We had him…

Posted in culture, ideas, music, world with tags , , , , on July 8, 2009 by artofpeace

Written by Maya Angelou

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Beloveds, now we know that we know nothing, now that our bright and shining star can slip away from our fingertips like a puff of summer wind.

Without notice, our dear love can escape our doting embrace. Sing our songs among the stars and walk our dances across the face of the moon.

In the instant that Michael is gone, we know nothing. No clocks can tell time. No oceans can rush our tides with the abrupt absence of our treasure.

Though we are many, each of us is achingly alone, piercingly alone.

Only when we confess our confusion can we remember that he was a gift to us and we did have him.

He came to us from the creator, trailing creativity in abundance.

Despite the anguish, his life was sheathed in mother love, family love, and survived and did more than that.

He thrived with passion and compassion, humor and style. We had him whether we know who he was or did not know, he was ours and we were his.

We had him, beautiful, delighting our eyes.

His hat, aslant over his brow, and took a pose on his toes for all of us.

And we laughed and stomped our feet for him.

We were enchanted with his passion because he held nothing. He gave us all he had been given.

Today in Tokyo, beneath the Eiffel Tower, in Ghana’s Black Star Square.

In Johannesburg and Pittsburgh, in Birmingham, Alabama, and Birmingham, England

We are missing Michael.

But we do know we had him, and we are the world.

Beats, Rhymes, and Resistance

Posted in art, culture, hip hop, ideas, movie, pilipino on March 17, 2009 by artofpeace

brr_thumbThis documentary was originally conceived and shot in 1997 by three amateur filmmakers (Dawn Mabalon, Lakan de Leon, Jonathan Ramos). They set out to create a document of the Pilipinos making noise in the Los Angeles hip hop scene at the time.

At this point, Pilipinos had yet to gain their full due as b-boys/girls, DJs, graf artists and emcees. Now as Pilipinos become more and more recognized for their skills, it is important to look back at the pioneers who laid the foundations for this generation’s artists.

Enjoy the definitive version of Beats, Rhymes, and Resistance.

Brooklyn the Planet

Posted in art, photography on March 14, 2009 by artofpeace

554937007_2648f4cca7Photography is a medium whose essential foundation is the ‘captured moment’.  A moment in time that demarcates a place, a time, a memory.  In the era of camera phones, we tend to take the historicity of this medium for granted as we are flooded by images via every social networking tool you can imagine.  That’s why this archive of lovely photographs in and around Brooklyn in the 1970s is so special.  As a document they are exceedingly rich and textured, and it doesn’t hurt that the photographer (WhiskeyGoneBad) is quite skilled.  Enjoy this ‘snapshot’ of time.

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New Math

Posted in abstractions, art, design, humor, ideas on March 13, 2009 by artofpeace

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Witty formulas.  Life is so much simpler this way.

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Primed Minister

Posted in ideas, photography, views, world on March 11, 2009 by artofpeace

2255805126_bc0f394267The photography on this Flickr account is something rather extraordinary.  Breathtaking landscapes, and exotic once-in-a-lifetime moments plucked from obscurity by the talents of photographer Primed Minister.  His colors are amazing and the vast perspectives leave much for the eyes to feast upon.  It will humble you, and amplify the provincial nature of your life.  Beautiful life-changing work.

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How far must you go to gain respect?…ummmm

Posted in abstractions, art, culture, music on March 7, 2009 by artofpeace

the abstract best

If any of you pine for the golden age of Hip Hop as I do (for a 76’er like me that would be around the time of our first “black” president Bill Clinton’s first 100 days), you could do none better than pay homage to the cool brother with the laid back silver tongue, spitting verses from a handbook collabo of nietsche and krs-one. He keeps it like that, because he likes it like that. We’re talking about the Abstract aka Q-tip.

Everyone ate up ATCQ’s repertoire of soulful beats and conscious verses, Phife with his point-guard flow (if you don’t know him by now, you’ll never know), Ali Shaheed Muhammad had us doing calisthenics to the boom bap of pre-neo-soul-post-hip-hop flavor, and Tip brought in that silky smooth flow that got the ladies hot and the brothers wanna smoke a spliff or two.

It is with great pleasure that I recommend a wonderfully pure mixtape by the brother J. Period, king of the unorthodox documentarian style mix. He goes through the entire catalog of the Q-Tip’s best verses, layered with samples and beats from all over the spectrum, as well as throwing in some exclusive remixes (Excursions 2009 with De La is heavenly), and a few jewels of behind-the-scenes flavor from the man himself.

It has been close to two decades since the first ATCQ album dropped, and for all y’all that haven’t peeped Q-Tip’s new joint The Renaissance (another instant classic), I suggest you ‘check your clock, your demise is coming up and I want yo man to watch!’

My advice to you, is to listen to this mixtape and educate your dumb ass!

(props to Meelanee for the rec)

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Too good to be true?

Posted in ideas, politics, views with tags , , , on January 22, 2009 by artofpeace

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While it’s true that I have not posted to this site in quite some time, I think the events of recent days have prompted me out of my philosophical slumber, so to speak.  Not in the usual ways that most people are rustling about.  Of course, I acknowledge the historical nature of the time, and the massive precedents set by the meteoric rise of a young upstart senator from Illinois, but I slowly feel that it is much bigger than all that.

I started this blog as a sort of survival tool, a way to combat the cynicism and darkness that I thought was creeping in from all areas.  Eight years of Mr. Shrub will do that to you, but it was also the feeling that throughout the world and this country, we had lost something.

I recently worked on a documentary called Tibet In Song that recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.  The filmmaker, Ngawang Choephel, had been imprisoned for six and half years by the Chinese government for simply documenting his native folk music.  A heart wrenching story, and one that really exposed to me the heinous nature of Chinese politics and Maoist paranoia.  My politics always being fairly progressive since college, I have many friends who to this day continue to espouse and adopt Marxist-Maoist principles around community organizing and the larger struggle of proletariat struggle for peasant/workers rights.  While I can see the relevance in the larger context of capitalist global exploitation,  this documentary also made it clear to me that some human issues go far beyond mere armchair politics.  I would include myself under the rubric of ‘armchair politician’ as I haven’t done much with my own politics of late.  The thing that I feel is lost in the mix as we look at issues around the world such as these, and the events in Gaza, Iraq, Darfur and elsewhere…is that we have lost basic civility and compassion for each other based on a broken sense of political self-righteousness.  The current mantra being: my might is what is right!

Now President Obama brings an interesting mix of influences to the most powerful office in the land.  Cutting his teeth in the hardball world of Chicago politics and the thankless grind that is community organizing, it is obvious from his first day that he is a keen power broker who knows very well the tendencies of self-righteous men and women easily deluded by the lust for comeuppance.  This is nothing new necessarily, as we have had presidents in the past who have made their way through the world dealing and ripping power with skillful abandon.  What makes Obama a president for the ages, and one that I am excited to watch for the next four to eight years, is his unique perspective on power.  When have we ever had a president who has any knowledge or idea what a Third World perspective is like?  Born in the island rhythms of Hawaii, and visiting his family in Kenya as a young man, there are obviously angles in his perspective that go beyond the lily white walls that he now inhabits, or the cutthroat political landscape of previous presidents and pundits.  He seems to be a president that can ‘imagine’ the view from below as he stands on high.

There is a humility in his nature, and a morality in even his first actions as president that give hope for a new kind of politics.  It is one in which truth and the rule of law are tantamount, a rare quality in politicians.  Having an individual of such intellect and wisdom is also a rarity.  If he continues to push for unity here in this country and around the world, the word ‘progress’ might cease from being the catch phrase that it has been for the last 10-20 years.  I do believe in him, but I know that there is a price.  The other shoe is waiting to drop any moment, and the bug of cynicism is always waiting to take center stage.  Until that moment comes, if it ever comes, it is a welcome sight to see a president who might embody the qualities that all good men and women and this world strive for: compassion, understanding, and empathy.  Let us all support him in the spreading of these virtues and try to see if we can salvage something from the human experience to move us forward.

Meanwhile, could someone pinch me so I can wake up already?

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