Café Mouffe: Zoë Keating

I heard an interview with cellist Zoë Keating on Studio 360, a frank discussion of her dispute with YouTube about the availability of her music on that platform. Read her blog post for a deeper explanation of the online music business viewed from a composer’s perspective. There you can also listen to a stream of her last album, Into the Trees, which is available for purchase on Bandcamp. You can sample her music here at Café Mouffe, but you better be quick about it. If she can’t negotiate a compromise, YouTube will pull the plug on her channel.

Lost | Optimist

Encore: Zoë Keating performs and discusses her creative processes on Chase Jarvis Live (uploaded 050712). She discusses the loop software she uses at 33:10 in the video.
Who is Chase Jarvis? See his blog.

Posted in Café Mouffe | Tagged , | Comments Off on Café Mouffe: Zoë Keating

Georgina Kleege on Beauty and The Gaze

My friend Georgina Kleege was interviewed today on The Takeaway with John Hockenberry:

We’re talking this week about beauty: How we define it, how we perceive it, and what it means historically and socially—and to you, our listeners.

Today, we approach the topic beauty with someone who has a unique perspective: UC Berkeley English Professor Georgina Kleege.

Kleege is blind, and has written about how she sees the world in several books, including “Sight Unseen,” and the essay “Beauty and the Blind.”

And as Kleege explains, you don’t have to see beauty to understand its value. In her words: “I live in a visual culture, so I know what people say.”


Posted in blind | Tagged , | Comments Off on Georgina Kleege on Beauty and The Gaze

Humza Deas Scales New Heights For “F8 and Be There”

Move over, Margaret Bourke-White. There’s room on that girder for a new generation of daredevil photographers with smart phones who will take any risk to get the shot. Humza Deas started climbing bridges and skyscrapers in New York City for the adrenalin rush and street creds, documenting his feats with selfies of his shoes. Think of him as a kind of vertical flaneur, soaring rather than strolling, with a rarefied perspective on the street. Instead of LIFE Magazine, Instagram is his platform.  Now he’s beginning to parlay social media fame into a paying gig.

Humza Deas perches vertiginously above Time Square in New York, documenting the “be there” moment with a selfie of his shoes. His laconic comment on the shot: “power trip” [Source: WNYC Sideshow/Instagram]

Deas perched vertiginously above Time Square at night for this “be there” moment. His laconic comment on the shot: “power trip” [Source: WNYC Sideshow/Instagram].

Who is Humza Deas? from Humza Deas on Vimeo.


  • Humza Deas (@humzadeas) • Instagram photos and videos
    As of 013015, @humzadeas has more than 105K followers on Instagram.
  • Who is Humza Deas? on Vimeo
    Humza Deas is a New York based photographer. This video is the start to a web series that showcases who Humza is & what he does. | Film & edit by Sean Colello. | Song: Nina Simone – Feeling Good | Instagram: @Humzadeas & @Sgtcolello | Tumblr: &
  • Sideshow Podcast: At 17, Humza Deas Puts Shame in Your Instagram Game – Studio 360 012715
    Humza Deas isn’t impressed by his nearly 100,000 Instagram followers, though he should be. He earned every one surfing subways, climbing bridges, and scaling New York City’s skyscrapers for the perfect photo. The ambitious 17-year-old taught himself everything he knows about trespassing and now, on the cusp of adulthood, he’s teaching himself how to be an even better photographer. | It’s not exactly surprising that a high school student in 2015 started taking photos on a smart phone. “I never owned my first camera until four or five months ago,” Deas says. At the age of 16, he bought a second-hand iPhone and began posting lifestyle photos to Instagram—skateboarding, streetscapes, and heavily filtered portraits of friends. | Soon enough, Deas wanted to up his game. After seeing a video of daredevils free-climbing a Beijing skyscraper on YouTube, he figured out a way. “This is what I can do—this is how I can be original,” he thought to himself. Though he had little to no experience climbing much of anything, he was confident that skateboarding and “being fascinated with edges of buildings to do tricks on” had prepared him plenty.

For the record, here is an historic shot of Margaret Bourke-White, age 27, perched on the scaffolding enclosing the Chrysler Building under construction in New York in 1931.  [Source: ‘Great Lady With a Camera’: Margaret Bourke-White, American Original |]

Margaret Bourke-White, age 27, perches on the scaffolding enclosing the Chrysler Building under construction in New York in 1931. [Source: ‘Great Lady With a Camera': Margaret Bourke-White, American Original |]


Posted in Imaging America | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Humza Deas Scales New Heights For “F8 and Be There”

Oscar Nominees: “Timbuktu”

Every day brings more talk about movies I want to see. Add “Timbuktu” to the list. The French-Mauritanian film dramatizes the brutalities and absurdities of fanatical jihadists who seize control in the West African nation of Mali. It premiered at Cannes last May, and now it’s nominated for an Academy Award for best foreign language film.

“Abderrahmane Sissako’s passionate and visually beautiful film Timbuktu is a cry from the heart – with all the more moral authority for being expressed with such grace and such care,” Peter Bradshaw writes in The Guardian.  “There are some brilliant visual moments… young men carry on playing football after football has been banned by miming the game. They rush around the field with an invisible football, earnestly playing a match by imagining where the ball should be. It is a funny, sly, heartbreaking scene, reminiscent of anti-Soviet satire.”

That comparison sealed the deal for me.

  • Cannes 2014: Timbuktu review – searing fundamentalist drama | Film | The Guardian 051414
    Peter Bradshaw: “Abderrahmane Sissako’s passionate and visually beautiful film Timbuktu is a cry from the heart – with all the more moral authority for being expressed with such grace and such care. It is a portrait of the country of his childhood, the west African state of Mali, and in particular the city of Timbuktu, whose rich and humane traditions are being trampled, as Sissako sees it, by fanatical jihadis, often from outside the country. The story revolves around the death of a cow, affectionately named “GPS” – an appropriate symbol for a country that has lost its way. | These Islamist zealots are banning innocent pleasures such as music and football, and throwing themselves with cold relish into lashings and stonings for adultery. The new puritans appal the local imam, who has long upheld the existing traditions of a benevolent and tolerant Islam; they march into the mosque carrying arms. Besides being addicted to cruelty and bullying, these men are enslaved to their modern devices – mobile phones, cars, video-cameras (for uploading jihadi videos to the internet) and, of course, weapons. Timbuktu is no longer tombouctou la mysterieuse, the magical place of legend, but a harsh, grim, unforgiving place of bigotry and fear. | There are some brilliant visual moments: the panoramic vision of the river in which Kidane and the fisherman stagger apart, at different ends of the screen, is superb, composed with a panache that David Lean might have admired. When a jihadi comes close to admitting he is infatuated with Satima, Sissako shows us the undulating dunes with a strategically placed patch of scrub. It is a sudden, Freudian vision of a woman’s naked body, which is then made the subject of a bizarre, misogynist attack. | Elsewhere, young men carry on playing football after football has been banned by miming the game. They rush around the field with an invisible football, earnestly playing a match by imagining where the ball should be. It is a funny, sly, heartbreaking scene, reminiscent of anti-Soviet satire. In another scene, a young man is being coached on how to describe his religious conversion for a video (for an awful moment, it looks as if it might be a suicide-bomber “martyrdom” video). The boy talks about how he used to love rap music, but no longer. Yet in the face of the hectoring and maladroit direction, the boy lowers his head: he finds he cannot mouth these dogmatic platitudes.”
  • ‘Timbuktu’ Strikes a Nerve in France Post Charlie Hebdo Attack | Variety 012315
    Elsa Keslassy: “PARIS– Abderrahmane Sissako’s “Timbuktu,” a foreign-language Oscar nominee, is turning out to be a significant world cinema hit in France in the wake of the terrorist attacks that hit Paris. | Sissako told Variety that he decided to embark into “Timbuktu” after hearing about the stoning of a woman. “It deeply revolted me, and I felt the urge to make this film,” said the helmer, who also emphasized that his movie is meant to show that “Islam has nothing to do with barbarism and jihadists: Islam itself has been held hostage.” | As it resonates with current events, “Timbuktu” has proven even more relevant in the aftermath of the Paris’ terrorist attacks orchestrated by Al Qaeda that killed 17 people at Charlie Hebdo and the Kosher supermarket. | The film has also sparked some controversy. “Timbuktu” was indeed banned from being shown in Villiers-sur-Marne, a Parisian suburb, because the major, Jacques-Alain Bénisti – who admitted he hadn’t watched the film — feared it would incite young people to become Jihadists. Benisti later back down and allowed it to be released.”
  • Timbuktu – Trailer – YouTube
    Academy Award Nominee, Best Foreign Language Film 2015 | Abderrahmane Sissako’s film is a beautiful, serene slice of life outside of Timbuktu. Mauritania’s first-ever submission of a film for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award.
  • Timbuktu – Cohen Media Group
    Synopsis: Not far from Timbuktu, now ruled by the religious fundamentalists, Kidane lives peacefully in the dunes with his wife Satima, his daughter Toya, and Issan, their twelve-year-old shepherd. In town, the people suffer, powerless, from the regime of terror imposed by the Jihadists determined to control their faith. Music, laughter, cigarettes, even soccer have been banned. The women have become shadows but resist with dignity. Every day, the new improvised courts issue tragic and absurd sentences. Kidane and his family are being spared the chaos that prevails in Timbuktu. But their destiny changes when Kidane accidentally kills Amadou, the fisherman who slaughtered “GPS,” his beloved cow. He now has to face the new laws of the foreign occupants. Timbuktu is Mauritania’s first entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award.
  • Controversy Swirls Around Oscar-Nominated Film – The Takeaway 012815
    Today, a highly acclaimed new film hits theaters across the U.S. It’s called “Timbuktu,” and it’s a French-Mauritanian drama directed by Abderrahmane Sissako. | Nominated for an Academy Award for best foreign language film, it’s also won awards on the festival circuit and has earned rave reviews from critics. |But while art-house film lovers will be seeing it across the U.S. in the coming days, in some parts of the world, including the suburbs of France, screenings have been pushed back or canceled. |In Villiers-sur-Marne, for example, the mayor canceled screenings, suggesting that Timbuktu “makes an apology for terrorism,” according to news outlet Le Figaro. |Hussein Rashid is professor of religion at Hofstra University. He joins us to share his thoughts on the film, and the controversy surrounding it.

Posted in film | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Oscar Nominees: “Timbuktu”

Documentary Films: “What Happened, Miss Simone?”

One of the films generating buzz at this week’s Sundance Festival is a documentary about Nina Simone, What Happened, Miss Simone? The title comes from a poem by Maya Angelou. I want to see this one.

  • What Happened, Miss Simone? – Clip – Netflix [HD] – YouTube
    Classically trained pianist, black power icon and legendary recording artist, Nina Simone lived a life of brutal honesty, musical genius, and tortured melancholy. In the upcoming Netflix original documentary, Academy Award® nominated filmmaker Liz Garbus interweaves never-before-heard recordings and rare archival footage together with Nina?’s most memorable songs, creating an unforgettable portrait of one of the least understood, yet most beloved artists of our time.
  • 8 Nina Simone Facts We Learned from the New Netflix Doc – 012715
    Nina Simone wished she could downshift her singing career from artistic pursuit to mindless job, where it could be more about delivering sound than soul. She couldn’t do it. Simone gave everything to her melodies, each syncopated, rambunctious, fully-charged musical numbers drenched in emotion. Whether the songs were about love, loss, or fighting for equality, they had to emerge from her heart, a task that took its toll on her mental and physical health over the years. Nina Simone remains one of the greatest performers who ever lived and it came at a price. | In What Happened, Miss Simone?, documentarian Liz Garbus (Bobby Fischer Against the World and Love, Marilyn) strings together never-before-seen archival footage, long-lost recordings, and talking head interviews with some of the singer’s closest friends and family, to present an expansive look at Simone’s life. The film debuted at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival this week. | Fans of the recent docudrama Selma will recognize proud and horrifying moments from the Selma-to-Montgomery protest march that led to the Voting Rights Act’s passing. A ferocious activist, Simone descended upon the town to perform for the protesters. A particularly stirring clip from the film shows the singer belting “Mississippi Goddam,” a Civil Rights-themed song written in the wake of Birmingham, Alabama bombing that killed four girls. | Simone’s life hit major turbulence in the ’70s, when she fled America to Liberia and eventually Paris. At her lowest point, struggling for cash and looking “like a street urchin” (her friends’ words), the musician managed just a few hundred dollars per gig playing for small French crowds in surrounding cafes. According to Simone, few people turned out for the shows. No one believed it was actually her, so why go? Time, medication, and rehab eventually revived the Simone that fans once knew, though her daughter believes the singer lost certain octaves, notes she never sang again, during this down period.
  • ‘Stronger Than Ever’ Sundance Docs Tackle Scientology, Campus Rape : NPR 012715
    Over in Park City, Utah, the Sundance Film Festival is in full swing. Critic Kenneth Turan tells NPR’s Renee Montagne about some of the festival’s must-see films, including documentaries about Scientology, rape on college campuses and Nina Simone, and a romantic drama based on a novel by Colm Tóibín. | KT: “The first one that played on opening night is called What Happened, Miss Simone? It’s about the singer Nina Simone. The title is from a poem by Maya Angelou, who wondered about the gap in Nina Simone’s performing career. And this looks at the entirety of her career — how she started, why she turned to singing in the first place. She had a major involvement in the civil rights movement, then she had a lot of personal difficulties, and this film really shows us what her life was like in a very intimate way.”
  • Nina Simone – Mississippi Goddam – YouTube
    Holland 1965

Posted in film, Playing by Ear | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Documentary Films: “What Happened, Miss Simone?”