Posts by Alex DiFrancesco

The Shondes

'Everything Good' for the Shondes

The Shondes talk about their new album and upward momentum. When you put on The Shondes’ new album, Brighton, you’re immediately greeted by all the things that make the band special. Bright, stadium-worthy, buoyant music propelled by Elijah Oberman’s violin and Louisa Solomon’s tremendous vocals, complex melodies and emotions, progressive politics, spirituality and, best of all, the clear sense that the band has found its joy. Songs like “Everything Good” practically scream it out, while        …read more

street performer

Searching for Street Performer Ron Raffel

For years, Ron Raffel played guitar in the same spot on the NYC subway. One day, the street performer was gone and I began my search. It was 16 years ago that I first encountered a street performer named Ron Raffel. I was working at a café in Greenwich Village, and I was late. I rushed from the L train platform at 14th St. and 6th Ave. to the F train platform. There, standing under the tiled        …read more


Dissecting the Taboo of Polyamory

Are polyamorous relationships just like dating — but more honest and open? It’s put into our minds from a very young age that monogamy is the ideal, that one day we will meet a perfect someone and they will be our whole world, we will start a nuclear family and feel completely romantically fulfilled for the rest of our lives. For many people, however, this is largely fiction. We date people, sometimes several of them        …read more

holiday traditions

10 Lost or Little-Known Winter Holiday Traditions

Have you heard of these 10 forgotten, obscure or strictly regional holiday traditions? Some winter holiday traditions are just everywhere, arriving earlier and earlier each fall. You couldn't forget them if you tried: the filling of stores with decorations, Thanksgiving turkeys, Christmas trees, menorahs or eating way too much food with your family (or chosen family). We don’t ever imagine holidays without these things. But what about those other traditions — the ones that didn’t make it and        …read more

gender identity

Discerning Gender Identity in an Ever-Changing World

How to learn about gender identity and ask the right questions. I can still remember watching skits on Saturday Night Live in the 1990s featuring Pat, the awkward, ambiguously gendered person whose gender identity everyone was desperate to discern. The vague questions everyone asked were a source of high hilarity for the average viewer, but even as a child I was uncomfortable with them. Flash forward about 10 years. It was the early 2000s, and I worked        …read more

North Carolina boycott

North Carolina Boycott Joins Tradition of Artists Promoting Social Justice

In the wake of HB2, musicians are fighting discrimination through the North Carolina boycott as well as concerts to protest the discriminatory law. These socially conscious musicians join artists throughout history doing important cultural work. In April 2016, the state of North Carolina passed HB2, a law that not only limits the rights of LGBTQ people in the workplace but also dictates that people use the bathroom of the gender listed on their birth certificate. This highly controversial move forces transgender        …read more

Burning Man

Can Burning Man Ethics Transform the World Beyond the Desert?

How some Burners are taking the principles of Burning Man to the ‘default world’ and making it a better place. There’s one thing I’ve heard over and over when talking about Burning Man with people who’ve been there. “It’s a life-changing experience.” The official Burning Man web page explains it like this: “Once a year, tens of thousands of people gather in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert (also known as “the playa”) to create Black Rock        …read more

Nick Cave

Nick Cave’s ‘One More Time with Feeling’ Taught Me Art Heals All Wounds

The music of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds carried me through the biggest challenges of my life so far and showed me the ferocious power of art. Last summer, I was more adrift than I’ve ever been in my life, and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ music was one of my few buoys. I had lost most of my birth family due to a family history of violence and their inability to accept my mental health problems and transgender status. I        …read more

breakup songs

Put the Pieces Back Together with These Breakup Songs

Here’s the playlist of breakup songs you’ve been searching for. Albums may be giving way to endless streaming playlists, but in their heyday they were an art form in and of themselves: side A, side B and all that could fit in the format. Perhaps one of the things that fit best was heartbreak. Artists used the album for extended laments of lost love, divorce and romantic sadness. The brokenhearted have looked to these albums of breakup songs for        …read more