Monday, November 28, 2011

Miley Cyrus' new radical video

Look, I know what most people are thinking already. I know many people's first instinct is to not care that Hannah Montana is on the side of Occupy Wall Street protesters. But, I actually think this is a pretty big deal.

I mean, this is definitely not the best sounding pop-song ever, and the lyrics are very simple, but the video to this song, ("Liberty Walk"), is fuck'n great!

First of all, the video starts with these words: "This is dedicated to the thousands of people who are standing up for what they believe in..." How can you be against that?

Secondly, the video is nothing but footage from recent protests from all over the world, of people standing up to their governments, corporate greed, and even capitalism. Most of the footage is actually of the Occupy protests around the U.S. (like New York, Oakland, Davis and other cities).

Obviously, Miley's image has been very well crafted by Disney to make them millions, so it's astonishing to me that she's been allowed to make a pro-protest song, and even more that the video contains footage that exposes police brutality. If anything, this video is worth tripping out on. (The last final seconds are very nice).

Original source: Dangerous Minds

Monday, November 21, 2011

'Beat Poets, not beat poets.'

A lot of people have been beaten with batons at various Occupy protests. A few weeks ago, the Harriet blog reported that at OccupyCal, at UC Berkely, former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass was pushed around by police, along with other faculty and students.

Hass, professor of poetry and poetics at UC Berkeley, and who also signed the Occupy Writers statement, published an opinion piece for the New York Times on Saturday describing what he saw (and felt):

LIFE, I found myself thinking as a line of Alameda County deputy sheriffs in Darth Vader riot gear formed a cordon in front of me on a recent night on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley, is full of strange contingencies. The deputy sheriffs, all white men, except for one young woman, perhaps Filipino, who was trying to look severe but looked terrified, had black truncheons in their gloved hands that reporters later called batons and that were known, in the movies of my childhood, as billy clubs.

The first contingency that came to mind was the quick spread of the Occupy movement. The idea of occupying public space was so appealing that people in almost every large city in the country had begun to stake them out, including students at Berkeley, who, on that November night, occupied the public space in front of Sproul Hall, a gray granite Beaux-Arts edifice that houses the registrar’s offices and, in the basement, the campus police department.

It is also the place where students almost 50 years ago touched off the Free Speech Movement, which transformed the life of American universities by guaranteeing students freedom of speech and self-governance. The steps are named for Mario Savio, the eloquent undergraduate student who was the symbolic face of the movement. There is even a Free Speech Movement Cafe on campus where some of Mr. Savio’s words are prominently displayed: “There is a time ... when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part.”

To read the rest of his piece, click HERE.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pop-culture support for Occupy Movement

The Occupy Movement, which started with Occupy Wall Street--and has exploded all over the country, has garnered much support from various types of people across the nation, including a lot of people well known in popular culture. I have listed a few and some of what they've said:

Occupy Writers- This started out as a couple dozen writers who pledged to "support Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy Movement around the world," but quickly grew to more than 200 authors. They include some very well established authors like Margaret Atwood, Alice Walker, Neil Gaiman, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Naomi Klein. (Rick Remender, who writes X-Force for Marvel Comics, is also included). Some of the writers have also contributed essays about the Occupy Movement, like children's author Lemony Snicket who wrote a very clever piece, "Thirteen Observations made by Lemony Snicket while watching Occupy Wall Street from a Discreet Distance."

Henry Rollins- A former singer of one of the best hardcore punk bands, Black Flag, wrote a lengthy column in support of the Occupy Movement for his LA Weekly blog last month. In it, he says things like, "People will understand that the Occupy protests are truly organic -- which is why it sometimes looks like there is confusion amongst them. As the weeks go by, every police officer who stomps on and attempts ruinous harm to the First Amendment with arrests will only attract more people to the protests."

Boots Riley- If you're looking for someone on Twitter for insights and information on Occupy Oakland, Boots is the guy to follow! It's not surprise that he has been out there taking over the streets with other Bay area natives, as his music with The Coup and Street Sweeper Social Club is highly political. On November 12, he tweeted, "#OccupyOakland scares em cuz we make connections w labor&studnts&push fightin WallStreet n the workplace.They try2discourage those connects."

Christopher Nolan- The director of such films as "Memento," "Batman Begins," and "Inception" was actually going to film scenes from his current Batman flick, "The Dark Knight Rises," with Occupy Wall Street in the background. However, they changed their minds because, as one website put it, Nolan did not want to "co-opt what’s happening there and around the country."

Superheroes- Click HERE for a funny link that has fictional characters like Superman and Luke Skywalker showing their support for the 99%.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cartoonists on Occupy Movement

Today, the Cartoon Movement website started a series of cartoons related to the Occupy Movement. The cartoons are from three different artists, covering three different cities. Some of them show the encampments, but most of them do a very good job of describing some of the protesters and various types of people that are participating in this movement.

From their website:

Over the last two months, the Occupy movement has captured worldwide attention. Cartoonists have been on the scene sketching, reporting, and participating. So we asked some of our contributors to share their drawings. Susie Cagle, Sharon Rosenzweig, and Shannon Wheeler bring us sketches from Oakland, Chicago, and New York respectively. We'll have another batch from different cities next week.

My favorite cartoons were from Shannon Wheeler, whose work I'm familiar with because of his Too Much Coffee Man cartoons. Definitely looking forward to the next batch.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Support this: Occupy Comics

I was very excited to find out about this, this past weekend: Some one has taken it upon themselves to organize comic-book writers and artists to create an anthology of comics related to the Occupy Movement, that will also be a fundraiser.

Their web-site and kickstarter page gives these details:

Unless you're living under a rock, you've heard about the Occupy Wall Street movement that has spread across the country and around the world. We believe this is an incredibly unique movement that transcends the usual partisan gridlock and could have a profound affect on all our futures. Even if it dissolves completely, it has changed the conversation in the country and around the world in a way that deserves to be remembered....

This book is intended to be a time capsule of the passions and emotions driving the movement. We are comic book & graphic novel artists and writers who've been inspired by the movement and hope to tell the stories of the people who are out there putting themselves at risk for an idea. What is that idea? Most of the media will tell you the idea is a vague and befuddled mess, but movements don't coalesce around vague, befuddled messes. We hope that through the medium of comics we can share some of the ideas and experiences driving this movement.

What stood out to me about this project is that the contributors are a mix of indie artists and more well-established comic-book creators. Some of the creators who have already signed on to participate are long-time Marvel and DC writer J.M. DeMatteis; "Manhunter" scribe Marc Andreyko; indie artist Molly Crabapple; "30 Days of Night" creator Steve Niles; illustrator Ben Templesmith; "Hack/Slash" creator Tim Seeley; and many others.

I can't wait to donate to this project and check out the finished product (which unfortunately, will take many months). Support this!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Chilean student movement inspires new Ana Tijoux single

Recently, the French-Chilean MC Ana Tijoux released a single from her upcoming album, "La Bala" ("The Bullet"), which is very much inspired by the current student movement currently happening in Chile. Students have taken to the streets, almost daily, since June, protesting for free public education--sometimes even going up against riot police, tear gas and water cannons.

The song is called, "Shock," and it refers to the book by Naomi Klein, "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism," in which the author gets into "how America’s “free market” policies have come to dominate the world-- through the exploitation of disaster-shocked people and countries."

She was quoted as saying (loosely translated), "In putting together this song, I was inspired by this cross-sectional social movement and came at it from my roles as mother, a musician, and citizen. It seemed perfect to be able to pay homage to this movement through my music."

Below are some loosely translated lyrics:

Tu estado de control
tu trono podrido de oro
tu política y tu riqueza
y tu tesoro no.

La hora sonó, la hora sonó

NO permitiremos más, más tu doctrina del shock

* * *

Your state of control
Your rotting throne of gold
You politics and your riches
and your treasures, no.

The time has come, the time has come

We will NOT permit more, more of your shock doctrine

Tijoux started becoming better well known this year after she was nominated for a Grammy for her second album, "1977," in the Best Latin Rock, Alternative or Urban Album category.

Original source: Cambio Politico (Click on the source to hear the song and watch a cool video from the FAUNA Collective).

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Coming Soon: Volcanic Sunlight

In anticipation for a new album, Volcanic Sunlight, the poet/artist/performer, Saul Williams, sent out a newsletter where he talks about many things: including his view of music; his travels and meeting new people; current popular-culture; and commercial music.

But most importantly, he talks about who his audience is--who he is aiming to reach--and how he sees his new work as "an alternative form of energy."

Below are just two paragraphs from the letter he sent out:

"When you talk to record execs, they want to be able to see exactly where you'll fit into the commercial playing field. They want to be able to envision your song being played between Kanye and Drake on the radio. They want to be able to easily locate your audience. I'm pretty certain that much of my audience is out occupying cities across the world, protesting against corporate giants, squatting in city parks, following the same compulsion that led many to poetry slams and readings some years back; to raves, hip-hop, and punk rock shows, when music was more counter-culture than over-the-counter culture. All those seeds that were planted, the voices unlocked, the envisionment of the world that is possible and the pledge to make it real, are all coming full circle now.

"Volcanic Sunlight is my contribution to the times. It is my way of sharing that through all the necessary fighting for change behind, ahead, and within us, I have found it most helpful to think of it as a dance. I danced through a lot of bullshit (and fun shit) in order to get here... (don't forget the fun shit!). Yeah, it's been fun. Hella fun (415/510). And, honestly, I ain't really trying to fit in. (See: Talk To Strangers). But I've decided to sell my album to you, this time. As if to say, here is my idea of a 'product' that, I hope you will consider, worth more than it's asking price. As if to say, "invest in alternative energy." 'Cause, basically, that's how I think of Volcanic Sunlight: as an alternative form of energy. Something a bit more conscious of it's global imprint that whole cities, and possibly, new worlds, or, at least, new thoughts, can run on. My intention is for it to serve as a generator, a power source, that remembers the beauty of it's engine as it serves to transform the system."

I look forward very much to listening to this new album. In the summer of 2010, when I traveled to Arizona to protest against the racist anti-immigrant laws that were being put into place, one of the songs we heard over-and-over again (for inspiration and what not), was his "List of Demands." Anybody who follows Saul Williams on Twitter knows that he has been inspired by the Occupy movement that have exploded in this country. I expect this new album to somehow compliment the actions of all people who are out there trying to change the world.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Recommended: 'Juan and John' at LATC

About a decade ago, I was at the Los Angeles Theatre Center to see Roger Guenveur Smith's one-man performance of "A Huey P. Newton Story," and was blown away by the actor and the way he delivered the radical politics of the Black Panther Party on stage. Last night, I saw this same actor and was even more impressed as he used only a bench, historical projections on a screen, simple lighting, but mostly acting skills, to tell another great story.

"Juan and John," focuses mostly on a baseball-field brawl that took place in the summer of 1965 between San Francisco Giants Hall-of-Fame pitcher Juan Marichal and Dodgers catcher John Roseboro and the aftermath of that incident. Smith's work shows how a man from Ohio and a man from the Dominican Republic have much in common, and how they eventually became friends after 10 years of not speaking to each other.

There's a lot of history in this play: local L.A. history, as well as national and world history. Smith was a big Dodgers fan when he was a kid so he retells what he saw on television that day, as well as his experience during the Watts rebellion that also occurred that same summer. He also talks about what the White House, (under the leadership of Lyndon B. Johnson), was doing at the time--including the U.S. escalation in Vietnam and the U.S. invasion of the Dominican Republic.

Of course, Smith was able to weave all this historical information (and political commentary) into his work in a way that it works, thanks to his acting range, (and lots of clever jokes that you will get if you're paying attention to current events). Watching him switch from one character to another was amazing.

The one thing that really surprised me about the play was how much Smith also plays himself, and the personal things he reveals about himself and his relationship with his daughter. I didn't get it at first, but it's because, in the end this play is about human relations and reconciliation.

Juan and John is playing through November 13, 2011. Tickets are $20 to $40 dollars and available online or via phone at 866-811-4111. (There's also a special $10 show next Thursday during the LA ArtWalk).