Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Volkswagen parks in Honda's U.S. driveway

By Christiaan Hetzner
FRANKFURT Tue Feb 28, 2012 6:51am EST

(Reuters) - Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn squeezes his bulky frame behind the wheel of the new Honda Civic and takes out a tape measure - part of a forensic, and very public, inspection of the five-door compact at last September's Frankfurt car show.

"You were a role model for us for many years once," he tells an attendant Honda official. "Really."

They were the words of a man who knows Honda (7267.T) is on the ropes in the United States, and who fervently hopes he can eat the Japanese group's lunch in its biggest market.

The United States is home to nearly one in two Honda buyers, but its sales there fell 7 percent last year while overall U.S. vehicle sales expanded at a double-digit pace.

As a result, Honda's market share has tumbled 2 percentage points in two years to 8 percent in 2011. Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) is headed in the opposite direction, albeit from a low base.

Winterkorn wants to at least double the Volkswagen VW.L brand's 2.5 percent U.S. market share. Last year's sales performance was the best VW has managed there in three decades, with sales of Jettas and Passats up 44 percent and 83 percent respectively.

"The good news for Volkswagen is that brand loyalty is not what it used to be. Honda buyers started to flee to other brands like Hyundai because they wanted to express themselves and not be just one of the herd," said TrueCar analyst Jesse Toprak.

At an international level, VW has had its ups and downs since its birth in 1930s Germany, but it has come out of the 2008 crisis better than most.

While General Motors (GM.N) was pushed into a pre-packaged bankruptcy and Toyota (7203.T) endured its first ever operating loss, the Wolfsburg-based group has emerged as the world's second largest carmaker with the firepower to buy Peugeot (PEUP.PA), Fiat (FIA.MI) and Renault (RENA.PA) put together.

It made a record profit in 2011, but will need to prey on weaker rivals abroad to keep growing. That is because its core European market is set to shrink to its smallest in a decade, and carmakers are piling on costly, margin-corrosive incentives for free to compete for what remains.

VW's ultimate goal of becoming the largest, most profitable carmaker in the industry hinges on whether it can find lasting nourishment in the United States, where its pricey imports long ago forced the brand to feed off the scraps left over by others.

By shifting German car production to Tennessee and taking expensive features out of their over-engineered cars, a practice known as "de-contenting", VW has succeeded in luring customers back with affordable entry prices and sporty sedans like the Jetta - features that were once the hallmarks of Honda's Accords and Civics.

"Our biggest competitor here is Honda, since its customer base shares the same core values. We both focus on sportiness and versatility and have high demands when it comes to handling," VW's U.S. strategy chief, Rainer Michel told Reuters.

Toyota's no-frills customers do not buy a Camry to enjoy the ride, he said, while Hyundai buyers are attracted to the kind of trendy exterior designs which Honda and VW both eschew.

Honda, by contrast, has a pool of well-educated and more affluent U.S. car owners who tend to favour more subdued styling packaged into a fun ride.

Among its five biggest competitors, Honda boasts the lowest spending on incentives like cash rebates or free features and trim, according to auto-information website

It also abstains entirely from selling to fleets like Hertz rental agency. Fleet sales and incentives are both pressure valves many carmakers resort to when times are hard.

"We are not the flashy choice, we are the smart choice that informed customers make after weighing things like reliability, fuel economy, driving enjoyment and so on. This helps us keep a tight lid on incentives and preserve a high resale value for our owners," said American Honda spokesman Chris Martin.

"That also means that we have a huge bull's-eye painted on our back, though, since any other auto company would love to attract this kind of customer base."

But the chinks are starting to show in Honda's armour. It expects operating profit in the year to end-March 2012 to fall 65 percent to its lowest level in three years, prompting Moody's to downgrade the company's outlook to negative due partly to the tougher competition from predators like VW.

Earthquakes, tsunamis and floods in Japan and Thailand severely damaged its supply chain last year. Making matters worse, the latest Civic model has been panned by critics in the United States, forcing Honda to promise a costly facelift much earlier than planned.

"The Civic was for the longest time the torch bearer for what Honda was all about - compact cars with efficient four cylinder engines and very responsive chassis that give drivers a great feeling for the road," said Bill Visnic, an analyst and senior editor for

"That reputation has been slipping rather precipitously, though, ever since they began compromising to chase market share with cars getting bigger and the ride becoming softer."

Meanwhile VW has one of the youngest customer bases - important for a brand's image - while spending even less than Honda on incentives - quick fixes that boost volumes but ultimately hurt demand over the long run as resale values fall.

As a result, the new Passat sedan spends half as long collecting dust on a dealer lot than the average U.S. vehicle.

"A lot of new VW buyers were Honda owners who no longer wanted to see 10 other exact same cars every time they came to a stop at the traffic light," said Chris Chaney, Vice President of consumer research group Strategic Vision.

According to his firm's surveys, Honda was the brand to surrender sales the most to VW last year. VW owners are more prone not just to feel better about driving their new cars but also to be more excited about them than Honda customers.

"There is no question that there are Honda owners who see Volkswagen as a step towards the prestige associated with German engineering," Chaney said.

With gasoline prices expected to climb, market researcher Art Spinella believes VW can also benefit from its strong range of fuel-efficient diesels, but warns a patchy dealer network, largely based in coastal areas, will continue to hold them back.

"Pump prices mean that car buyers will consider VW much more often, but for that to translate into actual sales they need good dealers, and here they are only strong in the slow-growth states in the Northeast," said Spinella, President of CNW.

In order to hit its sales target of 800,000 VW brand car sales by 2018, VW opened up in January a new sales office in Dallas to support the near 100 dealers spread thinly across 16 states.

Dependability may also need to improve, however, before buyers in more rural areas think about a VW.

"I think the biggest problem Volkswagen will need to address is its reliability issues, if it wants to make greater inroads into the American heartlands," said Gabriel Shenhar, Senior Auto Test Engineer & Program Manager at Consumer Reports.

In the hopes of better persuading Honda owners to defect, VW has poached marketing guru Tim Mahoney from Japanese rival Subaru of America (7270.T).

Known for his ability to hit an emotional nerve through ads like the Subaru Love campaign, he was recently voted by industry newspaper Automotive News as one of 10 managers to watch this year alongside such exalted peers as the group chief executives of Toyota, Ford and, yes, Honda.

VW's traditional focus has been on its engineering prowess, but Mahoney favours funny skits like the "Vamonos" ad, with its clever emphasis on the fuel economy features of the VW Passat TDI.

"In a world of instant entertainment, companies can overestimate what a person can absorb in a 30 second spot that flashes over a TV screen," he told Reuters.

"But by engaging someone with ad they can relate to, you can draw people into a more complete experience offered on our website or get them to download the latest Golf racing app."

VW built on last year's Star Wars-themed "Force" commercial, voted the best ad of 2011 by industry publication Adweek, with a viral teaser spot on YouTube that featured a choir of dogs barking out the theme tune from the space saga.

Not so much as a front headlight - let alone a whole car - is ever shown, but the association with VW is unmistakable.

"People are even filming their dogs watching the spot and posting it on the internet. Humour is a big part of what we do and people like to participate," said Mahoney, a language major who studied in Vienna and Goettingen.

Honda's ad people are fighting back.

Fresh from a month of resurgent Civic sales in January, it is creating buzz with a popular ad where Matthew Broderick reprises his role from the 1980s hit "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", only this time he is behind the wheel of a CR-V crossover instead of a vintage Ferrari 250GT cabrio.

A Honda executive who worked for six years in the United States says last year marked the trough in sales for the brand, and the business there is now firmly on a path to recovery.

"It is true that Volkswagen has been expanding aggressively with success, but I believe the U.S. sales data for the new Civic in January is indicative of the new improving trend," Honda Europe President Manabu Nishimae told Reuters.

Just to make sure, though, American Honda reshuffled its management in order "to further speed decision-making and increase efficiency and competitiveness," it said last week.


Honda Malaysia: Facelifted Honda Insight

Honda Malaysia has introduced the facelifted Insight hybrid, in its 1.3 litre form. Aside from some external revisions, the facelift � which made its debut in Frankfurt last year � promises to deliver better fuel economy along with a string of other refinements.

Kicking things off are new front and rear bumpers, and the headlights now wear a tint of blue highlight. Additionally, the new grille design features a blue reflector underneath. The tailgate spoiler has also been slimmed, and together with a modified tail gate garnish and a reduction in the size of the wiper motor unit, results in overall increased rear visibility.

Appearance aside, the aerodynamics of the car have also been improved, reducing the running resistance and thus resulting in better fuel economy. The 1.3 litre IMA system � with 88 PS and 121 Nm from the engine and 14 PS and 78 Nm from the motor � gets some powertrain efficiency improvements.

Revisions to the CVT and mill, the latter in the form of reduced engine friction, as well as alterations to the air conditioning system, all do their bit to contribute to lower fuel consumption.
The Insight also features a quieter ride, with the inclusion of added noise insulation materials for better NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) performance. Meanwhile, the seats are now upholstered with a new fabric, and rear passengers now enjoy an extra head clearance of 15mm, following adjustments to the shape of the roof lining and the hip point of the rear seats.

Still on dual airbags, but there�s Hill Start Assist (HSA) and VSA on this one, and the wave key has been changed to a more compact jack-knife version. Four exterior colours abound, and these are Platinum Aqua Metallic, Premium White Pearl, Crystal Black Pearl and Alabaster Silver Metallic.

The facelifted Insight goes for RM99,800 (on-the-road), and comes with a five-year or 140,000 km warranty on the IMA battery. The best part is that you don�t have to wait long for one, if you�ve been eyeing it � fully aware of the current demand of the new Insight, Honda Malaysia says the waiting period for an Insight is now less than two weeks. No indication as to when the 1.5 litre job will arrive.


Consumer Reports Video Review of the 2012 Honda CRV

Ugly Christmas Sweaters Move Over!

There is a new ugly clothing item in town! Auction Humor has found a new ugly clothing niche.

eBay Seller �earthfinds� has listed a very colorful Kolorway Painted Blazer. Auction Humor has designated the jacket as the �World�s Ugliest Blazer!� According to the listing, the blazer �features a baby grand piano, with open music, wine, as well as a white kitty sitting in a windowsill. Through the window you can see the man in the moon. The back is a reflection of the front.� To top it off, the seller describes not only the jacket as fierce but considers the buttons to fall into that category as well!

Below is a screenshot of the actual listing:

Unfortunately, no one felt worthy of this unusual find. �Earthfinds� even listed it a second time but no buyers stepped forward. It�s not too late to email �Earthfinds� if you are interested!

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U.S. Rule Set for Cameras at Cars� Rear


On average, two children die and about 50 are injured every week when someone accidentally backs over them in a vehicle, according to, a nonprofit group that pushed the government to begin tracking such tragedies. And more than two-thirds of the time, a parent or other close relative is behind the wheel.

Now, auto safety regulators have decided to do something about it. Federal regulators plan to announce this week that automakers will be required to put rearview cameras in all passenger vehicles by 2014 to help drivers see what is behind them. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which proposed the mandate in late 2010, is expected to send a final version of the rule to Congress on Wednesday.

Cars are filled with safety features that have been mandated by government regulators over the years, including air bags and the Liddy Light, the third brake light named for Elizabeth Dole, who made it standard as secretary of transportation in the 1980s.

But the rearview camera requirement is one of the biggest steps taken to protect people outside of a vehicle.

�We haven�t done anything else to protect pedestrians,� said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety in Washington. �This is one thing we can do and should do.�
A spokeswoman for the highway traffic safety agency declined to comment before the new rule was announced.

However, in a preliminary version circulated for public comment, regulators predicted that adding the cameras and viewing screens will cost the auto industry as much as $2.7 billion a year, or $160 to $200 a vehicle. At least some of the cost is expected to be passed on to consumers through higher prices.

But regulators say that 95 to 112 deaths and as many as 8,374 injuries could be avoided each year by eliminating the wide blind spot behind a vehicle. Government statistics indicate that 228 people of all ages � 44 percent of whom are under age 5 � die every year in backover accidents involving passenger vehicles. About 17,000 people a year are injured in such accidents.

�In terms of absolute numbers of lives saved, it certainly isn�t the highest,� Mr. Ditlow said. �But in terms of emotional tragedy, backover deaths are some of the worst imaginable. When you have a parent that kills a child in an incident that�s utterly avoidable, they don�t ever forget it.�

Automakers began offering backup cameras only about a decade ago, by using the in-dash navigation screens that had become popular on luxury models. The feature has become increasingly popular as companies found more inexpensive ways to display camera images to a driver, such as on a screen hidden in the rearview mirror.

For the 2012 model year, 45 percent of vehicles offer a rearview camera as standard equipment, according to the automotive research Web site It is an optional feature on 23 percent of models.

Safety advocates said a mandatory camera is long overdue. �We wouldn�t buy a car if we couldn�t see 30 or 40 feet going forward,� said Janette Fennell, the founder of �We�re taking this big lethal weapon going in reverse, and we can�t see.�

The new requirement stems from a 2008 law, the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act, named for a 2-year-old boy who died in 2002 when his pediatrician father was backing a sport utility vehicle into their driveway. The law required the N.H.T.S.A. to set standards for rear visibility, which had never been regulated.

In urging Congress to help reduce backover injuries, KidsAndCars created a public-service announcement showing that 62 children could fit behind a large S.U.V. without being visible to the driver in any of the mirrors.

Although they account for a small fraction of the deaths that result from automobile crashes, backovers are the most common cause of off-road deaths involving children and vehicles, according to KidsAndCars. The number of reported child fatalities attributed to backovers totaled 448 in the years 2006 through 2010, a sharp increase from 88 in a four-year period a decade earlier, the group said.

In many cases, the incidents involve a phenomenon that safety advocates call �bye-bye syndrome,� when a child runs outside to wave to someone driving away, without that person�s knowledge.

As vehicles have become larger and designed to better protect occupants, drivers� ability to see any people or objects behind them has been reduced, said Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing at

�Over time, the beltlines have risen, and the glass has gotten a little smaller in the interest of safety,� Mr. Edmunds said. �There�s certainly been a lot of attention paid to safety, but visibility hasn�t necessarily been lumped in the same way.�

Edmunds now measures the size of the blind spot behind each new vehicle, based on how far back the driver can see a mannequin designed to resemble a small child. Although many backover incidents involve S.U.V.�s and trucks, Mr. Edmunds said some of the biggest blind spots are on passenger cars where the trunk has a high deck lid and the driver sits low to the ground.

For the Cadillac CTS-V coupe, Edmunds measured a blind spot 101 feet long, compared with about 40 feet for minivans from Toyota and Honda.

Automakers have generally supported the requirement, while some took issue with technical aspects of the proposal and the added cost. �We�ve had longstanding support for efforts to increase the field of view for these vehicles,� said Wade Newton, of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

Meanwhile, in anticipation of the 2014 mandate, automakers have been designing models with camera systems in mind. Instead of including a camera in a $2,000 navigation package, many have made it standard or a stand-alone option for a few hundred dollars.

When Honda revamped its CR-V crossover vehicle last year, it included a backup camera as standard equipment. On the 2011 model, CR-V buyers who wanted a camera had to buy the top-of-the-line EX-L trim with a navigation system, which cost $7,000 more than the base model.

Regulators studied other ways of improving rear visibility, including the beeping radar-based sensors that many vehicles already offer. But they determined that the sensors often did not detect moving people, especially children. Drivers also responded better to the camera image than the audio alerts, they said.

�Video camera-based systems are by far the most comprehensive and cost-effective currently available solution for reducing backover crashes, fatalities and injuries,� the N.H.T.S.A. said.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

All-New 2013 Nissan Altima Unintentionally Revealed in Official Video

In a video celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Nissan Technical Center in Atsugi, the Japanese automaker accidentally showed a pre-production prototype of the 2013 Altima sedan without any camouflage.

The find was made by Mike Magrath from Insideline who was able to capture a screen shot of the car before Nissan pulled out the video replacing it with a revised version (3.44 minutes into the clip) that displays a covered up prototype of the Infiniti JX crossover in its place.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Joining the over-40 mpg club: Overachievers that can beat EPA fuel economy ratings

Very Interesting.... A certain brand that boasts better fuel economy than the Honda isn't even listed.... Don't forget for us Canadians, this is US gallons, not Imperial.
We�ve recently showed that most fuel-efficient cars can beat their EPA highway fuel economy estimates in Consumer Reports measured fuel economy testing. But if you want to hit 40 mpg on the highway, our tests show that you have more options than you might think.

Below is a list of recently tested vehicles that returned 40 mpg or better in our 65-mph highway fuel economy testing, but were officially rated for less.

If getting that magic 40 mpg on the highway is important to you, this list provides more options.
Again, it�s important to emphasize that maximizing fuel economy depends a lot on how and where you drive.

Several years ago we measured fuel economy with a 2005 Toyota Camry four-cylinder sedan in different situations. Driving at 65 mph delivered 35 mpg; speeding up to 75 mph cut that to 30 mpg, while slowing down to 55 mph returned 40 mpg. Hard acceleration and braking reduced the Camry�s mileage by 2 to 3 mpg.

The bottom line

EPA highway fuel economy numbers provide a place to start your comparison shopping, but they�re often over-hyped as advertising claims. The full fuel picture is more complicated than that. We suggest using a variety of sources, including Consumer Reports test data, to determine if you�ll actually get the fuel economy you desire.

�Tom Mutchler


No Honda City diesel sedan launch in 2012, confirms top Honda official: ICB Exclusive!

Ahead of the 2012 Geneva Motor Show that will happen very soon, there has been fresh speculation about Honda launching a diesel variant of its flagship City sedan in the Indian market, as early as this year. We got very interested in this seemingly big development and immediately got in touch with a top Honda official to confirm this story. Yet again, the Honda diesel bubble stands pricked as the Honda official clearly told us that Honda SIEL Cars India(HSCI) has no plans whatsoever of launching the diesel variant of the Honda City sedan in 2012. Therefore, the rumors of a City Diesel being launched in 2012 remain just that, mere rumors.

We also have gathered that Honda has no plans of launching any diesel engine car in India during 2012 from the HSCI official we got in touch with, consonant with the previous report we carried a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, it seems like the Civic Diesel too will take some time to arrive onto the Indian car market. Honda is the only mass market carmaker in India to not have even a single diesel engined variant in its portfolio and this hasn�t done the brand any good at the hustings, even as the Indian car market has shown a dramatic shift in preference towards diesel cars over the past few years. Honda though, does have plans of launching diesel engined cars in the future and a brand new line of diesel engines are being developed by Honda engineers.

In fact, Honda has deputed ex-Formula1 engineers on the job and the first diesel engine to emerge from this operation is the recently unveiled 1.6 Liter i-DTEC turbo diesel unit, which generates 120 Bhp of peak power and a superb peak torque output of 300 Nm. This engine will debut on the 2012 Honda Civic sedan. Honda is also said to be developing smaller, downsized variants of the 1.6 Liter i-DTEC engine which may power cars like the Jazz and Brio hatchbacks in the future. There is also some buzz about Honda unveiling another small capacity engine at the fast approaching 2012 Geneva Motor Show, which is said to be one of the most prestigious amongst auto shows. Watch this space.


Honda Reveals Images of the European CR-V Prototype

Honda has revealed images of the European CR-V Prototype ahead of its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show on 6 March 2012.

This preview model highlights the exterior styling direction of the all-new fourth generation European Honda CR-V, which is set to go on sale in Autumn 2012.

Compared to the previous generation, this Prototype adopts a more aggressive stance with deeper sculpting of the body lines and a bolder front fascia. The lower front bumper wraps smartly upward to convey SUV capability, while the lower front bumper design now integrates more smoothly into the fascia for improved aerodynamics.

The Honda Press Conference will take place at 09.15 CET on Tuesday 6 March.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Honda Putting No. 2 Executive in U.S. in Localization Drive

Honda plans to post its second-highest ranking global executive in the U.S. for the first time as the automaker that was Japan�s first to build cars in the market extends a three-decade localization push.

Tetsuo Iwamura, 60, Honda�s chief operating officer for North America, on April 1 adds the titles of executive vice president and executive officer, the Tokyo-based company said today in a statement. Iwamura is to also join Honda�s board in late June, pending shareholder approval, the company said.

Iwamura will continue to run operations in North America while assisting President Takanobu Ito in managing global sales, said Jun Odajima, a company spokesman. �This is the first time the top North American executive has also been the No. 2 company official,� he said.

The promotion of Iwamura and naming of Erik Berkman to lead Honda�s U.S. research and development unit, the first time that job has gone to a non-Japanese engineer, come as the company lifts production across North America, its biggest source of revenue, to counter a rising yen. Honda is increasing vehicle output at plants in the U.S. and Canada, adding a factory in Mexico to build subcompacts and preparing to make the Acura NSX supercar in Ohio by 2014.

Berkman, currently vice president of corporate planning and logistics for U.S. auto operations, is to become president of Honda R&D Americas on April 1, the company said.

Honda�s U.S. headquarters are in Torrance, California. The company�s American depositary receipts rose 1.3 percent to $37.28 at the close in New York.


Online Sellers to Benefit from Kabbage and UPS Partnership

Kabbage, Inc, a provider of working capital for small businesses, and UPS recently announced an important alliance for small businesses throughout the US. Kabbage provides advances to established online sellers who need a funding to help build their business.

In determining the amount of the advance a seller qualifies for, Kabbage looks at a seller's selling history, social networking, and other factors. UPS will allow Kabbage to view shipping history to determine how established an online seller is.

In addition to showing a seller's shipping history, UPS Capital, a division of UPS, will also provide Kabbage with a credit facility which will allow Kabbage to reach even more sellers. The company currently assists more than 15,000 online sellers.

�Access to working capital for small businesses is fundamental to the country�s economic recovery,� said Alan Gershenhorn, UPS chief sales and marketing officer. �This alliance with Kabbage is an example of how UPS and UPS Capital can help small businesses gain access to the working capital they need to grow their business. We�re looking forward to extending our alliance with Kabbage and the thousands of e-commerce companies it supports.�

For more information about the partnership, please click here.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tebow Fans, You Could Call This a �Cheesy� eBay Listing!

The end of the football season is no reason to not have a touch of Tebow, Tim Tebow that is, in your life. One eBay seller recently offered a grilled cheese sandwich that seemed to resemble the NFL�s Denver Broncos quarterback.

According to the listing, eBay Seller �carlspackler76� of Roanoke, Virginia, was just quickly making lunch with a less than perfect frying pan one day when he was �thoroughly amazed by the image staring back [at him]... the now iconic "Tebowing" pose of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow!�

The auction began at only 99 cents on January 13, 2012. After receiving 46 bids, it ended on January 20, 2012 at a whopping $85.00! And just think, this success story started with two slices of bread, a slice of American cheese, and poorly performing cookware.

Below is a screenshot of the actual listing on eBay after the bidding was over.

After the seller froze the sandwich and carefully packed it with dry ice, the package was shipped to it winning bidder. As I write this, the buyer has not provided any feedback. I can�t help but wonder if it ended up as lunch anyway!

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Softly Shafted - By Hotthobo

Here is a special guest mix by our friend Randy Hotthobo Ellis, we hope you enjoy it. He used to run a night here in San Francisco called Grow Up. The name was a tongue in cheek poke at Blow Up, a dance party for barely post pubescent kids who wear neon. Grow Up was an adult party for well mannered boogie fiends. Randy also co-owns Voltare Records, a label specializing in new tunes in the electro, boogie, and kraut vein; check it out.

1. Junei - Let's Ride (Pharoahs)
2. First Love - It's A Mystery To Me (Chycago International Music)
3. Kadenza - Let's Do It (PRT)
4. Geno Jordan - You're A Peachtree Freak On A Peachtree Street Part III (PPU)
5. Ocie III - Return On Love (Chycago International Music/Boogie Times)
6. Jady Kurrent Band - Standing There (Starstream)
7. Silk, Satin & Lace - Always (Sunrise Productions)
8. Dr. Togo - Be Free (Derby)
9. Gianni Riso - Disco Shy (Goody Music)
10. Advance - Take It To The Top (X Energy)
11. Delegation - Darlin' I Think About You (Ariola)
12. Jewel - Paradise (Lotus Land)
13. J Parker Band - Live Lady (Tenya)
14. Ish - Don't Stop (TK Disco)
15. Tom Hooker - Talk With Your Body (Fulltime)
16. Evo - Din Don (Cultura & Musica)
17. Fonzi Thornton - Beverly (RCA)
18. Alfreda James & Billy Ray - Back To Love (Rappers Rapp Disco Co)
19. Windjammer - I Thought It Was You (MCA)
20. Toney Lee - Love So Deep (Instrumental) (Radar)
21. Wind Chymes - Baby Your The One (Lotus Land)

Softly Shafted - A Mix By Hotthobo

Keep the Faith

Well, it has been a whirlwind.  A friend of mine recently remarked that we are not even halfway through February and the yoga industry has taken some pretty hard hits. First was the whole New York Times article which went viral and most recently we have been wading through the big debacle with John Friend. So much has been said and yet so questions remain unanswered about what is next for John, the Anusara yoga organization, the teachers, the students and so on. In the wake of the upset a lot of people have been asking me about School of Yoga--what it is, what it isn�t, if it can help them gain credentials, endorsements, etc. The best answer I have right now is to look at School of Yoga as the grassroots teacher training arm of Christina Sell Yoga, Noah Maze Yoga and Darren Rhodes Yoga.
When I left Anusara yoga it was because I wanted to spend my energy creating something that I wanted to be a part of instead of fixing something with which I no longer felt a resonance. School of Yoga is that project for me. School of Yoga is a yoga school not a yoga system. It provides trainings but not trademarks. It works through the power of a bonded community which is both boundaried and inclusive to the degree that people can and want to function within the boundaries. The primary aim of the School of Yoga is to train yoga teachers who are first and foremost yoga practitioners so that the seeds of yoga are planted in the hearts and lives of the teachers and the teachings are preserved and evolved through contemplation, inquiry, practice and personal synthesis. I am interested in exploring the ways the outer teacher can serve the inner teacher and vice versa and how we might as a culture of modern yoga practitioners and teachers learn to develop discernment, deference, respect as well as self-trust through yoga. I want to be in conversation with people who have the courage to know their truth and who are willing and able to continually refine the skill set necessary to express their truth authentically and to hold a space for others to do the same.

In terms of the asana, it is important to note  that while we are all well-steeped in the biomechanical principles that inform Ansuara yoga, we are not teaching them as a comprehensive method in the same way. We will weed out the lingo, the jargon and will emphasize pose architecture as much as, if not more than principled action. We will looking at the asana syllabus in smaller chunks and explore the alchemy between flow, form and focus in a variety of ways- some of which is consistent with Anusara methodology and some of which draws from our other training in Ashtanga vinyasa yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Bikram yoga and various vinyasa approaches. 
In terms of philosophy, we are focusing on helping people find an authentic relationship to their own spiritual Light through traditional practices such as asana, pranayama, mantra, meditation, puja and prayer as well as personal growth tools like art, music, journal writing, visualization, goal-setting and group discussion. Our sincere wish is that School of Yoga trainings support people of all faiths and religions to  live more dignified, noble and purposeful lives.
So- that is some of what we are up to in School of Yoga and our first step is to create a strong center. Darren and Noah and I are going to be in lots of meetings and conferences with each other, with Yoga Alliance and with our advisors to create as much stability as we can in these initial years so that we are anchored well. Practically speaking we have programs that are registered with Yoga Alliance at the 200-hour level and at the 500-hour level. We are exploring ways that people who are interested in learning with us who have been trained in Anusara can apply their past training toward our current offerings but it is not an easy thing to navigate as their are curricular differences between School of Yoga and Anusara yoga as well as protocols with Yoga Alliance with which we want to be in compliance. 

That being said, if you want to know more about our offerings, make sure you are on my mailing list and on Noah�s and Yoga Oasis�. I do think that the Anusara story is not over and I know there are really smart and caring people hard at work to make the best of a very difficult situation.  So if your heart and teaching and deepest interests remain in that stream, be patient, be bold and be willing to contribute your talent, your voice and your passion because it will be an exciting time for sure and every good hand will be needed on deck.
I also want to remind everyone- whether or not you and/or your teacher resigned their license to teach Anusara yoga that Anusara yoga has a great community because it has great people in it. Sure, the structure gave everyone a way to be together but Anusara did not make the community, in my opinion. Great people made a great community. I also believe that Anusara had great teachers because these same  great people applied themselves over a long time to the teachings and brought them forward in creative and skillful ways. Everything great that we had under the name of Anusara still exists within each of us and what we make of that is up to each of us to find a true, stable and sustainable expression of what we want to take forward.  For some, collaboration will be obvious. I think for others, solitude will be best. Some will rebuild the organization, etc.  I personally have a very long term vision in mind and feel that School of Yoga is a life's work and I expect it to change and grow and shift as time reveals to me how best to serve the vision.

And of course, I have to say that alongside all this greatness we can carry forward into our next projects, I also believe that each of us also has within us the very same seeds of corruption, deceit, arrogance, elitism and so forth that have recently born the fruit of the most recent developments. Lee, my guru, always said "forewarned is forearmed." So we have been warned by what has happened and by our part in it. He also said repeatedly that "Anyone can fall. ANYONE."

So while I am quoting him I might as well talk about something else he told me a long time ago regarding growth and change. He said many times that  the way we end one thing provides the momentum we carry with us into the next thing. So, to me, right now, its not about nailing down all of the names and forms and getting everything back into an organized box as much as it is about tapping into the true momentum that facilitated this shift. Underneath the drama, underneath the discharge of difficult pent up feelings (which I say is generally "better out than in" so express it all you want) there was a momentum in each one of us--regardless of the outer choice that anyone has made in the last few weeks- that was fueled by a passion for truth, integrity, clarity, dharma, solidarity, righteousness, loyalty and so forth. For me, that the more I tap into the raw energy behind my outer life choices, I tap into something very essential that becomes a clarifying and revelatory force. When I am referenced in that essential energy- even a little bit- I find myself knowing things I need to know, walking into synchronicity, more aware of distinctions and full of faith and awe.

Anyway- those are my thoughts of today- unedited, un-screened for political correctness and hopefully not legally binding or incriminating. Keep the faith. I believe in us.

MYNC & Nicky Romero to release "Miami 2012" compilation on Cr2 Records

 MYNC & Nicky Romero to release "Miami 2012" compilation on Cr2 Records

Cr2 Records are excited to announce their 2012 Miami WMC Compilation release – “Miami 2012 – mixed by MYNC and Nicky Romero.” Launched in 2007, Cr2 Live & Direct compilations have showcased the most cutting edge house music from some of the world’s leading DJ / Producers including Dirty South, Micky Slim, Oscar G, Harry 'Choo Choo' Romero & Jose Nunez, Arno Cost & Norman Doray, Danny Rampling and MYNC.
This year Cr2 pull out all of the stops and bring together two heavyweight names to come  ‘Back 2 Back’ to mix up a selection of some of the current big-room club sounds rocking clubs around the world as well as showcasing over 15 brand new, unreleased tracks. On mix one, MYNC brings the Miami flavor right away by dropping the Miami VIP version of Chuckie’s party anthem “What Happens In Vegas” and winds his way through south beach with tracks from Lunde Bros, Pierce Fulton, Nilson, Azari & III and of course, MYNC, among others. Nicky Romero’s mix features a combination of his own original productions, remixes, DJ favorites and a brand new exclusive club track entitled “Se7en.” It’s all out big-room madness with huge sounds from Nicky and friends including Hardwell, Sandro Silva & Quintino, R3hab & Swanky Tunes vs Hard Rock Sofa, Afrojack and Albin Myers, among others. 
2011 was another stellar year for MYNC. Their collaboration with Space Ibiza resident Wally Lopez “Esa Boca Linda” was a summer revelation reaching a coveted Top 10 spot on Beatport and #1 on the Tech House Chart. Their massive “Don’t Be Afraid” (with Ron Carroll & Dan Castro) was played a staggering three weeks in a row by Pete Tong on his Radio 1 show, while official remixes of Avicii’s anthem “Fade Into Darkness, ATB with Amurai Ft Melissa Loretta “Heartbeat,” Jason Derulo “Fight For You” and Azari & III “Reckless With Your Love” all received widespread acclaim. 2012 is already looking jam-packed for the London based producers with gigs lined up in Australia, Brazil, Spain, Portugal & the US and more productions and remixes on the way.
Nicky Romero can also look back at the last 12 months with satisfaction. 2011 saw Nicky release a string of Club Bombs that just got better and better as the year progressed. Any DJ will testify that his original tracks such as “Camorra” and “Toulouse” or remixes of Green Velvet, Tiësto, Flo-Rida and David Guetta will tear off the roof in any club. Top names like Tiësto, Fedde Le Grand, David Guetta and Sander Van Doorn all often feature tracks by Nicky in their sets and Nicky has quickly become one of the hottest, most sought after producers and remixers on the planet today.
MYNC and Nicky Romero will celebrate the release of this compilation with a massive party in South Beach during Miami Music week. More info to come.

Digital Release: Feb 20
CD release: March 5

CD1 // Mixed by MYNC
01. Chuckie Feat. Gregor Salto – What Happens In Vegas (Miami VIP)
02. Lunde Bros. – Some Kind Of Monster
03. Inpetto – No More Serious Faces
04. Chris Melin – With You
05. Pierce Fulton – Who Wants Spaghetti?
06. Lunde Bros. – What
07. Nilson – Restless
08. MYNC – Stadium
09. Kura – Love Will Find You
10. Nari & Milani vs Maurizio Gubellini – Up (Instrumental)
11. Azari & III – Reckless With Your Love (MYNC Stadium Mix)
12. Jerma – Believe In Love (Instrumental)
13. Sexxx – Bound For Glory
14. Stevie Mink & Katt Niall – Everyday
15. Faroeh – Anthem

CD2 // Mixed by Nicky Romero
01. Umek – Next Turn
02. Daddy’s Groove – Wild World (Instrumental Mix)
03. Billy Mason – It’s All Sorted
04. Nicky Romero – Camorra
05. Nilson – Bottled
06. Vida – I Got The love
07. Hardwell & Nicky Romero – Beta
08. Tara McDonald vs Sidney Samson – Dynamite (Nicky Romero Remix)
09. Hardwell – Spaceman (Compilation Edit)
10. Nicky Romero – Toulouse
11. Sandro Silva & Quintino – Epic
12. R3hab & Swanky Tunes vs Hard Rock Sofa – Sending My Love (Afrojack Edit)
13. Albin Myers – Hells Bells
14. Nicky Romero – Se7en

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Gotta Take You Higher

I wish I could write you something about the history of disco rap in Quebec, but I can't as all I have is this one record, and the label doesn't give much information to go on other than that the heavy funk backing band is noted as being 'Rhythm Section Montreal Rock' and it came out on "O' Bey Music".

If you are from Montreal and you know more, please share it with us.

Kebec Star - Gotta Take You Higher (Vocal)
Kebec Star - Gotta Take You Higher (Instrumental)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Loans for eBay, Amazon, and Online Sellers

�Kabbage provides funding just for online sellers. We recognize that online merchants have a more difficult time obtaining the funding they need to grow their businesses and we built a solution to meet their needs. These merchants demand the attention of a financial services partner that understands the unique challenges and opportunities facing online sellers.�

The funding is similar to a cash advance on a credit card. This is not a loan. When you first sign up for Kabbage, you will provide them with the following information:
eBay account login
Amazon account login
Paypal login
Bank account routing number and account numbers

You can also provide your Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin profiles so Kabbage can see if you are active on social networks. Also, you can show Kabbage your UPS account so they can see how often you ship through UPS, to further validate your online business.

Kabbage will access your eBay, Amazon, and Paypal accounts with a third-party token � the same way you authorize any other third party service such as Seller Sourcebook, Auctiva, FBA Scout, FBA Power, Ink Frog, etc., to access your accounts. Then, the algorithm is run and Kabbage calculates the amount of your first advance and your rate. You may take the distribution of your funding any way you like � one lump sum, a portion at a time, or not at all until you are ready. You can play around with the numbers to see what your monthly payments will be. Once you select your distribution amount, the funds are deposited into your Paypal account in just a few minutes.

Also, once you make your first payment, and you continue to list products for sale, Kabbage may increase your funding amount. Each time you make a payment, Kabbage may increase your advance limit. Mine is now 5 times the initial amount granted when I first signed up.

Kabbage is an easy way to take your online business to the next level if cash flow is an issue.

Related articles:

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Strangers in a Strange Land

�To Grok means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed�to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience. It means almost everything that we mean by religion, philosophy, and science�and it means as little to us (because of our Earthling assumptions) as color means to a blind man.�
- Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land
grok: understand intuitively or by empathy; to establish rapport with; to empathise or communicate sympathetically (with); also, to experience enjoyment.
- Oxford English Dictionary

Well, it�s been quite a few weeks, to say the least. As I was making my tea this morning and reviewing the latest very interesting blogs, commentaries, emails, text messages and voicemails I have received I was aware that I felt quite weary and a bit hungover. I haven�t had  any alcohol to drink in a while so I am assuming I have some undigested emotions and thoughts still circulating in my system. Writing is always  good therapy, so here I sit, once again, to help the digestion and assimilation process.  
I realized today that I have been holding (or attempting to hold) a certain kind of space around �The Anusara Situation� since Darren and I resigned and that effort has been both liberating and tiring. I think the tiring part comes from how personal it all feels to me and  the effort required to sustain a sense of detachment when other people express how personal it feels to them. I am not someone who always has that sense of �thanks for sharing your truth� as a first reaction, especially when someone�s truth is in response or reaction to mine. I have a big psychological pattern of feeling different, misunderstood and accused. Being neutral and equanimous in the midst of emotionally-laden discussion does not come naturally to me.
So I have to practice that. A lot. I practice spaciousness in relationship more than I practice any back bend and more than I observe any dietary practice. Sometimes, it comes easily. Sometimes, not so much. Sometimes I am able to receive the other�s experience with gracious spaciousness. Other times, not at all. Most days, I am somewhere in the middle- I have what I recognize to be a patterned �first thought� and I am able to execute a more skillful and conscious second thought and outer action. Many times. Obviously, not always.
Because here is the thing- I value, perhaps more than I value anything else, in fact, even more than my opinions, which are many, as we know--honest self-expression. I value that we, as people need to know our truth and to express it  directly and authentically. And I believe that an important circuit gets completed when that truth is received and heard by someone else. A friend of mine is a child development specialist and teaches parenting seminars. She told me that her mentor talks about how there are levels of intimacy between parent and child and the deepest level of intimacy is not love. The deepest level of intimacy is understanding someone else and truly seeing them, receiving them and meeting them where they are. The deepest intimacy is when we, in Robert Heinlen�s language, �grok� someone or when we are �grokked� by another.
So, all of you out there who do not like science-fiction, I apologize for the Stranger in Strange Land reference, I really do. But it occurs to me that, in some ways, that is exactly the situation we find ourselves in. In a way, this situation has made us strangers in a strange land.  For some, there is relief as years of secrets they have kept are hitting the light of day. For some there is deep sadness as yet another dream fades. Others are feeling shock, outrage, anger, vengeful, and even spiteful as feelings of betrayal lead the way. It is a complicated situation that involves  spirituality, ethics, business,  social connections, personal loyalty issues, professional alliances, financial realities, and so on. 
Some folks are coping by withdrawing. Some are coping by making jokes. Some are writing a lot. Some are reading a lot. Some people want facts. Others are reassured by feelings and insight and personal testimony. Some folks are yelling. Some are crying. Some are explaining. Some people, I would bet, are drinking a lot. Some are practicing asana a lot. (I personally have been going to two  Bikram yoga classes a day just to get to a place of quiet. When all else seems uncertain in life,  twenty-six poses done in the same order, taught with the same words, in the same hot room is oddly comforting.)  But my point is that regardless of how we are coping and regardless of  what the quality of our personal experience is,  we are in a new world.
The cool thing is that while we may be in a strange land, we are not strangers to each other, although as the vestiges of now-outdated personality identifications are being swept aside,  we may discover  that we are more multi-dimensional than we once knew. We may find that the structures that defined us, those ideals, assumptions and associations that once provided tools for expansion, had hidden within them seeds of limitation, for that is often how it works. And so we have to grow. Life marches onward. The irrepressible Force of Grace beckons us - sometimes gently and sometimes brutally- to know who we really are, not just who we think we are. And regardless of circumstance, I also think that Grace is calling us to know each other more fully as well. Sometimes that means that you will see that I am more compassionate than I appear on the surface. I had  student once say, �You are like an M&M, Christina- hard on the outside, sweeter inside.�  Sometimes you may come face to face with the fact I am also opinionated, judgmental, ambitious, sarcastic and all the rest.
The thing is for me to �grok� you and for me to have the fundamentally healing experience of being �grokked�  by you, it all has to be there- warts and all.  Whether someone �stays in Anusara and works for change in the system� or �goes and creates something different outside the system" is not the issue, in my opinion. The issue for me is, as always, am I practicing yoga? And what, given all that I know and feel and intuit, provides me with the best situation in which to practice the yoga of my heart?
Of course, that begs the question of, �What does it mean to practice yoga?� Without taking up to much more time on this post, I am proposing that for me, in the midst of this, my primary internal practice has been what I already mentioned- practicing spaciousness in the midst of heightened emotions, volatile feelings, and this attempt to �grok� others and to allow myself to be �grokked.� I am practicing reading these blogs, comments, postings in all their glory with a keen eye on how they come into my emotional body and what impulses follow.For instance,I read some things and I feel vindicated. I read others and I want to explain. I read others and I want to shout, �Shut the f*&% up.� I read others and I want to cry. You get my point.
So, I keep going. I watch me wanting to do those things.  I watch me chiming in- at times with clarity and at times with opinion and at times with sarcasm, etc. I watch my conditioned-self feel misunderstood, feel guilty,  feel sad, feel self-righteous, feel apart from, feel proud, feel happy, etc. And, perhaps  more importantly, I watch for another thread that lives beneath but is not separate from those first responses. There is a thread of wisdom, of discernment, I believe, that the yoga is aiming us toward. It has a flavor, a texture, a presence that is unique to it and when I glimpse it I get the �eye in the storm� feeling. 
This storm is far from over, but it is a great field for watching oneself. I will write more soon. This is not intended as any complete kind of commentary. There is lots of grey area, obviously. 

Goodwill Goes Upscale in Florida

eBay Seller Pam Greenman recently shared shared this information:

The Ponte Verda, Florida area has a new Goodwill store but it is not a typical one. Two Goodwill executives have opened Bluetique, a Goodwill retail location for higher end items. The store has a department store feel that Goodwill stores usually do not have. Amber Russo, vice president of retail sales for Goodwill, and Amy Koebrick, the Marketing Manager for Goodwill�s Northeast Florida region, modeled the project after a similar store in Rochester, NY.

The store is designed to look like a regular department store from the layout to the displays. Its design rivals a Stein Mart or Marshalls. The store�s inventory is about 75% items that have been donated through a local Goodwill donation center while the other items are from brand new items from closeout stores. The donated items are being pulled from the nearby Ponte Verda Goodwill donation center and that location has been setting aside about 600 items a day for this Bluetique location.

The store layout and higher end items are not the only differences in this store. Unlike a typical Goodwill, the pricing structure is not a set one. Instead of finding a one-size-fits-all price for items, there is no price ceiling for items at the Bluetique. An item is priced to reflect more of its market value. Even with the slightly higher prices, the items will still be priced at 50-90% off retail.

With the difference in pricing, is the Bluetique a good source for resale items like its Goodwill predecessors? Yes it is. Right after the store opened in November 2011, its inventory included a Chanel handbag that was priced at $799. At that time a similar bag was selling on eBay for $1325.

As with other Goodwill stores, the money collected goes into the Goodwill�s GCF job training program.

Related posts:

Amazon FBA Scouting Tips � Things I�ve Learned Along the Way

Brand to Sell on eBay � Joseph and Feiss

Don�t Have a Goodwill Store Near You � Try Goodwill Online!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Don't need a crowd to have a party

Here are a couple of jams I picked up in NYC. I have been looking for this Ragtyme record for years and was so glad to find it. Unfortunately, my hectic travel schedule put a slight warp in it but it plays OK on my Beogram. I grabbed a bunch of nice early techno and house records in NYC; I don't think they don't know how good they have it over there.

Ragtyme was a project produced by Marshall Jefferson and represents soulful deep house at its best. There is plenty of smooth with lots of edge to keep it interesting. This 12" was mixed by Frankie Knuckles and features remixes by Lil Louis and Ron Hardy.

This 1988 tune by Innercity reworked by Derrick May is an early techno masterpiece. It was produced by Kevin Saunderson.

Ragtyme - I Can't Stay Away (Ron Hardy's Club Mix)
Innercity - Big Fun (Mayday Re-Edit)

Amazon FBA Scouting Tips - Things I've Learned Along the Way

Scouting locally for FBA inventory can seem overwhelming at first, and rightly so. Large stores like Wal-Mart, Target, Toys R US, Walgreens, and TJ Maxx have thousands of items. How do you know where to start? Your comfort level will grow as you become more experienced. Here are a few tips for learning what types of products to scan and consider for FBA.

Here are a few things I learned about how to scout for toys this past holiday season:

Go to Kmart, not just Walmart, Target, and Toys R Us. Kmart stores are dwindling � there aren�t as many as there used to be. You can often find products that are Kmart exclusives or other products not found in Walmart and Target. And many of your competitors won�t even have access to a Kmart.

Try some items priced $50 or higher. The more expensive an item is, the fewer competitors you will have. According to an informal survey on my Facebook group, 75% of the FBA sellers asked won�t pay more than $10 per item when buying inventory. So if you have the cash flow, and you are not terribly risk averse, try some high dollar products and see what happens. You may see a nice profit and a fast turnaround due to lack of competitors.

Scan items that have fewer quantities on the shelf. For example, maybe there is only 1 purple mermaid Barbie, but 7 yellow ones. This tells you that the purple one is more popular than the yellow, since shoppers may have purchased almost all of them. Or, maybe the store didn�t get as many of the purple because they are in shorter supply. If there is only 1 or two of a variation of a particular item left, this is a clue that the item may be a good seller. Over the 2011 holiday selling season, the pink Fijit sold for about $20 more than any other color. Also, the Pink Leapfrog Leap Pad sold for more than other colors, because not as many pink ones were produced. Look for things in short supply.

Listen to the shoppers around you. Listen to what the kids are asking their parents to buy. If you feel comfortable and it is appropriate, ask a question or two. For example, I was scanning a toy that has about 25 variations. A mom and her 5 year old came to that section and the child wanted a particular one. I asked the mom, �Do you know about this toy? Why is that particular one so popular?� The child actually answered, and said, �Because he is the hero and always saves everyone else.� And guess what. It was an $8 toy. The one the child wanted, that was out of stock, had a 5% ranking and sold for over $30. Listen to what is going on around you!

These are just a few of the things I learned over the holiday selling season. For a list of 16 FBA Toy Selling Tips based on my scouting adventures (and mistakes!), visit Online Selling Coach where a 1 month membership is only $14.95.

To learn more about selling on Amazon FBA, check out Kim Tarrant's and my book, Amazon Recipe for Success. Now is the time to start learning about Amazon FBA!

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Skrillex wins 3 Grammy Awards

Skrillex won 3 Grammy Awards

The 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards was a night of exhilarating performances, inspired tributes, and emotional acceptance speeches. Big winners included British singer Adele, veteran rockers the Foo Fighters, dubstep producer Skrillex and country superstar Taylor Swift.

Electronica artist Skrillex also had a big night, winning three awards. Skrillex -- real name Sonny Moore -- kept popping back up on the stage with utter excitement during the 2012 awards pre-telecast show, which featured the handing-out of the genre categories not covered by main telecast. The electronica artist/DJ picked up Best Dance/Electronica Album and Best Dance Recording for "Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites" and its title track, respectively, on top of Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical for the song "Cinema" (in conjunction with Benny Benassi).

The first time up, Moore thanked the EDM communtiy. "All the boats rise at the water," he said, referring to electronic music. He described making his album in illegal warehouse space in L.A., smiling as his straight black hair bounded away from the shaved side of his head, black glasses matching the rest of his all-black-everything of his outfit.

Full Grammy Winners list here!

Skrillex on the Grammy Red Carpet

David Guetta, Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, Foo Fighters, Deadmau5 – Medley

21221222542 by YardieGoals
Adele � �Rolling In The Deep�

D.O.N.S. - In The Mix 174 10-02-2012

D.O.N.S. - Club FG

01. ATFC - This Is Not A Test
02. Alex Justino, Renato Borges Ft. Janies - Get Over (Original Mix)
03. David Jones – Heya
04. Bass Fly - Do It Right, Yeah (Original Mix)
05. Analog People In A Digital World, Gramophonedzie & Ben Onono - Brassaholics (On The Floor) (Rogerseventytwo Remix)
06. Morgan Page feat. Tegan & Sara - Bodywork (Richard Dinsdale Remix)
07. Luca Cassani & Dario Maffia – Rrrock It! (Abel Ramos Remix)
08. Kaskade ft. Skylar Grey - Room For Happiness (Gregori Klosman Remix)
09. D.O.N.S. & Maurizio Inzaghi ft. Philippe Heithier - Searching For Love (Kosta Radman Remix)
10. Chris Lake - Build Up (Tommy Trash Edit)
11. Skrillex & The Doors - Breakn' A Sweat
12. Lunde Bros - If You Wanna (Original Mix)
13. Glow In The Dark - Lights Out (Original Mix) 

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Dance of Yes and No

Well, I had a great time in Virginia. Kelly and I woke up early on Wednesday morning and caught a flight out at 7. We got to Virginia right after noon and had lunch, walked around a while and then my host picked up and took us to James Madison University for the talk I was giving there. It is Eating Disorder Awareness Month and over a year ago, the awesome folks at JMU invited me to give a talk and to teach a class at their school. I expected to be in a classroom with about 15 people there but to my surprise almost 600 people showed up for the talk and we even ran out of chairs.  Mostly there were students there but there were also community members and faculty in attendance.
The theme of the evening was about The Transformational Power of Self-Love and it was such a great topic to talk about to that many college-aged kids. I look at self-love like an ongoing practice that we are going to be working with our whole lives because life is always changing and, when we look into self-love as it relates to body image, our bodies are also always changing. So to me,  its not a fixed state that we arrive at. Self-love is a relationship, or a friendship with all aspects of ourselves in which we sincerely ask ourselves on all levels - physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually--what we want and need and then negotiate the terms of getting those needs met effectively. 
The students paid attention, lots of them had tears in their eyes and a few even asked me some questions. I really enjoyed myself. The next day  I taught a class on campus and then a class in town in conjunction with the local yoga studio. We had about 40 folks in the community class which was a lot of fun. The students were so open, sincere and I was struck by how polite they were and how well they listened. They were very sweet and open-hearted which made teaching a joy.
I did feel like I had my feet in two worlds during the last few days, however.  I was having some very high and delightful moments teaching and some very difficult and painful conversations with my friends and colleagues who are working to bring clarity to the situation they are in as a community.  I am not really sure whether I should write  �we are in as a community � or �they are in as a community� as, I suppose, a case could be made for either point of view. 
On the one had, I formally resigned my right to identify myself legally as an Anusara teacher. On the other hand, the last 12+ years of my life have been spent in that community and a piece of paper and some disagreements with policy, procedure, leadership, and certain aspects of community culture don�t sever ties like that so easily. Disagreement is a natural part of life and mature relationships can manage love and opposing views all in the same heartfelt bond. So, like I said, it�s hard to know exactly how to place myself and more importantly, how best to be of service to the people I know and love.
So, as I was in the deep flows of teaching at some very beautiful events these last few days,  I was also conferring, counseling and considering some pretty heavy stuff and bearing witness to the confusion, commitment and care that is circulating around the community right now. I have to say that the last few years of my involvement with Anusara yoga have been a lot like that. I have had some of my highest times teaching and some of my most profound personal and ethical challenges sitting side-by-side, sometimes in the same day. I have had more than a few difficult and confrontational conversations with John about topics ranging from ethics, legalities, loyalties, teaching methods, personal accountability, public image, branding, boundaries, organizational politics and so forth. I wrote a lot of this already and I do not want to dredge it all up again but the topic has come up again and people are asking me why I really left.
All those hard conversations eventually led me to recognize a deep and abiding feeling that I disagreed with too many things as they were to continue on in the same way, even though I loved John, was grateful for all I have gained and was deeply integrated into so many aspects of the Anusara community. It was my social life, my professional life and my practice life. Resigning felt like I was ripping apart the seams of my identity and yet I didn�t feel like I could effectively- without harming myself- continue to work for change from within nor did it seem to me that the system wanted to change.
I was living with an ongoing rub of anger and resentment that I couldn�t get to shift. I went to therapy, I went on retreat, I examined my marriage, I changed my diet, I had lots of bodywork and finally I came to the realization that I was angry because I was no longer aligned in the way I was portraying myself. My public persona did not match personal truth and so understandably I felt angry and misunderstood but the real thing is that I was the one keeping the game going. I have looked at this a lot and believe me more than few therapy sessions have been devoted to where that pattern has its origins. Add into that, the fact was that  all this stuff was also my job, my social life, etc. and that made it  difficult to face the truth  because many times the truth demands action. 
John himself told me several times that anyone who is not aligned with him should go their own way and so it was a huge wake-up call to own up to the fact that it was me who was not aligned, plain and simple. I disagreed with a lot of things that all added up to the stark and sobering realization that I was no longer able to hold my seat. 
Did I know facts about covens, pensions, etc. and fail to expose them? No. 
Had I heard rumors? Yes. 
Did I mention them publicly? No.
Did I give feedback privately and repeatedly? Yes.
Did I protect John Friend by withholding my suspicion and comments from the public in forums like my blog or other articles? Yes. 
Was that right or wrong? Did that enable the dysfunction or spare the innocent? I am still not sure, honestly. 
Am I bit upset that my ethics are called into question because of my yoga teacher�s actions? Yes. 
The hard thing about secrets and rumors is that they are not always ours to tell and yet once we know them we can become complicit as much by omission as by commission. I am sorting through that for myself. This cycle of events as been the hardest ethical challenge of my entire life. I am sure I made mistakes. If my actions- outright or otherwise- cause you or anyone else harm, I apologize and I ask for your forgiveness and understanding. If you need to speak to me directly about it, please email me or call me.
In my experience, which admittedly  is not everyone�s, there have been very few formal channels for feedback in the corporate structure of Anusara yoga and very few, if any, checks and balances.  The times that I tried to contribute in that way were painful and unproductive. With so many nuances and domains of relationships in play, it has not been easy to know what is best for me, for my friends and for the thousands of people who are associated with the method, most of which is very positive. Never in my whole life have so many people been so potentially affected by my choices.  It is sobering to say the least.
I still don�t know about how best to really speak to some of these issues. When I resigned my legal right to use the Anusara trademark, I kept thinking about how many people run studios and make their livelihood on Anusara yoga and how much I love so many of those people and did not want to hurt them of give them a problem as a result of my choice.  What�s a tricky thing to really look squarely at is that when John Friend was riding a popularity high all those years and and his reputation was good, we all benefitted from that and in some ways- not all ways- but in some ways, made a method that revolved around him and capitalized on his good name. And if our success is hinging on his good name, the hard thing is that the opposite sits close by as well. It�s hard to get one without the other, it seems, when it comes to esteem by association. 
I think the cool thing that can happen now for the community is that it can begin- if it chooses to- to make some distinctions between the man and the method, the teachings and teacher and the practice/principles vs. the personalities involved. I don�t think it will be easy or quick and I think the road ahead will be fraught with difficulty. That being said, I think it will be a worthwhile process  to engage.

All right- thanks for listening. I am very aware that my viewpoint is just that in and in NO WAY do I intend this to speak on behalf of anyone else. 

More soon.