Entries Tagged 'Design' ↓

How Not To Get A Record Deal.

I’m absolutely certain I could not have asked two better guests to lead the first module in our GrindXDesign eight-week tele-course.

The conversation takes place this coming Wednesday, August 15, 8 pm ET. It’s called, “How To Get A Record Deal,” and it’s led by Wendy Day, right, and Dan Booth, below.

Why do I think they’re the best choice? Have you ever looked at a modern recording contract?

Wendy has, and so has Dan, both many times. Apparently, what they’ve seen has so terrified them that they’ve decided to warn every human being who may, even accidentally, come across such a labyrinthine, all-encroaching, aggressively one-sided document.

Wendy does this through her activism, as the long-standing founder of the advocacy organization, Rap Coalition. Dan gets it in through his firm, Booth Sweet LLP. He describes himself as an attorney for “people in creative industries”—that probably means you—with a focus on copyright and trademark law.

Most of all, though,  Dan and Wendy both have a passion for right that, in this cynical age, probably strikes evil people as mad corny, but that to me is admirable and desirable. Also, I dig Wendy’s direct, no-nonsense e-book, How To Get A Record Deal: The Knowledge to Succeed, right, so much that I bit the title for GrindXDesign, and malformed it for this post.

(Plus, Wendy was a guest this past Friday, August 10, at 2 pm ET, on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION. If you missed the live show, here’s the link; go to the 32-minute mark if you don’t check out the whole thing. It’ll be in our archives for up to 90 days after the broadcast.)

How not to get a record deal? The best way not to get a record deal is to not take the GrindXDesign telecourse. And HURRY! The early bird price is an awesomely reasonable $77 for the whole eight weeks—less than 10 bucks a session—but it goes up to $97 on Sunday night! Don’t cry to any of us when the industry takes your money, B. When they do, it’s gonna be a lot more than a hundred bucks.

Wish You Were Here.



The disappearing landscape is an issue in all communities, and the question of how to preserve the visual character of towns, cities and rural areas is always pressing.

This is even the case in Havana, Cuba’s capital and largest city, where political and economic isolation have compelled Cubans to retain the use of structures longer than many urban centers might.

Yet Havana is, indeed, changing. It’s a turn that Cathryn Griffith, in her new book, Havana Revisited: An Architectural Heritage, covers through an unusual technique of matching early 20th century postacards, bought primarily through the internet, to modern-day views, like these of Cuba’s famed Centro Gallago, above. Through this unusual technique, Griffith not only documents the historical form of the island’s architectural heritage, but creates a template for how communities may, perhaps, preserve that tradition in any place.

Cathryn Griffith is a guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, April 16, at 2 pm ET.

screen31But first we’ll speak with Peter Pennoyer and Anne Walker. Pennoyer is the principal partner of Peter Pennoyer Architects and chairman of the Institute for Classical Architecture and Classical America. Walker holds a degree in historic preservation from Columbia University, and has co-authored three books with Pennoyer. Their newest, The Architecture of Grosvenor Atterbury, tells the story the late 19th / early 20th century architect whose classical forms, resistant to modernist trends developing in Europe and other places, led to some of the most beautiful structures of his era. Many are well-preserved, even now, and commissions like these stone barns for the Rockefeller family, right, or his design of New York City’s Forest Hills Gardens, continue to delight and inspire.

You can hear Peter Pennoyer’s, Anne Walker’s, and Cathryn Griffith’s ideas by tuning in at 2 pm ET. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

How I’d Like To Fly the Friendly Skies.


This week, Miramar, FL-based Spirit Airlines announced that, beginning in August, passengers would be charged up to $45 per bag, not to check luggage, but to carry it onto the plane.

Their foul money grab puts a cherry on top of what airline passengers have known, seemingly, for a generation: Unless you’re rollin’ solo, above, flying is the pits.

Not from outside the plane, however. It’s in that world, where flying’s grace and beauty is palpable, that aerial photographer Erik Hildebrandt reigns.

erikHildebrandt, right, has released over half a dozen books of his work through his own company, Cleared Hot Media, Inc. (The title is a military expression meaning one has permission to engage a target.) These include Anytime, Baby: Hail and Farewell to the U.S. Navy F-14 Tomcat and his Front Row Center: Inside the Great American Air Show series, now up to four volumes.

Erik Hildebrandt is the guest today on this rebroadcast from my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, April 9, at 2 pm ET. During our talk, we discussed the process of making pictures, how airplanes are built, the notion of warfare and the reasons for it, and more.

As well, in a few weeks, in a never-before-aired, upcoming piece, I’ll talk to him about his work as a self-publisher, that being an increasingly meaningful preoccupation in this era of media independence.

You can learn more about his work by visiting his Vulture’s Row web site, or by tuning in today at 2 pm ET. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

Malcolm McLaren, 1946-2010


The New York Times reports the death of svengali, impressario, and iconoclast Malcolm McLaren, above, today, at the age of 64.

His companion of many years, Young Kim, confirmed that Mr. McLaren died on Thursday, and said that he died of mesothelioma at a hospital in Switzerland.

never_mind_the_bollocksMcLaren is best known, and will be most remembered, for assembling and managing the sneering punk prototypes, the Sex Pistols. Fearsome and outrageous, especially in an era that had just come through yacht rock and disco, the quartet’s sole, 1977 studio album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, right, remains one of the most influential rock albums ever. (This fact later led McLaren, with typical, consumate bombast, to declare himself “the inventor of punk.”)

I didn’t know about any of that, however, until much, much later. I didn’t know who McLaren even was until one afternoon in 1982, when driving down Commercial Ave. in Freeport, listening to my ’75 Impala’s radio, I heard the opening wails of his agglomeration with New York’s World’s Famous Supreme Team, “Buffalo Gals.”

Continue reading →

Black is Definitely Back: Chuck D, Hank & Keith Shocklee, and I Invade the Heartland, Armed with Historic Photos and Fear of a Black Planet.


250px-jamestkirkThis is amazing: I’m back in Iowa; the Breadbasket of the Nation; the state that Ashton Kutcher, Ann Landers, Slipknot, T-Boz, gymnast Shawn Johnson, and Elijah Wood all call home, and that, in 223 years, will be the birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise, right.

Why am I here? Well, tomorrow, April 1st, marks one year to the day since I last visited the University of Iowa, to screen photographs that I took during my early life with Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Hank Shocklee, and others who formed our pre-Public Enemy crew.

I do this as part of a presentation I’ve been giving at schools around the country, titled Shooting the Enemy: My Life in Pictures with the People Who Became Public Enemy. (For example, last week I spoke at the University of Wisconsin: Madison, and had an excellent time.)

Well, this time, the University of Iowa has upped the doggone ante: For three months, now through June 27th, prints from my archives—ranging in size from 11 in. x 14 in. to 30 in. x 40 in.— will be shown by the University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA).

It’s part of UIMA’s exhibition, Two Turntables and a Microphone: Hip-Hop Contexts featuring Harry Allen’s “Part of the Permanent Record: Photos from the Previous Century,” curated by UI professors Kembrew McLeod (Copyright Criminals) and Debroah Whaley, and on display at the Iowa Memorial Union’s Black Box Theater. (Here’s an interview with me about the images, my thoughts on hip-hop, and more.) That morning, I’ll even be talking with a photography class about the work!

800px-herky_and_tigerhawkThis, in and of itself, is incredible to me, and would have been more than reason enough to return to the original home of the indigenous Ioway people, and now the Hawkeyes, right. This is the first showing of my work since the 2007 Eyejammie show that got the ball rolling.

But McLeod didn’t create that über-cool graphic, above, just for me. Here’s the really ill part; the detail that throws this all up to the level of major sickness:

today2At 7:00 p.m. in Iowa City’s historic, 98-year-old, recently restored Englert Civic Theatre,
right, I’ll be lecturing and showing some of those those images, again, but with a twist: I’ll be doing it as part of a live panel, featuring Chuck, Hank, and Keith Shocklee, that then leads into a discussion on the making of P.E.’s 1990 album, Fear of a Black Planet.
Released on April 10 that year, this new month marks the work’s 20th anniversary.

publicNot only have I never done a, no pun intended, public event on Fear, right, not to mention one with its original creators, but I’ve never presented my photos—of them—with them in the audience! I may break down in tears from the emotion of it all, y’all. Then, to top it off, there will be a rare, live performance by the Bomb Squad…which definitely takes me back to the era of my original pictures of Hank, below, Keith, and Chuck.

Though I know some of you won’t be in Iowa today, check this out: the four of us will be appearing on KRUI, the university’s excellent, student-run radio station, at 1:30 pm ET/12:30 pm CT, and the conversation will be streamed live, so definitely hit that.

hankwtmk0000And, don’t forget: If you go to, or are associated with, a university that would welcome seeing Shooting the Enemy, right, please get at me. Or, if you’re a scholar or programmer who values primary voices, and would like to have me present at your school or in concert with your department, this year or next year, please let me know: Drop me a note at HAllen@HarryAllen.info, or tweet me @HarryAllen, and, as Chuck D says, let’s get it on.

The Official Iowa Caucus: The State That Elected Obama Casts Their Vote For Public Enemy, Chuck D, the Bomb Squad, and the Media Assassin in a Black Planet Summit.


Stay tuned! More details tomorrow!

Witch Better Have My Potion.


Rumpelstiltskin reappears as the central villain in Shrek‘s fourth installment, Shrek Forever After (formerly Shrek Goes Fourth). Looks like he brought the whole coven for yo’ behind.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

[via IMP Awards]

Alexander the Great’s Final Victory.


A dazzling ensemble, above, from late designer Alexander McQueen’s crowning collection, shown ten days ago in Paris.

McQueen hanged himself in his London apartment on February 11. Friends said he’d been painfully desperate after the death of his mother just over a week earlier.

Reviewing the pieces, The New York Times solemnly bowed to the artist, his star so suddenly and sadly dimmed: “At this point, not much more can be said about the brilliance of McQueen’s work.” Remember him well.

When the Saints Go Wop Bop-A-Loo Mop-A-Lop Bam-Boom.


clipse-lord-willin-frontI became aware of artist Vicki Berndt‘s gifted hand upon seeing her cover for the Clipse’s 2002 release, Lord Willin’, right. In the dreamlike vision, rappers Malice and Pusha T drive a JFK-style droptop, with a Black Jesus riding shotgun in the back seat. Delicately radiating the sobering hues of Virginia Beach dilapidation via magic realism, the work is one of my all-time favorite album covers, hip-hop or otherwise.

Born in El Centro CA in 1961, Berndt painted and took pictures of her favorite rock stars in school, printed fanzines, and even joined a punk band, the Maggots, as their lead singer. Later, she took photos of friends’ groups, eventually working for magazines.

il_fullxfull123274566However, she never stopped slathering the canvas, and paints full-time today, selling both reproductions and her original creations. Her series of works besainting musicians, like Little St. Richard (18 x 24 ins.), above, range from about $1,000 to about $1,600 and more, when not quickly snatched up, first. However, less costly pieces are also available, and highly desirable.

For example, check out The Keene Supremes, her three-candle set, above. The 6 x 3-inch pieces, each featuring one of the Supremes’ likenesses done in the style of Margaret Keane‘s “big-eyed children” paintings, can all be picked up for a mere $40. Why not grab an armful? If it were up to me, Berndt, like the saints and sinners she renders, would definitely be counted among pop’s true icons.

Don’t Stand So Close To Me.


A site about “Architectural Conjecture, Urban Speculation, [and] Landscape Futures” certainly seems to promise heady distraction, and Geoff Manaugh’s BLDGBLOG delivers by the Liebherr T 282B-full.

Up since July 2004, BLDGBLOG totes a range of diversions almost as wide as Manaugh’s obviously fertile mind: Ice floes (and interplanetary atmospherics); automobile test tracks; odd, old synthesizers; hell; and designing the long-term storage of nuclear waste. Every post delights with inquisitive, nimble writing and typically dreamy images, and his The BLDGBLOG Book—which compiles dozens of his best pieces—makes the whole enterprise fit on your shelf.

Now, in a new exhibit at the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York City, Manaugh and co-curator Nicola Twilley (Edible Geography) turn their focus on another underaddressed, little-grapsed element of the human landscape. As states the page for Landscapes of Quarantine, which opens March 10th,

At its most basic, quarantine is a strategy of separation and containment—the creation of a hygienic boundary between two or more things, for the purpose of protecting one from exposure to the other. It is a spatial response to suspicion, threat, and uncertainty. From Chernobyl’s Zone of Exclusion and the artificial quarantine islands of the New York archipelago to camp beds set up to house HIV-positive Haitian refugees detained at Guantánamo and the modified Airstream trailer from within which Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins once waved at President Nixon [above], the landscapes of quarantine are various, mutable, and often unexpected.

Geoff Manaugh is a contributing editor at Wired UK and former senior editor of Dwell magazine. He’s also the guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, March 5, at 2 pm ET.

You can hear this provocative ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.