Entries from March 2010 ↓

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.

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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When the Saints Go Wop Bop-A-Loo Mop-A-Lop Bam-Boom.

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clipse-lord-willin-frontI became aware of artist Vicki Berndt‘s gifted hand upon seeing her cover for the Clipse’s 2002 release, Lord Willin’, right. In the dreamlike vision, rappers Malice and Pusha T drive a JFK-style droptop, with a Black Jesus riding shotgun in the back seat. Delicately radiating the sobering hues of Virginia Beach dilapidation via magic realism, the work is one of my all-time favorite album covers, hip-hop or otherwise.

Born in El Centro CA in 1961, Berndt painted and took pictures of her favorite rock stars in school, printed fanzines, and even joined a punk band, the Maggots, as their lead singer. Later, she took photos of friends’ groups, eventually working for magazines.

il_fullxfull123274566However, she never stopped slathering the canvas, and paints full-time today, selling both reproductions and her original creations. Her series of works besainting musicians, like Little St. Richard (18 x 24 ins.), above, range from about $1,000 to about $1,600 and more, when not quickly snatched up, first. However, less costly pieces are also available, and highly desirable.

For example, check out The Keene Supremes, her three-candle set, above. The 6 x 3-inch pieces, each featuring one of the Supremes’ likenesses done in the style of Margaret Keane‘s “big-eyed children” paintings, can all be picked up for a mere $40. Why not grab an armful? If it were up to me, Berndt, like the saints and sinners she renders, would definitely be counted among pop’s true icons.

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.

Hip-Hop’s Caucasian Invasion.

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So-called “ghetto parties,” like the one depicted above, were only one of the topics Racialicious‘ Carmen Van Kerckhove, writer Jason Tanz (Other People’s Property), and I addressed when we met a few years ago to discuss “White People and Hip-Hop.” (Since you’re wondering, my favorite detail is the “TUPAC LIVES” tattoo on the bicep of the red-scarfed brunette, middle row.) Arguably, the types of interactions white people have with the culture are far more varied.

More, the question became, how should we see these contacts when people have them? What do they mean for the culture of hip-hop? How do they affect, or describe, the larger issue of race?

I didn’t necessarily expect it would be, but the piece, for me, turned out to be a major moment, and touchstone, in my work attempting to clarify these critical subjects. (It was podcasted on Addicted To Race, Racialicious‘ internet series, in 2007.)

Of course, I’ve also addressed these issues, here, on MEDIA ASSASSIN, and in other places; for example, my “Fight the White Rap History Rewrite” post on rapper Asher Roth, or “The Unbearable Whiteness of Emceeing: What The Eminence of Eminem Says About Race,” which I wrote for The Source.

However, after doing so once, before, a couple of years ago, I’ve decided to re-air this talk with Carmen Van Kerckhove and Jason Tanz. They’re guests, today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, March 12, at 2 pm ET.

You can hear their ideas, and my own, 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.

It’s Hard Out Here For a Nerd.

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Looks like knowledge reigns supreme over human biology at Tiger Woods’ alma mater: For an undergrad course there, says the Stanford University News,

instructor Tom McFadden has created a series of rap videos to explain concepts such as gene regulation and evolution.  His latest video, entitled “Oxidate It Or Love It” explains how metabolism works while paying homage to “Hate It Or Love It” by 50 Cent/The Game and “On To The Next One” by Jay-Z.

Yeaaah, boyee.

How To Not End A Romantic Evening.

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I can’t even begin to look at this 2006 bit, below, from MADtv‘s twelfth season, too often. “I Want You To Watch Me Play Madden” features former cast member Jordan Peele, above, as a guy whose notion of foreplay is getting his girl (castmate Nicole Randall Johnson) to join him in a menage á mille on Xbox Live.

There may be nothing more pitiful than a guy who mounts his self-absorbtion cloaked in cheezy seduction, and, in the clip, “Jordan” epitomizes that dude. (Best gags: Hittin’ controller combos (“L-R-L-R-UP-DOWN…maybe SELECT-STARRRT..”) as his lady’s toes curl, and his triumphant, “HE DOESN’T KNOW WHAT SEX IIIIIIS!!!…WHOA!!!” on the bridge.)

In his time with the show—Peele left MADtv the next year—he demonstrated a sly hand for creating funny skits in the form of faux R&B music videos. “Madden,” however, so perversely twists one form of pop culture into the servitude—and lampooning—of both, it may be his masterpiece. Touchdown.

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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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“Thanks For Nothing, Mo’Nique….”
Sincerely, Your Co-Stars.

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I don’t have a dog in this fight over Mo’Nique Imes-Jackson not doing promo, leading up to the Oscars, above. (Those were “the politics” of which she spoke during her acceptance speech.) I was only faintly aware of the controversy as it was happening, and I’m guessing that most people think Oscar marketing is far and away over the top.

I thought her performance as hyper-abuser Mary Jones in Precious was incendiary; frame-splitting. Clearly, she deserved the award, and as many excellent roles as she can now get, which, given race, will probably be few. (Hers is the fifth acting award given to a Black female in 82 years.)

I thought the Hattie McDaniels mention was a fine touch, though a little anachronistic. I mean, as much as I hated Halle taking it doggystyle from Billy Bob in order to get her statuette, Berry’s mention of contemporary female artists who’d been denied awards seemed, to me, a much more pungent tribute.

Precious Cocktail ReceptionNo, the only problem I have with Mo’Nique’s testimony at last night’s awards—and I’ve not seen anyone address this—is why didn’t she thank director Lee Daniels or lead Gabourey Sidibe, right, by name?

Mariah Carey powerfully sets up Mo’Nique’s whole last scene. Not a single syllable in her direction, though?

Yeah, I know: She said, “my Precious family”? C’mon: Does that really cut it?

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Don’t Stand So Close To Me.

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A site about “Architectural Conjecture, Urban Speculation, [and] Landscape Futures” certainly seems to promise heady distraction, and Geoff Manaugh’s BLDGBLOG delivers by the Liebherr T 282B-full.

Up since July 2004, BLDGBLOG totes a range of diversions almost as wide as Manaugh’s obviously fertile mind: Ice floes (and interplanetary atmospherics); automobile test tracks; odd, old synthesizers; hell; and designing the long-term storage of nuclear waste. Every post delights with inquisitive, nimble writing and typically dreamy images, and his The BLDGBLOG Book—which compiles dozens of his best pieces—makes the whole enterprise fit on your shelf.

Now, in a new exhibit at the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York City, Manaugh and co-curator Nicola Twilley (Edible Geography) turn their focus on another underaddressed, little-grapsed element of the human landscape. As states the page for Landscapes of Quarantine, which opens March 10th,

At its most basic, quarantine is a strategy of separation and containment—the creation of a hygienic boundary between two or more things, for the purpose of protecting one from exposure to the other. It is a spatial response to suspicion, threat, and uncertainty. From Chernobyl’s Zone of Exclusion and the artificial quarantine islands of the New York archipelago to camp beds set up to house HIV-positive Haitian refugees detained at Guantánamo and the modified Airstream trailer from within which Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins once waved at President Nixon [above], the landscapes of quarantine are various, mutable, and often unexpected.

Geoff Manaugh is a contributing editor at Wired UK and former senior editor of Dwell magazine. He’s also the guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, March 5, at 2 pm ET.

You can hear this provocative 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.