“I was always a good soldier,” remembers Robynn Murray. “She could always carry a heavy ruck,” she says of herself, “And she’s the one they wanted female soldiers to look up to, because I could suck it up and I could take their sexual harassment and I could just shut up and drive on.” The pronoun changes make sense as you listen to Robynn describe her experiences in the U.S. Army—first in Iraq and now Stateside, as a veteran contending with post-traumatic stress and red tape. Every day is an ordeal. “I’d like to say I’m super, but I’d be lying” she tells a collections agency officer on the phone at the start of Poster Girl, Sara Nesson’s exceptional short documentary, premiering 9 November on HBO2. As Robynn works through her memories and her ongoing struggles with the VA, the film shows how she’s affected by PTSD and also, crucially, how she finds strength and a sense of resilience in her art. If trauma is never quite over, Robynn is increasingly able to articulate and share her experience: she engages in protest against the war and discovers a community among other veterans—specifically, a group called Combat Paper Project that makes art out of old uniforms—Poster Girl makes the case that, as extraordinary as Robynn may be, she’s also too typical. She may have been a poster girl, literally appearing with her weapon and two women comrades on the cover of Army Magazine, but she’s also come out the other side.
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Miami’s Forward Motion Records was founded by local musician and producer, Fernando Perdomo, as a way to bring attention to lesser known musicians from the South Florida area. While much of Miami’s music scene is dominated by rap, hip-hop, and dance, Forward Motion Records strives to showcase rock, power pop, folk, and other styles not generally associated with the area.
From the bluesy rock of Omine, to the Chris Alvy Band’s blend of ‘70s classic rock and power pop, to singer/songwriters like Tyler Bernhardt and Jill Hartmann, Forward Motion Records has a varied and impressive roster of both new and experienced musicians. Certainly, Forward Motion Records is eclectic and ambitious in scope – particularly for a label so young – yet it offers a welcome glimpse into the diversity of music in South Florida, despite its lack of wider attention.
Having celebrated its first anniversary in September, Forward Motion Records has released a digital sampler of artists that performed at a recent anniversary show held at Revolution Live in Ft. Lauderdale.
“When I think about myself, I say, ‘But I didn’t want to the son of a master.’ That’s the high Tibetan Buddhist Master, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, and his son is Yeshi Silvano Namkhai, born and raised in Italy by his father and Catholic mother. “As long as I remember,” Yeshi says in My Reincarnation, “my father was always traveling to teach Dzogchen.” Resisting the expectations that come along with being recognized at birth as the reincarnation of a famous spiritual master, Yeshi spends years finding other outlets for his energies, with Jennifer Fox’s camera in tow for nearly 20 years. Yeshi seems open about his doubts: “A person who doesn’t want to be what he is. And he ought to be something that he doesn’t like to be. Obviously for my father, I’m not a mistake. Because for him it’s right, for me it’s wrong.” His questions multiply as he grows older, marries and has his own children, and finds a “stable” career with IBM. Perhaps unsurprisingly, has job has him on the road frequently, and as he drives, he talks to the camera: “I live in a very common Italian way,” he says, “I’m happy to be a normal, common father.”
And yet he’s also restless. As Norbu’s fame expands, the film shows him with students in search of peace and wisdom: he offers cryptic comfort: “It’s how Buddha said,” he tells a young man in tears over his HIV positive status. “Everything is unreal, like a big dream. That is something real.” But as you come to understand Yeshi’s frustrations with his absent, much-adored dad, the film also suggests he’s leaning away from his secular life, thinking more about his father’s legacy. With sections divided by underwater scenes, making visible Yeshi’s own wondering at how his hesitation is turning into something like certainty. If the film can’t show his changing feelings, or even his decision to perform such changes, it can suggest how he fears and how he takes risks, even how he comes to appreciate the paradoxes of time, how his past can become his future, his memories his visions. And in these suggestions, the film might emulate Yeshi’s own process.
Italy’s Late Guest at the Party have been around since 2002 developing their blend of Britpop-esque rave beats. In 2007, they attracted the attention of the BBC’s Steve Lamacq who played their tune “We Were Young” on Radio BBC One and praised their demo as one of the year’s best. Fast forward to 2009 and their debut “Come Back Bobby Peru” got buzz notice again from the BBC. Now the group has descended on New York to record their follow-up album with Chuck Brody (Peter Bjorn and John, Shy Child, Bear Hands, Ra Ra Riot, Wu Tang Clan). The first single, “You Make Me Nervous”, dropped in August and today we have the pleasure of presenting the video for their latest single “Electric Bongos”, which all about striving and facing obstacles along the path to achievement. Vocalist Davide Diglio says, “this kind of struggle is somehow ironic, I guess, so we tried to transpose this kind of cruel irony in the video, exaggerating it. There we got grotesque invisible forces stopping the characters from killing each other and the result is a hilarious film noir.”
“It’s difficult to describe to someone who doesn’t live here,” says Birmingham, Alabama radio host Paul Finebaum. “It’s really the Israelis and the Palestinians living together in one place, day in and day out, two sides that have a long history of hate.” Really. Martin Khodabakhshian’s Roll Tide/War Eagle means to describe just a little of that history, the long conflict between the University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide and the Auburn Tigers. Premiering on ESPN 8 November, the film features interviews with players and coaches and a few fans, all picking sides. The rivalry, says former Auburn coach Pat Dye, goes back to Alabama’s identity as an “industrial state, with coal mines and steel mills and all blue-collar people and great families, but I think they lived a little bit of a depressed life.” This might have led to an investment in football, a way to define sides, to feel superior to someone.
Former Alabama coach Bill Curry recalls that a lawyer once laid out the rivalry’s origins as based in the South’s image problems: “The Civil War and Reconstruction has emasculated the dignity of the Southern male,” he was told. “And then we move on into the 20th century and you’ve got the Depression and the image of the Southern farmer and poor people and the uneducated and the poverty. And then you got the Civil Rights movement with the dogs and the hoses, and now we’re all focused on Birmingham and Selma and once again, the culture takes a hit.” Poor Alabama, victimized by bad PR. How better to fight back than by investing in opposing teams located just 125 miles apart?