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Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: Who Smashed the First Guitar on Stage?

December 2, 2015

Smashing a Perfectly Good Guitar Pendant | UncommonGoods

Who smashed the first guitar? Yes, they did.

Pete Townshend, legendary guitarist of the classic British band first destroyed his instrument on stage in 1964…by accident. Soon, the Who was known for the instrument-smashing melees that punctuated their exuberant live shows, including Keith Moon’s exploding drum kit, live on the Smothers Brothers Show. Since then, the annals of rock history have been full of violent instrumental sacrifice, with other performers getting more and more inventive with their destructive showmanship: Jimi Hendrix set his Strat on fire at the Monterey Pop Festival, Keith Emerson abused his Hammond organ with a dagger he carried for just that purpose, and Kurt Cobain made an art form of reviving Townshend-style guitar sacrifice. Today, busted-up basses and six strings are mostly relegated to museum collections, but in the classic rock era, no axe was truly safe in the spotlight.

Smashing a Perfectly Good Guitar Pendant | $75

Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: Is it Really All About That Bass?

December 1, 2015

Boombox Touch Speaker | UncommonGoods

It depends on the low-frequency context. A stand-up bass in a jazz trio can contribute to a soothing chill-out. The rhythmic bass line of your favorite workout jam can provide essential inspiration. But studies show that Low Frequency Intrusion (LFI)—sounds such as cars with giant sub-woofers that rattle the whole neighborhood—causes negative symptoms in unwitting listeners, including anxiety, decreased concentration, elevated blood pressure, increased heart rate, and insomnia. In other words, intrusive, booming bass is anything but music to many ears. But in other parts of the animal kingdom, low-frequency sound provides essential communication. Some whales use ultra-low notes in their “songs” to keep in touch with each other over great distances because long, low-amplitude sound waves hold their sonic integrity better over large distances in water. So, don’t be surprised if see a blue whale hanging out near the PA at your next rock concert—they’re all about that bass…and krill.

Boombox Touch Speaker | $40

Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: What’s the Longest Song in History?

November 15, 2015

Drawn to Music | UncommonGoods

Longplayer, an epic musical composition and A.I. project initiated by Jem Finer (of Pogues fame) has been playing for less than two percent of its intended duration. Designed to last a millennium without repetition, Longplayer is barely getting warmed up as it approaches the fifteen-year mark of its sonic lifespan. To put that in perspective, the longest Pink Floyd track is about 25 minutes (“Shine On You Crazy Diamond”), and Wagner’s Ring cycle clocks in at over 16 hours. But these compositions are mere blips compared to Longplayer’s thousand-year run. If you spent your entire life listening to the meditative tones of Longplayer (and who has the time?), you couldn’t hope to hear more than ten percent of the evolving composition. But regardless of how long you can listen, the piece offers a sensory analog to the expansiveness of time and the difficulty that the human lifespan poses to our perception of much beyond “the now.” In an age of music by instant-gratification download, Longplayer serves as a contemplative antidote to the impatient listening encouraged by MP3s or streaming audio.

Drawn to Music | $20

The Uncommon Life

Uncommon Personalities: Meet Reggie Philbert

September 25, 2015


Reggie Philbert – UncommonGoods Security Officer

My hometown…

I’m inspired by…
Every time I play the drums, whether it’s for a concert or just practice. It’s one of the few times I actually feel free and relaxed.

When I was a kid, my favorite TV show was…
Hey Arnold! When I was growing up all the characters on the show reminded me of people in my life one way or another. I liked the morals that every episode consisted of, such as the value of friendships and hard work. It was also a way my younger brother and I would bond.

The word or phrase that best describes me is…

When I’m not at work I’m probably…
Reading a Stephen King novel, practicing on the bass guitar/drums or playing basketball in the park

If I could become an expert on one thing it would be…
Playing piano. I gave up on it when I was younger

One thing I’ve learned from working at UncommonGoods is…
The value of communication, teamwork, and patience.

An uncommon fact about me…
I’ve never learned how to whistle.

The Uncommon Life

Uncommon Personalities: Meet Arnold McMayo

July 30, 2015


Arnold McMayo – UncommonGoods Operations Team Lead

My hometown….
Port of Spain, Trinidad

I’m inspired by…

My favorite process in the UncommonGoods warehouse is…
Completing an order and getting it out the warehouse.

If any fictional character could be my best friend, I would choose….
John Wick.

Something that always relaxes me is…

My favorite place to eat in New York City is…
Grace Before Meals in Brooklyn

My style is…
All about comfort.

An uncommon fact about me…
I won the ‘Wittiest Person’ in my graduating high school class.

The Uncommon Life

Uncommon Personalities: Meet Brian Hashemi

July 8, 2015

Brian Hashemi, Director of Marketing

My hometown is…
In Virginia somewhere. I didn’t really grow up in a “town”, it was really just the middle of the forest. Well, like a house in the middle of the forest. A house in a forest that was technically in a suburb of DC. My backyard flowed into a state park, so I could walk for miles back there without running into another house. It was great as a kid to be able to explore – I once found an old bootlegger’s hideout back there, a dilapidated building full of old, rusty stills. It was pretty much exactly like the house they find at the end of The Blair Witch Project. The place I grew up looked a lot like The Blair Witch Project.

I’m inspired by…
The fact that existence exists, because it doesn’t have to. There is something weird and profoundly mysterious about the idea that we are here at all. It’s really much weirder than we allow ourselves to think about.

I chose to go into marketing because…
Marketing chose me. I’ve felt my way through a series of jobs that I’ve found progressively more fulfilling, until finally landing at a company and role and team that I love.

If my 3rd grade teacher could see me now, he or she would say…
That I’m much bigger now? That my math and verbal skills have progressed (but my handwriting hasn’t really)? I don’t know, I think my 3rd grade teacher is dead. So I don’t really think she’d say anything.

The most amazing thing I’ve ever seen is…
Let’s see – I once saw some dogs eat a baby horse, that was pretty amazing. Oh, and ghosts; I’ve seen two ghosts. Well, one was sort of a spirit that visited me in a dream. The other was like a real, physical ghost (that I saw in a graveyard in Scotland). So yeah, I guess I’d say ghosts. I don’t know, was I supposed to say something more profound, or more poetic? Like, “The most amazing thing I’ve ever seen is the sun rising over Everest.” I have seen the sun rising over Everest – but I still say ghosts.

If I could travel back in time, I’d…
Stand very still, trying not to create any paradoxes that would destroy the universe, make my image disappear from photographs, or cause humans to follow an alternate evolutionary path resulting in us now all being lizard-tongued beasts.

Working at UncommonGoods, I’ve learned…
So much. I’ve been lucky enough to have been exposed to so many different sides of the business; it’s really been a thorough education. I’ve gotten the chance to take on many things that I don’t think I’d ever have gotten the opportunity to do at another company. I came in as an analyst, but have been given responsibility for everything from PR to project management at various times – I love learning the ins and outs of new things, and how to optimize different programs. I’ve also learned that I can have a viable, successful career without compromising something about myself.

An uncommon fact about me…
I am constantly replacing my bones with metal. I have metal rods in one arm and one leg, because of soccer injuries. I’m hoping that thousands of years from now, when alien archeologists unearth my skeleton, they’ll point to me as the missing link between organic humans and the cyborg overlords that subsequently took over the earth.

Would you rather… go without music for a year, or go without travel for a year?
I couldn’t go without music. I mean, how do people get anything done without Ke$ha blasting over their headphones on repeat? Music is an everyday thing, travel is a treat.

Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Richard Upchurch

March 12, 2015

Richard Upchurch | UncommonGoods

As UncommonGoods photographer Emily and I made our way to visit Richard Upchurch’s studio, our cab driver quizzed us on some of the local neighborhood acronyms. “Do you know what Tribeca stands for?” he stared at us in his rear-view mirror. “Triangle below Canal Street,” we laughed. “What about Dumbo?” “Down under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.” we said in unison. “Do you know why this neighborhood is called Red Hook?” he mused as we turned down a one-way street lined with rugged facades. We were stumped. “Because of all these brick buildings?” I guessed. “I don’t think so!” he teased. “But seriously, I’m not sure. Do you know?” he peered back in the mirror.

Out of guesses, I stared out the window at the jumble of modern and old-fashioned storefronts. With its scattered cobblestone streets and uncanny industrial vibe (a holdover from when it was a busy shipping center), I felt like I was back in my old Pittsburgh neighborhood. That is, until I saw the beautiful view of New York Bay and the Statue of Liberty directly across from the studio’s dome shaped doors. 

Richard Upchurch | UncommonGoods

Richard introduced himself with a comforting flair of southern hospitality. As soon as he learned about Emily’s Georgia roots, he started describing his favorite Georgia venues where he had previously performed as a touring musician, setting the stage for an afternoon with one of the best storytellers either of us had met in a long time. He walked us around his studio and described how Lil’ MibZoots, and Loopy Lou grew from blocks of wood into sound recording gadgets. He related the first days of his business brandnewnoise, and how it’s grown to become an influential internship provider for inner-city students. He gave us the inside scoop behind the bright green frog in the center of his workstation. (A project that involved a crazy collaboration with Wayne Coyne from The Flaming Lips!) We pointed to his old wooden thumb piano, among other oddities, and he elaborated with charming, sentimental tales. He pointed toward his favorite barbecue joint across the street, distinguishing all of the clandestine spots that make Red Hook so special. With each new story, he built the kind of environment that made us want to settle into rocking chairs, crack open beers, and chat about life. After meeting Richard, I am not surprised that he decided to set up shop in a neighborhood that’s so full of history, character, and unexpected treasures.

Whether you’re looking for creative inspiration, or just hoping to get a sneak peek into an artist’s everyday life, you’re in good company. Pull up your favorite chair, sit back, and enjoy our tour of Richard’s Brooklyn Studio.

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