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Tampa Bay Super Lame

A place for local art in all forms.

Randal

He is a happy young man, ready to go.

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Here are a few of this years best releases as noted by the Super Lame community. They are in no particular order and are subject to change at any time.

Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

The Canadian super group’s third full-length record met huge success when it dropped earlier this year. The songs are full of tongue-in-cheek commentary about the state of the nation’s youth. Though the subject matter may seem trite, the execution is impeccable. Songs range from the sparse guitar and vocal driven title track to huge 80s style dance anthems like “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains).”  Definitely worth a couple listens.

Born Ruffians – Say It

Another win from our neighbors to the north. The young punk-pop trio is a little older than when they went on their first tour while still in high school. The growth is apparent when listening to the original EPs and the newest release back to back. Singer/Guitarist Luke LaLonde’s voice has come a long way from the half screaming whines of years past. The track “Sole Brother” features more calculated melodies and a more mature style of vocal roles. The band’s stripped-down sound of heavy drums, low bass and occasional rhythm guitar is still in tack, yet the track “Come Back” ventures  out and features horns. Overall, the fun is still there for these Toronto youths, but now their songs have a bit more substance.

Medications – Completely Removed

This Washington DC based band has come a long way. Originally, the two main members of Medications, Devin Ocampo and Chat Molter, were part of a project called “Faraquet.” The one Faraquet album, The View From this Tower, is a standard in any math-rock library. With this latest release, Ocampo and Molter depart from the rough sounds of the previous Medications album and adopt a more refined aesthetic. The clean guitar tracks and mid and high-toned bass lines mix seamlessly over precise drum work. The old complexities of Faraquet’s math-rock are transformed by pop sensibilities and catchy melodies. It’s a math-rock album you can take home to mom.  

Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz

In a “best of” list made of departures from past sounds, Sufjan Stevens has maybe the most interesting evolution. The Age of Adz is an ambitious project by Stevens. Every track is packed to the brim with noise. Each measure teems with life; buzzing, whirling, beeping life. Stevens’ trademark melodies are carried by a chorus of voices, but his own whisper singing still shines through. The levels of sound on this album go so deep that multiple listens are a must, and a pleasure. 

 

 

by Corin La Pointe-Aitchison

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The museum of cartoon and comic art, or MoCCA, is holding a design contest for their new building. As reported here, in Bustler, the Brooklyn based museum is moving on up in the world.

In the past decade or so, comic book sales have dropped drastically. The industry has evolved and reinvented itself so many times that it’s hard to keep up with. It seems that now, most major comic book companies are starting to discard paper printing for digital comics. See Graphic.ly’s new platform for digital comics here. The age of the collector would seem to be coming to an end as comics become less print media and more electronic media.  The question and situation are presented as a hyperbole, of course. Fans, like me, will always be here to gobble up special edition books in physical form. And as long as there’s a market, there will be sales. But say the market disappeared, I ask myself, would I be able to sit by as these stories and characters died?

For me, as for other Super Lame nerds, comics helped raise me. These characters acted as moral compasses for a young man who was disillusioned with the doctrine of his parent’s religion. Characters like Spider-Man and the X-Men taught me valuable lessons about growing up.

As any Spider-Man fan will tell you, doing the right thing isn’t always easy. In Peter Parker’s case, it rarely is. Moral choices weigh heavy on the heart of this New York city youth. Often, Peter is faced with choosing an outcome that is beneficial to himself versus an outcome of greater good for humanity. These are simple situations, like stopping the purse-snatcher or making it home in time to eat dinner with your beautiful wife. It seems like an easy answer, but most people would never dream of intervening in a street crime, especially if no one would know it was you. Because remember, Spider-Man has a mask and a secret identity (pre-Marvel Civil War). This means that in simple cases like these, no one will praise you for the good dead or curse you for non action. The moral dilemma rests solely on the heart and not on the ego. Spider-Man teaches that no good deed goes unpunished, but still good deeds are a moral imperative.

The X-Men are a whole tale of acceptance in their concept alone. A band of social outcasts fight against prejudice and defend the rights of those who persecute them. This is not a tales of heroes but of revolutionaries. The book is deeply political, often placing scenes and characters in places of high authority, like the White House. The minority group in this tales not only defends their persecutors, but does so while taking the ethical high-ground. The leader of the X-Men has the super power of telepathy. Professor Xavier could simply change the minds of the masses by force, but instead chooses to let the public come to their own conclusions, ever showing his undying faith in humanity.

Both books have been teaching generations about choosing good for good’s sake. To think that the stories may someday stop, breaks my heart. I would support the industry in any way so long as these characters in this universe stay alive and continue their struggles through life and society. If comics become a digital medium, so be it. I ask only that the quality of art and writing I experienced as a youth continues and that new generations are taught the values of the hard road of doing good.

 

by Corin La Pointe-Aitchison

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Decades ago, street art might have been considered synonymous with vandalism, but different perspectives question whether it’s more of an art or a crime — and legal venues for it now exist.

In the ’70s and ’80s, spray painters started a counterculture movement by placing their names on buildings and subway cars. Yet now some street artists have been able to gain widespread recognition.

Graffiti artists like Shepard Fairey and Bansky now have had works displayed inside galleries across the globe — Bansky even recently released a film called “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” which tackled concepts of art.

James Hendrickson, a junior majoring in health science, said good street art is meant to beautify the community.

“The best street art leaves viewers with a thought or emotion,” Hendrickson said. “Graffiti tagging is just marking your territory. It’s like peeing on a wall.”

These territorial markings  that are also called “tags” — often found in large cities like Tampa — mark street art’s origins.

A New York Times article from 1971 titled “‘Taki 183′ Spawns Pen Pals” helped make tagging famous. The article focused on a Manhattan teenager who wrote his tag wherever he went in New York and spawned countless copycats.

Since then, artists like Doze Green and Barry McGee have made the leap from the street to the gallery.

Wes Roos, who recently graduated from USF with a bachelor’s in studio art, said he initially had no background in fine art but became interested in street art.

Roos said that pieces like Green’s and McGee’s influenced his decision to switch majors from architecture, and describes his own work as street art.

“On the street or on the gallery wall, it’s more than a name,” he said.

However, Roos said he does not condone vandalism and supports “coordinated projects like murals — things that are more celebratory.”

“Plus, you don’t have to worry about being arrested,” he said.

USF’s Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) hosted a gallery exhibit in 2005 that featured work by street artists like Fairey and McGee.

According to the CAM website, “Beautiful Losers: Contemporary Art and Street Culture,” was the “work of a diverse group of visual artists that have emerged from aspects of street culture loosely organized around the subcultures of skateboarding, graffiti, punk and hip-hop in urban U.S. cities.”

USF Institute for Research in Art associate director Alexa Favata said the exhibit’s opening diverged from the gallery’s typical audience.

“The crowd was a mix of regular museum guests as well as skaters and punk artists,” Favata said. “‘Beautiful Losers’ came to (CAM), who developed partnerships with the Skatepark of Tampa and Blake High School.”

Favata said students at Blake were taught how to make zines — small print publications meant to “expand visibility” of subcultures. Zine pieces were also included in “Beautiful Losers.”

The exhibition then expanded to different countries, as it moved from CAM to European galleries in 2006.

But street art is never expressly confined to galleries — hence the name.

In Gainesville, the 34th Street wall offers a public venue for such art. According to Gainesville.com, the 1,120-foot wall has been a free canvas since 1979 and is home to visual messages of all sorts.

UP spokeswoman Lt. Meg Ross said that a public space for graffiti would be a good “legal way to leave your mark.”

“In Gainesville, the…wall is a good way to look back,” she said. “I could see some value in it.”

Yet, Ross said graffiti is not a very common crime on campus.

“We see more vandalism on cars, personal things,” she said. “The official charge for any vandalism is criminal mischief.”

As a misdemeanor, it carries a maximum charge of one year in jail. Ross said that such extreme cases are rare.

Both Roos and Hendrickson said they would favor a designated art space like 34th Street over street artists resorting purely to vandalism.

“Tampa needs more street art,” Hendrickson said. “The city is suffering from the economic crisis. It’s a cultural melting pot, and it needs more outlets — an artistic communication of those struggles.”

 

by Corin La Pointe-Aitchison

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Thousands of punk music enthusiasts, including some USF students, migrate to Gainesville every year for Fest, while Tampa also offers early opportunities to start the festival off on the right note.

Fest is a Gainesville-based music festival that spans Halloween weekend and hosts shows in downtown bars, bike shops and local restaurants.

Started by Tony Weinbender of No Idea Records in 2002, Fest hosts over 200 acts across 12 venues.

This year’s headliner was Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, a punk cover band with matching outfits and a cover selection that has included Andrew Lloyd Webber and Stevie Wonder songs. The band features NOFX singer and Fat Wreck Chords punk record label owner Fat Mike on bass.

On Friday, reunited Detroit ska-punkers The Suicide Machines played, closing the night’s proceedings with a 19-year discography of often politically charged songs.

The festival also offers free shows, flea market trades and art galleries during the day.

Yet, students don’t have to drive to Gainesville to catch some of these bands. Transitions Art Gallery at 4215 E. Columbus Drive will holds Pre-Fest concerts featuring Fest acts for a fraction of the price.

This year’s Pre-Fest showcased  acts like Paul Baribeau and Eric Ayotte followed by San Francisco thrashcore band Punch and Minneapolis punk quartet Banner Pilot.

Banner Pilot’s bassist Nate Gangelhoff said the band has played Pre-Fest three times now.

“I’ll play every year they ask me to,” Gangelhoff said. “It’s different than Fest. It’s one big party in a huge parking lot full of people and tons of friends from around the country.”

Gangelhoff said he is excited to see his label mates Me First and the Gimme Gimmes and Teenage Bottlerocket play, but part of Fest’s fun is catching bands in smaller venues.

“I need to check out the list,” Gangelhoff said. “You should check out random bands. You’ll be surprised sometimes.”

Shane Handal, a senior majoring in interdisciplinary social sciences, said he discovered new bands that way last year.

“Fest is a weekend getaway from normal life, where all that matters for three days is what band you’re going to see,” Handal said. “Everyone is there to party and have a great time.”

Other students consider Pre-Fest a cheap alternative to the main Fest. Paige Lewis, a sophomore majoring in English literature, said she attended Pre-Fest last year because of the cost and time it clears up in the weekend’s schedule.

“When you go to Fest, you have to worry about schedule conflicts, so there are certain bands you can’t see,” Lewis said. “So I go see them at Pre-Fest.”

Melanie Foley, a senior majoring in international studies and four-time Fest attendee, said the festival allows her to reconnect with friends across the country.

“It gets tough to see friends working full-time, going to school and living in different cities — so things like Fest are great,” Foley said. “I like seeing friends who I haven’t seen in months, and sometimes since Fest the previous year.”

USF alumna Christina Coil said that when she attended Pre-Fest last year, she appreciated the crowd’s energy and seeing “fun, awkward music for fun, awkward people like me” in Tampa.

“All these kids were going absolutely insane — singing, crowd surfing, climbing on top of speakers,” Coil said. “It’s cool to see other people out there into the same stuff that you are.”

by Corin La Pointe-Aitchison

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Jun, local musician, farmer and promoter gives a personal tale of artistic growth.

I am a local singer/songwriter/musician/artist from the Tampa Bay area. Born in Japan May 9th. 1985 to two traveling freelance visual artists/photographers, Chiki and Joel Bustamante. I spent most of my youth in Caracas, Venezuela as a farmer. Eventually, when I was about 12 or 13, my parent settled in St. Petersburg, FL.

Music and Art were always a part of my life, so it was pretty much inevitable for me to fall into it at an early age. Started classical training on the piano at age 4 and continued until age 14. I was involved in a large number of theatre and musical theatre projects from age 12 to 18. At this same time I started taking vocal classes and switched my classical piano lessons to Jazz.
I had been writing my own music since I was 7, but didn’t fully pursue it until I came back from living in NYC. I attended NYU for unaccredited courses in Music management and Music business.

For the past 3 years I’ve been putting together events, showcases, and booking gigs for other musicians and artists. I am currently working on my eighth “ROOTS” event going on this Oct. 8th and 9th 2010.
The mission statement for “ROOTS” is: to provide Local businesses & artists the Opportunity to showcase their work and talent while bringing together community and good vibes.
I also get guest speakers from environmental groups to give a little info in between sets about what they are doing and how others can be involved if they wish.

I continue to practice organic farming and permaculture while writing my music, playing out, and putting together showcases with other local artists.
I just finished my first full-length album “MiCasaEsSuCasa” and I’m currently working on my next one.

I do what I do because I love it. I love people, I love music, I love art, and I love nature. I don’t have a sense of purpose really, just to enjoy the now and be mindful of the “nouns” (persons, places, things) around me.

Art is: Whatever you want it to be

Art is not: Expectation

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Architect and all-around art enthusiast on art and the process

Hello, my name is Brian Choquette and I am an architect. If you looked hard enough you could find some of my work in St. Pete, New York City, and San Francisco…however most of my architecture work to date is in boxes at my parent’s house. Besides that, I also write and play music and fool around with films, mostly for my own enjoyment and the occasional audience.

I am a frequent starter of projects but a rare finisher. I can make that sound better by saying I enjoy the process more than the product. I especially enjoy that moment where you discover a new technique, sound, or skill and it opens up a million possibilities. It’s unwieldy and raw….good and bad are out the window because the only thing that matters is taming it to a point of usefulness, while still permitting some of the wildness that got you there in the first place.

Art is…something people do because it would kill them not to. It’s genuine.

Art is not…a manufactured outcome.

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