The Rape of the Samburu Women “For more than fifty years, England has maintained military training facilities in the Samburu region of its former colony, Kenya. During this period, women in the area have faced an epidemic of rape. Women from the Samburu, Massai, Rendile and Turkana indigenous communities have filed more than 600 official rape claims against British soldiers. Yet, despite documentation of their claims, a three-year internal investigation by the Royal Military Police (RMP) cleared all soldiers of wrongdoing. Meanwhile, the victims have been shamed and outcast in their communities, many to the point of exile. In the mid-1990s, Beatrice Chili responded to this situation by establishing the village of Senchen, a self-sufficient community run entirely by women. There, women build homes, weave textiles, gather and grow food, and raise children. This short film visits the brave women of Senchen, who speak candidly about their suffering and talk passionately about their demands for justice. Watch the film to hear their stories and to find out how you can offer your support. One organization that is working towards justice and dignity for the Samburu people is the Kenya Aid and Relief Effort (KARE). Check out their website to find out how you can help” -CoR
This Is Arthur Ashe You might recognize his name from the centre court stadium at Flushing Meadows, New York, but I bet most people (unless you’re a regular spectator) couldn’t put a face to his name. And it is only appropriate to talk about this man since our beloved US Open Championship recently just past. In America, we often hear the names of important black leaders that guided the course of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s. We hear of great African American athletes like Jackie Robinson, but I bet you never heard of Arthur Ashe. He was one of the greatest and most well respected American athletes in the whitest sport there could be: Tennis. He became the first black man to win a grand slam (and he earned the world number-one ranking in the same year), the first black man to represent the United States in the Davis Cup, and a founding member of what we call Men’s Professional Tennis: the ATP. He was one among many who established an early foundation for player’s rights, and his activism played as big of a role in his legacy as his tennis career. In 1968, he was denied a visa to play at the South African Open because he was black. Ashe denounced South Africa with the strong support system of other pros bringing the nation’s apartheid human rights issue to mainstream media. For a number of years he continued to battle these injustices in South Africa as if they were just as much his fight. Ashe had to retire from tennis in 1980 due to heart surgery the previous year and other health problems that ended his career. A few years later during brain surgery, he discovered that he was HIV positive. His blood had been contaminated during his second heart surgery in 1983. Because of the prejudices associated with the virus he decided to keep it under wraps, yet his deteriorating health and physical appearance was far too noticeable to be ignored. In 1992 he officially stated that he had AIDS and died the next year in 1993, characteristically raising awareness about HIV/AIDS in his final journey in life. IN 1997 Arthur Ashe stadium officially opened to commemorate him not only as one of the greatest tennis players in history, but also as one of the most whispered souls to reach degrees of global human rights.
You and The Other on each side of the box. You must play within it, you must play outside of it. Rely on you and only you. You do not have a team to fall back on. One skill outdoing the other. One mind outlasting the other. Your rhythm is yours and for the other to take. Your temper is yours and for the other to agitate. The toss of comes from your tips. Embrace that control. The swing of your stringed savior comes from your power. Embrace that control. Eat away at the edges of the box. Attack its corners. But stay long enough to see the other beat, collapesed beneath the rubble, as you take that triumph with you to the grave.
Flushing Meadows New York and the rest of the East Coast may have drowned under the heavy rains of Irene, but it hasn’t stopped the high fever of every tennis fanatic across the globe. The US Open still lives! To our surprise, the last tournament of the year saw every game, set, and match fall perfectly into place (besides Sabine Lisicki’s delayed match), today being the first day of the two week slam. There is no better way to end the year than a tournament like Flushing Meadows, where the atmosphere purges the players’ remaining heap of will onto the court for one last time. Arthur Ashe stadium is the biggest tennis stadium in the world and has the craziest fanatics to back up that grandiosity. We can all agree that the US Open is probably the most unorthodox slam of the big four because the spectators frankly don’t give a shit. They talk during the point, they aren’t afraid to let you know how they feel, and it is always a party in New York regardless of traditional tennis etiquette. The bustle of the city carries into the court. Pressure. Emotions. Chaos. Chaos. Chaos. Some players buckle because of it. Others thrive on it. It is a ride, an inevitable rush. Andre Agassi says that you have to be able to embrace it to find victory.
Arafat & I “A comedy about Marwan, a Palestinian in love, and Lisa, the girl he’s going to marry. He thinks everything about her is perfect - she was even born on the same day as Chairman Arafat! But how will he make Lisa understand the significance of this coincidence?” - Toronto Palestine Film Festival via Youtube
2081 “Based on the short story “Harrison Bergeron” by celebrated author Kurt Vonnegut, “2081” depicts a dystopian future in which, thanks to the 212th Amendment to the Constitution and the unceasing vigilance of the United States Handicapper General, everyone is “finally equal….” The strong wear weights, the beautiful wear masks and the intelligent wear earpieces that fire off loud noises to keep them from taking unfair advantage of their brains. It is a poetic tale of triumph and tragedy about a broken family, a brutal government, and an act of defiance that changes everything.Featuring an original score performed by the world-renowned Kronos Quartet (Requiem for a Dream) and narration by Academy Award Nominee Patricia Clarkson (Far From Heaven, Goodnight and Good Luck), “2081” stars James Cosmo (Braveheart, Trainspotting), Julie Hagerty (Airplane!, What About Bob?) and Armie Hammer (The Social Network)”
Cosmicomics Creationism is the idea that all of the complexities of the universe and the universe itself have been created by a supernatural being. It is the idea that humans and Earth, and the winds that blow the leaves and the natural sculptures of our landscapes and the implausible spectrum of species, extinct and living, have been colored by God’s almighty ink. The universe is God’s canvas and Earth is just a tiny detail of it amidst tinier details of functions and elements that equate to a mountain or a fish, a plant or the breath of a breathing human. But if a spectator from a foreign world spun the globe to see the Earth in a passing glance, it would not take the Earth to spin a whole day before the spectator would notice that God’s creation, his perfect piece of artwork, in every moment created a flaw within itself. God’s creation is alive. And like all great art, it is contemporary. As it lives on it is subject to change because the world around it changes what the art once was. Art is original, art is old. It is once genius, it is again genius. It is recycled, it is exploited. It is forgotten through one artist, it is born again by another. Creation is art. And would one not believe that this spectator, observing the growing imperfections in God’s work, would criticize Him for mindlessly creating something that gradually destroys itself? Would this spectator not criticize God for creating something that will eventually be forgotten, and that will only be a dull grey-ness, just a colorless spec that no other spectator would imagine could be a place of colors? Or would he praise Him in his originality for making something not contemporary, but only temporary and equally as unforgettable? Would he praise the beauty of His idea to let art evolve on its own, to create things that create things, and to let it take on its own form? And would he commend Him for the bravery in knowing that the most beautiful thing about this art is that it only exists for a moment in the unlimited universe, and that it is only an escaping breath and will mean nothing in the emptiness of space, that no other being will witness it but Himself, and that His genius will forever be held a secret so that it can never be exploited or stolen or mocked by any other being capable of such devastating beauty? I believe that this is the Artist’s experience.
Annie Clark is releasing her new album in September and I’m really excited about that, especially because this song is pretty sick. I think that this song is very St. Vincent, not only because you can distinguish her in a sea of gems the moment the song starts, but because she does something pretty epic with the musical composition. And she does this consistently, always. I do enjoy the sound of her voice, but St. Vincent is truly artistic because she is an amazing composer. She can shred on the guitar with this kind of cool confident absent-minded passion, and the sounds she makes with it changes the limit of creativity we have when we think of what a guitar is and what it does in music. Just listen to the chorus of this song. You can hear a fluttering of plucked notes stringed together in a constant wave, rising and falling, in a pattern that always sounds new.
In reminder of the Horn of Africa Crisis, I decided to share this photo and accompanying story by Michal Przedlacki. I came across these stunning pair of hands while I was surfing flickr, and it dawned on me that these kind of crises occur in this region almost all the time. But as the recent drought and famine has become the biggest humanitarian crisis the world has faced, it seems that these already pre-existing humanitarian crises are barely emerging from the dark. And even in my past few months of mental absence from the world, it seemed that as I got back into my regular routine, superficial media had barely remembered to scrape the surface of it. Anyway, here is the story of Abdi Dadle:
“I see him from a distance. He squats in a huge and shallow hole holding his spade. Its earthen walls are whitish. It’s salt. What I see in front of me is its mine. There are hundreds, or maybe thousands of them scattered here, men and children digging holes into which they pour saline water and let it dry to leave back salt. They wait for 14 days and then collect it. They sell kilogram for 8 cents. Such is a way of their life. Such is a life here after loosing herds in droughts. His name is Abdi Dadle and he is 65 years old. It is nearly twenty more than the average life expectancy here. He is, or at least was, a Somali nomad. Eight years ago he lost his herd in one of recurring droughts. He was left with one old ox. Working constantly and steadily, he’s got quite expressive body language. By extending his arms in front he explains the size of a field of salt. Raising and lowering them he depicts how he dug nearby well. It’s perfectly circular, with diameter of one meter. Its banks, but only it, is cracked like an old skin. Surrounding it lies flat and empty landscape. Spatial and devoid of shade. Vast. Nothing grows on it, not a single grass. And the well holds water. Salty as the sea one. His body is black and thin. Forearm veins writhe from under t-shirt arms, bend around the elbows to finish on his hands. His face is rich in wrinkles, similar to leaf with its beams. Cheeks, sunken from age have longitudinal scars, three on each side. Muslim rosary hanging around his neck is made of thick, oval beads. As black as him. It moves across his chest, from left to right, and right to left as steadily as the Muslim prayer. He also allows to be observed. This dramatic, hard work of his. Thanks to it he survives, but dies of it as well. At one point, he clenches his hands into fists. Their interiors are white with salt, probably forever. Lttle drops of sweat come down from under his small, white fez, and flow into the mouth. He’s got orange teeth. Like his nails. Broken and old. Abandoned. There are hundreds, or maybe thousands of them scattered here, men and children digging holes into which they pour saline water and let it dry to leave back salt. They wait for 14 days and then collect it. They sell kilogram for 8 cents. Such is a way of their life. Such is a life here after loosing herds in droughts” - Michal Przedlacki: Abdi Dadle’s hands, God Cusbo salt mine, Afder Zone, Somali Region, May 2010
The Weapon of Photography “A Brazilian photographer reveals the humanity of those living in his country’s largest slum, provoking us to look deeper at the roots of the drug trade and urban violence.The sprawling slums of Brazil—known as favelas—are often portrayed as lawless havens populated by violent criminals. There are not many journalists or artists who have devoted their work to finding out what is actually happening within these marginalized spaces. Photographer Andre Cypriano is an exception. A native of Brazil, Cypriano has studied some of the world’s biggest slums, including the famous Rocinha shantytown in Rio de Janeiro. Armed with only his camera, he reveals the humanity of those who have made lives amid precarious circumstances. This short film follows the photographer into the favelas and shows Cypriano’s faith in the power of his medium. As the artist says, “Photography is a weapon; it’s transformative. It’s capable of things that real weapons cannot do.”” -CoR
When You’re At A Restaurant, Don’t Ask For Water If You’re Not Going To Drink It The New York Times has put together a slide show (here) title Fleeing Somalia’s Drought that depicts the severe drought and famine occurring in the Horn of Africa right now. There is a total of fourteen photos each with a caption that some of you might want to explore. Years of drought have practically eliminated the traditional nomadic pastoralist lifestyle in Somalia, consequently resulting in shortage of livestock and ultimately eliminating the primary means of subsistence for many groups of people. Thousands of people are fleeing to neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia where camps are overflowing with victims of the crisis. This is the first real (late) post I have made in a while just because I have been in summer session mode, and when that happens I disappear from the Earth. Even so, I never heard any of my colleagues speak once on this. My 60 year old professor constantly puts us down for having no real knowledge of anything important politically or pop-culturally, and he never once mentioned this crisis. No one in my distant household has mentioned it even though they watch television like its a life line. And the popular American media seems to thoroughly avoid the subject. And to top it off, the crisis first came to my attention on the most exaggerated news programs ever since Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News: the Spanish channel! And there was absolutely nothing exaggerated about it at all. I just feel that it is the saddest thing that in my absence from the real world this comes to me in another language. That’s typically not a problem for me, but I honestly feel that anyone who is that absent minded does not have to read the BBC or The Los Angeles Times or some piece of news in Dutch to hear about a crisis this big. It should come to anyone in flashing lights in popular media or at least through one of the many social networks. Tumblr would have been that one social network for me if I would have just signed on.
There are many places and organizations to donate money, a resource I unfortunately do not have. I remember the graduating class before me in high school provided an alternate method of relief for a village in some part of Africa, I don’t remember where. Instead of donating money, where NGO’s and corrupt governments would pocket the money instead, the students got together to make sleeping nets to prevent mosquitoes carrying Malaria. This would reduce the number of people with Malaria in the village and would help them directly. This is the kind of aid that I would want to provide. Direct aid. Not money that might not actually go to the cause. The Red Cross has already been caught doing it. I would want to provide true resources, but is there an organization that runs like this?
Cecil Otter is a member of the Doom Tree Collective. Last year I saw him perform and when it came to this song I felt like I was watching some kind of moving speech. He didn’t bounce around much, he just held the mic close to his chest and told a story. It was the one moment when we were all just standing there. All the lines were surprisingly clear maybe because we were actually trying to listen to the song. The opening lines are like the hook of a good article. You want to read the rest of it. And that is what I like about this song. It’s not a bunch of crazy cool lines bunched up together to make a crazy cool song.
Céu has released two albums and in both of them I have enjoyed every song. “Congote” is a song off of her most recent album Vagarosa. It’s characteristic of the album’s reggae sound and soundboard experimentation. Brazilian musician Curumin, an artist I had mentioned in a previous post, worked on this album with her. You can hear a lot of his genius in this track. What I love about Céu: her voice is the greatest of improv instruments.
Waltz With Bashir “Director Ari Folman’s animated, quasi-documentary Waltz With Bashir follows the filmmaker’s emotional attempt to decipher the horrors that unfolded one night in September of 1982, when Christian militia members massacred more than 3,000 Palestinian refugees in the heart of Beirut as Israeli soldiers surrounded the area. Folman was one of those soldiers, but nearly 20 years after the fact, his memories of that night remain particularly hazy. After hearing an old friend recall a vivid nightmare in which he is pursued by 26 ferocious dogs, Folman and his friend conclude that the dream must somehow relate to that fateful mission during the first Lebanon War. When Folman realizes that his recollections regarding that period in his life seem to have somehow been wiped clean, he travels the world to interview old friends and fellow soldiers from the war. Later, as Folman’s memory begins to emerge in a series of surreal images, he begins to uncover a truth about himself that will haunt him for the rest of his days” -filmDIY
Scream To Let Your Voice Be Heard A good friend of mine shared this with me a while back. I though a lot of you might be interested. Her name is Salome and she is a Persian femcee. She has worked with Hich-Kas, one of Iran’s more known hip-hop groups (you can listen to them here). This song talks about injustices and war crimes committed on Gaza City. Her flow is pretty slick and she’s got an interesting voice. In case you don’t speak Farsi, the lyrics are in this video. Everyone should take a look.