The dark heart of the new South Africa

Guardian-Observer:

Foreigners think we’re nuts coming back to a doomed city on a damned continent,’ Rian Malan once wrote about Johannesburg, ‘but there is something you don’t understand: it’s boring where you are.’ When I go to meet Malan, South Africa’s most controversial and charismatic writer, in his home city, I see the force of both halves of that statement.
Three stories are dominating the Jo’burg headlines. The first is the brutal murder of the ‘white Zulu’ David Rattray, friend of Prince Charles, who told the story of Rorke’s Drift from the African perspective. Rattray was shot in his bedroom by a local Zulu, a man he knew, in a botched robbery. The second story exercising the phone-in shows concerns an attempt by the First National Bank to draw attention to violent crime – murders are running at 50 per day – in an advert which talked of ‘mobilising the population’. The ANC government, jumpy about such language, had pressured the bank to withdraw the campaign. And the third story was about the extraordinary popularity of an Afrikaans song, ‘De la Rey’, a homage to a general who had fought the British with the Transvaal Bittereinders and helped forge the Afrikaans nation. The song called for the return of General De la Rey – ‘We are ready’ – and suggested that the Boer ‘nation will rise up again’.

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High School Kidnapping Charges

From Jim’s myspace blog:

Let me start off by saying that my Dad always thought Trent Nelson was a bad influence on me. I am not sure why. He was really the only person I hung out with that did not drink or do drugs. He loved my friend Billy Hicks who I used to get weed from because I knew him in 6th grade. But Billy didn’t almost get me arrested for Kidnapping.

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Calvert DeForest, cult status as oddball on Letterman show

Mercury News:

Calvert DeForest, the white-haired, bespectacled nebbish who gained cult status as the oddball Larry “Bud” Melman on David Letterman’s late night television shows, has died after a long illness.
Mr. DeForest, who was 85, died Monday at a hospital on Long Island, Letterman’s “Late Show” announced Wednesday.
He made dozens of appearances on Letterman’s shows from 1982 through 2002, handling a variety of twisted duties: singing a duet of “I Got You, Babe” with Sonny Bono, doing a Mary Tyler Moore impression during a visit to Minneapolis, handing out hot towels to arrivals at the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

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Straight Edge slayer recounts chaos of fatal Halloween night

Salt Lake Tribune:

More than eight years have passed since Colin Reesor fatally stabbed an unconscious boy during a Halloween night riot between Straight Edge gang members and others, but Reesor still doesn’t understand his actions.
“I’m a coward, I guess,” Reesor said Tuesday during his first hearing before the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole.
The board in the coming weeks will determine how much more time Reesor, now 26, and cohort Andrew Moench, also 26, will spend in prison for the Oct. 31, 1998, death of 15-year-old Bernardo Repreza.

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Camera Bits releases public beta of Photo Mechanic 4.5

Rob Galbraith:

Camera Bits has released a public beta of Photo Mechanic 4.5 for Windows and Mac.

The next version of the pro photo browser introduces a smorgasbord of user-requested changes big and small, including such welcome features as five-star ratings, drag-and-drop thumbnail sorting, the ability to automatically display in slide show fashion new pictures arriving in a folder (including from a wirelessly-connected camera), beefed up web page generation (with support for AutoViewer, SimpleViewer and PostcardViewer galleries), user-customizable hierarchical keywording, Unicode IPTC support, snazzier-looking contact sheets and more.

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Shooting Low, Aiming High

LA Weekly:

The opening reception for Mark Ryden’s new exhibition, “The Tree Show” at Michael Kohn Gallery, was six hours long. If you glanced at the invitation beforehand, you might have thought this was a misprint. Six hours? Two is customary. Three is generous. Six, you might be forgiven for concluding, falls somewhere between pointless and pretentious. But then you would be seriously underestimating both the breadth and the fervor of Ryden’s fan base. In fact, the extension was merely practical.

At 3 p.m. on Saturday, midway through the opening, a line stretched out the back door, down Crescent Heights and around the corner onto Beverly. By the time the gallery closed its doors at 6, the guard who’d been hired to manage the flow had counted 2,222 visitors — this in addition to the 220 who’d attended the private preview two nights before. (All those twos make a curious pattern for an artist with a professed interest in numerology.) Kohn associate Samantha Glaser confirmed later over the phone that Ryden himself had been there throughout, milling with admirers and signing autographs. Each time I’d seen them in the course of the week leading up to the show, Glaser and other gallery staff appeared to be wavering between exhilaration and exhaustion, taken aback by the machinations of a network they weren’t used to handling and didn’t entirely understand. Ryden, on the other hand, was clearly in his element. “Oh, he’s having a great time,” Glaser said. “He’s just in heaven!”

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What Really Happened at Fire Station 5?

LA Weekly:

Two days after Pierce and the others showered engineer Arrigoni with ketchup — an incident never before reported publicly — the Station 5 crew decided to grab an early-morning volleyball game at nearby Dockweiler State Beach. Pierce began loudly bragging about being the “Big Dog,” his longtime nickname, and avidly taunting a fellow crew member, Latino paramedic George Arevalo — at 5 feet 7 inches nearly a foot shorter than Pierce. One player, firefighter Glen Phillips, tells the L.A. Weekly Pierce was shouting, “I take craps bigger than you!” at the much smaller Arevalo.

Pierce’s laughter and gross taunts seemed like no big deal — at the time. But within hours, Arevalo, a quiet type who was studying to become a helicopter pilot, would feed dog food to Tennie Pierce in the Station 5 kitchen — a prank that would hurt the careers of two captains, open taxpayers to a $2.7 million settlement pushed by City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, prompt Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to enact his first veto of the Los Angeles City Council, force the demotion of a deputy chief and the stunning resignation of admired Fire Chief William Bamattre — and send the morale of the department plummeting.

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The calamity of Asia's lost women

The Observer:

In today’s China, there are now 119 men for every 100 women. In some areas, the imbalance is greater than it was in Huai-pei in 1850. Earlier this year, an official Chinese report projected that by 2020, one in 10 men between 20 and 45 would be unable to find a wife. Professor Valerie Hudson of Brigham Young University in the US estimates that by 2020, there will be 28 million surplus Chinese men and 31 million surplus Indian men.

Both governments are becoming more and more worried about the psychological and social consequences, not to mention the sheer criminality of it. As one Indian commentator remarks, the most dangerous period of a woman’s life is her first few months in the womb. China’s President Hu Jintao, remembering the Nian rebellion, has publicly recognised that such a huge population of ‘bare branches’ constitutes one of the biggest potential threats to the communist regime’s survival. Real unemployment in China is more than 20 per cent, inequality is growing rapidly and there is plenty of injustice for rootless, violently inclined, womanless men to protest about.

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BEARING WITNESS TO GENOCIDE

SF Gate:

Rotting corpses, starving babies, burned-out villages. Those aren’t the kinds of images kids at San Anselmo’s Sir Francis Drake High School usually see when they crowd into the gym for an assembly.
But they got an eyeful one recent morning when Mark Brecke, a resourceful San Francisco photographer who’s spent a decade documenting mass murder and ethnic cleansing, served up a sobering tutorial on genocide. He showed slides from the decimated Darfur region of Sudan, where he lived for five weeks with roving rebels of the Sudanese Liberation Army, and from the camps in neighboring Chad, where survivors find refuge from the slaughter and forced starvation that has killed more than 400,000 people since 2003.
“These images are not easy to take, that’s for sure,” said Brecke, a soft-spoken, fair-haired man in his late 30s, showing a picture of a partially decomposed body lying in the dirt. “But they’re necessary. Because you are witnessing a mass crime scene, if you want to call it that.”

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A New Face of Jihad Vows Attacks on U.S.

NYT:

The men belong to a new militant Islamic organization called Fatah al Islam, whose leader, a fugitive Palestinian named Shakir al-Abssi, has set up operations in a refugee camp here where he trains fighters and spreads the ideology of Al Qaeda.

He has solid terrorist credentials. A former associate of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda of Mesopotamia who was killed last summer, Mr. Abssi was sentenced to death in absentia along with Mr. Zarqawi in the 2002 assassination of an American diplomat in Jordan, Laurence Foley. Just four months after arriving here from Syria, Mr. Abssi has a militia that intelligence officials estimate at 150 men and an arsenal of explosives, rockets and even an antiaircraft gun.

During a recent interview with The New York Times, Mr. Abssi displayed his makeshift training facility and his strident message that America needed to be punished for its presence in the Islamic world. “The only way to achieve our rights is by force,” he said. “This is the way America deals with us. So when the Americans feel that their lives and their economy are threatened, they will know that they should leave.”

Here.

Take the Funny and Run

Radar:

While the genial, hardworking Leary is generally liked and admired by most of his peers, Comedy Central star Carlos Mencia is almost universally reviled. According to Rogan, the famed Comedy Store in Los Angeles has even instituted a Mencia early-detection signal similar to the Improv’s for Williams, though considerably less high-tech. “Every time he walks in, the guys in the cover booth just start yelling ‘Mencia’s here!'” he says with a laugh. (Both Mencia and Leary declined repeated requests for comment.)

Nick Di Paolo claims the Comedy Central star also swiped material from him, and notes that “every Latino comic wants to kill him.”

One in particular is sitcom star George Lopez, who told Howard Stern last year that Mencia stole 13 minutes of his act for an HBO special, inspiring him to pay Mencia a personal visit. “I just had enough,” Lopez recalled. “So one night at the Laugh Factory, I just picked him up and slammed him against the wall.”

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Time Gets Crafty With Weepy Reagan Cover

Radar:

Is Time hoping a little controversy will draw attention to its redesign? The first new-look issue, on newsstands tomorrow, features what appears to be a photo of Ronald Reagan with a fat tear sliding down his cheek, illustrating the cover story, “How the Right Went Wrong.” A somewhat cryptic credit in small type on the (revamped!) table of contents describes the image this way: “Photograph by David Hume Kennerly. Tear by Tim O’Brien.” Nowhere does it specifically state that the cover is a photo illustration—in other words, that it’s Photoshopped.

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Cerealism – Ernie Button

PhotoEye:

So, there sat King Vitamin next to a new version of Cap’n Crunch, Choco Donuts, on a recent trip to the grocery store. Looking at the rest of the cereal aisle, it is clear that breakfast cereal has changed. The cereal aisle has become a cornucopia of colors with marshmallows that resemble people and objects and characters from movies. It’s apparent that cereal is not just for breakfast anymore; it’s playtime. In keeping with the playtime theme, I began to construct landscapes that would utilize the natural earth tones of certain cereals. I placed enlarged photographs of actual Arizona skies (e.g. sunsets or monsoon clouds) in the background of the cereal landscapes giving the final image an odd sense of ‘reality’. Other cereals that were more vibrantly colored or made to resemble people and objects were calling out to have their portraits taken, to be the center of attention. Cereal has transformed into cultural pop objects instead of just corn pops.

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Lavigne Defends Spitting on Photographers

SF Gate’s Daily Dish:

Canadian singer Avril Lavigne defends spitting on photographers outside a Hollywood nightclub because they are “scum.”

The 22-year-old was leaving Hollywood hotspot Hyde when she was bombarded by a pack of paparazzi and she lashed out.

She tells Seventeen magazine, “I was at Hyde and there were a million paparazzi guys. They’re all these gross older men, like disgusting, scum of the earth.

Here.

PDN's 30 2007

PDN:

Our choice of new and emerging photographers to watch.

Gmb Akash, Aneta Bartos, Maxine Beuret, Julie Blackmon, Marco Bohr, Lane Coder, Kathryn Cook, Pierre Crocquet, Victoria J. Dean, Brad Dececco, Autumn De Wilde, Rena Effendi, Serkan Emiroglu, Ditte Isager, Jamie Isaia, Shuli Hallak, Kathryn Hillier, Dorothy Hong, Aaron Huey, Brian Lesteberg, David Leventi, Debora Mittelstaedt, Marcus Nilsson, Brigitte Sire, Alys Tomlinson, Brian Ulrich, Anna Wolf, Sarah Wilmer, Andrea Wyner, Alvaro Ybarra Zavala.

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Clips: ’80s Video Dating Losers

Dethroner:

Hold the comically oversized mobile phone: this video of men recording their profiles for a video dating service in what appears to be the early ’80s is too good to be true. I know I haven’t gotten into fashion much yet this week, but consider this a primer on what taking a risk will net you in two decades: lots of young jerks laughing at your mistakes.

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The Studio Episode 1

J. Garner Photography:

GUYS, THIS IS A JOKE! Please don’t take these episodes literally. “Image” is NOT everything. For JGP, humility, character & professionalism are the real virtues. We’re just simple wedding photographers, having a GREAT time!

Here.

The Mayor's Fake "Worst Gangs"

LA Weekly:

The lead homicide detective of LAPD’s deadly Southeast Division found the list odd. “I can’t imagine that those are the worst gangs in the city,” said Detective Sal LaBarbera. “I think they were trying to spread it out over the whole city, because we’ve got five gangs alone in Southeast — the PJs, Grape Street, the Bounty Hunters, Hoover and Main Street — that could be on that list.”

Southeast Division and neighboring 77th Street Division suffered 136 homicides in 2006, representing more than 28 percent of all killings in Los Angeles. Yet only two gangs from Southeast and 77th got onto the apparently geographically and politically correct list — Grape Street Crips and Rollin’ 60s Crips.

The list does contain some truly dangerous gangs. But it also leaves out very powerful gangs: the Hoover Street Criminals, East Coast Crips, Bounty Hunters, Florencia 13 and Quarto Flats — the old-time Boyle Heights gang with close ties to Mexican cartels.

“It’s a bunch of bullshit,” said Antony “Set Trip” Johnson, 17, a gang member with the Five Deuce Hoover, a subset of the notorious Hoover Criminals. “We should be on that list. Fuck it. We the most hated gang in Los Angeles.”

Johnson, who was very familiar with the list, scoffed at some of the gangs on it. “204th Street? That’s bullshit. That ain’t a rough neighborhood. What they got, 10, 20 members? And Canoga Park Alabama? You gotta be kidding me. That ain’t a gang hood. La Mirada Locos? Never in my life have I heard of them.”

Here.