Entries Tagged 'Military' ↓

When DAM Breaks, the Sound of Palestinian Freedom Gets Unleashed.

Palestinian hip-hop trio DAM, above, wield the power of hip-hop as a force against the Israeli occupation of their homeland—the world’s longest—and their minds as well.

Formed in 1998 by brothers Suhell and Tamer Nafar, center and right (friend Mahmoud Jreri, left, was added later), they initially sought to make party records that would earn them cool points with peers and the ladies. Then it was still “just for fun,” says Tamer. They completed a six-track EP titled Stop Selling Drugs, the first time any Palestinian had ever recorded rap music.

What politicized them, however, was the Second Intifada of 2000…and the music of 2Pac. As Tamer poignantly told me, for my March 2008 piece in VIBE, “Straight Outta Palestine,”

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How I’d Like To Fly the Friendly Skies.

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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.

Powerfully Leading the American Axis of Awesome.

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Washington vs. Tiger, above, is a digital painting by artist Jason Heuser, aka SharpWriter. It imagines our first president defiantly battling a ferocious Bengal beast from the aft of a disintegrating boat…in the middle of what must be a Category 5 hurricane.

Right. If this doesn’t say everything you need to know about the United States of America, I don’t know what does.

[via nextround.net]

Alexander the Great’s Final Victory.

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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.

Let It Whip: Iron Man 2‘s New Trailer Threatens to Blind You with Hotness.

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Iron Man 2 debuts May 7, and if trailer No. 2, below, is any indication, prepare to defensively wet your pants.

First, the movie pits Iron Man—aka multi-billionaire weapons designer / playboy Tony Stark, above—against nemesis Whiplash, played by misshapen beast-of-a-man Mickey Rourke.

Then, the flick stuffs itself silly with cool actors in deft supporting roles: Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury; Don Cheadle, replacing Terrence Howard, as Lt. Colonel James “Rhodey” Rhodes aka War Machine; Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow; and Gwyneth Paltrow returning as Virginia “Pepper” Potts.

Finally, if you’re staring at that photo and can’t figure out the look of Iron Man’s suit, watch the trailer and get your mind blown backward.

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Bombs Away.

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320px-ringmaster_goldenstateEver since I was was in 4th grade, watching the older kids in our suburban grade school fly control line model planes, like this one, right, before class, I’ve possessed a soft spot for the sport of flying scale fueled aircraft. I’ve never had the money or the spare time to commit and truly learn, not to mention master, the art, but I’ve always thought, and think, I might, one day, hunker down and do so.

Imagine my surprise, though, when, peeking into the field several years later, I learned of the astounding levels to which skilled would-be flight jocks and plane builders had taken this pastime. See that B-52 in video still, above? Most people, upon spying the image, would conclude some lucky fan had squeezed off a shot of the U.S. Air Force’s workhorse, off on another mission.

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Sword Play.

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Do you like a good sword? Now available on DVD, the documentary Reclaiming the Blade geeks out on the history and power of “the Medieval and Renaissance blade, a profound and beautiful object hand-crafted by master artisans of old.” Indeed, the weapon is

an object of great complexity, yet one with a singular use in mind – it is designed to kill. The truth of the sword has been shrouded in antiquity, and the Renaissance martial arts that brought it to being are long forgotten. The ancient practitioners lent us all they knew through their manuscripts. As gunslingers of the Renaissance they were western heroes with swords, and they lived and died by them. Yet today their history remains cloaked under a shadow of legend.

Reclaiming the Blade is narrated by the stentorian John Rhys-Davies and features, among others, Lord of the Rings actor Viggo Mortensen talking on swordcraft. Sounds sharp.

It’s What the Fashionable, Well-Dressed, Battle-Hardened Woman Is Wearing This Fall.

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Ever seen this movie?: An angry couple is in their humid apartment’s living room, screeching at each other. The man, in a fit of passion, loudly slaps the woman.

Instead of cowering, though, she becomes enraged. “YOU FILTHY MOTHER$%&@#%!!” she curses, holding her bruised cheek in pain and shock. He tries to apologize. “Baby, I’m sorry. I don’t know what happened!” She’s done, though. Her eyes go cold. “Oh, I got somethin’ for you…you dirty MOTHER$%&@#%!!” she screams, as she disappears into the darkened bedroom.

Typically, she returns with a gun. But wouldn’t it be cool if the next thing you heard were servomotors…then the sound of a smashing bedroom door frame as she emerged from the dark, not with a .38, but piloting one of these, above: A Super Armored Fighting Suit (S.A.F.S.), from the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion?

900575_press16-001Marketed by the unstoppable Sideshow Collectibles, this Medicom Toy piece, marketed in collaboration with Toys McCoy, is fully 1:6 scale. The eight-pound, 16″ tall, finely detailed unit

combines vinyl, PVC, and metal to bring you this articulated fighting suit, complete with fully realized 12-inch figure pilot. The Super Armored Figure Suit features opening hatch and arms, articulated shoulders and waist, and a manipulator on the right arm. The interior details of the machine are perfectly realized with lights and the 47mm Prg. 56 Examiner razor revolves for added authenticity. Driving this detailed super suit, the female pilot features a headset inspire by U.S. and German models, comes with switch-out gloved and bare hands, and comes clothed in an authentic figure uniform.

The mecha opens out and can completely encase the pilot inside, above. Plus the driver’s got what every guy collector wants on his toy girl warriors: Fully erect nipples, engorged, no doubt, from the adrenalized rush of battle. Hey, no one should ever put their hands on anyone else in aggression, and no man, especially, should ever do so to a woman. But when you’ve gotta fight back, girls, go robotic. Out 1st Qtr 2010, limited to 600 pieces. MEDICOM TOY Super Armored Fighting Suit (S.A.F.S.), $1,249.99.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Introducing the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Winner.

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“For what?”

That was my response Friday when a friend tweeted me with news that President Barack Obama had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Unguarded as my words were, though, similar sentiments would soon reverberate across the land as incredulous newswatchers wondered the same question aloud. Like him or not, what exactly had Obama done during his first eight months in office to deserve what is, arguably, our species’s highest honor for reconciliation?

TIME.com writer David Von Drehle remains one of the incredulous, apparently. As he ponders next year’s Nobel, and the list of presumably more deserving recipients, the journalist has reached an odd, yet captivating, conclusion:

If the Nobel Committee ever wants to honor the force that has done the most over the past 60 years to end industrial-scale war, its members will award a Peace Prize to the bomb.

Von Drehle is not kidding in the least. In his adroitly titled, “Want Peace? Give a Nuke the Nobel,” he argues

60728-004-bcf9187dthat industrial killing was practiced by many nations in the old world without nuclear weapons. Soldiers were gassed and machine-gunned by the hundreds of thousands in the trenches of World War I, [right] when Hitler was just another corporal in the Kaiser’s army. By World War II, countries on both sides of the war used airplanes and artillery to rain death on battlefields as well as cities, until the number killed around the world was so huge that the best estimates of the total number lost diverge by some 16 million souls. The dead numbered 62 million or 78 million — somewhere in there.

So when last we saw a world without nuclear weapons, human beings were killing one another with such feverish efficiency that they couldn’t keep track of the victims to the nearest 15 million. Over three decades of industrialized war, the planet averaged about 3 million dead per year. Why did that stop happening?

It did, Von Drehle says, for one reason: Thanks to nuclear weapons,

Major powers find ways to get along because the cost of armed conflict between them has become unthinkably high.

Is Von Drehle right? It’s an old argument, that the power of the nuke is not explosive, but aversive; that no one really wants to see one go off. And although there’s exactly zero chance the Norwegians will give a Peace Prize to the Peacekeeper, the notion has got to have the inventor of dynamite—Alfred Nobel—cracking up in his grave.

[via TIME.com]

For Them We Unsheath the Blade.

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As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, when I spoke with Clive Young in March on NONFICTION, my radio show, I referred to a Star Wars fan film I’d seen of whose name I was not sure. I thought it was The Way of the Saber, but had to research it.

As it turns out, I was mostly correct: The 6-minute short, 2002′s Art of the Saber, by brothers Calvin, Clarence, and Cary Ho, employs the basic phoneme of SW fan film language—two men locked in light saber battle—invigorating it with flashy martial arts. But as opposed to then rehashing tales of Darth Vader 497px-sullivan_ballouand Luke Skywalker, the Ho brothers, instead, frame their somber work with the words of Union soldier Captain Sullivan Ballou’s famed 1861 letter to his spouse, Sarah.

One of the most captivating documents to come out of the Civil War, the note is powerful for the beauty of its prose, the depth of its feeling, and that its author, writing in noble contemplation of sure death, never saw his wife and children again. Ballou, above, 32, was cut down at the First Battle of Bull Run within a week of writing the text.

By drawing from Ballou’s pathos, the Ho brothers imbue their piece with the Captain’s sober dread, forging a story that is both new, timeless, and a powerful meditation on the cost of war.