Entries Tagged 'Writing' ↓

How To Get On The Cover of a Hip-Hop Magazine.

GrindXDesign is an 8-week series of meetings-by-phone. The calls feature industry pros, talking on subjects that are firmly in the field of their expertise.

So, for example, we could have gotten Vanessa L. Satten, right, editor-in-chief of XXL, and Kim Osorio, below, editor-in-chief of The Source, to talk about touring, and what makes a good live show. They’re certainly knowledgeable, and would have had strong opinions.

Instead, we got Chuck D and Questlove to do that, because, in addition to firm ideas about stagecraft, they also have experience with it, and a legacy of showmanship.

In like manner, for our tutorial on how to get your music covered by magazines, we didn’t seek D.J. Premier, who has. We sought Vanessa and Kim, who do. We did this, because we wanted to make sure that the information you get, as a GrindXDesign registrant, is right and exact. (I’ve written about hip-hop professionally for 25 years, and felt comfortable giving advice in the video clip, above. But I wanted a discussion on how decisions are made given by those who make them.)

D.J. Premier, and Jay-Z engineer Young Guru, right, will both be live, tonight, at 8 pm ET, for GrindXDesign’s first tutorial. I’ll be interviewing them about production and songwriting. Then, I’ll turn our callers aloose to ask these wizards questions on those subjects…and, really, anything else that the students want to ask them.

Note: This is also the first time that Premier and Young Guru have ever appeared together to speak. So, there is a more-than-average amount of historical shine on the event, too.

We’re doing GrindXDesign to help people learn more about the art and business of hip-hop; to show the kind of projects we believe hip-hop needs in order to change; and as the foundation for future projects that, by repeating the formula, do the same…and more. Please kindly support these efforts.

Registration for GrindXDesign is $97. Go to GrindXDesign.com for more information and to get on board.

Harvey Pekar, 1939-2010

Harvey Pekar, above, the renowned comics writer whose life’s own banalities formed his narratives, died from prostate cancer, Monday, at the age of 70.

A mainstay and elder of the underground comics movement, Pekar was an oft and early collaborator with artist Robert Crumb. Yet the Ohio native worked as a Veterans Administration hospital file clerk most, if not all, of his adult life.

It was only after retiring in 2001, that his American Splendor series—turned into a 2003 film starring Paul Giamatti as Pekar—brought him mainstream fame and acclamation.

I met Pekar at our WBAI studios on Wall St. in 2006, when he was promoting his latest American Splendor book, Ego & Hubris: The Michael Malice Story, right, with its namesake subject, the contrary blogger and founder of Overheard in New York.

The late Harvey Pekar, and Michael Malice, are the guests today on this rebroadcasted edition of my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, July 16th, at 2 pm ET.

You can hear their 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.

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.

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Stay tuned! More details tomorrow!

This Movie’s Already Got “Oscar” Written All Over It. Literally.

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Brian McElhaney and Nick Kocher’s hilarious “Academy Award-Winning Movie Trailer,” above, shakes a grab bag of Hollywood cliches until they congeal, forming a self-important, self-referential mess-mass. It’s sort of like the movie version of DustoMcNeato’s declarative riff on a-ha’s “Take On Me,” a year-and-a-half ago, only funnier.

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“A toast, establishing me as the wealthy, successful protagonist, who is handsome,” says the table head in this scene, right. “Murmur of agreement,” guests chirp.

NYU grads McElhaney and Kocher call their “two-tiered explosion” BriTANicK (“rhymes with ‘Titanic’”). But at this rate, they may soon have to change their motto—”Two guys wasting their degrees”—to something else. The End.

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“What You Hear, Kemo Sabe?”: Does Avatar Merely Revive Old Movie Stereotypes of the “White Savior”?

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James Cameron’s Avatar has been hailed for its medium-busting visual effects and astounding commercial success. Since its release on December 18th it has repeatedly topped the box-office in multiple countries, and is now the highest-grossing film in history, having taken in nearly $1.9 billion worldwide.

But, underneath the breathtaking graphics and lifelike performance capture, does the story of Neytiri and Jakesully, above, just retell the story of a white person finding himself by “going native”? Is it merely a fable about Europeans who would take over non-white people, save for the leadership of a Caucasian guy who leaves his reprehensible, bloodthirsty tribe, in order to cast his fate with the natives?

Avatar has famously been compared to Kevin Costner’s Oscar-winning, 1990 work, Dances With Wolves, which also raised similar charges regarding the consistency of the “white savior” myth. Disney’s Pocahontas has also been i.d.-d as Avatar‘s spiritual predecessor, though, perhaps no more pointedly than in these two YouTube clips, the first of which remixes video from Avatar to audio from Pocahontas‘s trailer, and the latter which does the reverse.

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Today, this afternoon, Friday, April 25, at 2 pm ET, on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, my guests are:

Rebecca Keegan, author of The Futurist: The Life and Films of James Cameron;

Dr. Mikhail Lyubansky, a professor in the psychology department of Psychology at the University of Illinois: Urbana-Champaign. He authored “The Racial Politics of Avatar: Part 1″ and “The Racial Politics of Avatar: Part 2″ for Psychology Today‘s web site;

Dr. Raymond A. Winbush, author of three books on race issues, and director of the Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University. His post, “Avatar, Africans and Racism: Some Brief Reflections on James Cameron’s Tale about White Supremacy,” appears on his blog, Reparations for Enslavement and the Blackside of Things.

They’ll talk about Avatar, race, and these issues, with the goal of giving listeners some clarity on them.

chrismatthewsBut first: After the President’s state-of-the-union address this past Wednesday, Chris Matthews, right, of MSNBC’s Hardball fame, opined that Obama “is post-racial, by all appearances. I forgot he was black tonight for an hour.”

I’ll talk with Jesse Washington, race and ethnicity editor for The Associated Press, and author of the essay, “Do Blacks Truly Want to Transcend Race?” about what Matthews meant, and what it means for Obama and our national understanding of the subject.

You can hear these thoughtful individuals’ 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.

Justice’s Drum Major Still Leads.

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Most are familiar with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. image, above, his sonorous voice, and with many of his speeches.

Bu few, perhaps, know that King was a published author who wrote six books during his lifetime: Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story (1958), The Measure of a Man (1959), Strength to Love (1963), Why We Can’t Wait (1964), Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? (1967), and The Trumpet of Conscience, published in 1968, the year he was assassinated.

All of these works are available on Amazon.com, and can provide us with a deeper, more profound appreciation for and understanding of Dr. King’s ideas and great legacy.

Why not commit to reading more of what he said, himself, in his own hand? It would be another way to honor the man who led the march we still walk.

Reevaluating the Remnant.

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An announcement: My paper, “Who Really Is the Remnant Church?,” has been published in the Winter 2010 edition of Adventist Today, above, a quarterly journal of progressive Seventh-day Adventist thought.

It’s one of the most gratifying bylines I’ve ever received. Admittedly, I’m not sure how compelling this news, or the document, will be to people who are not Adventists, nor interested in exegetical critiques of SDA theology.

For those who are, though—one, the other, or both—it should prove provocative reading.

Some background information:

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The Dream of the Blue People.

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avatar-james-cameron-interviewjpg-670a6289770f7c9e_largeThroughout his career, writer/director James Cameron, right, has pushed an insistent, technologically-demanding style of filmmaking seemingly up a cliff. From seeing Star Wars, as a 22-year-old truck driver in his native Canada, to becoming creator of the highest-grossing film in history—1997′s $1.8 billion Titanic—he has taken hold of the film industry by sheer force of will. Meanwhile, with each advancing step, the creator has fought off naysayers and second-guessers, each expecting his next outrageous vision to be his final folly.

With the release of his latest work, Avatar, above, however, Cameron has shattered expectations, as well as creative and financial barriers, to make what is, after five weeks, already the second-highest-grossing film in history, with eyes on its older sister’s No. 1 position.

116347_keegan_rebeccaWho is James Cameron, and what makes him the man and artist he is? In her new book, The Futurist: The Life and Films of James Cameron, author Rebecca Keegan, right, works to get inside his life and thinking. By interviewing Cameron, his family, and his numerous collaborators, the journalist gives a detailed, never-before-seen picture of this remarkable, often confounding auteur; the drive behind the driver, so to speak.

Rebecca Keegan is the guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, January 15, at 2 pm ET.

That conversation, though, will be preceeded by a discussion of the crisis in Haiti. This week’s devastating 7.0 earthquake, which killed an estimated 45-50,000 people, deepens the woes of the Western hemisphere’s poorest nation. We’ll examine the disaster, and the forces at work, globally, that keep the country in its troubled state.

You can hear Rebecca Keegan’s thoughts, and others, 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.

UPDATE: These are links to the Haiti pieces from which I read during today’s NONFICTION broadcast:

Why We Are Partly Responsible for the Mess that is Haiti by Thomas Fleming

Haiti: the land where children eat mud by Alex von Tunzelmann

Also recommended:

Catastrophe in Haiti by Ashley Smith

To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before.

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What is science-fiction?

csicsery-ronayistvan_mugTo Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr., right, you can describe it many ways. But, in the end, “more than a literary genre or a social passion,” sci-fi, or sf, “is a way of organizing the mind to include the contemporary world.”

Well and simply said, and there’s more where that came from. In his book, The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction, Csicsery-Ronay is bullish on sf. A professor of English at DePauw University, and coeditor of the journal Science Fiction Studies, he argues eloquently and passionately for a reconsideration of the form, and for its social utility and intellectual depth.

The title of his book alludes to what he describes as “a constellation of seven diverse cognitive attractions,” pulls, or features, sf possesses, and that make it compelling to fans. These include everything from the way it creates new language to how it handles the notion of history.

Like sf itself, Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr. is a mother lode of ideas. He’s a guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, November 20, at 2 pm ET.

One way sci-fi movies used to let you know you were in the future was to make the president Black. But given that he actually is, does that job now fall to Black female rockers, like Danielia Cotton, above, or perhaps journalist Farai Chideya‘s Sophia Maria Clare Lee, the lead in her new novel, Kiss the Sky?

portrait-faraiIn it, Chideya, right, weaves a fast-moving story of sex, drugs, racial politics, and rock-and-roll; a modern tale of a woman who wants it all, but who also keeps getting in her own way. An ultra-modern woman herself, with credits from Newsweek, MTV, and NPR—where she hosted this blogger numerous times—and other media, Chideya makes no bones about the fact that she’s always wanted to be a novelist. Plus, now that she is one, she gladly shares the good news of how she did it, encouraging others to tell their own unique stories. As she notes in her essay, “How Do I Write A Novel,” “writing — not just the product but the process — is as individual as our fingerprints.”

You can hear Farai Chideya’s and Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr.’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.

Where No Man Has Gone Before.

Kirk and Spock “fanfic”

Fan fiction, or fanfic, is a literary subgenre where super-obsessed viewers of a given TV show or film write their own stories, based on the characters and conventions of that film or show, exploring new or different narrative directions that don’t appear in the original. (For example, in Lord of the Rings, having Frodo and Sam trying to kill, and take the throne from the king, Aragorn.)

Slash is a subunit of fanfic, typically written by women, that enages the otherwise straight male characters of a narrative in homosexual sex with each other. For example, at each rest stop, having Frodo toss Sam’s salad.

Without question, one of the longest ongoing and most voluminous bodies of slash belongs to the original Star Trek universe, which, for some reason, compels fans to create bodice-rippers based on the misadventures of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock.

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