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Friday, August 31, 2012

Fashion Drive-by: on the Bull City Connector  

If we had a way to plot all our missed-connections on a map and post them for public view, they would be clustered around the hubs of Durham's mass transit. The bus, in and out of The Federal for a quick early evening beer on a Tuesday at six, rolling down Main Street towards the West End Wine Bar or Pop's or Toast or Whiskey or Dame's Chicken Waffles or any other spot where, despite the small metropolis feel of this, our charming little city, there are simply so many plush cultural options that it is almost impossible not to feel like a bon vivant.

To recognize the spirit, the vitality, and the importance of public transit, we wanted to shoot some of our fashionable Durham men, fully styled, riding the bus, in operation, a Fashion Drive-By on the Bull City Connector. We have a FREE bus, people. Cities this size, this culturally fly, don't have free public transportation. Surely, not in America. Oh, but yes, here in Durham.

The route wraps around downtown, Golden Belt, old west Durham, Erwin Road, Northgate Park, and a bus comes by each stop about every fifteen minutes. A free ride to downtown on a Friday or Saturday night? Sure, we'll take that.

Our wardrobe partner for this Fashion Drive-by, #FashioninTransit was Vert & Vogue, the environmentally conscious, gorgeous, high-end boutique located in Brightleaf Square. This shop features both women's and men's wear, but is one of the only boutiques in the area with such an amazing selection of men's clothing. It is no wonder they have won the Indy Weekly's Best Men's Clothier award, three years running. They carefully and personally select every item that comes into the store from their fashion partners, the result is unmatched quality.

Vert & Vogue and our Creative Director, Cady Childs, channeled a late sixties, laid back look with modern twists, like Raleigh Denim jeans and pants, handmade belts by De Palma and Tanner Goods. The hair styling was done by Emma Frink and Christina Pelech of Rock Paper Scissors.

And, of course, you may recognize our models: Cody Tyler, the face behind, Totes Codes, which hosts some of the best events and DJ'd parties in the hip Durham clubs, The Pinhook and The Bar, Joe Hall of Hammer no More the Fingers, and Jolo, and Ned Phillips, the filmmaker who created Lila's "Heart to Heart" and HNMTF's "Kilowave" videos along with Jessi Blakely of Jessica Arden Photography (who also is the photographer behind the Clarion Content's #FashionDriveBy movement).

Durham, the degrees of our separation just keep getting smaller and smaller.

The Clarion Content takes a ride on the bus. 

A Fashion Drive-by on the Bull City Connector...

Cody Tyler of TotesCodes, seen above, wearing a Steven Alan shirt, Raleigh Denim pants, and his own bullet casing necklace. Shirt and pants available at Vert & Vogue

Joe Hall of Hammer No More Their Fingers, wearing a Steven Alan shirt, available at Vert & Vogue.

Joe will be performing his solo project Jolo, Thursday, September 20th at The Pinhook, along with long lost Durham favorite, Violent Dreams. 

Cody Tyler, an event promoter, coordinator, and, oh yeah, art teacher, will be hosting his second annual DURTYQUEER dance party on Friday, September 28th, also at The Pinhook. 

Models listed from left to right, Cody Tyler, in Steven Alan shirt, Raleigh Denim pants and De Palma belt; Ned Phillips, in Steven Alan shirt, Protege pants and Tanner Goods belt, Joe Hall in Steven Alan shirt, Protege pants and De Palma belt, all available at Vert & Vogue

Ned is currently filming a top secret project with the Clarion Content and Jessica Arden.

In Durham and on the bus, work doesn't stop for Fashion shoots, it just keeps on rolling.

Joe Hall

Free municipal bus routes are a fantastic public service. The bus is an old school, kind of throwback, idea. It hearkens to an era when people knew their neighbors and front porch culture dominated. 

The practical personal benefits of taking the bus are legion, from decreasing the propensity to drive drunk, to saving on gas, to safety. The societal benefits of taking the bus are extensive, too. The list includes decreased pollution and traffic congestion, less need for public parking and hence more open space. The bus encourages a pedestrian culture that helps local business. People walk when they get off the bus.


This shoot was only possible with the fantastic collaborative efforts of the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau, specifically Lauren Parker, with Go Triangle dot com and Margaret McNab. Also a special thanks to Eric Waters, who also shot behind-the-scenes at the D-TownMarket #REFASHIONED, for assisting Jessica Arden.  

Aware of the Clarion Content's message that runs through all of our Fashion Drive-by's: Durham is what it is because of those who stuck with it through thick and thin, laying the foundations of the cultural renaissance that has people nationally referring to us as the next Seattle, Austin, Brooklyn.

Seizing on the message and the authenticity of Durham, the DCVB and the Bull City Connector folks, like the Clarion Content, wanted to highlight how closely interlinked we all are as members of our community. People don't have to preach diversity to Durham. We symbolize it. People don't have to preach progressive to Durham, we live it. People don't have to preach about the environment to Durham, do they?

Get on the bus, brothers and sisters.

The bus is about the collective, the we are in this together spirit, that says for us to be our best selves, all parts of the city, all of our citizens, young and old, black, white, Hispanic, and Asian, students, grad students, professors, transplants and natives, must feel included, part and parcel of this moment.

Duke, we know you are behind the Bus!!! And we're grateful.

Hat by Steven Alan, belt by De Palma, shirt by Vert & Vogue

Ned Phillips, of COZMIK PRODUCTIONS, directed Lila's "Heart to Heart" and HNMTF's "Kilowave" videos, seen wearing a Culturata shirt, and Protege pants, both available at Vert & Vogue.

Come along for the ride... Durham's a magical place.

Check out behind the scenes photos from friend of the Clarion Content, Ashlie White, here.

Check out behind scenes video, from friend of the Clarion Content, Seth Felder, here.

Keep in mind the Bull City Connector buses continued normal operations the whole time the Fashion Drive-by was being shot. Our special thanks to the bus passengers and the bus drivers who were all very accommodating.

And one more thank you to all those who made this shoot possible.

Jessica Blakely aka Jessica Arden Photography
Cady Childs, Creative Director
Vert & Vogue, special thanks to Tessel
Emma Frink and Christina Pelech and Rock Paper Scissors
Margaret McNabb and the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau
Lauren Parker and Go Triangle.org
Cody Tyler, model
Ned Phillips, model
Joe Hall, model
Eric Waters, coordination and staging assistance
Ashlie White, second shooter
Seth Felder, videography

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Franco & Frank 

Franco & Frank, "The Art of Cool Project Visual Collection"
at the Durham Arts Council, Seamans Gallery

This exhibit runs through September 7th.

The Clarion Content rates it a Do Not Miss!

Part of the vision and the brilliance of Durham's Art of Cool project was the implicit recognition that our era is multimedia. So that when they produced a series of amazing jazz concerts and events over the last year, they involved the visual arts community as well. And not just by holding their events in the LabourLove Gallery in Durham and the Flanders Gallery in Raleigh, but also by having visual art created to commemorate the concerts.

This exhibit is that output. Beautifully curated by friend of the Clarion Content and the Director of the Carrack Modern Art, Laura Richie, the show juxtaposes the modern technicolor posters of perhaps Durham's most recognizable young artist, Franco, with digital photography of the concerts by Frank Myers.

Franco's promotional pieces explode with verve and colors reminiscent of the Photoshop palette or the Crayola 64 box of crayons. Frank Myers photos, which he processes to a whole new form digitally, appear to sway with the cool, hip tones of the very jazz music they depict.

Don't let the crummy photos by our editor deter you.

See the exhibit through September 7th. You have no excuses on the basis of hours, the Durham Arts Council is open 9am to 9pm Monday through Saturday and 1pm to 6pm on Sundays.

And while you are over at DAC, check out Andrew Fullwood's fascinating sculptures on the first floor.

Andrew Fullwood

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Durham Fashion show: reFASHIONED 

Durham is so fly.

The first annual Durham Fashion Show...reFASHIONED 2012 video by Kid Ethnic starring a Durham-centric cast of thousands. Even more photos coming to the Clarion Content soon...
If you having trouble viewing this video check out the original here on Vimeo.

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Centerfest follow-up 

When the Clarion Content first wrote about Centerfest's rebirth in downtown Durham last month, it was with great delight.

We are still stoked!

LiLa will be playing here Saturday night...get your picture taken at the Clarion Content... photobooth right around the corner, all weekend.

At that time, there were still a few unanswered questions. Fortunately, our friends at the Durham Arts Council took the time to break them down for us...

What are the festival hours?

Festival hours are 10am to 6pm, on Saturday, September 15th, and 11am to 5pm, on Sunday, September 16th. While we are a tiny bit bummed that there are no nighttime festival hours, we understand where the Durham Arts Council is coming from, after a year off, have to walk before you run. Step one was moving the festival back into the heart of the downtown loop. Mission accomplished. Who knows what will be added to the arts celebration next year.

What about admissions charges?

Kids under twelve are FREE. Keeping youth enthusiastic about art and the community are at the core of the Centerfest mission. Readers will recall when we first started writing about the Centerfest rework, that almost universally, long time Durham denizens under thirty, had a story of a Centerfest adventure or moment they loved. Keeping it free for kids is part and parcel of making sure Centerfest is still rolling when it reaches its 50th and 60th anniversary.

The price for adults remains a suggested donation. This year it is five dollars. The Clarion Content reviles the phrase suggested donation. Charge or don't charge. And when you have something of this quality, in its 38th year of bringing it strong for the community, it is okay to charge. Durham isn't scared to pull a fiver out of its pocket, for a festival that brings so much art, culture and music to the table.

What about the music was another answered question. Centerfest answered that one emphatically. A deep roster of local talent will be playing on the five stages organizers have arranged. Headlined by a local musical sensation, the raucous fun and beauty of LiLa, capping off the Saturday night performances at CCB "Major the Bull" Plaza Main Music Stage.

And the word on the street is Centerfest managed to come up with all this musical talent despite the fact that Raleigh's Hopscotch musical festival, run by the Independent Weekly,1 put a hostile non-compete in all of its bands' contracts, banning them performing elsewhere locally within a month of the festival. For those of you, like the Clarion Content, hoping to see Durham hip-hop sensations, Toon and The Real Laww at Centerfest, this is why you can't. Boo, Hopscotch!

The roster of visual artists is also outstanding, featuring works of fine arts and fine crafts from our dear city, across the state, and around the country. Read about it here.

Kudos to the DAC. Onward and upward.

1It is getting pretty far in the distant hazy past, but remember when the Independent Weekly used to be pro-Durham? That was before they bought Raleigh's The Spectator and moved out of their Hillsborough Road offices. The Indy, perhaps chasing the all-might advertising dollars of Wake County, started blowing Durham off, looking askance and down its cultural nose at Durham, just about at the beginning of our cultural renaissance. The New York Times gives Durham more coverage and more favorable coverage than the Indy. As you probably know, last week they were sold to a company out of Portland, Oregon. It felt appropriate, because they had sold out a long time ago.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

The Great Durhamerican Pastime 

Clarion Content feature writer, Ned Phillips, aka the Cozmik Gangsta, travels down that oh so American road, "Memory Lane," with a Durham institution, our beloved Bulls.

New memories made fresh here daily...

The Great Durhamerican Pastime
by Ned Phillips

The Durham Bulls season is winding down and for the first time in six years, there will be no division championship or playoff run. On September 1, at 7:05pm, the first pitch of the last game will be thrown at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. So whether you’re on a first date or a last date, I advise that you get out to the ballpark, partake in tradition and enjoy one of the most exciting, affordable experiences our fair city has to offer.

Going to the Durham Bulls games are among my earliest childhood memories. Decked out in my Little League uniform, glove in hand, hoping to be recognized as an elite ball player (I stunk), I strutted about as if I was ready to be called in from the bullpen at any moment. My cool was shattered only by the occasional interaction with his hairiness, Wool E. Bull, who reduced me from big time athlete to giddy fan boy.

To make myself useful between fly ball scrambles, I’d mark every single pitch thrown on the scorecard included with the program. My statistical analysis gave me a sense of importance. I could understand the grunts and signals from the umpire while my accuracy and commitment to the scorecard made me believe that I was, in some small way, contributing to the victory. However, in time, I discovered the Bulls had an entire team of statisticians and it was, in fact, dorky to wear your uniform to the game. Being a mature nine years of age, decided I‘d rather be dead than caught attending the game in knee-high baseball socks.

By fourth grade, the Old Durham Athletic Park had become a stimulating social engagement. Suddenly I was more interested in making the rounds at the stadium, finding friends, meeting new ones and having as many adventures as possible became the focus of my evening. It was a schoolboy’s night on the town, the equivalent of, I don’t know, going to the club: there was excitement, danger and loud music. It was sensory overload, flavored with the intoxicating scent of the fairer sex and cinnamon glazed pretzels.

On top of providing me with situations to improve my interpersonal skills, baseball outings taught me simple economics. The old DAP was one of the first places I ever spent my own money. Coupled with a small loan from the Bank of Mom, I made my allowance go the distance at the Bulls game. I’d happily exchange a few crinkled, sweaty bills for some sweet drinks with varying degrees of slurpability. But the fact that over expenditure on slushies and funnel cake meant no cheese for a Flying Burrito made for a harsh realization that was never easy to swallow. The Bank of Mom’s refusal to re-finance was tough love at its finest, but as a result I developed a system of food rotation that Adam Smith would have appreciated.

The ballpark is a big place when you’re four feet tall and I began to see it as some sort of crazy American sociological experiment. It is after all one of the few places society has deemed it ok for wide-eyed, innocent children to mingle about with leathery old drunks. Who you are at school or work, takes a back seat to your status as a fan when you’re at the game. At this social crossroads, I watched the melting pot of people, absorbing as much I could about the complex mystery that is human race.

And what is baseball if not a metaphor for life? During our numbered innings on this earth we get a few at bats, a couple chances to do something great. Sometimes we strike out. But sometimes, with enough focus, skill and luck we get a hit. Maybe it’s just a base hit, one to get on and set the stage for later plays. Maybe it drives in a run for one of our teammates. Perhaps we even sacrificed a fly to get them there. And in the rare but beautiful instance that we really connect and send it out of the park, we take the slow trot; touch every bag at our leisure, reflecting at our own pace because we know who’s waiting at home to celebrate.

In baseball, as in life, remember that some things are out of your control. You can blame the weather, the crowd or the stock market, but they are only distractions. The details matter. A white lie, can blow up in your face, just as fast as a whopper of a tall tale. A tiny error or an inch can determine the outcome. But every day begins anew and new opportunities abound. Baseball internalizes the grand old saws, takes them as obvious re-affirmable truths, ‘this is the first day of the rest of your life’ … ‘a journey of a 1,000 miles begins with a single step.” When you come up to the plate your previous at-bats no longer matter. The mano y mano, confrontation, solitary pitcher, tiny, hard, white spherical object grasped in hand, batter, two-tenths of a second to decide, “Is that coming at my face, should I swing, is it outside?” Yet, there’s no time limit and until the final out is called anything is possible. Victory will be sweet and defeat crushing. Your team will be there to pick you up, win or lose. And something unpredictable happens every day.

Aside from the dazzling Ozzie Smithesque acrobatics that can happen at any moment a ball is put in play, for me the best part of baseball are those Ol’ West style gunslinger duels between pitcher and batter. Sixty feet, six inches. One on one, over and over again, for every Benny Rodriguez trying to crush homers and round the bases, there’s a Nuke Laloosh on the mound, breathing through his eyelids like a Galapagos Island lava lizard, straining with every ounce of their being to smite The Jet in the batter’s box. Like two samurai, this is a confrontation rooted tradition and precision. They have been playing the game for 150 years, and yet, today, a single swing can make all the difference.

There is a palpable mysticism that surrounds the game. How did the designer of the infield diamond know the average foot speed of the runners and throwing velocity of the fielders in order create the ideal distance between home plate and first base, resulting in so many close plays? How about second base, who foresaw that one-hundred and twenty feet was just far enough to create the drama of the stolen base? People in baseball always talk about “respecting the game”- the game is an institution, writ large into the American psyche and the narrative of our history and popular culture, bigger than any single player, team or individual.

Like me, the Durham Bulls outgrew their old digs and moved into a beautiful new facility a few blocks south in downtown. While the new, modern cathedral can hold a bigger crowd and has more places to park it lacks the romance of the old DAP (something I rediscovered there in 1998 when Clarence Carter performed “Strokin’ at the Blues festival.)

Now a full-grown man (by some measures) I still find that same excitement, the thrill and fascination at the Bulls games. This year, on opening night, I ran into the same crowd of friends I went to those fourth grade games with. They had on their crusty old Bulls’ hats that they’d had for God knows how long, the ones that only get worn out of the house on game days. We found some seats behind home plate where we could adequately taunt pitchers, belly-itchers and the visiting batters on deck. Close by a father was explaining the pitch count to his daughter and a on the other side of us a young couple nuzzled, oblivious to happenings on the diamond. I realized our slushies had turned to beer and we were now the beer swilling maniacs we had once been amused by as children. Feelings of nostalgic youth swirled with the realities of the present. And I smiled, because I knew for the rest of my life, whatever else is happening in the world, the Bulls will be playing baseball in the summertime.

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

What a weekend! 

Durham's Five Points intersection circa 1954 courtesy of Open Durham dot org.

Dateline Durham: If you can't find anything to do this weekend, it is on you. Not the community. There is so much going on, it could make your head spin.

Saturday morning 11am at the MotorCo... Let's get ready to rumble! On behalf of a school supply drive for local inner city youth headed back to school. Yep you read that correctly.

Local Durham hip-hop all-stars, Toon and The Real Laww, will enter the pro wrestling ring for the first time ever, to tussle with the tag team champions of Raleigh's GOUGE wrestling at MotorCO Music Hall. Also competing Durham's famous, all-female Mexican wrestling organization, ¡La Luchadoras! The acrobatic spectacle will feature numerous one-on-one matches and a few tag team bouts. Tasty treats from bike COFFEE/Cocoa Cinnamon available. Donations of school supplies1 will be accepted at the door. Sponsored by friends of the Clarion Content, Runaway Clothes and The Art Of Cool Project, along with PBR.

Also opening Saturday, "Colores" an exhibition of works by critically acclaimed North Carolina-based Latino artists. The roster includes Luis G. Ardila, Jose Manuel Cruz, Gustavo de Los Rios, Olid Garcia, Jorge Gonzalez, Eduardo Lapetina, Roberto Negret, Oscar Ortiz, and David Sovero at the The North Carolina Central University Art Museum, #1801 Fayetteville Street. While you are there check out the museum’s permanent collection which contains works by three major 19th-century African-American artists, Robert S. Duncanson, Edward M. Bannister and, Clarion Content fave, Henry Ossawa Tanner.

On Sunday, how about a wedding reception to top it all off? The last time this happened, Durham, we married ourselves. This time, it is an elopement. Bull McCabe's Irish Pub will host a party for The Elopement the literary debut of local author, mother and bon vivant, Dipika Kohli. It is a fascinating chronicle of her family story that runs from North Carolina to India to Cork, Ireland to Seattle and back to Durham. Since Dipika and Akira Mori, her hubby, didn't have a wedding reception, note the title of the book, this is the party. And you are invited. 4.30pm. Bring the kids.

1Durham is a community that gives back to its own. This is one of several drives for school kids in the city in recent weeks. The Durham Rotary Clubs and Crayons2Calculators put out public donation bins that garnered enough supplies to fill a school bus. Campaign 4 Change also hosted its annual Back to School Rally this weekend.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Art of Cool is all that 

and then some...

Photos by BWPW Photography.

The Clarion Content team attended the Art of Cool's One Year Anniversary celebration this past Thursday. We came into the room feeling pretty darn good about Durham culture, who doesn't these days in the midst of our cultural renaissance, we literally left floating, beaming and bursting with Durham pride over the fabulous work Cicely Mitchell, Al Strong and the Art of Cool team have done.

Photos by BWPW Photography.

Best news, you ain't seen nuthin' yet! This coming year is going to be bigger and better.

Ms. Mitchell freely admitted to the press that some people told her she was crazy when she initially proposed the Art of Cool project. Sure Durham has a vibrant jazz culture, she heard, but it is underground, the public's not gonna come out and support that---wrong, wrong, wrong. Durham loves its music scene and the Art of Cool has put a series of fantastic, top-notch concerts over the last year.

The proof is in the pudding. After producing over twenty events last year, most at LabourLove Gallery in Durham on our 3rd Friday Art Walk, and Flanders Gallery in Raleigh, on their 1st Friday Art Walk, the Art of Cool is expanding the program. The response has been phenomenal. A call for artists generated over 1,200 hundred applications from musicians all over the country.

Next year's line-up is going to blow you away. And the Art of Cool is opening up the venues too, with shows at The Casbah and The Broad Street Cafe, in addition to the galleries.

Featured artists include The Honorable South, a soulful indie jazz outfit from New Orleans, the Alpha Clef Project from Chicago, Jon Irabagon, a renown saxophonist and winner of the prestigious Thelonius Monk Award in 2008. Of course, the Art of Cool hasn't forgotten Durham. They will be bringing you from the local scene, friends of the Clarion Content, Toon and The Real Laww in a special setting with a full backing band(!) and North Carolina Central University vocals professor, the graceful and talented, Lenora Zenzalai Helm.

Stay tuned for more soon in these pages on the Art of Cool's amazing visual output from the first year. Or check it out yourself! See the exhibit at the Durham Arts Council on Morris Street, Franco and Frank Myers a collaborative effort.

And keep your eye out for news about the Durham Jazz Festival that the Art of Cool is bringing together in 2012-13.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sketchy story 

Long time readers know, the Clarion Content always has our radar on for any signs of police malfeasance. This is because the police in many places continue to espouse an ethic that is less "protect and serve" and more "enforcement." This combined with our philosophical distrust for government and the terrible imbalance in the power dynamic between cops and citizens makes us hyper-alert.

One such story crossed our scopes this weekend and the peripherals stink to high heaven. There is as yet no evidence of police wrongdoing, just a lot of smoke and suspicions. Here is the lowdown.

Chavis Carter, a twenty-one year-old African-American male was in a car stopped by police in Jonesboro, Arkansas on suspicion of smoking marijuana.1 He was with with two other people. Cops released both of the other folks and detained Carter after discovering weed on his person and that he had an arrest warrant in Mississippi.2

Police searched Carter twice to find the pot, but did not find a gun. A police car's videotape of the events shows Carter lead toward the patrol cars and then out of the frame. A police report says Carter was placed in the second patrol car without handcuffs, though the video doesn't show that.

As NPR notes, "the other officer searches the driver and remaining passenger, who then stand in front of the first patrol car. The officer who searched Carter asked them where the rest of the marijuana was because he found some on Carter. The driver and other passenger are handcuffed and led out of the frame, too. Eventually, they appear without handcuffs and the officers let them leave."

The patrol car's video cuts off at that point.

Police reports indicate that Carter subsequently had his hands cuffed behind his back and was stuffed into a Jonesboro Police crusier.

A second batch of police video begins as police light flickers on an empty stretch of road. A dog barks and a white SUV turns around a ways down the street.

Suddenly, an unseen man curses and shortly after he says, "He was breathing a second ago." An ambulance pulls up and someone, perhaps the same man, says, "I patted him down. I don't know where he had it hidden."

Later, someone instructs the others to leave everything as it is.

The video goes on to show an officer cordoning off the area with police tape. Two people can be seen looking on, but they leave after interacting briefly with an officer.

Carter is not shown in that video.

Carter was quite likely already dead. The cops story, he concealed a gun from them, despite being searched twice, and shot himself in the head in the back of the car, despite his hands being cuffed behind his back.3

CBS News reports, "Carter's family and others have questioned the police story, claiming that Carter was not suicidal."

CBS News also notes the autopsy report released after the incident indicated that Carter tested positive for methamphetamine use and a trace amounts of oxycodone.

Clearly there were a lot of issues in play. The police have a difficult and dangerous job. One has to wonder how much the psychology that places "enforcement" on a higher plane than "protect and serve" had to do with the death of this young man.

The cops later released a reenactment video that shows an officer being cuffed, then sitting in the back seat of a police cruiser, retrieving a fake gun from his pants, and bringing the barrel to his right temple.

In a society where Abner Louima was brutally sodomized with a stick while inside a Brooklyn police station, Amadou Diallo was shot 41 times by police while reaching for his wallet in a doorway in the Bronx, and Arthur McDuffie4 died of police-administered skull fractures at a hospital in Miami after a traffic stop showed him driving with a suspended license, we worry.

We do not have the answers, but we surely hope they come to light.

1Can we decriminalize already?? How many more young men have to die or rot in prison over weed?!?

2Of course, need we even note, it was drug related...

3Did you know, despite being left-handed and handcuffed, Carter managed to shoot himself in the right temple?

4Five white cops, one black man. Ask Rodney King. And the list goes on and on. Read more examples here in the Baltimore-Sun.

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Meet the new boss, same as the old boss 

There are those it makes awful mad to hear the Clarion Content excoriate Barak Obama1 for the lack of change we have seen in the last four years. This video clip is a reminder, that it is not so much President Obama as it is the institutional barriers, blockades and outright resistance from The Establishment2 that makes real change so difficult.3

Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, Representative Alan Grayson of Florida and the Inspector General of the Federal Reserve, on where your tax dollars have gone.

1Fortunately, Representative Akin is out there in Missouri to remind our editors, no matter how tempting some of their minimalist vision of government might be, their social mores haven’t changed since the Inquisition. Romney’s V.P. nominee, Paul Ryan, co-sponsored a bill with Akin last year, that would have banned abortion except in cases of forcible rape, incest or the mother’s life was in-danger. Making the all important Evangelical Republican distinction between rapes where the victim invited it and “true” rapes. Unclear on where that slippery slope leads? Watch “The Accused,” starring Jodie Foster.

2The Man, the lifers in unelected positions of power, the holders and controllers of great and institutional wealth. Not that their secretive or unresponsive, but on Federal Reserve dot gov, one notes they have not revised the section headed "Purposes and Functions" since 2005, since ya know, like nothing of note has happened since then.

3Incidentally, The Man was who the Fed bailed out while the rest of us sucked on the carbon-monoxide filled tail pipe of The Great Recession. The bankers sure are taking it hard.

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Bad crash 

While this is probably less scary to most of our readers than our story the other day about the flight out of Newark Airport that lost an engine in a fireball on takeoff Saturday night, it is a chilling sight.

Nascar veteran, Mark Martin, gets caught up in traffic and there is a spinout in front of him. He is collected in the crash, and his car whips on to pit row. The angle is so odd and so atypical, that suddenly he is in severe danger. The back entrance to pit row, the way the drivers go behind the pit wall is not padded. It is a concrete abutment. Martin smashes into it hard, just behind the driver's seat. At the 1 minute 30 second mark of the video, you can see oil shoot from underneath the car.

Martin walked away, very lucky he wasn't a fireball.

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Scary Flight 

A United Boeing 757 like the one that blew an engine on take-off from Newark Airport Saturday night...

It wasn't quite this wild of a ride, but passengers on United Flight 96 out of Newark Sauturday night bound for Berlin got quite a scare.

Initial reports indicate, a tire on the plane's landing gear blew on takeoff and debris was sucked through one of the engines, passers-by on the NJ Turnpike described it to the Newark Star Ledger, "as flames shooting out from under the wings."
"We looked a little closer and there were fireballs coming out from under one of the wings. We heard a popping sound coming from the engine. It was a pretty scary sight, I’ve never seen anything like that in my life," said Keisha Thomas.
The pilots never lost their cool. Operating down an engine, in a plane that could not dump its full fuel load, they circled over central New Jersey at 4,000 feet for more than two hours to burn off excess jetfuel.

It had to be one scary ride. Emergency trucks lined the runway for the plane's return. Fortunately, it landed safely and no one was hurt.

Read the transcript of the pilot's conversation with air traffic control here.


Base Election 

Does this guy bring enough of...

this to the table for Romney to win?

The Clarion Content agrees with the Washington Post that the 2012 Presidential Election winner will be the candidate that does a better job turning out the party base. It is ironic because President Obama's win in 2008 was carried by first time voters and folks who have not always voted in the past.

We agree with the Post that so much of the country already has their mind made up, be it, for or against Obama, that this means there are very few undecided voters for either campaign to win. The nation has been polarized since the middle of the Clinton presidency; and if anything it has been getting increasing polarized.

It is for precisely this reason that Mitt Romney's selection of Wisconsin Representative, Paul Ryan, as his Vice-Presidential nominee was so worrying.1 Romney is a pantywaist who will say and do anything to win an election. He has been on both sides of the abortion debate, both sides of the gay marriage debate, both sides of the bank bailout, and enacted the law that Obama-care is based on, that he is now campaigning against.2

Ryan, on the other hand, is a red meat eater, who makes no bones about his intention to gut the government like a fish.3 While he isn't a Tea Partier, the budget he wrote reads like one. He is running the Barry Goldwater playbook that dictates the easiest way to decrease the size of the government is to starve it of funding.

Ryan may energize a conservative Republican base that has been, at best lukewarm, and at worst ready for insurrection, over the Romney nomination. Earlier in the campaign season, leading conservative voice,4 Bill Kristol, compared the Romney campaign to the trainwrecks led by Michael Dukakis in 1988, and John Kerry in 2004.

Can Ryan get the train back on the tracks?5

1We did find it interesting that Ryan, perhaps seeing the writing on the wall, is also still running for his Wisconsin seat.

2We would never endorse such a soulless strawman. One reason we opposed King George the II from before he is first day in office, was he was far too vacuous to have any idea what policies he supported. The Clarion Content fears the strawman and the pawn far more than the true ideologue. The true ideologue can be opposed on policy and shown to be what he or she is. The shapeshifter, the moving target, or the puppet run by his handlers can be harder to fight. Note, all this is in reference to after the president is elected.

3Ironically, if he had the balls and the intellectual consistency to oppose the bloated military industrial complex the government is handing our tax dollars over to, the Clarion Content agrees with him in other places. For example, America must gradually raise the age requirements for Social Security. Medicare must be reformed. Government waste is massive and maddening (and greatest in the DOD). However, his opposition to Pell Grants and Food Stamps could be described as somewhere between short-sighted and cruel (especially, while supporting continued tax breaks for the very richest Americans).

4Kristol is far less influential with the average conservative voter than say Rush Limbaugh, but he is major power broker at 31337 level. He had the Dick's ear throughout the reign of King George the II.

5Our view has been unchanged for several months; while it might be close-ish in the popular vote, President Obama will win the electoral college comfortably. Of course, a European bank run, an act of terror or $4/gallon gasoline could change the equation. The coming shock to food prices won't kick in until Obama's second term.

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Fashion Drive-by: The Intern 

The Clarion Content presents our latest Fashion Drive-by...

Bohemian Redneck style

Models Giulia Lopomo and Emily Butler. All clothing and accessories from the Gypsy Witch Collective. Hair by Angela Goldman and Kara Pezzimenti.

At Clarion Content, one of our favorite things about Durham is our city culture mingled with the neighborhood feel of a small town. One way that theme reoccurs is in the degrees of separation rule. The standard saying calls it the "Six degrees of separation rule." In Durham, even with more than 230,000 residents, normally there is no more than about two and a half degrees of separation.

Our summer Fashion Drive-By, shot by Katie Davidson, intern extraordinaire, is a prime example of what the culmination of such a tight knit creative community can result in.

Ms. Davidson came to our attention at the grand opening of Liberty Arts new location; at the Cordoba Center for the Arts. Liberty Arts, friends of the Clarion Content, is non-profit artist collaborative sculpture studio and foundry, and it just so happens we were speaking with a member of their board, when up walked a beautiful, statuesque, strawberry-blonde haired woman.

Ms. Davidson, Katie, as she introduced herself, was a soon to be graduating senior at Durham Academy. She won the Senior Photography Award there, and has been interested in fashion and photography since childhood. She needed a place to do her senior year internship, had heard of the Clarion Content, and sought us out. It sounded like a match made in heaven.

So step one, Durham-style, turn around at a grand opening of a fabulous artists' studio and bump into a talented, driven, youthful photographer who wants to work with our team.1

Giulia Lopomo and Emily Butler top photo; bottom photo, Emily Butler

Step two, in our it is barely two and a half degrees of separation in this town, the Gypsy Witch Collective. True, they are based in Carrboro2, but we met them in Durham, through the auspices of Kala Wolfe and the dtown Market of Durham, at MotorCo first and third Sundays.

Gypsy Witch Collective is three young women, River Takada-Capel, Andrea Iacobucci, Buffy Maske, combining their iconic and unique styles to create a collection of up-cycled clothing, jewelry, and accessories. The theme of this Fashion Drive-by is "Bohemian Redneck." Much like the shoots themselves, in which we seek to highlight the often arbitrary contrasts and interplay, between high and low fashion, high and low culture, here in Durham, we find that they, like the fabric of our town, are interwoven, inseparable.

Everything Gypsy Witch creates is made from found, second-hand materials, and reads like a high-fashion editorial piece. It is something so rarely successfully executed in the remade fashion world, yet they pull it off over and over again. Tie-dyed fabrics, fringed tops, and studs work with the collective’s one of a kind, hippie couture inspired jewelry.

The fabulous duo of Angela Goldman and Kara Pezzimenti styled the models hair into edgy, modern plays on classic ponytails and braids. What better way to embrace our southern soul than taking the girls into the country to get a little bit more rock and roll? Shot on location, at a gorgeous farm on Lawrence Road just outside of Durham, at the home of Ms. Davidson’s close friend, Maggie Coates,3 we couldn’t have asked for a more whimsical but genuine spot.

The true definition of 'bohemian' is malleable and in the eye of the beholder. It therefore can refer to many strands of time, many of the alternative ways artists have looked at the world, usually it signifies coming from an outsider or unconventional viewpoint.

The result of so many creative partners in the melting pot of our Fashion Drive By’s is they are only getting better and better. Durham, we're grateful! We could not do it without you. Be on the look out for our shoot on the bus, The Bull City Connector, in these pages soon.

Feast your eyes on these beauties. Models Emily Butler and Giulia Lopomo. All clothing and accessories by and available for sale from the Gypsy Witch Collective. All photos by Katie Davidson.

Trouble and fun live right next door.

On the road back to Durham.

See even more photos here on BWPW photo4.

1Durham culture rocks. Durham is dank.

2Correction. Correction. The Gypsy Witch has moved to Durham.

3There are those two and a half degrees of separation again, this time providing us with a sweet location to shoot.

4BWPW Photo graciously served as our second shooter on this Fashion Drive-by.

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President Obama likes softballs 

No pun intended.1 Get your mind out of the gutter.

The Clarion Content, like our friends at the Blue Pyramid, has been frustrated with the level of discourse in the 2012 Presidential campaign. Ad hominem attacks have dominated. Despite some significant policy differences between the two major party candidates, the focus has been on personal and side issues, Romney's taxes and his dog, Obama Chicago cronies and his wife's fashion choices.

Neither candidate is willing to take responsibility for this continued debasing of American political discourse. The White House press corps, an inside baseball organization, if there ever was one, feels that part of this lack of substantial dialogue can be blamed on President Obama's predilection for seeking out softball interviews.

Politico notes, the last time the President gave a press conference, "Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes were together, and Lebron James had still not won an NBA Championship." Both King George the II and President Clinton had given more than twice as many press conferences by this point in the election cycle as Obama has.

However, as the White House press corps has noted, this isn't because President Obama refuses to talk to the media. Last week, President Obama spoke with Carlos, Kiki and Danny on KOB-FM, Big Ken and Colleen on Star 102.5, People magazine, and "Entertainment Tonight." He weighed on such heavy topics as his favorite work-out songs and his ideal super power.2

Inane? Perhaps. But even Republican strategists concede it may be effective. Politico quotes former George W. Bush spokesman, Trent Duffy, "I think just think it comes down to their overall strategy, which is to be low risk, to play it safe. They feel like they’re ahead and there’s no need to put the president in a position where he makes a mistake.

President Obama defended himself, telling ET, "What the American people hear and what the press corps want to focus on are two very different things."

His campaign spokesperson was equally blunt, "People get their news in many different ways. Sometimes it’s turning on ‘Entertainment Tonight’ and seeing what the latest news is out there."

So much for elevated discourse. Read the full story here.

1Come on, have a little respect. Besides soft balls would be two words.

2He chose speaking any foreign language, although he noted, "the whole flying thing is pretty good."

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Durham Dodgeball starts Wednesday 

Full disclosure, the Clarion Content is helping promote the co-ed Durham Adult Dodgeball1 League this year. And while we don't want to get drilled in the head,2 even by what the organizers assure us is halfway between a nerf ball and a volleyball, it looks like it would be fun for you.

You can register all the way up until the start of the first games of the season, Wednesday night, by emailing Cindy@kickball.com.

It is co-ed and twenty-one plus. Our old friends at Devine's Sports Bar are sponsoring the after parties.

Here are some pictures of the exhibition game that took place last week.

Oh yeah.

Photos graciously provided to the Clarion Content by Alicia Towler.

Photos graciously provided to the Clarion Content by Alicia Towler.

Photos graciously provided to the Clarion Content by Alicia Towler.

Photos graciously provided to the Clarion Content by Alicia Towler.

1Dodgeball is just that hip kind of Durham thing; but don't worry, you won't get sent to the principal's office like the LiLa guys.

2Kidding. Headhunting is against the rules.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Art of Cool turns One 

The Art of Cool Project, which presents monthly concerts in LabourLove Gallery in Golden Belt, was the brainchild of Cicely Mitchell and trumpeter Al Strong. The After Hours Concert Series, 3rd Fridays, has done much to raise awareness about the vibrant Durham jazz scene.

Mitchell has done an amazing job networking, forming partnerships with the local arts community. Tonight the Art of Cool Project celebrates turning one with a benefit concert at the Cotton Room, at #807 East Main Street. There will be a press conference beforehand where next year's performers will be announced.

The concert will feature Orquesta GarDel and Soul Understated.

The selection committee included some of Durham’s most famous musicians and some of our legion of arts and culture innovators.

Don't miss it. The Clarion Content team will be there in force.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

NC Cow Parade coming this Saturday 

The NC Cow Parade hits Durham this Saturday. North Carolina's largest public art exhibition this year has chosen Durham as the kickoff spot to start the party. Over eighty, nearly life-size, bovines decorated by local artists will be on display from 10am to 4pm at Goldenbelt.

Blank cows await their artists...

Worried about parking or finding a designated driver? Remember you can take the Bull City Connector to Goldenbelt for FREE!

Friends of the Clarion Content, "Bango Shooty" will be providing the musical entertainment, along with local up and comers, "The Shy Guys." Of course, local institutions, The Scrap Exchange and Liberty Arts will also be open at the Cordoba Center for the Arts Saturday.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Love/Hate, Private/Public, Inside/Outside, Gay/Straight: LGBTQ Art in North Carolina 

"Love/Hate, Private/Public, Inside/Outside, Gay/Straight: LGBTQ Art in North Carolina" is open in the Durham Arts Place, Upstairs Gallery, #305 East Chapel Hill Street, inside the downtown loop. This fabulous little gallery is usually by appointment only, call 1.919.491.4625.

This week the gallery will be hosting a free opening reception for the show, Friday August 17th from 5pm---11pm as a part of downtown Durham’s Third Friday gallery tour.

The exhibit brings together artwork made by queer people across the spectrum of North Carolina. It is an examination of the complexities of identity and cultural expression through the work of over forty artists. A diverse range of works will be shown, filling the gallery floor-to-ceiling. The exhibition brings LGBTQ art out of the closet and into the public sphere for a riotous celebration of queer life and culture.

It is co-curated by Jennie Carlisle and Lindsay Gordon.

Works range from the campy to the serious. Images of the body as a locus of identity and desire comprise one major theme of the show. In his painting "Wrestling with it" Chad Hughes, features a man "wrestling" with an inner demon given physical form. EJ Greaves and Shay Adams (now deceased) provide gently humorous self- portraits, and Caroline Vaughn’s photograph of a couple supporting their nursing child shares a tender moment of family intimacy and motherhood.

Another major theme to emerge from the open call is that of a queer engagement with Judeo-Christian narratives and visual traditions. Look for photographer Gray Swartzel provocative contemporary reading of the sacrifice of Isaac, Genesis 22:2; Kelly Cross’s two painted portraits titled "Adam" and "Steve" and Jill Moffett’s mixed media "Mothers and Child" as a holy family, among others.

The featured artists include Steven H. "Shay" Adams, Jeffrey Beam, Justin Branch, Laura Brightwood, Lisa Rose Asher Campbell, Jen Coons, Leslie W. Cothren, Reid Coyner, Kelly Cross, Carolyn Davis, Matt DeBellis, Justin Gayliard, Galia Goodman, Heather Gordon, EJ Greaves, Robin Harviel, Paul Hrusovksky, Chad Hughes, Steve Kalstrup, Benjamin Keaton, Stacey L. Kirby, Jen Kirkpatrick, Lizzie Lange, Robert MacNeill, Eric Martin, Cyndi McKnight, Jill C. Moffett, Leigh Moose, Bob Nocek, Matthias Pressley, Chuck Rose, Rebecca Rousseau, Tim Simkin, Albert Stapleton, Gray Swartzel, Matt Tomko, Sara R. Toothman, Whitney Vaughan, Jason Watson, Angela Yarber, and Susanne Zadeh.

The show runs through September 30th.

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Liberty Arts hits a triple 

Local non-profit artist collaborative sculpture studio and foundry, Liberty Arts saw two of its artists, Tim Werrell and Jackie MacLeod, produce and sell three major public art pieces this Summer.

MacLeod's Kontek Bench was just installed in Durham’s Central Park.

The Kontek Bench

"It was a dream commission…my first public art project," says creator Jackie MacLeod. The three semi-circular benches are made of concrete suspended in powder coated steel frames. They were commissioned by Kontek Systems for DCP. In a little Durham irony, the keys embedded in one of the benches once unlocked artists’ studios at Liberty Warehouse across the street before the roof fell in and the tenants had to evacuate. Now they commemorate that day and celebrate Liberty Arts’ new space at the Cordoba Center for the Arts.

In Burlington, two of Tim Werrell’s large scale sculptures were purchased during the city’s biennial Willow Walk Sculpture in the Park event this summer for eventual display downtown.

His nine foot high, life-size, "Birds in Flight Screen" is welded stainless steel. "It was the first piece I picked," said Anne Morris, executive director of the Burlington Downtown Corporation which is acquiring art to create a sculpture garden behind the historic depot on Main Street. Until they’re permanently installed, both pieces can be seen on the grounds of The Alamance County Arts Council in Graham.

Werrell's "Birds in Flight Screen"

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Durham Graffiti Artist  

Last week the Clarion Content promised you a graffiti surprise in these pages... We are believers in Art in the public space. Art is at the nexus of protest, and we have serious concerns about the political superstructure.

Who is this unknown artist?

We have seen the work around before...

Seen other examples of this work? Send us your photos.

Info at ClarionContent dot com

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Friday, August 10, 2012

1st great Creative Generation contest 

Friends of the Clarion Content Envision with Me and The Creative Populist, are sponsoring a fantastic contest for young entrepreneurs ages fourteen to thirty.

The idea is to send in a video about how entrepreneurship fuels your creative passion. Give them your personal Creative Manifesto. The Clarion Content knows a lot of hot young Durham entrepreneurs who qualify on the basis of that description.

$1000 in cash prizes are available.

A longer article on the Creative Populist, and founder, Duke professor, Carl Nordgren, coming soon in these pages.

Enter the contest here. Official rules here.

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Thursday, August 09, 2012

DBL Playoffs and All-Star Game 

The Clarion Content has been telling you all season long about the wonderful folks over at the Don's Basketball League. Now you have two final chances to come out and see for yourselves.

The DBL playoffs are Friday all day, starting at 9am. One single $10 ticket admits you to all eleven games, kids under twelve are only a $1.

It is top notch Durham youth basketball and your second to last chance to hear the Clarion Content's editor do play-by-play basketball commentary.

Your final chance will be Saturday evening at 7.30pm for the DBL All-Star games. All the league's best players will be on the court showcasing their skills.

Both days events held at Mt. Zion Christian Church, #3519 Fayetteville Street, Durham, 27707.

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Fullsteam Brewery, 2nd Anniversary 

The Clarion Content was just waxing nostalgic to some friends about the best flash mob we have ever participated in Durham. The great Durham Squirt Gun fight of 2010. It was organized by Flywheel Design.

Super fun!!!

See pictures and read about it here.

Well, no sooner had we had that conversation, then, lo and behold, we hear that Fullsteam Brewery and MotorCo Music Hall are bringing it back!

That's right, this Saturday, as part of Fullsteam Brewery's 2nd anniversary party, there will be a flash mob squirt gun fight at precisely 6.14pm Eastern Standard Time.

Water gun showdown cancelled out of respect for the victims of recent tragedies.

Second anniversary party is still on!

Featuring lawn games, live music, Food Trucks, rare Fullsteam brews, Carolina Shandies, cupcakes and ice cream. Southern finery encouraged.

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Durham in The International Tree Climbing Championship 

Yeah, that's right, Durham is so fly that we even have a Durhamanian in the 36th annual International Tree Climbing Championship.

from the 2011 competition

The competition is being held August 11-12 at Laurelhurst Park in Portland, Oregon. Believe it or not, sixty-one of the world's best professional tree climbers from sixteen countries will be duking it out, scoring points for skill and agility while maneuvering through trees.

Durham's own, Cormac Nagan, an arborist and the owner of Aerial Tree Care, will represent ten states as the Southern Chapter regional champion. He placed fourth in the 2009 competition.

Special thanks to reader E. Strein for sending this our way.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Fashion Drive-by: Fashion in Transit---Preview 

The Clarion Content had a fabulous time on the bus yesterday. We cannot overemphasize what a good deal a free bus that runs down Main Street is for Durham.1

Want to see something at the Nasher?

What about an event at Goldenbelt?

Perhaps get a drink and listen to some tight grooves at the Pinhook?

Or have a $1 PBR on Monday at the James Joyce?

Or anywhere and everywhere in between and then some. Free. Pull the cord, the Bull City Connector will drop you off where ever you want.2

Yesterday, they let the Clarion Content team, photographer, Jessica Arden,3 and Creative Director, Cady Childs4 hop aboard the bus to photograph a fashion shoot, the latest of our Durham Fashion Drive-by series. We mingled with the public.5 The drivers, especially our pal Medoza, were amazingly accommodating, able to get their passengers to their appointed destinations on time and keep up with our photographic needs and desires.

We can't wait to show you the whole thing...but in the meantime can we whet your appetite with a preview?

Models from left to right, Cody Tyler of Totes Codes parties and events, director, Ned Phillips, aka the Cozmik Gangsta of the ODD crew, and musician Joe Hall of Hammer no More the Fingers and Blanko Basnet…

Amazing men's clothes from Vert & Vogue.

Special thanks to the stylists at Rock, Paper, Scissors Salon and Gallery for their work with the model's hair.

1It is our contention that the bus is an important public good and a social justice issue. In this day of modern transportation and therefore distance, people need cheap options to travel to work.

2Seriously, for more than fifty Durham restaurants, bars, clubs, art spaces and more, the Bull City Connector's service is just about door-to-door.

3This was a physical shoot, can't wait for the behind the scenes footage. Ms. Arden must be doing her pilates, because it was circus act to keep a steady base to shoot from while winging around corners, stopping at traffic lights and otherwise having the floor move beneath her feet, as the wheels on the bus went round and round.

4Managing three models, nine outfits, in the drizzle on a moving public bus while coordinating with three PR people, two videographers and three photographers; a veritable whirlwind, Ms. Childs was unbelievable. This all after coming off of working the fabulous soft opening at Durham's newest hot spot, Mateo Tapas.

5It wasn't quite this packed.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2012

DURM Hip-Hop Summit 

The DURM Hip-Hop Summit went off July 28th at The Casbah. The summit, as the nomenclature signals, was about coming together.

The idea was to have each of what are considered the five pillars1 of hip-hop represented. This sensibility is rooted in an understanding that hip-hop is a socio-cultural movement. While there is no doubt music is at the core, it is more than just the music. It was most important to, our friend and organizer, Jay Lawrence, aka The Real Laww, that the fullness, richness and texture of hip-hop culture be represented.

The Clarion Content can appreciate, and we are grateful to have such cosmopolitan supporters of renaissance culture here in Durham.

The Clarion Content was delighted to see that sponsors of the event included our old friends at Runaway Clothes. The Real Laww and Runaway Clothes are tight; collaborating, backing each others events, and their partnership was recognition by the Hip-Hop Summit of the plushness of culture; fashion too, is part and parcel of Durham and hip-hop.

The evening for the Clarion Content team began with the breakdancing. The dancers were fantastic.2 The Casbah pulsed. The crowd vibed with the moment as the place continued to get more and more crowded.

You can check out some of the live performances here and here.

Lucky for us the amazing photog who is Scenes from my Lunch Hour was on-hand.3

The Real Laww
Photo credit Scenes from my Lunch Hour.

Photo credit Scenes from my Lunch Hour.

Down the block, later that evening, our correspondent was standing near the entrance of one of Durham's fine watering holes, knocking back a few cold ones and discussing the DURM Hip-Hop Summit. It was there we heard a classic backstory. Durham is a medium sized town with big city culture. We are no more than 2.5 degrees of separation away from each other.

This was hip-hop culture come to life. One of the performers, Joshua Gunn, aka J. Gunn, was well known to one of our drinking buddies. Our friend4 began to tell stories, describing how J. Gunn honed his craft, the freestyle battles, the ground level view of hip-hop culture. Apparently back in the day at Jordan High School, kids used to spend weeks on end preparing their raps and lyrics to challenge J. Gunn at recess. Frequently, the battles were for lunch money. $4 or $5 was high stakes if it meant you were hungry the rest of the day.

Our source says J. Gunn was legendary even then for bringing it hard and off the cuff. Other kids would rehearse and rehearse and he would cut'em down time and again. His raps, rhymes, lyrics, and story today verify the Gladwell 10,000 hour rule.

Not a week later, your correspondent was attending a Durham DBL basketball game,5 when we heard a parallel tale at a different place in the narrative. We were standing in the hallway at the Boys & Girls Club, just before two teams of young, highly energetic twelve to sixteen year-old ballers poured into the crowded gym. The atmosphere was electric. And as is to be expected in such testosterone filled environments, there was a certain amount of smack talk in the air. Darned if we didn't hear two young men agree to battle it out with words rather than fists on the playground next week.

Freestyle and hip-hop culture live on.

The DURM Hip-Hop Summit came strong. We await further performances and have high expectations for those involved. Toon & The Real Laww, Defacto Thezpian, The Beast, J. Gunn, Lazurus & Sarah Kaboom.

The Clarion Content has a special graffiti surprise in store for you in these pages next week.

1The five pillars of hip-hop, not to be conflated with any other set of five pillars, are the MC, the Breakdancer, the DJ, Beatboxing, and graffiti artists.

2Your correspondent has cut rug from NYC to SF.

3Her lunch hour may be later than yours.

4We may have heard this story from someone who is an extra in this music video.

5We double as the play-by-play commentator and author of the league's program.

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