The other day when googling Yoko Ono for another post I was really excited to find that fashion collective ThreeAsFour did an awesome collaboration with her for their Spring 2010 fashion show a few weeks ago. I interned for ThreeAsFour for a summer about 5 years ago and I'd seen shows they did with Sean Lennon on piano but this show just seemed like it all went together in a really awesome way. The clothes were inspired by Ono's dot drawing series and went well with ThreeAsFour's devotion to never using straight lines in their patterns. The runway show was inspired by Yoko Ono's famous "Cut Piece" performance with the models cutting the outfit off one model. Yoko and Sean also did the song that plays as the models walk.
Here's the runway show and a short interview.
Here's the original American performance of Cut Piece.
This little clip of from the U.S, Senators debating health care is such a great example of the craziness going on even among our elected officials. In this clip Senator John Kyl says he doesn't think the plan should include maternity care because he doesn't need it. Then Senator Debbie Stabenow shoots back "I think your mom probably did".
She totally dropped a yo' mama on his ass! Seriously, the same people not giving a shit about maternity care are those who don't want to teach you about birth control, want to revoke the right to choice, and then want you to churn out babies that they don't have much interest in protecting. No wonder we have the second worst infant mortality rate in the developed world.
In the East of Ukraine in the Carpathian mountains is a modern day tribe of Amazonian women known as the Asgarda. These girls and women practice martial arts as well studying folk art, sport, science, and health. Below are the words of their teacher and founder Kateryna Vitaliyivna Tarnovska as well as the photos of french photographer Guillaume Herbaut. You can check out more of his photos here and here.
It is said that Ukrainian women were always most beautiful, merry, good-natured, talented, and generous, as well as courageous, selfless, faithful, and wise. Foreign historians were amazed at the span of knowledge of our women. They could read, write, they had equal rights with men, they were respected, and their advice was taken.
In Ukraine a woman was always a guardian, protector, and priestess. She had the knowledge of medicine, treatment of illnesses, medicinal herbs, and laws of nature, universe, and religion. She was able to sing, dance, play musical instruments, and write poetry and songs. She knew astronomy and astrology. She was not only a hostess, not only a woman who does washing, embroidering, cooking, and looking after children, she was also a Goddess. Everything she did, she did with goodness and love. We know that embroidery symbolized protection, a weaving spool could tell the future, and correctly prepared food could give health and strength. This was whole cult, a world outlook.
Apart from ordinary household chores Ukrainian woman knew self-defence, martial skills, and different kinds of weapons. She passed this knowledge to her children. That is why, even if our men were brought up without their fathers, they were taught by knights and real warriors.
There's a new Fame movie out and I have no interest in seeing it. It looks more like So You Think You Can Dance. Come on....a performing arts school without a gay character? Clearly this is going to be a watered down shined up version of the old movie. Anyhow, here's a fun clip from the old one, the Hot Lunch song is about half way through.
Also go about 5 minutes into this one for Leroy's sexy dance audition:
Remember this billboard? Perhaps it was her Fluxus background but Yoko Ono really knew a thing or two about the power of suggestion and vibrant subtlety. I've been thinking about this billboard a lot lately- and of course its subsequent follow-ups. I guess its cause I wish that the current dialogue on health care and the economy and just about everything had a bit more visualization of positive opportunity. For instance, there seems to be a lot of talk on the right about all the terrible things that could go wrong with health care - over crowded hospitals, killing grandparents, mandatory abortions and sex change operations.....you name it they've brought it up. Meanwhile, though its great that Jon Stewart, Rachel Maddow, and a few other press people are trying to discredit these fears, I think it could be really great to have some media outlets that are showing all the great things that could happen if we did have comprehensive universal healthcare. Envision not having to fight for hours on the phone with your insurance company, not losing your house cause you can't pay for your injury, being able to concentrate on your actual health instead of your bills. For most people, just not having to fear that their kids will get hurt or sick would be a really big one. If the president didn't have to spend all his time exposing the lies perhaps he could paint us a great picture of how great things could be. Perhaps this is a hippie dippieish idea that is hard to convey these days but when you think about it the hippies actually got a lot done by pushing dreams - it seemed to work better than the middle of the road tentativeness that we're using today.
Recently there have been a handful of dudes who have been using the power of suggestion to let us peer into better worlds. The Yes Men have been mixing it up again with their recent action replacing The New York Post with their version, an issue that showed what NY would be like if we don't deal with global warming. The Yes Men are known for posing as spokespeople for huge organizations such as The World Trade Organization, McDonalds, Dow Chemical, the United States Dept. of Housing and Urban Development. In 2004 Andy Bichlbaum posed as a Dow Chemical spokesperson on the BBC to officially apologize for the Bohpal disaster and say that the company would be paying for clean up and medical care for the victims. In 2006 at the New Orleans Housing Summit they posed as HUD spokesmen and said that they had decided against tearing down the public housing facilities and would instead be repairing them and providing mixed income housing. These are just a few stunts they've pulled but in each case they manage to make the company or organization look like an idiot and the actual residents feel empowered by watching their oppressors faced with what should be the right choice. Anyhow, there's a new movie coming out about their actions...
Another guy whose not afraid to tell it like it should be is Ralph Nader whose new book Only The Super Rich Can Save Us is a work of fiction that manages to be over 700 pages ("a great doorstop" as he put it) and works as a vision of what could happen if "17 billionaires and super-rich people really put their minds to it, along with a parrot, and took on the existing business power bloc and the politicians in Washington who serve it"
The book features real life super rich such as Warren Buffett and Ted Turner to Bill Cosby and Yoko Ono. Like what happen if Warren Beatty ran against Schwarzenegger for California Governor and won? Reviews have been saying that the book works as a how to on turning our country around, and I imagine not in a very subtle manner since this is Nader we're talking about. I wish more media, books, movies, politicians worked this way so that we had a somewhat instruction guide on how not to repeat the mistakes we seem to make over and over again. While I guess the point could be argued, I think its pretty awesome that this book doesn't leave our fate in the hands of the proletariat -they're a bit distracted with trying to stay employed and not loose their house. As Nader pointed out on Democracy Now this week, no change was ever made without full time paid activists and huge funding by those who have the money to spare.
I didn't see that many movies in the theater this summer but there are a few worth seeing if you get the chance.
I wasn't expecting that much out of The Baader Meinhoff Complex since I figured it would be one of those low budget movies that looses its excitement in its adherence to fact. Instead, it ended up being an actually well made movie that had me on the edge of my seat for the whole two and a half hours. The Baader Meinhoff Group also known as The Red Army Faction were a communist inspired terrorist group that fought against whatever they deemed to be fascist. You could maybe see them as postwar West Germany's way scarier Weather Underground, except they managed to last almost 30 years and killed about 34 people. Its worth noting though that they were far more popular among their people - at the time 25% of people under 40 sympathized with them, 10% said they would hide a RAF member, and many intellectuals heralded their cause. These facts bring up post war German guilt making the whole motivation, tactics, and subsequent punishment far more complicated than American equivalents. Though I did find it interesting that they studied Herbert Marcuse, who I mention in my Angela Davis post as being Davis' mentor. The film is helped along by the fact that everyone in the RAF seems to be damn sexy and completely ridiculous - I heard in an interview with the author that when they were being trained in Jordan by the Palestinian Liberation Organization that they not only insisted on free lovin but Andreas Baader wore his red velvet pants the whole time they climbed through ditches with automatic weapons. I was really into the fact that the group had so many awesome female leaders....I knew a bit about Ulrike Meinhof from Semiotext's Hatred of Capitalism and the writings of Chris Kraus but it was incredible to watch her leave behind her already established journalism career and two daughters to fight with the RAF. Another founding member Gudrun Ensslin, who was also Baader's girlfriend, was one of the most compelling parts of the movie. Her balls out approach and tits out personality made the movie. Overall one of the best things about the movie is that the RAF could be both heroes and bad guys. While you can't help admiring their fervor and commitment its interesting to read more about it these days and note the fact that their goals and views were not as great as we might think. The lawyer who represented them recently noted how his politics at the time made him a liberal and now they make him a conservative. I can't even begin to know enough to write a decent post on this topic but I've definitely been moved to learn and read more soooo five stars for The Baader Meinhoff Complex.
The other summer movie that is totally worth seeing is Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker. I think this movie is worth seeing on the big screen not just for the explosions but because it will make you feel the entire range of human emotions...its genuinely hilarious at some parts, not to mention scary as shit and strong and sad and all of those. I was talking about it with a guy at work and he was like " yeah, i guess I felt every feeling but horny" and I noted that might just be cause he's a straight guy. The rest of us got a new appreciation for muscles, brawn, and play fighting. Kathryn Bigelow is known for her ability to make awesome dude movies. With movies like Point Break and K-19:The Widowmaker under her belt it seems that every interview with her includes a "why do you want to make guy movies" type question. In a time of Confessions of Shopaholic and Bride Wars who wouldn't want to make "dude movies". I also love Kathryn Bigelow because her IMDB bio reads: A very talented painter, Kathryn spent two years at the San Francisco Art Institute. At 20, she won a scholarship to the Whitney Museum's Independent Study Program. She was given a studio in a former Offtrack Betting building, literally in a vault, where she made art and waited to be criticized by people like Richard Serra, Robert Rauschenberg and Susan Sontag. She later graduated from Columbia's Film School. She was also a member of the British avant-garde cultural group, Art and Language. Kathryn is the only child of the manager of a paint factory and a librarian.
With all that aside The Hurt Locker has been racking up nominations for Best Movie, Best Director, and Best Actor at numerous award ceremonies and film fests. I really enjoyed that it manages to be a movie that both pacifists and soldiers currently fighting in Iraq can enjoy and feel strongly about. It seems to tackle the issue of being a soldier more than the issue of why we're at war... which takes a lot of the pretension, classism, and partisinism out of the movie helping it to avoid the marginilization or predictability that many other war movies face. However, when you concentrate on 'small' issues like individual lives it makes it so much easier to see the entire 'war as drug' overlying them. You can see this movie and pick it apart for themes or you can see it cause the explosions rule - as A. O. Scott put it in his New York Times review " If The Hurt Locker is not the best action movie of the summer, I'll blow up my car". Either way you should go see it.
I don't want to go that into Jennifer's Body because its clearly not everyone's cup o' tea but if you like B movies with all their tackiness and you don't like Jennifer's Body you can go watch Sorority Row, gag on Audrina Patridge, and get out of my face. Honestly I had a lot of fun yelling "oh no she didn't" with the rest of the downtown Brooklyn audience and then picking apart all the feminist undertones on the way home. Any movie that allows both of those is awesome in my book. Check out director Karyn Kusama's take on the feminist angles here http://womenandhollywood.com/2009/09/23/karyn-kusama-speaks-out/.
Jennifer's Body reminded me of Mary Ann Doane's essay Film and The Masquarade that I mentioned in my Girls Who Wear Glasses post. This part in particular:
" But the figure of the woman with glasses is only an extreme moment of more generalized logic. There is always a certain excessiveness, a difficulty associated with women who appropriate the gaze, who insist upon looking. Linda Williamson has demonstrated how in the genre of horror film, the woman's active looking is ultimately punished. And what she sees, the monster, is only a mirror of herself -both woman and monster are freakish in their difference - defined by either "too much" or "too little". "
This is interesting in the context of Jennifer's Body since 'the good girl' wears glasses and yet is the Betty to Jennifer's Veronica. So in a way this makes them both the same person and also the good girl fighting the bad monster inside her. Its telling that the movie opens up with the line "Hell is a teenage girl" and that Diablo Cody means that both in the way that it's hell to be a teenage girl and as any parents will tell you- hell to be around one. This movie does a great job of using beauty and being female as a parallel to monsterhood, both being deemed heroic to slay. While the movie manages to also be a great story on how sometimes you need to let your shitty girl friends go while remembering to acknowledge the misogyny (and indie bands) that have made them that way.... its also a great story of embracing empowerment without being a blood sucking bitch. Though I hear teenage boy blood makes your skin look really good.
Here's an assortment of funny videos about women in the movies from one of my favorite shows, The Rotten Tomatoes Show. Brett and Ellen explain bitches, killers, and prostitutes. Then Sasha Grey and Bai Ling tell us what their top 5 movies are. By the way Bai Ling is the best dancer ever.
Its that time of the year.....to give a shit about local politics. The mix of non-stop WNYC, having worked for the WFP, and being greeted at the subway every morning by an assortment of faces running for the District 39 City Council seat has me fully immersed in giving a shit. First of all my favorite guy I've met in the subway so far is David Pechefsky who is running for City Council on the Green Party Ticket. I'm into the fact that he used his time on the Finance Division of City Council to get over $20 million for low income housing. Also he saw my bike helmet and started talking bikers rights so he knows how to get people hooked.
However the real news today is in all the other boroughs. Debi Rose was the first African American to win the primary and get on the Democratic Ticket for City Council in Staten Island. I feel really close to this win cause I worked the last voting day in Staten Island with the WFP getting people to go vote for her. Having knocked on peoples doors 3 times in one day to say "Did you vote for Debi yet" "How about now" "Okay not yet, well you have 15 minutes- run down there" will make you really care about a candidate. Also Staten Island is way cooler than I'd realized before that day.
Also Danny Dromm and Jimmy Van Bramer became the first openly gay dudes to get on the Democratic ticket for City Council in their respective districts in Queens. Margaret Chin became the first Asian American to get on the Manhattan Democratic ticket for city council. As she pointed out “It’s significant for the whole population to see all Asian-Americans taking political roles for the first in public. The West Coast broke this barrier close to two decades ago.” Chin is a community organizer, affordable housing advocate and former teacher.
I was really on the border about putting Mary Travers (of Peter, Paul, and Mary) on the folk music post the other day. I opted not to and I'm sort of glad cause I felt creepy after Eartha Kitt died the day I posted on her. Mary Traver died today but her additions to folk rock were huge and she will be greatly missed. This song is just so appropriate.
So I've been slacking on the stand up videos lately. Not because I'm not trying, just cause its really hard to find new comedians.....and not because they don't exist. Honestly I was sort of wondering whats up with the lack of female comedians when I'd search for comedy posts for the blog. However today I downloaded this thing called Funny Ladies Episode 4 off Audible (I listen to my i-pod 10 hours a day- if you have recommendations please tell me). So this 48 minute episode is comprised of 5 or 10 minute stand up segments by female comedians in the 90s. I figured the Janeane Garofalo and Caroline Rhea would be cool and all the others would suck cause I'd never heard of them.......but they were hilarious! Unfortunately, none of these other women had stand up videos online anywhere. There were a few short videos of them talking about how they're old and fat now but nothing of the awesome stand-up from Funny Ladies Episode 4.
One of my favorite surprises was Henriette Mantel who was sort of old school in her jokes but in a way where you have probably heard them many times and don't know who they're credited to. She's a brassy broad who doesn't seem to give a shit. Though her stand-up was killer, people my age would know her as Alice in the 90s The Brady Bunch Movie or the woman who throws red paint on Samantha's fur coat in The Sex and The City Movie. Its also interesting to note that she wrote that Ralph Nader movie, An Unreasonable Man, that came out a few years ago. Another I really enjoyed was Nancy Parker who did amazing impersonations. Sam and I just listed to it during dinner and were cracking up at the ridiculous versions of Wilma Flintstone being stoned and horny and Edith Bunker talking about feminine hygiene products. On this recording the model Twiggy even makes an appearance. Did anyone know Twiggy used to do stand up? Anyhow the comedians are Janeane Garofalo, Twiggy, Caroline Rhea, Carole Montgomery, Henriette Mantel, Nora Lynch, and Carrie Snow. They're all great, I highly recommend downloading it off audible or here.
Jimmy Carter spoke up once again to tell it like it is. In this clip he publicly states that representative Joe Wilson was acting out of racism when he yelled "Liar!" in the middle of Obama's speech on health care.
I'm so glad we have Carter(a former southern white president) around who isn't around afraid to call 'em like he sees 'em. If only more liberal politicians were 85 years old and therefore had nothing to loose....perhaps the world would be a better place.
I think this issue of race is an enormous factor in the way some politicians and a certain portion of Americans are treating Obama. Back during elections when I talked to old friends of mine who were in the armed services or had spouses in the armed services they usually said that either way whoever won - they were the commander in chief and their orders were to be followed. Now I don't believe the rest of us are in any way obligated to follow the presidents orders but I'm shocked at how quickly people are disregarding protocol, law, and general etiquette. I could see bystanders yelling during a G.W. Bush speech - but definitely not a representative. Actually people wearing anti-Bush shirts were arrested at his speeches and even turned out of the National Archives. Now its okay to bring your gun to the president's speeches.
I posted the other day about schools not wanting to show the President's address to school children. I noted that the administration at the school I grew up going to did not want to show the speech.....and yet I just kept thinking about how we were allowed to watch the OJ Simpson verdict. Perhaps there was some way it connected to social studies class but really everyone just wanted to know the verdict. It amazes me that kids can watch accused murders....a black man accused of killing his white wife......but not an educated loving father and husband who also happens to be , oh yeah, the president.
This old video from 1968 is soooo awkward and strange. Gloria Steinem irons something and eats cantaloupe (lots of close ups on the cantaloupe), while some guy asks her about being a chick who is 'stunning' but not quite 'stacked' per se. Behind the uncomfortable stuff its interesting to hear what she's saying....it does seem like times have gotten slightly better.
Buffy Saint Marie -Codeine In 9th grade my favorite thing to read about was the history of folk rock. I was always amazed that Buffy St. Marie had faded into the background when clearly she was the one everyone wanted to be back in the early 60s. Buffy was a Canadian born on the Piapot Cree reservation -she is known not only as a musician but also as a composer, visual artist, pacifist, educator and socialactivist. Her songs have been covered by zillions of folk musicians and I even enjoy rocking out to the songs of her later career.
Bonnie Raitt- Angel From Montgomery Most people my age know Bonnie Raitt for her later career but she was also very active in the Cambridge,MA folk scene in the 60s. She grew up as Quaker, playing the guitar and eventually learning from blues legends such as Howlin' Wolf, Sippie Wallace, and Mississippi Fred McDowell. In 1967 she started school at Radcliffe, majoring in African Studies, with the intent of movie to Tanzania to help end colonialism. However her music career took off and these days she uses that as a platform for political change.
Nina Simone- House of the Rising Sun Nina Simone is far too much of a genius to fit in one category. She's actually probably more of a blues or jazz singer. However she did do a bunch of folk songs and since everyone was ripping her songs left and right I put her in this section. Apparently Bob Dylan got the idea to cover this song when he was opening up for her on tour.
Joan Baez - Silver Dagger Joan Baez has one of my favorite voices. Joan is also a life long activist and has dated everyone from Bob Dylan to Steve Jobs.
Joni Mitchell- California I once listened to an hour long program on NPR of some guy talking about how he'd written his thesis/book about Joni Mitchell being THE musical genius of our time. He had me pretty convinced by the end of the program.
Odetta -Live at the Newport Folk Festival Odetta was known as "the voice of the civil rights movement", she was also an incredible important part of the folk rock movement- creating a bridge between early blues, jazz, and spirituals and the folk revival movement of the '60s.
Seriously though, haven't you heard. President Obama is the new gateway drug. Hoodlums and drug pushers are going to be sneaking on to the playground to push the president on children. Next thing you know kids everywhere will be dropping acid supporting health care, progressive tax reform, and gay marriage.
I'm annoyed at myself actually because this is my second post in a row about President Obama and honestly he's really not liberal enough for me. Yet, I guess he's too left wing to expose our children too. Today the president gave a speech that was directed at kids nationwide about the value of education and what he's going to do and what he wants the students to work on. Amazingly enough everyone was so afraid that he'd say something controversial that most schools refused to air it. Have they not been paying attention to Obama.....he doesn't exactly throw to many unexpected curve balls at you. Rachel Maddow once said that she thought his biggest flaw was that he isn't more unpredictable or imprecise...he never steps out of everyone else's comfort zone. Apparently the right wing media got everyone all freaked out that he was going to start turning our kids gay or something. Of course he isn't going to bring up gay marriage.....the GOP were acting like Obama was gonna start tea-bagging Biden and yelling 'pass the poppers!" in front of the kiddies.
Education is actually one of the areas that I feel the most uncomfortable with Obama's outlook. First of all, though I'm the first to admit I'm no expert on the topic, I'm not that crazy about his fervor for charter schools. With their history of privatization for economic gain and leanings of modern day segregation (both exemplified in the Hurricane Katrina aftermath) I'm just disappointed every time Obama mentions his pro-charter school plans. Secondly, I get a little exhausted with his "its really up to you" speeches that are meant to inspire school children. Obviously many of our academic achievements have to do with the effort we put in.......but as more research is proving every day- there are about a million other factors that are part of the larger picture in why lower class communities have always struggled with education. Look at Geoffrey Canada's Harlem Children's Zone to see the real change that needs to be enacted. Luckily President Obama is also backing up that model with both speech and money so hopefully there is some sort of positive outlook for American kids. One of the most moving moments I found when watching the election night coverage of his victory was this one reporter in the middle of celebrating crowds up in the Bronx.....two neighborhood girls kept jumping in front of the reporter and yelling "we're gonna get new books for our school!". That was what the president meant to them.
So perhaps the kids out there are actually interested in what the President has to say. In the video below you can kind of tell that the 'republican strategist' doesn't even really believe the shit he's saying. The leader of the country wants to talk to kids about their futures and they aren't allowed to watch it. I find it interesting that the military must approach him as their "commander and chief" yet he's too controversial for that other socialized institution- the school. In case you think that this was only banned in republican ruled towns in Mississippi I'd like to add that it was also banned in the elementary school I attended in Connecticut.
Up till now the White House art collection has been completely void of abstract art. Michelle and Barack are about to put an end to that. There is a great article up on Guernica about the history of the White House art collection and America's relationship to modern and abstract art. While the Obamas are interested in including artists of color and women in the collection they are also groundbreakingly going to be adding some abstract art. Its actually pretty amazing the number of big American artists who are not included in the collection - no Pollocks, Rothkos, or Warhols. Interestingly enough, the most American genre of art is not in the American president's home. However, Barack has already started moving in Ed Ruscha, Richard Diebenkorn, Alma Thomas, Josef Albers- and talking about Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Louise Nevelson. Now plenty of those are white dudes - I'm hoping he'll take in a few more minority artists. Yet, I find it encouraging that we have a president who is both an intellectual and culturally aware of modern art history. Just in case you were wondering, George W. Bush had cheerful photo realistic landscapes of Texas in his oval office, because "he wanted it to look like an optimistic person worked there".
Shortest skirts in the business and a beautiful raspy voice.
Loretta Lynn - Wings Upon Your Horns
Loretta had more banned songs than anyone in country music. I started out looking for a video for her song "The Pill" or "
"Rated X" but since they were both too controversial there are no videos and I settled for "Wings Upon Your Horns" about the loss
of teenage virginity. Another of her controversial tunes "Dear Uncle Sam" about a woman who looses
her husband in Vietnam is still covered today at many anti war rallies.
Bobbie Gentry - Ode to Billie Joe
Speaking of controversial. Read the wikipedia page on this one to get your head around it. Bobbie is known
for being one of the first female country musicians to write her own material.
Jeannie C. Riley -Okie From Muskogee
Jeannie was the first woman to have a number one hit(with Harper Valley PTA) on both the country and pop Billboard Hot 100 list.
This song and video are great, I love how when she sings she really looks like she's singing and not just lip syncing.
Tammy Wynette -Stand By Your Man
Doesn't it all just come back to this?
Dolly Parton- I Will Always Love You
Dolly is a powerhouse! The Queen of Country has had 25 number one singles, a record 41 top 10 country albums, and is and is the only artist to score a number-one country single in each of the past four decades. And thats just the country : Dolly's songwriting, acting, philanthropy, and business skills are bottomless wells of talent and wisdom.
Unconscious and Irrational is named for the media's common presentation of girls and women as being either "out of control" or simply "passed out". In movies there aren't many female roles that won't show the girl either passing out, being knocked unconscious, or going totally crazy (usually with a car, credit car, or depressed dude).
On this blog I want to show the zillions of other things we do - whether it be music, art, comedy, or politics. I aim to provide you with a variety of gals to look up to- from Romy and Michele to Shirley Chisholm and Bella Abzug.