Category Archives: Uncategorized

Profile: Jamal AlNasr’s Village Music World *EDITED*

If you walk down Bleecker Street between Avenue of the Americas and MacDougal Street you will find a small storefront filled with bins of vinyl records, CDs and DVDs. It is the Village Music World, a music store owned by Jamal AlNasr.

Jamal AlNasr's Village Music World
Jamal AlNasr’s Village Music World

Inside, behind the counter, AlNasr, 44, oversees his kingdom; a long, narrow space where each wall is packed floor to ceiling with a variety of music genres. AlNasr rummages through his collection and fills the space with rhythmic guitars and drums coming out the speakers, he loves rock n’ roll. He recalls that the first thing he sold was a Rolling Stones album.

AlNasr got into the business by pure pleasure. 26 years ago this Lebanese immigrant decided to trade with what he likes the most, music records. “The key is you got to like what you do,” he says. “But you have to do a lot. I’m online, I’m a vendor on Amazon, etc.”

In an increasingly digital society, where downloading music has become the rule, music stores are a tale from the old days. But although hundreds have disappeared, the Village Music World is still in business thanks to music collectors and vinyl aficionados.

AlNasr, standing in the back of his store is casually dressed; he has salt and pepper short hair and a stocky build. Friendly and helpful to his costumers, he lets them explore aisles of records and is ready to help find what you are looking for and offers great recommendations.

Although some consider the Village Music World is an overpriced store, AlNasr has maintained it as one of the fewer places where fans can have a physical music-buying experience in New York City. “You have to be really creative to maintain yourself in this kind of business,” he says.

ISSUE: Native American Headdress Misappropriation

Christina Fallin, daughter of an Oklahoma governor, received criticism when she posted this promotional photo on Instagram. In response, she wrote, "Please forgive us if we innocently adorn ourselves with your beautiful things. We do so with the utmost respect."
Christina Fallin, daughter of an Oklahoma governor, received criticism when she posted this promotional photo for her music on Instagram in March. In response, she wrote, “Please forgive us if we innocently adorn ourselves with your beautiful things. We do so with the utmost respect.”

Jessica Metcalfe, a Native American fashion boutique owner, always braces herself for this time of year – music festival season.

Metcalfe, 33, says during those festivals, some non-Native people in popular culture are misappropriating the sacred Native American headdress.

Last month, Victoria’s Secret model Alessandra Ambrosio posted a photo of herself wearing a headdress for the festival Coachella with the caption, “Becoming more inspired for @coachella with this amazing Native American headpiece.”

Metcalfe, who grew up on a North Dakota reservation as part of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa tribe, says misappropriation is an issue since the headdress is sacred in her background, since it’s made from eagle feathers. She says eagles are seen as an intermediary between human beings and their creator, and leaders have to do good deeds to earn those feathers.

“We need to protect our use and our traditional practices and our values,” Metcalfe says. “Whenever we see the headdress, it’s a major form of community.”

Ambrosio and other non-Native people often cite inspiration or admiration as reasons why they choose to wear headdresses or other Native garments.

“So what we want to do is use that as kind of a foot in the door, a way to kind of reach out to these people, to educate them a little bit more,” Metcalfe says.

At her online boutique, Beyond Buckskin, Metcalfe wrote a blog post about wearing Native-inspired clothing without misappropriating the culture.

Since Beyond Buckskin represents Native fashion designers, many of those items can be bought there. Metcalfe says everything at the boutique is meant for both Native and non-Native people to wear.

“Tying back to the headdress, that’s what people think is Native because that’s all that they’ve been exposed to,” Metcalfe says. “That’s why on Beyond Buckskin, you’ll see hopefully a lot of cultures represented.”

Copyright: EU signs the Treaty of Marrakech

Blind and visually impaired people will soon have access to the same books as other people. In late April, the European Union signed in Geneva the Marrakech Treaty, the first international agreement to improve access to published books without the copyright holder’s permission.

The treaty (also known as the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities) was finalized in June 2013 during a Diplomatic Conference of the World Intellectual Property Organization in Morocco. But it took a year for the European Union to sign it. “International law do take forever,” said Mark Richert, director of public policy at the American Foundation for the Blind, in a phone interview.

The treaty is considered an important step toward equal opportunity. Fewer than 5 percent of the books published each year are accessible to visually impaired and blind people, according to the World Blind Union. The reason is copyright laws.

“It is the first time that an international agreement makes the sharing of materials between countries possible,” said Richert.

The treaty allows the countries that sign it to introduce copyright extensions. Authorized entities, such as organizations serving the blind, will be allowed to produce and distribute print and electronic works in a format accessible to the blind and visually impaired without the copyright holder’s permission. The treaty will also provide cross-border transfers of those works.

“It is the first treaty that I am aware of that spells out the rights of readers as opposed to the copyright,” said Richer. “Most of the international intellectual property or copyright treaties are all about protecting the rights of copyright owners.”

To take effect, the treaty has to be ratified by 20 countries. So far, 64 countries have signed it, but no country has ratified it.

Web Series are Changing the Lesbian World

These 5 web shows feature lesbian characters that can’t be found on broadcast television.

 

Many of the new web series talk about gender in a different way than in portrayals of lesbians in TV’s past. In the first episode of the “The Better Half”, the two lead characters dress according to how feminine or masculine they’re feeling that night.

Ingrid Jungermann’s show “F to the 7th” uses some of the same absurdist and melancholy humor of Louis C.K. and sometimes features stars like Amy Sedaris and Janeane Garofalo. This episode is premised on the idea of what would happen if Jungermann had a one night stand with herself. In this clip she pushes this premise to its absurd limit.

Alison Wong says that gay men made it to TV more quickly than gay women because “The stereotype of a flamboyant gay man is that is that he is into fashion and singing,” Wong said. “But the stereotype of a lesbian would be a lumberjack or a house builder, and those don’t seem as fun or as exciting.” She describes her show “Straight Up Gay” as like “Will and Grace” but with a lesbian in the fun gay-friend role. In this clip she tries mine humor from situations where they’re both attracted to women.

When Lauren Augarten wrote her show “Scissr” she thought she was breaking down old notions of what it means to be a lesbian, and even cast a transgender woman as a cisgender character (a woman born with female parts). But she still received a complaint on Reddit that there weren’t any women of color and from a producer who wanted a more traditional butch lesbian. In this clip we see trans actress Jamie Clayton play a lesbian bouncer who turns away two clueless straight men.

Christina Bly, 28, and Lauren Aadland, 27 have both worked professionally with video, and apply their production skills to their web travel series, “Button and Bly.” In this short clip you see them filming on a gay cruise in Sweden, where they’ve picked up a small following.

Issues – Branding

Branding, the practice of artists turning themselves into commodities that they can sell,  is extremely prevalent in the television industry — especially in reality television.

June Deery, author of “Consuming Reality: the Commercialization of Actual Entertainment,” says that the most obvious of example of branding is the Kardashian family, as they were able to turn their reality show into fashion lines for both teens and children, a nail polish line with OPI,  and a book “Kardashian Konfidential.”

Courtesy of Kris Jenner’s Celebuzz

The Kardashian family empire began in 2007 with the premiere of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” The E! reality show has gone on to have nine seasons, and three spin-off series, “Kourtney and Kim Take Miami” which later became “Kourtney and Kim Take Miami,” “Kourtney and Kim Take New York,” and “Khloe and Lamar.”

Due to the popularity of the show, they have signed contracts with larger brands such as Skechers and Sears to create and endorse products in stores and through commercials.  They also have worked with various companies to endorse their products on Twitter. Business Insider reports that Kim Kardashian makes “$10,000 per Tweet from her contract with in-stream advertiser Adly.” She also reportedly makes $25,000 per tweet when she mentions Armani.

The Kardashian empire has not always been met with praise. In the past,  the Kardashian Kard was taken off the market after receiving criticism for its high fees. Recently, the shows that have made them household names have been coming under scrutiny for being staged and fake, which has caused a decline in ratings. It has also been reported that “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” has caused strains in relationships with those featured on the show such as Kim’s ex-husband Kris Humphries and Khloe’s estranged husband Lamar Odom.

Regardless, the Kardashian brand does not seem to be suffering. Celebrity Networth reports that Kim is worth $40 million due to her branding, Kourtney is worth $18 million and Khloe is worth $20 million.

News Story: Running for “On the Run”

o-ON-THE-RUN-TOUR-570

Beyonce and Jay Z fans alike took off running to the closet source of Internet to grab their tickets for the “On the Run” tour, the first tour that the husband and wife duo has done together and tickets were not cheap.

Forbes.com reports that the average cost of tickets is $342.67, 90 percent more expensive than Jay Z’s Magna Carta tour and 17 percent more expensive than Beyonce’s Mrs. Carter tour.

Pre-sale tickets that were sold exclusively to those that bank with Chase on April 29 sold out quickly. Those that didn’t get tickets or were non-Chase members had to wait the next day to try and get the second wave of pre-sale tickets. Ticket prices range from $50 to $990 plus.

Some fans were able to cash out and pay for the nearly thousand-dollar floor seat. Reanne Swafford of Los Angeles posted on her Facebook page.

“Got ‘em,” she wrote. Floor seat tickets to the show that she received as a gift from her boyfriend she later revealed in the post.

But other were not so lucky.

Yozmine Modeste, a long time fan of Beyonce, was too late to get the pre-sale tickets. Instead of the getting up early like most fans did to get their tickets. She waited till later in the day and found out that the pre-sales were sold out.

“I was sad because I love my bitch,” she said.

She later learned that she could get tickets on other days, but the prices detracted her from buying a ticket.

“I lover her, but I don’t love her that much.”

http://www.ticketmaster.com/on-the-run-tour-beyonce-and-miami-florida-06-25-2014/event/0D004C98D3BCD312?tm_link=edp_onsale

News: Heidegger’s antisemitism revealed by his secret blacknotes

heidegger

 

The world of Philosophy is in turmoil as Martin Heidegger’s private notes, known as Blacknotes, were recently published in Germany for the first time, revealing his antisemitism.

Heidegger’s thought is considered a steppingstone. With his book Being and Time (1927) and his exploration of the “Being” question , he is one of the most influential philosopher of the 20th century. The Blacknotes encompass three notebooks that he wrote between 1931 and 1942. The notes are his private reflections against Jewish people that he described as “people without a land”, “with a talented calculation,” and as people that “live according to the principle of race.”

“The antisimetic sentences in the Blacknotes are disgusting and terrible,” said Günter Figal, German philosopher and president of The Martin Heidegger Society. “They have saddened me. I would have never thought to find those kinds of reflections in Heidegger.”

Heidegger’s attraction for the Nazism has been documented enough. Nazism, in fact, drew his attention but only for one year. And as of today, Heidegger’s antisemetic views were only considered something that have never affected his philosophy and his works at all.

For sure, according to Taylor Carmen who is professor of Philosophy at Barnanrd College, “it is depressing to learn that Heidegger embraced such bigotry and he took seriously such stupid fantasies about the Jews in Europe.” But this is not surprising at all. “It is hard for people to accept that being a genius in one area doesn’t prevent you from being an imbecile in another, or in everyday life, but that’s how it is,” he said during an interview.

Despite the fact that Heidegger’s reflections are strongly negative against Jewish, as Figal underlined, the Philosophy of the 20th century could not be thought without Heidegger.

South African music at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center

One more time, Hugh Masekela sang his heart out in front of a moved and delighted audience on April 6 at the Victoria Theatre of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. Full of energy, the trumpeter, singer and political activist did not miss a single opportunity to make jokes.

“He was amazing: he is a musician, a philosopher,” one of the audience members said after the concert.  Hearing Masekela is like traveling all the way to South Africa,  and to the roots of African music. At NJPAC he performed with his quintet , composed of young musicians, two nights after he had just celebrated celebrated his 75th birthday at the Lincoln Center with singer Paul Simon. The concert included Masekela hits like the sad protest song “Stimela” (“Coal Train” in English), for which he literally screamed to imitate the whistle of the train. That train in the song takes African men to the mines of Johannesburg, where they are going to be exploited.
Masekela also performed “Grazing in the Grass,” another of his hits. He played various percussion instruments and performed a sophisticated dance move in which he bent his knees close to the floor, then rose again.

Masekela’s music does not age, said the South African bass player Bakithi Kumalo, who has performed with him several times. “When he is on stage, people pay attention,” Kumalo said. And Kumalo recognized Masekela’s influence. “He was almost like Nelson Mandela, but for our music,” he said.

Kumalo added that Masekela was a friend of the famous jazz trumpeters Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong. “And they loved him because he was bringing South African music to American music,” he said.

He added that Masekela’s music is a mix between South African music and jazz. “Because he’s spent a lot of time in America,” Kumalo said.

Going to a Masekela performance is setting oneself up for fun, excitement and surprise.

Issues: No room for healthy snacks in theaters?

I’ve been a movie-goer my entire life, and I have never seen anyone escorted out. Not even the time I complained about a group of teenagers cursing out a friend and talking over “Paranormal Activity.”

This past weekend, a Brooklyn man was escorted out of a theatre for doing something I’m sure we’ve all done. Michael Kass was apparently escorted from the Pavillion Theatre in Park Slope for bringing in a container of strawberries to snack on. Kass brought his own snacks because he suffers from Type 2 diabetes. According to the most recent statistics from the American Diabetes Association, 25.8 million adults and children in the United States are living with the disease.

A visit to the Pavillion Theatre’s website doesn’t say anything about patrons not being allowed to bring in outside snacks, though it’s generally an unspoken rule that outside snacks are frowned upon in theaters. Pavillon, nor other movie houses are looking to detract from their own concession deals, like Pavillon’s $18 smoothie and crepe deal.

In a report from 2009, it was found that movie theatres profit 85 percent from concession sales. But items like buttered popcorn and large sodas aren’t tailored to someone struggling with Type 2 diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, those who struggle with the disease should always carry food with them, and should have meals low in sugars, fats and cholesterols.

Though Kass did break the rules, it seems excessive that he was escorted out by a manager and two police officers–especially after initially asking for a refund when confronted and being denied one. I’m sure that other diabetes sufferers and others with particular dietary needs will continue to sneak in snacks, as it doesn’t appear as though movie theaters will offer fresh fruits or healthier snacks any time soon.

ISSUE: Affirmative Comedy

 

After Saturday Night Live hired Sasheer Zamata in a special casting session for black females last year, comedians of color were full of hope.

“I thought I’m sure they’re going to talk about the bigger picture. They’re going to say there’s never been an Asian, there’s never been a Latina woman,” said Jesenia, a comedian in the Bronx who goes by one name.

That didn’t happen. Instead, she and her comedic partner, Jenni Ruiza, saw another example of what they say is a long tradition of stereotypical Latina characters.

So they made a video depicting all the Latina stereotypes that have appeared on the show, such as horny and ignorant.

The video received more than 10,000 views.

“People are constantly asking us, ‘What’s your next video? What are you going to tell Lorne Michales? What are you going to tell NBC?” Jesenia said. “That’s not us. That is why we followed it up with the video ‘I Feel Crampy.’ It’s about little girls getting their periods for the first time.”

“We’re not activists. We’re at the core comedians,” Ruiza said. “It’s really crazy to see what the media responds to and what goes quote-un-quote viral.”

They say that they’d prefer if all casting were colorblind. “The greatest comedians out there speak to everyone. You don’t have to be black to like Bill Cosby,” Ruiza said.

But right now executives don’t hire Latina women in comedy for good roles. “I have no problems with playing maids, but not when it is a Latina maid and her line is ‘Si. Si Señor.’ Can we move on from the 1960s?” Jesenia said.

If they don’t see things improve, they plan on taking TV comedy into their own hands. “At some point we’ll stop watching and create our own content where we can play normal characters,” Ruiza said. “There are 53 million of us and counting, and we pay for the salaries for these executives.”