Cultural Activism


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It’s a pleasure to be a mentor for Antonio Modesto Milian, a Brandon Fellow at the Greenville Center for Creative Arts in Greenville, SC. Thanks for asking me to be your mentor, Antonio! You all did a superb job yesterday at the Artist Talk, and I look forward to seeing this through to your exhibition in August!  The other fellows are Naomi Nakazato and Glory Day Loflin (Photo by the super supportive Latosha Nicole Milián).

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L to R:  Naomi Nakazato, Antonio Modesto Milian, and Glory Day Loflin

Bios of the inaugural group of Brandon Fellows at the Greenville Center for the Creative Arts:

Naomi Nakazato is a graduate of Anderson University, where she focused on painting and drawing as well as the history of portraiture. Communicating the challenges and experiences of mixed ethnicity is the driving force behind her work. She is passionate about helping other young artists experience and understand their identity through art. The Brandon Fellowship will give Naomi the opportunity to explore new approaches and mediums in which to pursue these goals.
Anthony Modesto Milian is a graduate of Greenville Technical College and has pursued studies in hospitality at Bob Jones University. He is the creator of the popular Faces of the Upstate page on Facebook, which highlights the beauty of the diversity in our community, and through which he fosters dialogue and reflection on social issues.  As a Brandon Fellow, Anthony will hone his technical and artistic skills to enhance his street photography and the impact of his project. He also plans to explore publishing a book depicting the cultural richness of the Faces of the Upstate.
Glory Loflin is a graduate of the Cooper Union for Advancement of Science and Art in New York City where she studied painting and an alumna of the Fine Arts Center and the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities. She has taught arts to children and volunteered her artistic abilities to benefit a variety of causes, from raising awareness of human trafficking to promoting a local farmers’ market and helping feed the homeless. As a Brandon Fellow, Glory will continue championing social issues through the arts while preparing a portfolio of ceramics work in view of applying to graduate school in this medium.
The Brandon Fellowship will provide Naomi, Anthony, and Glory with individual studio space, a stipend for art supplies, access to a variety of classes, as well as guidance and mentorship from the other GCCA studio artists and exhibiting artists.

 

Founded in 1998 and based in Asheville, NC, Kleiworks is an international, grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching natural building methods.  Assisting  individuals and local communities, the organization helps to create sustainable living spaces, while ensuring that the work is passed on.

 

My friend, comedian Jeff Kreisler, just posted a funny video on the recent round of corporate mass layoffs.  He has an interesting take on severance pay in the recession. This video is also posted to The Huffington Post.

October 30th marks the 70th anniversary of the CBS radio broadcast of H.G. Wells’ War of The Worlds, as adapted by Howard Koch and the Mercury Theatre on the Air under the direction of Orson Welles. Presented in the format of a news broadcast, the dramatization created mass panic among listeners, who accepted the description of a Martian invasion as an actual event under way.  In the controversy that ensued, Welles maintained that he had no intention of causing panic and that he had intended the dramatization as nothing more than a Halloween offering.  I am posting the entire original recording broken into three separate mp3 segments below.  Total running time is 57 minutes 36 seconds.  Each mp3 may take a few seconds to begin playing.  Please be patient.


War of the Worlds (mp3 Part I)


War of the Worlds (mp3 Part II)


War of the Worlds (mp3 Part III)

Orson Welles in the CBS Radio studio.

Orson Welles in the CBS Radio studio.

Orson Welles’ Iconic ‘War of the Worlds’

Marks 70th Anniversary

on Thursday, October 30

NEW YORK, Oct 29, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — Famous Radio Broadcast Created Nationwide Panic and Helped to Establish Radio

Tomorrow marks the 70th Anniversary of “War of the Worlds,” the groundbreaking radio broadcast that terrified millions of Americans who thought that the fictional audio play was real and Martians were actually landing in Grover’s Mill, New Jersey.

The original hour-long broadcast, which aired on the eve of Halloween, October 30, 1938, was part of CBS’s Mercury Theatre On the Air, directed and narrated by Orson Welles, adapted from the H.G. Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds, with the audio play written by Howard Koch (writer of Casablanca). It simulated a live news report of a Martian invasion with a series of realistic newscasts seeming to interrupt regularly scheduled programming.

According to Ron Simon, Curator of Radio and Television, Paley Center for Media: “Blurring reality and fiction so seamlessly, Orson Welles established himself as a major artist, and helped to legitimize radio as an artistic medium and major force in American culture.”

As part of the program, a fictional CBS news reporter tracks the Martians progress until he himself keels over …

“Five great machines … They rise like a line of new towers on the city’s west side … Now they’re lifting their metal hands. This is the end now. Smoke comes out … black smoke, drifting over the city. People in the streets see it now. They’re running towards the East River … thousands of them, dropping in like rats. Now the smoke’s spreading faster. It’s reached Times Square. People are trying to run away from it, but it’s no use. They’re falling like flies. Now the smoke’s crossing Sixth Avenue … Fifth Avenue … a… a hundred yards away … it’s fifty feet …”

The broadcast is said to have been heard by over 6 million people that night. According to historians, various factors contributed to the widespread reaction: Tensions were running high leading to World War II, the convincing natural delivery of the cast, long stretches of commercial free airplay and only three disclaimers during the broadcast clarifying its fictional nature. As a result, the show ignited a reaction of fear and confusion among listeners across the country. News reports cited people fleeing their homes, and police lines flooded with listeners trying to determine the validity of the Martian invasion.

The broadcast, considered one of the great moments in media history, continues to live-on through re-airings, live re-enactments and adaptations all over the world, introducing a new generation to the power of radio.

 

Hipsters

 

By Douglas Haddow

ADBUSTERS

East and West:  Issue 79

We’ve reached a point in our civilization where counterculture has mutated into a self-obsessed aesthetic vacuum. So while hipsterdom is the end product of all prior countercultures, it’s been stripped of its subversion and originality. 

I‘m sipping a scummy pint of cloudy beer in the back of a trendy dive bar turned nightclub in the heart of the city’s heroin district. In front of me stand a gang of hippiesh grunge-punk types, who crowd around each other and collectively scoff at the smoking laws by sneaking puffs of “fuck-you,” reveling in their perceived rebellion as the haggard, staggering staff look on without the slightest concern.

The “DJ” is keystroking a selection of MP3s off his MacBook, making a mix that sounds like he took a hatchet to a collection of yesteryear billboard hits, from DMX to Dolly Parton, but mashed up with a jittery techno backbeat.

So… this is a hipster party?” I ask the girl sitting next to me. She’s wearing big dangling earrings, an American Apparel V-neck tee, non-prescription eyeglasses and an inappropriately warm wool coat.

Yeah, just look around you, 99 percent of the people here are total hipsters!”

Are you a hipster?”

Fuck no,” she says, laughing back the last of her glass before she hops off to the dance floor.

Ever since the Allies bombed the Axis into submission, Western civilization has had a succession of counter-culture movements that have energetically challenged the status quo. Each successive decade of the post-war era has seen it smash social standards, riot and fight to revolutionize every aspect of music, art, government and civil society.

But after punk was plasticized and hip hop lost its impetus for social change, all of the formerly dominant streams of “counter-culture” have merged together. Now, one mutating, trans-Atlantic melting pot of styles, tastes and behavior has come to define the generally indefinable idea of the “Hipster.”

An artificial appropriation of different styles from different eras, the hipster represents the end of Western civilization – a culture lost in the superficiality of its past and unable to create any new meaning. Not only is it unsustainable, it is suicidal. While previous youth movements have challenged the dysfunction and decadence of their elders, today we have the “hipster” – a youth subculture that mirrors the doomed shallowness of mainstream society.

***

Take a stroll down the street in any major North American or European city and you’ll be sure to see a speckle of fashion-conscious twentysomethings hanging about and sporting a number of predictable stylistic trademarks: skinny jeans, cotton spandex leggings, fixed-gear bikes, vintage flannel, fake eyeglasses and a keffiyeh – initially sported by Jewish students and Western protesters to express solidarity with Palestinians, the keffiyeh has become a completely meaningless hipster cliché fashion accessory.

The American Apparel V-neck shirt, Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and Parliament cigarettes are symbols and icons of working or revolutionary classes that have been appropriated by hipsterdom and drained of meaning. Ten years ago, a man wearing a plain V-neck tee and drinking a Pabst would never be accused of being a trend-follower. But in 2008, such things have become shameless clichés of a class of individuals that seek to escape their own wealth and privilege by immersing themselves in the aesthetic of the working class.

This obsession with “street-cred” reaches its apex of absurdity as hipsters have recently and wholeheartedly adopted the fixed-gear bike as the only acceptable form of transportation – only to have brakes installed on a piece of machinery that is defined by its lack thereof.

Lovers of apathy and irony, hipsters are connected through a global network of blogs and shops that push forth a global vision of fashion-informed aesthetics. Loosely associated with some form of creative output, they attend art parties, take lo-fi pictures with analog cameras, ride their bikes to night clubs and sweat it up at nouveau disco-coke parties. The hipster tends to religiously blog about their daily exploits, usually while leafing through generation-defining magazines like ViceAnother Magazine andWallpaper. This cursory and stylized lifestyle has made the hipster almost universally loathed.

These hipster zombies… are the idols of the style pages, the darlings of viral marketers and the marks of predatory real-estate agents,” wrote Christian Lorentzen in a Time Out New Yorkarticle entitled ‘Why the Hipster Must Die.’ “And they must be buried for cool to be reborn.”

With nothing to defend, uphold or even embrace, the idea of “hipsterdom” is left wide open for attack. And yet, it is this ironic lack of authenticity that has allowed hipsterdom to grow into a global phenomenon that is set to consume the very core of Western counterculture. Most critics make a point of attacking the hipster’s lack of individuality, but it is this stubborn obfuscation that distinguishes them from their predecessors, while allowing hipsterdom to easily blend in and mutate other social movements, sub-cultures and lifestyles.

***

Standing outside an art-party next to a neat row of locked-up fixed-gear bikes, I come across a couple girls who exemplify hipster homogeneity. I ask one of the girls if her being at an art party and wearing fake eyeglasses, leggings and a flannel shirt makes her a hipster.

I’m not comfortable with that term,” she replies.

Her friend adds, with just a flicker of menace in her eyes, “Yeah, I don’t know, you shouldn’t use that word, it’s just…”

 “Offensive?”

No… it’s just, well… if you don’t know why then you just shouldn’t even use it.”

Ok, so what are you girls doing tonight after this party?”

Ummm… We’re going to the after-party.”

***

Gavin McInnes, one of the founders of Vice, who recently left the magazine, is considered to be one of hipsterdom’s primary architects. But, in contrast to the majority of concerned media-types, McInnes, whose “Dos and Don’ts” commentary defined the rules of hipster fashion for over a decade, is more critical of those doing the criticizing.

I’ve always found that word [“hipster”] is used with such disdain, like it’s always used by chubby bloggers who aren’t getting laid anymore and are bored, and they’re just so mad at these young kids for going out and getting wasted and having fun and being fashionable,” he says. “I’m dubious of these hypotheses because they always smell of an agenda.”

Punks wear their tattered threads and studded leather jackets with honor, priding themselves on their innovative and cheap methods of self-expression and rebellion. B-boys and b-girls announce themselves to anyone within earshot with baggy gear and boomboxes. But it is rare, if not impossible, to find an individual who will proclaim themself a proud hipster. It’s an odd dance of self-identity – adamantly denying your existence while wearing clearly defined symbols that proclaims it.

***

He’s 17 and he lives for the scene!” a girl whispers in my ear as I sneak a photo of a young kid dancing up against a wall in a dimly lit corner of the after-party. He’s got a flipped-out, do-it-yourself haircut, skin-tight jeans, leather jacket, a vintage punk tee and some popping high tops.

Shoot me,” he demands, walking up, cigarette in mouth, striking a pose and exhaling. He hits a few different angles with a firmly unimpressed expression and then gets a bit giddy when I show him the results.

Rad, thanks,” he says, re-focusing on the music and submerging himself back into the sweaty funk of the crowd where he resumes a jittery head bobble with a little bit of a twitch.

The dance floor at a hipster party looks like it should be surrounded by quotation marks. While punk, disco and hip hop all had immersive, intimate and energetic dance styles that liberated the dancer from his/her mental states – be it the head-spinning b-boy or violent thrashings of a live punk show – the hipster has more of a joke dance. A faux shrug shuffle that mocks the very idea of dancing or, at its best, illustrates a non-committal fear of expression typified in a weird twitch/ironic twist. The dancers are too self-aware to let themselves feel any form of liberation; they shuffle along, shrugging themselves into oblivion.

For the entire article:  go to Adbusters.

Oct 23 Union Square Park! 6pm-7:30pm
Celebrate the History of Union Square

 

Rev. Billy at Union Square

 

Reverend Billy & The Stop Shopping Gospel Choir
Approaching Storm Marching Band
Labor Leaders
Historian Joshua Freeman
Walking Tours with Kevin Baker and Center for Acoustic Ecology
and a Historic Draw-a-thon where YOU imagine the future of the pavilion!
Drawing from 4pm-7pm
Walking Tours 5pm-6pm
Speakers and Music 6pm-7pm

Ten years ago Union Square Park was deisgnated a National Historic Landmark for its a role as a center of free speech and assembly!  This event is brought to you by a broad coalition of NYC groups including: NYC Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, NY State AFL-CIO, United Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, Professor Joshua Freeman, historian, Tamiment Library/Wagner Archives, NYU, Workers Defense League, Rev. Billy and The Church of Stop Shopping, 250+ Friends of NYC Parks, NYC Park Advocates, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, Historic Districts Council, Union Square Community Coalition, Gramercy Park Block Association, The “OUR” Labyrinth Project and Chelsea Midtown Democrats.

 

What This Is About

 

The historic Pavilion at Union Square must be kept public space for use by the people of New York City. The Pavilion’s priceless legacy as a platform for children and families, musicians, and progressive political activists must not be subverted by a backroom deal to turn it into a restaurant. The Union Square neighborhood is saturated with restaurants, yet New York City is starving for public space.

The First Amendment, invoked in public space, is a community’s greatest weapon against repression and exploitation. Emma Goldman and Paul Robeson and countless activists have demonstrated this at Union Square, winning the 40 hour work week and other freedoms we now take for granted. A high-end restaurant on the site of the Pavilion will have a chilling effect on the essential demonstrations and organizing that take place on the north side of the Square to this day, and will swindle the families and people of New York City out of yet another commercial-free space for community use.

We call on the City and Union Square Partnership to preserve and invest in the Pavilion as a public space for the public good, and terminate their plan to convert it into a restaurant.

 

Get involved:  Go to Rev. Billy’s website

T.S.A. 

T.S.A. Communication is an interesting counter-surveillance project that Evan Roth, a recent Parsons MFA graduate, is developing. His project questions the widespread use of x-ray scanners to examine the contents of personal bags in airports and other high security locations.  Roth’s work reminds me of the Surveillance Camera Players, a group formed in New York City in 1996 to protest the expanding use of surveillance cameras in public spaces.  The following information on T.S.A. Communication comes from Rhizome

 

Project Description:

T.S.A. Communication is a project that alters the airport security experience and allows the government to learn more about you then just what’s in your backpack. Thin 8.5 x 11 inch laser-cut sheets of stainless steel comfortably fit in your carry on bag, simultaneously obscuring the contents you don’t want the TSA to see while highlighting ideas you do want them to see. Change your role as air traveler from passive to active.

 

"Mind Your Own Business"

 

Research:
Initial research into airport security X-Ray machines shows that metallic and organic substances are represented as different colors. Further testing is required to determine how the thickness and makeup of various materials alter the resulting visual image from the X-Ray process.

Design:
The examples below are only preliminary designs. More time and research will be devoted to creating prototypes optimized for communicating with the T.S.A. work force.

Production:
Ideally the backpack inserts would be possible to produce in the home with readily available tools. If this is not possible, however, manufacturers will need to be identified and priced. Initial quotes for laser cutting one sheet of 8.5 x 11 inch steel come in at roughly $300. The majority of the Rhizome grant would be used to manufacture as many different designs as possible.

Documentation:
Documentation is going to be tricky. A system will need to be devised for capturing photos and video from the T.S.A. scanning process. I would like to be able to capture video reactions from the scanning agents, as well as photos of the X-Ray screens.

 

How To / Workshop:

At the end of the project I will open up the process to anyone interested in communicating with the T.S.A. At a minimum this would take the form of an online tutorial explaining how to create your own back pack inserts. Depending on the method of manufacturing, workshops could be run where participants create their own backpack inserts.

"Nothing To See Here"

Work Samples:

– Graffiti Research Lab (co-founder)
– Light Criticism (w/ Steve Lambert, the Anti-Advertising Agency, and the G.R.L.)
– Public Domain Donar
– Skymall Liberation
– Postal Labels Against Bush

About Me:
– Resume
– Bio
– Wikipedia

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