Thursday, August 26, 2010

Film: The Warriors @ Landmark Sunshine (NYC) August 27 & 28

Anyone who knows me understands how fanatical I am about this flick. It ranks in the top 5 on my list of all-time favorite films. The Warriors. One of the best cinematic illustrations of the New York City of yesteryear. Crime was rampant, the Bronx was burning, SAMO channeled Confucius on building walls, 42nd street was a Disneyland of sex shops, Thompkins Square Park was a sprawling outdoor squatter camp, and Koch was the king of it all. Gang culture was also at an all-time high. The Warriors is a gripping document of the wasteland of a bygone era that many transplants still try to evoke.

The New York City of today is a far cry from the token turnstiles and economic meltdown of the late 70s. But something about the nexus of Sol Yurick, Walter Hill, and David Shaber makes us yearn for the dystopia of those dismal days. At any rate, Landmark Sunshine in tandem with WNYU and the Village Voice are putting on their yearly screening of The Warriors as part of their ongoing Sunshine At Midnight series this Friday and Saturday night. Click here for more info...


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Digger's Delight & Mochilla's Timeless series...August 24: RIGHT NOW!!

Yeah, I know. I'm the king of last minute sh*t. But hey, better late than never. Anyway, if you're in NYC and don't feel like indulging in after work cocktails (or worse), you should make the trek uptown to St. Nicholas Park. From 5-9PM, Tools Of War is putting on an edition of Digger's Delight featuring Bobbito, Jazzy Jay, J. Rocc, and Lean Rock (no relation). After the maelstrom of funk and dusty gems, stay for Maysles Cinema's mega mix of the Mochilla DVD boxed set Timeless. These are three concert films that you DON'T want to miss, featuring orchestral arrangement tributes to Ethiopian musician Mulatu Astatke, Brazilian composer Arthur Verocai, and the incomparable genius of J Dilla. Need I say more? Hustle your bustle up to St. Nicholas Park..not now, but RIGHT NOW!!

Saturday, August 14, 2010


08.06.1930 – 08.14.2010

Your legacy has left an indelible impression on the world-at-large.
Thank you for the precious gifts you bore.
May your journey be peaceful and radiant

Saturday, August 7, 2010

By Design: Mags I Like.

So I'm on a new kick. Not sure if this one is here to stay or if it's a fleeting fancy, but I'll entertain it nonetheless. Sometimes I feel like Beneatha from Hansberry's A Raisin In The Sun, toggling back and forth between a myriad of hobbies and creative interests. Jack of all trades, master of none. But then I stand back and look at the bigger picture: there's definitely a method to my madness. The master definitely has a plan.

As of late, the world of graphic art has had a strong gravitational pull on me. I think it was precipitated by my frustration in the search for a graphic designer for a project I'm currently working on (stay tuned). But mostly, I think it has to do with the fact that I'm a creative spirit in general. Also, the evolution of typefaces, fonts, and art in advertising and marketing has always intrigued me. So to feed my jones, I've hunkered down in my local Barnes & Noble (while they're still around) and thumbed through some rags. Three of them in particular have piqued my interest and will be on my ones to watch for list.

For the most part, the content of American magazines has been on the decline for the past decade. Utterly craptastic. Though I write for several publications, I'm rarely moved to venture to a newsstand to pick up current issues solely on the principle of thumbing through and keeping abreast. Very few are able to hold my interest for more than an issue or two (props to Surface and Adbusters). Most are geared towards prescribing you a new personality, making you feel insecure about your "lack" of possessions, and giving you beauty "tips." But my jaded indifference may change with the following three. Two of them are centered on the love for the discipline of graphic art in some form. The other is a theme based mag, which seems to be a burgeoning trend for mags trying to stay afloat in an inhospitable climate for print media. Check my selection:

Eye: The International Review of Graphic Design

T-World: The Journal Of T-Shirt Culture

Theme Magazine (pictured: Spring 2007 issue)

Regrets In Retrospect: Album Covers

I wonder if people ever look back at their careers and lament over certain decisions that either they made themselves or were made on their behalf. Well if not, I'm sure this new series of posts will reluctantly jog their memories. Regrets In Retrospect aims to take inventory of perceivable blunders and missteps in the public lives of those we hate to love, love to hate, and all variations in between. I'll try to keep it pc...but you know how I do.

Today's subject is album covers. Album artwork has always been an integral part of the record buying experience. I mean, be honest, how album purchases over the course of your life were made solely on the basis of the artwork? A little extreme? Ok. How about this: how many times did the album artwork seal the deal when you were standing in the record store (remember those?) on the fence on whether you should buy an entire album for one hot song? Thought so.

I've chosen two groups to "pick on" for the first edition in this series: Double Exposure and Imagination. Before you dismissively relegate these guys to one-hit-wonder purgatory, understand and know that they've each had big hits.

Imagination Scandalous (1983)

Formed in 1981, the UK-based trio Imagination had already charted high on the charts in their native England before showing up on the Stateside charts the following year with their modest hit single "Just An Illusion":

Even though the U.S. never gave them much love, that same single was a top 10 hit in 8 countries around the world. Soon after, their success began to wane. And while their image was always on the provocative side (not unusual for the early to mid 80s), they jumped the shark with the cover art for their third album Scandalous. It's hard to tell what the art department at their label was thinking when they conceived this one. Maybe a more fitting album title would have been that of Brooklyn Hip-Hop trio Whodini's hit "Freaks Come Out At Night," which was released the following year.

I think even Rick James would have sobered up at the sight of these dude's outfits. The hamburger meat on the torso and the crotch area is a bit...frightening. The only thing that saved them from massive public ridicule was the fact that it was very much an under the radar release. But other than Cameo's front man Larry Blackmon possibly gleaning inspiration for his infamous codpiece, I don't think this cover inspired anyone to do much of anything...except cringe and vomit. C'est la vie.

Double Exposure Locker Room (1979)

Now I know what you're thinking: why pick on a group that seems to have a perfectly acceptable, themed album cover? Well, we'll get to that in a minute. Trust me. First, let's talk about Double Exposure's background. Based in the soul-drenched metropolis of Philadelphia, these guys have a history dating back to the mid 60s when they went by the god-awful name United Image. By the time they inked their deal with disco giant Salsoul Records in 1975, their harmonies were tighter and their name was a lot more attractive. The following year, they scored two consecutive gold singles with the hits "Ten Percent":

...and "My Love Is Free":

These were undeniable dancefloor burners that had a mainline to the remarkable Philly soul sound, taking them from Soul Train all the way to the top of the charts. Unfortunately, the gravy train began to run out of steam the following year. And in 1979...they, too, jumped the shark. Which brings us back to the aforementioned question I was sure you were asking yourself. And here's the answer:

Sometimes the "gem" is on the back cover or the inner sleeve. Here is a prime example of why using a second (or third, or fourth) set of ears and eyes is essential before making final decisions on releasing material. The jock straps are not a good look, fellas. Read: not. It looks more like an alternate cover for the Village People's mega hit single "Y.M.C.A." released the previous year. I mean...there's a side profile of an entire booty here. I get that artists typically have to exude a certain amount of sex appeal for the sake of sales, but this is taking it too far. Do we really need to see their junk hanging out and a side shot of dude's ass cheek to understand that they're great vocalists? I think not.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Life & Times of Sailor Jerry: Frank 151 X Rooftop Films present a FREE movie screening, August 7th (NYC)!!

Frank 151 has definitely been diversifying their brand over the past 5 years. Their theme-oriented mini mags have become collector's items in their own right. Now with a series of limited run fitted caps and a full-fledged barber salon, they've really redefined what it means to step your game up. This Saturday, They're hosting a screening of a documentary on the life of the sea-faring, spiced rum making, tattoo legend Norman K. Collins...a.k.a. Sailor Jerry. Even though his supposed political views were a little of his proteges is Ed Hardy. While Ed's Christian Audigier incarnations have become more than a bore to me, his pop culture influence is undeniable. Besides, it's always interesting to see the progenitor of a pop icon's style.

I've been passing by the Fine Line Tattoo parlor for years now. It's right in my neighborhood in the East Village, one block from the F train. Those guys have been there since before I was born. Literally: they opened in 1976. Being that most of them are old enough to be my dad, the tattooists all seem to always have some sort of war story or anecdote to share from decades of inking. I'm sure there's a tale about how Keith Richards stumbled in drunk one night in the late 70s and asked for his mom's likeness to be branded on his left ass cheek. Or maybe how they got their practice as newbies on unassuming, nodding addicts staggering on their way to Thompkins Square Park. Hmm. That would make for a great story.

But I digress. This Saturday, Frank 151, in tandem with Rooftop Films, will screen Erich Weiss' documentary flim Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry for $FREE.99!! Apparently, it was screened for the good folks at SXSW this year and got rave reviews (whatever that means). The screening is supposed to be followed by a live performance by a "special guest." Whoever that is. Wouldn't hurt to RSVP. You just might get in. Check out the trailer for yourself:

More info here.

Monday, August 2, 2010

New Brian Eno

So I opened up my email box and the folks over at Warp left me this nice little message. Can't say I'm not intrigued. Hell, it's Brian f%@king Eno! And although I wasn't a fan of the reunion album that he and David Byrne put out last year, I'm definitely looking forward to hearing this one. Stay tuned...