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Miss Ntertainment


It’s Marathon Monday in New York City, after yesterday’s race where even if you didn’t run, you could feel the electricity on the streets. Good luck to all those marathoners tackling any stairs today!

* A medal of a different kind was earned by those who worked on Star Wars: Episode 7 as the film wrapped this weekend. Director JJ Abrams sent a note of thanks to the cast and crew, and pics of the wrap party circulated around the internet.


* Prince took over SNL on Saturday with an 8-minute performance (of course he ditched the traditional 2-song format), playing three tracks from his two new albums live – Clouds from Art Official Age, Marz from PlectrumElectrum and Another Love, also off of that album (which I didn’t know was actually an Alice Smith cover). It was his first time back on the show since 2006. Oh, yeah, and Chris Rock hosted.

* It’s hard not to watch the trailer for Furious 7 and be reminded of how Paul Walker died in a car crash this time last year. The stunts are amazing and Walker’s brothers Caleb and Cody helped finish filming the movie, but it still feels a little hard to watch, to me at least. The film, which also stars Vin Diesel, Tyrese Gibson, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Ludacris and Jordana Brewster, releases in April next year.

* Another video that’s hard to watch, in its own right, is that of Nik Wallenda, the guy who likes to attempt dare-defying feats, walking across two Chicago skyscrapers, twice, blind-folded for one. This guy is always doing crazy things, but this is unbelievable. Seems a little petty to just be awarded two Guinness World Records for that. Good thing he gets heaps of money from Discovery Channel too.

* If you’re a fan of sweeping pop songs of epic proportions, you’ll be as happy as I am to find that the Decemberists have released their first song in 4 years, which is, coincidentally, the time I moved to New York and made their show one of the first I saw here in the city. Now we just wait for the album, which will be called What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World. Of course it is.

{Pic: The Decemberists Instagram}

Hello from the Halloween-awaitin’, NYC Marathon-anticipatin’ Big Apple.

* Following on from the news of Marvel’s upcoming slate this week, I’m thrilled that actor Chadwick Boseman is already getting a lot more attention, upon being announced as the character of Black Panther. From playing Jackie Robinson to James Brown, Boseman is one talented fella and I can’t wait to see what he does with the part. Such is the confidence in him that he’s signed a 5-picture deal.

* Daniel Radcliffe is impressive in many ways, this much we know of the once-boy wizard. But his rapping skills are totally off the hook in this Jimmy Fallon video. It deserves to be shared over and over – and it has, over 8 million times. Oh, and his new movie, Horns, releases in the US this weekend.

* Slipknot has, er, quietly debuted at Number One on the Billboard 200 chart with their newest offering 5: The Gray Chapter. This is, however, before the release of the latest album from commercially-proclaimed new “ambassador of New York” Taylor Swift. There are projections that 1989 will push around a million copies in the first week.

* British artist Chris Ofili is presenting his first major US solo exhibition in New York – with and without elephant dung. I went to see the series, called Night and Day.

* The Barclaycard Mercury Prize was awarded in London on Wednesday night – hip hop trio from Ediburgh Young Fathers took home the night’s coveted prize for Album of the Year, over more well-known artists like FKA Twigs and Dave Albarn. The win presents an opportunity for more people, myself included, to get to know their music a little better, but most of the Internet has used the opportunity to talk about how unhappy they looked winning the prize. Gah.

One of the things I love the most about living in New York City is finding out about the history that lies within these streets, especially those pivotal cultural moments that took place before my time, so to speak.

One such occasion was an art exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in 1999 that caused a riot of protest and then-mayor Rudi Giuliani to bring a court case against the museum and threaten it with eviction. All because of British artist Chris Ofili’s The Holy Virgin Mary painting, which was part of a showcase of the Saatchi Collection. His piece, made of his trademark materials at the time – glitter, resin, map pins and elephant dung, plus an added extra of pictures of buttocks plastered in little places all over the canvass, drew incredible ire. Just about every possible protest group picketed outside the museum and there were threats that its city funding would be withdrawn. At the end of it all, the museum won the case but it remains one of the storied tales about New York’s art world.

This work, together with other pieces spanning two decades of Ofili’s work, make up the New Museum’s Night and Day exhibition, which begins this week. In it, you see the shifts in his work, from using the dung to going without it. His influences – from Scripture, to hip hop, to Blaxploitation movies and kitsch, all swirl in his palette. His African heritage led him to using dung, first from a trip to Zimbabwe, then from the London zoo, as one of his tools.

On the 2nd floor, you’ll see the famous Mary, but you’ll also see, placed next to it, another one of his works, that was shown next to Mary in the Brooklyn Museum 15 years ago (time, she flies!) To me, it’s an even more powerful image, titled No Woman No Cry, taken from the Bob Marley track. It’s from 1998, and was made in response to the racially-motivated killing of Stephen Lawrence in London, a case that dragged on until 2012. Race, police inefficiency, brutality – all of these are still so relevant today, unfortunately so, but the resonance of the piece is striking. The thing about seeing it in person though, is that you get to see up close, the pictures of Lawrence – within the tears of the woman – his mother. It’s deeply moving.

Another piece that stood out for me is the sculpture titled Annunciation, yet more twisting on perceptions of the Virgin Mary.  This time she’s intertwined with the angel Gabriel. I spent a very long time looking at it, with its mix of materials, feeling a weird sort of response that I’m still not quite sure how to articulate.



And yet another great thing about living here is you don’t have to step inside an art museum to be moved. Walking out of the New Museum and down onto the streets of the Lower East Side, I was once again taken aback by a work from Chilean street artist Dasic Fernandez a few blocks away. Like with Ofili’s No Woman No Cry piece, it’s in the eyes.


Night and Day is on until January 25th at the New Museum. Dasic Fernandez’ work can be spotted all over New York, but this piece is on Rivington and Clinton St on the LES. 

New York is in marathon-mode. The route-markers are up, the streets are filled with runners getting in their last-miles-to-go, and the air is turning into that crisp coolness that will be felt come the morning of November 2nd.

It feels a little strange not to be running the New York City Marathon this year, when, for the past two years, planning for it has been part of my life around this time of year. I actually caught myself this past weekend forgetting I’ve already run my race. Clearly my body is feeling back to its usual self if I am having this kind of thought. The Chicago Marathon was but a week ago!

Mine may be done, but I’m still in marathon-mood, as I get ready to cheer on those who will be running NYC Marathon. I’ve been watching marathon movies, comparing Jared Leto’s version of Steve Prefontaine (Prefontaine) to Billy Crudup’s (Without Limits), and reading The Oatmeal’s fantastic picture book, The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances.

Last week, I saw a film I wish I’d seen before I ran Chicago, but I’m glad to have seen it nonetheless.

Transcend is a documentary about Kenyan runner Wesley Korir who won the 2012 Boston Marathon. It tells his story – how he came to be a runner, how his talents brought him to the US, and how he ended up with the desire to move into politics, even after a disheartening visit back to Kenya saw him vow he wouldn’t ever return. It’s the kind of documentary that has runners fascinated – what makes Kenyans so darn good? – but it’s also the kind that will have even those who’re not fans of pounding the pavement interested. Korir’s story of his own quest to make a difference in the world will speak to anyone who wants to leave the place just a little better off, and I defy anyone watching the film not to be inspired to move for good in some way or another. Plus, one cannot help but marvel at watching someone with such skill and grace in his training.

As a runner and an African, I was particularly drawn to Korir’s story. With all the corruption and chaos that exists on the continent (and indeed everywhere!), the future can sometimes seem so bleak, and the sense of being able to make a difference feels overwhelming and slim. Similarly, at one time or another, I’ve asked myself what the point really is of my running all these miles. Korir, and those who’re interviewed alongside him in the doccie, like Malcolm Gladwell and Runner’s World‘s Alex Hutchinson, explore all this and more.

At a screening of the film, hosted by Nike NYC, I asked Korir what lessons he’s learnt from running that he’s put into use being a politician. He told me perseverance is the biggest thing he’s taken with him. “Just like when you think you can’t keep going in the marathon – that’s when you need to keep going even more. So many people would be more successful if they just stuck it out,” he said. One foot in front of the other. Strip everything away, it’s the most basic and yet most effective lesson of running.

Running the streets of New York with Wesley Korir and a couple of my favourite people. Pic: Paulsta Wong/Nike

Running the streets of New York with Wesley Korir and a couple of my favourite people. Pic: Paulsta Wong/Nike

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Korir runs (ahem) a fantastic charity that helps budding young runners, so I highly recommend checking out how you can host a screening of the film and help him carry on the sterling work he’s doing. One step at a time.

Transcend is available on iTunes and also in a special Runner’s edition deal. 

[Top pic: Transcend]

The CMJ Marathon has hit New York once again. Since I’m such a fan of music and and of marathons, it’s only natural that this would make me very, very happy – as it should anyone who’s looking to find new tunes to add to their playlists.

Previous CMJ festivals have introduced me to the likes of Alabama Shakes, Penguin Prison, Augustines and Morning Parade, as well as a bunch of new friends made along the way.

On Tuesday night, I headed out to Hotel Chantelle for a South African music showcase, the first time one has ever been put on at CMJ. An artist called Yolanda opened the floor with a few dance-y, pop tracks, but it was Beatenberg and Christian Tiger School that captured the cosy heart of Hotel Chantelle.

I’ve watched from afar as both acts have made names for themselves on the music scene in South Africa, building reputations over the past few years that have travelled across the Interwebs and created a small but burgeoning buzz State-side.

Electro whizzkids Christian Tiger School performed at SXSW earlier this year, and, on the back of two albums, they’ve opened for the likes of Little Dragon and Hudson Mohawke at home. Capetonians Luc Veermeer and Sebastiano Zanasi turned Tuesday night on its head, twisting and tuning beats, knocking out any trace of early-week stress. They’re planning on doing it again at Xander Ferreira’s weekly Happy Show in Brooklyn on Thursday.

Beatenberg, who played before the duo, have this way of combining catchy pop tunes with sincere, heartfelt lyrics and driving kwaito-styled rhythms that makes them irresistible. Their collaboration with DJ Clock, Pluto (Remember) has been a staple on many playlists this year (including my marathon-training one!), and their debut album The Hanging Gardens of Beatenberg is filled with wholesome goodness. This was their first time playing in the US, and they impressed the crowd so I look forward to their return soon.


With Beatenberg’s Ross Dorkin, Matthew Field and Robin Brink. Karl Largerfeld cameo courtesy street artist Bradley Theodore

This year’s new CMJ CEO, Adam Klein, happens to be South African, and he told me he’s working on plans to make more artists from there play here in the Big Apple. The SA bands that have played over here usually bust their guts on their own to get here for a showcase – like the Parlotones and Jessie Clegg – so it would be good if there was a little more help to bring them over. Bands from all over the world head to NYC for CMJ so it’s only right, and in the name of good music, that South African acts should too.

CMJ runs until October 25th.