Category Archives: Jordan Kurland

Treasure Island – A Look Back

The Treasure Island Music Festival debuted in 2007 and has since become a highlight of the West Coast music festival circuit. It is highly regarded for its star lineups and Bay Area vibe, as well as for its unique location: Treasure Island, a strangely polygonal island in wind-whipped San Francisco Bay.

Given its oddly regular shape, it is not surprising that Treasure Island is a man-made landform. Built in the late 1930s, it was constructed with quarried stone and dredged sand upon the shoals of neighboring Yerba Buena Island, which sits at the foot of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

Originally envisioned as supporting an airport, the island was built to host the magnificent “Magic City” of the Golden Gate International Exposition in 1939, with the aim of funding later development. Despite its elaborate preparations and the locals’ high hopes, the expo flopped.

The island became a naval base in 1941 and was officially seized from the City of San Francisco by the United States Navy shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. After World War II and throughout the Cold War, Naval Station Treasure Island was home to an electronics school, a strategic air command radar station, and numerous other military facilities.

Beginning in the 1980s, several of the island’s structures opened up for use as settings and sound stages in filmmaking. Several popular films were shot in part on Treasure Island, including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Matrix, Flubber, and Bicentennial Man.

The naval station closed in 1997, but it was not until after several years of red tape, political maneuvering, and cleanup that the island finally began opening up for residential and commercial development. Beginning in 2011, a number of multi-decade plans have been officially approved. Much to the benefit of the Bay Area, development of Treasure Island is finally on the horizon, beginning in no small part with the Treasure Island Music Festival.

Indie Duo MS MR Looks Forward to Making More Music

images (1)New York-based alternative rock group MS MR enjoyed a busy 2013, with several popular releases and numerous tour stops. The duo’s recent success has marked them as rapidly rising stars in the world of indie pop.

Musicians Lizzy Plapinger and Max Hershenow released the video of their second single, “Fantasy,” early in the year, then watched the track’s March iTunes release easily hit single-of-the-week status. Their debut album, Secondhand Rapture, was released in May and quickly soared to the second spot on Billboard’s Heatseekers Albums chart. Since then, MS MR has been touring some of the highest-profile music festivals and venues in the world, from Australia’s Splendor in the Grass to Texas’ Austin City Limits.

In an end-of-year interview with Elle magazine in December 2013, MS MR were asked about their views on recent directions in pop music. Both musicians agreed that the emergence of new, independent voices like Lorde, Haerts, Chvrches, and Haim marks a positive trend. Asked about plans for 2014, Hershenow resolved to focus on writing some new songs, something the duo didn’t have time to do amidst their busy tour and release schedule in 2013.

New Library of Congress Prizes Reward Innovation in Literacy

On the heels of an array of accolades over the past decade, San Francisco-based literacy organization 826 National won the American Prize in the first annual Library of Congress Literacy Awards in late 2013. The award, which includes a $50,000 grant, recognizes a successful project that effectively promotes literacy. Specifically, 826 operates a network of centers for underserved students in eight major cities throughout the United States. Programs include tutoring, writing workshops, publishing projects, and a wide range of other imaginative offerings intended to engage students.

The Library of Congress Literacy Awards also confers the International Award, for work that promotes literacy overseas. The first such honor, also in the amount of $50,000, went to PlanetRead in Mumbai, India. This program is especially notable for its innovative work in literacy instruction using subtitles on popular musical films and television programs.

The final and perhaps most prestigious honor among the Library of Congress Literacy Awards is the David M. Rubenstein Prize. This $150,000 award recognizes uniquely sustainable literacy efforts throughout the world. In its inaugural year, the honor went to Reach Out and Read in Boston, Massachusetts, an organization that integrates literacy into pediatric care, taking advantage of the many doctor visits in a child’s early life to promote reading education.