Posted inArts & Culture

Born Into Brothels

Photographer Zana Briski traveled to Calcutta in 1997 to shoot the red-light district and befriended several children of prostitutes; on her next trip she gave them point-and-shoot cameras and instructed them in basic photography. As documented in this 2004 film by Briski and Ross Kauffman, the children brought back no shattering shots of sexual servitude, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Enrique Morente & Tomatito

Singer Enrique Morente and guitarist Tomatito (aka Jose Fernandez Torres) are two of the most influential iconoclasts in flamenco music. Like most significant innovators they were well versed in the rules before they broke them. Morente was born in 1942 in Granada, Spain, moved to Madrid at 18, and quickly established himself as a formidable […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Hidden Cameras

Most bands would feel pigeonholed by a tag like “gay folk church music,” but singer and guitarist Joel Gibb, the leader of this Toronto collective, came up with that description himself. Raised a Baptist, he brings the buoyant tent-revival spirit of church sing-alongs to the band’s lush arrangements, which sound a little like upbeat Belle […]

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Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior

One of the most enjoyable action films I’ve seen in a while, this low-budget adventure from Thailand is being positioned as the international crossover for martial artist Tony Jaa. As a screen presence he’s negligible, but in action he’s something to see, hammering his opponents with well-aimed thigh kicks. The story that’s been assembled around […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Straight Dope

What happened to Hitler’s family? I know he had no siblings, but surely there must have been others with the unfortunate surname. Were they persecuted or driven out of Germany/Austria? –Marc Ghafoor, via e-mail What this tells you I don’t know, but the rest of the world has shown a lot more interest in Adolf’s […]

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Permanent Collection

Thomas Gibbons’s engrossing play, based on a true story, looks at how a battle between art-world conservatism and innovation gets fought when the go-getter, an ambitious new museum director, is black. At the center of this first-rate production from director Lisa Portes and her cast is the struggle to distinguish covert racism from simple reluctance […]

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JoAnne Pow!ers Trio

The day JoAnne Powers picked up her first saxophone, she decided to test it out in front of a strip mall; within 20 minutes she’d made two dollars, and five months later she was supporting herself as a free-jazz busker on the streets of Madison. Over time she’s developed a massive tone and enormous stamina, […]

Posted inNews & Politics

News of the Weird

Lead Stories Reuters reported in January that Harvard University had hired one of its recent graduates to be full-time promoter and coordinator of social activities. According to associate dean Judith Kidd, “The kids work very, very hard here. And they worked very, very hard before they got here in order to get here. . . […]

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The Balcony

In Jean Genet’s 1956 play, the brothel customers who pretend to be bishops, judges, and generals at Madame Irma’s “House of Illusions” end up replacing their real-world counterparts and the public is none the wiser–a shocking idea 50 years ago. Genet’s play takes longer than necessary to make its point, but the irony of this […]

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Go Further

While it didn’t convince me to give up corn dogs, Ron Mann’s celebration of actor Woody Harrelson’s Simple Organic Living tour (a bus-and-bicycle caravan spreading the gospel of holistic living along the Pacific coast) is a highly entertaining form of ecological agitprop–radical but accessible. Mann’s shrewdest ploy is to shift his focus from Harrelson to […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Perceptionists

Black Dialogue, the Perceptionists’ debut full-length, is the most fluid and humane disc to emerge from the mass of futurist paranoia that is the Definitive Jux label. Faint praise, you say? What if I said that they can turn a chant like “Where are the weapons of mass destruction?” into a jam that’s harder and […]