Monthly Archives: February 2010

FOODPRINTS NYC

David Haskell from Kings County Distillery

David Haskell from Kings County Distillery


Makalé Faber Cullen

Makalé Faber Cullen


Naa Oyo A. Kwate

Naa Oyo A. Kwate


Jonathan Bogarin

Jonathan Bogarin


Planet Chocko attended an interesting panel discussion at Studio X on Varick St. just below Houston called “Foodprints NYC” which is a free series of conversations with invited special guests to speak on food in our city regarding topics like clustering of bodegas, analysis of fast food & alcohol advertising in the inner city, slow foods, zoning for street vendors, green markets & sustainability, & many other topics regarding the foodscapes in NYC. I walked into the middle of a discussion with the guests talking about the irony & lunacy of more strict regulations being set on families applying & receiving foodstamps when the actual corruption of welfare aid from the government is laden with guilty hands from the puppets that actually create these amendments to begin with. The conversation then turned the page to talking about the poisoning of fast food culture into our psyche. One ‘conservative’ guest talked about putting an extra tax on fried chicken. Fried chicken, cigarettes, & booze are poisoning our bodies, he says! My tongue & heart dropped when I heard this. No!, not fried chicken! Thoughts of Sylvia’s, Charles’ country fried pan chicken, Pluck U, & Bon Chon quickly raced through my mind! The next panel discussion encompassed guests Jonathan Bogarin, Makalé Faber Cullen, David Haskell, & Naa Oyo A. Kwate. Jonathan Bogarin was born & raised in New York as an artist & educator. His palate of works include paintings & a recent film called “Bodega Down Bronx” ,a 29-minute video that investigates New York City’s bodegas in terms of their owners, suppliers, inventory, clientele, and more. He talked about the thriving culture of the NYC bodega despite having floods of similar stores in the same neighborhood & more than not, on the same block. Every bodega has their own rash followings of convenience whether patrons erupt from a certain housing project, a school, being located close to a subway or bus stop or perhaps having special products such as plantains, goya products, and herbs specific to a certain ethnicity. The majority of owners of NYC bodegas are of Dominican, Middle Eastern, & Puerto Rican descent. Next to speak was Makalé Faber Cullen. She is a cultural anthropologist and contributor to Renewing America’s Food Traditions: Saving and Savoring the Continent’s Most Endangered Foods. She discussed the rise & support of the green markets in NYC including the thriving farmers market in Greenpoint, Bronx, & Queens. The main objective in Makale’s soliloquy was about educating the masses with slow foods, sustainability, & support of the local farmers to make it worth their while to make the trek from upstate NY to the urban thralls of NYC. Next on deck was David Haskell. He is a Senior Editor of New York Magazine & is a co-founder of the East Williamsburg, Brooklyn based distillery called Kings County Distillery. Kings County churns out country style moonshine, bourbon, & whiskey similar to the tradition of Kentucky. Yeehaw & don’t forget to tip that cow! Kings County Distillery is located in the heart of hipster infected East Williamsburg, Brooklyn! David discusses how backwards thinking the local laws & regulations of NYC are with erecting his distillery business. The City of New York seems to be more obsessed about the locale of the distillery, zoning location away from schools, & ferociously rabid about the particular locks that his distillery should be infested with. Apparently, the city of New York cares less of what is in the spirits. Man!, this would make Uncle Jessie, Boss Hog, & Cooter one happy sons of Boar’s nest! Rocket fuel, rubbing alcohol, everclear, Kings County Distillery, we have lift off! The final guest to the podium was Naa Oyo Kwate. She is an assistant professor of Sociomedical Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University. She led an interesting discussion about the strategic locations of fast food restaurants & billboards. Her research led to the results that NYC is one of the most segregated cities in the nation. Naa Oyo, also came to the conclusion that black & latino neighborhoods, no matter poor, middle class, or affluent would always contain the most franchised fast food enclaves than their white counterparts. Billboard advertisements of the alcohol & fast food nation variety would also come to the same conclusion.

All in all, Foodprints NYC provided an excellent forum in discussing the food escapades of our City & how we can sustain it for the future by educating ourselves. Planet Chocko hopes that we, martians & earthlings alike will open up our minds to settle our differences so that we can bridge the gap to achieve one goal, to live in a more healthy, natural environment both mentally & physically.

–Mr. C

Foodprints NYC @ Studio X
180 Varick St. Suite 1610 NY, NY

Kings County Distillery
35 Meadow Street
East Williamsburg, Brooklyn

LUCY KAPLANSKY & RICHARD SHINDELL

The stage at Paramount Theatre in Peekskill,NY

Lucy Kaplansky with her daughter, Molly

Lucy Kaplansky with her daughter, Molly


Richard Shindell

Richard Shindell


Lucy Kaplansky and Richard Shindell, two-thirds of the former super folk group, Cry Cry Cry, came eclipsing along into the historic Paramount theatre in Peekskill, NY on February 20th, 2010 with a paralyzing performance! Kaplansky & Shindell were like 2 veteran boxers much like Larry Holmes with his traffic stopping stinging jab & George Foreman with his gut wrenching anchor type hooks to destroy the kidneys. The only differences between the pugilists of the hurt game of Holmes & Foreman, & the pugilists of the folk realm is that Lucy Kaplansky and Richard Shindell age like fine wine as their performances seem to bloom exponentially with every bout! First at the plate was Lucy Kaplansky. She delivered an emotional 11 song set. You see, Lucy’s daughter, 6 year old Molly was in attendance along with her husband Rick. They rarely attend Lucy’s performances & she got emotional as a monkey when she talked about Molly who was adopted from China. Lucy had also turned 50 last week so she was glowing with glee that the anticipation of that big day was over with. She jokingly celebrated tonights performance by wearing a pair of sexy slacks instead of her usual jeans as well as sport some Sarah Palin like glasses in her second vortex of life. Now, onward to the show! Lucy was on fire with her performance! Her voice was on point & she radiated with pure energy! I’m sure her daughter & husband had something to do with this. Lucy’s set included Manhattan Moon, Mothers Day, Don’t mind me, Life threads, This is home, Hallelujah (a Leonard Cohen song) on the grand piano, and a fun cover song called “God will” by Lyle Lovett. Richard Shindell came out to help Lucy on the guitar with Scorpion, Ten Year Night, & a chilling performance of “Speaking with the Angel”, a Cry Cry Cry song. Richard Shindell provided awesome harmonies for Lucy & he truly is a master guitar player, both on the electric & acoustic! Lucy ended her set by dedicating “This is Home” to her daughter Molly which was very touching. At the end, Lucy owed Molly $60 dollars because they had a deal, everytime Lucy cried, it would cost her $20. She cried about 3 times!

Richard Shindell anchored the night with his spiritual & hypnotic self. He was accompanied by Lincoln on bass & Sara Milanovich on violin. Shindell played a 14 song set including cow blues, A juggle out in traffic, There goes Mavis, You stay here, Reunion Hill, Darkness Darkness, Are you Happy now, & the Ballad of Mary Magdalen . My favorites of the night included Before you go, Transit, Darkness Darkness, & Get up clara, a song about a mule in the Roman times. Shindell folked the house down with Cry Cry Cry’s, “By Way of Sorrow” & “Cold Missouri Waters” of course, accompanied by Lucy Kaplansky! I truly admire the lyrical madness of Richard Shindell. His songs are spiritual in nature often containing tid bits of self help & self realization. Theology & religion seem to be a common denominator for the basis of his lyrics which comes to no surprise since he went to a seminary, but the wit of writing songs from God’s other creations’ points of view such as cows, birds, & mule’s are hilarious & Noah’s Ark mindful! Shindell often writes from the persona of a soldier as well. He is a great storyteller, writer, & master of the guitar! Richard Shindell’s baritone voice is “10-4” & “over & out”, firm & clear! In my planet, & I hope I don’t give y’all a heart attack with my statement, Shindell’s storytelling gives me the same haunts as Blastmaster KRS One’s Emcee’ing! These 2 musical geniuses in my book are extreme polar opposites, but they both tell an interesting tale when words emit from their mouths! “Lucy Kaplansky is down with us….Richard Shindell is down with us….Blastmaster KRS is down with us….makin’ funky music is a must, I’m #1 ” ! Planet Chocko martians enjoy both folk & hip hop…word to the mutha!
–Mr. C

ottawa graffiti

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The Tech Wall in Ottawa is located on Slater Street across from Bronson Avenue.
-chocko

SHINJUKU INCIDENT

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Shinjuku Incident is a 2009 Hong Kong style directed crime-drama film starring the venerable Jackie Chan under the direction of Derek Yee. The one oddball thing about this movie is that Jackie Chan is like an eagle without its wing based on the character that he plays in this film. Yes, you heard me right, Jackie Chan is basically grounded throughout the entire Shinjuku Incident! There are no flashes of Buster Keaton, Gene Kelly, or Fred Astaire. No slapstick humor or any comedic relief, whatsoever! There are no traces of the Drunken Master, Police Story, or Rush Hour. No scaling walls or stunts to make you say wow! This movie is flatline serious drama! The basic notion of this flick without giving too many details that would ruin the transaction of your viewing glory is a story about the abundance of illegal immigrants of Chinese descent ungraced onto the shores of Japan & some eventually wandered into the urban lifestyle of the Shinjuku area of Tokyo. Shinjuku is a section of Tokyo that is quite reminiscent of the old times square in New York City of the 70’s & 80’s. Hookers, drugs, drinking, scallywags, & gangbangers dominate the scene in this area. Jackie Chan & friends loathe onto the shores of Japan illegally in hopes to find a better way of life. The struggles of the illegal chinese are further compounded by Japan’s elite status & scoffing of non-japanese. Some manifestations from the journey on making a living in Japan include working in landfills, cleaning the underground sewer system, washing dishes, then elevating to hustling on the streets selling counterfeit phone cards, and stealing products to resell to southeast asian vendors. Pachinko machines are also rigged to provide extraordinary payouts. Shinjuku Incident takes us on a roller coaster ride of emotions running away from the police and into the arms of the underworld with no apparent winners at the end! It was very ironic that Jackie’s character saved the life of Eguchi, a gangster who so happens to be the husband of Jackie’s girlfriend from “Timbuktoo” China who escaped the farm & peasantry life for a more promising future in Japan! The plot thickens when Jackie is hired by Eguchi to assassinate a few of his mobster rivals. After the successful massacre, Jackie was elevated as one of the leaders to manage the chinese clan to replace a Taiwanese mobster who betrayed Eguchi.
Shinjuku Incident had many naysayers from the film critics, but I found the movie to be quite entertaining. I was on the edge of my seat in the beginning of the movie, waiting for Jackie Chan to explode with morsels of chop socky goodness & to open up a can of whoop ass on the Japanese, but after a few confrontations, I began to understand that the Drunken master & police story characters were not going to come out of the woodworks. After realizing this, I started to appreciate Jackie’s character for what he was, just the average “Joe”, or maybe “Chan” in this case with no superhuman feats of martial excellence! I’ve never seen Jackie act in this particular setting before, or at least I don’t remember him playing in any roles like this in the past. I’m sure one of you Planet Chocko martians can tell me different. One thing is for sure, this movie had lots of opportunites to display kung fu wizardry, eye popping stunts, & fighting that we are accustomed to seeing in a hong kong production. The feel of this movie kind of took me back to the “Fist of Legend” and “Chinese Connection” because of the dominance of the Japanese. But the classic action of Jackie Chan, Jet Li, nor Bruce Lee never did materialize. Instead, the plot & story of this movie were left to stand on it’s own, the story about the migration of illegal chinese immigrants to the shores of Japan in the 1990’s to find better opportunities. Part of me wanted the ‘everyone was kung fu fighting’ scenes of epical proportions , but I enjoyed the movie nonetheless. So, pickup a bowl of ramen, get some tempura to wet the appetite, & just chill’ax to Shinjuku Incident!

–Mr. C (6 out of 10 shots of Sake!)

toronto graffiti

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Graffiti Alley in downtown Toronto, Canada is definitely a hot spot for graff and street art. Graffiti Alley is located in the back alleys of Queen Street West between Spadina and Portland behind tattoo parlors, cafes and record stores. The network of alleyways provides a nearly endless gallery of amazing street art by Canada’s finest.
-chocko

HUMAN LANTERNS

Human Lanterns directed by Sun Chung for Shaw Brother Studios in 1982

Human Lanterns is one of my favorite period piece kung fu-horror mashup movies that Charles Manson might even find appealing. This Shaw Brother studio film was released in 1982 directed by the great Sun Chung with the help of a legendary fight choreographer, Tang Chia. Human Lanterns mixes up great Chinese period piece costumes with awesome set design, off the meat rack kung fu display, & off the chain casting including Chen Kuan Tai (Bad ass Chinese version of Sonny Chiba), the great footwork of Lo Lieh, Sun Chien(played the scorpion in 5 deadly venoms), & a cameo appearance of Lo Meng (played the Toad in 5 deadly venoms). The premise of this movie is basically about two well to do kung fu scholars competing to see who can make the flyest Chinese Lantern for the annual Lantern Festival in ‘TimBuktoo’ China. The desperation to see who’s got the ‘biggest back’ has inspired one of the scholars to hire a passionate, underground Chinese Lantern maker played by Lo Lieh. Lo Lieh is the jekyl & Hyde character that posseses the spirit of Charles Manson. He plays the once burned, twice scarred role of a man that has been disrespected & deemed an outlaw in society, basically living in a souless body according to him. This apparition of a man finds his solitude in kidnapping, raping, & then skinning his beautiful female victims alive, before taking their ‘breath away’. What’s shocking is that Lo Lieh uses the freshly torn skin to make his unique creation, otherwise known as the Human Lantern. This Jekyl & Hyde figure looks similiar to Chewbacca from Star Wars that dons a skeleton mask. Chewy wreaks havoc on the village as he dispatches the young ladies while creating dissention between the 2 protaganists in the film. The action in the movie was bonkers as should be expected given the A+ cast & Tang Chia’s direction. Lo Meng’s character fought with a cool looking weapon that looked like dual tonfa’s, but with hooks on one end, & a secret latch that releases a blade on the other end! Lo Lieh played the psycho killer role to a tee as his martial skills shined through once again! I will spare you the details of the flick, but if you have the cajones, I recommend you martians to hang onto your skin, grab a bowl of freshly popped corn kernels, & go to town on this movie! The only thing that I would of loved to see or actually hear in ‘Human Lanterns’ would of been a score of music from the horror-punk genre! I think that would of added another off the wall element to an already off the wall movie. Hmmmmm, let me see…kung fu, horror, gore, & punk music! It’s a ten 10 ten 10 TEN!
–Mr. C (7 out of 10 skin grafts for Human Lanterns!)

montreal graffiti

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photos by chocko

GENGHIS KHAN : To the Ends of the Earth and Sea (2008)

Genghis Khan, pic courtesy of www.lovehkfilm.com

Genghis Khan, pic courtesy of http://www.lovehkfilm.com


Director Shinichiro Sawai & his supporting cast of Japanese artists re-created their birds eye view on the biographical epical tale of Genghis Khan when he was simply known as Temujin from child birth. This movie was most certainly epic in all aspects of the word. The costume design, acting, & the geographical landscape of Mongolia was stunning! In my opinion, the panned out shots showing the vastness of Mongolia’s land where the battles took place, alone are worth the price of admission. The scenery & cinematography in this film were absolutely amazing. The movie was most pleasing to the eye, & entertaining to the soul. However, being that I’m not a historian or expert of the man, the myth, & the legend of Genghis Khan, I obviously can’t tell you the accuracy of this tale told through the filmmakers eye. It’s important to remember that there are many sides to a story especially if it pertains to a fact in world history. Although, I can probably tell you the Mongolians probably agreed with the filmmakers version because I’m sure the brass in Mongolia have to approve of the story told that was filmed on location depicting their local hero before being released to the masses at large. If you ask the Chinese about the history of the Mongols, I’m sure they might tell you different. That being said, the film had a Japanese feel to it with no surprise because of Sawai’s background. I felt that the code of ethics for the samurai were inflicted in this story of the Mongolians & Temujin which I don’t necessarily agree with. The perception of the Mongolian warriors were tribal in nature which usually involved words like savagery, brutality, survival, & braveheart all come to mind. I’m not sure I would throw in Samurai code in that same sentence. Getting back to the story, the movie is about the tribulations of a young Temujin/Genghis who is the son of a respected tribal leader. Hoelun, the mother was originally from the Merkit Tribe. Hoelun was kidnapped by this honorable Tribe leader(future husband) which then forced Hoelun to be his wife whom eventually gave birth to Temujin. Temujin’s father eventually falls to the bowels of battle & a new leader awaits in the wing. Temujin & the mom, gets ousted from royalty because their blood is encrusted with that of the Merkit tribe. So hence, the new adventures of the young lad & his destiny of greatness begins. Mongolia is in a state of distress with constant warring between tribal fueds. Temujin grows up to be a righteous & respectable leader of his small tribe with the dreams of uniting the Mongolian nation as part of his horizons. He makes a pact with his childhood friend, Jumuqa to unite the strength of all Mongolians. Meanwhile, tribal disputes amongst the vast land runs rampant & the current Khan in leadership is playing one tribe over the other in order to rid the lesser of 2 evils. All is well with Temujin as his leadership within his clan is of the utmost honorable in nature & eventually weds with his lady, Borte. In the scenes to come, Borte gets kidnapped by a martyr. So, then goes the story with the pursuit of his wife, but upon eventual discovery, Borte is pregnant without Temujin’s DNA. Tochi is born & a 2nd chapter of Temujin’s tribal leadership has risen with a son in mind that is eerily similiar to his own background. Temujin crosses path with a woman soldier named Kulan that possesses enormous amounts of pride for her gender inspite of the usual Mongolian female destiny of being raped, & bearing children. Kulan has a deadly mix of fighting spirit & having the qualities of a lady with tremendous fortitude. Temujin admires Kulan & must have her in all senses of the word. So, goes the 3rd chapter of battle when Temujin faces the inevitable battle against his childhood friend, Jamuqa with the current Khan’s endorsements in order to rid of Temujin. Temujin reigned supreme at the end, killing his friend & the current Khan sire. The final conclusion to the movie is the beginning of Genghis Khan’s career of getting a stronghold in the asian nation & part of the European world by his first conquest across the Great Wall of China to battle the Jin! Unfortunately, his premonition of sending his son, Tochi to lead the charge over the Great Wall was never realized because Tochi was dying from consumption of a poisoned arrow from tribal battles up north. I’ll leave you with the ending dialogue between Genghis/Temujin & his woman warrior, Kulan :

“I will go on as far as I can, With every land I conquer, more borders between nations will vanish. People will travel freely and trade will flourish. Cultures and customs will be honored and all will live well.” – Genghis Khan

“But make war and there will be bloodshed,” – Kulan .

Replies Genghis Khan, “That is bloodshed that cannot be helped, to insure that no further blood need be spilled.”

Go get yourself a Mongolian BBQ, some hot pot, & embrace yourself in front of the screen for 3 hours or so for this epic tale told by an elitist!

–Mr. C (Rating of Genghis Khan – 6 out of 10 Concubines)