in front of Tiananmen and pictures of local restaurants. Big difference right?

This time, GFW is taking a ton of sites with it, including popular social networking sites, like Twitter, Xiaonei, Blogspot and Flickr.

To get a sense of just how many sites GFW is censoring, take a look at this Google Doc that includes an extensive list of sites that are currently being blocked in China. Check out the document here.

There have been a lot more stories that I wanted to aggregate here for you, as well:

Tiananmen Square, 20 Years Later (The New York Times)
China's Forgotten Revolution (The New York Times)
Behind the Scenes: Tank Man of Tiananmen (Lens Blog, NYTimes)
China Blocks Twitter (And Almost Everything Else) (Mashable)
To Shut off Tiananmen Talks, China Disrupts Sites (The New York Times)
In China, a New Breed of Dissidents (Wall Street Journal)
China Blocks, Twitter, Flickr, Others as Tiananmen Anniversary Looms (Fox News)
Tiananmen Square: Foreign Reporters Barred by China on Eve of Anniversary (Huffington Post)
1989 Tiananmen Square Protest (YouTube)
Tank Man Documentary (PBS)

I wish I could be in Tiananmen to check out what was going on right now. For anyone there, please comment below and tell us the latest news on what's going on in Beijing!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Binging and Googling Myself

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As many of you may know, Microsoft just came out with Bing, it's new search engine that is positioned to rival Google.

And what was the first thing I thought to do with these two mega-power search engines? I'm shameless. I just Binged and Googled myself to see which one has the better search results. Let's compare, shall we?

Number of Search Results

Google retrieved 397,000 Search Results, while Bing somehow managed to pull out 762,000 Search Results... hmmm. Somehow, I doubt they're all about me.

- Bing wins Round 1!


Google performed the search in 0.40 seconds, while on the other hand Bing didn't even tell me how long it took. In the broad scheme of things, I guess I don't even care, but it would be nice to have that extra piece of information for shock value!

- Google wins Round 2!

Quality of Search Results

I've always loved Google's ranking system. They never let two of the same domain name enter the first page. If they do, one of them is listed as a sub-category of the other. HOWEVER, Bing allowed two Twitter pages onto my front page. One is my Twitter account, and the other is a tweet that I wrote about Hillary Clinton speaking at my graduation. Bing also let two Brandstorm Community webpages up on the first page. Tsk tsk, Bing! What are you doing over there?!?!?

- Google wins Round 3!

Number of Options

So, this battle is all about who has the most options on their page. Google has a TON of applications and tabs at the top of their page that people use every day, which include Maps, Images, Video, News, Shopping, Gmail and More.

Let's see what Bing has.... At the top of their page, they have Images, Videos, Shopping, Maps, MSN, Windows Live and More.

Great try, Bing, but Google is the king of Apps.

- Google wins Round 4!


Ok, so far Google is kicking Bing's ass, but who will win the Battle of the Domain Names?

Google is a clever name. "Google" is derived from googol, which is 10100, that is, the digit 1 followed by one hundred zeros (in decimal representation). This is a great name choice for a search engine, as it implies that it retrieves a very large number of results.

And, so what does Bing mean? According to, it means "a heap or pile". I see where they are going with that. It also is a type of cherry. And it also means "to go". When I think of Mandarin Chinese, I think of the word "ice", pronounced as bing. Hmmm... but somehow, I'm not buying it. Especially when you write it as a verb: Binging. It reminds me of binge drinking and bulimia (binge eating and purging).... ICK!

Plus, there are already a lot of social networking sites out there with similar names, such as Ning and Ping. But there are other similar onomotopaeia-ish names, such as Boing boing, Blurb, Bonzo, Badoo, Blip, and Bebo. Very unoriginal and not well thought-out, Microsoft. And kudos to Google for the creativity.

- Google wins Round 5!

Overall, it's Google at 4 and bing at 1. Google is the champion here, and it seems that the only edge that Bing has over Google is the number of results returned. But, peeps, it's QUALITY OVER QUANTITY!

Check out the screenshots from my vain Binging/Googling session!

Above: Googling results for "erica swallow"

Above: Binging results for "erica swallow"

Analysis of Obama's Support of General Motors

I want to share this NYTimes video with all of you. It's a strong analysis of General Motor's decline over the past few decades and how Obama has put high stakes into the auto industry. Produced by Michael Orr, this video illustrates how Obama's stake in the industry could put his reputation on the front lines in the case of a failed re-emergence of the U.S. auto industry.

I believe that Obama could be making the right move to have faith in the American auto industry. Maintaining hope in one of America's famed industries is essential, if we are to keep cars moving out of these plants. Americans must be reassured that their investments in new vehicles will be safe, or else they will go elsewhere to buy.

In order to keep the industry moving, though, I believe that the R&D needs to be there. American cars are falling behind on hybrid and electric technology, and this type of devastating event could further hold back innovation, as a result of declining R&D budgets.

Whether GM survives over the next few years or not, the American auto industry needs to embrace new technologies, far beyond the combustion engine, and once again lead the world in technology. Without any competitive advantage, the industry will continue to fall behind.

In order to achieve innovation, the government must provide incentives for automakers, including tax benefits and green research funds. Furthermore, to get consumers hyped up about buying hybrid cars, the government must do the same for consumers... tax benefits for buying green. Some states already do this. The Department of Energy has a database of state incentives and laws related to alternative-fuel vehicles. Most of these laws apply to businesses, but some apply to personal vehicle purchases. These incentives should be raised to a federal level to further incentivize the purchase of eco-friendly cars.

What do you think? Do you believe that Obama is making wise moves in backing up the American auto industry? Or will his support of GM and other American automakers lead to his demise?

Monday, June 1, 2009

NYU RAN Alumni Mixer Tomorrow

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Hey NYU friends! Are you going to be at the NYU Recent Alumni Network Alumni Mixer tomorrow? Weikai (my boyfriend) and I will be there. See you there!

Click on the invitation above for more details!