Monday, July 29, 2013

Bombing The System -- Style Wars at The Academy of Arts & Sciences with KCRW

So much freakin fun last night!

Mear 1 creating at the event. 
My husband convinced a group of us to go out on a Sunday night - a coveted stay-home evening - to see the famous early 80's counterculture documentary "Style Wars" which is about graffiti artists, bombers/writers, b-boy dancers and hip hop in NYC in the early 80's.

Photo by Henry Chalfont, on exhibit at the event.
Shown outside at night on the lawn of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, I was pretty much the only one watching who was new to this beloved documentary. Pretty much all in attendance owned it like the back of their tattooed hands. The guy next to me was shouting out lines as if he were watching "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." I get it and I loved it. LOVED LOVED LOVED.

"Style Wars," directed by the late Tony Silver and produced by Henry Chalfont, was just recently restored with fund-raising efforts lead by uber fan Catherine Keener. She was there before the film to discuss the film's meaning, history and impact along with a panel comprised of Chalfont and one of the film's star bombers, Skeme, moderated by Anthony Valdez.

Skeme and his Mom in their kitchen on screen
The movie was so good and personal, due in part to the intercutting throughout of Skeme and his mother. Just a two-shot in the kitchen, their dynamic, her personality, everything - it was FANTASTIC. Nothing short of priceless and classic. I could watch clips of them over and over and over again. Here's a little of the film featuring Skeme and his mom, along with other moments from the film:

It was also a major adrenaline rush due in part to the soundtrack. Check out the movie's playlist, as compiled by Repo136:

1. Siegfried’s Rhine Journey and Funeral Music
2. 8th Wonder - The Sugarhill Gang
3. The Wanderer - Dion
4. Jam Hot - Johnny Dynell
5. Pump Me Up - Trouble Funk
6. The Message - Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five
7. Beat Bop - Rammelzee vs. K-Rob
8. Sing, Sing - Gaz
9. Give It Up or Turnit a Loose - James Brown
10. Rockin’ It - The Fearless Four
11. Rocket In The Pocket - Cerrone
12. Feel The New Heartbeat - The Treacherous Three

And yes, now I'm going to download the whole damn thing. So good. Also prior to watching the film there were artists making art:

Photo by Terrence Dunlop
T shirts getting silk screened with famous sayings from the time period:

Photo by Terrence Dunlop
And they even had BBoy dancers from Long Beach. Before that performance, just while hanging out, we listened to some great music spun by Anthony Valdez, including of course:

My husband danced to this as did the many gathered on the lawn there, but I didn't get much of a shot of him dancing. Sorry Terry Fans.

KCRW did this in conjunction with Oscar Outdoors, which on its own shows movies all summer long right there on the lawn at The Academy of Motion Arts and Pictures. The entrance is on Homewood, between Cahuenga and Vine (just south of The Arclight) in Hollywood. There's SA-WEET parking right across from the lawn (It was very human!!!! - I got in and out no problem, no agita!). So if this sounds like your sort of thing, know that there are a bunch of films coming up. Good stuff, too. You can buy tickets online, though some of the really popular movies set for August are already sold out. And yet...

When there's a will, there's always a way.

If you're into it, you can go on standby. That's what we did for "Style Wars." We got there before 6pm, and had no problem getting in and setting up camp. Tickets are 5 bucks, free for kids under 10 (are you short?) and if you're an Academy Member (ahem) it's $3. This Friday, August 2nd, is "American Graffiti" and on August 24th it's "Grease." Grease is the word yo. For ticket information, rules about what you can bring in with you, etc. just go to Oscar Outdoors.

Meanwhile, I kind of bonded with these very nice people from KCRW last night and want to add there's a cool upcoming FREE event which they're hosting in August. This showing of "Style Wars" was a part of KCRW's Summer Nights Events. On August 17th as part of their Summer Nights schedule, they're throwing a big ole party in Chinatown. I'm definitely going. Sounds like mega fun. There's going to be dancing, food, DJ's, chefs cooking up Chinese cuisine -- food, food, food...

Photo courtesy of KCRW
And as for last night, it was a blast. And educational. The movie really effected me. I remember growing up in New York and being scared out of appreciating graffiti. I was young and had fallen for my paranoid parent's (and Mayor Ed Koch's) opinion that graffiti's only real meaning was to signify urban blight and the terrible depths our society had fallen to. As I've gotten older, I've fallen out of fear and into love with graffiti. I see such art and messaging, talent and creativity. I really felt that "Style Wars" gave me a lot of insight into the world of someone who wanted to see their name traveling all over NYC, from one place to another. They cared so much about the art of it and what it looked like. I understand much more now what it meant to them to see their name on those cars in terms of displaying their creations to likeminded individuals who could and would (minus Cap) fully appreciate what they had accomplished. And the subversive task of getting their art done in and of itself was of course a major part of the thrill and added to why the act was so truly empowering.

"Style Wars" made me want to be cool, which is one of the best outcomes of any film, if you ask me.

Leading me to say if you EVER hear that this film is being screened, do yourself a favor and go see it. You will not regret it. Also if you're interested in the topic, you may want to check out the producer's website: HENRY CHALFONT.

To sum up:



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