Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

 
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Tuesday, Dec 13, 2011

When Bruce Ratner announced the Atlantic Yards development project in Brooklyn in 2003, he brought along noteworthy supporters, from architect Frank Gehry to New Jersey Nets minority owner Jay-Z to Mayor Mike Bloomberg. They all touted the arena as a way to create jobs, to improve the local economy, to bring new life. It hasn’t quite worked out that way, as documented in Battle for Brooklyn.


Troubles began when some residents of “the footprint” resisted being moved. Their resistance led to the corporation bringing in the state government, who cited “eminent domain” as a rubric for claiming the land, that is, the expropriation of private property for the public good. And oh yes, primary “public” beneficiary was to be Forest City Ratner Companies. Local resistance galvanized ROUND EXACTLY THAT APPARENT OVERSIGHT. Screening on 13 December as part of Stranger Than Fiction’s Pre-Winter Season Special—and followed by a Q&A with directors Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky—the film follows one resident in particular, Daniel Goldstein, a graphic designer who can’t imagine how his life will be changed by his commitment to the project. Goldstein and other residents resent the implication that they matter so little as to be considered “practically from scratch.” To be sure, not all residents feel this way: some believe the promises made by Ratner, Brooklyn Borough president Marty Markowitz, Mayor Bloomberg, and Senator Chuck Schumer, that the development will bring employment opportunities to Brooklyn and improve material and economic conditions going forward. (Senator Schumer’s misspeaking during a press conference may or may not be telling: “Basketball is great, but you know what enervates me about this? 10,000 jobs!”) As the Atlantic Yards project divides the community, it inspires a range of responses, from placards in residential and commercial windows and street protests to local organizing and full-on media campaigns.


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Monday, Dec 5, 2011

“The psychology of Ghanians, when it comes to governance or politics generally, has been influenced by our history,” notes Baffour Agyeman-Duah, an expert on governance.” While the aim is to construct “a stable democratic government, guided by the principles of good governance,” the route has been uneven. As he finishes speaking, scene cuts from his face to a close-up of a butcher at work: whomp goes his cleaver, splitting red meat. It’s a striking early image in Jarreth and Kenneth Merz’s An African Election, suggesting the high stakes during Ghana’s 2008 presidential elections. Currently at the Quad Cinema, the documentary considers that election (when Nana Akufo-Addo of the ruling New Patriotic Party ran against John Atta Mills of the National Democratic Congress), history (the legacy of colonial rule, the decades of increasing corruption), and also points toward a kind of future, that is, the ways that elections have become—more and more, there and elsewhere (say, the US), contests over who can be loudest or least honest while appealing to broad bases. A smart, lively film—beautifully enhanced by a terrific percussive soundtrack—An African Election reveals how entrenched layers of trouble remain, despite and because of the cheering throngs, the advances in media technologies, the hopes for change. As journalist Kwesi Pratt puts it, “None of the parties is offering a paradigm shift. All of the parties will be doing the same thing, but some promise to do it better than the others.” How familiar does that sound? 



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Monday, Dec 5, 2011

“For most children,” begins Strangers No More, “going to school is as simple as going around the block.” But for the students in the Bialik-Rogozin School in Tel Aviv, the journey has been long and continues to be difficult. Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon’s documentary, winner of last year’s Academy Award for Best Documentary Short, premieres 5 December on HBO, tracks the experiences of several students, as examples of the many (from 48 countries) who have survived loss and trauma. Many are orphans, others have parents who are refugees, all are doing their best to remember their pasts and also to move on. According to principal Karen Tal, means to “open our arms to every student. Almost every student is running away from something.” Their relatives have been running too: Johannes’ father, from Sudan, confesses that his son was never able to go to school before; the boy’s new teacher observes, “You see the eyes of the father, you see that he is really tired from running from one place to another.”


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Monday, Nov 21, 2011
In these two exclusive video interviews, master chef Bobby Flay cooks up some excitement with PopMatters, submitting to a Turkey Day "lightning round", preparing theoretical Entourage dishes, and having detectives search for a "missing ingredient" ...

Bobby Flay’s name has become synonymous with great food, and that’s not just because of his numerous signature dishes.  Through his Food Network TV shows, his books, and his various media appearances, he’s shown an out-and-out love for good food, and with Thanksgiving just around the corner, he’s ready to share some secrets with us.  In the midst of promoting the turkey-prep database known as Hellman’s Turkey Challenge, Flay got in front of the camera to talk to PopMatters about preparing theoretical Entourage dishes, and having detectives search for a “missing ingredient”, and then submitting to interviewer Jesse Fox’s “lightning round” of turkey prep questions ...


 



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Monday, Nov 21, 2011
Old Drag Queens never die; they just go into social housing and live off welfare handouts, and shoplift.

Council House Movie Star is the up-coming screen and gallery debut of Gale Force, the drag persona of contemporary dance maker, performer and writer Mark Edward. This is Edward’s collaboration with award-winning filmmaker Rosa Fong (British Film Institute New Director’s award, Arts Council Black Arts Award and as Associate Producer: Best Feature at the Outfest Fusion Festival LA 2006, 2nd Prize Audience Award at Madrid International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival 2006 for feature film Cut Sleeve Boys) and award-winner Dr Mark Fremaux.


Gale Force’s plans are to be represented in all her glory in 3D and HD. She is nothing if not up-to-date; the original inspiration (in her own words) of the North of England ‘WAG’ culture, beloved of the British tabloids. Victoria Beckham had better watch out. Council House Movie Star will be premiered in Liverpool in 2012 and after that enjoy a national tour of galleries, cinemas, clubs – any venue that will have it if truth be told! Gale ain’t fussy! She will also provide interventionist and guerrilla art pieces (she can be very high-brow!) wherever they are needed. These will be documented and then reborn in major art galleries in Liverpool and Manchester as recreations of Gale’s multi-faceted, colourful life and encounters with her public. Move aside Tracey Emin and your ‘[Unmade] Bed’ (1998)! Gale’s installation will recreate her entire bed-sit apartment (beat that!) as well as her uninsured bling and her family relationships, as a single mum on welfare – with her kids and her ‘Anti’ Christy. If you’re really lucky Gale will appear in person at the gallery.


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