NEW YORK (AP) — The myriad of festivals seems to have gotten more dizzying over the last decade: Whether it’s a weekend of music performances, a foodie meet-up or a health-and-wellness gathering, there seems to be a “fest” happening somewhere around the globe at any moment.
It’s almost enough to cause festival overload. But Fest300 — a site launched this year by entrepreneur Chip Conley — is seeking to not only enhance, but also curate the festival experience by sifting through them all and pointing out the best from the rest. He likens it to the festival version of the website Trip Advisor, where travelers go when they want to plan the best trip.
“We’re trying to outline what we think are the best festivals because people have more choice, and the more choice you have, the more you want someone to curate your choices for you,” Conley, an executive at AirBnB, said in a recent interview.
The site’s ultimate list of the top 300 festivals in the world contains the familiar — including Coachella, Lollapalooza (which kicks off Friday) and the Cannes Film Festival — and also those that may not be as well known, like the National Cowboy Poetry Festival in Texas (mark your calendars for January) or the Rainforest Music Festival coming up in August in Malaysia.
There’s also a steady stream of articles. A recent check of the site had one that included which festivals had the most germ-ridden wristbands, and another on going to festivals from a woman’s vantage point.
Conley says the site’s advantage, and its biggest challenge, is the broad swath it aims to appeal to.
“Usually when you create something new you actually go after a certain niche of people and you just serve that niche really well and grow from there,” he said. “What we’ve decided to do is the opposite. We said, let’s actually create the most comprehensive festival website ever created and focus on just the cream of the crop across all types of locations and festivals.”
Fest300 enlists festival-goers for their input to give ratings of their experiences, but is also working with festivals like Bonnaroo for behind-the-scenes videos and other exclusive content. The site’s business model includes sponsored content and advertising from tourism bureaus.
Taylor hopes to grow the site to more than 500,000 unique views per month, and given the popularity of festivals, believes it’s an achievable goal.
“Part of the reason why I think festivals have grown so much — they’re just popping up all over — is because people want that in real life experience,” he said. “We spend so much of our time connecting with each other through iPhones and Facebook, but doing it in person makes a big difference. I do think the reason why Fest300 the site is necessary is because there are so many new choices.”
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Katy Perry’s dream of owning a hilltop convent near Hollywood is going to have to wait a while longer.
The convent, which Perry has wanted to buy to be her personal residence for several years, is in the middle of a legal fight between a group of elderly nuns and the archbishop of Los Angeles over who has control of the sale and its proceeds.
At least two of the nuns don’t want Perry to buy their former home and in June hastily sold the convent to a businesswoman with ambitions of turning it into a boutique hotel.
Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant said Thursday that he believes the sale to entrepreneur Dana Hollister is invalid. Still, he blocked Perry and representatives of the archdiocese from visiting the convent until after the court case is resolved. That could take months, if not years, the judge said.
“You’re not selling to Katy Perry anytime soon,” the judge told lawyers for the archbishop.
Archbishop Jose H. Gomez wants to sell the convent to Perry, but the sale cannot go forward because Hollister has already registered a deed for the property.
The Roman villa-style convent sits on 8 acres in the Los Feliz neighborhood.
Perry’s involvement as well as infighting between the nuns and archbishop packed the courtroom Thursday with journalists, concerned residents, Hollister and two of the nuns.
Chalfant’s mixed ruling requires Hollister to pay $25,000 a month to the nuns until a September hearing, when he will determine who should pay rent on the property while the court battle is waged.
An attorney for Perry, who performed her hit “Roar” at this year’s Super Bowl halftime show, said the singer would pay rent on the property.
With a pair of nuns watching in the audience, Chalfant said it appeared they had acted improperly when they sold the convent to Hollister in June.
“There is no doubt in my mind sale to defendant Hollister was improper and invalid,” the judge said.
The Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary have owned the property for more than 40 years, but they haven’t lived in the convent for several years. Only five sisters, ranging from 77 to 88, remain, and their order has bickered with the archbishop for years on various issues.
Chalfant said the case boiled down to control and ruled that the dispute should be governed by church, not civil laws. But at one point he chided the archbishop’s lawyers over the church’s treatment of the sisters.
“They don’t need your help, so long as you let them have their own money,” Chalfant said, drawing cheers from the audience.
Bernard Resser, an attorney for the sisters, said after the hearing that the judge seemed to recognize the nuns’ concerns about their welfare.
“The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary have shown great courage in maintaining their independence and have demonstrated they are self-sufficient and capable of conducting their own affairs,” Resser wrote in a statement.
The archdiocese wrote in a statement that the wellbeing of the sisters is its primary concern, and it sued Hollister over the sued to protect their interests as well as the property.
The property was bestowed to them by a devout Catholic who wanted the nuns to keep him in their prayers.
Before it was a convent, the property was a private residence, rarely photographed, and few people have ever seen it up close.
“It’s really a beautiful, old Hollywood estate,” said Adrian Glick Kudler, senior editor of the real estate blog Curbed LA.
Perry, whose parents are protestant ministers, has agreed to pay $14.5 million for the convent and to relocate an adjoining house of prayer used by priests. Hollister has agreed to pay $10 million for the property and set aside $5.5 million to relocate the prayer house.
In May, at the archbishop’s request, the nuns met with Perry to see if a compromise could be worked out. At least two of the five surviving nuns — who had already searched for Perry’s music videos and weren’t pleased with what they saw — weren’t swayed by the meeting.
Perry’s bid to purchase the convent still requires the Vatican’s approval.
Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP .
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — If it’s confirmed that a wing fragment found on a remote island in the Indian Ocean is from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, lost more than 500 days ago, could scientists use their knowledge of ocean currents to trace back its path and pinpoint the bulk of the wreck?
Australian oceanographer David Griffin says that would be akin to using modeling of big-city crowd flows to try to predict the travels of a random person encountered on the street. In short, next to impossible.
While Griffin and other oceanographers say the discovery on the island of Reunion fits in with their large-scale modeling of how debris drifts across the Indian Ocean, there remain a mind-boggling number of variables in the journey of any single piece of flotsam.
For instance, although Reunion is 4,200 kilometers (2,600 miles) from the current search site off the Australian coast, the wing fragment is likely to have zigzagged significantly farther than that.
Oceanographers say currents in the Indian Ocean generally flow counterclockwise, meaning that if the plane crashed near where authorities suspect, the fragment may first have drifted north toward the Indonesian island of Sumatra before turning west, traveling past India and finally heading south toward Reunion.
Even within that journey, there is likely to have been plenty of meandering. That’s because of the numerous squalls and storms in the Indian Ocean, many of which aren’t well recorded, not to mention tidal changes and the seemingly random channels of water that move counter to the general flow.
Griffin says even variables like how much the debris protrudes above the water will affect how much wind it catches, and its shape will influence how well it surfs down wave faces.
“The job we are trying to do now is to reverse the modeling and backtrack it,” said Griffin, who works for Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO. “But really, the source could be anywhere in the east Indian Ocean.”
Griffin was among the scientists tasked in the weeks after Flight 370 disappeared with trying to predict where any debris might be floating. But extensive aerial searches at the time failed to locate even a single piece. Since then, he said, any small errors or biases in their modeling would have compounded over time, even before other variables are taken into account.
Professor Charitha Pattiaratchi, an oceanographer at the University of Western Australia, also used computer modeling last year, managing to predict that any debris might end up somewhere near Madagascar or Reunion about now. He is also trying to reverse his modeling, but says it may end up being little more than an academic exercise.
“In terms of the search for the final resting place, this doesn’t make much of a difference,” he said. “It does help debunk the conspiracy theories, and give us confidence we are looking in the right place.”
Searchers have been using sonar and video to comb an expanse of remote ocean floor off Australia after an international team of investigators who analyzed transmissions between the airliner and a satellite calculated that Flight 370 most likely crashed there. But after months of searching, they have found no sign of the plane.
Pattiaratchi said if searchers on the other side of the Indian Ocean find more debris, it could help triangulate a pattern of drift. A French law enforcement helicopter has been scouring the waters around the island in hopes of spotting more debris. Pattiaratchi said he hopes authorities expand the search into a broader area, including looking along the eastern coast of Madagascar.
There could also be other aspects of the wing fragment that yield clues, said Robin Beaman, a marine geologist at Australia’s James Cook University.
He said it would be worth studying the barnacles attached to the fragment to gauge their age, which might indicate how long the fragment had been adrift, and whether the barnacles are unique to a certain part of the ocean.
He said he suspects, however, the barnacles are likely to be of the “cosmopolitan” variety, found across many regions of the ocean.
Oceanographer Arnold Gordon, of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said the amount of barnacles on the part are consistent with other debris he’s seen which has been in the ocean for more than a year.
“It’s been 16 months from the crash and everything fits together,” he said. “So I think the probability that it’s from 370 is pretty high.”
Gordon said the discovery will give confidence to the ocean floor searchers that they are looking in the right area. He said it’s possible, but unlikely, that more debris will wash ashore on Reunion. He also hopes that searchers will look at other nearby islands for debris.
In fact, the search for Flight 370 may be literally turning full circle.
Because of the ocean’s counterclockwise currents, Gordon said, any remaining debris may have already moved around the clock and be heading east.
That would take it back toward Australia and to where the search first began.
Associated Press writer Seth Borenstein in Washington D.C. contributed to this report.
MAHWAH, N.J. (AP) — Police say they’ve arrested one of two men who made off with a bag containing $150,000 in cash after two employees filling ATMs mistakenly left it on a northern New Jersey lawn.
Police arrested 42-year-old Alton Harvey on Wednesday afternoon in Irvington. Authorities are still seeking 35-year-old Jamar Bludson.
Mahwah police say the ATM employees had stopped at a business when one of them placed the satchel on the lawn as he moved items around in their vehicle. They drove off, forgetting the bag.
Sometime after 11:15 a.m. Monday, surveillance video showed a passenger in a white van grabbing the bag.
It’s unclear if Harvey has an attorney who can comment on the charges. He’s being held at the Bergen County Jail in lieu of $125,000 bail.
SYDNEY (AP) — A surfer was seriously injured as he repeatedly punched a shark that mauled him off the Australian east coast on Friday, less than a week after a fatal attack, police and a witness said.
Craig Ison, 52, sustained significant wounds to his left leg and hand in the dawn attack at Evans Head, 550 kilometers (340 miles) north of Sydney, Detective Inspector Cameron Lindsay said.
Ison was taken by ambulance to Lismore Base Hospital in serious but stable condition, police said.
The attack comes after a similar one Saturday off the island state of Tasmania when recreational diver Damian Johnson, 46, became the second victim of a fatal shark attack in Australia this year. He was mauled by a suspected great white.
In the latest attack, Ison saw the shark and raised the alarm while surfing with friend Geoff Hill, Lindsay said.
“They then proceeded to try to paddle in from the ocean and … it appears the shark has then attacked the 52-year-old and has bitten him on the left-hand side,” Lindsay told reporters at the tourist town of Ballina, 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Evans Head.
“He actually fought off the shark, we’re told, and has made it to shore with the help of that other surfer and passers-by,” he said.
Beach walkers saved Ison’s life by using surfboard leg ropes as tourniquets to slow the bleeding before paramedics arrived, Lindsay said.
Ison underwent surgery to his wounds later Friday, Lindsay said.
Ernie Bennett, mayor of Richmond Valley Council which includes Evans Heads, said a bull shark was thought responsible for the attack. It initially bit Ison’s hip and upper thigh. Ison’s hand and arm were lacerated as he fought back.
Hill described witnessing the attack as “like watching the Mick Fanning episode in replay,” referring to the internationally broadcast video of the professional surfer battling a shark during a competition in South Africa last week. Fanning survived unscathed after also punching his attacker.
“The white board went up in the air; the tail was thrashing around,” Hill told Australian Broadcasting Corp.
Hill said before he could go to his friend’s rescue, Ison was back on his board and paddling for shore.
“He got in a couple of punches. He told us that when we were trying to give him first aid,” Hill said.
Hill surfs daily. He said he probably would not surf Saturday, but would return to the waves “once I’m over the shock of today.”
Ison’s partner of 10 years, Jennifer Brown, expected he too would return to surfing.
“He lives for it, so I think he’ll go back out once he’s all right,” she told reporters outside the hospital.
“The leg was a bit of a mess, it’s taken a bit of flesh but the muscle is intact so we’re pleased about that,” she said.
Beaches around Evans Heads were closed for 24 hours following the attack. Ballina was the scene of two recent shark attacks in which 32-year-old surfer Matt Lee was critically injured on July 2 and Japanese tourist Tadashi Nakahara, 41, was mauled to death while surfing in February.
Ballina is 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) north of the scene of last week’s fatal attack.
A day after Lee was attacked, a shark bit a surfboard, knocking its rider Michael Hoile, 52, into the sea 10 kilometers (6 miles) north of Ballina at Lennox Head. The surfer was not injured.
Bennett said mayors in the region were meeting in Ballina on Friday to discuss strategies to cope with a growing shark menace.
Sharks are common off Australia’s beaches, but fatal attacks are rare. The country has averaged fewer than two deadly attacks per year in recent decades.
CHIRAN, Japan (AP) — As young army pilots took off on suicide-attack missions in the closing days of World War II, the schoolgirls in this southwestern Japanese town waved handkerchiefs and branches of pink blossoms.
“Remembering that still makes me tremble,” said Chino Kuwashiro, now a tiny 86-year-old with a stooped back. “We waved and waved until we couldn’t see them anymore. Why did we have to endure such sorrow?”
She and the other girls were called Nadeshiko, after the fragile pink flowers seen as a symbol of femininity in Japan. They were ordered to take care of the pilots at the army base in Chiran. Their jobs included cleaning, doing the laundry, sewing on buttons, and saying goodbye.
The 100 or so girls had their jobs for barely a month in the spring of 1945, but the farewell ceremony, in which some were ordered to take part, is etched painfully in their minds. Only about a dozen Nadeshiko women are alive today.
Chiran served as the takeoff spot for 439 pilots on suicide-attack missions, many of them also teenagers. Japan surrendered four months later.
Kuwashiro broke into tears as she pointed to the green-tea groves and pumpkin patch where the runway once stood. The planes tipped their wings three times in a farewell salute — a bomb hung from one wing, a fuel tank from the other.
Japanese here say Chiran today highlights the horrors and extremes of war, and want their town of 10,000 to be designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. They have yet to gain even the approval needed from the Japanese government, but an exhibit thousands of miles away suggests there are powerful lessons in the lives lost here 70 years ago.
Photos, letters and poems from the pilots of Chiran are now on exhibit, for the first time outside Japan, on the battleship USS Missouri, berthed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The items are from the Chiran Peace Museum, which is devoted to the suicide-mission army pilots.
Though such Japanese pilots in World War II are generally known as kamikaze, that name applied specifically to navy pilots. Their army counterparts, like those in Chiran, were called tokko. Those who refused to fly to their deaths were imprisoned.
“I have a big smile, Mother, as I am about to carry out my last, and first, act of filial love. Don’t cry. Please think I did good,” wrote Fujio Wakamatsu, 19, in one of the letters on display.
Michael Carr, the president and chief executive of the Battleship Missouri Memorial, said that instead of recoiling at the stories, visitors are moved by the Chiran exhibit, which runs through Nov. 11.
“It shows that we are all people who share the same love for our family, love of country, and obligation to duty,” he said. “We need to continually highlight and remember history so that people can learn from it and move forward with a perspective of tolerance, dignity and peace.”
A corner of the Chiran museum is devoted to Nadeshiko, and includes a video with interviews made in the late 1980s.
Reiko Akabane, a Nadeshiko who died in 2006, said in the video that she went up to one of the pilots before his departure, to return change from the money he had given her to mail a letter to his parents. Instead of taking the coins, Shinji Sakaguchi took out his wallet and handed it to her as a keepsake.
Another pilot who was standing by, Nobuo Taniguchi, regretted that he had nothing to give her. He stooped down and picked up two small smooth rocks.
“These are the last stones that were under my feet,” Akabane recalled him as saying.
The wallet and rocks are on display at a small cottage-like building called Firefly Hall in Chiran. It’s a replica of a restaurant run by Tome Torihama, a woman many pilots came to see as their mother figure, and it was built by Torihama’s grandson in 2000.
The source of the building’s name is a 19-year-old pilot named Saburo Miyagawa. He had promised Torihama he would come back as a firefly, and right about the time his plane sank into the ocean, a particularly big glowing bug flew into the garden of Torihama’s restaurant.
The firefly is an image often used in Japan to symbolize the kamikaze and death because of its association with love, poetry and a very short life.
“They were all people who went straight to heaven,” said Torihama in the museum video. “They were all gentle. I wanted to make them all my children.”
The pilots confided their deepest fears to Torihama and some Nadeshiko. Torihama died in 1992, at 89.
According to the museum, when the girls went to pick up the pilots’ pillow cases to wash, they found they were drenched in tears.
But when they took off, to their certain death, they put on brave fronts. Kuwashiro thought they resembled living angels.
“They looked brave,” she said. “They didn’t have sad faces.”
Follow Yuri Kageyama: http://twitter.com/yurikageyama