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Where In the World?

Femme Noir : Girls in Comics

     

For anyone who went to San Diego’s Comic Con this year, rumors of the estrogen-driven Batgirl were sure to spread quickly, especially to those invested in DC’s reboot of the new 52. She managed to get out of the wheelchair (Oooo, spoiler alert!) and up to the mic in order to state her opinion….four days in a row.

Being a woman, I can say that feminism and women’s rights can get very tricky, and has taken a turn for the weird since the suffragettes did their thing. It’s somehow all too easy to forget that they marched in heels…but this was obviously because they were being pushed by society to dress in such a manner, right? Or perhaps some of them just enjoyed looking and feeling pretty. I know men who relish the same pleasure.

When trying to categorize what a feminist actually is, there shouldn’t be rules, but somehow there are. Little invisible ones that say whether you are “with” or “against”. Let’s take, for example, Wonder Woman. Last year, there was an attempt to put pants on this Amazon-princess-turned-American-patriotte. The man responsible, J. Michael Straczynski, claimed that this was done in order to “toughen her up and give her a modern sensibility.” Seems more like a shot at modest sensibility. Why is it that the one woman in the DC Universe core was asked to become more realistic in her ensemble when the guys still get to dance around in their leotards?
And here comes that tricky part I mentioned.

Feminists say: “Why are women being exploited through this character? Why does she have to be virtually naked to be accepted?!”
So, they cover her up. Give her some pants. Not boyish pants either, but skin tight, Paris Hilton paint-ons.
Feminists say: "….wait, what the hell is this? Where are the red boots? Why do I miss thigh-highs and cleavage all the sudden??"
And mostly everyone else is chanting right along.

My initial response to the Batgirl at the microphone demanding more female roles as well as writers was similar to interactions I have with mosquitoes. I felt that it was rude and unnecessary to try and pinpoint any hidden agenda on DC’s part, and seemed especially acrid towards Dan DiDio, who had to bear the brunt of the woman’s sharp tone. He was obviously irritated by the daily rantings, but handled it as gracefully as he could by day four. Batgirl was taking full advantage of having mic-time at a panel of people that would otherwise be difficult to speak to directly (…unless she was willing to talk about it over drinks at say, the Hyatt bar) . But then again, so was everyone else, right? That’s what the mic was there for, and this was anyone’s chance to get out their thoughts.

On Monday morning, after all the chaos had subsided from San Diego’s downtown, my boyfriend and I met up with David Lloyd for brunch, which ended up being finger food and many, many glasses of Prosecco. After draining a few, I began speaking loosely about my feelings toward this “girls-in-comics” issue, expressing my annoyance at the seemingly pessimistic stance of many apparent campaigners for women’s rights. I made fun of Batgirl’s outfit, quoted her in a nasal voice, and made out to be the enemy to all things revolutionary. This was naturally challenged by David, artist of V for Vendetta, which is in itself a graphic novel with powerful feminist undertones. Having the background of a calm, educated, working class Englishman, his take on standing up for your rights is much more lenient than mine. Something I could take a lesson from. Hearing his perspective made me wonder, when did I stop standing up? Suddenly I realized that what Batgirl was doing was perfectly acceptable, if not a bit amateur.

I never thought of the gender of superheroes to be all that important to my experience in reading comics, since I enjoy savoring the attitudes and energy given by a particular character. I’ve always felt that their powers and capacity to fight the good fight under any circumstance is what makes them satisfying to connect with. However, after this real-life experience of someone doing just that, the question of gender has clearly become something to not only consider, but to be applied. After Comic Con, I saw quite a number of blogs and websites mention the topic of women in comic books, spawned by Batgirl with her attention-seeking tactics at the New 52 Panel. Can’t say the effort didn’t pay off. When it comes to making change, there has to be someone willing to step up. Looks like Lady Luck might in fact be on the girls side for the DC reboot, and hopefully she’ll be bringing more with her!

Let’s just hope they’re not all in pants.

Super Duper “Super 8”

This movie seems to be one of these interesting cases that hits everyone in the same way. I call it the Caulfield Effect. Corny, I know, but it works. This takes place when someone experiences something which they feel is entirely individual, beyond the scope of anyone else and their reality, only to discover that they are amidst an ocean of like minds. I call it this because after anyone reads Catcher in the Rye, there comes a point where they slowly close the book after digesting whatever profound paragraph they’ve just completed and think to themselves, “oh my god. I am Holden Caulfield.” The truth is, everybody is Holden Caulfield. There are a few universal truths that every so often are gathered in a way glorious enough to have each viewer feel it as entirely their own.

Writer and director J.J. Abrams has transformed a feature length film into a projection of our most personal memories. It was unquestionably necessary for it to be a period piece, having certain cinematically time-sensitive moments such as the inaccuracy of Dr. Woodward’s survival. This professor had not only been in a truck hit hard by a train traveling at full speed, but also suffered a major explosion resulting from the impact. Even if we allowed these details to slide, there would still be no defense for the piece of paper that he’s holding, which ends up being important evidence explaining his actions. At least the paper would have caught fire…right? An explosion that big would probably have made its way to a piece of perfectly dry paper. However, this movie is set in 1979. At least this is my assumption, based on the excitement over The Knack’s song “My Sharona,” which was released early that year. If it hadn’t been for this time period, the “Hey, Wait a Minute!” rule would absolutely apply, but since we’re watching a science fiction movie set in the late 70’s, it would be ridiculous to ask for specificities that are much more oriented to the critical views of the modern movie-goer.

The addition of Dr. Woodward, first appearing dead then proving otherwise, is an obvious tribute to the film that the children are in the process of creating for the Cleveland film festival. The movie they are making is a zombie-murder-mystery called “The Case,” dealing primarily with the living dead. This could be seen as a metaphor since the kids themselves are living in a world of adults who lack their childlike understanding. They could be interpreted as the living dead, having squandered their souls in exchange for the stresses that are expected to accompany growing up. This idea is directly personified through the parents of the two main protagonists, Joe and Alice.

They come from different sides of the tracks, Alice being from the rougher side of town and Joe living on the upper end, but both sharing one similarity- they both are stuck in a position where they must pick up the pieces of a broken home, and at very young ages. Both are around the age of 13, which is a strange time in a young persons life. This age is the beginning step into the teen years, and for these children represents a time of exorcising their own rights and defying the rules, for passions sake. It’s very much a tale of Innocence Vs. The World, only now they are becoming a part of its chaos due to their involvement with the mysteries taking place in their town. The train tracks and their separate sides no longer matter- all corners are effected by terror and confusion, while the space between strangers, enemies, family and friends alike rapidly begins to close.

The two families symbolizing a kind of Montague and Capulets ordeal are brought together and simultaneously torn apart by the death of Joe’s mother, who had died covering a shift for Alice’s drunken father. The two men, left alone with their young children, represent the two sides of carelessness. There is the kind that comes from duty, and over-attention to ones work, and there is the kind that sprouts from the complete lack thereof. These alternate sides come together to form the forces which, as we learn from a reel of secret footage discovered by the children, the creature had to endure as well.

And here lies the true parable of the movie. The kids are at the point in their lives when they begin making decisions that will shape who they become. If they are continually neglected, they will end up just as this creature has- alone, afraid, defensive, violent, and lost. But that’s just my inner mother talking.

Joe must allow himself to let go of the past, just as the alien must. This moment is gathered into a single statement in the film, when Joe looks into the eyes of the alien and without any panic states, “bad things happen. But you can still live.” This movie seems to be made specifically for anyone who has been through anything that has left a scar, whether the viewer is a kid on the verge of abandoning their innocence, or anyone who has yet to let go of irreversible moments that plague their minds. This movie manages to push several sensitive points on any given person, and at times it is unavoidable to admit that we all have parts of each character within us. Part of me wants to drink my sorrows away. Part of me wants to forget my problems and just make something cool. Part of me wants to blow up my friends train set. Part of me takes my life entirely too seriously at times, and part of me feels like an alien.

If this film included a group discussion involving everyone in the theater, I’m sure we would quickly discover that people who seem to have nothing to say to one another have much more in common than what meets the eye. Whether or not they talk about it is up to them. But thankfully, there are artistic ways to help people understand themselves a bit more. There are creative outlets that join strangers together, and this film is a brand new one. Someone was brave enough to forget their problems, and just make something cool.  

AJ Fosik: -Colors and Creatures-

AJ Fosik has appeared in pop culture art magazines such as Hi Fructose, Swindle, and Tokion throughout the last 12 years, though he seems mysteriously unreachable, as though he never actually existed, but was invented temporarily and disappeared. He is a modern artist, and in the fashion of the time, he remains elusive and cool…or at least maintains this appearance in interviews and photos. When I first saw his work I was completely amazed at what I saw, thumbing through a magazine that someone had left in a free pile. How could such detail come from a man with no apparent experience in art?

Fosik rarely expresses human beings in his art, but remains firmly planted in his love of the animal kingdom- whether real or slightly fictionalized creatures, giving them wide expressions, and a great deal of emotion. He himself seems to be a creature of sorts, traveling the country, never quite finding the means to settle. His name alone symbolizes who he is, acting as a blatant metaphor of his persona. The name “Fosik” (originally spelled with two S’s), is “…a verb to describe the act of people sifting through mine washings or waste piles to look for any gold that might have been missed; sorting through the garbage to find gold.” (SWINDLE magazine) His original occupation was a woodworker, and he would use scrap material to create pieces of art for fun. Soon enough, his work was being hung in galleries around the country. 

As a carpenter, Fosik already had a great deal of experience with using tools as well as his hands to create sturdy wood-based structures. His pieces are almost always found in layers, and seem to emote a kind of holy or sacred silence while expressing animals in their most enlivened states. This alone perfectly expresses silence and dynamism acting in one place at the same time. The bilateral quality of these pieces of art is literal and poetic, since his wall hangings could be sliced down the middle, folded, over, and be perfectly balanced, though it would be a great waste of art. They also force us to stare into a mirror when taking in his creations, completely saturated in our own primal nature, and the possibility of being something more than Human. There is a great level of depth in any one of his given pieces- the eyes sink back into endless circles, then popping out again. The outwards direction of the wooden fur of his creatures seem to pull at the face of the animal, emphasizing its grimace, and for everything pointing upwards, there is also something pointing downwards. Getting more into the technical parts of his work rather than the poetic, I’ve noticed  that, though none of his pieces are dihedral, almost all are bilateral, and some are even cyclic. When mentally tracing the orthogonal lines of his pieces (if you were to treat them as flat), the central vanishing point is always at the very center of the piece, either at the middle of their mouth or the at the point between the creatures eyes. If these pieces of work could make any noise, they would certainly be shrieking, growling, snarling, or laughing. I’m drawn to the colors he uses, as he tends to favor hyper-shades, almost like neon pastels. After rethinking the artist I would use for this assignment, his name struck me like lightning, because his work is not only dimensional, but almost completely symmetrical. 

When I think about his pieces without looking at them directly, I actually become happy. There is something beautiful in their energy, something I’ve never quite seen before in art.

When considering the colors he uses in contrast with the colors he is often seen wearing, it is unavoidably clear that in no way does he attempt to “become” his art. He already is, simply by creating it. Seen in faded sweat shirts or coffee-stained T’s, AJ Fosik is not a man of many colors on the outside, yet he clarifies his inner nature by expressing it outwards, screaming in peoples faces with it, bearing his teeth through the wide-eyed expressions of his personal static animal kingdom. 

The creatures heads hang on art gallery walls like trophies from a hunt. There is a relationship between the artist and the art. Here, he is literally bearing himself as his own kill, brandishing the findings for people to admire. There is perhaps something disturbing in this notion, yet unquestionably admirable.

When I think about what he does, I become overwhelmed with a sense of love and curiosity. Everything about it shines a light on my minds hidden corners, and that is what art should indeed do. There is something beautifully geometric about his art, and it is said that symmetry is one of the most attractive traits for a person to observe. Maybe I’ve fallen in love with his work! It certainly wouldn’t seem impossible. 


The Space Between Rage and Serenity

So…X Men First Class. What a mindblow. 

 I couldn’t help but notice a reoccurring statement, said by a young Charles Xavier, first explained to help Erik (who of course is later known as Magneto) harness his abilities. He points to a large satellite in the distance, and asks Erik to try moving it. He struggles for a bit, then stops, exhausted. Then Charles says, in respect to the central location of his power, that it’s “the space between rage and serenity” that is important. Charles then picks up a memory buried deep in Erik’s subconscious, featuring a moment between a very young Erik and his mother lighting what appears to be a menorah. After having access to this moment for the first time in ages, his senses soften, and he is able to move the satellite. I found this scene very effective. It is true that memories of things lost can sometimes bring about angry feelings. Instead of letting the mind become saturated in the joy of that moment, it immediately jumps to the pain of what came next. In Erik’s case, even thinking of his mother could be expressed directly with the thought of her death. This would result in continual rage. Naturally, the original memory would be suppressed, and swapped out for the one that gets the most attention, or the one yielding a stronger response. However, thanks to Charles’ gift, he is able to let Erik relive the innocent joy that was felt within that moment, instead of letting his brain flee to where it feels most defensive. Using only the force of rage combined with the serenity required to truly feel a memory once more can lead to something even stronger than rage. Life can be trying, and sometimes causes high and heavy walls to go up around ones heart. If rage has been awoken, it should be trained, not slaughtered. Trying to remove something from your own being is essentially killing a part of yourself, so, best to just make friends with it. Sound familiar, Mr. Wayne? 

Peter Pan said, “you just think happy thoughts, and they lift you into the air!” why is this? When the mind is light, then, in this childrens story, it is reflected in the body. The idea is, without the knowledge of being unable to do something, you can then do anything. Innocence is always there, but is generally repressed rather than accessed. Sometimes allowing guards to drop can be the greatest defense that one has. 

Julian Casablancas - 11th Dimension 

"Forgive them, even if they are not sorry

all the vultures, bootleggers at the door waiting

you are looking for your own voice but in others

while it hears you, trapped in another dimension…”

I really love music videos. I see them as a good opportunity to build a short film around a soundtrack that’s already been made. A lot of the time, a great deal is conveyed within a very short period of time, sometimes in a very simple way. In this particular video, what I find to be the most expressed concept is reincarnation. It’s a new twist on it though. I’ve never thought of my soul as being something truly unaltered. Here, Julian Casablancas attempts to show the infinite value of his artistic nature. As an audience, we know him as a song writer. This is also how he seems to see himself as well. It’s the only thing through the video that remains consistent. Generally, someones cosmic nature is expressed to be something beyond what they “do,” but here, it is completely intermixed…which is basically what I believe in. Everything is all things entirely at once. Awesome! So in the opening of the video we see a pagoda, representing the process of enlightenment and wisdom of the higher self. Julian runs up the steps into a glowing doorway, then is outwardly expressed to the audience as a person in a new life, each time given a situation to deal with. As his soul grows from lifetime to lifetime, he takes subtle lessons from what he faced in the past. His subconscious mind (seen as Julian glowing on the edges, standing on an infinite grid) aids him through things, encouraging him here and there, or just watching the process, and writing down the epiphanies he’s gained on a wall in neon chalk. By the end of the video, he is ready to take the last steps into the highest portion of the pagoda, disappearing into light, coming into his highest form of understanding. 

Forte!

  

 I find that my speciality is finding cosmic mystery within everyday things that could often be perceived as mundane, absurd, or even corny. I can watch a music video by The Strokes and see that the band is going through a transformational time in their lives, not just their careers. When I read comic books, this creates a space for me to converse with God, since Superman IS God. I like to think that within the things I create, whether it be in writing, the occasional drawing, or conversation I have with others, there is a presence that cannot be directly explained. It is like a strange source of light, emitting a hue that allows me to see corners and new pathways that I didn’t previously notice, but ones that I probably did not yet need. It’s a good reminder, and a fresh way to know that I am progressing. Creation is entirely personal, and yet absolutely forged to the rest of the world, bringing me closer to it. Even if I am in a room alone for weeks on end working on something, that thing is related to everything beyond my own mind, and then the two are one. 

As far as I can remember, I’ve always been a fan of pop culture. My connection to it happened when I was really young, hearing weekly top 40 on the radio. From there, I was hooked. I began creating my own pop art, and paying more attention to the art around me, whether it was painting, film, music, or fashion. It seemed that if something made me feel that good, there must be something bigger behind it. This was during the same time as going to Catholic school, which more or less shunned the idea of…well, feeling good. I however found a connection in what was taught as the Word of God, and the feeling I had when listening to a catchy song, or seeing a video that I somehow could relate to. Since then, it has been something of a quest to find what that bridge really is. I find more and more that everyone has divinity within themselves, and when they do what it is in their darma to do, they cannot help but spread that. There is something in vibrant, beautiful, fun art that brings together everyone. Hearing Michael Jackson in Morocco? Couldn’t be happier. 

"Little stone
stuck in my shoe
we get there together” 

Oh, and in case you were wondering…

Art by Gia Edzgverdze

I made this blog to express my feelings about a facet of reality that often gets overlooked as unnecessary, superficial, childish, or even menial. I believe these opinions to be ignorant and fear-driven. Fear of creativity, fear of something new, fear of being questioned or having reason to see something greater. When I was a little girl in Catholic school, I was simultaneously being impacted by the Atheistic input of my aunt and uncle who I lived with at the time, as well as indulging in my new obsession: my first album, “Private Dancer” by Tina Turner. I listened to it constantly, and in combining all of these things at such an innocent age, the lines between them were blurred. Ever since, I’ve found it effortless to see cosmic knowledge within music, film, comic books, or pop art. This is my manifested backlash at the “spiritual people” I overhear, bragging to one another about how they don’t care about things such as fashion or top 40 songs, and how these things don’t serve their “higher selves.” Well, news break. They totally can. I’ve never liked to wear my spirituality as a costume. If I feel something, that should be with me all the time, rain or shine, paper or plastic, temple or tumblr. 

When we are open to the support of universal law, then it will certainly make itself available. Grant Morrison is a person who is in touch with the reverberating sounds of asteroids bouncing off one another. Here in this clip from Talking With Gods, Morrison explains the phenomenal experience of literally discussing the outcome of All Star Superman with the man himself. 

Illustration by Frank Quitely, from Grant Morrison’s All Star Superman

Rush - The Spirit Of Radio

This song just does something to me. I remember the first time I heard it. Between the beat and the actual lyrics, I believe that it’s one of the most solid songs of all time. I feel that everything does in fact have an energetic quality to it, and this of course includes a composition of any kind. What we hear effects us directly, and this song so perfectly captures this concept, expressed through the one thing the band knows best. 

"Begin the day with a friendly voice,
A companion unobtrusive
Plays that song that’s so elusive
And the magic music makes your morning mood.

Off on your way, hit the open road,
There is magic at your fingers
For the Spirit ever lingers,
Undemanding contact in your happy solitude.

Chorus
Invisible airwaves crackle with life
Bright antennae bristle with the energy
Emotional feedback on timeless wavelength
Bearing a gift beyond price, almost free

All this machinery making modern music
Can still be open-hearted.
Not so coldly charted
It’s really just a question of your honesty, yeah,
Your honesty.
One likes to believe in the freedom of music,
But glittering prizes and endless compromises
Shatter the illusion of integrity.


For the words of the profits were written on the studio wall,
Concert hall
And echoes with the sounds of salesmen, of salesmen, of salesmen!”

Illustration by Eric Drooker

After a friend sent me this video, I immediately thought of the Rush song, “Spirit of Radio”. This adorable dancing boy seems to be some sort of angel auditioning for the part of Patron Saint of Fun. Here’s how I break down the video: 

Boy wakes up having just died, greeted into the afterlife by two friendly, unsuspecting angels. The boy gives his best performance for God, who is sitting at a breakfast table, accompanied by the two who initially woke him up. They seem confident in his abilities. As time passes, we see him as a personified representation of good times, dancing through the common persons life as they try their hardest to keep taking things seriously. He is given a suit to put on, so this must mean he got the job! Nobody seems to take notice of him until the end, when a girl, finished with her previous conversation on the phone, dances in her room with the music up loud. He isn’t noticed directly, but more experienced by someone, for the first time. Perhaps he is her personal guardian, or holy Steward of Rad. 

No question, comics have been part of a spiritual quest. All art, for that matter, is a path of growth & discovery.
The closest thing I have to a religious practice is my daily creative practice. It connects me to ancestors … and to future generations.

Eric Drooker 

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