Archive for April, 2006

Feel the Funk

Geox ads freak me out. I mean it’s a great idea to have clothes that breathe and all, but these shoes appear to be forcibly expelling huge quantities of noxious with every single step. Note to Geox: Anyone who sweats enough to eject this amount of fluid from their feet has more problems than you can solve with a shoe. And they need to keep it in their shoes, too.

The approach is clearly working, though — Geox is super profitable compared to similar shoe companies. And they recently opened a 6000 sq ft store on Madison Ave. Apparently, pointing out that feet generate 100 liters of sweat a year pays dividends. Spray on.

Want more freakout? Watch a kid’s feet jump off and run away because of his raunchy kicks. For more on the (actually fairly interesting) company, check this brief history.

image grabbed from the geox mothership

Synesthetic

Seen recently in Chelsea, Nancy Dwyer’s multidimensional woodcut words had us at hello. A friend with synesthesia once told me she would see certain words (misspelled, highly active) literally bulging and exploding out of the printed page. Walking into this exhibit, I felt I might finally have some idea of what she saw.

A good half of the pieces seem like they could have been inspired by the dynamic verbiage seen so often in graffiti. Others (like Deep 1) feel more structured, more architectural. It’s gorgeous stuff, even moreso in person. You want to reach out and touch it and, with the sole shopkeep sequestered in an office, who knows — we may have done just that.

Sadly, the show is done. (Do I have a habit of catching the last day of these things or what?) But there’s lots to see at the gallery site and even more at nancydwyer.com. If you do happen down West 22nd, there’s still time to get stacked and miniaturized.

photo via jellisvga

Pastels and Army Boots

Crate diving in the West Village is the perfect way to spend a slacker afternoon. Every once in a while, you find the rare record that makes all the effort worthwhile. And comedy relief on the way to the promised land is kindly provided by musical awfulness on a biblical scale, with cover art to match. Case in point, this fine late 80’s offering from Joe Franz: Bronx Vice.

To be fair, I haven’t actually heard the record. Still, Joe’s recasting of Miami with the Bronx, palm trees and neon with dilapidated buildings, and pastels and loafers with a black trenchcoat and army boots is too classic to turn down. At least he got the sportscar right. Oh, and note the street name. Hurts, don’t it?

Catching a few reruns of Miami Vice on Sleuth, it’s clear the epicenter of 80’s hipness hasn’t aged particularly well, either. So I suppose we can forgive Franz’s foray into blase mainstream pandering so long as he someday treats us to a similarly righteous comeback.

photo via jellisvga

The North Will Rise Again

Walking out of the generally excellent Slavery in New York exhibit, one thing sticks out as strange: in the exit hallway, Abraham Lincoln is once again painted as the great and just emancipator. But we all (or at least should) know that it wasn’t nearly that simple. While no exhibit can cover the full breadth and depth of slavery’s impact, this particular coda still didn’t stomach well.

That’s why it was so satisfying to see Kevin Wilmott’s irreverent yet immensely thoughtful Confederate States of America (CSA) pick up right where Slavery in New York left off, with Lincoln and the Civil War. There’s just one twist: the South wins (and that’s a lot more plausible than some might think). We see Lincoln (in exile) regret not truly freeing the slaves with his Emancipation Proclamation (the real proclamation didn’t, either — it merely put some wheels in motion). From there, the film takes a revisionist ride through the last 140 years of American history with slavery fully intact.

What’s fascinating about CSA is that it provides a way for us to think through slavery by placing it in a more modern context and pointing out that humans can convince themselves that even most awful acts are normal and reasoned if it serves them. (Want an example?) One way it does this is by cleverly mixing fact with fiction throughout. We see historical events we remember weaved into into a slavery context (including an inventive edit of a JFK speech). Some of it, though, is saved for a later punctuation mark. I won’t ruin it, but I will say the film bears repeated viewings. Wilmott also mixes difficult material with humor by interleaving serious documentary narrative with “funny” commercials in a way that strikes a tough balance: making the serious material easier to watch and the humorous more difficult.

It’s the best science fiction that saves us the laser duels, spaceships, and feathered hair, instead using a slightly removed context to allow us to better examine ourselves, today. And that’s just how CSA sneaks up on you.

In a recent interview, Wilmott mentioned that we now get more of our history from movies than from books. This is precisely why films like CSA are so important. Spike presents CSA and, while hasn’t taken on such topics since 2000’s abortive Bamboozled, it is nice to see him in the trenches with those to whom he might pass the torch.

For more, see the CSA website, listen through OTM’s interview with Kevin, and have a look at the Confederate Geographic Timeline (spoilers). Also, don’t miss Robert A. Pruitt’s fearless reminders.

image grabbed from csathemovie




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