Last week, Vulf Records mysteriously released two tracks under a moniker The Fearless Flyers. The new band, comprised of Vulfpeck bassist Joe Dart, guitarist Cory Wong, drummer Nate Smith, and Snarky Puppy guitarist Mark Lettieri, put out two songs on Monday and Wednesday, generating huge response to the funky-fresh releases. The new project, which is produced, composed, and mixed by the “Vulfmon” himself, Jack Stratton (bandleader/multi-instrumentalist of Vulfpeck), will be pressed on a limited supply of 12″ vinyl—though the campaign to reserve your own copy closed on Friday. From the time of the announcement, it was not clear whether or not The Fearless Flyers would release a full record, or if only the two songs would appear on the pressing.Then, on Friday, without much promotion outside of a few ambiguous posts on Vulfpeck’s social media pagges, The Fearless Flyers released the full EP on Bandcamp. In addition to the previously released “Aces of Aces” and “Under the Sea / Flyers Drive”, the self-titled debut record includes four additional tracks.“Introducing the Fearless Flyers” showcases the tight musicianship between the four players, providing the style of playing that fans of Vulfpeck crave from the band’s earlier days. A sped-up, jammed-out, funkified rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” appears on the EP, featuring guitarist Blake Mills and gospel performer Sandra Crouch. A secondary version of “Barbara” also appears on the record, featuring Sandra Crouch again on the tambourine, as a follow-up to Vulfpeck’s 2012 Vollmich version of the song.The six-track presentation closes with “Bicentennial”, a clear continuation of the closing groove from Vulfpeck’s 2017 “Grandma” from Mr. Finish Line. Vulfpeck’s soulful original version of the song features Antwaun Stanley on vocals, David T. Walker on guitar, and James Gadson on drums and closes with a 45-second groove that left fans wanting more. The Fearless Flyers’ “Bicentennial” is the extension of that groove and it features Tedeschi Trucks Band’s Elizabeth Lea on trombone and the voice of Jack Stratton as the “sibilant announcer.”With clear ties between Vulfpeck and The Fearless Flyers, it’s safe to say that the new band is a real thing–and we want more. You can own a copy of The Fearless Flyers today for $6, if you didn’t already reserve a copy of the vinyl, here.<a href=”http://vulf.bandcamp.com/album/the-fearless-flyers”>The Fearless Flyers by The Fearless Flyers</a>In other news, Apple recently released a new commercial for the Apple Pay feature, using Vulfpeck’s “Back Pocket” as the soundtrack. The commercial is in international circulation, positioning the song to get stuck in even more heads across the globe.Vulfpeck has a light year ahead of them, with only four dates on the calendar so far. Following a festival appearance at Sweetwater 420 and two nights in New Orleans, the funk quartet will head to Morrison, Colorado, for their first-ever headlining performance at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre. With KNOWER and Kamasi Washington also on the bill, the 4/27 show is shaping up to be one of the most exciting to date. Head here for more information.
Why does dating have to be so awkward?There’s so much anxiety surrounding meeting someone for the first time. There’s what to wear, obviously. Then, what to talk about? How much do we reveal about ourselves? And what about those dreaded uncomfortable silences?In an attempt to circumnavigate or subvert this modern dilemma, Lauren McCarthy discovered that dating doesn’t have to be the hive-inducing stressor we make it out to be. Not with the help of the virtual world to back you up.For a month, McCarthy went on a series of dates with suitors from the popular dating site OkCupid. She surreptitiously live-streamed the entirety of the dates, seeking the feedback of strangers paid to watch and offer their input.“Tell him a secret,” one viewer wrote. “Have a bit more excitement and interest,” said another.If this sounds weird, or perhaps perfectly normal, that’s the point.McCarthy is an artist and programmer, and life’s uncomfortable moments fascinate her, she admitted, partly because she’s a bit uncomfortable herself.McCarthy studied computer science and art at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and said she was fine in that inner circle of academia and … nerdishness. “But in the real world I didn’t have any social skills,” she said. “I thought, ‘Maybe I can hack my way out of a situation.’ ”One early project involved designing a hat that detected if McCarthy was smiling — and delivered pain to her if she wasn’t. But more recently, McCarthy’s work has toyed with identity and social interactions and the ways those converge with our dependence on technology.In a Tuesday lunchtime talk at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, McCarthy discussed her work with center co-founder and director Jonathan Zittrain and confessed that while her projects deal with larger, dystopian issues, they’re also personal.“The dates got confusing because I was being myself,” she said of the crowdsourced dating experiment. “But I was also getting these instructions.”And why not?“What responsibility do we have to maintain an acceptable model of behavior?” McCarthy wondered, clarifying that her seemingly outrageous ideas all stemmed from “me thinking about what I didn’t do well.”In 2010, McCarthy created Conversacube, a box that prompts each user with “directions or lines to keep the conversation running seamlessly with minimal awkward or uncomfortable moments.”“I’d started to think about getting feedback on conversation,” she said. “We do this all the time in other ways — liking, favoriting, retweeting — but shifted into physical space.”Then in 2013 came us+, a Google Hangout app “that analyzes speech and facial expression to improve conversation.”“It’s kind of terrifying to think about,” said McCarthy, “because what if it actually works?”Her latest endeavor is Crowdpilot, a downloadable app that allows friends, Facebook friends, or strangers to eavesdrop on your activities — be it on a date or a phone call — and send you their feedback.While her work has been interpreted as humorous and at times invasive, there’s something poignant about her tools, which are focused on creating meaningful connections.“I’m always trying to make something serious, and earnest, and optimistic,” McCarthy said. But ever the self-conscious MIT grad, she added, “Basically, I’m trying to create my own personal hell with these projects and seeing if I can survive.”
Harvard University recently launched an effort to address chronic hunger among its neighbors in Cambridge and Boston by partnering with the local nonprofit Food for Free to donate nearly 2,000 nutritious meals each week to families in need. The initiative builds on Harvard’s long commitment of community engagement, which includes extensive partnerships with local schools and creating and preserving affordable housing.To ensure that breakfast, lunch, and dinner are available for every undergraduate, Harvard University Dining Services regularly purchases more food than is actually consumed. In the past, excess fresh food has been composted. The new program ensures that untouched food is instead provided to those who need it.Graphic by Georgia Bellas/Harvard Staff“This is a new initiative ― a new type of idea,” said Sasha Purpura, executive director of Cambridge-based Food for Free. “The food from Harvard is very healthy, easy to reheat, and simple to serve. None of it has to be cooked from scratch, which is not only time-consuming, but oftentimes not possible as some of our recipients live in motels or on the street where cooking options don’t exist. This is a new way of doing food redistribution and it has really been making a difference in the battle on hunger.”According to surveys, one in nine residents of Eastern Massachusetts doesn’t know where the next meal will come from, with nearly half of the group made up of children and seniors. The Greater Boston Food Bank alone has seen a 21 percent increase in requests for food assistance since 2008. Meanwhile, roughly a third of the food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted, according to the United Nations Environmental Programme.“Every day, too many families and individuals are forced to make very difficult choices — choices between eating or paying rent or utility bills,” said Meredith Weenick, Harvard’s vice president for campus services, which oversees HUDS. “At the same time, Harvard is aggressively seeking to minimize consumption and waste while implementing sustainable programs that increase efficient use of all that we consume on campus. Our partnership with Food for Free assures that any food we offer our students beyond what is utilized also serves our neighbors, so this really is a win-win for everyone involved.”In Harvard’s 14 undergraduate dining halls, the challenge is to maintain a menu that matches the demand of students, nearly 98 percent of whom live on campus and participate in the meal plan. As such, every location has a modest amount of food beyond what is consumed ― including salads, soups, main dishes, and sides. On an average day, the dining halls feed breakfast, lunch, and dinner to more than 6,600 students. That comes to nearly 20,000 meals a day.While HUDS continually monitors consumption, it is impossible to predict precisely how many students will eat and how much they will eat at any given meal. Since 2005, a student peer-to-peer outreach program designed to reduce food waste has halved the amount food being discarded that could otherwise be donated. (Composting has been and will remain part of Harvard’s extensive waste-reduction efforts.)Harvard tested the program last summer using the excess from Annenberg dining hall. Based on its success, all 14 dining halls on campus were brought into the program. In a typical week during the academic year, Harvard may donate up to 2,500 pounds of quality food that was never served. Given that the average meal is 1.3 pounds, each week approximately 2,000 meals are donated to needy families. In the six months since the program began, Harvard has donated more than 40,000 pounds of food.“HUDS has long been committed to giving back to the local community through food donations and various philanthropic activities,” said Managing Director David Davidson. “But this new Harvard food program formalizes and greatly enhances this giving in a way that is more effective, more wide-reaching, and more in line with the University’s commitment to sustainability.”The Harvard Sustainability Plan, released in October 2014, set an on-campus per capita waste-reduction goal of 50 percent by 2020. The Harvard Food Better campaign is engaging the entire University community in a dialogue about the food system, including waste. The Deans’ Food System Challenge, hosted by the Harvard Innovation Lab, is bringing together teams to develop solutions that make the food system more healthy and sustainable.“This new program further demonstrates Harvard’s interest in partnering with providers in the community to create innovative efforts to support local families,” said Kevin Casey, associate vice president for public affairs and communications. “This is a wonderful example of what can happen when local organizations work together to help meet an important community need.”“This is a sustainable program that reflects Food for Free’s mission to address the needs of local families on a daily basis,” said Purpura. “It is a model that is replicable and we hope that our pilot program with Harvard will both feed families and raise awareness at other institutions of higher learning and organizations in Cambridge. We are incredibly excited about this partnership and are looking forward to doing much more in the coming months.”The Cambridge Community Center, which is adjacent to the Peabody Terrace complex, is one of the local organizations receiving donations. The center serves 40 families a week through its after-school program, and has also served the food during family night gatherings and other special events. Eventually the center will have the ability to send after-school students home with meals for their families. A contribution from Harvard helped the center purchase a commercial freezer for storing donations.“These meals can make a real difference for some of our most vulnerable families. We are proud to work with Harvard, Food for Free, and other local organizations in helping to feed our community healthy, wholesome, and delicious food,” said Darrin Korte, director of programs at the Cambridge Community Center.