Category archives: Art for Progress

  • The Asian-American experience in popular culture has been an interesting and sometimes troubling one. Where other minorities have made great, often vocal, strides in advancing their place in the pop culture firmament—music, movies, TV, comic books—Asians have not always been as successful. Bad Rap, directed by Salima Koroma and produced by Jaeki Cho, is an enlightening look at the careers of four Asian-American rappers—Dumbfoundead (Jonathan Park), Awkwafina (Nora Lum), Rekstizzy (David Lee) and Lyricks (Richard Lee)—as they struggle with prejudice and their own cultural expectations in a genre created and dominated by African-American artists. (Of course, white artists don't exactly command the field either, but Eminem is shown as the obvious example of major success.)The film opens with scenes of Dumbfoundead--the best known and longest performing of the four—onstage in front of an excited crowd, as the others praise his talent and 2011 song “Are We There Yet?,” which specifically addressed the experience of his Korean immigrant family. He interviews that he hates being called “an Asian rapper,” yet admits to also embracing that identity. Ultimately though, “I’m American,” he says, a sentiment that is echoed by others throughout the film.Bad Rap delves into hip hop history, starting with 1980s West Coast Filipino rappers who were heroes in the Asian community around the time that NWA and Ice Cube first became popular. We hear from rap pioneer MC Jin, who app[...]
  • Like athleisure, bodysuits have become an important fashion staple for the past few years.  So much so they've even seeped its way into haute couture shows and even this year's Met Gala with Bella Hadid rocking a sheer and glittery Alexander Wang number.https://www.instagram.com/p/BTpgA6khVlb/?taken-by=bellahadid&hl=enAnd just recently, Refinery 29 featured the The Negative Underwear 'Essaouira' bodysuit in black, which has sold out a record FIVE TIMES since its release.Here's a version of the same bodysuit in white (still fabulous)https://www.instagram.com/p/BPxKppDA_L6/?taken-by=negativeunderwear&hl=enThe 'Essaouira' is made with a stretch eyelet fabric that the label calls its "anti-lace," Refinery reports. And the model has been worn by a multitude of famous names including Miley Cyrus, Hannah Bronfman, and Emily Ratajkowski.https://www.instagram.com/p/BNR_h2pDjQu/?taken-by=negativeunderwear&hl=enAlthough bodysuits are de rigueur because they are super sexy and effortlessly hug close the body, the ones made without snappers certainly come with many drawbacks, and toilet challenges, and the pantless ones can ride up, leaving you with an unflattering wedgie.As demonstrated perfectly by Mariah Carey:https://www.instagram.com/p/BS1Cz1KFtv0/However, despite the drawbacks, bodysuits are still fun to wear, and there are so many options to choose from, including from brands like Wolford, ASOS and Need Supply Co.But if you ne[...]
  • Bucket List confession: It's been a dream of mine for quite sometime to attend the Costume Institute's Met Gala. Colloquially and affectionately referred to as “fashion’s biggest night out,” the Costume Institute's Met Gala is PEAK celebration of iconic style.And as we all know by now, this year's Met Gala was a spectacular showcase of quasi-wearable, avant-garde fashion, honoring the Costume Institute's latest exhibition on Rei Kawakubo and her label Comme des Garçons.And unlike past Met Gala events this hullabaloo was loaded with an incredible mix of celebrities smoking in a bathroom and meme-inducing sculptural looks that are still keeping the internet in a frenzy.https://twitter.com/MarcSnetiker/status/859172626362585088?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.allure.com%2Fstory%2Fbest-met-gala-memes-2017But if you still haven't visited the 2017 Costume Institute exhibition on Rei Kawakubo and her label Comme des Garçons you are missing out on a treat.Here are three things you need to know about this incredible showcase.Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art Of The In-Between at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo by Jemal #1 This showcase makes history  Aptly named Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between, the exhibition highlights the reclusive designer's wide array of left-of-center, hyper-modern, sculptural constructions — retracing almost 40 years of clothing. And this is first exhibition since 1983 Yves Saint Laurent sh[...]
  • Tomorrow Ever After is Israeli-American filmmaker Ela Thier’s second full-length feature (the first, 2012’s Foreign Letters, was inspired by her own immigration story). This smart, entertaining indie, about a historian from the year 2592 who is accidentally transported back to present-day New York City, mixes comedy and science fiction to tell a story that resonates deeply in these unsettled times. Unlike many time-travel movies, in which the future is a post-apocalyptic dystopia, Tomorrow Ever After features a protagonist, Shaina (played wryly by Thier herself), who comes from a much better era than the period known as The Great Despair (that’s us, folks!). She's initially shocked by everything here, from litter to our isolation from each other. Through her eyes, we see ourselves and it’s not a pretty picture.We first see Shaina wandering the streets, wearing a long dress and pants ensemble that's vaguely high-tech, but not enough to stand out in modern-day New York. She gapes at everything from heavy bike chains to cigarette butts and discarded fast-food cups. Spotting fellow humans at an outdoor café, she runs over and hugs one guy, happily introducing herself and asking what year it is. Of course he’s freaked out and she is repeatedly rebuffed when she hugs other strangers, asking for their help. Shaina tries to contact home on her "Implement," a cool device that morphs from a small card into a tablet, and reports her shocking findings (“I’m looking at plastic and[...]
  • Nise: The Heart of Madness, directed by Roberto Berliner, tells the story of Dr. Nise da Silveira (Gloria Pires), a Brazilian psychiatrist who pioneered the treatment of schizophrenic patients with kindness and art therapy, resulting in both medical and artistic breakthroughs. Though a conventional film, Nise is fascinating and poignant. Not only is da Silveira a heroine well worth rooting for, but these outsider artists and their creative processes are portrayed with great respect. (And, unlike some depictions of psychiatric patients, the actors playing Nise's charges seem believably afflicted.)The film opens in 1940s Rio de Janeiro. A small woman knocks repeatedly at a metal door unless it finally opens. This is a fitting introduction to da Silveira, who has come to work at the National Psychiatric Center, the only female doctor on the staff. In a meeting, lobotomy is discussed dispassionately as miracle cure, while a demonstration of a patient forced to undergo electroconvulsive treatment is looked upon equally casually by everyone but da Silveira, who can barely contain her horror. Refusing to take part in these conventional methods, she is relegated to supervising the Occupational Therapy Sector, previously run by a nurse and an orderly.Despite the fact that several of the hospital’s inmates have violent tendencies, Nise is compassionate and patient, unlike most of the staff, who treat them with cruelty and ridicule. Under her care, the previously filthy OC w[...]
  • Even more awesome than the Wackids playing Rage Against the Machine using children's toys, is the announcement that world-renowned sartorialist Edward Enninful will be the new editor-in-chief of British Vogue — one of the most storied woman's magazines in the world.From his work with i-D, Italian Vogue, and W Magazine this shouldn't come as a surprise, however this is actually big news! Simply because, as Lauren Cochran aptly sums it up, Enninful is "a black man at the helm of the most established fashion magazine in Britain" — working in an industry that is predominately white and that seems to largely service more privileged sections of society.In fact British Vogue has been taken to task for "its lack of diversity in model casting." As Cochran points out, Jourdan Dunn was the first black model to grace the cover of British Vogue as its solo star in 12 YEARS! (Naomi Campbell was the last model to appear on her own cover in 2002 ). Naomi Campbell and Edward Enninful at 2016 Fashion Awards Photo Courtesy: REX And Enninful has been highly vocal, dressing down the fashion world for its blatant lack of diversity.In a talk last year, Enninful says to an audience: “If you put one model in a show or in an ad campaign, that doesn’t solve the problem.” He continues: “We need teachers in universities, we need internships, we need people of different ethnic backgrounds in all parts of the industry. That really is the solution; you have to change it from the inside.” [...]
  • The title of Barnaby (aka Barney) Clay’s new documentary, SHOT! The Psycho-spiritual Mantra of Rock, says it all, really. This rambling, entertaining portrait of legendary music photographer Mick Rock is full of its genial subject’s own musings on his life and art. It also encapsulates the excitement and excesses of the heady musical era that Rock (barely) lived through and documented. For anyone with a passing interest in the rock scenes of the late 1960s through '70s, this will be pretty fascinating stuff. For those, like myself, who remember wondering about the photographer whose impossibly appropriate name appeared on pictures of many groundbreaking artists, this will provide context, and then some. (For the record, the man’s given name is actually Michael David Rock.)The film opens with present-day Rock (now in his late 60s) loading his camera at a live TV on the Radio show. He talks about his process, which—at its best—makes him feel like an assassin, “I’ve got my sights on you, gonna take you out.” Later he clarifies, “I’m not after your soul, I’m after your f-ing aura,” which might prompt an eye-roll, except that he really did capture the essence of performers (and friends) such as David Bowie, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Freddie Mercury and Debbie Harry, among others. For many awestruck kids, Rock's images were their introduction to these genre-defying musicians.The film takes us through a more or less chronological account of Rock’s career, interspersed with[...]
  • Here's a kind-of-a-shocker: Ultra-hip social marketplace Tictail's brick-and-mortar flagship is that it's not profitable.Tictail Market is the brand's one and only storefront, located in Manhattan’s Lower East Side — and surprisingly, the IRL store makes less in revenue than even many of the e-commerce site's online independent sellers."The [brick-and-mortar] store makes about $50K a month; rent is $17K. Salaries and expenses bring us close to $8K, and that about covers it," co-founder Carl Walderkrantz admits to Forbes readers.So why is it important for an e-commerce site that pulls in millions of shoppers a week to offer an in-person experience that doesn't generate significant profits? Is it just to be able to flaunt kickass storefront gifs? (Courtesy of Tictail NYC) Walderkrantz says that while the "future is moving toward online, the joy of shopping is still synonymous with an in-person experience" for many customers.And in the tradition of other successful sites like Warby Parker, Bonobos and Away and less-that-lucative storefront was the best way to guarantee local awareness.Photo courtesy TicTail "Tictail Market literally put us on the map in this city," says Walderkrantz, adding that it gives the brand "street cred."Originally, the DIY e-commerce site was developed as a means of giving entrepreneurs the ability to build online shops.Photo courtesy of Tictail It is now touted as the 'easiest platform for discovering emerging bran[...]
  • The second film from Swedish director Kasper Collin, I Called Him Morgan is an evocative, beautifully filmed documentary of a remarkable life cut short and a remarkably fertile period in New York City’s jazz scene. In February 1972, acclaimed 33-year-old trumpeter Lee Morgan was shot to death by his common-law wife Helen in an East Village club. The murder shocked all who knew the couple, including Morgan’s fans and fellow musicians, many of whom tried to make sense of the tragedy afterwards.Using interviews; gorgeous, iconic, black and white still photos; archival film clips, and moody reenactments—all underscored by a fabulous soundtrack—Collin constructs compelling portraits of both Lee Morgan and his common-law wife Helen, making their way in New York City’s hopping jazz scene from the late 1950s through the early '70s. The story slowly builds up to that fateful night, providing details that many have apparently pondered for years. In doing so, Collin gives us a glimpse of the great talent possessed by Morgan, along with poignant memories of the people who nurtured and appreciated it. With its potent music, atmospheric footage of vintage NYC and artfully abstract recreations, the film also gives us a palpable sense of time and place.Collin's main resource is an interview that Helen gave to radio host and jazz scholar Larry Reni Thomas in 1996, a month before she passed away. This fortuitous conversation came about when Thomas was teaching adult education a[...]
  • With each year the staggering list of shows grows larger, but we're here to help with this not so shiny, quite diverse list of recommendations to help you sort it all out.Monday, March 13thIdgy Dean  - The Parlor Room, 88 Rainey St – 7pmSylvan Esso - AV Club Presents Just Another Manic Monday @ The Mohawk - 10:45 pmGirl Pool - Do512 Party @ Hotel Vegas - 1 amTuesday, March 14thWu Tang Clan w/ Thievery Corporation - ACL Live at the Moody Theater - 11:00pmThe Districts - Buffalo Billiards - 1:10amSpoon - The Main - 1:00amSleigh Bells - Stereogum Party @ Empire Garage - 1:00amPlastic Pinks - Fine Southern Gentlemen - 2:00amWednesday, March 15thMaybird - Taco Bell Feed the Beat  - 1:00 pmThe Avett Brothers - ACL Live at the Moody Theater - 11:00pmTokyo Police Club -  Bungalow - 12:00amGrandmaster Flash - Clive Bar - 11:00pmThe New Pornographers - Stubb's - 12:20amField Trip - The Market - 1:00amThursday, March 16thJulie Byrne - Pitchfork Day Party @ French Legation Museum - 12:30 pmLo Moon - YouTube @ The Coppertank - 3:00 pmThe Big Moon - South by San Jose @ San Jose Hotel - 4:00 pm BBC 6 Music Presents @ Latitude 30 - 12:00 amBeach Slang - BrooklynVegan @ Cheer Up Charlie's - 5:00 pmPell - Stub Hub party @ Bangers - 6:00pmEcstatic Vision  - Grizzly Hall - South By South Death - 9:00pmGirl Pool - Anti- Records Party @ Elysium - 11:00pmFriday, March 17th[...]
  • In some recent discussions with musicians, bands, DJ's and musical creatives, I made the point that for me, a flat performance is pretty much a worthless one. If you can't take people on a musical journey than it's just plain boring. It's the bands and DJ's that can cross genres that get my attention.  Case and point, Tell All Your Friends PR  turned us on to the new album from rock trio, Slothrust.  After listening to the album, I decided to do a review for the blog.  I have to admit, sometimes I don't get past the first track, but "Surf Goth" got my attention.  The idea that they would start the album with an instrumental track was enough  for me, and when the show began on Saturday evening at Mercury Lounge it was the first track they played.Let me start by saying, their sound is on-point and very powerful. Particularly for a trio. They have great chemistry on stage, and their fans (including me) are really into them.  Musically, the band members are equally impressive as they effortlessly worked through songs that range from blues to grunge with elements of jazz.While Kyle Bann (bassist) had a continuous grin on his face, Leah Wellbaum maintained a certain attitude as drummer Will Gorin fiercely hit the skins as if it was possibly his last opportunity to play this year. Highlights from the new album- "Like a Child Hiding Behind Your Tombstone," "Mud," "Sleep Eater," and "Trial & Error," which Wellbaum explained she wrote in high school.  From the older mat[...]