Friday, September 19, 2008

Ricepaper: Fashion Accessory?

So this just made my week. From The Georgia Straight's Best of Vancouver.

Best Downsizing Of An Asian Canadian Magazine


During the past year, this locally based Asian Canadian arts and culture magazine went from the standard 8.5-by-11-inch magazine size to a literary-journal format of 6.5 by 9 inches. It also received an arty make-over to better suit its content. Now that it's easier to pop into your trendy bag or laptop case, it'll be easier to flaunt as a highbrow fashion accessory.

ps New issue out featuring a profile on local starchitect Bing Thom and probably some great new fiction and poetry (I don't really know cuz I'm in Zambia). Buy it here:

pps Thanks Dad and Megan for sending me the link.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Breaking News

No, not the picture. That's from Mwanawasa's funeral as we stood dejected after being told we couldn't enter the inner security perimeter and all of sudden the body whizzed past.

The breaking news is from a site called The Watchdog that monitors Zambian politics and stuff. The current top story has controversial (read violent populist) opposition leader Michael Sata challenging UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema to an HIV test and MMD leader Rupiah Banda to a cancer test. I think Jack Layton should take some notes.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Eagle Pat Pat: Advertising in Lusaka

The first thing I noticed about Lusaka was the advertising. I hadn't been expecting so many images everywhere. Although there are some Clear Channel billboards around town, most ads are beautiful hand paintings one the miles of security wall that surround most homes and offices. I like this one for its scale, colours and of course the name: Eagle Pat Pat.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Photo Essay: How do you make food security sound exciting?

Take a look at my photo essay which I regretfully titled Food Security in the Luangwa Valley. I promise, it's more interesting than it sounds.

In other news, I'm pretty awestruck by Melita's Toronto Film Festival blog and of course Carley for helping create the site. I've spent about twenty thousand kwacha on internet time reading the thing.

On that note, I saw Taken last night and it was incredible. Offensive, yes, but also awe inspiring for its focus. The trailer has the ex-CIA dad on the phone to his daughter's kidnapper saying "I will find you and I will kill you" and SPOILER ALERT that's exactly what happens. I can't remember if he killed thirty or fifty people: there are no gray villains (Albanians), just evil ones and each deserves to die. It's an amazingly manipulative film and, I'm convinced, completely tongue in cheek.

I got into a debate afterwards with a German friend about the message of the movie which he argued, like any good sociology student, promotes American militarism, racism, sexism or whatever. In fact, the movie turns Albanians exclusively into violent sex-traffickers, the French into corrupt weak-kneed bureaucrats, Arabs into pervert sheiks and Paris into a kind of bourgeois sex-dungeon from which the incorruptible American male must save his daughter while passive aggressively battling his nagging ex-wife.

But this isn't just another dumb, racist thriller: it's either very clever parody or incredibly cynical. For example why does Liam Neeson (known for other trashy films like Schindler's List) play an American super-spy with a James Bond accent even when he's impersonating a French policeman and nobody notices.

The French stereotypes are particularly funny. This is a French film after all, produced and written by Luc Besson (I love The Fifth Element). Theres a scene where Neeson, impersonating a French police officer lectures Albanian sex-slavers on the immorality of immigrating to a country and leaching off the system, all the while demanding a bribe before he proceeds to torture the leader using electric shock therapy.

So French filmmakers cynically making a better no-holds awful American movie or actually a very good movie which most people will not see past the violence. Most reviews I've read think the first. I'm not sure.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Luangwa River Fishermen

Fishermen on the edge of South Luangwa National Park in eastern province Zambia.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

New Strategy: A Photo a Day

I've been told it helps to do things in small steps, so from now on I'll be updating my blog with one photo a day. It'll be mostly cuddly animals from my trip to Mfue but also some hard hitting political stuff too. Today, a photo from Levy's funeral. No, I wasn't invited but somehow the ornery security staff disappeared about 2/3 of the way through the program and we just walked in. These gentlemen, I'm told, are the heads of the Zambian armed forces.

Check out a longer piece I wrote on elephants and food security in the Luangwa Valley.