SAFE SEX BANG

SAFE SEX BANG

Buzz Bense's safe sex archive documents creative communication that saved lives and fought fear

Safe Sex Bang

“These posters do more than chart the tragedy of an epidemic, of an outsider community reeling from grief, loss, and the decimation of a blooming culture of sexual liberation. The history of these posters is a story of a fight against stigma, hatred and ignorance; of a community stepping up to take care of its own; of finding a way to extinguish fear and build pride and self-esteem; and of devoted efforts of committed activists to communicate a path to health and survival.”

– Buzz Bense

It’s rare these days to find examples of art with a real sense of urgency. Looking back on propaganda posters about WWII scrap metal drives or Rosie the Riveter, it’s easy to lump them in with cutesy kitsch items, rather than thinking about the circumstances that led to their creation. In reality, we’re not too far removed from an era where posters were a vital, necessary form of communication, a pop art form that harnessed the power of good design with the deliberate goal of inspiring action.

In the wake of the devastation brought about by the AIDS epidemic, materials began to circulate that communicated the nature of the threat, and the most effective methods of prevention. Forward thinking creatives applied their craft with purpose, from art-world luminaries like Keith Haring, to advertising professionals, to everyday educators and community organizers. Over time, Buzz Bense made a habit of collecting and preserving those materials for educational purposes, and today his collection stands as a powerful document of an era, in the gay community and elsewhere, when creativity was applied to save lives.

For the last two years, Buzz’s collection has been housed at the Center for Sex & Culture in San Francisco, and starting this Friday, it’ll be on display both in the CSC gallery, and in their inaugural exhibition catalog.

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A$AP ROCKY – “ANGELS”

A$AP ROCKY – “ANGELS”

Rocky and the mob lend some visuals to everyone's favorite bonus track

A$AP Rocky

So Rocky dropped the “Angels” video this past weekend. Yup, that tucky bonus track off of LongLive got some visuals to go with it. Taking us back to those beloved “Peso”/”Wassup” days, Angels runs with a similar aesthetic. Lots of bikes and blunts, with the A$AP Mob running wild through New York City. Commemorating the two-year anniversary of LiveLoveA$AP, the understated video is a pleasant departure from the larger budget projects we’ve seen for other singles. I mean this Angels vid compared to the “Fuckin’ Problems” vid? Night and day. But shout out to the mob; glad to see Rocky’s first album yield six videos. Catch the mob on the Turnt x Burnt Tour, coming to a city near you.

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AN OG TOLD ME…

AN OG TOLD ME…

Gleaning wisdom from the elders with Pendarvis Harshaw

Few folks really know how to navigate Oakland like Pendarvis Harshaw. It’s really a sight to see. Following him on bike feels like a mini parade; whole lotta head nods and peace signs as we cruise. I call him the Mayor of Oakland. “I gotta hit the office, hit a cafe, then head to this lil’ event tonight,” Pen mentions as we ride. His days are often strategically assembled like this, with stopping points sprinkled along the way.

There’s a deliberateness to Pen’s moves that borders a bit on the obsessive. Pen’s steps are calculated, as if he never wants to waste a moment. Perhaps it’s out of necessity, as a second year pursuing a graduate degree in Journalism at Cal tends to occupy most of his time.

But despite these responsibilities, much of Pen’s passion is poured into his ongoing photo essay, OG Told Me, a continuous collection of interviews with representatives of Oakland’s wiser generation. “It’s an ode to the elder men in the community who gave me tidbits of wisdom as I moved through society as a child,” Pen states. “They taught me what to do and what not to do. Sometimes it’d be a neighborhood big shot standing in front of his car. Sometimes it’d be a homeless person at a bus stop.”

From ex-convicts to teachers, recovering drug addicts to world-famous figures like Bill Russell and Danny Glover, Pen’s interviews are wide and varied. And while personal relationships have led Pen to a number of OG interactions, chance situations also tend to turn to interview opportunities as well. The result is a diverse collection of stories, perspectives and experiences from those that have been here longer. Situating himself within the fabric of Oakland’s past, present and future, Pen’s contributions to the community are immense. Set to release a book of essays in the months to come, Pen spoke with Wine & Bowties about the evolution of OG Told Me, the lessons he’s learned, and his aspirations for the future.

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DO THE DOG DANCE

DO THE DOG DANCE

Revisiting the glory days of the '70s and '80s with Brad Elterman's latest collection

Brad Elterman Dog Dance

Capturing the moments ain’t easy. Capturing candids doesn’t come any easier, especially when considering the subject. In Brad Elterman’s case, John Lennon, Michael Jackson and David Bowie only begin to scratch the surface. In his latest photobook, entitled Brad Elterman“>Dog Dance, Brad offers up the spoils won through decades of snapping on instinct. Designed by the refreshingly irreverent Sandy Kim, Dog Dance casts the icons of yesterday in a series of candid, intimate moments. Taking us back to the shows, parties and extravaganzas that characterized the times, Brad’s photographs are an endearing look into a classic era.

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NECROMANCING THE STONE

NECROMANCING THE STONE

Paul Koudounaris turns his lens on the long-lost, iced-out skeletons of the Roman Catacombs

Long before Damien Hirst encrusted a platinum cast of a human skull with 8,601 flawless diamonds in 2007 for his art piece, “For the Love of God”, 16th century Catholic nuns created their own macabre spectacle of bejeweled skeletons.

In 1578, vineyard workers uncovered a sector of the Roman Catacombs that housed an estimated 500,000-750,000 skeletons whose bodies once belonged to those killed during the first three centuries AD when Christianity was outlawed. Upon their discovery, The Vatican revered and (often haphazardly) designated some as Christian martyrs. During that time period, Protestant groups had ransacked many Catholic churches in Northern Europe, destroying precious relics. So the discovery of the purported martyrs was exciting to say the least, a way to replenish lost idols and restore morale.

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THE ACT OF KILLING

THE ACT OF KILLING

Joshua Oppenheimer's insane documentary gives genocide a human face

The Act of Killing

I can’t really express what I saw last Tuesday night, tucked away in the back theater at The Parkway. I’ve honestly never seen anything like it. I’m still trying to find a metaphor for the effect it had on me–some movie critic cliche like “a punch to the gut”. But fuck that. We’re talking about something else entirely here.

I guess some context couldn’t hurt. Essentially, The Act of Killing is a film about making a film. The director, Joshua Oppenheimer had been living and making films in Indonesia for years before deciding to delve into one of history’s great under-documented tragedies. In 1965, Indonesia was caught in the midst of political upheaval, and in the wake of a failed military coup by Indonesia’s communist party (the PKI), came one of the bloodiest mass murders in modern history.

As the tides of popular opinion turned against the PKI, the Indonesian government took to purging anyone suspected of harboring communist loyalties. In the North Sumatran capital of Medan, the city’s “movie theater gangsters”–local gangs running a host of rackets and criminal enterprises–took on the role of government-appointed death squad leaders. A few decades, and a few hundred thousand corpses later, gangsters like Anwar Congo have become national folk heroes, leaders of a powerful paramilitary group still celebrated nationwide today.

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DOIN’ IT RIGHT

DOIN’ IT RIGHT

Oakland's New Parkway is breathing new life into the moviegoing experience

The New Parkway

It was a few months ago now that I witnessed the event. It was brought to my attention by a friend, but I soon realized it was something I had to experience too. “We have to go,” Will exclaimed. “It’s a once in a life time opportunity,” I agreed. I mean how many chances in life are you going to get to see all 33 chapters of R. Kelly’s Trapped In The Closet in their entirety on the big screen? It was a moment we couldn’t miss.

Hosted by Oakland’s newly renovated New Parkway Theater, the experience flirted with the peculiar and extraordinary from the moment we stepped inside the doors. “Who made this happen?” I thought to myself, looking around at a crowd of elated moviegoers, sipping beers and watching Kellz videos…“I should shake their hand”. But there’s more to it than that. The brainchild of The Parkway’s renaissance man Moses Ceaser and a dedicated staff of organizers, chefs, donors and more, The New Parkway serves as an initiative aimed to build community and promote creativity through film. Having reopened in December of last year at a new locale on 26th and Telegraph in Oakland, The New Parkway is literally reimagining the moviegoing experience from the ground up.

Quirky cult classics like the Trapped in the Closet saga and live renditions of Rocky Horror Picture Show have found a home at The Parkway next to cutting edge docs, while big budget Iron Man 7-type mega sequels may or may not land on the calendar. It’s a deliberate aim at eclecticism that seems to be working, as the Parkway has continued to gain momentum in the community for their rarified approach. Sitting above the Parkway’s decorated yet understated lobby, we recently spoke with The Parkway’s Operations Manager Karyn Barnett about the theater’s resurrection. Picking her brain about curation, mystery meals, and the importance of community spaces, Wine & Bowties received an in depth look behind The New Parkway machine.

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FROM THE EDGE OF THE WORLD

FROM THE EDGE OF THE WORLD

The turbulent early days of California punk, as captured by Ruby Ray

Ruby Ray

“For a brief period, Los Angeles and San Francisco hosted vibrant subcultures that threw up sounds, noises, ideas and images that remain some of the 20th century’s most vivid youth statements…These pictures are a record of a lost moment that is finally receiving the attention that it was always due.”

– Jon Savage

By the time Ruby Ray had set up shop in San Francisco in the late ’70s, California punk was in full force. Between Detroit, the East Village, and London, the story of punk’s genesis doesn’t always have room for the niche scenes that had begun to take to take root during the same era. But while CBGB and Sid Vicious grabbed headlines, a host of scenes had started to materialize a few thousand miles West–just as vital, just as anarchic, and just as loud. Armed with a Nikon FM, Ruby found herself the heart of a tumultous Bay Area scene that spawned The Avengers, The Mutants, The Offs and the Dead Kennedys, shooting stark, intimate black and whites for the now-storied punk zine Search & Destroy. Her approach, like the music she was cataloging, was decidely DIY, captured on the fastest film she could find, and developed in her bathroom.

From the Edge of the World, the first official publication from Oakland-based label Superior Viaduct, archives and curates a selection of Ray’s late ’70s and early ’80s work pretty epically. There are glimpses of towering cult heroes like Roky Erickson and luminaries like Devo and William S. Burroughs. There are onstage meltdowns and intimate bedroom portraits. There are even a few shots of Sid and the Sex Pistols’ fateful journey to states, snapped on the night of their final performance. Included below are selections from the book, which you can cop via Superior Viaduct, right here. It’s a powerful book, and beautifully put together. Highly recommended.

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WINE & BOWTIES PRESENTS: COME FLY WITH ME

WINE & BOWTIES PRESENTS: COME FLY WITH ME

Next Thursday, our Surf Club screening series takes a trip down memory lane with Mike

Wine & Bowties Oakland Surf Club

Back in ’89, MJ’s fingers were still naked. He had changed the way the game was played, had raised the profile of an entire league, and had set Nike on the course to a permanent spot at the top of the sneaker game. But that elusive ring had yet to materialize. Come Fly With Me captures The Greatest, mid-journey and mid-conquest, when the best was still yet to come. This Thursday, we’ll take a trip back to MJ’s early days, and to the grainy, VHS days of our collective childhood. Before Space Jam. Before Playground even.

Next Thursday, Max and Ari and the good folks at Oakland Surf Club will be hosting us all once again, and giving us the forum to enjoy a quality film in good company. This’ll be the third installment in our nascent screening series at Surf Club, and after Cocaine Cowboys, I’d say things are only getting better. Should be some familiar faces, and hopefully some new ones too. In any case, you know the drill. BYOB and bring the folks. Preview after the MORE.

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THE VIEW FROM OUTSIDE

THE VIEW FROM OUTSIDE

Lessons in stoop sitting and storytelling

Stoop Sitting

The short film above, Stoop Sitting, was created by Will Hoffman and Daniel Mercadante, better known as Everynone, as a part of the Everyone Forever Now web series. According to them, the project as a whole explores the “collective wisdom and expression of human actions.” Stoop Sitting, more specifically however, aims to capture a timeless cultural tradition among New Orleans neighbors, offering up the opportunity to witness its beauty and discuss its complex history.

While living in New Orleans for the past year, I started reading the 1967 sociological text Tally’s Corner, Elliot Liebow‘s Ph.D research on low-income African American men and their engagement with one another on the streets and stoops of Washington DC. The work represents one of the first ethnographic attempts to examine and understand some of the social dimensions of urban poverty. And in just the second chapter, “Men and Jobs,” Tally’s analysis sinks its teeth into the cultural phenomenon of black men kicking it outside. While perhaps simple enough for you or I to understand now, Liebow’s work was groundbreaking at the time. Liebow’s attempt to illuminate cultural realities of the working poor for his academic audience represent a shift in modes of understanding that fueled progress in social research during this era.

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COASTAL GROOVES

COASTAL GROOVES

Take a trip to the beach with Jean Jullien's shoreline scenes

La Plage by Jean Jullien

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” DaVinci says. Utilizing soft pastels and distinct lines, Jean Jullien’s work embodies a similar ethos. Having recently showcased a solo show at the Beach London gallery, his exhibition La Plage is a playful collection that riffs on everyday situations from a day at the beach.

Creating distilled silhouettes in his work, Jullien creates characters of all shapes and sizes, highlighting the subtle nuances of postures or accessories. Depicting scenarios played out across shorelines around the world, Jullien’s big blocks of vivid color are arranged with a keen eye for composition. “I love the beach for how minimal it is,” Jullien remarked when describing the scenery that informs his most recent collection. “Sand, sea, sky and skin. It’s very soft and yet very colorful, so it was important for me to try to explore that graphically.” And that he did. With prints on sale now at the Beach London Shop, you can get your own taste of Jullien’s world up close.

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WHERE FROM HERE

WHERE FROM HERE

Charting the intergalactic travels of Phillip T. Annand

From his early efforts with The Award Tour, to globetrotting adventures with The Madbury Club and Flatbush Zombies, Phillip T. Annand’s journey has already led him to some extraordinary places. We sat down with the multi-talented, multi-faceted young creator in between pursuits, and asked him about the road that lies ahead.

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