Wednesday, September 02, 2009

My favorite sports writer (after J's Theater)...

...Dave Zirin, that is... from 
The Nation, 21 August 2009...

Caster Semenya and the Idiocy
of Sex Testing
By Dave Zirin & Sherry Wolf

World-class South
African athlete

age 18,
won the
800 meters
in the

of Athletics

World Championships
on August 19.
But her victory was all the more remarkable in
that she was forced to run amid a controversy that reveals the
twisted way
international track and field views gender.
(photo, Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters: Janeth Jepkosgei Busienei of Kenya, left,
Caster Semenya of South
Africa and Jennifer Meadows of Britain display
their medals from the
women's 800 meters at the world championships
on Wednesday [August 19, 2009]).

The sports world has been buzzing for some time over the rumor that Semenya
may be a
man,or more specifically, not"entirely female." According to the
newspaper The Age,
her "physique and powerful style have sparked
speculation inrecent months that she may
not be entirely female." From all
accounts an arduous process of "gender testing" on
Semenya has already
begun. The idea that an 18-year-old who has just experienced the
athletic victory of her life is being subjecting to this very public
is shameful to say the least. Her own coach Michael Seme contributed to
disgracewhen he said, "We understand that people will ask questions
because she looks
like a man. It's a natural reaction and it's only human
to be curious. People probably
have the right to ask such questions if
they are in doubt. But I can give you the
telephone numbers of her
roommates in Berlin. They have already seen her naked in the
and she has nothing to hide."

The people with something to hide are the powers that be in track and
field, as well as
in international sport. As long as there have been womens'
sports, the characterization
of the best female athletes as "looking like men"
or "mannish" has consistently been
used to degrade them. When Martina
Navratilova dominated women's tennis and proudly
exposed her chiseled
biceps years before Hollywood gave its imprimatur to gals with
players complained that she "must have a chromosome loose somewhere."

This minefield of sexism and homophobia has long pushed female
athletes into magazines
like Maxim to prove their "hotness"--and
implicitly their heterosexuality. Track and
field in particular has always
had this preoccupation with gender, particularly when it
crosses paths
with racism. Fifty years ago, Olympic official Norman Cox proposed that

in the case of black women, "the International Olympic Committee
should create a special
category of competition for them--
the unfairly advantaged 'hermaphrodites.'"

For years, women athletes had to parade naked in front of Olympic
officials. This has
now given way to more"sophisticated" "gender testing"
to determine if athletes like
Semenya have what officials still perceive
as the ultimate advantage--being a man. Let's
leave aside that being
male is not the be-all, end-all of athletic success. A country's

wealth, coaching facilities, nutrition and opportunity determine
the creation of a
world-class athlete far more than a Y chromosome
or a penis ever could.

What these officials still don't understand, or will not confront,
is that gender--that
is, how we comport and conceive of ourselves--is
a remarkably fluid social construction.
Even our physical sex is far
more ambiguous and fluid than is often imagined or taught.
science has long acknowledged the existence of millions of people
whose bodies
combine anatomical features that are conventionally
associated with either men or women
and/or have chromosomal
variations from the XX or XY of women or men. Many of these

"intersex" individuals, estimated at one birth in every 1,666 in the
United States
alone, are legally operated on by surgeons who force
traditional norms of genitalia on
newborn infants. In what some
doctors consider a psychosocial emergency, thousands of
babies are effectively subject to clitorectomies if a clitoris is "too large"

or castrations if a penis is "too small" (evidently penises are never
considered "too

The physical reality of intersex people calls into question the fixed
notions we are
taught to accept about men and women in general,
and men and women athletes in sex-
segregated sports like track and
field in particular. The heretical bodies of intersex
people challenge
the traditional understanding of gender as a strict male/female

phenomenon. While we are never encouraged to conceive of bodies
this way, male and
female bodies are more similar than they are
distinguishable from each other. When
training and nutrition are
equal, it is increasingly difficult to tell the difference
between some
of the best-trained male and female Olympic swimmers wearing
-art one-piece speed suits. Title IX, the 1972 law imposing
equal funding for girls'
and boys' sports in schools, has radically altered
not only women's fitness and
emotional well-being, but their bodies as
well. Obviously, there are some physical
differences between men and
women, but it is largely our culture and not biology that
gives them
their meaning.

In 1986 Spanish hurdler Maria José Martínez-Patiño was stripped
of her first-place
winnings when discovered to have an XY chromosome,
instead of the female's XX,which
shattered her athletic career and
upended her personal life. "I lost friends, my fiancé,
hope and energy,"
said Martínez-Patiño in a 2005 editorial in the journal
The Lancet.

Whatever track and field tells us Caster Semenya's gender is--
and as of this writing
there is zero evidence she is intersex--it's
time we all break free from the notion
that you are either "one or
the other." It's antiquated, stigmatizing and says far more

about those doing the testing than about the athletes tested.
The only thing suspicious
is the gender and sex bias in
professional sports. We should continue to debate the

pros and cons of gender segregation in sport. But right here,
right now, we must end sex
testing and acknowledge the fluidity
of gender and sex in sports and beyond.

[Dave Zirin is the author of A People's History of Sports
in the United States
(The New Press) Receive his column every
week by emailing
Contact him at]

[Sherry Wolf is an independent journalist the author of
the new critically praised book
Sexuality and Socialism
(Haymarket Books). She is currently organizing for the
march for Marriage Equality in Washington DC]

• "Gold Awarded Amid Dispute Over Runner’s Sex" 20 August 2009, NYT.
"Inquiry About Runner Angers South Africans" 25 August 2009, NYT
My favorite pull-quote from this article. I read this over the back of a seat
while on the train to NY and had to find the article:
We are not going to allow Europeans to define
and describe our children.” said Leonard Chuene,
the president of Athletics South Africa,
speaking about the case of Caster Semenya."
• "Runner Caster Semenya has heard the gender comments all her life"
LA Times reporting from Johannesburg, South Africa, 21 August 2009

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Saturday, August 01, 2009

E. Lynn Harris: R.I.P.

Writer E. Lynn Harris (1955 - 2009)

I'm going to leave this to J's Theater, 'cause while I know in my bones death often comes in threes, this time my brain wasn't listening to my bones and I'm just out of words (and clearly out of my usual loops not having already heard about this). Plus J, as usual, has some seriously thoughtful and considered words on the subject.

• CNN's
coverage (July 24, 2009)
• NPR's Michel Martin remembers Harris (July 27, 2009).
• "E. Lynn Harris: An Appreciation" from the Arkansas Times (July 30, 2009)
• Coverage from (July 24, 2009)
New York Times Arts Beat listing (July 24, 2009)
New York Times obituary listing (July 24, 2009)


George Russell: R.I.P.

It's a hard week for the arts, people. Ned Sublette passed on the information that jazz composer and music theory innovator George Russell (1923 - 2009) passed away from Alzheimers on July 27, 2009.

Ned was kind enough to pass on this listing from The International Review of Music.

Russell was a long-time professor at the New England Conservatory in Boston. IRoM writer and former student and writer Fernando Gonzalez writes of his teacher:

"Composer and theoretician George Russell died on July 27th at a hospice nursing facility near his home in Jamaica Plain, MA from complications to Alzheimer’s. He was 86. He was probably the most influential figure in jazz over the past 60 years whom the general audience never heard of. But musicians knew.

"I thought I knew him because I knew some jazz history and had recordings of his compositions. Then I became one of his students and I discovered a remarkable teacher, one who pushed and made me listen with fresh ears."

Read the rest here.

I've written previously about Russell in relation to Ornette Coleman in an extended post on Harriet Tubman the band. Check that here. Cincinnati, Ohio-born Russell grew up singing in the choir at his childhood AME church, attended Wilberforce University, and was a drummer by training. Along with authoring compositions for Dizzy Gillespie, leading his own groups with musicians such as John Coltrane, Art Farmer, Bill Evans and Eric Dolphy, Russell also developed an approach to composition and performance based on modal forms that maintained the centrality of equal temperament while opening up various harmonic and tonal possibilities. Russell's work influenced both Miles Davis and Coltrane: Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization (1953), Lydian Concept – The Art and Science of Tonal Gravity (2001). I can't do Russell's biography justice here, I hope folks will read about his work on his website, and take time to listen to his recordings some of which are still in print. (pictured right: Coltrane and Russell)

Boston Globe
listing of Russell's passing here.
• New York Times obituary listing.
• Guardian UK obituary listing.


Charles Huntley Nelson: Goodbye

I am deeply saddened to report that Atlanta-based artist and educator Charles Huntley Nelson passed away on Thursday, July 30 after a battle with stomach cancer. I hadn't been in contact with Charles for about a year and didn't know he was ill. He was a thoughtful, talented and enterprising artist--whose work often mined a unique path through afro-futurist terrains that was insistent on culling from a range of artistic forms and lineages, and wrestled variously with questions of masculinity, the maternal symbolic, paterfamilias legacies both aesthetic and cultural, pop culture and elements of the avant garde. Charles was a husband and father of two sons, and an assistant professor of art at Morehouse College. I don't believe Charles was even yet 40 years old. (note: Charles was born in 1970)

As artist/curator/writer/computational urbanist Cinque Hicks stated in writing of Nelson's passing: "Charles was integral to the afrofuturist art movement and an important part of many art communities." Charles was active up until his passing, with a scheduled artist talk for the day he passed in conjunction with the preview of his video and installation Alphaville based on the 1965 Jean Luc Goddard sci-fi/noir film Alphaville, une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution, on exhibit at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center June 26 - August 16, 2009. Alphaville was scheduled for a full opening at the Contemporary in the Fall of 2010. There is no information at this time on the status of that exhibition. (Above right, from the series Invisible Man 2.01, watercolor, 2006; based on Nelson's interstitial conception of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man (1952) and H.G. Wells' 1897 novella The Invisible Man, as well as the 1933 film adaptation of Well's story by the notably wry horror director James Whale, who had his own issues with otherness.)

I previously wrote about Nelson's work when I was in the Atlanta area, after first meeting him when we were in a group show in 2005. You can read about the 2006 Carbonist exhibition at Eyedrum here and here, and Nelson's 2006 show with New York-based artist Kalup Linzy at the Romo Gallery here. You can also read about Charles ethos regarding life as an Atlanta-based artist in a 2006 feature from Code Z that includes profiles of fellow Atlanta artists Kojo Griffin, Eric Mack, and Fahamu Pecou: "Points of Entry: Four Artists Reconsider Atlanta." His installation, Welcome to Atlanta, is also considered in scholar Kimberly Wallace-Sander's study, Mammy: A Century of Race, Gender and Southern Memory (University of Michigan Press, 2008). Nelson submitted the work in response to a call for images reflecting Atlanta for the city's renamed and renovated Hartsfield-Jackson Airport which claims the status of the world's busiest airport. The image is of an African American madonna figure, whose face carries a beneficent expression, holding a Caucasian baby who is suckling at her exposed breast. The image was rejected. Part of the story, of course, is that the airport had been renamed adding the name of Maynard Jackson (1938-2003), the first Black mayor of Atlanta, to that of William B. Hartsfield (1890-1971) Atlanta's longest serving mayor. Both Hartsfield and Jackson were responsible for creating and maintaining the airport's status as an a international aviation hub during their terms. Hartsfield was also known for having tagged his home as, "the city to busy to hate," as a way to continue to attract business and investments during the Civil Rights Movement. You can see the image and installation here.(Nelson, who was an appreciator of sound design, employs a sound design partly inspired by Brian Eno's Music for Airports).

At present the family has asked that no calls be made, but a trust will be set up for the family at a later date to which people will be able to contribute.

(photos: middle-right image from the video Mutropolis (2005)--a collaborative reworking (with Kevin Sipp) of the iconic imagery and foundational political binaries/paradigms of director Fritz Lang's classic dystopian-utopian [not the binaries to which I refer] socialist cinematic exploration, Metropolis (1927)--note the Haitian voudun symbols and the phenotype modeling and aesthetic decorating of Mutropolis's robot Maria/Mother. Lower-right images: stills from Nelson's current Alphaville exhibit)

• Posting on Nelson's passing from Counterforces (July 31, 2009)
• Note on Nelson's passing on the Atlanta-based visual arts blog (July 31, 2009)
Funeral Service information from ARTlanta (August 4, 2009)


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Upcoming...Incoming...July 2009: Films + Music

Long time away, woodshedding takes what it takes, and it takes, and makes, and makes, and takes...

Some stuff in July I'm wanting to keep in the forefront of the memory bank:

Newark Black Film Fest in Trenton
Thursdays, June 25 through July 31, 2009

New Jersey State Museum
Pre-Screening Receptions at 5 pm
Feature Films at 6pm

Youth Cinema at 1 pm

Filmmaker Q&A follows each Feature Film screening
Includes a Youth Film Festival!
Some Highlights:
This is My Africa

Dreams Deferred: The Sakia Gunn Film Project
Medicine for Melancholy

and more...!

Afro-Punk Film Festival at BAM
July 3-8, 2009
Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAMcinématek)
BAM Rose Cinema
Adult Tix $11, BAM Members, $7
Showtimes Various, check schedule for details
Some Highlights:
The Night James Brown Saved Boston
Medicine for Melancholy
What's On Your Plate?
Favela Rising with Hoods to Woods
Eventual Salvation
A Man Named Pearl
Adjust Your Color: Petey Green with Fauboug Treme: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans
...and a lot more!

Afro-Punk Concerts In the skatepark (converted parking lot) next to BAM
Saturday, July 4
Live music by Whole Wheat Bread, Pure Hell, Game Rebellion, American Fangs, The Objex, Funk Face, oOohh Baby Gimme, Jesse Nobody.

Sunday, July 5
Live music by Earl Grey Hound, Tamar Kali, The London Souls, Apollo Heights, Sabatta, Sweetie, Peekaboo Theory, Blackie.

Monday, July 6
Live music by Saul Williams, Janelle Monae, Elevator Flight, Millsted, Chewing Pics, Echo Jinx, Blackie, The Freshman.

Sunday, July 12
Block Party: Closing Event
Clinton Ave btwn Myrtle & Willoughby

• Friday, July 3
Dionne Farris
Joe's Pub
Price: $15.00 in advance; $20.00 at the door

BelO (Haitian vocalist)
Joe's Pub
Price: $15

• Sunday, July 5
Allan Toussaint
Joe's Pub Monthly New Orleans Brunch Series
Price: $30 / $15 for children 12 and under
12pm noon

JACK Quartet: Iannis Xenakis: Complete String Quartets CD Release

Joe's Pub
Price: $12

Astillero Tango Orchestra
Joe's Pub
Price: $15

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Saturday, June 06, 2009

Summer Reading & Listening 2009

Usually I try to read one book at a time. But if my mood changes,or as deadlines approach a book may be put aside for another. Then of course there's also the thrill of finding something you'd wished for and didn't even know existed. So far my reading has encompassed young adult (the British kind, for which I refuse to feel embarrassment), summer/winter mystery, and a book it'll likely take the whole summer to read. Once again Fran Ross's Oreo, was on my summer reading mental list, but I haven't even taken it out of the library (and now I find the only circulating copy has been lost!)...

In no particular order:

1. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2008) - Stieg Larsson (trans. Reg Keeland). Intriguing mystery. The late Larsson's work as an investigative reporter publishing exposés of Nazism and publisher of an anti-racism magazine in Sweden. I had to keep myself from reading it in one day. Even though the male protagnist happened to have an easy-going manner that made him the object of desire (misplaced, tragic, and shared) of each of the major female characters in the book which seemed a bit over-the-top, yet Larsson worked this major staple of the genre in a manner that wasn't just about sex, but primarly allowed for character development and some insight into the emotional culture of middle and upper class Swedes.

2. Dead and Gone: A Sookie Stackhouse Mystery (2009) - Charlaine Harris. Yep, I'm addicted to this series. I blame my friend Q who got me started. Harris' narrative capabilities are getting richer. The last installment focused on familial dynamics sacrificing some of the action and hotness that typifies the series. In this installment Harris found a bridge between the two, and wrote what is probably the best of the lot.

3. The Broken Bridge (1995) - Philip Pullman. Who would have imagined that the guy who wrote the His Dark Materials series would have an ear for the inner thoughts of a biracial black girl and aspiring visual artist living in Wales. This is one for any young artist because it gets inside that mindset like few works I've ever read.

4. The World that Made New Orleans (2007) - Ned Sublette. Still reading, so not writing until I've finished.

6. My Life In the Bush of Ghosts (195 ) - Amos Tutuola. I'd been meaning to read this for about 20 years, but it took a new multi-media performance by Mendi + Keith Obadike, 4 Electric Ghosts, based on Tutuola's novel and designer Tōru Iwatani's legendary Pac-Man video game (designed with the help of Shigeo Funaki (programmer) and Toshio Kai (sound design and music), and I believe called Puck-Man in Japan) to get me to finally read it.(Read J's Theater's write up here.) I can see the link between a game set up as a maze of consumption and Tutuola's sometime humorous, often surreally horrifying epic trip or bildungsroman through various towns and countries of ghosts of varying type and character collectively known as the bush of ghosts into which his barely adolescent Yoruba protagonist accidentally stumbles in his attempt to escape the advancing civil war in 1950s Nigeria. I read this mostly on train trips, it somehow seemed appropriate to always be in motion as I was reading, as the protagonist is constantly traveling between towns and some terrifying sensorial experiences (which speak to the incredible imagination of Tutuola and/or some truly inhuman war memories) as he attempts to find his way back to the world of the living, and his own village. Much was made of Tutuola's "Nigerian English" or his "primitive English" both assessments underestimate the rich new meanings, layers of meaning, and simultaneously varied perspectives that Tutuola is able to bring to the fore that wouldn't be otherwise available through an employ of "standard English" in the novel's narrative. I wouldn't hesitate to read it again.

5. Open the Door: The Life and Music of Betty Carter (2002) - William R. Bauer. This is on the 'books that I dreamed of and didn't even know existed' list. Yes, there's a lot to be said for perusing library shelves. Still reading, so not writing until finished.

6. Kinky Gazpacho: Life, Love, and Spain (2008) - Lori L. Tharps. This book operates in layers. I think Tharps' sometimes understated writing must be the Midwestern influence emerging as Tharps was born and raised in Wisconsin, though now claims Philly as her home. It was definitely a richer experience reading the book a second time. I do think this understated quality, especially when it comes to issues of race and identity and racism are what has made this memoir a success: no one need feel alienated from or implicated by hurtful episodes in Tharp's narrative if you don't read it too deeply. However, the flipside of this is some people may not readily identify with her experiences, or her response to them. The story amiably follows her development from invisible chameleon into a woman comfortable with herself, and the life she builds with her husband, a Spainard who rediscovers his country through her journey.

6. Goodbye, Little Rock and Roller (2004) - Marshall Chapman. This memoir by prolific songwriter Chapman, a would-be southern debutant gone bad, made clear to me particular aspects of the dynamics of gender, sexuality, race and rock 'n' roll in the southern United States.

7. Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music (2005) - Blair Tindall. I read this in one day, and finally began to comprehend the bitterness I sometimes pick up on from western concert music conservatory trained musicians. Whew!

8. Shadow in the North: A Sally Lockhart Mystery (2008, reprint) - Philip Pullman. (see below)

9. The Tiger in the Well: A Sally Lockhart Mystery (2008, reprint) - Philip Pullman. A "penny-dreadful" romp. This revisit of a bygone era of British-spawned pulp-fiction is enjoyable escapist fare, except--and this is the big exception--the casting of the "strange man from the orient" or the "Chinaman" in the role of evil villian. Oddly, Chinese women come off a lot better, and there is a finely nuanced portrait of socialism and the emerging Jewish immigrant community in London at the turn of the 20th century evidencing Pullman as capable of better than resorting to tired stereotypes to create plot twists and drama.

10. Rythm Oil: A Journey Through the Music of the American South (2000) - Stanley Booth. Another good text for insight into 'particular aspects of the dynamics of gender, sexuality, race and rock 'n' roll in the southern United States.'

10. 2666 (2008) - Roberto Bolaño (trans. Natasha Wimmer). Let's see if I can get through this by the end of the summer. Not sure if I can maintain focus for 912 pages of layered and sometimes experimental narrative, but I'm game to try!


Saturday, April 04, 2009

Listening In: Haitian Music Roundtable

The inestimable music writer and musician Ned Sublette hipped a bunch of us to this 24 March 2009 roundtable on Haitian music at The New Yorker moderated by writer Sasha Frere-Jones on his New Yorker blog. Here's Frere-Jones description of the roundtable and its origins:

The idea for this roundtable started with Madison Smartt Bell, and a post he
wrote about Haitian music for the New York Times’s Paper Cuts blog
I knew Wyclef’s music and a few other names on Bell’s list, but I found
myself feeling woefully short on context. I wanted to know what’s going on
now in Haiti. What are the big struggles within and behind Haitian music?
What should people be listening to? To answer these questions, and others, I
enlisted the help of music scholar Garnette Cadogan and brought together
Bell with:

Laurent DuBois, who is the author of “Avengers of the New World: The Story
of the Haitian Revolution
,” and is working on a history of the banjo.

Elizabeth McAlister, who writes about Haitian music and religious culture.
She is the author of “Rara! Vodou, Power, and Performance in Haiti and its
,” and produced the Smithsonian Folkways CD “Rhythms of Rapture:
Sacred Musics of Haitian Vodou

Ned Sublette, the author of “The World That Made New Orleans,” “Cuba and Its
,” and the forthcoming “The Year Before the Flood.”

Edwidge Danticat, a novelist and author of the memoir “Brother, I’m Dying.”

Garnette Cadogan himself, who is at work on a book about rock-reggae
superstar Bob Marley.

The conversation is theirs. I’m here only as student and moderator

Read on... Frere-Jones indicates there's "More to come." I certainly hope so!


Monday, March 30, 2009

Film/Video, Acting & Writing Workshops - NYC

Yes, it's that time when the ice melts and similarly thoughts and creative energies start to unthaw, and one's mind turns to that project that's been nagging at the back of the brain. Or the one that's sitting on shelf somewhere, waiting for when there's more time...

Well, if you're in the NYC-area the time might be now since both Third World Newsreel (TWN) and The Frederick Douglass Creative Arts Center are starting their Spring workshops in filmmaking, acting, directing for the stage, and creative writing (including playwriting, writing for television, and screenwriting). It's a long listing, but dive won't know if you like it until you get a little wet! If after reading you're still hesitant, or holding your cash to pay for essentials, you can still read about the filmmaking side of things at The Independent (formerly the Independent Film & Video Monthly, published by the Association of Independent Video & Filmmakers).

Spring TWN Evening Workshops
"The Spring TWN Wednesday Night Workshops are starting on March 25th! Register now!"

Wednesday Night Workshop Series (But not always on Wednesdays!)
Walk-in seminars on production topics you need - from production management, podcasting and new media production, sound recording and new camera technology. All classes are $20 ($10 for low income) unless otherwise noted. The workshops take place at Third World Newsreel. Package rate available: $80 for all six sessions ($40 for low income). Register now

The Spring season starts March 25th with 2 Free Work-in-Progress screenings. The goals of the screenings are to solicit feedback and lively discussion with the filmmaker to help shape the films' direction before final cuts. Limited seating, so you must RSVP at by March 21. Screenings begin at 6:30 PM at the TWN office, 545 Eighth Avenue, 10th Floor.

Wednesday, March 25, 6:30 PM
Work-In-Progress Screening: White: A Study in Color by Joel Katz
Please join TWN Board member Joel Katz (director of Strange Fruit, 2002) for a documentary/essay about what it means to be white in America. Both a personal memoir and a sociological study, White: A Study in Color will put the notion of "post-racial" America under a critical lens. From the Obama ascendancy to the predictions of population demographers that by the year 2042 whites will become America's largest minority, the very notion of being white is ripe for scrutiny. Where has 'white' come from, and where is it going? FREE, Limited Seating, RSVP Req.

Wednesday, April 1, 6:30 PM
Work-In-Progress Screening: Changing Face of Harlem by Shawn Batey
TWN Production Workshop alumna, Shawn Batey presents a one-hour documentary that reviews development in Harlem over the last twenty years and ponders the future of the community. From the voices of residents, business owners, politicians, developers and clergy, this documentary reveals feelings of betrayal and hope, deferred dreams, and struggles of a neighborhood. The film illustrates how, in the years of the 1980s and 1990s, the New York City government along with non-profit faith based organizations saved and revamped the abandoned vacant housing stock that became synonymous with Harlem. FREE, Limited Seating, RSVP Req.

Wednesday, April 8, 6:30 PM
Sound Recording: Tips for better results, and a look at New Gear! With JT Takagi
One thing that a lot of indie projects suffer from: problematic sound. An intro to getting decent sound and a look at some of the most popular mixers, hard drive recorders and radio mikes, courtesy of Professional Sound Services. $20 ($10 for low income).

Tuesday, April 28, 6:30 PM
Guerilla Web 2.0 with Andreas Jackson
Do you have an intriguing message, product, or service but don't know where to start to connect to the global audience of the World Wide Web? Andreas Jackson, Director of On-Line and Business Development for the Hip-Hop Association presents a one-stop shop of social media and technology to create and disseminate a compelling campaign throughout the blogosphere. Topics including blogging, podcasting, RSS, e-mail blast, search engine optimization and more are discussed and demonstrated in an interactive environment. A must for filmmakers! $20 ($10 for low income).

Wednesday, May 6, 6:30 PM
Vision, Cinematography and the RED Camera with Arthur Jafa
You can get 35mm quality with this camera - at a fraction of the cost. Features like CHE have been shot with it. But, as always, it's not just the gear - it's your vision and concept that makes the difference. Jafa, cultural critic/worker and visual artist - is also a DP and filmmaker with credits ranging from Spike Lee's Crooklyn, to his and Julie Dash's Daughters of the Dust and Manthia Diawara's Rouch in Reverse. He'll show his RED, but also talk about envisioning the captured image. $20 ($10 for low income).

Wednesday, May 13th, 6:30 PM
Master Class with Thomas Allen Harris: Presenting His New Film and Multimedia Project Through The Lens Darkly
Thomas Allen Harris, the founder and President of Chimpanzee Productions, will discuss the evolution of his work and the new direction of his company into the realm of new media. Chimpanzee's innovative and award-winning films have received critical acclaim at International film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Toronto, FESPACO, Outfest, Flaherty and Cape Town and have been broadcast on PBS, the Sundance Channel, ARTE, as well as CBC, Swedish broadcasting Network and New Zealand Television.

To Be Scheduled:
Producing New Media with Ann Bennett
Production Planning and Budgeting
NYSCA Application with Don Palmer

All classes at:
Third World Newsreel
545 Eighth Avenue, 10th Flr
between 37th and 38th Streets
1, 2, 3, A, C, E to Times Square

Final Cut Pro and DVD Studio Pro Workshop - 6 week course on Saturday Afternoons - Class begins in mid April
Learn to edit through examining films, exploring media literacy principles - and learning Final Cut Pro and DVD Studio Pro, in a 6 week course on Saturday afternoons from 1-3 PM. The class costs $300 and pre-registration is required. Register today! Deadline is March 31st. Email:

All editing classes on Saturdays at 1 PM at:
Third World Newsreel
545 Eighth Avenue, 10th Flr
between 37th and 38th Streets
1, 2, 3, A, C, E to Times Square

The Frederick Douglass Creative Arts Center
"Spring is here with an Open Houses, Readings and Workshops. Hoping you can join us! As part of our Open House, we will be hosting aCelebration of the Life and Work of Ihsan Bracy. A short bio for Ihsan is at the bottom of this e-mail."

Saturday, April 4th, 2009
From 12:30 to 2:30, Celebration of the Life and Work of Ihsan Bracy
From 3:00 to 6:00pm Open House for Spring Workshop Cycle
Spring '09 Open House
An opportunity to learn more about the 8-week workshops and classes being offered this Spring beginning the week of April 13th and meet some of the instructors.
more info at
Wednesday, April 15th
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Free Staged Reading of Prodigal Blood By Jaymes Jorsling at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture located at 135th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard.

More Info at
Monday, April 11
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Writing and Re-Writing the Novel
Led by the award winning author Grace Edwards
An emphasis in this class on those who have already their first draft but also open to those looking to get started. Sponsored in part by NYSCA/ Literature Grant.

Monday, April 13
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Advanced Acting Workshop
Led by the award winning director/co-founder of the Classical Theatre of Harlem
Alfred Preisser. Monologue, scene study, and audition technique. Includes play and character analysis, and uses of improvisation and theatre games to explore character and encourage creative freedom.This workshop is sponsored in part by funding from NYSCA/Special Arts Services.

Monday, April 13
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Writing for Daytime Television
Sojourna Collier
A workshop for those interested in drafting a daytime television pilot or with an interest in learning to write for that field. This workshop is made possible in part by support from NYSCA/Electronic Media and Film.

Monday, April 13
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Advanced Playwriting
Leslie Lee
A workshop directed to those who have at least begun the first draft of their play or have a good idea of what they want to write and have finished a draft of a play previously. This class is supported in part by funding from NYSCA/Special Arts Services.

Tuesday, April 14
7:00 - 9:00 pm
Creative Writing
Prize-Winning author and editor and also former FDCAC student, Ms. Thomas takes the class through a selection of writing exercises that include the short story and non-fiction essays, with an eye to assisting in the process of selecting the style of writing most appropriate for the individual students goals. This workshop is sponsored in part by support from NYSCA/Literature.

Tuesday, April 14
7:00 - 9:00 pm
Short Story
Nathasha Brooks-Harris
A workshop involved in not only writing and polishing your short stories, but also in offering guidance in where and how to get your stories published. This workshop is sponsored in part by support from NYSCA/Literature.

Tuesday, April 14
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Shakespeare Performance Workshop
Led by the award winning director/co-founder of the Classical Theatre of Harlem
Alfred Preisser. An intensive class dealing with Shakespearean text from the actor's viewpoint. Introduction to scansion and script analysis, the style and form of Elizabethan Theatre, and in-depth scene and monologue work.This workshop is sponsored in part by funding from NYSCA/Special Arts Services.

Tuesday, April 14
7:00 - 9:00 pm
Childrens Books
Laura Pegram
This fiction workshop AND craft class includes a close reading of excerpts from diverse voices within the genre (e.g., Angela Johnson, Cristina Garcia, Sherman Alexie, Christopher Paul Curtis, Karen Hesse, etc.), as well as a structured written commentary. Emerging writers at all levels will learn to develop their craft and the language of critique during this intensive workshop. This workshop is sponsored in part by support from NYSCA/Literature.

Tuesday, April 14
7:00 - 9:00 pm
Acting Jacqueline Wade
A workshop for all levels of actors. Sponsored in part by support from NYSCA/Special Arts Services.

Tuesday, April 14 (tentatively scheduled)
7:00 pm - 9:00pm
Fusion Film Writing
Alan Zatkow
In this workshop for which the Screen 1 workshop is a prerequisite, the class will work on reworking their film scripts, and get an understanding of how the industry works. This workshop is made possible in part by support from NYSCA/Electronic Media and Film.

Wednesday, April 15
7:00 - 9:00 pm
Jacqueline Johnson
A workshop devoted to the structure and creation of the poem with insight on where and how to get published. Made possible in part by support from NYSCA/Literature.

Wednesday, April 15
7:00 pm - 9:00pm
Alan Zatkow
In this workshop the class will begin the first draft of their screenplay getting feedback from both the class and the instructor with insights into what to do once the screenplay is completed. This workshop is made possible in part by support from NYSCA/Electronic Media and Film.

Wednesday, April 15
7:00 pm - 9:00pm
Beginning Playwriting
Sophia Romma
In this workshop the class will begin the first draft of their play getting feedback from both the class and the instructor. There will also be discussions of individual goals for the completed works. Sponsored in part by support from NYSCA/Special Arts Services.

Wednesday, April 15
7:00 pm - 9:00pm
Literary Non-Fiction/Memoir
Michel Marriott
In this workshop the class will explore all forms of non-fiction writing, including journalism. Sponsored in part by support from NYSCA/Literature.

Wednesday, April 15
7:00 pm - 9:00pm
Beginning your Novel
Jaira Placide
In this workshop the class will begin the process of taking that idea for a novel and transfer it onto the page. Sponsored in part by support from NYSCA/Literature.

Thursday, April 16
6:00 pm - 8:00pm
Led by the award winning director/co-founder of the Classical Theatre of Harlem
Alfred Preisser. An introduction to the role of the director in creating work for the stage. Covers choice and analysis of play, working with the actor to shape a performance, use of physical elements (scenic, costume, music) to strengthen interpretation and expression of the "director's voice". Sponsored in part by support from NYSCA/Special Arts Services.

Thursday, April 16
7:00 pm - 9:00pm
Advanced Screenwriting
Myla Churchill
In this workshop the class will edit their screenplay, getting feedback from both the class and the instructor with insights into what to do to improve their work. Sponsored in part by support from NYSCA/Special Arts Services.

Thursday, April 16
7:00 pm - 9:00pm
Crafting the Novel-From Concept to Publication by Donna Hill
This class is for those who have a story concept or draft of their novel and those who wish to flesh out their novel in progress. Made possible in part by support from NYSCA/Literature.

Frederick Douglass Creative Arts Center
270 West 96th Street
New York, NY 10025
Fax 212-864-3474
Web Site:

About ihsan bracy
Paths of Sanctuary is author Ihsan Bracy's second work of fiction with Cool Grove Press (Feb. 2008). His first book Ibo Landing: an offering of short stories, (CGP 1998) is scheduled to be work-shopped by NYU in preparation for an upcoming Broadway run by The Mirror Repertory Company where Ihsan is the Arts and Education Coordinator. As artistic Director and Founder of The Tribe Ensemble, a multi-ethnic theatre repertory company based out of the Jamaica Arts Center for thirteen years, Ihsan authored and directed Against the Sun, the Southampton Slave Revolt of 1831. A former member of The Family (La Familia) Inc., his credits include prolonged theatre workshops at Bayview Correctional Facility for Women, the Spofford Home for Juveniles and Riker's Island, which culminated in a forty prison inner city tour. Ihsan directed Juan Shamsul Alam's Benpires which received a Pulitzer Prize nomination in theatre.

A graduate of Bennington College, Ihsan Bracy was former member of the New York State Council on the Arts and former chair of the Theatre Department of Talent Unlimited High School, NYC's second largest performing arts high school. Ihsan's major educational credits include directing five Manhattan, three NYC and a third place National Shakespeare Championship as well as an ARTS National Finalist in Theatre. As a Brooklyn based spoken word artist, Ihsan performed all across the city including a long running appearance at The Triad as part of composer Michael Raye's Soul Gathering. Author of two volumes of poetry, cadre and the ubangi files, Ihsan has twice been a CAPS Finalist and has been elected to the New Renaissance Writer's Guild.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Coming Up...Jazz Fest & Odetta Tribute

You know summer is around the corner when the month-long Jazz Festivals start occurring. Do jazz and summer go together? Well, probably no more than the idea of music, fun, and hot nights going together. So here comes the Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium's 10th Annual Jazz Festival April 1 - 30, 2009.

CBJC's 10th jubilee celebration of an American original art form will feature: Opening Day Free Community Concert (April 1st), jazz drum legend Roy Haynes (April 4th), Brooklyn Jazz Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Dave Valentin (April 16th), Houston Person (April 17th), Jazz: The Women's View Point (April 18th), Melba Moore (April 18th), Ronnie Mathews/Freddie Hubbard Tribute (April 19th), Jazz & The Fine Arts concert, BAMcafe Live weekend (April 24/25), Youth Jazz Jamboree/Wellness Day (April 25th), educational symposiums, programming for senior citizens and individuals with development disabilities, jazz performances, and conferences in churches, restaurants, clubs, and cultural institutions throughout Brooklyn.
A note: I don't see Melba Moore on the festival calendar on 4/18, a featuring "Jazz: The Women's View Point Panel Discussion & Performance with Ntozake Shange, Mickey Davidson, Akua Dixon, Carline Ray, and Camile Yarborough. However, I do see The Melba Joyce Quartet on 4/24, so I don't know if that's a typo or what.

The name "Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium" does beg the question of if there's also a non-Central Brooklyn Jazz organization with a competing festival--well, it's Brooklyn, home of a lot of musicians and other artist. So yes, there's the six year old Brooklyn Jazz Festival
(formerly Williamsburg Jazz Festival) and the Brooklyn Jazz Underground which also has a two-year old festival. What's notable about these other two festivals is their emphasis on featuring both work by younger artists and work that pushes the boundaries of jazz, as well as their ethnic make-up. There is a greater European and European American presence in both organizations and as well as in their festivals, particularly in the membership of the Brooklyn Jazz Underground. Generational and multi-national and multi-ethnic tensions are a part of the history of jazz, although that wasn't always the case. Still it's no surprise to see these elements evidenced and/or responded to in the ethos of various organizations. Arguably, no one organization should have to bear the responsibility for defining what jazz is--past, present or future--since the history of what gets/got counted as jazz and who gets/got counted as jazz musicians is so complicated anyway.

Odetta Tribute: Princeton University, Thursday April 9, 2009
Perhaps not the most obvious locale for an Odetta tribute, but the way was paved with the James Brown Symposium in 2007. Plus Princeton is becoming a hotbed of performance studies scholars. Filmmaker Ela Troyano was just there with her "documentary bolero" on the phenomenal La Lupe: Queen of Latin Soul, hosted by Alex Vazquez, performance studies scholar, new faculty in English and Oh! Industry blog founder/contributor. Dr. Judith Casselberry, cultural anthropologist and currently a visiting scholar at the institution, also is a long-time member of Toshi Reagon's band Big Lovely. (Odetta Memorial image by Stephen Alcorn ©2008)

This Odetta event is a two-parter, with an afternoon symposium and an evening concert featuring Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, Sonia Sanchez, Lizz Wright and Toshi Reagon, among others. Tickets to the concert are free, but you have to get them in advance, and I'm not sure they're going to be available online. You may have to bribe a New Jersey friend or relative to go over to the Princeton, New Jersey campus and get them. Here's the info:

APRIL 9, 2009

4:30pm • McCosh Hall 10 • Panel Discussion

“Odetta, Folk Music, and Social Activism”

• Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon • Professor Matthew Frye Jacobson • Mr. Oscar Brand • Ms. Olivia Greer • Professor Albert J. Raboteau • Dr. Judith Casselberry • Moderatored by Professor Judith Weisenfeld

8:30pm • Richardson Auditorium • Concert*

• Professor Matt Frye Jacobson • Geoffrey Holder • Lizz Wright • Ruby Dee • Guy Davis • Sonia Sanchez • Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon • Toshi Reagon

*Tickets are complimentary and required for admission to the concert.

Ticket Availability:
• General Public
Frist Campus Center Ticket Office
Available: Friday, March 27
Limit of two tickets per person.

Doors open at 8:00pm for ticket holders. Open admission at 8:20pm for any remaining seats.

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