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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.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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