February 23, 2004
Clowns In The Hood
The best thing I saw on TV last autumn was a documentary called "Clowns in the Hood," which examined an incredible underground hip hop dance culture in Los Angeles. It's since been renamed "Krumped" and has been selected for the Sundance Film Festival. Be sure to check out the video preview (it may take a little while to load) as well.
Director's Website: With Clowns In The Hood, David exposes the underground phenomenon thatís currently happening on the mean streets of LAís Compton called Clowning. A hip hop derivative, Clowning is the phenomenon of kids (aged 6-18) who paint their faces with clown make-up, then take to the streets in an attempt to dance rival clowns into submission. Developing the make-up into an almost tribal war paint, the clowns recall hip hop in its Ď80s block party heyday.
The voodoo-like dance routines are lifted from the basest dances there are Ė those of pole dancers and strippers Ė but speeded up to an incredibly fast degree, making the clown in question look as if they are having some sort of hugely enjoyable fit. The craze hasnít been commodified in any way by the music industry or media [NB: the dance moves, largely thanks to director David LaChapelle (who, when he's not making documentaries of uncommodified cultures, directs massive music videos for stars like Christina Aguilera), have since been almost completely absorbed into mainstream hip hop culture - MB]; itís a totally underground phenomenon which serves as an exhalation from a community tired and frustrated with peopleís preconceived notions of the area they live in. The antithesis of bling hip hop posturing, the clowns are totally anti-drugs, anti-violence, anti-guns. The movement is all about positivity.
Posted by matt at 04:41 PM
February 16, 2004
Who do you trust?
I came across the graph above in an interesting BBC online magazine article entitled "How Did We Get So Cynical". It depicts what kinds of professions are trusted by the people of UK. Note "politicians" and "journalists" enter in right at the bottom.
Posted by matt at 05:35 PM
February 13, 2004
Love is the drug, scientists say
For music to put you in the Valentine's spirit, I highly recommend Andre 3000's (one half of Outkast) album The Love Below. It's the best thing I've heard in some time. And here's an interesting article for lovers and haters alike:
BBC: Being in love is physically similar to the buzz of taking drugs and also has withdrawal symptoms, an expert on addiction has said. Dr John Marsden says dopamine - the drug released by the brain when it is aroused - has similar effects on the body and mind as cocaine or speed.
"Attraction and lust really is like a drug. It leaves you wanting more," the National Addiction Centre head said. "Being attracted to someone sparks the same incredible feelings no matter who you are. Love really does know no boundaries," he said. According to Dr Marsden - a chartered psychologist - the brain which processes emotions becomes "fired up" when talking to someone it finds attractive.
The heart pounds three times faster than normal and causes blood to be diverted to the cheeks and sexual organs, which causes the feeling of butterflies in the stomach, he says. However, as with cocaine and speed, the "hit" is only temporary, though it can last between three and seven years, he added.
Happy Valentine's Day, people.
Posted by matt at 01:10 PM
February 09, 2004
An imaginary recording career
There's a great article in the New York Times which explains how a record collector stumbled upon one of the most fascinating works of folk art ever. Check out his story...
New York Times: "I went to a flea market, and there was a huge record collection there, at least 20 boxes," Mr. Hadar said, recalling the morning of the discovery. "I was going through that very happily when I came across this box full of strange hand-painted album covers. I realized they were fake and was about to put them back, but then I looked at them more closely."
Pulling the records out of the sleeves, he was surprised to find that they were made not of vinyl but of cardboard. Each had been cut in the shape of a record, with grooves and a hand-lettered label painted on. Nearly all the albums were credited to an unknown black musician named Mingering Mike, and dated from 1968 to 1976.
The front covers were intricately painted to look like classic funk albums; on the spines were titles and fake catalog numbers; the backs had everything from liner notes to copyright information to original logos; the inner sleeve was often a shopping bag meticulously taped together to hold a record; and some actually opened to reveal beautiful gatefold sleeves. A few albums had even been covered in shrink-wrap and bore price stickers and labels with apocryphal promotional quotes.
What Mr. Hadar found was a cache of seemingly nonexistent music: soundtracks to imaginary films, instrumental albums, a benefit album for sickle cell anemia, a tribute to Bruce Lee, a triple-record work titled "Life in Paris," songs protesting the Vietnam War and promoting racial unity, and records of Christmas, Easter and American bicentennial music. He had discovered, perhaps, an outsider artist....
Visit the link to read on and be inspired.
Posted by matt at 03:40 PM
February 05, 2004
Fog Of War
I'm really excited to check out a new documentary called "The Fog Of War." It's about the life of Robert McNamara, as told in his own words. It's not coming to my town anytime soon, so for now I'll have to satisfy my curiosity by exploring the movie's official website, which is great.
Fog of War website: The Fog of War is a 20th century fable, a story of an American dreamer who rose from humble origins to the heights of political power. Robert S. McNamara was both witness to and participant in many of the crucial events of the 20th century: the crippling Depression of the 1930s; the industrialization of the war years; the development of a different kind of warfare based on air power and the creation of a new American meritocracy. He was also an idealist who saw his dreams and ideals challenged by the role he played in history. Although strictly speaking, neither a work of biography nor a work of history, The Fog of War has produced important, new biographical and historical material.
Posted by matt at 04:23 PM
February 03, 2004
North Korea is testing new chemical weapons on women and children
I can't believe no one is covering this. Anyone who watches the news is aware that North Korea has an active nuclear weapons program. But as I watched a BBC documentary last Sunday night, I was shocked to learn that there is evidence that demonstrates that the North Korean government is conducting biological and chemical weapons experiments on humans.
BBC: North Korea remains isolated and in fear of an Iraq-style invasion from the United States. International crisis talks continue over the regime's nuclear weapons programme. But [the BBC] has uncovered evidence of another more chilling evil: that North Korea is testing new chemical weapons on women and children.
Hundreds of thousands of people are imprisoned without charge. It's not because they have committed a crime. It is because their relatives are believed to be critical of the regime and so they are punished. According to President Kim Jong Il, the bad blood and seed of any dissident must be rooted out down to three generations.
Why is this not news?
Posted by matt at 03:50 PM
February 02, 2004
An eco-friendly Leo, lookin' smug...
So apparently celebrities have taken to assuaging their environmental consciences by buying entire forests. In order to offset the CO2 emissions they produce with their Hollywood lifestyles, Elijah Wood, Jake Gyllenhaal, Leonardo DiCaprio and a bunch of other actors pay other people to plant trees for them.
Future Forests "calculated that Leonardo produces 11 tonnes of the 'greenhouse gas' carbon dioxide, from his cars and home and travel, per year. This is approximately half the CO2 emissions produced by the average U.S. citizen in one year. Leonardo has chosen to reflect his Carbon Neutral Citizenship by having trees planted, by Future Forests, in Mexico. In addition to planting trees, Leonardo is also participating in alternative energy resources; a micro-hydro dam in Germany and in Biomass Gasifiers in India.
Future Forests is establishing Leonardo DiCaprio forests in four locations around the globe: Mexico, India, North America and Europe. You too can have trees planted in these same forests, by dedicating trees to offset your CO2 emissions."
Okay, so this scheme is ridiculous for a lot of obvious reasons. But in a twisted way, there's an argument to be made that these actors are in fact "carbon neutral," since those forests wouldn't be there without them. Even though they're living their nutty fantasy lifestyles, they've done something to balance things out. Which is more than I can say for myself.
Posted by matt at 04:24 PM