Take This Hammer: James Baldwin tours black San Francisco in 1963

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In the spring of 1963, San Francisco poet, documentarian, and media activist Richard Moore accompanied and filmed author James Baldwin and Youth For Service Executive Director Orville Luster on a tour through the black-majority Bayview/Hunter’s Point and Fillmore districts of San Francisco. They sought to portray the real experience of African-Americans in what was considered America’s most liberal city.

That outing would result in Take This Hammer, and the footage of it was shot at a crucial time in Baldwin’s life. After 15 years in exile in Paris, the Harlem-born writer was back in the States at the peak of his renown and with political fire in his eyes. His turbulent novels from the ‘50s—especially Go Tell It on the Mountain and Another Country—had stunned the literary world with their exposure of racism and deeply developed queer characters.

During the same spring in which Take This Hammer was shot, Baldwin published the rather incredible essay Down at the Cross, and ended up on the cover of Time. That summer, he’d end his tour of the American South at the March on Washington with a quarter-million of his fellow Americans, with many other celebrities.

Baldwin’s observations certainly set The City’s white lib establishment into fits: “There is no moral distance ... between the facts of life in San Francisco and the facts of life in Birmingham. Someone’s got to tell it like it is. And that’s where it’s at.” Unfortunately, as seen in documents like Kevin Epps’s 2001 doc Straight Outta Hunter’s Point, not much has changed in SF over the generations…
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Baldwin, Brando, Belafonte, Poitier, Mankiewicz and Heston talk Civil Rights, 1963

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
John Cage and jazz madman Rahsaan Roland Kirk take a journey into ‘Sound??’ in 1967
04.18.2011
03:09 pm

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Rahsaan Roland Kirk playing three saxophones at once in Sound??, because that’s how he rolled…
 
In 1966 and 1967, British independent filmmaker Dick Fontaine put together a short film that perfectly captured a slice of the sonic avant garde. He blended captured footage of post-bop simultaneous multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk improvising live at Ronnie Scott’s with bits of experimental composer John Cage music on sound while strolling around various modern environments.

Fontaine intersperses Cage’s spontaneous yet brooding rhetorical questions about our interactions with the sonic world with Kirk’s more definite replies and performances, along with a quick cuts of a bunch of urban and acoustic settings. Cage asks “Why don’t they keep their mouths shut and their ears open?”, while Kirk hands out whistles to the audience and tells them to play in the key of W.

It’s a real treasure. No kissing, though. Oh well.
 

 
After the jump: see parts two and three…

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
Mailman does very bad thing
04.18.2011
11:46 am

Topics:
Unorthodox

Tags:
mail men
US Postal Service

 
My favorite part is where they inform us that the postal worker has been suspended without pay pending an investigation. How long would an investigation like this take considering that they’ve got photos and a stool sample???

Via The Awl. (I stole their ultra droll headline also)

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Setting the Facts Straight on the Facebook Fiasco

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UPDATE: 4/19/2001 Read Richard Metzger: How I, a married, middle-aged man, became an accidental spokesperson for gay rights overnight on Boing Boing

It’s time to clarify a few details about the controversial “Hey Facebook what’s SO wrong with a pic of two men kissing?” story, as it now beginning to be reported in the mainstream media, and not always correctly.

First of all, with regards to the picture:

The photo which was used to illustrate my first post about the John Snow Kiss-In is a promotional still from the British soap opera “Eastenders.” It features one of the main characters from the show (Christian Clarke, played by the actor John Partridge- left) and someone else who I don’t know. I am not a regular viewer so I can’t say if the man on the right is an extra or an actual character. 

This picture has itself caused scandal in the UK, as it was a gay kiss that was broadcast before the watershed, and as such led to a number of complaints to the BBC. However, since this episode aired (October 2008) Christian now has a boyfriend and a few more gay kisses have taken place.

In relation to the John Snow Kiss-In event, I used this particular photo because I considered it to be quite mild (no groping, no tongues). The photos I had considered using before I chose that one are much more racy. Oh the irony!

Secondly, the removal of the Facebook John Snow Kiss-In event:

It turns out that the Facebook event for the John Snow Kiss-In was not blocked by Facebook, but made private by the creator of the event itself. Paul Shetler, the organizer, left this comment on the previous thread:

“Hey I just saw this. Before it goes too far, I just want people to know that FB have NOT removed the kiss-in event page; it’s still there, but _I made the event private after the event_ was over and only visible to those who had been invited as there were starting to be trolls posting abusive nonsense on it.”

Thanks for clearing that up, Paul. Now if Facebook will only reply to Richard’s query about why they removed my original post and photo when he put it up on his wall…

It has been erroneously reported in the media that our own Richard Metzger (who lives in Los Angeles) organized the London “Kiss-In” event, which is untrue, and also unfair to Paul Shetler and the actual organizers. Also, Richard did not state in his post that Facebook HAD taken the event page down, he just questioned IF this was the case and IF there was a connection with MY post about the event being removed from his own wall. This seems to have confused some people.

Here is a report on the John Snow Kiss-In from the Guardian, featuring an interview with Mr Shetler:
 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Miracle ‘The Visitor’: most excellent modern synth-pop
04.18.2011
08:08 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
electronica
pop
synth
Zombi
Miracle
Steve Moore

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Steve Moore is one half of the band Zombi, who create excellent synth-drenched soundscapes heavily influenced by prog rock and 70s/80s Italian horror movie soundtracks. But that’s not all he does—no, this incredibly prolific artist also records under a variety of names such as Lovelock, Titan and Gianni Rossi and has worked with a dizzying array of highly respected labels.  He now has another band to add to that list, Miracle, a more vocal-based, almost poppy project which sees Moore working with Daniel O’Sullivan of the band Guapo. Their latest release is the Fluid Window EP on the House Anxiety label (who have previously released music by The Big Pink). Miracle recently made a video for the EP’s lead track “The Visitor” (below) and have made another track, “Sunstar”, available as a free download via Pitchfork.

As synth-pop goes, this is good. I mean really, really good. In the age of lots of pretenders to the synth-pop throne (La Roux, Hurts, Mirrors, Villa Nah, etc) Miracle sound like the real deal. It’s not just because of the synth fetishism on display here (giving Miracle an instant edge over most modern producers’ software based production), but because their music is positively soaked in atmosphere. It’s very easy nowadays to download a free analog synth emulator, sing over an arpeggiator and pretend to be Depeche Mode. What’s much harder is to capture the melancholy longing in those seminal 80s records—the longing to escape gray modernity into a better future, but with a tinge of fear for the darkness that future might hold. Miracle obviously know what they are doing because “The Visitor” sounds like the best Depeche Mode single since around 1988.
 
Miracle - “The Visitor”
 

 
The Fluid Window EP is available to buy here. You can listen to the whole EP on Soundcloud.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Extreme Ironing on M1 motorway
04.18.2011
05:31 am

Topics:
Amusing

Tags:
M1
Motorway
Extreme Ironing

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Extreme Ironing has been described as an “activity that combines the danger and excitement of an ‘extreme’ sport with the satisfaction of a well pressed shirt.” The Daily Telegraph reports on a “mystery man” seen ironing a shirt on a section of England’s M1 motorway, between the junctions for Selvage Lane and Glendor Garden. (Un)Fortunately the section was closed due to an earlier fire, which doesn’t exactly make it that extreme, perhaps it was just a dress rehearsal?

The trend for extreme ironing was started by rock climber Phil Shaw, in Leicester in 1997 when he mixed his liking for extreme sports with the mundane, household chore.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Teabagger metaphor: Half a fry short of a Value Meal (seriously)

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I laughed to myself the other day when I saw longtime Republican pollster/spinmeister Frank Luntz on one of the cable news outlets—probably Fox News, but I can’t recall—giving some GOP talking points a dry run.

Not that he was exactly trying anything new, or innovating. In the context of the budget battle, Obama’s speech and the DOA “Ryan plan” etc., Luntz merely trotted out the by-now familiar threadbare Republican shuck and jive routine about how American families understand that you can’t live beyond your means and that the only remedy for that would be to tighten belts, stop living on credit cards and pay off debts. And the Ryan plan is going to achieve this in Washington by blah blah blah. I don’t even know why he bothered to finish his thought, he just should have said “blah, blah, blah” and everyone still would have understood what exactly he meant, anyway. Who cares? Who gives a shit? We’ve heard this all before, ten thousand times… Enough.

It’s too predictable. Too rote. Too by the numbers. Too old-fashioned. Shtick. The Republican orthodoxy is over-exposed. Transparently obvious. People are sick of hearing it, and when they are forced to listen to it over and over and over again ad infinitum on Fox News and elsewhere, what might have sounded like simple down home “common sense” when Ronald Reagan said it, just sounds like disingenuous bullshit in 2011. Bullshit being dished out, in most instances by mean-looking old white guys on the tee-vee talking about lowering the nation’s prospects, en masse, of living out old age with dignity, in favor of still more tax cuts for the top 1%. The problem with this simplistic focus group-tested “homespun” GOP messaging stuff is that no one buys it anymore except for the very least sophisticated characters amongst us, i.e. the real Republican base: The Dummies.

Republicans need some new material. Badly. With Donald Trump in the race it’s going to take a turn for the “even dumber.” It’s bad not just for them, but for everybody. (Everybody except Obama… and Donald Trump, of course, who is playing everyone, or thinks he is. He wins no matter what!)

A short item that ran on Wonkette, I think, sums up just how stupid the “Republican message” is getting to sound to… the rest of us, when the latest gloss on their talking points goes something like this… Quoting from Team Sarah:

The $60 billion that the Republicans wanted to cut from spending (simple cuts, not “reductions in rates”) was to the Federal Budget what 1/2 of a French Fry would be to a Big Mac Value Meal (medium size). That’s right, 1/2 of a fry. So why did the Dems manage to get the Republicans to cut that down to $38 billion? Do you realize what that amounts to in the same Value Meal? 1/4 of a French Fry. That’s the equivalent amount of calories in the Big Mac Value Meal that the $38 billion represents in terms of government spending. Think about that the next time you get a Value Meal (of any kind) at the fast food drive-thru.

I certainly shall!

Sarah Palin herself has always seemed “one fry short of a Happy Meal” to me—a whole fry, mind you, not half of one—but even accounting for the bottomless pit appetite for the regurgitation of ludicrously simplistic talking points on the right, this is a new, groan-worthy, anti-intellectual low. Even coming from her blinkered camp. Why wouldn’t someone conclude that the Teabaggers are idiots after reading the kinds of… uh… fucking idiocy they espouse?

I mean who can take a metaphor about a Value Meal seriously?

It’s obvious: Dummies.

Below, pro-labor demonstrators nearly drown out Sarah Palin as she screeches nonsense addressing the Tea party faithful some dummies in Madison, WI, on April 15th. She tells them to fight for America, to take their country back and blah, blah, blah…
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
U2’s ‘lost’ early single: ‘A Celebration’
04.17.2011
11:51 am

Topics:
Music

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U2
"A Celebration"

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I have a grudging respect for U2, although I am not really a fan of their music. I say “grudging respect” because A) they are one of the biggest rock bands in history and plenty of people love them. B) I can’t overlook the fact that of any “classic” rock act, they’ve probably been consistently better than almost any band you can name, for a longer period of time, too. (Compare U2 to the Rolling Stones. Their classic period begins in 1966 and is over by 1973 or 74 (arguably). Eight years out of what, 90 or something? Even the towering genius of David Bowie’s peak creative years have got nothing on U2 who have never really been “bad” in over 30 years.  You can’t say that about Paul McCartney, can you? U2 have had a remarkably good run of it. Put them next to any really longterm rock act, and they acquit themselves admirably.

Still they are just not my cup of tea. I think I feel guilty about putting them on DM, I guess, because, frankly, I’ve always found them a bit naff and Bono, although he’s undeniably done some good things in the world, strikes me as a man who absolutely loves himself, like Sting does.  For the record, I like Boy (but don’t own it) I like the Zooropa-era material (but don’t own it), and I thought “It’s a Beautiful Day” was… just beautiful. But there are only really two tracks by them that I am absolutely nuts over: “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me” from 1995 Batman Forever soundtrack, which just completely blew me away, and the least-known single of their career, 1982’s “A Celebration.”

“A Celebration” does not appear on any U2 album and was deleted six months after it came out. According to a 1983 interview with drummer Larry Mullen Jr.:

“We did a video of it. We went to this prison in Dublin, where the 1916 uprising took place, called Kilmainham Jail, and filmed it with the idea of breaking out. It was very much a look at ourselves. Like when we were in school and everyone was telling us ‘you’re crap’ and we couldn’t get a record dealit was the triumph of breaking through.”

The reason for the record’s cold shoulder from the group who recorded it—and were presumably proud enough of it to shoot a video for the song—have to do with the way Bono’s lyrics were misinterpreted. From a transcript of a 1983 radio interview

Interviewer: I wanna play the other side of that, which is ‘A Celebration’, since we have no hope in the world of hearing this tomorrow, since the band’s forgotten it we’re gonna play that. This is a terrific track, is it ever going to appear on an album?

Bono: No…(laughs) I don’t think so. It ah -

Interviewer: Do you not like it?!

Bono: No I do like it actually, I’m… sometimes I hate it, I mean it’s like with a lot of music, if I hear it in a club it really excites me, and I think it is a forerunner to War and a lot of the themes. It was great in Europe because… A song like ‘Seconds’ people thought was very serious - on the LP War ‘Seconds’ - it’s anti-nuclear, it’s a statement. They didn’t see the sense of humour to it, it’s sort of black humour, where we were using a lot of clichés; y’know It takes a second to say goodbye, blah blah, and some people took it very seriously. And it is black humour, and it is to be taken sort-of seriously, but this song had the lines in it, I believe in a third world war, I believe in the atomic bomb, I believe in the powers that be, but they won’t overpower me. And of course a lot of people they heard I believe in a third world war, I believe in the atomic bomb, and they thought it was some sort of, y’know, Hitler Part II. And Europeans especially were (puts on outraged French accent) Ah non! Vive le France! and it was all like, all sorts of chaos broke out, and they said, What do you mean, you believe in the atomic bomb? And I was trying to say in the song, I believe in the third world war, because people talk about the third world war but it’s already happened, I mean it’s happened in the third world, that’s obvious. But I was saying these are facts of life, I believe in them, I believe in the powers that be BUT, they won’t overpower me. And that’s the point, but a lot of people didn’t reach the fourth line.

It’s too bad, because this is a fucking corker of a song with an amazing guitar riff. I’d have probably never have heard it myself had it not been for the fact that a woman I lived with in the early 80s owned the 45rpm single. I used to play this record over and over and over again back then. MTV on occasion would play the video (and Vh1 Classic probably still does) but it’s still tragically the least known song in U2’s large catalog. Eventually it was released on CD in 2004 on The Complete U2.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Ann Steel - My Time (1979)
04.17.2011
08:15 am

Topics:
Amusing
History
Music
Television

Tags:
Ann Steel

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From a one-off collaborative 1979 LP by Italian composer Roberto Cacciapaglia and American born singer Ann Steel, this is a wacky and wonderful clip and the song itself contains much to love. I’m mainly intrigued by her yellow canteen.
 

 
bonus track: Find Your Way

 
Thanks Kurt Ralske !

Posted by Brad Laner | Leave a comment
Warpaint at Coachella
04.16.2011
10:19 pm

Topics:
Current Events
Music

Tags:
Coachella
Warpaint

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I have to say that I think I love nearly everything about this. Especially the drummer. Wow ! Shades of The Slits and Siouxsie with a convincing swagger. Well Alright.
 

Posted by Brad Laner | Leave a comment
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