An Introduction to Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song

12 Jun 2013


Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song screens at 8pm on 12 June 2013 at the Crowley Theater in Marfa, Texas as part of Ballroom’s New Growth Film Program, co-curated by Rashid Johnson and Josh Siegel, MoMA. Admission is free and open to the public.

Note: For this screening, viewers under 17 will require an accompanying parent or adult guardian.

Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song is Melvin Van Peebles third movie, which he wrote, directed, produced, composed music for and starred in. Dedicated to “all the sisters and brothers who had enough of the man,” the film follows a young African American man on his flight from white authority. No studio would agree to fund the film, so Van Peebles financed it independently, shooting over a 19-day period, performing his own stunts and several unsimulated sex scenes. Sweet Sweetback is hailed as the beginning of blaxpoloitation as a genre and Van Peebles refused to submit the film to the all-white MPAA ratings board for approval. His opinion was that they were not a jury of his peers and they’d been approving crippling images of people of color for years, so why let them dictate his cinematic agenda? In the end, the film received an X-rating and Van Peebles made T-shirts that read “Rated X by an all white jury,” and incorporated it into his marketing campaign.

In the book Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song: A Guerilla Filmmaking Manifesto, Van Peebles recounts that the idea for the film materialized during his first soul-searching and auto-erotic trip to the Mojave Desert. Looking out at the at an endless row of electric pylons sandwiched by sky and land, he thought it through:

Like Shards From Some Vanished Civilization: An Introduction to Space Is the Place

29 May 2013

Space Is the Place screens at 8pm on 29 May 2013 at the Crowley Theater in Marfa, Texas as part of Ballroom’s New Growth Film Program, co-curated by Rashid Johnson and Josh Siegel, MoMA. Admission is free and open to the public.

Like Shards From Some Vanished Civilization: An Introduction to Space Is the Place

In the 1970s, Sun Ra wasn’t yet recognized as the eccentric genius that he is understood as today. He’d been leading bands for almost three decades, placing ecstatic chanting alongside percolating synthesizer pieces, using improvisational percussion and cosmic expansions of big band styles to create a voluminous if obscure repertoire that placed classic jazz and swing in an extraterrestrial timeline. This destabilized polyglot sound was too conspicuously wacky to fit in with the jazz establishment or its free jazz fringes, and though he’d already graced the cover of Rolling Stone in 1969, his music seemed as equally confusing for the Anglo psychedelic music scene.

His canonization as one of the pioneers of Afrofuturism would have to wait until later in his career, though of course his work now looks right at home next to similar explorations from Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock, and would help set the stage for Funkadelic’s Afro-cosmic psychedelia, MC5’s liberation rock, Sonic Youth’s deep noise grooves and the Boredoms’ melted drum ensembles.

One place where Sun Ra did find a home was as an artist-in-residence at the University of California at Berkeley, where he delivered a series of lectures in 1971 under the heading “The Black Man in the Cosmos, Hyperstition and Fast-Forward Theory.” The course’s now legendary syllabus included the King James Bible, the Tibetan Book of the Dead, work from 19th century occultist Madame Blavatsky, poetry from Henry Dumas, as well as texts about the pagan roots of the Catholic Church, Egyptology and African American folklore.

Someone in the Berkeley AV department had the foresight to record one of these lectures — archived at — wherein Sun Ra holds forth in such a way as to indicate that he’s both serious about his cosmological thinking, while at the same time deliberately provoking laughter from the gathered students as he tsk-task-tsks his chalk across the blackboard.

Däs Polaroids

24 Apr 2013

Beach House, April 21, 2013. Photo by Alex Marks.

Beach House, April 21, 2013. Photo by Alex Marks.

Beach House, April 21, 2013. Photo by Alex Marks.

Beach House, April 21, 2013. Photo by Alex Marks.

Holy Shit, April 21, 2013. Photo by Alex Marks.

Holy Shit, April 21, 2013. Photo by Alex Marks.

Holy Shit, April 21, 2013. Photo by Alex Marks.

Holy Shit, April 21, 2013. Photo by Alex Marks.

The latest in our music-portrait-Polaroid series — this time featuring Beach House and Holy Shit. So good. Special thanks to the bands for being such sports, and as always, our hero, Alex Marks.

Michael Pollan at Marfa Dialogues 2012

Michael Pollan’s new book, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, is now available for purchase, and the self-described “nature writer who writes about this particular part of nature that we don’t think of as nature” is popping up all over the place, from The Colbert Report to the Field Lab.

In September of 2012 Pollan joined us here in Far West Texas for the second Marfa Dialogues symposium. He and Hamilton Fish had a sprawling conversation in front of a packed house at the Crowley Theater, the entirety of which is available for your viewing pleasure up above.

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The Wildcats took a 42 38 halftime lead, having held UCLA to just 38.

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Cameron also comes with the bonus that he knows new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s scheme because Shanahan was the Browns’ offensive coordinator last year.
Super Bowl XXXVI was the most memorable Super Bowl for Patriots’ fans, and for patriots in general.
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Outlook: Third team All Area catcher Christiana Roberts is a big graduation loss, but considering the Spartans return, virtually, all the rest of last year’s squad, things are looking quite promising for Immaculata.

A few photos from last night’s Beach House show

22 Apr 2013

Beach House at the Crowley Theater, April 21, 2013. Photo by Lesley Brown.

Beach House, April 21, 2013. Photo by Lesley Brown.

A few snapshots from last night’s Beach House concert, courtesy of Lesley Brown — see more photos at Big Bend Now. Special thanks to Beach House, Holy Shit and everyone in the audience for making the show such a standout. Truly. Great vibes. Plus a few shout outs to our amazing team: Rob Crowley, Gory Smelley, Chris Hillen, Hilary duPont, Alex Marks, Robert Pecina Jr., Claire Taggart, Lilah Leopold, Lolita Fierro, Dani Cardia, Ross Cashiola, Susannah Lipsey, Michael Camacho, Cuca Flores, plus the amazing folks at the Crowley Theater, Tim Crowley and Jennifer Bell, without whom we could not do any of these shows. More to come!

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We do this slowly with big weight loss changes, and have a blast making adult rec sport athletes better at their game.
To come out here and not play in any kind of pain is great progress.
“If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up.
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They have three reporting segments: Mining and Construction, consisting of Minerals Processing Solutions, Crushing and Screening Equipment and Services business lines, Automation, consisting of Process Automation Systems, Flow Control and Services business lines and Pulp, Paper and Power, consisting of Paper, Fiber, Power and Services business lines.

The Badgers (25 5) locked up a first round bye and second round home game after missing the postseason a year ago.

Beach House this Sunday: Standing Room Tickets Available!

19 Apr 2013

Preview Sunday night’s Beach House performance at the Crowley Theater here in Marfa with Forever Still, a concert film “directly inspired by Pink Floyd’s Live at Pompeii.” It was recorded near Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, one of our neighbors here in the Far West Texas borderlands.

ALSO: $10 standing room tickets for the sold-out show will be released at the door on Sunday.

Beach House
with Holy Shit
21 April 2013
Crowley Theater, Marfa, TX
Doors at 8 pm; show at 8:30 pm

Click here for more info.

There is a really rich body of work out there

Japan’s narrowly defeated opponents in the Qatar 2011 final, Australia (21st, up 5), as well as the losing semi finalists Korea Republic (32nd, up 7) and this month’s highest climbers Uzbekistan (77th, up 31), have obtained their reward in terms of places and points.

Hawaii becomes first state to raise smoke age to 21Starting on Jan.
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“This is just a situation I can laugh at later in life, if I’m here or somewhere else,” he said.
Not much evidence is needed for a judge to compel someone in Georgia to submit to a paternity test, said Randy Kessler, an Atlanta attorney who specializes in family law and is not involved in this case.
A good parent will do anything to take the pain from their children.
the first industrial park of its kind in the world eventually gains acclaim as a classic example of mid 20th century modernism, known as International Style.

Find Jeff Mangum

28 Mar 2013


As we have mentioned before, people get kind of worked up over the work of Jeff Mangum, in particular the albums he recorded in 1996 and 1998 with Neutral Milk Hotel. And while there is plenty of obsession over the lyrical and instrumental intricacies of Mangum’s artistic practice, such an enduring emotional resonance is surely sustained by something more elusive than structural complexity and earworm melodies.

Thus we have the essays at Find Jeff Mangum, personal accounts of “the first time you heard Neutral Milk Hotel,” stories of sadness and hope, young romance and suicide from the Arkansas suburbs, the Yakima Valley and a food blogger living in East Tennessee. All of them unfolding while In the Aeroplane over the Sea or On Avery Island plays on car stereos or bedroom speakers.

Jeff Mangum performs two shows here in Marfa this Sunday with Tall Firs at the Crowley Theater. The 7:30p show is sold out. Click here for tickets for his 10:30p performance.