Every day is Kids Day!

Yesterday was Father’s Day. Upon reminding my son (he made me a lovely card on the Friday), he asked “why isn’t there a kids day?” to which I replied, “every day is Kids Day!” I’ll let you debate the validity of that statement but it rings true for me.

Then today, one of my Twitter mutuals told me that there was a Kids Day (Dia das Criancas) in Brazil on 12th October. This reminded me of Japan’s Children’s Day (こどもの日, Kodomo no Hi) from an old Pokémon episode. So, how many Kids Days are there? According to Wikipedia, there are ~51 Children’s Days observed by countries around the world. While that’s not every day, that’s still nearly 14% of the Gregorian calendar. Most of us only get one birthday!

The official International Children’s Day is on 20th November so kids could get at least two Kids Days a year. In Chile, Children’s Day is officially recognized as the first Wednesday of October but it is actually observed on the second Sunday of August where children are bought toys. Different countries have different traditions, ranging from remembrance (Paraguay) to honour and relaxation (New Zealand’s Children’s Day pays tribute to children as a taonga, the Māori word for treasure)

And that’s why every day is Kids Day for me because children should be honoured and loved every single day. The world can be a horrible place and it can be challenging to nurture children in that kind of environment and explain why bad things happen. It’s important to show love, patience, gratitude, and compassion so they can know what those feelings are and keep them in their hearts. Amongst all the hugs and presents!

Maro Itoje presented an exhibition on Black histories missing from the UK curriculum #

Speaking at the opening of the exhibition earlier this month, Itoje, who was educated at the private boarding school Harrow, says one of the constants in his schooling was “the lack of Black and African history that I was taught”. Moreover, when African history was on the syllabus, it was “a single story or narrative that was told”. He adds: “That story was often depressing, and quite often a saviour/survivor narrative. I want to try and show a fuller picture.”

Fumi Ishino's 'Index of Fillers' chronicles Japanese culture in the 80s and 90s

someone making stir fry in a wok

Index of Fillers is the artist’s second monograph following his acclaimed publication rowing a tetrapod (MACK, 2017) and is the first artist book published by Assembly. Composed of found images of Japanese culture from the late 1980s and 1990s along with Ishino’s own photographs, Index of Fillers is a recreation of the artist’s elusive memory of growing up during this era in Japan.

I like the Japanese comic strip panelling he uses for his images. There’s nothing dramatised or embellished about the subject matter; it’s literally an index of cultural fillers and while that may seem mundane to some, it’ll be refreshing to others.

Buy it on the Assembly Art website.

Solange turns Saint Heron into a multidisciplinary creative agency #

Exciting news for Black and Brown creativity:

Originally launched in 2013 as a digital hub for cultural conversations, Saint Heron’s mission has been to preserve, collect, and uplift stories, works, and archives that amplify Black and brown voices. Now, in its next phase, it will release a dossier of literary and visual retrospectives of Black family and artist lineages through a series of temporary digital exhibitions, viewable on the Saint Heron website. Available for seven to 10 days, they will offer an in-depth look at emerging talent across art, sculpture, photography, design, and artisanship. 

Cultrface is 6 years old today

As I write this, there are only 34 minutes left of the site’s birthday left but better late than never.

The site has changed a fair bit since my last birthday post back in 2019 and so has my output. This site has been my most enjoyable to update and research for and I’m happy with the direction it’s going in. Thanks to everyone who has read my posts, linked to them, and shared them, it means a lot.

Here’s to another year of culture!

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Room Rodeo: a Chicago student’s film about Black cowboys

Bill Pickett

I watched Concrete Cowboy a few weeks ago and while I liked it and found it interesting, I felt like it was missing something. It’s by no means the first movie about Black cowboys (see: The Black Cowboy, Harlem Rides the Range, and Black Rodeo) it’s the most high-profile, mixing Hollywood actors with IRL cowboys.

But next week, there’ll be a new film putting its hat into the ring so to speak and it’s called Room Rodeo.

The film is about Jamil, a Chicago boy trying to prove he is a descendant of Bill Pickett, a Black cowboy, rodeo, actor, and ProRodeo Hall of Famer. It stars D’Andre Davis as Jamil, and mixes drama with documentary interviews and footage of Black cowboys and historians.

His dad stands him up. He acts out. Now Jamil is on punishment in his room. He’s also finally reached the fifth grade and has a history project due.

If only his dad would tell him about his great grandpa, rodeo star Billie P – like he promised. But just when Jamil’s dad calls and things begin to look up, the cool kid from class calls with a humiliating declaration: Black cowboys aren’t real. Now, Jamil must drum up the courage to embark on a quest to discover the truth on his own – all from the comfort of his room. With some help from a dubious heirloom, Jamil puts aside whispers of doubt to venture into a fantasy dreamscape where he claims authorship of his own story.

Room Rodeo will be screened online for 24 hours as part of the creator’s thesis requirements, starting on 12th May at 7 pm. A virtual Q&A session will follow on 13th May, also at 7pm.

The Klingon language and its influence on modern culture #

Like any story worth telling, the history of the Klingon language begins with improvisation. Some reports—including the DVD commentary for Star Trek: The Motion Picture Director’s Cut—maintain the genesis of the language rests with James Doohan (who played Montgomery “Scotty” Scott on the original show) and the film’s associate producer Jon Povill. The two had a meeting where they established a few basic words the aliens would utter throughout the movie. Doohan recorded the words for veteran Trek actor Mark Lenard, who portrayed a Klingon captain in the film. Lenard transcribed the words phonetically and practiced them to nail the delivery of his lines in the film. Doohan and Povill didn’t develop the language further. That honorable duty befell another man who wouldn’t enter the picture until Wrath of Khan’s editing phase.

Enter legendary linguist Marc Okrand, the creator of the Klingon language.

See also: Triqqa Pli’c: a Pizza Hut advert for Klingons

Islamic tartan of Scotland #

The Islamic Tartan Concept weaves together the different strands of Scottish and Muslim heritage creating the fabric of the future.

The theological explanation of the design is as follows:

– Blue to represent the Scottish Flag
– Green to represent the colour of Islam
– Five white lines running through the pattern to represent the five pillars of Islam
– Six gold lines to represent the six articles of faith
– Black square to represent the Holy Kabah

The lost golden city of Luxor, Egypt

Archaeologists have unearthed a 3,000-year-old city in Luxor, Egypt.

The “lost golden city” dates back to the 18th-dynasty of King Amenhotep III (1391 to 1353 BC). Experts believe the city may have been used by Tutankhamun.

Dr Zahi Hawass, a former antiquities minister who lead the mission, said:

“Many foreign missions searched for this city and never found it. […] Within weeks, to the team’s great surprise, formations of mud bricks began to appear in all directions. What they unearthed was the site of a large city in a good condition of preservation, with almost complete walls, and with rooms filled with tools of daily life.”

via The Guardian

Amongst the discoveries were items of jewellery, pottery, scarab beetle amulets and mud bricks “bearing the seals of Amenhotep III”. Let’s hope none of this finds its way into the British Museum as they have enough stolen artefacts as it is.

Weird and wild Wikipedia rabbit holes

During my first attempt at a university education away from home, I spent a lot of time falling down Wikipedia rabbit holes to combat loneliness. It filled my head with even more useless information but I had fun doing it.

Back in January, writers from The Ringer discussed some of the weirdest Wikipedia wormholes they’d found themselves in. Some were straightforward like John Gonzalez’s trip from Prometheus (the movie) to Prometheus (the Ancient Greek god who stole fire from the Gods to give to humanity, which he made from clay, and suffered the consequences).

Others were more long-winded like Michael Baumann’s route from Sir Arthur Currie, an officer in the Canadian army who fought in WWI, to Sea Dragon, a concept-designed rocket that could launch from the sea (At 150m long and 23m in diameter, it would have been the largest rocket ever built.)

My point is: All Wikipedia wormholes lead to giant rockets and/or giant explosions.

For me, I can’t remember any specific Wikiholes but I’ll make some time and report back.

African Americans in Soviet Russia

George Tynes, flanked by Soviet army cadets

Zakkiyah Job wrote an interesting piece on the great African American escape to Soviet Russia.

Under Stalin’s de facto policy of ethnic cleansing, it’s hard to picture the USSR as any kind of paradise for persecuted minorities, but in stark contrast to the trauma and systemic oppression that people of colour had long-faced in the many parts of the western world, Mother Russia poised itself as a beacon of equality, ahead of the historical curve.

The likes of Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, and Dorothy West found themselves in the USSR, much to the chagrin of the American federal government. But the history of Black people in Russia goes further back to include people such as Abram Petrovich Gannibal, a Cameroonian aristocrat who started an Afro-Russian dynasty in the 18th century.

After Ottoman forces kidnapped him as a boy from Cameroon, he was sold to a Russian diplomat and “gifted” to Peter the Great, who publicly adopted and freed him. Abram became a military engineer, a high-ranking general and a nobleman. He is also a maternal great-grandfather to the famed Russian poet Alexander Pushkin.

For more on the subject, check out the following list of texts:

A brief history of DisneyQuest

Cancelled - Disney Quest

Bright Sun Films‘s Cancelled series looks at various projects that were cancelled for one reason or another. In S1E2, they looked at DisneyQuest, an ambitious Disney theme park that I had the luxury of visiting twice before it shut down (once in 2010, once in 2016).

Disney planned to build DisneyQuest theme parks across the US, starting with a park in Downtown Disney (now Disney Springs and my visits were before and after the name change) in 1998 and Chicago in 1999. However, low attendance at the Chicago site resulted in its closure 2 years later and the project was ultimately cancelled. But the main Downtown Disney site remained open until it finally closed in 2017.

It’s one of Disney’s many project failures but because Disney owns everything and earns billions from its successes, it’s not so bad! I liked DisneyQuest at least.

Chiso is a 466-year old Japanese kimono house #

Truly great gowns, beautiful gowns from Chiso, a traditional Japanese textile producer in Kyoto, Japan.

When Yozaemon Chikiriya established his garment business, Chiso, in Kyoto, his primary customers were monks who required fine clerical vestments. That was 1555. More than four centuries later, the company’s intricately cut robes are coveted as luxury garments, and Chiso—having persevered through shrinking economies, shifting trends, wars, and more—has found itself among the last of Japan’s bespoke kimono houses.

Renowned's John Dean on Zoom calls with Angela Davis

Angela Davis wearing a Renowned t-shirt featuring herself

Renowned is a streetwear brand created by John Dean III and in his interview with In The Know, he discussed how it all began and his Zoom calls with Angela Davis.

I had the opportunity to have a Zoom meeting with Angela Davis. It was amazing. Talking to her is like talking to fairy godmother; this icon—she’s a feminist, philanthropist, scholar, the total representation of culture. For her to wear my t-shirt and send me a picture just shows how powerful the t-shirt was but just also how the messaging is effective.

Angela Davis appears in her own exclusive Renowned line alongside the likes of Huey Newton and Kathleen Cleaver.

Stream the interview below.

John Dean's streetwear brand, Renowned, is a celebration of Black heroes and Black culture