Bay Area graffiti fans should be in heaven this weekend, with so many amazing events celebrating the urban art form jumping off in both SF and the East Bay starting today, Thursday, and ending on Saturday with The 3rd Annual Estria Invitational Graffiti Battle (EIGB). This evening (Thursday, Oct 8th) kicks things off at the 1:AM Gallery in San Francisco with The Can Film Festival, which will include screenings of the two graf films, Style Wars and Bomb It. The films will be followed by a Q&A session with a panel that will include Kevin Epps, Suzie Lundy, Erin Yoshioka, Estria Miyashiro and will be moderated by hip-hop author Jeff Chang. Screenings start at 7pm but doors open at 6:30pm. Even better, this is a free event, so get there early to ensure admission. 1:AM Gallery is located at 1000 Howard St. (near 6th St.), San Francisco, CA . Click here for more info. Note that tomorrow at 1:AM gallery will be the last day for the exhibit Don't Sweat The Technique - Ode To The Spray Can Art Show, featuring art by judges and contestants involved in Saturday's Estria Invitational Graffiti Battle.
Then tomorrow (Friday, October 9th) is the big event at the Eastside Arts Alliance in East Oakland-- the Pecha Kucha Night Oakland: Don't Sweat The Technique - Graffiti For Social Change, which is being presented in partnership by the Eastside Arts Alliance, Hard Knock Radio, Samurai Graphix and Youth Speaks. The event is happening at 2277 International Blvd., Oakland, CA 94606 from 7:30-10:30pm tomorrow (get there early)! Its ten presenters scheduled include legendary graf archivalist Jim Prigoff (co-author of Spraycan Art, Walls of Heritage Walls of Pride and Graffiti New York), Spie from the mighty Bay Area TDK crew, Steve Grody (author of Graffiti LA), and San Francisco community activist Nancy Hernandez.
According to artist Estria, who is another of the presenters and who was instrumental in bringing this event to Oakland, "Pecha Kucha is a great way to expose your art to many professionals in other fields in one quick-fire burst."
This isn't the first time I've experienced water tower envy. Stash your dirty take on that statement and open your mind to the kind of acoustic possibilities an abandoned husk of monolithic metal casing presents; even something so slight as the sound of Autumn's driest, final dead leaf falling inside one of those hulking riveted hulls must echo ever so epically. Coincidentally, the two sides of the Water Tower Sessions split 45 (Empty Cellar Records) reverberate hauntingly of tones both epic and Autumnal. Recorded by the American Opry who, bless them, trespassed inside a three-story behemoth to capture gorgeous field-recordings of two Bay Area folk artists, Joseph Childress and The White White Quilt, performing their sad yet very beautiful songs live inside the old tower, achieving a fullness of sound that seems to suggest a memory of water.
What I like most about these songs is the ghostly feeling that comes from hearing them paired together on this record: Childress' "Leaving the Barren Ground" tells a shadowy tale soaked in vocals that at first flow weighted, heavy with confession, but then ebb into soul-quaking howls by yarns' end, minimal percussion and steady strumming lending eerie tingles and determination to his story. Then in "Papa," The White White Quilt plods along to reluctant acoustic twangs while multiple voices singing low-slung verse suggesting an unwillingness to accept the passing of time. Altogether, the record is quite like two similar spirits willing their abandoned dwelling to sag upright before poetically keeling over; broken-down new folk songs recorded in an old forgotten well fogging the mirror of this dark, nostalgic time of year. Pressed on frosty clear vinyl and limited to 500 copies that include access to downloads of both songs (plus a bonus cut!).
Hey, hey, hey! It's WALRUS DAY EVE!
Carrie and I are starting the celebration NOW, with our official Walrus Day beverage: Campari & soda. Our plans for tomorrow? For the lady, buttermilk pancakes with homemade banana syrup and thick-cut bacon. For yours truly, ICE CREAM -- the best breakfast food EVER. Remember, it's the most important meal of the day, so don't forget to add hot fudge!
We've also chosen our official song for the day...
Following our ridiculous breakfast, Carrie and I can be seen lurking around the darkened halls of the Museum of Jurassic Technology, with an occasional break for Indian sweets at the nearby Indian grocer. Dinner is as yet undecided, though Carrie is championing for some French grub at my favorite place for such things, Café des Artistes.
I just asked Carrie if there's anything more we should say to you. She asked in return:
"Should we have a deep thought they should ponder this Walrus Day?"
It seems we take music for granted in our current times, which is easy enough to do since we are so innundated with endless music from a seemingly endless stream of artists. With the way things are these days, it might be difficult to stop and imagine a time or a place where music could be much, much more scarce -- a place where music and the artists who create it are valued and treasured so much more than they are here and now. One of these long lost places has been captured in the great documentary on music fandom The Posters Came From The Walls, in which diehard Depeche Mode (DM) superfans look to their heroes for meaning in their lives. The documentary's subjects are primarily in second world nations, fans who bonded with the music of DM in the midst of political turbulence.
The feature length documentary about DM fans around the world was co-directed by Nick Abrahams and Jeremy Deller. In the documentary, the directors spend some time in the US and UK interviewing DM fans, but the flick is at its best when capturing DM fans in Russia and countries of the former Soviet Union, where DM's music has taken on a whole new meaning since the 1980's, when it was not only hard to find but illegal and only available via much coveted bootleg tapes. From that point DM's music became a sort of freedom soundtrack for many of these fans. DM's Dave Gahan’s birthday falls on May 9th, which is Russia’s National Day. In St. Petersburg DM fans celebrate the date as “Dave Day” every year.