12.31.2014

Post #300 - St. Paco's Top Ten All-Time Top Ranking Blog Posts

I seldom check my blog's statistics. For me it's simply enough to arrange a few words in TextEdit® (okay, several words), paste 'em into Blogger™, scan and upload photos, plop in some relevant tags, and then post it all to the "Internets." And when the post is done, that's it. Rarely does it occur to me to see if my offerings have ever caused a ripple in The Force™.

But it did occur to me to check into that today.

Becoming hyper-aware, after mentioning in an email to a fellow writer/blogger on Saturday that my blog was just two posts shy of 300, I thought that I should take a moment to survey how things have been going with YKFS. Traffic wise, I mean. I started wondering if anything that I'd posted to the blog since the last time I thought to check the stats *cough* maybetwoyearsago *cough* had generated a significant number of page views.

After keying in my username and password into the sign in screen at Blogger™, I logged in, opened up the control panel, slid the pointed cursor over to the statistics button on the left side of the screen and clicked the mouse. Top 20 reasons why Nicki Minaj is a geek goddess... 3,659 page views. Holy craaaaaaaaaaap!!!

Okay, a funny story about that piece. Not funny like 'haha' funny, but a semi-amusing anecdote. That post was actually written for The Smoking Section. At the time it was written, TSS was looking for new bloggers for their site and I drafted two original pieces for their sage consideration. Two pieces that I thought were perfect for a finger-on-the-pulse pop culture website.

The short Sprite Voltron piece that I also wrote for TSS was pretty good too. But I was really excited about the Minaj joint. So much so that I also made a bootleg 'click bait' teaser thingamabob, just like the ones on TSS. The teaser featured a nerdy-looking snapshot of Nicki that was spot-on for the piece. I then loaded everything into a nicely formatted e-mail, clicked 'send' and waited patiently for TSS to welcome the kid into the fold.

I never heard a word from 'em.

After about three weeks of waiting in vain, I said 'to heck' with TSS. I was actually beside myself with the thrill of posting the pieces written for them on my own blog. And here, now in major retrospect, seeing how one of those pieces attracted over 3600 hits for a back alley blog like YKFS, by my calculations they prolly should've taken a chance on yours truly. Who knows what kinda traffic I could've generated over there. Oh well, their total loss.

And, hey! This must be kinda how it feels for artists like Eminem and Kanye after they finally get a record deal and then go...sextuple platinum (yes, that's a real word). The big fat sense of validation it must bring, when juxtaposed against the maddening fact that so many fat cat execs passed on their music. Execs who later wanted to murder themselves for that critical lapse in judgment.

Okay, okay. I know that I am really, reeeeeeaaallly reaching here, but it's my blog post and I fantasize if I want to. And with that mini moment of megalomania out of the way...

In honor of my 300th pulse-pounding blog post (dis one), St. Paco (dat's me) would like to cast the full beam of the spotlight on my Top Ten All-Time Top Ranking Blog Posts. And I'm pretty jazzed at the number of views that every single one of my posts have generated. Especially when considering how I thought it'd be an accomplishment just to get a few dozen hits per post.

Oh, and I also wanna take a quick moment before closing this 300th posting to say that if I ever do get scouted to write for one of those überpopular pop culture blogs, whoever okays that move – to quote Eminem – should prolly "get a finder's fee out this world! Ain't no one 'out their mind' as me!" [Maniacal laughter]

Here's to the next 300. Thanks for reading me.

SP


The YKFS Top Ten All-Time Top Ranking Blog Posts

01. Top 20 reasons why Nicki Minaj is a geek goddess – 3,659 views
02. Another 'Great Day in Harlem – 2,057 views
03. Fall into the Gap – 1,546 views
04. The Secret Santa – 1,270 views
05. Jay-Z on Jean-Michel Basquiat – 1,069 views
06. The Deadly Art of Black Dynamite – 920 views
07. Shaolin Break Dancing – 846 views
08. Georges Marciano's Guess Girl – 764 views
09. Breaking and the New York City Breakers – 644 views
10. Crisis in Electric Ladyland – 535 views

12.30.2014

10.06.2014

[Destroy All Headphones™] Survival 101 Mixtape: Introduction to Pacific Island Reggae


Your Kung Fu Sucks!® brings you... the Survival 101 mixtape! This blazin' bootleg compilation collects 20 of the best dancehall, roots, and lovers rock reggae hits to rise up from the inviting isles of the South Pacific! That's right, approximately 85 minutes of rock steady riddems that will transport you instantly from your stressed out existence to a tranquil island beach on the other side of the world. We guarantee it! So order your copy of Survival 101 for the low price of free-ninety-nine today, and let the irie vibes of the South Pacific islands whisk you away!

 Survival 101 Mixtape: Introduction to Pacific Island Reggae

01 Freedom – Vanessa Quai  
02 So Much Trouble ft. Mino (Bob Marley Interpolation) – Koran
03 West Papua ft. Ngaiire Joseph – George Telek
 
04 Dou Mada Mai  – 1STRIBE
05 Papuan Pride  – Robby T & Metere Crew
06 Ino'mae – Onetox
07 My Island Home  – DMP
08 Island Diver – Pagasa
09 Perfect ft. Jah Boy – Dezine
10 Bolo Visi – Cloud [Trevor]
11 Crying Youths – Syco Don 
12 Sobo Audau Diva ft. Young Davie – Nasio Domoni 
13 Dina Lewa ft. Da Melanezianz – Young Davie 
14 I Won't Give Up (Jason Mraz Cover) – Paddock 
15 Nice Bola ft. Kairi – Teha 
16 Mon Coeur (Kaneka Remix) – Aryelle 
17 PNG Queen ft. Robby T, Sean Rii, Tee, Rini & Ugly BOFour
18 Shefarian Lady – Shanty Town
19 Hutusa Jazz Lewa ft. Mandre & Livilzman Baka – Sean Rii
20 Vuvusele – Small Jam 
21 Secret Bonus Track 



All songs posted to the Your Kung Fu Sucks! blog are the property of their respective copyright holders. Their use here is strictly intended for promotional and informational purposes only. NOT FOR SALE. Please support the artists featured on the YKFS blog by buying their original CDs and mp3s where and whenever applicable. Any artist who would like to have their music removed from this promotional project may do so by contacting the administrator at stpaco@gmail.com.

10.05.2014

Survival 102: The art of a mixape cover 'remix' (Sampling Bob Marley & The Wailers)



"One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain." 
                       – Bob Marley

It was indeed a bit of...overkill to make both a front and wholly impractical back cover for the Survival 101 mixtape that was arranged and assembled by yours truly. But once the inspiration had taken hold to make a pop art-style 'remix' cover based on Neville Garrick's design for the classic Bob Marley and the Wailer's album Survival (1979), I couldn't stop until the idea was fully exhausted.

Neville Garrick's cover, which brilliantly illustrated the visionary message of "Africa Unite", the lead track on side two of the Wailer's album, featured the flags of the 41 nations that made up the African continent at that time. But it also united with those nations the flag of Papua New Guinea, one of several distant island sisters to the African continent in the South Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles away.

As a teen, when I got my first copy of the Survival LP on 12" vinyl, I knew virtually nothing at all about "PNG", beyond the very eerie fact that its inhabitants – who live on an immense landmass a few thousand nautical miles away from the continental home of my own ancestors –  somehow looked a helluva' lot like me and my 'bredren'.

As an adult, around the time that I had somehow acquired a second copy of Survival on CD, I felt both genetically and intellectually compelled to become more informed about those distant cousins who inhabit the second largest island on our planet. The process taught me much about them, but also much about the people living on neighboring islands in the region. And, in the years since, I've written a little bit about what I've learned. Someday those writings will see the light of day. But, for now, back to the making of this mixtape's front and back covers.

After deciding to make what would be an abridged remix of Garrick's inspirational piece, I began a brief study of the original Survival album. It was at this point that I learned (or became reminded) that the flag of Papua had been included in the original design, and that surprising fact only doused gasoline on the idea that burned within to make a modern remix version of the cover. But one that would have not only the flag of PNG but the other flags of Melanesia as well.

And so, along with the flag of Papua, the flag of its struggling conjoined twin sister West Papua was added. Following those, the flags of the other Melanesian islands of Vanuatu, New Caledonia (Kanaky), Fiji and the Solomon Islands were promptly applied. And with the mixtape cover quickly beginning to take proper shape, it seemed only fitting to then include the flags of the nearby Torres Strait Islands and that of the aboriginal peoples of Australia and Tasmania. For similar reasons, the flags of the neighboring Timor-Leste and Maluku Islands were added.

After the flags of the Melanesian and related nations, the flags of 16 African countries were chosen due to either historical or aesthetic reasons. These include those of Guinea and Guinea-Bissau (the West African region after which PNG was named), Ethiopia, Zaire, Kenya, Liberia, and others. The last to be added were the "red, black and green" Pan-African flag of African descendants in North America, and the flag of Jamaica, the Caribbean island birthplace of reggae music and Bob Marley.

Pleased with how the front turned out, I wasn't ready to stop. Nostalgia reminded me of how the back cover of the original Survival album had always made me feel when I looked at it;  the sense of unknown history that it hinted at and the sense of connection I somehow felt to the people in the grainy black and white photographs displayed there. And so I tried to convey a similar sense of mystery -- and history -- with old photographs showing people from Papua New Guinea (top & bottom), Fiji (left) and the Solomon Islands (right).

I hope that some of what I was trying to convey with it all somehow comes across.

From start to finish, this mixtape project was a long and gratifying labor of love. But I also had tons of help from various 'surrogates' who didn't know that they were involved. These include the previously mentioned Mr. Garrick, and the small number of bloggers and DJs whose active promotion of Pacific Island music in recent years has exposed me to several artists whose music I now treasure. So massive "big ups" specifically to Street-vibez MozikkSolomon Vibz, FreeSolomonMusic, Massive Entertainment, and the Reggae Revolution Radio Show.

I also want to say 'nuff respect and many thanks to all of the artists whose music has been featured on the Survival 101 mixtape. The intention behind this compilation is only to further promote and bring awareness to folks in America and elsewhere about this too-little-discussed part of our planet (Melanesia) and the fantastic branch of reggae that emanates from its breathtaking isles.

If you download and find yourself enjoying the tunes on this mixtape, please support those few fortunate artists whose music is available through Amazon and iTunes. In the meantime, have fun with this small sampling of what Pacific Island reggae has to offer.

Bless.

"Riddem Selekta St. Paco"

10.02.2014

This Day in History – Bob Marley's 1979 album "Survival" was released 35 years ago today

Bob Marley signing autographs at Tower Records in Los Angeles, CA 1979

There are no coincidences.

Trying always to be mindful of that, I'll will admit now that I still find myself completely amazed at times at the way things can come together.

In relation to the 'fun fact' posted in the header, I had absolutely no intention of timing the release of my forthcoming Survival 101 mixtape with the October 1979 release of the Bob Marley and the Wailers album that was its inspiration. But, amazingly, it still worked out that way.

What is also fairly amazing to me is the fact that I didn't seek out this bit of October-related trivia. It just came to me (showed up in my mailbox) by way of Google Plus as a "suggested read." You should have seen my eyes when I realized the significance of the date.

When the universe is speaking, you'd better listen
, goes the saying. Well, the universe has been whispering to yours truly quite a bit recently. And I'm doing my best to hear what she is suggesting...and to act accordingly.

9.30.2014

Kanye West Papua – You don't know THEIR struggle (South Side Superflat Remix)

Dear diary blog,

I had another one of those crazy dreams again. You know, one of those where I'm mobbin' around with Kanye West and his crew. Yeah, that crazy shit. This time around it seems that I was tagging along for a leg of this year's "Yeezus" tour. The trip would see us rocking the historic Sydney Opera House in Australia. And doing so with great purpose.

Okay, no. I wasn't rockin' anything myself. All that I appeared to be doing was writing for Kanye's blog. But my additional art and design background seemed to have made me a valued member of Ye's crew; a respected sounding board at which Ye could toss a variety of creative ideas well into the sleepless hours of the night. 

During the tour bus ride to Australia (See? Crazy.), I told Ye that the West name would be a great one to use in a grassroots movement to draw much-needed attention to the struggle of the people of West Papua. Ye gave me the stink face, unsure of what I was talking about.

Like most of us, he had no idea that for half a century, the western half of Papua New Guinea (situated just north of Australia), has been under violent occupation by Indonesian military forces. Nor that, since the invasion in 1962, an estimated 100,000 to 500,000 Papuans have been killed by Indonesia in a genocidal effort to claim the land and the natural resources of West Papua.

The numbers – whatever the most accurate figure – are staggering. And the silence on the plight of West Papuans is utterly deafening. I told Kanye that he could actually do something to affect the situation. Ye became intrigued. Deeply intrigued.

He admitted that he sometimes missed the progressive slant of hip-hop in the mid to late 1980s, a period when he admired not just the rebellious style of hip-hop artists, but the boldness of people like Chuck D, KRS-One, Ice Cube and others who took very public stances on social issues of the day. Issues that ranged from censorship in the media to police brutality in minority communities.

Kanye also confessed to even feeling a little miffed at himself for not being as outspoken on a wider range of issues in his music, as he had on The College Dropout, his first album. He also lamented that all he seems to speak out against now are paparazzi stalkers and the walls he encounters in the fashion world that block his desires to be a multifaceted artist.

He then asked me what I thought he should do to bring attention to the struggle in WP after the tour ends. I offered some ideas. As seems to be quite true of Kanye West (in real life), the man already had an idea of his own.

The next night in Sydney, after bringing down the opera house with a spirited rendition of the song "The Good Life", Kanye froze, lowered his head and slowly lifted a leather-gloved fist in the air, reminiscent of the brothas on the winner's platform in that legendary photo from the '68 Olympics. Then, as the crowd fell silent, he uttered the words "Free Kanye West Papua" and walked off the stage.

It was genius. (At least it seemed so in the dream.)

Few people seemed to understand what the statement meant (I imagine the reality to be a bit different, given Australia's proximity to PNG), but the interwebz were immediately abuzz with fans and even haters trying to understand the phrase's cryptic meaning.

As is often the case with the things that Kanye does, the meaning was examined and dissected by the media in America, Asia and elsewhere. Several sitting members of the Australian parliament, which has a politically comfy relationship with the Indonesian Governement, were completely red faced.

Enthralled with the "conscious rapper" label that was quickly being affixed to his name in blog posts and news reports, Ye decided to close out the other Australian shows the same way. But, in addition to the black leather glove, he also rocked another version of the Yeezus Tour jacket that I had promptly remixed to show the flag of West Papua on the right sleeve (as opposed to the previously re-appropriated Confederate flag of the American South).

During the next performance, Kanye raised the stakes. Taking a page from out of Run-DMC's concert performance playbook, Ye looked out over the concert hall and asked the fans in attendance, "Who's reppin' West Papua tonight?!" Several thousand flags of various sizes were hoisted high into the air. Kanye then launched into the song "All Falls Down"...and surprised all with a guest appearance by Lauryn Hill, who came out just to sing the chorus.

The response from the audience was an eruption. 

Standing with the elated audience, I was stunned and amazed at what had just transpired all around me. Those feelings, however, would not stay with me long.

My eyelids fluttered open, and shards of morning light that streamed into the room from behind the blinds began to fill my head. I slowly roused from a night's slumber and was immediately saddled by sadness.

As often occurs when I wake from such deeply involved dreams, I was not only sad, but also a little angry that none of the events that just seemed so completely real had happened. That which had felt so true had only occurred inside my big, fat, fantasy-filled head. I was duped, lied to, deceived by my own brain.

Slipping from the sheets, I shuffled down to the workstation near the foot of the bed and shook the mouse that rested on the desk to rouse my computer from its dreamless slumber. And with hauntingly vivid recollections of a jet-setting shadow life still in mind, I searched the interwebs for photographs of the controversial rapper from Chicago. And with two found images picked to be the foundations – probably shot by paparazzi stalkers – I actualized a portion of an inspired message that, just moments before, had only existed in a dream.


The "You Don't Know THEIR Struggle" tagline reinterprets a verse from the 2004 Kanye West song "Space Ship". All photographs used in the the "You Don't Know THEIR Struggle (Free West Papua)" promo ad page concepts featured in this YKFS blog post are © their respective copyright holders.`

9.25.2014

[Press-N-Play®] Dezine feat. Jah Boy – Perfect


In the exact words of the ganja blazin' rasta who sent me this hot lil' numba: "Dis track is str8 fiyah! Rock steady reggae muzik specially *dezined* in da Solomon Islands to bless up de dance floorz worldwide, Ras! A worldwide rocker, dis one!! Worldwide!!!"
– Ganja Blazin' Rasta

You read it here, folks. A worldwide rocker, dis one. So make sure to have a subwoofer or a pair of high-quality headphones jacked into your laptop when ya press the play button. Because Dezine's "Perfect" (feat. Jah Boy) is one bass-heavy lovers rock 'riddem' that must be listened to properly to really appreciate it for the sweet reggae groove dat it is. Meh been playin' dis track to death since meh got it, mon. To. Death.

Shout outs to all mah peeps in the Solomon Islands!



All songs posted to the Your Kung Fu Sucks! blog are the property of their respective copyright holders. Their use here is strictly intended for promotional and informational purposes only. NOT FOR SALE. Please support the artists featured on the YKFS blog by buying their original CDs and mp3s where and whenever applicable. Any artist who would like to have their music removed from this promotional project may do so by contacting the administrator at stpaco@gmail.com.

9.19.2014

King Kong Anthropology: The Kina Shell Necklace of Papua New Guinea's Bride-Price Tradition

Mr. Taylor's homeroom, 9:14 am

Good morning, class. Settle down quickly, please. Hey, yo, this is the first and last time I'm going to ask you to put that comic book away, Mr. Darrell. If I see it on your desk again it's going to go into my own personal comic book collection. (Even though I already have that one.) Now, please put it away until recess. Thank you, young sir.

All right, class. Today we have a very special treat. As you know, this is the day of the week that we reserve for show-n-tell. I can already see that those of you whose turn it is this time around are eagerly awaiting your chance to tell us about the items you've brought to share. As usual, I'm looking forward to seeing what you've brought.

Uh, Mr. Hardeep? Please put that...wow, vintage Jet Jaguar figure in your bookbag until it's your turn a little later for show-n-tell. Thanks.

To start the session today, class, I thought we'd do something different. Our good friend Professor Paco has come in at my request to tell us about one of the many impressive items in his collection of rare cultural artifacts from Oceania. Let's give him our undivided attention, okay?

Professor?

Thanks, Mr. Taylor. Good morning, class. It's really great to see all your brilliant faces again. I am going to try my best to make this short visit equally as exciting as the last one. So, to that end I'm going to start this lil' presentation with a video clip from the movie King Kong.

[Low groans from the class]

Hold on, now. Don't declare mutiny on me just yet. The clip is not from that Peter Jackson remake. I've already been informed that many, if not most of you, disliked that one just as much as I did. And for some of the very same reasons: Actors wearing blackface make up...in the 21st century? Pretty flippin' lame, right?

And how horrendous was the film's portrayal of the 'black islanders' overall? It's ironic that Merian C. Cooper, the creator of the original 1933 Kong film, was, in fact, a certifiable racist. Writings penned in Ethiopia by Cooper make this clear (The Sea Gypsy, p. 133). And, yet, that director still delivered a fairly handsome portrayal of the Skull Islanders–which starkly contrasts Jackson's astoundingly ugly one.

You do the math.

No, this clip comes from the 1976 remake. In it, the character Dwan, played by actress Jessica Lange, has been kidnapped by Skull Islanders, played by African-American actors and extras – like in the original – and whisked back to their high-walled village. There she is prepared and dressed in the traditional garb of the sacrificial 'bride of Kong'. And afterward, the dazed and confused offering is bound to the village altar.



Pretty cool, huh? But what I found most cool – on the geek tip – is the level of detail paid to Lange's attire. Especially when considering how much of it's significance would be lost on unknowing audience members–including the once very young me. Despite this, the costume designer did their homework and brought a very under-appreciated level of authenticity to the costume. Before detailing what I mean specifically, let's first look at this subject in its broader context.

The last time I was here we talked briefly about the brothers and sisters of Papua New Guinea. As you'll recall from that discussion, we learned the surprising fact that the Melanesians (literally "black islanders") of Papua and the other islands of the South Pacific make up 80% of all Pacific Island peoples. And also that the far more frequently exampled people of Polynesia and Micronesia make up the remaining 20%. Right, class?

"YES."

And who can still tell me the names of some of those islands and territories that make up the South Seas region?

"Papua New Guinea."

"Fiji!"



"The Solomon Islands!"



"Vanuatu!"



"New Caledonia."

"West Papua!"

"FREE WEST PAPUA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Geniuses. A class filled with geniuses. You all should be doing this presentation. I'll just sit my butt down.

[Youthful laughter]

Drawing our attention now specifically to Papua New Guinea, we know from still another discussion that West Papua has been struggling since 1969 to free itself from the oppressive and often brutal grip of the Indonesian Government. In the semi-fictional world of Kong, Skull Island is a make-believe landmass that is situated somewhere in the Indian Ocean, off the western coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. In addition to a geographic nearness to Papua and the rest of Melanesia in the east, there's another intellectually sound reason for Skull Island's placement in this part of the world.

Before making the leap to science-fiction/fantasy filmmaker with King Kong, Cooper functioned in the decade prior as a explorer and documentary filmmaker. During this period he visited Ethiopia, and Southeast Asia's Andaman Islands, and the Melanesian islands of the South Pacific as well. And his exposure to the physiologically similar peoples found in all three of these regions inspired and informed the look and culture of the Skull Islanders.

A similar approach to the people of Skull Island was also taken in Dino De Laurentiis' 1976 remake. Aside from the people themselves chosen to portray the islanders, the ethnicity of the fictional islanders is made more evident through the clothing and the accoutrements worn, which indicate a mix of Melanesian and African cultural elements. With specific regard to the Melanesian influence, the crowning example can be found in the crescent-shaped, mother of pearl oyster shell adornment that hangs from Dwan's neck during the sacrifice sequence.

[Opens briefcase]

The necklace she wears is very similar to the one that I have brought to the class for show-n-tell today today (see figure A).

[Ahhs and Oohs from the class]

In PNG, this very valuable form of tribal adornment is known as the kina (keena). Say the word with me, class.

"Kina."

Excellent. You are all now honorary Papuans.

[Laughter]

In PNG, kina shells are worn both by men and women as a sign of wealth and status. The shells can be displayed singly, as seen here, or layered in multiples–which frequently occurs when the wearer wants to show that they're living hella' large. Kina shells are used not only for wealth displays, but also as a form of currency in the resolution of blood feuds, or as part of the customary bride-price ceremony.

In this Kong film, the "bride-price" kina necklace worn by the Dwan character represents – albeit to unappreciated effect – a legitimate ceremonial item from the marriage traditions of PNG. And, like the previous 'brides', who presumably would have been adorned in a similar fashion, the gold-lip mother-of-pearl pendant indicates her elevated status as a lavish offering to the island's big, black, fear-inducing demigod.

[Laughter]

Since 1975, when it was introduced to replace the Australian dollar that had previously been in use in the country, the paper currency of Papua New Guinea has been called the kina, in observance of the ancient shell tradition. And, in addition to the kina shell necklace that I brought to show and talk about, I have also brought in a fifty-kina banknote (fig. E), which features on its reverse a portrait of the legendary New Guinean Prime Minister Michael Somare.

[Oooohs]

Okay, class, this concludes my show-n-tell presentation. Now, make sure this PNG banknote doesn't get "lost" while it's being passed around the room today–so that everyone can get an up-close look. As that well-known saying goes, kinas do not grow on trees.

[Youthful laughter]


Details: A. Contemporary kina necklace by Anna Holland. Shell from the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea, dating from the late 19th to early 20th century, combed with Venetian wound beads (also known as Cornaline d'Aleppos), from the African Trade period. Image © Anna Holland • B. Dwan in the grip of Kong, from King Kong. King Kong © Copyright 1976 by Dino De Laurentiis Corp. • C. King Kong theatrical promo poster (1976). King Kong © Copyright 1976 by Dino De Laurentiis Corp.D. Man of the Solomon Islands wearing a mother of pearl shell "dafi" necklace, similar  to the kina necklace of Papua  New Guinea.E. Bank of Papua New Guinea, fifty-kina banknote (2010). Prime Minister Michael Somare featured on reverse.

9.14.2014

Back in Black – Burger King Japan's Kuro Burger

On September 19th, to celebrate the burger chain's 5th-year anniversary in the land of the rising sun, Burger King Japan is bringing back its very, very, very surprising-looking Kuro Burger (literally "Black Burger"), for a very limited time.

First introduced in 2012, and then offered again to much acclaim in 2013, the Kuro Burger features a black pepper and paprika-seasoned beef patty on a bamboo charcoal blackened bun. The patty is topped with an onion and garlic sauce, blackened with squid ink, and a tasty slice of – hold on to your underoos, kids – charcoal blackened cheese!

BK Japan offers two varieties of the sandwich: the simple meat-n-cheese Kuro Pearl, and the deluxe Kuro Diamond, a mouthwatering 'whopper' of a burger with all the fixings. The menu price for the sandwich all by its lonesome will be ¥450 (about $5.75), or ¥790 (about $10.10) in a combo meal with fries and BK Japan's exclusive Kuro Coke Zero (or other preferred soft drink).

How do the Japanese say..."Have it your way?"

8.30.2014

[Destroy All Headphones®] MeccaGodZilla – ERROARS 2.2: Metal Sakura

 
MeccaGodZilla's ERROARS 2.2: Metal Sakura is eighteen tracks of neck snappin', boom-bappin' G-funk. And I don't mean "G" as in "gansta", kiddies. I mean "G" as in... "Gojira". Or maybe it might be much more accurately described as eighteen tracks of E-funk, as in "electronic" and "experimental". Or how about eighteen tracks of I-funk? As in "instrumental" and "intergalactic", or...

Yeah, it's just that difficult to categorize this joint. And this is because ERROARS 2.2: Metal Sakura is all of those things and more. But it should also be mentioned now that the album is also quite good. (Which, by the way, is another adjective that begins with the letter "G".)

If your ears are tuned in to the next level-ish frequencies of music makers like Flying Lotus, DJ Spooky, MeLo-X, and others, then do yourself a big, fat favor and check out MeccaGodZilla's ERROARS 2.2: Metal Sakura. [Sample: "ISA AMBER", "Raye 6.4" and "3rd Ai"] 








8.29.2014

Darryl “King of Rock” McDaniels rocks comic book shops this fall with the ‘DMC’ graphic novel


Since 1983 (wayyy back in the day), when the cover of Afrika Bambaataa's "Renegades of Funk" 12-inch single hopped from record shop shelves with the pop art-influenced style of a Marvel comic book, and the fictional graffiti writer Ramo explained to the young b-boy Lee in 1984’s Beat Street that he learned to draw by tracing from the pages of DC comics, it's been ‘overstood’ that the hip-hop generation grew up reading, and loving, comic books.

From memorable lines in the 1984 song “Jam On It”, which vividly detail a make-believe sound system battle between Superman and the funk-rap group Newcleus, to comic book and graffiti artist Lamour Supreme (Zen the Intergalactic Ninja) applying his distinctive art style to the cover of 2013's Wu-Tang affiliated album Czarface, it seems that hip-hop has never passed up on the chance to 'show and prove' its love of the comics genre. And this never-ending love affair comes full circle again this fall with the release of the much-awaited graphic novel DMC.

DMC is the inaugural title slated for fall release from Darryl Makes Comics, the upstart publishing imprint founded by Darryl “DMC” McDaniels of the pioneering rap trio Run-DMC. The book is the realization of a childhood dream for the legendary rapper who once proudly boasted in a verse “I’m DMC, I can draw!” (The lyric can be heard in its proper context, along with its rhythmic, back-and-forth rhyme components, in the closing verse of the title song on 1985's platinum-selling album King of Rock.)

DMC, however, didn't dust off his pencils to illustrate the eponymous graphic novel he wrote with Damion Scott (Batgirl) and Ronald Wimberly (Prince of Cats). The art for each of the book's five chapters were neatly divided between the skilled drawing hands of Chase Conley (Black Dynamite), Jeff Stokely (Six-Gun Gorilla), Felipe Smith (Peepa Choo), Mike and Mark Davis aka the Mad Twiinz (Black Dynamite, Boondocks) and Shawn Crystal (Uncanny X-Men). Chris Sotomayor (Birds of Prey) handled the coloring, and the cover was drawn by comic book legend Sal Buscema with graffiti legend MARE 139, and inks by veteran inker Bob Wiacek.

The all-star lineup of talent pooled from the old school and new school worlds of comic book art, graffiti writing and TV animation ensures that DMC will be a one of a kind graphic novel worthy of the iconic name of a hip-hop legend. To learn more about the project, including a detailed synopsis and a glimpse at preview pages from each chapter, scoot over to the Previews website by clicking here. And if that link isn't enough to quell your excitement until DMC finally hits the shelves on October 29th, make sure to visit the official Darryl Makes Comics website by clicking here.

8.24.2014

Monster Island Daydreams – The Art of Kiska Zilla

You've never met an artist like the appropriately monikered Kiska Zilla. That's because Ms. Kiska is like some crazy figment of the still somewhat immature (male) imagination. A haunting phantasm returned from some ancient, afternoon daydream. You know. The kind of chick that even the above average type guy couldn't begin to imagine actually exists. So he sends his mind off pacing into the sometimes-visited confines of the Make-A-Dreamgirl® workshop to make her up himself. And while standing before the dry erase board at M-A-D, said above average guy's mind marks out an outline that gradually becomes fleshed out into a slim, hoodie wearin' honey with tattoo-inked arms. A very odd sort of woman who treasures comic books and who adores Japanese daikaiju flicks. One who intricately doodles rifle-carrying Care Bears and crazed scientists in her "sketchbook of doom". And who can bomb the crap outta' warehouse walls with gorgeous graffiti. A creature as seemingly fictitious to our existence as a #@$%ing unicorn. An artist like the distressingly real Kiska Zilla. A talent too monstrously cool to be true.








8.22.2014

[Book Report] Schoolgirl Milky Crisis is a lot more serious than it looks

Don't be fooled by the nonsensical-looking title or by the sugary sweet image of a sailor suit-clad schoolgirl wearing a moo-cow headdress and a... mechanized udder. Johnathan Clement's Schoolgirl Milky Crisis (2009) is actually serious business. Or as serious as a 400-page collection of writings on the multimillion dollar businesses of Japanese animation, manga, and giant monster flicks can be.

From the pastel-colored front cover to the pastel-colored back cover, Clements fills the pages of Schoolgirl Milky Crisis with informative glimpses into the overlapping realms of Asian popular entertainment that most fans from the West will only get to dream about. From the pampered life of an anime voice actress to the anime industry-crushing ambitions of a film studio owner from China, to the surprising censorship-related reasons why "tentacles" became so prevalent in anime erotica, to several thought-provoking conversations with some of today's best-known makers of animation in Japan, Clements covers three continent's worth of fascinating territory. The writing is well-informed, engaging and immensely educational. But that should probably be expected from the very same author that gave fandom the Anime Encyclopedia, right? Highly recommended.

8.15.2014

The Toho Master Collection DVDs show masterful attention to detail

TOHO MASTER COLLECTION

In 2006 and 2008, to the delight of legions of daikaiju movie fans, Toho and Classic Media unleashed on the worldwide marketplace the TOHO MASTER COLLECTION DVD series. This impressively produced DVD collection offered fans of the genre nine classic Showa-era giant monster films including both the original Japanese language version with English subtitles and the classic American English dubbed version. And each release was issued in resplendent storybook-style digipak cases with transparent disc trays within and handsome typographic and photographic elements throughout.

GOJIRA / GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS

The first release in the TOHO MASTER COLLECTION was GOJIRA (1954), the film that started the worldwide love affair with the daikaiju flicks of Japan. This edition, as well as the soon-to-be-discussed final release in this series, was a 2-disc set that served as one of two incredibly impressive bookends to the other releases in the series. The DVD on the left side of this set boasted the original Japanese language version of the film, and the second disc featured the 1956 English language release, GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS.

The next six releases in the series featured single-disc presentations of the films GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN (1956), MOTHRA VS GODZILLA (1964), GHIDORAH: THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER (1964), INVASION OF THE ASTRO MONSTER (1965), ALL MONSTERS ATTACK (1969) and TERROR of MECHAGODZILLA (1975), the very last of these being the final film produced before the Godzilla series was retired for nearly a decade. These single disc releases also offered the original Japanese language version with subtitles, and the vintage American English dubs.

TOHO MASTER COLLECTION

In contrast to the first and final editions, both of which were double-sized releases with black varnish storybook covers that accommodated double disc presentations, the middle releases were packaged in slimmer silver foil digipaks. In the center of each cover, situated beneath the titles in similarly stylized fonts, were full-color trading card-sized inset images of the original Japanese movie posters. Layered down the left side of the inset image in the aforementioned font was Gojira's Americanized name. Added to this very dynamic presentation, each cover was affixed with a three-dimensional holographic seal that featured the encircled head of Godzilla, the Toho Studios logo in a smaller circle, and the "Toho Master Collection" header in the outermost circle.

Included as a final flourish that epitomizes the masterful attention to detail usually paid by the Japanese, each release also included a removable card stock obi (literally "sash"), situated at the very bottom of the digipak. These were similar to the traditional obi that are used by the publishing industries of Japan to hold together the pages of manga, magazines and hardbacks on bookshelves and magazine racks. And though the cultural significance of this particular accent may have been lost on most purchasers of this DVD series, it still added another nice visual element to an already distinctive-looking package.

RODAN & WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS
The final release that served as the climatic bookend to this excellent series was the surprising double disc double feature of RODAN (1956) and WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS (1966). Like the six previous releases, the cover of this DVD set featured the original Japanese movie posters of both films with the double-billed titles of both emblazoned across the top. But unlike all the other DVDs in the series, this release did not feature the handsome holographic seal.

Interested late-comers to the TOHO MASTER COLLECTION DVD series should be aware that the series has recently been re-issued--in order take advantage of the heightened interest in the giant monster genre inspired by the 2014 Godzilla film. Instead of the very detailed packaging discussed here, the discs have been issued in normal Amaray "keep cases". If you only care about the films and not so much about presentation, these re-issues are economically priced to sell wherever daikaiju movies are carried. But if you want to have at least one DVD set in your movie library that is worthy of the longest-running film series in history, tracking down copies of the discs in the digipak packaging is a must.

8.09.2014

Gamera Gashapon Figures by Konami*

Since his 1965 film debut, Japan's giant flying turtle Gamera has been a monster movie fan favorite second only in popularity to Godzilla. In the US during the 1970s, Gamera flicks often provided Saturday matinee "creature feature" fare for kids across the country. In recognition of 40-plus years of such monster mashing mayhem, Konami Toys has made kawaii (cute) 3" versions of Gamera and four of his best known bad guys. Choose between Gamera, Guiron, Viras, Zigra and Gyaos. Get 'em from fine vinyl vendors like destructiontoys.com!












*Originally published in Kung Fu Grip! #1 (2004)

8.08.2014

Gamera Legacy Collection – For the serious giant monster movie collector

This review is from: Gamera Legacy Collection (DVD)
A few weeks prior to its April 29th street date, I was browsing around on Amazon and learned that the release of this new Gamera box set was right around the proverbial corner. I was excited by this news and pleased to see that Mill Creek was responsible for this set. Those folks have given hardcore Japanese giant robot show fans like myself excellent collections of old tokusatsu (special effects) programs like SUPER ROBOT RED BARON, IRON KING, and best of all, ULTRAMAN.

Having first seen them as rentals, for many years I had wanted to have in my library the post-Showa Era Gamera films that were made between 1995 and 1999. Prior to their inclusion in this GAMERA LEGACY COLLECTION, those films had been previously released in a super affordable GAMERA TRILOGY blu-ray box set, also produced by Mill Creek. I, however, don't own a blu-ray player, and I wasn't ready to scoot out to get one just so that I could finally have the aforementioned films.

As it often does, though, the heavenly virtue that is patience paid off and I now have all three of the 1990s Gamera films in DVD format. But I also have a whole lot more, and all for a really great price. In addition to those films, Mill Creek's GAMERA LEGACY COLLECTION gives me all eight of the Showa era Gamera films made between 1965 and 1980. As a kid growing up in Chicago in the 1970s, I had only seen four of those.

When they were released roughly a decade ago, I bought the Alpha Video releases of GAMERA THE INVINCIBLE, ATTACK OF THE MONSTERS, DESTROY ALL PLANETS and WAR OF THE MONSTERS, which completed my small collection of the four versions I once saw on TV as a kid. And, since I already owned those, I was very pleased to learn that Mill Creek was releasing all of the Gamera films in the original Japanese with subtitles -- since the pangs of youthful nostalgia had already been satiated by the Alpha Video releases.

Also, I think I'm becoming something of a purist when it comes to foreign films. This first only applied to American remakes of foreign titles, but it lends itself now to old movies that I first saw as dubs. Thus, the DVD issues that I find myself liking most are those that, like some of the recent Godzilla issues, feature two discs that provide the original Japanese and also English dub of a film. This way, whether I'm feeling snooty or nostalgic, I have a version that will feed either need.

I'm also quite aware, too, that the visual masters for the American English dubs aren't always available for licensing. Taking into consideration that maybe not all of the eleven films included in this collection have even been dubbed into English, I applaud Mill Creek for just releasing them in their unadulterated form; I've always wanted to see all of the Gamera films and now I have them in their pure form for a price that I would have happily paid just for three of them.

Yes, Mill Creek has done it again, daikaiju fans, by releasing yet another great collection that will please the hardcore fans of Gamera who also happen to be...literate. The picture quality on the earlier gems in this collection is the very best I've ever seen, considering now what is very noticeably lost in the DVD transfers of the old Americanized versions. It's almost like seeing these movies for the first time. The sound quality and the subtitles are also top-notch, contrary to any reviews here that may whine otherwise.

Another nice job, Mill Creek. Keep up the good work!

Read the fine print

At the time that the review that precedes this posting was written to be shared on Amazon, there were a handful of critics -- probably true blue impulse buyers -- whose 3, 2, and 1-star ratings were dragging down the overall product rating on a DVD release that I thought deserved much better.

The main gripe of the negative-leaning critics -- who apparently also had to be among to the very first in line to buy the DVD collection when it came out in April -- was that the films featured were all in the original Japanese language with English subtitles. And most Americans, as we all know, really have this thing when it comes to watching foreign language films with subtitles. "I don't want to read a movie", is the now-seemingly mandatory mantra of this crowd.

But their dislike of reading subtitles must also extend to simple product descriptions as well. Had any of those savvy spenders spent a measly 30 seconds reading the information provided by Amazon on the product page, they could have made an informed decision, instead of buying first and then negatively critiquing later a product that didn't live up to their own ill-informed expectations.

When I was a boy, one of my favorite cautionary punchlines was the one that warns us to read the fine print. But as an adult, all too often I find myself wishing that people would read the not-so-fine print too. 

8.07.2014

The Harimaya Bridge – the fine art of storytelling

Even without knowing in advance that filmmaker Aaron Woolfolk was heavily inspired by the legendary director Akira Kurosawa, something about his debut feature THE HARIMAYA BRIDGE called to mind films by Kurosawa like DREAMS and RHAPSODY IN AUGUST. It's nothing on the surface of the movie that can be quickly interpreted or discerned. It's something much more subtle and nuanced that comes through in the very natural pacing of the story and the sensitive development of its characters. It also seems to come through in the deep level of attention that Woolfolk, like his cinematic inspiration, pays to the sumptuous rural settings chosen for this film that reflect the Japan of old through modern eyes -- as opposed to the country's more often seen urban environs. All this, however, isn't meant to say that THE HARIMAYA BRIDGE, Woolfolk's first feature, is a flawless masterpiece. It isn't. But it is a very masterful directorial debut that is often as visually stunning as it is emotionally stirring. With a fantastic cast that includes Ben Guillory, Saki Takaoka, Misa Shimizu and Danny Glover (also the film's producer), THE HARIMAYA BRIDGE is a densely layered portrait of the extended human family that touches on a complex variety of themes, including romantic and familial love, bigotry, loss, sorrow, discovery, tradition, and the unexpected bridges that can lead us to redemption and forgiveness. I highly and enthusiastically recommend this film. SP


7.31.2014

Bombshells – The Art of Miss Van, Kat & Fafi*


Words by St. Paco
 *Originally published in Kung Fu Grip! #2 (2005)

It was just over a dozen years ago that graffiti artists Miss Van, Kat and Fafi first brought a feminine touch to the tagged up walls of Toulouse, France. And today, more than twelve years after these femmes first exploded onto walls throughout the city, their work continues to exert a definitive presence on the testosterone dominated world of graffiti.

Playin’ With Dolls

Miss Van, the first lady of graffiti in Toulouse, began painting in the summer of 1993. She developed her artistic forms on the decayed walls of the abandoned building known to by local graffiti writers as ‘Styl.’ At the time a college visual arts major, Van says she began painting in the streets as a form of protest against limitations found in the conventional art world. Following her self described “rebel mind,” Miss Van would also buck the established conventions of graffiti art as well. Instead of utilizing spray paint, Van rocked paint brushes and acrylic paints, applying pretty pastels to rugged concrete with cosmetic brush strokes. Also, instead of using the obligatory, stylized letter forms of graf, she utilized sensualized “doll” characters which helped to distinguish her feminine identity from the Y chromosomed taggers of Toulouse. “In the beginning, my dolls were self-portraits,” she reveals during an interview with Paris art gallery Magda Danysz. “Instead of writing my name, I chose to represent myself through my dolls.”

 

And about those dolls. Those naughty, voluptuous-bodied vixens with sweet, suckerfish lips and almond eyes that smolder with sensuality. The bulbous bosoms and pulpy posteriors of Miss Van’s painted figures play on the senses and prey on the wafer-thin ideals of beauty symbolized by  half-starved harlots pimped on Paris catwalks and in the pages of haute couture (high fashion) publications.

Though quite often erotic, Van’s pouty faced creations also convey a subtle range of other noticeable characteristics: independence, elegance, flirtatiousness, confidence. Much like their mother, Van’s dolls also exhibit a nearly singular streak of defiance. The artist herself readily admits to being drawn into the world of graffiti primarily because of its forbidden nature. Says this liberated daughter of Eve, “Painting on walls allows me to keep my freedom as it is illegal––there is no censorship.”

 

Among the creative influences which inspire Van’s deviant dolls, she cites 1950s pin-up models (Betty Page in particular), Japanese graphic artist Junko Mizuno, and the late 1970s underground comix cartoonist Vaughn Bode. Inspiration, being the cyclical phenomena that it is, has put MissVan in place to be a source of the stuff as well. Her decision to begin bombing city walls with baby dolls inspired fellow artists Madame Kat and Fafi to be the next in a handful of femmes who would make defining names for themselves on the tagged up walls of Toulouse.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Gal pal Mademoiselle Kat was actually with Miss Van at Styl back in 1993 on the day that the latter began her foray into the culture of graffiti. Echoing the Cindy Lauper sentiment girls just wanna have fun, Kat say that she saw the rebellious art form as a fun way to add a splash of color to the town of Toulouse. She also saw the world of graffiti as a way to meet new people while at the same time hanging out with old friends.


Mademoiselle Kat’s imaginative paintings often bubble with a fun sense of surrealism, cartoon art and skillful graphic design. Many of her works are whimsical vignettes populated by a variety of cutesy characters: little girls and boys, furry animals, dragons and other mythical creatures––Each of which “have their own story,” enthuses the artist.

It is clear from much of Mademoiselle Kat’s work that she appreciates the stylistic innovations of 20th-century artists like Pablo Picasso, whom she openly cites as an influence. Other influences cited by Kat include women’s fashion magazines, Japanese manga (comics) and children’s books.


Kat’s very own doll-like characters capture all the stumpy-legged cuteness of 1950s cartoon characters like Nancy, Little Lulu and perhaps Little Audrey most of all. They are wide-eyed and rosy-cheeked with helium-filled heads held down into place by massive ringlets or pigtails. Their appearances on walls throughout the city are like snapshots of little-girls-gone-wild. Garbed in baby doll dresses, bobby socks and patent leather steppers, they are all dolled up for a tea party set somewhere north of nowhere and held by Alice for the White Rabbit and the Queen of Hearts in an endless field of butter cups and Monarch butterflies.

I Know What Boys Like

It was the fun-loving Mademoiselle Kat who welcomed then up-and-coming artist Fafi into the fold of Toulouse’s graffiti femmes. The proverbial new kid on the block solicited Kat’s assistance on her first few paintings, and her predecessor very kindly obliged. For several years after, Kat and Fafi would continue to paint together, executing their technicolor treasures in the private sanctity of rooftops and Parisian palisades. Says Fafi, “We enjoyed painting our characters on roofs because nobody could notice us, whereas we could see everything.”

Fafi’s early paintings usually featured an imaginative assortment of voluptuous alien chicks from outer space. “I wanted to show that I was able to make sexy characters, even with an ugly face and a martian color,” she explains. But her interest in the concept of what constitutes sexy would quickly flower into an exploration of more humanistic, while still cartoony, representations of femininity and female sexuality, the style for which she is now best known.


“Kat and I painted some porno walls,” Fafi confesses in reference to a scandalous series of works created by the duet which featured their dolls exploiting a range of sexual themes. Offering up her motivation, the artist admits to making the paintings in order to capture the attention of a group of guys she knew, and to show her male counterparts that she could be a “bad girl.”

And what a bad girl she can be. Fafi easily titillates with a myriad of provocative images. Many of her pouty mouthed ‘girls’ appear posed on walls like big-little-bad-girls just begging to be spanked, while others assume the role of the spanker; the almost cliche leather-clad dominatrix role of a woman in complete control. Fafi’s girls have appeared throughout Toulouse as French maids, naughty nurses, strippers, pin-up girls, police officers, and porn stars playing with pussycats—literally.

Posed on a soft pink background, a steely-eyed redhead painted by the artist seductively brushes her cheek with a fluffy pink powder puff. She is knock-kneed and pigeon-toed, precariously balanced on a pair of purple high heel stilettos. Her bodacious bod, barely bound in a shimmering purple mini-dress, is a jiggling mass of bulbous flesh. Fafi knows what boys like.


As with her predecessors Miss Van and Kat, the influence of meaty 1950s pin-up models, and the cartoon “broads” of Vaughn Bode’s underground comix are more than apparent in Fafi’s work. Still, by strokes of her own creative genius she masterfully manipulates the senses, molding the minds viewers as if Silly Putty. During an interview with Elle Girl magazine, the painter claimed that not even those charged with enforcing the laws against graffiti have withstood the charms of her sexy, infectious characters. “The last time I got arrested, they asked me to paint Fafi Girls on the walls of the police station!” she boasted.

Four years after the dynamic duet of Fafi and Kat was forged, the ladies would work together on a large scale graffiti mural with then upcoming artist Plume. The latter was a female graffer who specialized in the use of aerosol paints (as opposed to brushes) and the traditional letter forms of graf. It wouldn’t take long for the ladies to recognize that “three is a magic number / yes it is,” and they promptly joined forces. The trio, calling themselves the Hanky Panky Girls, would become France’s first female graffiti crew, and one of the few such all girl crews in the world.

You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby

Despite the illegal nature of much of their art, the femmes from France have often found that the most outspoken critics of their work have not been the police or the citizens of Toulouse, but other graffiti artists. Throughout the years, artists in the underground’s male majority have expressed the view that works created by brush don’t qualify as authentic graf. In the view of that camp, only those works ejaculated from the long, rounded familiarity of the aluminum penis (the spray can) can be considered “real” graffiti.

Running contrary to would-be critics, the underground also maintains a number of progressive artists who consider works produced by skilled brush strokes just as legitimate as old fashioned spray can art. Perhaps a thoughtful consideration to reinforce the age old understanding that men and women are essentially different. And––metaphorically speaking––as the opposite sexes don’t exactly piss the same, why should we expect that they’d paint the same?

And however they chose to execute their art, the efforts of the femmes from France continues the small, yet respectable tradition of female graffiti artists started in the 1970s by prolific New York bombshells like Barbara 62, Eva 62, Mimi, Gidget, Saku, Stoney, Lady Pink, Era, and a bulging handbag of others.

To their credit, Miss Van, Kat and Fafi have also elevated the legacy of women in graf to 'next level' status. While Kat has kept much of her fun-filled art to a worldwide street level, Miss Van’s dolls, once also posed primarily on walls throughout Toulouse, are featured on t-shirts, purses by Fornarina (Italy) and canvases sold through the Magda Danysz gallery of Paris. Fafi’s paintings have garnered praise in art shows hosted in New York, Los Angeles, Berlin and Tokyo. Her ‘girls’ have been featured on shirts produced by Japan-based streetwear clothiers, and on garments produced by her own France-based clothing line. They have also graced the pages of numerous magazines, including The Face, Vogue Nippon (Japan) and Italian Vogue.

In December of 2003, Sony Capsule Toys produced a now completely sold out collectible figure series of six "Fafi Girls". Since 2004, Fafi fanatics have had to sate their lust for her works with the publication of two books with her art: Girls Rock and Love and Fafiness. "Irina", her new vinyl figure is slated for a 2006 release.

The femmes from France have certainly “come a long way, baby.” And for more than a dozen years, the beautiful works birthed from their delicate brush strokes have captured the imagination of millions. With paint cans and brushes in hand, the efforts of these bombshells from Toulouse continue to show and prove that it takes neither spray cans or even balls to play and win in graffiti’s virtually all-boy field. Today as much as yesterday, what it really takes is heart.

3.17.2014

Ghost in the soul


It was the mention of Negadon: The Monster From Mars in an e-mail to a buddy in the UK earlier today that caused me to remember the 2011 teaser for Soul Man. But I had no memory of the film's title. All I could think to Google was "french animated blaxploitation" and -- SHAZAM! -- the main character was there before me in all her afro-haired glory.

"Set in an alternate world built on two levels, 'Soul Man' turns on a former Polish detective entangled in a shady multi-billion-dollar biotech deal -- the key to which is a baby girl the detective is asked to look after."

According to the original 2011 posts, this gorgeous-looking project from French animator Guillaume Ivernel and his Paris-based production house, Blacklight Movies, was originally slated for 2014 release date. Well, it's now 2014 and it will really make my "soul glow" if it does come out this year.


3.14.2014

Moonshine Burrito – The sweetest hangover

Remember those old candy commercials where the one klutz snacking on peanut butter always somehow managed to crash into the other klutz munching on a chocolate bar? And remember the happy expressions on their faces when each bit down to discover the new taste that came from the blending of those two very different flavors? Well, now picture a rap song with country music guitar licks mixed with a slow, pimp struttin’ hip-hop beat. On the surface that mixture sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? But, like peanut butter cups, it somehow works! And when laced with rhymes by Moonshine Burrito -- and a funky Kenny Rogers sample -- the end result is a full-fledged sugar rush. The guitar-twanging...banger in question, "Roads Are Rough (Holdin' Up)", is featured on South By Southwest, the new ten-track album from SpaceLAB Recordings label mates Jake Palumbo and Ciphurphace. Together these longtime pals combine to form Moonshine Burrito and, as the name probably suggests, the music made by this dynamic duo is all about unholy unions and unlikely combinations. For a finger-lickin’ taste test of South By Southwest, sample "Roads Are Rough (Holdin' Up)" and "Diesel (Feelin' Lovely)" for free-ninety-nine by clicking on the links below. And be sure to drop by iTunes, Amazon, GooglePlay or Bandcamp to get a full serving of South By Southwest. Woo-hah! – SP

Moonshine Burrito – Diesel (Feelin' Lovely)
Moonshine Burrito – Roads Are Rough (Holdin' Up)