Tag Archives: New York Times

Bill T. Jones

Bill T. Jones was on the Colbert Report talking about his role in the new musical, “Fela!” “Fela!” is a biographical piece on the life of afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti.

Watch the video here:

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/08/fela-and-bill-t-jones-shake-up-the-colbert-report/

-K

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Issue Piece: Vinyl Revival

This piece in the New York Times describes the reintroduction of vinyls as a legitimate way of listening to music. Obviously, with the rise in vinyl comes to rise of turntables, and journalist Patrick McGeehan discusses this new interest in a technology that was previously seen as “ancient.”

I found this piece very informative. I thought that it addressed the phenomenon well, and clearly laid out the history of vinyl/turntables as well as the ramifications the revival has.  He engages the reader by mentioning some of the bigger artists that have been issuing records on vinyl and explains why people have been putting out and buying LPS. Interestingly enough, he contributes this interest to games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero, which get younger generations interested in older genres of music that were heading the vinyl era decades back.

He also delves into the economic implications–he mentions the decline in CD sales, how much turntables are going for now, and what record labels are doing to handle the new trend.

Perhaps it is my heavy interest in vinyl (which could be called an obsession by some), but I think McGeehan hits the nail on the head in this issue piece. He covers all the bases in a way that is engaging, which makes the length of piece exciting rather than daunting.

Josephine Baker

Ever since I discovered Josephine Baker, I’ve had a really strong interest and attachment to her art and her life. My obsession with old, French music and film made loving Baker inevitable, but the more I studied her, the more interested I became. Baker started out in St. Louis as scrawny little girl, forced to play up stereotypes to make a living. And by the time she was 19 she was in Paris, was the highest paid chorus girl on the planet, and was combating racism, misogyny, heteronormativity through her body and a sense of agency that is unmatched to this day. Corny as this sounds, when I get really anxious and stressed out, I think of Baker. I think of what she was doing at my age and how she did it against all odds, on her own, with her chin up. She’s my biggest source of motivation.

Baker’s dancing was revolutionary. She turned European ballet on its head and surprised the French with her crossed eyes, jelly-bones, and overt sexuality. She had people reconsidering what it meant to be beautiful and sexy–when she was younger, she was criticized for being too dark (or too light, depending on who she was speaking to. Huh.), too thin, too exotic, etc., and later she had men  drooling and women paying money to look like her. And sure, it may seem as though she was exploiting her body or fetishizing her ethnicity, but in a way she was really just mimicking and deconstructing stereotypes and expectations. She did what she wanted. She prayed naked, walked her pet cheetah in the streets of Paris, sang when people told her her voice was bad, danced the way she wanted to, loved who she wanted to, and didn’t let anyone tell her otherwise. Strangely enough, however, she also seems so loving. She’s always smiling in photos, she was eccentric, loved animals and children, and was accepting of all people. Her work in WWII and the Civil Rights Movement show how dedicated she was to equality and giving back. I can only imagine what would have happened to the Civil Rights Movement had Baker accepted Coretta Scott King’s request for Baker to take over after Martin Luther King’s assassination.

A controversial review of “The Ziegfeld Follies” from 1936 from Time Magazine. The critic is harsh and seems a little unaware of just how much of a groundbreaker she really was. Then again, you have to consider the fact that racial attitudes in Europe were more progressive than they were in America, and the authors choice to call her a “bucktoothed negro” as opposed to the French’s “ebony goddess,” could just be a sign of the society they were writing in and for. Josephine Baker was different in an incredibly beautiful way, and I don’t think America really realized that until it was too late. In a few words, I admire Josephine Baker because she never strayed from being herself. She is beautiful, funny, controversial, daring, smart, headstrong, determined, honest, caring,  talented, and one of my biggest sources of inspiration.

Read the Time article here.

-K