46 minutes ago
October 29, 2008
Men have long vilified Cleopatra, but she's earned a royal treatment.
Cleopatra has always been a player in other people's dramas, if in different roles: she can be a coquette or a feminist, a martyr or a villain, a goddess or a fallen woman, even blond or black. Horace called her the fatale monstrum—the fatal monster. Chaucer made her virtuous. Shakespeare turned her into a romantic heroine. In her own day, legions of Egyptians thought she was the reincarnation of the goddess Isis, while her nemesis, the Roman Octavian, called her a whore. It is that description—Cleopatra as a vamp, a seductress whose machinations led to the downfall of Julius Caesar and Marc Antony—that dominates the countless depictions in art, literature, theater, film and, not least, history books.
It is hard to know just who she was. When she died in 30 B.C., she left no writings behind, and much of her city, Alexandria, now lies beneath the Mediterranean and a sea of modern buildings. But the shards of evidence the Egyptologist Joyce Tyldesley pieces together in her engaging new biography, "Cleopatra: The Last Queen of Egypt," reveal why it is so easy, and so tempting, to misconstrue her story. Her death marked the end of ancient Egypt and the birth of the Roman Empire. For her, sex really was politics: her two most important political allies, Antony and Caesar, were also her lovers. Their deaths made it possible for her enemies to turn her legend into a cautionary tale about the unfitness and danger of having women as leaders. In the year of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, untangling the legend of Cleopatra has special urgency.
Tyldesley wants to "put Cleopatra back into her own, predominantly Egyptian context"—to see her as a ruler of Egypt, not as a consort of Romans. In this view, sex was one of the few tools available to women, and her use of it was "sensible," not "weak." In fact, Tyldesley writes that Cleopatra "probably had no more than two, consecutive relationships."
Octavian was heavily invested in portraying Cleopatra as a harlot. Antony was his former ally; a power struggle tore them apart. Cleopatra, as a female and a foreigner, was a more obvious enemy. She became a scapegoat—dark to Rome's pure light, woman to Rome's man, a monarch to Rome's republic.
October 28, 2008
October 27, 2008
Sad news: The body of a male child has been found on Chicago's South Side, and is thought to be 7-year-old Julian King, the son of Julia Balfour and the nephew of Jennifer Hudson. The body was in a white SUV. [Chicago Sun-Times, WGN]
The news of Jennifer Hudson's family tragedy has hit me hard, as a mother and as a civilian. It's a tragic reminder that although some lucky individuals have enormous successes, the people they love cannot escape the circumstances of which they live in. I have never been to Chicago but I know that the South Side is the biggest concentration of Black people in America, and more reason that we need the wealth and resources to be distributed equally. There is an enormous amount of violence, including domestic violence, that happens in impoverished communities and we have to come together to protect the people that are affected the most - the children.
My prayers go out to J.Hud and her family.
Posted by Ms. Krish at 10:28 AM
October 24, 2008
Last week, Choi Hyun Mi, a 17-year-old boxer the South Korean media has dubbed the "Defector Girl Boxer," won the World Boxing Association women's featherweight championship. While most female South Korean boxers say they first took up boxing to lose weight, Choi is boxing to support her family, who fled North Korea in 2004. Though her family was wealthy in North Korea, her parents have been unable to find work in South Korea and her brother is in college. As a champion, Choi can earn about $10,000 per fight, but she is fighting for more than the money. "My parents gave up everything in North Korea to give their children a better life in the South," she says. "Boxing is my way to prove that my parents made the right decision."
[International Herald Tribune] via Jezebel
Posted by Ms. Krish at 10:04 AM
October 23, 2008
Jezebel brings us the delightful treats of the Dean & Deluca catalog, and shows us that although we've outgrown those itchy polyester costumes, we will never outgrow the CANDY!!!!
Frankenstein Pop...I wanna eat your FACE! I wonder if its gross marzipan or yummy fondant. *drool*
Oh, this takes me back to my days of being a famished public school student who could only focus on the page in the math book with the food. And for a mere $520, you can have the real thing!
U.S. officials are looking into the arrest of an Iranian-American student who was working on her thesis project on women's rights in Tehran. Esha Momeni, a grad student at Cal State-Northridge, was arrested on Oct. 15 for unlawfully passing another vehicle while driving. She is being held in a section of Tehran's notorious Evin Prison, which houses many dissidents and political prisoners. At first, officials promised Momeni's family that she would be immediately released if the news of her arrest was not published, but when her parents went to Iran's Revolutionary Court five days later, they were told not to return until the investigation into her case had been completed. More information about the campaign for Momeni's release is available on the blog Free Esha.
Posted by Ms. Krish at 3:55 PM
October 22, 2008
"A SLEW of young celebs (including Lindsay Lohan and Sam Ronson) enjoyed the pool at Hollywood's Roosevelt Hotel over the weekend - oblivious to the fact that the hotel staff never drained the water after a dead body was found in the pool a week earlier, sources said."
via Page Six
(It reminded me of this joke: What do you call a dead guy in a bathtub? Stew.
Horrible, I know!)
Posted by Ms. Krish at 2:30 PM
Two months ago, I pitched a story to LA Weekly about the "New West" in Hip Hop, and interviewed Pacific Division and Blu. Here is the official pitch, originally dated August 19th and received September 2nd:
Good Morning Mr. Roberts,
Thank you for your response. I am currently working on a story about L.A.'s reemerging "alternative rap" scene and a comparison to the pioneers of Alt Rap such as Pharcyde and Freestyle Fellowship. It's been over 15 years and the landscape, demographic, technology, and state of the record industry has changed drastically. Here is the original pitch I sent you almost a week ago, just in case you didn't receive it.
The Hip-Hop pendulum in Los Angeles is swinging back from its gangster rap roots and into a friendlier, more fashion-forward alternative. Goodbye to the days of The Good Life Cafe in South Central, where all-Black audiences chose your fate by asking you to "Please Pass the Mic", and the closest thing to a hipster following was Shannon Dougherty's appearance in the parking lot at the height of her 90210 success. Thanks to the internet's power of social networking, cross promotion, and viral videos, the new generation of "Alternative Rap" from the West is eager to prove their skills and renegotiate a place for L.A. that's not on 'hood turf, but more likely on Fairfax and Melrose.
Artists such as Pacific Division, Blu, and U-N-I are all the buzz on the internet, but their So Cal roots tend to confuse people outside of Cali. Sometimes labeled as "hipster rap", these artists pay homage to the diversity of Hip-Hop's beginnings and long-standing affinity for fly gear, but tend to be conflicted about deviating from L.A.'s roughneck signature sound. In comparison to the pioneers of LA Alt Rap, Freestyle Fellowship and The Pharcyde, the newbies have all the potential skill, but aesthetically represent the streetwear generation, drawing criticism as well. And with the waning record industry, Pac Div is still able to get major endorsement from McDonalds while all the while only having one mixtape out from 2006. The game has changed, and so has L.A., so how is Alternative Rap faring in the digital age for this uniquely West Coast resurgence?
I would love to write a 1500-2000 word piece exploring this "New West Movement": the "hipster" label, the influence and competition of Gangster Rap, the advantages/disadvantages of technology, the need to prove themselves regarding skill, and especially the hustling of a record deal in an industry that is slowly becoming obsolete. I have already interviewed Pac Div and Blu, and are interviewing U-N-I this week. The director of the documentary "This is The Life", Ava DuVernay, a member of the original "GoodLifers" will provide historical context as well as any contacts she may extend, such as Aceyalone and Myka 9 (Freestyle Fellowship) to provide a connection between then and now.
This story would be perfect for LA Weekly, and I would love to talk more in detail with your added suggestions. I'm a former contributing editor of Rolling Stone, and have written for The Source, XXL, San Francisco Bay Guardian, and Mass Appeal who now lives in Los Angeles full-time. Please contact me at the information provided below. Thanks so much for your time.
I hope that this expose can find a home in LA Weekly, and please let me know what adjustments you might want to make to help it fit into the specific readership!
Their response? They took the pitch, tweaked it a bit, and assigned it to writer Jeff Weiss.
Has the L.A. Hip-Hop Plague Finally Passed?In Journalism school, I learned that while unethical, this is something that is practiced quite often: to take a pitch from a greener writer and assign it to someone who's already on the payroll.
Four on the floor
By Jeff Weiss
Published on September 25, 2008
A History of L.A. Rap in 750 Words
Ignore the conventional narrative. The simplistic and linear hip-hop hagiographies compressed into 30-minute VH1 specials or records from the Game. You know: N.W.A and Straight Outta Compton “kicked open the doors” for the “West Coast Gangsta Sound,” blah blah blah, letters from the F.B.I., etc., with the pattern emerging in easy evolution: Ice Cube’s AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted. Dre’s The Chronic. Snoop’s Doggystyle. Warren G’s Regulate ... G Funk Era. Tha Dogg Pound’s Dogg Food and 2Pac’s All Eyez On Me.... Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
But something’s changed lately. It’s premature to claim that the West is back, but for the first time in over a decade, its vital signs are stable. The four artists profiled here represent some of the first new rappers in years that this town can rally behind. Moreover, they aren’t the only game around, with Diz Gibran (co-owner of Fairfax’s Diamond Supply Co. Skate Shop), the Cash Money–signed Watts native Glasses Malone and Long Beach’s Crooked I similarly bubbling. Added up, it might not yet amount to another Renaissance, but at least we can rejoice that the plague is over.
(The piece goes on to profile The Knux (from New Orleans? WTF), Pac Div, Blu, and Bishop Lamont)
Now, I could be wrong. Jeff Weiss could have pitched a similar story at a similar time and was assigned - but I got NO RESPONSE from Randall Roberts that there was ALREADY a similar pitch in the pipeline. The timing is too coincidental, and the artists I included, mainly Pac Div and Blu's inclusion into the pitch is too similar to ignore.
While I understand this is fair game, I would like to explain my frustration with this situation. 1.) I've been working on this story for over 3 months and looking to break into a new market and 2.) Assigning it to this white dude.
Okay, maybe this Jeff Weiss guy is mad cool, and he is hella cool with all the other rappers, and judging from his clips, the "urban market" is his thing, but I am calling him out. It's one thing to take a pitch from a credentialed writer and give it to someone else, but to give it to a writer who is not necessarily from the community it is about? It's White Privilege, people!
I'm hoping I'm wrong, and that its all a big misunderstanding on LA Weekly's part but I can't help but feel jilted and robbed of an opportunity to do a story that I'm emotionally and culturally invested in. So this is not a sob story or an appeal to sympathy, but rather a challenge toward this unethical practice and attach names, dates, and faces. Randall Roberts and Jeff Weiss, please feel free to contact me in defense of my accusation, but as the timeline stands, you missed out an an incredible piece and crossed the wrong writer.
October 21, 2008
Sorry for the weeklong absence! I was in the Bay Area (as usual) getting some much-needed R&R and spending time with loved ones. While I was there, I got to knock two beloved foodie spots off my list, Roxies and San Tungs, visit my homies' newborn, hang out with Pac Div at their show with Mic Terror and Million $ Mano, catch up with my homie Nick Diamond at Squat n Gobble on Haight, and of course, celebrate my lil cuzzin Markie's 21st Birthday. Pictures to come soon, so stay tuned while I unpack!
Posted by Ms. Krish at 1:36 PM
October 7, 2008
October 3, 2008
from Entertainment Weekly:
It wasn't always like this. From 1998 to 2003, female rappers such as Lauryn Hill, Eve, and Missy Elliott were among the genre's most bankable artists. But nearly all of their successors — including Lil Mama, Kid Sister, Ms Dynamite, and Jean Grae — have struggled to connect with listeners. And it's harder than ever to launch new talent. ''Hair and makeup is killing female hip-hop,'' says a source. ''The grooming cost to break a female rapper versus a male rapper is 10 times as much per appearance. That tends to have an adverse effect on a record company's willingness to even entertain a female rapper.''
So let me get this straight: there aren't any women MCs out there because they don't want to foot the bill for a glam squad? But, somehow, Hollywood tends to make a killing suiting and booting these white girls while their careers, talented or not, skyrocket?
I think we need to take a closer look at the people in positions of power, these unnamed "sources" providing jaded excuses, and the environment of hate and hypersexualization in Hip Hop that gives ladies of substance not much of a choice but to respectfully decline - for their own sanity.
There may be a lacking in the major record label scene (which is rapidly becoming obsolete across the board) but from what I can see on the independent level, there are plenty of talented women on the mic from Compton to Crooklyn. You just have to look harder.
(P.S. Check the comments on the Racialious repost for some much-needed insight)
October 2, 2008
# From former POW John Dramesi: "he's still the undisciplined, spoiled brat that he was when he went in [to the Navy]"
# "a man who has consistently put his own advancement above all else"
# "a man willing to say and do anything to achieve his ultimate ambition"
# "George W. Bush was a much better pilot."
# "Larry Wilkerson, a retired Army colonel who served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell [said] 'John McCain made his reputation on the fact that he doesn't bend his principles for politics. That's just not true.'"
# "McCain has become the kind of politician he ran against in 2000."
# "he has engaged in a 'practice of politics' so deceptive that even Rove himself has denounced it."
# "'John McCain's ambition overrode his basic character,' says Rita Hauser, who served on the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board from 2001 to 2004."
# "John McCain is his own special interest."
# Former Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee says, "McCain is putting himself first. He's putting himself first in blinking neon lights."
# "John Sidney McCain III has spent most of his life trying to escape the shadow of greater men."
# "he concedes his runty physique inspired a Napoleon complex"
# High school nicknames included "Punk" and "McNasty."
# One former classmate called him, "a mean little fucker."
# The Commandant of the Naval Academy "[called] McCain 'spoiled' to his face."
# Phil Butler, an Annapolis classmate, said: "He was a huge screw-off."
# "McCain chased a lot of tail... He picked up models when he could, screwed a stripper when he couldn't."
# "In the air, the hard-partying McCain had a knack for stalling out his planes in midflight. "
# "Enemy planes destroyed by McCain: two. American planes destroyed by McCain: two."
# Dramesi says about McCain's time in Hanoi: "This business of my country before my life?" Well, he had that opportunity and failed miserably. If it really were country first, John McCain would probably be walking around without one or two arms or legs — or he'd be dead."
# Also, it didn't take long for the North Vietnamese to "break" McCain: he squealed like a pig pretty early, and apparently in exchange for medical treatment.
Only two weeks after his capture, the North Vietnamese press issued a report — picked up by The New York Times — in which McCain was quoted as saying that the war was "moving to the advantage of North Vietnam and the United States appears to be isolated." He also provided the name of his ship, the number of raids he had flown, his squadron number and the target of his final raid.
# "Parts of his memoir recounting his days in Hanoi read like a bad Ian Fleming novel, with his Vietnamese captors cast as nefarious Bond villains."
# Says his Annapolis classmate Butler (also a POW): ""John allows the media to make him out to be the hero POW, which he knows is absolutely not true, to further his political goals."
# "The reckless, womanizing hotshot who leaned on family connections for advancement before his capture in Vietnam emerged a reckless, womanizing celebrity who continued to pull strings."
# "he was unembarrassed by his own nepotism"
# "For good measure, he crashed his third and final plane, this one a single-engine ultralight." That means he crashed 3 planes, not including when he was shot down after failing to take evasive maneuvers.
# "[Bob] Smith, the former senator from New Hampshire, has said that McCain's 'temper would place this country at risk in international affairs, and the world perhaps in danger. In my mind, it should disqualify him.'"
# "Sen. [Pete] Domenici of New Mexico has said he doesn't 'want this guy anywhere near a trigger.'"
# "And Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi weighed in that 'the thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine. He is erratic. He is hotheaded.'"
# "'He's going to be Bush on steroids,' says Johns, the retired brigadier general who has known McCain since their days at the National War College."
# "Indeed, McCain's neocon makeover is so extreme that Republican generals like Colin Powell and Brent Scowcroft have refused to endorse their party's nominee."
# ""The fact of the matter is his judgment about what to do in Iraq was wrong,' says Richard Clarke, who served as Bush's counterterrorism czar until 2003."
# Also from Clarke: "we're at risk because of the mistaken judgment of people like John McCain."
# "McCain has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to taking whatever position will advance his own career."
# "He 'is the classic opportunist,' according to Ross Perot, who worked closely with McCain on POW issues. 'He's always reaching for attention and glory.'"
# And, finally, one more from Clarke: "I'm sure John McCain loves his country. But loving your country and lying to the American people are apparently not inconsistent in his view."
Thanks to Jezebel for the synopsis!
Posted by Ms. Krish at 4:39 PM
The NY Times has an article about what to watch for during the debates. Click HERE for the detailed list.
Here are a couple of points:
Regarding Sarah Palin -
Will she try to counteract that impression by just keeping her head down, or will she try something dramatic? Will she go after Mr. Biden, or wait to see if he goes after her first? Something dramatic is probably a clue that Senator John McCain, who named Ms. Palin as his running mate a month ago, thinks he’s in trouble.
Watch for her to emphasize that she understands the needs of people like you.
Regarding Joe Biden -
Ms. Palin had such difficulty in her string of interviews with Katie Couric on CBS that some viewers may already be feeling sympathy for her. The slightest indication by Mr. Biden that he is lording anything over her could create a backlash.
And we all know he is long-winded. Much of his success tonight will depend on how much he can keep himself in check.
Look to see how much he takes the better-be-safe-than-sorry path and keeps his focus on Mr. McCain.
Click HERE to watch the NY Times video about their different debating styles and ways to prepare for tonight.
Posted by Ms. Krish at 8:16 AM