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by Cynthia Fuchs

29 Jul 2011


“The block is quiet,” remembers Ameena Matthews, “And I’m looking down the street, and here come the sisters of the guy that got his tooth knocked out. They came to defend the brother’s honor with a butcher knife.” She means to make a difference in this all too common scenario. A Violence Interrupter, Matthews works with the group CeaseFire in Inglewood, CA, whose efforts are at the center of The Interrupters. Producer/director Steve James and author-turned-producer Alex Kotlowitz’s magnificent documentary reveals how the group is taking a different approach to gang violence, how it works to intervene in usual cycles. “People believe in punishment,” says epidemiologist and CeaseFire co-founder Gary Slutkin, because when “you punish a young person, he stops. But he actually learns to mimic the punishment.” If the task is daunting, CeaseFire members are courageous. In spite of missteps and steps back, in spite of the many times that the interrupters attend funerals and console grieving parents, they try again and again. If they can stop one act of violence, they might stop another.

See PopMattersreview.

by Joseph Fisher

28 Jul 2011


The Smiths will be releasing a ginormous boxset (as of this writing) on 3 October 2011. The boxset, whose enormity is only eclipsed by Morrissey’s louder-than-bombs personality, contains remastered versions of eight albums, on vinyl and on CD, as well as a slew of 7” singles and, we’re sure, all kinds of other goodies.

Since the Smiths’ music is gifted with the ability to inspire both ecstasy and misery, sometimes simultaneously, it’s not surprise that this boxset will do the same. For starters, it’s limited to 3,000 copies worldwide. It also represents somewhere around the 10th or 11th time that a good portion of the band’s music has been repackaged and resold to their faithful fans. Finally, it is, quite likely, cost prohibitive for most of us. Is it at all possible to shoplift from a website? [Pitchfork]

by Cynthia Fuchs

28 Jul 2011


The Answer—Allen Iverson—has always provoked questions. Steve James’ documentary, No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson, revisits some of these, beginning with a look back at the trial held in Hampton, Virginia, where the “high school phenom” then lived. The filmmaker also grew up in Hampton, and his father B.J., an avid local sports fan, drew his attention to Iverson, whose trial commenced while James was living in Chicago. In the film the trial is at once specific, concerning Iverson’s involvement in a fight at a local bowling alley on Valentine’s Day, 1993. Charged with “maiming by mob,” Iverson and some classmates became vehicles for a harrowing exposure of the town’s racial divisions. In the film, James sorts through legal and political intersections, talking with community members, lawyers, protestors, and sports writers, as well as his own mother. James himself becomes an interview subject, when his black camera operator Keith Walker asks about his relationship to Hampton’s racist history. The film is at once attentive to that history and relentlessly metaphorical, reminding everybody of what they know and what they’d like to forget.

No Crossover kicks off the Steve James Master Class on 28 July at Maysles Cinema.

See PopMattersreview of No Crossover and interview with Steve James. See also, our review of Hoop Dreams, which screens 29 July.

by Jane Jansen Seymour

27 Jul 2011


Billy Bragg was in New York City recently spearheading “The Big Busk,” a musical collaboration at Lincoln Center with acoustic guitar wielding members of the public as well as a few dates at the City Winery. While in town he appeared on WFUV with morning DJ Claudia Marshall, playing some tunes and pumping up the events before heading out on a family road trip which includes a stop at a favorite American city, Asheville, North Carolina. But the showstopper was a song recently written in reaction to the Rupert Murdoch scandal back home in England.

It eloquently gives props to the people of Liverpool, who have been boycotting The Sun ever since the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster killed almost one hundred people and injured hundreds at a football/soccer match. The skewed sensationalistic reporting of the incident horrified the port city. Bragg reasons in the song, “Never Buy the Sun”, that the Scousers (as the Liverpudlians are known after a local dish) are the only ones who can “can hang there with their heads high”. Bragg marveled at the simple YouTube video gaining an audience before a studio recording is even released, a new tool he welcomes to get his message out. Bragg wrote the song on a Friday and performed it on a Saturday at the Garforth Arts Festival. He also told Marshall that there’s a long history of topical songs that the next generation needs to carry on.

by PopMatters Staff

27 Jul 2011


POPMATTERS SPONSOR—New York-based, but British born, Alberta Cross specialize in an updated version of classic Southern rock and are heavily influenced by the Band and Neil Young as well as younger contemporaries like My Morning Jacket. It’s a music rooted in the lonely sounds of the blues spun filtered through a European lens. British bands have, of course, been doing that for decades in most excellent fashion. Of their 2009 debut release, Broken Side of Time, NME raved that the album was “an intoxicating mix of apocalyptic riffs, sob-worthy singalongs and brooding blues” and slapped the record with an 8 out of 10.

The band is currently working on their follow-up, but in the meantime they have teamed with Ketel One (who happens to make one of the yummiest vodkas on the planet), for the beverage-maker’s “Gentlemen, This Is Vodka” campaign. Academy Award nominee David O. Russell (The Fighter and Three Kings) has directed a three-part series for the campaign which features Alberta Cross playing their tune, “Money for the Weekend”. Russell has also directed a six-video series for the band featuring new music from their upcoming ATO album release. In the meantime, you can check out the Ketel One spot with “Money for the Weekend”.

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