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Category Archives: Zeitgeist Movement
Sound City+ Launches 10th Anniversary Edition & Announces Guest Speakers – The Guide Liverpool (press release) (blog)
Posted: February 9, 2017 at 6:10 am
Internationally renowned music industry conference Sound City+ is celebrating its ten year anniversary on Friday 26th May 2017 with a host of high profile speakers from across the industry and as ever promises an intensive packed programme of speakers, debate panels, workshops and the acclaimed Sound City+ 1-2-1 meetings.
This years Revolutions theme will enable speakers to explore the wider context of British rock and roll revolutions and take a look at some of the largest cultural explosions from the past 50 years including The 60s British Invasion, Punk Rock, Brit Pop and Acid House.
The most influential bass player of his generation, Jah Wobble founder member of Public Image Limited alongside former Sex Pistol John Lydon talks us through his career, from his close friendship with Lydon and Sid Vicious, being a boots on the ground eyewitness to punk, and how PIL helped define the revolutionary sonics of the post punk era, to his current work with a host of collaborators.
Veteran DJ, filmmaker and founding member of Big Audio Dynamite, Don Letts has over four decades of inspiring work. From turning a generation of punks onto reggae while DJing at the Roxy club in 1977 to managing the Slits to making music videos for the likes Bob Marley and Elvis Costello, Dons 40 incredible years in the business will reveal both funny anecdotes and sharp insights.
Legend Andrew Weatherall will discuss the continuing story of acid house as a DJ, remixer, producer, label boss, and one of the most outspoken commentators on the club scene.
Controversial avant garde electro punk musician and performance artist Peaches will discuss art at the edge and a mandate to be a one-woman cultural revolution.
Dudley.Jeczalik.Langan three of the founding members of Art of Noise will also be in conversation. Formed at a time when the reverberations of punk, post-punk and new wave could still be keenly felt, Art of Noise were determined to set themselves outside the then currents of fashion and style the missing link between The Monkees and Talking Heads, Abba and Kraftwerk, Frank Zappa and The Archies.
Peaches (Merrill Beth Nisker) Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images
Leading figures in their field, iconic rock photographers and image makers Kevin Cummins and Tom Oxley will be talking about the enduring power of the photograph and how just one image can change scenes, regimes and societies overnight.
Said Kevin: Im really looking forward to coming back to Liverpool Sound City+. Having worked in the industry for many years as a professional photographer during many eras of political upheavals I do feel that today is a transitional time in the world and this will be reflected on culture this year.
Finally celebrated journalist and author Hattie Collins will deliver a fascinating talk on the New Subverse and underground Grime culture a modern revolution in the UK scene.
The day will be hosted by author & DJ Dave Haslam and rock n roll historian Jennifer Otter Bickerdike, guest speakers at Sound City+ 2017 will dissect in turn each Music Revolution from the past five decades.
Sound City+ has also revealed a move to The Baltic triangle, the rapidly evolving hub for creative enterprises and a jewel in the crown for the music and digital industries in the North West.
The Baltic Triangle is also home to arguably Liverpools finest bar and event space, former warehouse Camp and Furnace, where this years edition of Sound City+ will take place.
Said Dave Pichilingi, CEO Sound City/Modern Sky UK: It is a huge year for us and for our 10th Anniversary we wanted to do something very special. We are bringing Sound City+ to the very heart of the creative quarter of Liverpool. The Baltic Triangle is synonymous with everything that is innovative and cutting edge that is coming out of Liverpool right now, it is part of the fabric of the city. The zeitgeist is here! We want to show the thousands who come to the conference what the fuss is all about and send them home with an amazing impression of Liverpool.
As part of Sound City+ this year we are celebrating those mavericks who have played a pivotal part in some of the milestones in the development of the rock n roll business. These will include key players from the both the punk movement and Acid House.
As part of the highly anticipated birthday celebrations for Sound City, Sound City+ will be taking a selection of the In Conversations to the live festival site, giving Sound Citizens the opportunity to see avant-garde titan John Cale as special guest speaker. With a wealth of stories accrued over a career of more than 50 years his talk with explore his early years, this move to the US and foundation of the Velvet Underground, its legacy and beyond. For aficionados of the birth of psyche and anyone with an interest in the history of rock this will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to hear it from the great man himself.
The conference will be announcing further speakers, panels and activities over the coming weeks.
Conference Tickets 40.00 (Ex booking fee) http://www.ticketweb.co.uk/event/liverpool-sound-city-conference-2017-tickets/267613
Full Weekend Delegate Passes
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Posted: at 6:10 am
John Steinbeck wrote in Once There Was a War: The theatre is the only institution in the world which has been dying for four thousand years and has never succumbed. It requires tough and devoted people to keep it alive.
The UK has long been celebrated for its rich heritage of creative talent and a vibrant, enduring theatre scene. But where budget cuts are running deep across government spending, the arts are proving an easy target. The cost of living crisis touching many people, not just creatives, is a huge challenge for playwriting, often a lengthy and time-consuming process. And whether or not we consider the theatre a dying artform, at the very least, competition for audiences leisure time, hard-earned cash and imaginations is as intense as ever. As new playwright Liam Borrett, 25, who saw successwith'This Is Living' last year, puts it: People can watch The Crown on Netflix from bed for 8.99 a month - you have to create something interesting enough to drag them out mid-winter for three hours at a cost of 30 or 40.
Many theatres and foundations run schemes and initiatives - such as the biennial Bruntwood Prize, now open for 2017 submissions - to support as many new playwrights, in and out of London, to write and experiment as possible. Yet it remains risky for a building to put on a new play rather than a tried and tested classic, and increasingly artistic directors will shape their seasons through commissions for specific writers, rather than see what lands on their doorstep. So who are the next generation of tough and devoted, working to keep theatre alive amidst our age of austerity and ever-accessible digital entertainment? And how are they faring? I spoke to some emerging British playwrights to find out.
Katherine Soper, 25, whose play 'Wish List' is currently a hit at the Royal Court (Joel C Fildes)
One such playwright is Alex MacKeith, 25,whose debut School Play has just opened at Southwark Playhouse. For MacKeith, there ought to be a platform for young playwrights as a means of engagement with current issues or dramatically presenting characters who have not been represented on stage before, a deeply important exercise for citizens who operate in society: Increasingly we need to cultivate our sympathies for other people. Having been part of a dynamic theatrical scene at university, it was his idea for School Play - about the realities of the school system in the UK, borne of his own personal experience as a tutor in a primary school - that he kept coming back to. Describing the naturalistic piece as inventive reportage rather than pure invention, the shape-shifting beast needed many iterations to keep up-to-date with frequent changes in policy: Its not a polemic on the education system. Neither am I presenting an alternative - it simply asks questions. Which is what plays should do.
2015 Bruntwood Prize winner, Katherine Soper, 25, lauds such programmes for providing the feedback many aspiring writers, sending out work to theatres like unanswered messages in a bottle, crave. She feels a fetishisation of the young in theatre can be reductive and damaging at times, particularly if a writer gets fated for greatness on the basis of an early work when they might not have had a chance to hone their craft away from critical eyes. Yet in the current political climate, the voice of the upcoming generation - overwhelming for Bremain and opposed to Trump - does need to be heard. With Wish List, which is currently on at the Royal Court, she did not set out to create a politically charged play, only when she started developing her story about the moralisation of work did she realise it was something she felt strongly about. For Soper, entertainment should not be pejorative: less about trite comparisons or a blunt tool for political statement its about plugging into visceral things, the kinds of fears and emotions people are experiencing at a certain moment in time. When a new or canonical play engages with that, it will resonate.
Playwright Chloe Todd Fordham, 30, equally praises initiatives and schemes for championing her writing but also admits facing a reality check in how difficult it is to write once making it onto the Royal Courts writing programme. Through studying an MA and writing with Theatre 503, she developed Sound of Silence which received a Bruntwood Judges Award in 2015. A bold and ambitious play, she is still working to see it staged, highlighting the often unseen slow burn of taking a play from its first writing to production: Its a combination of being patient and staying confident in the value of what you have to say. Not giving up.
The playwright Ella Hickson, 31, scored at hit with 'Oil' which was staged at the Almeida in 2016 (Peter Hickson )
Scottish writer Stef Smith, 29, who had her London debut with Human Animals at the Royal Court last year and is developing Girl in the Machine for Scotlands new writing theatre Traverse, is loathe to use the term the regions but notes the different ecosystems surrounding making work not always visible through a pervasive London-centric lens. While the UK capital may hold more opportunities, the concentration of the theatre community in cities like Edinburgh can afford closer connections and a nurturing environment for new writers.
Liam Borrett'sThis Is Living, his drama school graduating piece about loss, appeared at Trafalgar Studios in the West End last year, after proving a hit at Edinburgh Fringe: Getting people to come and see a two hander about death at 11pm was likely not going to work. But by word of mouth, there was a buzz. Even so, he explained facing difficulties in getting it transferred, being turned down by eight theatres, often waiting a frustrating and demoralising nine to ten months for the no: You cant just programme the same stuff. You need voices that reflect and deconstruct the society were living in. For Borrett, 25,theatre should rarely be a passive experience: There are days I go and watch a cosy musical. But the majority of the time I want to feel profoundly different and changed and most of the time upset by the end of it. Thats the cathartic experience you go to the theatre for.
Ella Hickson, 31, writer of Oil, which was staged at the Almeida last year, started out self-producing but now works on commission for the likes of the RSC, the National Theatre and Almeida. She recognises both the agency and relative immediacy afforded by the former and the greater stability by the latter: The production process between having an idea and getting it staged is not insignificant. In terms of a Zeitgeist, you are looking at a reflection of a cultural moment two years previous. But Hickson, like many artists, is far more interested in ploughing energy into the ever-challenging task of writing a good play: Writing is a bit like love, when it turns up, take it, and try not to worry about it too much when it's not there.
Scottish writer Stef Smith, 29,who had her London debut with 'Human Animals' at the Royal Court last year
Lucy J Skilbeck,28, emphasises the importance of finding the right place to incubate and develop your ideas, hers being through a BBC Fellowship at Derby Theatre and later setting up her own production company Milk Presents. Concerned with fracturing ideas of masculinity and femininity, she had ambitions to make a drag king play about Joan of Arc. With Joan playing in pubs, schools and in a Hull UK City of Culture 2017 shopping centre for 2.50, Skilbeck has found a really easy light touch way you can dialogue with some mega ideas. Now preparing Bullish and directing a company of gender queer artists in Chekhovs The Bear/The Proposal, for Skilbeck, theatre is the place and now is the time to be political: Theatres should be places we grapple with things we dont understand which will then leak out into the wider world.
Other playwrights such as Andrew Maddock, 30,are exploiting new routes to stage for their writing. Starting out with his own one-man show, Junkie, he self-produces his work, drumming up a following through social media, such as for He(Art): The way I like to write is quitereactive - I want to write and get it on stage. He sees this as a growing and exciting trend, comparing it to the grassroots movement of punk rock, they reacted to something and created something, and Ithink that's what's happening in theatre right now. People are tired of waiting. He believes the fringe can raise the bar for everyone: a potential game changer.
Erin Doherty as Tamsin Carmody and Joseph Quinn as Dean Carmody in Katherine Soper's 'Wish List' at the Royal Court (Jonathan Keenan)
Alexander Zeldin, 31,who saw success with Beyond Caring last year and whose play Love is currently transferring from London to Birmingham, is pushing a new, more process-driven approach to theatre. He sees a shift toward more forms of writing and collaborative writing, involving actors heavily in developing his characters. His theatre is firmly rooted in concrete communities: Its important a play makes sense to people and is not removed in some literary bubble - that can happen in our theatre culture. He is now preparing to take Beyond Caring to Chicagos Lookingglass theatre with David Schwimmer, exploring the plays theme of zero-hour contracts with African-American and Latino workers in the US.
The threat to theatres longevity is not a new one. And perhaps the challenge is, as ever, to keep seeking new edges in old tales, bringing fresh stories to the stage and cultivating new audiences by engaging with contemporary issues and a new generation of theatre goers through schools, young people and presenting theatre as something that is not exclusive. Netflix has its attractions, as does the cinema. But there is something idiosyncratic about the collective live experience of theatre, particularly in the close quarters of fringe venues. As MacKeith says: Once made accessible and non intimidating, the form does a lot of the work in keeping people engaged as it is so unique. In fact, it's addictive.
'School Play' will be showing at Southwark Playhouse from until 25 February. The Bruntwood Prize is open for submissions until 5 June 2017.
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Posted: February 7, 2017 at 10:17 pm
A rare film featuring the Scottish pop artist Eduardo Paolozzi in a leading role is to be part of Scotland's silent movie festival.
Lorenza Mazzetti's 1956 film Together features a young Paolozzi in a lead role as a deaf-mute dock worker.
The role was apparently relished by the artist, born in Leith in 1924, and he modelled his performance on Marlon Brando.
Bill Hare, honorary fellow at the Edinburgh College of Art, writes in an introduction for the film: "For those more familiar with Paolozzis brightly coloured jazzy Pop Art work from the 1960s onwardsTogethermight seem strangely different to their expectations.
"In the 1940s and 1950s however, his work was closely connected with austere angst-ridden zeitgeist of the post-war, cold war era, where the dominant avant garde movement was Art Brut."
He adds: "Paolozzi was also fascinated by the world of science in all its forms, including medicine.
"So it would not be surprising that the exclusively visual world of the deaf-mute would attract him and their artificial created system of communication."
Mr Hare said that Paolozzi may also have been influenced by the Oscar-winning classic movie On The Waterfront.
He adds: "In the previous year the film which swept the Oscar awards was one with a similar gritty dockland subject - [Elia]Kazans On the Waterfront.
"So it is possible that Paolozzi is trying his hand at a bit of method acting inTogether- though admittedly he is no Marlon Brando."
Other films in the 2017 Hippodrome Silent Film Festival include the original screen version of Chicago from 1927, The Informer, a film set in revolution-torn Dublin in 1922, and Whats The World Coming To? a 1926 film that takes place 100 years from now when men have become more like women and women more like men and was co-written by Stan Laurel.
All films in the programme feature live scores by an international line-up of musicians.
The 2017 festival includes four musical commissions, with new scores composed by Scottish Album of the Year award-winning musician RM Hubbert, for 1926 Soviet film By The Law.
Raymond MacDonald and Christian Ferlaino have created the music for Together, and Jane Gardner and others for for Festival opener The Grub Stake, from 1923.
One of the themes of the festival, known as HippFest, this year is the "pioneering but largely forgotten women of early cinema, a time when there were more women working at every level in the film industry than there are today."
The Festival opens on 22 March with The Grub Stake, a 1923 adventure created by Nell Shipman, a silent movie star who turned down a studio career to work entirely outside of the Hollywood system.
Lorenza Mazzetti was a novelist, painter and director.
Mazzetti, part of the British Free Cinema movement, is now 89 and was celebrated last year at the Venice Film Festival in a new documentary titled Because I Am a Genius!
Alison Strauss, director, said: At HippFest we are all about making cinema special engaging the best musicians to accompany rarely screened titles, presenting those films in beautiful and atmospheric settings, seeking out the best restorations from the worlds archives, and generating an atmosphere of inclusion and fun with our audience.
"Since we established the Festival in 2011, more and more people are finding out that early cinema is not clunky and out-dated, but rather is fresh and relevant, sometimes even colourful and never actually silent.
"Within our programme people will find unparalleled comedians, experimental work and revelatory new scores alongside youth projects, workshops for school children and grown-ups, a Speakeasy, walks, talks and exhibitions."
Tickets for HippFest 2017 are now on sale.
Originally posted here:
Posted: at 10:17 pm
It went, roughly, like this: Over the weekend, Melissa McCarthy made a surprise appearance on Saturday Night Live, making sweaty, swaggery fun of Donald Trumps combative press secretary, Sean Spicer. On Monday, Politico reported that Trump had been angered by SNLs mockery of Spicernot, it contended, because of McCarthys eviscerating portrayal of him, but because of the person of McCarthy herself. More than being lampooned as a press secretary who makes up facts, Politico noted, it was Spicers portrayal by a woman that was most problematic in the presidents eyes, according to sources close to him. As a top Trump donor added, bringing another voice to an idea that has become prominent in the early days of the new presidential administration: Trump doesnt like his people to look weak.
From there it went, roughly, like this: You know, people began asking on Monday, what Trump would probably really, really hate? Say, just for instance, that SNL found a woman to play top presidential advisor Stephen Bannon. And say that they found not just any woman, but the woman Trump has sparred with more publicly, and more reliably, than any other. The one the president has referred to, over the course of their more-than-decade-long feud, as a real loser and a total trainwreck and crude, rude, obnoxious, and dumb and a fat pig and a slob.
The idea spread. Recruit Rosie! the people cried. Enlist ODonnell! Who better than Trumps so-called pig to really get his goat!
Rosie, it seems, read the tweets. And on Monday evening, jokingly-or-maybe-not-so-jokingly summoning George Washington and William Sherman and Franklin Roosevelt, the comedian gave her succinct reply: I will serve, ODonnell tweeted.
It was all, on the one hand, a low-stakes jokenot so much at the expense of Steve Bannon as it was at the expense of a president who seems to be unprecedentedly thin-skinned. But Recruit Rosie was also, despite its tempest-in-a-tweetstorm setting, much more than a joke: It operated on the premise that jokes can effect significant changes in the daily operations of the White House. It assumed that one bitODonnell playing Bannon, the real loser playing the person who seems to be, in Trumps mind, the ultimate winnercould have not just a comedic punchline, but also a political upshot. Recruit Rosie took for granted that satire can be, at this moment, and with this president, not just a distraction or an amusement, but indeed a weapon of resistance.
In one sense, certainly, thats an extremely old and bland idea. Call it the banality of comedy: Politics and satire have been intertwined since at least the earliest days of democracy. The Roman poet Juvenal, famed practitioner of the art of Satura, noted that it was hard not to write satire, living as he did within the corruption and decadence of the unjust City. Juvenal was, of course, not alone in that sentiment. Shed of the particularities of geography or generation or political system, it is a very human tendencyperhaps the human tendencyto puncture those in power. And American democracy, in particular, with its lively media culture and its hosting of Thomas Nast and Ambrose Bierce and the writers of SNL, has been a particularly eager adopter of the practice. We, the people have become, over the years, extremely adept with our side-eye.
But heres where Recruit Rosie breaks, just a little bit, with all that. Many of the most recent, and most memorable, of the presidential satiresRonald Reagan, secret genius; Gerald Ford, obvious klutz; George W. Bush, sworn enemy of the English languagehave existed not just to amuse their audiences, but also to influence the peoples perception of their targets. They have aimed at the zeitgeist, and, as such, have been less concerned with direct impact than with a softer kind of power: They have generally been concerned with shaping the public impressions that congeal into historical memory. Did George W. Bush, the person, talk about strategeryor did his SNL persona? Satire, when done well, makes it hard to remember for sure. Satire, traditionally, has played the long game.
The Genius of Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer on Saturday Night Live
Trump, however, is not a traditional president. And the satire aimed at him and his administration has been, along with so much else, adjusting accordingly. And thus: Recruit Rosiewhich is about humor, sure (ODonnell as Bannon! Can you even imagine?), but which is also, and more directly, premised on action. It sees itself, as @CaptJaneway2017 suggested, as part of #TheResistance. Its real punchline is that President Trump is so sensitive about his public image that an unflattering portrayal of his primary advisorwhich is also an unflattering portrayal of the presidentmight remove that advisor from the presidents good graces. Taken to its logical extreme it might even get Bannon fired.
The news cycle that hosted the Politico piece about Trumps SNL-driven anger with Spicer also featured another story: The New York Times reported that Trump has been spending the early evenings of his young presidency by retiring to the residence of the White House and watching cable news. It was a revelation that would surprise nobody who follows the presidents cable-driven Twitter feed (though Spicer, for the record, dismissed the entire Times story as one more instanceand, indeed, the epitomeof fake news).
Coupled with the Politico story, though, the Timess reporting suggested just how powerful television has become as a means of shaping not just the publics worldview, but also the presidents. Savvy lobbyists are now buying ads that air during the Fox News Channel and MSNBC shows the president is known to watch, on the assumption that its more efficient to buy presidential attention through ads than it is to try to obtain that most precious of commodities through more traditional means. And, now, people are suggesting that SNL and its satire can function in a similar way.
Recruit Rosie, that meme-y movement, acknowledges how protective of his public image the current occupant of the West Wing seems to be. It recognizes the extent to which President Trump, as a creature of reality TV, remains deeply concerned about his ratings, whether they be manifested through Nielsen scores or crowd sizes or polling numbers or, indeed, late-night comedy sketches. Progressivesand non-progressives along with themhave been publicly wondering how to resist the new president and his policies. Recruit Rosie hints at a tool that might have been overlooked, so far, in those discussionsone that is powerful precisely because it is so basic: Americans abilityat once cherished and time-tested and constitutionally stipulatedto laugh at their leaders.
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Posted: at 10:17 pm
6th February 2017 0 Comments
By Barbara Reynolds TriceEdneywire.com Columnist
Coretta Scott King died on January 30, 2006. Yet her legacy is very much alive as a coalition builder, a strategist and a moral voice that confronted detractors but insisted upon non-violent approaches, such as dialogue, protests and economic boycotts with the end goal of peaceful reconciliation.
In their own analysis 60-era civil rights leaders used to refer to a Zeitgeist, the spirit of the times, which divine dimension that summons leaders exactly when needed most. That certainly describes the timing of human rights activist Coretta Scott King who is experiencing a resurgence as people take a fresh look at those who successfully moved themselves and others forward through the heavy thicket of discrimination such as the leading ladies in the wonderful new film, Hidden Figures.
A second look at Kings legacy should focus on but go beyond her well known decades ordeal of successfully lobbying to make Kings birthday a national holiday and building the Dr. Martin Luther King Center for Social Change in Atlanta. Tourists from around the role visit this site, where her crypt and that of Dr. King are located near Ebenezer Baptist church where Dr. King preached and was funeralized.
Coretta King certainly should come to mind as millions gathered in Washington and in sister cities around the world last week to mount an overwhelming rebuke to President Donald Trumps anti-human rights campaign and his denigration of women, minorities, immigrants and the physically challenged. Her name was scrawled on home-made signs scattered throughout.
It is appropriate that we remember her appeal to women and her global human rights efforts. That was the capstone of Kings 38-year mission as she shifted from civil rights to a more global inclusive human rights agenda after the assassination of her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr in 1968. A favorite slogan was: Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul.
In 1977, President Jimmy Carter appointed her a nonvoting delegate to the 32nd General Assembly of the United Nations, where she advocated for more international focus on the human rights of women. That same year in Houston, she served as Commissioner on the International Womens Year Conference where she created quite a stir over her support for gay rights, an unpopular issue at the time.
In her memoir she tells how she opposed the various womens groups at the Conference who were advocating a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. I feel that gay and lesbian people have families and their families should have legal protection, whether by marriage or civil union. I believe unequivocally that discrimination because of sexual orientation is wrong and unacceptable in a democracy that protects the human rights of all its citizens.
In the historic 1963 March on Washington-which catapulted Dr. King to famewomen, however, were not allowed to march with the leaders or give a major address. But without a doubt King, would have played a supportive role in the Womens march as did her daughter, Bernice King.
King was a spokeswoman for social justice causes, both large and small, writing a syndicated news column on issues from gun violence, to environmental racism, to apartheid in South Africa. She was rarely missing in action. Sometimes you win, just by showing up, she said, often referring to her role as a ministry of presence.
King believed that it is citizen action that is crucial to the making of a president. She often said that Ronald Reagan did not warm to the idea of a Dr. King holiday until the movement created a groundswell for it with three million signatures, marches and years of lobbying Congress. He signed it on November 20, 1983.
In recent weeks several Black leaders have been publicly scourged for meeting with President Trump through his transition stage. King, however, would have been knocking on his door, as she did with all the other presidents in her heyday. And she would not have been there for photo-ops or selfies. As a seasoned coalition building she would have prepared a well- crafted agenda, which called upon Trump to govern as president of all Americans.
In past years, Kings influence was mammoth in the shaping of the political landscape. She successfully campaigned to elect scores of liberals to political office, worked with Carter in the selection of federal judges and threw her weight against those who stood in the way of voting rights.
Typical of her role is how she confronted and helped block Alabama U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions who in 1985 was vying for a federal judgeship. Sessions, who was called brilliant, by Trump is his choice for U.S. Attorney General. In a recently surfaced 10-page letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, King had called him lacking in judgement and temperament who would irreparably harm the work the movement had done to seize a slice of democracy for disenfranchised blacks.
King opposed Sessions for his 1985 attempt to prosecute three civil rights activists from Marion, Alabama for voter fraud accusations that were later proved unmerited. Her opposition to Sessions ran deep because she grew up right outside of Marion which before the movement launched its successful voter rights drive were unable to counter terrorizing attacks on their lives and property. Civil rights activists fear that Sessions will not hold law enforcement officials accountable for the episodic incidents of unarmed Black men being murdered, as was done under the Obama administration.
In the battle to stop Sessions and others who seemed primed to push back advances in human rights, Coretta would not have panicked. In her memoir, she said, Struggle is a never-ending process and freedom is never really won. You earn it and win it in every generation.
And so it goes.
This article originally published in the February 6, 2017 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.
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Posted: at 8:12 am
The nations chicken wing-stained hands, trembling by their beating hearts, did not dare reach for the remote during Super Bowl LIs commercials Sunday, for the very decency of American democracy was on sale alongsidelight beer and mid-size sedans. With the nations wealthiest companies paying more than $165,000 for each second of their ads, who couldresist the temptation to temporarily escape from the game, and maybe even be sold something along the way?
Perhaps some were drawn to the television out of hope that Lady Gaga would make a political statement during halftimewhich came onlyinsofar as the in-character Gaga performance itself was politicalyet they didnt need to wait for the halftime show to encounter highly contrivedpolitical theater.
EachAmerican mega-brand, whether as current asAirBnB or as timeless as Coca-Cola, that had a memorable ad in last nights lineup addressed the rise of Trump in some manner.Though Proctor & Gambles Mr. Clean shook his CGI booty in a bold yet poor apolitical ad, the brands that came out of Super Bowl Sunday with a press boost costing$5 million per 30 seconds had to take hold of the current political movement to strike an oppositional tone towardthe Trump administration and the alt-right.
Normally, touching on anything remotely political in advertising is a cardinal sin that narrows the market (just ask Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner 87). However, all good advertising has an aspirational core that, at its veryessence, is political it just cant initially appear that way. (Again, ask Matthew Weiner).
For some brands, this was easy. Coca-Cola, for example, recycled a 2014 America the Beautiful ad that features a diverse choir of childrensinging the titular song in several different languages interwoven with the English. Thebeverage magnate was able to strategically tap into the anti-Trump zeitgeist while appearing as if that was not its central intention. Any act of curation, however, is as inherently deliberate as making a new ad altogether, but credit for a deft touch is due when necessary.
Budweiser, on the other hand, went for a daringapproach in their primetime ad by running with a loosely historically accurate immigration narrative following its founder through his journey from Germany to the States, facing discrimination and ill will from nationalists along the way.In a country like the United States, there would normally be nothing overtly political about an immigration story. Domestic goods take this approach in advertising all of the time. Yet featuring anti-immigration sentiment toward the hero of the ad a week after Trumps travel ban indicates a clear political choice taken by Budweiser and its corresponding ad agency, Momentum Worldwide. By most accounts, Budweiser seems to have rolled the dice in its own favor here despite a premature #BoycottBudweiser campaign that sprouted up in circles of the internet normally dominated by headlines from Breitbart and InfoWars.
In the realm of gender equality, Audi stuck the landing on the launch of its powerful voiceover ad which centered ona daughter whose father ponders whether or not to tell her about the limits and inherent societal inequality that comes with being a woman. The composition and narrative were balancedwell enough to make the ad an easy hit for the first half, and even wentviral before the start of the game.
Many brands splurged for celebrity shills, stickingto schtick if all else failed. From the gyrating Mr. Clean to the toned cross-fit models selling 95-calorie bottles of Michelob Ultra, plenty of companies with the resources to take a gamble on the political moment kept their chips at bay.
After 50 years, half a century, its all feeling a little formulaic,said Andrew Essex, the chief executive of Tribeca Enterprises and former C.E.O. of the independent ad agency Droga5 (whose clients range from Google andChase to Honey Maid, Trident, and Under Armour) in an interview with Sapna Maheshwari of The New York Times. I find myself, as someone whos not doing this anymore, wondering if this is the single greatest act of economic immolation on the planet.
Mr. Essex may be right. But for the bold few, Super Bowl Sunday wasnt just a time to over-invest in increased revenue, but a timeto get right with history. What is advertising if not the commodificationof our hopes and dreams? If we truly desire to be a diverse and inclusive nation, the proof is in the pudding when the demographic studies turn up, indicating that we should be sold those very same ideals. In a strange, uniquely American way, the best barometer of progress is the reification of our values in advertising, or perhaps merely our anxieties. Either way, Madison Avenue is watching, and itsselling the American Dream.
Jake Lahut can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @JakeLahut.
Posted: February 6, 2017 at 3:16 pm
Last week the great and the good of the luxury world descended upon Geneva Airports Palexpo convention centre for the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie which basically translates as glamorous showcase of mindbogglingly complicated timepieces.
So glamorous, in fact, that even the iron-clad bleakness of Palexpo was not enough to dissuade a healthy crop of A-list visitors, among them Patrick Stewart, Lewis Hamilton and that loveable puppy of hunk, Ryan Reynolds Piagets latest signing alongside equally fabulous Jessica Chastain.
When hes not extolling the virtues of BT Smart Hubs wi-fi reach, Reynolds is persuading newly wealthy millenials that Piaget is no longer the preserve of retired bankers or Steve Martin in Planes, Trains and Automobiles and quite right too; the 60th-anniversary Altiplano pieces he was at SIHH to promote are as crisp and contemporary as youd want from a dress watch (the fact it was his love of that Eighties roadtrip movie that convinced him to sign with Piaget simply makes Ryan even more loveable).
What all this overlooks, however, is the technical mastery involved in realising such a slimline mechanical watch, while maintaining an accuracy that barely wobbles beyond 3 seconds a day. This trademark expertise began in 1957, when Valentin Piaget presented his ultra-thin 9P manual-winding movement to the Basel watch fair.
Being just 2mm thick, the 9P was universally hailed for the elegance of its profile, as well as for its performance and its reliability. Above all, it enabled a broader 20.5 mm dial opening, heralding a new, clean, expansive aesthetic hence the Altiplano name, after the Atacama Deserts pancake-flat Bolivian Plateau.
Ticking inside Ryans new 38mm-diameter is a worthy modern-day heir to the 9P, the manual-winding calibre 430P at just 2.1 mm thick, its combination of winding barrel, geartrain and ticking balance no more voluminous than a two-franc coin.
As confirmed by our two other examples below, and befitting Mr Reynolds zeitgeist appeal, the thinner watch is clearly having something of a moment no bad thing after so many years of flashy, outsized cuff-busters but Piagets is the one to get, and probably will be for another 60 years.
The starting price for the Piaget Altiplano 60th Anniversary pieces is 16,100 (for blue dial model in white gold); Ryan Reynolds green-dial version in yellow gold, pictured, is 22,400. For more information, visit piaget.com
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Posted: at 3:16 pm
Newspapers and magazines around the world have turned to US President Donald Trump for fodder for their front pages.
However, capping off a week that saw the US president sign an executive order banning immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries from traveling to the United States, journals appear to have taken a more somber tone in their depictions of Trump; perhaps none more so than German weekly "Der Spiegel."
Its latest cover has caused afurorand stirred heated debate. Even some of those who don't generally sympathize with Trump's politics see the cover as going too far, even potentially damaging the integrity of the magazine's journalism.
It depicts a recognizable figure of Trump holding up the bleeding head of the Statue of Liberty in one hand, and a bloodstained knife in the other. Inthis week's editorial, "Der Spiegel" editor-in-chief Klaus Brinkbumerdubbed the president "Nero Trump," after the notoriously brutal ancient Roman emperor.
Trump's action and pose depicted on the cover clearly invokes that of Islamist terrorist - and that was always its intention.
The cover's illustrator, Edel Rodriguez, a Cuban political refugee in the US,told the"Washington Post" newspaper that he was prompted to channel his anger into the piece of art following Trump's visa ban.
"It's a beheading of democracy, a beheading of a sacred symbol,"Rodriguez said. "And clearly, lately, what's associated with beheadings is ISIS, so there's a comparison.Both sides are extremists, so I'm just making a comparison between them."
Many Americans havewelcomed the cover as a reflection of how the rest of the world views the new US president.
US filmmaker Morgan Spurlock tweeted: "In case anyone was confused, this is how the world sees the new presidency."
Chris Cillizza of the "Washington Post" described the cover as "stunning."
However, German news organization N24 decried the cover and said it did an injustice to journalism. Journalist Clemens Wergin wrote that the cover"confirms the prejudices many people hold, namelythat the 'mainstream media'does not report without prejudice and that many journalists prefer to promote their own worldview, rather than objectively reporton what is going on in the world."
"Those who allow their own standards to shift will find themselves part of the very zeitgeist that Trump embodies," Wergin added.
Detractors sawconflating Trump with extremism as not just lazy journalismbut also as downplaying the very real threat posed by Islamic jihadism.
Writing in the Daily Wire, right-wing commentator Ben Shapiro described the illustration as "idiotic," especially with Germany facing its own terror threats.
However, while "Der Spiegel's" cover is controversial, those whoassociate themselves with the self-described alt-right movement - a loose collection of right-leaning nationalistic and white-supremacist pundits - are no strangers to posting provocative content.
"Der Spiegel" wasn't the only magazine to depict Trump on its cover this week. US magazine "The New Yorker" adopted a non-violent tone, showing the Statue of Liberty's extinguished torch, while British magazine "The Economist" featured Trump sporting a red "Make America Great Again" cap and getting ready to throw a Molotov cocktail.
Perhaps the most controversial cover this week depicted the president with a sniper's crosshairs superimposed on his head, with a caption reading "Why not." The publication, Ireland's "Village Magazine," ran the cover as part of a feature exploring tyrannicide and democratic lawand came to the conclusion that violence was not the answer to differences of opinion with the US president.
He may just be two weeks into his presidency, but Trump has seen that when he attacks the media, the media attacks back.
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Posted: at 3:16 pm
Actor Jeffrey Tambor said that that when he first read the script for "Transparent," he was so excited about the possibilities he told creator Jill Soloway "I'm in 50,000 times," he told ABC News.
But he also said he realized that playing the part of Maura Pfefferman, a transgender parent, carried with it a "responsibility" that "makes me tremble."
"I met Jill at this Le Pain Quotidien [to read the script years ago] ... I think I said, 'I'm in 50,000 times,' she couldn't get a word in edgewise. I knew it was such a great script, but I had no idea I would be standing at the GLAAD Awards [being honored]," he said. "I'm as equally if not more joyous about the responsibility, though it makes me tremble."
He continued, "lives are at stake."
Tambor, who spoke to ABC News while he was in Houston for Super Bowl LI, promoting a commercial he shot with Tide, said he believes the show, which debuted in 2014, is part of a bigger movement.
"What Jill Soloway [the show's creator] did was shoot this arrow into the zeitgeist, the revolution was already there," he told ABC News. "I just think the timing was amazing and momentous."
Tambor has been lauded for his portrayal of a father coming to terms with who he really is later in life, becoming Maura. For his efforts, he's earned Golden Globe, Emmy and SAG awards, among others. He's called "Transparent" the role of a lifetime, but never imagined he'd be this on-screen symbol of hope for the transgender community.
Tambor said he's seen a change in how people perceive the transgender community and even approach him as the show is enters its fourth season.
He told a story of a man "from the other side of the spectrum," approaching him in public. He believed something nefarious might happen, buy instead, "he just put his hand in mine and said 'Thank you for teaching me about something I didn't know.' That's the whole thing."
The man wasn't the only person who's treated the acclaimed actor differently.
"When I started this I would get the odd comment or odd tweet that was less than salutary," he said. "That doesn't happen anymore. I'm so grateful ... I'm more aware as a citizen, as a husband, as a guest, as a parent if you will. It woke me up and I think everyone is waking up."
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Posted: at 3:16 pm
Itd be easy to pitch Syfys The Magicians by calling it Harry Potter for adults, but thats just the kind of simplification the series avoids. Not only does a Brakebills magical education involve a kind of intellectual rigor that was never present at Hogwarts (Harry never went to class), but actually casting magic in The Magicians requires complicated finger work without the easy crutch of a wand. Children wave sticks and speak some Latin; Brakebills students must learn movements that are not only complex, but they have meaning and purpose that tie into the greater narrative of the stories.
Wands and staves have long been the default tools of unimaginative witches and wizards, but these days, its all about complex hand gestures, or finger tutting. According to Paul Becker, the series choreographer on Syfys The Magicians, the zeitgeist around magic is transforming: I think finger tutting could replace the magic wand. Its way cooler and takes more skill, he told Inverse. I think people are tired of seeing Abracadabra.
Indeed, outside of Harry Potter, magic has taken a turn for the tut. Becker credits Step Up 3D for first introducing tutting to the mainstream, and now its really come into focus with not only The Magicians, but also Marvels hit film Doctor Strange, which was filled with weird conjuring motions. Becker gave Inverse the inside word on all things tutting as the show finds its groove in its second season.
In the books theres relatively little specificity about spellcasting beyond the vague description of intricate finger gestures. How has the development of magic with finger tutting on The Magicians unfolded?
Weve actually developed our own vocabulary a language, if you will and if you compare Seasons 1 and 2, its actually evolved so you can recognize some of the tuts, because some of them have the same meaning. For example, opening a lock or door have some of the same meanings, as does turning heat up and down.
Some of the spells are new; some are a bit of old combined with the new in a sequence, depending on the meaning. Weve really created a vocabulary of spells, and it keeps growing as the causes and effects change. Its been a lot of fun creating it. Choreography isnt just dance steps. Its telling a story, and I think thats why I was brought on: to help tell that story.
Whats the creative process behind developing that vocabulary? How do you decide what motions take on certain meanings?
The whole show is a collaborative process. The producers, the director, and the writers are all giving notes on the tuts, so theres a lot of revisions and even going back to the drawing board at times. Its not as straightforward as a simple finger movement. Its quite intricate.
First, the writers send over the scripts, and a lot of the times it has a brief description probably the type of tut and it generally says what the cause and effect of the tut is. For example, it might cause all of the candles to ignite. So I thought, What might cause candles to ignite? Well, increasingly temperature would do that. So we created a tut that is a general turn the temperature up or down. Things like that, we think deeper than what it says on paper, so thats sort of the process. We try to think, What would cause this? What kind of a gesture would make sense?
I put the tuts on tape, and the actors practice on their own. Then, on the shoot day, I go to set, and then from set we just refine it. Well do set visits and practice with them. Theyre practicing their tuts for a good week or so before they have to shoot it.
And were in different worlds this season, too. Were in Fillory, which is a very earthy, natural, organic world where the spells are very spiritual, if you will. And in Brakebills, its very classical, where the tuts are very geometric and rigid in style. And when we are in New York, its very rough. So weve got three kinds of styles, and three different worlds, and three vocabularies.
Do all characters perform the same spells the same way, or are there subtle variations from character to character?
They should be performing it in the same way because its the same language, but each actor has his or her own limitations. Some have different flexibilities and cant do the same thing. So on the fly, sometimes we have to revise spells because an actor cant move their hand one way or the other. Tutting is quite difficult, so those kinds of limitations have really shaped the language.
What about for special characters like the Beast, who has 12 fingers?
Well, the cool thing about the Beast is that hes so advanced in his tutting and his magic that he doesnt have to do much. He can make the smallest gesture, and itll cause destruction. For the Beast, its small gestures, but that takes years and years of training as a magician.
How did the show as a whole settle on really focusing on tutting as the medium for developing spellcasting?
Obviously, with The OA and Doctor Strange, people are seeing what tutters have done, and theres this developing desire to take tutting to different places and explore it in new ways. For The Magicians, using tutting was something that was developed in the pilot that was shot in Atlanta, that I wasnt involved in. By the time the second episode was ready to shoot, they called me in.
They brought me on board because of my experience with tutting, but almost more so because of my experience with storytelling through choreography; because were not just tutting here its storytelling. And in Season 1, I also got to do the dance number in Quentins mind. We had a lot of fun with that.
But choreography is the art of movement, and a choreographer shouldnt just be able to do dance steps. They should be able to tell a story in a pedestrian way. So I dont think if you just brought on a regular tutter to do this job, you would have the kind of vocabulary weve developed along the way.
Are there any spells that were your favorites?
Yeah, a lot of the ones in Season 2, because were tutting like crazy but I cant talk about many of them yet. But I will say that in the second season theres triple the tuts in every episode. There are way more spells being cast, and with some of the Fillorian spells, theyre very organic and spiritual.
Youve also done some choreography for shows like Once Upon a Time and Legends of Tomorrow. Whats that been like?
With shows like that, a lot of times with choreography, its not a musical number, right? Its movement thats meant to draw the story forward, to advance the plot. So all the scenes I do in shows like that, there are scenes within the scene that move things along. I always say that choreography in general, in a music number, or in any narrative if its not progressing the story, it doesnt belong in the script.
A musical number has to have a beginning, a middle, and an end just like any story, and it has to move the story forward. Thats also what I love about choreography.
Season 2 of The Magicians airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. Eastern on Syfy.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Corey Plante is a multimedia journalist and copy editor living in Brooklyn, NY with his fiancee and two cats. He loves bears, beets, and Battlestar Galactica.
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