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Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

REVO Los Angeles

Winners of The MySpace Impact Award, REVO is on a role, bringing awareness of and funds to some of the most worthy of causes. This time, it’s all about the children.

In West Papua, there is an expression known as “HANCUR” (meaning broken) which accurately captures the current state of its educational system. In West Papua, teachers get a salary regardless if they are doing their jobs correctly or not. As a result, many of them don’t even bother showing up to teach their classes. And when they do show up, instead of educating their students, it’s become common practice for these teachers to bribe their students into performing chores at their homes in exchange for “passing grades.”

REVO_LAsmallREVO -which started by one young woman in Hilo, Hawaii– has spread to over 17 states across the U.S. It is a movement based on the concepts of love, grace, equality, and social justice. What makes this movement so unique is that -utilizing art and creativity- it is designed to inspire people to do it themselves. That no one is too small to be the impetus for a REVOlution.

WHERE ARE THE PARENTS? In certain West Papuan villages, schooling is provided up to the third grade. After that, these children are sent into the city of Wamena for further schooling. While in Wamena, most of these children find refuge in “tribal dorms.” Unfortunately, these dorms come with no adult supervision and require a regular fee in order to maintain room and board; the tragedy is that the money needed to pay these fees don’t always come from parents. And even if they do, how soon they get the money is often dependent on airline schedules. Because of this, many children are forced to walk the streets in search of food.

REVO has done concerts, fashions shows –across the US– this time around the big REVO event is huge art show in Los Angeles. Happening this Sunday (October 4, 2009) at the UCLA Ackerman Ballroom.

WHO IT WILL BENEFIT: In 2006, a small pilot program with 16 kindergarteners began in West Papua, Indonesia. As a result of this program, today we have “Sekolah Dasar Balem Wamena” — a model school with 95 students ranging from kindergarten to 2nd grade. The ultimate goal of SDBW is to set the standard of what GOOD quality education looks like in a place where the educational system is in shambles. SDBW not only plans on adding two kindergarten classes every year, but plans to build a school that reaches grades K – 12.

Indonesia REVO student abuse

Support the cause, and while your at it pick up some of the auctioned art – including donated work by some of the hottest artists around: Shepard Fairey, Mr. Brainwash, Aaron Kraten, Allison Torneros, Ekundayo, to name but a few. Live murals, silkscreens, films, DJ Doogle Houser, and more. This is the event that, if you are anywhere near Los Angeles, you have no excuse to miss.

*   *   *

WHERE: UCLA ACKERMAN GRAND BALLROOM  •  308 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90024

WHEN: Sunday October 4, 2009  •  7 p.m.

ENTRANCE: $10

For more info -including a video for the event- check out REVO LA’s web site.

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Though we are now living in a world with comparatively (pre-WWW) unlimited media source options, people continue to succumb to easy-viewing television. For those who have lived in or visited countries that maintain strict restrictions on information, you realize why so many idolize America. Yet, what typically happens when you have freedom, or so they say, is that you are less apt to appreciate it. If the internet was heavily censored or no longer available -yeah, just suddenly, one day, you weren’t allowed to upload, download, or post content online- there would certainly be an uproar. And maybe in the end we’d take advantage of it more; go for the challenging or enlightened thoughts. Skip a few sitcoms and check in on more alternatives to mainstream politics, news, opinions, anarchistic activities and other conceptual or investigatory work that goes against the grain and against what the “powers that be” would prefer you to be focusing your attention on.

Enter VBS (otherwise known as Vice Broadcasting System) to remind you of some of the cool shit the internet can provide for an aching mind. Though it’s been a little over a year since it’s launch, they’ve compiled a compelling array of audio/visual content – all free to you. Even though they have some deal with MTV, (which supplies the funds and resources to produce their shows), I don’t believe MTV has any say in content, which is oft on the edge. Much of the foreign undercover or eco-journalism variety filmed despite some kind of mitigating circumstances that adds an element of danger. There are a variety of shows to satisfy a roving curiosity, even in regards to things you didn’t know you were curious about. No lights, no make-up, pretty raw footage, still the quality is solid, the editing well-done, and the sound, considering some of the scenarios, is better than most guerrilla video.

I’d say my favorite thus far, with my fave documentary host, is Shane Smith’s “The Vice Guide to North Korea.” Smith -one of the Vice creators when, in its humble beginnings, was a lil’ Canadian magazine- is subtly hilarious, perceptually interesting, attractively intelligent, and a lot bit lucky. Their ramshackled trip to North Korea (which would have been hard to do any other way) was absolute genius – and I still do not understand how they were able to capture it on video. Yes, it’s annoying that it runs in 14 segments, but that may appeal to a general public’s low attention span and lack of time – but I wish there were a “play all” button. As well, the low res loads quickly, but I’d like the option for full screen viewing. Especially, at least, the segment on the Arirang – absolutely unbelievable (link for that piece provided, but you really need to watch the whole thing to fully appreciate the overwhelming finalé). Seriously, if this crew didn’t win any awards for this piece they should have. (It makes me sad we didn’t take Ben Is Dead Magazine to this level – an obvious next step that we were ill-prepared to make at the time – but boy, if we had the funding now!)

Witnessing the insides of North Korea, as an example of censorship in its most pure form, might be a helpful visual for those naïvely oblivious to limitations on personal freedoms and why its important never to take them for granted or assume they will always be there. In that sense, that this kind of work may appeal to the next generation of more conscious MTV viewers is hopeful.

You know, I’m going to skip getting into detail about any of the other shows – it’s all a matter of taste. Sure there are some misses, though the standards are high (and their viewers seem to expect to not have to wade through junk) but similar to TV you can simply “change the channel” as there are lots of viewing options to chose from within a number of categories á la: art, music, culture, environment, skate, sex… and so on. Personally I enjoyed: Manila’s City of Garbage, Inside Sudan, and the Made in China series which gave us a varied three week tour of the country DIY-style – from punk rock to pop rock to Toxic Linfen. I should mention, Spike Jones, famed “Being John Malkovich” director (who almost directed our “Every Day Is Brenda Day” video during the I Hate Brenda fiasco, ehem) is the creative director for VBS.tv, doing his own “Spike Spends Saturday with…” series – the last one with Britain’s über-hip M.I.A.

So if you find yourself trying to decide between some brain-dead local news reporting, YouTube’s prank video of the week, or catty behavior streaming on Big Brother, maybe give VBS a click and see if it speaks to some of the brain’s less-often satiated, thought-provoking cravings.

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It was 1996, when the book Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West came out, that I found myself gettin’ into T.J. History always seems more enjoyable in the form of a story, and this journey’s written in such a way that it sweeps you up in characters and visuals and the feeling you’re there with them. It brings forth the excitement of discovery, the Age of Exploration, with all the intricacies of planning and packing and documenting the adventure. I was living in Los Angeles at the time and recall, upon completing the book, taking long treks from the West Side to Downtown into the bowels of the downtown library scouring through dusty tombs of pseudo-ancient reference texts on Lewis and Clark (that Stephen Ambrose probably utilized to write his book). But it wasn’t until iTunes and podcasts when I delved much further into the man who not only manifested the expedition, but played an enlightened founding father role in the vision and creation of the United States of America. And I didn’t do it bored in school, but through the internet via The Thomas Jefferson Hour. History, it seems, can also be more enjoyable when you delve deep into character.

Host, author and scholar Clay Jenkinson, plays the role of Thomas Jefferson for the first half of the “interview”, and the second half it’s Clay himself, giving some explanations, of how things were then, and how it relates in the present day. How Thomas Jefferson (yes born into slave ownership, yes not quite into women’s rights) was then and how he would have acclimated in the modern world. How the Constitution (of which Jefferson, being in Paris at the time, was not a part of*) and government was meant to evolve (or be torn up and re-written every some-odd-years – though can you imagine entrusting our current Patriot Act signing, Bill of Rights ignoring, warmongering leaders to do it?). You get a good Libertarian wiff, of what being a “Republican” then really meant (not particularly what today’s Conservatives might want to believe); the importance of the concept of revolution; and the need to revolt when a government gets too overbearing and no longer works for the people (all good stuff to immerse oneself in, if Bush confused you about the role of the President. Or if the political climate has gotten you curious but at the same time bored with rhetoric, speeches, egos**).

Anyway, he’s high IQ (or brain sexy), quick (and quick-witted) while maintaining poise and if I were apt to do a Sassy 100 list today, certainly Thomas Jefferson and Clay Jenkinson would be on it. If you’ve never listened to the Thomas Jefferson Hour before, you have an endless number of podcasts to catch up with, available via The Thomas Jefferson Hour site or to download via iTunes (or check out a few videos of Clay in action at the “35 Words” web site). I may be exposing too much here, but one of my dreams is to go on one of Clay’s Tours, like his Lewis and Clark Summer Tour coming July 30-August 7, 2009: “Take your own journey down the Lewis and Clark Trail with scholar Clay Jenkinson. A rewarding eight day vacation as enlightening as it is entertaining. You will canoe down the White Cliffs of the Missouri and hike the memorable Nez Perce trails of Lewis and Clark in the Bitterroot Mountains of Idaho.” Seriously, gives this surfer girl goosebumps.

* Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and, as a proponent of individual rights (notable when in 1779 he introduced a then controversial Virginia bill on religious liberty), was greatly dismayed the Constitution (in 1787) didn’t include an essential Bill of Rights. Though the Bill of Rights was written by James Madison, Jefferson (along with popular sentiment) inspired its accomplishment (which was, after great debate, finally enacted four years after the constitution was written). “[A] bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse.” – Thomas Jefferson December 20, 1787
** Jefferson never campaigned to become the third president. First he was too gentlemanly. Second, he was never desirous of the stress and attention in being the country’s leader (though he certainly made good use of it when he was inevitably elected to the position). The general idea, if your ego was such that you would stoop to going around telling people you were the man (or woman) to lead them, then you probably weren’t the right person for the job.

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