In recent months, several penny-pinched municipalities have taken a stab at eradicating homelessness by making indigence illegal. Cities from Berkeley to Philadelphia to St. Louis have moved to criminalize "acts of living" like sitting, lying down, or asking for change on the corner. In the face of this nationwide crackdown on transients, Rhode Island has decided to take the high road. Its Assembly just passed the country's first Homeless Bill of Rights, which Governor Lincoln Chafee is expected to sign into law early next week, declaring an equal right to jobs, housing, services, and public space for all inhabitants, whether they have a home or not.
A recent report by the US Interagency Council on Homelessness blasted the national wave of out-of-sight-out-of-mind laws affecting many of the country's roughly 643,000 street folk: "Criminalization policies further marginalize men and women who are experiencing homelessness, fuel inflammatory attitudes, and may even unduly restrict constitutionally protected liberties."
But now, pushback against stop-and-frisk is in the hands of everyday citizens. On Wednesday, the NYCLU, in collaboration with Brooklyn developer Jason Van Anden, rolled out a free Android app (iPhone version out later this summer) called "Stop and Frisk Watch," which will allow New Yorkers to monitor and report police misconduct. The app alerts users when folks in their area are being stopped by the cops and lets them film the incident and send it to the NYCLU.
Van Anden caught the eye of the NYCLU when he devised an Occupy-inspired app called "I'm Getting Arrested" that allows people to broadcast to their friends that they're being detained. When the NYCLU approached him about creating the stop-and-frisk app, "I was totally on board because I had seen incidents in my neighborhood," Van Anden says. Local community and labor groups also pitched in with brainstorming and test-runs.
In anticipation of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development to be held in Rio June 20-22, the glamorous host city is trying to further sexify itself by laying to rest its infamous Jardim Gramacho garbage dump.
At the megaconference, dubbed Rio+20, world leaders and international organizations will try to hash out a "roadmap" on how to move towards an enviro-friendly global economy. And the 60 million-ton mountain of trash rising from Rio's Guanabara Bay doesn't exactly inspire lofty green thoughts. Among the largest open-air landfills in the world, the Gramacho dump was a ghastly example of the shoddy waste disposal system that plagued Brazil until sweeping regulations were implemented just a couple of years ago. Designed to hold 3,000 tons of garbage a day for 20 years, as Inter Press Service reports, it ended up receiving around three times that amount daily and operating 14 years longer, with no lining beneath it to prevent toxic leakage into the bay, and very little oversight.
Even if you've never heard of Yann Tiersen, you've probably know his music. Several tracks from Tiersen's album Rue Des Cascades featured in Amélie, Jean-Pierre Jeunet's quirkily endearing 2001 film. The songs that accompanied Amélie, the film's protagonist (as she walked down cute French streets looking cute) layered toy piano and harpsichord, violin, and accordion to create something simultaneously childlike and heavy, silly and soaring.
His latest album, Skyline—out last fall in Europe, but released just last month in North America—is a little grittier, even more eclectic, and just as whimsical. Tiersen's website says he's inspired by "musical anarchy," and proposes that we "live in an enormous world of sound we can use randomly, with no rules at all." On Skyline, he veers from sounds that could accompany a Disneyland ride to the screeches of a wild beast, and dances all around in between.
They call her the Punk Ballerina. For her 1978 choreographic debut, Karole Armitage, who once danced with the Ballet Theater of Geneva and later with modern dance luminary Merce Cunningham, shocked the classical vocabulary by setting ballet to punk music. Her website says Armitage is still "dedicated to redefining the boundaries and perceptions of contemporary dance." She maintains that "music is her script."
I was therefore a little mind-boggled by Three Theories, the piece that her company, Armitage Gone!, just performed in San Francisco following shows in Chicago and New York. According to the program notes, the piece "looks at the poetry underlying the pillars of 20th century theoretical physics: Einstein's General Theory of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics and String Theory." It goes on to explain that the choreography is derived from "scientific principles" and creates dance that, I kid you not, "reflect[s] the points of view held by physicists about the fundamental nature of the universe."
While anyone could be forgiven for failing to illuminate the theory of everything with dance, you'd think that at the very least Armitage would push some of those pesky boundaries—or even elevate the music beyond just an arbitrary metronome for the steps.