This article was posted by Bill McMullen 4 years, 3 months, 3 weeks, 2 days, 6 hours, 25 minutes ago.
So great. My friend Jeremy put me on to this; somehow I missed it. I saw Dres from Black Sheep at the airport around a year ago, gave him my card, and now I get impersonal group e-mails from him occasionally (but I’m not mad, really!) about Black Sheep news - just got one yesterday about a new Black Sheep single called “Birds of a Feather,” featuring some A-team members of the Native Tongues crew: Q-Tip, Dave from De La Soul, and Mike Gee from Jungle Brothers… Here’s a YouTube fakey video for it with jpeg flicks moving around Ken Burns-style… I love how people make up their own videos for songs if the song doesn’t have one.
This article was posted by Bill McMullen 4 years, 3 months, 3 weeks, 6 days, 12 hours, 26 minutes ago.
Went out to Kostas Seremetis’ studio in Brooklyn last night to see a screening of his video/art project, Trilogy, in which he has taken each of the first three Star Wars movies* and combined them in thirds across the screen: Star Wars is in the left-hand third, The Empire Strikes Back is in the middle, and Return of the Jedi is on the right.
It was a small screening that Seremetis likely puts together occasionally to satisfy those that have heard about the piece, but had no way to be in Morocco for its premiere earlier this year. Yeah, Morocco. The “That’s in Africa” Morocco. I don’t fully understand how that all came about, but I think it’s awesome - Morocco is way outside of the expected Tokyo/L.A./New York/London rat-path, and I wish I could have seen the premiere there, while on a trip to the infamous Tatooine sets in Tunisia. However, I admit avoiding the travel, jet lag, and paranoia about dysentery with a far more resonable trip to Brooklyn for the screening was convenient. Arriving a little late, I met up with other Star Wars aficionados Morgan “Sucklord” Phillips, Ari “JK5” Aloi, DJ dB, and Kostas himself, who sat through it for the umpteenth time like a real fuckin’ trooper, bless his soul.
The Sucklord, Kostas, JK5, Yours truly… dB took the picture, so he’s not pictured.
It’s an exhilarating and fatiguing experience, seeing all three films at once. Kostas warned us: “You might get a headache.”
The exploration begins with the title and the opening crawls of text. Once they begin to vary, the combinations of the letterforms and words are probably the best part of the entire experience. Your brain wants to read the gibberish in front of you, and you find yourself forcing sentences like ”...for the/dispatching thousands of rem/ands of rebels…”
From the photos, you can guess the obvious limitation of the entire project: You can’t really watch three films at once. The triptych presentation allows us to watch sections of the movies all at once. Any action that occurs in the other two-thirds of the screen is hidden by the other films, and vice-versa. The hidden visuals are strangely not missed, if you’re as familiar with the films as many of us are. They become “phantom” elements to the scenes, like an amputee’s phantom limb. The finely-tuned ‘Star Wars Brain’, which people of a certain age (or certain commitment) have, will fill in the blanks. Morgan mentioned to me during the screening that we made it nearly all the way through without ever actually seeing the Emperor’s face in Jedi - he’d never entered the right-third of the frame, but I hadn’t even noticed.
The thing the photos don’t reveal is the audio: all three films, just blaring out at you, with little mercy. Things start off in sync - the Star Wars theme launches with three times the bravado, like a Phil Specter “wall of sound” production. But once the respective text crawls’ ellipses roll up the screen, it all goes haywire like triplets in a toy store… The musical themes, familiar cues within their context, are odd when you’re watching visuals in another mismatched third of the screen - the melancholy theme at the end of Empire, playing when a convalescing Luke, Leia at his side, watches the Millenium Falcon leave to find Han Solo, is twisting your understanding of the ‘medal ceremony’ scene from the end of Star Wars, playing just to the left: The rebels blew up the Death Star in the battle, but the out-of-place music reminds us that they didn’t really win the war, did they? Characters’ lines stepping on other lines, light sabers overheard during love scenes, strange audio jump-cuts with Obi-Wan Kenobi talking to Luke in physical form, yet simultaneously hearing his ghostly spirit from another film back-pedal about Vader “killing” Anakin, defending it as a truth, “from a certain point of view.” The Empire portion of the triptych tries to stun us with the original revelation that Vader is Luke’s father, but we’re already over it: minutes earlier, an oddly cool Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi, glancing sideways, has told Vader he acknowledges the relationship they have as father and son, diffusing any bombshell Empire tries to drop.
Some selects from Trilogy, Kostas Seremetis, 2009
It’s really something special Kostas has put together. He mentioned he’s talked with some people about screening it in a larger venue, hopefully in a theater rather than a gallery. I hope more Star Wars fans get to see it at some point - but that’s likely as far as it will go: this is not something for the casual. This is strictly a transmission for the Star Wars dedicated, as Seremetis intended.
* Star Wars, Empire, Jedi - I’m using real-world chronology here when I say “first.” As in 1977-1983 comes first, before 1998-2005. Please don’t be pedantic and make me clarify that ever again; it’s so obvious what people mean when they say “the first Star Wars films.”
This article was posted by Bill McMullen 4 years, 4 months, 5 days, 16 hours, 31 minutes ago.
Ronnie James Dio died early Sunday morning after a long bout with stomach cancer - passing of a legend. I was never a huge fan at the time, but I know now that the stuff he did with Black Sabbath is awesome - something I didn’t really acknowledge as it was happening because at the time I was more into punk, ska, new wave, and the early strains of hip-hop that Tower carried, and frankly, I thought of Sabbath as old dudes that didn’t even have their original vocalist… I know, I know… I WAS WRONG, ok? What can I say?
I’m dating myself here, but my first exposure to Dio was in high school (the way it should be, motherfuckers). My high school, Valhalla High School in San Diego, was pretty cool, mostly white, sorta like a John Hughes movie. The diversity was more in the wealth, activities, sports or the music you liked (or hated). I like the Mob Rules album now, but back then it was just a two-color t-shirt to me, a black t-shirt with 3/4-length white sleeves, ‘MOB RULES!’ scrawled in red, over some white lines made to look like graffiti on a brick wall, worn by scattered metalheads at my school, one of them that had that ‘Who is Yngwie Fucking Malmsteen?’ shirt in constant rotation. You just couldn’t listen to the music those dudes listened to, that would mean you were losing the good fight, that you were just a burn-out or someone who actually liked what MTV was playing all the time (metal was huge on MTV then), and didn’t care about the punk or alternative music that was thriving.
“If you listen to fools…”
Well, I write this post as an apology to Dio and all the metalheads that I didn’t join at the time in listening to some of that great music. The funny thing was that the metal burnouts all had a head-start on some of the truly great bands - bands like Rush, Zeppelin, Judas Priest, the Doors, or Sabbath. I went the 2000 Ozfest, met Tommy Iommi, and saw Ozzy and Black Sabbath perform together again… The funny twist is that after all the reality shows and commercials Osborne did, I actually now wish I had seen Sabbath when Dio was at the helm.
Now I understand.
I have met you in the “metal.”
Now you middle-aged metal fucks need to go back and listen to Discharge, Crass, Dead Kennedys, Circle Jerks, DEVO, English Beat, P.I.L. (playing in NYC this week), Madness, The Cure, Kraftwerk, Suicide, Bauhaus, The Clash…
Coincidentally, earlier today my high-school friend Tony (aka
on xBox, you nerds know wassup) sent me this short clip on YouTube: a news report from a San Diego television channel about our high school Valhalla, on the student-run radio station called KVAL. It’s from 1987 and it rules. Keep an eye out for same-sex marriage activist and fellow alumni Molly McKay in there. See if you can figure out which student in the clip might be bummed about Dio passing (hint: it’s near the end):
This article was posted by Bill McMullen 4 years, 4 months, 1 week, 2 days, 1 hour, 14 minutes ago.
Saw this mentioned over on Daring Fireball, the geeky one-man-show tech blog: he linked to design blog Graphicology, who has a great post up about Marlboro and their sponsorship in Formula 1 racing. Marlboro have been modifying their logo for a few years, to minimize the brand’s direct recognizability and hence culpability as a cigarette advertiser in the TV broadcast of races, but they’re back in the news with it’s latest skirting of laws designed to keep cigarette ads off of television - this time they’ve unveiled a new ‘barcode’ style abstraction of the classic logo. It’s all delved into more deeply over at Graphicology.
I love this stuff; I am lured in by any manipulation or chance to manipulate a brand or icon. Love it. Here’s my own interpretation of Marlboro branding in a camo-pattern that I did for my Corporate War series of works, shown last year:
Here’s a Graphicology graphic of the new Marlboro barcode (left), along with a detail of the camo I did (right), with my vertical line abstraction of the logo on the right-hand side:
I read back across what I’ve written here, and it sounds like I’m trying to say I did all this first - I don’t think that, and that’s not my intention. I’m just truly geeked on hearing about what these companies do when they have to adapt to new laws, and that’s what my piece was addressing too.
This article was posted by Bill McMullen 4 years, 4 months, 2 weeks, 5 days, 11 hours, 44 minutes ago.
The final Deitch show before Jeffery Deitch takes over at MoCA, Shepard Fairey’s Mayday, opened this weekend. I went early in the afternoon and got some quick peeks. Stopped by later in the evening, but it was circus in front, so I said “hello” to a few friends outside and resigned to returning later this week to get a closer look.
This article was posted by Bill McMullen 4 years, 4 months, 4 weeks, 1 Day, 15 hours, 18 minutes ago.
In 1975, Stanley Kubrick released Barry Lyndon, the film in the Kubrick DVD box-set that no one ever watches. Well, you should. It’s got some sly humor, meticulous period costumes and sets, a clever technique to indicate speaking in other languages, and an age-old story about a social-climbing scoundrel.
It’s not for everyone but it has some great things going on - one of which is the photography. Kubrick had some special lenses made to properly capture the nighttime indoor scenes, lit solely by candlelight. No additional fill lighting was used. That takes a fast lens, that is, a lens that can allow the most amount of light through to the film - usually achieved by minimizing the number of glass elements in the lens, and by increasing the diameter of the glass. Most lenses are considered fast if they go down to a f1.2 or f1.4 aperture setting, and if you’re still with me here, you probably already knew that. The aperture on these custom 35mm wide-angle lenses was f .7 - that’s fast.
This article was posted by Bill McMullen 4 years, 5 months, 1 Day, 22 hours, 30 minutes ago.
Aw, man, woke up to hear that GURU from Gang Starr died yesterday. One of my top MCs of all time. I met him once back in San Diego, and as you can see I got one of my favorite 25 hip-hop albums signed. Found him to be super cool in the 20 minutes I spent with him. Eventually, I got to do the packaging for one of the Jazzmatazz albums. An essential figure in hip-hop, you will be missed, GURU - as will the Gang Starr reunion we had all pined for out here.
Some of the classics… sit back and meditate on other times:
I CONVEY THAT WHAT I SAY WILL AWAKEN YOU TODAY
STICK-UP KIDS THEY LIKE TO TAX
I’M CLEVER WITH SCIENCE, BUT NEVER WITH LYIN’
BUT THIS WAS A NIGHT TO REMEMBER… I HAD ON THE BEIGE TIMS WITH THE TWO-TONE LEATHER
YES, DARLING WAS FLY - AND THIS WAS THE PROBLEM
RAP IS AN ART, YOU CAN’T OWN NO LOOPS
OTHERS CLING ON TA MY NAUTICA, ASKIN’ FOR A HOOK-UP
WHEN SATCHMO BLEW, THE AUDIENCE KNEW
IT’S LIKE YOU NEED TO HAVE STEEL JUST TO FEEL RELAXATION
NARRATOR YOU SELECT, ACCOMPANIED BY DECK PLUS THE DJ YOU RESPECT
This article was posted by Bill McMullen 4 years, 5 months, 3 days, 9 hours, 21 minutes ago.
I like this wacky trend of the ‘haul video’... If you’re not familiar, there was a good piece on Slate about it a month ago. I’m feeling these kids’ videos - they deal with Star Wars figures instead of clothing or shoes.
“It was only five euros… so that’s 5 euros well spent”
This article was posted by Bill McMullen 4 years, 5 months, 6 days, 9 hours, 10 minutes ago.
Tomorrow is Record Store Day, 2010… It’s a fun thing that started a few years back and it’s just about what it sounds like - a day to celebrate the record store, the real, honest-to-christmas brick-and-mortar record store. But what makes it fun is that musicians and labels are totally in to it, and many create and release special recordings or items to be sold only on Record Store Day.
Here’s a video from Chris Brown of the Bull Moose Records indie chain, showing off some cool releases that will be available at participating record stores on Saturday, including a mystery 12” from the Beastie Boys, an unreleased Rolling Stones track from the Exile on Main Street sessions, an unreleased early live recording of an Elvis Costello and the Attractions show, a covers compilation of Sonic Youth songs which closes with a brand new Sonic Youth song by the band itself, a Them Crooked Vultures picture-disc, and a bunch of other new stuff, which Brown tells us is only the tip of the iceberg of cool, unique things being released on Saturday. He’s also the guy who came up with the idea of Record Store Day in the first place:
Locally, here in lower Manhattan, I looked on a few websites and it seems A-1 Records, Rebel Rebel and Other Music are all participating (here’s a link to Other Music’s schedule of live bands performing all day at the store). Out west, Amoeba has some cool stuff planned at their stores too. So head out on Saturday and get involved! Somebody holler at me if you see that blue DEVO energy dome!
This article was posted by Bill McMullen 4 years, 5 months, 1 week, 1 Day, 23 hours, 3 minutes ago.
KFC finally unleashed their new Double Down “sandwich” yesterday - two fried boneless chicken breasts used as the “bun,” holding some cheese and bacon slices in place. The Double Down is 540 calories, with the combo meal weighing in at a 1030 calories or something - still, I’d class that at welterweight, compared to the 1000+ calorie Carl’s Jr. “Six Dollar Burgers” out in Cali, or the Domino’s Oreo dessert pizza from a few years back.
Anyway, that sort of talk is just plain incongruent with the whole point of this post! After hearing about the Double Down, of course I wanted to try the Double Down. Why would I want to eat such a thing? When people ask me that sort of question, as they often do, because I am just ‘that guy’ that goes and tries things like this, I can only answer “Because I never went and saw an XFL game and I regret it.” Meaning that, in some twisted way, the dumb shit is never around long, and if you want to try it, you gotta go try it before it fades into obscurity. To find a Double Down, I had to trek up to 14th street - inconvenient, but KFC’s minimized presence in lower Manhattan is probably better for the collective health of the city, so I didn’t mind.
Ordered the sandwich, I was not alone - a few other folks were ‘experimenting’ as well. Took a long time to make. I waited about 10 minutes before my order was ready, time I should have spent doing jumping jacks.
Ate the sandwich. Verdict? Salty. Live vicariously through me and skip it. I’d love to tell you I jogged home, but I simply sat on the subway unpleasantly stuffed.
Here’s a better lunch tip, courtesy of my friend David Mashburn: Try Torrisi’s instead. Incredibly good Italian sandwich shop on Mulberry street between Prince and Spring. David and I had lunch there one day, and I had dinner there the next. Excellent. Look out for the ‘Gato’ pork sandwich - it’s a special that comes around maybe once a week. I’m sure it’s near 1000 calories too, but it’s just a better way to eat it.
This article was posted by Bill McMullen 4 years, 5 months, 1 week, 6 days, 16 hours, 27 minutes ago.
I never got to meet him, but I saw him one day on the street, signature look of baggy linen suit with wild hair. Malcolm McLaren forged much of the eighties, or culture-raped it, depending on how early you heard of every genre he put his hands in. I loved what he did.
Some notable turns in his career included styling and creating the stage outfits for the New York Dolls, creating and managing the Sex Pistols, managing Adam and The Ants, which turned into Bow Wow Wow when Adam left, making the World Famous Supreme Team truly world famous, and rounded things off with the Madame Butterfly record in 1984 and some musical homages to vogueing…