8/27/2010 3:57:17 PM
From Democracy Now!:
The award-winning playwright Eve Ensler plans to mark the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina by staging performances of her new work Swimming Upstream in New Orleans and New York City. The piece was written by sixteen women from New Orleans who describe surviving the flood and living through the aftermath of the storm, which permanently changed their city and many of their lives.
Source: Democracy Now!
Image from vday.org
8/25/2010 11:00:11 AM
Like most dictators—or so I assume—African autocrats like fancy things, such as private jets. How opulent are these aircraft? Flavorwire has some photographic evidence: Those are pretty luxurious airplanes.
(Thanks, The Rumpus.)
Image by Ricardo (Kadinho) Villela, licensed under Creative Commons.
8/24/2010 11:49:36 AM
Andrew Zuckerman’s coffee table book Bird is an incredible collection of bird photographs, capturing them in various poses, but most stunningly in mid-flight. His website features a sampling of the work.
Source: Andrew Zuckerman
Image by law_keven. Licensed under Creative Commons.
8/23/2010 2:49:25 PM
Writer David Axe and artist Matt Bors are two members of the collective of journalists and artists responsible for the excellent nonfiction blog and web comic, War is Boring. Now, they’ve published a graphic-novel memoir, entitled War is Boring: Bored Stiff, Scared to Death in the World's Worst War Zones. And there’s a YouTube video!
Source: War is Boring
8/19/2010 12:41:41 PM
Nicolas Cage has reinvented himself in recent years as something of an action hero, starring in movies like National Treasure and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. But artist Brandon Bird likes all of Cage’s characters.
In an article in Broken Pencil writer Alex Gurnham tells us about a concept Bird had that eventually became the Nicolas Cage Adventure Set, a project in the vein of Colorforms, a popular 70s-era toy where vinyl stickers of characters and props are set against a background board with various scenes. “I realized, ‘oh my god,’” Bird recalls, “’every photo of Nicolas Cage is the best photo of Nicolas Cage. And I imagined lifting him off the photo and sticking him to another background.” Voilà: the Nicolas Cage Adventure Set.
But it’s not all fun and games; according to Gurnham there’s a larger message to be taken from Bird’s casting of pop characters in a new light (he’s also done homages to the TV show Law & Order and regularly places celebrities in new contexts in his art). “If there is a point to the Nicolas Cage Adventure Set, outside of its inherent awesomeness,” Gurnham writes, “it is that reimagination of the everyday it invites.
Whether there’s a higher purpose or not, there’s one thing that is for sure about Bird’s art: You’ll laugh when you see Nicolas Cage as a baby Japanese Macaque clinging to his mother or Jerry Seinfeld in a Bruce Lee pose.
Source: Broken Pencil
Images by Brandon Bird
8/18/2010 3:06:31 PM
People with disabilities are accustomed to being made fun of, but current pop culture seems to be growing even crasser in its treatment of them. Retard is back as a noun, the short bus is always good for a knowing laugh, and now a song about a girl with Down syndrome is up for an Emmy award. The song appeared this spring on the Fox show Family Guy; these are some of the lyrics:
And though her pretty face may seem a special person’s wettest dream. ...
You must impress that ultra-boomin’, all consumin’, poorly groomin’, Down syndrome girl. ...
You want to take that little whore and spin her on the dancing floor. ...
My boy between the two of us we’ll get her on the shorty bus and then you’re gonna take it on a whirl.
Now go impress that super-thrilling, wish-fulfilling, YooHoo-spilling, ultra-swinging, boner-bringing, gaily singing, dingalinging, stupefying, fortifying, as of Monday shoelace-tying, stimulating, titillating, kitty-cat impersonating, mega-rocking, pillow talking, just a little crooked walking, poorly pouting, poopie-sprouting, for some reason always shouting, fascinating, captivating, happiness and joy-creating Down syndrome girl.
Now, I’ve never watched Family Guy, and I’m not going to start now (life is too short), but apparently part of the show’s cachet is its sheer offensiveness. Fine—I’ve laughed at patently offensive material on South Park and The Simpsons, knowing that someone, somewhere was probably seething with anger over the same lines. But to me this crosses the line into cruel and heartless, and in this one unprecedented instance I find myself on the same page as Sarah Palin, who called out the Down syndrome girl character as beyond the pale.
Some folks in the disability community are absolutely incensed by the song, and they’re speaking up about it. Many of them are writing to Fox Broadcasting (Family Guy, P.O. Box 900, Attn: Fox Broadcasting Publicity Dept., Beverly Hills, CA 90213-0900) and the Emmy-bestowing Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (www.emmys.tv/contact).
One disability advocate would like to take it a step further. She wrote to friends: “I would so love to get 1,000 or so people with Down syndrome standing in front of the place the Emmys are held on the night of the grand occasion [August 29], so people can look them in the eye as they file by in dressed in their designer clothes.”
Organizers and activists, the red carpet awaits.
Not all of TV-land is unenlightened. Watch actor John C. McGinley of Scrubs, whose son Max has Down syndrome, explain why we should end our use of “the r-word”:
UPDATE 8/24/10: The song “Down Syndrome Girl” will not be aired on the Emmys broadcast, according to Jerry and Judy Horton of Down Home Ranch, a Texas residence for people with disabilities. The Hortons, who had voiced strong opposition to to the song’s nomination, report in an e-mail to supporters that John Shaffner, chairman of the Emmy parent organization, sent a letter to the National Down Syndrome Congress, an advocacy organization, notifying them of the decision. See the National Down Syndrom Congress’s Facebook page for reactions to Shaffner’s decision.
, licensed under
8/17/2010 2:28:59 PM
Are you a Ph.D. student? Do you like charts that explain the nature of your scholarly pursuits? Matt Might, who works and teaches at the University of Utah’s School of Computing, has created a series of illustrations to explain exactly what your Ph.D. research looks like. Speaking for my own graduate studies, Might’s diagrams seem just about as accurate as you can get.
Image by Matt Might.
8/17/2010 9:40:59 AM
In a fantastic photo essay in Wisconsin People & Places, Photographer Carl Corey documents Wisconsin’s taverns and bars, many of which, Corey tells us, have recently closed. Corey’s goal with the project is “to document for tomorrow the Wisconsin tavern as it is today.” He sees the increasing amount of closures of these places as a side effect of our becoming “more physically isolated through the accelerated use of mobile phones, PDAs, e-mail and online social media networks.”
For Corey, the local tavern is more than just a watering hole; it’s a communal space where people gather to talk about the news of the day, but more importantly it’s a place where people connect with other people in their community. “These mostly family-owned bars,” Corey writes, “are also unique micro-communities, providing a sense of belonging to their patrons. Many of these bars are the only public gathering place in the rural communities they serve.” Corey’s full collection of tavern photos are available on his website.
Source: Wisconsin People & Places (Complete photo essay only available in print edition)
Images by Carl Corey
8/16/2010 1:19:26 PM
It doesn’t take long for the music snob to become queasy from popular music’s bland, saccharine aftertaste. They start to seek obscure genres, independent artists, and difficult sounds. The snob, as a matter of course, begins to burrow into underground music. But many of the barriers of entry into “underground music” have been toppled by the lightning-fast speed and hyper-accessibility of the internet. Stephen Graham, writing in The Journal of Music’s August-September issue, speculates on the nature and feasibility of underground music in the iTunes-era.
The underground is a guerrilla philosophy that is mostly defined in relation to the mainstream, and so could be anything at any time,” says Graham. “Defining it in concrete, practical terms is therefore a tricky business. Frank Zappa tried: ‘The mainstream comes to you, but you have to go to the underground’. In the sixties, seventies and eighties, the fact of having to go to the underground was more clear cut, but since the advent of digital technology and the web, such a relation has become confused ... Everything has become available, everywhere, all of the time: culture has become flat.
Despite underground music’s newfound exposure, Graham argues that some cities are uniquely suited to host artistic, counter-cultural music communities. “Cities with a rich cultural history and with firmly established public arts institutions lead the field in terms of underground scenes,” he writes, citing Berlin, Dublin and Tokyo as prime examples. (I’ll nominate Minneapolis as well—the city boasts vibrant experimental electronica, drone and psych-rock scenes.)
It's true, ravenous music consumers can now feast on the odd 70-minute-long improvised tuba-solo as easily as the latest Lady Gaga single. But the Internet has also been a boon for experimental musicians. According to Graham, “The underground has largely shifted from physical meeting places such as record shops to virtual networks organised through and on the web. Underground musicians themselves are keenly aware of this, promoting their activity through their own websites, or through independent, web-focused labels, and transmitting much of their music through social media such as Soundcloud.”
Regarding other tenuous genre-tags, Senior Editor Keith Goetzman recently wrote about “indie rock” (both as a noun and a verb) and how bands and artists continuously struggle to challenge the conventions of mainstream music.
Source: The Journal of Music
Image by IntangibleArts, licensed under Creative Commons.
8/16/2010 1:13:05 PM
Before you decide whether or not you support the proposed Islamic community center near Ground Zero (now known as the “Ground Zero Mosque), check out these photos by New Yorker Daryl Lang.
He says “Look at the photos. This neighborhood is not hallowed. The people who live and work here are not obsessed with 9/11. The blocks around Ground Zero are like every other hard-working neighborhood in New York, where Muslims are just another thread of the city fabric. At this point the only argument against this project is fear, specifically fear of Muslims, and that’s a bigoted, cowardly and completely indefensible position.”
Source: The Daily What
8/13/2010 2:37:47 PM
Inspired by her disappointment last year in the New York Senate’s vote against a bill that would allow gay marriage, Utne Reader cover artist Zina Saunders “decided to interview and paint long-standing gay couples, both men and women, and ask them about their stories and their relationships and what marriage means to them.”
Angie (with her partner Bridget, above right) says “Being out has been so much easier for me since we’ve had [our son] Harper, because I feel like we had to make so many choices and decisions through the process of deciding to have a child: every procedure, every time we had to sign a piece of paper, we had to re-choose in that moment, do we really want to have a child? It was a recommitment for me. It’s a recommitment to the relationship. Having to do that so many times, if somebody wants to question our love for each other, then it’s … poor you, you should be ashamed. We didn’t meet in a bar and the next morning wake up and I was pregnant, you know what I mean? It was a real conscious choice and we clearly have thought about this and our relationship very hard and had to do a lot of work in order to get to this point.”
Saunders’ ongoing series of portraits are powerful tributes to true love and commitment.
Images courtesy of Zina Saunders
8/13/2010 1:01:11 PM
Nina Simone struggled with her fame, both with wanting more of it and wanting to jump out of the spotlight when it was shined on her. In an alarming piece from the July/August issue of The Believer, Joe Hagan writes of Simone’s struggles in her professional, as well as her personal life.
Somehow Hagan, “after a year of cajoling,” convinced Simone’s ex-husband, Andrew Stroud, to talk about his nine-year marriage with the singer. Quite the feat, given that Stroud wouldn’t even talk to Simone’s biographer.
The striking portion of this access, though, comes not in Stroud’s discussion of his relationship with Simone, but through Simone’s own writing, which Hagan dives into to give a heartbreaking glimpse of the difficulties that at times stormed Simone.
“[W]hat is immediately striking,” Hagan writes,
“is how lucid and candid Nina Simone could be, how easily she would tap her emotions in writing, and how, occasionally, she seemed to take great solace in getting thoughts on paper, often in her most desperate hours…When she’s happy, her writing is in a lovely flowing cursive; when depressed, a sloppy chicken-scratch. And when her mania has reached a critical mass, she defaults to large printed letters, virtual billboards that scream from the page.”
Hagan highlights many of these tragic moments, as in July 1964 when Simone writes, “Must take sleeping pills to sleep + yellow pills to go onstage.”—Valium, Hagan informs us—“Terribly tired and realize no one can help me—I am utterly miserable, completely, miserably, frighteningly alone.”
The notion of performers struggling with the feeling of being isolated even while they, maybe more than any among us, have the fewest moments alone is not specific to Simone. Still, she seems especially conflicted by the need to perform, while getting nothing from the performance to combat the isolation she feels, as evidenced by an entry in her diary, again from 1964:
“I wish I could really consider it work and just do a job and not care. The truth is I’m not on the same circuit as the typical American audience. I can’t reach them unless I turn myself inside out! And sometimes it takes too much energy. And then I feel so hurt that they don’t get me. Maybe if I thought of myself as Lenny Bruce, it wouldn’t hurt so much.”
As is often the case, the performer’s pain is what makes the art produced so powerful. If Simone didn’t turn herself inside out, what would the world remember of her?
Source: The Believer (article not yet available online)
Image by ThatMakes Three, licensed under Creative Commons.
8/12/2010 5:11:22 PM
Just what is indie rock, and what does it sound like? Justin Spindler of the Ann Arbor-based record label Quite Scientific—an independent record label, it should be noted—suggests to the Detroit alt-weekly Metro Times that the term is useless as a genre label:
I completely support the idea of self-produced, independently released and honestly promoted music. To me, that is indie rock. But at some point indie rock became a sound—a limiting sound. “That sounds like indie rock”: What the fuck does that even mean? I can say, “I was rappin’,” and you understand what that means. But if I say, “I’m hip-hopping,” it sounds like a quote from a movie where some out-of-touch elder statesman doesn’t know what’s going on. Indie rock should be in that same category as hip-hop. I can’t indie rock. I can’t say, “I spent the afternoon indie rocking.” That tells me it should never be considered a music genre.
So what is Spindler doing to correct this cultural injustice? He’s putting out music by an electronic pop band called Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. Now, to me, the name is amusing but little more than that, an example of hipsters kitschily appropriating NASCAR-nation imagery. (And actually, it does a poor job itself of conveying the band’s tenderly sweet pop sound.) But to Spindler the moniker is part of a righteous battle against indie-rock convention. I’ll let him explain:
I’d be lying if I said we didn’t discuss changing [the band’s name] numerous times. But there’s a real ethos behind it that ties into that idea of not being shackled to indie rock. I know “indie rock” means different things to different people, but the name Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. seems to smack against most peoples’ concept of it.
Source: Metro Times
8/12/2010 2:14:46 PM
Can we put humility aside for just a moment? Good. Utne Reader’s art director, Stephanie Glaros, is awesome. Not only does she singlehandedly shape what the magazine looks like, she also finds time to shoot evocative photography. Lately, Glaros has been shooting documentary portraits of interesting people she encounters outside of the office, including a photo essay submitted to JPG titled “The Girls Next Door,” which profiles the ordinary, hard-working women employed at a strip-club near her apartment.
“I was firm in my middle-class ‘feminist’ belief that stripping degraded women, and that guys who went to strip clubs disrespected women,” says Glaros. “But living next to a club changed that perception, and now I feel that supporting sex workers is the feminist thing to do.”
Glaros captures the women during their downtime; some touch up their make-up, enjoy a quick cigarette, or, in Giana’s case, work on homework for business school. “I now believe these girls deserve respect,” says Glaros, “or at the very least, tolerance. Many that I've spoken to are either students, or single mothers. They are trying to pay their bills and still have time to spend with their children, or to further their education. They should not be made to feel ashamed of how they earn their money.”
Glaros was also recently interviewed by 3x3.
Sources: 3x3, JPG
Images by Stephanie Glaros.
8/5/2010 11:39:24 AM
Brooklynite Ranjit Bhatnagar is an avid greenmarket shopper. For the past 10 years, he has been creating art from his weekly produce purchases by scanning what he brings home, and posting the images on his Flickr page. The results are as tantalizing as they are beautiful.
All images courtesy of Ranjit Bhatnagar
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