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Pete Hamill Jr.
When I was a mere whippersnapper of a teen, I started writing — thinking it was a good way to bide my time until I figured out what I really want to do. Well, I’m still writing and still wondering whether I would ever get my answer.
Although I toyed with fiction, it was the real stuff that mattered to me. I consumed magazines and newspapers, so on one level, the hard boiled reporter became the epitome of a kind of writer I admired. There was a Broadway comedy, “The Front Page,” about tabloid newspaper reporters on the police beat. Written by former Chicago reporters Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, it was first produced in 1928 and has been adapted for film several times. One of those films, "His Girl Friday” (directed by Howard Hawks), stars Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell as two quip-laden reporters who are clever and full of snappy patter. And this movie really established a journalist archetype.
When American journalist, novelist, essayist and editor Pete Hamill Jr. died on August 5, 2020, I really thought about that classic hard-boiled journalist that he was and I had admired. During his career as a New York City scribe, he captured the gritty side of NYC's politics and street life that only a writer who was there on the scene could do. He was an on-point columnist and editor for both the New York Post and The New York Daily News. Even though I hadn’t read all his books, he still exemplified that journalist archetype to me.
When I began my career, my first serious job — besides a little freelancing for publications such as Rolling Stone — I got a job at one of those traditional journalistic centers, the daily newspaper through my mentor Dale Stevens, one of those hard-boiled journalists I admired. I became the Pop Music Critic of the Cincinnati Post in the mid ‘70s. But really, I was its rock writer. My role models were not the more sedate Rolling Stone writer types, but rather the crazed, hard-charged gonzo crew who spewed the words on the pages of the Detroit-based Creem Magazine, which made fun of stars and supported the un-commercial cutting edge of the music scene: glam, punk, new wave, grunge and more.
So there I was, torn between the serious nature of journalism and the irreverence of being a rock critic. Coming out at the end of this August is “Creem: America’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll Magazine,” new documentary which traces the rise and fall of this mag, described by The New York Times as “the boundary-smashing music publication where [its greatest writer] Lester Bangs did some of his most famous work.”
The magazine’s convoluted arc and its lasting cultural impact is there, so it seems. As of yet, I haven’t seen the film and, in some ways, dread doing so because my time as a Creem editor was well after its Midwest glory days. When I was its Senior Editor, it was after it had been moved to NYC by errant money guys and was slicked up. My team tried to express the original gang’s irreverence and personalized story-telling. For our version of the zine, we even had Tim Leary write a piece for us and I worked with him on the story. But I miss those times and will eventually stare at a screen to relive them by seeing this movie.
But all these self-involved musings have a point beyond my crusty recollections. With us all hidden away, hunkered down, where will we find the next newsroom or collective crew who will dig into some kind of cultural investigation or social incitement? Maybe what sustains all these BLM protests going on throughout the country is not only the common political issues, but also the chance to reconnect with those who share the feelings of outrage and import. It once again is charged with a sense of community.
Whatever power there is in cyberspace, we still need the chance to get together, to drive forward common cultural concerns. Maybe when all this is over, we will build new communities that we all hunger to connect with — through both a journalist’s sense of mission and a Creem-style rock critic’s sense of crankiness.
Years in the making and perfect for filling the Star Trek void after the San Diego Comic Con at-home event, comes the film Unbelievable!!!!! – which stars hip-hop superstar Snoop Dogg , a puppet named Kirk Stillwood and features 40-plus figures from across the Star Trek universe.
This sci-fi parody film from the husband and wife team of director Steven Fawcette and producer/co-star Angelique Fawcette will have its online premiere on August 1, 2020 -- and that premiere will be part of a day-long celebration and Virtual Convention featuring many of the Star Trek actors involved in the film, including Chase Masterson, Garrett Wang, Marina Sirtis, Robert Picardo, Anthony Montgomery, John Billingsley and Gerald Fried, The Original Series composer, as well as movie veteran Robert Davi and Angelique Fawcette -- who is not only the film's producer but its co-star. And Fawcette is a further Hollywood rarity: an African American female indie film producer.
Fans can watch Unbelievable!!!!!, participate in informative panels, hear music from the soundtrack (and enjoy musician drop-ins), engage in one-on-one chats with the talent, win prizes, cosplay and more.
Tickets are available now athttps://www.eventbrite.com/e/unbelievable-virtual-red-carpet-screening-vip-qa-tickets-113712631542?aff=erelexpmlt.
Featuring a cast from around the world, iMigrant Women is a play in three beats about women seeking a better life for themselves and their loved ones, either running away from dire poverty, escaping the ravages of war or just simply exploring the freedom to express themselves. Performed over Zoom with cast members in different locations, this play is written by Valentina Acava Mmaka, directed by Nora Armani and starting Adriana Belan (Chicago), Edie Pilar Monroy (Los Angeles), Raquel Appiah (London), Rita Hight (Louisville, KY), and Samar El-Zein (Princeton, NJ). There will be a Q&A with playwright Valentina Acava Mmaka (Kenya), director Nora Armani (New York), and the cast members.
To learn more, go to: https://www.eventcombo.com/e/imigrant-woman-40105
iMigrant WomenJuly 25 - 26, 2020
Now in its seventh year, the non-profit Socially Relevant Film Festival will be streamed online (https://www.ratedsrfilms.org/) to audiences this June 18th to the 28th. Tackling issues of oppression, identity, racism, and sexism, the Socially Relevant Film Fest has always been upfront on the issues it tackles. Increasing the viewer interactivity of the new digital version of the fest is Meetings with Filmmakers which will be featured on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTSz55oZhoPPlhJos82RoSw), giving viewers a chance to see the people behind these films up close.
The film screening and panel Climate, Violence, and the Environment: Women Paying the Price, features six short film accompanied by a panel discussion. Films such as Like No Other and Mother Daughter Sister come from Pakistan and Bangladesh, and address hard hitting issues facing women around the world.
Other narrative films and documentaries address gun control (Gun Show and Unsafe), online peer pressure (Butter), women entrepreneurs (Igniting Impact and Our Albertine), Tibetan exiles (Mother of Tibetans) and more.
To learn more, go to: https://www.ratedsrfilms.org/
Socially Relevant Film FestivalJune 18 - 28, 2020
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