If I Had a Million Dollars…

I taught a writing lesson to first graders this week about “If I Had a Lot of Money.” I remembered the old Barenaked Ladies song, “If I Had a Million Dollars” and played it for them. One kid said, “Why can’t I stop singing this song?” One kid said, “That’s not true, you can’t buy love.” He got a star for saying that. Continue reading

Italy vs. Korea: Living Life Abroad

I’ve been to 10 countries this year but spent the bulk in either Italy or Korea. I think somehow I’m fully American diluted with Italian and Korean blood now. My roots spread far. Both countries have their pros and cons, but which is the better place to live? Continue reading

Pearl Jam is Back

There was a time, between hair metal and boy bands, when MTV still played videos, and radio wasn’t streaming online, that scruffy dudes in flannel and Doc Martens ruled the airwaves. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and, arguably, to a lesser degree, Soundgarden were the kings of rock radio. They wrote songs about teenage angst, depression, suicide, drugs, metaphors for the new comfortable life our generation was provided and the emptiness that was found within such coziness. Continue reading

Samuel and Jimi Hendrix

One of the best things about teaching ESL is that you meet awesome students. You can meet impressive, precocious youngsters who correct your grammar or wild, excitable hooligans that are incapable of sitting still. You can meet demure, sweet kids who draw you cute pictures or give you their last piece of candy. You can meet the kindergarten munchkins who’ll tell you they love you every day. You can also meet a kid like Samuel. Continue reading

God Bless The Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead, the quintessential hippie rock band, forged in the belly of the San Francisco underground Acid Tests, has kept us all rolling, twirling and tripping along with them on their long, strange trip since 1967 with the release of their first album. They have gained and lost band members, written timeless songs, and allowed us all an excuse to feel that freeing feeling of communal liberation that is, a Grateful Dead show. Continue reading

강남 스타일 = Gangnam Style

About 12 years ago, PSY hit the K-pop airwaves with his first album, immediately being fined for its inappropriate nature for sensitive Korean listeners. He remained his idiosyncratic self throughout the next decade, singing, writing, getting busted for marijuana, serving his mandatory military time, and getting married with children. This is also a guy who studied at Boston U, and University of Berklee. Moreover, he is fluent in English, making him a marketer’s dream. About a month ago, he released the amazingly irresistible video, “Gangnam Style.” It was all over Korea. We spoke about how this could totally be a hit song in America. We were right. Continue reading

Guns, Killing, MTV and The American Celebrity

Back in 1992, a new band named Pearl Jam made a seminal video of teenage angst, called “Jeremy.” “The boy was something that mommy wouldn’t wear.” The boy screamed and cried for attention and never got it. He felt awkward at school and felt awkward in his own skin. It’s the high school curse to never feel at ease anywhere you are. Continue reading

The Sounds of Music

The Sound of Music, a whimsical musical which belies the serious undertones of the Nazi takeover of Austria, features songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein, came out in 1965 at the moment of America escalating the Vietnam War. It is a war movie, despite the happiness of its songs. It is magical, it is fantastic, and it is a classic. And I never saw it until I was 30 years old. Continue reading