Mini Profile – Lena Dunham **DISREGARD**

While completing my beat memo (I’m covering TV), I came across a difficult question — who is someone who recently broke through the TV industry. After thinking long and hard, I had an “aha” moment, and immediately started researching Lena Dunham. Since then, I’ve been following her, and came across this recent post on Fusion about her upcoming SNL appearance.

Granted, this is a blogger giving her opinions on Dunham, but I think it embodies someone who is breaking the mold in almost every way in the TV industry.

To begin, Dunham never pretends to be perfect, or tries to be. In fact, she embraces her body in countless naked scenes in “Girls.” As this article addresses, the author is looking forward to Dunham most likely addressing this, and “why we cannot see unretouched pictures of said body in a fashion magazine.” In an industry where appearance is everything — this should be interesting to see unfold.

Dunham is also talented in many aspects of the industry. She acts, writes and directs — something which many cannot, or do not, do — especially at the same time. Alex Alvarez, the author of this article, says that hosting SNL can further demonstrate her versatility. It will be interesting to see if this holds true.

Finally, hosting SNL will give Dunham a chance to show America a different side of her — a side that isn’t her main character Hannah Horvath (who she has become synonymous with).

I look forward to seeing what Dunham’s appearance will do for her career, as well as how America will respond to her in a new light.

CRITICISM: More than Wall Street, Less than Lolita

In the lead up to the Oscars, The Wolf of Wall Street continues to divide critics around one question: Is the movie a critique of the excesses of Wall Street? Or is it, perhaps unwittingly, a celebration of them?

The film has divided audiences between those who find it uproariously funny and those who are horrified by its treatment of debauchery and corruption as mere laugh-lines.

Other films have depicted Wall Street’s excesses, but they’ve always done so with a clear view of the victims in site.  As Leonardo DeCaprio said in a recent interview, Wolf was made unrelentingly from the perspective of the villain.

This isn’t a problem in and of itself. Crime and Punishment is none the worse for Dostoyevsky’s having written it from the perspective of a murderer. But the source material for Wolf was a banker, not Dostoevsky.

As a consequence, in order to avoid the appearance of callousness, the film shows Decaprio’s daughter’s head snap back in a car crash, toward the end, after one of his drug-filled rages. It’s as if the film is winking, making sure viewers know it doesn’t condone his behavior.

So the flaw of the Wolf of Wall Street isn’t that it sides with the villain too much, but too little. Nabokov never lets readers escape Humbert Humbert’s obsessive gaze for a sentence. Humbert is both funny and disturbing at the same time. Decaprio’s character is always either lost in a fantasy or a brutal melodrama, never quite depicting his excesses and charms in the same moment.

But Wolf gives more insight into the animating spirit of investment bankers than Oliver Stone’s Wall Street did. Gordon Gekko was ruthless and stern; Decaprio makes financial machinations look fun.

There is a more complicated film yet to be made about what drives less exaggerated, more honorable men to become complicit in financial greed. This isn’t that film.

Wolf’s contribution is that is poses the problem of greed without dismissing it as evil: the evil returns with each new generation of bankers, the film shows, because it’s so wonderful.

Critical Assessment: Alexander McQueen: The Life and the Legacy by Judith Watt

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What do Jack the Ripper, antlers and padded shoulders have in common?

They are all things that showed up in “fashion world’s darling,” Alexander McQueen’s collections during his life. He is remembered today for the outrageous outfits he created in the 1990s and 2000s. But fashion author, journalist and historian Judith Watt wrote a biography on him that focused on both his fashion and his life.

Alexander McQueen: The Life and Legacy is a book that attempts to paint a more complete picture of the designer. In many ways it succeeds. The reader learns about McQueen’s early years in a working-class family in London. He was the only boy in a class of forty girls at a synchronized swimming class who read fashion books at age 12. Learning about McQueen’s self-described awareness of being the “pink sheep” in his family set the stage nicely for fashion to come – antlers included.

From his MA fashion course to his early shows to his eventual work with Givenchy, no chapter of McQueen’s life feels rushed. Watt includes quotes from many people who knew him well, showing insiders’ perspectives on his ascent in the fashion world.  Watt also doesn’t shy away from the negative points in his life, from accusations of misogyny in his shows to his cocaine abuse. After all, this is a biography and not a love letter.

Something that adds extra value is that there are many pictures throughout the book of his early drawings, examples of pieces from his collections and a few pictures of the man behind it all. Though it would have been ideal to see more pictures of McQueen, it was somewhat fitting that those photos were limited. McQueen was known for living a private life despite his very public fashion. In many ways, fashion was his life.

NEWS: Local humor hoaxes hit hard


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When a snowstorm shut down Atlanta earlier this month, an article reported that Georgia’s governor had temporarily legalized marijuana, so citizens could relax during the debacle. The article was passed around quite a bit on social media. But of course it wasn’t true.

It was the work of James Hodgson, 39, who started the Atlanta Banana two years ago, an Onion-like news parody site. The success of national satire brands like the Onion, the Daily Show and Colbert, has inspired a handful of local copycat sites, including Hodgson who cited them as his inspiration.

Greg Henderson the editor of the fictitious Rock City Times in Little Rock was tired of the oversaturated media market in Arkansas. This may sound strange for people who still confuse Arkansas with Alabama, but Henderson was a PR man.

“If you’re in a little town in Arkansas of 15,000 or 20,000 people, the number of stories is pretty minimal, so you’re doing junk reporting,” said Henderson.

He’s been successful in part, he thinks, because the Rock City Times gives voice to opinions that local media can’t always express in such small markets.

“You can’t make fun of a local politician because they do have influence in a very tiny community,” said Henderson.

A business reporter in northwest Arkansas – where the headquarters of Walmart dominates – wrote an anonymous story about Walmart installing missiles to shoot down Amazon’s flying delivery drones. He was poking fun at Walmart’s lack of online strategy.

But Henderson said the company did something strange: it reposted the story on its own twitter feed and responded as if it were true. The retail behemoth decided, like many a politician who has appeared on shows like Colbert, that it’s better to be in on the joke, even if it’s at their own expense.



303  New album by drummer Rudy Royston

New album by drummer Rudy Royston

“303” is the name of drummer Rudy Royston’s debut album, released on Feb. 4 by Greenleaf Music, the jazz record label owned and curated by artist Dave Douglas.

Of the 11 tracks on this recording, nine are Royston original compositions plus two covers including Mozart’s “Ave verum corpus” and Radiohead’s “High and Dry.”


Review: Hey G I R L: Pharrell Williams releases New Album



Pharrell Williams, the producer extraordinaire who has produced for the likes of Jay-Z, N.E.R.D, Robin Thicke, Gwen Stefani, and a slew of other artist released his second studio album “G I R L” March 3, 2014 on the heels of his catchy single “Happy”, a song that was part of the “Despicable Me 2” film soundtrack.

While we’ve come to know Williams because of his production, the production of this album falls flat.

To be fair, I hold Williams to a higher standard than I do most producers because the work that he produces is stellar and is beyond the curve of what is being produced today or in any era of hip-hop and R&B. So when “G I R L” was released, I was disappointed because the sounds were not revolutionary as I have come to know Williams’ music to be.


The track “Happy” sticks out as the only track that shows off his musical prowess. The track features a group of singing voices that elevate the word ‘happy’ making the listener feel like spring has arrived and flowers are in bloom. Sonically, the song takes the listener back to time when they had no worries and were playing kickball with their friends at recess.

This track, however, is not the only one that was elevated above the rest. “Marilyn Monroe” the opening track gives a dark 70’s disco vibe, but falsely sets the tone for the rest of the album. Overall as a collection of songs, the album didn’t work for me because it started to feel monotonous and similar despite the varying textures in sound. As singles listened independently of each other, each track has it’s own special quirk that can be appreciated. I give this album 3 out of 5 stars.



PROFILE: Versatile Colaiuta, master of the blank slate

 His name may not ring as many bells as Joni Mitchell, Jeff Beck or Chaka Khan, but he has performed or recorded with all three. Vinnie Colaiuta, 58, is one of the most in-demand sidemen today. A versatile drummer who has traveled the entire world, Colaiuta just finished a North American tour with singers Sting and Paul Simon, during which he played at Madison Square Garden. This week, he is at the Abu-Dhabi festival, performing with pianist Herbie Hancock.

Colaiuta received his first drum set when he was a teenager. But “the drums found me,” he said. It was in his parents’ attic that he would spend days playing, until his mother suggested he start taking classes.

Soon, meteorite-like Colaiuta was at the prestigious Berklee School of Music, in Boston; and shortly after, he moved to Los Angeles, where he started his career with Frank Zappa – which catapulted him to fame.

Colaiuta,  like a chameleon,  said he practices the technique of the blank slate. “Whenever I go to a gig, I try to be completely open and forget everything I know,” he said. That allows him to immerse himself completely into the music, he said.

Colaiuta plays in large concert halls as well as in smaller venues. He is able to adjust to pianist Chick Corea’s softer style which, he said, is like pointillism, but also Herbie Hancock’s, which he referred to as “dense harmonic sophistication”  and “beautiful abstraction.”

Colaiuta spent many years earning a living as a studio musician in Los Angeles – that entailed recording specific tunes with musicians he would only work with for that occasion, and for just a few hours. Colaiuta has thus become a drums expert. He understands all the nuances of his instrument and when he performs, every single touch means something unique. That’s also one of guitar player John McLaughlin’s assets. Colaiuta and McLaughlin have played together, and both are the epitome of controlled precision and sophistication.