Tag: new york

April 17, 2013 / / black
October 30, 2012 / / activism
August 28, 2012 / / african-american

By Guest Contributor Naomi Extra

What shocked me most while watching Red Hook Summer was its striking similarity to the films of Tyler Perry and T.D. Jakes whose work Lee has openly criticized. In fact, many reviewers have put the film right in line with Perry’s films by describing it as a church movie. Red Hook has been criticized as preachy, messy in narrative structure and development, and sensationalist. All are valid critiques. They also seem ironic in light of the ongoing beef between Perry and Lee, which was ignited when Lee referred to the films of Perry and the like as “coonery and buffoonery.” And of course, the media loves this sort of melodrama.

Jules Brown as Flik in Red Hook Summer. Courtesy: aceshowbiz.com

Spike Lee’s newest film takes place in the projects of Red Hook, Brooklyn, where Flik (Jules Brown), a teenage boy from Atlanta, goes to stay with his grandfather, Bishop Enoch Rouse (Clarke Peters) for the summer. Flik is a teenage Afro-Punk type: vegan, middle-class, afro-hawk, suburban speak. In contrast, Bishop Enoch is a Bible-thumping preacher and active member of his community. Amidst heavier themes of class, politics, religion, and generational difference, a budding romance between Flik and Chazz (Toni Lysaith) is also threaded through the film.

The question is, could Red Hook be Spike talking more smack, mocking the immensely popular church films of Tyler Perry and the like? I wouldn’t put it past him. When recently asked about the ongoing feud, Lee responded with a request: “No more Tyler Perry questions please” and later “peace and love, leave it at that.” And although he doesn’t speak of Perry directly, in a radio interview, Lee describes the film’s inception as a conversation between him and writer James Mc Bride. The two were discussing what they “felt was a sorry state of African American cinema.” With this film, Lee seems to have found a way to squash the beef and have the last word.

Mild SPOILER ALERT under the cut.
Read the Post Red Hook Summer: On Post-Soul Culture And Spike Lee Talkin’ Smack

Courtesy arizonafoothillsmagazine.com

By Guest Contributor damali ayo

It was one of those rather nice plane rides where the passengers all felt like friends, particularly in our little corner in the back of the plane: I slept; the woman next to me knitted; the people in front of us chatted and got to know each other.

It was an all-around good time. As the plane touched down, two people in the seats behind me struck up a lively conversation like two friends who hadn’t seen each other since elementary school. My knitting neighbor and I exchanged a look as if to say, “Geez, these two are getting along so well, why didn’t they start talking several hours ago?”

We shrugged and got back to listening to them. The woman in the conversation had what sounded like a Spanish accent, and the man spoke working-class New York. Every so often the woman searched for a word in English. The two were both dog lovers, and the man pulled out a photograph of his dog to show to the woman. They both seemed so excited that I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

I craned my head a bit to see if I could catch a glimpse of either them or the dog photo, but no luck. The man was in the midst of explaining all the things that make his new puppy great a companion when the woman enthusiastically interrupted him. I heard the woman grasp for a word.

“What–uh, what–um–what race is your dog?” She asked.

There was an awkward silence.

Read the Post What Race Is Your Dog?

March 18, 2010 / / art

by Latoya Peterson

Erica Kennedy and Marisol LeBron called our attention to controversy over a new mural in New York.

According to My Fox New York, opponents of the work claim that the mural (prominently placed on 42nd street) draws on negative images of black and Latina women:

The mural was recently put up on 42nd Street. It depicts black and Latina women with long fingernails and little clothing. The mural and its creator — a 26-year-old artist — are facing fierce criticism.

“Why are they not standing here with briefcases and cell phones or even communicating with people to show the professionalism of black and Latino women?” says Anthony Herbert, a community advocate. […]

However, Sofia Maldonado, the artist, explains that all her work is informed by a certain aesthetic: “The young artist, Sofia Maldonado, a Latina woman herself, says she’s bringing to Times Square a community of women representative of Harlem, Brooklyn, and other boroughs. And with it, a side of New York most tourists don’t see.”
Read the Post Latina Artist/Muralist Draws Fire For Her Depiction of Women of Color

March 9, 2010 / / gentrification

By Guest Contributor Aymar Jean Christian, originally published at Televisual

Dude comedies have become a staple of the American media diet, though they probably always have been in some form or another. Slacker dudes are particularly popular—the successes of Judd Apatow and Seth MacFarlane’s most popular fare are evidence enough.

HBO, in its perpetual effort to not be television, has taken this formula and turned it on its head. First with Entourage, a series about making it and staying on top, and now with How to Make It in America, about what happens before you’ve made it. Our two heroes, Ben (Bryan Greenberg) and Cam (Victor Rasuk) are too guys who are tired of doing nothing, and propose to start a line of designer jeans.

I suspect Ben and Cam will eventually get rich. The series can’t sustain itself on poverty and hardship (it’s too earnest); still, there’s something intriguing about How to Make It in America’s emphasis on the less glamorous, or occasionally glamorous New York—as opposed to Sex and the City and its copycats’ perpetually glamorous city, or Entourage’s Los Angeles. Sure, there are hot girls and gallery openings, even a cameo from John Varvatos, but the tone of the show is a little dour, like New York after The Fall. It’s certainly about the increasingly distant American dream and the ridiculous lengths people go through to achieve it. Yet it’s also, I suspect, about how the dream is almost just a handshake and a cocktail away.

More than anything, How to Make It is about the dream of post-boom New York City (perhaps also post-Boom America, but it’s really NYC-focused). This became very clear in episode two when Ben describes the philosophy behind his denim line to his former fashion professor. He wants to get back to the grit and authenticity of old NYC. “It’s inspired by 1970s New York, so you’ve got the birth of hip hop and the birth of punk rock … just the spirit of the 70s,” Ben says. “Were you even alive in the 70s? This place was a dump. Central Park was a war zone. Times Square was full of hookers,” the prof retorts. Ben: “What’s not to love, right?”

Read the Post “How to Make It in America:” Betting on the Decline of New York