Archive | May, 2011

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised…It Will Be Tweeted

27 May

So as my readers (or reader — ha!) know, I only recently converted to the blogging and tweeting community after having ignored it for a long time, and, to be honest, I never really took Twitter specifically that seriously. Well, yesterday, I got an education in the power of the 140-character revolt.

Stevie Koerner “I Heart NY” necklace

Stevie Koerner's “I Heart NY” necklace.

Urban Outfitters I Heart Destination Necklace

Urban Outfitters' I Heart Destination Necklace

Yesterday, blogger Amber Karnes, known as @amberkarnes on Twitter, lit up the social media world with a tweet concerning the allegation (and apparent truth) that Urban Outfitters blatantly ripped off a necklace design by Etsy crafter Stevie Koerner. Karnes got retweeted at exactly the same lightening speed that bunnies reproduce, and before she knew it, she was trending in the U.S. and the Urban Outfitters necklace had abruptly disappeared from the website. You can read a comprehensive breakdown of how it went down on Karnes’ blog. As of this morning, the necklace is still gone from the UO site and UO’s Twitter page hasn’t been active in almost 24 hours.

Now, it should be noted that a.) UO has apparently done this before, b.) folks say design-stealing in the fashion world is a pretty common thing (doesn’t make it ok though), and c.) a commenter in a Huffington Post article about yesterday’s events says that Koerner herself got the design idea from someone else. But despite all of that, this is still a fascinating, inspiring story. I used to think Twitter was just a silly, self-indulgent waste of time, but yesterday’s events, the fact that one tweet (motivated by a Tumblr and Facebook post) resulted in a huge company getting called out on their BS…it excites the hell out of me. I know, I know, this is not the first time Twitter has had a major impact in real life and it’s not like Twitter is the ’10s virtual equivalent of San Francisco in the 1960s, all admirable revolution and activism, but still — strength in numbers and smart phones, yo. I’m definitely going to keep following this story, and I do believe I’ll be putting the kibosh on my UO shopping for a while and hit up my favorite Etsy and local ground shops instead (where I found some supercool wooden Pac-Man earrings yesterday — WERK).

¡Viva la (social media) Revolución!

Wiley Video: “Numbers in Action”

25 May

The video for English grime rapper Wiley’s latest track has been snaking its way through the internet for a little over a month now, so I know I’m not breaking any ground posting it here, but I feel compelled to share it because it encompasses and personifies everything I love about grime: industrial cool, stark, hot beats and gangsta British accents.

Plus, I love how video directors Chris Barrett and Luke Taylor of the direction team Us are obviously tipping their hats to the Sesame Street numbers video segments we all jammed to in our wee years. All this video needs is an occasional loop of Super Grover flying (read: falling) through the air.

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the video on Pitchfork.

Dear Diary: Meditations on One Woman’s Work

23 May

Director's Cut cover

For the last few weeks I’ve been anticipating the arrival of May 22 and May 23 for two reasons: May 22 was the one-year anniversary of my grandmother’s death, and today Kate Bush’s Director’s Cut, an album containing reworkings of previously released songs, is officially out in the U.S. Back in April, when I happened upon an mp3 of “Deeper Understanding” and immediately fell in love with its intimate eeriness, I never thought that a month later I would be combining a blog post on Bush, an art rocker, with musings on my grandmother, Lee Pervis “Pearl” Jackson. However, last year when I spoke at my grandmother’s funeral I did refer to great artists (writers specifically) to eulogize her and here I am doing it again, so I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise.

I do and don’t know why I’ve become so infatuated with Kate Bush. Yes, both the original and refashioned versions of “This Woman’s Work,” “Deeper Understanding,” and “Moments of Pleasure” on Director’s Cut are fantastic songs in their own right, but overall, her catalog isn’t the type of thing I’m usually in to. But there is something about Bush that’s so fiercely yet nonchalantly gusty that I am so impressed with. Every step of her career, from establishing herself as THE eccentric soprano in the late ’70s to her ability to successfully revisit material on her new album demonstrates undeniable strength.

When I spoke at my grandmother’s funeral last year, I talked a lot about her strength. As I listen to Director’s Cut, the arresting solemnity of “This Woman’s Work” and “Moments of Pleasure” reminds me of the stoicism that characterized her life, that was her MO in the face of most tragedy. My mother has often said that before Alzheimer’s disease transformed her, my grandmother rarely broke down and cried in front of people. She wasn’t cold or impassive by any means though. On the contrary, she had a genuine warmth and charm that could penetrate any dour front and she had dynamism for days.

Sounds silly, but I think it’s serendipity that the release of Director’s Cut coincided with the anniversary of my grandmother’s passing. Who would have thought art rock would’ve helped me cope with heavy emotions? Certainly not me, but I thank Kate Bush for the strange comfort of her work.

Songs for a Weekend Apocalypse

21 May

According to Christian radio broadcaster Harold Camping, the beginning of the end of the world starts today. But instead of selling all my belongings and heading to a mountaintop, I thought I’d put together a quick playlist for the end times.

Here’s what the apocalypse sounds like to me:

Montage, “Wake Up, Jimmy (Something’s Happening Outside)”

Kicking things off with the not-so-well-known closer on the sole album by ’60s Baroque pop band Montage (also not well-known, but GREAT). Recorded smack dab in the middle of the Cold War, this jaunty tune is actually about the dropping of an atomic bomb. I suppose it doesn’t hurt to think happy thoughts while your flesh is burning.

David Bowie, “Five Years”

Obvious choice from Bowie’s magical Ziggy Stardust years. One of my favorite songs of all time, and one to surely belt out while watching a rising mushroom cloud.

Kate Bush, “Breathing”

I’ve been discovering Kate Bush little by little over the last few weeks and I’m steadily becoming fascinated with her. She’s just so damn ballsy and artsy! “Breathing” is another Cold War era joint — it appeared on Bush’s hit 1980 album Never for Ever — but unlike the Montage track, this song is quite melodically dark. I love how Bush blends murky, impressionistic soulfulness with her lyrical take on the aftermath of nuclear war.

Wu-Tang Clan feat. Isaac Hayes, “I Can’t Go to Sleep”

Rousing strings from the Isaac Hayes sample + Ghostface Killah and RZA’s anguished delivery + rhymes dripping with conspiracy theories and hopelessness = one powerful f***ing song.

TV on the Radio, “No Future Shock”

No world (or not much of one) after today? TVOTR says we might as well dance about it. I agree.

That’s gonna do it for my shortlist. So tell me, what’s on your end of days mixtape?

Serengeti: “Ha-Ha”

19 May
Serengeti

Serengeti

I love quirky hip-hop, but sometimes I think some eccentric emcees get too caught up in kookiness and don’t concentrate enough on just making a good track. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for offbeat rhymes (and I have little interest in the tired posturing and lack of imagination in a lot of mainstream rap), I just still want to be able to bob my head to a song. Chicago rapper Serengeti seems to get this. “Ha-Ha,” one of the tracks from his forthcoming album Family and Friends (out July 19th on Anticon), is a lo-fi jam that mashes a CocoRosie-esque hook and a thumping, laid-back beat with lyrics about a rapper’s metamorphoses after meeting a paint mixer at a hardware store. It’s charmingly strange with a healthy dose of street lurch.

Download Serengeti’s “Ha-Ha” via RCRD LBL.

Danger Mouse/Daniele Luppi Album Out Today

17 May

Rome album coverRome, Danger Mouse and Italian composer Daniele Luppi‘s spaghetti western-influenced collaborative album is out today, and they’ve got an impressive accompanying 3D video for the album track “Black,” which features Norah Jones on vocals. The short film, titled “3 Dreams of Black,” is an interactive, cinematic experience viewable on Google Chrome. Check it out here.

Get bodied at Xhibit P’s Body Language event

14 May
Body Language flyer

Body Language event flyer

If you’re in or near NYC this evening you should head up to Harlem and check out the Body Language event being presented by Xhibit PBlack Ink Gallery, and Rhythm Junkie. Xhibit P is an awesome online gallery that showcases critical and reflective writing, art and videos that tackle social issues through the lens of pop culture. This month the gallery is concentrating on body images, and they’re celebrating the latest exhibit (also named Body Language) with a body painting/tatoo/dance party tonight. Get more info on the shindig here.