living underground in the real world

foiled

Dang! I had this brilliant idea earlier today. If we’re going to tear down the cult of celebrity, we’ve got to build up ordinary interesting people. Right? It made sense at the time.

So my two fellow-vacationers Jacob and Than and I spent a good two hours of our precious vacation day writing our own biographies to post to Wikipedia. (Full disclosure: I wrote them all.)

Within 1 minute of me posting them, they had been “marked for immediate deletion.” Hrumph. Apparently Wikipedia does not consider a musician who has played with zillions of indie bands, a sound engineer who has worked with zillions of indie bands, and a vegan chef who has cooked for everyone from Peter Max to the Rockefellers important enough to have Wikipedia entries.

In order to lick my wounds a little, I’m going to post the damn bios here. Enjoy!


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Than Nguyen Luu is a Vietnamese-born artist, lothario, and musician living bicoastally in the United States.

Having narrowly escaped the fall of Saigon hidden in a cargo plane, his family settled in California at the beginning of the Vietnamese-American War.

At the age of twelve, Than learned to play drums by playing air drums to Men at Work and Duran Duran videos with his mother’s chopsticks and pots and pans standing in for sticks and drums. When he first sat down to a real drum set (a $50 red sparkle Crest brand kit) he astonished all with his flawless technique, honed through long hours of air drums.

Than grew up in the San Fernando Valley area of California and attended Canoga Park High School in Canoga Park, California.
After high school he enrolled at the UCLA and studied Psychology. While at UCLA he discovered Hare Krishna cuisine and became a vegetarian, which he is to this day. He enjoyed his college years and took one year off following college to play drums in his band, Groovalicious.
This first stint as a full-time musician came to an abrupt end when he lost a bet with his father that if Groovalicious did not get signed within a year he would go to law school. Than subsequently enrolled at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, in San Francisco.

While in law school, Than received excellent marks and was honored to be put on the law review. He published an article on Vietnamese copyright law whose introduction featured a Michael Jackson anecdote. In general Than did not enjoy law school, though it did provide excellent burrito-eating opportunities.

Following his extremely successful yet unhappy law school career, he landed a plum position as a federal district court clerkship with Chief Judge Alan Cook Kay in Honolulu, Hawaii. While in Hawaii Than learned to surf, went sky-diving and began a habit of shaving his head. He judged multi-million dollar cases, sent people to federal prison, and wrote federal law, yet he has been quoted as saying that the life of a lawyer generally “bummed [him] out.”

Following Hawaii, Than practiced corporate law on Wall Street for approximately four years. However, Than continued feeling unsatisfied with his chosen profession, and again began playing in several New York-area bands, most notably The Memes and Four Volts (formerly Bunsen Honeydew).

In 2002 Than stopped practicing law and became a full-time musician, much to his relief and continued joy. He has since played, recorded, or toured with many bands including M. Ward, Adam Franklin, Debbie Harry, Tricky, Rachael Yamagata, The Boredoms, Grandmaster Melle Mel, and many more.

In 2006 he formed the band Black Gold, with Eric Ronick in which he plays drums, guitar, vocals and percussion as well as co-writing and producing all music. Black Gold is currently in the process of releasing and touring their debut record.

Than’s love for portmanteau words, vintage Nikes, and thrift store clothes is only upstaged by his painstakingly huge collection of vintage drum sets and guitars.

A bon vivant in the truest sense, Than is well-known among his friends for his intense loyalty, convivial spirit, and generosity.

* * *

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Jacob Jon Minor Feinberg-Pyne is an American-born sound engineer, tour manager, and musician. Born to artistic and entreprenural parents in Bearsville, New York (outside of Woodstock) in 1977, Jacob moved with his family (including his two older sisters, Deena and Pohanna) to the Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan when he was five years old.

Formulative experiences while living in the Chelsea Hotel:

-When Jacob was approximately six years old, his metal pedal car with which he would drive throughout the hotel was stolen.
-He once unknowingly drank half a smoothie in which a cockroach was later found to have been blended.
-Jacob attended kindergarten, first, and second grade at P.S. 41 in the West Village (11th street and 6th ave) and enjoyed lunches at “Ray’s Original” pizza after school.
-He occasionally indulged in post-school Ben & Jerry’s mint chocolate chip ice cream cones at one of the first Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shops on 6th Avenue (now known as Avenue of the Americas).

Following an acrimonious divorce, Jacob’s mother moved her children to Millbrook, New York. Though he had been originally raised as a vegetarian, this hectic period marked the beginning of a 18-year-long period of eating animal products, which ended in 1999.

Jacob attended Alden Place Elementary School in Millbrook, Millbrook Middle School and high school at The Millbrook School (mascot: the mustang.).

In high school Jacob began to play the bass guitar.

While attending many live concerts beginning in junior high school, Jacob became interested in the field of sound engineering.

In 1995 he enrolled at the University of Rochester, intending to study Electrical Engineering. Swayed by the excellent music department as well as the proximity to the Eastman School of Music, he changed his major to Music in his sophomore year of college. He also began playing bass in his first band, Moonseed.

In 1997, Jacob fell in love with a girl eight months his junior named Lagusta Pauline Yearwood. Though the date of their first assignation has been lost to the mists of time, the couple has since mutually agreed that March 20, 1997 is when their union began. It continues to this day.

On December 2, 1998, they adopted a black cat, Sula Yearwood-Pyne-Feinberg.

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In 1999, Lagusta and Jacob first visited the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i, where Jacob’s father had recently moved. The couple has spent approximately a month per year on this island since 1999.

In 1999 Jacob graduated from college and moved to Teaneck, NJ to play in a band with two friends from college. He proceeded to work several miscellaneous jobs, including a stint at Goldman Sachs where he was a Training Center technician.

In 2000, Lagusta and Jacob took over the care of a friend’s cat, formerly Moonunit Willis, currently Noodle Yearwood-Feinberg-Pyne.

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In 2002, Lagusta and Jacob took over the care of a friend’s cat, formerly Cleo Szwed, currently Cleo Yearwood-Feinberg-Pyne.

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Following a brief position at Irving Plaza in Manhattan as a stage manager, in 2002 Jacob launched a career as a live sound engineer and tour manager.

In 2004 Jacob and Lagusta bought a 1960s modified split-ranch house on one acre of land in New Paltz, New York, approximately 90 minutes from Manhattan.

To date, bands he has worked with include Modest Mouse, Bright Eyes, M. Ward, Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins, Wheatus, Nada Surf, Gillian Welch, Northern State, David Rawlings, Phantom Planet, Finch, The French Kicks, Eskimo Joe, Ambulance Ltd., Monsters of Folk, Willy Mason, Cerys Matthews, Clem Snide, and many more.

* * *

Lagusta Yearwood is an American born vegan chef and rabble-rouser.

Born to artistic parents who had met at the Woodstock Music Festival several years before, Lagusta Pauline Yearwood was born on February 27, 1978 in the Southwest of the United States.

Early passions included reading, drawing, collage work, and intensive, prolonged periods of daydreaming. Though her academic career was marked by excellence from kindergarten to college, she distrusted and looked down upon her peers, largely preferring the confidence and companionship of older adults and mentors until college. At an early age she became obsessed with Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and the Beatles, and was known to obsessively watch the Richard Attenborough film “Gandhi” (as well as the Bette Midler film “Beaches” and “My Girl,” a Macaulay Culkin vehicle) and compulsively read biographies of the Beatles. If asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would answer, “a Beatleologist” (after early infatuations with both George and Paul, John resolutely remains her favorite Beatle) but would privately think “Gandhi.”

At the age of twelve, following a conversation about the provenance of hamburgers with her mother, she became a vegetarian. Her mother followed. After becoming involved in the animal rights movement shortly thereafter, both she and her mother became vegans and remain so to this day. This period was marked her exceedingly annoying and shrill declarations about the horrors of meat eating to any who would listen.

Her early entrepreneurial spirit was manifested in her first sole-proprietorship, a small tie-dying operation run from her bedroom called “Lagusta’s Tie Dye.” Though the business operated for only one summer and resulted in every pot in her household becoming irrecoverably stained with Rit Dye, the idea of making money without “The Man” took hold.

After devoting her junior high and high school years to animal rights work, she secured a scholarship to the college farthest from her home state as possible – University of Rochester. At Rochester she proceeded to dye her hair pink, further her French language study, nurture her love of feminism and English literature and fall in love with a curly-headed boy eight months her senior named Jacob Jon Minor Feinberg-Pyne.

Though the date of their first assignation has been lost to the mists of time, the couple has since mutually agreed that March 20, 1997 is when their union began. It continues to this day.

On December 2, 1998, they adopted a black cat, Sula Yearwood-Pyne-Feinberg.

Throughout college Lagusta helped to manage the Common Ground Café at the University of Rochester with several friends.

In 1999, Lagusta and Jacob first visited the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i, where Jacob’s father had recently moved. The couple has spent approximately a month per year on this island since 1999.

After graduating either Magna or Summa Cum Laude from Rochester, Lagusta moved to New York where Jacob had moved six months before. In actuality the couple lived with two college friends in a rambling, crumbling house in Teaneck, NJ, but because they worked and went to school in New York, they still tell people that they lived in “New York…ok, well, New Jersey.” Living in (that is, near) New York alternately sickened and exhilarated her.

Lagusta had been accepted to New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study to study Ecofeminist Literary Criticism, but at the last moment decided to defer graduate school while she went to culinary school at The Natural Gourmet. Faced with $30,000 tuition for two to four years then a most likely unfulfilling profession as a Women’s Studies professor, Lagusta decided at this time that higher education was a scam and the real work of revolution was in the streets. She gave notice to NYU that she would not be attending their graduate program.

In order to make enough money to live while bringing about the aforementioned revolution, Lagusta began doing private cooking in the apartments of wealthy Manhattanites. She also worked as a secretary in the art department of the publishing house Simon and Schuster, which allowed her practically unlimited access to free books. This gigantic perk kept her at the job for an entire year, long enough to know that working in offices would probably have been the death of her had it gone on any longer. While at Simon and Schuster she bought the domain name lagusta.com and began using it to post various essays detailing her unique viewpoints.

During this period she did a lot of writing in her journal, trying to figure out a way of making one’s life one’s activism, for in truth she was horribly burned out on the traditional activism she had devoted so much time to in the past. She briefly started a one-woman campaign against sweatshop clothes that entailed putting notes about sweatshops in the pockets of clothes in major chain retailers. Around this time she also started a Paris-style salon with friends of hers whereupon important issues of the day are discussed in a relaxed food-focused atmosphere. The salon continues in slightly different form to this day.

While building up her private cooking business, she worked a series of low-level food-oriented jobs, including one at a juice bar inside a Diesel store, which gave her much fodder for mean-spirited judgmental attacks on the typical American status-obsessed consumer. It should be noted that through Jacob’s music business connections he would later provide her with up to six free pairs of Diesel jeans, which are the only pants she wears.

In 2000, Lagusta and Jacob took over the care of a friend’s cat, formerly Moonunit Willis, currently Noodle Yearwood-Feinberg-Pyne.

As an internship for her culinary program, in 2001 she briefly worked at Bloodroot Feminist Vegetarian Restaurant in Bridgeport, Connecticut. She had come across a Bloodroot cookbook in college and it, along with the highly influential Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol J. Adams, convinced her that being a vegetarian cook with a feminist emphasis was not only possible, it could be considered revolutionary work. In her senior year of college she had brought Carol Adams to speak to her school and had asked her advice on whether or not to go to graduate school or culinary school. Her encouragement that the world needs feminist vegan chefs more than feminist vegan professors was enlightening.

The complicated, uncompromising Bloodroot universe was fascinating to Lagusta, and has had a large influence on the person she has become. The Bloodroot owners, Selma Miriam and Noel Furie, have become close friends and mentors.

On September 11, 2001 Lagusta was working at her former cooking school as a steward when she was asked to deliver a box of chef’s knives to an off-site class downtown. Her witnessing the events of that day and subsequent actions the government of her country took because of these events led to an exceedingly panicky and depressed phase of her life. In an attempt to ease her recurring fear of Armageddon, she followed Jacob to Europe where she sold merchandise for a band he was working with. This strange journey eased her fears somewhat.

In 2002, Lagusta and Jacob took over the care of a friend’s cat, formerly Cleo Szwed, currently Cleo Yearwood-Feinberg-Pyne.

Around this time, Lagusta decided that cooking in wealthy Manhattanites homes was driving her crazy and she launched her current business, Lagusta’s Luscious Vegetarian Home Meal Delivery Service.

In 2003 she began making and selling Lagusta’s Luscious truffles, a line of vegan, organic, and fair-trade chocolate truffles in intriguing flavors.

Both the truffles and the meal delivery service have gotten overwhelmingly positive reviews. Around this time Lagusta worked out her food philosophy in a more in-depth series of essays, which were posted to lagusta.com.

In 2004 Jacob and Lagusta bought a 1960s modified split-ranch house on one acre of land in New Paltz, New York, approximately 90 minutes from Manhattan. The clean mountain air of this famously progressive town helped her gingerly return to traditional activism and she has become active with the local Green Party chapter, as well as helping to create a member-owned locally-focused food co-op.

In 2007 a cookbook set that she helped produce, The Best of Bloodroot, was published with her name on the cover as a “with.”

In April 2007 Lagusta started a blog at lagusta.wordpress.com.

In October 2007 treehugger.com called her truffles “one of the best-kept confectionary secrets in the company.”

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4 Responses to “foiled”

  1. Luann

    Those are utterly awesome! Now I want to write up bios of all my family and friends and post them on Wikipedia. (Yeah, they’d get deleted. But still!)

    I like the idea of elevating ordinary people in order to break the cult of celebrity. It sounds like it would create a kind of tenderness to our fellow people, instead of the usual “What do you do? Oh, it’s not as good as (Celebrity’s name here),” or “Did you hear about _____? Isn’t that awful/scandalous/train-wreakish/whatever the hell?” Ugh.

    Anyway, those were awesome and made my day.

    Reply
  2. Maggie

    these bios are great. I don’t understand why they would be deleted. If my douche bag of an ex husband can have a bio on Wikipedia, why can’t you are anyone else?
    Does Wikipedia have some kind of qualifications in order to get your name mentioned on their site? I suppose you have to donate money to their site. Who knows.

    Reply

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