I forgot to mention in my previous post that I also received -- in addition to the Afrodisiac book and posters -- a DVD with a promotional video for the project that is downright out of sight. Go over and check out the super classy "Afro-Strut" video here.
You will dig it. I guarantee it
I received two packages on that day. The first was from Jim Lupio, who'd invited me to show my zines in the Baltimore Book Festival's "Creative Control" exhibit. The over-sized white envelope with the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts logo contained a nice assortment of self-published art books from other exhibition participants. Nice.
The second package was a BIG, 17" x 22" flat mailer with "Do Not Bend" written large across the bottom. Looking at the return address as I pulled the parcel from one of the postal boxes used for over-sized deliveries, I saw the Texas zip code and realized it was somethin' from my buddy Damon.
Somethin' afro-licious, no doubt.
Back inside my apartment, I actually opened the package from Baltimore first, knowing that the shipment from Austin would probably keep me busy for a while. I spent about 15 minutes flipping through the five publications made by people in different parts of the world and then eagerly reached for the other delivery.
First out the flat mailer were two beautiful 12" x 18" posters from Damon's recent "Afrodisiac" photo and book exhibition. The first had a rich chocolate background, and the other a white background.
I've really been diggin' the color red for some time now. Near my desk I have my red and gray signed Afro Samurai poster, and I've been looking for other things to complement it. The Ace/Afro of Hearts-style poster with white background, chocolate colored line art and red accents will make a fitting addition to my wall.
Reaching down to the bottom of the mailer, I got my hands on a copy of the Afrodisiac book that was also sent. My immediate impression was that it was a little smaller than I'd anticipated, about 6.5 inches x 6.5 inches. Opening the book, I quickly remembered the adage that big things come in small packages.
It would be no exaggeration to say that the book was in my hands for at least two to three hours after I pulled it from its cardboard shipper. And it's not in anyway text-heavy either. But the images are so numerous and so wonderfully produced that my eyes had to pore over them again and again.
Reading the forward that I wrote for the book on the first go thru, and seeing how it worked with the black and white image on the preceding page gave me a good feeling. In so many ways the image and text balance one another beautifully; Damon said when I first sent him the text that it worked out better than he could have imagined. I see what he meant by that now.
While I could go on and on (and on and on) about the beauty of Afrodisiac, I'm really not going to. A picture paints a thousand words, right? So instead of talking about it, I'll share a few of my favorite spreads from this sweet, 148-page softcover confection of afro-liciousness in a consecutive post.
I'm really glad to have had a tiny part in the making of this book, and I look fro'ward to buying copies for my mother, sister, and lady friends. Of course, when the books are ready for purchase, a link will be posted here.
By Paco D. Taylor
In the classic monster movies of Japan, three islands located in the South Pacific are home to three of Tokyo's biggest threats: Giant Beast Gappa, Barugon and King Kong. In real life, these remote islands are home to some of the biggest threats to anthropology textbooks everywhere.
One of the best anthropology lessons that I ever learned came not by way of a classroom, but while I was watching Japanese "dai-kaiju" (giant monster) movies on television. King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) was the first of three movies that kick-started my learning curve by inspiring what may be the single-most profound question a movie has ever inspired me to ask:
Why the heck are so many people in this movie wearing afro wigs?
If you've never seen King Kong vs. Godzilla, the film opens with the owner of a drug company wracking his brain to come up with an attention grabbing pitch for a new ad campaign. At the same time that he's working on the campaign, a scientist tells him about a giant creature (King Kong) that is rumored to be living on Fauro, a small island in the South Pacific Ocean.
And everybody knows that in the world of Japanese advertising, nothing grabs peoples' attention like a giant monster does.
The company owner quickly makes arrangements to send two employees on an expedition to the jungles of Fauro. The men are charged with the task of capturing King Kong and bringing him back with them to Japan. In order to capture the beast, though, they must first gain the trust of Fauro's natives, who see the giant ape as an angry island god.
When Kong makes his way into the picture, he is promptly thrown into a skirmish with a giant octopus that has wandered ashore, probably attracted by the scent of a kava-like beverage the natives make from berries that only grow on Fauro. Kong uses some Judo moves, tosses some boulders, and sends the octopus packing. After that hearty workout, he quenches his thirst with a few pots of Fauro Island Punch, and pretty much gets a party started.
With the sound of tribal drums echoing into the night, dusky island girls in grass skirts and coconut bras shake and gyrate at Kong's feet. As the women dance around, they serenade Kong with a hypnotic chant that rock-a-bye-baby's the giant ape into a drunken slumber. Taking advantage of the situation, the company men have Kong tied to a giant raft and make way for Japan with their sedated captive...
The above is an excerpt from the 2.5 version of the "Monster Islands" article. It's actually still not finished, but I think I'm much further along with this one than any previous version -- And there are several previous versions. As mentioned in a previous post, the first attempts to write this started at least seven years ago.
With this piece, the hardest part has been finding a simple way to communicate complex concepts -- all within the confines of a brief article on anthropology. At the same time too, I've also wanted to come up with a more playful tone to take the place of the angry intellectual rant that this piece always turned into.
Finally, though, I think that I've found the way to simplify the subject and also show a sense of humor about it all. Though I'm still plenty pissed at both modern academia's and pop anthropology's silence on the subject matter, this current approach will be a "kindler" and "gentler" take.