Don’t Toss It Into The Bins

Today’s #MusicMonday comes from our very own Bay area based DJ Drrrty Poonjabi. A mix master of a musician (remember this SF Meetup Mixtape?) , he recently joined on to the eclectic and electronic sounds of The Bins. The group was recently signed on to the label 1320 Records and they are making some big moves. Listen to their debut album Every Minute of the Day below and download it for “name your own price”.

Like the sound? Then check them out in San Francisco on Oct 5th at the 1320 Showcase. And be sure to facebook, tumblr, soundcloud, and bandcamp them to tell them what you think and hear more sounds.

D.C.’s First Drift Elemental

It all started with a Kickstarter campaign months ago. They raised enough money and now it’s finally here. This Friday, Subcontinental Drift  will be hosting D.C.’s very first South Asian hip hop show: Drift Elemental.

The concert will take place at Liv Nightclub, located upstairs at the historic Bohemian Caverns. Doors will open at 8 p.m. with the show beginning at 9 p.m. A dance party featuring Drift Elemental’s DJs will follow. … The aim of Drift Elemental is to present South Asian artists in the context of old school hip-hop’s four elements, which include rapping, DJ-ing, graffiti art and breakdancing. The concert will feature acts from Washington, D.C. and New York. [subcontinentaldrift]

 

The show will be featuring local east coast hip hop artists who I am excited to have on my radar. The first is Navid Azeez other wise known as Navi the Swami, a member of the Whole Damme Delegation.

The second is Baltimore based Koushik Chatterjee, otherwise known as Ko the Timeless. Inspired by his Bengali music performing parents and indoctrinated into hihop with the lyrics of Tribe Called Quest, Ko’s first mixtape The Subway High Life can be downloaded here. Continue reading

To Thine Own Self Be True

A memorial to Gaurav Gopalan via Washington City Paper

In the early morning hours of September 10th, the Desi community of D.C. was rocked when a local aeronautical engineer and theatermaker Gaurav Gopalan was found near death only two blocks away from his home. He died soon after. He was only 35. There had been confusion over if had been a hate crime (he was wearing women clothing at the time as an alter persona named “Gigi”) but there had been no visible signs of trauma. Today it was confirmed to be a homicide.

Gopalan, who was found unconscious near his Columbia Heights home in the early hours of Sept. 10, died after suffering sub-arachnoid hemorrhage—bleeding in the space between the brain and the thin tissues that cover it—”due to blunt-impact head trauma,” according to Beverly Fields, chief of staff of the D.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. “The manner of death is homicide.” … The news comes in the wake of initial confusion about the case, and amid a string of shootings involving transgender women in the District. (Gopalan was wearing women’s clothes when he was found by a passerby on the 2600 block of 11th Street NW.) [citypaper]
 

Losing someone suddenly is tragic but for it to be a potential hate crime just highlights the incredible injustices in this world. Khush DC sent out a release this week:

This tragedy comes during an especially troubling time for Washington D.C.’s LGBTQQIA community.  A number of incidents involving sexual and gender minority individuals, particularly those affiliated with the transgender community, have occurred during recent months.  We stand in solidarity with all of our communities at this time, and ask everyone to exercise personal safety measures.  We also urge the MPD to fully and thoroughly investigate the incidents that have occurred. [khushdc]  

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Yogurt: A Gut Feeling in the Mind

When I was younger, yogurt repulsed me. This was no small thing because my parents come from southern India, where yogurt seems to serve as a sort of digestif without which meals don’t feel complete. There was always a pot of homemade yogurt in the fridge or on the kitchen table.

Family members would marvel (and sometimes take offense) that I wasn’t finishing up my meal with yogurt, mixing it up with rice or using it to temper the spicy foods or pickles. Imagine a grandma’s Ayurvedic admonitions in place of a Robert Mitchum voiceover and a symphony of joyful slurping instead of Copland’s “Hoe-down” and you’ll have an idea of what the Yogurt, It’s What You Eat After Dinner experience was like. Some of the reasons why I was supposed to eat it:

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Looking into the fold

Folding laundry is not usually interesting. I’ve done it while listening to music or watching TV and quickly put it out of sight and out of mind. But FOLD from San Francisco-based new media artist Surabhi Saraf offers an opportunity to ponder the mundane task in a different way. Saraf’s works meld music and choreography with experimental sound and video art. FOLD presents the seemingly simple act in a mesmerizing way, evoking dance, waves, and even rainbows as different colored pieces of clothing are folded.

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The Fierceness of Janaki

A Siren Theatre Project ProductionLast month protesters marched in front of the San Jose Museum of Arts, protesting the interpretation of Sita in the animated film Sita Sings the Blues and in a painting by M.F. Husain where Sita is depicted the nude. The words “shameful” and “denigration” were some those used by the conservative religious groups protesting the artwork – but the museum continued their support, stating “freedom of artistic expression.”

This weekend the Bay Area will see another form of “Sita art”, this time in the form of a theater production. Siren Theatre Project’s production of Janaki – Daughter of the Dirt will be hitting the stage at the Mission Cultural Center in San Francisco for it’s world premiere this Sept 16th -18th. This ground breaking stage production written by Virali Golkadas touches upon issues of power, sexism and classism from the perspective of Sita.

“I wrote Janaki – Daughter of Dirt to show that Hindu goddesses, just like the women in my family, are not self-sacrificing devotees,” said playwright Virali Gokaldas.  “They are complex, powerful, strong-willed examples, helping us hold compassion for others and ourselves, guiding us when making hard decisions, and above all, giving us the courage to live out our own destinies.” [sirentheatre]

 

As for the controversy in San Jose, here’s what Virali and Anirvan Chatterjee have to say:

Our ability to recontextualize the Ramayana is precisely what makes it a living story, instead of a dead one….The Ramayana is as rich and diverse as India.  If our Indian traditions allow even a 180 degree twist like Ravana being the hero, then what right do protestors have to censors new ways of expressing the story?

 

As Bay Area writers who have our own visions of the Ramayana to share, we take the attack on the tradition of diverse Ramayanas personally.  The Ramayana speaks to us, just as it did to those creators whose works were being protested in San Jose. [sirentheatre]

 

Art for arts sake or art to honor and personalize faith? Check out the play this weekend and form your own opinion. And just for our Sepia Mutiny readers, tickets are only $20, with the discount code “Sepia Mutiny” over at Brown Paper Ticket. For more information on Janaki – Daughter of the Dirt or Siren Theatre Project, visit their facebook page and their website.

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Facebook’s First Female Engineer, Ruchi Sanghvi

Huffpost Tech writes about Ruchi Sanghvi, who was Facebook’s first female engineer. Its profile portrays Sanghvi–who left the company last year to start her own company Cove soon after marrying a fellow Facebook engineer–as an example of the success of startup meritocracy. But it also shares her views on what she calls the boys’ club and the difficulty of breaking into it at Facebook.

Sanghvi, who didn’t use a computer regularly until college, went on to launch such features as News Feed, which defines the user experience for many people on Facebook. Her rise at the company from when she was one of the first 10 engineers hired illustrates the potential and possibilities for a bright young engineer in the tech field. Given her vantage point and success, her impressions and suggestions stemming from her experiences carry a certain weight.

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Seeing Ghosts in the Air

Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikerollinger/

Browns on a Plane is an American horror story not featuring Samuel Jackson and not coming to a theater near you, though it did make its way onto a Detroit-bound flight yesterday and may be replayed on select 9/11 anniversary flights as long as brown people continue to fly the fear-filled skies. To learn more about the plot of this real-life tale, read Shoshana Hebshi’s personal account of being on one of the two flights that were escorted by fighter jets to their destination yesterday on September 11–“Some real Shock and Awe: Racially profiled and cuffed in Detroit.” Hebshi is a self-described “half-Arab, half-Jewish housewife” from Ohio who sat next to two Indian men on the Frontier Airlines Flight 623, two men who used the restroom at some point during the flight.

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Blue Scholars’ Bollywood Icon

Ha, ji! Ms. Rani Mukerji is a now a “rap music icon”!

Today’s #MusicMonday comes from Blue Scholars, the hip hop/spoken word crew out of Seattle. The song comes from their just released album Cinemetropolis, available for download on bandcamp. Each song on the album is named after a person, such as Yuri Kochiyama, Oscar Grant, and Anna Karina.

The duo — DJ Sabzi and MC Geologic — say the song ‘Rani Mukerji’ is a big hit at their live concerts. “Rani appears to be a powerful, intelligent woman and a cultural leader. She does a good job balancing her projected image with dignity and without allowing herself to be objectified,” says DJ Sabzi, adding his favourite Rani film is the 2002 hit Saathiya. [hindustantimes]

Hands down, Rani Mukerji is my favorite song on the album. As a Bangla speaker, I must say, it gives me a little thrill to hear feisty Bengali words in the catchy chorus. I expect I’ll be singing these words all week long.