Archive for MARGINALIA

Wiki-Polanski

blog_wikipolanskiThe arrest of Roman Polanski and the impending extradition attempt by the United States for the filmmaker’s 1977 conviction for having sex with a 13-year-old girl set off such a buzz on Wikipedia that the website’s administrators froze his entry — warring factions were battling over whether the director’s cinematic achievements deserve more space than his extra-legal affairs; Wikipedia’s policies have been under increased scrutiny since it announced last month it would review public edits before they go live, and additions to the site overall have seen a general slump in the past few years — stats show its most frequent editors are a mostly homogeneous group, which is contrary to the idea of the whole project; meanwhile, Criterion released a new version of Polanski’s Repulsion this month, sales of which his arrest will certainly not hurt.

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Ethiopia Everywhere

blog_ethiopiaLast weekend Ethiopian distance runner Haile Gebrselassie, who holds the world record for fastest marathon at 2:03:59, schooled the competition in Berlin for the fourth straight year, calling the win “good for my collection;” farmers in Kansas lately have been growing an Ethiopian grain — teff — that is gluten free, packs more protein than wheat, and can withstand drought and floods; and the Washington Post profiles Haile Gerima, an independent Ethiopian auteur whose internationally acclaimed 11th film, Teza, has its American debut today; STOP SMILING took a taste of Ethiopian cuisine for a restaurant profile in its DC Issue. -SS

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Goose Island Update

blog_gillmanLast winter a group of unionized workers in Chicago occupied their workplace — a windows and doors factory on Goose Island — when its owners tried to surreptitiously shut it down after having their line of credit cut by Bank of America, prompting nationwide news coverage and support from labor advocates; yesterday, In These Times reported that the factory’s former president has been arrested and charged with felony theft and money laundering related to his efforts to secretly move equipment from the Chicago factory to a non-union plant in Iowa; a book about the factory takeover by Kari Lydersen, Revolt on Goose Island, was released by Melville House this summer with a reading and discussion at the STOP SMILING Storefront.

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Farewell, Mr. Sarris

securedownload1The current downturn in advertising has left many print publications no choice but to trim their staff writers in order to survive — but after 20 years of writing film reviews for the New York Observer (and almost 30 years at the Village Voice) it was sad to see that Andrew Sarris, a pioneer of film criticism, had to experience what Michael Powell in yesterday’s New York Times called a “slow-motion layoff”; in an insightful profile, Powell rightly points out that Sarris (click here to read an excerpt of our interview with Sarris and his wife, film critic Molly Haskell, from our Auteur Issue), “introduced to Americans and argued for the auteur theory, which holds that a great director speaks through his films no less than a novelist speaks through his books”; after 50 years of writing film criticism for newspapers, Sarris, who is now 81, plans to write essays for Film Comment; meanwhile, Haskell recently published a book about Gone With the Wind titled Frankly, My Dear (read the SF Chronicle review here).

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The Latest Issue of Bidoun

blog_bidounThe new issue of Bidoun is out — the 18th installment of the New York-based quarterly that covers art and culture from the Middle East; as always, its pages brim with content that examines creative endeavors from Beirut to Baghdad, Cairo to Punjab, without the slightest hint of exoticism; the print magazine is a pleasurable object to handle, although a selection of content is available online, including interviews with Lebanese comic collective Samandal, Turkish curator/publisher Banu Cennetoglu, and the founder of the Baghdad Country Club, who spoke with STOP SMILING editor-at-large Alexander Provan.

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Revisiting the Village Vanguard

blog_vvAn obituary in Monday’s New York Times got us thinking again about the venerable New York jazz nightclub, the Village Vanguard (whose owner, Lorraine Gordon, was profiled in the Jazz Issue in 2008 — click here to read the piece): Philip Stein, who painted the famous mural that lines the back wall of the Vanguard, passed away in his Manhattan home last month at the age of 90; for more on the Vanguard, visit these STOP SMILING interviews with bassist Ron Carter and photographer William Christenberry, both of whom stress the significance of frequenting the club during their formative years. RIP Philip Stein.

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Tamil Tigers Concede Defeat

blog_tigerThe Tamil Tiger rebel army, which has been fighting the Sri Lankan government in order to establish an independent state for 25 years, grudgingly acknowledged yesterday that “the battle has reached its bitter end;” Tamil rapper MIA, who spent her childhood in Sri Lanka (and who was featured in Issue 22 of STOP SMILING), is among the Tamil diaspora who continue to support resistance in their homeland, arguing that under the rule of the ethnic majority, Tamils will always be oppressed — MIA was widely criticized as recently as February for “supporting terrorism” as a result of her pro-Tiger stance. -SS

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Sun Ra’s Spaceship Lullaby in Philly

blog-sunraAn exhibit curated by STOP SMILING contributor John Corbett that explores the furthest reaches of Sun Ra‘ s universe has landed not on the White House lawn, but at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia (read about the show in the weekend New York Times); our site carries an array of Sun Ra coverage, from notes on his poetry to coverage of past exhibits chronicling his eclectic body of visual galaxy-hopping, as well as contributions from Corbett and his Chicago-based Corbett vs Dempsey gallery, including slideshows of artist Isobel Steele MacKinnon and jazz photographer Fred Burkhart. The choice of Philadelphia a host city for the current exhibit is a wise one, as Philly is one of the spots Sun Ra, who passed away in 1993, called home, along with Birmingham, Chicago and Saturn.

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A Taste for Spaghetti Westerns

blog_coxIn the Financial Times arts section, filmmaker and critic Alex Cox — who is also a contributor to STOP SMILING and a one-time interviewee (read his conversation in 2008’s Expatriate Issue here — published an intriguing mash note to Italian Westerns, catered to those who are, to borrow Cox’s phrase, “spaghettily inclined.” The piece, which can be found here, explores how an English schoolboy in the mid-Sixties was drawn to the “mad-boy stuff” and “psychos and testosterone freaks” depicted in the films of Sergio Corbucci, Carlo Lizzani and the great Sergio Leone. The uglier, the better.

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Fight State Mottos Like You Mean It

blog_coyneLast week, New York Times columnist Gail Collins devoted a column to the awkward flap surrounding Wisconsinites’ displeasure with their state’s new slogan, “Live Life Like You Mean It” (which, Collins points out, was so unoriginal that it was once the catchphrase for a Bacardi Rum campaign); now comes news that Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne, pictured here, is fighting back against the “small-minded religious wackos” who have prevented his song “Do You Realize” from becoming the official state song of his band’s homestate of Oklahoma (click here to read more from AP); and for more on Flaming Lips, be sure to check out Jim DeRogatis‘ definitive piece on the formation of the band, published in 2005 by STOP SMILING.

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