These business cards come from Chicago during the 1970s and early 1980s—a charmingly distinguished touch for what was after all in most cases just a bunch of buddies who would get into rumbles every so often.
As the proprietor of We Are Supervision, the blog where most of these cards came from, says, these cards come from the days when “a gang was more of a neighborhood crew then what it is today.” These were the days of “fists, bats, and bottles” rather than AK-47s. “Most of the gangs were just about the neighborhood and hanging out together.”
If you wanted to make some cards like this for yourself, the first thing you’d have to do is make up a name for your crew—something like “Almighty Insane Freaks” will do. Then generate a little doodle of a unicorn or a skull, list the names of your members and voilà! you are instantly eligible to enter the fishbowl raffle at your local chain restaurant…...
The cuts to the Chicago public school system are as egregious as they are politically transparent. Aside from the 50 schools that are closing outright, many are simply being gutted to ensure failure. John F Eberhart Elementary School, for example, serves 1648 students and will be losing $1.5 million. Gee, I wonder if the fact that the student body is comprised of 97.6% low income kids, 8.5% Special Education students, and 31.9% non-native English speakers has anything to do with that? (Almost 90% of kids of the kids from the 50 schools to be closed are black, by the way. JUST FYI.) And I wonder if it has anything to do with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s push for privatization through charter schools?
Emanuel’s total lack of compunction in absolutely eviscerating an already severely underfunded public school system resulted in a strike last year, which obviously didn’t resolve or secure much of anything. Many teachers, however, aren’t taking it lying down. CPS Teacher Michelle Gunderson, for example, is asking that you help her students wipe their asses.
While much is made of the lay-offs and job losses that school closings cause, Gunderson decided to draw attention to the absolute dearth of even basic resources that already exists, and will only be exacerbated by the mayor’s cuts. One of the more dire examples is lack of toilet paper.
Two weeks ago school-based budgets were released, and over the past week principals and Local School Councils rolled out their plans. The cuts are drastic. Our school had to empty out all reserves, pink slip two teachers’ aides, and eliminate a school secretary position. We are mercifully able to keep all of our teaching positions this year, but with drained reserves this will not be sustainable for another cycle.
This is when we get back to the toilet paper issue. In many schools, including mine, there are no funds left for janitorial supplies – and this includes toilet paper.
This Tuesday, Chicago activists will gather toilet paper donations outside of an event where Barbara Byrd-Bennett, our schools chief, is proclaiming the benefits of her five year plan. What might seem juvenile to some is in fact a perfect metaphor for the disregard of human dignity – the Chicago Public Schools care so little about children that their basic needs are being neglected.
There’s even this awesome tongue-in-cheek PSA—a brilliant combination of footage from a Chicago Student Union bathroom tour and that completely brutal ASPCA video on animal cruelty. The video is quick to point out the Mayor’s priorities.
“ Chicago’s budget is tight, and it’s hard to afford a new arena for DePaul, a new Hyatt Hotel, and still adequately fund the city’s public schools. If you send a roll of two-ply, or even one-ply to the Mayor’s Office, I’m sure they will get it out to the schools that need it most.”
If Paul Ryan is the dude that completely misinterprets Rage Against the Machine, we can probably surmise that Rahm Emanuel secretly yearns for post-grunge butt-rock…
If you haven’t heard, 26,000 teachers and staff have gone on strike in Chicago, the first CTU strike in 25 years. While certain idiots seem to think a few days out of school will forever render children feral little beasts, the teachers are fighting lay-offs, school closings, increases in hours, and the measuring of student (and teacher) success by standardized test scores. Oh yeah, and they want fucking air conditioning.
“[Rahm Emanuel] brazenly canceled a contractually-obligated four percent cost of living raise for teachers last year; he pushed hard for a 20 percent longer school day while offering a two percent pay increase (a fight he eventually lost); he has unabashedly denigrated teachers, accusing them of not caring about the well-being of their students. Despite campaigning on promises of reform, he has gone full-steam ahead on the city’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) system, which diverts huge amounts of tax dollars from public institutions like schools and libraries and funnels them to wealthy corporations.”
I first read The Autobiography of Malcolm X as a teenager in school. Though I didn’t buy into his hype for religion, I took much comfort and inspiration from his biography at a difficult time in my life. I was on the receiving end of bullying from a small but vicious clique of wannabe Nazis. I was a peacenik, who confused inaction with pacifism. Instead I should have been smart and quick enough to stop the bullying then and there. I didn’t, and rode it out for 2 years.
Not fun. But it showed me everyone got fucked over somewhere down the line, and made me aware that I could never tolerate that happening to anyone. Or as I read it in Malcolm X’s autobiography:
“Hence, I have no mercy or compassion in me for a society that will crush people, and then penalize them for not being able to stand up under the weight.”
Here Malcolm X is interrogated by a group of hard-headed white men, who can’t get beyond their own prejudice to discuss, as one human to another, Malcolm X’s thoughts on religion, history and life. Throughout Malcolm X is an example of intelligence, dignity and grace, never allowing himself to be goaded by his detractors. Recorded in Chicago, March 17, 1963, for City Desk, with Malcolm X, and journalists Jim Hurlbut, Len O’Connor, Floyd Kalber, and Charles McCuen.
This mix is a bit of a departure in my djing style, featuring as it does hardly any disco (gasp!) and instead quick cuts and layered mixes of drum-machine based tracks. NOLA Bounce, Miami Bass, Chicago House, Detroit Electro… you know, that kind of thing. Mixed fast and constantly moving, this is like aural caffeine. So if you are just waking up, hit play and get energised.
Oh, and can we start the hip-house revival now?
Tracklist [yes, some of these tracks are NSFW]:
BIG FREEDIA - Look At Her
BIG FREEDIA - Azz Everywhere
PRINCE - 1999 (New Orleans Bounce Edit)
MISSY ELLIOT - Joy
SOUL SONIC FORCE - Looking For The Perfect Beat
KRAFTWERK - The Man Machine (live)
NEWCLEUS - Jam On It
EGYPTIAN LOVER - What Is A DJ?
DEREK B - Rock The Beat (Bonus Beat)
RUFUS & CHAKA KHAN - Ain’t Nobody
MC TWIST & THE DEF SQUAD - Just Rock
FUNKADELIC (Not Just ) Knee Deep
SNOOP DOGG Who Am I? (Acapella)
THE NIALLIST Dance Club (Haunted Edit)
THE NIALLIST Dance Club (acapella)
SISSY NOBBY Lay Me Down (DJ Sega Mix)
A GUY CALLED GERALD Voodoo Ray
ADONIS Two The Max
JJ FAD Supersonic
HANNAH HOLLAND Transexual Bass
FAST EDDIE Hip House
HOUSEMASTER BOYS House Nation
PIERRE’S PFANTASY CLUB Dream Girl
AZEALIA BANKS Liquorice
LONE Pineapple Crush
THE 2 BEARS Bear Hug (acapella)
T-TOTAL & FERAL Phearsome Bitch
MASTER AT WORK The Ha Dance (KenLou Mix)
CUNT TRAX Beats Werkin’
THE 2 BEARS Bear Hug (Niallist Acid Mixx)
ELECTROSEXUAL Discolition (Niallist RoboVogue Edit)
STEVE POINDEXTER Work That Motherfucker
CHERIE LILY Werk (Nita’s Battle Ready Mix)
SPANK ROCK Put That Pussy On Me (Diplo Mix)
2 LIVE CREW Throw That D
MURK If You Really Love Someone (Murk Groove)
TRONCO TRAX Walk 4 Me
LIPPS INC Funkytown
PHUTURE Acid Trax
DONNA SUMMER I Feel Love
THE NIALLIST Work It (acapella)
SEX BAND I Have Got The Answer
If you like 808s going boom and some funky dancing in a fly late-80s fashion, then check out Detroit’s The New Dance Show, clips of which have been uploaded to YouTube by the excellent Caprice87. This one is a particular fave, featuring Jesse The Body and some slick mixing (you can see more of these via Shallow Rave.)
One of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s Travel Talks, with “Voice of the Globe” James A Fitzpatrick, who takes the viewer on a trip along Chicago’s Loop, from 1947.
‘Night descends on Chicago, the heart of the city, or the Loop as it is generally known, is brilliantly aglow with the glimmering lights that lure us to its many attractions.’
These include the Bismarck, where we will see Don Julian and Marjorie do “their fantastic cape dance”; and Chez Paree, “where internationally famous artists have entertained the public for a quarter of a century or more”; to the Ambassador Hotel’s “renowned Pump Room, where food and drink are served with all the formalities of a Royal banquet”; and on to the Edgewater Beach Hotel, which served such famous guests as Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Charlie Chaplin, Bette Davis, Tallulah Bankhead, and Nat King Cole, and U.S. Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The men look old, their hair sleek, their suits formal. The women younger, framed by jackets and skirts in blues and reds, smile, smoke, wear hats. Everyone looks as if they are on show, pretending to have fun. It’s a different landscape, far away, and slightly out of focus, the images seem hand-painted, water-colored.
Hard to imagine this is the same year that began with the murder of Elizabeth Short (aka the Black Dahlia) in Leimert Park, Los Angeles; while Jack Kerouac traveled across country, an experience that formed the basis for On the Road, and worked on The Town and The City; and in Conroe, Texas, Joan Vollmer gave birth to her son named after the father, William S Burroughs; Marilyn Monroe made her film debut as a telephone operator; and back in LA, Kenneth Anger shot his dream-film Fireworks over a weekend, while his parents were away. And all of this happening, bubbling out-of-frame, of these streets fireflied with lights, and Julian and Marjorie cape-danced; gold lame draped girls kicked heels; and a cowboy turned rope tricks on a hay scattered dance floor.
Speculating on how an 85-year-old Lenny Bruce would be celebrating his birthday today is as fun as it is pointless.
But it’s pretty easy to guess that edgy comedy’s patron saint would not have been able to stretch out casually on TV for 25 minutes in conversation with a legendary publisher and lifestyle creator like the Hef.
That’s what happened in 1959 on the first episode of Playboy’s Penthouse, Hugh Hefner’s first foray into TV, which broadcast from WBKB in his Chicago hometown. This was the first mass-market exposure of the erstwhile club-bound Bruce, and its high-end hepness set the tone for the show’s two-season run, which featured a ton of figures in the jazz culture scene.
Of course, the dynamic between the eloquent snapping-and-riffing Long Islander Bruce and the perennially modest Midwestern Hefner is classic as the comedian covers topics like “sick” comedy, nose-blowing, Steve Allen, network censorship, tattoos & Jews, decency wackos, Lou Costello, integration, stereotypes, medicine and more.
Take a look at Brandon “N2ition” Riley’s video for rising Gary, IN rhymer Freddie Gibbs’s tune “The Ghetto” below, and you’ll notice that you’re looking at something different. The flossy clichés—bling, cars, cash—are absent. Instead, we see high school running tracks, lake beaches, and theatres. We see kids, grannies, murals, dirty piano keys, and broken basketball backboards.
In short, we see real atmosphere, an element that can take something as commodified and played-out as a hip-hop video into a profound direction. Says Riley:
I’m trying to take the hip-hop music video into a more cinematic direction. And I don’t mean cinematic as in ‘Let’s add dialogue at the beginning of the video and then jump into the club scene.’ It takes a real commitment from the artist and their team to believe in a track enough to come up with a unique concept and follow it through. To plan on taking 2-3 days to shoot it. To audition actors to play key roles, etc. You have to be inspired by the music first.
After making videos for his own rap group in college in Charleston SC, Riley started shooting for other acts and building his aesthetic. One of his vids became a top-20 finalist in a YouTube rap video contest judged by Common, 50 Cent and Polow The Don.
Since then, Riley’s made Chicago his home and has shot for local talent like Lungz, LED, Nascent, Big Law, Jay Star and others. His N2ition Productions continue to specialize in videos that eschew the vapid, party-up paradigm for a gritty tone that almost seems inspired by the ghosts of Midwestern blues.
Riley notes a bounty of video talent in his territory:
There are some other great directors in Chicago. Guys I’ve worked with like Travis Long from Ike Films and Noyz from Da Visionaryz and GL Joe from HYSTK. These guys are going to be national names in no time. They really have the borderline genius talent.
Upcoming N2ition projects include a video for “Linen” by Mikkey Halsted and Twista (“Some amazing shots of Chicago in the summer”), and another with LEP and Gucci Mane that he says “should be a nice Chicago anthem.”
And I’m supposed to be working some more with Freddie Gibbs in the near future. I also shot a documentary on Twista that should be out in November. But I’m just as excited about moving into more feature length projects. I just completed a feature with Ike Films and Ill be shooting something in early 2011 with Noyz from the Visionaryz…everything I learn on those shoots only makes my music videos that much better.
Bonus clips after the jump: Another N2ition production starring Gibbs working with Mikkey Halstead, plus some workingman’s-blues-style hip-hop from Jay Star.