Notes from the Now

Posts Tagged ‘documentary’

“They don’t give a damn about us”

In Chicago, Events, Film, History, photography, University of Chicago on February 20, 2015 at 10:14 pm

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Unsolicited Recommendations – January 2015

In Books, Chicago, Education, Events, Film, literature, music, Technology, University of Chicago on February 8, 2015 at 9:30 am


App –  Microsoft’s Outlook App for the iPhone is great (so far) for those of us who have to use exchange for our work-lives.  I get that it’s a rebrand of some technology that Microsoft bought, but from my point of view I’m less concerned about the app’s origin and mostly concerned w/ functionality.

Book – I didn’t read much in January, but I did enjoy* (with the caveat that “enjoy” is constrained to the genre, and the rules of the genre, thus a business book is always just an insight or two wrapped in a litany of stories that are an odd mix of poor decisions or common sense) Scaling Excellence:  Getting to more without settling for less.

Graphic Novel – Rob Rodi’s “Thor & Loki:  Blood Brothers” was a fun read.

Album –  I’m of the (advanced) age where “Sukierae” by Tweedy sounds good to me.

Documentary –  Two documentaries from Netflix that I enjoyed in January were: “Something Ventured” on American Venture Capitalism and the 3-D printing documentary “Print the Legend

Film –  Selma!  Powerful.

Articles – I don’t (yet) have a good method of tracking the best articles I’ve read online, but from memory, I enjoyed:  Next City’s profile of Derek Douglas (who happens to be my boss at UChicago), everything about this Humans of New York profiling a school in Brooklyn story,  and John Lewis’s take on Selma and its attendant controversies.

TV – PBS’s “Shakespeare Uncovered” is good.  The King Lear episode might make you rethink how original “Empire” is.   Also,  Star Wars: Rebels manages to channel the spirit of Star Wars in an enjoyable way.

Events/Speakers – You should try to see Cornel West in person.  He’s very present in his surroundings and engaged with his audience.  Also, if there are more events surrounding the School Project in Chicago, you should go.  Passionately committed people trying to figure out how to make education work in chicago (particularly after the school closings).

Highly Recommended: “Have you heard from Johannesburg?” #PBS

In Africa, Film on January 18, 2012 at 1:00 am

In no uncertain terms, the documentary “Have You Heard from Johannesburg” is worth watching for anyone interested in South Africa, History, Human Rights, International Movements, Mandela, etc.

Parts One and Two aired this past week but can be found online *in their entirety* on PBS!

Part 1: “Road to Resistance” –  History, Oliver tambo, setting up the ANC abroad, Sharpeville

Part 2: “The New Generation” the Dutch, Steve Biko, Black Consciousness, Soweto

SoundtrackAvailable on Spotify

Random Screen Caps:

Netflix Streaming: Fela – Music is the Weapon, Konkombe – The Nigerian Pop Music Scene

In Africa, Film on January 2, 2012 at 8:56 am


Some 70s African Music Recommendations from the Netflix Streaming Catalog:

Fela Kuti:  Music is the Weapon

Fela is at his charismatic talented best in this short documentary highlighting his rise, situation, and talents.

Konkombe:  The Nigerian Music Scene

Another short documentary on African musicians that highlights the 70s in all their glory and the variety of the Nigerian music scene in particular.  Interesting enough on it’s own, it’s particularly good as a compliment to “Fela Kuti:  Music is the Weapon” to see Fela in context.

Netflix Streaming: Black Power Mixtape & The 9 Lives of Marion Berry

In Film on January 1, 2012 at 12:40 am

Two recommendations from the Netflix Streaming catalog:

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975

Fantastic historical footage, particularly of Stokey Carmichael, Fred Hampton, Angela Davis, and Farrakhan.  A must see for anyone interested in the 60s, 70s, Civil Rights, or Race Relations.

The Nine Lives of Marion Barry

Marion Barry is shown in all his complexity from his highest to lowest moments.  Well worth-watching.

Ulysses S. Grant

In History on October 19, 2009 at 9:44 pm

Over the weekend I watched the 4 hour PBS documentary on Ulysses S. Grant “Warrior – President” which I’d wholeheartedly recommend to anyone interested in the US Civil War and its immediate aftermath (and frankly, its continued reverberations 100+ years later).

It reminded me of a great book I read in 2006 (a gift from Sir O), by Josiah Bunting III on Ulysses S. Grant.   Bunting’s look at Grant was part of the well-regarded “American Presidents” series curated by Arthur Schlesinger Jr., and presented Grant’s Presidency with the modern understanding of President Grant as the defender of the ideals of emancipation, civil rights, and the reconstruction of the union.  It’s a contrast to earlier notions (which were perhaps motivated by the Civil War’s detractors) that sought to discredit Grant the President by focusing solely on the scandals within and around his administration.   Bunting’s book, while short, is well-worth reading, and really sets the modern narrative for Grant (without turning a blind eye to the flaws of his administration).

The PBS documentary’s second half takes nice look at Grant’s life post-presidency, specifically his relationship with Mark Twain and the outpouring of support from the public while Grant wrote his memoirs on his deathbed.   It’s a heartwarming conclusion to a story that had great highs and great lows.