will.i.am: It’s a New Day

will.i.am: It’s a New Day

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The We Are the Ones Project: Portraits of Americans Standing for Change

We Are the Ones Project: Portraits of Americans Standing for Change

Photography by: Rob Gullixson and Rachel Casparian

The We Are the Ones Project

The We Are the Ones Project is a photographic essay documenting the enthusiasm and diversity of Obama supporters across the country. Specifically, it highlights average citizens and grassroots communities as the real stars of this campaign, by giving them a celebrity-style photo shoot at Obama events. Selected portraits will be exhibited in a New York gallery show and eventually published in book form along with Stories of Change written by the portrait subjects themselves.

Much has been made of the historic nature of Obama’s presidential candidacy, and even of the unprecedented individual and grassroots support for his campaign. What has not been documented, however, are the faces of the individuals themselves and the specific reasons behind their passionate participation in this process. This project hopes to honor ordinary citizens who are coming forward, not only to endorse Barack Obama, but also to stake a claim to the future of this country through their own personal and communal actions.

We Are the Ones Project: Portraits of Americans for Change

Music Audio: We Are the Ones:

Portraits of Americans Standing for Change

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Sarah Palin Sings “The Bridge to Nowhere” Anthem

Sarah Palin Sings “The Bridge to Nowhere” Anthem

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This is My American Dream

Dave Stewart Comments on Making American Prayer:

“Earlier this year when I was recording American Prayer, a song I originally co-wrote with Bono, the phrase, “When you get to the top of the mountain, remember me” seemed to take on a whole new resonance, given the inspirational candidacy of Barack Obama.

The song always contained one of my favorite passages from Dr. King, which was hauntingly delivered the night before he was assassinated. King says: “I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land!

People long for a connection–whether it is to music, to their country, or to a big idea. Regardless of what happens in November, Senator Obama has reminded millions of people that they have the power to connect to bigger ideas. He is, in essence, the embodiment of a new anthem for change. He has continued King’s narrative from what was once thought of as a dream to a reality. I find it especially relevant that Barack Obama will accept the Democratic Party Nomination for President 45 years to the day of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

When we were originally writing the song, Bono was crafting the words in a way that would make people think about the fact that ‘America’ as a concept was a truly great idea, based on the bedrock of equality. I find it more pertinent than ever to release it now; to the moment America finds itself in, daring to re-imagine itself and its place in the world.

When I set out to make a video for the new version of this song, I wanted to honor all of those millions of people, especially young people, who are, for the first time, feeling empowered to voice their beliefs. I wanted to capture how Obama’s message of change has echoed across the broad fabric of what is America. To do that, we’ve cast the film with an eclectic array of personalities, including Forest Whitaker, Jason Alexander, Whoopi Goldberg, Cyndi Lauper, Barry Manilow, Joan Baez, Macy Gray and Joss Stone. They appear alongside veterans, teachers and everyday citizens, all of whom have been touched by this simple idea of change.

As an Englishman, I’m not an expert in all the intricate details of American politics. But as an artist, I understand how rare it is to inspire a connection to a bigger idea or purpose. This video isn’t so much an endorsement of Barack Obama as much as it is a celebration of all those who have picked up a sign, who have registered to vote and are working to make the world a better place. So as Senator Barack Obama ascends to the mountain top, let us not forget all of the others who for the past 40 years have sung anthems of change to make this moment possible.”

Dave Stewart, American Prayer

Dave Stewart: American Prayer

Guests in the Order of Their Appearances:

Dave Stewart, Forest Whitaker, Amy Keys, Macy Gray, Jason Alexander, Colbie Caillat, Whoopi Goldberg, Joss Stone, Buju Banton, Ann Marie Calhoun, Barry Manilow, Linda Perry, Cyndi Lauper, Sergio Mendes, Herbie Hancock, Mike Bradford, Margaret Cho, Cindy Gomez, Speech, Joan Baez, Daedelus, Pamela Anderson, Peter and Gordon, Sierra Swan, Nadirah X and Perez Hilton.

Barack Obama with Joe Biden: Rally in Springfield (IL)

This is My American Dream

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Dream of Life: An Intimate Portrait of Patti Smith

Dream of Life: An Intimate Portrait of Patti Smith

Dream of Life: A Meditation on Aging and Mortality

Patti Smith: Dream of Life is a film that’s been 12 years in the making, a work that reveals an intimate, impressionistic portrait of a woman who is still blazing her own trail through late middle age, a woman who has seen and suffered great loss and who is perhaps the only major surviving connection from New York City’s Beat generation, to the 1970s Manhattan art scene, to the birth of punk, to the present.

For the most part, the film has been described as a paean to life, resoundingly joyous and elegiac, warm and vibrantly present, a collage of moods and moments from one immensely talented woman’s richly lived time on earth. Patti Smith arrived in the big city 40 years ago and made her first residence in a room at The Chelsea Hotel, which in those days was also home to William S. Burroughs, Jefferson Airplane, Leonard Cohen, Janis Joplin, Sam Shepard, Arthur Miller, Robert Mapplethorpe and some of the Warhol crowd. Patti soon became the muse, friend and partner of Robert Mapplethorpe, became a poet and then a performance poet and then an underground rock musician and then a rock star. She left the stage and the city to settle down in Michigan as a wife and mother. Then, following the 1994 death of her husband, the musician Fred “Sonic” Smith, she returned to New York City, to music, to poetry and to political activism.

Dream of Life is a beautiful and occasionally haunting artistic creation, a meditation on aging and mortality, an intimate study of an unusual kind of fame and the portrait of a genuinely remarkable person.  The film as received with great acclaim at The Sundance Film Festival last year, as well as in Berlin and all over the film-festival world.

The videos presented here include a short film comprised of  number of vignettes from the longer documentary, the official trailer of Patti Smith: Dream of Life and a short film about the Chelsea Hotel. Following the videos, biographic notes and a gallery of photographs about The Chelsea Hotel are presented.

The World of Patti Smith: Dream of Life

The World of Patti Smith: Dream of Life

Patti Smith: Dream of Life (PBS/POV Trailer)

Biographic Notes: A Portrait of One Woman’s Richly Lived Time on Earth

Patti Smith: The Early Years

Patti Smith was born in Chicago in 1948 and grew up in Woodbury, New Jersey. After graduating from high school, Patti did a brief stint as a factory worker, which convinced her to move to New York City to pursue a life in the arts. Soon after her arrival, she connected with the young photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, whom she met while working at a book store. This was a close friendship that she maintained until his death in 1989. In 1969 she went to Paris with her sister and started doing performance art. When Smith returned to New York City, she lived in The Chelsea Hotel with Mapplethorpe, and they began frequenting the then fashionable Max’s Kansas City and CBGB nightclubs.

She helped put New York’s punk-rock landmark CBGB on the map, at a time when New York’s East Village was becoming a burgeoning center of experimental artistic creativity. She organized The Patti Smith Group and in 1975 released her debut album, Horses, to critical acclaim. Produced by John Cale, the album was described as an original mixture of exhortatory rock & roll, Smith’s poetry, vocal mannerisms inspired by Mick Jagger and Jim Morrison, and the band’s energetically rudimentary playing. In 1976, Aerosmith producer Jack Douglas oversaw the Patti Smith Group’s second album, Radio Ethiopia, and the result was a more bombastic guitar-heavy record, tempered by the title cut, the height of Smith’s improvised free rock.

After an almost nine-year hiatus, Smith returned to recording with the 1988 album Dream of Life, the work of a more mellow, but still rebellious songwriter. Smith’s comeback album was co-produced by her husband, Fred “Sonic” Smith, with songs that included her call-to-arms, People Have the Power.

Grief and Mourning

In 1994, her husband died of a heart attack at the age of 45. Just a month later, her younger brother (and former road manager) Todd, also died of a heart attack. Her longtime friend and companion Robert Mapplethorpe had already died of AIDS in 1989.  Determined to carry on as a tribute to the encouragement that her husband and brother had shown her before their passings, Smith performed a string of opening dates with Bob Dylan in late 1995 and issued the intensely personal Gone Again in 1996. The album offered a potent mix of songs about mourning and rebirth, reflecting Smith’s belief that the beauty of life survives death.

But another eight years would pass by before her second artistic comeback, marked by a trio of acclaimed albums released in quick succession, which found her fighting her way out of a period of intense personal grief stemming from the loss of several of the most important people in her life. The documentary Patti Smith: Dream of Life premiered at last year’s Sundance Film Festival and is currently opening in theaters nationwide and in Europe.

Life in The Chelsea Hotel: A Documentary

People are always asking what it’s like to live in The Chelsea Hotel.  Well, it’s not always easy. There are times when you can end up feeling felt like a fly caught in a spider’s web, at risk of being eaten alive if you make the wrong move.

Life in The Chelsea Hotel: A Documentary

Audio: Bob Dylan/Farewell

New York City’s Elegant Dowager: The Chelsea Hotel/ Dream of Life

(Please Click Image to View the Slide Show)

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Grizzly Bear: Friends with a Bond of Care and Devotion

Grizzly Bear: Friends with a Bond of Care and Devotion

Grizzly Bear is a group of four forward-looking musicians, whose friendship reveals much more than just a willingness to share center stage with like-minded sidekicks. Their newest EP, Friends, shows evidence of a musical maturation that reveals a strengthening artistic bond between the four forward-looking musicians who, as their recent musical works make easy to forget, found each other just three years ago.

With appearances now ranging from frequent appearances in small East Village clubs, to national tours and performances throughout Europe, and even a recent critically acclaimed concert in Los Angeles with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, critics have said that Grizzly Bear’s music reveals an extraordinary leap forward in conviction and virtuosity that is practically unheard of. Their response to such acclaim might perhaps be best captured by the title of a song that Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste helped contribute to an album produced as a tribute to Björk: Possibly Maybe. Grizzly Bear remains playfully modest.

Grizzly Bear: While You Wait for the Others

Grizzly Bear: Two Weeks (From Friend)

Readers can access earlier articles that I’ve written about Grizzly Bear ( along other with music videos) here and here.

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“Wardrobe Malfunction” Fine Stripped: Timberlake Sings About It

“Wardrobe Malfunction” Fine Reversed: Timberlake Sings About It

Last night on ESPYs, Justin Timberlake performed a song about the legendary “wardrobe malfunction” during the 2004 Super Bowl. Coincidentally, this morning the Third Circuit Court overturned the $550,000 fine that CBS had paid to the FCC for the incident, ruling that the network could not be held accountable for the actions of “independent contractors” (Timberlake and Janet Jackson).

However, the court added, that if the FCC wanted to fine ESPN for Timberlake’s lame song, that would be okay!!

“Wardrobe Malfunction” Fine Reversed: Timberlake Sings About It

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