September 05, 2013

By Antonio Harvey

Special to the NNPA from the Sacramento Observer


It is likely that a near-fatal incident can change a person’s entire outlook of life. Local artist and 3-D sculptor David Alexander knows this by experience. Today, he’s glad to be alive to share his “Body of Life” as well as his “Body of Work” art exhibit with others.

In 2009, Alexander was in a car accident. A vehicle going in the opposite direction jumped lanes on the highway and hit his Mazda 300 Z head-on. He survived, though unknowingly, he suffered a broken bone in his neck among his injuries. From that point, Alexander was out of commission and began dealing with a long recovery.

“The doctors had me on different kinds of medications to deal with depression, help me sleep, and to help me wake up,” Alexander told The Observer. “I just went through a period where I wasn’t doing anything.”

Long before the accident, Alexander started sculpting and drawing in art classes at Highlands High School in North Highlands. After high school, Alexander enlisted in the U.S. Army and traveled around Europe during his stay. Being an artist was the farthest thing from his mind until idleness took its toll after the car accident.

Alexander discovered his artistic skills did not erode him. He would also find out that his life interruption wasn’t a disruption at all. It allowed him to improve his skills immensely.

“I needed something. So I went to this sculpture class (Art Foundry) in downtown Sacra­men­to,” Alex­ander said. “That’s when I started my work. Luckily, art was there for me.”

Alexander’s artwork is totally magnificent for someone who just got back into mixed media in the last couple of years. He currently has an art exhibition entitled, “Body of Work,” at the Barton Gallery in midtown. All of his 3-D sculptures of bronze are intricate in detail and are displays of monumental importance.

Art lovers will see at the Barton Gallery 3-D images of jazz musicians Dizzy Gillespie, Grover Washington, actor Vin Diesel, and U.S. President Barack Obama. Alexander also has a few drawings on display including Louis Arm­strong and NFL Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe. His body-builder brother-in-law also has a spot in the show named, “The Roc.”

Alexander’s first 3-D art, “Into the Abyss,” he made long after the accident is a part of the exhibit as well. The sculpture is of a muscular male with one arm extended (the hand looks as if it wants to grip something) and the features in his face expresses the writhing of pain. The artist said the image was created to convey his true feelings of the car accident.

“It was pretty much how I felt at the time…I felt like I was drowning,” Alexander said of “Into the Abyss.” “I was on unemployment for a whole year at that point and it didn’t seem like anything good was happening for me. I just felt like a drowning man.” 

Alexander has been commissioned to do a bronze statue of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and he and fellow art colleague Adam Reeder are working on some art pieces for the Sacramento Kings that won’t be revealed until the organization is ready to do so, Alexander said. One of the projects is a 3-D, life-size bronze sword and an aluminum gladiator helmet.

Alan Osborne, who co-owns the Art Foundry and Gallery at 10th and R streets, saw from the moment Alexander began talking workshop classes with him that he was ingrained with a high aptitude of art. Osborne, a sculptor himself, said Alexander has been with him ever since.

“He’s an extremely and naturally talented guy,” Osborne said. “I think he has been in some other group shows we’ve had at the gallery. But this is the first show where he put his whole body of work together.”

By the look of Alexander’s physical appearance he looks absolutely fine for someone who was able to walk away from a traumatic accident. However, he is resolved to the fact that he has developed into a brand-new artist. He has done this by faith and commitment.

“After thinking about it, I think (the car accident) enhanced my skills quite a bit,” Alexander said. “Mainly it was just focus…I believe. Back in the day I would draw something, get bored with it and stop. It would never get done. Now, I can focus and finish all my projects.”

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

September 05, 2013



Confusion exists over some question, and every time you think you’ve got the answer, circumstances will change and new information will come to your attention. Don’t worry, things are going to clear up and work out. Take it easy. Change the question. Soul Affirmation: I make myself an inspiration to others this week. Lucky Numbers: 12, 19, 20



Communications flow smoothly this week and your word is golden. A wild idea for money making could come to you, but you should let the strictly material walk on by. Stick to your current plan and use your imagination for ways to up-level your spiritual outlook. Soul Affirmation: I celebrate freedom of mind this week. Lucky Numbers: 33, 42, 49



A party or gathering with friends from the past will give you the opportunity to see how much you are loved. You’ve made tremendous strides and accomplished much in your life, so be pleased with yourself this week. Pass some of your wisdom along to others. Soul Affirmation: I give thanks for who I am this week. Lucky Numbers: 40, 48, 55



An afterglow will surround you this week if you summon it up from your subconscious, and you may not feel like getting immediately into work-mode on several days this week. It’s okay to go with your feelings; the world will wait for a little while. Treasure

happy moments. Soul Affirmation: My smile gives light to everyone I meet this week. Lucky Numbers: 9, 21, 38



Your mind will be extra busy this week with thoughts of new projects and the things you want to get done. Best course of action is to clear up pending and overdue items. You’ll have a clean slate in no time and will feel genuinely content and ready for the new stuff. Soul Affirmation: Light from my soul shines in many directions. Lucky Numbers: 11, 13, 51



You should know by now that trying to be in two places at once is very taxing to your nerves! Slow down a bit and trust that you’ll get what needs to be done accomplished. Give yourself a head start on all road trips so that you have time to enjoy the view. Love promises much this week. Accept the promise. Soul Affirmation: My mood is created by the company I keep. Lucky Numbers: 12, 19, 36



A friend from the past could suddenly appear in your life. This could be a highly beneficial reunion for both of you. Let bygones be bygones, and renew this friendship. Love isn’t used up just because it’s shared. Soul Affirmation: My blessings come through others this week. Lucky Numbers: 8, 24, 53



Drive the speed limit this week or you could wind up with a ticket. Why rush? Serenity is available if you only stop and listen for it inside of you. Discharge your usual obligations with dignity and silently count your blessings. Soul Affirmation: Friendships are the shock absorbers on the bumpy road of life. Lucky Numbers: 4, 52, 53



Trust! – that’s what you need to do. Sure people lie sometime but when you know their hearts you know what to expect and therefore you’re not deceived. Be prepared for lots of compliments this week. Most of them will be sincere, so plan to accept them gracefully. You may be planning a summer trip. Make it a nice getaway Soul Affirmation: I take a chance on new beginnings. Lucky Numbers: 22, 28, 29



Live free and large, and cherish good friends. Financial matters are highlighted during working hours. Everything to do with your money, or money under your care, goes smoothly. A party invitation arrives. . . say YES! Soul Affirmation: I open myself up to the good news that wants to come to me. Lucky Numbers: 33, 46, 55



Creative mental energy makes this a banner week for you. An ambition that you thought you had left behind years ago suddenly resurfaces, and you’ll see similarities between what you are doing now and what you dreamed of back then. Enjoy! Soul Affirmation: Laughter is strong medicine against any disease. Lucky Numbers: 34, 46, 55



No need for rowdiness, wild ones! You can make your point without jumping up and down and waving your hands and arms in the air! Speak your wisdom softly, gently this week, so that others can hear it and benefit, smooth one! Soul Affirmation: Wearing three different hats is easy for a person like me. Lucky Numbers: 18, 27, 39

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

September 05, 2013


Associated Press


NEW YORK — Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff didn't think much about the milestone upon being appointed the first women to co-anchor a national daily news program on television — until flowers began filling their offices and strangers offered congratulations.

The veteran journalists are the regular co-hosts of PBS' “NewsHour,” effective Monday. They will be the faces for a newscast known for many years as the home of founders Jim Lehrer and Robert MacNeil.

Two days earlier, PBS will premiere a new weekend edition of “NewsHour,” based in New York instead of Washington. Hari Sreenivasan will be the host.

In 2006, Katie Couric at the “CBS Evening News” became the first woman to solely anchor a national newscast. Ifill said she was surprised by how many people made a big deal of two women anchors when PBS announced the change in early August.

“I’m very touched by that,” she said. “I’m most touched by young women who stop me on the street and tell me how happy they are about this. I’m amazed at the investment people have in this.”

Following Lehrer’s retirement two years ago, Ifill and Woodruff were part of a five-person anchor rotation with Jeffrey Brown, Ray Suarez and Margaret Warner. Two of the five anchored each night, depending on their schedules. There was nothing wrong with it, said the show’s executive producer, Linda Winslow. But she came to conclude that a regular team makes for a sharper identity; people are more likely to say they watch Brian Williams instead of the NBC “Nightly News,” for example.

The new anchors have lengthy Washington resumes. Woodruff, 66, was a White House correspondent for NBC News during the Carter administration and has two stints at PBS with 12 years at CNN in between. Ifill, 57, started in print, working at The Washington Post and The New York Times, before joining NBC News and then PBS in 1999. Ifill hosts “Washington Week,” meaning Woodruff will fly solo on the “NewsHour” on Fridays.

Both say they share sensibilities and news instincts.

“She’s exactly the kind of person you’d want to have by your side if there’s a big, breaking story,” Woodruff said of her partner. “You want to be beside someone you can trust, whose judgment you can trust.”

Winslow said it seemed to be the combination that clicked. The women think alike, but have distinct styles. During interviews, Ifill is more conversational, Woodruff more questioning. “She’s leaning forward and Gwen is more inviting you to come forward,” she said.

“NewsHour” anchors have often seemed more like solo artists than a team. Winslow said there will be an effort to have Ifill and Woodruff appear on-screen together more and interact.

The show helped draw attention to the pairing when Ifill and Woodruff interviewed President Barack Obama last week, with the poison gas attack in Syria the chief topic.

Even for veteran reporters, a presidential interview is a nerve-wracking experience. You live in fear of missing something obvious. You have to balance to-the-minute reporting of breaking news with more reflective questions knowing, as Ifill said, “all your planning can go out the window in an hour.” And for the two anchors, each had to be conscious of giving her partner equal time.

Both women were also named managing editors of “NewsHour,” joining Winslow in shaping the day’s broadcast.

“It means that every day we wake up, we’re not just thinking about our own segments within the show,” Woodruff said. “It means that every day you’re thinking about the whole program. But that’s a good thing.”

Ifill and Woodruff will bring their own ideas for changes, comfortable knowing that no overhaul is necessary.

“The ‘NewsHour’ occupies a place that doesn’t exist anymore in broadcast television, which is an hour-long, uninterrupted chance to let people finish their sentences,” Ifill said. “We’re very careful of that franchise, but we are also aware of ways that we can freshen it just with our presence.”

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

September 05, 2013


Associated Press


TOKYO— Leaving San Francisco, singer Chris Hart has made himself at home in “J-pop.”

His album of cover versions of Japanese pop tunes is rising on the charts. And the crooner is scoring on this nation’s equivalent of “American Idol,” being billed as a genius who understands the musical soul of Japan.

His success highlights a music industry that's still booming, and increasingly eager to internationalize. It's even ready to eclipse the U.S. music world, where CD sales have plunged with the arrival of digital technology.

Hart, 29, says he is living his dream. And he doesn’t mind a bit that his fame has come so far from home.

“I am a part of the J-pop world now,” he said in a recent interview, using the term for pop music in the world’s third-biggest economy.

Hart has won over Japan by focusing on adaptations of local hits such as “Home,” a 2008 ballad popularized by singer Yusaku Kiyama about the joys of becoming a father.

That’s saying a lot, given the size of Japan’s market.

Japan’s music industry is estimated at $4.42 billion, closely trailing the U.S. at $4.48 billion, although Japan has less than half the population, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which tracks such data.

While other countries have shifted to digital music, CDs still make up 80 percent of Japan’s music sales, according to the Recording Industry Association of Japan. Only 34 percent of music sales are CDs in the U.S., and 58 percent is digital.

Recent albums from established Japanese acts such as B'z and Southern All Stars are setting off a CD revival. AKB48 and other groups featuring young women, known as “idols,” are boosting CD purchases among the younger crowd. The CDs sometimes come with concert tickets and other benefits, so some fans are buying multiple copies of the same one.

“Japanese people tend to want the physical CDs or the gifts and trinkets that come as perks with many albums. Music companies are getting creative,” said Tom­onobu Yonai, a spokesman for the recording industry group.

Hart blew away the judges, mostly singers and celebrities who not only praised his technique but also his understanding of the lyrics and the emotions of the tunes. He was crowned “the world’s best foreign J-pop singer.”

“I feel embarrassed to come on stage,” said singer Masahiro Nakai after Hart covered one of his songs in his clear, smooth tenor. Akiko Wada, another singer, called him “just perfect.”

Hart started learning Japanese when he was 12. He wanted to study Korean because his aunt was of Korean descent, but his school offered only Japanese. He was quickly drawn to Japanese culture. A year later, he went on a home-stay program in Japan, where he fell even deeper in love with Japan.

Hart started a rock band performing Japanese songs in San Francisco, while working over the years as a police officer and a clerk at a cosmetics company. In 2009, Hart stumbled on an opportunity to go back to Japan with a job at a vending machine company.

He uploaded videos of himself singing in Japanese on YouTube. To his surprise, he got invited to be on the TV show.

That's why he prefers to call his fans “family.” Hart has also made a point of adopting Japanese mannerisms, such as bowing.

“People feel more inclined to buy the album out of the support, like a friend,” said Hart, wearing his trademark fedora and vest.

In a recent outdoor concert in Tokyo, hundreds of people, some with children in their arms, crowded the stage as Hart sang in near-perfect Japanese.

“I think it’s really special that somebody from another country sings Japanese songs because he thinks it is great music,” said Akane Kawano, a 31-year-old receptionist.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

September 05, 2013

Special to the NNPA from the St. Louis American


Comedian Dave Chappelle angered fans in Hartford, Conn., on Thursday night when he cut short a performance and sat silently on a stool for nearly a half hour before walking off stage amid boos.

NBC Connecticut reported that Chappelle, who was headlining the Funny or Die Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Tour, was on stage at the Comcast Theatre in Hartford for just a few minutes, when he suddenly stopped his routine and said the audience was making too much noise, one witness said.

For the next 25 minutes, he sat on a stool, read from a book, told the crowd he was still getting paid and then eventually walked off the stage, a witness said.

Needless to say, some fans want a refund.

“He didn’t do anything. He just stood there. … He wanted quiet. He wanted everyone to be quiet while he performed,” one audience member said.

Others tweeted, defending Chappelle and blamed the crowd for being unruly.

According to Hartford Police, extra patrols were called in as a precaution and for potential crowd control.

There’s no official word on why Chappelle walked off the stage. The 15-city Funny or Die festival is Chappelle’s first major stand-up tour since he abruptly stopped production of his Comedy Central show and reportedly checked himself into a South African mental health facility in 2005. The next scheduled stop for the tour is tonight in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Information from and NBC contributed to this report.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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