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Want to read my writing? Check People’s Production House

In order to simplify my life and give the company that pays me the full value of my work and energy, I will now be posting to my blog on the People’s Production House website. RSS feed coming soon.


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Flipping past Burns’s The War?

So the Ken Burns documentary The War has been running this week. If you’re like me, flipping through PBS these past few evenings has felt a bit like passing over the Seinfeld reruns since that Michael Richards thing.

At about the time the concern over The War‘s homogeneity in interview subjects was bubbling into outrage, my dad published a piece on the Burns brothers for the New England Review. My father has been a documentary filmmaker for more than 40 years; he’s also a great writer. I think this piece might be the best critique out there of the patented Burns style of filmmaking, notwithstanding the personal testimony of Latino WWII veterans.

He wrote the article pre-The War, ostensibly as a review of Ric Burns’s Warhol, but the first half is a thoroughgoing critique of the entire Burns body of work and its impact on documentary filmmaking. He uses the “Ken Burns Effect” now featured in popular video editing software as an insightful point of entry. The second half is also a great read, taking the Warhol film apart in some detail.

I recommend taking some time out of your Friday afternoon to read the piece.  You can find it online here: Eric Breitbart, “The Burns Effect: Documentary as Celebrity Advertisement.”

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“Trinity of the Holy Coasts” in Oakland (AMC Represent)

Allied Media Conference contributors Invincible and Climbing PoeTree will be part of the “Trinity of the Holy Coasts,” a remarkable multi-genre performance event in Oakland this weekend. You’ll see many other AMC organizers, contributors, and participants there, as well. It’s exactly the kind of collaborative efforts the AMC is all about. You do not want to miss it.

Here are the details…


Trinity Of The Holy Coasts

Brooklyn + Detroit + Oakland

A Night That Will Unite The Nation – One Night Only!!!

Trinity of the Holy Coasts (image by Alixa and Naima

In a move that is sure to make mountains tremble in the world of hip hop and launch a new era of tri-coastal artist collaboration, the most daring up and coming artists in the country have come together for a single event. Artists from Brooklyn, Detroit, and Oakland will bring together East, West, and Midwest into a blazing hot showcase of pure talent.WHAT: “Trinity of the Holy Coasts” a night of multi genre performances that will rock our world.

WHEN: Saturday, March 17th,

WHERE: House of Stormz / 1439 105th Avenue / Oakland, California

COST OF ENTRY: $5-10 sliding scale


  • Alixa & Naima a.k.a. Climbing PoeTree (representing Brooklyn)
  • Invincible (of Anomolies/bling47) and
  • Ri Ri Garcia, (both repping Detroit)
  • Tru Bloo (of NaR),
  • PLUS DJ Emancipacion (soul sistah’s kitchen/the W) and
  • DJ Black Ndalight (soul sistah’s kitchen, Dream EZ) (all holding down Oakland)
  • Hosted by Oakland’s Micia Mosely, comedienne extraordinaire.

    Alixa and Naima – A tattoo artist from Colombia and a gymnast from the back roads of Massachusetts, their powers combined they are the Heart Beat Soul Sister Artist Warrior duo “Climbing PoeTree.” Alixa and Naima have blazed stages from Oakland to Atlanta, South Africa to Cuba. They have led workshops in institutions from Cornell University to Rikers Island. And they have painted murals on walls from the Bronx, to Santiago, to Jamaica. Climbing PoeTree uses their art to expose injustice, heal from violence, and generate vision to help us all.

    Ri Ri Garcia – Redefining the word “remix”, Mariaelena “RiRi” Garcia is a renaissance woman: indeed. A vocalist, lyricist, drummer, producer and DJ, Ms. Garcia’s multi-talents have taken her to many stages. She has played for thousands at such places as the legendary Nectarine Ballroom (now called The Necto) in Ann Arbor, Michigan and most recently at the 2006 San Francisco Pride Celebration. Truly mastering the technique of “Reading the Crowd”, earning the moniker, “Rimarkable”, her style can range from everything to Dusty Grooves, New Wave, Deep House, even Polka, and to the dirtiest Hip-Hop. “If it’s got a beat, I WILL make you dance,” she says.

    Invincible – Detroit based emcee Invincible scripts lyrics to communicate both personal experience and a desire to affect social change. Through her clear delivery, witty wordplay, and conceptual songwriting she reminds listeners, you dont have to choose between style and substance. Though several labels tried to sign her, Invincible forewent the easy way to a record deal, taking the independent route, and in the hoopla XXL dubbed her “Every A&Rs Worst Nightmare” in a 2002 feature. 1/5th of the all female hiphop collective- Anomolies crew, she has appeared on the critically acclaimed Platinum Pied Pipers “Triple P” album, and most recently returned from a European tour with Bahamadia and Stacy Epps. Splitting her time between community work, youth organizing, and constant touring, Invincible is recording her debut solo EP coming out in 07, and full length album through Bling47.

    Tru Bloo – As a young Arab-American, poetry and songwriting became a significant outlet for Tru Bloo. She began performing at open mics at age 15, addressing various issues of societal discrimination. As the years passed, she became painfully conscious of both the beauty and hardship of being a queer and gender-variant Arab-American. In 2002, Tru Bloo started doing hip hop shows in the Bay Area, New Orleans, and Chicago. In late 2004, she met Bennu, her partner in lyricism, and they formed NaR. This creation was to be the first-ever queer Arab hip hop duo. (NaR says, “We give props to the queer palestinian-hawaiian artist Juha, who came before us.”) Their lyrical acrobatics come with honesty, rage, and healing. Tru Bloo is also an attorney who represents the local poor and homeless population in San Francisco, in order to obtain disability benefits.

    DJ Emancipacion

    DJ Black ndalight

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    The SEMI Blog Explosion

    If you know, then you know. But if you don’t know, Southeast Michigan is witnessing an explosion of thoughtful, radical, wonderful blogging.

    They are personal without being insular, political without being didactic, and readable without being chatty. Each is everything a blog should be and their numbers are growing.

    This post is my meager attempt to thank them for sharing and preserving their brilliant thoughts and inspiring experiences.

    For starters, Jenny just launched Greater Detroit and Rachel recently started For Lack of Better Words. Their initial posts about staying and leaving are really poignant. (Very much set my mood for a post last week.)

    Jenny and Rachel are both organizers of the 2007 Allied Media Conference, along with Mike, whose blog, omnicrisis, is going strong.

    In addition, wsoft.heart has exploded out of the gate, posting every couple of days since starting a couple of months ago, offering great analysis of prop 2 and updates on the work of the DAY Project.

    LucidAmbition, whose been online for a while, has reignited, making sense of his day-to-day on the blog.

    Kate doesn’t blog about the local very much, but she can (and does) go toe-to-toe on Irish politics with anyone.

    And, I have to say, blixx mixes his politics and cooking even better than Kat does, at least on the blog.

    Invincible offers updates through her MySpace on her peripatetic life in music and organizing.

    There are many more, like BlackatMichigan and The Upsidedown House, that I don’t know as well and probably even more that I don’t know at all.

    With all this, Brownfemipower still takes the cake.

    Many of these folks read early then-Michigan blogger Rob Goodspeed. And you shouldn’t underestimate the impact of the Michigan IMC experience on at least some (myself included) of these bloggers (just, as Chris Anderson argues – thank you, Chris – you shouldn’t underestimate the impact of Indymedia in general on blogging in general).

    But I think you can trace the SEMI blog explosion directly to BFP and the community she has helped build up with the Women of Color blog ring. Without her analysis and advocacy, many of these folks would probably have remained convinced that blogging was a medium exclusively for white men with inflated egos (like yours truly). Thanks to her work and it’s constantly expanding ripples, that presumption seems to get less true every day.

    The incredible and beautiful part of reading all of these blogs is how they are all so personal without a hint of the self-obsession that pervades the blogosphere. Everything is seen in context and the context is Detroit.

    They are also in conversation with each other, linking and commenting, in such a way that a real sense of the city emerges. I hear there are plans for a PhillyFuture-style project, aggregating blogs from the region, hosted by Critical Moment.

    I can’t wait.

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    Tonight: Public Forum on Media Ownership and Diversity

    There will be a town hall forum on “the Future of Diversity in the Nation’s Media” tonight, October 19, at 6:00 pm at Hunter College’s Kaye Playhouse, located at East 68th Street between Park and Lexington Avenue.

    In attendance will be the two Democratic members of the FCC, Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein. M1 from Dead Prez is also scheduled to attend, thanks to the work of R.E.A.C.Hip-Hop, which is asking people to represent for hip hop at the forum by wearing red. And Betty Ellen Berlamino, vice president/general manager of WPIX-TV, New York, will be there.

    (Does anyone else remember the Space Invaders-inspired contest WPIX used to host way back in the day where a lucky caller – usually a kid after school – made the spaceship fire by saying “pix” into the phone? Anyone who can tell me what the stakes of that contest were gets a one-year subscription to Clamor Magazine.)

    I don’t know if there will actually be a chance for everyone to speak at the forum, but if you are looking for inspiration, you can browse the statements from the now-legendary 2004 FCC hearing in San Antonio.

    Keep in mind that tonight’s event is a public forum, but it is not an official FCC hearing. That means, if you want your comment to count, you need to submit it to the FCC, regardless of whether you say it at the forum. has helpful online tools for that and other actions.

    The ownership debate comes in many forms. The focus of tonight’s discussion is the “ownership proceedings” in which the FCC will consider easing restrictions on cross-ownership of newspapers and raising the limits on how many broadcast outlets one entity can own in a single market.

    More pressing, at least in terms of deadlines, is the proposed merger between AT&T and BellSouth, which the FCC is currently reviewing. The $78 billion deal would yield a communications behemoth that would control nearly half of all US telephones with 70 million phone customers. It would also own Cingular, the largest cell phone provider in the country, including the spectrum controlled by the wireless carrier. The new company would also be a close second to Comcast in the broadband market, with 9.1 million customers.

    AT&T is trying to convince the FCC to approve the deal by promising things like $10 introductory rates for DSL service and free modems, which sound more like good marketing ploys than public interest concessions. Copps and Adelstein are pushing for more substantive conditions.

    For a gripping and detailed explanation of the status of that merger, I refer you to Harold Feld, Senior Vice President of the Media Access Project and his Tales of the Sausage Factory. He includes instructions for how to comment on that deal.

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    For God and the Phillies, both held hostage by Comcast

    Looks like Catholic sports fans are getting it from both ends.

    Last week, Comcast bumped the Catholic channel, which among other things broadcasts mass to shut-ins and the elderly, off of its basic tier and up to the more expensive digital tier. As with Comcast SportsNet, the cable giant is using must-have content to squeeze dollars out of its subscribers.

    Sadly, at the end of my two-week run as the Philly Future Featured Blog, only 13 new people have signed onto Free The Flyers. Worse still, the Nationals have taken away the best reason for us all to meet up at a sports bar. But there are 263 of us, so we should do something.

    Last week, I talked about the state franchising bill currently on the table in Harrisburg. Word is, the bill is stalled and might not make it through this session. The sticking point is “buildout,” with Verizon wanting to be able to choose where it builds and municipalities and consumer advocates wanting requirements to provide service to the rich and poor, urban and rural alike.

    Verizon is still pushing like heck, though, so phone calls from constituents continue to be important and useful. Prometheus Radio Project, usually focused on issues of radio rather than TV, is hosting a page that explains who to call and what to say about Senate Bill 1247 / House Bill 2880.

    Pondering how one might begin to compete with Comcast in Philadelphia, last week I ended a “meditation” with an imagined scenario in which News Corp purchased Earthlink.

    I don’t want anyone to think I see that as any sort of fundamental solution. Choosing between a bundled wireless partnership and a monopolistic or even duopolistic triple play is not a choice that transforms our relationship to our communications infrastructure, at least not the way community ownership or even true open access does. But any competition would weaken Comcast and thereby strengthen other strategies for addressing its monopoly.

    In fact, there are provisions in the contract Wireless Philadelphia negotiated with Earthlink that would give our city some protection in the event of a buyout.

    Minneapolis, on the other hand, just signed a deal with a local Internet builder that needs a large up-front payment from its anchor tenant, the City itself, to afford the construction. Becca Vargo Daggett points out in her response to the contract that US Internet must seem like low hanging fruit to an AT&T just entering the wi-fi market or to the rapidly-expanding Earthlink. The contract offers no protection against a change in ownership.

    Read more: Ownership Matters

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    A Meditation on being the Most Screwed City in the Country when it comes to Pay-TV, as expressed through my Inbox

    Thank you both for this information. The upshot is satellite providers will go out of business because they can’t compete with pay-TV providers that can also offer broadband.So there will only be two choices: the phone-video company and the video-phone company, unless you want to live on your cell phone. Right?

    So, in Philadelphia, Verizon and Comcast will ultimately be the only possible service providers. Comcast already owns this city. Verizon will only consider extending service to Philadelphia if they get the legislation they want from Harrisburg (where the House Consumer Affairs Committee is holding a “wrap-up cable competition meeting“).

    And even then they still won’t because Comcast is not required to license their local SportsNet to them, thanks to a special dispensation from the FCC. So we will have Comcast and only Comcast, with no end in sight.

    Is Philadelphia completely screwed?

    The only hope for Philadelphia out of this state legislation is a pledge from Verizon that they will build out the entire city of Philadelphia and a pledge from Comcast to license local content to its competitor. It’s far from my media utopia, but that seems like a fair exchange to me.

    Public access stations should be allowed to opt-in to a “local content license package” for all of the local channels, with the fee divided by viewer share, or to license their channels on their own. This would make a new line of revenue available that would expand if the station got more viewers in the first case or if it offered better content in the second.

    Rural areas are messed up for a different reason. The only place where satellite service has been growing is in more sparsely-populated areas where the wireline companies don’t reach. If satellite goes out of business, that option is shot. Without a cable, fiber optic, or satellite option, they are out of luck for TV and the World Wide Web. I’d love to hear what they want from the legislation to address that problem.

    Now that I think about it, there is a third option for Philadelphia: Earthlink WiFi bundled with DirecTV.

    (I’m told Verizon is already offering a bundle in Philadelphia that includes satellite TV. Has anyone else seen this? This might also be on option for fulfilling universal buildout requirements.)

    The problem is, that might work in Philadelphia, but DirecTV can’t survive on Philadelphia alone. However, Earthlink is building or trying to build wireless broadband networks throughout the country. So maybe Earthlink should just buy DirecTV. Or maybe News Corp should buy Earthlink.

    Uh oh.

    At 1:55 PM -0400 9/19/06, Harold Feld wrote:
    >My take:
    >At 09:44 AM 9/19/2006, lcintron wrote:
    >>As many of you might have expected, the slicing of our airwaves has been
    >>completed with the final results: US COs 1087 licenses to US Residents 0.
    >>To see the official release and/or listing of TOP bidders and/or ‘small’
    >>companies that they applied as, vist:
    >>NOTE: Link takes you all to a complete listing of who/whom/what as well as
    >>a map of the US that shows the areas of wireless coverage. For those
    >>attempting to address FCC concerns SAY TODAY IN AUSTIN, might be helpful
    >>towards low power FM as additional research.
    >>Thanks for your time.
    >>Louis A. Cintron
    >>Systems Administrator
    >>Texas Media Empowerment Project
    >>Activist mailing list
    >Activist mailing list

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