Monday, October 30, 2006
The Soul of A Chef: Marcus Samuelsson Explores the Tastes of African Cuisine
Marcus Samuelsson was orphaned in a tuberculosis epidemic raging through his native Ethiopia when he was just three years old. After finding shelter in a Swedish field hospital, he and his young sister were adopted by a young Swedish couple. He started to learn how to cook at the age of six or seven. He studied at the Culinary Institute in Gotenborg and at various places in Switzerland and Austria before taking an eight-month internship at Aquavit in New York City. He then took a position at Georges Blanc in Lyon, France, a three-star Michelin restaurant. At twenty-four, Marcus became Executive Chef of Aquavit and received a three-star rating from the New York Times.
One of my recent culinary regrets is that I never sampled the creations of two-time Beard winner Marcus Samuelson at the Minneapolis outpost of his restaurant Aquavit. Alas, Chef Samuelson has departed these parts to ascend the heights of culinary stardom and Aquavit has now closed and been replaced by some dismal substitute. Of course, he has not been idle, and recently has added another jewel to his culinary crown with the recent release of a welcome tome The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa. Samuelson's capacities with cultural cuisine are not limited to the African palate. In fact, he is most regarded for his exploration of Swedish cuisine (Samuelson is Ethiopian-born and raised by adoptive parents.) A powells.com review describes the new book thus, "Sharing more than 200 recipes from all parts of Africa, from Curried Trout with Coconut-Chili Sauce of Kenya to Braai Vegetables of South Africa, Samuelsson recounts fascinating stories of his journey across the continent. Beautifully designed in full-color throughout and featuring more than 250 breathtaking color food and travel photos, the book is ideal for readers who would like to explore the free, relaxed spirit of African cooking." I know I'm gonna be cookin' with this one for quite some time.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Essential Black Thinkers: Stuart Hall
Stuart Hall, a leading figure of the British left over the past thirty years and a visionary theorist, had made profound contributions to the field of cultural studies. Texts include: Resistance through Rituals; The Popular Arts; Policing the Crisis; Culture, Media, Language, New Times; Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies; Questions of Cultural Identity, Representation and Visual Culture: A Reader; and Different Contemporary Photography and Black Identity.
Following on my admonition from yesterday that we must strive to remain tuned-in to the whole of African diasporic culture, may I present here one of our (the very broadest of inclusions meant here) most important leaders in that regard - Stuart Hall. I am no scholar or academic, so I cannot give you a run down of his various contributions to cultural studies, semiotics, visual culture, Marxism, etc. I can tell you that he is extraordinarily passionate, lucid and engaged; that he chairs two of the most important Black arts institutions (inIva and Autograph); and that if you want to understand how Black and Brown artists, culture makers and peoples can and will participate in the great game of global modernity, Stuart Hall must be studied and understood. To get a taste of his glorious erudition, passionate eloquence and ferocious intellect check out the archived stream of a symposium at the Tate Modern titled: Black British Art: The Revolt of the Artists
Wikipedia excerpt: Hall's work covers issues of hegemony and cultural studies, taking a post-Gramscian stance. He regards language-use as operating within a framework of power, institutions and politics/economics. This view presents people as producers and consumers of culture at the same time. (Hegemony, in Gramscian theory, refers to the cultural production of 'consent' as opposed to 'coercion'.) Hall has become one of the main proponents of reception theory. This approach to textual analysis focuses on the scope for negotiation and opposition on part of the audience. This means that the audience does not simply passively accept a text Â— whether a book or a film Â— and that an element of activity becomes involved. The person negotiates the meaning of the text. The meaning depends on the cultural background of the person. The background can explain how some readers accept a given reading of a text while others reject it.
Friday, October 27, 2006
Saying Goodbye to the Queen of Kwaito: Lebo Mathosa
Singer Lebo Mathosa, one of South Africa's best loved stars, was killed in a car crash early Monday at age 29. "Through her music, she will be remembered as an icon, inspirator, artist, entertainer and as part of a generation that revolutionized our music industry," the ANC Youth League said, quoted by AP. Image: cover of Lebo's Jan 2006 release Lioness
It is an unfortunate truth that those of us living in the Americas as part of the Afro-Diaspora, barely register the cultural stars and achievements on the home continent. We are extremely self-absorbed in being Black Americans. Moreover, our cultural ignorance of even what is going on states-side is often ridiculous - as when this week a reporter on the streets of Harlem found so many young people who not only did not know Barack Obama, but couldn't pronounce and/or made fun of his name -- as if, Lashawnda and Taniqua are less funny. Oh my people...ignorance and conceit! So, it was particularly shameful for me to have only heard about the accidental death of Kwaito star Lebo Mathosa today. And even more shameful to have just learned about Kwaito in Nairobi this summer. We need to keep our eyes and ears open to the whole of diasporic culture: African, Brazil, Europe, North America...wherever. We must always seek to understand what is happening in the African Cultural Long Body - that continual efflorescence of Africanist arts and cultures around the globe. So, if you aint hip to the Queen of Kwaito, for ancestors sake and for your own, you best be learnin' quick. Even if her body is gone you will fall in love with her voice (which sometimes reminds me of Patti) and her spirit which, thankfully, will never die. RIP Lebo.
"Lebo Mathosa was renowned for her charismatic stage presence and natty dress sense. Aside from being nominated "one of Africa's sexiest women" by the men's magazine FHM, she was also a pioneer in the field of copyright for South African artists, having secured ownership of all the publishing rights and shares for her songs." from The Independent obit
Interview with Lebo Methosa on ArtMatters
Sample cuts from Drama Queen (2004)
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Painting Ethiopia: The Life and Work of Qes Adamu Tesfaw
I know it's tiny and way over there in San Francisco, but I love the Museum of the African Diaspora. The fact of its existence brings makes me a little happier about the world. So, just to keep up with the goings on in this little gem of a museum...here's an excerpt from the description of their new exhibition of the work of Ethiopian national treasure Qes Adamu Tesfaw.
At the age of 70, Ethiopian artist Qes Adamu Tesfaw is regarded by many as Ethiopia’s finest living artist, whose striking narrative depictions offer vignettes of the richness and variety of religious and secular life in Ethiopia, as well as scenes of important historical events that have given the country its identity. Grounded in the Ethiopian Orthodox tradition, his paintings are conceptually remarkable and aesthetically stunning. The artist’s unique vision is evident in the originality of his compositions and his striking color palette. Painting Ethiopia is the artist’s first solo exhibition in an American museum.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Oil and Blood Swirling Together: The Niger Delta in Turmoil
This week, Timothy Sowula writes on Open Democracy on how Nigeria is dealing with heated competition for oil. What should be an economic boon has brought on violence, economic deprivation and political instability. How the Niger Delta goes so goes the world, and instability there has contributed to record gas prices in the US and around the globe. Sowula lays the blame for the region's woes on the Nigerian government, oil companies and western powers fiercely competing for economic and political position. Is west Africa headed for another round of deadly conflict and environmental devastation while sitting on great wealth and potential? Likely.
Read up: The Niger delta: how to lift the oil curse?
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Snipes Charged with Tax Evasion
Blade star Wesley Snipes was indicted on charges of tax fraud and evasion and a warrant issues for his arrest in Florida today. Snipes is being sought by federal investigators after he was charged with allegedly trying to defraud the US government of $12m in taxes. If convicted, the film star faces up to 16 years in jail. The star also failed to file tax returns for six years between 1999 and 2004, according to legal documents filed in Tampa, Fla.
Wesley Snipes wanted over '£6.4m tax fraud'
Snipes Indicted for Tax Fraud
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
What did Condi know and when did she know it?
From Chicago Tribune/New York Times
CIA chief warned Rice, records show
Al Qaeda briefing held 2 months before 9/11
JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia -- A review of White House records has determined that George Tenet, then director of the Central Intelligence Agency, did brief Condoleezza Rice and other top officials on July 10, 2001, about the looming threat from Al Qaeda, a State Department spokesman said Monday.
The account by spokesman Sean McCormack came hours after Rice, the secretary of state, told reporters aboard her airplane that she didn't recall the specific meeting on July 10, noting that she had met repeatedly with Tenet in the summer of 2001 about terrorist threats. Rice, then the national security adviser, said it was "incomprehensible" to suggest she had ignored terrorist threats two months before the Sept. 11 attacks.
When details of the meeting emerged last week in "State of Denial," a new book by journalist and author Bob Woodward, administration officials questioned Woodward's reporting.
Now, after several days, both current and former Bush administration officials have confirmed parts of Woodward's account.
Monday, October 02, 2006
Oprah & Friends haul new advertisers onto XM with "most successful channel launch ever"
From MediaWeek: "Proving that the Oprah brand has the Midas touch in any medium, the (August 25) launch of the Oprah & Friends channel Monday on XM Satellite Radio has already begun to pay off in advertising, the subscription radio service said Wednesday. Along with returning XM advertisers AirTran, Honda and Rinnai, the 24-hour Oprah channel attracted several first-time XM subscribers including Acuvue, Crown Publishing, Dove, GE, Iams, JC Penney, Jenny Craig, SlimFast, Roserum, Snapple, Splenda, Target and Warners TrueFit.
“In terms of sales, this is XM’s most successful channel launch ever,” said D. Scott Karnedy, senior vp of sales and marketing solutions for XM, who added that clients are investing “millions of dollars.”
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