January 09, 2016

The Beginning: Making Episode 1

It's not a secret that Star Wars Episode 1 is not only a horrible Star Wars movie, it's just a horrible movie in general. Sitting through it is a task, it's so dense and filled with boring political plot points, bad acting and computer graphics. It feels more like an ILM portfolio showcasing CG techniques rather than a film.

I can remember as a kid watching it for the first time and leaving the theater confused. I thought maybe I wasn't watching as careful as I should have been? I dunno what it was but I felt like I missed something because, its Star Wars, isn't it supposed to be good? I thought, "Did I just black out for most of that movie? Was I daydreaming the whole time?" I begged my parents to take me again, so I could see what I surely missed but they wouldn't take me. I had to wait for it to come out on video when I finally realized that it wasn't just me, this shit really does just suck.

Anyways, I have no idea why I have a DVD copy of this fucking horsecrap movie but I do. I think someone just gave it to me. Whatever. I'm bringing up the DVD because there's actually a great hour long making of featurette on it. I honestly don't think I've watched the movie itself off this DVD once but I've seen this making of thing over and over. I just watched it again yesterday in light of The Force Awakens coming out and, I have to say, it's now pretty funny to watch. Knowing how hated this movie would become, watching them work on it and talk about the problems that will eventually be it's downfall is sort of fascinating.

December 05, 2015

Cromags' John Joseph

I could listen to John Joseph talk for days, never a lack of stories coming from this guy. An authentic New Yorker and staple of the hardcore scene. Listen to John Joseph talk about everything from vegan-ism, hardcore, prison and more. P.S. ignore the ads in the beginning, the podcast starts at 23:30.
October 21, 2015

RANDY HAGE: NYC IMMORTALIZED IN MINIATURE

"This project, that started as a desire to create New York inspired miniature replicas, became a study in politics, community, and social issues."

Randy Hage's New York storefront project instantly caught my eye. This was not only due to his attention to detail but it was also the subject of the work itself that really interested me. For years now, Randy Hage has been recreating the most iconic NYC buildings with painstaking detail in 1/12th scale. His three dimensional snapshots preserve a moment in time in which the storefronts they depict were still open for business. From Pearl Paint to CBGB's, Hage spends his time recreating a New York City we used to know and still love.  It's a testament to hard work, not only the hard work of Randy Hage, but the hard work of the independent store owners as well. 

-Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into model making.

I was studying music at UCLA, I wanted to become a studio musician.  During that time, the MIDI computer started to be used to replace entire studio orchestras.  We were told that jobs in the field would be harder and harder to come by.  While I contemplated my next step, my parents told me that a local miniature/hobby store was failing and had been put up for sale.  The three of us had been interested in miniatures for awhile and it seemed like a good fit.  We seized the opportunity to purchase the store and within the first year had turned the business around.  By the second year, we were ranked among the top ten miniature stores in sales in the country.  Our proximity to Hollywood made us the go-to store for prop and model artists in the industry.  It was not long before we were called upon to do work for the TV/Film industry.  This work fell to me to complete.  No formal training.  No extensive background, just on the job training.  A true trial by fire.  


-What are some of the film/tv projects you've worked on?

For over 25 years, I worked as a prop and model maker for television and film.  During that time I was able to work with almost every major studio and network.  I also worked making products for commercials, museums, and trade show exhibits. For a few of those years I taught prop fabrication at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, (FIDM) in Los Angeles.  I was working freelance and everyday brought new and odd projects to my studio.  Much of the work that I did was burned or blown up for effects.  A lot of background structures and odd props.  I never had an emotional connection to the work like I do now. There is such an iconic, recognizable, and meaningful element to my recent work.  It’s a whole different way of life when you are following your own path and dreams as opposed to doing commissioned pieces.

-Your New York City storefront miniatures preserve the classic architecture of the city, which is unfortunately becoming extinct. The mom-and-pop shops depicted in your work are now being replaced by corporate entities, altering the unique look of NYC as well. Explain your interest in these storefronts and how you feel about the changing face of New York City.

In the late ‘90s, I began to make trips to New York to photograph the old Cast Iron buildings for some potential projects that I had in mind.  I was drawn to the small “mom and pop” storefronts that were typically located on the street level of these buildings.  I was intrigued by the hand painted signs, the patinas, the layers of architecture and remodeling and by the colors.  I continued to photograph the storefronts for the next few years and began to notice that these businesses were closing at an alarming rate.  Shops that had served the public for 60 to 100 years were suddenly going out.  One expects to see some closures when urban renewal and gentrification begin to take place, but the amount of closures in NY were stunning.  The neighborhoods were being quickly transformed both physically, and in regard to the demographics and the community of the area.  This project, that started as a desire to create New York inspired miniature replicas, became a study in politics, community, and social issues.  It was difficult to witness the displacement of communities that had occupied these areas for so many years.  Over the past 15 years, I have photographed and documented over 700 storefronts and in that time, over 60 percent of them have closed.  Through my work, I not only seek to preserve a vision of the past, but also to call attention to the loss of established and diverse neighborhoods, as urban renewal and gentrification displace the store owners and the area residents who make up the tapestry of these communities.  My storefront project reflects my love for these iconic structures, as well as a passionate interest in the communities that they serve. My sculptures represent more than fading facades, they honor the very soul of the city...its people.

-These models are painstakingly precise to their real-life counterparts. Your attention to detail is apparent, from the flyers in the window of your CBGB's model to the stickers and graffiti covering Mars Bar. You even have teeny tiny 1/12th scale cigarettes and leaves on the sidewalk of the miniatures. What's your process in making these miniatures, how do you make them so exact from the original and approximately how long do they take to create?

How long do they take is probably the question that I get the most.  The simple answer is two months.  But, if you count the photographic documentation, study, planning, material acquisition, and dreaming, it’s much longer.  An artist is always working in their mind so it is hard to quantify the exact time it takes.  I appreciate it when someone notices the small details.  They are often missed but are truly important.  One of the detail items that I always use in my work are leaves.  These fallen leaves break up the eye line of the sidewalk and create interest.  They are also representative of change.  I use a punch to create the shape and then draw the veins in with a pencil.  I then stain the leaves individually with multiple color pens to give them a variegated look.  Then I burnish them with a stylus to make them cup like a dried leaf.  It’s tedious and time consuming but well worth the effort.  For the cigarettes on the sidewalk, I photograph the real thing and then reduce them in photoshop.  I cut them out and the roll them on a knife edge to create the round shape.  I get a lot of funny looks when I am in New York and photographing cigarette butts and trash. Adding posters to my work is fairly easy.  I reduce the size in Photoshop and then print on the appropriate sheen paper.  I cut the poster out, and to get closer to the proper scale thickness of the real poster, I carefully split the paper with a craft knife and peel the top layer off.  Glue it in place, maybe curl the edges, and weather it as needed.

-Classic storefronts are closing all the time in NYC, how do you decide on which particular storefronts to make?

When I’m home, I spend time online and on google maps researching locations for old and notable storefronts.  Friends often make suggestions of places that they like to frequent.  When I am in New York, I walk 6-8 hours a day hunting down the storefronts and exploring the city.  Typically I photograph about 35-40 storefronts during each visit.  I take hundreds of shots of each location, making sure to capture all of the details.  When I return home, I select the pieces I want to create from these photos.  Color, composition, and character all play a part in the subject that I choose to recreate.

-What are some buildings you plan to recreate in the near future?

I just finished installing my most recent show and once it concludes I will start to sift through all of my photographs to decide which structures are next.

-Thanks so much for taking the time out, Randy. As a native New Yorker, it's really great to see you preserving the look of this city in your miniatures. Do you have any final words for our readers?

Change is inevitable.  New York has always evolved and changed.  I think the difficulty comes about when that change is rapidly driven by politics or by developer greed instead of community need.  No one can deny the benefits of cleaner streets, less crime, and improved infrastructure, but redevelopment should always be implemented with the existing community in mind.  

Randy Hage currently has a solo show at Flower Pepper Gallery, Pasadena, Ca. The show will run through November 18th, 2015. If you would like more information please contact the gallery at www.flower-pepper.com

For more photos visit Randy Hage's Flickr.
For more information on Randy Hage, please visit his site http://www.newyorkstorefronts.com
October 19, 2015

October 16, 2015

April 23, 2015

UNDER THE INFLUENCE: NEW YORK HARDCORE

Noisey explores the New York Hardcore scene, narrated by Tim Armstrong.

March 29, 2015

FIRST AND FINAL FRAMES

Came across this pretty cool video showing the first and final frames from various movies. Really interesting to see how some of these shots play together. Probably some spoilers here so beware but definitely worth checking out!


First and Final Frames from Jacob T. Swinney on Vimeo.

 

March 11, 2015

I Was a Passive Sexist

I have always considered myself open-minded, tolerant and steadfast in a societal vision ideally free of prejudice and discrimination.

I’ve oftentimes been the friend to get into heated arguments in classrooms, bars, restaurants, and sporting events, when coming into contact with misguided people. One of my greatest pet peeves is the way in which ignorant people use extremists and stereotypes to justify prejudices and discrimination, qualify such contrasting views as some sort of moral stalemate.

With that being said: I have become very disappointed in myself for falling into the, “Hey, I don’t do that” blamelessness reflex when considering feminist outcries to sexism. What a truly humbling realization: I certainly have been a passive sexist.

As a multiethnic, working class artist, I had experienced or witnessed so much oppression and discrimination across different social circles, but I unwittingly hid behind and clung to the one privilege: my gender, that I did not earn, rather than using that privilege to further help rectify the injustice and inequity.

The seeds of this realization had been planted by my 12th grade AP English teacher, Mrs. Paulinski, when she responded to a student asking “Is there a male equivalent to a feminist?” with, “Well, there are chauvinist pigs.”

The realization developed further over my 20’s, in college and as I participated more in the punk music scene. Ideas of passive sexism were further illuminated, and I discussed issues of gender roles, unequal pay, sexism in the media, and general marginalization of women. The most crystalizing moment of this realization has, perhaps poetically, come in analysis of the heated arguments I have gotten in the past few months regarding police brutality and systematic prejudice against minorities in general.

I have come to find those that responded to feminist discussion with a goal of personal blamelessness (“well I don’t/have never...”) nearly as aggravating as categorical victim-blaming, blind faith in the legal system, and cherry-picked extremism examples as a means to dismiss or sidestep the issues altogether.

I recognized that the blameless privileged in this matter shared qualities with those of the “NotAllMen” rhetoric defending against generalizations as a response to feminist outcries of sexist, misogynistic attitudes and actions perpetrated by men.

I also saw another similarity as the cherry-picked extremism of reducing the BlackLivesMatter movement to rioting and violence, to the deflection of feminist discussion to focus on misandry and sensationalizing “Tumblr feminists.” With these similarities and comparisons in mind, I came to see the ways I had unwittingly but shamefully fallen into a mindset of passive sexism.

How could this be? How could I unknowingly been in line with such self-serving deflections “well I’ve never treated a woman like...” or “How is it my fault that...”? I struggle to think of a time in my adult life when I have felt more retrospectively foolish than times I so carelessly and thoughtlessly have tried to sidestep general sexism discussions with friends – platonic, romantic, and everything in between the spectrum -- because I viewed an epidemic societal issue through such a small self-centered scope.

And this is usually through discomfort; with association for aspects of society like sexism and misogyny that I felt myself neither personally guilty of nor perpetrating.

I was shocked at not just with how selfish I was to view matters of sexism solely in terms of how it related to me, but in how easy it became to fall into that kind of logic.

Such a selfish approach offers nothing more than an undeserved self-pat on the back for being a decent human being in conduct – though in a selective, half-assed one, drowsy in compassion.

I wonder how many people I may have fallen out of favor with over the years for such laziness. It would surely be deserved and fitting.

Beyond the “Not All Men” rhetoric, I have also played into the dismissal of feminism as if the extremists, sensationalists, and misandry should be considered in evaluating the focus and purpose of the movement as a whole.

I struggle with the notion that too often in discussions of sexism and feminism, I would agree with the theories of “keyboard warriors” or “Tumblr feminists” -- bloggers and social media users who make militant, absolutist arguments, typically considered self-serving, ill informed, and self-righteous; as detractors for the overall movement and discussion at hand. And again, perhaps out of some subconscious desire for personal disassociation from fear of being a pariah, I was willing to let very a serious discussions become sidetracked or diluted by the harping of unflattering stereotypes.

While it is true that the accessibility to commentary does mean that people can make half-baked messages, the merit of conversations regarding flaws, disrespect, and double standards of women must not be dismissed.

I now feel that the only productive use of conversation time on any sort of extremism is better-spent making distinctions from the movements, which they warp, rather than as reasons to dismiss or qualify a movement.

Furthermore, dismissing dialogue regarding societal issues and human rights merely because they were posted on a digital platform is forsaking substantial messages about the oppressed in society for a contextually irrelevant reason.
When thinking of my casual ignorance in regards to feminism/sexism, just as awful as it is to have so passively overlooked such a serious issue at large, I realize a cruel personal irony in all of it.

I was raised to focus on love and morality in a working-class home by my mother, looked after by aunts and grandmothers while my mom would work two jobs to stay in a good neighborhood – and at the same time, ensure that my neurotic, distanced, depressed self feel humanized, from my friendships and relationships with women from the horrible mustard yellow hallways of high school to the horrifying boundlessness of my 20’s.

Perhaps my tendency for blamelessness and deflection came from a reflexive shame imagining those injustices, mistreatment, and disrespect done to these aforementioned loved ones. Ultimately, however, my naiveté and deflections only served to preserve societal inadequacies, further allowing for such conditions to occur.

by Desmond Zantua @whendogsdream desmondzantua.wordpress.com

January 20, 2015

November 19, 2014

INTERVIEW WITH ADRIAN X OR DEEDA BWAH OR YOUNG WHITE RAPPER

I recently came across this music video on Worldstar Hip Hop, judging by the video quality I'd say it's at least five years old.  Judging from the song, I'd say it's fresher than breast milk.  I tracked down the Young White Rapper, Adrian X, and we discussed everything from the employee discount at Cracker Barrel to time travel. 

Rob: Hey, Adrian! Tell us a little about yourself.

Adrian X: My name is Adrian Trechsel, I'm 17 currently and I'm from Birmingham, AL. I grew up a white kid in a predominantly black neighborhood. It was a rough area called East Lake. We lived in the nicer section however it was still rough. I was immediately immersed into the current African American culture. I wanted to be like everyone else in the neighborhood and, stereotypically enough, everyone wanted to be in the NBA or be a rapper. So I spent my days after school playing basketball with the neighborhood kids and eventually learned to be one of them, however, I was still really young and didn't understand a lot of stuff they said. The song Deeda Bwah was inspired by my favorite rap song at the time, Get Crunk by Lil Jon and sounds almost identical to it. I just remember the way the song went but never could make out the lyrics so I just took what I heard around the neighborhood an incorporated it into my rap

What's the story behind the Deeda Bwah track?

My dad made the beat and filmed it. There isn't much meaning to it besides getting money and not snitching on your crew. "We bad Wintomen said we are"...Wintomen was a made up character we came up with in the hood, we called him the God of rap.  Like if God was a rapper that'd be his name. So Wintomen was saying my crew was bad.

Was Wintomen made up by you and your friends or was this something the whole hood knew of?

Me and my friends, as far as I know, but who knows maybe the whole hood knew.

You heard it hear first, people.  The whole hood of East Lake, Alabama may have been praying to a God of rap named Wintomen.

Hahahaha. The news is finally leaking

Deeda Bwah feels strangely current, almost too current. From your rap style, to the minimalist beat, to the cats featured throughout; if you ignore the puka shell necklace around your neck and the apparent old video recording, I bet most people would think this is a song from 2014.  I just have to ask...Are you a time traveler?

Actually yeah I did some time traveling one day when my boy Rondrale gave me some crack, I came to 2014 saw Young Thug doing his shit so I flew back to 1986 then I realized that was the wrong year so I came back and wrote the lyrics down.

Funny you should bring up that confusing timeline, it kinda leads into another question I have...A strange shift in the time space continuum lies in the line "now back in 1986 there was a spiritual blitz, 15 years later I'm still doing my thing."  I'm assuming the obvious explanation is that your birth created a "spiritual blitz", and at fifteen years old, you're still doing your thing ala the "Deeda Bwah" video?  I was born in 1986 and I'm 28, how in mother fuckin hell are you 17 years old?

Well actually I'm rapping as the Deeda Bwah, it's a spiritual being that was manifested back in 1986 and was the profit of Wintomen. Hence the "spiritual blitz" 15 years later I'm still doing my thing and I am the savior of hip hop

So if Wintomen is God then you, Deeda Bwah, are Jesus...sorta?

Yeah that's it exactly.  I'm waiting til I get a little older to change hip hop I don't have the money to do anything serious yet

How old were you when you made this video?

10 years old

I'm confused, your math isn't adding up. The "spiritual bliss" is in 1986...then 15 years later, you're in a video doing your thing but your only ten years old? I'm lost.

Something like that, I was never taught math but I can count money

Well now that that's all explained, lets move on.

Yee

I have to break down some of the lines here...first off the following line "step away from what has got you waddadae up day up. shaladae up day naladae up day up waladae up day up. nee fee nee nah nee po nee nah needa leeda nee nah nee wo nee nah" What does that mean for people that aren't versed in the language of time travel?

It's basically explaining like, no matter how poor you are, you need to be dancing at the club and enjoy life.  You only get one life so enjoy it even if you wack or broke.

Ah, I like that! Kinda like "Hakuna Matata" but a little longer.  Seems like you've still got some positivity even after growing up in the East Lake ghetto.

Yeah I'd say I know a lot about philosophy and shit

Robert O'Neill, the SEAL Team Six guy that supposedly killed Osama Bin Laden was a red head, a "ginger" if you will, and he actually had a tradition of cooking gingerbread men for the whole SEAL Team every Christmas, this lead to his nickname "The Gingerbread Man". You say in the song "Now Osama just said to The Gingerbread Man..." Osama was killed by "The Gingerbread Man" in 2011, yet this song was made in 2008. Please explain...

Well the government actually caught on to my journey so I'm not really allowed to respond to this question but you can just say that I witnessed it all ahead of time

Can you tell us anything else you've seen in your travels, Deeda Bwah?....and what do you prefer to be called, Deeda Bwah or Adrian X?

I prefer to go by Deeda Bwah or Young White Rapper or Adrian X, they all have the same power.  Kinda like how Eminem goes by different names.  I like Adrian X because one of my favorite people is Malcolm X.  Hah I'll write about my travels in future songs, It'll be better than just reading text.

The greatest artists always keep them wanting more!

Yee

Same goes for Jesus Christ, he really kept them wanting more too.

Yee, Jesus would be proud.

It must be hard when you visit this time period as a white rapper, being that there is still a prejudice against pale faced people attempting to rap. How do you feel about this prejudice and don't you find it ironic that a culture predominantly of African American descent might be prejudiced against other people. Although, one could argue that white men have taken a lot from the African American people and hip hop culture is a reaction to it, so having white people replicate it may be upsetting to some.

Not sure how to answer this, but this time period is pretty messed up morally.  Racism in rap is ridiculous, racism in general is ridiculous. Growing up all I wanted was to be black so I could fit in but I realized it's not about the type of bag you keep your drugs in but the type of drugs you keep in your bag, ya feel.  Ignorance is going to slow the progress of civilization always. I need to speak with Obama on plans for this nation and world.

A Deeda Bwah x President Obama collab on world issues would be dope. You probably get asked this all the time, except from people in the future, when is your full length album gonna drop!?

Well I'm just waiting for some time and money to do so, I think I'm about to get hired at Cracker Barrel so there's that.

Cracker Barrel is so good, what kinda discount you looking at?

Probably 20%

Recently, the Deeda Bwah video was featured on Worldstar Hip Hop, hows the reaction been? Approx how many times does MTV call a day? any labels calling?

Ehh, I don't think they know how to reach me, I'm the one who submitted it to Worldstar and now it's at almost half a million views. I'm not that surprised it was pretty cool though.  Actually one label contacted me from New York called Sweatpants Money Records.

What did Sweatpants Money offer you?

They just emailed me and then when I responded they didn't say anything else, guess they got scared.  I actually got a new track out with my brother called Ice Cold KillaIt bumps, it's a diss track to Kanye West actually.

"Bed bugs in my bed cause I worship the devil, bed bugs in your bed cause you don't worship the devil" is my favorite line off that track...what's the meaning behind it?

I've got a bed bug problem/infestation and I've had em since the Deeda Bwah days and I used to worship the devil.

Moving on, what future collabs are you working on right now?

None at the moment, I hope to get on a track with Young Thug & Drake though and I wanna rap battle Kanye West but he don't want to

If Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross and rose again, how will you be crucified in the rap game and when will you rise again? I wanna set it on my Google calender.

Well in the year 3032 I'll be crucified after we've left mars due to climate conditions in the traditional Jesus way because even the people of the future are ignorant and can't handle true talent when they see it.

Welp, that about sums it up! Any last words you'd like to say?

Give me some money!  That's what I gotta say!  Link me the interview whenever you're done, you got my email just in case you wanna send me money or whatever.

Alright Deeda Bwah or Young White Rapper or Adrian X, good luck with the Cracker Barrel job!

 

Follow Adrian X on Twitter @adriantrexel

by Rob Blair @bobblair

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