The Cultural Gutter

taking trash seriously

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." -- Oscar Wilde

RIP, Bobby Womack

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Singer, songwriter and composer Bobby Womack has died. The stand-alone importance of his music aside, Womack’s songs were used in innumerable film soundtracks and Womack composed the soundtrack for Across 110th Street (1972). The Los Angeles Times, Time and The Telegraph have obituaries. At Ebony, Gary Harris remembers Womack. The New Yorker considers “The Unimpeachable […]

RIP, Meshach Taylor

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Actor Meshach Taylor has died. Taylor had roles in Mannequin (1987), Designing Women, Buffalo Bill, Criminal Minds, Ned’s Classified School Survival Guide, The Urban Gardener with Meshach Taylor and the Broadway production of Beauty And The Beast. The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and NPR have obituaries. Here Wendy Williams talks with Meshach […]

Interview with Kellee Terrell

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Graveyard Shift Sisters talks with writer/director Kellee Terrell about representation and Black women in horror film . “A story about love, loss, regret and sacrifice could be told in any medium with any kind of backdrop. But I was never really interested in telling Aimee and Cynthia’s story if zombies weren’t part of it. Because […]

RIP, Ruby Dee

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Actor and activist Ruby Dee has died. Dee appeared in many roles in film, television and on stage. She appeared in St. Louis Blues (1958),  A Raisin in the Sun (1961), Guiding Light (1967), Peyton Place (1968-9), Buck and the Preacher (1972), Do The Right Thing (1989), Jungle Fever (1991),  American Gangster (2007). Josie Pickens […]

“Deadly Art of Survival”

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The Gutter’s own Keith writes about No Wave, Black cinema, ninjas, kung fu, cultural sharing, cultural appropriation, music and New York in a piece on The Deadly Art of Survival for Teleport City. “Its curious place in the history of cinema, for instance, [is] as this weird amalgamation of no wave, black cinema, and martial […]

“America, Be Seated!”

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The Smithsonian Magazine‘s Vicky Gan looks at “The Story Behind the Failed Minstrel Show at the 1964 World’s Fair.” “Remarkably, the musical received support from the NAACP. The organization, understandably turned off by the minstrel show label, was critical of the production at first, but after seeing a Boston preview NAACP officials reversed their stance, […]

An Open Letter to John Chu

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“Is it so outrageous to think that someone my color would be rocking out in a girl band?” Lindsay Taylor reads an open letter to director John M. Chu, director of the upcoming live action film  Jem And The Holograms . Taylor talks about what the character Shana means to her as well as whitewashing, […]

“Huxtable Hotness”

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The fashions of The Cosby Show are reviewed at Huxtable Hotness.

Black Victoriana

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A gallery of photographs of people of African descent from the Victorian era. (Via Kit Marlowe)

“You Don’t Have To Be Eurocentric To Make It To The Future”

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“’You don’t have to be Eurocentric to make it to the future,’ said Andrea Hairston, a professor of theater and Afro-American studies at Smith College in Massachusetts, whose side gig happens to be writing award-winning science fiction. ‘We have to figure out how to be different together. [And t]hat is what storytelling is all about, […]

“10 Modern Heroes of Black Nerddom (and Urkel is NOT One)”

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“If the RZA didn’t exist, then we would have had to invent him.” Charles Webb shares his list of “10 Modern Heroes of Black Nerddom (and Urkel is NOT One)” at Topless Robot.

Interview with Denys Cowan

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“Legendary comic book artist and Milestone Media co-founder Denys Cowan joined CBR executive producer Jonah Weiland in the CBR Speakeasy for a lengthy discussion covering Cowan’s career, diversity, and the current state of Milestone properties at DC Comics. They begin by discussing Cowan’s seminal work on The Question with Dennis O’Neil and the mistakes he […]

Nettrice Gaskins Explores AfroFuturism In Virtual Worlds

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At IAfroFuturism, Ytasha interviews Nettrice Gaskins about AfroFuturism, art, math, science and virtual worlds. “I had to figure out how to immerse those who weren’t familiar with Afrofuturism using the virtual space. I wanted the avatars in the space to have an experience. I put up a gallery that allowed you to manipulate objects. I […]

Forty-One Black Women In Horror Writing

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Sumiko Saulson shares a list of twenty Black women in horror writing. “February is Black History Month here in the United States. It is also Women in Horror Month (WiHM). As an Ambassador for WiHM, and as a woman of color (I am Black and Jewish) who is a horror writer, I am poignantly aware […]

Horror, Black Female Identity and Taking Agency

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Graveyard Shift Sisters shares Kinitra Brooks’ “close examination of the books of Tananarive Due, her African Immortals series that centers around the main character Jessica Jacobs-Wolde and L.A. Banks’ Vampire Huntress Legend series focus on Damali Richards and discusses how speculative fiction is ripe for transformative work on Black female identity, in particular, taking agency in our […]

“Martin Luther King & The Montgomery Story” Comic

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A complete digital edition of  Martin Luther King & The Montgomery Story (1956), the comic that inspired Rep. John Lewis to pursue nonviolence and social justice.

A Treasury of African-American Films Made For African-American Audiences

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The Riverbends Genealogical and Historical Society has a collection of “race movies”: “The ‘race movie’ or ‘race film’ was a film genre which existed in the United States between about 1915 and 1950. It consisted of films produced for an all-black audience, featuring black casts. In all, approximately five hundred race films were produced. Of […]

RIP, Sheila Guyse

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Actor and singer Sheila Guyse has died. Guyse appeared on Broadway, most notably in “Finian’s Rainbow” and in “race films” with all-African-American casts catering to African-American audiences in the 1940s and 1950s. The New York Times has an obituary. Nina Mae McKinney has a tribute to Guyse. Here Sheila Guyse performs “Cinderella” with Billy Daniels […]

Cab Calloway’s Jive Dictionary

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Learn to speak jive like all the hep cats do.

A Few Pagan Reactions to American Horror Story: Coven

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At A Knife And A Quill, Kate Laity shares her thoughts on American Horror Story: Coven:  “I don’t turn to drama series for insightful commentary on witchcraft. I do expect fun and I do expect a little pulse-taking on the state of the nation. Because witchcraft narratives are almost always about notions of female and other […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Jon Peterson discusses how Gary Gygax lost control of Dungeons & Dragons. “What did Gygax see, in that moment? He saw enough shares in play that he stood to lose control of TSR, a company he had founded and transformed into a global brand. But he surely also saw something even more dear at stake: that he might lose control of Dungeons & Dragons.”

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    At Paleofuture, Matt Novak writes about Idiocracy‘s unpleasant implications: “Sure. As an over-the-top comedic dystopia, the movie is actually enjoyable. But the movie’s introduction makes it an unnerving reference to toss around as our go-to insult….Unlike other films that satirize the media and the soul-crushing consequences of sensationalized entertainment (my personal favorite being 1951′s Ace in the Hole), Idiocracy lays the blame at the feet of an undeserved target (the poor) while implicitly advocating a terrible solution (eugenics). The movie’s underlying premise is a fundamentally dangerous and backwards way to understand the world.” (via The Projection Booth)

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    Friend of the Gutter, Will McKinley looks at “The 1979 Rockford Files Episode That Inspired The Sopranos.” “A gang from Newark’s South Side is hiding Vinnie Martine’s body in a restaurant freezer. Tony’s mad because Anthony Jr. got caught pranking another mobster. And a boss who’s trying to reform gets his mansion sprayed with bullets. Remember that episode of The Sopranos? If you do, your memory’s playing tricks on you, because all these things happened on a 1979 episode of The Rockford Files—written by Sopranos creator David Chase.”

    And McKinley defends classic television with, “In Praise of Vintage Television.”

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    Journalist Margot Adler has died. She is best known for her work as a journalist on NPR, but she also created the speculative fiction radio program, “The Hour Of The Wolf” and was the writer of Drawing Down The Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today (1979) and Vampires Are Us: Understanding Our Love Affair with the Immortal Dark Side (2014). The New York Times, NPR and  Suvudu have obituaries.  Here Adler discusses Vampires Are Us. And here is an excerpt from Adler’s memoir, Heretic’s Heart (1997).

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    The Toronto International Film Festival has announced its Midnight Madness and Vanguard programs for 2014. There’s lots of goodness in there and it’s worth taking a look even if you aren’t going to the festival, so you can you movie watching later this year or next. We’ll be posting the trailers from the films later.

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    Actor James Shigeta has died. Shigeta appeared in Die Hard (1988), The Crimson Kimono (1959) The Flower Drum Song (1961),  Bridge To The Sun (1961), Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966), The Yakuza (1974) and many, many television shows.  The AV Club, Den Of Geek and Angry Asian Man have obituaries. Bridge to the Sun is discussed by Robert Osborne and Dr. Peter Feng on TCM.  At RogerEbert.com, Matt Zoller Seitz writes an appreciation of Shigeta’s life and work. “Shigeta, who died yesterday at 81, was a marvelous performer, and his work as Nakatomi Corporation President Joseph Takagi in the original 1988 Die Hard is one of my favorite examples of how an imaginative actor can sketch out a life in just a few scenes and lines.”

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