Vance

(Photo by: Jami Buck-Vance)

Vance

the artist in his studio, circa 2008

(Photo by: Dr. Mo Braum)

 

Can You Cey Hip-Hop Art

My Buckshot and I caught industry pioneer Cey Adams and former DEF JAM promoter Bill Adler’s talk on the expansive world of hip-hop art, design and fashion at Young Blood Gallery & Boutique, in the Poncey-Highland neighborhood of The ATL on friday evening. I scooped up a signed version of their wonderful, colorful new book on the now thirty-five year old movement: DEFinition: The Art and Design of Hip-Hop. The art in the book just pops off the page, and I highly recommend buying a copy.

I found Cey to be an engaging alternative hero. From his grassroots history as an NYC graffiti artist in Queens, to his friendship with the once-raucous Beastie Boys. From his humorous business dealings with the ridiculously pretentious and driven Sean “Puffy” Combs, to his sense of marvel at the solid work of his peers. From his pride of personal accomplishment in creating a perfect Adidas track jacket, to his real love of what happened as the movement gained momentum in New York and gradually America as a whole. Over the years, hip-hop has culturally captivated the attention of the entire world in ways both surprisingly subtle and oh so obvious.

It was interesting to be getting an education from old school New York hip-hop industry vets in the current world capital of rap: THE ATL. Unfortunate that I found Mr. Adler’s delivery a bit too pompous in tone to add much easily-ingested enlightenment, but he did have a unique take on why Queens was actually the borough of The City where the bulk of creative activity took place: It was more suburban than Manhattan and Brooklyn – and in some ways more openminded because it was less full of ghetto struggle. That was not received well at all from several Brooklynites in the audience, but it was a curious and possibly true take on how and why the scene materialized where it did. The pulsing urban energy of NYC-Manhattan, NYC-Bronx, NYC-Brooklyn, mixed with the relative peace of mind that bred creativity and collectivity in NYC-Queens, where so many of the great performers lived.

Often overlooked fact that some of the more influential people in the explosion of hip-hop and its art were white folks working in predominantly black mediums. Some examples: Rick Rubin (Mega Producer), Keith Haring (Artist), the Beastie Boys (Rap Stars). Though an undeniably black creation of life expression – an African-American art form – the fusion of black urban and often white suburban energies is, to my mind, what pushed hip-hop into the stratosphere of unparalleled commercial popularity it realized.

Hip-hop and its cottage industries demonstrate the cultural power of AMERICA. Hip-hop is modern musical poetry and an all-American art movement. At its worst, it is just crappy noise, but at its best, it is musical art of top form.

Transcendent Funk

Thinking about the transcendent nature of art a lot lately. I contemplate the re-write of my manuscript-that-will-be-masterpiece novel while in the friendly skies; I stare at an otherworldly sculpture garden in the swelter of Mid-City New Orleans; I trip on the surrealistic paintings of Matthew Peck in his gallery in the French Quarter; I marvel at rocket ships of ATL architecture from a rooftop in the sky. And my hips sway to the sounds when I hear them.

My sexy girlfriend danced in front of me. We’d had a bit of a bad day before ENTROPY took to the stage at the 420fest in Candler Park of Atlanta. This was before the flight, before New Orleans. It was a spring festival in the capital of the south – nothing new to me about that. Heck, it was our second festival in two days. It was a writer’s work day, and I was not in the mood. My sublease had suddenly dissolved, and I was stuck in a financial muck causing me to question.

Then frontman Rod had a suggestion: Dance your troubles away. ENTROPY is black and white and modern and classic. They represent the funk in America now. And we still want the funk.

Rod fired us up, shook us from our winter slumber. And then Slappy took over – he as charismatic a guitar instigator as exists. And the stage was full with up to ten total people at a time…all with one cause: To get you out of your funk. And suddenly we were drunk on the sounds, the excitement. It worked, man, it works.

Rob Robinson is more pounding drum machine than human being. Steve Boyd from Parliament joined to add an undeniable credibility. Rod’s daughter did not let being on crutches stop her from making the show a family affair.

And we were one again. My girl and I moved together to the beat. The crowd moved together to the beat. One nation under a groove.

Julie C. May at pb&j (Kirkwood-ATL)

Friday March 20th was the opening for photog Julie C. May at pb&j Gallery in the Kirkwood district in Atlanta, GA. They have been in business for two years. And the charming little village as a whole is doing quite well and now has most of your major urban needs condensed for you into a couple of blocks – so Atlanta, y’all. Please Go!!!

Hailing from the Beverlywood area of LA for the past ten years, Julie C. May has meanwhile toured the world in pursuit of great shots. The front room at this quaint, super-cute gallery is full of her selected finds. It runs through May 3rd.

Featured locations: Venice, Italy…Russia…Berlin…Poland…Puerto Rico…St.Kitts…CHI-Town…the girl really gets around. Her photography, shot in black and white with a 1976 Nikon and in shiny-today-digital-color, has so much life. As she says: “Every wrinkle tells a story.” These photos capture people “not reacting, living.”

Not much for self-promotion, the striking and radiant Julie C. May instead chooses to focus on her true passion – her business.  She founded the “Unscene Tour” to give a sense of home and a big boost to emerging photogs across the nation.  Check it: www.unscenetour.com

Back to the show, my companions were my adorable girlfriend, Jami Buck and my uber-hip Bromance from Cafe Intermezzo (via Cali), Duane. I wore lime green seersucker and a white belt and spring was underway. Spritzers are nice and so are almonds and art. Check it: www.facebook.com/hanvance

May got into photography originally “to get more boys to flirt with me.” Provocatively sexy statement for a married woman, I thought. Duane and I were the best heterosexual options on this night, as “the boys” were out in full force to support the gallery and kick back some free wine. They dress quite well, too. Check it: www.facebook.com/bobburkhart    (the b of pb&j)

From elderly Venetians that are clearly Old Souls to a Navyman resplendent in that one ray of light amongst the Chicago skyscrapers, personalities of people and the commonality of life experiences throughout diverse areas of the world are conveyed in a show perhaps more about face than space.

And then my baby paid half for me to get a small piece of Jack Simmonetta’s stuff. He is the j of pb&j. Just thinking to myself I was: the thousands of colors of blue are a nice color, and it is getting late.

So we said bye and headed to Poncey-Highlands for a post-pre-party at my babe’s townhouse, with too much of that Absolut Mango vodka and yet another adorable Jaimie, and then the four of us were up the street to the basement of the Highland Inn for the single best dance party in town. We listened to the Detriot to ATL transplanted rapper Stewart House along the way. And then we finally hit the dancefloor.

Mountain Men

Copyright © 2008 HV

 

“So you’re a friend of Hillbilly,” they all say.

 

Brian Southard is Hillbilly, and the answer is one of my best. He owns the company. They sell protection for “yer ass.” Pads, man. Some of us need them. Not me. Not today. I ride longboard all the time. I skate, but I’m not strapping one of those on tonight. I’ll leave that to the pros.

These boards have bindings for your feet. Mountain bike-like, shock-bounce and wheels that appear almost as if those of a Jeep had been shrunken, this is the board of the future.

And, as I mentioned, the pros are here. From Utah and P-A and outside Johnson City, Tennessee and parts unknown, they are here to ride the course, to spin and twist and flip off the ramps, the tallest of which is on the ceiling of the DJ Booth. Rap only and it pounds out, much of it of The ATL variety, of course.

Theme is Tiki: long a favorite of mine. Opted out of my 1950’s green tiki shirt because we walked here from the train and it was 90 degrees out and late spring in the Deep South. Big thick white T-shirt sweats better, dries better, and I found out how much today on this sweatfest of a labyrinthian hike that Alex from Russia and I took.

By car, then foot, then bus, then train, then foot, then train, then foot, then even more foot we saw Atlanta in all her daytime, hazy glory. High Museum she said and Coca-Cola she said. The Fabulous Fox she said. Twinkle she said. Twinkle, gleam, twinkle…Traffic and pollution not so pretty, but the young Russian Foreign Exchange student saw the City at her shiniest and her less than, with a man “from here.”

From the Arts Center in Midtown we walked to Downtown. From Is-That-A-New-Building-Ville…to “Not so new and under construction anymore,” as I described. Then from the neighborhoods and park where my ex-wife lived when she was just my girl to Little 5 Points. That was only after pizza and the paper in the cushy confines of Peachtree Center’s food court and two train rides. We met a few nice folks along the way.

L5P for seven minutes of Russian victory soccer in the pub, then we were back on the streets, beating our soles to the heat that came in sheets, on our way to East Atlanta. Reynoldstown was there in between, in so many ways.

East ATL and Brian did not answer from the payphone back in Little 5. We don’t know where the party is. Ask at The Earl if they, by chance, know where the Mountain Board Compound is. They don’t. Can’t dial long distance on their phones and Hillbilly is (706). Payphones are not working if more than an empty payphone coffin. A cell would have been handy today. I usually use only my home/office phone.

Think. Tatoo shop. I know Guz and he is back now, I think, doing tats in East ATL, and he knows Brian. He is working today, looking lean and sharp, and he is as nice as always. Not getting off until 8 pm, but he calls Brian for me. Directions. We walk. More ATL.

I have been here, lived here in Greater Metro Atlanta since 1976, with a few breaks for Athens and one for a year in Orlando, so when I talk of her, I talk from experience. I have worked in every major commercial district in Atlanta in my former lives. Now: I WRITE but now, now, we walk.

We walk…We walk…We walk, now. Mile after – we are exhausted – mile. We are back in the burbs basically, just way southside which means a different socioeconomic world.

Then finally, we see the Hillbilly flags a flyin’. We made it. Probably just under 15 miles on the day by foot, so some water sounds good.

At the party, the Tiki bar hives with gregarious and generous folks, having a nice evening. The rum is flowing. The beer is flowing. Lots to look at with the flips and hips, the ramps, the ladies.

And my boy Adam was there. Big Ups, Doctor Adam. Some really cool people were hanging out I admired and of course a few loudmouths that I only liked okay. I was in element.

The scene was made and the sun shifted to shade, and we talked and mingled. Kisses all around for the select few. Digits to one early and from one late…I really like the second one and the first was also pretty nice.

Conclusion is late night boy banter, just like other post-sporting events. The athletes can’t hang too much until the event is over, see, and it was by then. I would be remiss not to comment on how nice and humble these very talented athletes are. And they are good. Skinny Kenny, Big Ups. Jason, Big Ups. All the riders, Big Ups.

Check the sport out live anytime you get the chance. Good Party. Great entertainment – thanks to all the very COOL hosts and my main man Brain Southard at Hillbilly Protection Gear.

 

alex from russia

Copyright (C) 2008 

FOR HE IS RISEN – AFTER SLEEPING LATE

 

JOSEPH BRODSKY’S BROAD SKY, HIS HORIZON HIKE

 

HIS POETIC EXILE ACCEPTED, I READ-RED

 

AND I HAVE A YOUNG RUSSIAN VISITOR, NEXT BED

 

THIS OLD-BOY, YOUNG ALMOST MAN, FROM RUSSIA TO WE

 

HAS COME TO TRY AMERICA – LAND OF THE FREE

 

LIKE BRODSKY, THE PLAN WENT NOT ACCORDING TO TRICK

 

WHO KNEW? SENT TO A PLACE AS SMALL AS ITS NICK: THEO

 

THEODOSIA, MISSOURI.

 

HIS USA COUNTRY-MOUNTAIN MISERY, MOSTLY

 

SEE MY DAD HAS HALF-MOVED NOW AND LOVES IT

 

I VISITED AND WE DECIDED TO BE ANOTHER HOST FAMILY

 

NOW HIS FAMILY SET 2, THE ROWDY VANCE-BRAUM CREW

 

MARIETTA MADNESS, ATLANTA ATTITUDE, YES Y’ALL

 

DEEP SOUTH HUMIDITY, NEW SOUTH CONSCIOUSNESS

 

ST. LOUIS, HE SAW, NASHVILLE, HE SAW, THE BUS, HE SAW

 

NOW HE SEES:

 

EXCELLENT-EXILE-EXIT…STRATEGIES

 

PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY BELLIES

 

ATL RAP IDIOSYNCHRONICITIES

 

SOUTHERN MAMA NICETIES

 

GIRLS WITH BIG-ASS TITTIES

 

CONVENTION; CONVICTION; CHECK THE DICTION

 

AND DON’T FORGET TO MENTION

 

THE DREAM, THE STRIVE, THE STYLE

 

THE LIFE, THE HIKE, THE BIKE, THE BLOCK, THE MILE

 

AND WE ARE THICK AS BRICKS

 

AND ONLY TWICE AS QUICK

 

LIKE A BAG OF TRICKS

 

HOPE YOU ENJOY THIS AMERICAN SCHTICK

(Photo by: Han Vance, from Art Above Underground)