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July 30, 2005

chaos isn't good for your health

i am always moving in fast motion. rarely do i write things out by hand because my hand can't keep up with my head. i am an idea person. i have tons of them. visions and master plans that i write down in my little moleskin notebook. but rarely can i accomplish all the i dream. that's normal, yes. but if i actually slowed down and followed through more i would accomplish infinitely more. so i take a deep breathe, and try to listen to itunes as it plays:

India Arie - Slow Down

So far from where I started out
So far from where I wanna be
Listening for answers in the wind
But can't find a rock to plant my feet
Looking for love in all the wrong places
Down on my knees and now I'm praying for patience
I know there's gotta be a better way
In the back of my mind I hear my momma say

Slow down, baby you're going too fast
You got you hands in the air
With you feet on the gas
You're 'bout to wreck your future
Running from your past
You need to slow down before
You go down baby

Thinking the faster that I go
The faster (that) I will reach my goal
The race is not given to the swift
But to the one who endureth
I thought that all my obstacles were behind me
Walking around like I'm made out of diamond
I tripped and fell and it remindedme
Move over and let my angels guideme

Slow down, baby you're going too fast
You got you hands in the air
With you feet on the gas
You're 'bout to wreck your future
Running from your past
You need to slow down before
You go down baby

Sometimes you gotta be still
Before you can get ahead
Be still
Ask the universe for help
Be real
You can't do it all by yourself
Ah, no no
Sometimes, sometimes you gotta be still
It take some time to reach you and they
Be still
Take some time to clear your space
Be real
Chaos isn't good for your health
Ah, no no, ahhh
Cuz I'm breaking things and losing things
I lost my cell phone again the other day
Now, I don't wanna live this way, no
In the back of my mind I hear my mama say

Slow down, baby you're going too fast
You got you hands in the air
With you feet on the gas
You're 'bout to wreck your future
Running from your past
You need to slow down before
You go down baby
(slow down baby)
Slow down (baby)
You're going too fast
Slow down (baby)
Feet on the gas
Slow down (baby)
Run from your past
Slow down baby (4x)

July 29, 2005

mom & PhD to be

i just finished reading an entry on clancy's blog about moms having to hide their mom status (and especially pregnant status) when they go on the job market, a topic of discussion on this chronicle thread. i definitely went thru this whole argument in my head when i finished my m.f.a. and thought that i wanted to teach production in a film dept. i did a number of phone interviews and was flown out for a number of job talks. i did not discuss my mom status - neither flaunting nor hiding that part of my identity. at one east coast job talk weekender, one mom professor someone realized my mom status. she pulled me to the side and she offered some words of advice. this was some years back, but still, i can recall she said something to the effect of, "it's beautiful being a mom isn't it? but don't make that known or the committee won't hire you". this was a two year visiting position and the faculty (who did a little bit more internet research and discovered ((which c'mon now, is public record - i talk about tiana in every print interview)) that i am a mom. i never did get that job. i am a mom and a phd to be. i hope (and believe) that my body of work, my creative and intellectual contributions, and my shining (bling*bling*bling* like the neptunes) personality will get me the right position at the right place. i see and understand many sides of this argument but from where i stand, literally inside and facing it, i feel good that i am both a mom and a phd to be.

still, i'm open for suggestions- who is at an instution or in a dept (preferably women's studies, american studies, media studies or hip hop studies) that is supportive? who would love and embrace me and my daughter in about 2 more years (hint*hint)? i'm not worried really. if i can get degrees, publish, make movies, travel, curate shows, and raise this amazing daughter by myself, i can get to wherever i need to go, i'm confident of that.

and the road...

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so i'm in DC for a screening and a talk that i did the other nite at provisions library. they are a great space and an amazing resource for the community. it's a library with an extensive collection about hip-hop, art and activism - books, DVDs, music, and other collections. it was nice to see gwen's book with my photo on such prominent display.

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i met dru ryan - amazing guy. he's one of the founder's of the journal of hip hop. he handed me a copy, but i haven't yet had a minute to crack it open. i'll prob post about it when i have a minute. i also taxi-ed to the hood to talk to a group of dru's students who have been in a summer camp/job core type program all about hip hop. the cabbie wasn't too thrilled about taking us out there, i actually had to do the money flash and tip trick to get there on time. and i had a feeling that his company wasn't gonna be too eager or quick to come back for me. so as we got close i wrote down the number to a hood taxi company to scoop me up after the day. they did, but we're just as unhappy to drive me back to dupont circle to the B&B so i had to do the same money wave and tip. it all worked out, but man, i couldn't imagine moving thru so many hoods in one day without any ghetto travel experience.

now we are at my brother's house. tiana is with aunt natasha sewing clothes for her doll, little t. i'm trying to get some much needed work done and maybe some rest. later we will head to the movies for a little tim burton.

July 26, 2005

my spot.

my girl issued a call [assignment for the day!] to create my sanctuary, to write it down. so here goes:

* * *

sanc·tu·ar·y P Pronunciation Key (sngkch-r)
n. pl. sanc·tu·ar·ies
A sacred place, such as a church, temple, or mosque.
The holiest part of a sacred place, as the part of a Christian church around the altar.
A sacred place, such as a church, in which fugitives formerly were immune to arrest.
Immunity to arrest afforded by a sanctuary.
A place of refuge or asylum.
A reserved area in which birds and other animals, especially wild animals, are protected from hunting or molestation. See Synonyms at shelter.

* * *

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my spot in the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual realm is my spot (a la RaeSpot). in the physical it is my apt - stacked with computers, books, DVDs, sounds of my daughter playing and singing on her kareoke boom box, it is the constant phone calls ("this is mci worldcom with a call from a mn..." those of you who know, know.), the smell in his locks, wrapped around my fingers as i write and edit. and most especially, when the camera is in my hand....

it is also in the larger physical places that i am a part of. the community of hip hop heads, the community of bloggers, and vloggers. it's in my inbox - the quick response i got from the call i issued yesterday to find T-Love. she was once lost but is so found now. living in paris with a beautiful son, named after her favorite artist. my sacred place is in the space where i can hear her music, hear her music, and hear her music. it is in my mailbox when love letters arrive, it's in the piles of poems that arrive from them.

mentally, my sanctuary is in that creative space. when i start to edit and the piece just appears to me. a beautiful narrative flowing out of disjointed fragments and sound that pops. it's when i start writing and just can't stop.

emotionally, it's when i can let the drama go. when i can just be happy because i am happy. i love so hard and am so loved. i want for not, really. it's when i can turn off the sounds of the haters who hate just cuz im happier than i've ever been.

spiritually, it's in all of the above, wrapped up into me, and floating around with me on my back, on my shoulders, in my hair. it's the luv, the love, and the peace that i have right now. it's creative, full of life energy, full of ideas, excitement, and full of me.

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July 25, 2005

creative and cool.

i was watching some annieisms earlier today. she has this photo posted, and she suggests we visit HERE. i do too! it's matrix meets graf with visions of light.

nobody on DVD

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for years now many people have watched nobody knows my name . i decided years ago to distribute the film educationally through women make movies . the tape has sold to many, many colleges across the country and the world. the film has been written about in many places and i continue to do interviews on radio, online, and in print about it. i get so many emails every week (still), asking to buy the film on DVD. recently a japanese DVD distributor that distributes freestyle has offered me a contract. i want to accept it. i realized my contract with women make movies is up in sept. and it's a ripe time to do a US release. i've been in contact with a couple distributors. so in preparing for this next step, im gathering and editing. please help me find artists who want to get their work out there.

for the updated DVD release i am SEEKING:

- INSTRUMENTALS for the film (preferably by women producers, but any FREE hip hop beats will be lovely)

- SONGS by women for the film (again, anything DONATED, any artist interested in getting their music out there strictly for the promo)

- SHORT FILMS, MUSIC VIDEOS, FEMALE BATTLE FOOTAGE / BONUS FEATURES for the DVD (again, anything DONATED, any artists/aspiring filmmaker interested in getting their work out there strictly for the promo)

- T-LOVE's CONTACT (see her info below) please, please, please help me find her. i need to get photos, video and just a general "what is she up to now" piece for the new updated film ending.

Email me for more info and mailing address to send work to.

? ? ?

what do you think? should i update the endings (that's why i need to find T-Love, to figure out where in the world she is now) and release on DVD? please let me know what u think. ideas u have. what you'd like to see on the DVD. artists that i should be talking to, to get their music, beats, videos or short films on the DVD.

? ? ?

WANTED:
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b. Tauna Taylor-Mendoza, California, USA. Long-serving female rapper T-Love made her name on the Los Angeles underground scene during the 90s, although lack of recognition led her to relocate to England when she came to record her debut album. T-Love grew up in South Central, Los Angeles, and began rapping while she was still at school. She signed an abortive recording contract in the mid-90s as part of Urban Prop, a duo formed with fellow rapper Suggah B, and during this period also performed with the Heavyweights crew. Her infatuation with hip-hop led to paid employment as a journalist, promoter and label boss, and she resumed her performing career in 1998 with the release of her debut EP, the nine-track Return Of The B-Girl. Issued on her own Pickininny label, the EP and most notably the wickedly biting track "Wanna-Beez" made some noise on the Los Angeles underground scene but failed to promote T-Love to the wider market. The rapper relocated to London, England at the turn of the century, and set about writing and recording material for her debut album. Long Way Back, a resolutely old school collection that harked back to the soul and jazz-based production sound of the Native Tongues Posse artists of the late 80s, was released through the Astralwerks label in 2003.

10 Years of RSE

a few nites ago i was on assignment for URB mag , MASSV section. ive been shooting rap/hip-hop events for them for a couple years. the issue goes to print really quickly, so look for it (with an event review by one of my favorite songstress/performers, sarah white), in about a month or so. i was reading about people's responses and excitement about the show on message boards (which are not usually my thing, but i was curious). then i read a short piece about the show by desdamona on her blog. i'm not from msp and i don't truly understand the history but i'm learning. although i never heard of most of RSE's roster until i moved here about 2 years ago.

some of the photos will be printed but here's little preview with a track by one of my favorite's brother ali (i hope he's cool with the music use. if not, ill take it down).

so check it out here:
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View the Video by Clicking Image or Click HERE

u should check out the artists, the music and upcoming events at:

RSE website

That Teacher...

everyday people ask me why i am bothering with this PhD. every other day I ask myself the same thing.

i want to teach. i love teaching. with my M.F.A. i was able to teach video production at uc irvine. that was a great experience, but limited in the future possibilities. i was only allowed to teach the production series - 2 semester long course, and nothing more. i want to teach more than production. i want to teach courses that innovate the boundaries of theory and practice. both is necessary and integral to making films.

i'm obessessed with personal stories, narratives, memoirs. i love to hear people's stories. i think that's why i love blogs and vlogs so much. it's much more provoking to me then what i pay for on cable.

i am sparked to write about my thoughts about teaching because i recently got an email from the teacher that changed my life. middletown high school, late 80's/early 90's. fred put a camera in my hand, literally. in his class - electronic english - started with lots of rap videos (i remember trusty and l.o.n.s. "oh my gosh, oh my gosh", sliding down a railing). i wasn't an environmnentalist nor did i think about much beyond my immediate circle of vision. but fred connected me into a powerful world and helped me unleash my own voice. what resulted then, continues today.

with a camera in my hand and the belief that it's not just about my vision of the world, i teach and i learn. i try to inspire my students while training them in the tools of my trade.

fred found me (again) through this blog. i hope he starts a blog soon. i want to see his students put their videos on a vlog. it's easy and free - free blogs and unlimited video, audio and photo storage

July 21, 2005

prepping for Fall

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I am prepping the syllabus (basically revising what I taught last Fall) for WGST 194.03 : Women of Color Feminisms // Third Wave Feminism: Theory, Practice + Activism. I have to order my books. I'm switching up some of the readings, and want to bring in lots of guests artists and activists so it's a bit tougher to finesse then I imagined. The course meets 3 times a week for 50 minutes each. I feel that I do better in one large chunk of time per week, but that's out of my control. Teaching this course last year taught me a lot about time management, word choice and clarity. I didn't have my usual three hours to clarify a concept, term or theory.

So far, I'm planning to use these books:
To Be Real
Colonize This!
Not My Mother's Sister
This Bridge Called My Back
cunt
Chicana Falsa
Body Outlaws

I know it seems like a lot of reading for an intro course, but much of the third wave (and w.o.c. feminism) is beautiful personal narratives, short essays, poetry and theory that doesn't read like what counts as theory in many wost depts.

I'm thinking about also using this:
Grassroots: A Field Guide for Feminist Activism
? ?
Has anyone read or taught this book? Any comments would be greatly appreciated!

other excerpts assigned/suggested reading:
The Bust Guide to the New Girl Order
Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future
Listen Up: Voices from the Next Feminist Generation
Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman
Dragon Ladies: Asian-American Feminists Breathe Fire

? ? ?

what do you think? are you reading anything that would add to this pile, i mean, list of texts? any article links (in pop mags, academic journals, and zines) are greatly appreciated.

? ? ?

i've already set up the course website thru the macalester system - lester, i may set up private message boards on nicenet, and we have a course blog. i've read and heard much of the debates about using blogs for teaching and learning. i like that my students must be accountable for what they "say" on the blog. i've found that my students engage the material very seriously when they know that anyone can read what they've written. i also find that there is plenty of space to have "personal" discussion in class where students can work through formulating their ideas and then post a reflection to that, or even play it safe and stick to posting on critical reads of the text. the privacy and safety for my students is a big concern but the benefits, i believe, far outweigh the "risks" (read: wierdos posting strange comments that i delete immediately). i see it similarly to students writing for the school's online newspaper or something like that. yes, that is a voluntary position and i make blogging mandatory but i work with my students to meet their needs (read: will allow nicknames for posting).

i am also really excited to be working with Stacy Parshall. she's an amazing writer and creative energy. we met yesterday for some hours to talk about WGI & the we got issues leadership training tour (an organization run by the amazing rha goddess and j-love). the tour/workshop/rantfest/performance is coming to minneap in october. stacy is the official liason and i will be the videographer, mouthpiece, and supporter. i hope to bring the wgi performers to my mac classes and involve my students with the month long event. my excitement is growing.

July 20, 2005

Hip Hop Turns 30 Panel

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The Devolution of Hip Hop: Hip Hop Turns 30
Date: Saturday, June 23
Time: 1:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.
Location: Harlem Hospital Auditorium

Moderator: Mark Anthony Neal (New Black Man)
Panelists: Nelson George (Post-Soul Nation; Hip Hop America; Accidental Hunter); Greg Tate (Everything But the Burden: What White People Are Taking from Black Culture, ed.); Danyel Smith (Bliss); Bakari Kitwana (Why White Kids Love Hip Hop), Gwendolyn B. Pough (Check It Before I Wreck It)

Ralph Ellison only hoped we'd translate black vernacular in such a way as to gain entry into the hallowed house of art. How could he know that Ralph Lauren would one day broker that vernacular's marketing prowess into a worldwide licensing deal for bed sheets writ large with Jay-Z's John Hancock? Where Hip Hop was once a buyer's market in which the audience decided what was street legit, it has now become a seller's market, in which what gets sold as hip hop is whatever the boardroom approves. This panel explores the life and breath of Hip Hop.

For More Info/Full Harlem Book Fair Info

July 19, 2005

Anyone wanna fund me to travel?

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National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture (NAMAC) 2005 Conference, Taking Liberties: Creativity, Freedom and Risk in the Media Arts, will be hosted by Scribe Video Center, in Philadelphia, PA, from September 28 – October 2.

Taking Liberties: Creativity, Freedom and Risk in the Media Arts, NAMAC’s 2005 Conference is a national gathering of the independent media arts community for an intensive inquiry into the current state of the field and its future. Creators, programmers, broadcasters, new technologists, youth media practitioners, cultural critics, activists, policy makers, administrators and funders will assemble for 5 days to network with peers and exchange ideas; learn about new opportunities through technology and discuss, debate and showcase creative expression. Colleagues and others in affiliated fields will offer best practices and strategies to nurture new leaders, welcome artistic developments, and galvanize the position of independent media as a tool for insuring an engaged and informed citizenry.

Early bird rates are available until August 17th, 2005. Full conference schedule and secure online registration can be found at www.takingliberties2005.org. To contact the conference office call 215 222 2593 or email info@takingliberties2005.org.

minneapolis come support

Hip Hop Habana Fundraiser II
Tuesday July 19th; 8pm – 2am.

La Bodega Tapas Bar
3001 Lyndale Ave South
Minneapolis, MN 55408

Footage of live concerts, freestyle ciphers and music videos including: Anónimo Consejo, Explosión Suprema, Los Aldeanos, Las Krudas, Obsesión, RCH & more…

Followed by a bombazo with Raíces, Set the Smith, Desdamona, Maria Isa with ManyStyles, Diaspora Dance Troup and for the first time together on stage………again! Las Divas de MSP Salsa Viviana Pintado & Gloria Rivera with invited guests

$10 entrance (or qualified donation*)
All proceeds go to purchase equipment to support the Habana Hip Hop and featured Cuban Hip Hop artists

*Qualified donations include microphones, headphones, blank media, cables/adapters (RCA, 1/4 in., XLR), art materials, etc.

For more info:
Melisa Riviere
612.281.9970
rivi0001@umn.edu

July 11, 2005

still freestylin'

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if you want to go to the afterpary, RSVP HERE

as i've said in other posts, this film was truly a labor of love. kevin fitzgerald, the director, is a passionate visionary who, like jeff chang "can't stop and won't stop". freestyle (see the official film website HERE) and buy the film HERE) was made over the coure of 7+ years, shot on many cameras by many filmmakers (including me), was passed thru the hands of many editors (including me), and is finally finished. i love to see people love this film.

July 9, 2005

i need some inspiration. point blank. period.

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i look at this photo of tiana i took at the moa aquarium and want to feel this way. i want to look at somethings with such awe, wonder and interest. please help me.

my homegirl has a song that says "i need some inspiration..." i keep hearing it in my head. playing over and over. my stolen, well borrowed mantra.

i have all these papers and book chapters to write but i'm having trouble just getting started. too much on my plate but somehow not enough inspiration. i've been turning to blog, phlogs, and vlogs. lately this is what's been helping a lil bit:

postsecret

danyel

lynn has been on blogcation (read: vacation from blogging), but i often go visit to check and then hit up her lynn's amazing links.

and blog retiree kris ex too. i feel abandoned. i miss him greatly but at least he left links behind.

some vlogs:
Joan's vlog

demand media collaborative vlog

chuck's vlog

karmagrrrls' vlog

an artist documents her walk thru LA

so please, please please leave me comments with links to the blogs, phlogs, and vlogs that inspire you.

July 8, 2005

teaching (hip hop) with technology

i just got off the phone with Tracey Salisbury from the Dept. of African American Studies at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. She is teaching an online course entitled "Historical Perspectives: Hip Hop Culture, Economics and Politics. I found the syllabus here. We did a phone interview that will be shared with her students online, where they can post comments, reactions and questions. She is using the online forum for discussion posting, reading reflections and questions. She has a great syllabus, great readings, and great "guest speakers" (no, not just me! Joan Morgan (!) was doing an interview right after me. She's great, read her book!

when i get a link to the online content (if it's accessible to those outside of students), i will link it. if not, ill ask her for access to the content and serve it here.

very generally, she asked me about:
-my motivation to make "nobody knows my name"
-the film was started almost a decade ago
-why hasn't there been more films? access to tools?
-choices, music videos, why not direct rap videos?
-upcoming hip hop moms doc

tracey has also done interviews with various ladies that i deeply respect like MJ. check her interview out here

i want to teach hip hop online too! that's coming next.... maybe my dept would allow me to do some online classes. i know someone taught intro online. it's time to expand this, and i think i may be just the person to do it...

July 6, 2005

meet me downtown...

July 9 - Vloggercue Midwest!

Hey bloggers, videobloggers, podcasters, and media-curious!

We are holding hands with Vloggercue NYC and Vloggercue West to present Vloggercue Midwest on July 9.

Vloggercue started out as a BBQ gathering in New York, part of the "Summer of Vlog." Now we're gathering on the West coast and the Midwest at the same time, linked together through a Flash videoconference.

We'll play some selected videoblogs, show you how easy it is to set up your own, and announce a new Minnesota-themed daily videoblog. Oh yeah... we'll eat and drink and babble ot each other, too.

Geeky? Of course. Fun? Hell yeah. Educational? I'm afraid so - but mostly fun.

DATE: July 9, 2-6 PM

ADDRESS: 117 Washington Ave N, Suite 3
Downtown Minneapolis
Third floor above the bike/coffee shop.

SPONSOR: Brand & Butter: Bold Branding for Brave Businesses

WHAT TO BRING:Yourself and a friend.
Note: Your friend can also be a digital camera that takes video.
BYOB and something to eat also appreciated.

RSVP: Email chuckolsen@gmail.com to RSVP, but feel free to just show up and crash the party.

See ya there!

July 5, 2005

mad contradictions...

yesterday a few phd friends and i tried to work. we read, we chatted, listened to music, took a couple notes, and i wrote a couple more pages on a paper that is long overdue. my daughter was getting so excited watching people park in front of our apartment to go to watch the 4th festivities on the mississippi. i told her we would go watch the fireworks at 10pm and coerced my girls to join us. so i popped in the corporation so we would have super pro-american blood pumping in our veins at the fireworks display (not).

so the state goverment is closed, people can't agree and many are just out of a job, but let's celebrate by blasting rockets in the sky.. "the rockets red glare" and all that crap. there's war going on, people are dying, people are starving (let's raise awareness, not $) - what???.. these are crazy, mad, contradictory times.

helen's face turned from the normally happy helen to a perma-frown. the dvd of the corporation flashing intense stories of lies and deception before us. ayana just kept shaking her head. with the exception of just being too damn long at 2.5 hours (can we say episodes??), there some really powerful stuff in there. i think i may show clips of it in my 3rd wave theory/practice/activism course - the stuff about the young women in a sweatshop, the purchasing of h20 (yes, even rainwater) in a bolivian town by a san fran company, and maybe some of the milk or pfizer stuff... good way to think about the messiness of feminist analysis - not just the gender, race, class, sexuality checklist the students are over... it's messy, many things are imbricated in the systems that keep so many people oppressed. reminder: feminism is not just about women, it's a social change project working for a more just world...

okay, i gotta write my paper. about the Stillwater Poetry Group (SPG) and how writing resists systems of domination and institutionalization... how working with these men is a feminist/social change project.

and this am, i tried something i've seen mj do - put honey in my coffee. i added a dash of cinnamon too! pretty good. better than white processed sugar. trying to live better and healthier.

it's 8am and tiana was supposed to be at summer school at 7:30am. the kid is exhausted. we stayed up almost to midnite post-firework excitement. well, not excitement, but sitting on the stoop outside in the cool evening air. we watching the hour-long parade of cars exiting my neighborhood. they were clogging up the road. it took nearly an hour for them to drain out onto the highway. the fireworks display was only 10 minutes and pretty wack. minneapolis is a real city - and i read that they spend $1000 per minute - but no big red, white and blue finale, no american flag (thank God, really).

so as we sat on the stoop, watching all the cars passed. i realized i knew the name to nearly every model that was passing. the traffic was so slow that we looked at the side of the car for a minute and a half, then guessed the maker and name and then checked as the car slowly passed. damn, i have been branded (just like they say in the corporation). i knew every SUV, mini-SUV, and most every van and station wagon - there were a lot of mid-size cars that i couldn't name. prob cuz my aspirations were always the big, fly escalades, navigators, audi station wagon... all the things i can't afford and prob would feel too conflicted to drive. oh the contradictons in one person.... so for now, ill just keep rolling my little hyundai. they are all gas guzzling pollutors, but im not ready to give up driving.

July 2, 2005

and still i want to RIZE

we literally just got home from seeing RIZE at the theater. tiana liked the dancing and was bouncing to the beat in her seat. i liked the film because anything that shows black and brown kids chanelling their creativity and their energy in postive directions make me happy. but, thats not without saying i am so disappointed. i wanted to love this film.

about 3 or 4 years ago i first heard about clown dancing. my ex's little brother was about 12 or 13 and he used to beg me to drive him to anywhere that tommy the clown was going to be. he even danced at a couple of birthday parties with the clowns. he was real good. i first laughed, seeing what i perceived to be little crips and bloods (and many of the guys i was watching were the children of og's) doing stripper dance gyrations and modified c-walkin' to gangsta music. but to see my little brother get down so hard and feel so inspired by it, i knew there was something to it.

a few months later i got a call for an editing job for a project they were calling big top hip-hop. it was a documentary by 2 guys in long beach about clown dancing. i went and saw the footage and was amazed. i worked with the footage for a short time but decided that i wasn't the one to cut it. they wanted lots of special fx and motion grafx (which is not my strength, nor is it my desire to learn fx well.. now im considering playing with some animation and titling motion grafx). i got very hyped watching the footage and called a bunch of my friends at magazines and had many a writer and editor laughing at my pitch - "so these kids paint their faces like clowns and shake it crazier than the harlem shake...". people thought that i was crazy (and truth is, i am). still, no one ran that story...

now i wish i had stuck with those guys and helped them finish their big top DVD. the footage was tighter than Rize. the biggest difference is, i think, that these 2 aspiring filmmakers were from the hood themselves and had participated in the battles, were tight with the dance crews and if they had been a few years younger, they would have been dancing themselves. their footage was raw, initmate, honest, and so engaging. much better than what i saw in Rize.

don't get me wrong the "LaChapelle look" of the beach sequence and the ending montage in the LA riverbed were dope if you like his work.

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i have always been annoyed by his images. like this one that was in Vibe a while back:

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separate but equal? squeezing my cherry so hard the juice drips out?? okay, so it was a story about outkast and their solo projects and the next page looked like this:
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more on my feelings about his work after this rant about rize....

LaChapelle and the DP (director of photography) created a spectacle - i felt like a voyeur looking in and literally down upon the circles of these kids. maybe the cameraman was just too tall and for most shots the camera gazed down to see these kids. there were some wide, low angle shots that showed the dancing but quickly cut upwards above the circle. most of the film was shot in very close shots which helped to make it seem very intimate and revealing. in my own films i always use very intense close-ups (and a good friend told me she felt that my work is so claustrophobic because i lack many wide shots). but the interviews were edited and structured the film in such a way that it felt very heavy-handed and so constructed while only scratching the surface of the story. these are very complicated people with very intense stories living in crazy hoods. the film was set against the backdrop of post-riot energy. the film opens with images of the watts riots and then footage from the 92 LA uprising. but rarely do we ever see shots of the dancers in the hood. we see them at tommy's spot, in their apartments and in some unindentified area dancing but rarely do we see their hoods - why? was the cameraman afraid? why didn't we know more of their lives, their everyday lives? we knew enough to understand the pain and struggle - but only on the surface. we knew the mothers that smoked cracked, the fathers that gang-banged, the grandfather who shot his son and the father who shot himself in the head in the family's back yard - but we saw so little of their "real" lives. just heard quick pieces of the pain. how did the mother get off drugs (beyond "i gave myself to christ...)? where does she work? do these kids go to school? do they work to eat and live? how did tommy (who got robbed and evicted) afford to get the great western forum??? so muc of the story isn't told...

the film's narrative was centered around 2 interviews of guys painting their faces (like warriors preparing for battle). they talk about being oppressed, having nothing to do, needing and the creating this outlet for them.

quickly the film jumps off with a sequence intercutting some unidentified "african" images of tribal dance (i wanted to see how this footage was credited but tiana was getting antsy and wanted to leave). i wanted to see who was in those images and where lachapelle had gotten the images from. so in a very surface and uncritical way, the film embarks on this montage sequence intercutting the krumpers with "africans". no context just simply black bodies, intense, muscular, and sweaty, an object of our voyeristic gaze spanning across time, space and land masses.

i truly felt that rize was a product of racist, anthropological/ethnographic gazes of outsiders peering into the hood. now i'm not callind the filmmakers outright racist - lachapelle gets paid lots of money to objectify women and black and brown bodies.. but i can only imagine... they rolled into watts in their SUVs, unpacked camera equipment, filmed (hoping for no gunfire), then rolled out back to the hollywood hills.

the "beautiful"/LaChappelle classic sequences - on the Santa Monica beach and in the LA river bed seemed to snatch these dancers off the streets of Watts, LB, and Inglewood and plop them in these other landscapes. their bodies were oiled up, like the video hoes on set, and told to shake it fast for the camera.... now i don't know what "really" happened - i don't know if the whole camera crew and production team were white (nor do i think it really matters) but, i think they were so far from the hood that the whole film played out like an ethnographic spectacle intercut with surface interviews of "objects of study" whose stories should have been honored in a documentary, not in a voyeur's spectacle.

why did i expect more? i hate LaChapelle's images:
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for most of his work, the bodies seem to just be props.

why must it always be like this? it's always gotta be like hoop dreams.