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An apocalyptic nightclub, Oscar Wilde, and… The Real Housewives?

OSCAR at the Crown takes place in an undefined, post-apocalyptic future, where everyone who isn’t white/cis/het is banished to the wasteland.

The character Oscar, played by Mark Mauriello (the creator of the show), found an abandoned nightclub that now serves as a safe haven for all those defined by their “otherness.” Every day, the cast compulsively rehearses the same show about the life of Oscar Wilde, until a newcomer is cast and Wilde’s wife and disrupts the usual flow.

From the high-energy premise alone, it is pretty clear that this isn’t a production you should be sober for.

The fictional and physical setting of the show has a weighted meaning. Historically, night clubs have always served as safe spaces of expression for queer youth.

3 Dollar Bill is the queer bar in Bushwick that has hosted performances of OSCAR at the Crown since the beginning of the summer. The space is surrounded by several monitors and black-lit portraits of Julie Cooper (who gets one of the first odes of the musical) and Wilde himself. The monitors feature a constant scroll of early 2000s iconoclast heroes: Bad Girls Club, Real Housewives, and Rupaul’s Drag Race to name a few.

Historically, the Victorian icon Oscar Wilde belonged to the artistic movement of Decadence. Some of his main ideas surrounded upon the fact that the artificial is better than the real, and art should only function to be beautiful.

Creator and star of OSCAR at the Crown, Mark Mauriello, saw a clear correlation between the Decadents and the cultural decadency embodied by the rise of the 2000s most iconic emblem: reality television. Including an entire ode to Julie Cooper, a star of the show OC whom they credit for inspiring the franchise The Real Housewives, one of the Exiles goes as far as to say:

“[Oscar Wilde was] a star who made his life a season arc and a storyline and a viral sensation so fascinating, it killed him.”

However, once one delves deeper into the figure of Wilde both as the myth and the man, certain problems begin to arise. One of Wilde’s most controversial claims comes from the introduction of his famous novel The Portrait of Dorian Gray, in which Wilde claimed that:

“All art is quite useless.”

Therefore Wilde celebrated for his art as well as his status as one of the few gay icons who haven’t been erased from the white man’s history, was also a problematic figure. This is something that OSCAR at the Crown deals with in-depth during its closing sequence.

After the neon whirlwind of a number culminating in the declaration of Wilde as a martyr, the musical quickly turns into a meta rethinking of Wilde’s legacy in both the gay community and the community of the “other” as a whole.

The mysterious newcomer, who was named after and cast as Wilde’s wife, Constance, orders the cast to stop the music. All of the lights are cut off except for one shining spotlight on her, in which she asks the question:

“What about his wife?”

Constance, played by Kerri George, interrogates Wilde, exposing the celebrated author for the terrible way he used, abused, and subsequently abandoned his family as well as poking at his privilege as a white man in Victorian England.

“Decadence” is intrinsically something that relies upon privilege: Oscar Wilde, as a white cis man, was able to live the way he did as long as his wife took care of the house, their children, and the mountainous debt Wilde accumulated by the time of his death.

Closing the production in this manner has a clear message: those who used to have the privilege to do so no longer have the luxury of living in decadence. Gone are the ages of blissful ignorance, low-rise pants, and MTV. We no longer have the luxury of art solely serving the purpose of being beautiful, of being “useless.”

In the era of Trump, the era of mass shootings and ICE raids, Muslim travel bans and children in cages, we must be unabashedly unafraid to point fingers at those who have done wrong in the past, in order to build a brighter future.

OSCAR at the Crown is currently having an open run at 3 Dollar Bill in Bushwick, Brooklyn NY. You can get tickets here.

Keep your heart warm fam: Peep these 3 late summer flicks on Netflix

The air is muggy and September is starting to get dangerously close.

Sometimes the only good option is to curl up on the couch and turn your brain off for a couple of hours. So let’s not think about the fact that summer is almost over and let’s watch some good ass movies instead.

1. 20th Century Women

20th Century Women is a saccharine coming of age story studying the relationship between 55-year-old Dorothea Fields (Annette Bening) and her adolescent son, Jaime (Lucas Jade Zuman).

As she sets about raising a son on her own, Dorothea employs the help of their two tenants (played by Greta Gerwig and Billy Crudup) as well as Jaime’s best friend, Julie (Ellie Fanning) in order to answer the question: “How do you be a good man? What does that even mean nowadays?”

Director Mike Mills admitted that this film, like his sophomore directorial effort Beginners, is in part a biographical take on his own upbringing. Mills, who grew up in Berkeley, California, uses this film to explore three generations of “20th-century women” (Dorothea, who grew up during the Depression, Abbie, their 24-year-old tenant recovering from cervical cancer, and the 17-year-old Julie) in a gracious thank you to those who helped raise him.

If anything, 20th Century Women is a grateful snapshot of a moment in time and the memories behind it. Set in the sunny Santa Barbra of 1979, 20th Century Women takes its time in studying every character it presents, through both their flaws and their beauty.

It’s heartwarming and funny, and definitely worth a watch.

2. Sleeping with Other People

Described by Rolling Stone as “When Harry Met Sally with assholes,” Sleeping with Other People is an adorably sardonic take on the classic Rom-Com flick.

Written and directed by Leslye Headland, Sleeping with Other People takes place years after a one-night-stand when two sex addicts reunite and attempt to maintain a platonic relationship with one another despite obvious feelings.

Starring Jason Sudeikis of SNL fame as well as Alison Brie (Mad Men), this movie has everything from rekindled love affairs to dance parties with kindergartners while rolling on molly.

Excellent for a rainy night in with some really good junk food, this movie seems to be specially curated for every hopeless romantic out there.

3. The Edge of Seventeen

Here is another coming of age movie for those who want the middle ground between Lady Bird and Book Smart. The Edge of Seventeen is the directorial debut of writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig.

The film follows Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) as she attempts to navigate life as a junior in high school after splitting with her best (and only) friend.

Featuring a pretty fantastic performance from Woody Harrelson as a jaded US History teacher, this movie explores teenage angst, lost friendships, love, fuckboys, and the hellhole that is a high school with some achingly bittersweet heart behind it.

Let’s just say it’s not a masterpiece by any standard, but it’s a cute, funny, and refreshing take on the (usually male-centric) story about being a teenager in the 21st century.

Get shook: 3 ways to prep for Jennifer Kent’s horror flick ‘The Nightingale’

Writer/director Jennifer Kent is rocking critics and audiences alike with her second feature-length film The Nightingale. The Nightingale follows Clare, a young Irish convict, and her rampant quest for revenge against a British Colonial Officer in 1825 Tasmania.

This period-thriller has already drawn some major attention at film festivals, including winning the special jury prize at the 2018 Venice Film Festival.

Here are three things you need to know before you head to your local theater:

Kent’s 2014 debut in the film making world was the sensational horror flick The Babadook.

The Babadook, ostensibly about a mother’s repressed grief and trauma after the violent death of her husband, was inspired by a story Kent’s friend told her.

Kent’s friend described that her own son was plagued with the belief that he was being stalked by a bogeyman. Kent’s friend then went on to say that she would pretend to talk to the creature in order to quell her son’s nerves.

Kent, who couldn’t stop thinking about the idea of befriending the monster under the bed, then went on to make her 2005 short film Monster, which is essentially a shortened concept for her first feature The Babadook. (The name Babadook comes from the word babaroga, a hag from Serbian folklore).

The short is filmed in black and white and follows a mother mourning the loss of her husband while also dealing with her sons (seemingly delusional) fear of a disturbing rag doll that eventually invokes the lanky, bloodless creature that haunts both the mother and son alike.

However, Monster and The Babadook both have endings that are metaphorically the same. In Monster, the mother places a glass of milk in front of the door where the creature lurks.

The Babadook’s closing scene is of Amelia and Sam gathering earthworms in a bowl and bringing it into the basement for the creature to eat. While the Babadook attempts to overwhelm Amelia, she calms it down and it retreats into a corner to begin its meal.

The universal message here is clear: grief is something that we are all forced to accept and satiate, in order not to be consumed wholly by its everlasting presence in our lives.

While The Nightingale does deal with the effects of loss as a major theme, Kent was clear from the onset production for the film that she would not be returning to the horror genre any time soon.

Kent told Rolling Stone:

“I’m naturally drawn to scary stories but I probably need a break from them after this.”

Kent collaborated with Aboriginal elders in Australia to present a truthful depiction of how colonial violence affected their history

A film about colonial atrocities being written/directed by a white person should undoubtedly leave a bad taste in your mouth. The “who has the right to tell/profit from this story” conversation is an incredibly important one to be having here.

While the film’s main character is an Irish woman, Kent thereby avoiding the hateful trend of “white people claiming trauma that does not belong to them,” Aboriginal and fellow Indigenous critics have yet to comment on the film.

Kent did do extensive research for this period piece and prioritized the voices of aboriginal elders in Australia in order to present an “honest and necessary depiction of their history,” according to an interview with the BBC. Kent elaborated on this further in her interview with Birth Movies Death, saying:

“Aboriginal people… still suffer under colonial thought. And the violent mind that created colonialism is the same violent minds that exist in the world today that are creating problems for us all.”

The Nightingale has already prompted multiple walkouts because of the hard-core violence depicted

The Nightingale has already provided controversy, with walkouts occurring due to scenes of extreme violence and rape at festival showings in Sydney and Utah. However, for most critics, a film exploring an ongoing legacy of violence against women have a more apt connotation when explored by a female director.

Nevertheless, this did not stop an Italian film critic from heckling Kent during her panel at the end of the screening at the Venice Film Festival. The critic shouted: “Shame on you, whore, you’re disgusting,” according to ABC News. Kind of darkly ironic in the context of a film about women’s oppression.

While walkouts at film festivals in recent years have occurred for similar reasons, the sentiments behind this act of protest in this particular case seem to be misplaced. David Edelstein wrote for Vulture, “The implication [in The Nightingale] is that even to look away from the atrocities on screen would be an act of historical cowardice.”

In an interview with Deadline, Kent responded to the walkouts.

“I’m more interested in what [film] can do to hopefully wake people up or reach them, move them in some way to provoke thought and feeling and that’s why I’m interested in cinema.”

Check out The Nightingale in theaters if you feel up to having your day thoroughly ruined. Good luck!

Desi-Pop artist Maria Qamar is reclaiming art space for women of color

Maria Qamar, better known by her Instagram handle @hatecopy, is a Desi-Pop artist whose art refuses translation. After working as a copy editor (hence the pseudonym), Qamar turned to art as a form of therapy.

“[In] the environment I was raised in, anything that was art related was something to be ashamed of,”

Qamar told Kulture Hub before the opening of her show FRAAAAAANDSHIP, now on view at the Richard Taittinger Gallery through Sept. 2.

“The arts are such a prevalent thing in our culture. Look at the temples and look at the mosques and the buildings and the architecture and the food–everything is art. It’s strange to me how a career in the arts is looked down upon.”


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After posting a drawing on Instagram inspired by the work of 1960s pop-artist Roy Lichtenstein — but now with full lips, brown skin, a bindi, and a speech bubble proclaiming “I burnt the rotis” — she began to gain a devout following.

Now, Qamar has done illustrations for Bon Appétite‘s Priya Krishna and decorated the sets of Mindy Kaling’s The Mindy Project. She also created a mural for the San Francisco based restaurant Besharam, with her illustrations adorning the bistro’s plates as well as their Instagram profile photo.

Social media platforms have revolutionized the art world in a big way. The autonomous nature of the internet has, across the board, has allowed artists whose voices were previously barred from being heard to express themselves, loud and proud.

PC: Richard Taittinger Gallery | Maria Qamar: Faltu Tradition

Qamar herself turned to Instagram as a type of “judgment-free” gallery. While the Internet is a “hellhole that we all need to learn how to maneuver at some point,” it was also a way to present her art without having to go through any kind of filter first.

“I wonder if [my work] is mainstream. I want it to be mainstream,” Qamar told Kulture Hub.

“I want these topics to be exhausted, because that means we are moving past a lot of the pain and trauma in the way women of color are talked to and the way we are treated in other communities and our own… I’m still growing, I’m still learning.”

PC: Richard Taittinger Gallery | Maria Qamar: Didi 1, Didi 3

For Qamar, the path from Internet success to her first NYC solo show allowed her to build her own image in a way that felt comfortable to her. Due to her online presence, she was able to have relative control in almost every step of her professional career, something that is rare when it comes to the art world.

However, getting her start independently of traditional mechanisms of support was very difficult. Qamar, who had never gone to art school, had to figure out a means to support herself all on her own. She now runs a successful merchandise site where fans can buy prints, her book, Trust No Aunty, as well as her fashion line.


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Qamar’s body of work and the stories behind it serves as a perfect bridge between the old and the new. As stated previously, her biggest inspiration came from the iconic comic book portraits of the pop-artist Roy Lichtenstein.

Upon first glance, the connections between Qamar’s body of work and Lichtenstein’s hyper fixation on WASP comic book women are clear. In the same way that Lichtenstein studied the mass media portrayal of the 1960s (white) womanhood, Qamar incorporates her personal history and culture as a means of exploring contemporary femininity as a woman of color.

“I try to mirror experiences that I’ve seen. It’s really a reflection of: ‘look at how ridiculous you look when you do something like this… You don’t want to be that guy… You don’t want to be the person policing other women.’”

PC: Richard Taittinger Gallery |Maria Qamar: Kalu Jadu

Qamar continued:

“It’s time for us to reclaim spaces for us to feel safe, as women, as women of color.”

Qamar is fascinated with the similarities between Lichtenstein’s work and the melodrama of Indian soap operas. Qamar stated that if you compare a Lichtenstein piece to a dramatic cut in a soap opera, the effect is virtually the same. Qamar continued:

“It’s the exact same reaction. It’s so dramatic, it’s so colorful–like, OH MY GOD! But it’s coming from two different sides of the world. When I looked at that, I thought: that’s exactly who I am. I’m a mix of these two cultures that I both call home.”

PC: Richard Taittinger Gallery | Maria Qamar: Bad Influence

Born in Pakistan, Qamar moved to Ontario at the age of nine. Growing up as a South Asian girl in Canada was difficult, and Qamar cites her experiences being bullied as one of the largest influences on her art being a form of therapy.

She isn’t interested in translating her work for the sake of the comfort of white audiences. Her main piece of advice for fellow young artists is to collaborate whenever possible and to be kind to one another.

PC: Richard Taittinger Gallery | Maria Qamar (@hatecopy): Aurat

“There’s a lot of the sense of ‘me me me’ in the world of social media, and you forget that there are other people who live other lives… Everything is so centered around you, you can begin to feel isolated in your own experiences. Build and really pay attention to your friendships.”

And, most importantly:

“Call your friends — don’t text — call.”

Make sure you pop out to Qamar’s show in the LES at the Richard Taittinger Gallery. It’s on thru Sept. 2.


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The ‘Teeter-Totter Wall’ reminds us why Trump’s actual border wall sucks

After 10 years of planning, the Rael-San Fratello Teeter-Totter Wall (2009) was actualized between the stretch of border wall dividing Sunland Park, New Mexico, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico this week.

The temporary installation is made up of three bright pink see-saws inserted into the slots of the U.S.-Mexico border wall.


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NPR reported that while U.S. Border Police, as well as Mexican soldiers, supervised the children (and adults) at play, the installation and execution of the piece went without conflict.

In an Instagram post about the work, one of the co-creators, Ronald Rael, wrote:

“Children and adults were connected in meaningful ways on both sides with the recognition that the actions that take place on one side have a direct consequence on the other side.”

Rael is a professor of architecture at UC Berkeley. His studio partner and fellow designer, Virginia San Fratello, is an Assistant Professor at San Diego State University.

Rael is the author of the 2017 book Borderwall as Architecture, where the original concept of the Teeter-Totter Wall appeared.  The book examines the possibility of transforming the border wall as a physical space as well as a symbol.

Additionally, the book claims to illustrate the “transformative effects” of the wall on both the people it divides and the landscape itself.

Yet, indigenous critics of the piece have pointed to the disturbing idea that the concept of “unity” in this piece is dependent upon a fulcrum that is a representation of state imperial violence.

This is not the first piece of protest work to incorporate the physical wall as a central symbol of imperial violence. It isn’t the first to face backlash for the implications behind it either.

In 2017, the French artist JR created a giant photographic cut out of a young boy, Kikito, who appeared to be peering over the wall. Positioned so the child is looking into America, the piece was praised for its unraveling of the U.S.-American “gaze.”


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“Here, Kikito, a non-White child, gazes at the U.S. Empire.” Wrote Alan Pelaez for Medium.

“The U.S. Empire does not gaze at Kikito.”

JR later posted an Instagram video sharing tea with a US Border Patrol Agent through one of the slats in the wall.

Pelaez was conflicted with the ensuing publicity JR got from this piece. In his editorial, he elaborated on his thoughts further, writing:

“I cannot look at JR’s work and feel sincerity from him; I cannot and do not trust him. Part of his bio and artist statement express a commitment to making art that identifies and addresses ‘conflict zones.”

He continued,

“At first glance, this form of art-making has the potential to provide a liberatory art praxis. Some might call it ‘radical.’ But, at the expense of whom? Who must JR walk over to rise?”

Earlier this summer the organization RAICES set up 24 guerrilla art installations in protest against family separation at the border.

The artist Morely produced a 21-track album of songs and spoken word performances created to raise awareness and support for KIND, another organization giving legal protections to children at the border.

President Donald Trump was cleared on Friday, July 27, to spend $2.5 billion dollars from the Department of Defense’s counter-drug budget to build more than 100 extra miles of the border wall.

Take note: Over 900 children remain separated from their families.

Sunnaya Nash proves models need to be taken seriously after Marcus Hyde allegations

On July 22, the Instagram account Diet Prada, an account that reports mainly on the fashion industry, posted the screenshots of a direct message sequence between the photographer Marcus Hyde and the model Sunnaya Nash.

Hyde, who has shot for the likes of Kim Kardashian West and Ariana Grande, posted an Instagram story with a photo of a woman showering, writing: “Who wants to shoot?” over her naked torso.

Nash, a long time fan of Hyde’s work, responded to the story. However, Hyde made it clear to Nash that if she didn’t send him nudes he would charge her $2,000 for the shoot.

Understandably outraged, Nash posted screenshots of their interaction on her own Instagram story to expose the predatory behavior. After being re-posted to the Diet Prada account, the story quickly blew up.

Ariana Grande responded to the accusations, writing in an Instagram story:

“Please do not shoot with photographers who make you uncomfortable or make you feel like you need to take your clothing off if you don’t want to.”

Kim Kardashian West, who donated nearly $25,000 to the photographer’s recovery fund after an accident he had last October, also responded to the accusations on her story, writing:

“My own experiences have always been professional, and I am deeply shocked, saddened and disappointed to learn that other women have had very different experiences.”

Once one takes into account the cultural privilege of Kardashian West as one of the biggest stars of our generation, of course, her own experiences would be professional.

Predators only prey upon those they believe won’t be able to fight back.

Makeup artist Cindy Bowie told Buzzfeed News that Nash was well known in the industry for his predatory behavior towards models.

Art dealer and creative director Walter W. Brady has also become incredibly outspoken in supporting Nash and fellow models who have been targeted by predatory photographers.

On her Twitter, Nash has been continuously posting screenshots of fellow models who have messaged her with their alleged experiences with Hyde.

Instagram has removed the original post Nash put up to call out Hyde’s actions where he even threatened to delete her account.

Hyde has yet to make a public statement but has deleted his Instagram account.

How trans creative Julian Miholics uses art to depict LGBT+ identities

The work of the Ontario-based artist Julian Miholics can only be described as an open wound in a field of wildflowers. Raw yet also quietly gentle, Miholics combines hallucinatory imagery and text to create cataclysmic illustrations of human and animal figures alike.

Both his painted and ceramic works focalizes the contorted bodies of animals and otherworldly figures. Frequently, these creatures are depicted slack-jawed and wide-eyed, howling in either pain or ecstasy.


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“I find inspiration comes the same with all mediums I work with,” Miholics told Kulture Hub.

“The sense of vulnerability, rawness, hope and love, it’s all the same.”

Miholics also describes his work as an expression of personal catharsis. The recurring motifs in his body of work—yellow-bellied doves representing peace, rainbow crowned skulls, representing eternal life, and the constant presence of the word “home”—all represent the salve-like quality the work has for those struggling with similar feelings.

“Mental illness is too often hard to put into words, so art has helped to describe depression, anxiety, and psychosis,” Miholics told Kulture Hub. Miholics continued:

“As a gay trans man, I get to depict my own identity in pieces too. Too many LGBT+ people don’t get to see themselves growing up or as adults in media/art. So, I’m very happy it’s part of my job creating.”


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While he is drawn to both traditional and 3D mediums equally, Miholics found a connection with ceramic work at the H.B. Secondary’s Bealart program. Drawing inspiration from our Paleolithic ancestors, Miholics retranslates the figures from his notebooks into their present, physical forms.

Elaborating upon what attracted him to ceramic work in the first place, Miholics stated:

“[Ceramics are] an incredibly personal and intimate interaction with materials from the earth… Clay is social, cultural, and will stand the test of time for thousands of years to come.”


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In 2016, Miholics created an installation piece in honor of his late brother, who committed suicide the year previous. Titled “A Memorial for Him and My Grieving,” the piece is astonishingly raw.

The installation features two children’s lawn chairs, a cast, a stuffed dog above a Bible, a string of matches, and an original painting depicting a creature representing grief itself curled behind a house on fire.

The words “MY HOUSE” float just above the creature’s head. Discussing the piece at hand, Miholics said:

“Being able to make art about my loss and grieving as well as spread on the memory of my brother was very healing. We all live on through memory.”

Miholics is also a strong-minded social activist and uses his art to communicate this fact openly. Recently, Miholics got involved in a Twitter/Instagram scuffle this past June over a piece of his which featured a dog holding a Pride flag in its mouth. The space above the dog’s head read:

“Keep corporate and cops out of Pride.”

This, of course, is in reference to the ongoing debate concerning the presence of police at Pride events.


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In the edited caption of the Instagram post, Miholics wrote:

“Not every individual cop is a bad person but the system they choose to participate in has left a raw and bleeding gash on the community with continued abuse towards us. The only way to overcome this is a complete reformation of the police system.”

In regards to this piece as well as the political nature of some of his other work, Miholics told Kulture Hub:

“When a large amount of people made up of many minorities are telling you the policing system is inherently flawed and violent or dismissive, it’s best to listen.”

Last year, Miholics, as well as 59 fellow artists, put together a Halloween zine in order to raise money and awareness for Supporting Our Youth (SOY) Toronto, a local LGBT+ charity.

SOY helps young LGBTQ folk with life planning as well as offering mental and primary care services.


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With the help of their combined social media fanbase, the zine was able to raise $400 for SOY. Miholics plans on organizing more fundraisers similar to this in the future.

When it comes to advice regarding younger artists trying to gain an online following, Miholics said to put everything you create out into the world, even if the piece isn’t as refined as you’d like it to be.

He also suggested the use of hashtags and networking in order to build a curated audience with similar interests as you as well as experimentation with different mediums.

Most of all, however, Miholics recommended that creatives on the come up,

“Make art of what interests and inspires you, gets you up in the morning. If that passion is there, people will feel it and support you.”


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How ‘Borderless Lullabies’ advocates for the protection of children at the border

Seven-year-old Alison Jimena Valencia Madrid was separated from her mother at a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol facility a year ago this June.

Alison’s voice was one of many other children begging to see their parents in a now-infamous audio clip obtained by ProPublica last year.

As children sob for their loved ones, a border patrol agent says:

“Well, we have an orchestra here, right? What we’re missing is a conductor.”

Alison has become the voice that illustrated the cruelty of family separation at the border. Her voice is one of the clearest in the ProPublica recording, as she repeatedly states that she must be put in contact with her aunt.

Due to the media uproar following the release of the audio clip, Alison was able to be reunited with her mother in July of 2018. Alison’s story could be considered as one of the luckier ones.

Trump retreated from the zero-tolerance policy in the wake of the public outrage sparked by the original audio clip. However, in Jan. of 2019, investigators revealed that thousands more children had been separated from their families, defying a previously reported figure of 2,737 children.

Head of the Department for Health and Human Services, Johnathan White told AP News that there are no plans to attempt to reunite these children with their families, as “it would destabilize the permanency of their existing [sponsor] home environment, and could be traumatic to the children.”

In the wake of these horrific reports, organizations such as RAICES and Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) have organized in order to help the humanitarian crisis at hand. KIND is a pro-bono organization that helps represent unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children in their deportation proceedings.

American singer-songwriter and U.N. Peace Ambassador Morely Kamen has produced Borderless Lullabies, a 21-track album of songs and spoken word performances created to raise awareness and support for KIND.

Morely decided to use the universal language of compassion–song–in order to apply a salve on the heavy hearts of those disenchanted by the present-day world around them.

“May this offering be of service and may we realize that we are each other’s only home, protect the babies, respect the cultures, end race hatred and bigotry…”

Borderless Lullabies features the voices of Meryl Strep, Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award winner and current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Jacqueline Woodson, as well as Maria Popova, a culture critic most known for her viral blog Brain Pickings.

Additional musical guests include accompanying orchestration by Yo-Yo Ma, as well as a rendition of a centuries-old Spanish parlor song “Beautiful Dreamer” sung by the incredible American jazz artist Esperanza Spalding.

Also included is the stripped-down voice of Martha Redbone singing a version of William Blake’s poem “Cradle Song.” Redbone is a soul singer who incorporates elements of her Native American heritage into her work. Her newest album, The Garden of Love–Songs of William Blake, is a series of musical interpretations of Blake’s work.

One-hundred percent of the proceeds from Borderless Lullabies goes towards supporting KIND and their fight to protect unaccompanied minors at the border.

Due to the support from projects such as Borderless Lullabies, as well as partnerships with major law firms, schools, and corporations, KIND is able to help these children at no cost.

The fight for the fair treatment of migrants at the border is ongoing. KIND, as well as RAICES, are two organizations doing fantastic legal representation and protest work.

Shame on Sackler: How P.A.I.N. is making moves to shun big pharma

Johnson & Johnson will begin to deliver a three-week defense in their Oklahoma civil trial concerning their involvement in the opioid epidemic. This historic trial comes in the wake of the increasingly volatile evolution concerning Big Pharma’s involvement (or, some may argue, orchestration) of the opioid epidemic.

Interestingly enough, the protestors at the front lines of advocating for pharmaceutical responsibility are artists who are targeting the most important institutions of their field.

Let’s start at the beginning.

The Sackler family, Purdue Pharma, and the Opioid Crisis

The Opioid Epidemic began in the 1990s. Back then pharmaceutical companies pushed doctors worried about their patient’s pain towards opioids by using misleading marketing that underplayed the risks of opioid use and exaggerated its benefits. This would quickly lead to Americans becoming the front running consumers of opioids.

In 2007 Purdue Pharma plead guilting in a 634.5 million dollar lawsuit for advertising the opioid OxyContin as safer and less addictive than other opioids. U.S. Attorney John Brownlee summarized:

“Purdue … acknowledged that it illegally marketed and promoted OxyContin by falsely claiming that OxyContin was less addictive, less subject to abuse and diversion, and less likely to cause withdrawal symptoms than other pain medications – all in an effort to maximize its profits,”

Purdue Pharma is a private pharmaceutical company principally owned by the descendants of Mortimer and Raymond Sackler.

The former chairman and president of Purdue, Richard Sackler, is just about as close as you can get to a real-life Bond villain without shaving your head and adopting a Russian accent. He has done nearly everything he can to distance himself from being illustrated as the orchestrator of the opioid crisis. However, he has emerged as one of its leading boogeymen.

Sackler has kept his face out of the press and remains to be one of the most elusive yet most infamous figures in the medical field. Recently, his presence has been limited to a 2015 deposition in which it was revealed that he had said in a 1999 email:

“You won’t believe how committed I am to make OxyContin a huge success. It is almost that I have dedicated my life to it.”

The details of the 2015 deposition were published in Feb. by STAT and ProPublica, you can read the transcript itself as well as a summary of the deposition here.

These files are horrific. Furthermore, it was a calculated move that Sackler did not allow the video of the deposition to be released, as reporters simply reading a transcription of a deposition is significantly less engaging than a recording of the deposition itself.

Luckily, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver contacted Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Michael Keaton (Batman), Michael K. Williams (The Wire), and Richard Kind (Inside Out) to perform excerpts from the 2015 deposition, and they totally delivered.

Protests in NYC lead to action

The fight to remove the Sackler signature from cultural and educational institutions across the world began in March, in when Britain’s National Portrait Gallery revealed that had made a “joint decision” with the Sackler family to cancel a pre-planned 1.3 million dollar donation from the family.


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Nan Goldin, a celebrated photographer and former addict, has started the foundation P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) to advocate for the removal of the Sackler’s namesake from museums and universities alike.

P.A.I.N demands that Purdue Pharma, Mundipharma and Sackler pharmaceutical companies worldwide donate all funds to programs helping rehabilitate the communities and families destroyed by the opioid epidemic.

Goldin is most known for her portraits that serve as a type of visual autobiography. Her work documents both herself and her friends in the LGBTQ, heroin-addicted subcultures. Her pieces are intimate portrayals of those closest to her and the communities they are involved with.


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Therefore, with the political nature of her work, it should come as so surprise that Goldin organized P.A.I.N to protest the Sackler family’s involvement in the opioid epidemic by staging die-ins and demonstrations at artistic institutions that carry the family’s name.

The protests began at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in May of 2018 in the Sackler wing. Demonstrators brought banners reading “Fund Rehab” and “Shame on Sackler” and threw fake pill bottles into the wing’s iconic reflective pool. The Met said it is suspending donations from the family but will not remove their name from the wing.

In March, P.A.I.N staged another protest at the Guggenheim, in which they threw slips of paper resembling opioid prescription slips into the central rotunda of the famous artistic landmark as well as held up prescription bottles.

This was in an effort to advocate for the renaming of the Guggenheim’s Sackler Education Center as well as to demand that the institution stop receiving donations from the family.


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The protest worked somewhat, and the Guggenheim also announced it would no longer “accept gifts” from the Sackler family nearly a month later. The Tate Modern and the Museum of Natural History made similar statements.

It is a little hard to wrap your head around the idea that an institution refusing money from a private entity has the capability to hurt that entity in the first place. John Oliver put the reason why deplatforming in this manner is important in cases such as the Sackler family.

“I know that, as punishments go, getting to keep 1.3 million dollars doesn’t sound all that fucking bad. But keep in mind that these people have infinite money and seem to enjoy nothing more than using it to purchase social status. So, not getting to put their names on things might be a real punishment for them. But I would argue that that should only be half of it, the other half is having to put their name on the opioid crisis they fought so hard to distance themselves from.”

In their first European protest, P.A.I.N staged a demonstration at the Louvre on Monday, carrying banners that read: “Take down the Sackler name” (in reference to their 12 Sackler rooms) and performing another die-in. The Louvre has yet to comment directly upon the matter.


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P.A.I.N. has set up a petition demanding that Purdue and the greater Sackler family fund rehabilitation and education progress to directly address, and begin to mend, the crisis.

Frustrated with rainbow capitalism? Protest for real at next year’s Pride

If you went to any Pride event this year, you might have seen the phrase “The first Pride was a riot” written across posters and t-shirts alike.

This is, of course, was in reference to the 1969 Stonewall Riots, in which constant police harassment of patrons at the Stonewall Inn–a gay bar–led to a series of riots now considered to be the first Pride event.

While the identity of the person who lobbed the first brick at the police is still being debated, the Stonewall uprising is considered to be the very beginning of the Gay Rights Movement as a whole.

However, take one look at the promotion for this year’s World Pride–which was held in NYC to celebrate the 50 year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. It is clear that things have veered towards a much safer, corporate-friendly route.

Reclaim Pride said in a statement to The Guardian:

“The annual Pride parade has become a bloated, over-policed circuit party, stuffed with 150 corporate floats. This does not represent the ‘spirit of Stonewall’ on this 50th anniversary year.”

Reclaim Pride organized this year’s Queer Liberation March, which occurred the morning of June 30, hours before World Pride (often called by protesters as ‘Corporate Pride’) was set to begin.

The Queer Liberation March allowed members of the LGBTQ community to protest the parade that many feel has fallen short of the Pride parade’s origins as an active form of protest.

The Queer Liberation March had two moments of silence, one for members of the community lost to homophobia, transphobia, racism, sexism, and HIV/AIDS. Another for specifically honoring the trans women of color who have been murdered.

These voices have been almost completely erased from mainstream events for the sake of being advertiser-friendly. Events like the Queer Liberation and Dyke March aim to rectify the origins of pride events. We need cardboard posters, homemade banners, and self-organized marshals who deal with police and stopping traffic for fellow protesters.

The day before Reclaim Pride, June 29, was a similar grass-roots protest also considered to be more genuine than Pride. The NYC Dyke March is an annual unsanctioned protest organized by and for members of the LGBTQ community. Their mission statement reads:

“take the streets each year in celebration of our beautiful and diverse Dyke lives, to highlight the presence of Dykes within our community, and in protest of the discrimination, harassment, and violence we face in schools, on the job, and in our communities.”

The Dyke March was first organized by the Lesbian Avengers, ACT Up, and Puss n’ Boots. Their origin story runs deep and has ties back to the April 1993 march on Washington. That day the nationwide femme pioneers, from LA to Philly, came together to organize the fire.

“Women in LA made a large banner and dykes in Philadelphia made a huge vagina which was carried like a puppet through the streets of Washington D.C. The New York Lesbian Avengers organized the logistics of the march, arranged for marshals, and created a manifesto addressing the necessity of grass-roots lesbian organizing, especially given the anti-gay bills being pushed by the right wing.”

Yes, the glitz and glamor of Rainbow Capitalism shows (surface level) progression towards greater queer acceptance, however the Target floats and pumping disco music and chants of “Love Is Love” are far from the much more radical origins of Pride itself.

Next year consider attending these protests before heading to Pride to remember where we have come from and where we have to go.