Coachella Preview: Electronic

While the three nightly headliners (McCartney, The Killers, and The Cure) have all dabbled in studio trickery and electronics to accompany their guitar-centered tunes, straight-ahead electronic music has really taken center stage this year at Coachella. The fact that organizers seem to understand electronic music and appreciate its potential for quality live performances has always made the festival a step up from your Bonnaroos and Bumbershoots, but the 2009 lineup is even more electro-riffic: fully 53 of the 133 artists could easily be considered “electronic” (that’s including the Yeah Yeah Yeahs). After the jump, 10 of the highlights.

Plus, don’t forget, Mother Jones is, surprisingly enough, your home for complete Coachella coverage! We’ll have the traditional nightly updates right here on the Riff Friday through Sunday (reminisce about 2008’s festival here, here and here, and 2007’s here, here and here), as well as some chats with whatever artists we can corral, plus a selection of intrepid photographer Kristi’s best shots from the photo pits and lunch tents! Weather.com says 89-95-98 for highs, so if you’re heading to the desert, stay cool!

Glenn Beck Is Jiminy Glick

I guess a guy fainted on his show the other day and the dude is actually advocating secession, but whatever, I don’t care about any of that, I'm just interested in Glenn Beck-as-brilliant-performance-artist. The clip that made me think of the Glick connection was this one from Gawker (which they won't let you embed, dang it) showing the certifiably insane Fox host adopting a dainty lisp for some reason I have yet to determine. Watching this, it suddenly hit me where I’d seen his brand of nonsensical, pudgy-faced bloviating before. So either go watch the Gawker clip and come back, or just compare some generic Beck blabber with vintage Glick below, and then tell me if you've ever seen them in the same room together.

2009 Hasselblad Photography Award

Lakewood

 

Oregon photographer Robert Adams won this year's prestigious Hasselblad Award. The Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco hosted the award ceremony, only the third time the award has been presented outside of Hasselblad's hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Adams' work focuses on the American West. His 1974 book The New West looked at the changing landscape of Western states, documenting the creation of suburban landscapes in once pristine, rural areas. The photographs in this body of work helped define Adams' style as a no-frills, descriptive documentary photographer in the tradition of Walker Evans.

Over the course of 40 years as a photographer, Adams' unflinching and unsentimental eye has captured the enviornmental transformations of the Western landscape -- from forests hit by clear cutting and wide mountain landscapes to the rise of housing tracts, motels, supermarkets and trappings of suburbs.

The Hasselblad Foundation gives the photography award each year to a photographer who has contributed significantly to the field and is one of the most significant prizes to be awarded for photography. The past winners list reads like a Who's Who in Photography: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Ansel Adams, Susan Meiselas, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Robert Frank, Nan Goldin, Lee Friedlander, William Klien, Josef Koudelka, William Eggleston, and so on. Adams finds himself in excellent company. The winner receives a gold medal (usually presented by the Swedish royal family), a certificate and a monetary prize of 500,000 SKE.

 

Two Crimes, Two Stereotypes

This week I've been following the tragic case of Sandra Cantu, an eight-year old California girl who was raped and murdered. Her suspected killer is Melissa Huckaby, a local Sunday school teacher. Also this week, I learned that rapper Lil Wayne told Jimmy Kimmel that he first had sex at age 11. Kimmel termed it "lost your virginity," but due to Wayne's age at the time and the 13-year old girl who lured him with board games, I think the incident would be better categorized as rape.

Both the Wayne and Cantu cases stuck out to me because they really run against the stereotypical depictions of men as predators and women as victims. While statistically women commit only about 10% of murders, if Huckaby is guilty, it will be a sad case-in-point that women, even white, Sunday school-teaching mothers, can indeed rape and kill. Wayne's childhood assault is completely deplorable—and so is the fact that Kimmel thought it was okay to joke about it on TV—and it's a stark reminder that men are also victims of sexual violence. Even African American, bling-loving rappers who write hypersexual, misogynist songs like "Ask Them Hoes."

I really wonder if Kimmel would have asked Britney Spears or Missy Elliot or any other female celebrity about losing their "virginity" before they turned 12. My feeling is, such an exchange would have had a lot more of "you're a survivor" and a lot less of "wow, cool, what was that like?" What do you think? If Lil Wayne were a woman, would Kimmel even touch the subject?

Are Twitter and Facebook Bad for You?

Obsessed with Twitter and Facebook? Then you're probably immoral and stupid.

At least, that's what two new studies claim. USC researchers allege that speed-tweeting leaves no time for compassion. I wonder if this applies to recent-Twitter convert Jesus. (Apparently, Twitter may also have jumped the shark. Poor Biz Stone.)

Meanwhile, a survey by Ohio doctoral students reveals that Facebook users get inferior grades in school. Because stalking ex-boyfriends online totally cuts into study time.

Somehow, I doubt these studies will stop anybody from social networking. Which reminds me: Did you know MoJo has its own Twitter feed and Facebook page? Check them out!

Coachella Preview: Hip-Hop

This year, while most of the Coachella headliners are as white as the driven snow (sorry, Robert Smith, but it's true) there is actually a strong lineup of hip-hop performers around the middle of the bill. So, hip-hop fans, get your butts out of the pool and get over to the venue early. After the jump, check out my selected list of beat purveyors and MCs you might want to try and catch.

Amazon Gay Book Screwup An Honest Mistake?

We weren’t quite fast enough here on the Riff to get on this story when it first broke, but it was all over the Twitter. Shoppers (and authors) had started noticing that gay- and lesbian-themed books were getting stuck on the virtual bottom shelf at Amazon.com recently, with titles from Giovanni’s Room to Brokeback Mountain getting slapped with an "adult" label. This apparently made them harder to find in searches and stripped them of their all-important Amazon sales rankings. Well, as queers are well aware, having any mention of our existence deemed Not Safe For Kids is one of the most troubling aspects of homophobia, so this understandably ticked a lot of people off. But Amazon’s explanation is calming things down a bit, and proves the maxim, “When in doubt, blame France”:

Amazon managers found that an employee who happened to work in France had filled out a field incorrectly and more than 50,000 items got flipped over to be flagged as "adult," the source said. (Technically, the flag for adult content was flipped from 'false' to 'true.')

Mais pourquoi?!! Now, one of course wishes to give the online retailer and its clearly drunk French employees the benefit of the doubt, and it turns out many other not-exactly-adult titles were stuck in the back room, including, as Amazon put it, titles in "Mind & Body, Reproductive & Sexual Medicine, and Erotica." But, uh, Erotica seems like it might actually deserve to be called "adult," doesn't it? And it still doesn’t answer why so many queer-themed titles got called naughty, and not, say, American Psycho (which, as the New York Times pointed out, had no problem keeping its sales rank). All I know is, Amazon better get this figured out quick, because they do not want to lose my Christmas present business. I have seven nieces and nephews!

San Francisco's freezing-cold answer to Coachella, the Outside Lands festival, made its debut last year, and despite some organizational problems and nerve-wracking sound issues, a good time was had by all. The organizers have just announced this year's lineup, set for August, but they didn't just post a list on the internet; they managed to get ranger, bison and beaver puppets to sing a crazy little song punning on the names of all the bands. This may be the cutest thing I've ever seen in my entire life, and I've been to Japan. In fact, I'm not even going to tell you any of the bands playing, so you have to watch it.

NY Times: Fairey Not a Crook, Just a Sell-Out

Well, Jeez, you try making money with spray paint and stickers! The New York Times’ Moment blog had design guy Steven Heller take a look at the appropriative work of graphic artist and Obama “Hope” poster creator Shepard Fairey, and despite what the AP says, he believes Fairey isn’t a plagiarist:

Those who rebuff Fairey’s work are angry that he misappropriates (read: steals) famous art and design works; they argue that Warhol changed paradigms while Fairey makes knockoffs. I did an interview with Fairey for his recent book, “Obey: Supply & Demand,” and I admit that on occasion he has come close to crossing the line from acceptable borrowing into murky infringement territory. But after seeing the satiric art barbs that he aimed at politics, cultural icons and bêtes noires in his exhibition at the I.C.A. (where I participated in a panel discussion on appropriation), I can say this: Shepard Fairey is not a crook.

Heller allows that Fairey’s work involves copying “established works,” but maintains the images are “playfully twisted,” and, at its best, a “critique of image ownership.” However, he seems disappointed in Fairey’s more recent turn towards salesmanship, with the “Obey” designs turned into T-shirts and knick-knacks, and Fairey “aggressively using legal means to stop other artists from appropriating his work.” A few years ago, I had an experience with Fairey that made me feel the same way.

Coachella Preview: Rock

The tenth installment of America's hottest music festival is only one week earlier than usual this year, but it sure feels like it snuck up on me. Holy palm trees, it’s this Friday, and I'm not ready! I need to get new crazy-colored board shorts, hipster vintage T-shirts, and decide on a poolside cocktail! More than anything, though, any festival attendee with a serious interest in music needs to start planning early, picking priorities from the cornucopia of quality acts. For the next three days I’ll take a look at the lineup, splitting things up into admittedly imperfect “rock,” “hip-hop” and “electronic” categories, for lack of a better idea. Today: rock.