The recently revived Fania Records has started reaching outside itself, giving new life to the catalogs of artists it never recorded. Here’s Tito Rodriguez, a singer and bandleader who lit up Afro-Latin music from the mid-’40s to the mid-’60s. (At which point he finally lost his drawn-out battle for mambo dominance with Tito Puente, relocated to his native Puerto Rico and died in 1973.) This exemplary set — taken from long-out-of-print records made during the ’60s — includes luxe big-band tracks and smaller, more intense conjunto jam-sessions, as well as live recordings from the Palladium, the locus of New York’s mambo-mania. There’s also a fascinating 1960 cut called “Esta Es Mi Orquesta” — possibly modeled after an earlier Stan Kenton piece called “Prologue” — in which the bandleader delivers a spoken lecture in mambo dynamics, introducing musicians one by one, letting them take their licks.Click here to preview and buy Tito Rodriguez' El Inolvidable: A Man And His Music at fania.com. The CD was also reviewed by Milo Miles on Fresh Air – click here to listen.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
I just found out yesterday that South African-born photographer Sam Haskins died last week. I first learned about Haskins from Greg Foley, the design director at Visionaire when I worked there, and I have been a big fan ever since. His older books are not easy to find but worth the effort to track down, and a new book, Fashion Etcetera, was recently published, collecting much of his most iconic work.
Here are a few of my favorite images from his 1962 book Five Girls.
There were a number of good pieces on Sam Haskins when the new book was published this fall. Click here for a video and article by Horacio Silva at the New York Times; view a photo essay at The New Yorker; and go to CNN to watch an interview/gallery tour with Sam. He is greatly missed.
See also: haskins.com and samhaskinsblog.com
Friday, December 4, 2009
Matt Lifson Apocalypse Bros, 2009 (Oil on Canvas, 40" x 48"). Lifson's paintings and sculptural installations are on view through January 3rd at Ursa Minor Gallery along with Robin Stein's photography. There's an interesting dialogue between the photos and the paintings, in a way – a satellite dish next to the forest in one of Stein's photos is a stand-in for the beings in the woods in Lifson's paintings, and the vaguely violent/sexual overtones in Lifson's paintings are not unlike the implied conquest of the wilderness in some of Stein's photos, and vice-versa. A half-baked thought, maybe, but a thought, no less.
In its gift guide last weekend The New York Times featured a nice review by Ben Ratliff of the new CD from Tito Rodriguez, El Inolvidable: A Man And His Music – the first release from Fania since I started working with them.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
A design by Stacy Rozich, one of six designs by local artists featured on T-shirts available at Cairo during Eclectic Magic, a low-key but delightful pop-up shopping experience for the holidays. Cairo is open 12-6pm everyday now through January 3rd and they're having an opening this Friday night featuring music from Alaska's, Wild Orchid Children, and Stephanie. I don't know the other two but I had the great pleasure of seeing Alaska's at the Anne Bonny for Expo 87 the other weekend and would jump at the chance to repeat the experience.
More info at Cairo.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
This is a random image of the day in the truest sense of the word – I'm super busy, sometimes I don't have time to plan this out. I scrolled and picked the first image I found on my hard drive. When I used to work at V Magazine we had a bowling team, and we'd play other magazines (The New Yorker, GQ...a whole bunch of different magazines). Time Out New York was always the best, they were really annoying. We were generally down at the bottom with (I think it was) American Craft magazine or something like that, these girls that pretty much had just figured out what bowling was or something. My grandpa (not Don – different grandpa) was actually a pro bowler (the diamonds in Emily's engagement ring came from a gold pinky ring he had won, which my brother and I inherited) and I'm not too bad, but I had dislocated my shoulder like three months before, so I was sucking – I would roll the ball and then walk back to the team in pain. We bowled at the Port Authority bus terminal lanes. As part of the deal each team would get these towers of beer, basically like a big vase full of beer with a tap at the bottom of it. We'd finish ours really fast and then try to steal beer from the other teams. Good times.
If you have not been to Matt's Hot Dogs on your way to the paintball range or South Park, I strongly urge you to make the trip some day on your lunch break. The story goes that this guy Matt, who is ever present at the counter, taking orders and speaking fluent Spanish to the Latina cooks, has been obsessed with hot dogs since day one. He went to business school and wrote a plan for a hot dog stand, became a mortgage banker to save money for said hot dog stand, and finally realized his dream in 1992. Specializing in Chicago dogs, chili dogs, slaw dogs and the like, this is the kind of place where you can really get yourself into trouble. I usually go for one Chicago dog, a slaw dog with chili, and fries. If you want to fake your friend out, get one dog and fries, tell them you are being good, and then slip away and order a second dog on the DL. See how jealous they get. This place has the formula down. Just be careful, get good exercise and don't get mustard on your shirt.
This past summer, Robin Stein, a Seattle-based photographer (you may also know him from such bands as Flexions), spent a week on a tree farm outside of Chesterhill, Ohio, as a guest of the Harold Arts Residency. While there, he studied the pages of an obscure guidebook published in Pittsburgh in 1811, The Navigator: "Containing Directions for Navigating the Monongahela, Allegheny, Ohio, and Mississippi Rivers; with an Ample Account of These Much Admired Waters, from the Head of the Former to the Mouth of the Latter; and a Concise Description of Their Towns, Villages, Harbours, Settlements, & c."
The week after, Stein journeyed up the Ohio River Valley, and then East through the Alleghenies, using what he had learned from The Navigator to loosely trace a route of early westbound settlers, but in reverse. He ended up in New York City. And then he came back to Seattle, and started posting photographs of the journey on his blog. Here are a few of my favorites:
Check out Robin Stein's blog here, or better yet, see more of his work in person at a show opening this Thursday, with painter Matt Lifson, at Ursa Minor Gallery, 3308 East Spring Street (one block South of Union in Madrona, Seattle).
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Flying Lotus is giving away some incredibly hot Lil' Wayne remixes, plus instrumentals, including this one – maybe my favorite of all his beats:
Flying Lotus Robo Tussin (instrumental) mp3
Click here to get the rest.
[via Gorilla vs. Bear]
A contact sheet of photos by Jeanloup Sieff, featured in The Contact Sheet – a new book by Steve Crist exploring the editing process behind some of the most iconic images and photographers of the 20th century. This particular selection of shots produced the photo below, which appeared in a 1964 Harper's Bazaar editorial.
The Contact Sheet is published by Ammo Books.
See also: A Few Frames: Photography and the Contact Sheet, on view through January 3rd at the Whitney.
Monday, November 30, 2009
There was an interesting interview on KUOW this morning with Vashon Islander Brad Matsen, author of The Sea King, a new book which explores the life of Jacques Cousteau. Among other interesting facts, I learned that Cousteau's ship Calypso (pictured above), built in Ballard as a WWII minesweeper and converted after the war for use as a ferry in Malta, was purchased in 1950 for Cousteau's use by Loel Guinness, heir to the beer fortune. Cousteau's wife and partner Simone sold her jewelry to finance the cost of fixing and fueling it up, and in 1952, they set out with their crew to explore the Red Sea. You can set out to listen to the podcast here.
While we're at it, here's a concept drawing for Calypso 2:
So I don't know if everyone outside of Seattle knows this, but within Seattle at the moment there is a manhunt going on for Maurice Clemmons, the suspect in the assassination of four police officers in Tacoma this past weekend – and you can listen to the whole thing on local TV station KOMO's live feed of the police scanner. I'm not gonna make a habit of doing this or anything – I'm not going to be that guy – but it's intense. I hope they get him soon.
[update – they got him]
When I sell the project for 40 million dollars I will ignore any emails from you begging to be part of it and will send you a postcard from my yaght*
HA HA HA.
That's a burn.
Read the rest here.
Not quite as funny as Overheard at the Record Store but it did cause me to laugh audibly by myself in the office in front of my computer.
[ via Design Observer ]
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Eric Wilson finds some interesting insights on the creative process of Patrick Li – one of the top, and overall probably my favorite, of the relatively small crop of art directors producing graphics for fashion houses – in a New York Times article this past Thursday.
“I would describe Patrick’s work as like distilling something to the purest form,” said Kate Mulleavy. “Laura and I are so quiet about how we communicate with people. We like to work in isolation when we are working on the collection. So the first person we talk to about what we are doing is Patrick.”
Mr. Li designs the fashion show invitations that are mailed to hundreds of editors and store buyers each season, enticing them to see a collection and sometimes giving them a hint of what is to come. Ms. Mulleavy said that she and her sister typically fire off a mountain of inspirations. The spring collection, for example, was based on transformation myths involving a person who is burned alive and reborn as a condor or a vulture. There was talk of California condors, burnt sand and the wildfires that were spreading around Los Angeles while the Mulleavys were at work.
“Their references each season are totally off the wall, and sometimes I think they are meant to confuse,” Mr. Li said. “You can leave the discussion thinking, ‘Oh, I don’t really know what it means for a California condor to intersect with a Robert Smithson earthwork,’ but each of those things imparts a certain feeling.”
Knowing those references and the collection, the invitation shown above is a truly impressive distillation of Laura and Kate Mulleavy's inspirations. That is not an easy thing to do as a designer, and Li succeeds time and time again.
Read the rest of the story at nytimes.com.
Photos by Tony Cenicola for The New York Times