Thursday, June 28, 2007

Prince Comes Back to Planet Earth

I've been a Prince devotee for so long it's hard to talk rationally about his work anymore.

And to be honest, it's hard to say what you could possibly expect from a genius that is almost 50 and has given you so much.

Unfortunately, I'm not anticipating that his new album Planet Earth will be any better than Musicology or 3121, which made for great tours...when he played the hits and great lost nuggets from his golden era...

It's not that I don't like songs like "Musicology." "3121." Or "Guitar."

I do. They're perfectly fine. They're just not teachin me anything new.

I just expect alien funk sh*t from Prince and lately he's been sounding rather human.

And a little too much like his heroes.

I love Larry Graham and Cynthia and Jerry just like everybody else. But the minute the Family Stone hit Prince's band all his funk songs began to sound less like "Tamborine" and "Houseqake" and more like retreads of "Life," "Fun" and other Sly classics.

And it's been this way since, perhaps Rave Unto the Joy Fantastic, Rainbow Children and One Night Alone Tour, which all had some beautiful moments in them, but not very much in the way, shape and form of new inspiration information. (Actually, I loved the reckless abandon of Rainbow Children, although the redemptive gospel-funk concept wore a little thin.)

It just seems he's gotten rather comfortable coasting on his legacy, taking old ideas and rereleasing them under new titles.

(Check how Guitar's strut seems cribbed wholecloth from Cream. The only thang that Guitar adds is the U2 like- shimmer of guitar on the hook.)

The things I love about Prince today include:

1. He's the greatest performer in the world right now. Period. See the 2007 Super Bowl for clarity on this.

2. He's still a rebel who changes the game: Musicology was brilliant in every aspect. CDs with every concert ticket. Hilarious and innovative.

3. He's the only black guy and the only pop god standing with a guitar. 'Nuff said. (And Lenny plays rhythm, not lead.)

The last great album Prince made was the Gold Album. But who's complaining?

He's still here, still releasing an album every year, and doing amazing shows.

P.S. And why's Prince f*cking with Verizon? I'm waiting for a Purple iPod called The Vault with all of the remastered Prince albums and 300 unrealeased songs from Paisley Park! Oh well....


So Karen O moved from NY to LA.

And the Yeah Yeah Yeah's recorded their second album.

Was it just me?

Or was there something missing?

Anyway, I'm happy to hear from this live track that they seem to be getting their
muscles back again.

Friday, June 22, 2007

How to Get Off the Plantation in 5 Easy Steps (Pt. V)

How to Get Off the Plantation in 5 Easy Steps (Pt. V):

5. The Giant Leap

Remember the Matrix? How one of the biggest tests of being outside of the Matrix was the leap of faith? A leap from the roof of the tallest building in the city. Into nothing but thin air. And a hope and a prayer that you would make it to another roof before you came crashing to the concrete hundreds of stories below.

Leaving your paying job—no matter what the circumstances—is a little like this. Even if you hate your job. Even if you’re merely shining shoes, screwing in lightbulbs in locker rooms, or cleaning up elephant feces in a zoo, the decision to focus on nothing but YOU and everything else be damned is the kind of decision that can lead you to living in your parent’s basement for the rest of your life—without a girlfriend, money, car, or any of life’s other niceties to speak of.

It’s a leap of faith. And there’s no way around it. Don’t kid yourself. Now sure there are certain contracts, business deals, and situations that can make you smile so hard you forget that all of life’s necessities—food, shelter, clothing—in this capitalistic world cost money. Sure, there are certain recording deals, business breakthroughs, and new salaries that will put all the questions to rest and the mind at ease. But remember the more zeros you see, the less control you have—and that doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. Often times “making it" means running from the frying pan into the high priced fire.

And yes, you’ve read that right, I’ve intimated that EVERYTHING CAN BE A PLANTATION. Sorry to break it to you. In the recording industry, if you don’t own your masters, your masters own you. And that’s just the beginning in an industry where your every expense is recoupable, and you only make 8% to 20% of the profit of the net worth of your creations (and that’s not even touching on the well chronicled robber baron accounting practices of the overall entertainment industry). So if you have any sense at all, you will always have that burning nervous feeling in your stomach. And you will realize it’s one small step for you, and a giant leap of faith.

By the way, you entrepreneurs can stop laughing at the music business wannabees. If you need someone else’s money to handle your burn rate, you will quickly realize that your chief job each month will be just to borrow and steal and wine and dine enough greedy investors just to make payroll, pay your programmers and keep your product on the critical path needed for your project to launch on time. And after it launches, guess what? You’ll need more money, more meetings, more calls to your money managers and frantic late night calls to your friends because you’ve heard rumors that the venture capitalist firm you’re working with is putting together a new board and you’re not on it. In the end, there’s no magic profit margin that can ease the situation, more money means more meetings, more hard work, and a need for better planning and execution just to keep up with Joneses who also have big billion dollar budgets and want to watch your house and everything in it come crashing burning down. How did you know that when you left your lax life of steady pay and benefits that you would never sleep again? Did you actually ask for this?

Yes, you actually did. But you’re a dreamer. And dreamers like to jump from tall buildings into the unknown. Just like this. This is the life you asked and begged for. This is what makes your life worth living. Know this and act accordingly. Your life, just like the unknown will always be interesting, and full of revelations, but seldom easy. Just ask Alice. Who realized there was a lot of light—and spinning slivers of darkness—in the rabbithole.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t leap. You certainly should. And the sooner the better. This is merely to say that you should plan carefully, gather your friends, watch your enemies, read all the small print, research your industry endlessly before you jump into it, and be aware that you are millions of miles above the ground without a net. But it’s cool. If you’re a dreamer like me, you wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

How to Get Off the Plantation in 5 Easy Steps (Pt. IV):

Some folks think slavery is over.....

How to Get Off the Plantation in 5 Easy Steps (Pt. IV):

4. Kill a thousand birds with every stone.

To truly make it, you have to learn how to kill a thousand birds with every stone. This is simply to say that you need to learn how to find value in every thing you do, as well as learn how to squeeze 96 hours out of a 24 hour day. You will have to work hard in your day gig, and even harder at night to make it. Nothing will be handed to you on a silver platter. In your day gig, glean and steal everything you can to help you in your other businesses. (I mean “steal" figuratively, unless you’re planning a career as a gangsta rapper.) Find your way into a paying gig that brings you not only a unique, complementary skill set, but also contacts and extraordinary experiences, etc. Even if you bake cakes for a living, your job is to plot out how this bakery career can help you get into event planning, investment banking, singing, or whatever your heart desires. Every minute of the day, be professional, and kill a thousand birds with every stone.

The “be professional" adage is more important than any of us can possibly realize in the moment. You never know when you will need someone to help you get a loan, phone number, or into an event. So treat everyone like a king or queen. If you have a boss, work hard to get along with him or her and leave on good terms. If that production deal falls through, you may need some part time work, so be prepared to scrap together all these good relationships and contacts in order to make ends meet. Everywhere you go, you want your name associated with excellence. It takes work to be an accomplished copy editor by day, and a mindbending experimental novelist at night, but guess what? No one said this would be easy.

In addition, be prepared to work on more than one project. At most large companies like Google, they use the 70/20/10 rule. They spend 70% of their time on their bread and butter business (search), 20% of their time on establishing new projects (Gmail), and 10% of their time researching and inventing new opportunities (Google docs). Smart folks work hard, keep taking chances, and keep investing time and money in the unknown because you never know when these new 10% growth markets will become your bread and butter. Ask Apple who now relies on the iPod to drive the rest of its businesses from retail and online stores to the sales of its hardware. So it’s cool to have at least three big balls in the air: I would suggest have at least three brilliant ones, and be prepared to head in any direction at any given time.

Here at Wondaland, we have a holding company named 1954. We have so many balls moving in this company it’s insane. So if you’re going to do something like this it takes a lot of the right eyeballs, minds and hands to keep everything moving in the right direction. But even as a writer, you can practice this same concept. Why not work on a screenplay and a novel, as well as that children’s book you always dreamed about? Spend 70% of your free time on the novel you’re turning in for your master’s MFA thesis, 20% on the fantasy adventure film and 10% on the children’s story. When you get stuck on one, flip around and work on the other. Find a rhythm. Keep it fun. And never feel bad about the 10%, about experimenting, researching new things, doodling with new colors, starting something new.

This is all to say, if possible, integrate everything—all of your dream projects and your present day job—into your long-term plans. In the most simple sense, this means if you must work, search for a career that feeds your passion. For the last fifty years, established poets and writers have taken posts in the academic world, teaching literature and the craft of writing to the next generation of literary stars. But teaching is certainly a reciprocal activity, and certainly on some days these writers learn as much if not more from their passionate students. In a similar sense, turn every conversation, task and endeavor in your life into a reciprocal activity. Find value in everything. See every challenge at work as preparation for your future. Drain every minute of every day for new revelations. And when you leave the plantation, run away with all the weapons you need to win the war.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

How to Get Off the Plantation in 5 Easy Steps (Pt. III):

Gustave Boulanger's painting The Slave Market

How to Get Off the Plantation in 5 Easy Steps (Pt. III):

3. Fund your passion.

This is a self-explanatory one. You cannot succeed without actually spending time and energy on your craft and producing work. You must fund, that is, nourish your art. If you are a poet or writer, this means reading, writing, workshopping, and submitting pieces. If you are a singer, this means writing hot songs and performing on stages wherever you can find them. If want to be a real estate tycoon, this means getting your certificate, scouting properties, asking successful people the important questions.

It can also mean money. Taking the money you throw away on strippers and weed each week and using it on a keyboard or a law book instead. But much of it comes down to time and energy. If you’re building the next MySpace, how much time everyday do you spend on furthering your ideas? If you want to be the next Anna Wintour, how much time do you spend scouring fashion magazines, watching fashion trends, and by the way, what are your core values, big hairy audacious goals—where is your career plan?

Creating the best you takes time and energy, so I would advise not only working hard but also working smart. Working smart means working with others. Like Bob Marley said, “Collective security for surety." Find two others who are passionate and like-minded and make it happen. (I think three people is a perfect number for beginning organizations.) These two people should all be more driven, and if possible, more talented then you. Be like Miles Davis: There’s a reason he had so many great ensembles and it’s because he knew precisely who he was and what he wasn’t capable of, and he sought those missing qualities in other people. You’d be surprised how many people are scared to hire or work with people that are more talented than them, as if they’re afraid their partners will try to take over and run the show.

But that’s the wrong approach. Assess yourself and figure out what you’re lacking and partner accordingly. If you’re a meticulous businessman and you’re trying to get into music, grab someone slightly out of their mind and wildly creative. If you’re intrinsically lazy (and most of us are), grab the most hungry person you can get. If you’re shy, grab someone gregarious and charismatic to help you work the room. It doesn’t matter if folks only remember your partner’s name, as long as they notice one of you, your project moves forward.

If your project does not require a team, then nurture a group of individuals who will push you everyday in what you want to do. In the 8th grade, I wrote a play that was a complete rip-off of Alien called The Being for my 8th grade Communications class. I wish I could find it now. The script was full of characters walking around a big space ship, screaming and waiting to get eaten. We were going to use cardboard to build a control room, with twinkling Christmas lights for the little buttons and switches. Hilarious. Anyway, of course, we never did the play. But my teacher encouraged everything. We must have spent seven weeks planning something that never happened. And I was the star of the show, the director, playwright, HNIC (which is really funny, considering it was an all-white class). It was like Shakespeare in Love. I would arrive at class everyday and give everyone their new lines. And they would jump up and down when they saw their character got eaten or got to kiss someone! It was great, and it made me run home to write.

You should do the same, do what we do here at the Wondaland Arts Society, have an Inspiration Party! Have all your friends over, share your product, songs, stories, or ideas with them. Use their joy, love and support to help fuel your journey because—believe me—there will be times when you are crying, and you will want to quit. Start nurturing some shoulders to cry on.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

How To Get Off the Plantation in 5 Easy Steps (Pt. II)

How to Get Off the Plantation in 5 Easy Steps:

2. Eat your anger.

So as I discussed in Step 1, the first important step is all about vision. Having a concrete vision for what you want to do. And this vision should relate to a passion you have—something you would do even if you couldn’t make any money doing it. After finding this passion, the next step is to truly begin your march to freedom. You need a starting point. Most successful people I know who are young and in the music business full time were starlets waiting to happen. They began early, like Tiger Woods. We’re talking people who were singing in brushes at the age of three, in acapella groups in high school, banging on keyboards in college, and now producing, writing and singing full time a mere fifteen years later. But for every single rising star I know there are 100 trying to make it---100 folks that decided at the age of 20 that they wanted to do music and now are dropping out of school, stripping or pumping gas so they can pay a producer for a demo package, and hoping they can get a record out before they have to hang their head in shame and go back to mama or school. (I used to do this every Christmas until I decided to go back to school, graduate, and pay my own bills, or at least most of them.)

But what if you’re 25 and unable to write songs, dunk a basketball, too “dumb" to be a doctor, etc. What then? Then go back to step 1. Find something to believe in and stick with it. Because even if you have passion and vision “making it" takes hard work, planning, talent, discipline, and perhaps most importantly of all, luck. But even if you have no passion, no vision, no idea what you’d like to do or where you’d like to go, you gotta start somewhere.

So start with anger. Study the things that enrage you. And eat them. What makes you maddest? Homelessness. Sexism. Racism. Poverty. The fact your mom can’t dress. The bad music at parties. The fact you’ve traveled nowhere except to campus and back home. Your inability to find a date. The lack of art in schools. The fact that black people don’t read. The many historical injustices of American foreign policy. The fact Americans consume so much, waste exponentially, and give back so little. Find these things that drive you crazy and then pour your whole being into them. This anger is a career, an economic opportunity, a new invention, business model or technological breakthrough waiting to happen. Eat this pain, this frustration and anger and use it as fuel. Often this is where the most innovative ideas and passions come from.

As we know, most great art comes from guys like Woody Allen, Spike Lee, Andy Warhol, James Baldwin, the list goes on--- these guys were misfits, the guys that never got a dance at prom and it ate them up. It ate them up so much they had to find a way to be noticed, a way to make it happen. The tricky thing to remember here is that most people who have lasting success had a burning mission, something to say, core values that formed the foundation of everything they accomplished. You get the impression that Spike Lee genuinely cares more about black people and the community than he does about himself. And it makes you go see his films. So what do you have to say? What do you believe in? What drives you crazy? Make a list of those things that keep you up at night and then attack them systematically by volunteering, joining with others to form a company or organization, write a song, paint a picture, run down the street naked, just get angry and make it happen!

You can do it. You can turn your hopelessness, your despair and despondency into action. Stop staring at that computer screen. Turn down the zombie syndrome and become determined to be somebody. And by somebody I don’t mean an asshole with a Swiss bank account, a fixture in celebrity culture or a reality TV star. I mean become the best you.

Monday, June 18, 2007


How to Get Off the Plantation in 5 Easy Steps:

Over this week, I’ll offer 5 easy steps to leaving your day gig, and getting into stuff you really wanna do, the stuff that doesn’t feel like work.

I worked at Morehouse College as a grantwriter for three years after graduating in 2003. And it was great. I learned a lot about working with people (difficult or not), getting the job done (no matter what the circumstances), and how to do things like prepare executive officers for meetings, write correspondence for high-ranking officers, and draft proposals good enough to win the College millions of dollars. That being said, there comes a time when you’re ready to move on…so how do you prepare for it?

1. Find your passion.

This is the hardest part. Most people spend their lives, upset and wanting to fill the void in their stomachs…they have a feeling that there is a job—a life mission!-- they can undertake that will make everyday feel like Christmas. But they’re not sure what it is. Or they know what it is and don’t have the grades, funding, skills, talent, background, connections or education to make it happen. Any self-help book you pick up can tell you how much it takes to make it in any industry: For example in the record business, you not only have to write great songs, and sing/dance/play your ass off, but also know the right people who are in league with madmen that will kill somebody if your CD does not hit the shelves within the next few years.

But you must not only find your passion—you must choose the right one. And you know when you have chosen the wrong one when it feels like work. When nothing goes your way. I truly feel, like Sly said, that everybody is a star. But many people are very talented in a field they refuse to dedicate their life to, and spend their time struggling in a “sexy" field where they are C or D students instead of A. The trick about this postmodern world is first to identify and then embrace what you have going for yourself, and then in a real estate sense, flip properties—use your innate ability or skill in one area to leverage your pipe dreams in another.

But how to find your passion? Don’t people spend lifetimes searching endlessly for this? Don’t people end up on their deathbed with a wistful smile on their lips thinking, “If only I’d known about flowers sooner…If only I’d known planting flowers brings me so much joy.." If you’re still in undergrad, running around partying, within ten years you will be working day and night for little money, or making great money without a personal life to speak of, and you’ll be riding the subway, taxi or plane, and you’ll say, “This is got to stop! I’m not enjoying this! I’ve only had 18 months of this! And I’ve gotta do this-wake up, eat my toast, and scowl on the way to work at 8:30 everyday-- for the rest of my life!?

The sad answer is yes. And doing nothing is not an option. The good news is if you’re doing your passion you’ll feel like you’re going to the playground. And not working at all. So begin searching now.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Doing "IT" Daily

Blogging daily is a wild thing.

I'd like to formally apologize for last week where I didn't blog regularly.

As you can see from my recent posts, I was able to finish a couple of books last week.

And I was also able to catch Ms. Monáe in action in Miami (see the YouTube post above and the "WAS in Miami" post on the Wondaland blog.)

But blogging-- shit---doing anything daily is more than a notion. Especially when you're away from home, tired from gigs, doing publicity, locked in meetings, in the studio, etc. Shoot, even thangs you like to do (like "IT") don't get done because there's just not enough time in the day for it all...

Blogging means only one thing: find a wireless signal and write damnit! don't worry about a topic, humor, or wit--just write!

So, bear with me, I'm learning....

Here's something else I wish could do daily: take our guitarist Kellis Parker to the strip club for his very first time again and again and again.

You should have been there last night. Only one word needed: CLASSIC.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007



Okay, so I've been getting some good script coverage lately from some friends in LA and NY, as well as my trusty colleagues here at Wondaland here in the ATL.

A lot of great comments from all around, which have got me fairly pumped up about moving the rough draft to the next level, the First Draft.

There are some things that are working in the rough draft fairly well, some scenes that I love that I may have to cut in order to better serve the story, some characters that need to be better developed, and perhaps most importantly, an entirely new backstory that I am developing, as well as a shift in the main protagonist.

The things people love (in no certain order): are the friendships/crushes/party sequences of the teenagers, the dialogue, and the backwards-forwards story structure, which plays with time...Greg Tate called the structure "crafty" and that made me smile.

Most importantly, in writing the rough draft, I feel like I am getting to know the characters better, the house better, the horror better.

Just recently I came across something TRUE that is the most horrifying and exciting thing EVER. Oh don't worry, I'm incorporating it. And you will be very afraid. Because as sick as it is, it's a true story.

Oh well, it's all a journey.

P.S. I also talked to Erica Conner, and we're planning to meet next Tuesday to talk through the rough draft and overall story. She's 80 pages into the script, and still excited about the project and taking it to Mandalay Entertainment, which is great. Mandalay made a lot of money off the I Know What You Did Last Summer films, so we'll see....

The Making of Star Wars

I.A.T.M. Pleasure Rating: 83%

Okay, I've also finished The Making of Star Wars.

I read this book for three reasons:

1. To study how Lucas successfully used myths and archetypes to build a timeless story.

2. To study how Lucas successfully conquered the many problems that came up during principle photography, created an innovative effects house and used state-of-the-art special effects in order to create one of the world's first blockbusters.

3. To study the business of how the film got made and how Lucas got the merchandising and sequels deal of the century.

In reference to number 1, the book provided:

  • Breakdowns of each rough draft of the script complete with bulleted improvements that ended up in the final draft
  • Discussions of what Lucas was reading and studying in terms of films, myths, and texts
  • Discussions of the casting process (which provided crazy nuggets such as Lucas's consideration of an all-black cast!)
  • Details about how Lucas continually revised the script even during principle photography (For example, Lucas decided to kill Obi Wan Kenobi while filming, and this decision created a rift between the production and Alec Guiness, who was very upset. Just one more problem Lucas had to fix as they struggled with malfunctioning droids and typhoons in the desert.)

In reference to Number 2, the book provided:

  • A breakdown of each day of principle photography: the problems faced, innovative solutions, etc.
  • A discussion of how design elements were brought to life on screen
  • A discussion of how ILM was started and the many problems they faced and conquered during production (moving from front projection to blue screen, dealing with lack of time, money, personnel, etc.)
  • A breakdown of the run to the finish line: as Lucas says, the film wasn't finished, it was abandoned...because of lack of time and distribution/marketing constraints.

In reference to number 3, the book provided:

  • A discussion of the original deal memo
  • A discussion of the ongoing negotiations between Lucas and Twentieth Century Fox
  • A discusssion of the final deal and its repercussions for Lucas and the film industry
Unbelievable book about a timeless film.

I think the most exciting thing about the book is the amount of perserverance that Lucas had to have in terms of his vision because no one, outside of Spielberg, thought he would win.

The studio tried to pull the plug so many times I lost count.

But Lucas persevered. And won.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Robot Visions

I.A.T.M. Pleasure Rating: 73%

So, at long last, I've finished Robot Visions by Isacc Asimov.

If you've heard the VSHH single, you've surely heard the soaring refrain "YOU KNOW THE RULES!"

Well, when it comes to robots, Issac Asimov certainly created some timeless rules, otherwise known as "The Three Laws of Robotics."

These laws were a direct response to the barrage of SF stories in the '20's and '30's warning mankind of an impending "Frankenstein effect"-- a futuristic society in which mankind would be overthrown by its monstrous creations.

As a term, "robot" stems from a 1920 Czech play named R.U.R. by Karl Capek. The term means "forced worker" or "slave." And of course, in the play the laboring robots overthrow their masters and destroy them in Marxist-style revolution.

But Asimov was an optimist with different ideas. Unlike the scores of other writers that jumped on that bandwagon, he decided to look at the robot as an innocent machine programmed for good, with safeguards embedded in its positronic brain.

Hence, the quandry of a Hal 9000 can never happen in the Asimov universe. The first law of Robotics-- A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm--prohibits it. But instead of creating a boring universe, this actually frees Asimov to play with the limits of technology and language.

In the Asimov universe, a company named United States Robots and Mechanical Men Corporation manufactures all the robots with the three laws firmly embedded in each model's "positronic brain." Earthlings are deathly afraid of robots, so robots are typically restricted to space assignments, manufactured in colonies, used at outposts for mining, dangerous occupations, etc. When Earthlings do come in contact with robots, rich moments arise, such as in the story "Bi-Centennial Man," a masterpiece in which a robot begins to convert himself into a human being through organic enhancements--even down to terminating his own existence so that he can finally receive the coveted distinction of being considered human. (Haven't seen the movie yet, but I hope it's half decent.)

Over half a century, Asimov explored the ethical side of these laws. What does "harm" mean to a robot? How does a robot deal with an evil human being, one that may harm others? Etc.

There is plenty here for oppressed folks to chew on. Throughout, robots call their owner "Master." And it took over thirty years for Asimov to consider the female robot. Fittingly enough, that robot was called JANE-1. (It seems fate is on our side here at Wondaland.)

I, Robot was based on his famous short story collection, and countless other short story collections/films/and SF novels have been built out of these ideas. Asimov even invented the term "robotics," and for years real scientists and engineers have looked to his stories for guidance on how they should approach the future. (Which is given even more resonance by Asimov's creation of "robopsychology" and the character of Susan Calvin, one of his more interesting recurring characters.)

At Wondaland, Asimov has certainly simplified our own search for the droid codes that guide "The Metropolis" universe, which I will post another time, after we've finished refining them.

But here is my grand criticism:

1. As an SF aficianado/reader/writer, I side with the post-World War II, dystopian Phillip K. Dick school of SF. Human nature is a bitch, the world's getting harder, and technology is creating change-- but change and growth are two different thangs.

2. I tend to believe that capitalism is the grand arbiter of industry, not morality systems. The tobacco industry shouldn't sell cigarettes to young folks, but the getting's good, you know? Likewise, I find it hard to imagine top-notch researchers not pushing into the danger zone, if there's money to be had. Most likely, if history is a guide, the war machine will be pushing the robotics industry forward and the first law will go something like this: Kill your enemy-- anyone that looks like this, speaks this language, or prays to this god.

3. Like most pre-World War II SF, black folks are nowhere to be found in the future. But I'm used to this...moving on...

There's certainly more good here than bad. Asimov's laws are timeless treasures, essential nuggets of opitimism in the SF universe. I love the essays, especially their deduction that robots could create a better world than humanity alone, and that perhaps, humanity should step aside for the good of Earth and the universe. Brilliant! And, of course, C3PO and R2D2 would not exist without Asimov's vision and the Three Laws, in terms of their behavior.

Lastly, without Asimov's many robot stories and his need for beautiful illustrations, Ralph McQuarrie would not have had a chance to become a renowned illustrator in the SF community. And then, you guessed it, George Lucas would have never had the opportunity to look up and say "let's hire this guy Ralph to do some designs for Star Wars!"

And without those designs, well...let's just say Star Wars might not have ever gotten made. Because all agree that McQuarrie's early drawings--and then later vehicle sketches, matte paintings and character designs--cinched the deal with 20th Century Fox and then guided ILM through their heroic efforts to build a brand new universe.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

A Song for Chad

Rejected album cover design (notice the typo on Monáe)

A Song For Chad

First, I'd like to apologize for not blogging yesterday.

On Tuesday night, after Janelle's show at Girls Rock Too (at Studio 900 in Atlanta- you should have been there!) we took off for Miami.

Janelle had a radio show and then a performance at The Bohemian Room in Miami. All went amazing. Show was crazy, and her radio interview was one of the best interviews I've heard. (Really shows what research and great questions can do for an interview.)

Anywhoo, i'm here to talk about Chad. Chad Weatherford. My childhood best friend who is now married and in New Zealand. Chad and I have a couple of companies together that we founded based on our respective passions: art and writing.

Over twenty years ago, we met on the playground, realized that we both had a love for Spider Man, and set out to create our own comic book universe. Since then, we've done more together than the law allows.

Today we have two companies: Blak Milk Productions, which does graphic design, merch, illustrations, etc. And Wism, a new company, that we're hoping will one day be our Lucasfilm.

Everything started with comic books back in the day, and now all this. Currently, Chad and I are both doing "imaginography" on the Metropolis project, which includes but is not limited to: graphic design, album artwork, art direction, concept art, video treatments/pre-production, story direction and character design, and hopefully at some point, screenwriting. Yes, I like all of you, would love to see this Metropolis saga on the big screen.

We also have an exciting animated epic named Adam's Song that I'll tell you much more about when it's time.

Anywhoo, this is a Song for Chad. He works in the dark. Lives in New Zealand. And no one knows his name. Recently, I introduced him to the Purple Ribbon family, and they were like "You do exist!" He'd designed album art for Big, done all this video treatment stuff, and yet no one had seen his smile.

Well, in tribute to his hard brilliant work, I've posted some assorted pics below. These come from the Metropolis universe.

Flying ships anyone?

Of course, if you're gonna do Star Wars, you have to have your own stormtroopers. So Chad's been at work searching for the droid control marshals. The first thing he turned in was this:

To which Janelle responded "NOT FUNKY ENOUGH, YOU BIG NOOKIE!" No, just kidding. But she did send us back to the drawing board to reach for more ideas that were more 28th Century. So Chad went back to work. Here's some of his latest droid control sketches. As you can see, everything's a process. And it's like making Star Wars for real.

Not sure yet if any of these will end up as final designs, or if we'll start all over again. But if you're creative, you know how fun the journey can be!

Everyone clap for Chad! This is his song! And he does great work!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Internationationally playalistic

Okay, okay, I promise not to turn my blog into BET.

Just thought you might want to see the new UGK/Outkast video.


And dig Outkast's Deep Cotton style (tuxes and bowties, yep!)

And dre's killin wit that scottish thang...and it's good to hear the boy rappin again...

Monday, June 04, 2007


Okay, so I've heard the new White Stripes song a couple of times. And seen the video.

In fact, seeing the video was the first time I heard the song.

It's not "Seven Nation Army" but it does have an icky thump to it. (sorry!)

Anywhoo, i do dig the zepplin vibe of the hook especially, and as always, i love to see jack play guitar live.

See the post above.

p.s. i'll post about the weekend's VSHH events and hit u with some pics later.

Friday, June 01, 2007


So Janelle Monae has invited a surprise guest to perform tomorrow at Apache.

His name is Deep Cotton. He's nine feet tall and the son of John Henry.

He's read too much Dr. Seuss plus he's got a drinking problem.

Be there or be square.

And if you don't have the Janelle Monáe single by Saturday night, you're a wussy.