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Showing posts from May, 2019

UNDER THE SUN: The 2019 Summer Playlist

Before everyone goes their separate ways for the long Memorial Day weekend, please direct your attention to the 40+ songs I've gathered for your listening pleasure. Your pool party, barbecue, and/or beach trip will thank you.

"But Hiko, what are your favorites?" Ah, glad you asked.

Well, Lizzo is a given. KAYTRANADA is delivering some really good W Hotel lounge vibes with "Dysfunctional," P!nk is always a mainstay (see: "Can We Pretend" featuring Cash Cash), and former Glee star Kevin McHale has an adorably breezy number called "Help Me Now."

So go ahead, help yourself to all of this:

@TheFirstEcho

Belinda Carlisle Taught Me How To Ice Skate

Saturday afternoons during the winters of 1989 through 1992 were usually reserved for visits to the Hommocks Park Ice Rink in Mamaroneck where my plump 10-year-old ass quickly grew familiar with the cold, hard surface of the frozen ground.

I assumed the main purpose for these excursions was to tear me away from the TV and work some cardio into my weekend schedule. Naturally, I didn't take to the ice well at first. Plus, the brown faux-leather rental skates pinched my extra wide feet.

"You've got pork chop feet, just like me and your father," my mother used to tell me. Great. Why couldn't I have inherited something more useful like, I don't know, maybe a million-dollar trust fund?

Anyway, these contraptions were more like laced-up torture devices designed for little boys who wished to spend their Saturdays sitting on the couch with a few reruns of The A-Team and Knight Rider and settling into the evening with new episodes of The Golden Girls and 227. I never …

Pop Culture Rant of the Week: Clapbacks, Stans, and Cancel Culture Are Ruining Us

At the end of 2018, Wynter Mitchell, a digital strategist and panelist on one of my favorite podcasts, Pop Rocket, expressed her frustration with stan culture:


I can't agree more.

Simply put, that cesspool Mitchell calls the internet has infected us. It's no secret that social media has changed the way we live our lives. We know -- or we think we know -- everything about classmates we haven't seen since the 90s. Reactions are more instant. Movements are galvanized faster. As a result, the way we treat and regard each other, especially across these platforms, hasn't necessarily changed for the better. And at the risk of sounding like a "get off my lawn"-screaming retiree, this is especially applicable to a certain generation that came of age during the era of snaps, likes, follows, and subscribes.

Many things have been written about the dangers of stan culture, especially when it comes to the role of critics in pop culture. (I won't reiterate it here; you…

#TBT: The Summer of 1999 Mixtape

It's scary to realize how clearly I can remember the summer of 1999.

I returned to New York from my freshman year at Boston University, took a job working for my uncle's collecting agency, and soon quit thereafter when I realized I was better suited to work behind the stacks of the New Rochelle Public Library (go figure). That summer also saw my first trip to Vegas (I have a souvenir photo of the Hilton's Star Trek Experience as proof) and marked the first time I traveled to L.A. to visit my cousin -- three years before I ever entertained the idea of being a full-time resident of the City of Angels.

But most importantly, the summer of 1999 represented something else: the height of the Teen Pop Boom, the heyday of boy bands and pop princesses who made frequent appearances on MTV's TRL countdown.

In other words, it was a glorious time to be alive.

@TheFirstEcho

Meals with Grandma: The Adventurous Appetites of a 9-Year-Old

As an only child, and as the baby in my entire extended family for a good chunk of a decade, I was surrounded by a lot of adults. Therefore I quickly learned how to eat like one.

The children’s menu at most restaurants usually say they’re for “kids 11 and under,” but I was ordering from the “adult menu” well before I turned twelve. I like to think that I was a prodigy when it came to dining out, that I accelerated through my food education so that I could order with the rest of the grown-ups. While other kids my age were munching on chicken fingers and fries (How juvenile!), I was enjoying seafood platters and pasta dishes named after famous Italians I couldn’t properly pronounce.

This was no more apparent than when I was with my grandmother. While being raised by two working parents in the gloriously gluttonous 1980s, a memorable amount of my New York childhood was spent with the only grandparent I knew. This involved numerous day trips and numerous tasty meals throughout much of th…