Thursday, January 31, 2008

Throwback Pop Culture Clip

This one isn't really of the week, but more like the month. I've been busy with school for a bit, but I'm still here bringing you real information and get ready for a jam packed Black History Month!

Back to the clip.

Remember this toy. Looking back at this is really hilarious. I actually knew people who had a "My Buddy."What made it worse was that the Chucky "Child's Play" movie series was also very popular around then...I had my doubts about My Buddy. He was the only male doll.

Can you imagine a male doll being marketed to little boys today?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Art in Brazil

Interesting article I came across on Grafitti in Sao Paulo, Brazil on the BBC website. No commentary from me: I'm tired.

Turning the spotlight on Brazil's hidden art
By Gary Duffy
BBC News, Brazil

Painting by Titifreak
Whether this is art seems very much in the eye of the beholder
It is not a location every artist would chose for a display of their work

In the polluted tunnels beneath the streets of Sao Paulo, Zezao, one of Brazil's most famous graffiti artists, returns time and time again to produce his work.

This part of the city is dark and dangerous. The brown and smelly water is a foul mixture, bringing with it rubbish and sewage from above.

Zezao has had several vaccinations to allow him to continue his work.

On one occasion he had to run for his life when the tunnels were flooded after heavy rain. On another he stood on a nail.

Zezao in water-filled tunnel
The work can be dangerous but Zezao says it is important
But all along this grim and uninviting channel are signs of an unexpected artistic display - graffiti painted with care and attention to detail, even though few people will ever get to see it.

Zezao says he works here to make a point about the years of neglect that have caused this pollution.

"I did this work because I wanted to show the architecture and the conditions of tunnels of Sao Paulo, which is this - degradation, rubbish - everything that the rain brings," he told the BBC News website.

Nike star

It is a journey you have to make with care, and the only audience in this gallery are the insects that made it their home. In the corner a dead rat is clearly visible.

It is not perhaps the image that everyone has of graffiti artists, and despite the risks, Zezao says it is worth it to raise public awareness.

"This place is a very dangerous place, contaminated, because we are in the sewer of Sao Paulo. I did suffer some accidents here doing this job, but as dangerous as it is, I know the importance of my work for humanity."

Across the city another of Sao Paulo's most famous graffiti artists, known as Titifreak to his fans, is hard at work

Works by Zezao
Zezao uses what little light is available to highlight his work
His graffiti has been displayed around the world and he has also worked for major companies such as Nike, and he proudly wears a pair of the company's trainers with his name printed across them.

Decorating a shabby apartment building, with the owner's permission, he rejects the view of those who dismiss graffiti as vandalism.

"A person who says that graffiti like this one here which is more artistic - to connect that to vandalism I think is missing a little bit of literature and culture," he says.

"People get confused when they see someone with a spray in the hand, which seems too aggressive."

Images erased

Not everyone in Sao Paulo is fan of graffiti. Every day painters from the city authority are sent out to cover it up.

Sometimes it is just names and letters scrawled on walls that are painted over - something that is know here as pichacao, and which is often seen as vandalism.

However sometimes more elaborate works are removed as well. Among the public, opinion seems divided.

Titifreak standing by painting
Titifreak has shown his work all around the world
"When it is well done it is beautiful... but when it is a mess no, because it is dirty and ends up destroying the appearance of the walls," one woman says.

"I think this prejudices the image of the city and makes it appear dirty - so I don't think it is nice," said a man who was passing by a new piece of graffiti. "I don't think it is acceptable."

But at the same time, Sao Paulo's Museum of Contemporary Art is paying its own tribute to graffiti artists from Italy and Brazil.

Unique style

And far removed from the grim tunnels beneath the city Zezao's work is on display here - work the museum says deserves to be valued.

"Graffiti is a way of artistic expression in a urban environment," says Lisbeth Rebollo Goncalves, director of the museum, which is known here as Mac.

" If you in fact meet a great artist doing a work of art in your home you would take great care of it.

"But because it is an anonymous piece of work, people feel a bit hostile about it being on a wall in a public place, but this part of urban life, " she says.

Writing on scrawled on walls
Pichacao involves just names and letters being scrawled on walls
Such is the fame of Sao Paulo's graffiti, that other artists have come from around the world to see it.

"The artists that I see in Sao Paulo are much more individualistic," says Gary Baseman, an award-winning artist and illustrator from Los Angeles in California.

"Each piece is very unique, but in the States it is more like they have a very iconic image or particular mark that they repeat over and over again.

"Part of the reason that tourists come here is to see the street art that is all over the place, it is like the city is just one big giant canvass. To try to control it, in a way, you are almost destroying the culture that the World sees - the reason they are coming here."

Jonathan LeVine, a gallery owner from New York, believes graffiti in Sao Paulo has particular value.

"In a city like Sao Paulo where maybe people don't have so much money. It's a way for them to have access to art they wouldn't otherwise have access to, and it's a way for people to express themselves to the public."

"From city to city and country to country, the reasons that people do it are very different."

It does seem that graffiti is too well established a part of life in Sao Paulo to ever disappear.

And in his gloomy polluted corner of the city, it seems Zezao will continue to produce his underground gallery in the hope that his message will finally be heard.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Okay, so his birthday was actually a few days ago, but this is the day set aside by the United States government to honor his birthday. Unfortunately ther eis no day set aside for his recognition out here in the UK and this is a break from a twenty page paper that I need to finish, but I thought I'd leave you all with a dedication to this great man with a few of my favorite clips that celebrate the man. (and to think all of this from you're home computer without going to the Dream Concert)

I had great plans for this post, but that dream must now be deferred. Instead I'll leave you with some of my favorite Martin Luther King tributes and a clip to the famous "I Have a Dream" Speech. It's been a rough two days for me..sorry.

Stevie Wonder song that helped kick off the movement to get the holiday.
Cosby Show episode where the family gathers at the end to watch the speech
Different World episode where Terell learns the foolishness of violence and re-enacts a meeting between Martin and Malcolm.
The quote juxtaposition between a Martin quote and a Malcolm X quote in Do the Right Thing and when his picture is finally on the wall.
McDonalds Commercial with the candles and the song. "If we could light a candle..."
The irreverent Boondocks episode.

Oh yea, and my undergraduate thesis which examined the I have a dream speech as a hundred year fast forward of blacks still capitalizing on the memory of Abraham Lincoln.

Quote of the I Have A Dream speech that stuck out for me this time: "We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro in Mississippi cannot vote and the Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote."

Slightly disturbing: The first YouTube link for Martin Luther King is for Ron Paul.

Web addresses for more Dr. King speeches:

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Talib's Genius

So, I'm sitting, working with my internet disconnected listening to Talib Kweli's " Happy Home" featuring Candice Anderson off his MySpace album with Madlib, called Liberation. "Happy Home" is a pretty cool song that tells the story of Kweli's family going back to his grandparents and how his parents met. This is my umpteenth and a gazillionth time listening to this song, and it is pretty high up in my most played I Tunes list. This time, I caught something else in the lyrics "Back in the day it was hard for black actors/ They had to lighten their skin with Max Factor/ But my grandfather Stan wasn't Nothing But a Man,"when discussing his paternal grandfather. I've usually paused on the Max Factor part, in sheer amazement at their hold on the entertainment history in that time period (watch the credits of an I Love Lucy episode) but this time my ears picked up something different. He slipped in the great and oft-forgotten Ivan Dixon movie "Nothing But a Man."
"Nothing But a Man" is a great 1960s movie about black people, directed by and starring the great black actor Ivan Dixon. Admittedly its a little rough, but it was a budget movie in the 60s, what do you want???? Unfortunately Discon became most famous for being an assembly line worker/Sgt. in Hogan's Heroes. However, he was also involved in awesome projects that are Vanity Dark recommended like the movie version of "The Spook Who Sat By The Door" and "A Raisin in the Sun." For a Wiki on Dixon click here and for information on "Nothing But A Man" click here. Get up on that history.

But back to Talib...

So I do a little research. Talib Kweli's last name is Greene and according to IMDB, there is a Stanley Greene in the movie who played quite the prominent role as the Reverend.

This is an exciting find and indeed a great moment in pop culture history. Talib has quite family tree. NYU educated parents, actors, and afros all settled down in Brooklyn. Hot [Thing]. I really appreciate how he wove that bit of pop culture history into the story line. For me, that's genius. It also makes more sense now that Talib was at NYU studying theater (you must hear him joke about him being the one with the education and Mos Def being the one with all the movie

Sigh, I'm too excited about this and not excited enough about the symbiotic yet disadvantageous relationship between social movements and the media.

The Queen

Friday, January 11, 2008

British Grime Artist Bashy and The Cool Kids REDUX


My cousin put me on to the fact that this Grime artist, Bashy, and his song and video Black Boys that was banned by OFCOM. My rant on OFCOM, a British media regulatory system will come at another point...after I finish my 11,000 words of paper writing and do the original reading I was supposed to do on the organization. Anyone check out the video below and read more about the controversy here. Am I the only one missing the racist message? This is like when Michael Powell and the FCC blocked Sarah Jones and her "Your Revolution" which only spun the hypersexual lyrics already out in hip hop into a positive reaffirming message for women. *kisses teeth*

So I've blogged about The Cool Kids 2x before. You can read my original amazement here
and then my feeling justified that I wasn't completely off base here. Because somehow in my warped mind: Vibe writing about them is more important than the amazing Sasha Frere Jones covering them or even the Status Ain't Hood bloggers of The Village Voice and that first blog on which I read about them Beats and Rants. (It's a weird thing media hierarchy isn't it...)

Since then, they've gotten their cameo in the Rhapsody commercial and have continued to make raves. Now one of my favorite blogs, Honorable Media, has written about their debut album. Since I surely will not be sitting down, listening to each song and then sharing my thoughts ( I have about 11,000 words in paper writing to do in a day), I thought I'd share their views with you. Yes, that's me with a crazy long comment under their hood-because that's what I tend to do on that site. They don't know me, so I can be as silly and young as I want to be.

Anyways, check it out here:

Now I must just wait for Kelefa Sanneh to release his brilliant thoughts on the group and all will be right in the world.

(Oh and stay on the lookout for the next single from The Broke Girl Chronicles. It didn't stop with Bouncin'...oh no, I'm still broke, no know this.)