'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, blah blah blah.
I'm not a Christmas guy, but I know a good opportunity to fuck off when I see one, so expect it to be quiet around these parts tomorrow. I'll be chilling out, eating Chinese food and seeing Django Unchained at the New Beverly Cinema in glorious 35mm. Considering the New Bev's connection to Quentin Tarantino is it crazy to hope the big fella himself shows up?
In the meantime, please use this space to talk about anything and everything. Django Unchained and Les Miserables open tonight, so maybe you've seen them. If not, check out our reviews:
By the way, the image above is the front page of the Black Panther Party newsletter in 1968. The art is by Emory Douglas, the Black Panther Party's Minister of Culture, and the guy who did most of the art for the newsletter for decades. Douglas' fiery agitprop art is absolutely awesome, with bold linework and an almost outsider art feel.
Douglas came to art and design after getting into trouble as a young man and landing in the Youth Training School at age 15. He worked in the juvie center's print shop, where he learned about typography and design. After getting released he took classes at the City College of San Francisco. As radical movements swept the city in the 60s, Douglas ended up making props for a play by Amiri Baraka, which is where he met Huey P Newton and Bobby Seale. Soon he was hanging out in Oakland, going on patrol with the gun-toting Panthers. Not long after Douglas set up shop in Eldridge Cleaver's apartment, creating clear, motivating political imagery for The Black Panther, the newspaper of the group. Douglas used his commercial art training to create images that would connect immediately and viscerally with the target audience, some of whom were illiterate or generally not given over to reading political tracts.
Douglas' work was so fresh and exciting that he found himself getting phone calls offering him gallery showings The atmosphere of the Black Power movement was such that Douglas assumed they were all just honey traps laid by the FBI. Years later he'd discover that he had been on the FBI's Agitator Index, making him a prime target for harassment.
Emory Douglas did eventually get that gallery show; in 2007 the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles held an exhibition of his work at the Pacific Design Center. Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas showed for four months. Douglas sells fine art prints of some of his work; click here to buy.