Keeping it Current

one of current tv's hollywood buildings

one of current tv's hollywood buildings

Started my first week interning at Current TV, with the Vanguard journalism dept.

A radical group of people for sure…I hope to get in the know.

As expected, a laid-back, hip, young office vibe. But they’re true to their work and are on top of their game.

And on day 2, I got to watch porn….while eating donuts! The thanks goes to Christof, the Current correspondent working on a documentary on the porn industry for the new season of Vanguard, starting Oct. 22.

[Emmy-nominated investigative documentary series, it seems is what we call Vanguard]

I watched — well, fast forwarded through the explicit scenes and slowed down for the dialogue — “Space Nuts” and “Curse Eternal,” two “big” budget pornographic flicks. I say “big” because I’m not sure the size of the budgets nor the comparison to Hollywood films….I didn’t realize there was really a story here until today. Makes sense though – the “real” acting and art that goes into porno DVDs is being undercut by Internet profiteers in the porn biz and gonzo porn stuff.

Sex aside, being behind the scenes a very interesting company that puts out really excellent documentaries and media for the 18-34 demographic should prove quite awesome and hopefully fruitful.

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IN MUSIC THIS WEEK: Because I can’t blog enough about all the artists I want to, you need to check out the latest from Mute Math, Muse, Imogen Heap and Bat For Lashes.

I heard “Backfire” from Mute Math @ The Press in Claremont tonight, which was surprising but awesome. Saw these guys open for Mae freshman year of college at The Glasshouse in Pomona. Only caught the end of their set, but I was immediately impressed: weird noises, a proggy Radiohead feel, melodic verses, fast-paced beats, catchy keyboard and guitar riffs, with a soothing Coldplay-esque voice that can lull you to sleep and get you dancing all at the same time.

>>download the title track, “Armistice,” from the widget on the right! Listen more on LaLa or Myspace

Imogen Heap and Bat For Lashes are my latest lady obsessions, both creating definitively unique sounds through synthesizer manipulation contrasting organic instrumentation like ethnic drums and chimes. I highly, highly recommend. Especially if you’re looking for something. They’re eye-openers. Also caught BfL @ Outside Lands San Francisco a few weeks ago. Couldn’t tell if the girl was hot or not! Girlfriend and I couldn’t quite figure her out. See for yourself below:

batforlashes

this week in music vol. ii

Now that this is a series (did you see the vol. II in the title?), I’ve really got stay on top of new music (which sometimes includes culture).

But first off, a quick thank you. Thank you to the LA Times for calling Grizzly Bear overrated! Nothing against the guys, but the music is really so-so. Granted, I still haven’t really gotten into Animal Collective either, who were the “it” band  6 months ago when “Merriweather Post Pavillion” came out. Nonetheless, LA Times’ overrated/underrated gallery claims Grizzly Bear and Zoey Deschanel overrated, Mad Men and Nine Inch Nails underrated. Heres’ the excerpt on GB:

OVERRATED

Grizzly Bear: We’re suckers for hearing the band of the moment, and the quartet’s new album, “Veckatimest,” is touted as this summer’s must-hear. Though the first single, “Two Weeks,” is an addictively airy confection, the rest of this ornate, harmony-rich album left us kind of cold. Each song is undeniably pretty but feels like an impossibly delicate construct, making us wonder whether there’s any blood underneath it all.

Check out the full list HERE. It’s pretty awesome — upscale burgers and indiefied mix casette tapes are also overrated.

Now to the music. I hit up Rhino Records in Claremont last week and got some gems. Raided the uber cheap used section for some An Angle, Brandston, Eisley and a couple other randoms. Haven’t gotten to those yet.

The good stuff though was in the new Portugal. The Man and an album from a band I just started listening to: “The Meek Shall Inherit What’s Left” by Kiss Kiss.

Portugal does it again, with another great album. I can’t get enough of this band. Listened maybe three times through the new one (which has great artwork), and I’ll definitely approve. A more thorough review to come soon.satanic-satanist-portugal-man

Kiss Kiss, which I have just noticed from checking out their myspace, has a concert scheduled in space. Yes, space. This could be completely untrue, but their tour schedule is claiming an appearance at the international space station in 2010. Somehow I doubt that, but hey I’d be down! This band has rich strings to complement some slightly avant-garde rock. The falsetto voice, slightly imperfect, is a great match and you can really hear the anguish in a few tracks. Pretty epic music, so I like it a lot. A bit like …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead or Vendetta Red.

Also checked out Spinnerette, a new group from former Distillers‘ frontwoman Brody Dalle. She’s the wife of Queens of the Stone Age front man Josh Hommes. Rolling Stone article here.

Also checked out War Tapes and Parachute at the listening stations. Stellar, but I’ll download.

Also bought 4 old school DVDs for $2.99 each: Johnny Mnemonic, Code 46, DeRailed, Species. My favorite so far (I’ve only watched Species and Code 46) is Species. Who knew that the blazing hot Natasha Henstridge walked around half the movie butt naked? Sexy, indeed.

Grand total? 4 DVDs, 6 CDs for $40. Not bad.

addendum: uploaded tracks so you can hear what I’m talkin’ about. Check out “The Home” from Portugal and “The Best Mistake” from Kiss Kiss.

High school students inundated with video fame

High school Teacher Michael Steinman wants his students to wake up.

Michael Steinman, a teacher at Pomona’s Village Academy High School, inspired his students to create a video reflection on the economic crisis called “Is Anybody Listening?” From left to right, students Chris Schultz, Maritssa Barber, and Joohee Sohn were featured in the now-famous video that earned them a visit from President Barack Obama.

Michael Steinman, a teacher at Pomona’s Village Academy High School, inspired his students to create a video reflection on the economic crisis called “Is Anybody Listening?” From left to right, students Chris Schultz, Maritssa Barber, and Joohee Sohn were featured in the now-famous video that earned them a visit from President Barack Obama.

It’s not that they’re falling asleep in class – they’re wide-eyed and talkative.

Rather, the juniors and seniors in Steinman’s Advanced Placement Literature and Composition class at Village Academy High School in Pomona are struggling to finish the year strong.

This is after touching thousands with a heartbreaking video that brought President Barack Obama to the high school during his trip to Southern California in March.

Reflecting on the state of the economy and its effects on their lives, Steinman’s students opened up to the world under his direction, producing a DVD made up of little more than a montage of their reactions to the economic crisis and ongoing recession.

One by one, each student confessed something more tragic than the next in the video they called “Is Anybody Listening?”

The video now has almost 60,000 views on YouTube, and people are listening – the class has had many visitors, from Obama to Whoopi Goldberg, and even a little boy who was moved by their video.

“I don’t think they even know they did it,” Steinman said. “A door has been wide opened for you guys into the world. From the president of the United States on down, you’re known for having made a statement. Are you just going to let the door dangle in the wind?”

The video’s moving effects echoed throughout the country, as the students’ story soon gathered a frenzy of media attention that included a 20/20 special and coverage on CNN, BBC, CBS, PBS, KABC, KNBC and KCET.

“They were inspired by me, but they’ve become inundated with it,” Steinman said. “If they’re gonna get out there and be Ghandis, I at least want them to get a good grade in class.”

Steinman hoped all the attention would fire his students up, but the kids are more interested in graduating high school than worrying about how to change the world.

“I don’t think its hit us yet,” said Maritssa Barba, a 17-year-old junior who comes to tears in the video explaining how her father walked out on her family. “We did it, we saw it as a project, then it got really big. And now we’re just kind of like, ‘Whoah.’”

Barba, who wants to be an actress or an environmentalist, said her dad has come back and her family is doing better.

“My mom saw it before it became a big thing,” Barba said. “She was crying. To see teenagers and see how they’re struggling, she didn’t realize that it was affecting so many people.”

Rogelio Gutierrez, an 18-year-old senior, is still shocked by the attention the video has received.

“We didn’t expect it to go nationwide. It was just a video we were going to make before Obama took office,” he said.

Seventeen-year-old Jose Lopez knows what he and his friends did, realizing a visit from Barack Obama means they made an impact.

“I don’t think we’re important, but we are,” Lopez said. “I mean the president noticed us. If that doesn’t say we’re important, then what does?”

The idea for the video came from conversations regarding the American dream, a dominant theme in class’ reading at the time, “The Great Gatsby.”

With the promise from their teacher that either Obama or John McCain would see their statement, the high schoolers revealed sad, but candid anecdotes about their parents losing jobs, running months behind on rent payments, and having trouble keeping food in the fridge.

“I had 30 kids crying,” said Steinman. “I knew that was pretty powerful stuff.”

The future physicians, doctors and actors from Pomona are the voice of the youth in America right now, but they’re not sure what to do with their newfound influence.

“They haven’t really wrapped their heads around it,” Steinman said. “A kid just wants to be a kid and doesn’t really have burning desire to change the world.”

The students have started helping others.

With Steinman’s help, they have started the Village Fund to make use of all the donations they have received.

There is $13,000 in a bank account right now that the school is finding a way to use for future Village Academy students in need.

“I think this is important not just because the president stopped by here to shake your hands. But he might not be the one that makes change,” Steinman said. “You might be the ones who make the change.”