The new year is a great time to resolve to get real — but what does that mean? Rather than placing limits on life, it's a wonderfully wide invitation to expansion. You can get real in the arts, politics, health, business, education, and even sexuality.
Center for Sex and Culture founder Carol Queen says: "The number one way I'm getting real in the new year and new decade involves my new line of sex education films, the PleasureEd series, produced by Good Releasing, Good Vibrations' new sister company. About once a month a new title will come out, each one geared to be as informative and useful as possible, and the realest part: We're casting real people doing what they really like to do sexually, so they'll be diverse, hot, and they'll star your friends and neighbors. Real San Francisco sex ed!"
Chronicle pop music critic Aidin Vaziri's method of getting real for 2010 involves turning away from studio fakery such as Auto-Tune, an audio processor that makes voices sound mechanized. It's an effect first used some years ago on Cher's smash single "Believe" that has since been rendered ubiquitous by artists like T-Pain.
"I'm only going to listen to music made organically by the human body, which most likely means that I'll be limited to Tuvan throat singers, the Fat Boys, and Björk's worst album, Medulla," he asserts. "The tradeoff is the entire Bobby McFerrin back catalog."
Concert and event producer Jay Siegan of Jay Siegan Presents echoes Vaziri's intent to look for real music, but in a different context. He curates many shows each year, and plans to challenge himself to be more creative in searching for artists who move him.
"It's hard to run a club and stay inspired sometimes," he reveals. "It's rare that I still see a band that is so moving that it makes me want to cry, but when I do, I've gotta do something to help them. I live for those sort of bands. I stay inspired by unique talent: back-to-basics, original artists who make me want to rip open the album and read the liner notes all night, like I was 14. That's what made me get into this 'business' in the first place. It sure as shit wasn't about money."
Personal, planet improvements
January is a good time to set real, achievable goals. This might mean going back to school, taking career-enhancing classes, or just making a personal commitment to the improvement of yourself and your loved ones.
Or maybe now is the time to be honest with yourself about your personal stamina.
Even though, as a drive-time radio jock, 98.1 KISS FM's Efren Sifuentes is rarely seen in public, he's putting a priority on looking and feeling good.
"My main focus in 2010 is physical fitness, which I've been neglecting too long," he says. "Packing on the extra pounds this year has made me a little sluggish. Some good motivation in the new year is going to be the key for me."
After devoting several years to enriching the lives and education of others, Adisa Banjoko, Hip-Hop Chess Foundation founder and author of the Lyrical Swords book series, says he'll get real by making the effort to direct that energy inward as well.
"In 2010, it's all about improving my ability to be a good father," he says. "I've been married for 15 years now. I have a boy and two girls, and this world is getting more and more unpredictable, so I'm trying to make sure I maximize my time with them. I want to spend as much time as I can making sure that if something happened to me, they'd know how deeply I love them and wanted only the best for them. One of the main ways I plan to do this is to stop dragging my feet and enroll in college. I'll never make more money without getting serious about school. It's something I've talked about for years, but never done."
As in Banjoko's case, Nina Lesowitz, literary publicist and author of the recently published book Living Life as a Thank You: The Transformative Power of Daily Gratitude, is realizing that sometimes it really is about giving to ourselves what we so freely give to others. "I am going to get real by coming out from behind the people and businesses I've been promoting for the past 20-plus years," she says. "It's my time in the limelight. I'm taking my own good advice about self-promotion and applying it to me."
But maybe it isn't just about number one, or taking care of the home team. Maybe this is also the perfect time to take a look at the environment and what we're really doing to it, or to see how our actions might effect change in others.
Curtis Kimball, aka the Crème Brûlée Man, wants to use his imaginative powers to nudge people to be more aware of the trails they leave behind. He has already organized regular cleanups of Dolores Park, a popular Mission hangout spot often blighted with trash, and plans to use the proceeds from his next wildly successful culinary invention to do even more.
"I'm going to make [something iconic like] a PBR [Pabst Blue Ribbon] and donate the money to either clean up Dolores Park or hire somebody's mom to nag young hipsters to clean up after themselves," he says.
Siegan is also thinking about ways to be more green in 2010, both in his own life and with his events. Little personal changes can equal big public ones. "I want to stay on my bike, recycle, compost, and give to companies who help improve our community, keep my club and bands open for the right fundraisers," he says. "I'm small-time, so I need to think locally, hoping that helps globally."
Resolution Guide: Get Real! 2010
Be Social IRL: Get a real life this year without giving up the digital one.
By Maya Kroth
Tastes Real: Support your local farmers' market for better food and a better economy.
By Karen Macklin
Your Farmers' Market Shopping Guide
By Karen Macklin
Happy New Ear: Give a listen to this city's wide array of authentic music.
By Mike Rowell