Sunday, April 30, 2006

30 Days Premiere

As I type this, the time is 6:43 in the PM, which means that the World Premiere of 30 Days will be starting in 17 minutes... Well, maybe I'm better off saying that it's scheduled to begin in 17 minutes. After all, it's a Nigerian function and Nigerians, like all other nations of the Sable Genus of Humanity, are notorious for never starting anything on time!

I really wish I could have attended, but I'm unable to get down down to Maryland due to work obligations. I really hope the movie does well, though. It's written, produced and directed by Mildred Okwo, who has become something of an aquaintance of mine through Nigerian film circles. I have to admit that I feel somewhat... Well, not "jealous," but y'know... One of our original goals with TOO MUCH BEAUTIFUL WOMAN (ha! this all caps thing will take a little getting used to) was to be the first Young Turks out the gate with an high profile, high quality, crowd-pleasing Nigerian flick. Now that I'm not as young of a Turk (this project has been in gestation for some time), I'm not as obsessed with being the first... Just the best.

In any case, if Mildred's film does well, it will only help us because she would have kicked down the gate. I'm already learning from her experience anyway, in terms of adapting to the unique challenges of shooting in Nigeria. One of those challenges is, of course, access to good equipment and access to it when you need it. To that end, I am currently working on acquiring as much of my own equipment as possible. I am prepared to sell my blood, plasma, sperm, and even pimp myself out to VI A COM. Worse comes to worst, I'll just rent the stuff out to other poor suckers.

Actually, that gives me an idea about what I should probably write about on this blog until we start production: Nollywood. I know that the phenomenon of the Nigerian film scene has been widely reported on lately but I'm not sure that they've given a clear enough picture. Maybe I'll write about Nollywood, explain its ins and outs and why what we are doing with TOO MUCH BEAUTIFUL WOMAN is so... er, revolutionary (self-promotion alert) within that context.

Yeah, that's something to think about.

Anyway, the mp3 of the day is Gbe Mi Lo by Ofege

(This is also a track I hope to include on the soundtrack, but I promise not to make this a continuing theme of any sort)

Ofege - "the schoolboy sensations," as the band's membership was largely composed of high school students - was probably the most popular Nigerian band of the early to mid-1970s, but they are near forgotten today. Unlike other outfits of era such as BLO and Monomono, they didn't benefit at all from the Afro-funk revival of a few years ago and were represented on none of the many compilations. I pitched the idea of an Ofege retrospective to Strut Records a few years ago, but unfortunately they went out of business shortly thereafter.

I've often described Ofege as a mix of the Bay City Rollers and Santana as they were a boy band with a penchant for trippy rock freakouts. As is the case with a lot of their Nigerian rock peers, I find their vocals disappointing. It's like they were so obsessed with rocking out instrumentally that they never really gave a second thought to recruiting a decent singer. This one's an instrumental, though; from their debut album, Try and Love, released in... um, I think 1972. Enjoy.

(I think there's got to be a better way to post these mp3s than Rapidshare... I'll work that out later. Time to get my grub on.)

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Happy Birthday, Koko

mp3 of the day: The J.B.'s w/ James Brown - To My Brother

Koko is the other component in this thing of ours we call TOO MUCH BEAUTIFUL WOMAN (I've decided to start typing the title in all caps all the time, no matter how incongruous it may be... Can't be too obnoxious when you're self-promoting, can ya?)

He's been my co-conspirator for a long time, since we were 13 or 14 (Well, since I was 13 or 14, anyway. I've never been completely sure of how old he really is. He claims to be a year older than me, but he had, like, a full beard when I first met him). Back then I was what I guess you would call "one of the popular kids," a rising star of the junior high school social stratosphere - all obsessed with "fitting in," making friends with the right people, supposedly dating the right girls, popping my collar, ironing sharp creases into the front of my school uniform, and wearing loosely-knotted ties and aviator shades (it was the motherfucking 1980s, dag).

Koko was the exact opposite of that. From the vantage point of the desperately conformist, approval-seeking milieu I inhabited, he might as well have come from a completely different planet. He was the first person I ever met who truly did not give a lonely, lavender-scented fuck what anybody thought about him. He was loud and crude, yet had a wit like a rapier. His appearance was generally slovenly and yet he was reputed to have laid more girls than my entire circle of pretty boy friends had even talked to. If anybody taught me to just say damn the torpedoes of conformity and just be myself, regardless of how unpopular that might be... it was him.

So if you think that today I am a weirdo, a contrarian, an oddball.... Blame this man.

But wish him a happy 47th birthday first, willya?

(Hmmm... I should probably post an old photo here or something. I'll dig one out.)

Friday, April 28, 2006, er... What now?

Ostensibly, the raison d’etre for this blog is to document the production of Too Much Beautiful Woman, the heart-stopping, garment-rending, ass-grabbing soon-to-be cinematic classic that I will be shooting on microscopic budget in a certain macrocosmic metropolis in West Africa.

My brother in arms (and charms), Bongo – 33.33% of the triad involved in realizing this project – is already preparing to go forth like a line-producing John the Baptist and prepare the way for me. But it’s still a little bit away before we actually get started and I have anything to report here, so in the meantime I gotta figure out something to blog about in this damn space.

I’ll admit that there’s something about this blogging business that still doesn’t completely sit well with me. I guess it’s because when I was growing up, my journal was such sacred territory and I was mortified and enraged whenever some sneaky no-goodnik read it. So the idea of putting a journal up online for any and everybody to read is a little bit off-putting to me, to say the least.

(Not that I’ve ever deluded myself that my journal would be anything you’d consider hot reading, anyway. Frankly, I have the misfortune of being both dreadfully boring and private to the point of neurosis. I never even completely trusted my own journal to keep my secrets, so I often threw it off the scent not only through blatant omission but by feeding it misleading information.)

So what does one talk about in a blog if not oneself? My favorite blogs are those that present some sort of news or expert commentary on some specific subject like politics or pop culture. Those of you who know me from the boards are probably aware that I have no shortage of wacky opinions on various subjects, but I suppose that I’m a bit more comfortable expressing them something at least resembling a conversation rather than sitting on a blog declaiming them into the cyber-ether and hoping that someone’s listening. I reckon it’s a bit too much like standing on a soapbox on the street corner, or hosting a public access cable show.

(I swear… That shit never gets old)

Anyway, the blogs that I check on a daily basis are usually those that offer some sort of door prize as an incentive to visitors, like an mp3 of the day. I’m not above such gimmickry, so I’ll endeavor to post a song or two here every day… Just different stuff that I’m digging and I kinda hope you might dig, too. I might start posting rare/out-of-print albums in their entirety once I’ve figured out how to digitize analog signals (and sufficiently schooled myself on the legal issues pertaining to publishing the albums in this way… I do not need to be sued right now!).

So without further ado, the mp3 of the day is

Don’t Let Me Down by Charlotte Dada

This record is probably quite familiar to West African pop music aficionados, and it’s been a favorite of mine since it was included on the compilation Money No Be Sand: 1960s Afro-Lypso, Pidgin Highlife, Afro-Soul and Afro-Rock released by Original Music in 1995.

Not too much is known about the singer Charlotte Dada, except that she was one of the wave of popular “copyright singers” that flourished in the 1960s in Ghana and Nigeria. As the name implies, these were basically cover artists who cranked out versions of foreign rock and soul hits, usually injecting them with a pinch of local flavor. In my opinion, Dada’s rendition of the Beatles classic – with its wall of otherworldly metallic percussion and Cuban-accented bass and guitar – manages to outshine the original.

Unfortunately, as far as anybody can tell, this is Ms. Dada’s lone recording as a soloist (She did however also record as part of Stan Plange’s Professional Uhuru orchestra).

The reason I selected this particular song for today is because it was actually the thing that inspired me to write Too Much Beautiful Woman in the first place (well… one of the things, anyway). Depending on how much money we have left for music rights, I’m probably gonna include it on the soundtrack. Or if that’s not possible, I will shamelessly record a new song that closely resembles this old song (If you’re a female vocalist and you think you can pull off singing in this style, holla at me!)

Okay… That was relatively painless. I’ll be back tomorrow.