Iranian Momentos

I've been very busy with work lately. I've mostly been trying to unwind as best as I can in the evenings, which usually means messing around with drums or catching up on some reading.

This weekend, I saw Ala Ebtekar's exhibit at Gallery Paule Anglim. He's an Iranian-American painter who does whimsical illustrations over pages from prayer books he gathered on a visit to Tehran.

Besides the obvious depiction of war bloodbaths in his "Morning Breeze" series (left), I really liked how I was able to come up with my own story on how the lives of the illustrations unfolded. The beautiful calligraphy on the book pages lends itself to endless amount of imagination.

Ebtekar's "Ascension" paintings are also really unique. This powerful horsewoman (above) has ambivalent Iranian eyes when she's surrounded by bombs or body-less angels. I can see how she feels.

The show runs until Saturday. Check it out. You can also see his artist profile video on SPARK.
* * *
My sister was the one that gave me the heads-up about the Ebtekar show. She's back from a trip to Iran with my mom. She brought back some amazing photos, which is a huge feat -- she's definitely not considered the creative one in the family.

This building is outside my auntie's apartment. I have no clue as to what neighborhood in Tehran this is, but the architecture is gorgeous. I love the step-ladder feel and the very precise window patterns on the buildings surrounding the area. I am not an architecture nut, but seeing how people live and work is something I enjoy.


The King of Pulp

It was a beautiful weekend in San Francisco. I took care of some odds and ends, went out to see The Invasion with a friend, and visited the family in the East Bay.

While The Invasion was entertaining (and somewhat ho-hum), I saw a more engaging Greencine film the following day: Jane Campion's Holy Smoke!

I love the hilarious IMDB tag lines for this film: "Sex captive in desert hideaway...young beauty seduced by macho American twice her age"; "He had only one thing on his mind... but so did she!" This makes me think ... is Harvey Keitel the reigning king of pulp?

It's really the story of a young woman (Kate Winslet) who goes to India for a spiritual awakening, but is forced back to her home in Australia by her parents who think she's joined a cult. They hire a cult exit counselor (Harvey Keitel) to bring her back to "reality." It ends up becoming a story about sexual awakenings, gender politics and control.

My absolute favorite part is when Keitel (dressed in drag, face smeared with red lipstick, lying helpless in the desert) hallucinates and envisions Kate Winslet as Shiva or some other supreme Hindu deity. All this is happening while The Shirelle's "Baby It's You" is playing. I loved it!

Jane Campion makes thoughtful, stylish, beautiful films. Holy Smoke! is fairly ridiculous, but it's also incredibly mesmerizing. She followed this up with In The Cut, which had a lot of noir/pulp elements. Holy Smoke! came out in 1999 .. check it out!


Ali Ali Ali Aaja

Animal Collective member Panda Bear's Person Pitch album has been one of my top listens this year. A filmmaker named Mike (I couldn't find his last name) documented his three only shows in the U.S. earlier this year, and put them on a DVD called People Party. At first, the DVD was unbelievably offered for free. Naturally, the popularity of the deal got way out of hand, and now you can pay a measly $5 for a multimedia experience. I went for the $13 package, which comes with recordings of all live shows. You can learn more about it here.

I purchased a ticket today to see Animal Collective on Sept. 17 at The Fillmore. They're one of my favorite bands, and I've loved their live shows. I'm really looking forward to the new album.

* * *

I know I write a lot about M.I.A. She has an album coming out in a few weeks and I just really admire her. She has a new video for "Jimmy," which is a re-imagining of a disco song from a Bollywood film called Disco Dancer.

The music has sweeping Euro disco strings, and a melody a bit like ABBA's "Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie." The whole video production brings to mind the music videos I grew up watching on Nima TV on Sunday afternoons. This song has massive remix potential.

* * *

Sunday's travel section of the New York Times did a feature on my neighborhood. They call it the NOPA district, which still bothers me -- it will always just be "the panhandle." It's kinda strange to see everything all mapped out. Where I live feels like home, and not "a kind of cultural bridge between hippie Haight Street and the rest of the city." The round-up of stores around Divisadero is fairly accurate, except for a few cringe-worthy moments: on Cookin' Recycled: "a glorified antiques store that is just outside Nopa (but with a Nopa feel)."

It's completely ridiculous that they didn't mention Club Waziema. Maybe because the Times thought it was in Nopa (but without a Nopa feel)?


Me Likey

swoon...Kanye West, is like, so incredible. I've been listening to "Stronger" for a few weeks now, and everything about is just so right.

French dance is the hottest shit in the world right now, and Kanye, never one to be outdone, perfectly samples Daft Punk's "Harder, Faster, Better, Stronger." Of course, it ain't the original, but he knows that and rephrases a classic Nietzsche quote for a hook. Rhyming "since Prince was on Apollonia/since OJ had Isotoners" is kind of silly, but I think that's the idea. Musically, it builds up sounding a bit like Beyonce's "Crazy in Love," a calculated summertime jam.

For anime geeks, Kanye does his best Tetsuo from Akira in the stylish music video. Daft Punk is in it too, and the futuristic visuals are great. It's so Neo-Tokyo .. or The Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift .. but let's leave it at that.

And then comes the cover. Oh my god! Artwork by Takashi Murakami!
Leader of contemporary Japanese art! King of the Superflat! Emperor of ultra-luxurious Louis Vuitton monogrammed accessories! Daft Punk is even on the cover, as is Kayne's iconographic bear wearing Jeremy Scott sunglasses. And this is hip-hop!

"Stronger" is a work of globally influenced pop art. He (and his producers) deserve a lot of credit for this. I hope it doesn't flop.