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SO OBSESSED

Some vibrant nostalgia from the mind of Michelle Guintu. East Bay raised but SF residing, Michelle has developed her aesthetic simply by painting the things she likes. From 90′s R&B superstars, like Missy and Aaliyah, to Joe Montana paintings and McDonald’s installations.

EVERYBODY STREET

New York's legendary street photographers, past and present, share their stories

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Everybody Street

Bruce Davidson’s seedy, soulful Subway. Jamel Shabazz‘s nostalgic portraits of high-top fades, shell toes, and dookie rope chains. Mary Ellen Mark’s teenage runaways. Ricky Powell’s classic, impromptu shots of Chuck D or the Beasties. Too many great photographers to name have found inspiration in the hyperkinetic cluster of urbanized energy that is New York. Images shot on the streets of the big city have shown us some of the ugliest, most serendipitously beautiful moments imaginable, most of them shot purely out of instinct.

Three years in the making, director Cheryl Dunn’s Everybody Street collects interviews, archival footage, and of course, treasure troves of iconic street-level imagery, to paint a broad-based portrait of an art form that evolved along with the city itself, turning the endless possibilities of the street corner into a canvas for something transcendent. Some of these images speak for themselves, even out of context–the grisly aftermath of a streetfight, a junkie shooting up, Brooklyn kids busting fire hydrants open–but hearing the folks who were there to snap them talk about that moment takes on a whole new level of realness. If the trailer is any indication, this one ought to be something special, for shooters and non-shooters alike. Hit the MORE for a few interviews from the film, with Ricky Powell, Mary Ellen Mark, and Bruce Davidson.

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INTRODUCING THE WINE & BOWTIES SHOP

Allow us to reintroduce ourselves

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Wine & Bowties

A lot of you have been with us for a long time now. In the four-plus years since we started this thing, things have changed plenty, and mostly for the better. In a sense, this was a long time coming. Tonight marks the opening of the Wine & Bowties Online Shop, our first foray into online retail, and yet another extension of this experiment, and what this thing can do. We may be taking on a new platform, but the mission is essentially the same: to promote the creative work we’re excited about, and to build out what we do on the computer screen into the tangible world. In the months to come, we’ll be featuring a curated selection of products and one-off items, both from Wine & Bowties and our extended family–including artists, brands and individuals that reflect the scope of what we do here.

For now, we’ve chosen to roll out a brief selection of limited edition items. First and foremost, the Wine & Bowties Pyramid Tee is now officially for sale online. Hand-designed, 100% cotton, and conceived in Oakland, California, the Pyramid Tee serves as a cursory introduction to the shape of things to come. Additionally, we’re now featuring Wine & Bowties letterpress stationery. Hand-printed in Oakland, these cards feature a minimal design by Max Gibson, geared to encourage quality communication without the use of a screen. Lastly, to commemorate our Spring exhibition at Warehouse 416, we’re proud to offer a limited number of copies of A Dangerously Curious Eye, Barry Shapiro’s timeless portrait of life on the fringes of San Francisco in the late 1970s. To everybody that’s been with us since day one, thank you for everything. We couldn’t do this without you. Onward and upward.


WELCOME




W&B

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SATURDAY NIGHT LEFTOVERS

New music from Wine & Bowties

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Wine & Bowties

Feeling a bit like the calm before the storm right now. My Saturday night is about as turnt down as they come, and I couldn’t be happier about it. At the moment, I’m staring off into space, rattling keys in a front a lakeside view, and taking it all in as Saturday starts spilling into Sunday morning. So, as Saturday night soundtracks go, tonight’s installment is, appropriately, on the low key side of things. There are a couple all-out bangers, thanks to usual suspects Ferg, Danny, Q and 40-Watta, who came through with a few that were hard to miss. But mostly, we’re keeping it vibey for tonight. Whatever your feelings may be about high fashion and gated communities, shouts out to Drizzy for staying so damn consistent, and especially to Sampha, whose music we’ll be getting into in a bit more detail very soon. The Ariel Pink too, might just be a summer classic. More subtle genius from Earl, some deep house, some Dom, and some rare, recently unearthed Hov, that made me feel better about Magna Carta Holy Samsung Commercial. All in all, things are looking good.

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CAR CRASH STUDIES

Photographer Nicolai Howalt takes us inside demolished automobile interiors

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This morning I passed by a woman who had just hit a fire hydrant. There was water spouting 20 feet into the air, into the street, and onto her car. As she sat in her purple PT Cruiser, thinking about how fucked her Tuesday morning was, I wondered if this poor woman was thankful for anything. Or was she merely caught up in the moment? I mean, it could’ve been worse right?

These ruminations about cars, their utility, and potential destructiveness come to mind when considering the work of Nicolai Howalt. The Copenhagen-born artist’s photographs of accidents up-close relate the carnage of a car accident, situating startling imagery into an aesthetic context. In Nicolai’s collection, Car Crash Studies smashed interiors are juxtaposed against abstract images of warped metal and steel, opening up a dialogue about what kind of artistic merit one can pull out of something so crucial. “I wanted to see if cruelty also could have some beauty in it,” remarked Nicolai, in reference to his photographs. Jarring, but resonant, Nicolai’s photos offer a sobering reminder of an everyday reality, tracing a thin line between beauty and devastation.

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WINE & BOWTIES PRESENTS: WORK IT OUT

We're back in Oakland next weekend to keep the summer festivities in motion

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Wine & Bowties

If shit’s been a little heavy lately, and it has, there’s always something to celebrate. Next weekend, we’ll be gathering some beautiful folks and taking things back to Downtown Oakland, where we hope you’ll join us. For everybody who managed to sweat through their shirts last time, thank you. We’ll be making a few adjustments on your behalf, and we’ll keep the slaps coming. For those of you looking to experience some quality, Oakland-centric cinema, make sure to catch Licks at The New Parkway earlier in the evening, before you make your way over to us. It may be almost August, but as far as the summer goes, it’s looking like the best is yet to come. On a related note, we’ll be making an announcement this Sunday too. For now, stay tuned, and hop on our email list for the address. We’ll be sure to get it out to you in time for the function.

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KING KRULE – “EASY EASY”

London's most precocious songwriter offers up a taste of things to come

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I’d say something clumsy like “mark my words” about this kid, but at this point, they’re not mine to say. A lot of people’s words have described this kid favorably, with a lot of them pointing to a bright and hopeful future, and even more of them finding examples to point to right here in the present. Naturally, when I first heard “Out Getting Ribs” a year or two ago, the first thing I noticed was that voice. Maybe even more so than the Alfred E. Newman good looks. Puberty hit this kid like a brick wall, and left with him a jagged and beautiful instrument for channeling all the angst that comes with being a supremely talented teenager.

In more recent months, I’ve only really heard things from Archy Marshall that confirm all the promise that gorgeous little song hinted at. For one, that prodigious piece of songwriting was no flash in the pan. The brooding “Rock Bottom” and “Octopus”, with its wistful, trip-hop sax breakdown, demonstrate that pretty convincingly. Just as important, the kid has the kind of eclectic cultural appetite that leaves you extremely well-armed as a tastemaker. He digs on Fela and Outkast, Grunge and Gil Scott Heron, Dilla and W.H. Auden. He’s got a subtle, understated visual eye (peep the video after the MORE). He’s a ravenous gearhead, and he can even spit a little bit, as evidenced by a droning, codeine-drip verse from Mount Kimbie‘s gorgeous new album.

All the outside context aside though, the kid can just flat out write a song. “When positivity is hard to reach, I keep my head down and my mouth shut,” Marshall laments, “‘Cause if you’re goin’ through hell, we just keep going”. When he’s snarling out vague bits of feeling like this one, the line between teenage earnesty and a wiser brand of world-weariness starts getting fuzzy. And up against that scraggly guitar, and all that cavernous reverb, that croak turns transcendent. With all the heady influences and mega-hip eclecticism, 6 Feet Beneath the Moon is likely to be an album that gives us lots to think about. But “Easy, Easy” confirms that, more than anything, it’ll make us feel something too.


Download: King Krule – “Easy Easy”

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Dear Trayvon

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KEEPING IT 100

Pop essayist and cultural critic Kiese Laymon shows his work in his debut novel, Long Division

Kiese Laymon

Small college campuses tend to engender celebrity. Graduates and students of small liberal art schools know all too well what I’m talking about. There are student celebrities, known far and wide on campus for their extreme political views or daring sartorial choices (think trench-coat guy, Fedora girl, etc).

The celebrity professor, though, is a more unusual, more interesting kind of bird.

These are the profs with long waiting lists for any course they offer. They generally tend to be younger. They often teach exceptionally cool shit that seems novel in a traditional academic setting (things like visual urbanism or an anthropological look at the electronic music scene). They are sometimes good looking. And they are consistently talented. While they may formally derive their livelihood from teaching, they are often better known by the world at large for their cultural commentary–their books, articles, criticism, et al, especially when that shit blows up in a popular forum.

Kiese Laymon, 39-year-old author of fiction and pop essays, and native of Jackson, MI, possesses these qualities in spades. He’s been teaching for the last decade at Vassar College, where his courses tend to stand out amongst the more traditional offerings listed in the College’s course catalogue. Next semester, he is slated to teach an English class – “Because Dave Chapelle Said So” – a post-modern analysis of the black tragic-comic figure in American storytelling. He’ll also teach an introductory class in Africana Studies on Jay-Z, which he calls “Shawn Carter: Autobiography of an Autobiographer.” Laymon’s academic game isn’t all that defines him though. He’s also known around campus, and across the collective blogosphere, as an exceptionally talented and prolific writer. His blog, Cold Drank, where his provocations, essays and short fiction appear, is a regular topic of conversation among students on campus. He is a contributing editor over at Gawker where he published a particularly poignant essay last July called “How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America” which attracted a lot of attention, and widespread consideration as one of the best essays of the year. Last semester, he took some time off to write pieces for ESPN, NPR and Esquire, many of which have gone viral, garnering him a national readership and a reputation for humorous and incisive cultural critique.

And, he’s got not one, but two books set for publication this summer. He’s got chops.

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THE BEAT OF A DIFFERENT DRUM

Oakland-based beatmaker Space Ghost is trying to bridge the gap between Soundcloud and the dance floor

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Over the past few years, as EDM and various offshoots have gained attention and popularity, producers have moved out from behind their computer screens and have become some of the most notable faces in today’s pop music landscape. While Skrillex and Diplo have become household names, a countless number of kids making music in their basements are attempting to see what kind of attention they can garner on the internet. Oakland beatmaker and DJ Space Ghost doesn’t have much in common with the former, but he is a product of the possibilities they have helped to create.

Stylistically, Space Ghost’s music is fluid and ever-evolving. Whether he’s dealing in the most ambient of sounds (as he does on the Pop Music For the Heavens EP) or remixing R&B staples from years past, Space Ghost always manages to infuse songs with his own distinctive touch.

With three EP’s and one full length LP (released on the Brooklyn-based Astro Nautico label) already under his belt, Space Ghost has recently added some depth to his catalogue with the self-released EP Patient Mind. As a typically overcast Oakland morning gave way to sunshine, we met up at his West Oakland apartment to see what the recent college graduate has been working on. We discussed growing up in Ukiah, musical influences, and why releasing music on the internet is easier and yet more difficult than ever.

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ALL IMPERFECT THINGS

Humanizing "crime" through Pep Bonet's photographic portraits of Brazilian Transexuals

Transsexuals in Brazil by Pep Bonet / NOOR

Bonet

Last month, a Texas jury acquitted a man who murdered a sex-withholding prostitute under the state’s law that allows its citizens to exert deadly force in the event of stolen property. And at this point, I’m surprised this stuff even surprises me anymore. The practice of denying criminalized Americans justice or even basic civil rights has become the rule, rather than the exception. Through a handful of current high-profile cases, the nation has divided itself based on their perceptions of those killed; murdered criminals vs. murdered persons who so happen to have been, or are alleged to have been, committing a crime. Our ‘War on Crime’ appears to have very literally manifested itself in the American courtroom where killing someone doesn’t send you to jail if you can prove that that someone was breaking the law.

When it comes to prostitution, things get really messy. The criminal status assigned to sex-workers in the U.S. allows for their grievous mistreatment by civilians and police alike. Reported acts of violence against sex-workers by their Johns are overwhelmingly dismissed by authorities, and violence inflicted by policemen themselves is even more prevalent. To think that this marginalized population is small and limited to street corners in dark downtown districts is a myth, as only an estimated 20% of our country’s sex-workers engage in “street prostitution” while the other 80% work via brothel, escort agency, solo hustle, etc. In fact, you probably know a handful of people who have accepted money in exchange for sex. And yet our collective stigmatization of sex workers directly contributes to their criminalization and thus the vulnerability they face in both their practice and the eyes of the law – a particularly troubling consequence when considering that the lines of ‘prostitution’ are as grey as an overcast sky hovering above 14th and International (See: gold diggers, sugar babies, groupies).

To offer a humanizing look into the faces of sex-work and sex-entertainment, I offer Pep Bonet’s photography of Brazil’s transexual community. Here, an obviously and unfairly marginalized population who are finding sex-work in those margins serves as the central focus of Bonet’s photo series, entitled “All Imperfect Things”. Bonet captures moments on black and white film with an intimacy that frees his subjects from the grandiose judgments that contribute to their personal and institutionalized oppression – replacing the ‘criminal’ with the actual, individual person. You can view the entire collection and more of Bonet’s incredible photography work here, on his personal website.

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