Monthly Archives: May 2010

Wooster street art: more…

Just a few more closeup shots of artwork on Wooster St. adjacent from the Shepard Fairey exhibit that caught our eye on our May 10th visitation from Planet Chocko…


–Mr. C

ICE CUBE: Straight Outta LA

Ice Cube as a kid growing up in South Central-Los Angeles

Ice Cube as a kid growing up in South Central-Los Angeles


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Oakland,California
pics courtesy of Ice Cube & ESPN from 30 for 30
Express Yourself! That is exactly what Ice Cube did with his film “Straight Outta LA” in conjunction with ESPN’s 30 for 30 series. Ice Cube wanted to tell the story of how his shipmates from the N.W.A. battleship including MC Ren, Dr. Dre, Eazy E, DJ Yella, & himself were heavily influenced by the colors of the silver & black from the LA Raiders both physically & metaphorically, & their reasoning behind it! First off, let’s talk a little bit about the Oakland Raiders & what they symbolized. The silver & black of the late 60’s,70’s, & early 80’s were rebels, raggamuffins, & outlaws to say the least led by the King outlaw himself, Al Davis. The raiders were winners & they weren’t afraid to slap you in the face to tell you so. The Silver & black’s hard nosed play started at the top of the outlaw chain from Al Davis to John Madden to Tom Flores, from players like Lyle Alzado, Marcus Allen, Jim Plunkett, Gene Upshaw, Howie Long, & Todd Christianson to name a few. The Raiders symbolized a Mad Max world & they played with the following phrase in mind, “By any means necessary”. Yes, the Raiders epitomized thug mentality on the gridiron. The Raider logo with the pirate, the eyepatch, the swords, & that shield all encased with the silver & black was menacing to say the least. With that in mind, in comes a kid with jeri curls that grew up in South Central Los Angeles better known as Compton who played football in high school & was a B-Boy at heart. His first name was Ice, & his last name was Cube (not really). Cube grew up idolizing the Oakland Raiders & identified with their gritty play & winning ways. Cube admired Al Davis, the crazy owner of the Raiders with those pimped out glasses! Everyone in the ‘hood always had a uncle, a crazy cousin, or their mothers brother that lived in the murder capital of the world, Oakland who rooted for the Raiders from the sidelines of a liquor store, drinking out of a brown bag on any given sunday. Once the NFL-RAMs left LA for Anaheim & Al Davis moved his team from Oakland to LA in 1982, the game was over. Ice Cube & Los Angeles finally had something to be proud of! While the Raiders slapped around NFL teams during the football season, Ice Cube & his friends slapped around a mic & rapped about life in Compton. It wasn’t Hollywood, it wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t anything to be proud of, but it was real. Cube, MC Ren, Eazy E, DJ Yella, & Dr. Dre classified themselves as reporters from the streets! Their organization would soon be called N.W.A & they were about to start a new genre & phenomenon known as gangsta’ rap. NWA members started talking about donning getups to create an identity for their organization. Soon thereafter, NWA would find themselves wrapped around the silver & black, the pirate, the eyepatch, the swords, all encompassed in that death defying shield! The LA Raiders would symbolize what NWA was, the hard nosed, roughneck, nitty gritty, slap you in the face outlaw, & do it your own way type of attitude. The Silver & Black represented what NWA wanted to portray, the outlaw defiance with the Darth Vader swagger. In 1988, NWA released their 1st record “Straight outta Compton” & it was a big success! Suburban mofos were donning the silver & black, a measuring stick of triumph for the ‘doughboy’! NWA & the LA Raiders had a great relationship! It was a secret alliance in that one side did not know the other, but the Raiders provided a winning culture, attitude, & something to cheer for in LA while NWA created a culture that advertised the Raider logo with gangsta’ mentality that spawned new fans for the football team as well as provide more revenue for the Raiders in terms of gear sales. Things were all peaches and cream until the LA Raiders started losing which created some dissention in the organization. Al Davis seemed to create friction between himself & some of his players like Marcus Allen. The Raiders also had some draft picks in the mid to late 80’s that flopped. It was all downhill from the late 80’s till…now…basically. Al Davis was definitely a trailblazer being the 1st owner that hired a black & latin head coach. Davis does it his way or the highway & you have to admire him for that. He definitely blazes his own trail for the good or for the bad. It seemed that Davis wanted to blaze himself out of Los Angeles with the lean years ahead of him. Things that amounted which led to the erratic owner to jump ship included losing games, missing the playoffs, attendance at the LA Coliseum was plummeting, the dissention with his players, the LA riots-Rodney King incident, Pete Roselle, & the general perception of the type of fans that were at the games, & the roughneck tailgate parties. In 1994, the Raiders would return to Oakland. As far as Ice Cube, he went solo as an artist in 1989 & his new found skill in acting was beginning to blossom with his debut film, “Boyz in da hood”. Cube was one of the founding fathers of gangster rap & was responsible for the globalization of it with a little help from the spirit of the Los Angeles Raiders when they infected the city with their mad max energy in 1982! Even though Al Davis & the Raiders pulled the plug from LA in 1994,the Raiders will always have a heartbeat in Los Angeles! Ice Cube will always be identified with the 1982-1994 LA Raiders for the outlaw image, the pop culture, & for the pride of the working class mofo’s of South Central-LA! Straight Outta Compton! WEST Siiiide!

–MR. C

Hunter Valentine and the Tour De NYC

Hunter Valentine, the all-female rock trio from Toronto, recently went on a tour de nyc on the same day their new record “lessons from the late night” came out. The band consists of Kiyomi on lead guitar and vocals, Adrienne on bass and keyboards and Laura on drums and backing vocals. Their ambitious release day of 12 shows in 12 hours in NYC started in the wee hours of the morning for a television appearance at a local morning show. During the course of the day, they played on a bunch of radio shows, a school, Washington Square Park, Union Square and KCDC Skateshop. Things didn’t go too smoothly thanks to park rangers and the police who shut them down at the parks and the subway station in Brooklyn. Hunter Valentine capped the night off with a show at Cake Shop. Rock on sistas!
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-chocko

SHEPARD FAIREY: May Day exhibit at Deitch Projects

Shepard Fairey’s latest work, “May Day” on display at the Deitch Projects on Wooster Street-NYC. Shepard also shows off some portraits of trailblazers in areas of art & culture that he finds inspiring including the Dalai Lama, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Iggy Pop, Bob Dylan, & Neil Young. Of course, I was unable to capture the newest portraits on display with Debbie Harry(Blondie) & Muhammad Ali due to our wonderful timing of entering with 5 minutes remaining before closing time. You can also check out Shepard’s “May Day” street mural on the legendary corner of Houston & Bowery streets in lower Manhatty,NYC! The May Day mural should be up for about 6 months on Houston & Bowery with a few “tagged” modifications. Tagged..cleaned up…tagged..cleaned up..it’s street art, y’all!

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–Mr. C

wooster street art

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-chocko

THE 16th MAN!

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ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary series is one of the best sports programming on TV since the YES network(NY Yankees Channel). This week was no different with the film, “The 16th Man” directed by Clifford Bestall & narrated by the one and only, Morgan Freeman! South Africa has been laced with the framework of apartheid for 50 years. It wasn’t until 1994 that the firm grasp of Apartheid finally collapsed under the spirited & persistent leadership of their President, Nelson Mandela. Can you believe the leadership of the Afrikaner’s (Whites) under Apartheid reign for these 50 years summoned laws for the blacks without their vote or voice in the matter? The blacks out numbered the whites in South Africa 6 to 1. Enforced segregation is so blatantly ignorant & shows such a tremendous insecurity with the groups that are trying to dictate it. I still can’t fathom that my country with the red,white,& blue encouraged slavery, & segregation not too long ago in our relatively young history. Black South Africans have endured a lot in those 50 years of segregation from being discriminated against in their own native country while grossly outnumbering their supposed Afrikan counterparts. To add insult to injury, the blacks did not have a vote or a voice. Sad to say, but that sounds quite familiar.

But, how does this film relate to ESPN & sports you say? “The 16th Man” was in reference to rugby & the 15 players in the game + one dynamic influence, Nelson Mandela = 16 players. You see, rugby in South Africa was king. The local professional team, the Springbok’s were idolized by the whites. Rugby was outlawed for the blacks & the colored under apartheid reign so of course the non-whites despised the sport. Rugby symbolized discrimination & segregation under Afrikaner rule. Blacks were treated worse than 2nd class citizens in their own native country in Africa, nonetheless! When the New Zealand team played the Springbok’s, the blacks cheered secretly for the New Zealand team. The South African team got their ass handed to them on a “barbie” that day! The New Zealand team which ironically were named the “All Blacks” beat the all white team to a bloody pulp, literally! The tide of the water started to flow a bit differently when Nelson Mandela was finally released from prison in 1990. Mandela helped South Africa transition to a democratic nation as he took the bullhorns as President of his country in 1994. The South African blacks were slowly trying to heal & regenerate themselves from the years of anger & frustration from being mistreated. There were still obvious separations with the whites & blacks in this nation, especially with mindsets. In 1995, Nelson Mandela took the opportunity to make rugby as the vehicle to unite his country of all colors & races in the Rugby World Cup which was hosted in his divided but recovering nation of South Africa. The underdog Springbok’s had made it to the last dance with New Zealand’s “All Black team” for the finale! The journey to the final game vs New Zealand was not an easy feat. The semifinals vs France proved to be a great obstacle because of weather. The game was almost canceled because of torrential rain & if this was the case, France would of won by default because of the total points won in the tournament. However, with divine intervention in mind for South Africa’s sake, the skies started to clear & the rain started to subside. The game was finally played as the Springbok’s shocked France by beating them down with a baguette of hard play! They were one game away from glory vs the “All Black’s” of New Zealand. The Championship game in Johannesburg generated electricity like this country has never seen. The stadium was full of color, mostly in black & white with the South African flag wailing in the wind! This was a game & day that the people of South Africa stood side by side together no matter race nor color to cheer their new country on! Before the game started, Nelson Mandela made a surprise & uplifting appearance in his Springbok uniform to greet the players & shake their hands to wish them luck. Two national anthems were played to honor South Africa before the slugfest began! In the movie, a few Springbok players said they had to bite their lips to prevent a few strands of tears from flowing when Nelson Mandela came out to meet them & then again when the anthem was unleashed! It was a touching & unprecedented moment for South Africa! To make a long fought game short, the Springbok’s were victorious as they took home the title of being the Rugby World Cup Champions! More importantly, the interaction between the whites, colored, & blacks under one nation, under one stadium with one goal in mind to will their countrymen to victory sparked a transformation in their everyday mindsets for the good! Nelson Mandela had envisioned to unite all the South African’s together in peace & to create a new beginning for their country! Mandela’s peace making efforts utilized a sporting event instead of politics to help change the karma of their torn up nation. Mandela’s message was well taken. Why fight each other, black, white, or green? Let’s learn & respect each others culture & unite our forces to make a happy & sustainable South Africa! We cannot change the past, but let’s heal the wounds, & try to learn from the mistakes. I really enjoyed watching “The 16th Man” as this serves as a reminder that humanity can be cruel but we must be courageous & persistent to fight for our rights as a human or a martian for that matter. We should all strive to be more color blind in this galaxy in general, but not in respects to traffic signals of course! Big props for ESPN for promoting these thought provoking films! Words for thought, professional sports are usually color blind in terms of players at least because the ultimate goal is winning. We are fairly certain that if you have exceptional talent in your professed choice of sport, owners nor coaches would care less if you have a greenish hue or 2 heads & 3 eyes for that matter.

–Mr. C

Screaming Females and Jeff The Brotherhood played the NYU Strawberry Festival

The annual NYU event featured free food, carnival games, swag (i gotta free beachball and shades sucka!) and strawberries galore. I think this event was for students and staff but it’s really easy to get into. The event also included a free concert featuring Vocaholics, Hop Along, Little Lungs, Fiasco, Screaming Females and Jeff The Brotherhood. I arrived a little late and missed the bands that played early but I did catch the last couple of songs by Fiasco. Screaming Females played after and guitarist and lead singer, Marissa blew people’s minds with her shredding guitar solos. The band was amazing and they played lots of new stuff and invited a guy dressed like a strawberry to join them on stage. I’ve never seen a stage-diving strawberry…definitely a first for me. Screaming Females had a lot of merch for sale including their newest album, Power Move and Singles EP, both on Don Giovanni Records and highly recommended. Marissa is also a talented artist who does all the artwork on the band’s albums and flyers. You can purchase original art via the band’s blog. Good stuff.
Next up was Jeff The Brotherhood from Nashville, Tennessee. Those two brothers on guitar and drums kicked it up and then some. The crowd definitely got rowdier and a more drunk and scruffier Strawberry made sure of it. The Brotherhood will be back in June with Quintron and Miss Pussycat at a venue near you. Those should be some awesome shows.
I missed the Little Lungs set, but I did pick up their latest “living hell” 7 inch. Little Lungs features Angie (drummer from Cheeky) on guitar and lead vocals. Fans of Lemuria, The Measure and Bridge and Tunnel…check out Little Lungs, you’ll love ’em. Their latest 7″ was released on Salinas Records outta Detroit and features more indie punk from one of my favorites. “estranged” is stuck in my head right now.
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-chocko

LAU KAR LEUNG

Gordon Liu (left) - Lau Kar Leung (right)

Gordon Liu (left) - Lau Kar Leung (right)


A younger Lau Kar Leung in "Challenge of the Masters"

Wu Jing & Lau Kar Leung in Drunken Monkey

Wu Jing & Lau Kar Leung in Drunken Monkey

Congratulations to Lau Kar Leung for winning the Lifetime achievement Award on April 18th, 2010 in the 29th annual Hong Kong film awards! Sifu Lau is a renowned lineage holder of his art of mastery called “Hung Kuen” family Tiger-Crane style of Kung Fu! Some of us know Lau Kar Leung from his work in the movies from the Shaw Brother studios. His artful direction & a keen eye for fight choreography has truly entertained a subset of GEN X’ers & spawned a sensation of martial artists in the making! His filmography includes Heroes Two, Five Shaolin Masters, 36th Chamber of Shaolin, Mad Monkey Kung Fu, Fist of the White Lotus, Shaolin Mantis, Legendary Weapons of China, 8 Diagram pole fighter, Drunken Master 2, Pedicab Driver, Drunken Monkey, & Shaolin Challenges Ninja. I believe Lau Kar Leung’s last onscreen performance was in Tsui Hark’s “Seven Swords” in 2005. He was also the fight choreographer in the film. These movies are just a few well known appetizers on the menu in Sifu Lau’s movie arsenal! All hail to the master with the mole! We hope you continue to bless us with your on screen & off screen kung fu bliss!

–Mr. C