Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Crazy 4 Cult Brings Stay Puft Back To NYC

Art: Tony Nunes checks in on Dreaming Genius' favorite Art gallery, Gallery 1988 as they host their first ever Crazy 4 Cult show in NYC.

It's my favorite time of year. Each year, after the guts and glory of Hollywood's nerdy fandom pandering at Comic Con comes the greatest, and most original pop-art event for film geeks like me; Crazy 4 Cult. This year, nearly 200 artists have participated in the show with works inspired by cult films running the gamut from "Alien," "Back to the Future," and "Donnie Darko" to "Scott Pilgrim," "Twin Peaks" and "Willy Wonka." Normally held at 1988's LA gallery, this years show has been moved to the East Coast in a pop-up shop at 64 Gansevoort St. in NYC. Gallery owner Jensen Karp (who we interviewed during last years Crazy 4 Cult show) attributes the temporary change of scenery to a desire "to share this concept with a new coast," but more importantly as tribute to his late father who Karp explains worked so hard for him and "did it in New York."

This is what I love about Gallery 1988 and why I keep covering them here on Dreaming Genius. Karp and the gallery's other members keep the art world fresh and interesting. Gallery 1988 has created a haven for art to be appreciated by new generations of pop-culture devotees and nerds like myself. More importantly though, Gallery 1988 has aided in the development of the careers of some of the most talented new artists out there. Without a gallery like 1988, many of these artists would remain unseen. Its fitting that Jensen has come full circle in realizing his own dreams while fostering and invigorating the dreams of so many others.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sound in Pictures With Floyd and The Who

Music: Tony Nunes reviews Marcus Hearn's pictorial biographies on Pink Floyd and The Who

Biographer Marcus Hearn just released a pair of books outlining the careers of two of the most famous English rock bands to emerge out of the late 1960's. The books, simply titled The Who and Pink Floyd are detailed pictorial histories with extensive, biographically relevant context interlaced throughout. Both books are great insights into the humble beginnings of two bands that are now synonymous with grand tours, multi-platinum records and rockstar living. It's a fitting time for the books release as Roger Waters just finished touring The Wall across the US and The Who are ready to embark on their new Quodrophenia tour this Fall.

The psychedelic history of Pink Floyd is on display throughout Hearn's book. Page after page details their emergence from a small club band in the 1960's to their reign as the "darlings of the psychedelic underground" shortly thereafter. The book covers the band's early years by following them along on their journey of self discovery. Hearn does a great job recounting the story of Roger Waters, Syd Barrett and company on their road of experimenting with the poppy sounds of the 60's all the way to their identity defining release of Dark Side of the Moon in 1973. The book also captures the turmoil of Barrett's departure from the band and the addition of his iconic replacement David Gilmour.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

An Art Retrospective of "Arrested Development"

Art: Tony Nunes previews Gallery 1988's "Arrested Development" show (with quotes)

...And now the story of a wealthy family who lost everything, and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together... It's "There's always money in the banana stand," a gallery show inspired by "Arrested Development" running at Gallery 1988 in Melrose from June 29 - July 21, 2012.
What do you get when you combine the most hilariously consistent television series of all time with the most innovative pop-art gallery around?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tune Yards, Questlove and Kidjo Cover Fela Kuti

Music: Tony Nunes endorses the new charity single from Tune Yards, Questlove, Angelique Kidjo and Akua Naru 

Tune Yards are pioneering a new-wave of Afrobeat that draws heavily from the American Afrobeat styling of Paul Simon to the Nigerian birthplace where much of that musical movement began. Anyone who grounds themselves in Afrobeat are doing so under the pretense that there is only one true god of that sweet sweet African music. That man of course is Fela Kuti, a musical icon that has only recently, fifteen years after his death, been given the mainstream appreciation he’s deserved for so long. Just last week, a new cover of Fela Kuti's "Lady" was released featuring Tune Yards, Angelique Kidjo, Akua Naru and Ahmir Questlove Thompson.

We obviously love Tune Yards here on the site (see here or here) but trust me, the love is much deserved. The new cover is the first single off of an upcoming collaboration album of Fela Kuti covers coming this fall from the One Campaign's (RED) campaign and the Red Hot Organization. Both organizations work for AIDS awareness and relief throughout Africa and have joined up for the very first time to follow up the Red Hot Organizations 2002 album of Fela covers, Red Hot + Riot with an all new album.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Top 10 Albums of 2011

Music: DG Editor Tony Nunes continues a look back at 2011's best, with the top 10 Albums of last year

Better late than never. In a week devoted to wrapping up our delayed and extensive 2011 year-end best of series I take a look back at the 10 best albums of 2011. Strong voices, fresh faces and timeless treasures make up this list of incredible works that constructed a year filled with unique and amazing music. 

From the indie and folk scenes, to the glitz of Hip Hop and Rock Hall legends, I present my picks for 2011's best records.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Ten Best Tracks of 2011

Music: After a brief holiday hiatus, DG Editor Tony Nunes begins the New Year with a week of looking back at 2011's best.

To start our look back at the best entertainment 2011 had to offer, we begin with a list of the years greatest songs.  Compiling a list of the best singles requires a careful look back at the hits and cult classics artists had to offer, with an eye on making a mixtape that best represents 2011.  This meant weeding through the abundance of overpopularized dance hits.  It meant looking beyond the ear-grating vocals of Katy Perry and Kesha.  It was all about removing the souless from the soul, the commercial from the creative, the vapid from the vibrant. 

Its a list of some of the years most popular, some might even say overplayed tracks and many of its lesser-known indie gems.  Everyone from Adele to Yeezee are represented in this, the mixtape of 2011's 10 best tracks.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

You're the Same Kind of Bad As Me

Dreaming Genius co-editor Tony Nunes reviews Tom Waits newest

From the opening notes of ‘Chicago,’ the opening track on Tom Waits new album Bad As Me, Waits sets the scene for a wily road trip across America, driving our pedestrian ears down a road paved with multicolored asphalt.  A song about fresh starts and flourishing locales, ‘Chicago’ preps us with cackling horns as Waits explains in his gruff tone; “the seeds are planted here, but they won‘t grow.”  And the trip begins.

Waits doesn’t limit himself into one niche of music.  His seeds are planted nowhere, and his variation on style validates this point track by track on Bad As Me.  This is his seventieth studio album, the first of all new material since 2004’s Real Gone, and thankfully, there are no signs of Waits succumbing to the doldrums of predictability.  Instrumental nuances both accentuate and differentiate styles, from the Elvis like rockabilly on ’Get Lost,’ to the haunting organ accents on ’Raised Right Men.’  The anchor pulling each difference into cohesion is Waits voice, a half pipe of throaty highs and guttural lows. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dreaming Genius Television: Dan Deacon

By Tony Nunes, Dreaming Genius co-editor

Electronic music pioneer Dan Deacon sits down with Dreaming Genius in this, the official relaunch of DREAMING GENIUS TELEVISION.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Musings From Underground: The Beatles

Ian Mole on seeing The Beatles in 1963. Illustrated by Harry Wareham.

Back in 1962 my big brother Graham and I shared a downstairs bedroom and among the other ways he found to torment me, such as farting in my face when I was asleep and lifting up his mattress to gob on me from the top bunk, was to play his newly acquired transistor radio when I was trying to nod off.

The volume was low enough to evade the passing ears of my parents but it was loud enough to prevent me from getting to sleep on many occasions. However, some good did come out of this as in October of that year the sound of The Beatles first reached me via the faltering waves of Radio Luxembourg. In fact Graham had already mentioned them to me and I remember that my first mental image of them was as a group of eight or so men wearing cheeky jackets and playing instruments like the double bass and the clarinet. Four piece pop-rock bands were thin on the ground in those days of crooners such as Frank Ifield and Bobby Vee. Graham would feed me the odd morsel of information he’d managed to find about The Beatles and he was already a very big fan of theirs. “I think one of them’s called John McCarthy,” he imparted to me one day. We were closing in on them.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

DAS RACIST. New Album. New Tour. A New Hip Hop Generation Begins.

Dreaming Genius co-editor Tony Nunes on Hip Hop's culturally enlightened new collective

Remember the days of A Tribe Called Quest?  Hip Hop with a culturally relevant backbone, but more importantly, Hip Hop from a collective that didn’t take itself too seriously.  Not many groups are producing this same level of socially satirical, musically relevant genius nowadays.  Enter Das Racist.

If you haven't heard of this unlikely trio of rappers, you are by now in the minority.  Composed of Heems (Himanshu Suri), Kool A.D. (Victor Vazquez) and Dap (Ashok Kondabolu), Das Racist were formed from a college bond between three self-satirizing minorities who happened to posses a distinct brand of lyrical execution.  Heems and Dap are both of Indian descent, with Vazquez of Afro-Cuban, Italian descent.  You look at these three on stage, rapping to levels few dare to aspire to in today's Hip Hop game, and you can't help but think what an unlikely rap collective they truly are.  But hey...Das Racist!

In 2010, the group released two free mixtapes on their website, Shut Up, Dude in March and Sit Down, Man in September.  Both mixtapes were reviewed very highly, with over 40,000 copies of the latter downloaded during only its first week of release.  The fact that Das Racist opted to release their mixtapes for free public download is a testament to the kind of indie sensibility they center themselves on.  These aren't your Prada, Gucci wearing Don's of rap,these are indie artists whose love for their craft, and raucous club gigs level integrity with a message.  Lyrics of funny, obscurely referential pop-culture, music and sports comparisons blended with more culturally significant satires on race provide a base unlike any other in Hip Hop today.   

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Musings From Underground: Graffiti

Ian Mole is back with another subterranean pondering, this time on graffiti. Illustrated by Harry Wareham.

Paul Simon once sang in 'The Sounds of Silence', “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls...” This reminds me of two items from a subway wall in my hometown of Sunderland in the early 1990's i.e. “Suck my chub” and, somewhat harshly I feel, “Fat cunt Elvis is dead.”

I'm not sure if this was really what Paul had in mind. There’s something wonderful about graffiti. I hate all this tagging that makes the place look like a pigsty and damages brand new tube trains and the like, and while I can’t say that it’s a good thing to deface other people’s property whenever you feel like it, in the right place, e.g., a dirty toilet wall, graffiti is like a secret bush-telegraph of otherwise repressed sentiments and so it has a certain appeal for me.

It varies considerably from country to country; in Greece walls are likely to bark “American bases out!” or “Join our Serbian brothers in the struggle against NATO aggression” while in the UK we’re more likely to get “I LIKE BIG GIRLS BIG LEGS BIG BUMS ANY OFFERS?”

Monday, July 18, 2011

Art Imitating Art: An Interview With Gallery 1988 Co-Founder Jensen Karp About Crazy 4 Cult 5

Dreaming Genius co-editor Tony Nunes interviews Gallery 1988 co-owner Jensen Karp about Crazy 4 Cult 5.

Every July, crowds gather on the famed corner of Melrose and La Brea awaiting one of the most anticipated movie events of the year.  In Los Angeles, the movie capital of the world, these crowds gather to celebrate an art-form they all love in the embodiment of arts most classic form.  The Crazy 4 Cult art show, now in its fifth year, encourages paintings and sculpture inspired by cult classic films old and new.       

Gallery 1988 is the brainchild of Katie Cromwell and Jensen Karp, two Californians with a love for pop-culture, geekdom, and most importantly, art.  Creating a gallery that embraces emerging artists, Cromwell and Karp quickly turned Gallery 1988 into one of the most groundbreaking galleries in the world.  Combining accessibility with familiarity, the gallery has transformed the arts into a new cult phenomenon. Cult is basically their M.O., as their specifically tailored shows seek to celebrate favorite TV-shows, films, sports, video games, and all the things people cherish with nostalgia and cult devotion.

Now in its second week, the Crazy 4 Cult 5 show is as popular as ever, and Titan Books has even published a beautiful retrospective book collecting art from the past four years of the show, with a forward by gallery regular, cult filmmaker Kevin Smith.  I chat with gallery co-founder Jensen Karp to learn more about the Gallery, the show, and the motivation that drives his love of art and pop-cultism.  

Read the interview and see a gallery collecting some of this years film inspired paintings after the jump.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Antihero in 15 Tracks. A Review of Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi's Rome

By Tony Nunes, Dreaming Genius co-editor

We’ve all seen them. We’ve all reveled in the staunch demeanor of their Western antiheros. We’ve all envisioned ourselves digging our own boots into that dry and arid Badlands terrain with its cacti and Joshua tree laced red clays and purgatorial geologic features. And most importantly, we’ve all hummed those sacred themes of choral twang and epic strums that led up to the gunfights, badass looks, and long, dueling walks.

These were the Spaghetti Westerns, the 1960’s answer to the films of Japanese legend Akira Kurosawa, themselves answered by Star Wars and the films of Quentin Tarantino years later.  One director is synonymous with the Spaghetti Western, Sergio Leone, and one composer is synonymous with the musical styling’s of these films, Ennio Morricone, the legendary conductor whose score for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly stands to this day as the best of the genre.  No matter how deep and how wide the cycle of homage goes, nothing could compare or live up to the masterful soundtracks of these Italian cowboy epics.  Few dared to try, and even Tarantino himself recycled the score’s of the 60’s in his own films rather than creating them anew.

Now, with Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi’s collaboration on the concept album Rome, homage has given new identity to the thrilling sounds of late 60’s Italian Cinema.  I dislike the term concept album, as it carries with it a certain air of kitsch, but there really is no title to better describe the intentions of Rome.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

40 Years On: A Fan's Recollection Of Jim Morrison's Life

On the 40th anniversary of Jim Morrison's death, Ian Mole takes a look back at the life of his childhood hero.

It was Friday 9th July 1971 and as usual my friend Keith called at my home in the morning so that we could walk to school together. He brought very sad news, as he’d just found out that Jim Morrison was dead. Absolute confirmation was made later that day when the Sunderland Echo carried a tiny piece titled ‘Singer Dead in Paris’. I was devastated by this news as Jim was my hero and for years afterwards it made me very sad to think that he was no longer around. His legend lives on of course and sales of The Doors’ products are still very healthy.

When I was a kid, Jim was the ultimate sexy, anti-establishment rebel. He was also an intellectual and a poet. In other words he was the perfect role model for a teenage hobbledehoy like me, and many others. I'm fifty-seven now and I have to say that I still love most of The Doors’ music but I think that in some ways Jim was a real arsehole. He probably would have agreed with me. A paraphrase of Charles Shaar Murray in his review of the first Morrison biography (No One Here Gets Out Alive’ by Danny Sugarman and Jerry Hopkins, 1980), “A bunch of crazy kids egged on by a drunken rabble-rouser” seems to capture it well in the cold light of middle age. Like many young men I thought dying an early death through a life of excess sounded rather romantic. Time of course has taught me that alcoholism isn’t remotely romantic and makes life hell for the alcoholic and all involved with them.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Musings From Underground: Celebrity Spotting

Ian Mole has an eye for famous people in London. Illustrated by Harry Wareham.

My mother came down to London for a weekend-break in 1991 and as I approached the hotel where she was staying, I was intrigued by the number of people clustered outside. When I got closer, I could see that they were centred around a strikingly good-looking young woman with very bright eyes. I asked one of the autograph-hunters who she was and she turned out to be Crystal Gayle. Another group nearby were surrounding a blonde older woman who I was informed was Tammy Wynette. It was the weekend of the Capital Country Music Festival and the stars were staying at my mam’s hotel. I went inside and asked at reception about my mother’s whereabouts, and as I waited I was joined by a tall gentleman in a fur coat who I’d seen accompanying Tammy outside. It wasn’t till later that I realized to my horror that I’d stood by her man. Mam later spotted Slim Whitman, but he was fat.

Pubs are always a good place to come across the stars, especially in areas like Notting Hill and Camden. In 1994 I was settling into a fairly average Tuesday night at the Station Tavern at Latimer Road when someone told me that the well-dressed, thick-set man drinking a pint of lager at the bar was none other than Tom Jones. His black spectacles had me fooled for a moment but it was undoubtedly him. The blues band playing that night managed to lure him up for one song and he belted out a storming version of  ‘In The Midnight Hour’. Lots of us got his autograph and he was very amenable, posing for photos with all and sundry. Even when one of my mouthier mates asked him, “Is it true you’ve got the biggest cock in show-business?”, he calmly replied, “Who’ve you been talking to?” I happened to be the only person in the bar with a camera so I was in demand and the guitarist with the band was delighted a year later to discover that there was photographic evidence of him playing at the side of Tom.

In the same pub I once found myself scrutinizing what looked like a very ill Martian, who turned out to be Topper Headon, drummer with the Clash. The poor guy had clearly seen better days and he later bummed 50p from my friend, who seemed quite pleased to be tapped up in this way. He also got onstage and he still played wonderfully, if a bit too rockily for the blues artist whose gig it was. I'm pleased to hear that Topper is in much better shape these days.     

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder And The Art Of War

Dreaming Genius co-editor Steven Maclean interviews ex-soldier turned artist John Mc Dermott.

John Mc Dermott is a multi-dimensional man. An ex-serviceman, a renowned artist and a committed campaigner in raising funds and awareness for combat related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. As John shows me into his studio in Exeter Castle past the builders preparing the foyer for next months exhibition, he tells me he's feeling shattered, "I've been up since four this morning. I don't always sleep well." As I'm about to find out, this isn't uncommon for people who have served in our armed forces. 

John's own military career spanned 28 years and several conflicts, "I joined the Navy when I was 15 years old. That was back in 1972." Before leaving in 2000, he saw plenty of action, "I was involved in quite a few conflicts; from the Turkish invasion into Cyprus, to relief operations off the coast of Vietnam in 1975. That was really my first taste of large-scale conflict, which was quite exciting at the time, I was only 17 years old."

While still a teenager, John couldn't have realised the impact his naval adventures would eventually have on him, still interrupting his sleep almost four decades later. His stories of battles far away from home do indeed sound exhilarating, "during the Falklands conflict in 1982 I was onboard HMS Plymouth, one of the first ships to enter into the operational theatre down there.We took South Georgia from Argentine forces and that was the first time we fired in anger from a ship since the Korean war, and it was my big left foot that was on the trigger,"

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Bonita On The Flats Of Eleuthera

Zachary Black shares his travel notes and photography from a fishing trip in the Bahamas.

This whole adventure began in the mountains of Montana where my siblings and I grew up chasing trout and the occasional warm water fish. Soon we found fly rods in our hands and developed an everlasting passion for fishing with fur and feathers. A few years later my brother Jerry and I had acquired a taste for hunting fish on the flats of Key Largo. Next thing we knew we were spending our winters working and fly fishing in the south of Florida. A couple of seasons into it we started talking with a couple of buddies about sailing to the Bahamas the coming year in the pursuit of fish. Sure, I thought, talk is big. Rarely does the dream ever become reality. But, lo and behold, the time started getting nearer and everyone was still on board, So my brother and I packed our gear, hopped in the car and took off on a quick road trip cross country. We were now into the first leg of our journey and contemplating the second.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Musings From Underground: Swearing

Ian Mole on the use of naughty words. With artwork by Harry Wareham.

Cunt. The C-word. Undoubtedly the rudest single word in the English language. Apparently it derives from the Old Norse but it’s also remarkably similar to the Latin word ‘cunnus’, which my Victorian Latin-English dictionary translates as “ditch, or the female pudenda”. Until about a century ago the word cunny was commonly used like fanny or pussy are today. On the face of it, why this life-giving, pleasure-giving part of a woman’s body should come to be used as such an insult is peculiar. Calling somebody a twat is a little less insulting while a tit is also insulting but it’s much milder. 

Radical feminists used to get up in arms about this and I could see why till I thought about it a bit and noticed that parts of the male anatomy are also used as insults, like prick, dong, dickhead, knobhhead, balls, bollocks and knacker. Personally, as a male, I don’t care in the slightest if anyone uses any of these words. I’ve nothing at all against anyone who’s illegitimate but I use the word bastard when it fits the bill. Ditto for fans of masturbation. So, I’d say that whatever the initial reason for these words being chosen as insults, they’ve long since taken on a new life of their own that’s disconnected with their original meaning.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Despot Chic: Fashioning Disaster

Daisy Phillipson on the odd penchant dictators have for questionable clothing

It was revealed last week that Gaddafi’s long-loved wife and daughter, Safia and Alisha, had crossed the Libyan border over to Tunisia. Some blame the fleeing on Gaddafi’s oil minister, Mr Ghanam’s departure to Tunisia for the OPEC (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries) meetings, after they agreed Libya could be represented. A stronger argument is that as violence continues, there are bullets around the country with their names on them. But I don’t think it’s any of this political mumble jumble, I think the answer is much more close to home. It’s simple, would you want to hang around with a grown man who dresses like Michael Jackson circa 1983? It’s not a strong look, especially when you’re supposedly one of the most wanted men in the world. He wants to impose peril but all he gets out of me is a few cheap laughs. 

And it’s not just Gaddafi; it seems that a good old combination of mass murder, ludicrous power and unbalanced mental states all adds up to a beautiful mix that produces a time-lime of suffering and a wardrobe that Pat Butcher combined with an African Goddess would be proud of. I’d be fleeing too if I was related to a walking faux pas. In an interview recently he noted how he felt ‘betrayed’ by Western leaders, but I feel betrayed by his outfit choices. No-one born later than ’77 should be allowed to wear a bin bag dress, even if you are Mr. Big Man in your country. That should be noted under crimes against humanity

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Royal Marrying Of Celebrity Culture And Authoritarianism

By Steven Maclean, Dreaming Genius co-editor

Image by The K-Guy
While Friday's ultimate launch of the Endeavour space shuttle was postponed due to a last-minute technical failure, the royal wedding - or as I like to call it: massive twat convention - went without a glitch. I was hoping we could combine the two, and launch the royals into space, but science isn't as reliable as unearned hereditary status, so they will have to go on living on another planet in the metaphorical sense only.

Kate, after a brief spell of being Catherine, is now the Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn, and Baroness of Carrickfergus, for no reason other than Cambridge, Strathearn and Carrickfergus are the kinds of nice places that deserve a Duchess, and if she were the Duchess of Slough, Staines or Luton, ordinary people from those places might wrongly mistake her for just another human being and hesitate to elevate her onto a platform of greater worth.

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