Entries from August 2009 ↓

Welcome To Hell, Scarface.


I don’t believe in reincarnation. But if there was such a thing, could you think of a more deserved next life for coke-shoveling crime boss Tony “Scarface” Montana, above, than to spend  his days as a sales call-answering schlub?

Neither can UK artist GsG Scar. That’s why, in “Callface,” his hand-signed and -numbered, limited-edition-of-50 print, Tony doesn’t invite you to SIE ALLO TUH MAH LEEDOH FRAH!! No, as played by the diminutive Al Pacino, he is your little friend, pulling up your order of 8-950s, rotor pumps, or whatever it is people who wear headsets at desks do all day.

Eight-color screenprint on acid-free 300 gm paper, 19 3/4 inches by 27 1/2 inches,  $156.50, incl. s/h from the Kingdom.

[via posterwhore.com]

Is Architecture Out Of Control?


In the book, From Control to Design: Parametric / Algorithmic Architecture, thinkers and practitioners look at the way today’s most aggressive and innovative firms are using computation to make the art of creating space a wholly new and radical venture.

This 26-foot-high, 69-foot-long, 17-ton aluminum sculpture, above, “The Morning Line,” by artist Matthew Ritchie, architects Aranda/Lasch and civil engineers Arup AGU, typifies the kinds of complex structures, and constructions, with which creatives are now playing. As the book reasons, the types of innovation possible are only increasing exponentially.

If the first generation of digital modeling programs allowed designers to conceive new forms and processes, a new breed of digital techniques is being discussed to control and realize these forms. How are these techniques affecting architectural practice and what potentials do they offer?

Architect Irene Hwang, one of From Control to Design‘s editors, is the guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, August 28, at 2 pm ET.

You can hear her 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.

Planet Brooklyn.


Familiar landmarks within New York City’s largest borough dominate this image, above. The spectacularly detailed view was shot by NASA’s EO-1 (Earth Observatory) satellite, as it hovered over 438 miles above the nation’s most populated city, on September 12, 2001.

Microsoft Introduces Its Most Advanced Application, Yet: Windows RaceChange Suite Express for Vista.


See Orlando, the one in the middle, above? He’s smiling, but, like a lot of Black people, deep down inside, he’s tired of being ignored. Passed over for promotions. Always asked to work on his company’s “ethnic marketing” campaigns.

I mean, look at him: He’s the oldest guy in his unit, because everybody who got hired when he came on has moved up. Meanwhile, Jenny, right, is team leader, and in line for the division president position. Ignore the Asian guy!

Grrrrrrrrrrr. It’s enough to infuriate a person.

Or, at least, it was. But that was before we, at Microsoft, introduced The Microsoft Advantage, courtesy of our most advanced software to-date: Windows RaceChange Suite Express for Vista.

With a few quick taps on his laptop, Orlando, above, becomes “Bob,” below.


WOW! Look at him now! Wouldn’t you like that guy running North American sales? Notice the respect, the vitality! That’s the kind of man that leads men…and Jenny to the bedroom!

Plus, he speaks Polish!

Microsoft Windows RaceChange Suite Express for Vista: And, remember: At Microsoft, race isn’t a bug. It’s a feature.

[via @LenaWest, CNET News]

The Fast and the Furious Five.


All of us can remember people who who changed us forever. I’m talking about those individuals whose advice gave us needed direction when our lives came to diverging paths. There, we had to make a choice about what we’d do, and, though we didn’t know it then, that decision would affect the rest of our existences. They’re the people without whom our personal stories would be pale, unremarkable versions of the glorious ones we ultimately chose, and now inhabit.

vin-diesel-picture-1Well, I don’t who this person was in the case of young Mark Vincent, above. However, I do know that the mature Vin Diesel, right, and the world, are eternally grateful for three specific bits of counsel he accepted:

1) “Mark Vincent…I dunno. Vincent…Vincent…um…Vin? Don’t you think “Vin” would be catchier?

2) “Lose the ‘fro.”

3) “STOP BREAKDANCING. You have no talent, or flava, whatsoever.”

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

Laughing With You, Or At You?: Does Yale’s “Single Asians” Debunk or Traffic Old Stereotypes?

screen11You all get Fs: Mixed Company sets Asians back thousands of years

Adam Clayton Powell was fond of noting that Harvard University had “ruined more Negroes than bad whiskey.” Well, perhaps his Korean counterpart is somewhere saying the same thing about Asians at Yale.

That was my first random thought when I saw this bit, today, on YouTube: Purported members of the Mixed Company of Yale University chorale, above, shuffling to their reworked version of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies”: “Single Asians.”

Continue reading →

Syd Mead’s Cutting Edge Universe.


For years, conceptual designer Syd Mead has been the man to whom companies go when they need to advance an audacious vision of the impending future.

Sydney Jay Mead was born in 1933, in Saint Paul, MN, to a Baptist minister and his wife. After graduating from the Art Center in Los Angeles in 1959, he worked at Ford Motor Company’s Advanced Styling Center in Dearborn, MI for two years. He then spent part of the next decade rendering now legendary concept illustration for U.S. Steel, above. “He painted,” one Mead fan site notes, “using a slick, detailed method that made the future seem fresh, clean, and thrilling.” He started Syd Mead, Inc. in 1970.

2214587372_f2ac688e8eat-at005Soon, Hollywood came calling with movies that required his ultra-hard, visually authentic and tactile designs. (Mead lists his favorite metal as “chrome,” and his favorite color is, gulp, “Cherenkov radiation blue.”) His indelible technological notions were then emblazoned on sci-fi like Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Aliens, and Tron. (Indeed, some would argue that his US Steel snow walker, above right, obviously influenced another one in a galaxy far, far away, below right.)

bladerunner_spinner_billboardblade-runner1syd-mead-blade-runnerBut it was Blade Runner, right, Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic, on which Mead’s dystopic gigalopolis, both below right, most sears every frame. “In essence,” says author Paul Sammon (Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner), “what you’re seeing in many shots are almost three-dimensional representations of Syd Mead’s art.”

Sammon, Mead, director Steven Lisberger (Tron) and other industry vets testify in director Joaquin Montalvan’s 2005 documentary, Visual Futurist: The Art & Life of Syd Mead. The film tells Mead’s story from his own perspective, as well as from that of the people with whom he’s worked. It’s a rich document about a little-known man, but one whose whose ideas are deeply and widely embedded in American popular culture.

Joaquin Montalvan is a guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, August 21, at 2 pm ET.

But first we’ll speak to Jason Del Gandio, author of Rhetoric for Radicals: A Handbook for 21st Century Activist, a guide for the ultra-political on how to effectively communicate. “Here’s the underlying logic” of his book, Del Gandio says:

• Change the rhetoric and you change the communication.

• Change the communication and you change the experience.

• Change the experience and you change a person’s orientation to the world.

• Change that orientation and you create conditions for profound social change.

You can hear Jason Del Gandio’s and Joaquin Montalvan’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.

The Simpsons Go Blackface?: In Ad For Their African Edition, Homer, Marge, and the Kids MASSIVE FAIL.


The Simpsons is America’s longest-running sitcom, with 441 episodes shown since 1989. (Their 20th season begins next month.)

But for their upcoming debut on Africa’s digital satellite television service, DStv, an Angolan ad agency decided to give the saffron-colored family a “makeover.”

6a00d8358081ff69e2011570465543970c-800wiThose are the results, above, says the UK’s Telegraph: “Brown skin instead of their usual yellow,” right.

As the publication details:

To make them appear more like a typical Angolan family, Marge has also been given a black Afro hairstyle instead of normal blue bouffant, while Lisa’s hair is stood up on end in short braids.

The image also shows the family dressed in clothes bearing traditional African designs and they are all wearing flip flops.

To be clear, this change was not made to the actual animation, but to print advertising being shown in the broadcast area.

Will Angolans be offended? Actor Kirstie Alley once told me that African-Americans…are “more free and fun and light hearted” than white people. Did she mean Africans, too?

Let’s hope so, and let’s trust they won’t be put off, here, by dumb, cloying marketing at its worst, and, in so doing, avoid what’s still a very funny show.

China: You’re next.

[via alltop.com]

Shy Tony’s Revenge: The VIBE TV Clip That Outlives Its Wack Progenitor.


VIBE’s 1997-1998 syndicated TV show was an utter mess, as the dates of its miniscule timeline suggest. For some reason, its creators didn’t see, and were completely unable to translate from print, the dynamic and sparkly juxtapositions that made the magazine, at its peak, an unusually incandescent hit. (The periodical was completely uninvolved with the TV broadcast.)

screen21The program always felt sluggish and old. (Hiring Sinbad, right, as the second host, after comic Chris Spencer’s anemic few months, did little to correct this.) It was as if someone had found a tattered, bled-through copy of the magazine in a trash heap, saw the name, liked it, and decided to make a program with it out of whatever stage props they had on hand. When it debuted, I watched it at a nearby bar with others from our office, but almost never after that. It’s not a high point in the magazine’s hallowed history.

There’s one moment from VIBE I remember, however, and it’s the only bit I ever saw there that not only still cracks me up, but that, to me, hinted at the show’s possibilities.

Continue reading →

Allen Shellenberger, 1969-2009


Usually, when I write an obituary in MEDIA ASSASSIN, it’s for someone whose work has affected me in a profound way over time. People who come to mind include comedians Bernie Mac and George Carlin; writer Arthur C. Clarke; dancer Cyd Charisse; chanteuse Eartha Kitt; architect Jørn Utzon; and, obviously, singer Michael Jackson.

281x211In the case of Lit drummer Allen Shellenberger, right, who died last Thursday in his mother’s home of brain cancer, a month before his 40th birthday, I’m familiar with, literally, three minutes and forty-eight seconds of his output. But even though I couldn’t have named the drummer or his band from memory this morning, what I knew of him affected me enough to, a decade later, instantly recall that I could dig up more about him by Googling “Lit, Pamela Anderson.”

I’m speaking of the band’s hit single, “Miserable,” from the Orange County natives’ 1999 platinum album, A Place in the Sun. Most of all, though, I’m talking about the track’s eye-popping music video, top, by director Evan Bernard.

Continue reading →