So much for the drum circles and troubadors whose sounds dominate most Occupy Wall Street encampments. Local alt-rock band Third Eye Blind penned a song that may become the definitive Occupy Wall Street album. Frontman Stephan Jenkins — a UC Berkeley valedictorian, according to the Huffington Post — references Scott Olsen, tear gas canisters, Zuccotti Park, and Occupy Oakland. In an accompanying PSA, he declares himself a staunch supporter.
And here's the explanation:
You never saw a guy in Dockers move like this. Pleated Dockers. Frontman Samuel T. Herring bounded and pogoed across the stage like a gymnast. He bent at the knees and the waist and pointed at audience members and looked them straight in the eye and generally danced like a man overcome throughout Future Islands' sold-out set of baroque, romantic new-wave dance-pop Tuesday night at Bottom of the Hill. It was a sight to see.
Good morning! Today, as you surely know, is both Veteran's Day and 11/11/11. This weekend is going to be magical.
The Soldier's Tale
Pairing Igor Stravinsky's visionary score and a French libretto by C. F. Ramuz, The Soldier's Tale is traditionally performed with a seven-piece chamber orchestra, three actors, and a dancer, or in recital. But since the work's 1918 premiere, artists from Frank Zappa to Wynton Marsalis have created adaptations. The latest comes from Aurora Theatre artistic director Tom Ross and former San Francisco Ballet prima ballerina Muriel Maffre; their reimagining premieres at the Aurora Theatre (2081 Addison St., Berkeley) during the venue's twentieth-anniversary season. Though classically trained at the Paris Opéra Ballet School, Maffre is avant-garde at heart, a quality Ross complements with his own free-spirited creativity. "We like to shake things up every once in a while," Ross said, and their Soldier's Tale certainly does, calling on actors L. Peter Callender (the Narrator) and Joan Mankin (the Devil) to dance as well as recite Donald Pippin's translated text with poetic cadence, and casting Maffre as both ballerina (the King's Daughter) and master of the life-size puppet that portrays Joseph, the Soldier. Not your typical holiday fare, to be sure. Yet there is joy and beauty in this Soldier's Tale: the Chagall-inspired design, the sublime performers, and the score. The Soldier's Tale runs November 17 through December 18, with previews Friday through Wednesday, November 11-16. See website for full schedule and show times; $10-$55. 510-843-4822 or AuroraTheatre.org. — Claudia Bauer
Smooth rap kingpin Heavy D — née Dwight Errington Myers — died yesterday at age 44, apparently due to respiratory issues, Vibe reports. The Jamaican-born, New York-raised, self-proclaimed "overweight lover emcee" was known for his narrative rhymes, breezy cadence, and crafty use of R&B backing tracks, thanks, in large part, to his work with New Jack swing producer Teddy Riley. He was the frontman of popular hip-hop group Heavy D & the Boyz, which released 5 albums during its seven year tenure — three of which went platinum. Listeners too young to know Heavy D's oeuvre surely know the work of his descendants, whose ranks include Craig Mack and Biggie Smalls. To call Heavy D an icon is no understatement. He will be mourned in hip-hop, and in pop music at large.
Happy November! Here's what you're doing this weekend.
Dwele and Slum Village
For someone who mostly sings about love and relationships, Andwele Gardner (aka Dwele) is actually pretty hard knock. At age ten he saw his father get fatally shot outside the family home. That childhood trauma, and the emotional wounds it generated, ultimately steered Dwele toward music. The singer said he began writing songs as a form of catharsis. He also played a variety of instruments (trumpet, guitar, piano) and listened to a ton of hip-hop. Dwele made his name working with the late producer J. Dilla and singing hooks for the group SlumVillage, though he eventually consolidated his career as a solo artist. His 2010 album W.antsW.orldW.omen drew influences from jazz, gospel, and R&B, and included political ballads that begged comparison to Marvin Gaye. Its lead single, "What's Not to Love," was beautiful and immediately catchy, bolstered by Dwele's luxuriant tenor. He'll perform with SlumVillage at The New Parish (579 18th St., Oakland) on Saturday, Nov. 5. 9 p.m., $28-$45. TheNewParish.com— Rachel Swan
The fact that playwright Brian Thorstenson based his new work, Embassy, on a Joan Didion quote should tell you two things: First, that it's high-minded, and second, that he didn't intend for it to be intelligible. Hence the bizarre plot: An ambassador on an unnamed Caribbean island is trying to remodel his embassy, right as the US government issues orders for him to redeploy to war-torn New Kazakakurgistan. And there's more complication, in the form of a boat of low-wattage light bulbs sailing in from Venezuela, a bat-guano harvesting operation, secret agents, mistaken identities, and someone called "The Third Man." Got it? If not, don't worry. The main selling point of this play is the character acting, which is singularly fantastic. Richard Frederick plays the likeable dandy, Ambassador Blundercart; Olivia Rosaldo plays his sassy housekeeper (and main eavesdropper) Carmelita; and Cole Alexander Smith is improbably convincing as The Third Man, whose entrance in Act II is preceded by Johnny Rivers' "Secret Agent Man." Gary Graves directs. Through Nov. 20 at BerkeleyCity Club (2315 Durant Ave., Berkeley). $14-$25. 510-558-1381 or CentralWorks.org — R.S.
With the publication of his new book of photos and essays, Occupants — which aims to illuminate the United States' relationship with the developing world through photos and essays — Henry Rollins has proven himself yet again to be a fascinating cultural critic and chronicler. He kindly agreed to an e-mail interview with the Express to talk about it all.
EBX: First of all, I should say that it’s great to get to chat with you, even via e-mail. You and I have the same birthday, so I’ve always wanted to thank you for giving your press such a fantastic name.
EBX: Okay, so, questions: How long have you been taking photographs? When did you get the notion that your photos could tell stories in a new and different way for you?
HR: I started when I was young. I took a photo class in school and learned how to develop photos in a darkroom. I took a lot of photos in my teen years, but never really worked on it like I have been over the last six or seven. At one point in the early 2000s, I started upgrading my gear and that was when I started getting very interested in really working hard on getting the photos to match the intensity of what I was seeing. It’s one thing to see something that moves you, it’s another to try and make someone else see it.
EBX: Much of the writing in Occupants is from others’ viewpoints, but some of it — the one called “Huck” that accompanies the boy with the painted face in Burma, the one with the photo of Jimmy Pursey in London, “This tragic moment…” — feels autobiographical. What was it about certain photos that inspired you to call up your own memories instead of getting inside the heads of others?
HR: Writing in someone else’s voice, for me, it’s an editorial. It’s a way to protest or be forceful with an opinion from a very different angle. It’s a very interesting place it puts me [in] as I write these things. I started doing that years ago as almost a writing exercise, to see what would happen; sometimes the result was nothing like what I thought it would be. There’s a bit of that in this book. Sometimes, you see something totally alien to your life and you can see something of yourself in it. Perhaps that’s what makes people go to art galleries. I tried to open myself up to many options when writing about the pictures. I had only done that once before in a book I wrote many years ago. Someone sent me a photo of a prom couple who died in a car crash on the way to the prom. I looked at the couple and started writing. I did a bit of that with Occupants.
EBX: Under what circumstances was the photo of the boy in Mali wearing a Bin Laden T-shirt taken? Looks like there are a lot of Westerners on the scene — tourists with backpacks and cameras. What was the event? And is the fact that the boy is standing in what looks like an invisible circle a lucky shot, or were people actually avoiding him?
And no, it has nothing to do with the Babyface ballad of the same name. Local White Girl Mob emcee V-Nasty apparently wanted to be famous for something other than staunchly defending the "n" word, so she reached out to high profile Atlanta rapper Gucci Mane, who evidently wanted to be known for something other than having an ice cream cone tattoo on his face. You can download the fruit of that love connection here, or stream it here.
Here's some dispiriting news for fans of the Comedy Off Broadway showcase, and oysters on the half shell: Miss Pearl's Jam House is temporarily closed, after incurring severe water damage on October 22. Right now the restaurant only offers a cryptic voicemail greeting to anyone who calls to make reservations, so we were unable to get a projected reopening date. But we'll of course keep you posted.