Mixed Media

More Indian-American Art in the Spotlight

| Fri Mar. 9, 2007 5:08 PM EST

Speaking of Indian immigrants to New York and literary tales of global migration, the Indian-born novelist Kiran Desai won the National Book Critics Circle award for fiction yesterday, with her book, The Inheritance of Loss.

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U.S. v. Bush: The Movie?

| Fri Mar. 9, 2007 1:52 PM EST
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The movie rights to U.S. v. Bush, Elizabeth de la Vega's pseudo-nonfictional legal thriller about a hypothetical criminal case against George W. Bush, have just been sold. In the book, a U.S. attorney lays out the case against Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Co., accusing them of having defrauded the nation by leading us to war through "deceit, craft, trickery, dishonest means, and fraudulent representations, including lies, half-truths, material omissions, and statements made with reckless indifference to their truth or falsity." Just imagine that line coming from the mouth of a rumpled, crusading federal prosecutor driven by the lonely belief that we're a nation of laws, not men, dammit! Only Hollywood can bring this to life, becasuse as we know, real U.S. attorneys like this get replaced with Karl Rove's former intern.

The book has been optioned by Robert Boris, director of the Rob Lowe classic Oxford Blues, and the writer of 1973's Electra Glide in Blue (tagline: "He's A Good Cop. On A Big Bike. On A Bad Road.") I only hope that he takes some liberties with the source material, which is set entirely in a grand jury room, and writes in a scene where Dick Cheney takes the stand and delivers the equivalent of Jack Nicholson's "you can't handle the truth" speech from A Few Good Men. Especially the part where Cheney, his temper rising, lectures the smart-ass prosecutor that "I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it." Then he threatens to rip the prosecutor's eyes out. I'd watch that.

Read our recent interview with de la Vega here.

Public Environmental Art for Children, Oh My!

| Thu Mar. 8, 2007 7:06 PM EST

Today the Washington Post turned its arts coverage to two hot topics at once: the environment and children. Who can resist miniature environmentalists with purple paint smeared across their mouths who spout perfect sound-bites like little PR spokespeople?

Fifty people participated in a public art project called Vote for Art last Saturday in Takoma Park at which they painted over 2006 campaign signs with fresh slogans, largely environmental, to post in their yards on Arts Advocacy Day, next Tuesday. The Post's article quoted 6-year-old Sasha Schneer, who was completing a piece of anti-car publicity, as saying, "I'm trying to convince people to stop using the products that are polluting." It's not that I disbelieve his sincere conviction that pollution is bad. It's just that he is almost certainly regurgitating phrases he has heard his parents exchange in the recent past—and to the national media, no less!

When I was only a few years older than Schneer, destruction of the rainforest and the prospect of global warming used to keep me awake at night. So I am sure that he comprehends environmental degradation on some rudimentary level. And hey, at least the media is letting us know that some of the next generation cares about the state of the Earth—and that someone is giving them the language to let others know why it matters.

Arts organizations in other towns might take a bit of inspiration from this project. When I was a kid, I remember my classmates uttering phrases like "recycling is stupid" while throwing trash around the classroom. I could have used a little bit of Schneer's vocabulary to help me let my classmates know why there are a few smart reasons to recycle.

--Rose Miller

Internet Radio In Danger?

| Thu Mar. 8, 2007 6:14 PM EST

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For those of us who have become… ahem… frustrated with the trend towards consolidation and conservative playlists at regular, over-the-air "terrestrial" radio, the internet has been a life-saver. Whether it's random amateur stations, AOL's XM-assisted collection of channels, or ghosts of once-terrestrial frequencies like WOXY, internet radio has offered a whole world of musical choices. But all that could be in jeopardy. Music blog Idolator has pointed out that new royalty rates just decided on by the Copyright Royalty Board would put most internet broadcasters out of business.

Full disclosure: I'm an employee of LIVE 105 (CBS Radio), and we, like all stations, pay fees to the record labels for broadcasting their music. The fee structure is such that (most) stations can continue to be profitable businesses. But as Business Week points out, the new rates for internet stations could add up to over 100% of revenue. That doesn't sound very profitable. The kind of unfortunatetly-titled website Save Our Streams has been set up in anticipation of the coming internet radio silence (perhaps they could also double as a prostate-health awareness site?) and has links to a variety of news stories on the issue.

So, what's a new music junkie to do? Allow me to suggest the apparently unregulated world of podcasts! It seems nuts, but there's a whole section on iTunes full of free – and great -- new music, and if you're like me, the promise of listening to a new DJ mix on the iPod is the only thing getting you to the gym in the morning. Check these out:

  • And Did We Mention Our Disco?
    Currently featuring electro DJ sets from the excellent Simian Mobile Disco and Rory Philips
  • Stones Throw
    The LA hip-hop label's got a short-but-sweet tribute to J Dilla
  • Mad Decent
    Diplo's eclectic selections from Baltimore House to Baile Funk
  • Erol Alkan / Club Trash
    The world's premier electro-skronk DJ and remixer features recent sets from himself and guests at his ground-breaking london club night
  • Beatport Burners
    The online dance music store features the biggest tracks of the moment
  • See if those don't give you an extra jolt of energy on the treadmill...

    Mira Nair's The Namesake Opens Tomorrow

    | Thu Mar. 8, 2007 4:35 PM EST

    namesake.gifLooking for a good movie to see this weekend? Check out The Namesake (opening tomorrow), Mira Nair's film adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri's best-selling novel of the same name. The film tells the story of Ashima (played by the wonderful Bollywood star Tabu) and Ashoke (Irfan Kahn), immigrants to New York from Calcutta, and their son Gogol (Kal Penn), named (for reasons that can't be revealed in this blog post) after the Russian writer Nikolai Gogol. The unfortunate trailer makes The Namesake look like the story of a son whose Indian parents don't want him to date a white girl (I guess they thought it would help sell tickets?), but the movie tells a far more interesting immigration story.

    Nair eschews a neat and tidy view of immigration and instead displays it in all its messy contradictions. This family is in many ways quaintly American—their clean suburban home, Ashima gluing sparkles onto home made Christmas cards—yet the parents cringe at the easy informality of their children, and the action shifts equally between India and the United States, creating a palpable sense of what Nair calls "living between two worlds."

    Fans of Nair's other works (especially Monsoon Wedding and Mississippi Masala) may be surprised by this film's more somber tone, but as in those other films, Nair shows a keen eye for interpersonal relationships and presents a touching portrait of familial love and the complex emotions of immigration.

    For more on The Namesake, read my interview with Mira Nair here. (She gives a great interview.)

    --Amaya Rivera

    Michael Jackson: No Regrets

    | Thu Mar. 8, 2007 4:12 PM EST

    It turns out there's at least one person in the world who's as unwilling to admit mistakes as President Bush. That person is Michael Jackson. Having spent most of his time abroad since being acquitted on child molestation charges in 2005, the bizarre star appeared at a $3,500-a-head party in Tokyo on Thursday dressed in a Roberto Cavalli suit that looked strangely like pajamas (click the link for a picture). He told the AP: "I've been in the entertainment industry since I was 6 years old. As Charles Dickens says, 'It's been the best of times, the worst of times.' But I would not change my career" despite "deliberate attempts to hurt me."

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    Fantasy Rape or Erotic Dream?

    | Thu Mar. 8, 2007 3:54 PM EST

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    Dolce & Gabbana pulled an ad today after women's groups in Italy and Spain alleged that the ad depicts a "fantasy rape" and thereby promotes violence against women. Dolce & Gabbana counter that the ad was meant to portray an "erotic dream" (presumably among consenting, of-age dream avatars). What do you think?

    I say neither. Looks like your standard, creepy pseudo sensual D&G spread to me--too unemotional to be either violent or particularly erotic. Lesson: never make love to a model.

    NPR Does Indie Rock--but Not That Way!

    | Wed Mar. 7, 2007 8:57 PM EST

    Usually, when National Public Radio attempts to cover indie rock, I writhe in pain and vicarious shame (Stick to the grammar games, Liane Hansen. Please!). However, tomorrow's "All Songs Considered" will happily unite two of my great loves: weekday NPR and Connor Oberst from Bright Eyes. According to Pitchfork, Oberst is hosting tomorrow's show, which means he'll be spinning tracks from Bright Eyes' upcoming album, Cassadaga, which is due out April 10, as well as some of his favorite classics.

    Updatde: If you miss the radio appearance, Cassadaga is now streaming on Saddle Creek's site.

    "Purple Hearts" Photographs of Wounded Soldiers

    | Wed Mar. 7, 2007 6:54 PM EST

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    In March 2004—a year after the war in Iraq began—Mother Jones published a photo essay of wounded soldiers by Nina Berman. Unfortunately, Ms. Berman has been busy since then and has compiled an entire exhibit called "Purple Hearts." That exhibit is now on display at Columbia University in Manhattan (funded in part by George Soros' Open Society Institute). Ms. Berman will be participating in a panel discussion tonight. If you're in Manhattan, go. If you're not, check out the photographs we ran—they're seriously powerful stuff.

    Brangelina to Adopt Again...and Again

    | Wed Mar. 7, 2007 4:59 PM EST

    jolie_pitt.jpg Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt plan to adopt another child—this time a boy from Vietnam. Normally, Vietnamese adoptions take 4 months or more, but, for Brangelina, officials think they can power through the application process in less than 3 months. Jolie and Pitt already have three children. Be careful—they've expressed interest in adopting your unborn child, too.