Thursday, July 9, 2009

Politics, Culture

I had not been paying much attention to New York politics, which has been roiling recently: apparently, the New York state senate is in conflict, with the Democrats and Republicans fighting over governance. The Democratic governor has appointed a lieutenant governor, Richard Ravitch, as part of a strategy to break the tie-vote between the parties (as well as have him preside over the senate). There are legal challenges to the appointment being planned or made.

Massachusetts is contesting the federal “defense of marriage” legislation said to discriminate against same-sex partnerships (its attorney general is suing in regard to the denial of federal benefits, according to the New York Times, July 8, 2009).

Sarah Jessica Parker is planning with Bravo a television series on obscure artists competing for a gallery exhibit, cash grant, and museum tour, according to The Art Newspaper. (It is rarely a bad idea to focus on good but obscure artists; and yet I cringe at the possibility that this project will be too much like other reality television programs that emphasize the worst in its participants. Apparently there is a concern for quality content and art experts will participate.)

In the July 7th Rex Roberts Film Journal International review of the movie Sacha Baron Cohen’s Bruno, about a gay journalist search for fame, the critic stated, “Cohen’s targets are so broad, there’s little sport in skewering them,” and the reviewer asked, “Does Cohen want to have his strudel and eat it, too, in the sense that he promotes the very stereotypes he purports to mock?”

I heard some songs from the music group The Mars Volta’s album Octahedron, and am curious to hear more: the music sounds spacious, and the singing wildly expressive. More on the music beat: The new album by the singer Maxwell, BLACKsummers’night, is apparently doing well in terms of sales (though I have read mixed reviews of the album, though I liked the single I heard). It is Maxwell’s first album in eight years; and Maxwell is one of the few neo-soul artists who seem to have returned (other artists making their mark when he did years ago included Dionne Farris and D’Angelo). Filter magazine has reported online that Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval will release an album, Through the Devil Softly (Nettwerk), in mid-September.