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As American as Apple Pie – Grand Rapids LipDub May 28, 2011

Posted by alwaysjan in Food for Thought, Music.
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My husband forwarded to me a link to Indiewire, an independent film site, with the message, “You’ve GOT to watch this!” (Click the Indiewire link to watch the Grand Rapids LipDub.)

After Newsweek listed Grand Rapids, Michigan as one of America’s 10 “Dying Cities,” independent filmmaker Scott Erickson decided to showcase his hometown in a one-take, 10-minute video to the tune of Don McLean’s iconic song American Pie.

When I told my brother, who lives in Michigan, about the video, his initial response was, “It can’t be Grand Rapids-that’s one of our favorite places to go. Are you sure they weren’t talking about Detroit?” He informed me that Grand Rapids is GR to Michiganders.

Maybe it’s because I can vividly recall the dingy bar I was standing in drinking 3.2% beer when I first heard the song American Pie, but I dare say, I got a little misty eyed watching this video.

At a time when funding for the arts is being cut from our schools, I’ve become all the more convinced that it is the arts that elevate our spirits while also bringing people together.

Psst! If it’s been awhile since you’ve heard the song, you, like me, will be trying to decipher the lyrics. But, it’s already been done for you on Understanding American Pie. The site takes you through the song verse by verse. Whoa! I think it gave me flashbacks.

I rate this video GR, for GREAT.  Enjoy!

Dead Fly on the Wall January 26, 2010

Posted by alwaysjan in Art.
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I was scrambling to finish my final five report cards when my friend Nancy emailed me pictures of  “dead fly art.”  According to the email all you need to do is get a dead fly (or moth), let it sit for an hour, and then let your imagination run wild.  Hey, I’m good at that.

Those who know me know I’ve got a thing for bugs, even dead ones, so of course I put the report cards on hold and googled “dead fly art.”  I found lots of links, most which featured really annoying ads.  (And you thought I was going to say ads that “bug me,” but I’m not THAT obvious!) The “dead fly art” has been featured on several sites in the UK. Some of the original photos have what looks like German Swedish writing on them.  Who is the genius behind these?  (I’ve since learned it’s Swedish photographer Magnus Mohr.)  I’m now thinking of a really cool art project for Open House.  After all, our current unit is Imagination, and Picasso is so old school.  I hope the parents have a sense of humor.  Now, back to those report cards.

To see more “Dead Fly Art,”  go to The Chive Photo Blog.

March Mao February 28, 2009

Posted by alwaysjan in Monthly Mao.
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marchmao1

Obama Poster – Barack Obama as American Mythology February 25, 2009

Posted by alwaysjan in Art, Politics.
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On Election Day 2008, planetjan was featured as one of WordPress’ 100 “Growing Blogs.” This was in large part because of my “Obama Cholo” post featuring the artwork of artist David Cordova.  It was the first time I’d dipped my toe in the political waters. Numerous sites linked to my post and my stats went through the roof.  So both Obama and I had a good day.

Since then, my friend Nora Dunn (who makes cameos in some of my blog posts, as she’s a frequent visitor to our outpost of insanity) has introduced us to Scott Siedman’s art.  Nora owns several of Scott’s paintings and when I first saw them, I was bowled over by Scott’s bold style.

When we finally met Scott, he brought and we bought a copy of “The Man from Illinois” poster, which is a reproduction of his original painting.  There’s a strong stylistic nod to quintessential American artists Norman Rockwell and Thomas Hart Benton. When I asked Scott what book Obama is reading, he said he left that open to interpretation.  Scott noted though that Abraham Lincoln, also an attorney (and the original Man from Illinois), was often seen reading the English Book of Common Law. 

Not to sound like a late-night infommercial, (but wait, there’s more!), but at $32 to $34 a pop, the poster is a bargain (though I’m hoping to soon snatch up Citicorp at the 99 cent store nearest me).   For details and to view a larger image of the print, click on manfromillinois.com.  Thanks Nora and Sheila!

February Mao February 1, 2009

Posted by alwaysjan in Monthly Mao.
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January Mao January 1, 2009

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December Mao November 30, 2008

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November Mao November 1, 2008

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Hope & Hip Hop October 29, 2008

Posted by alwaysjan in Art, Artists, Music, Politics.
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Our friend, Dina (The Salsa Queen!) forwarded this link on Youtube.  I must confess that my father warned me I should NEVER blog about politics or religion – but this is ART!  MC Yogi grew up in a group home for “at risk youth” and then discovered the transformative power of yoga.  Who would have thunk it?  His music appears on the White Swan label, home to another of my faves, Deva Premal.  Got art?  If you want to see an AWESOME video, click here:  MC Yogi: Obama ’08 Vote for Hope.

Obama Cholo October 26, 2008

Posted by alwaysjan in Art, Politics.
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My friend Angela had this poster on her front door, and it was love at first sight (a primera vista). She told me her hairstylist, David Cordova, had made it which led to an after school jaunt through the winding hills above Eagle Rock to meet him. He had an Obama event that night, and his supply was running dangerously low, but I bought four posters at $5 a pop ($10 at the event!) and was ecstatic.

David said he came up with the idea for the poster because many Latinos are still hesitant to vote for an African American (the brown vs. black issue that I’ve encountered in my own classroom over the years – though less so lately). But according to a front page story in the Los Angeles Times today, a growing number of Latino voters argue that anyone who has faced discrimination would be good for all minorities. Besides, for most voters, it’s no longer a white, black, or brown issue, or even a red or blue one. It all comes down to green – it’s the economy.

David said he took some of the color out of Obama’s skin, added the Mexican day laborer bandana, and the classic cholo shirt. Que milagro! Barack gone barrio. This way Latinos can see that Obama is not so very different from themselves.

I have to admit that in the poster, Obama looks surprisingly like the Mexican cook who works back in the kitchen at the local sushi bar. So in that sense, Obama Cholo (as David refers to him) IS every man – at least in Los Angeles.

October Mao October 1, 2008

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September Mao September 1, 2008

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August Mao August 2, 2008

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Going Green July 5, 2008

Posted by alwaysjan in Art, Going Green.
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Our artist friend Bobby, who lives in Las Vegas, has upped the ante in the “Lawn Be Gone” challenge.  Tired of shelling out $225 to water his lawn, Bobby pulled the plug in March.  His water bill for June was a whopping $9. Since spray painting his lawn, a growing number of people are pulling over to snap photos. And no, he doesn’t just stand out front waiting for these photo ops.  Bobby’s story was featured this week in the Las Vegas Sun.

Bobby has spent the last decade in Vegas painting custom interiors and murals at the major casinos.  Years back, Bobby lured Richard up to Vegas to help design the interior of the Voodoo Lounge at the Rio and Richard still has the T-shirt to prove it.  Nothing like starting to paint at 10 p.m. and knocking off for breakfast. Construction was 24/7 so the artists were relegated to the night shift.  Richard remembers that the only place he could go in Las Vegas to escape the sound of the slots beside Trader Joes, was the Las Vegas Public Library.  

To see more of Bobby’s work (on canvas):

http://www.robertcurrystudio.com/show/index.html

July Mao July 1, 2008

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June Mao June 2, 2008

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May Mao May 25, 2008

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May Mao

A little background first.  I’d seen Mao around.  His milky-white china presence presided over all things Asian at Marz, my neighborhood source for campy culture.  I was armed with a gift certificate, so there was no stopping me. As the salewoman, who was wearing a bejewelled bandoleer, rolled Mao into a burrito of tissue paper, she mused, “Sometimes when people have a gift certificate, they rush to spend it all at once. You know,  we get new things in every week.”  Could she sense impending buyer’s remorse, or did she just want Mao for herself?

Once home, I placed Mao in the dining room in front of the mirror in the built-in china cabinet.  I stood back to take in the total effect.  Instinctively, I checked my purse to make sure I hadn’t lost the receipt.   Just in case.  My husband walked by and gave Mao a sideways glance.  “Cool,” he said without missing a beat.  Really?  Cool!  But politically uncool?  I googled Mao on Wikipedia in an attempt to try to ease my conscience.  It didn’t look good.  I looked him up in The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy by E.D. Hirsch, Jr.  It didn’t help that Mao’s entry was opposite Mother Teresa’s.   I decided to sleep on it.

The next morning I called my friend Christine and told her I’d developed a full-blown case of buyer’s remorse.  She drove over to check out the damage.  “I don’t think it’s bad at all,” she said.  “Most people will just think it’s Winston Churchill,” she added,  pointing to Mao’s double-breasted coat. If this was meant to reassure me, it had the opposite effect.  Did I know anyone THAT ignorant?  If so, I vowed to purge them from my address book in a Cultural Revolution of my own.

When I’d bought the large stone Buddha for the garden, I’d wrestled it into the passenger seat and fastened the seatbelt.  I remember feeling a sense of peace descend over me as I drove home, with Buddha beside me riding shotgun.  Not so with Mao.  Marz is closed Mondays,  so I decided I’d return him Tuesday.  I just hoped the same saleswoman wasn’t working.

But on Tuesday, Mao looked different.  Or maybe I was looking at him differently.  “Maybe I could surround him with broken pieces of white china that all have Made in China printed on them, ” I suggested.   My husband nodded, obviously not wanting to interfere with my creative stream of consciousness.   “Why don’t you just make him lean to the left,”  he said, sipping his coffee.  Great minds DO think alike!

There was one detail I’d overlooked.  I didn’t have any broken pieces of white china.  Let’s see, what do we have that’s white?  I emerged from the kitchen with a bag of rice, which my husband grabbed.  “You can’t use basmati!” he chided.  He returned with a big bag of short-grained rice and we spent the next hour rearranging  the rice.  It was like playing with one of those desktop Zen sand gardens.  When everything was just so, we lit the candles and stood back.  “Cool,” I said.   And I really meant it.

So meet May Mao.  June Mao will make his debut June 1.  I plan to use Monthly Mao as an excuse to finally learn Photoshop.   

As a footnote, my eldest son, Taylor, was down from Santa Cruz last week. When he first walked through the dining room, he did a double take. “What’s with the statue of Mao?”  he asked.  “Oh, your mom bought it,” my husband said.  “Oh, okay, that explains it,”  Taylor said.  And that was that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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