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by Omar Kholeif

15 Jul 2009

At a recent exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow, Scotland, I was fortunate enough to catch a glimpse at Robert Mapplethorpe’s “Jim and Tom, Sausalito”. This, Mapplethorpe’s most notorious image, depicts a man urinating into the mouth of another (with his subject accepting graciously). The photograph was displayed as part of an exhibition entitled, “Sh(OUT): Contemporary Art and Human Rights”, a collection of installations and art pieces that are as much about acceptance, as they are about activism.

By the time I returned home from this trip, I felt compelled to revisit the music of Mapplethorpe’s esteemed collaborator and friend, Patti Smith. Of all her works, my strongest inclination was to reach for her 1997 album, Peace and Noise. Released a year after her memorial compilation Gone Again, Peace and Noise possesses the same lingering heartbreak of her previous album, albeit with a vitriolic edge.

Instead of sitting back and watching her dearly departed ghosts swirl about, Smith adopts a rabble-rousing persona, virtuously professing to her specters that she is ready to start a riot. OK, she may not have been perpetuating the same anarchistic angst of the 1970s, but Smith (who had notoriously retired from the musical world for years), was now fuming with a more concise anger.

by Diepiriye Kuku

15 Jul 2009

Look at this ‘normal’ news report from the acclaimed Associated Press news wire machine, marking this day, January 25, in history. It is a very correct example of how our media has seduced us into seeing Michael Jackson. This is exactly it. Despite his accolades, the American media portrays this entertainer through his dissent, rather than the fact that he has sold millions of albums more than Alicia Keys, the magic mulatto the press is favoring these days.

That’s stardom for you—we consume them & spit them out. People worshipped Michael Jackson at one point, so I guess he was uppity and had to be taken down. It’s one thing to acknowledge his faults, but quite another to vilify a person as such. We choose how we see and remember.

It’s not just that this day in history chooses to show the freed captives of Iran, and ignore the (expensive and embarrassing) Iran-contra scandal (and the destructiveness of Reaganomics). America’s moral authority was the casualty for which we’ve just stopped mourning. Nor even is the contention here a fact of Michael Jackson’s story is the only embedded news fact given a follow-up, as if to drive home the fact that the news got it right: Jacko is Wacko. Nor is the contention with such remembrance solely tied to admiration for a recently deceased pop icon.

by tjmHolden

14 Jul 2009



I was recently in Chicago, where I guess I hadn’t been in about twenty, twenty-five years. I had an interesting experience—maybe more like a revelation—walking around. It is hard to account for, but in the few days that I was there, I couldn’t stop seeing everything as points, lines, shapes, regularized squiggles. It was unlike any other experience I’d ever had during any of my many previous peripatetic promenades.

To the point where everything became geometric form. I was suddenly seemingly inhabiting a world designed by the precise sensibilities of Euclid.


 

by Sarah Zupko

14 Jul 2009

updated to include tour dates

Shonen Knife
Super Group
(Good Charamel)
Releasing: 25 August 2009 (US)

Japanese girl-pop/punk stalwarts Shonen Knife return to US shores with a new platter of tunes on August 25th. We’ve got the premiere of “Super Group” here for your listening pleasure. The women offer up catchy ditties born in the garage, but run through a bit of ‘60s pop gloss and riot grrl attitude. The band will also be playing a lengthy North American tour during October and November, appearing alongside Ty Segall, The Strange Boys, and JEFF The Brotherhood.

SONG LIST
01 “Super Group”
02 “Slug”
03 “Muddy Bubbles Hell”
04 “Deer Biscuits”
05 “BBQ Party”
06 “Pyramid Power”
07 “Time Warp”
08 “NaNaNa”
09 “Your Guitar”
10 “Jet”
11 “Evil Birds” (bonus track)

Shonen Knife
“Super Group” [MP3]
     

by shathley Q

14 Jul 2009

A long, cold dark.

In a moment spent with his recuperating girlfriend, Flash Wally West is reminded of his own limitations. In a panel interrupted by falling snow and the blue sheen of a hospital window, Wally and Linda are afforded a degree of privacy as readers are kept at a distance. Artist Paul Ryan offers an elegant counterpoint to paparazzi-invaded private lives lived in public view.

But as romantic as this panel appears, the dark and the snow form the central conflict of ‘Pray for the Dawn’. This is not a cherished moment of affection shared with a loved one. What Wally and Linda face in this panel is a moment of consequence, a moment of indecision before action is taken.

This panel’s elegance lies in Ryan’s skilful melding of a number of Flash- and comics-genre with the visual metaphor of layers apparent with the use of snow and glass. In the first sense, Ryan offers an inversion of the classic Editor’s Notes. Editor Paul Kupperberg’s footnote appears, visually distinct from other word-art in the panel. Yet nothing of the dialogue in the panel is actually linked to this footnote. In this way the act of reading itself becomes part of the story being told. Textually, the Editor’s Note functions in the same way as the snow and glass that interfere with the panel’s central image.

As the Note suggests, the threat of a new Ice Age is something that has already been confronted in earlier issues. Ryan not only references previous issues’ stories, but a specific storyarc that involves the classic Flash-genre of time-travel. Hurtling through the future and unable to return home, Wally learns of an impending global climate disaster (already history in the future). Armed with this knowledge Wally races back in time to confront Abra Kadabra, a 64th century stage magician who hopes to profit from this catastrophe. Again the visual layers of snow and glass elegantly remind the reader of the complexity of Wally and Linda’s story.

What remains at the heart of the panel though, is the romantic private life, kept at a safe distance from public view.

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