When I discovered Revolt TV a few weeks back, I got really excited because it was being marketed as if it was a television network that would highlight social issues and also showcase dope music. But when I realized Sean Diddy Combs was spearheading the project, I cringed, thinking to myself, “I hope this doesn’t turn out to become another BET”.
Diddy is already known for his marketing expertise, so I was really interested in seeing how he would approach this new venture. He’ll have to make sure that it doesn’t become “Diddy TV,” seeing as how he becomes the face of everything he touches. In order to maintain the “grassroots” appeal the network is aiming for, it would be best if Diddy wasn’t the first thing that came to mind when thinking of Revolt TV.
Formerly our man in NYC, film writer Jonathan Poritsky is now our man in Austin, Texas. This is the story of how and why.
The end of July was weird for me. I quit my job, bought a car, left New York City and hit the road for Austin, Texas. My girlfriend, Kristyn, is getting her PhD at the University of Texas and, since I wasn’t in the market for a new girlfriend, I decided to join her on this adventure. By no means was it a simple decision.
It wasn’t easy to find my footing in New York, and I had gotten quite comfortable. I had a good day job in post production, landed a good deal for a large-ish apartment on the Upper West Side and was on all the invite lists for indie press screenings, local film fests, etc. Why start all over in a new town?
For one, I like Austin. I have attended the SXSW Film Festival and Conference since 2010, and every year I had a blast in this town. More than that though, I could feel how seriously the town takes its artists, and how supportive it is of them. (more…)
It isn’t the first site that’s tried to create a dynamic online platform for non-traditional artists. It is the first that brings their works to Times Square.
The Times reporting today on ArtistsWanted.org, which bought some of New York’s highest value billboard space to showcase an original multimedia piece that won an online contest decided by users of its site.
Artists Wanted is drawing investment from the backers of bit.ly, Vimeo, and Foursquare.
In its venture-financed expansion, Artists Wanted, which now has a staff of 14, plans to run four competitions a year, letting the site’s community pick the best contenders in art, photography, fashion and more but retaining the right to name the winner (as it did for Times Square). Its business plan is a mix of free and paid services, allowing users to post their work free but charging for deeper usage — $25 to get your portfolio on the home page during a contest, say, or perks like after-party tickets.
Part of what differentiates Artists Wanted from sites like art.sy is its focus on unknown artists, rather than fine arts luminaries.
Imagine being afraid to sign up for a particular college course, or ask a burning question to your professor because it might be recorded and documented in a police report with your name on it.
That’s the dilemma that many Muslim college students are facing in New York and surrounding areas.
Recent investigations by the Associated Press show that the New York Police Department has put in place deep levels of surveillance over Muslim communities. This includes sending agents to immerse themselves in communities of Muslims and document religious and political activity in police reports. The NYPD involved the CIA and the FBI to create their intelligence plan.
Muslim Student Unions and Muslim Student Associations at Brooklyn College and colleges all over the Northeast were also targets of surveillance. Informants even went on student trips and reported back how many times students prayed, and what kinds of conversations took place.
Arshad Ali is a post-doc researcher at Teachers College at Columbia University. He’s doing his research on the NYPD surveillance of Muslim students, and in particular, how it is affecting the student experience. We spoke with Ali about what he has heard from Muslim students in his focus groups.
“Students generally feel increasingly targeted and scrutinized by their peers because of this context of NYPD targeting and they fundamentally don’t know who to trust. They feel like some of their peers and classmates think they’re suspect,” said Ali.
According to Ali and the AP reports, police tactics have put students on edge. Tactics include using people called “rakers,” placed in communities to listen and report on conversations, possibly even inside classrooms. Ali said, “students have told us that NYPD officers have been caught posing as students. We also know there’s the larger context of the Patriot Act which allows monitoring of student library usage, book purchases, course enrollment.”
Knowledge of this kind of monitoring has influenced which courses Muslim students feel comfortable enrolling in. “Some say they don’t feel they can openly engage in debate and conversations within classrooms – particularly those dealing with Middle eastern politics or the Muslim world. They’re afraid someone is listening to their words and recording their words,” said Ali.
In addition, Muslim students reported being approached on campus by officers who knew them by name, and knew of their student activities.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects student records from being released, unless requested by the student or their legal guardian. But Ali says it is unclear whether information that is overheard or recorded during a classroom conversation is protected by FERPA. “There are deep FERPA implications [in the NYPD surveillance] because we don’t know what the colleges have turned over to the NYPD,” said Ali.
Ali intends to examine the larger implications of the surveillance as well: how this incident will impact the role of the college or university in our society. “If [students] accept surveillance on their campus as a regular part of what it means to be an engaged student, I think we’re going to see a shift in university culture and university political life.”
It’s commonly assumed that college is a time for experimenting and finding one’s identity. But according to Ali, some students might be losing that freedom to explore and find themselves. “That’s one of the things as a society that we value about the college university space. In the ideal sense, it’s a place for young people to debate and deliberate about ideas they’re challenging… One of the problems with that though is there is no differentiation between criminal activity and someone being an active participant in the Muslim community,” he said.
The New York State Department of Education recently released Teacher Data Reports (TDRs) to the media, reports that rate teachers based on the growth that their students have shown on state standardized tests. This “value-added” analysis is being incorporated into teacher evaluations all over the country, and creating controversy about how much of a teacher’s performance can be captured by test results. In New York, a teacher’s value-added score is 40 percent of their evaluation.
After the reports were released in the New York Times, the New York Post picked out Pascale Mauclaire — a sixth grade teacher at P.S. 11 — and called her the worst teacher in New York. They hounded her and her family for interviews until she had to call the police.
The funny thing is, Mauclaire’s students, fellow teachers and principal, vouch for her as one of the best educators at their school.
Stories like Mauclaire’s are popping up all over New York. The New York Times published an article about a school in Brooklyn where fifth grade teachers go above and beyond what is required of them, but whose data reports do not reflect the student growth in their classrooms.
Leo Casey, is the vice president of the United Federation of Teachers, and published an article in EdWize titled, “The True Story of Pascale Mauclaire.” The UFT fought the release of the data in the first place because they said the data was full of errors, and used test scores that were two years old.
Listen to a conversation with Casey above, and tell us what you think about releasing TDRs to the media.
Photographer Jasper James, who is from Beijing, has lived and worked in various parts of the world while working on projects for notable magazines including Vanity Fair and Traveler. One project, “City Silhouettes,” which he began several years ago, was shot in several parts of Asia, and his technique is striking: James overlaps two different styles of photos to create what he calls a “personifying” picture.
“The choice of city is key for these portraits,” he says. “I especially like the Asian mega cities such as Tokyo or Shenzhen with their vast panoramas of high rises. I think the the scale of these places works particularly well when matched with the people portraits. The key is finding the right vantage point to shoot from and gaining access.”
The series is ongoing and James hopes to eventually stage it in New York City. James is currently looking for an exhibition site for “Silhouettes.”
Here’s a band that is going places. The seven member Brooklyn based Ava Luna is an eclectic mélange of tastiness that one can’t quite pin down as this or that. Their music sounds like rocked out electro-soul with a cappella worthy harmonics – but it rarely stands still in one place.
Their first album, 3rd Avenue Island, released in August 2009, hinges more on the rock side. The sound on the record is all about contrast – a quirky mash of various soul styles coupled with a dense, hard rock throb.
Ava Luna’s signature seems to be in the surprising and refreshing a capella style chorus of the three lovely lady vocalists (Felicia Douglass, Becca Kauffman, and Anna Sian), which cuts through and shines amidst the many varied stylings of their repertoire.
The group’s second project, released January 2010, is a 4-track EP called Services. Short and sweet, Services leaves an undeniably strong impression. Less rough around the edges than 3rd Avenue Island, the work shows refinement in the band’s sound with a more harmonious blend of styles. To me, Services is a much more palatable project – the overall feel is soulful and electronic, and uses what I find to be a “just right” dashing of a now toned down rock vibe.
Also striking on the EP is lead vocalist Carlos Hernandez, who seems to have really found his voice on this project. Here, Hernandez’s delivery is tighter, more intentional, and holds a moving character reminiscent of The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach.
The energy was in full effect this past Friday at Ava Luna’s Glasslands CMJ showcase in Williamsburg. A packed house of music lovers stood with captive attention on the moodily lit stage. Ava Luna’s presence was impressively organic and non-pretentious given the palpable, gripping power of their sound.
The scene showed the anchoring girl trio lined up next to each other with an almost doo-wop stage presence, Carlos Hernandez a bit to the side, nonchalantly spilling gorgeous sounds into the mic with his deft range, and Ethan Bassford (bass), Julian Fader (drums), and Nathan Tompkins (synths) tucked in the back driving it all with the irresistible, colorful production and instrumentation.
It was an amazing night and those that missed Ava Luna might want to go ahead and feel sorry for themselves – really.
Miami based singer-songwriter and producer Steven A. Clark dropped his Stripes EP earlier this year and has created a notable buzz among a handful of music tastemakers. Still fresh on the scene, and unknown to many, here’s a real CMJ find that folks might want to pump the brakes for.
Some compare his work to the avant-garde stylings of peers Frank Ocean and The Weeknd. Clark’s song “Slow It Down” carries a sparse, echoey, underwater sound similar to that of The Weeknd, while “Superhero” sounds like a Frank Ocean track. While the former comparisons have been previously noted, there is also a strong N.E.R.D. influence a la Pharrell Williams on some of the vocals.
Similar to Pharrell, Clark is more artist than vocalist. Adept at blending sounds, he’s created some uniquely palatable music with a brand of R&B that caters to both indie and pop crowds.
During his show last night at the Hiro Ballroom, the Fayetteville native proudly claimed his hometown, citing J. Cole as his fellow North Carolina brethren. He went on to pay respects to rappers and shared his admiration for the art form. The breadth of Clark’s influences expands on Neptunes-esque tracks like “International Man” and “Love Effortlessly,” with the former featuring apparent sprinklings of Kanye West in Clark’s cadence and flow.
For all the great mashing of artistic influences, Steven is unequivocally bringing a helping of his own flavor, with his breezy sing-song (he does live in Miami after all) — and even ambient rock flair — to his delivery. At the end of the day, Steven A. Clark’s music is not quite this or that – it’s just new.
Yesterday felt somewhat like a secret society at the Hiro Ballroom; preceding acts droned on as the audience excitedly whispered in anticipation of Steven’s performance – many had come especially to see him. What transpired was intimate and familial, as if in someone’s living room, the music creating a collective hypnosis. The evening promised that Steven’s secret won’t be kept for long.”
There is a surplus of media coming out of the Occupy Wall Street movement whether from journalists, participants and even satirists like Jon Stewart. Here is a distillation of some notable videos, some of which are flying under the radar of viral distinction.
The above video is simply a beautifully shot vignette of Occupy Wall Street protesting, taken during last night’s swell of supporters in New York by Joshua Paul Johnson.
In this video below, one journalist appears to get roughed up by baton-carrying police trying to keep protesters behind a partition. Warning: expletives at :55 in.
This video offers more context to the above video, showing an NYPD officer swinging and hitting OWS protesters.
This reporter asks why African Americans and Latinos are not numerous at OWS. (It is worth noting, I noticed a high ratio of Latinos at Occupy L.A. and a fair amount of African Americans–Occupy L.A. is a generally diverse group, I observed.)
Fast forward to 1:09 in to this news package to see one young boy’s view of why he is participating.
Not only to end this post on a funny note, but here Jon Stewart really seems to nail the foibles of media coverage and OWS supporters themselves.
Long stigmatized as a “ghetto beach,” Orchard Beach is a mile long sliver of constructed landscape in The Bronx. Wayne Lawrence has spent the last four years photographing there. Built in the 1930, He says the “The Bronx Riviera” has served as a workingman’s oasis for generations of families living in an environment defined by struggle.
Brett Myers: Why do you call it The Bronx Riviera?
Wayne Lawrence: Well, I didn’t come up with the title. Orchard Beach was dubbed the Riviera of New York when it was first built back in the 30’s mainly because of it’s grand design during that time. Over the years it’s been called many things like, Chocha Beach and The Puerto Rican Riviera but The Bronx Riviera is the name that is most popular and a name which I think somehow fits the work that I’ve done there.
BAM: What drew you to Orchard Beach as opposed to the dozens of other NY beaches?
WL: Maybe it’s because I grew up on an island that I’m always drawn to the ocean wherever I am in the world. So when I started photographing at Orchard Beach, it was at a time when I was getting to know New York, having moved here from California, and I needed a place where I could grow as a photographer and where I knew that I wouldn’t mind spending a lot of time. So going to the water felt natural. I was drawn to Orchard Beach in particular because it is man-made and has a reputation for being one of the worst beaches in New York but to most of the people who go there, it’s the best thing happening during the summer.
BAM: I bet there’s some really good food being barbequed and shared. What are the smells of Orchard Beach?
WL: Well, no fires are allowed on the beach, so you won’t see or smell anything on a grill unless you go to the park right behind. Most people either bring their own stuff or spend too much on junk food at the concession stands there. What you will smell a lot of is blunt smoke.
BAM: Are there any anecdotes or stories from your time there?
WL: One of the benefits of doing long term documentary work is that it has allowed me the opportunity to really connect with a lot of my subjects. Some of whom have shared very intimate details of their life stories with me. A lot of these stories I wouldn’t feel comfortable repeating but are constant reminders that things aren’t always as they seem and that life is indeed precious and should celebrated.