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RECENT POSTS

Lush Sells Out in L.A.

Posted by John Wellington Ennis

LUSH large 200x200International street artist Lush opened his show in downtown Los Angeles with as much fanfare and contempt imaginable. Making bold, often savage commentaries on the commodity of street art culture, Lush uses text and stark images on barren canvas for maximum disaffected impact. The exhibit Lush Sells Out in LA was an assault on the mythology surrounding Banksy, as well as those who would feign his work. Through painted pieces and installation sets, Lush set the stage for his world of ‘real street’ as opposed to ‘celebrated street-ified art.’ On the real street, as we know, people get harmed, anger can be in your face. This context, combined with brutal humor and knowing self-satire, was the vision assembled for the crowd who waited over an hour for a personalized Lush T-shirt as the exhibit’s first guests.

The shirts they got were flippant, funny, and at times vulgar. Indeed, even without the spread-eagle stripper, this was an NSFW show that was checking IDs at the door. (Further coverage of certain unprintable details can be found at venerable street art blog Melrose & Fairfax.) Lush had one canvas of Mr. Brainwash’s original cameraman self-portrait with his head being blown away. Lush went so far as to kill Banksy, metaphorically of course, through a hood-ied corpse face down with a knife in him. Upstaging this was Lush himself, featuring his own murdered likeliness in the storefront window of the Hold Up Art Gallery in Little Tokyo. Read More »

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Rupert Murdoch Shows Us the Need for Government Oversight

Posted by John Wellington Ennis

In their testimony before the House of Commons yesterday, Rupert and James Murdoch insisted on their ignorance about the phone hacking and bribery scandal that engulfed their publication News of the World and led to the resignation of top editors and police officials.

In their shaky recriminations against the people who worked for their people, it’s a wonder the Murdochs would know much of anything that goes on in their newspapers. For NOTW editor and Murdoch confidante Rebekah Brooks to not know the genesis of thousands of stories she was in meetings deciding upon defies plausibility. For NOTW staff members to organize a conspiracy to pay off cops for leads and hack into over 4,000 voicemails — without their supervising editor knowing where so much money was coming from and to — those are some very proactive, amazingly clandestine tabloid journalists breaking a myriad of laws at great personal risk.

If Rupert Murdoch is to be believed, as he would desperately like to be, then his loyal staff let him down by not doing the right thing, and coming to tell him about the massive hacking and bribery thingy that they happened to find out about and also knew was wrong. If he is not to be believed, the conclusion to be drawn is the same nonetheless: real government oversight is needed because so many laws are being broken, the idea of “corporate responsibility” is an oxymoron. Read More »

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Charlotte, NC

Posted by John Wellington Ennis

A diverse city with a rich history from both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, Charlotte, North Carolina, is getting back on its feet from the financial and housing meltdowns.

With an economy centered upon Bank of America and Wachovia, Charlotte was hit hard in 2008 in the banking crisis as Bank of America weathered scandals and Wachovia imploded in debt and mismanagement, later acquired by Wells Fargo.

“I think people are starting to recover from it, it was a traumatic event, “ explains Rick Rothacker, reporter for the Charlotte Observer and author of Banktown. “The banks are such powerhouses in town, whether it’s giving to arts, every other person in your neighborhood works for the banks, between the two of them they employ more than 35,000 people…There is some hope, Charlotte has a lot going for it, but I think it’s still a major makeover that’s in the works.”

While recent job figures show steady improvement, Charlotte business owners had hoped the upcoming Democratic National Convention would boost the local economy. But after the host committee asked vendors to sign a right to first refusal agreement, many of the bookings never materialized. Local business owner Gus Georgoulias said he was “frustrated and disappointed” by the process: “It’s kind of like a joke, or something.” Moreover, personal donations that were expected to make up for the DNC’s pledge of a “No Corporate Cash Convention” are lagging.

Housing sales are up as the summer begins, but still way down from 2007. As more homes went under water following the housing bubble burst, NC Attorney General Roy Cooper stepped in to protect homeowners. Working with the Justice Department and the big banks for over a year, Cooper recently reached a settlement that will bring $338 million to the state, more than half of which will go toward struggling homeowners. As home owners are able to stabilize and remain in Charlotte, the outlook for job growth improves. But Democrats will have to make the case to Charlotte, and the country, that they can help this economy serve not only the richest Americans.

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For Trek Life, a Rapper’s Redux

Posted by John Wellington Ennis

b8j9 treklifecover700x700 1 200x200Trek Life’s album title Everything Changed Nothing refers to the awakening he experienced through the birth of his daughter. While he grasped the miraculous role we play in life, he recognized how much of the world goes on oblivious to everyday wonders like a beautiful baby girl.

A remix album makes sense then, as the entire world of music is replaced, but the core message and distinct vocals remain.

Trek Life stands out as a diverse rapper who is a teacher of history, an adoring father, and an adamantly independent artist who has still seen his music used on “The Hills,” “Breaking Bad,” and the NBA Finals. Eschewing major labels, Trek Like is not afraid to define himself as an artist first and foremost, building his rep as a smart writer. Read More »

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LA Street Artist Thank You X Reaches New Heights

Posted by John Wellington Ennis

XinBHaction 200x200Much of today’s street art is reflective of Andy Warhol’s signature style of celebrity iconography, stenciled composites, and above all, repetition of imagery. It is no wonder Warhol’s ideas, Sixties images, and commercial success have inspired young artists to take to the streets. So it is both intuitively astute and perfectly logical to see Andy Warhol’s stenciled visage appear across Los Angeles over the past year signed simply “Thank You, X.” Read More »

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Common Cause Keeps The Heat On Clarence Thomas

Posted by John Wellington Ennis

clarence thomas char 1020 200x200While the Supreme Court started its summer recess last week, watchdog group Common Cause is keeping the heat on Justice Clarence Thomas. In two separate actions on Thursday, July 7, Common Cause has drawn further scrutiny to an already embattled judge. Sitting in a lifetime appointment on the highest court of the land, the controversial behavior of Clarence Thomas is drawing increased calls for the Supreme Court to be held to the same code of conduct as all federal judges.

In the wake of a New York Times article chronicling Justice Thomas’s relationship with billionaire Harlan Crow, Common Cause filed a Freedom Of Information Act request to the U.S. Marshals Service for details of jet and yacht travel that Harlan Crow has provided Justice Thomas, as well as other gifts. Read More »

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The “Vindication” of Andrew Breitbart

Posted by John Wellington Ennis

Jon Stewart called it “the weirdest f*cking story I’ve seen in my life.” It was the live broadcast of Rep. Anthony Weiner’s confessional press conference, and yet here was Andrew Breitbart, taking a victory lap around the mainstream press for not being wrong about a story for once. (At the same time, Breitbart not being wrong on a story almost deserves live breaking coverage.)

Breitbart demanded to be vindicated after being doubted about the legitimacy of his penis photos. To some, this would seem a more apt vindication of a pornographer. To behold Breitbart’s beaming pride, you’d think he’d broken the truth that cigarettes cause cancer, stunning the naysayers. He gloated: “The media says, ‘Breitbart lies, Breitbart lies.’ Give me one example of a provable lie,” Breitbart said on stage at the Weiner presser. “One, journalist, one, put your reputation on the line here, one provable lie.” (Interesting word choice, “provable,” it offers garish wiggle room.)

Why didn’t any of the press respond? Is that silence supposed to confer tacit legitimization and absolution of his past distortions? Since the journalists present didn’t even show up for a Breitbart news conference in the first place, they were probably not prepared to review his greatest hits and misses. What’s more, the attending media professionals may have thought that interrupting someone else’s press conference is pretty, well, rude, not to mention unprofessional. Read More »

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Dance Liberation Front Calls for National ‘Do the Robot Day’

Posted by John Wellington Ennis

In response to the ban on dancing at monuments and subsequent arrests at the Jefferson Memorial, the Dance Liberation Front (DLF) has mobilized for a national protest on Saturday, June 11: “Do the Robot” Day.

While cardboard outfits are encouraged, they are not required. By joining in the street dance and imitating a dancing robot, supporters are helping to “resist tyranny in all its forms!” according to the DLF statement. “Don’t BE a robot: DO the robot!” Read More »

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Gregory Siff paints mural for GET ART 4

Posted by John Wellington Ennis

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With Release of “Atlas Shrugged” Movie, a Rise in Rand Rants on Reason

Posted by John Wellington Ennis

I awoke the other day to this email from a stranger:

Just saw your 2009 piece on Atlas Shrugged. You completely missed the point of Rand’s book, which is that you can’t consume what you don’t produce, but that a lot of folks would like to consume what they can take from others. I’m looking forward to the movie next month. No doubt we will see the leftists out in force to tell us how bad it is. The best thing for Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand has been the Obama administration.

I replied: “Then you can’t see the movie if you didn’t produce it, by that reasoning…”

A movie adaptation of any lengthy book is bound to reduce its ideas, themes, and arguments to piece meal phrases that will not do justice to the author’s intent. But I foresee a particular risk in this upcoming film effort tackling Rand’s opus of ego, and spurring some to further reduce it to clichés about how everyone is always trying to take your sh*t from you. Read More »

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