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Archive for May, 2010

Earlier this year, we introduced you to an Indian artist named Vijay Singh.  For decades, he painted the bright, larger-than-life murals that showcased current attractions in Delhi’s old Bollywood movie theaters.  But when digital printing recently put him out of a job, he had to find new patrons for his movie-mural artistry.  Now he’s part of an emerging niche market for ex-pats who want to get in on the over-the-top romance and action of Bollywood flicks: custom movie posters.

Turns out the talents of artists like Singh have been snatched up by CB2 – the younger, hipper offshoot of home décor staple Crate and Barrel.  “In an effort to keep this art-form alive,” the company offered “limited-edition, signed paintings … on cotton canvas in a wash of colors ranging from henna to river mud.”

Alas, it appears “world map painting: brave new (old) world” has sold out – Bollywood muralists like Singh have clearly gone global.

– Jenny Lawton

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Today is a big day for hip-hop: it’s the birthday of both André 3000 and RJD2. Born just one year apart, they both have had an indelible influence on the genre – and in very different ways.

André 3000 is one half of Outkast, whose 2004 double album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below took home three Grammys, including one for the incredibly infectious (and still-catchy-after-all-these-years) single “Hey Ya!”. RJD2’S albums are largely instrumental and a little more under the radar, but they feature some of the best and catchiest beats to hit the underground scene this decade.  He has also produced tracks for talented MCs like MF Doom and Aceyalone and released an album The Colossus earlier this year.

Though both are known for their collaborations with other artists, the two have never worked together.  Luckily, someone else had the good idea that they should.  So, in honor of their birthdays, we present this great mash-up of Outkast’s “ATLiens” and RJD2’s “Ghostwriter.” (Heads-up: mash-up master HueJue1 blended the two songs without bleeping out the naughty words.)

[YOUTUBE=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fbj7dLVHSbI]

– Becky Sullivan

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This Memorial Day weekend kicks off the Lightning in A Bottle festival in Irvine, California.   The four-day event bills itself as “equal parts music, art and green workshops” — and the name isn’t a bad description for the music of one of its headliners.

The musician and producer Daedelus, a kind of Thinking Man’s DJ who dresses up as a Victorian dandy, will perform music from his latest EP Righteous Fists of Harmony this Sunday 5/30 at 9:30pm.

Last week on Studio 360, Daedelus explained his unique sonic vision — a mixture of lush orchestral samples, funky breakbeats, and found sound— that, in essence, attempts to capture lightning in a bottle; what he calls music’s “Eureka! Moment.”

Not surprisingly, Daedelus’ visual style is just as arresting as his sound.

[YouTube= http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCFkH6fs6yk%5D

-Derek L. John

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The writer Richard Holmes has a gift for spinning stories.  The Age of Wonder is a cinematic romp through late 18th and early 19th century Britain and the amazing scientific breakthroughs of that era. We meet a brother-sister team of astronomers who discover comets and a new planet (Uranus!). And Holmes keeps us in suspense describing the first hot air balloon race across the English Channel.  Each chapter is like a cribsheet for a Jules Verne novel, but they’re all true.

A caricature by British satirist and cartoonist James Gillray (1757-1815) of experiments with nitrous oxide (laughing gas) at the Royal Institution. Humphry Davy is working the bellows.

Holmes told a few of these stories on last weekend’s show, but we didn’t have time to air some other gems from his conversation with Kurt.  In this bit of rescued tape, Holmes tells the story of  chemist Humphrey Davy’s experiments with nitrous oxide (a.k.a. laughing gas). It’s a wild tale of how the scientist convinced friends — like the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Mark Roget — to be human guinea pigs. Ironically enough, Roget (the future creator of Roget’s Thesaurus) had trouble picking words to describe his experience: “I felt myself totally incapable of speaking.”

Fortunately Coleridge managed to rustle up some impressions, describing the gas’s effect as “a highly pleasurable sensation of warmth over my whole frame, resembling what I remember once to have experienced after returning from a walk in the snow into a warm room.” Indeed!

You can hear more tales of the “age of romantic science” here.

– Michele Siegel and Jenny Lawton

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Bloody Sunday
Directed by Paul Greengrass, starring James Nesbitt

Paul Greengrass’ recent theatrical release, Green Zone, gets bogged down with heavy-handed story about the search for (nonexistent) WMDs in Iraq. Far more satisfying is his 2002 film, Bloody Sunday. It portrays the Irish civil rights protest and massacre at the hands of British paratroopers in 1972 Northern Ireland. The director was just beginning to hone the hand-held documentary-style he used to great effect in the The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. In Bloody Sunday that camera never stops moving, capturing the deadly confusion and lost innocence of that tragic day.

Derek L. John

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Studio 360 has a summer project in the works and we need your help:
we’re redesigning the Fourth of July.

Don’t worry, it’s not a complete gutting.  We’re keeping the red, white, and blue, the cookouts, and the fireworks.  But there are a couple of elements that we think can use some sprucing up.

Exhibit A: Uncle Sam

In this shot, he’s downright terrifying.  And when he’s not bullying and pointing, he seems to spend a lot of time selling used cars and air conditioners at low, low prices — hardly the sort of behavior we’d expect from our national icon.

The Challenge: We want you to come up with a better mascot for the United States of America. You can update Uncle Sam or completely replace him.  Post your design ideas here.

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Exhibit B: The Star-Spangled Banner

[YouTube= http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXnT84Eu-oA%5D

When Portland Trailblazers coach Mo Cheeks steps in to help the situation, he just proves our point: while it’s certainly rousing and epic, “The Star-Spangled Banner” is notoriously difficult to sing, with lyrics most people can’t remember.

The Challenge: We want you to compose a completely new song — with original music and lyrics — for our national anthem. Post your songs here.

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The fine print: Enter our challenge as many times as you like.  Submissions posted before midnight (ET) Sunday, June 20 will be eligible for mention on the show, airing Fourth of July weekend.

In you we trust.

– Michael Guerriero

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Zii e Zie
Caetano Veloso

Caetano Veloso is called the Bob Dylan of Brazil; it may be Dylan who’s flattered there.  At 67, Veloso continues to make music with the grace of a poet and the ebullience of a kid.  In recent years his sound has been reinvigorated by the sharp edges of his son Moreno, who coproduced Zii e Zie (Uncles and Aunts).  But the jagged rock and funk flair never buries Veloso’s deep roots in samba and bossa nova.  You won’t hear a more stirringly beautiful postpunk tune than the opening “Perdeu.”

—David Krasnow

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Janelle Monaé may look like a petite, pompadoured doo-wop singer straight out of early Motown.  But when she hits the stage, she bursts into something light years beyond that. Possessed by a beat too funky to be from the 20th century, she nearly dances right out of her saddle shoes.

Yesterday, Monaé released her new album The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III of IV).  The tracks make up the latest chapters in the sci-fi adventure epic starring her alter-ego: Cindi Mayweather, an android from the 28th century on the run from cyborgs who want to imprison her for falling in love with a human.  I know, it sounds weird – but ground-breaking work usually does, no?

The video for the single “Tightrope” (featuring Outkast’s Big Boi) is so damn fun, I dare you not to groove in your desk chair:

Monaé rocked Studio 360 earlier this year.  Watch her perform “Sincerely Jane” (off of Metropolis Suite I of IV: The Chase) in WNYC’s Jerome L. Greene Performance Space:

Every superhero has an origin story – and Cindi Mayweather’s got a great one.  Listen to Monaé (or is it Mayweather?) spin the tale for Kurt:

Earthlings, prepare to boogie down.

– Jenny Lawton

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We were sad to learn that among those killed in last week’s Afriqiyah Airways crash in Libya was the talented Irish-born writer Bree O’Mara, 42. She was en route from her home in South Africa’s North West Province to London to sign a publishing deal for her second novel, Nigel Watson, Superhero. O’Mara had been slated to travel to London earlier, but was delayed by the volcanic ash cloud.

O’Mara got notice for her first novel, Home Affairs (2007), a rendering of the “new,” post-apartheid South Africa. Critics and readers praised her sharp, satirical style. It won the Citizen Book Prize, decided by popular vote in South Africa.

Ironically, O’Mara had worked as a flight attendant early in her career, for Bahrain Air. After appearing in a television commercial for the airline, she was recruited by the commercial’s producer to become art director of his production company. She also worked in public relations and journalism in London, and spent a year living with the Masai in Tanzania with the British charity Mondo Challenge.  She moved back to South Africa in 2006, meeting her husband-to-be on her flight back.

O’Mara described her new book as a novel “about turning 30, hating your job, and finding your wings.”  We hope that audiences will still get the chance to read it.

– Cary Barbor

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Alfred Molina as Mark Rothko in the Donmar Warehouse's Broadway production of "Red" (photo by Johan Persson)

Last week, Alfred Molina stopped by Studio 360 to chat with Kurt about his Tony-nominated performance as Mark Rothko in the play “Red.” Bet you didn’t know that he grew up in London as Alfredo Molina, the son of Spanish and Italian immigrants.  In this sneak preview of their conversation, Molina explains that he was determined to be English through and through:

The full interview will air in a couple of weeks.  Stay tuned…

– Michael Guerriero

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UPDATE: Kurt’s interview with Alfred Molina aired the weekend of May 29th – listen to it here:

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