Entries Tagged 'Money' ↓

Absolutely No More Starving Artists.


modigliani_picasso_and_andre_salmonIn 1920, Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani died at the age of 35, destitute and penniless. Done in by a then uncurable case of tubercular meningitis—and way too much drinking—he was literally so broke that he only ate by trading his work for meals. (That’s, l-r, Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, and critic André Salmon in 1914, Paris, right.)

Of course, today, he is recognized as a genius. In 2004, Jeanne Hebuterne (devant une porte), above, an eponymous portrait of his life’s great love, sold at auction for $31,368,000; a record for his work.

Too bad he couldn’t take a trip to the future, not just to skim some needed cash off the top, but to pick up a copy of author Jackie Battenfield‘s book, The Artist’s Guide: How to Make a Living Doing What You Love. As she notes on her web site, the text

is a comprehensive handbook that provides the information, tools, and techniques, for developing and sustaining a successful art career. It provides answers to the challenges artists face everyday and includes real-life examples, illustrations, step-by-step exercises, and bulleted lists that allow readers to dive in and begin working immediately.

jackie-portraitSome artists see poverty as the price they must pay to become great, or even, wrongly, as a sign of it. But Battenfield, right, a gifted visual artist herself, doesn’t dispute that, at points in one’s career, Ramen noodles can be a sculptor’s best friend.

Instead, her core idea is that, equipped with the right information, an artist can run their career, as opposed to having it run them. Modigiliani would, no doubt, agree.

Jackie Battenfield is a guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, December 4, at 2 pm ET.

i38b-frontThen, eight years ago this month, Wax Poetics, right—the chunky, Brooklyn-based bimonthly—began what has become a stellar run of thirty-eight issues to-date. Designed to putty “the once noticeable gap in music journalism—an editorial void between contemporary artists and classic greats,” the magazine effortlessly bridges disparate blends of groove-oriented musiculture.

Today, I’ll be talking with editor-in-chief Andre Torres, as well as writer Michael Gonzales, author of the current issue’s cover story on Super Fly soundtrack creator Curtis Mayfield.

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

Come Say “Hi” To the Rich Bad Guy: 50 Cent & I Chop It Up, Tonight!


Bobby Van’s Steak House exudes power. This is not only due to its location in the Wall St. area, or because its 28-day, dry-aged filet mignon is $50, but because it’s literally built inside the 107-year-old bank vault of J.P. Morgan & Co. As you can see behind me, in the picture, above, the wine cellar occupies one of the small safes. (In another room, antique deposit boxes cover all four walls.)

It was the perfect place to meet rapper / mogul Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, above right, whose salary in the previous year was estimated by Forbes at $20 million. Ironically, 50’s $75,000-plus-a-day income plots a dramatic fall from the year before, when his $100 million dollar take from the sale of Vitamin Water to Coca-Cola—he owned stock—pushed his annual grab to the astounding sum of $150 mil.

Obviously, Curtis could buy the place. But he was just there talk about Before I Self-Destruct, his new album, as part of BET’s continuing Food For Thought: Conversations With… series. (The first installment, talking to artist / entrepreneur Jay-Z, aired in September, and, like this one, also features Hot 97 NY on-air personality Angie Martinez and sportswriter Stephen A. Smith engaging the artist.)

The 30-minute special airs tonight, Thursday, November 19th, at 7:30 pm, and, yes, it’s true, I did ask him why, in hip-hop circles, he’s not considered the king of New York. Real talk!

It’s Hard Out Here For a Thug.

The recession is affecting all of us, for sure. Leave it to reduced baller Slim Thug and Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, though, to uncover the ways that rappers are, purportedly, most being affected: With fewer platinum front purchases, dinners at strip clubs, and a diminished quality in “video hos.”



404px-jeff_koons_at_the_2009_tribeca_film_festivalRandom thought I had today: With the King of Pop’s death in June, the price of superstar conceptual artist Jeff Koons‘ famed 1988 sculpture, Michael Jackson and Bubbles, above, must be rocketing in value. (Made in an edition of three, plus an artist’s proof, one of the life-sized, 42 in. x 70 1/2 in. x 32 1/2 in. porcelain tchotchkes sold at auction for $5.6 million in 2001.)

Indeed, legendary art dealer Larry Gagosian, who reps Koons, right, told The New York Times back in July that if one of the creations

was to come up for sale now, it could make more than $20 million. “And that’s conservative,” he added.

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You Better Work!


The most interesting fact about a crappy economy is that it often compels people to finally take chances on long-cherished job dreams. In other words, once it becomes clear that, work-wise, nothing is promised, many people figure, “Why not? What have I got to lose?”

How do you make the leap, though?

Pamela Skillings was in an occupation she describes as “soul-draining.” As she told The New York Times last year,

Eventually, I realized that my salary wasn’t worth the emotional price I was paying for it. My compensation package was standing in the way of true success, which for me meant doing work that was meaningful and made me happy.

Pamela Skillings is a communications consultant who blogs on how to get out from under the corporate grind. She’s also author of the book, Escape from Corporate America: A Practical Guide to Creating the Career of Your Dreams.

Pamela’s the guest, today, in this repeat edition of my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, September 5, 2 pm ET.

You can hear her talk about how she made her great escape by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

My Final Visit as VIBE Flatlines.

jay-z-vibeStick a knife in it, they’re done:
Jay-Z unknowingly celebrates VIBE’s last Juice issue, September 2008

When I went upstairs yesterday, to the 21st fl. of 120 Wall St., and the offices of VIBE Media Group, I first noticed the seated retirees at the door. I suspected, and it was later confirmed, that they were security, sent by the company’s owners to maintain the premises as the magazine’s personnel began packing up their professional lives.

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Keep Cash Safe Inside Your Drawers.

tbs_medYou’ve gotta be giving somebody massively hot, amazing sex to make them even think about wanting to pick up your underwear. Yet, if they look like these numbers here, right, I’m guessing even your lovin’ ain’t that good, bud.

Shomer-Tec, long-time retailers of tools for law enforcement, probably agrees. That’s why they decided that a pair of untidy whiteys might be the world’s best place to stash some cash.

Introducing the Brief Safe,

an innovative diversion safe that can secure your cash, documents, and other small valuables from inquisitive eyes and thieving hands, both at home and when you’re traveling. Items can be hidden right under their noses with these specially-designed briefs which contain a fly-accessed 4″ x 10″ secret compartment with Velcro closure and “special markings” on the lower rear portion. Leave the “Brief Safe” in plain view in your laundry basket or washing machine at home, or in your suitcase in a hotel room – even the most hardened burgler or most curious snoop will “skid” to a screeching halt as soon as they see them. (Wouldn’t you?) Made in USA. One size. Color: white (and brown).

Get the Brief Safe, and take a load off your mind. $11.

[via walyou.com]

“Rap is now [officially] dead.”—billy

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

Thanks to a heads-up from one of my readers, billy aka mr_spacials, I’ve got some good news, and some bad news, for you:

The good news is that, if you’ve got musical skills, you may get to use them and win cash prizes in a brand new contest, above.

The bad news is that you have to listen to talking head John Tesh’s flat, flavorless “rapping,” quote-unquote, to get the details.

A Milli, A Billi, A Trilli.


“A million here, a million there….”—Lil Wayne, “A Milli”

“Let’s make it a billion….”—Jay-Z, “A Billi,” feat. Lil’ Wayne

“A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.”—attributed to late U.S. Senator Everett Dirksen (R-IL)

Obama BudgetFor the first time in U.S. history, it is not uncommon to hear politicians talk about trillions of dollars when discussing sums relevant to our national budget. For example, just yesterday, the Obama administration announced that, working with private institutions, the government would acquire over $1 trillion worth of toxic mortgage securities. The U.S. deficit is expected to hit $1.8 trillion this year. The price tag of the Iraq War has been estimated at $3 trillion. Over the next decade, President Obama’s deficits, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated, could total $9.3 trillion.

Most people have no idea whatsoever how much money these words represent, though. Some understand the basic math: A thousand dollars equals ten $100 bills, like the crisp note, above. A million bucks is a thousand bundles of a thousand dollars. (O.K., it’s starting to get fuzzy already….) A billion is a thousand millions. A trillion is a thousand billions.

But even these words do little to convey the size of the funds under consideration. I mean, even the best description I ever heard of how big a trillion dollars is—more than it’d cost to spend a million dollars every day since the birth of Christ—doesn’t really convey it. How long ago was Christ born? How big is a million? What does it feel like to live, let alone spend money, for centuries?

A picture, however, is still truly worth a thousand words, and the creator of the PageTutor article, “What does one TRILLION dollars look like?”, has literally performed a national service, answering that question in a way, I promise, you will never, ever forget.

He starts with a $100 bill, like the Benjamin, below.


Pretty much anyone who works can relate to this piece of currency. It neatly fits into our common spending and earning protocols. It is the largest U.S. bill being circulated.

Next, “A packet of one hundred $100 bills is less than 1/2″ thick and contains $10,000. Fits in your pocket easily and is more than enough for week or two of shamefully decadent fun.”


Next, here’s what a million dollars in those $100 bills looks like, next to a white guy for both scale and relevance:


Now, feast your eyes on $100 million, set square upon a pallet.


You’d need more than seven of these to pay for one day of U.S. operations in Iraq.

A billion dollars has effectively been the common unit of spending for government purposes at least since the 1960s. As noted, above, Senator Dirksen is famed to have said as much in his “A billion here…there” quip.

Here’s what a billion dollars looks like at this scale, on ten $100 million pallets.


And finally, a trillion dollars, the new unit of government spending, after the jump:

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Eliminating the 10:1 Wealth Gap.

American history in six panels

Differences in the conditions borne by Black and white Americans can be measured by all kinds of metrics—life expectancy, infant mortality, rates of incarceration, and many more.

But according to Smart Money magazine, when it comes to quantifying the economic disparities between Black and white Americans, median net worth may be the most trenchant and clarifying measure of all. Says the magazine in blunt, yet utterly startling language,

White households in the United States had a median net worth of $118,300 in 2004, the most recent year for which Federal Reserve data is available—10 times the median net worth of the typical black household, which was just $11,800.

Why does this absolutely outrageous ratio exist?

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