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the flog

Eyes Wide OPEN

The Ritz Theatre and Museum welcomed patrons on Saturday, February 3 for the opening of Through Our Eyes. 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the annual exhibit that celebrates African-American artists living in Northeast Florida. To produce the show, Museum Administrator Adonnica Toler worked alongside Lydia P. Stewart, the Founder and Curator of Through Our Eyes.

The Ritz is a City owned cultural asset that was established in 1999. It sits on the site of the former Ritz Theatre movie house, which opened its doors in 1929 in Jacksonville’s historic LaVilla neighborhood. During the height of the neighborhood’s activity, starting in the 1920’s and spanning through the 1960’s, LaVilla was known as the “Harlem of the South.” The mission of the Ritz is to “research, record, and preserve the material and artistic culture of African American life in Northeast Florida and the African Diaspora, and present it in an educational or entertaining format, showcasing the many facets that make up the historical and cultural legacy of this community.”

2018’s show is titled Journey to South Africa: A Cultural Exchange. The Ritz posted a Call to Artists in early 2017 with a June deadline to submit. From those who submitted their portfolios for consideration, 27 artists were selected to exhibit their work in this year’s show. Works on display range from 2-dimensional paintings, 3-dimensional mixed media installations, live performances, and animated digital displays.

Marsha Hatcher is a veteran artist of the show, having exhibited her work in 20 of the 25 years the show has been produced. Hatcher paints expressionistic portraits that adroitly capture a range of gripping emotions conveyed through the faces of black women and men. Hatcher has three pieces on exhibit, with one being a portrait of American songwriter and musician Nina Simone. In that piece, Hatcher includes a quote from Simone that examines the …   More

the flog

The Value of REAL News

The experiment has escaped the lab and is running amok across our great land. Thanks, Facebook. Many once thought that social media would save us--that it would break down borders, unite the globe, make us smarter, happier and more engaged in the world.

I'm not sure anyone believes that anymore. Turns out, it hasn't broken down borders, but rather helped create social bubbles where our beliefs harden. It hasn't united us, but revealed how polarized we've become. It often hasn't made us smarter, but instead tricked us with clickbait.

At this point, it's clear that even Facebook's founder didn't anticipate how the site would be used and abused, or how foreign agents looking to sow some good ol' chaos would game Facebook's algorithms to subvert American democracy. Further, it's apparent now that Facebook-and Google and Twitter, for that matter-didn't look too closely at the money being exchanged to see who was paying and who was profiting from all the fakery.

Yet, at the same time these platforms--Google and Facebook, especially--were spreading misinformation and fake news like wildfire, they were also draining digital advertising dollars from the very news outlets that could combat those forces with real journalism.

That's not exactly new: The news business has long been outwitted by these tech giants-lured by vast internet audiences, they've essentially provided free content to Facebook and Google, while the duopoly courted their advertisers-but I believe that the journalists who confronted that impossible choice ultimately wanted to deliver the news, even at their own expense.

And now Facebook is poised to change the rules of the game yet again. Struggling to repel fake news and the antagonism permeating the site, founder Mark Zuckerberg announced last month that it would deprioritize news in favor of posts from friends and family. It's sent a shockwave through the news industry, much of which has strategically aligned its priorities with …   More

the flog

UN-SQUARE Dance

The billboards were up days ago-three of them, placed strategically at different spots along I-95. The bright colors and 8-bit fonts have surely the eyes of countless drivers, some of whom are sure to follow-up, just to see what all the fuss is about. And what a lot of fuss it is: The seventh annual Electroacoustic Barn Dance, held on the JU campus this Thursday through Saturday, is a masterpiece of logistics.

Billed as "an academic conference for electronic artists", the festival will feature the work of some 94 different composers, representing 67 different colleges and universities, including JU itself, with ten of their own students participating as well. In addition, the artists will be augmented by the cream of the school's music faculty, including cellist Shannon Lockwood, artist-in-residence Tony Steve on percussion, and their inestimable Director of Jazz Studies, John Ricci, playing alto saxophone.

"I'm coming from more of a straight ahead jazz background," says Ricci, "but was approached by one of my direct colleagues, composer, percussionist and world musician Professor Tony Steve to be a part of the endeavor to bring back EABD to JU. It had been here before, but through a collaboration between a Dr. Snyder, Prof. Steve, and Dr. Michael Olson (who will be coming back to be a part of things again this year). For me, it will be challenging to direct my playing into such a controlled, yet sonically powerful, soundstage to interacting with a laptop as opposed to a few other acoustic instrumentalists."

The festival was founded by composer Mark Snyder, currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Business at their College of Fine Arts. "I started the first festival as a graduate student at the University of Memphis while pursuing my doctor of musical arts," he says. "At the time, there wasn't a lot of electronic music going on within the program so I figured the best way for me to see what was new and happening in the field was to start a …   More

the flog

“We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder” and it is a Protest SONG

 

Carrie Mae Weems speaks in a voice pitched low, as if she is sharing the secrets of a lifetime. It's a warm voice, a voice that speaks poetically of travels, adventure, novels and the works of other artists, always with a smile hovering just at the edge.

Weems is one of the most important living artists today. The recipient of the MacArthur "Genius" Grant, the Prix de Roma, and the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal from Harvard University among many others, she's been extensively profiled by publications of note and record, including PBS's "Art21." She is also the first African-American woman to have a retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum. Weems has a BFA from the California Institute of the Arts, Valencia; an MFA from the University of California, San Diego; and she studied folklore in the graduate program in Folklore at the University of California, Berkeley. Currently, works from her mid-'90s suite, Sea Islands Series, 1991-1992, are on view at the Jepson Center for the Arts in Savannah. The series is the result of the artist's fascination with the Gullah Geechee peoples of the coastal islands of the Southeastern United States.

Folio Weekly hustled up to Georgia's First City to attend the lecture that accompanied the exhibition's opening night.

In her discussion, Weems described the catalyst of the works: her disbelief when her father would tell her stories of this group of black people who lived on islands off America's Southeast Coast. A people who had their own language, own way of doing things and their own belief systems. She said that when she was a young woman, she went there and discovered he had spoken the truth.

She then spent about three years traveling back and forth between California and Savannah, developing this body of work. Steeped in photography wed to text and clay, the pieces seem to exist in a realm of storytelling between objective truths and dream truths. Doubling-down on this feeling are three recordings …   More

the flog

Salt: A Post Mortem of the 2018 AFC Championship

I think it's Thursday and I am no closer to peace or acceptance than I was last Sunday. I accept that the game is over and there's nothing that can change the outcome. I cannot make peace with how this game was officiated. To be clear: The referees did not cause the Jaguars to lose this game. Despite every miscue in scheme and execution, they still could have advanced to their first Super Bowl. New England, however, could not have won this game had it been called as it should have been. Every NFL fan should be disgusted with what transpired. Professional wrestling has more integrity.

The Post-Game Narrative: The "error free" Patriots took advantage of opponent's mistakes to stage a comeback victory. Second-half adjustments took the Jaguars' offense out of the game. The wall-to-wall pukefest coverage leading up to the Super Bowl will repeatedly describe Brady and Belichick as the greatest.

The Spoiler: Bullshit. The truth is "the greatest" were getting handled and needed every ounce of help a lopsided officiating crew could provide just to stay in the game. The Patriots converted three third-downs the whole game. The second-half story that won't be told shows large patches of grass where yellow flags should be. They are a well-coached team, but they are not THAT well-coached.

The Aftermath: I heard the same lines repeated over and over. "If you're the best defense in the league, don't blow a two-score lead in the final quarter." "Why just kneel with 55 seconds left?" "Where was Corey Grant in the second half?" "Why didn't Marrone go for it on 4th and 1?" There were surely missed opportunities.

But to see that stat sheet.

New England: Zero penalties on offense or defense. A disparity of 88 yards in penalties (which happens in less than 1 percent of all NFL games).

In the heat of things, I thought I saw some plays that could have been flagged. I needed to watch this game again.

If this is a top-graded officiating crew, how is this not a hit …   More

the flog

Flu’s CLUES

The text came at 10:44 p.m. "Go get your flu vaccine," she says, and here we go. It's winter in America again, which means that Flu Hysteria is once again a thing. This happens every year, as the alarmists and the anti-vaxxers administer verbal lashings to each other, all sides armed with dodgy statistics, launching volleys of vitriol, armed with stockpiles of stories from questionable media sources. But this year is a little different, in that there just might be something to it. Or not. I really have no idea-nor, it seems, does anyone else.

This year's flu follies occur against a backdrop of exceptional weirdness, as documented in the global press. The daily paper in Hong Kong, "The Standard," reported on Jan. 11 that the "flu has been on the rise in recent weeks." You never want to see the flu rising, because that's where your nose and mouth are; it's always best to keep it down near the floor. They cite Chinese National Influenza Center (whose annual holiday party, it must be said, is no fun at all), which counted 11,253 cases of flu, a 46 percent increase from the previous week's total of 7,730. Chinese state media reports that "medical organs" (no jokes, please) are being put on alert in case current trends accelerate.

Those numbers don't look good, but the population density can skew our perception of them. So how are things looking in places that don't have a billion people? Well, not so good. Scotland, population 5.4 million, has seen a 75 percent increase in flu cases at the start of the year. The BBC, which is generally quite reliable (unless they're talking-or, not talking, as the case may be-about the massive child-molestation scandal involving their own personnel) cites Health Protection Scotland, which raised the country's flu status from "normal" to "moderate." A 75 percent increase of flu cases in one week, and that's "moderate"? That, right there, is why we all love the Scottish as much as we do.

There were 107 reported cases of …   More

the flog

Kick A WOMAN When She’s Down: Tweeters Celebrate Corrine Brown Going to Prison

Former Congresswoman Corrine Brown is required to turn herself in to prison by noon today. As television crews wait outside the gates of Federal Correctional Institution, Coleman, the Central Florida prison where it has been widely reported she will serve a five-year term for her role in the sham charity One Door for Education, a small contingency is taking quite a bit of pleasure in her fate.

 

Here are some Tweets that caught our eye: 

 

 

 

Ain't humanity grand?

_________________

Update: Corrine Brown reported to prison. She did not arrive in the manner that this Tweeter seemingly preferred.

  More

THE FLOG

Sofar, So GOOD

People in the business of presenting live music typically take a maximalist approach to promoting, using every means at their disposal, from flyers to radio ads and everything in between, with modern times seeing a growing emphasis on social media, which has become both ubiquitous and indispensable in the music business. Sofar Sounds, on the other hand, goes minimalist, which you can see for yourself on Friday night, Jan 19. Or maybe you can't.

"Intimate secret gigs in 397 cities, all around the world" is how the website touts their brand. The gimmick has its genesis in 2009 London, when Dave Alexander played for eight people in a flat shared by Rafe Offer and the appropriately named Rocky Start. From there, things progressed faster than Tim Tebow's baseball career, and now "Sofar Sounds is a community of thousands of artists, hosts, fans, travelers and more, putting on hundreds of secret, intimate events per month, across more than 350 cities around the world," and a global staff of more than 60. There are nine core cities with full-time staff: New York City, London, Chicago, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Dallas/Fort Worth, Oslo and Madrid. Beyond that, basically all cities have hosted these gigs-and, now, even ours!

On Jan. 19, Jacksonville will become the 397th city to host a Sofar Sounds event, the third in Florida, after Orlando and Gainesville. At this writing I (having already committed to attending) have no idea who's playing, where they'll be playing, or how much tickets will cost-all of which is by design. I was sent a link to the event page; its delightful ambiguity instantly piqued my interest. All it said was that it's BYOB, which presumably means "Bring Your Own Beer," but, like a good presidential ad-lib, the meaning is left open to interpretation. You apply for tickets online, and your name is entered into a lottery; selected winners will get an email telling them they're invited, at which point they can purchase tickets for themselves …   More

THE FLOG

MYTH in Photography

On Jan. 6, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville unveiled Unverified, which showcases 17 photographs. Each image serves as a portal into worlds of myth, fantasy and unsubstantiated fact that can become tangible through a camera lens. The exhibition contests the idea held by the general public that photography is the most truthful form of art, which raises it above all implications of fabrication. The artworks featured in Unverified demonstrate that  photography is a medium that can be manipulated into a distortion of reality, questioning the validity of photography as an objective and unbiased mode of representation.

Within contemporary society, there is a persistent haze of uncertainty that surrounds the authenticity of visual media. Anxieties fester over which images denote some semblance of reality and which depictions have been so thoroughly augmented, they no longer seem real. The showcasing of unreal visual elements embedded in photography is a broad theme; each photograph satisfies the main conceit of the exhibit. The premise of Unverified can be said to describe any random assortment of photographs which create a pictorial fiction. Such a generic, all-encompassing statement renders the basic tenor of the show somewhat rudimentary. Photography is a medium of persuasion and this caveat is mostly neglected in the narrative woven for the exhibition. The inclusion of pieces which reveal the artifice of photojournalism or documentary would have cemented a more challenging view of photography and its dubious status as an unbiased medium.

Still, works of several artists hint at the complexities that lie buried beneath the core of Unverified. The collaborative works of Jojakim Cortis and Adrian Sonderegger question the validity of photography by recreating iconic imageries which have had their authenticity disputed at length in public imagination. Lori Nix's miniature-yet-lifelike realms of decay upset the notion of photos as tools for impartial …   More

the flog

Local father: SMOKERS do more for children’s healthcare than Congress

You don't see them as much anymore, but they're still around. They're huddled 30 feet away from the door of your building. You walk by them, holding your nose high. Just seeing them can make you feel physically and morally superior. These downcast folks are the only remaining group of people it's still OK to openly discriminate against: Smokers. If you think people who still smoke in 2018 to be morally challenged dolts, there is a group more deserving of your disdain: Congressional Republicans.

Whatever you may think about 21st-century smokers, they are doing more to fund the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) than any GOP member of Congress. Federal tobacco excises pay for CHIP. Congress allowed the funding authorization of CHIP to expire last year and now there's no more money coming in. Florida has enough in reserve to last until some time in February, then CHIP goes out like a butt underfoot.

Today's Children's Health Insurance Program evolved from legislation beginning in 1989 with the intent to ensure health coverage for all Americans. It has been the most bipartisan endeavor since communist containment policy. CHIP was designed to aid working families who make too much to qualify for Medicaid or welfare but cannot afford health insurance for their children. The fact that CHIP was made to keep people off welfare and Medicaid, as well as provide healthcare for children, is why it has received such broad, bipartisan support over the years through four presidents, from George H.W. Bush through Barack Obama. The bill's initial Senate sponsors were the (now retiring) conservative stalwart Orrin Hatch and liberal icon Ted Kennedy.

CHIP currently serves 375,00 Florida kids. As of 2015, 25 percent of children living in Duval-based Congressional District 4 were receiving CHIP benefits, as well as 31 percent in CD6 to the south, 39 percent in CD3 to the west, and a stunning 57 percent of children received CHIP coverage in Corrine Brown's former …   More