PSA: Ira Glass, Questlove, Ad Rock, Mike D and Roberta Flack are dancers in Yoko Ono’s music video for “Bad Dancer.” How much awesome can be crammed into a single video? Here’s a link to video, so find out for yourself. Enjoy!
"Okay, this is the most random thing that’s happened to me in a long time. I was asked to dance in Yoko Ono’s new music video. Who says no to that? Here’s what it’s like: a car service picks you up and takes you to a nondescript building that’s set up for a video shoot. Lots of youngish people plus Yoko Ono. Oh hello there most famous person I’ve ever met! She’s gracious, has to be reminded by a handler who in the world I am. Then totally acts nice, says something along the lines of “I appreciate the work you do” which either means she’s heard my work or she hasn’t. Who cares! She’s Yoko Ono! And it’s inherently weird, right? For her too. She’s a lovely, not-terribly tall older woman in really beautiful clothes.
Each performer is called up, one at a time. First they play the song and you dance to it alone. The song is called “bad dancer” so I’m the perfect participant because - though I love to dance, I have no illusions. I’m a spaz. I stand in front of the camera and 20 handlers and hipsters and publicists and crew and Yoko Ono and I think a reporter from Rolling Stone and I tell myself to pretend I can do this and I dance. Then we do a take where I dance with Yoko which they use none of in the video. When the camera starts rolling, Yoko reminds me of other performance artists I’ve known: she’s assured, she’s game to try stuff, she’s a good improviser. We do a slow motion sidestep towards each other and then circle each other. We do a thing where she dances while I gesture towards her like ‘you are the bomb.’ If I knew how to dance I’m sure I could’ve come up with better stuff. The song seems to last a very long time, as we circle each other and improv this and that. I wonder if it’s okay to take her hand or touch her in any way. Somehow, I’m not up to that. I don’t try. I’m a guest here in her world. If handholding or touching is supposed to happen between you and Yoko Ono or you and the Queen of England, they are the ones who initiate it. ”
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There was a recent article in the paper about how ancient redwoods and sequoias are growing faster now than at any other time in their long lives. When I read this I had just begun my first listenings to Yoko Ono’s Take Me to the Land of Hell. That’s when I began to think of this album as a tall tree in the forest of music. When you examine the current growth rings, they are huge, never larger. Now I’ve begun to walk farther into the multi-faceted forest of her work and am finding more big trees that somehow evaded me earlier. Take Me to the Land of Hell has led me on a new journey.
Yoko, do you have any tips for young aspiring artists who are just starting out?I want you to know, you are an artist. You have within you a creative person. That’s what an artist is. Artists understand that and bring out the truth in themselves. Some people write me in letters and say: “Yoko, I don’t have any money, how can I change the world?” Well, you change the world by being yourself. The fact that you are who you are is so important for us.
Why is it art if Nam June Paik puts TV monitors on the breasts of beautiful and talented Charlotte Moorman and it’s “silly” when Yoko Ono puts bells on beautiful, and probably talented, male models’ nipples?
Men of this generation are not used to seeing themselves objectified, while women are inundated with sexualized images of their gender. It’s not true that only males in the animal kingdom are adorned for mating rituals: Look at the embroidered, wigged and high-heeled men of Louis’ court, knights in damascened armor, and by extension, ornately worked swords and firearms. Even up to the 19th century, dandies dressed in long frocks tended to their moustaches and walked with jeweled canes.
As Lyta Alexander of Santa Sangre puts it, “Finally, a fashion line objectifying the male body as a focus for sexual desire…I remember numerous fashion lines with hearts, hand-prints and other similar symbols in the female breasts or buttocks, and nobody bothered to get enraged. Now the prints are on the male genitals, and lo and behold, righteous indignation…Go Yoko.”
She adored the way [Lennon] looked, both dressed and undressed, and was somewhat perturbed by the fact that it was almost always women who were sexually objectified by designers.
“Men were always wanting us to look good and take off everything,” Ms. Ono said. “And we were never able to enjoy men’s sexuality in that way.”
Men are vehement in talking about how ugly she is. They say it like her face is assaulting them. A friend of mine - a Republican - came over and was chewing on a pretzel and he made me turn my Yoko Ono book the other way so he didn’t have to see her face while he was eating. He thought this great feeling of disturbance emanated from a photograph from forty years ago. No one is that hideous, and certainly not Yoko Ono! This extreme hostile reaction is insane! Who feels threatened from just looking at someone’s face on the cover of a book? It must have been the message in the face that made my friend lose his appetite: the look in Yoko’s eye, the set of her mouth, the fall of her hair, along with what little he knew or felt about her as an artist and a person. Somehow, it made him question himself. And his defensiveness quickly turned to offense.
from Reaching Out With No Hands: Reconsidering Yoko Ono by Lisa Carver
This excerpt is actually not that representative of this book as a whole, which consists mainly of Lisa “Suckdog” Carver’s ruminations on Ono’s work and her complex legacy as an artist and public figure. (Here’s an essay, adapted for the NYT Magazine, which discusses some of these main themes.) I just wanted to quote this particular passage, because I honestly think the reaction described above, consciously or unconsciously, is at the root of about 90% of the animosity towards Yoko Ono. I simply don’t believe that criticism of her art, her social transgressions, or her financial decisions would have sustained this irrational hatred of her for over four decades without this initial, visceral disgust that a non-white, not conventionally attractive woman had the audacity to enter the public imagination (a sentiment, by the way, which is HARDLY limited to Republicans). Sean Lennon once said, “It’s intense how racist the world is. If my mother had looked like Debbie Harry, I really think the reaction would have been different.” This was true in the 60’s and 70’s, and it’s certainly true of not a few of her detractors to this day. (via phenomenon-intervention)
We should go by what is good for the health of all species on Earth and not how much money the project might make for some. It’s crazy to say “listen we have a great way to make money, by causing unwanted destruction that may even poison and kill a few people by doing it.” That is far from environmental justice, in my book.
Avant-garde was like a small island in the ’60s. No more. The younger generation, as a whole, is experimental by nature. They have an attitude. I love that. I’m one of them. I always have been. Some really creative and inspired mixes are coming out in result of this, and the audiences are having a good time dancing to them. It’s totally exciting. It’s magical!
History of Western music can be divided into B.C. (Before Cage) and A.C. (After Cage).
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It’s all inspiration. One of the reasons that I get so many incredible inspirations is because I keep my head empty without crowding it with, I don’t know, quotations of Shakespeare. I like to forget everything, just have it empty, and a lot of incredible information comes in.
Source: The New York Times
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