Friday, September 30, 2016

Nøise - Music


Nøise is what happens when a brilliant modern visual artist, innovative DJ’s and a cadre of incredibly experienced musicians join forces to make some very appealing audio magic. The results are more than just mere music and beyond the promise of normal mortal bands. With more songs to listen to right now than there are stars in the sky, why should your average enthusiast pay attention to this highly anticipated musical creation?

Because Nøise’s latest EP is a shining promise of what we have to anticipate from the band in the future. “Little Lions,” one of the tracks on the EP, is as complex and intriguing as the music video that accompanies it. Taunt with tension, haunted by the ghost of the song’s own spectral promise of love, sadness and regret, the song is perfect for a night where you just want to drink hard liquor and think about the good times, the bad times, and the shadowy spaces between as the party moves on around you.


“Little Lions” is dark yet deliciously upbeat from the tantalizing start to a hypnotic reverberating finish. The song moves at a brisk pace, punctuated by accelerated beats, prancing guitars and synthetic reverberations that keep you wondering until the very last note. There are songs within this song, places where the changes transfix you, similar to hellish faerie light manifesting like sonoluminescence from some mesmerizing siren song, part psychic, part demonic, transfixing you with hypnotic, sensual rapture. Nøise knows how to hex the listener because the magicians behind the band have been captivating us for decades. Their names and creations are already legendary.

You are certainly familiar with the artist known as Shepard Fairey, probably because of the famous Barack Obama “Hope” image and the somewhat disturbing Obey Giant logo campaign, which featured WWF star Andre “The Giant” staring down at you within a symbol that brought to mind both 1984 and the horror film They Live by John Carpenter. However, Fairey is also a music DJ, as capable of manipulating Serato and MP3’s as he is line and color, which is how the idea for the band Nøise incarnated.


Fairey contacted many other musicians to make Nøise happen including DJ’s and artists known for their futuristic, visionary achievements such as Moby, Crystal Method, Phil Hartnoll, Tim Armstrong, DJ Z-Trip, Nico and Touch, SSI, John Goff, Merritt Lear, Joe Cassidy and Ravi Zupa. The art for the EP’s album cover is worth spending money to own, featuring a bold black, gold and red design with a lion standing triumphantly in the center, a fitting visual proclamation for a band whose veterans are so already independently accomplished. I already want to own the t-shirt.

To celebrate the first EP release from Nøise, Fairey himself hosted a release party at the Subliminal Projects gallery in Los Angeles, where he put his years of experience as a DJ to work performing for an audience of enthusiastic friends, fans and family. A visual artist composing music? Why not? In a recent interview with the magazine known as Rolling Stone, Fairey said, "Iggy paints and David Bowie painted. Z-Trip can throw a tag down like you wouldn't believe. A lot of my heroes in music are people who dabbled in art," Fairey says. "Our culture likes people to stay in their lane. I'm fine to be an irritant by not staying in my lane."


In contrast to “Little Lions”, another song on the EP, “Automatic,” remixed by Moby, is vibrant, spontaneous and positive. Bouncing with digital glee, electrified with evocative beats, vocals and chords that whirl and prance, “Automatic” is a smart reminder that the band known to us as Nøise has a lot more music to offer because the people that comprise it are as talented as they are diverse. 

Musician Joe Cassidy has mentioned that Joe Strummer and Lee “Scratch” Perry have been some of his inspirations while working on the project. “Not so much in terms of their music exactly, but more like, ‘What would these two think of these songs in 2016?’” Your audience empathizes, Cassidy. More Nøise ASAP, please.



Subliminal Projects: http://subliminalprojects.com/



Monday, September 26, 2016

Matisyahu - Music


If you are a reggae enthusiast you have already heard about Matisyahu, an artist certainly under the influence of the Jamaican musical style but also famous for his brilliant rap ability, keen rock instincts, and the basic fact that the man started his career going on stage in full old-school Hassidic Jewish regalia, including a beard that would have made the dwarven warrior Gimli from The Lord of the Rings jealous.

This one-of-a-kind look wasn’t a gimmick, Matthew Paul Miller, aka Matisyahu (which means “Gift of God”) truly was a Hassidic Jew and devout member of the Lubavitch movement, regularly attending a synagogue located within the Upper West Side of New York City, studying the torah by day and perfecting his reggae style by night. Audiences across America could identify with the spiritual overtones that adroitly threaded the fabric of Matisyahu’s music, and within a few albums he was a commercial success, largely because of 2007’s Youth and the hit single “King Without a Crown.”

Since then many august media entities such as Esquire and Billboard magazine have extolled his virtues, and in 2007 a documentary he appeared in called Unsettled won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary Feature at the Slamdance Film Festival. Years later, Matisyahu has shed his traditional garments and shaved his beard, neither his religious beliefs nor his musical ability suffered for it. Fans of his music liked him with or without the tzitzit, and years later he’s on tour for Akeda, his seventh album, which ended up on the iTunes Top 10 only a week after it hit the internet.


Akeda is an album that will thrill the newcomer and tantalize the long-term fan of Matisyahu. Tracks like “Surrender” contain an almost minimalist synthesizer beat that underscores a paean about winning and living life with appropriate humility, cunningly rapped and mindfully articulated. “Confidence,” featuring the uniquely talented Collie Buddz, is a bold declaration made bolder still by a steady, haunting backbeat that blares and warps, accompanied by chords that skank and an attitude that is sound as it is sure, with just enough dub to make it authentic.

If his previous accomplishments are any sort of indicator, Matisyahu is still in the midst of a very successful musical career. Culture magazine was fortunate enough to speak with the artist about his present successes and future endeavors.

Thank you very much for speaking with me. I’m sure you are probably worn out by all the touring. How are you doing today? Is this a good time to be Matisyahu?

Today I’m doing good. I just flew in, so I’m talking to you from outside the airport. We’re currently on the third day of the “Built to Survive” tour. We are moving on to North Carolina after this. My kids are visiting me tonight, so I’m looking forward to seeing them since I haven’t seen them for a while.

That’s cool that you get to catch up with your family while you are on the road. I’ve spoken to a lot of celebrities who really miss their families when they are on the road. It’s been a while since you, for lack of a better description, changed your image by shaving the beard and dressing differently. Looking back now, were you ever worried that the change in appearance would alienate fans that were just on the fringe?



I guess it depends on what you consider a fan to be. The people that are real fans of the music are more interested in what the music does to them and the emotions I’m trying to express when I’m performing. But there are people who are more fans of the look, instead of the message. They might feel alienated about the change in appearance, but I’m a musician, not just an image.

The people that are the real fans that I’ve had for several years are the people who became true fans because of my music and who I am. They aren’t along for just one song or album or a beard. The image I used to have was cool, but at the end of the day you just have to do what you do and make music in order to express yourself. If it resonates with people you get afforded the opportunity to continue making music, regardless of your music.

Let’s be honest, you had a big, bold beard before anyone thought it was trendy or cool to have one. What do you think of the latest facial hair craze amongst the young hipsters of America? Do you think that your former image might have been an influence on the trend?

I think it’s cool. I like beards. They are a lot of fun. But I do wonder, though. Because so much of the hipster craze came out of the Broadway scene out in New York City.  I sometimes think the scenes there come from different cultures being so close to each other that they all kind of influence each other. I really do think the beard came from the Hassidic Jews in that area, maybe from the north side. They were hanging out with their friends, and because they were growing beards maybe it made other people grow them, too, because they thought it looked cool.

That’s a very good point. I never thought of that, but it makes sense. I could imagine some of the Jewish kids growing beards and influencing their friends, so it became popular.  Now, Akeda is your latest album. What does it have that fans can look forward to?

It’s the best music I’ve made. The lyrics are deep, the songs are meaningful, hopeful, but dealing with the real human culture around us and the world we live in. The people who have a feel for the album will really enjoy how the songs can strengthen and empower them. I’m very happy with it.



Where did you get the idea for the name?

The album’s name came from the Biblical story of Abraham and Isaac. Towards the end of his life Abraham brought his son Isaac to the top of a mountain to be sacrificed to God. There’s a lot of correlation and connections to my own life. Abraham hears the voice of God. He tries to do whatever he thinks he needs to do for God, as hard as it can be. The album is about the sacrifices that are made to succeed in life, the pain and faith you have to have to make it, no matter who you are…that’s the gist of it. But the album also talks about how there can always be reconciliation between fathers and sons, parents and children. There can always be hope.

Are there other musical genres you’d like to explore?

I think I just keep listening to music similar to what I do now. I like the classics including reggae, rock and roll and rap. When I prepare to write a record, the music I listen to determines what kind of record I write. I can’t think of any other genre I want to explore right now, aside from what I’m doing at the moment. I still have a lot to say with the genre I’m in right now.

Where do you want to be, ten years from now? What do you want your career to be like by then?

I’d like to continue to do what I do. I’d like to continue to make records freely and have creative control over what I do. I love the people I work with…my agent, and my fans. I’m really happy with what we’ve been blessed with and what we’ve created over the years. We’re very close because we live in tight quarters and living in strange places around the Earth together. We’re making money and dreams all over. Over the years I’ve been able to sift through a lot of different people and end up with friends I trust. We’re like a family. This record was produced by my best friend, Stu, the bass player for my band, and I’ve known him for years.



You are also an accomplished film actor. How did you get into that? I saw the horror film The Possession, and you really are a complete natural. Your acting and look was perfect for your role in the movie.

Well, there was a movie that was made called The Possession where this man finds a demon in a box that has its roots in Hassidic culture. They wanted an exorcist Rabbi type to show up at the end of the film. Somebody thought I should do it, so they brought me in. I was always interested in acting, so it was a lot of fun.

Are you working on any other future films? Will your fans be able to see you on the big screen in 2014 or beyond?

I would like to do more acting, but right now I’m on the road for a few months. I’ve been travelling a lot for this tour, so I haven’t had the time to do any film acting. Hopefully I’ll be able to do more films in the future, once my schedule allows for it.

Speaking as an experienced artist, how is film acting similar to performing and making music?

The gist of it is in any art…I felt this way with the acting as well…is that you have to lose yourself in the moment, submerge yourself in the creative vision, the expression of emotion you want to share. That’s the same thing you do with film acting, but you just have the lines to work with.



I like how you compare the dialogue in a film to the lyrics in a song. I can imagine that both would access the same emotional energy. They both take the same artistic attitude. You’ve made music on both the east coast and the west coast, in NYC and LA. Do you notice a difference between the two places?

My experience in New York and LA was very different because of where I was in my life when I was making music in New York. I mostly know musicians in New York and do producing. But in LA I know more people who are in the film industry, or who are producers, as opposed to being just musicians.

What do you think about cannabis? Is it a good thing, a bad thing, or just a lot of hype over nothing?

I think it’s like anything else…it has positive qualities and negative qualities. It can help and hurt. I think that it’s certainly harmless, and in terms of it being legal it shouldn’t be. I’ve come across marijuana a lot, especially because I make reggae music and from being in New York City, so it doesn’t bother me.



www.matisyahu.com

https://www.youtube.com/user/MatisyahuVEVO

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Cannabis Film Festival - Film


Kellie Butterfield Dodds is the proud CEO and founder of the 2nd annual Cannabis Film Festival, an event held in Garberville, California on April 23rd and the 24th that presents movies featuring cannabis, whether it is a documentary, comedy, drama, short film or anything in between. “This is my baby. I am very grateful that I am able to present a ‘Hollywood meets Humboldt’ festival that presents cannabis with a level of professionalism that is a different face than the usual weed events,” says Dodds.

When Dodds moved from the Los Angeles corporate world to Humboldt County, deep in the nexus of the Emerald Triangle, she was already an accomplished businesswoman with a few successful multimillion dollar enterprises on her resume. “I relocated with my partner and spent twenty-five years enjoying the culture out here,” she says. “I wanted to bring a different perspective.” That means presenting an event that shows films which present cannabis in a sophisticated manner that draws respect as opposed to the usual cartoonish events that present cannabis as a punch line to a joke. “Last year we presented a film called Midnight Delight, set in an afterhour’s party at a lounge in some metropolis. People meet, smoke and joint, and just communicate.”


Set in the verdant evergreen that is the forested Eden of Northern California, the 2nd Annual Cannabis Film Festival offers participants, vendors, attendees and celebrities to enjoy an event that is as close to nature as it is far from the city. “The event is still very Humboldt, very casual. We’re not black tie yet, but there is an open invitation to anyone in the industry” Dodds says. “I am modeling this after the Sundance Film Festival, but set in an open air town that is very natural, very beautiful. You get to walk around in the fresh air, eat great food and hang out with fun people next to a redwood forest.”

The Cannabis Film Festival is a way for filmmakers to present their art with both the people who enjoy their art and the people who present it. Dodds has worked to go beyond the normal cartoonish cannabis movies to show films that present cannabis in a positive light that will serve to entertain as well as inform. “It is an opportunity for local film makers. We are a festival for independent film makers that want to attract distributors and supporters. One of our judges is also a producer in Hollywood that helps in the event. We have very professional criteria for how we judge films,” she says. “We offer an award for the best film based on what the judges pick, and then there is a viewer’s choice award where the audience votes. Afterwards, everyone hangs out with the creators and provides feedback.”


Dodds is assisted by a group of people known as “Team Awesome,” including her partner Cheryl Voutour, who has spent a decade farming organic cannabis in the Humboldt area after moving from Orange County, where she was successful in the mortgage industry. Also included is Bobby Black, former Senior Editor of High Times Magazine, and presenter during the awards ceremony.

What makes the even unique in comparison to other Hollywood awards ceremony is that it will be 420 friendly. “We have a huge smoking area and even a doctor on site who will qualify you.” Existing to woo industry executives with the big bucks to fund films and mentor young creators, Dodds is proud of the event’s incredible VIP lounge. “We only have room for one hundred people in the lounge, and we offer lavish accommodations, luxury catering and a professional dining experience.” 

Her dream is to expand the two day event into a weeklong affair that could someday be presented internationally. “We learned a lot in our first year. We built a commodity that is now valuable. Next we are going to turn it into a global event,” Dodds says.

You can find additional information, including ways to participate in the event as a film maker, vendor or more, at www.cannabisfilmfestival.com


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Alan Dean Foster - Writing


Although it is one of your earliest works, The Man Who Used the Universe seems vastly ahead of its time with its somewhat dystopic view of the universe, and the dubious moral nature of its protagonist it seems very much like an example of the cyberpunk genre. Was that intentional?

ADF:  Very much so, and very atypical compared to what I  usually write.  MWUU actually came about because I was sitting around  speculating one day on what would happen if Jesus came back, was raised in difficult circumstances, and ended up thoroughly pissed at what he saw.  That notion combined with the idea that massive corporations sometimes end up doing good things out of pure self-interest.  The protagonist in MWUU, Kees vaan Loo-Macklin, does all these wonderful things including making peace between humanity and aliens, not because he’s in any way altruistic but because ensuring peace in his corner of the galaxy is the best way to ensure his continued personal survival.


Is there a chance of seeing that made into a future film?

ADF: Predicting social and technological developments for the next hundred years is easier than predicting what Hollywood will decide to make into a film.

The novel very much seems like a sci-version of Ayn Raynds Atlas Shrugged. Had you read that book before you wrote your novel? Is that your own take on the objectivism? Is that your own view of capitalistic political thought? What was the ultimate philosophy of your novel?

ADF: Never gotten around to reading Rand.  Too many books, not enough time, bad eyesight.  As to a view of capitalistic thought, it’s hardly unique.  Just look for the TV and internet ads where oil companies talk about how deeply interested they are in clean energy, or what drug companies are doing in the third world.  Such adverts and the efforts they promote are entirely hypocritical, of course…but that doesn’t mean that the efforts to which they are alluding are bad.  When capitalism does well by the general population and ecology, it’s usually out of unadulterated self-interest.  What matters to me are the results, not the motivation.  If, say, Walter Burns-Lytton, III uses family money to buy and protect a marsh in Connecticutt in the hopes it will gain him votes for Senator, what matters is not his cynical motivation but the fact that the marsh gains protection.


You have written many books for the Star Wars universe. In your books, you have usually expanded quite a bit from the material in the films, often filling in gaps that the movies possess. Is this something you work out with Lucas, or is this something you come up with yourself, based on your own imagination?

ADF: I wouldn’t call three books many, but….  When I work in anyone else’s universe, I enter as a fan.  And as a fan, one of the greatest pleasures is being able to toss in things I would have liked to have seen in the original books or films.  While I can’t contradict canon, I can try to add to it.  Generally these inventions are my own: it’s a large part of what I have been hired to do.

Are you going to be included in the team of writers for the upcoming Star Wars television show?

ADF: Haven’t been asked. 


You were there for the very beginning of the cyberpunk genre, next to Gibson, Sterling and Effinger. Where do you think it has gone? Is there a real future for post-cyberpunk genre? How post can you get (what with Zenith Angle and Pattern Recognition) before its just Tom Clancy?

ADF:  Good question.  With the average American kid sending over 100 text messages per day, the Web replacing traditional media, and people walking around talking to themselves on their earpiece phones, it’s becoming more and more difficult to separate the tropes of cyberpunk from actuality.  One difference is that the societal grittiness depicted in a lot of early cyberpunk can’t really eventuate because delving deeply into computers and such requires a mindset and character that’s at odds with any kind of street ethos.  Hackers want social acceptance, too, even if only among their own kind.  If you want anger and rebelliousness, look to rap and hip-hop, not cyberpunk. 

How did you get involved with MyOuterSpace.com? What do you find to be so interesting about the enterprise (pun intended)? Is this your own way of contributing your spirit to the future of sci-fi and the online population?
ADF: I was asked to participate.  I regret I don’t have as much time as would like, but I intend to try and involve myself as much as I can.  As an ex-teacher, I’ve always enjoyed the opportunity to spark creativity in others. Bill Shatner and I have had very intermittent contact over the years.  The energy he continues to exude when most of his contemporaries have elected to sit back and rest on their laurels astonishes me.  I wonder what drives him.

Your name is certainly up there with greats like Heinlein, Aasimov, Ben Bova and Arthur C. Clark. How do you think that your contribution to the sci fi field of writing is different than their works? How is it similar?

ADF: You flatter me unmercifully.  If I had to single out a difference, I’d  have to say that rather than following a set aesthetic arc, I tend to flare off in as many different directions as possible.  I’m always interested in trying something different.  So I ricochet from fantasy to science-fiction to contemporary fiction, mystery, travel writing, and so on.  My father and I were constantly at odds.  Exasperated when I wouldn’t do something he wanted done unless I got a reason for it, he would say, “Do you have to know everything?”   When I would reply, in all honesty and innocence, “Yes”, he thought I was being a smart-ass.  That need, that desire to know everything, is what stimulates me to shoot off in multiple directions and write in a multiplicity of genres. As to similarities, I couldn’t say if any of my work is similar to any of the giants you’ve mentioned.  With the exception that along with Heinlein and Asimov I’ve also enjoyed developing and filling in a fairly elaborate future history.


Do you think that Cameron’s latest film, Avatar, attracted more interest in sci fi writing? Do you think Cameron’s contributions to film has enriched the sci fi field?

ADF: I would hope that it would attract a great deal of additional interest to science-fiction writing.  As he himself admits, reading SF is what led to his wanting to translate it into film.  Certainly his best work is in the genre and has added much to the cinematic lexicon in the field.  He’s a great director who I don’t think gets enough credit for the work he does with his actors because everyone is so focused on the action and sfx.  I have the feeling every time he sits down to do an SF film that he’s torn between a desire to make a statement and the overpowering need to produce something that will be a commercial hit.  It’s a mental malestrom that afflicts anyone who seeks success in Hollywood. When George was making Star Wars, I asked him what he wanted to do if the film turned out to be a hit.  He said, “I’d like to make small experimental films.”  He still says that, but Brobdignagian success is a personal devil that’s difficult to shake.  To a certain extent I believe Cameron suffers the same affliction.  So does Ridley Scott.  Or maybe I’m way off-base.  Maybe they’re all happy and content with how their lives and work has turned out.  I would hope so.

Now I have to ask you a question that could get you in hot water. Which do you prefer, Star Wars or Star Trek? Or are you one of those zany "Babylon 5" people, like I am?


ADF: I prefer Forbidden Planet, 2001, and Dark City

As our own world’s technology evolves with so much increasing regularity, how does this push the envelope in science fiction writing? How does it force your own work to adapt with the times,has it so often  in the past?

ADF: You just try to keep as much ahead of the technological curve as you can.  To give just one example, a reader recently chided me for something in Icerigger, my third novel.  In that book, a group of mis-matched travelers is marooned on the icy world of Tran-ky-ky with little hope of making it back alive to the single human outpost on the planet.  The reader wondered why they didn’t use GPS, or why a satellite didn’t pick up their crashed transport, or why they simply didn’t use an obviously advanced phone to call in their predicament.  The answer, of course, is that none of those things existed when the book was written (1972).  When the books are (hopefully) reissued, I intend to go back and revise the science and tech to at least bring them up to present-day standards. 
It’s easier to write a book set five thousand years in the future than one that’s set only fifty years ahead.

Why are you often chosen to write book versions of movies? You have a reputation in that field, and it always seems like you are the guy to call when Aliens or Star Wars needs to be made into a novel. Do you find that writing novelizations is easier than writing your own novels?

ADF: Certainly it’s easier.  The plot and main characters are already there.  Where novelizations are concerned, I consider myself to be the contractor to the original writer’s architect.  I’m the guy who puts in the wiring, the plumbing, the windows, and paints the place.  But the design is already done. As to why I’m frequently asked to work on such projects, I reckon it’s because I do a good job.  Additionally, I never miss a deadline (I usually finish early) and more importantly, I have no ego issues.  It’s not my work to radically alter.  Using the contractor analogy again, if someone wants their house painted puce and chartreuse, that’s how I paint it.  I may suggest earth tones with yellow trim, but the final decision never rests with me.  Studios appreciate that.  They have enough egos to deal with.


Can you give us a sneak peak at a current book that you are working on? When can your fans expect another great novel?

ADF: The Human Blend, the first book of The Tipping Point trilogy, is a December release from Del Rey.  We are very close to agreeing on a contract for Oshanurth, a fantasy trilogy set entirely underwater.  I am peripherally involved with Future Fighters, a film to be produced in Hong Kong that would represent the first U.S. – Japanese – Chinese SF co-production…with, apparently, an ex-North Korean as director.  And there is another project about which I cannot speak, but which is large.

This is a tough one…if a fan could only read one of your books, just one, which would you suggest is the best example of an Alan Dean Foster novel? (Of course, there are many to choose from, but this is just a question.)

ADF: Artists are usually the wrong people to ask to evaluate their own work.  But Drowning World would be a good candidate.  And for fantasy, certainly Spellsinger.  



Friday, September 16, 2016

Yukmouth - Music


If you like your hip-hop strictly from the streets, Yukmouth is the man that has made it for you. A former drug dealer who once operated throughout the east side of Oakland, California, he’s since been nominated for a Grammy and has more than a dozen solid albums to be proud of, including 2012’s Half-Baked and his work with The Regime, a hip-hop collective of artists including Tech N9ne, Madmax and Govnormatic.

While some artists eventually sell out, Yukmouth has sold out stadiums under his own label, Smoke-A-Lot Records. In 2013 he and The Regime released The Last Dragon and Dragon Game, two albums that have together reshaped what’s expected from the underground industry due to their raw lyrics, guest artists (including the already immortal hip-hop artist,  Freeze) righteous refrains, killer choruses,  badass bridges and codas that crush the competition. Blessed by a talent that’s like candy for the ear, the future is sweet indeed for Yukmouth.


“I’m doing great. I’m blessed,” he says. “I’m shooting a music video for ‘Charles Bronson,’ a song from the Dragon Game,” he says. “I’m mostly just promoting that album, but after that I’m working on a solo project that’s a series of urban street tales about how I became a rapper,” Yukmouth says.

The new LP, JJ Based on a Vill Story, will tell the tale of how Yukmouth went from selling weed to slinging vinyl, complete with all the grit that being a gangster is all about. “On my first album, I was strictly street,” he says, talking about his 1998 release, Thugged Out: The Albulation. “It was really gangster, and the fans loved that. So with the next one I’m going to give them what they want.”

Right now hip-hop is rife with nothing but cheap copies, endlessly miming some hit that came out last month that no one cares about anymore. “Right now, everyone is following what’s hot,” Yukmouth says. If another dude is doing something big, everyone is tries to do that.” He recalls a time when artists strived to remain original, even though hip-hop was still fresh to the airwaves. “I remember when I was just 18, running around in a gang, and Snoop Dogg had just gotten big. Everyone was doing their own thing.”


There’s a grip of good news to rap about, though. “The best thing about hip-hop right now is that you don’t need a big record label,” Yukmouth says. “Back in the day you had to crush up your own vinyl. Now the hood niggaz are using RED to make music videos.”
Yukmouth is one artist who isn’t afraid to get candid about cannabis. “I think it should be legal. I think that will literally stop the recession,” he says. “Everybody smokes weed. Right now some retired grandmother is smoking more weed than you.”

They young man is positive that the whole issue is going to end up the same way it did for alcohol during the Prohibition Era. “They are going to legalize it. It’s going to be in the liquor stores, but it’s not going to be very strong. They already sell papers and fake ass weed. You know they’ll sell it for real.”

Just like a lit joint brings people together at a party, Yukmouth hopes that when weed gets popular it will help everyone get along. “If they had weed bars, you know how popular that would be. It would change the world,” he says.” There would be no more war.”



Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The School of Dank - Cannabis


The School of Dank event in Seattle, Washington is a three-day event brings medical cannabis patients and experts in the field together to discuss growing methods and cultivation techniques. Other topics include cloning, soil preparation and recipes for edibles. There’s even hands-on instruction and glass-blowing demonstrations by local artists.

Presented by Jinxproof and hosted by SubCool, the School of Dank is an event with heart because all proceeds will go to benefitting autistic children. Last year’s 2011 School of Dank, also presented by Jinxproof, brought in $13,000 to help autistic children and their families living in the Pacific Northwest of America.

SubCool, author of The Dank and The Quest for the Very Best Marijuana, is also legendary for his many strains that have won awards all around, including The Void, Deep Purple, Agent Orange and more. Many of his strains have ended up in the pages of High Times. How did this legend in the field of cannabis botany end up teaching at the School of Dank?


“I found out that Jinxproof, had a child who was autistic,” SubCool says. “When I ended up talking to him, I learned a lot about their day-to-day struggles and how difficult it is to raise autistic children.”
In addition to conversations with Jinxproof, he also met a lot of other parents with children who also suffered from autism. Their first-hand testimony made him realize how important his teachings were. “I’ve read letters, notes and referrals from people telling stories about what it’s like to deal with the economic challenges they face," he says.

Taken as an edible or in the form of a tincture, cannabis is cheaper and safer than the pharmaceuticals whose side effects are sometimes worse than the symptoms. SubCool is proud of the fact he’s saving hard-working parents from losing money they don’t have for chemicals that don’t work.
 “I met one woman who had really bad arthritis. When I showed her how to make her own tincture she was able to save money and grow her own medicine,” He says. “I’ve always enjoyed being a guest speaker, so when they invited me to teach other people I was honored.”
While SubCool is best known for his books and strains, he’s almost famous for his YouTube show, “The Weed Nerd.” Each bi-weekly episode features recipes, advice and more. SubCool’s incisive logic, humorous attitude and straightforward teachings are worth watching every episode for, but despite the breadth of his knowledge the man remains humble. “It’s just me getting high and talking about weed. It’s really mind-blowing how I’ve gotten 1.6 million hits on YouTube for just hanging out and acting like an idiot.”

Jinxproof is proud that this year’s event will feature even more glass blowing panels, tutorials and demonstrations that the year before. “Bob Snodgrass is going to be here, and he’s a legendary glass blower from Portland, Oregon.”


In addition to some of the most gorgeous glasswork you’ve ever wanted to lay your lips on, the School of Dank will also feature games, raffles, auctions, bong pong and more. Jinxproof and SubCool have spent the last year preparing, and the one thing they don’t want to do is host an event that feels cheap.

“I won’t name names, but there are a lot of for-profit cannabis events that just end up being a bunch of people in a room smoking pot,” Jinxproof says. “There should always be some sort of goal in mind, whether it is to educate people about cannabis or to teach them how to grow it.”



Friday, September 9, 2016

Mac Miller - Music


I am a freelance writer. Sure, there are other names for what people like me do, and the titles I have change from magazine to magazine (editorial contributor, staff writer, unpaid fool) but I basically do the jobs other writers don't have the time to do, so I handle a lot of last instant, messy problems that I am expected to handle with perfection and aplomb. 

Culture Magazine is based on medical cannabis. That is what the magazine is about. If I interview you, we are going to talk about the devil's tobacco. You can say you hate it or love it, but we gotta talk about it. If you were being interviewed by Cannibal Massacre Monthly you'd eventually have to talk about slaughtering people and eating them, even if you were a pop artist, or a truck driver from Pittsburgh. 

Sometimes when you have to interview people you have to talk to Those In Between. These are the people who the artist thinks is helping them, but they are just sort of, well, in between me and the artist. Often times they think they are doing a good job, but they screw up a lot when it comes to my business. Here is why.

My job is to interview an artist and get the best things they have to say about their work, their art, their soul and the world they live in. The more questions I ask, the more time they have to say, the better it gets. Those In Between, though, love to jump in and meddle. They suddenly tell you not to talk about certain topics at the last instant, or they cut the interview short because their artist is actually a masked superhero, and somewhere nearby a 747 is about to crash so it is time for them to stop talking about their careers and jump into a costume and save human lives.

This just makes the artist look lame. Not a lot of people being interviewed are ready to rock right away. You introduce the topic, go back and forth, and eventually there are words, sentences and paragraphs. If all is well, we wrap up the interview within the right amount of time and the artist has been able to talk about everything relevant to making him famous and earning more money.


Those In Between can mess this process up. As I got ready to talk to Mac Miller, suddenly his representative got on the phone and told me that Mac Miller could not talk about cannabis. At all. No mention of it whatsoever. I agreed and talked to the artist. In his defence, the young musician was very friendly and even seemed unhappy about not talking about cannabis. Right when we were about to get to a few other questions, the representative jumped on and said the interview was over. Then they both hung up.

Needless to say, the editor was annoyed. "He didn't talk about cannabis. What are we going to do?" As irate as he was, the editor couldn't blame me. We both knew what happened, and that was the music business. We got screwed, Mac Miller looked odd, and the entire article was in danger. Thankfully, the editor and I found many, many quotes where Mac Miller basically talks about the stuff the way starving men speak of massive deli sandwiches. The relevant quotes were placed at the bottom of the article, and everyone was happy...especially me, since I still got paid. 


The music Mac Miller makes has the seriously cool spirit only the city streets can create. I’m pretty sure that if you lacked a proper electrical source you could keep everything in your refrigerator chilled by plugging it in to Mac Miller’s latest album, Watching Movies with the Sound Off, an audio joy ride full of spine-vibrating bass, dry ice-nice lyrics and the kind of beats that can make driving fast easy.

Born Malcolm James McCormick in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the young hip hop artist released But My Mackin’ Ain’t Easy in 2007 when he was only 15. Early on the tyro signed up with Rostrum Records and released a series of mix tapes that proved that the powerhouse from Penn state had the potential to easily knock down other hip hop heavyweights with stunning grooves and hard-hitting lines that belied his youth and revealed and man who knew how to make music.

On November 8, 2011, Mac Miller unveiled his first LP, Blue Slide Park, a certified gold album that hasn’t stopped being awesome ever since it hit the Internet. His second LP, Watching Movies with the Sound Off, released just a few years later on June 18, 2013, has taken his career to a whole new creative stratosphere.


Culture Magazine was fortunate enough to talk to Mac Miller in between performances about life in the successful lane. When asked about what’s next, though, he keeps it humble. “Well I think it’s about not getting too big too quick. That’s the key. I’m taking things step by step.” The artist has seen a lot of new talent burn out fast, so he doesn’t want to be another sad story. “Everyone wants to go straight from point A to Z, not realizing that everything in between is just as important,” he says.

To Mac Miller, the “everything in between” is life. Older and good at the game, he’s in no hurry to blast through existence when there’s so much to still live. “A lot of people see an artist as a person that’s always happy, always positive, but there are a lot of ups and downs in this world. There are a lot of valleys. Sometimes things aren’t awesome, but you have to go through every step of it.”


He’s proud of the success of his newest LP, although Mac Miller admits he made it mostly to relax from the pressure of creating the first one. “I think this album came to me at a point when I didn’t want to accomplish anything. The first album had to be big. I wanted to really accomplish something,” he says.

Maybe that’s why even the more introspective tracks, like “I Am Who Am (Killin’ Time)” or “Avian” still resound with a relaxed sense of cool. “I did Watching Movies with the Sound Off mostly for fun,” Mac Miller says. “I was just trying to create an album that had more purpose to it than just trying to be successful.”


With the mileage behind him and his future before him, what’s Mac Miller’s advice to anyone trying to make it in the industry? “I would tell them to not listen to anyone. You have to trust yourself, with every decision,” the young man says. “You are going to go through life surrounded by people who are going to tell you things like they really know who you are, but you have to know yourself.”



Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Square Grouper: The Godfathers of Ganja - Film


Square Grouper: The Godfathers of Ganja is a 2011 documentary that details the thrilling life and times of the cannabis smugglers operating throughout Miami, Florida during the 1970’s. Amongst the dealers and smugglers featured in the documentary is Robert Platshorn, a.k.a. “Bobby Tuna,” a man responsible for transporting millions of dollars worth of contraband from South America to South Florida using everything from yachts to DC-3’s to do so.

Platshorn and a majority of his business associates were eventually arrested in 1978 during a highly-publicized series of raids as part of a joint FBI/DEA operation that targeted a majority of the smugglers operating throughout South Florida. Demonized by the authorities and media as “The Black Tuna Gang,” Platshorn and the rest of his cohorts were declared to be the most sophisticated organized crime syndicate the government had ever encountered, and were eventually found guilty. He was sentenced to 64 years, the largest amount ever handed down for smuggling cannabis.



28 years later Platshorn was out of prison and author of “The Black Tuna Diaries,” his own enlightening account of the time he spent as a smuggler in South Florida and the subsequent, highly publicized, arrest and trial. He’s also a cannabis legalization advocate, published author, director for NORML and the lead spokesperson for “The Silver Tour,” dedicated to informing older members of the voting public about how cannabis legalization can positively affect them.

After Proposition 19 was voted down in California back in 2010, Platshorn researched the facts to figure out why. “I looked at the exit polls,” he says, “but despite all of the bullshit about how the growers and dispensaries didn’t want it, it didn’t matter, they didn’t vote.” Platshorn noticed that seniors voted 65% against Proposition 19, mostly because of fear or misinformation. “There was only one group talking to seniors and that was the beer lobby in California. They scared seniors by saying there would be stoners and drunks on the road,” he says.



Platshorn’s background in journalism prepared him for the first step, which was equipping his target audience with the facts they needed to know about medicinal cannabis. “Most seniors weren’t really talking about marijuana. They didn’t even know it was good for multiple sclerosis or so much else.” He started his tour out in Florida, but it wasn’t easy. “There wasn’t even a senior community that would let me talk to them. I would call them up and offer to bring a doctor or a nurse, but they just said no.”

After reading about how doctors in Israel had studied the benefits of cannabis to the point that many modern rabbis had declared the plant kosher for people of the Jewish faith, Platshorn approached temples across the state to discuss it. ”Pretty soon I had rabbis all over asking me to talk about my message. Many of the temples I spoke to have a lot of seniors. Those shows cost me $1,500-$2,000 to put on, but we are a 501c3, tax exempt.” 

He’s quick to point out that his work is entirely free of charge. “I’ve never made a penny.” Seniors were also interested in cannabis is because it is an affordable alternative to mainstream pharmaceuticals. “When they found out that they didn’t need Ambien or Lunesta, and that they could smoke cannabis instead, this really surprised them.” The people Platshorn speaks to are also interested in how cannabis can be used to treat other mental disorders. “They are terrified of Alzheimer’s,” he says. “I’ve got a lot of calls from senior communities about that.”





Thursday, September 1, 2016

Pablo Francisco - Comedy


The comedic style of Pablo Francisco is an ever-evolving cavalcade of celebrity impressions, incisive observations and absurd juxtapositions that has entertained incredible amounts of people all over the planet. Francisco’s recent tour across Europe resulted in sold out shows from the famous Troxy in London to Amsterdam’s legendary Milky Way. Before that the star toured Australia and performed at the South African Comedy Festival. While some comics are going places, Francisco has already been there.

In spite of his talent, genius and continuing fame and fortune, the comedian known as Pablo Francisco still stays humble. “This is just a hobby that became a career,” he says. 

“Performing over in Europe is just like performing everywhere else, it’s just that they speak several languages.” More than a decade after making his mark with pitch-perfect renditions of Al Pacino, Arnold Schwarzenegger and even Danny Glover, Francisco admits his success still surprises him. “I still feel like I’m just some YouTube karaoke star that got famous.”

Despite all the success Francisco admits that for a stand-up comic the fear of going up on stage alone with nothing but a mic stand to protect you from a mob of screaming fans demanding nothing but something to laugh at never goes away. “The fear is a good thing. It’s an adrenaline rush,” he says. “I’ve realized that at this point it is always going to feel like I’m going up for the first time, except now I’m eager to go up on stage. I can’t wait to show the audience something new I’ve been working on to impress them.”

Francisco made a name for himself early on by doing pitch-perfect impersonations of famous stars and celebrities. Part of his success is the fact that when someone big does something stupid, he’s there to capitalize because of his ability to sound like the target, whereas other comics are stuck with observational humor. “Believe me; Arnold Schwarzenegger knows how to stay in the news, so I have to keep doing a lot of those voices,” Francisco says.


“Like Justin Bieber. He’s marinating himself like he’s some sort of stud. I love him, he’s a good kid, but when you put something as obviously funny as that in my face I have to make fun of you,” he says. Any good stand-up comic will tell you that the joke usually isn’t funny unless there is a body lying on the floor because it was a target. “I’m a millionaire too, but I’ll make fun of you whether you are Angelina Jolie or Jon Bon Jovi, he says, his voice morphing into an impression of the rock singer. “It doesn’t matter if you make it or not,” he sings.

Francisco is a veteran of television, including his Comedy Central specials “They Put It Out There,” “Bits and Pieces,” and “Ouch,” and has also performed on “Mind of Mencia,” “Mad TV” and “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” but chances are that very soon he’s going to be the star of his own television show. “I’ve been working on a show with Steve Kramer. It’s a cartoon show. We even met with the producers of ‘The Family Guy.’” For a natural impersonator like Francisco, an animated series that’s as funny as it is controversial would be the logical choice.

Like any comedian, Francisco has thousands of Twitter followers and stays current on Facebook and YouTube. “I make sure there is always some good advice to take home from it. Like, if you want to be a popular at a bar, just pretend to be a little gay,” he says. “Joe Rogan is like that, his podcasts have good information.”

I just don’t understand how some people get way too personal with their own tweets. “There are some people who will follow anyone, like Gary Busey, he says, slipping into another dead-on impersonation. “Hi everyone, here’s a picture of a sandwich. I’m going to eat it. Now I’m eating French Fries,” he says. “It’s like thousands of people across America are going out on a date with him.”