Iconic Blaxploitation posters

AIGA Eye on Design looked at 5 Blaxploitation posters that defined the era including Super Fly and Foxy Brown:

This poster is rare in how women were depicted. Women in Blaxploitation film posters often were just there to adorn men. This image changes the narrative and features actress Pam Grier front and center, independent in her own strength. “Her films are the best of what Blaxploitation had to offer,” says Howard. “She brought an undeniable movie star quality to her performances. Her posters are so striking because she’s so unique to the history of cinema—she’s never rescued by men. She has agency. She’s sexually objectified but is the driver of the action in her films. Her role has endured in history compared to others from the time.”

And speaking of Foxy Brown, check out the fitting room scene from Jackie Brown but synced together, both starring Pam Grier.

Marijn van Hoorn's predictions for 2022

I’ve been following Marijn’s site for some time and they made a list of predictions for this year covering a range of topics including the UK, the US, tech, and entertainment. Some are quite bold but make sense, others less so but still make sense. A few of my “favourites”/ones I can see happening:

– There will be no mask or distancing mandate in England by the autumn equinox. The “plan B” measures will likely be relaxed at some point in March — perhaps earlier if Tory backbenchers get too fed up.

– The booster jab rollout will proceed unremarkably, as we all silently accept that we’re just going to have to treat covid like the ’flu now.

– The “metaverse” will neither be a gigantic flop nor as big as its proponents hope. Some people will quietly adopt virtual office spaces, teenagers will get VR headsets for their birthday, and furries will continue being furries, but there will be no great revolution.

– The NFT bubble will burst. Sorry, i mean, uh… the token that represents your claim of ownership to a jpeg of the NFT bubble will burst?

Please let that NFT bubble burst. I hate them. As for the boldest prediction? Queen Elizabeth II’s death (but after the Platinum Jubilee celebrations):

Queen Elizabeth will die. I say this every year, but i genuinely do think this will be the year — it’s not uncommon for widows to pass shortly after their spouses, and she’s been attending notably fewer public events recently.

I’ll come back to these as I’m sure they will too.

What's a 'jawn'? Well, it could be anything.

Dan Nosowitz wrote about the word jawn for Atlas Obscura and its linguistic ubiquity:

The word “jawn” is unlike any other English word. In fact, according to the experts that I spoke to, it’s unlike any other word in any other language. It is an all-purpose noun, a stand-in for inanimate objects, abstract concepts, events, places, individual people, and groups of people. It is a completely acceptable statement in Philadelphia to ask someone to “remember to bring that jawn to the jawn.”

It is a word without boundaries or limits. Growing up in the suburbs just west of the city, I heard it used mostly to refer to objects and events. In the 2015 movie Creed, a character asks a sandwich maker to “put some onions on that jawn.” But it can get much more complex. It can refer to abstract nouns such as theories; a colleague of Jones routinely refers to “Marxist jawn.” It can also refer to people or groups of people. “Side-jawn,” meaning a someone with whom the speaker cheats on his or her significant other, “is a uniquely Philly thing as far as I can tell,” says Jones. “And not something you want to be.”

The only time I’ve ever heard the word ‘jawn’ or used it was in context to a song or beat. Here are some articles where I’ve used the word:

It is versatile!

Alan Macleod on the War in Afghanistan and its influence on Hollywood

It’s common(ish) knowledge that the MCU has heavy affiliations with the US military with Iron Man (2008) needing approval from the Pentagon on scripting and plots in exchange for locations, equipment, money, and props. All in the name of war propaganda against the Middle East and Asia. Alan Mcleod expanded on this subject for Mint Press News:

If the occupation [of Afghanistan] was so unpopular and weak, how was it able to last so long? The Afghanistan Papers — a trove of military documents leaked to The Washington Post — showed that high-ranking government officials knew that the war was unwinnable but were openly lying to the public about how it was going, all while NGOs and military contractors made billions. 

But documents obtained by journalist Tom Secker under the Freedom of Information Act and shared with MintPress also show that Hollywood also played a significant role, knowingly collaborating with the Pentagon to produce pro-war propaganda about Afghanistan, ultimately helping to artificially buoy public opinion on the unwinnable campaign. This typically included giving the Pentagon direct editorial control over scripts and even removing any anti-war content or scenes that would show the military in a negative light. In exchange, the military offered its human resources, its bases as locations for filming, and its wide range of hi-tech vehicles to be used in movies. This quid pro quo effectively turned much of Hollywood, and the entertainment industry more generally, into cheerleaders for imperialism. 

Mcleod looks primarily at films outside the MCU such as 12 Strong, Lone Survivor, and Charlie Wilson’s War but its the section on Iron Man that really boiled my blood:

The original “Iron Man” script was decidedly pacifist, with protagonist Tony Stark attempting to use his enormous manufacturing empire to battle against war profiteers and the military industrial complex. However, after the Pentagon got involved, with Philip Strub again acting as the military liaison, the tone of the movie was radically altered. Much of the fighting in the movie takes place in modern-day Afghanistan, with the U.S. military serving the role of the good guys. In this sense, the film’s stance on war was reversed.

In exchange, the production agreement notes that the military would allow the movie to be shot at Edwards Air Force Base, just north of Los Angeles; provide “approximately 150 extras at Edwards AFB to play military members from various services and Afghan nationals;” help produce around 100 uniforms; and provide the opportunity to use a range of expensive aircraft.

My privileged anger is misguided and maybe even a little naïve but damnit, I liked Iron Man. At least we got Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane.

Living While Black, in Japan

Living While Black, In Japan | All Things Considered | NPR

“Living While Black, in Japan” is a film by photojournalist and filmmaker team Keith Bedford and Shiho Fukada. They are both married and moved to Japan three years ago. Fukada was born in Japan and missed her family while living in New York where she met Bedford.

Bedford is African American. He says he likes living in Japan but there is a sense of being an outsider or a sense of being the other. He says this is a lot of what Fukada went through living in America.

They discussed moving back to America but then the George Floyd killing happened.

Fukada said she worried that something like this could happen to Bedford or her son. And she wanted to learn how others in the Black American community in Japan felt about it. This film touches on what it’s like living abroad for a group of Black Americans in Japan.

The film features interviews with men and women discussing how racism and encounters with police in the US, contributed to their decision to leave.

Blackness and Japan related: Yasuke, an African samurai in Japan and the Black polyglot who speaks Japanese, Mandarin, and Arabic

(via NPR)

It's a federal crime to sell a pig carcass if it has a 'pronounced sexual odor.'

When I first read that quote from Mike Chase, a criminal defence lawyer, I had to re-read it about 4 times before I looked into what it meant. Krissy Clark explained what a ‘pronounced sexual odor’ was in more detail and it makes sense:

Between 10 and 20 percent of uncastrated male pigs have, well, the technical term is “boar taint.” It’s pheromones, which animals produce when they come into heat. Walter Jeffries, a pig farmer in rural Vermont, told us “sexual” doesn’t really do the smell justice.

“Go grab a guy and have him sweat on an undershirt for you real well, and that’s the smell,” he said. “To me it smells like shit and armpits.”

You still might be wondering though: Why did the government have to get involved? If people don’t want smelly meat, they don’t have to buy it, right? But here’s the thing: You can only smell boar taint when the meat is warm, not when you buy it refrigerated at the store.

So an unscrupulous pig farmer might be tempted to sell a little tainted meat, knowing it’d go unnoticed until some unsuspecting bacon-lover goes and cooks it. If enough sexual-smelling pork gets in to the pork supply, people are just going stop buying pork.  

Which is where title 21, sections 610 and 676 of the U.S. code of statutes, and title 9, section 311.20 of the Code of Federal Regulations come in. If you’re caught selling a pig carcass with a pronounced sexual odor, you could face up to a year in prison or a $1,000 fine. It’s a crime, one that’s maybe not quite as ridiculous as it first sounds.  

In summary, selling pork with strong sex smells could land you in jail and with a fine. Walter’s description was hilarious and may live with me longer than the title of this blog post. The downside is I can smell “shit and armpits” now and I’m nowhere near an abattoir.

Related to illegal animal meat: What was François Mitterrand’s final meal and why was it so controversial?

Dopesick: a miniseries about America's opioid problem

DOPESICK Trailer 2 (2021) Michael Keaton

It’s great to see Michael Keaton in more things these days and that’s a major part of why I’m looking forward to watching Dopesick. Based on the book Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy, the 8-episode series focuses on “the epicenter of America’s struggle with Opioid addiction”.

Keaton stars as Dr. Samuel Finnix, a well-liked doctor in a Virginia mining town who becomes a pusher for a pharmaceutical salesman who sells him OxyContin. Finnix begins to prescribe the drug with devastating effects and finds himself fighting to reclaim his integrity and the lives of his patients.

7 episodes are available to stream on Hulu now (the seventh just came out yesterday) with the final episode scheduled for 17th November. It’ll also be available to stream on the Star content hub of Disney+, Disney+ Hotstar and Star+ from tomorrow.

The pioneering designs of Thomas Miller

Motorola, Bauer & Black, and 7 Up—just some of the names that Thomas Miller worked on during his career at Goldsholl Associates. He’s also best known for his mosaics in the lobby of the DuSable Museum of African-American History in Chicago. The Black American designer worked on everything from logo design to animation, but, like many of his peers in the 20th century, his journey was fraught with racism:

“I had to be super-qualified,” he told Fitzpatrick. “I took things in art that weren’t necessary, like airbrushing and retouching and things you didn’t have to do because I wanted to be prepared in case someone would ask me to. They couldn’t use that as an excuse for me being not qualified.” In the design profession, he discovered another rigid color line: a racism more genteel than a Klan march but no less degrading for the young professional. The Ray-Vogue School, for instance, limited the number of Black students who could enroll. On the job market, Miller experienced racism in moments that could have come from the pages of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. “You’re very talented,” one prospective employer told Miller. “Too bad you are so dark.” Another suggested he could work but only behind a screen, out of sight from clients. 

via AIGA Eye on Design

AIGA awarded Miller the 2021 AIGA Medal for his pioneering work in the design industry.

Read more about Thomas Miller on the Chicago Design Archive website and SoulFul Design.

Sonya Clark's Black hair art

Sonya Clark, “Afro Abe II” (2010), five-dollar bill and thread, 4 x 6 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection (Photo © Sonya Clark; Photo by Lee Stalsworth)

For Hyperallergic, Lowery Stokes Sims reviewed Sonya Clark’s exhibition “Sonya Clark: Tatter, Bristle and Mend which featured at the National Museum of Women in Arts between 3rd March to 27th June this year.

Renowned for her explorations of the cultural and political aspects of hair — specifically Black hair — Clark does not disappoint in this dizzying survey of 100 works executed over the last 25 years. Essays in the catalogue adroitly outline the polemics of black hair in its natural state in our current societal context, complement Clark’s seeming endless hirsute permutations.

The pieces are remarkable in their depictions of the US and their uses of Black hair, something heavily weaponised and abused in that same country. My favourite is “Afro Abe II” (above), a five-dollar bill but Abraham Lincoln has an Afro. I love it so much.

Boston's brutalism

Cast in Concrete: Boston's Brutalism

In Boston, Brutalism is tied closely to City Hall, but the infamous building is far from the only “concrete monstrosity” in the city. Throughout the 1960s and 70s, top architects from around the world took advantage of a rebuilding Boston to design and build what they saw as futuristic, expressive works of art. Brutalism hasn’t gained many fans since then, but public opinion may slowly be changing.

Boston’s City Hall reminds me a lot of the old Central Library in Birmingham (UK, since demolished in 2016) thanks to its inverted ziggurat structure.

Brutalism related: the case for Brutalist architecture, Soviet modernism, brutalism, and post-modernism, and ‘Brutalist Paris’.

Black Archives: a multimedia showcase of the Black experience

Archiving is so important in an information era that favours the new and quickly discards the old when it’s deemed surplus to requirements (read: it’s not making profit). This is especially true for Black cultures and Black Archives works to change that.

[…] Through an evolving visual exploration, Black Archives provides a dynamic accessibility to a Black past, present, and future.

Going beyond the norm, its lens examines the nuance of Black life: alive and ever-vibrant to both the everyday and iconic — providing insight and inspiration to those seeking to understand the legacies that preceded their own.

Besides archiving, Black Archives also offers:

  • Content creation and visual curation
  • Archival research and licensing
  • Social strategy and creative direction

For more, check out the Black Archives website.

How did Frasier afford his Seattle apartment on a radio show host's wage?

During my Frasier journey, I found myself asking certain questions time and time again. Will Frasier ever stop getting hoisted by his own petard? How did the dog who plays Eddie become such a good actor? Why is this fake National cover of the Frasier theme song better than every other National song? God, Niles is so horny. (More of a comment than a question.) And, most importantly: How the hell did Frasier afford his apartment?

Update: Apparently, a Frasier writer revealed why: they decided he’d “invested the money from his Boston practice very wisely (perhaps in a friend’s Seattle software start-up)”. Thanks to @scottgal for the info and the article he referenced!

(via GQ)

Nina Banks on Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander and her ideas on economic justice

For The Washington Post, Nina Banks (associate professor of economics at Bucknell University) paid tribute to Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, the first African American to gain a doctoral degree in economics. She suggested that Alexander’s ideology could be the key to solving various problems in the US, particularly for African-Americans:

As a proponent of economic justice, Alexander believed that all people had a right to jobs that paid livable wages, and she viewed this as an essential foundation for enjoying democratic rights. As such, she called on the government to provide an equitable distribution of national income and to create public works programs that addressed urgent social needs tied to poverty and deprivation.

In the 1960s, Black anger over mistreatment in urban slums, where decades of White racial hostility and public policy had confined them, and a lack of economic access erupted in a string of uprisings in cities of all shapes and sizes.

Alexander saw the moral dimension of the civil rights cause, but uniquely, she also understood the economic dynamic, thanks to her training. She knew that despite White claims to the contrary, economic uncertainty among Whites was not the cause of racial violence plaguing Black lives. Rather, it merely acted as an accelerant that intensified their scapegoating and racial animus toward Black Americans.

Yet, Alexander’s work and advice got largely ignored.