Archive for the celebrities Category

RIP Neil Armstrong! a Tribute Star View from the International Space Station

Posted in astronomy, celebrities, science, video with tags , , , , , on August 25, 2012 by Sunshine Superboy

Rest in Magnificent Desolation…

Neil Armstrong was the spiritual repository of spacefaring dreams & ambitions. In death, a little bit of us all dies with him

– Neil de Grasse Tyson

The Stars as Viewed from the International Space Station. from AJRCLIPS on Vimeo.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/38409143″>The Stars as Viewed from the International Space Station.</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/ajrclips”>AJRCLIPS</a&gt; on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Nobody born since 1935 has stepped on another world. Neil Armstrong’s death is a reminder that we have been screwing about for too long now – it’s time to go to Mars.

Martin Robbins/ UK Guardian

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Astronomical Connections… so sayeth Neil.

Posted in celebrities, science, Uncategorized with tags , on June 15, 2012 by Sunshine Superboy

This, is an actual photo taken on the planet Mars (by robots, obvies) of three planets aligned:

Earth, Jupiter, and Venus.

 

 

image

Happy Birthday to Bayard Rustin, Jorge Ben, and… to Me!!! (Sunshine Superboy!)

Posted in art & music, celebrities, culture, politics, race, racism, video with tags , , , , , , on March 19, 2012 by Sunshine Superboy

rustin march on washington

Its Mid-March! There are a couple truly stupendous March babies* (not babies anymore!) whom we ought to pause for a moment and appreciate. Lets get to it..!

Bayard Rustin was born 100 years ago, on March 17th! He is one of the dopest organizers, not just of American History, but of the entire 20th century, the world-over (IMHO).

His most visible achievement was organizing- as deputy director of mobilization and logistics- the 1963 March on Washington (in which Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the hallowed “I have a Dream Speech”, and at which a multi-racial coalition of singers performed- from Bob Dylan, to Joan Baez, and Gospel legend Mahalia Jackson- cuz thats how he rolled!) bayard rustinIt was Bayard Rustin who visited Gandhi in India, and cross-pollinated the Sattyagraha and Nonviolent precepts, bringing them to the US south and working closely with King among others. Rustin was a quaker, a singer, a socialist, and…wait for it… unapologetically the gay! (Hooray!)

It was for this homophobia latter identity that King was counciled to throw Bayard Rustin under the bus (in the parlance of our times), which is why he has been largely written out of mainstream and much African American history.

As our culture starts to warm to the idea of gender justice and queer liberation (we’re getting there…) Rustin is slowly being woven back into narratives and history of Civil Rights organizing in the 20th century.

On the deeply regarded Bayard Rustin:

Another force of brilliance I’d like to celebrate this week is the very much alive and kicking-ass, Brazilian Samba-Rock Godfather, Jorge Ben who marks his 70th birthday on March 22nd! Jorge Ben Jorge Ben makes me smile, move, shuffle my feet, and sometimes sigh in melancholy (see “Gabriela” where he openly weeps on the recording!) with his genius fusion of samba, bossa nova, soul and rock n roll. The execution is something you just have to listen to in full to appreciate.

As with most artists who where on their A game in the 70s, there are some awkward albums and singles that followed the apogee of their songwriting, but most of his albums are slam dunks from start to finish. Perfect for cooking brunch (a favorite pastime of yours truly), doing dishes, playtime with toddlers, or drinking on your back porch in the evening. Impress your date with your refined musical taste!

His lyrics “blend humor and satire with often esoteric subject matter” including politics of Black Liberation, and post-colonial dreams for Africa (again think 60s and 70s composer here). He intersected with the Tropicalia movement of Brazil, and his song “Mas Que Nada” (song/ video below), which was his first big hit in Brazil, remains to this day ‘the most played song in the USA sung entirely in Portuguese’. I seriously heart this dude.

Enjoy the song and slide show with some rando pictures of the 1960s (??!)

oh, and I’m not that important, but I just celebrated my birthday on March 16th so I just wanted to dredge up some homies of mine who I happen to think about or listen to every day because they are badass.

You look like a Rock Star and you shred like one too!!!

(…and many more!)
Sunshine Superboy

*ps- we also welcomed some amazing babies to our spinning planet this month (and more to come!) and I wanna holler to them too (especially you baby Marlowe xoxoxo)

Back to Skool? Procrastination Interlude- True Blood and itunes

Posted in celebrities, culture, humor, maps with tags , , , on September 27, 2011 by Sunshine Superboy

Too much workies makes my head hurt!

Slide the maps aside. Take a break and listen to some tunes!
ipod commute map

then we can take a gander at the spatial arrangement of our favorite pulp Louisiana VampTown, Bon Temps!

but first! … oh fanfiction. how we love your imaginative airbrushing:
true blood eric bill gay

The merry land of True Bloodletting:
map of Bon Temps
(click the map for clarity)

have a bon temps!

Sunshine Supergarçon

Ain’t No Such Thing As a Superman: Gil Scott Heron, Action Comics, and Global Superpower

Posted in art & music, celebrities, comics, politics, race, racism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 31, 2011 by Sunshine Superboy

This weekend, we lost the legendary badass Mr. Gil Scott-Heron at the age of 62.

Gil Scott-Heron was a Jamaican-American composer, musician, poet and author whose writings and recordings provided a vivid, and often stinging, commentary on social injustice and the black American experience; his declamatory singing style, allied to the overtly political content of his work, made him widely recognised as one of the inspirational figures of rap music.

Dude was only 18 when he wrote what is perhaps his best known piece The Revolution Will Not Be Televised– an attack on the mindless and anaesthetising effects of the mass media and a call to arms to the black community:

You will not be able to stay home, brother/
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out/
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip/
Skip out for beer during commercials/
Because the revolution will not be televised

Gil Scott-Heron’s Aint No Such Thing as a Superman

This reminds me of last month’s abdication by DC Comic’s Superman, of his American citizenship in Action Comics #900

The key scene takes place in “The Incident,” a short story in Action Comics #900 written by David S. Goyer with art by Miguel Sepulveda. In it, Superman consults with the President’s national security advisor, who is incensed that Superman appeared in Tehran to non-violently support the protesters demonstrating against the Iranian regime, no doubt an analogue for the recent real-life protests in the Middle East. However, since Superman is viewed as an American icon in the DC Universe as well as our own, the Iranian government has construed his actions as the will of the American President, and indeed, an act of war.

Superman replies that it was foolish to think that his actions would not reflect politically on the American government, and that he therefore plans to renounce his American citizenship at the United Nations the next day — and to continue working as a superhero from a more global than national perspective. From a “realistic” standpoint it makes sense; it would indeed be impossible for a nigh-omnipotent being ideologically aligned with America to intercede against injustice beyond American borders without creating enormous political fallout for the U.S. government.

… or within American borders for that matter. The truth is that rather than fighting for justice, Superman has always fought for the American Way, which encompasses a hegemonic cosmology of what exactly counts as ‘justice’ and ‘injustice’. Why did an inter-galactic super-being align himself with an imperialist Superpower in the first place? Oh yeah, he was raised in Kansas and indoctrinated (in the 40s and 50s of all moments!) into a fundamental belief in the supremacy of the American Way, and the perspective that US domestic and foreign policy was totally where its at.

Now while I understand that everyone (left and right) is getting excited (knickers in twist), about Superman’s renunciation of US citizenship, I want us all to think on the analysis of Gil Scott-Heron and keep a few things in mind:

1) The motivation for this move does not stem from a sudden realization that the US is a problematic imperialist power, and should therefore be counter-balanced in some way. Rather, Superman doesn’t want his independent actions to reflect poorly on US diplomacy. He is doing this to aid the State, not to critique it. J Edgar Hoover would have lobbied Superman to do the same thing, if he could, and if we imagine this as some parallel to our very real world, I’d bet Hillary Clinton had something to do with this abdication. Now Superman can show up in the streets of Tehran without his presence being tantamount to a declaration of war.

2) Clark Kent, our grand hero’s alias, remains a US Citizen, and therefore, all of this rhetorical posturing is empty. A super-being with the power to fly and the asylum of a Fortress of Solitude on a stateless continent of ice has little need for citizenship in any event, and certainly needs no assistance to navigate national borders. Beyond this, however, the very real powers of a US Passport, and all the rights associated with American citizenship are fully retained by Our Glorious Hero, so all of his “I’m a global citizen” bullshit is just that. I’d like to see Clark Kent go ex-pat and pursue citizenship in Palestine or Taiwan, or Tibet for that matter, and then Action Comics can claim some sort of political solidarity for what thats worth. What we should be asking ourselves is what is it that Kent’s US Citizenship allows Superman to do, that renouncing it entirely would not?

3) The power, legitimacy, and resource hoarding that once was unflappable behind the seal of American citizenship has dissolved somewhat in the 21st Century. Anyone, including Mulit-national corporation and the US State Department itself, wishing to maintain such command has made strategic shifts to re-brand from “American” to “Global”, “International” or “Worldly”. In the globalized, post-colonial world, power is hard-pressed to get away with much exertion of force or influence without waving some UN, World Bank, IMF, or “coalition” cred- and this is just Superman doing the same.

I won’t pretend for a minute that the editors at DC Comics are as savvy and strategic as all this. In DC’s attempts toward verisimilitude, however, they’ve come marvelously close to capturing the zeitgeist of global power, transforming Superman into just another heuristic for understanding the multi-lateral shifts of imperialist power.

In our own world, then, Scott-Heron remains correct that there ain’t nothing but a superman, afterall, what would an all powerful being need with a US Passport and a stable position in a major media firm in New York City?

Up Up and Awaaaaaaaaaay!
Sunshine Superboy

Fame Monsters: Going Gaga for Talent Shows, Reviews, and Bad Hotels

Posted in anthropology, art & music, celebrities, feminism, humor, politics, video with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 23, 2010 by Sunshine Superboy

who dat??!

“The last thing a young woman needs is another picture of a sexy pop star writhing in sand, covered in grease, touching herself. My image was an issue at my record label. I fought for months and cried at meetings. I got criticized for being arrogant because if you’re sure of yourself as a woman, they say you’re a bitch, whereas if you’re a man and you’re strong-willed, it’s normal.” -the LADY

People. I’ve put off writing this post about Lady GaGa for a while, since there seems to always be something new accumulating in our era of viral video and always a new juicy tidbit to incorporate. Two occasions finally pushed me over the edge and I can’t hold back any longer…

Southern Hemisphere (but something is missing...)


First, by the time I finish writing this post Black Maps will have already hit a quarter of a million views since launching in January, 2009!!! This is an incredible triumph for me and commemorating it with a Radio GaGa post seems fitting. I’ll be my own fame monster yet, dammit! Some combination of dedicated viewers, rabid googlers, and geeks for buffy, science, and maps has kept my daily hits floating (around 600-800 these days) even throughout my dry spells of blogging… like when I’m writing papers or traveling to the Southern Hemisphere (which I do de vez en quando). This is my 114th post, BTW…

Second, next week’s episode of Glee is gonna be entirely themed around Our Lady of Gaga– and I can’t let Glee beat me to the punch. (also, glee? gaga? already??! can we say too soon?! didn’t they JUST do an amazing Madonna episode? please don’t go and ruin it by jumping the gun you guyz 😛 )

and thus I present to you…
Fame Monsters: Talent Shows, Music Reviews, and Bad Hotels

So my place of work has been completely overcome with gagamania for going on a year now…, and given that we’re a crunchy non-hierarchical collective (average age of our staff… early 30s?), I can understand the disbelief when our recycling person showed up today and was like “Jeez! Even YOU guys?!” as “telephone” was bumping in the back of the store. He launched into a cranky tirade about how his gym blasts nothing but Our Lady of Gaga, and he just doesn’t understand how everyone is brainwashed into listening to the pop-cacophony and what the deal with all this?

I’d break it down like this. Nobody gives a frack about Lady Gaga. Her songs are mediocre when it comes down to it (they grow on you like all pop songs, I enjoy them now) and her voice is on par with your average American Idol tryout. But but BUT, if you just stop there then you’re missing the anthropological phenomenon that has become the House of Gaga. Its not about her, per se, its about the project of Lady Gaga…

Here we have a female bodied drag queen, which is short circuiting a few mainstream culture braincells right there, and her ability to be a high-femme chameleon is like a flux capacitor for whatever subversive dreams or subcultures teenagers, queers, capitalists, curators, feminists or glitteratti are trying to ignite. And it works, cuz she’s all about all of it.

Apparently her live shows (in addition to having dazzling choreography and special effects), is like a motivational speech for kids who feel like they don’t fit in. She tells people they should never feel too fat, or too weird, or too feminine or too masculine, and that they are beautiful (and then breaks out into song).

So the thing is… we don’t need Lady Gaga as much as we use “Lady Gaga,” and we use her to inspire us to do incredible things that we always had the power to do (think ruby slippers).

we instrumentalize Lady Gaga to believe in our own fabulocity.

Exhibit A. This kid is thirteen years old, performing at his middle school talent show, and he will take over the world in fabulous kate bushian ways!!!

Exibit B, LGBT and Queer activists in San Francisco parody Bad Romance in a piece of brilliant guerrilla theater aimed at Boycotting the Hyatt and other “Bad Hotels”:

They are calling on folks to support Hyatt and other hotel workers across the country in their quest for jobs with respect and dignity, decent wages, affordable health care, and safe working conditions.

Exhibit C, Glee:

who knows what Will Scheuster will prod them with this week? I hope the writers let Kurt shine!

(UPDATE!!!)
Exhibit D, Newsies bring the ruckus through a retro-new york Bad Romance danceparty!

Obviously examples abound. The viral videos are endless. We’ve all seen the army battalion lip-sync implicit protests to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (meh, armies…), the bedroom best friend sing alongs and all the rest of it. There are also plenty of blog deconstructions, and I don’t need to get in on that (I do it in the student lounge at grad school, which is more than sufficient thank you very much).

lady gaga or a drag queen? obvies, its both!

Oh, except that can we just say that (prison industrial complex notwithstanding), making Beyoncé a homicidal boyfriend killer in favor of lesbian affections was a triumph I didn’t think we’d see from the hip-hop R&B charts for a while (I mean, OMG, Queen Latifah is still closeted!!!)

Anyways, I think the lesson is clear: at a certain level, we’re all drag queens!

I’ll leave you with the best review I’ve read anywhere of the Fame Monster (just a snippet, the full awesomeness is something you’ll just have to surf to yourself).

If we can define good pop albums the way Howard Hawks famously defined good movies- that’s three great scenes and no bad scenes- then Lady GaGa’s The Fame Monster is certainly a good pop album. At least three songs are great, the rest aren’t bad, and at only 34 minutes long it never threatens to wear out its welcome. It’s shamelessly sleek, glossy and digital, but with enough heart, humor and horror that it is far from soulless. The only significant problem I can hear is that its tracks are in slightly the wrong order.

It starts with the current mega-hit “Bad Romance,” a move that might have made more sense if not for the last track, “Teeth.” One of the album’s fun n’ catchy fillers, “Teeth” throbs with four-on-the-floor stomp and neo-burlesque brass as Lady GaGa entices the men in the house to show their proverbial fangs. It sounds like a slow-burning fuse that’s supposed to psyche us up for a big-ass pop explosion, and for some reason it’s anti-climactically placed at the very end of the record.

So after my tenth spin through The Fame Monster, I shuffled “Teeth” to the top of the order and it worked much better. Besides, a song as show-stopping as “Bad Romance” deserves at least one opening act. The profusion of succulent hooks, the Amazonian-cyborg lust and the near-operatic drama would have been enough to cement this song’s status as an instant classic, yet Lady GaGa goes the extra inches when she delivers one of the most deliciously reprehensible lyrics that will ever infect the Billboard Top 40 (”Want you in my room/ while your baby is sick.”) [editorial correction, its actually this whole Hitchcock thing: “I want your Psycho, your Vertigo schtick. Want you in my Rear Window, baby, you’re sick.” -SS]

If “Bad Romance” has any warts, they’re the moments when she insists on reminding us in plain English that she’s “a freak bitch, baby.” Well duh- she made that crystal clear with that sick baby lyric. I’m nit-picking, though. Criticizing Lady GaGa for her lack of subtlety is kind of like complaining that Andy Warhol didn’t use enough earth tones.

Be Fierce+Embrace Yr Inner Drag Queen
(let her crawl out),
Sunshine Superlady

“Oops… I said it again”: Pop Stars and Their Window into Our Racism

Posted in celebrities, humor, politics, racism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 5, 2010 by Sunshine Superboy


yo, I know this is old news, but I wanna post this during this lull of feet-in-our-mouths cuz Its not even about John Mayer and racist crap that Pop Stars spout…
The thing that really gets a lot of people of color and anti-racist organizers miffed is the useless circus of inane conversation ostensibly about “race” but actually about whichever celebrity blabbermouth in question. (oh right, sometimes I forget how broad the blackmaps audience is: We’re talking about this bloke to the right, who writes pop songs and won a Grammy a minute and a half ago (who hasn’t??!). He famous also infamous for his utterly brilliant tweets (!) and for being an ex of both Jennifer Aniston and Jessica Simpson, and no there’s no reason for you, or any of us to care, but he’s been on the cover of Rolling Stone recently, and apparently some people in the world give a damn about who he is. Great, we’re all caught up!)

The lightening-rod of so-and-so actor or such and such politician said some racist bullshit (surprise…) serves as a big distraction not to mention a misframing of what racism really is and how it operates. This isn’t the place/time to belabor the theoretical pillars of racism as a legacy of institutionalized inequality.

Nevertheless, I think its a quick and important intervention to just point out in those moments when the media zoo gets all fired up about our unspoken consensus on being non-racist (!), (as opposed to being anti-racist?!), that its not about individuals, or even the things they may do or say, but a historically entrenched system which carries global momentum in dispossessing groups of people through the clever metrics of colorism and ethnic scapegoating. And its gonna take people getting organized in a big way to overturn those patterns. No paparazzi-flanked apologies are going to liberate people of color and white people who are all bound up in these systems of oppression. Least of all, since capitalism has everything to do with it, and lets not forget, pop stars looooooooove capitalism.

We dont’ have to hate them for it. We can enjoy goofy 3-D flicks and guitar hooks even as we begin to piece together how capitalism is operationalized by racism (and vice versa). Lets just keep these things in mind as we co-opt GaGa Radio tunes as inspiration and fuel for our movements.

oh, and for the record, John Mayer is a douchebag.

Up up and Away,
Sunshine Superboy