Monday, May 31, 2010

Gulf of Mexico Spill

Some oil spill events from Monday, May 31, 2010
A summary of events on Monday, May 31, Day 40 of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill that began with the April 20 explosion and fire on the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, owned by Transocean Ltd. and leased by BP PLC, which is in charge of cleanup and containment. The blast killed 11 workers. Since then, oil has been pouring into the Gulf from a blown-out undersea well at a rate of at least 210,000 gallons per day.

MYSTERIES OF THE DEEP
Independent scientists and government officials say there's a disaster we can't see in the Gulf of Mexico's mysterious depths, the ruin of a world inhabited by enormous sperm whales and tiny, invisible plankton. Researchers say they've found at least two massive underwater plumes of what appears to be oil, each hundreds of feet deep and stretching for miles. Yet the chief executive of BP PLC — which has for weeks downplayed everything from the amount of oil spewing into the Gulf to the environmental impact — said there is "no evidence" that huge amounts of oil are suspended undersea.

OIL SPILL-WASHINGTON
A congressman is questioning BP CEO Tony Hayward's claim that the oil company has not found evidence of underwater oil plumes. Scientists have reported plumes as long as 22 miles.
Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., said BP in this instance means "Blind to Plumes." He sent a letter to Hayward on Monday asking for documents to back up his claims.

Markey, chairman of a House Energy and Commerce Committee environmental panel, said it is vital that the government and researchers have unfettered access to all relevant data or analysis concerning underwater plumes. He also called on BP to offer "complete transparency" on its video feeds from the company's underwater operations, calling any delay or other obstacle unacceptable.

SPILL LIABILITY
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer says he will introduce a bill to repeal a law that could allow the owner of the oil drilling rig that sank in the Gulf of Mexico to limit its liability for the disaster to $27 million. Schumer called it "outrageous" that the company could "get away with paying mere pennies of the total cost of clean-up" of the massive oil spill in the Gulf. Schumer said he will introduce the legislation Tuesday.

OIL SPILL-TOURISM
Tourists along the Gulf coast are enjoying the beaches despite the nation's worst oil spill. tourism officials from Mississippi to Florida have fought the perception that oil has come ashore, and hotels have offered lower rates and other incentives to vacationers. Though some tar balls have been found on Mississippi and Alabama barrier islands, oil from the spill has not significantly fouled the shores.

A Nicotine Addicted Baby

Child abuse is basically what this is.

Parents, Make Sure Your Kids Spell Right

...or they might write something like this...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dora the Explorer Immigration Cartoon

Funny, but poignant.

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FENCES with Denzel Washington

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 This is a must see. Moi, I'm gonna read the play and attend the broadway performance this summer in good ol' Manhattan.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Janelle Monae

...and the neo soul crushes continue. Please cop her album The ArchAndroid.

Just Wright...

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In Just Wright, a comedy starring Common and Queen Latifah, Scott McKnight (Common) is supposed to be that NBA dream guy that women fawn over. But let's look at this through realistic lens real quick: as a woman would you really want to be with a guy who marries some skank he only knew for three months, sleeps with his athletic trainer, and storms off the stage during an interview with Stuart Scott to propose to his true love? Then again, who am I to mess with fairy tales?

#9 Boston Celtics

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Just shot up value.

 Peep the steez... 



Sunday, May 23, 2010

ThE STETHOSCOPE: Cardboard License Plates by Keb0

Keeping the ear to the concrete for fresh palpitations
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This cat Keb0 is very creative with the lyrics and the song titling. Got some fresh production backing him up as well. Young cat (20) from Indianapolis. Check out the track "Pickin' Petals" produced by Nefarious. You haven't heard the last from him...


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Peter Hadar's "Full Time Lover"

It pays to know young people. My girlfriend's nephew put me on to this site www.creativecontrol.tv which features these artsy, avante garde videos. It's got folks like Badu, Damon Dash, Currensy featured on the site. This video from Peter Hadar got my billiards bouncing...

Peter Hadar- Full Time Lover from Peter Hadar on Vimeo.

Google Doodle Contest

Can you believe a child drew this? Google is doing a "Doodle 4 Google" contest for K-12 students and this drawing by eight-year-old from Indira Mishra from Bluewater Elementary in Niceville, Florida is my personal favorite. Of her time traveling theme, she writes, "Traveling back through time I would visit places and people that I learned about in school and bring things back, like extinct animals and dinosaurs. Traveling to the future I would learn about new inventions and bring things back, like medicines and technology. A time machine would help the world." The winning drawing gets to be featured on the site.

Michael Barnes, Smithsonian Photographer

Boy, don't that sound official? This is my best friend's father being on the Smithsonian blog. He's been at it for years. Mr. Barnes, we salute you!


The man, the myth, the lens

By Susannah Wells, Smithsonian Photography Initiative
Linsey Scott, Intern, and Michael Barnes, Photographer, from the Center of Scientific Imaging and Photography stand in front of the freshly remounted world-record Black Marlin that was caught in 1953 using 130 pound test line by Alfred C. Glascock, Jr.
Linsey Scott, Intern, and Michael Barnes, Photographer, from the Center of Scientific Imaging and Photography stand in front of the freshly remounted world-record Black Marlin that was caught in 1953 using 130 pound test line by Alfred C. Glascock, Jr.
I had the recent opportunity to sit down with colleague and Smithsonian photographer, Michael Barnes of the Smithsonian Institution Archives, Photographic Services and really get to know the man behind the camera.
Michael Barnes has been employed at the Smithsonian for an impressive thirty-five years. A photographer for eight of those years, Michael is one of a select group of professionals scheduled to document the Smithsonian, whether pertaining to objects in collections, senior staff portraits, or Smithsonian-related events.
Brimming with highlighted experiences from when he first began taking pictures for the Smithsonian, we dove into discussion touching on an array of past assignments. Michael explained the charm of being a Smithsonian photographer is all about “the people you meet and the objects you see.” As Michael states, “One minute you’re playing in dirt, the next minute you’re photographing a great professor!”
Though he enjoys it all, he expressed a certain preference for photographing objects. “It’s a chance to be creative. Determining the right lighting, different angles, detail shots . . . Plus, they don’t talk back; they just sit there.” Michael chuckled.
Anne Lowe American Beauty Dress, 1966-1967, Photo by Michael Barnes,  National Museum of African American History and Culture, Donated by Mrs. John F Dowd and Barbara Baldwin Dowd of Watkinsville, GA in 1987.
Ann Low American Beauty Dress 1958-1960, Photo by Michael Barnes, National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of the Black Fashion Museum founded by Lois K. Alexander-Lane.
To help illustrate his enthusiasm for recent projects, Michael took me on a tour through his digital image files. There, he singled out a dress. From this image, he recalled a memorable object photo shoot for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). Prepared for sophistication, Michael photographed five antique gowns in two days from a makeshift studio. He remarked this was his favorite dress because, “Each flower [on the dress] was handmade. Each petal was handmade.” Focused on such thoughtful detail and care, a photographer is bound to form an attachment, even if the shoot is a mere couple of days.
Michael did express a choice for object photography, though he seems to have an equally good time chronicling events. While surfing through the images, he paused to describe being called to duty as a staff photographer for Smithsonian-sponsored events, such asSave Our African American Treasures: A National Collections Initiative, a program presented by NMAAHC. In between capturing the compelling and casual, Michael had opportunities to mingle amongst the people sharing heirlooms and passion for their heritage.
Participants in the “Save Our African American Treasures” program held in May 2009 in Charleston, SC. Treasures is a national outreach program presented by the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Looking on (center rear) are NMAAHC Director Lonnie Bunch and Congressman James Clyburn (DSC), Photo by Michael Barnes.
Participants in the “Save Our African American Treasures” program held in May 2009 in Charleston, SC. Treasures is a national outreach program presented by the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Looking on (center rear) are NMAAHC Director Lonnie Bunch and Congressman James Clyburn (DSC), Photo by Michael Barnes.
He also presented a striking image from the 42nd Anniversary “Jubilee” Luncheon of the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum. Seated on the left (in the fantastic purple hat) is the late Dorothy Height, chairman and president emerita, National Council of Negro Women, and on the right is Johnnetta Cole, director of Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art. From Michael’s unique perspective, referring to Cole’s engagement with Height, “It’s like she’s gleaning nuggets from this woman, there’s so much history in her . . . ‘Tell me more, tell me more!’”
Dorothy Height, chairman and president emerita, National Council of Negro Women and Johnnetta Cole, director, National Museum of African Art chat at the 42nd Anniversary “Jubilee” Luncheon of the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum. Height was honorary chair and Cole was keynote speaker for the benefit event held at the National Press Club on Sept. 15, 2009, Photograph by Michael Barnes.
Dorothy Height, chairman and president emerita, National Council of Negro Women and Johnnetta Cole, director, National Museum of African Art chat at the 42nd Anniversary “Jubilee” Luncheon of the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum. Height was honorary chair and Cole was keynote speaker for the benefit event held at the National Press Club on Sept. 15, 2009, Photograph by Michael Barnes.
To top it off, being a Photographic Services photographer awards the perk to pursue work independently, inspiring more visceral calls to photograph national events, such as the momentous Million Man March and historical presidential inaugurations.
Reality and Hope, January 19, 2009, by Michael Barnes.
Reality and Hope, January 19, 2009, by Michael Barnes.
Whether in the studio or in the field, Michael has an energy for photography that just won’t quit! It was clear, with his natural interest in history and artifacts, taking pictures for the Smithsonian is the prime place to be. What’s better than appreciating the adventure of your assignments? Being appreciated for your work, of course. Michael said it best, “Let me put it to you this way, I’m always invited back.”
With that, there’s no doubt.
Our lens caps are off to you, Michael Barnes.
This is part of a series of posts giving a behind-the-scenes look at the work of the Smithsonian Institution Archives. Also see posts describing the work of a Photo Archivist, a Registrar, a Librarian, and an Archivist.

THE STETHOSCOPE: "Fresh Air" by Alan C. Duncan

Keeping the ear to the concrete for fresh palpitations

Feeling this joint..got a spiritual vibe to it...


Monday, May 17, 2010

REVIEW: Nas and Damian Marley Distant Relatives


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Nas and Damian Marley



Universal Republic : 2010

89




By the end of the Best of Both Worlds Tour in November 2004, Jay-Z and R. Kelly were at each other’s throats. Their two collaboration albums, criticized for being uninspired and redundant, sat in shelf dust while the two bickered over tour profits. They were scathing radio interviews and subpoenas. Then came the paranoid illusions of gun-toting concertgoers and the infamous pepper spray incident. Oh and let’s not forget all the prima donna mid-performance walk-offs in between.

The point is when two breadwinners get to together to do a joint album, there is a certain management—or mismanagement--of egos required. This general truth swims in the mind of even the most optimistic critics. They can’t help but ask themselves if Nas and Damian Marley, arguably the Kobe and Lebron of the conscious black aesthetic, can reconcile their respective spheres of dominance and produce one shared effort.

Logically speaking, Distant Relatives, the duo’s collaboration project may be all but destined for mediocrity. Look at it this way, do we expect or even think it’s possible for Nas and Marley to develop in one LP what it took Andre Benjamin and Antwan Patton years to cultivate? At the very base level, some awkward blind-datishness is unavoidable.

Let’s not get it twisted, the album’s uncurbed afrocentricity for all its self-righteous didacticism, is downright cleansing. “Tribal War” grants access to a fraternity of progressive thinkers as Nas and Damian invite fellow Pan-africanist K’Naan to lyrically renew Africa’s cultural contribution to the world. K’Naan’s verse in particular, stirs up a gourd of conscious gumbo that remixes Mandela, conflict diamonds, and Black Dalai Lamas over an ethnic chorus and drums that could have come directly from the Serengeti. But still there’s an element of contrivance amiss in songs like “Strong Will Continue” where Damian’s melodious patois and Nas’s street corner linguistics exist in separate realms despite being on the same track.

Regrettably, only a few cuts demarcate where the two artists have agreed to defer to one another. Those songs, which allow Nas a moment to bask in his own laid-back stylings or Damian a moment of rapid fire proselytizing, of course, come off the most natural. For instance, the easy reggae guitar riff nor the understated hook on “Leaders” must have taken an atlas of thought to conceive, but they grant Nas an unthreatened forum to imagine himself at the “Audobon, Malcolm on the podium/ Shells drop to linoleum/ Swipe those place them on display at the Smithsonian.” Likewise Damian Marley gets free reign to spit, “Kingstonians are real blood fiends/ The world is a big crime scene” on the catalyzing “Nah Mean”.

The other issue is preachiness and the thin string that separates a song like “Count Your Blessings” that thrives off its own acoustic humility from the cheesy “My Generation” which enlists a paradoxical Lil Wayne and the clich√© kiddie choir (side note: imagine if it were same children that did all these songs. They’d be ready to unionize by now). When done in a haphazard way, these “positive” songs make the shoot-em-up, kilo-moving ballads sound not so bad.

What distinguishes Distant Relatives from the audio cash cow some cynics may purport it to be lies in the album’s first tier lyricism. It’s not just a stream of catch phrases that gloss over terms like Garveyism and Babylon, but a mobile form of verbal activism. Most tangibly, a percent of the proceeds from the album go to a school in the Congo. True, music in America can’t exist without a capitol motive (hearing a snippet of the lead single “As We Enter” on HBO’s “How to Make it in America” is like seeing Ishmael Beah’s child soldier memoir on being sold on a Starbucks kiosk), but the two musical figureheads have still managed to make the world a better place, an act which waves a flashlight at the proud ghosts of Bob Marley and Fela Kuti.

-Sidik Fofana

My Favorite Places in New York

My go-spots in NYC...what are yours?



5. The Brooklyn Museum
Words that come to mind:
(First Saturdays, Eastern Parkway, multicultural exhibits, fun field trips, Egyptian and Afrobeat parties)
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4. Times Square
Words that comes to mind:
(Midnight movies, comedy shows, bright lights, random run-ins with celebrities, Madame Tussauds)


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3. SoHo
Words that come to mind:
(McNally Robinson book store, chic clothing, refined bistros, galleries, cool bars)

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2. 125th Street Harlem
Words that come to mind:
(Studio Museum, urban clothing, brownstones, Hue Man bookstore, oils and incense)

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1. Union Square
Words that come to my mind:
(The park, Strand Bookstore, bar circuit, fly kicks, hat stands)

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lena Horne, One of Our Greats

Lena Horne's death at 92 makes me think how our icons make us feel safer. "The elders", as august African villages would refer to them, are the austere people that infuse us with culture and tradition. Lena Horne was one of those people. But the joyful twist is this: she still is one of those people. Goodbye, Ms. Horne...


Lena Horne 1 from Jazz-99 on Vimeo.

Boston Flavor -- Notoriety

Here's what's been brewing out of Boston lately--Brockton specifically. Three young wise men Vydle Sinez, Incredible Chuck, and Justrite, collectively known as Notoriety, have dropped their EP The Toast for free 99. Some pretty good stuff...


Monday, May 10, 2010

New York City Teacher Layoffs

Between the state and the union (The United Federation of Teachers), no one is serving the interest of the children. 6,700 teacher layoffs this year and guess what the effed up part of it is? Young teachers will be the first to go instead of the less quality older teachers. In virtually every field, layoffs are performanced based. Now, in this field where good teaching means so much to the development of a child's mind, poor teachers are finding job security at the expense of better qualified teachers. As stuff starts to hit the fan, I will be going hard with the pen.

Times Square Terrorism

Although politically I am more likely to side with the Middle Eastern constituents who continue to resist American imperialism, I've never been able to empathize with people who are willing to sacrifice the lives of innocent civilians in order to make a political point. Maybe I don't understand the whole picture, but this whole failed attempt in Times Square has made me less and less willing espouse to the cause. I'm all for raging against the machine, but at the cost of innocent lives?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

REVIEW: Keziah Jones's Nigerian Wood

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Nigerian Wood
Keziah Jones
(Downtown Music: 2010)

Keziah Jones’s newest album, Nigerian Wood, starts off with a brief audio clip of a British professor presenting his research on African music. “For our next song, we go right across the territory,” the stuffy voice explains. “The first one is a dance song with a moral.” Besides the subtle jab at colonial anthropology, this short sound byte represents everything Jones’s music is not. Despite its conspicuous title, Jones’s newest album Nigerian Wood does not speak for the entire West African country. Instead, it’s world music that uses the cosmopolitan styles of polyrhythmic soul, jazz, blues, and Afrobeat to give Jones’s birthplace a universal chic.

At the core, Keziah Jones is a singer-songwriter. His strength lies in his silky voice and funky slap-box guitar technique (picture a Curtis Mayfield and Fela Kuti love child). When he sticks to this musical arsenal, the results are celestial. Take “Unintended Consequences” for instance, sung over a laid-back acoustic melody and spare drums or “Beautifulblackbutterfly” on which Jones’s smooth vocals decorate an even smoother riff. It’s hard to ignore the tingle factor on these songs. When Jones goes electric instead of acoustic, however, (see “African Android”), the distortion makes the music seem less genuine. The songs that work on Nigerian Wood are the same songs Jones can perform on stage unplugged.

By no means a straight out red light LP, Nigerian Wood does sneaks in heavier subject matter when appropriate. On “1973 (Jokers Reparations)”, Jones sings, “In 1973, the naira was introduced to help the economy/ But the value’s kinda weak one naira spun six dollars, official calculation,” providing his perspective on Nigerian economy. Jones is not a hammerhead for African politics, but maintains a pro-Nigerian sentiment without saturating the music. A song like “Lagos vs. New York” praises Nigeria’s most popular city, without compromising its grooviness.

Keziah Jones is a franchise musician who has been crafting substantial albums since the early 90’s. On Nigerian Wood, Jones is simply showing what good reputations are made of. Sprinkle that with some African pride and Nigeria is on the map beaming.

--Sidik Fofana

EP from Shahmen

Enter the Circle, the debut EP from the Shahmen is a cryptic, murky submarine ride in the mic of one of the most genius emcees I've met. I know the duo's vocalist B L S and he used to kill ciphers on campus. Corner Boy has got the download link. It's oracular baritone delivery with eerie philosophical production from SENSE. Plug it in...




Classic Reggae

Just to give you a lick of what pops used to listen to in the crib back in the day. Toots and Maytals got a new album (still kickin') on 4/20 called Flip & Twist. These guys will always have a place of nostalgia in my heart.


What's that? Toots & Maytal offering 4/20 themed packages on their website? Yes sirrr... http://www.tootsandthemaytals.com/

Monday, May 3, 2010

Comedy Central's 100 Greatest Standups of All Time

My man Chappelle is at number 43. Where does your favorite comedian rank?

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