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I fantasized about this back in Chicago ...

So begins Kanye West's so-called full-length film for "Runaway" posted to YouTube.

And like his recently controversial proposed album cover for the upcoming album "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," this is a NSFW effort. And yes, there is a half-naked bird woman in the film, but the issues are more with some naughty words than anything else. So earphones should insulate you from repercussions (clean version here).

And as with most of his work, Kanye just might have an instant classic.

Explosions, fast cars, the aforementioned bird woman (fallen angel/Phoenix) and discussing every thing from Devil worship to Illuminati conspiracies to booty calls with ballet in the background, sheep and even some fowl cannibalism, there really is something for the whole family here.

Now, at 34-plus minutes, this won't be getting massive play on MTV. Of course, unless Kanye turned into a "Guido Juicehead" macking at Miami Beach, his best chances of cracking that channel's primetime lineup revolve around awards show hijacking anyway.

But the real question may be whether the world is ready for the rock opera - hip hopera? - again? If anybody can pull it off, Kanye can.

But you can judge for yourself. Settle in at your desk, keep an eye out for the boss and put your company broadband to good use for a half hour.


Kanye West just can't win.

The thought-filter challenged Chicago rapper/producer/gadfly/awards show menace is finishing work on his fifth studio album in six years - "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy". Normally a cause for celebration. But hold on, controversy has a habit of following West around.

Late Sunday afternoon he tweeted that his album art had been nixed by the nefarious "they":

Yoooo they banned my album cover!!!!! Ima tweet it in a few...

Side note: If you aren't following Kanye on Twitter, get on it now. He might be the best thing going in the microblogisphere.

But the days of keeping things under wraps are long behind us and, as promised, Kanye delivered the album art seen to the right via his Twitter stream. You may not be able to buy it anywhere, but there it is for free via TwitPic.

Banned in the USA!!! They tried to play me fam! They don't want me chilling on the couch with my phoenix!

Now, this being Kanye, who knows if it's the real album cover he had planned. But, as always, it does make for a fun moment in the spotlight.

He went on on Twitter to criticize the "they" - he's yet to elaborate - and the history of nudity on album covers.

In the 70s album covers had actual nudity... It's so funny that people forget that... Everything has been so commercialized now.

And there's this thought as his stream of consciousness continued:

I know that cover just blew yall minds ... I wish yall could see how hard I'm smiling right now!!!

More likely to come.

UPDATE: West continued to rap up on Twitter, defending the art direction and his artistic vision in regard perceived appropriateness:

In all honesty ... I really don't be thinking about Wal-Mart when I make my music or album covers #Kanyeshrug!

I wanna sell albums but not at the expense of my true creativity.


Pyramid_Lake_at_Night_2004.jpgThe beautiful, but not obtrusive photo that serves as the backdrop for Apple's iPad is a bit like all the images Apple uses as stock elements on its devices. It's a standout moment that doesn't take too much attention away from the device itself. And, it's anonymously produced - when's the last time you saw a photo credit on an image Apple plucks from relative obscurity?

Well, almost anonymous. Until the good folks at tracked down Richard Misrach, a Bay Area photographer responsible for "Pyramid Lake (at Night)," a 2004 photo from a series he has worked on over the years.

"It's a long night exposure where the moon is lighting up the mountains in the distance," he told ArtInfo. "I shot it on an 8x10 camera, so the quality is really beautiful and you can see star trails going through the sky."

Ironic that the original image produced in large format is actually larger than the iPad, which clocks in at just 9.56 by 7.47 inches, it was destined to decorate.

It also seems the secretive Cupertino-based tech company is no less secretive with its content sources. To hear Misrach tell it, he found out they were using his photo when the rest of the world did, even if most of the rest of the world would have no idea of Misrach's identity:

"I was in bed watching Inglorious Bastards when I got a call from Jeffrey FraenkeL, my dealer in San Francisco, and he said, 'Do you know what's going on live here?'" Misrach told ArtInfo, speaking of the iPad unveiling by Steve Jobs in January. "I was totally shocked. Naturally my other galleries started calling and my family was all atwitter, because it's a whole different world."

Misrach, who calls himself an Apple fan, says he had submitted 10 photos to the company for consideration as screensavers and whatnot over the years, but had never had any success. Until now.

'What's funny is that for years I actually used the photo as my own screensaver," Misrach says. "So I guess they know what they're doing."

Richard Misrach at the High Museum from Atlanta Celebrates Photography on Vimeo.

Video from Atlanta Celebrates Photography
for ACP Now!

Richard Misrach gives a tour of his "On the Beach" exhibition, on view at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA through Aug. 23rd, 2009.

There's really very little to add to this Friday gem, aside from thanks to @garfep for posting Boba breaking down the beats of Zelda.

And, of course, the Fett himself, or @renegadeaccord as he's known on the Twitter, "Renegade Accordion, the Boba Fett masked accordion player of New York."

If you simply must know more about the busking bounty hunter, you can alsways click play, thanks to PBS 13 in New York.

New York on the Clock: Nathan Stodola, Renegade Accordion from on Vimeo.


gold.jpgFinally, an Olympic medal we can all aspire to.

The gold, silver and bronze wavy trophies being passed out to the best of the best are themselves the best of the best this time. Designed by Omer Arbel, an acclaimed architect and industrial designer, and Corrine Hunt, a First Nations artist from the Raven Gwa'wina clan, of the Kwakwaka'wakw village on Vancouver Island, the shiny mementos are actually green.

As part of the Olympic organizing committee efforts on sustainablity, computer components, circuit boards, chips, cell phones and other parts and electronics castoffs were mined for their precious metals, which were then melted down to create the awards.

To take it a step further, the controversial Canadian mining company Teck Resources was tasked with extracting and retasking the metals from the used electronics.

The giant dishes of excellence turned out pretty cool, more so because of the moethods used to produce them.

Eddie Vedder does a solid, covering the 20-year-old "Hard Sun" for Sean Penn's "Into the Wild" and he resurrects interest in a little-heard song by Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Peterson.

"I hope he liked [my version]," Vedder told Canada's Metro paper this year.

Apparently not. Peterson is suing the Pearl Jam frontman and Chicago native for copyright infringement. Not for stealing the song - Vedder and Penn clearly have credited Peterso for covering his obscure song. No, Peterson is apparently pissed that Vedder changed a few words and ruined the artistic intent of what has become the obscure musician's only hit from his only album.

So much for Canadian's being friendly. Or grateful, for that matter.

The New York Post reports that in the suit, filed in a Manhattan federal-court, Peterson alleges that "Vedder altered certain key lyrics of 'Hard Sun' . . . eroding the integrity of the composition." He also skewers Universal Music for licensing his tune without his approval for the 2007 movie. He doesn't specify damages, but demands all profits from the "acts of infringement."

Vedder's lawyer, Gregory Clarick, said: "We don't see any basis for a copyright infringement claim."

Here's the original, so you can judge the deed for yourself:


The first shot released at a very NSFW of Levi Johnston and his armpit hair.

Levi Johnston, or is that Ricky Hollywood, is a classy guy. Yeah, he's doing a Playgirl pictorial, but it's arty, not filled with gratuitous junk.

The Bristol Palin knocker-upper decided to keep little Ricky Hollywood under wraps, electing no to go full frontal, so he can keep things from devolving into some sort of a circus with people thumbing his page for a glimpse at his naughty bits rather than to get to know him as a person.

See? Classy.

Us Magazine had some additional details of the classic moments of Americana preserved on film:

"'The shoot was fantastic!' Johnston's manager said, adding that the nude model wasn't nervous in the slightest. 'We're having a lot of fun with it,' Jones teases. And, ahem, how much did Bristol Palin's hockey-playing ex reveal? 'People are going to see more of Levi than they thought,' Tank Jones tells Us. 'There was a hockey stick involved.' The fun's not over, either: a second photo session takes place Friday. 'Part two is going to be fantastic. That's all I can say.' "

Now, of course we all know this guy is a puckhead of the highest order. So much so that, according to Playgirl consultant Daniel Nardicio's Twitter feed, he whipped out his hockey stick for a couple pictures.

Picture 20.png

And it must be just that attention to detail that keeps his famous not-mother-in-law, Sarah Palin, willing to leave a seat at the family Thanksgiving table for him. Talking to Oprah on Monday, Palin said she's worried he may not be making the right decisions with his life.

Palin went on to say she finds it "a bit heartbreaking to see the road that he is on right now" and that "it's not a healthy place to be." Palin also said Johnston remains a member of the family and that they can work out any troubles. She said she prays for him and that he has an "open invitation" to Thanksgiving dinner.

One can only wonder with breathless anticipation what will happen next.

Kanye West is not gonna let Spike Jonze's short film, "We were once a fairytale," finish.

Just one day after the odd 10-minute opus was released, Chicagoan West pulled the joint from his own site without warning or explanation. The film shows a drunken rapper exorcising his demons as normal people look on.

Sounds familiar for some reason.

The beleaguered rapper debuted the clip on his Web site Monday before removing it. In it, West is shown acting drunk and obnoxious, and at the end of it, he stabs himself with a sword and pulls what appears to be a little mouselike demon out of his stomach. He then gives the demon a sword, and it stabs itself.

A rep for Jonze says the video was made within the past year. West's publicist did not respond to an Associated Press e-mail seeking comment.

This is not to make light of the plight of cabbies, apparently an endangered class of worker on our mean streets. Rather, it's to revel in the lunacy that is street stew of New York, made that much more piquant with the addition of some spicy cab drivers and fiery pedi-cab bikers.

While the New York media types were hanging outside the Ed Sullivan studio looking to grab some David Letterman stories, they managed to catch this seen of life on the bike-vs.-car streets, complete with beverage throwing, a fist fight/wrestling match, a thrown metal trash can and a not-so-fast get-away.

When all is said and done, it's probably more shocking not only that this doesn't happen more often, but that this hasn't been caught on video before. Of course, New York has had its issues recently with cyclist smackdowns, but that was a cop and Critical Mass, so no huge shock there. No word on whether there are any leads on the escaped biker - or whether they've got that beat-down officer looking for him.


This is a love story. The love story that has been years in the making, but has really only gelled in the last year.

And, as with many great love stories, this one came to a head with a wedding, a joyous day filled with family, friends and memories new an old.

And yes, we're probably all happy for Jill and Matthew, the happy couple whose wedding played a part in this love story, but it's not their vows that have us fawning for love - this is the story of a wedding invitation that has caused anyone who sees it to swoon with romantic admiration or typographic fixation.

Truly, this is the most clever wedding invite, perhaps, ever seen:

wedding invite.jpg

So there you have it. No bows. No treacle. No frills. Just the creative retelling of a couples love in a way that simultaneously avoids being overly sentimental, but conveys the deep meaning these two lucky people have for eachother. You can check in on the groom and find more on the award-winning effort at his blog, motherboard.

And when November 8 rolls around, raise a glass to the happy couple on their one-year anniversary, but you should definitely celebrate their creativity.

It takes a little work to get past the haughty "we're gonna make you cool" attitude behind this CBS Sunday Morning report on Wilco, but once you do, it's a nice look at some of alt Chicago's favorite sons.

Keeping in mind the average age of a Sunday Morning viewer is ancient, the "gee whiz" tone is somewhat understandable, and under that layer is Jeff Tweedy chatting about how Chicago factors into his life and how the band has almost defied the ability to become a huge draw.

But, as Tweedy points out at the end of the piece, this band has survived 20 years of turmoil, lineup changes and various other issues, making it that much more impressive that they're still banging around - and getting bigger, by their standards.

Yes, it is yet another pandering report on something from Chicago by a coastal media outlet, but there's no denying the world outside Chicago and the New York club and college town scenes is picking up the scruffy guys after years of toil.

Dave Carroll, the Canadian musician and YouTube phenomenon thanks to a guitar smashed by United Airlines, is back with part 2 of his trilogy on the tragedy.

Cleverly titled "United Breaks Guitars Song 2," this one is starting to edge into the annoying realm of whiny, but it's not there yet, so what the heck, give it a watch. If nothing else the end is pretty clever - and those darn Canadians are all just so ... nice! How can you say no?

Anyway, here's what Carroll has to say about Song 2, which he says details the ridiculousness of his correspondence with the United customer "service" folks and they eventual dismissal of him and his claim absolutely.

And here's what Carroll has to say about the vastly increased production value on this video:

and the saga continues ...

On Tuesday August 5 we reconvened at the field behind the Station 41 fire department in Waverley NS to shoot the second video in the trilogy, United Breaks Guitars: Song 2. Once again, everyone volunteered their time and talent to produce an outstanding video; however, Song 2 was a much bigger production than United Breaks Guitars. In addition to the main roles, we had nearly 100 extras in the cast and in order to say everything we wanted to say with the video, we required a broken guitar, an imitation broken guitar, a 40 foot high scissor lift, a limousine (complete with secret service agents), one genuine imitation space capsule, a space suit, a tuba, 3 suits of German Lederhosen, a canoe, one white panel van and a woman willing to wear tights and a big dollar sign.

There is a promised third installment to this broken ax tale. Judging from the increased fanfare around this latest video, that one may go straight to MTV. Except they don't do videos anymore.

We'll be on the lookout. And United Airlines, just give him his damn $1,200 already.

And Carroll and his band, Sons of Maxwell, which apparently played in Dundee last week, are looking for United horror - or happy - stories:

United suggests recent policy changes have solved their this true? Send recent stories to

So keep him in mind next time the airline smashes on of your precious items - no, your soul doesn't count.


Is that the Twitter birdie, or just Andrea Baker as a Bird of Night in a scene from the Royal Opera House's production of Dominique Le Gendre's "Bird of Night'' in London in 2006?

For those of you convinced that the downfall of civilization is being spread 140 characters at a time on Twitter, fear not. The Royal Opera House is looking to class things up with an opera authored by the people ... via Twitter

It probably won't be "Madame Butterfly," but it should be fun.

In an effort to get more people involved with opera, which sometimes suffers from an elitist, highbrow reputation, London's world-famous Royal Opera House is turning away -- temporarily -- from classic talents like Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini and giving the composer's pen to ... just about anybody.

We're working with the Twitterverse to create the storyline for a brand new opera, which will be performed throughout the weekend of Deloitte Ignite (4, 5, 6 September 2009). We're investigating how short, 140-character contributions can build upon each other to create a non-linear narrative - like a Choose Your Own Adventure story or a game of Consequences. Our mysterious opera director will be regularly blogging here with updates on the story, and as well as offering his thoughts on how the story can combine with some music and acting and marvellous singing to become a finished piece.

It's a very democratic approach -- the plot will be worked out by twitterers contributing one line at a time, then put to music by professionals -- but some harbor doubts about the quality of the work that will be performed in September.

"It's a gimmick, but not a malign gimmick" London music critic Norman Lebrecht said. "I wouldn't put too high hopes on it. It won't produce great opera." He said the use of Internet technology to concoct a collective work of art is not new -- but that success stories have been very rare.

That doesn't necessarily mean he's predicting a Fail Whale of operatic proportions, but he's certainly thinking a work of tragic proportions my be in order:

"In the earlier days of the Internet there were a number of collaborative novels, including some started by major writers, and none of them worked," he said.

Royal Opera House officials claim it will be the world's first "online opera story." Fans are contributing to the libretto line by line, their imaginations limited only by the Twitter format, which allows a maximum of 140 characters to be posted at a time.

Alison Duthie, director of ROH2, the Royal Opera House's contemporary program, said the use of Twitter is part of a wider effort to get more people interested in the art form.

"We wanted to engage with audiences in the creation of an opera," she said. "We felt it would be a good way to be interactive with the public and with audiences. We wanted to explore how to get people involved at a creative level."

The plot that is taking shape is surreal and, at the same time, very dramatic, she said.

"At the end of act 1, scene 1, our hero had been kidnapped by a flock of birds and is in a tower awaiting rescue," Duthie said. "That feels extremely operatic, people are really getting into the story line."

There is also a talking cat.

You can follow the submissions, cat and all, here.

Enter the extremely NSFW 36 Chambers with the Wu-Tang Clan and Legos.

There's a certain kind of mad genius required to mash up the Wu-Tang Clan, Legos and music video. Apparently, David Mortimer is that genius.

David, better known on Vimeo as Davo, has reimagined the video for the classic "Da Mystery of Chessboxin' " off of the giant "Enter the Wu-Tang Clan (36 Chambers)." But of course, this time Legos and stop-motion animation are involved and he has a growing hit with more than 100,000 views since he posted his work in early July.

So what moves a 25-year-old postman from London to remake a classic bit of hard-core hip-hop with Legos? We got in touch with Mortimer to see what's shakin' - and what's next.

Interview after the jump:

Those of you who read this blog with any regularity will know we're suckers for A) great photos and B) the GigaPan-style uber enlargement photos that are starting to pick up in popularity for some news coverage.

The most notable example is from President Obama's inauguration, a sweeping image that pulls in the entire scene around the Capitol steps, providing hours of searching for the newsworthy and the just plain freaky in the crowd - and for some bonus Obama, check out this shot from the MLB All-Star game. Well, for a Chicago perspective, here's a new GigaPan image that easily tops the Obama shot.

Behold The Ledge, the Sears (God, is it really the Willis Tower now?) Tower Skydeck ledge that allows you to step on air for an unparalleled view of the city - straight down and all around. Below is a look at what you see as the base image for this photo, that basically allows infinite zooming:


OK, nice photo. But the beauty of the image is when you start digging in. Here's an image of the Chicago Sun-Times building, a little to the north of the Sears Tower, that was found within this image (in the bottom right corner area):


And there's plenty more to see. You can even create snapshots of scenes you find - with a free account logon - and interact with a growing GigaPan community to discuss images and the secrets that used to be hidden in the corners.

And, with apologies to Billy Mays, if that were the only Chicago photographic goodness today, you might be thrilled. But wait, there's more! National Geographic's Intelligent Travel blog has some nice advice for how to get the best images of Chicago and its skyline. It's good advice for tourists and townies alike.

There are tips offered on where to go and how to get there to capture images like this:


And just to add to photographer Bob Krist's advice, while the Ledge is awesome, you get a much better photographic vantage point for photography from the Hancock's Observatory.

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