Max and Ari, the duo behind Oakland Surf Club, have quietly turned OSC into one of the Bay’s most eclectic retail destinations, curating everything from gear and boards, to vinyl and fine art–all while balancing a budding business with a new marriage and a brand new baby girl.
Our good friend and Cre8tive Class founder Daghe offers up a glimpse into his world–from party pics and landscapes, to portraits of the young and doin’ it, Daghe’s 35mm photography acts as an ongoing document of his eclectic, on-the-go lifestyle.
Bucking the conventions of the prototypical sex shop, Feelmore combines expert curation, adventurous sexual politics, and deep engagement with the community. We take time out to kick it with proprietor and adult industry pioneer Nenna Joiner to talk about all that and more.
Rebekkah Castellanos gives us a glimpse of her photographic journey across China. From sprawling urban centers and ancient temples, to gorgeous portraits and double exposures, Rebekkah’s work offers a brief snapshot of a changing country.
“Wildcat is a state of mind; an experiment inspired by the composition and performance of jazz music. The characters that populate this world are actual–cowboys; and envisioned–angels. The town they all inhabit is real–Grayson, Oklahoma.”
It seems like there are still a precious few places in America where it feels like time stands still. I haven’t been to too many of them, but it’s an eerie feeling when you find one. And somehow, those lively urban centers where I’ve spent most of my days don’t always feel quite so full of possibility. It gives me this real sense of wonder about those isolated pockets of culture –that feeling of mystery that used to be such an essential feature of exploring unfamiliar parts of the country.
For Wildcat, Kahlil Joseph zeroes in on a subculture not often documented. Grayson, Oklahoma (known once upon a time as Wildcat), boasted a population of 134 at the time of the last census, and is home to a time-honored black rodeo tradition. Following the pattern of his short film work with Shabazz Palaces and Flying Lotus, Wildcat is steeped in surrealist beauty, pairing documentary footage with a gorgeous, dreamlike soundtrack from FlyLo himself. The seven-minute short is the latest in a string of phenomenal, meditative work from Joseph, and another reminder of his promising vision. Simply put, Joseph’s films take you somewhere else.
It’s a bit difficult to neatly sum up the significance of The Source Family’s legacy. Established in the early ’70s with loads of contemporary relevance, The Source Family remains one of America’s most extraordinarily peculiar social experiments. Their story is one of love, sacrifice, sex and religion: in many ways, an archetypal 1970s spiritual commune. Founded by the worldly and charismatic Jim Baker (later known as Yehowa or Father Yod), The Family grew out of teachings inspired by his own spiritual evolution–from mere human to what came to be known as “God Consciousness”. In the years to come, Baker’s vision had grown into a deeply insular, intimate community of hundreds–complete with a well-detailed belief system and even a highly prolific psychedelic band.
Fortunately, this year marks the release of the feature length Source Family documentary. Compiled from the family’s archives, photographs, videos and personal accounts piece together the story of an extraordinary journey, from the commune’s beginnings at Baker’s Sunset Strip health food restaurant, to its eccentric following, and all the strange and beautiful stories along the way. The Source Family is currently screening in major cities across the country.
There’s something about the montage that effectively opens Licks that sends shivers down your spine. As the opening credits roll, Oakland scenery drifts by outside the passenger seat window–stately Victorians, liquor stores, kids playing–all set to Lykke Li’s gorgeously delicate “Time Flies”. A lone car creeps down the block, while an unsuspecting kid stands on his stoop, looks up, and catches a bullet to the head. His mother comes barreling down the stairs, torn apart already, and collapses on her son’s body. The sequence is hauntingly beautiful, an unforgettable introduction to Jonathan Singer-Vine’s gripping directorial debut.
Nearly three years in the making, Licks is nothing if not a labor of love. From writing and developing the script along with his good friend Justin “Hongry” Robinson (also known for his musical exploits as Hongry Hussein), to casting, to location scouting, to shooting and even promoting the film–Jonny and a small team of talented collaborators took on virtually every aspect of the process of shooting their first feature film independently. Notably, the film was shot entirely in the East Bay, with a limited budget, and an impressive cast made up almost exclusively of first-time actors and Oakland natives. The result of all the challenges first-time filmmaking presented them with is a film that feels authentic, raw and full of purpose.
The narrative of Licks follows D, a young man whose botched armed robbery attempt lands him a two-year bid in prison and a pair of bullet wounds. Two years later, D returns home to find a neighborhood in paralysis. For an ex-felon, drugs and violent crime seem like his only viable option, and now, even more than before, D finds himself surrounded by temptation and tragedy. It’s a coming of age story heavy on tragic realism–far from mere sensationalism, the heavy doses of violence, sex and drug use that punctuate the narrative serve the function of telling D’s story in all the graphic, grimy detail it deserves. Of course, we’re hardly the first ones to pick up on Licks‘ appeal. The film made its festival debut last month at SXSW, where it was one of just eight movies nominated for an award. Tonight, it’s set to make its Bay Area debut as a part of the Oakland International Film Festival, at the historic Grand Lake Theater.
Somewhere between Cape Cod and the Western shore of Ireland, Bas Jan Ader was most likely swallowed up by the sea. His final art piece, In Search of the Miraculous, would consist of a botched journey across the Atlantic in a twelve-foot sailboat, the smallest vessel ever to make its way across that vast stretch of ocean. When the boat washed up on shore, Ader’s body was nowhere to be found, and though even his friends and family thought his death to be an elaborate hoax, his disappearance has remained an enigma ever since.
Over the course of the previous decade, Ader had amassed a small collection of masterpieces, each of them notable for their utter simplicity. It would be hard to imagine another artist so mythologized, based on such a limited body of output. But the works most often cited in connection with Bas Jan Ader’s name, including, perhaps most notably, his final voyage, carry with them an eerie sense of purpose, and a minimal aesthetic geared for undeniable communicative power. Many of his most famous works are short, performance-based films of Ader himself, some of them featuring short but unforgettable messages, penned by hand. In the years since his 1975 disappearance, Ader has become something of a cult figure in the contemporary art world, with creatives of every stripe developing their own romanticized notions about who the artist was, and the mystery surrounding his death. Among other things, the 2007 feature-length documentary, Here Is Always Somewhere Else, explores his life and final days in great detail. I suppose I’m only the latest to be pulled into the orbit a story like his creates.
“This is the story of an unsung people, who took on Papua New Guinea, Australia and the biggest mining company in the world–who started by fighting helicopter gunships with bows and arrows, and who have lost a tenth of their population–and yet have managed to create what may be the world’s first true eco-revolution.”
When I saw Michael Lewis speak in Berkeley the other night, he said something pretty revelatory about his creative process as a writer. Basically, he told us that his favorite part of his creative process as a storyteller was finding a story too good to fuck up–that he found himself motivated most by the fact that he’d been entrusted to tell a story so compelling in and of itself, that even if he told it just competently, it would make for something entirely captivating. I’d imagine British director Dom Rotheroe must have felt the same way about the story he found upon arriving, flanked by revolutionary soldiers, in a tiny boat on the shores of Bougainville. His film, The Coconut Revolution, released a decade ago, tells the improbable story of an indigenous people whose sheer force of will and ingenuity overcame staggering odds. It’s the story of their fight for their land, their culture, and their independence–and of a rare and extraordinary exception to what tends to be the rule of global capitalism.
So whoever’s behind this project is having a hell of a lot of fun with it. Having rolled out a handful of top-notch, dusty ass jams over the last few months, Captain Murphy, the mysterious artist represented only by a cartoon character bearing heavy resemblance to Ricky Rozay, has captured the imagination of just about every indie or hip-hop blog out there. So let’s do a quick review of what we know so far. For one, they’ve got some famous friends, at least one of which might actually be “him”: Tyler, Earl, FlyLo, Just Blaze, Madlib, the list goes on. Secondly, they really dig cartoons. Third, the pitch-fucked vocals, as warped as they are, seem pretty damn consistent with Tyler and Earl’s respective flows. At this point, you can probably piece together your own theory, based on all the evidence.
In any case, unraveling the mystery doesn’t quite seem like the point here. All speculation aside, the Captain Murphy campaign just seems like a cool way to present an artist, or maybe more accurately, an idea, or an aesthetic. As far as I can tell, Murphy actually is a cartoon character, voiced by a few familiar faces with big imaginations. Plus, the music’s actually fucking great. Duality accompanies all those excellent songs in epic fashion, a half hour saga-mixtape-episode (viewable below), complete with grainy cult footage, acid trip animations, classic ’80s movie clips, and all different types of other strangely juxtaposed shit–kung fu, graphic sex, even clips from that trippy ass Simpsons episode where Homer gets stuck in 3-D. Whatever it is you want to call it, this is some of the coolest shit I’ve seen all year.
Barcelona, 1992. In the version of this story we’re all too familiar with, the storyline follows a who’s who of NBA mega-legends, decked out in the good old red, white and blue, absolutely oblerating the competition, and cruising their way to Olympic gold in the process. On the podium just to the right though, stood a team outfitted head to toe in tie-dye, a cartoon skeleton, mid-bashout, emblazoned across their chests. As you might expect, that same team had a back story at least as compelling as that of the team most consider to be the greatest ever assembled.
Appropriately entitled The Other Dream Team, director Markius Marevicius’ new documentary tells in rich, vivid detail, the story of the 1992 Lithuanian team’s unlikely journey in the broader context of Lithuania’s struggle for independence from the Soviet Union. Most centrally, it’s a fascinating example of the potential of sports to act as a symbol, or even a catalyst for political and social change. But even aside from the big picture, tragedy-to-triumph stuff, The Other Dream Team is equally lovable for its attention to small details–to the individual peculiarities and unlikely twists of fate that brought a fledgling nation onto the international stage. Among the strangest of all those details, probably, is the involvement of the Grateful Dead, who, upon hearing about the plight of Lithuania’s talented, but underfunded team, decided to lend a hand.
On the surface, the communist era in Poland proved unkind to the arts. As the international theater and film emerged between the 1960s and ’70s in Poland, accompanying visuals were created in the form of movie posters and promotional material to market the works. Yet while many of these posters served to promote the films to a wider audience, the state-controlled film and theater institutions saw most of those promotional materials as subversive and incendiary. As a result, the government commissioned Polish artists to re-do the works in hopes of creating more “tasteful” advertisements for upcoming plays and films.
Fortunately, the results were actually astounding. Vibrant posters were created by famed Polish artists from the likes of Wiktor Gorka to Waldemar Swierzy. Oftentimes hardly resembling the films they were advertising, the recreated posters embodied a more carefree, abstract nature, which over time helped to establish Polish poster design internationally. Collected by vintage film aficionados Eye Sea Posters, these images provide a window into the past through the work of some of Poland’s most revered artists.
In many ways Adrien Sauvage is an enigma. A keen sense of style, coupled with modernist sensibilities spawned his most celebrated work to date in the form of his 2011 cinematic short, This Is Not A Suit. With time spent as a personal stylist following his stint as an English international basketball player, at 29, it seems as though the Ghanaian born Sauvage continues to evolve with the times. Following up his creative efforts with his most recent piece aptly titled The Student, the film again finds Suavage in the director’s chair, expertly detailing the intricacies of his “Dress Easy” mantra. Simple yet effective, The Student offers another glimpse into the ever evolving mind of Sauvage, while also offering a subtle reminder for us all to step our sartorial game up.