Archive for February, 2006

Of Innovation and Outhouses

Is there some irony in the fact that IBM’s US front page features a discussion about the future of innovation in America alongside a guy taking a rocket-powered dump?

While there’s no doubt IBM has done a bunch of good stuff lately, I just couldn’t let the mixed message slide. Giggles trump integrity every time.

image grabbed from ibm.com

Drunk and Dressless South of Houston

Side-by-side on Greene you’ll find two cleverly rough-edged quotes, one used for good and the other evil. The first is fantastic street art paying homage to classic Tom Waits. The second features a similarly bar-savvy quote from Jean Cocteau, repurposed to sell fancy knickers. Far away, so close. I imagine Tom pleased and Jean contemplating undead vengeance.

Before Tom gets too happy, though, he might have a closer look at the piano. See the web address scribbled there? It points to some random guy’s photoblog. Are folks seriously tagging prominent street art with URLs, hoping to drive traffic? Of course, some of the best street art layers what went before or culture jams, but when you’re scribbling unrelated shit just to get hits, it starts to feel nasty. If it’s possible to have graffiti spam, this is it.

Hell, if you pick the right place to scribble your URL, photobloggers are going to multiply your effort by loading flickr with tons of images that inadvertently feature that address. The rule, then, is to find hot graf and spam it early and often? This could get gross like Sony. Now I feel dirty.

The last gutter dredging in Soho turned up a bit of Ass Kissing.

photos via jellisvga

First Black Man in the Fleet

Plotting Evil Threatening People Quite Dead

Plotting evil, threatening people, quite dead. It’s sad that we still have to have this conversation, but is there any good reason why the only black male character to appear on Ron Moore’s otherwise outstanding Battlestar Galactica is a demon that needs to be put out of his misery?

In a recent episode (somewhat ironically titled “Black Market”) we find the first black man in the fleet to get screen time (Bill Duke as “Phelan”) trafficking in everything from murder to booze to stolen goods to, oh yeah, child sex (all white kids, mind you). And he’s killed at the hands of Apollo’s righteous vigilante justice in his first episode. Shades of Dirty Harry?

Now, I’m first to say that the exploration of moral ambiguity is one of Galactica’s strongest aspects (especially in the current political climate), but this character has no grays — heck, he doesn’t live long enough to develop any! And perhaps the argument that it was morally questionable for Apollo to shoot the guy in cold blood holds some water, but not much. Ultimately, by nearly any cinema metric you choose to apply, Phelan deserves death. It’s depressing to see a show that makes its living going against stereotype go down this kind of road.

With black folks still struggling to find decent roles in film, it’s particularly sad that science fiction of all things can’t at least invent a future where black men aren’t still portrayed as being at the bottom of all the bad stuff. As it is, Hollywood Shuffle remains relevant nearly 20 years on. Ron, I know it’s not your job to fix the industry, but I still thought you were better than this.

The continuing poor representation of African Americans in film was previously scoped in Snubbed.

Renaissance in Black and White

It’s not often that you see a movie world so gorgeous you’re desperate to live there without knowing the first thing about the story, but here it is in black and white. Stills of Renaissance give the flavor but seeing it motion is the really jaw dropping stuff — a richly colorless futuristic cartoon-noir style and then some. The closest comparison would be Sin City, but that’s hardly justice. The world designers on this flick have clearly earned their pay, so here’s hoping the writers hold up their end of the bargain. We find out in March.

Put Renaissance alongside A Scanner Darkly’s sultry rotoscoping and this year is starting to look like a year where animators once again blow up our expectations of the future with wickedly new ideas. Can’t wait.

For more Renaissance, watch the hyperbole-inducing trailers or check out tons of stills on the official site. The last time I was so taken with a world at first sight was back in City of Metronome. Could that release this year, too? Oh, baby.

thanks to mike, who caught a renaissance trailer on tv in torino (lucky dog)

Fear and Elvis in South Asia

Love ’em or hate ’em, Pitchfork doesn’t seem particularly afraid of being critical. Even so, I found a more-firey-than-usual take on Talvin Singh’s now classic OK digging through the archives today. This time, though, the flamethrower isn’t directed at the artist but at the industry:

Mr. and Mrs. I’m So Fucking Happy probably won’t go for the distinctly Eastern approach to melody and texture featured on OK. Singh doesn’t just stick some sitars over a breakbeat– the arrangements of tablas, strings, and frenzied backbeats is allowed full prominence here.
[…]
Stuff this adventurous is not made for everybody. But all it takes is a couple of famous white people to take notice and distill it into a more palpable format and there you go– you’ll all be eating bhaji and hanging out of dhotis. What’s that, you say? Never mind.
Samir Khan

Now that’s angry. Apparently, Elvis’ outright theft of Chuck Berry’s act still resonates (and around the world, too). I suppose having mile markers along the way hasn’t hurt, either. Red Hot Chili Peppers remind anyone of a poor man’s Fishbone? The beat goes on — the cash goes white.

Well, at least the South Asian D&B bleach-fest hasn’t got full steam yet. The Anokhan sound never managed to get fully overground and Talvin’s been working the console more than the stage of late (if he gives a white artist his sound, at least he gets paid). Bhangra keeps threatening to emerge from the basement, though. If that happens, we can only hope it keeps some of its origins intact. Cross-pollination is beautiful. Combine it with a selective memory, though, and you’ve got, well, Elvis.

If you like Samir’s brand of angry, more hip yet heated Indian point of view can be found at turbanhead.

image grabbed from fringedigital




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