Back in July, I wrote a piece for News from Native California about the battle over development of the West Berkeley Shellmound. Although the developer’s application for a 260-unit complex was officially denied in September by the City of Berkeley, the site remains under threat of development.
Curious to know any happenings between September and now, I searched a few of my usual news outlets and came across a recent episode of KQED’s Bay Curious podcast, which answers listener questions about the San Francisco Bay Area. The relative inquiry reads:
“There Were Once More Than 425 Shellmounds in the Bay Area. Where Did They Go?”
While it surprises me that people who frequent the Emeryville shoreline area don’t know who the Ohlone people are or have never heard of shellmounds, I’m happy that some are curious enough to find out. That said, the episode is definitely worth a listen.
For more information, visit shellmound.org
By LRK for Deets and Geets Podcast
The dictionary definition of bohemian (aside from pertaining to the actual place Bohemia):
a person, as an artist or writer, who lives and acts free of regard for conventional rules and practices.
Dictionary definition of rhapsody:
- music . an instrumental composition irregular in form and suggestive of improvisation.
- an ecstatic expression of feeling or enthusiasm.
- an epic poem, or a part of such a poem, as a book of the Iliad, suitable for recitation at one time.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” seems a very fitting title for the life of Freddie Mercury as it is shown to us in this movie and the eponymous Queen hit which was written by Freddie Mercury in 1975.
Rami Malek breathed life into Farrokh Bulsara-turned Freddy Mercury, showing us someone who was insecure and brazenly flamboyant at the same time. I didn’t know too much about Freddie’s personal life or personality before watching this movie and I don’t know to what extent it was fully accurate, but I was feeling it throughout. It gave off the essence of someone who felt lonely and suffocated, but liberated and in his element while he was performing. That’s exactly the vibe of the song.
Before this movie came out there was controversy surrounding it with people saying it was going to be whitewashed or straightwashed or it was going to erase his HIV and none of those things were true. After the release other criticisms were levied on it such as bisexual erasure, because after Freddie tells his long-time girlfriend Mary “I think I might be bisexual,” she says “Freddie, you’re gay.” To me, this wasn’t the film taking a stand on his sexuality, it was an example of the context he lived in and the ways that the people around him who he loved couldn’t fully understand or support him and may have inadvertently caused confusion or suffering to him. That scene also seemed to be more about Mary’s self-preservation, like she had to believe he was incapable of being attracted to her to reconcile still staying in each other’s lives.
Freddie as an individual was deeply layered, complex, and uncommon on all levels especially in his time. There doesn’t seem a way you could fully do justice to everything he was in a two-hour-and-some-change film. There’s any number of directions that could have been further developed including his Parsi heritage and how that affected his personality and his beliefs, but this film is also about him as an artist and about Queen as a band. I think on the whole it did a good balancing of showing his personal life and his professional life and his pathos as an artist. If anything I would have liked to see more of the creative process that went behind the music, such as different versions of the songs and how they got edited; I’m sure it wasn’t quite as linear as they showed it sometimes. Also although I didn’t see the film as vilifying queerness, I do think it’s a fair point that it did come off as a PSA for Queen and for the almost-nobility of Mercury’s band members as being a thorough brotherly support system that themselves never got into drugs or had any negative lifestyle influence on him.
I’m happy that Freddie Mercury has been put on the map of public consciousness as a Parsi Indian and that he was played by an Egyptian American. He was also shown having sexual and romantic relationships at least one woman as well as men, and that’s more than what we generally see. Other than that, the storytelling itself isn’t something super original or groundbreaking but if you’re a fan of the music, there’s really no reason you shouldn’t enjoy watching the movie.
Check out the enhanced video version of the review below:
Now that my major law exam is done for the year, I have more time for writing and podcasting on DEETS and GEETS. We’ll kick off the end of the hiatus with a haiku review for the latest in Sony’s Marvel Universe.
EDDIE AND VENOM
IN A BAD, BUT FUN MOVIE
COULD HAVE BEEN MUCH WORSE
Blog and podcast updates have been slow lately due to my law studies. That said, we remain! Deets and Geets will be updated with Episode 7 soon and look out for more writings here in October!
For now, check out two fresh haiku reviews from LRK!
Wife is not having
His Padmansplaining until
Big B and UN
Hindu police state
Near future with nineties tech
Below are a handful of haiku reviews of films LRK and I have seen at the theater earlier this year:
the queen says, “let’s burn!”; Khilji cheats and wins the fight; Rajput honor fail
Black utopia; say Wakanda forever; it is challenge day!
better than the first; more heart and meta-humor; and so much more blood
Lando is the star; but Han and Chewie are cool; the slickest Star Wars
AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR
a game of gem stones; golden left-handed gauntlet; Thor got a new axe
My last post on Afrofuturism explored the term’s origin and how I felt Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther is the A-1 example of the intersection of African Diaspora culture with technology in 2018. I still believe that to be true, but should mention another stellar example of Afrofuturistic representation this year:
For those who have yet to see it, Solo basically reveals how Han Solo: got his name, captained the Millennium Falcon, acquired his blaster, met Chewie, met Lando, got his swagger, and became a smuggler. So, while the movie initially feels like a Solo get list, the overall project comes together in an slick, intergalactic swashbuckling package that’s entertaining even for those not totally into Star Wars.
The biggest surprise for me was finding out not only that Lando is in the film, but that Donald Glover would play the role. As a kid, I never thought much of the Lando character, first introduced in The Empire Strikes Back. He wasn’t a jedi; he was no longer a smuggler; he no longer owned a cool ship. He was just a businessman in a cape, a mayor of some city in the clouds, who double-crossed the main cast only to somewhat redeem himself after getting choked by Chewbacca. Boring! His appearance in The Return of the Jedi was only slightly better as he had some slick maneuvers in the Falcon near the film’s end.
As an adult, though, I can see the layers. First of all, he wears capes even though he isn’t a Jedi. Actually, his capes are better than all of the Jedis’. Second, getting out of the smuggling business to become a legit entrepreneur and boss who wears silky Count-von-Count-style capes is way better than getting hunted down by the Sith or galavanting around the universe with Yoda on your back, berating you with object-subject-verb commands.
While Lando may not get his own movie any time soon, there are positive rumblings Billy Dee Williams may be reprising his role as the caped crusader for Episode IX, which is great, but homeboy is 81 years old, so they should probably wrap production sooner than later.