Tuesday, May 18, 2021

"Lend a Helping Hand" by Chris DeVito: a dedication to the heroes

There's no denying that living through the last year with the pandemic has been an emotional roller coaster for many people around the world. Lives have been lost, families haven't been able to reunite, most concert venues have yet to reopen, and many small businesses and restaurants have shut down forever. For doctors and nurses on the front line, they've witnessed the worst of it. All across the world lives have been affected in many ways and for each person there is a different story. Some are more tragic than others. 

For New York City based Singer Songwriter, Chris DeVito, Covid has never been a faceless word you only hear about on television. When DeVito lost her father to Covid on April 15, 2020, the pandemic was very real and very personal. "This deadly virus cheated us out of so much. It cheated my dad out of so many more years of life, said DeVito. "It cheated our family out of sharing so many more precious memories together with him". 

Since the beginning of the lockdowns, musicians like Chris DeViro never stopped writing music. In fact, DeVito keeps giving us the gift of music and channeling her inner thoughts and feelings into a very relatable song called, "Lend a Helping Hand" to remind all of us that you are not alone and just like the title says, we are out here to lend a helping hand. 

While the live music industry has been at a near complete stand still, this tragedy hasn't stopped DeVito from writing music. This songwriter felt inspired to write one of the most powerful and inspiring songs during the pandemic to date. In fact, some of the best written songs throughout history were inspired on actual tragedies and "Lend a Helping Hand" is no exception. 

"I dedicate this song I wrote to all the lives lost from Covid and to the doctors and nurses who tirelessly tried to save them." said DeVito. "...to the families who were torn apart and left wondering why. My heart goes out to all of us." 

Chris DeVito recently launched her poetic and honest debut EP, “Beyond The Great Big Sky”. DeVito  has performed live in dozens of venues all over the New York Tri-State area. Her acoustic-folk style songs have a Bob Dylan meets Tracy Chapman feel. Her songs convey the kind of realism that many can relate to as her songs are very real and genuine.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Introducing Director of Photography Matteo Martignago

 Matteo Martignago is a Director of Photography based in Los Angeles with extensive experience in Commercials and Narrative films. 

Interview with Matteo Martignago 

AIM: Please tell us about yourself, what drew you into the industry, and how you got your start.

Matteo: I was born and raised in Rome, Italy and since I was little I have always been passionate about movies. My mum, as a photographer herself, started to teach me about analog photography when I was 5 years old and gave me my first camera for my 6th birthday. I have always been fascinated by the possibility to capture any situation in a single frame at any time I wanted. I was always going around with my camera experimenting and I kept growing this passion for years. I was in middle school when I started to play around with a movie camera, making short films and music videos. I am pretty sure that was what drew me in the industry because I have never stopped making movies since then.

AIM: How important is knowing the script well and why? 

Matteo: When I approach a new project I always read the script several times, every time analyzing something different. My first reading is never as a DP but rather as a mere reader trying to understand and enjoy the story. The second pass is not much different from the first one. The only difference is that I would be taking some notes here and there about some ideas I come up reading. The third pass is usually the one that takes more time and I stop at every scene and take notes about possible looks, camera movements, lighting etc.. Therefore, I think that knowing the script is a fundamental aspect for any cinematographer to have. It allows you to be more creative and to communicate more efficiently with the director and other departments both in pre production and production. 

AIM: What are you shooting with these days, what’s your A list gear? 

Matteo: I personally have two to go cameras and they are the Sony Venice and Alexa Mini LF. I always try to have either of these camera bodies on my project but I always chose my lenses based on the story I need to tell. Some lenses are sharper and colder than others that might have a wormer look. What I usually do is running tests with several lenses I think might fit the story and then choose the best one. Another piece of equipment I always try to include in my project and that really helps to convey a specific look are filters. When I test the lenses, I always bring with me a set of different filters I think might be a great add for the story and shoot some test footage with those as well. When it comes to filters I tend to show the test to the director and together we would choose which one to go for since the effect will be baked in the footage. 

AIM: How do you feel about film versus digital, both in cinema and photography? 

Matteo: I did most of my early photography on film and I think every aspiring DP or photographer should experiment with it. That’s because when you shoot on film you know that you have only 35 exposures and therefore you will plan, study and put more attention to every shot before pressing the shutter. Digital Photography doesn’t put the same pressure on the photographer since now we have almost an unlimited amount of photographs we can take. I think digital opened the door to many filmmakers since shooting in film has always been very expensive and required some technical knowledge as well since you wouldn’t have been able to see what you capture until the next day when the film rolls were developed. With digital cameras many people were able to create and capture stories in a way that were unthinkable before. But I think that even when we use digital cameras, we should always think as we are actually shooting on film and therefore put more attention and study into every single shot.


Find more information about Matteo Martignago at:
https://www.matteomartignago.com 

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

All Indie featured song: "Wildfires" by Hillary Reese


Hillary Reese is a 14 year old triple threat country singer songwriter. Hillary continues to write and perform original country with a modern twist. She has released her newest single WILDFIRES April 30th and it shows the growth and maturity of up and coming country super star Hillary Reese. 

Hillary continues to write and perform songs that empower young ladies and women across the entire world. Hillary is a true up and coming star.


SOCIAL MEDIA 

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Interview with Bruce Rits Gilbert: "John Prine One Song at a Time"

Is Bruce Rits Gilbert really a musician? I mean, he was a corporate lawyer for 30+ years, and he couldn't even imagine writing songs until a few years ago. But does it count that he saw the Beatles live and in person in 1964? And does it matter that he was a disk jockey in the 1970s? I don't know. 

But somehow, after a lifetime of playing air guitar, and inspired by The Beatles, Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, John Prine, and Bob Dylan, along with other great singer-songwriters, Bruce began his journey a few short years ago with a cheap acoustic guitar and a few songwriting ideas. So maybe, possibly, he's kind of almost a real musician now. Maybe. 

Author: Bruce Rits Gilbert
And is Bruce Rits Gilbert really an author? Well, he wrote a book called John Prine One Song at a Time. So, yeah, he's an author, too. 

Today, we’re going to talk about a legend. That legend is John Prine. John Prine’s music wasn’t over produced and it wasn’t written to appeal to the masses. His music was written from his heart. He was a poet and a roots type of person and he not only positively affected people, his music and personality touched so many hearts along the way. Here to talk about the book entitled John Prine One Song at a Time, we have Bruce Rits Gilbert. 

AIM: Thank you for talking with All Indie Magazine. 

BRG: Thanks so much for inviting me to chat about John Prine.   

AIM: So, let’s get into John Prine’s passing. As you know, he died due to complications associated to Covid-19. He was one of the first celebrity victims of the virus. When he passed, it affected so many people. In fact, even Bruce Springsteen made a special tribute in honor of John Prine. Did his passing also affect you in such a way that you felt you had to write this book?  

BRG: So interesting that you mentioned Bruce Springsteen. When John Prine was making his Grammy-winning record, The Missing Years, in 1991, John ran into Bruce in a restaurant in Los Angeles. Bruce asked if he could stop by the studio to play guitar or harmonica or something. So John invited him to stop by, and Bruce sings backing vocals on a great John Prine song called “Take a Look at My Heart.” When John died, Bruce said that John “wrote music of towering compassion with an almost unheard-of precision and creativity when it came to observing the fine details of ordinary lives.” Which is so true. And like Bruce Springsteen, I, too, felt like I had lost a dear friend. I had never met John, but, after reading tributes to John from fans and music critics, I quickly realized that this was a common effect that he had on listeners around the world.   

AIM: What was the writing process behind the making of this book?  

BRG: When I learned that John died, my first instinct was to listen to his whole discography, starting with his first album and working my way to his last. But then I realized that it would be more meaningful to listen to his music with other John Prine fans. So I gathered my three daughters, a bunch of my nephews, a couple of my brothers-in-law, and a few others, and we started what we called “The John Prine Album Club.” Our mission was simply to listen to each John Prine album—one per week—and discuss them together. And then I realized that, although there is a lot of information about John Prine out in the world, there isn’t a single resource that discusses John’s life work. So I thought, “Maybe I could create that space.” So, a few weeks after we started “The John Prine Album Club,” I started researching material about John Prine and his songs, and, several months later, the first draft of the manuscript was finished.   

AIM: How did you come up with enough material to write a book? Did you personally know John Prine?  

BRG: As I mentioned, I had never met John Prine. But I had been obsessively listening to his music since the early 1970’s. And, as Fiona Prine, John’s wife, said recently in an interview on the CBS Morning Show, “Everything that you ever wanted to know about John is in his songs.” And I know his songs. And I had the time and ability to dig deep into the internet and other resources to find contemporaneous reviews of his albums, articles about his music, interviews in magazines, in newspapers, on TV, and on the radio, and put together what I think are interesting facts, thoughts, analysis, and tidbits about each of John’s songs. Album by album. One song at a time.   

AIM: So, tell us about your involvement in music. How did music play an important part of your life?  

BRG: Like many of us who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s, I listened to a whole lot of rock and roll music when I was a kid. I saw The Beatles in concert in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1964, and I became a big fan of not only The Beatles, but the pioneers of rock and roll, like Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Elvis, and a host of others. As time went on, I learned about the folk singers of the era, like Bob Dylan, The Byrds, Leonard Cohen, and Simon & Garfunkel, and eventually John Prine. So music was constantly on my turntable. Fast forward several decades, and I eventually graduated from the air guitar to a real guitar, and I started writing and recording my own songs—with the help of some very talented young musicians. So, as a listener for many years (and still today) and then as a recording artist over the last few years, music has been a big part of my life.   

AIM: Let’s dig deep into John Prine One Song at a Time. For someone that’s hearing about this book for the first time, what is this book about?  

BRG: John Prine One Song at a Time is one fan’s tribute to the music of John Prine. The book discusses, in chronological order, each song on each album, beginning with John Prine’s first album, John Prine, and ending with his final single, “I Remember Everything.” In short, synthesizing reviews, anecdotes, interviews, live shows, lyrics, and John’s own reflections from 1970 to 2020, the book offers a unique celebration of the work that John Prine left behind.   

AIM: Do you remember where were you when you discovered John Prine?  How long ago was that?  

BRG: I remember exactly where I was when I first discovered John Prine. I was in my dorm room on the east side of campus at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. As I mention in the book, album trading/borrowing/taking-and-never-returning was kind of the norm at the time. And one day, in the spring semester of my freshman year in 1973, I ended up with John Prine’s debut album, John Prine, on my turntable. That album is filled with classic John Prine songs, and, even to this day, is considered one of the best albums ever recorded. Rolling Stone Magazine even ranked it as the 149th best album of all time in its 2020 ranking of the best 500 albums of all time.   

AIM: What was that first John Prine song that instantly hooked you?  

BRG: The very first song on John Prine is a song called “Illegal Smile.” Its opening lyrics go like this: “When I woke up this morning, things were looking bad/Seems like total silence was the only friend I had.” And, with just three chords, the song grabs you. But maybe it was the second song on the album, “Spanish Pipedream,” that totally reeled me in. It’s an upbeat, melodic, fun song with these lyrics in the chorus: “Blow up your TV, throw away your paper/Go to the country, build you a home/Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches/Try and find Jesus on your own.” It’s thoughtful. It’s funny. And it’s classic John Prine.   

AIM: Are you a musician yourself? If so, what instrument do you play and how much of an influence
did John Prine have on you?  

BRG: I started playing the guitar about eight years ago. John Prine was very influential in keeping me motivated to play better and better—in large part because his songs are mostly three chord songs, so I quickly realized that, once I learned how to play three chords, I could play John Prine songs. And, once I started playing John Prine songs, I never stopped. John, though, has a unique style of finger-picking, and he was very good at it. I’m still trying to master that. I also play the harmonica.   

AIM: If you were to compare John Prine to anyone, who would it be?  

BRG: After John Prine released his first album in 1971, he was dubbed one of the “next Dylans.” (Bruce Springsteen, Donovan, Gordon Lightfoot, and Randy Newman, among others, also held that moniker.) So I suppose that it’s fair to compare John Prine to Bob Dylan. But, although Bob Dylan’s lyrics are revered, they are not funny or irreverent like many of John Prine’s lyrics. And John, unlike Bob, was very much a “regular guy” who just liked spending time with his family and friends. So, rather than calling John the “next Bob Dylan,” I’d call John the first John Prine. And, as Rolling Stone Magazine said, John’s “closest parallel isn’t another songwriter, it’s Mark Twain.”  

AIM: For someone that has never heard of John Prine or even to those who know of him, why should they pick up this book?  

BRG: If you know John Prine, this book will allow you to dig deeper into John’s music, perhaps learn things about his songs that you didn’t know, and maybe learn about some John Prine recordings that you were not aware of. If you’ve never heard of John Prine, you’ll learn about one of America’s greatest singer-songwriters, and how he tackles a whole lot of tough topics with thoughtfulness and humor. And, whether you’re a John Prine aficionado or a John Prine novice,    the book will inspire you to listen to some of the best songs that were ever recorded.   

AIM: What is something unique about John Prine?  

BRG: John Prine’s songs, of course, are unique. His melodies are mostly upbeat and fun, and his lyrics are, as Paul Zollo, a writer for American Songwriter said, “so evocative, so purely precise and finely etched, that they linger in our hearts and minds like dreams.” And the wisdom, kindness, and gentle spirit that John possessed as a young man never dimmed when he got older. No matter what, he remained warmhearted and giving. He also had an amazing, and often funny, presence on stage. He was entirely comfortable in his own skin, while being  so comforting to those of us in the audience.   

AIM: So, what are you working on now? Are you planning on releasing any music yourself?  

BRG: In addition to promoting the book, I’m working on new music. I’ve put together an ad hoc group, which we call Boo Rits & The Missing Years. “Boo” is what my grandkids call me, “Rits” is my middle name, and “The Missing Years” is an homage to John Prine and his album of the same name. (We were previously called Bruce Rits Gilbert & The Missing Years, but we’ve rebranded.)   

The group includes Nick Gunty, whose day job is being one-half of the indie folk group called Frances Luke Accord. Nick is producing our music, and he also plays a number of instruments and adds backing vocals. Nick also co-wrote a few of the new songs with me. Matt Lyons, who is a talented singer-songwriter in his own right, is an exceptional guitar player, so he plays both electric and acoustic guitar, handling all of the lead guitar parts. Nick’s partner in Frances Luke Accord, Brian Powers, adds mandolin and backing vocals on a few songs. My three daughters, Molly, Emily, and Casey, all join in on vocals on a couple of songs. My nephew, Teddy Grossman, also a very talented singer-songwriter, adds backing vocals on a couple of songs. And my granddaughter, Jane, who just turned five, literally wrote and sings a song called “I Love Mermaids” for the album; it’s incredible.   

The new album, which will be called Marshmallow Jello, is a rock and roll/folk record that is kid friendly, although it’s not necessarily a kids’ album. We expect it to be released in June. It will have nine original songs (including Jane’s), and three covers, including our version of John Prine’s “That’s the Way the World Goes Round.”   

AIM: Is your music influenced by John Prine?  

BRG: Many years ago, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Harlan Howard, said that great country music is “three chords and the truth.” John Prine’s songs are often exactly that. And I’ve listened to so much John Prine music over the years that my songwriting is based on John Prine principles. I don’t mean to suggest that I ever could write a song that is anywhere near the type that John has written, but writing a song that folks think sounds like a John Prine song is certainly a worthy goal.   

AIM: Do you think this is the start of writing more books in the near future?  

BRG: It might be. But, in order to write another book, I’ll have to be as inspired by and knowledgeable about a topic as I am by John Prine’s music. The writing process was a labor of love, which I found very satisfying. And I’d certainly consider doing it again if I can find a topic that is in my wheelhouse.   
AIM: Thank you so much for speaking with us and we look forward to your new music and reading your book!  

BRG: Thank you!

Purchase: "John Prine One Song at a Time" at:

Friday, April 2, 2021

The Legal Killer: Interview with Elliot Mason


For many years, Elliot Mason was a featured and contributing writer for several websites, blogs and trade magazines. In late 2019, his first suspense thriller, "The Arlington Orders", was released too much critical acclaim. Featured on radio interviews, podcasts and television shows, Mason's work struck a chord with the public as it touched upon many of today's hot button topics, making him one of the most in demand new authors. His eagerly anticipated follow-up novel, "The Legal Killer", is set for release in the spring of 2021. It's controversial subject matter has already created a buzz among fans and critics alike, and will certainly be one of the year's most talked about suspense-thrillers. In addition, he has two more novels in the works due for release in 2022 and 2023. Mr. Mason still resides in Southern California and is currently active in writer’s workshops, book readings and signings and other appearances.

Let’s jump right into the book, “The Legal Killer”. For anyone reading this interview and have never heard of the book or is curious about the backstory, why this story? What was itching in your soul that told you that you needed to write this story? 

I have always been fascinated at how perceptions are formed about our institutions and how people accept myths or propaganda as truth without ever questioning it or the people who distribute this information. And over the course of many years, I had read an enormous amount about our federal justice system. 

Yet after reading so many stories, I realized how little I knew about the Department of Justice, how it functioned, and its impact on the country. When it became obvious how little I knew of this major part of our system, I also began to understand that most of our society was just like me when it came to their lack of knowledge as well. 

As I researched the Department of Justice and the major entities that comprise it, such as the US Attorney’s Office, the FBI, and the Bureau of Prisons, I was shocked and disgusted about how they conducted themselves. I soon came to the opinion that these people who were charged with the responsibility to protect Americans, were actually one of the greatest threats to our country’s citizenry. 

The more I learned, the greater desire I had to expose it for what I believe it is, and to dispel the misconceptions and counter the information that the DOJ distributes. They try and portray themselves as the public benefactor, and as I see it, they are anything but. 

In a nutshell, what is “The Legal Killer” about? 

The Legal Killer is the story of a young graduate student in Georgia who becomes the focus of a killer’s twisted game. The story begins with the murder of an Assistant US Attorney in California. The body is displayed in a very unusual manner. 

My main character, Des Cook, has just finished his studies at the University of Georgia when he gets a knock at his door. Two FBI agents are there and begin to question him about the young attorney who was killed in California. 

He is bewildered and asks what this has to do with him. They present him with a note which instructs the FBI to find Des and claims that “He has the answers”. Soon afterward, the killer contacts Des and gives him a series of riddles to follow. If he fails to arrive at the location the riddle designates within the given time frame, another person dies. 

As the story unfolds, Des begins to learn the motivation of the killer, the possible next targets and why he has been made the focus of such a deadly game. 

Your first novel was, “The Arlington Orders” and that was a suspenseful story about the disappearance of the Confederate Treasury. These are two totally different stories or are they? As a genre writer, are there any similarities or are they just topics that you personally enjoy? Although both have historical aspects, they are vastly different stories. The Arlington Orders was really entrenched in history, whereas The Legal Killer is a much more modern thriller that touches heavily upon one of the most discussed topics in our political discourse. 
 
All the stories I write about are topics I find fascinating. As a writer, I think writing about topics you enjoy or touch you on a deep level is a prerequisite. If a writer tries to force an interest where there is none simply because they think that others may find it interesting, that is probably the quickest way for a story to become a disaster for both writer and reader alike. 

Passion comes across in writing, so whether a topic fills you with joy, anger, sadness, or hope, as long as it’s something you feel strongly about, there is a much greater chance that the quality of the writing is going to be better. 

This is only your second novel, but there seems to be a theme, fiction combined with a touch of reality. Conspiracy perhaps? Controversy? Are portions of this story inspired by real accounts? 

I use actual truth or facts in which I build fictional stories around. I believe that most often, the best way to ensure that people will learn about a topic is if they are entertained in the process. 

I would say my books touch more upon controversy then conspiracy, especially in The Legal Killer. I try and shy away from conspiracy theories as I find the credible much more interesting. 

The problem with conspiracy theories is that they are based in beliefs usually driven by emotion or ideas created solely by a desire from their adherents to make sense of the world around them. However, conspiracy theories all have one thing in common, they lack any real research or concrete evidence, instead relying on conjecture or the loosest of ties. For the most part, they stretch the conceivable to a point where it no longer makes any sense or is so ridiculous it becomes comical or tragic. 

Even though The Legal Killer is a fictional story, all the stories surrounding the Department of Justice and its entities were inspired by real accounts. It took me four years of research to finish the book. I interviewed many people who were either currently or formerly associated with the DOJ and its many entities. These people risked not only their jobs but their safety in talking with me. 

In addition, I talked with people who were currently or once associated with other businesses and governmental departments who have firsthand knowledge of our federal justice system and the way it operates. I studied hundreds of real cases, learned the immoral and sometimes illegal tactics that the DOJ utilizes and the utter destruction they leave in their wake. 

What are some of your inspirations? Do you sometimes observe things and see what others don’t? 

I find myself inspired by people who can see through the BS and get to the heart of the matter. It seems in today’s age of social media and twenty-four-hour news cycles that have become nothing more than propaganda outlets for one point of view or another, that people have not only lost their sense of what is real, but what is important. I think this leads me to find inspiration in strange places. 

This may seem strange, but I find inspiration in comedians. I will find inspiration in people like Bill Maher, who although has a definite political leaning, is not afraid to call out people on his own side of the aisle. I find inspiration in comics like Bill Burr who says things that may not be politically correct or popular but are often rooted in common sense. To me, artist and entertainers who focus more on the art of their craft, rather than satisfying the requirements of someone else’s narrative are the most inspirational. They are the ones that that give me the strength to tackle difficult topics and not be concerned whether some may find it objectionable. 

I don’t think I’m unique. I think a lot of people see what I see on various topics, however, are frightened that if they speak up, there may be serious consequences. I do not believe I possess some special talent to see what others cannot. I think if I have any advantage whatsoever, it is having an inquisitive nature and to not be willing to settle for the answers or explanations that are given on social media or other outlets. 

How did you develop the characters in this story? Was this hard for you to develop? What was the process for you to create these characters? 

My characters tend to be a combination of people I know, or I have interviewed. I will incorporate their personalities or even aspects of myself into my characters. Ironically, I will often write parts of my personality into the villains. 

When I created my main characters for this story, I wanted them to represent certain attributes of society. My heroes are far from perfect. For instance, Des is honest but can be naïve to the point of being gullible. I wanted him to not only represent the loss of innocence, but also serve as an indictment of our foolishness. In a way, he represents American society. He is one who constantly holds onto hope and belief in certain institutions even when he has been consistently proven wrong. My villains are also never completely villainous. The old school James Bond villain who wants to take over the world and who is completely evil to the core of his being is fun, however, is not very realistic. I believe there is good and bad in each of us. When I create my villains, they will often do the wrong thing for the right reason or vise-versa. When I am writing my villains, I do so with the hope my reader will feel torn about them. 

In your opinion, what kind of person will like this book? 

I believe anyone who likes political thrillers or murder mysteries will enjoy this story. I also believe that anyone who follows the news will find them interesting as well. However, most of all, I believe anyone who likes to be challenged will enjoy this book. 

My goal with every story I write is to make my reader feel uncomfortable. If I can challenge their preconceived notions and accomplish this, then I think I have done my job. 

Obviously, you are an avid book reader, as most writers are. Who are your favorite authors and what are your favorite books? 

Don Winslow is one of my favorite authors. The way he styles his stories is incredible. His book The Force, is one of my all-time favorites. I am a fan of James Elroy and his gritty style. LA Confidential and The Big Nowhere are fantastic. I am also a fan of Dan Brown, and admire his attention to detail, from a research standpoint, he is unmatched. 

It sure seems like you are on a roll or about to be on a successful one. Do you have another project already on the backburner waiting to be written and published? 

I am working on another suspense thriller that deals with the Israeli/Palestinian issue, its impact around the world and especially here in the United States. I am currently entrenched in research and have been amazed at what I have found out and some of the massive misconceptions and lack of knowledge that people have about the history of that situation and the myths that are being propagated today. 

What did you do before you became a published writer? 

Before I became a novel writer, I did a lot of freelance writing for websites, blogs and online magazines. I was also involved in special events coordination and marketing. 

Obviously, the theme of your first novel is historical suspense and this one seems to follow the Suspense genre. Is this a genre you want to continue to create in? What other genres are you exploring? 

 I feel comfortable writing suspense thrillers and feel that I can challenge people best in that genre. However, I also have an interest in writing about political issues away from the suspense format. I enjoy commentary writing and feel that writing in an op ed fashion that encourages vigorous discussion and debate is exciting and extremely important. 

I want to get people away from what I call “fragmented thinking”, which is basically thinking in 280 characters or some other truncated social media platform style. Our world is too complex for topics to be completely defined or discussed in such a limited space. Social media is great for entertainment purposes and limited perspectives about unimportant items, and in many ways, it has become necessary. But in my opinion, when it comes to using it as the format to discuss important issues, I believe when people look back at this time period in terms of the thoughtful exchange of ideas about politics and social issues, it will go down in history as something akin to the dark ages.

Follow Elliot Mason and purchase "The Arlington Orders" on Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Find Elliot Mason on Instagram 
Elliot Mason official website

Monday, March 22, 2021

Mj Tom Losotros | Art that echo's uncomfortable reality

In 2003, European Visual Artist Mj Tom LosOtros established the Visual Poetry | Urban Art Group LosOtros with his alter ego Andrea Nada. 


Mj Tom lives between Berlin, Barcelona and Paris. His work has been exhibited at London, Paris, Hamburg, Berlin, Barcelona. His current body of work includes mixed media, collage, sculture, installation, and digital printing. Irreverent and fleeting, able to define himself as a copy machine of art, sarcastic and deliberately anonymous, he questions almost every probable fact. The veneer of normality, the history as written, the common way of understanding nature and oneself as a part of it. 

As he remarks “I don’t want much to be known about me”. I am not trying to be elusive as some people  might say. I just think what is important is the artwork, not the artist. I want you to have my work on your ...wall, not based on who I am, where I have studied or where I have exhibited my work. I don’t want to get between “You” and the “Artwork”. I want to live quietly behind it... and pass away sometime quietly,” Adding, “We are low value with high purpose. We are dedicated to non- educational activities, self-indulgent thoughts, unfinished and incomplete actions. Our work is not easily classified or marketable. This protects us from analysis, judgment or criticism. We have no direction, motivation other than a cursed reflex to purge our anonymous mental overflows in a public forum and then run away from it and hide behind our cloak of concealment. Art is simply our lifestyle.” 


There is no Reality | Until You Create One. & My Reality | Ιn Halftones 
Art is my way to conciliate with reality. In some cases, I can bring it closer to my standards. And psychoanalysis too. Both of them are hopeless. It is a try to put an order in the hectic world around and inside me. To value better what had happened and possibly what is happening, at least a part of it. It is a lost war. Before I can understand what had happened in reality, or at least what I perceive as reality, the latter flips and turns to something else. I ‘m a witness, an eye witness. I revise meticulously what it is around me. I examine, select, collect, put in order emotions. Stating what is important and what is not, what could be regarded as beautiful, or ugly, what would be funny or sad. If I can't change it, I can barely transform it, good enough in order to compromise with it. Sometimes the attempt is successful, sometimes it isn’t. I ‘m urban. I like nature but I feel comfortable only in the city. It is my battlefield. Especially, the after hours, when everybody sleeps so I can walk quietly in the streets and hear the sounds. My paints they are made for me, but in reality they refer to others. It is an attempt; to speak enough for me but not in a verbal way. What is entitled inside the frame, presuppose my aesthetic viewpoint. But what they produce is beyond my control. I exist in both of them. It is a miracle, when it happens. Unfortunately isn‘t an everyday experience. Or, I believe so. 


My Reality | Ιn Halftones.
My work is an exploration of paradoxes and contrasts which are torturous and utopian, wild and serene but definitely resilient. As my reality is in halftones, I capture fragments of life often ignored or forgotten...
 
My art echo's the unease and mixes it with the uncomfortable reality of continuous transformations of the urban environment in which I live. Faces, pseudo familiar situations, characters belonging to various walks of life... they all inject emotions with such a warm identity to characterize the experience of ordinary people, those people who would say and tell through the eyes their own existence. Ι represent ordinary people; those actors unaware of being protagonists of present days and to represent them in spite of a reality in half-tone that essentially results a kind of summary, which, in the end, is life! An arrested motion in time. 

In arresting motion there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality, so I don’t arrest motion in time. I make it. I love my subjects although I don’t know them. I mean, they’re my friends. I’ve never meat any of them or I don’t know them at all, yet I live through them, or I can't live without them. 

Mj Tom of LosOtros | Visual Artist 
https://losotros.eu/mj-tom/ 
https://www.instagram.com/losotros.mjtom/ 
https://www.facebook.com/LosOtrosXMjTom/ 

Friday, February 26, 2021

Vivianne Knebel's memoir: "From Rubble to Champagne: Rising from the ashes of war-torn Berlin to a life of grace, beauty and gratitude"

Born an illegitimate child in the wake of WWII in Berlin, Nazi Germany to a single mother, Vivianne 
Knebel’s options were limited and her future looked bleak. She experienced poverty, cold, and hunger, and was even driven to the point of committing suicide. To seek out a better life, Vivianne immigrated to Canada as a teenager, but her misfortunes did not end there. However, in response to a miraculous intervention, she decided to preserve her life and keep moving forward.

After this incident, Vivianne met a fellow German immigrant, Wiland, who eventually became her husband. But even more than that, he became a catalyst for change in her life. His belief in her is what helped her see the true, immeasurable value of her life. She went on to play a key role in Wiland’s business venture and together they built a better future for each other.

Since then, Vivianne has run a marathon, learned to pilot a plane, and even beat cancer. She’s found a 
greater sense of spirituality and wants to share her story with the world, to remind people that there is always a reason to keep moving forward.

Links: 
Purchase her book on Amazon
Website: https://vivianneknebel.com/ 

Monday, January 18, 2021

Vocabulary platform Beeblio launches ios app

Beeblio plans on releasing its iOS mobile app pretty soon. It currently operates through its web platform
which can be accessed by visiting web.beebl.io. The concept behind the app is simple! to help people learn words in a more fun and exciting way. The CEO and Founder of Beeblio believe that at some point in everyone's life, they may get the need to study a foreign language. He mentioned how his app was built to simplify the entire learning process. 

"If beeblio can improve the experience of even one person who embarks on the journey of learning a language, whether it be a new language or just improving their level in the native language, then we feel it will be worth it". 

Beeblio is one of the easiest ways to improve your vocabulary by helping you regularly learn new words. By expanding your knowledge and learning new words you’ll be able to speak and write more concisely and clearly for people to understand you more easily. The mobile app and web application offers a unique experience for each person that uses the app so that they can learn new words they specifically do not know. Registered users or guests can use beeblio. The founders of the app have plans of integrating upcoming features such as "vocabulary list" and "flashcards". Teachers and tutors: will be able to create groups or classes, share vocabulary lists and flashcards within those groups, and see the work of the students in their groups. Later down the road, the company in addition plans on including games and challenges in which members can utilize for entertainment as they study new words. The mobile app is set to include more features as time goes on. 

One of the advantages of using this app apart from its unique design and interface is the fact that users can get quick access to features they need when they need it. Navigating through the app is very simple, the developers/founders made sure of that. 

The online platform and mobile application offer you the ability to learn words way faster as compared to other applications. With access to more than 250,000 words to learn from, this mobile app uses some of the best dictionaries in the world to assist you pull in the best results possible. Crafted utilizing an elevated level of calculation, this mobile application provides the best insights to help you with improving your lexicon within the briefest possible time. 

Beeblio works in an interesting yet simple way, The app has helped many individuals improve upon their vocabulary. Beeblio is one of the best vocabulary apps you can find out there. When searching for an app to improve your vocabulary you need one which is fun, exciting, and flexible to use. With Beeblio, you get to study new words at your own time, wherever and whenever you want. 

How It Works 

Using the Beeblio app is very simple. You first need to download the mobile app from the ios app store or visit the web application URL at web.beebl.io. After that, you need to create an account by putting in your information and answering a few questions on the registration page. After your account has been successfully registered, You can begin using the platform. 

● You (the user) provide a text content or a public URL; you can also upload a file, to process a private content. 

● The application filters from the text all the most frequent words of the language (you decide how many of the most frequently used words should be filtered out). 

● The result is presented as a list of words with useful resources to learn more about them. You can open the dictionary definition, or you can learn, in the context of the text, how to read, spell, and say each word. Best of all: you can save the word and sentences containing it. That is how you can study and practice further at your convenience. 

Beeblio is a lifelong learning network. Their massive body of questions ends with over 217,000. They later on utilize learning science to model (and forget) how you study new words. Collating your answers to the hundreds of millions of feedback from other Beeblio users, The platform will personalize your learning knowledge in order to be able to deliver you with the best results. 

One thing that makes beeblio stand out from other vocabulary apps apart from its unique and easy to use interface is the fact that the platform was designed to keep features users will need on sight whilst keeping the features the user doesn't need away from sight till he/she needs them. 

"We like how the main interactions that the user has with the application occur in just a couple of pages with a clean and simplistic design style. One of the main design objectives was to keep everything that the user doesn't need away from the sight until the user needs it." One fascinating thing concerning this app is the fact that it can be utilized by almost every language user despite his or her level. As a vocabulary application, it is presently available in English only but at the same time, the company believes any user above the age of 10years can benefit from using beeblio. 

That being said, people that we've seen were able to take the most advantage of this product include: 

1. Schoolchildren after the 3rd grade. 
2. Language teachers or tutors of any level. 
3. Parents also fall into this case 
4. People studying English for academic purposes, or other specialized uses. 

People who can also benefit from using this app include business professionals, international students, writers, journalists, bloggers, people preparing for certifications like ESL, TOEFL, GRE, SAT, IELTS, etc... as well as anyone studying business English, and those looking to sharpen their language skills to be better in their fields. 

Today Beeblio is available as a web application that you can use from your browser by visiting web.beebl.io. You can use Beeblio from a computer, a tablet, or a phone. The application is designed in a responsive way to adapt to your screen size. The founder has announced the release of the Beeblio android app no later than February 2021. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

No Majesty is an online arts and culture magazine.

No Majesty provides alternative coverage of major news stories and in-depth topics. Relying on a network of contributors as well as staff Editors, the publication regularly publishes articles on arts, music, and film, as well as pop culture and politics. Over the years, No Majesty has grown into a platform for independent culture stories, opinion, and stories you generally won’t hear anywhere else.

Some of their articles formats have led the way in contemporary music publishing. Their Albums category has featured not only the latest reviews but also interviews with leading and up and coming figures in music. Their article ‘Taylor Swift Albums Ranked, From Best to Worst’ has garnered thousands of views and lots of feedback from around the web.

Visit No Majesty online to see the latest work from the team, and follow No Majesty on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook to get their views and see the other work from the community that they share.

No Majesty – online magazine 

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/nomajesty/ 

Twitter https://twitter.com/nomajestyuk 

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/nomajestyonline/

Monday, November 30, 2020

Could JASON WILBUR be the Banksy of industrial design?

JASON WILBUR means business. He has challenged the design norms in every industry he has touched and won countless awards, fans and critics alike for the unconventional and magical approach to bringing a new design to life. From futuristic cars to musical instruments, mechanical art and emotional timepieces, JASON WILBUR has reimagined it all while breaking all the rules. 

JASON WILBUR’s career is as multifaceted as his bold design and he is creating a whole new world, all his own. He makes art through engineering and poetry through design.  

JASON WILBUR questions everything around him, leaving us with physical gems in the form of mechanical art that elevates our understanding of what is possible for the future while questioning the past. 

Top watch industry veteran Theodore Diehl Horologist at Richard Mille said: "Jason is one of the most amazing original thinkers within the world of design." His skill transcends the drawing board. He is known to engineer almost everything himself and forge his ideas in the most futuristic and inventive ways, implementing computer-aided design and tomorrow's manufacturing and engineering techniques. 

"The first time I met Jason and viewed his designs I was amazed. In my 25 years in this industry, he is the BEST I have seen" confirms Michael Pucci, Watch & Jewelry Industry guru. 

From a design perspective, JASON WILBUR’s style knows no boundaries, in one instant it is heavy and mechanical and in another, it is beautifully organic; It all depends on the subject. JASON WILBUR’s ideology is rooted in pushing limits and breaking new ground. 

When asked about his approach, JASON WILBUR tells us that “Design is about risk-taking and exploring new ideas no matter how uncomfortable it may be. If I find myself in unfamiliar territory, I know I am headed in the right direction.” 

Immerse yourself in the parallel world of WILBUR as you will not be disappointed. 

The WILBUR Launch Edition Timepiece 

10 years after the revolutionary DEVON Tread 1 nominated at the prestigious Grand Prix de Horlogerie of Geneva, JASON WILBUR is back with a new timepiece. Designing once again timepieces that are challenging the watch industry. Wilbur watches are for the self-made man who is bigger than life and for those who are individual thinkers, rule breakers, innovators and pioneers. 

"The emotional value he injects into his products is epic. Jason is revolutionary" says fellow artist and designer Matthew Tremblay. Without a doubt, JASON WILBUR will be recognized as one of the most influential industrial designers of our time. 

Interview with JASON WILBUR  

AIM: Just when you think there seems to be nothing new under the sun when it comes to watches, your designs appear to take not only functionality, but your designs appear to be the most unique concepts in the world. Where does your inspiration come from? 

JW: My inspiration comes from everything around me. I really am obsessed with machines; cars, rockets, motorcycles…The idea that machines are almost living things that are created by humans has always amazed me. So I like to say that I am inspired by “dreams of machines”. Designing future cars and vehicles for 10 years really put my mind in a place where I am now almost automatically programmed to think about “what’s next” and to create machines with soul. 

AIM: Why watches? You obviously have had a lot of success designing innovative and futuristic fuel-cell cars and you even designed an oceanic research drone. How and why did designing watches intrigue you? 

JW: Watches really started to excite me once they became “useless”. What I mean by that is watches, for the most part and until most recently, were tools to tell time. The number one job they had was to tell time and do it well. Now your phone tells better time than most watches. So now, watches have the opportunity to become sculpture, to become an art statement that you can wear daily and it shows those around you your personality, your dreams, and your way of thinking. They can become a living thing. Now that telling time (for a watch) is secondary, it’s really about making a wearable machine that is truly art and makes a unique statement. For many years, designing watches was my escape from the more serious world of car design and product design. It really allowed me to explore my more poetic side of design and it allowed me to take the biggest risks. 

AIM: What makes your watches different from what's out there? What sets your designs from all others? 

JW: The watch industry in general has become antiquated and frankly boring . They produce pretty much the same thing over and over. It’s a cult of de ja vu. I am not a member of the “traditional industry”, so that means I can make whatever I want to. The same rules do not apply to me. My watches are fun and some would say crazy, but the level of quality and craftmanship is deadly serious. So my watches are different because they are more like mechanical art than a watch. They are extremely detailed and like a diorama of the world I’d like to live in. My watches are different because they are more about art than telling time. I really like to create complex architectural forms and floating elements to give depth in the watch and draw the viewer in for a more potent experience. 

AIM: What kind of formal training have you had? Did it help or were you always naturally gifted in design and engineering? 

JW: I went to college twice. I dropped out twice as well before finally getting my degree in transportation design / industrial design from Art Center College of Design in California. Art and design were always in my blood, but formal training helps to elevate your level of how to execute your ideas, and that was essential for me. I heavily lean on my formal training and experience to execute at the level I do. 

AIM: Tell us about your upbringing. Did you grow up in a family of engineers and designers? Was there any sort of influence growing up? 

JW: My mother is a musician and songwriter, my father was in finance. Both extremely talented and different thinkers. They taught me to question everything and to explore the world around me. They always supported my artistic endeavors. I leaned to play guitar at 4 years old and was always making music and art, which my parents nurtured. My surroundings growing up were my main influence and music played a massive part in terms of creative theory and exploration.  

JW: I grew up in New York, which is super rich in style and culture. Being emersed in this from a young age had a huge impact on my creative spirit. I also spent a lot of time in the woods of Vermont when I was young. The contrast between Vermont and NY is huge. It keeps one thinking in expansive ways and makes for unique perspectives. 

AIM: Were you always building and designing things since your childhood? What kind of projects did you have growing up and did those early visions influence your current work? 

JW: I designed and made everything from guitars to sculpture and furniture. I would build tree forts and always customizing everything from my bicycle to the living room wall with crayons. I was also always drawing and painting since I was a little kid. I also loved taking things apart. I loved taking apart an old tape recorder or an old lawnmower. The mechanisms amazed me. Of course, my parents weren’t too stoked when I took all their shit apart and couldn’t put it back together. That raw engineering of functional things always inspired me and still does to this day. Exploration and creation was my way of learning and through that I developed skills to be confident in creating new things that only I could imagine. 

AIM: You aren't new to watch designs. One of your first ever designs is the award winning DEVON Tread 1 watch. If anyone is able to get their hands this original model, it surprisingly retains its original value and its functionality. How do you engineer your watches to last so long? Do you predict that these designs will last a lifetime or even beyond multiple generations?  

JW: I couldn’t do what I do without a talented team of engineers behind me. For the more complex
projects, I really get help with the nitty-gritty details of engineering when it comes down to the end-product. I’m too ADD to focus on extreme details, so the team helps to refine everything and make it function to the level I expect and demand. I expect all of my creations to be executed to the highest level of quality and I plan for them to last for years and years but you never really know until its done. That the fun part of making new things…the risk IS the reward. The most important thing when breaking rules is to execute flawlessly. The haters will always try to find flaws in those who try to do things differently.  

AIM: Do you ever take custom orders? For instance, someone is into steampunk or owns a red Ferrari and wants a watch that resembles what they drive or to compliment their attire, can you design a watch that represents someone's personal tastes and interests?  

JW: My watches are my own expression, so I don’t entertain custom orders anymore. Art is not a service. When it becomes a service it loses potency, honestly and value. I would however collaborate with other people that I share creative values with and that could lead to unique pieces. I do 1-off unique pieces now as well as ultra-limited pieces when I get crazy ideas and those usually grab the attention of an individual who is looking for a piece no one else has.  

AIM: You also play guitar, so your talent obviously has no bounds. Would you ever consider designing a guitar for a musician?  

JW: Yes! I have a great image of a guitar I designed. 

AIM: So, your wife is also a well respected and established designer in the auto industry. Does she ever help you with your design concepts?  

JW: Without my wife Michelle I would be a straight mess. We talk about design and creative ideas all day together. Most importantly, she gives me strength and confidence to take risks and supports my crazy endeavors unconditionally. Like the saying goes, behind every great success is a woman. 

AIM: What other projects are you currently working on or would like to venture getting into? 

JW: I have some limited-edition mechanical art skateboards that I will be releasing shortly and there are always watches and time-sculpture long term projects in the works. 

And, I will always be involved with cars in some way or another. 

AIM: What can we look forward to from Jason Wilbur designs in the near future? 

JW: I’m really focused on pushing the limits with my watches and mechanical art in the near future. There are a million ideas stacked in my head and I just can’t get them out fast enough. Look forward to some more rule breaking from me.   

Find more of Jason Wilbur at: