Friday, May 18th, 2007

New Times/VVM Sells East Bay Express

A former employee tipped me to this article:

The change could benefit readers by marginally increasing competition in a Bay Area print marketplace that has seen much recent ownership consolidation. Last year, the Denver-based MediaNews Group purchased the San Jose Mercury News and Contra Costa Times from the McClatchy Co., giving the conglomerate control of virtually every Bay Area daily newspaper other than The Chronicle.

Village Voice Media, which was purchased by New Times Media in 2005, owns SF Weekly and controls roughly a quarter of the circulation among the nation’s alternative weeklies. Other than using some of the same Village Voice Media movie reviewers and twice using the same cover story, the San Francisco and East Bay corporate siblings generally stuck to their respective sides of the bay.

Now, there will be no ties.

“This is a wonderful thing,” said Tracy Rosenberg, interim operations director of Media Alliance, a Bay Area media watchdog organization. “The potential for self-ownership and for journalists to enter ownership is terrific and exciting. It almost never happens.”

But, “A lot of questions remain unanswered,” said Yumi Wilson, assistant professor of journalism at San Francisco State University. While it is potentially exciting to have independent media ownership, “You want to see what new owners are going to do.”

Does this signal that New Times/VVM is interested in downsizing by selling off properties? Or is this a way for them to better compete in the Bay Area by minimizing their costs and focusing on the more lucrative SF Weekly? Will independent journalism benefit from a three-way competition in the Bay Area? It’s too early to tell.

One thing that’s almost certain–alt-journalist wages aren’t going up any time soon.

posted by @ 8:00 am | 1 Comment

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

Thank You Warriors

It was a great run. And nuff respect to D-Fish, you’ll always have love from the Town.

posted by @ 9:29 pm | 0 Comments

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

Eric Arnold On Why S.F. Rap Still Hasn’t Blown Up

The second great article in a few days on the Bay scene from a Bay writer. Yes, we still produce a lot of the best hip-hop journalists in the country–thoughtful, passionate, skilled to the teeth.

Here’s Eric Arnold’s piece on Messy Marv and why SF rap is still struggling:

while Oakland, Vallejo and Richmond have produced nationally known rappers like Too , E-40 and Master P, San Francisco’s track record has been marred by tragedy, violence and legal problems.

Known as Sucka Free City in the rap world, San Francisco has no shortage of rappers or independent labels. However, its artists’ close ties to the inner city — and, by extension, the tribulations of the ghetto — may be one reason it has produced a scant number of big-name acts.

“It’s so much pressure on somebody out here to blow up on a national scale,” says filmmaker Kevin Epps, director of “Rap Dreams” (2006), a documentary about rappers trying to break into the industry. “The city has had a sense of modest success in the bay, but when you think of national (success), it hasn’t really had that.”

It seems every time a San Francisco rapper is ready to break out of the regional niche, something bad happens. ..

Read the whole thang

posted by @ 7:31 am | 0 Comments

Saturday, May 12th, 2007

Air Baron

You got Kirilenkoed!

posted by @ 7:54 am | 0 Comments

Saturday, May 12th, 2007

Marian Liu :: Is Hyphy Over?

The Sunday Mercury News will be carrying Marian Liu’s article on the state of hyphy. Why didn’t it blow like it should have? Lots of Bay Area players weigh in. More multimedia and additional articles on the topic here.

Numerous interviews with industry insiders and the artists themselves have revealed strong agreement as to why the scene may soon be left for dead: bad business decisions.

When dealing with major record labels, artists missed important meetings, asked for too much money and were too entangled in previous independent deals to consider new opportunities…

One big problem, she explained, was that local artists were locked into messy independent deals that became a problem when the major labels came knocking.

There was one artist who signed up with three separate companies, Day says. “Majors were looking at him for different deals, but people kept surfacing and stopping the deal,” she says. This happens in other parts of the country too, she says, but the difference is the ability to strike a deal so that both sides profit. “Here,” she says, the smaller labels “are more interested in blocking than profiting.”…

posted by @ 7:52 am | 1 Comment

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

Jeff Yang on Angry Asian Men

My fellow journalistic Jeff _ang goes deep on the subject of Angry Asian Men. If Imus turned the table onto Black masculinity, Cho has turned the table onto Asian American masculinity. In this instance, pop culture and racial profiling and free speech issues are coming together in a much different way. Big props to Mr. Yang for exploring the subject in such a great way. A must-read. Here’s a taster:

One might say that it’s been an annus horribilis for the Asian American man. From the racist rantings of Kenneth Eng, to the conviction of Hmong American Chai Vang in the shooting of six fellow hunters, to last month’s horrific murder spree at Virginia Tech, events seem to have conspired to swing perceptions of Asian males to the point where any sign of aberration is being transformed into evidence that we represent a simmering danger, a repressed wellspring of vitriol and violence waiting only for the right trigger to burst forth.

Actual aberration, or imaginary: One of the truly strange signatures of the media analysis around the Virginia Tech tragedy is how blurred the line became between reality and creativity. In the wake of the murders, pundits provided line-by-line critiques of a handful of plays that killer Seung-Hui Cho wrote, trying to find within them harbingers of the horror he would unleash. They compared movie stills to poses Cho struck in his video testament, hoping to identify cinematic inspiration for his violence, and reported breathlessly on Cho’s love of computer games, even suggesting that he used them for “training” purposes.

The art-as-evidence phenomenon quickly extended beyond Cho: In Cary, Ill., on April 23, high school student Allen Lee was arrested for “disorderly conduct” and removed from school after submitting an essay that his teacher said contained disturbingly violent content — despite telling students that the assignment was to write a creative work depicting strong emotions, on which there would be “no judgment and no censorship.”

Around the same time, in Fort Bend, Texas, another Chinese American student was arrested and expelled from Clements High School after parents of classmates informed authorities that he’d created gaming maps based on the school for the tactical combat game Counterstrike. A search of his bedroom revealed five decorative swords and a hammer, which was enough for the police to declare him a “level 3 terrorist threat.”

The hammer may have been what sent the police over the edge. After all, such a tool featured prominently in one of the most widely seen images from Cho’s video “manifesto,” a self-portrait in which he’s grimacing at the camera and holding a standard claw hammer over one shoulder.

But the height of absurdity was reached with the controversy around the April 22 episode of HBO’s mafia epic, “The Sopranos,” featuring Ken Leung as Carter Chong, a mentally unbalanced Asian American youth who erupts in a spasm of violence. Comparing it to the Virginia Tech massacre, pundits called it an “eerie,” “astoundingly awful coincidence.” Media blurbalists wrinkled their brows and tsked at the “torn from the headlines” parallels.

posted by @ 7:15 am | 1 Comment

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007

Mark Anthony Neal :: "What’s the Real Reason for the Sudden Attack on Hip Hop?"

Mark Anthony Neal turns in a classic on This slams as hard as Baron Davis on Dirk No-game-ski:

In the context of these questions, we can also ask why the attacks on hip hop – and why now? That some people hoped to enact political retribution for the so-called victory of Don Imus’s firing, goes without saying. But I’d like to suggest that, more significantly, the current critique of hip hop is aimed at undermining the culture’s potential to politicize the generations of constituents that might claim hip hop as their social movement. After high profile voter registration campaigns in 2004 that were fronted by Russell Simmons, Sean Combs and others, much was made of the lack of impact that hip hop generation voters had on the outcome of the 2004 Presidential election. The hip hop generation, in fact, embraced the franchise in unprecedented numbers, but those numbers were obscured by the unprecedented turnout of religious fundamentalists who were galvanized by issues like same-sex marriage and threats of anti-American terrorism. With no candidate on the Right likely to galvanize religious fundamentalists, the hip hop nation – which has continued to organize since 2004 – represents a legitimate political bloc. With this political bloc comes demands for social justice, particularly within the realms of the prison industrial complex, the labor force, US foreign policy, law enforcement, the electoral process, mainstream corporate media, the economy, public education and a range of other concerns.

While there has long been criticism of hip hop culture from the standpoint of social conservatives, pro-hip hop feminists, religious groups, anti-homophobia activists and hip hop heads themselves, what marks this moment as different are the attempts to force mainstream black political leadership and Democratic Presidential candidates to repudiate hip hop culture (reminiscent of the pressures placed on Reverend Jesse Jackson to distance himself from Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan in 1984).

Emblematic of these pressures is a recent Chicago Tribune editorial, which asked,

“Will Obama scold David Geffen, the entertainment mogul who is one of
his most prominent contributors and who owns Snoop Dogg’s record label? Will
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton admonish rap impresario Timbaland, who recently
threw a benefit for her at his Miami home that raised $800,000?”

Asking figures like Reverend Al Sharpton, Senators Clinton and Obama, and Russell Simmons to publicly distance themselves from hip hop is a transparent attempt drive a wedge between them and a constituency that has both the energy and the creativity to galvanize a youth-based electorate in the 2008 election season.

The sexism, misogyny, violence, anti-intellectualism and homophobia that rap music traffics in is real – but it is also reflective of where American society is at this moment. Remove offensive and vulgar lyrics from rap music, and we are still faced with a society that is largely sexist, misogynistic, violent, anti-intellectual and homophobic. The real story here, is that as the hip hop generation(s) have come to maturity and begun to realize their civic, social and political responsibility, that there are many in the larger society who are disconcerted – and they should be.

Such is the reality of social change.


posted by @ 5:27 pm | 0 Comments

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