One Sign Says it All

Image

la-me-stephon-clark-video-mute-20180331

Advertisements

Legends of Badassery

It’s been a very very hectic two months for me, and although I wanted to review Scott Sanders’ “Black Dynamite” for Black History Month, I don’t think I have the ability to do.  Instead, all I have are a collection of some of my favorite fight scenes featuring some of the most badass African-American martial artists ever.  See below, and witness a slew of asskicking, especially from Michael Jai White.  Enjoy folks!

Adieu Olivier

nintchdbpict000381771456

Arsenal have had a poor season, and no amount of fluff from me can hide that.  Our away form is atrocious and our midfield is leaky.  And when I say leaky, I mean we turnover WAY too much.  Xhaka really needs to learn how to defend without fouling and Sanchez, despite the awesome things he’s done for Arsenal, turns balls over way too much.  So when he finally went to United instead of Citeh, I was like, “Meh.”  However, the rumors swirling around Giroud leaving felt like a dagger to the heart.  All in all, I understand why he needs to go; he’s got a new baby, it’s a World Cup year and he needs regular playing time.  Unfortunately, like many would highlight, Giroud is simply awesome as a Plan B, and no striker would want to be relegated to that.  It’s with these thoughts in mind that Wenger decided to open the door for Giroud to go.  I absolutely hate the fact that he’s gone to Chel$ki, but I hold nothing against him and, frankly, hope he benches Morata.

It also sucks to see that his final game with us was one where we lost to Swansea…AGAIN.  It’s almost as if the Swans have become another bogey team for us away (like offside Southampton), and it’s an atrocious record that needs to be put to bed.

27073042_10155765274833580_6567412911452601237_n

However, I need to give props to Olivier.  He never gave up when new strikers came in and always, ALWAYS gave 100% to the club.  He’s made so many howlers, but created so many glorious, beautiful footballing moments for us that really, I can never ever be mad at him.  I’m sure many would argue that he didn’t fit the system at Arsenal, but he contributed to our sloppy brand of sexy football in his own way.  The flicks, the touches, the back-passes, his class and the headers were all just glints of polished dynamite that have adorned the Emirates’ grassy canvas and I’m sad to see it all go.  Sure, we finally have Aubameyang, but will that help us break down the obstinate, defense-first playing style of the Prem?  Will we finally see some more of what we saw yesterday against Everton?  Or will we just see an increasing number of frustrated Arsenal faces in the opposition box once ANOTHER call goes against us?

Whatever it is, I’m moving on from this hectic transfer window with a sigh of relief and exasperation.  We said goodbye to Theo, to Debuchy, to Sanchez and to Coquelin, all folks who’ve done their part to steer the Arsenal ship as best as they could.  The fact that Giroud is part of that list makes it even more sad.  Our beautiful Arsenal story with Olivier Giroud ended on January 31st, 2018, but I sure hope we get to hear more from him, especially once he dons the Blue Jersey of France this summer.  Until then, I wish him the very best because to me, no matter where he goes, Giroud will always be a Gunner.  Adieu Olivier, and thanks for all the memories.

Goodbye 2017: Naika Looks Back on A Year of Hatred, and a Year of Resistance

Hi folks.  Yes, it’s been a loooong while since I wrote anything, but to be fair, things have been uber busy for me.  I’m taking on a lot more responsibilities at work which more or less keep me there longer throughout the day.  The best thing about it however is that I am learning a ton of stuff related to research and will no doubt learn a lot more through trial and error.  It’s a lot of stress and anxiety, but I’m glad to be helping the team at a time when we’re short of staff (I’m sure you’ve ALL heard of that story before).  Bottom line is that it leaves me less time to write and study.

However, when I do get home, I basically shut off and hang out with my wife, and that’s the most important thing.  If there’s anything super duper good that I can say about myself in 2017 on a more personal level, then it’s about the two of us getting hitched.  Yeah, I know.  That’s a big deal, but yeah…I didn’t wanna write about it because that’s private.  Furthermore, we opted out of the big ceremony because in this economy, who could afford one?  We just got affordable rings and went to a courthouse.  We did the deed and boom, we were married.  That was my 2017.

Now I generally go super detailed in these end of year write-ups, but not this time.  As I mentioned, work has really enveloped my creative time, so I’ll just spout out some stuff that really hit me this year and you can take it or leave it.  Sounds like a plan, right?

So first off, me and the missus participated on our first protest, and that was the Women’s March in D.C.  after we witnessed the worst inauguration in modern history.  It was a lovely yet crowded event, but I can’t complain.  It was the largest single-day protest in U.S. history, and it was awesome to be a part of that (thanks Rachael!).

IMG_0265

I participated in another protest in September called the March for Racial Justice.  It was more or less a big fat rebuke of Trump and White Nationalism where there were die-ins in front of the Department of Justice, taking knees, Native American drumming, solidarity and lots of lots of cussing in front of Trump Tower.  That to me was the single greatest march that I’ve participated in thusfar, and it was my third protest of that year.  There was so much energy, anger and togetherness as we took over the streets of D.C. to have our voices heard, especially after something as harrowing and awful as Charlottesville.

IMG_0630

Who’s that asshole in the background there?

While we’re at it in regards to Charlottesville, this year for me, in a lot of ways, will no doubt be synonymous with violence and hate.  From what so many people experienced in the Las Vegas Shooting, to the utterly horrific attack in a Mosque in Egypt to the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya in Myanmar, this to me was a year where those in power who demanded that we all turn inward, away from out better selves, got the upper hand and used it to eliminate others with hatred. With violence.   If there was any year of my life thusfar that painted a sad and grim reminder of how horrible humanity can be when it succumbs to darkness, look no further than to 2017.

Violence alone doesn’t always destroy us.  Sometimes, it’s also disaster.  Puerto Rico, Texas, the Dominican Republic and other regions in and around the U.S. experienced widespread chaos with Hurricanes Maria and Harvey.  While Donald Trump was busy insulting the plight of fellow Americans (oh, I’m sorry, they’re Puerto Ricans), tossing paper towels and victim-blaming survivors, folks experienced the loss of electricity, flooding, re-flooding and sickness.  Oh, and if we didn’t have enough to contend with from storms, we have wildfires out west as well that haven’t stopped burning.  Climate change, bad infrastructure and nonsensical housing in flood prone land can all play a part in exacerbating these issues, and without sound policy to resolve them, shit like this will continue to happen and leave tons of people out in the cold.

And speaking of being left out in the cold, another big story that caught my attention unfortunately involved the forced eviction of hundreds of migrant workers from Beijing, China (really recommend y’all to read more about it because there’s so many details regarding hukou and other things that I won’t have the fortitude to flesh out or explain).  It all started as a ‘safety evacuation’ after a fire broke out in an area filled with migrant workers.  Since these folks have lots of obstacles to attain affordable housing within Beijing (and mind you, these folks ARE CHINESE TOO), they’re forced to live in lots of derelict buildings that haven’t been properly maintained in order to make ends meet.  So if something like a fire does happen (like it did around Thanksgiving time), people get hurt BAD (19 died that day).  Thus, the CCP came on by to save the day by forcing EVERYONE to evacuate for their own safety…..without providing ANY sort of alternative housing for them, even though IT’S WINTERTIME.  Couple that with the disgusting, derogatory term calling said migrant workers ‘the low-end population’ from official documentation, and you get yourself a potent cocktail of outrage and disappointment from all walks of life in China.  And by the way, these derelict homes are now DEMOLISHED, so these folks more or less have NO WHERE TO GO except back to their homes IN THE MIDDLE OF FUCKING WINTER!

低端人口积木

Hua Yong, a painter from Beijing, soon became another focus during the ‘low’end’ controversy by filming the devastation from these evacuations, interviewing migrant workers and uploading his stuff on YouTube, with one video being his impending arrest by authorities in Tianjin (he’s since been released on bail in December and is now in Sichuan).  If there was ANY story that really made it’s mark on me from China, especially on a personal level, it would have to be this.

And let’s not forget the #MeToo movement as well.  Dear God has it wrecked the reputations of men who seemed untouchable.  Assholes like Mario Batalli, Kevin Spacey and yes, the asshole-in-chief Harvey Weinstein, are all out of jobs, while respected folks like Charlie Rose, Al Franken, Louis C.K. and Matt Lauer (he was always a jerk) have shocked the country as they’ve been outed as abusers, cheaters and filthy perverts.  Furthermore, this movement underscores just how widespread workplace sexual abuse is, and how much fear women (especially women of color) experience once it happens to them.

And yes, despite how perverted and deplorable people in power can be in the workplace (and beyond), the #MeToo movement was, and is, a positive movement meant to unshackle and empower those who are preyed upon.  These reactions, these movements, and this fierce resistance has been, for me, the most moving thing for me to ever experience on a social level here in America.  We marched against an elected pussy-grabber in January after he was sworn in.  We kneeled when the NFL season began because Football is a business that doesn’t give a shit about anyone.  Signs and voices were held up when the White House banned people from coming into America simply because they’re MuslimDisabled voters invaded a Senate hearing when Rethuglicans wanted to gut Obamacare.  Migrant workers from China protested CCP Police as they were forced out of their homes even though they were, and are, instrumental to the lifeblood of Beijing.  Kids stood up to torch-wielding American Nazis in fucking Virginia while our President basically said, on live fucking television, that they were MORALLY EQUIVALENT.  Young children and adults, who have only known the U.S. as their home, risked arrest and deportation in order to fight for DACA.  So yeah, I’ll remember 2017 for death, disaster, famine, hatred and rape, and yet, I’ll also remember it for resistance.  I’ll remember it for sign waving.  I’ll remember it for how sad I felt when I would see a child in Yemen on YouTube as I ask myself “Why am I not doing more?”  I’ll remember it for taking a knee.  I’ll remember it for Hua Yong.  I’ll remember it so that we can all think twice about how American hubris affects other nations.  I’ll remember it for for my healthy, democratically guaranteed contempt for an elected leader.  And most of all, I’ll remember it for finally committing to someone I love.  For finally doing the one thing I never thought would ever happen to me.

And you know what?  She’s now a Ph.D. too motherfuckers (#WomeninScience).  Goodbye 2017.  I’ll never forget you.

Happy Halloween Once Again!!!!

TrumpDummy-1024x682

This house in Alameda knows how to make decorations folks!  After a whirlwind Monday full of indictments, nothing caps off October like….uh, Halloween.  And since I’ll be passing out candy today (assuming folks actually show up), how about we get into the mood of the day with some goofy videos.

manafort-1024x740

NOW IT’S DARK: Naika Reviews “Blue Velvet”

POSTMODERN-ECSTASY-IN-LYNCH_S-BLUE-VELVET

There’s always an unsettling darkness stirring underneath Small town America, and no film revealed that better than David Lynch’s 1986 masterpiece, Blue Velvet.  At first glance, everything about this film screams 50’s suburbia, but one hard look inside is all it’ll take to reel you in.  Like the movie itself, the town of Lumberton will trick you with familiar songs and smiling faces, only to sucker punch you in the throat with rabid, oedipal savagery.  Sure, the world around you will get hazy, and you’ll blackout a few times, but once you wake up, you’ll see.  You’ll really see.  That gas.  Her closet.  His rage, and her blue robe.  These are all love letters, fucker.  Straight from your heart.

David Lynch regular Kyle MacLachlan plays Jeffrey Beaumont, a young college student on break who returns to Lumberton in order to help tend to his Dad’s hardware store after a stroke.  He doesn’t seem too pleased to come back to his old life at first, but his whole summer changes when he comes across a strange sight in the grass: a severed ear, rotting under a swarm of ants.

It is from here that we begin our descent into the darkness.

139676

After submitting the ear to the Police, Jeffrey becomes reacquainted with Detective Williams, the lead investigator on a related case, and his daughter Sandy, portrayed by the incomparable Laura Dern.  It’s through Sandy that Jeffrey learns that both the ear, and her father’s case, may have a possible connection: the nightclub singer named Dorothy Vallens (portrayed by Isabella Rosselini).  Despite being told to stay out of the case, Jeffrey & Sandy soon concoct a plan to sneak into Vallens’ apartment to search for any clues that could further the investigation.  The scheme basically involves Jeffrey posing as an Exterminator so that he can snatch away Dorothy’s spare key.  With Sandy keeping watch in the car outside the building, Jeffrey hopes to sneak in, look for clues and get out before Dorothy gets back.  It sounds simple of course, but like all plans, they tend to get fucked FAST.

So the first part of the plan works.  Jeffrey’s a bugkiller, he meets Dorothy, he scopes the scene and gets the key with no issue.  As part two of the plan approaches, Jeffrey and Sandy stop by to see Dorothy sing at the local nightclub.  I’m guessing they came by to have a better sense of where Dorothy is before they do more sleuthing, but what happens next is what makes the film so dreamy and iconic.  Draped in eerie blue lights, with long, red curtains behind her, Dorothy sings a stunning rendition of Bobby Vinton’s Blue Velvet that’s so full of class and melancholy that you’ll remember it long after you’ve finished the film (this is especially so in the second singing scene later on).  Like what we’ve come to know in Lynch’s Twin Peaks, scenes like this echo that strange yet familiar feeling we see from the Roadhouse, where somehow, ordinary things like singing a song in a murky bar seem ethereal, dark and in another plane of existence.

However, our heroes can’t stay in the bar for long.  Jeffrey and Sandy rush to Dorothy’s apartment, with Jeffrey being the one to sneak in while Sandy stays in the car to honk the horn should Dorothy return.  Through a series of fuck-ups however, Jeffrey soon realizes that Dorothy’s back and he finds himself hidden in the closet, peering from the darkness through sheets of light.  From here, his role undergoes a savage reversal as the young sleuth suddenly becomes the voyeur.

KYLE MACLACHLAN BLUE VELVET (1986)

Dorothy isn’t stupid however, and she spots Jeffrey without fail.

Instead of reporting Jeffrey to the authorities however, Dorothy instead takes interest in him, with a strange mixture of confusion and sexual curiosity.  However, that’s cut short in order to introduce us to the villain of this story: Frank Booth.  He knocks on the door and she knows exactly who it is.  Dorothy then hides Jeffrey back into the closet in order to keep him safe, which not only places him back into the role of voyeur, but shows us our first real glimpse of Lumberton’s dark side.

As Frank Booth enters the scene, we already get a sense of how fearful Dorothy is of him.  He barks orders, demands booze and, most of all, demands compliance.  He demands servitude.  He demands her to be called ‘mommy.’  And he does all of this while taking in a strange gas from a hidden respirator in his jacket.  All of a sudden however, Frank convulses into an unstable mass of madness as he goes straight to Dorothy, mauling her in a mix of abuse, humiliation, gas-breathing, snarling and oedipal dry-humping.  It’s a ferocious scene that cuts to the core of baby-boomer misogyny, leaving us, and Jeffrey, all in tatters.

Once Frank leaves, Jeffrey emerges from his voyeuristic shroud to console Dorothy.  She embraces him and not only displays affection for him, but demands that he be with her as she calls him by her husband’s name.  As the film progresses, Jeffrey soon finds himself balancing his time with Sandy, his own investigation into Lumberton’s seedy underbelly, and his growing sexual relationship with Dorothy, who has her own dark desires as well.  During this time, we go on a journey with Jeffrey to witness how Frank Booth terrorizes Dorothy in a surreal, night-time world where dreams come to life in a strange veil of drugs, sex and 60’s pop music.  This is best exemplified in one of my favorite scenes, where Frank Booth and his cronies discover Dorothy’s relationship with Jeffrey.  What ensues is a midnight joyride full of strange questions, profanity and a meetup with the effeminate criminal known as Ben (suave fucking Ben to you, you fucker…).  It’s something that I don’t want to spoil here, but it really encapsulates what’s both daring AND jarring about Blue Velvet.

Overall, Blue Velvet gets a standing ovation from me.  It’s a dark and mysterious film that feels like a dream wrapped in a nightmare.  Filled with madness and mercy, the dark and the divine, Blue Velvet hits all the right notes for a thriller, and possibly a horror film (though that’s stretching it), but does just enough to make itself so much more.  With that said, there is still so much of David Lynch’s oeuvre that demands my attention, including Eraserhead, Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire, but this film is the one that I keep coming back to.  This is especially the case now that Twin Peaks: The Return is all over.  For me, this film just has the right amount of Lynchian horror, quirkiness and production design that I just find myself saying, “Well shit, it’s like the early Twin Peaks, but crazier!”  All in all, Blue Velvet is a masterpiece and it demands your attention.  Now, if you’re on the fence about David Lynch (especially since his track record for diversity is pretty suspect), I urge you to simply give it a try and watch it all the way until the end because the vision behind it all is one of a kind.  Only a handful of films can make the ordinary seem so hellish, and Blue Velvet delivers it all in the form of candy-colored dreams.