Entries Tagged 'Journalism' ↓

The New York Daily News Covers GrindXDesign.

WOW! Super-ultra-special thanks to The New York Daily News, writer Anita Samuels, and photographer Jeff Bachner for covering the debut module of GrindXDesign, above.

It’s great, stupendous coverage. Admittedly, I’m slightly uncomfortable with Jeff’s crystalline photo, as I typically don’t view myself from the side, but love that he caught the stereo waveform on the computer monitor. Not complaining.

I’m amused that, for the 900th time, a white media organ covering me has utterly excised my title—and this blog’s—Media Assassin, from the text. But I’m thrilled Anita reproduced this quote, perfectly: “Hip-hop is made up of many moving parts, and if you’re not aware of all of those parts, those parts can fall off and roll over you and kill you.” Dag: That gal’s got an ear for a quote.

Of course, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious thanks to Gang Starr producer D.J. Premier and Jay-Z engineer Young Guru, the instructors for our first tutorial on producing and songwriting. Not only were they knowledgeable and frank, but they were hugely entertaining. The duo had never done a speaking engagement before, and there were so many moments I’d sit, looking at them, saying to myself, I can’t believe I’m getting this.

Tonight, 8 pm ET, technology strategist Lena West, right, outlines how the social media landscape has altered the music business for musicians, and how artists can, and should, respond. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Spotify, YouTube, Soundcloud? All up for passionate discussion, and schooling for mastery.

Registration for GrindXDesign is $97. Participants get access to our audio archives; for example, our GXD Free preview with Steve Gordon, and everything that The New York Daily News heard and saw. Come on down: Join the movement we’re building.

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.

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.

Shooting the Enemy: My Life in Pictures with the People Who Became Public Enemy.

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That’s the title of a presentation I’ve been giving at schools around the country. In it, I show some of the photographs I made in the early 1980s, before I started writing. These images—of Chuck D, Flavor-Flav, Bomb Squad leader Hank, above, and Keith Shocklee, as well as others—were created several years before Public Enemy existed, and long before their place in music history was assured. So, they’re a real insight into an important part of music history in its raw, unformed state.

(In the image, above, Shocklee briefly looks up from twiddling knobs at a fraternity party at Hofstra U. in Long Island. It was the kind of event Spectrum City mobile d.j.s, Hank & Chuck’s crew, hosted fairly often during their so-called “salad days.”)

When giving the talk, I speak about getting involved in photography; meeting Chuck D and the rest at Adelphi U.; and growing in hip-hop with them—my education at the feet of, arguably, some of the culture’s most potent masters.

Audiences who’ve seen the images—whether at my original Eyejammie Fine Arts exhibition in 2007, or at these lecture events—recount the innocence and freshness of the images, their humor, and how black & white pictures, which we see less and less these days, project a sharp, visceral quality.

I’ll be speaking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, tomorrow, March 23rd, as a guest of the Department of Afro-American Studies, led by chair Dr. Craig Werner (Higher Ground; A Change Is Gonna Come).

Then, next week, I’ll be returning to the University of Iowa for the knockout: A museum show featuring twenty-six of my photographic prints, then Shooting the Enemy with Chuck, Hank, and Keith, directly followed by a panel with them on the making of P.E.’s Fear of a Black Planet, celebrating its 20th anniversary April 10th. (More on this in a week!)

If you go to, or are associated with, a university that would welcome this cultural-history-discussion-with-pictures, 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.

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.

No Wonder Rielle Hunter Felt Sick When She Saw Her GQ Pictures.

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Is it me, or does former Presidential candidate John Edwards’ paramour, Rielle Hunter, above, give off a certain, I dunno, trashy, ‘coon-eatin’ vibe in her decidedly un-erotic pictures for Gentleman’s Quarterly?

According to Barbara Walters, on today’s The View, Hunter called the doyenne aghast and in tears over her own photos. (This despite footage released by the artist, Mark Seliger, showing Hunter enjoying the shoot and the images.)

Yet, says HuffPo humorist Andy Borowitz, that’s not the worst of it, and far more extreme responses to Hunter’s pics have been widely noted:

NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report) – In a move that many in the magazine world called unprecedented, GQ today recalled the entire print run of its new issue after a photo spread featuring John Edwards mistress Rielle Hunter was found to cause nausea and in some cases projectile vomiting.

rielle3“We at GQ want our readers to know that we are doing everything in our power to avert a public health catastrophe,” said magazine spokesperson Carol Foyler. “And if that means tracking down every last copy of those Rielle Hunter pictures [right] and destroying them, that’s what we’re going to do.”

As emergency rooms across the country overflowed with people who had unwittingly opened the latest GQ and seen the Hunter photos, fresh concerns were raised over the existence of a John Edwards-Rielle Hunter sex tape.

Rand Deckle, press spokesman for the National Institutes of Health, issued this statement on the matter: “Given the health crisis that the Rielle Hunter photos have created, it is imperative that every copy of that sex tape be secured and buried in the center of the Earth.”

I’m tellin’ you that they…wait…no…Bobby!! Put DOWN that DVD!! DO NOT PRESS “PLAY”!!!!!

Barf.

Vanity Fair: White Power Pictures.

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The world gets smaller and smaller, and Vanity Fair‘s gets even tinier, still: Their new, March 2010 Hollywood cover, above, shot by Annie Leibovitz, features a bevy of SPF50-dependent, semi-translucent beauties.

They are, l-r, Abbie Cornish, Kristen Stewart, Carey Mulligan, Amanda Seyfried, Rebecca Hall, Mia Wasikowska, Emma Stone, Evan Rachel Wood, and Anna Kendrick.

While this isn’t unexpected—I’ve written, here, on Media Assassin, before, about VF‘s glaringly white Tinseltown special issues—it is, again, a tad doddering, and way out-of-touch.

cover-girls-bts-1003-we06It’s almost, like, given the kind of talent available and doing amazing work today, if you do a magazine cover of nine young women in film, right, and they’re all white, it’s just because you want it white. You’re making, intentionally or not, a racial power statement.

I wonder: While discussing Haiti over lunch, did any of these actors say, “Wow: This sure is one Caucazoid photo shoot”? Better yet, did anyone refuse to be part of something which so genteely hangs out the NO COLOREDS sign?

I don’t know if these women have thought about this, but, just like global warming, every bit of race adds up, and if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. At least, consider that the next time you’re cast in a project—like this one—that sends relations back sixty years.

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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.

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

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

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.

Why Are the Media Jumping All Over Harry Reid When Bill Cinton’s Comments Are More Offensive?

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What, exactly, is so controversial about U.S. Senate majority leader Harry Reid’s comments about Obama?

Continue reading →

“Lemme See,” Said Tiger Woods. “Think I’ll Hit The Links. Then I’m Gonna Knock Over This Gas Station.”

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Count on cash-strapped photog Annie Leibovitz to dig up the Tiger-Woods-As-Black-Man-You’d-Lock-Your-Car-Doors-For shot, now the cover of the new Vanity Fair.

Is the hatred his wage for casually tapping a baker’s dozen of white women? Can’t imagine that VF, or the rest of American media, would’ve cared if he’d been married to a sister, and/or had cheated with a cluster of ‘em. In any event, it certainly wouldn’t have ranked this Oz reject photo.

Yo, Tiger: If you didn’t know it yet, the Cablinasian Era is officially over.