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Category: Pop Culture

All She’s Still Saying Is Give Peace a Chance

This article 1st appeared in The Price’s Do DC – 02.18.2014

This month we’ve seen a new British Invasion of media about the Beatles almost the same as that which also exploded when John, Paul. George, and Ringo first set foot in American in February of 1964. We had the Grammy tribute concert celebrating the Beatles’ historic first performance 50 years ago on the Ed Sullivan Show. Then, of course, there was the re-creation of the band’s 35-minute, 12-song, first American concert right here in DC.

Well, in the event you are in the DC area and you aren’t yet Beatled out, you can head to the Hirshhorn Museum to check out art work by one of the most important non-Beatle players in the Beatles’ story – Yoko Ono.

In 1969, one year before the Beatles broke up (at the time, and even today, there are fans who blame Ono for the dissolution of the Fab Four), John Lennon married Yoko and the pair remained united in their art and music until Lennon was tragically gunned down in 1980 outside the couple’s apartment in New York City.

Ono’s work is included in the exhibition Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950. The exhibit features creations from artists influenced by the fear and uncertainty caused by the threat of imminent annihilation posed during the immediate decades following World War II and the anxiety that still resides in our contemporary world today.

Ono appeared at the museum to discuss her work, and naturally, she spoke much of her relationship with John and how they influenced each other.

“I didn’t wish for it, but I met John and my whole life changed,” Ono said. During much of their time, both in music and art, the couple delivered a blistering critique of the social conditions of the 60s and 70s.

“People would ask – ‘what is she doing here’ and I would say trying to make it a peaceful world,” Ono told the crowd of art and Beatles lovers.

“With John’s assassination, I know the pain that people go through,” she said. “But we can survive all this together. I know we can if we use our brains. We all have brains. They think they can control us but we can change the hate to love and the war to peace. We just need a clear, logical head to know what is going on.”

“We think ‘I shouldn’t do this’ – but if all of us stand up it will be very difficult to beat us. They (the oppressors) will be very lonely. They won’t even have servants,” she added.

“Not too many people choose to be activists. Well, John and I were activists. Today people ask me – ‘Yoko, are we going to have doomsday (which is a recurring motif in the Damage Control exhibit)?’ I say, well it is up to us. If we are all so dumb, we will,” Ono said.

Now 81 years old and having spent more than 30 years without John, Ono acknowledges that she has changed. For one thing, she focuses much more on her Japanese past and her ancestors. “I thought I was escaping that and being a rebel. But today, I know family history is important.”

“There are so many beautiful things now. Whenever I get depressed, I take a look at the sky. It is so beautiful,” she concluded.

Superheroes, Success, Kids, and Comic Books

This article 1st appeared in The Prices Do DC 04.24.2014

Even superheroes don’t always succeed. Last weekend, organizers of Awesome Con issued a call for costumed crusaders to head to the Capitol Reflecting Pool in front of the Capitol Building to join together to break the Guinness World Record for the largest group of people dressed as comic book characters ever assembled in one place at one time.

The record was 1,531, set earlier in China. But the challenge failed as only 237 costumed comic fans showed up. Or did it? Did the good guys really lose?

Maybe not. At least if you look through the eyes of 2 young fans who trekked from Virginia to take in the attempt. Matt Zimmerman, 11, and his 10-year-old friend Kyle Scott. They didn’t care  about records. They just wanted to see superheroes up close. And they did. A total of 231 in all.

Matt’s favorite comic book legend is Spiderman. For Scott, it’s Rocket Raccoon. So what did they think of the event?

“Having a lot of people dressed up seemed funny, so we wanted to come,” Zimmerman said. So after seeing enough Spidermen in all shapes, sizes, and ages to play a football game, what did Zimmerman think?

“I’ll dress up next year,” he said.

And then there was the case of 52-year-old Harry Faulkner (“just like the novelist,” he will tell you). Faulkner could be spotted astride the pedi-cab he drives, hoping to entice a fare. He was dressed as Superman.

Faulkner said he initially thought about coming to the event as The Flash, but rejected that idea.”Pedi-cabs aren’t that fast,” he said.  “It’s more about strength than it is about speed.”

When last seen, Faulkner was pedaling his way down Pennsylvania Avenue, transporting a costumed family to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, where the actual comic book convention was being held.

And then there was Green Lantern (for the sake of full disclosure, my favorite comic book superhero of all-time.) Of course, the Green Lantern has to have a secret identity. In this case, when he wasn’t on active In Brightest Day, in Blackest Night, No Evil Shall Escape My Sight. Let Those Who Worship Evil’s Might, Beware My Power – Green Lantern’s Light mode, he was Joe Sutliff, a comic book creator from nearby Virginia.

So, like me, Green Lantern was obviously Sutliff’s favorite character, right? Well, actually no. Sutliff was exhibiting at Awesome Con and only decided to enter the record-attempt event at the last minute. He found a Green Lantern t-shirt at Target and fashioned the rest of his costume from things he had at home.

Like most avid comic enthusiasts, Sutliff discovered his passion at an early age. For him, it was the Superman he found at age 7. “I had an older cousin who was a collector and he dropped a pile on me and that was the end of it,” he said.

The fact that Sutliff would be spending 3 days with about 20,000 other comic book devotees spoke to his enthusiasm. “My mother will be turning in her grave, but I’m going to be at Awesome Con on Easter instead of church,” he said.

And in his guise as Green Lantern, Sutliff had an important message he wanted to impart. Pointing to the circle of rope that encased all the superheroes,  he said, “All the people outside the rope might be laughing, but all the people inside the rope believe in truth and justice and fighting evil. And wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone believed in that.”

O-My-God-Zilla: A Famed 50s Monster Makes Yet Another Comeback

This article 1st appeared in The Prices Do DC

Get prepared DC and the rest of America – Godzilla, that Japanese king of all monsters, is back. And this month, it will be a double attack.

First up was the return of the original monster over the past 4 days. To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the movie’s release, Rialto Pictures showed its new restoration of Honda Ishiro’s uncut landmark 1954 film at the AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center in Silver Springs.

The original film was chopped and butchered before it screened in America under the title Godzilla: King of Monsters in 1956. Actor Raymond Burr was inserted in the American version as the protagonist and only one hour of the original 98-minute running time was used. All the Japanese speaking roles were dubbed over. The restored version, named Godzilla: The Japanese Original, delivers the complete version with no dubbing.

For those few who might not be familiar with the Godzilla tale, it is the story of a radiation-breathing prehistoric monster, awakened after millenia by hydrogen bomb testing. Impervious to repeated shelling by the Japanese army, Godzilla wreaks havoc on a helpless Tokyo.

At the time, the monster – actually named Gojira in Japanese – was a visual metaphor for the feared effects of a nuclear attack and the aftereffects of radiation. It had specific resonance with Japan since they had been the scene of 2 nuclear attacks just 9 years before the movie’s release.

But the short run of the restored film just served as a prelude to the expected huge release of the remake of the original on May 16.  In that film, simply titled Godzilla, the famed monster is pitted against malevolent creatures, who bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten the existence of all humankind.

To celebrate the release of the new Godzilla (one of our favorite monsters of all-time and the only monster to be the central figure in a song by Blue Oyster Cult), here are a series of fun articles featuring the central figure of so many 50s and 60s nightmares.

Japanese are upset with supersized, fat American Godzilla. (from Science Fiction.Com)

In crossover ad, Godzilla chows down on a Fiat (from The New York Daily News)

Here’s what you all have been waiting for – Jawzilla: A Godzilla and Jaws trailer mashup. (from Indiewire)

Godzilla versus Smaug from The Hobbit: Who would win that dragon duel? (from The Wall Street Journal)

The ever increasing size of Godzilla and its implications for sexual selection and urine production. (from Deep Sea News)

Smithsonian Celebrates The First Ford Mustangs

1964. The Beatles had kicked off the musical British Invasion. LBJ was president. The Cold War was heating up in places like Vietnam. A World’s Fair in New York City was promising a new tomorrow of technology and wonder.  And on January 23 of that year the Smithsonian opened the Museum of American History.

Today, all of the above are gone with the exception of the History Museum. To celebrate its founding year, in 2014 the renown facility showcased 3 exhibits dealing with the time of its early 1960s establishment.

In April of 1964, the Ford Motor Company debuted its Ford Mustang at its pavilion at the New York World’s Fair, 6 months before it normally would. The company promised that this was a new type of car for a new generation.

It had a sporty look, a compact size, and, for the time, a low price. It evoked the spirit and the excitement of the open road. Unlike Ford’s actual sports car. the T-Bird, it could seat 4 people.

Immediately the 1964 car seen in the picture above did live up to its trendsetting pledge. By 1966, more than 1 million Mustangs had been sold. It had even become the subject of a top-selling record by Wilson Pickett.

The Mustang was shepherded through production by a young man who himself would become quiet a name in the auto industry. That man was Lee Iacocca.

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