It's not Fitness. It's Life. In fact, it's Still Life.
Equinox at Columbus Circle recently celebrated its 5th birthday, inviting members and their guests. My lucky plus one was no other than Kamau Ware. He and I enjoyed a much needed stretching session from Equinox's personal trainers after our intense cardio. We were definitely living the Equinox motto that night.
Who’s a Black Sheep? What’s a Black Sheep? How poignant a question posed by Dres, lead emcee of the 90s Hip Hop duo, Black Sheep. Darn I miss 90s Hip Hop… This week I am stuck between a soft and a sweet place. Tomorrow evening, June 28, in Prospect Park (in my neighborhood) some of my favorite standard bearers of 90s Hip Hop known as the Crooklyn Dodgers will storm the bandshell as part of the Celebrate Brooklyn event series. The Crooklyn Dodgers is not a formal group or anything but the one-time identity of some of 1990s’ finest emcees of Brooklyn: Special Ed, Buckshot Shorty, OC, Jeru the Damaja, Masta Ace, and DJ Premier. They did the song for Spike Lee’s feature Crooklyn. Remember the song playing over the credits during the Soul Train footage?
All was good until my friend Daryl starts pulling my coat to this event at Carnegie Hall that I should check out instead. This notion was scoffed at with a raised brow and a smirk. What in Moses’ name could be poppin’ at Carnegie Hall that could possibly compete with the reunion of the Crooklyn Dodgers? The plot begins to thicken when Daryl describes this concert with Mos Def backed by an orchestra and a special guest appearance by Gil Scott Heron. He predicts this will be a defining moment in Black music that will be talked about for years to come. “Don’t you want your son to tell his friend that his Dad saw the first Mos Def Orchestra performance?” – Daryl chides. For many the decision between the Crooklyn Dodgers and Mos Def would be easy, but the fact that Gil Scott Heron is also on the bill really makes this complicated. Hmmmm…this or that, this or that…
Between my better half and I, the Mos Def catalog gets rotation in the home studio. Although we find his pre-Italian Job work more gritty + snappy, we are intrigued by the idea of Mos and an orchestra. Will he follow the Bobby McFerrin model? Will there be a Ms. Fat Booty rendition on the xylophone? Maybe he’ll freestyle to Mozart’s Symphony No. 40. Then you must factor in Gil Scott Heron, an antecedent to Hip Hop’s purest. Scott’s trajectory from solo Chicago performance poet to being the lead poet/singer backed by a full band matches the ilk of Hip Hop greats like The Roots, Kanye, and yes, Mos Def. What could these cats by planning to do…with an orchestra? I’m torn. So, what’s a Black Sheep? The cat that skips the Crooklyn Dodgers Reunion in his own Brooklyn backyard to train into the City to see the Mos Def Orchestra with a special guest appearance by Gil Scott Heron? Or the cat that stays in his neighborhood, missing an opportunity to see a milestone event that could further the texture of Hip Hop?
The 11th Annual Brooklyn International Film Festival just wrapped up on Sunday June 8th at the Brooklyn Lyceum. Designing events for a film festival can be exciting and tricky. Such an undertaking is worthy of its own feature length narrative. It would definitely be a dramatic comedy full of adult situations and little animated characters running about. This is my second year working with the Brooklyn Fest, and although I love film, events, and the team, I wasn’t initially psyched to design one of the festival sidebars this year – one of the smaller venues playing films during the festival. Why? I wanted to lay some next level ideas on a larger venue like the Lyceum. Innovation is my brand. With the sidebars, I felt like there wasn’t a tremendous amount of “design” to do. It didn’t seem like there was going to be enough room for me to shine and put my signature touch on the event.
This particular sidebar was a photography studio and art space called The Lumenhouse located on 47 Beaver Street off of Flushing (Bushwick). The Lumenhouse is run by a great couple that is totally in to making and supporting art in Brooklyn. Their gorgeous baby girl (worthy of her own photo shoot) rounds out this pleasant pair. We got along great (as expected) and had a blast screening on Friday June 6 and Saturday June 7. The Bushwick Arts Festival was happening simultaneously so there was a mix of art and film aficionados mixing it up. We played shorts both days and a documentary Saturday night. The husband + wife team had the place looking very foxy and most of the filmmakers showed up to discuss their work. So in the end, I learned to let my ego and creative genius take a back seat to what was already well designed from the jump – a hip place to watch good film and celebrate filmmakers. In hindsight, designing for a film festival can be a lot like playing an Oscar-worthy supporting role, not the lead.
Levi Abrino - Director of The Lonely Bliss of the Cannonball Luke