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SXSW: Saul Williams

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Just got done chatting with Saul Williams at the Austin Convention Center. Williams has three performances scheduled for this year’s SXSW. He’s actually just finishing up his first now, which is a solo acoustic set, but will be joined later tonight by his band for their 1AM performance at Vice. I think they’re also doing a day show at the Fader Fort tomorrow.

On my may out I also bumped into Thurston Moore. He’s plays tomorrow night (sans Sonic Youth) at 12:45AM (Mohawk Patio).

Word on the street, is that tomorrow around 5PM at the Fader Fort there’s going to be a Lou Reed Tribute show (with Lou Reed in attendance). Apparently a handful of bands will be performing Velvet Underground songs. Rumor has it that Dr. Dog, The Shout Out Louds, and Thurston Moore will be partaking in the event. We shall see.

He’s an excerpt of my interview with Saul Williams. Look for the full-length later this month:

Jim: Many people may not realize that your Niggy Tardust character has a much deeper meaning than just a name recognition to David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust character.

Saul: What David Bowie was doing with Ziggy Stardust, I think, was finding a way to do a few things–to manipulate the media and shift his career, to go from this folk musician to this “what’s-he-going-to-do-next?” artist, but then to get media to raise questions surrounding gender and sexuality, and to use that as a stepping board. With Niggy Tardust I’m raising questions about identity and race, and using that as a stepping board at a time where everything is going down–like today on the news, what Geraldine Ferraro has said about Barrack Obama, “The only reason why he’s in a position that he is, is because he’s black.” So now she has to apologize, because everyone’s like, “Whoa, you can’t say that.” So America’s at this racial [crossroads], and at the same time I’m a firm believer in the idea of the feminine being the thing that we need to honor more than the idea of the masculine. That was really what my last album was about, where I was talking about vulnerability being power. With Niggy Tardust, he’s a hybrid–that’s the main focus. Here’s someone that’s born, like me and you, under the context or banner of the idea of belonging to some sort of race, but who understands and sees beyond it. You know? Who realizes that race is a social construct, and realizes that he doesn’t need those boundaries to justify his existence.

Jim: Last year you wrote an open letter to Oprah Winfrey. What was the purpose of it?

Saul: It was real simple. A bunch of friends of mine were like, “Oprah’s going to have Common [and other hip-hop artists] on her show talking about misogyny in hip-hop.” Some people aren’t aware of it that in 25 years of Oprah she’s never mentioned hip-hop.

Jim: Never?

Saul: It was the first time ever that hip-hop was addressed on her show–ever. We all knew, the black community was aware of it, she just never addressed it. So, I tuned in. It’s like, “Wow, hip-hop for the first time.” She had Russell Simmons–I can’t remember everyone she had on–but very articulate people who just didn’t say stuff that I felt needed to be said. When I stopped watching the show I was frustrated that she called it a “town meeting”. It was the same thing that led me to writing poetry. I was hearing people voice ideas and I wasn’t hearing my voice or perspective, and I knew that my voice and perspective was representative of many similar to mine. I decided the next morning, “I’m going to write Oprah today.” First thing I did was call my mom, cause that’s who you call when you’re going to write Oprah. I never intended to send it to Oprah. If you look at the style that it’s written in, I was using Oprah as the person I was talking to, because it directed how I spoke. It was like talking to your mom or something. I had to be respectful, I couldn’t be angry. I liked using [Oprah] as a writing device so I just kept it up. I spent the whole day writing it and editing it, and at the end of the day I was like, “I like this, let’s throw it up to the e-mail blast.” I’ve done that with poems several times.

Jim: Did you ever hear back from Oprah?

Saul: By the end of the next day it was on something like 200-300 websites. It had just resonated. It popped up on all these different websites and they just took it and ran with it. That’s the other thing, I never personally acknowledge that I really have any level of celebrity or anything like that, so I forget in some people’s eyes they might think that [I am famous]. Some websites responded like, “Saul Williams Sends a Letter–.” I was like, “Oh shit.” I was thinking of it like a personal blog type thing, you know? So then my publishing company was like, “We would like to formally send this to Oprah with a submission to be on her show.” So that was done. I never got a response, but the lack of response feels official.


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.