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Alexandre Abdoulaev
Tagine (n.) a North African stew of spiced meat and vegetables prepared by slow cooking in a shallow ... oh. Tag LINE. Hmm. Don't have one.
Tagine (n.) a North African stew of spiced meat and vegetables prepared by slow cooking in a shallow ... oh. Tag LINE. Hmm. Don't have one.

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Oh hai Mark, it's my first post in... two years? Give or take? Featuring my lovely girlfriend in an accidental Renaissance photo.

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Pre-Gig, Dupont Circle, Sunday 3 PM

Yesterday afternoon, the Butler Parks Hot Serenaders, played to an amazing crowd of over 200 dancers gathered under the sunny skies of Washington, D.C.'s Dupont Circle. Days like this make me wish every day was spent playing hot jazz with amazing musicians to a supportive crowd.

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Oh my dear Christ, is this for real. Please tell me this is for real.

I hope to God he is serious. I really, really do. This will be more unintentionally hilarious than Rick Perry's 2012 presidential campaign, and possibly more ill-conceived than Wyclef Jean's 2010 bid for the Haitian presidency. There's something oddly comforting about watching trainwrecks, and I really, really hope this one will be a doozy. #Schadenfreude   #SorryImNotMoreSorry   #waitsrsly  

EDIT: Oh! OH! And it gets better! He announced his candidacy on 4/20!! Wow, this is like a comedy film that writes itself, you guys!!! And that campaign video is pure humor gold.

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I would say that Amandla Stenberg's essay is an excellent starting point to a discussion on cultural appropriation, but it should by no means be considered a comprehensive explanation. Here are a few tidbits that I've pondered within the context of this video:

1. At what point do culturally appropriated tropes become so pervasive that they become integrated into the recipient culture? Wearing sneakers and athletic shoes is an excellent example of this. Back in the 70s, rappers used to wear sneakers almost exclusively, to the point where dress shoes were considered the white man's domain. Now, pretty much everyone wears sneakers. Well, except me, because if it's not $200 and Italian-made, it's not going on my feet. But the point is, what once used to be a cultural statement has become so ingrained in our culture that neither the originating nor the receiving culture really considers it to be a statement made about the culture it came from anymore. We just "wear sneakers." So, an examination of similar transitions would be very enlightening.

2. Where is the line between cultural appropriation and homage drawn? Classical music in the early 1900s went through a feverish but brief period of orientalism, where Europe, particularly France, was absolutely balls-out fascinated with anything that came from Asia. It does strike me as inherently hilarious, however, that much of the appropriationist and, oftentimes, blatantly racist imagery from the period is completely ignored. You know, because Asia. So who the fuck cares? Similarly, there are plenty of Asian American stereotypes and cultural tropes that get incorporated into everyday European cultural norms today, but we fail to give these instances proper merit because Asian culture is not at the forefront of cultural innovation. 

And finally 3. Who gets to decide what determines appropriation and homage? I think this is a very important question to ponder, because while I don't really give two shits about Iggy Azalea, Taylor Swift, or Miley Cyrus, I can't, in good conscience, automatically assume that they made the decision to blatantly rip off African-American culture entirely on their own. For one, I feel like they don't have enough smarts between the three of them to do it, but for two, it's always worth looking at the source of who decides what passes for "tropes we can pilfer and reincorporate into popular culture."

(But spoiler alert: it's almost always white, upper-middle-class executive types who don't really understand the first thing about the culture they're ransacking, but certainly have a solid grip on the idea of quarterly profit margins.)

The bottom line is, making cultural appropriation a simple issue of "Hi, we like your culture, but don't give a shit about you as a people, so we're going to steal it" is kind of dumbing it down in a lot of ways. This isn't a criticism of what Amandla Stenberg says, it's just a fact. The very nature of culture is that it simultaneously exists on several levels, micro- and macro-, and to put it in terms that are as simplistic as "stealing things from one culture to make racially insensitive statements" really misses a lot of the nuance of what culture is really all about. 

But definitely watch the video. As I said, it's a really fantastic starting point for a discussion on this topic.
Hunger Games star Amandla Stenberg explains the nuances of cultural appropriation.

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Strange Meadow Lark

Quite recently, yet another video from my performance with Sherry Benedek surfaced -- this time, it's the Dave Brubeck/Paul Desmond jazz standard, "Strange Meadow Lark." Because the original version has little in the way of lyrics and a very different feel, we've decided to adopt a set of lyrics (and the associated vocal style) from Sherri Roberts' 1998 album, "Dreamsville." 

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Sondheim in Baltimore

Last night, I performed as part of the Black Orchid Duo in Baltimore, Maryland. Here's an excerpt of that performance, featuring vocalist Sherry Benedek singing "Send In the Clowns" by Stephen Sondheim.

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Not long ago, the talented D.C.-area photographer +Jerry Almonte took some pictures of the two bands I play with: the traditional jazz combo Butler Parks Hot Serenaders, and the cabaret ensemble Ghosts of Weimar. For more information on Jerry's photography, please head over to his website at
37 Photos - View album

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To echo the sentiment behind Frank Zappa's 1980 song, "Flakes," I feel like this is important to talk about as this trend is becoming a really big part of our contemporary culture. Personally, I don't really even care: if you flake on me, I'll just do the thing you flaked on by myself. Hell, I'm probably going to have a better time without you there. Because you know what? I never really liked you in the first place, and your stupid face is stupid. Now get off my lawn before I'm forced to use more harsh language.

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Stumbled upon this find this morning. +Shantha Marie Fountain has an incredible understanding of space, framing, and lines, and a keen eye for small details. Plus, the vintage dress, hair, and makeup deserve a definite seal of approval in my book!
Behind The Scenes

Some of you know me as the lady who does crazy make-ups and sometimes fancy portraits of myself; however, sometimes I get asked if I really do it all.  Do I do the make-up? Do I do the hair? Do I really set my own lighting? And, do I really get it all done by myself?

The answer is YES!

I thought, for the AoSP March Challenge Multiplicity shot, I would play off that theme of doing it all while creating my #12monthsofmakeup  Victory Roll look.

I struggled with the look because foolishly I forgot hairspray lol, but once the hair was done, the make-up was simple and classy to match the 1940's era. 

Very soon I will have the actual image processed for that project, but for now...

Enjoy your Sunday, my loverlies! ♥

#selfportraiture   #vintage   #multiplicity   #conceptualselfportraiture   #juxtapixelsphotodesigns  

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