Category Archives: Special

What’s Going On? 今だからこそ、マービン・ゲイの記念切手

毎年、新しい図柄の切手を発行しているアメリカですが、2019年度に発売する記念切手が発表されました。風景画やお花、動物などの絵柄のほか、有名人にちなんだ切手が注目されています。

どんな基準で選ばれたのかは定かではありませんが、2019年の Black Heritage Seriesとして、マービン・ゲイとグレゴリー・ハインズの二人のアフリカン・アメリカンが選ばれました。

マービン・ゲイ

モータウン・レコードの社長、ベリー・ゴーディーのお姉さんと結婚したマービン・ゲイMarvin Gaye (1939–1984) の、60年代後半から70前半にかけて、ベトナム戦争や警察官の暴力など、混乱をきわめたアメリカ社会に疑問を投げかけた名曲、「ホワッツ・ゴーイング・オン」は今でも多くの人々に愛されています。あれから年50近く経つ現在、快方に向かっていた人種問題が再燃。「この国はいったい、どうなってしまったの?」と多くの人たちがつぶやいています。まさに、What’s going on? です。

グレゴリー・ハインズ

タップ・ダンサーで俳優のGregory Oliver Hines (February 14, 1946 – August 9, 2003) はハーレム育ち。幼少の頃から、お兄さんのモーリス・ハインズと一緒にラップ・ダンスを踊っていました。125丁目にあるアポロ劇場にも、「ハインズ・ブラザース」として頻繁に出演していました。ブロードウェイ・ショー、映画など、俳優としても活躍、リチャード・ギア (The Cotton Club 1984)、ビリー・クリスタル (Running Scared 1986)、ダニー・グロヴァー (A Rage in Harlem 1991)、 ホィットニー・ヒューストン (Waiting to Exhale 1995) などと共演しています。グレゴリーは、すでにすたれ気味だったタップ・ダンスを盛り上げようと、タップ協会を結成したり、若手タップ・ダンサーを育成するなど、数々の功績を残しました。

Advertisements

Wu-Goo ウータン印、食べるマリファナはいかが

アメリカの西部、カルフォルニア州などでマリファナが解禁され、大麻を吸うことは日常的になってきました。でも、タバコのように口から吸うのは肺がんになる可能性もなきにしもあらず。クサの匂いが髪の毛や服についてしまうのはイヤ、という女性も多く、「食べるマリファナ」がもてはやされています。

そこで登場したのが、ウータン印の食べるマリファナ「Wu-Goo」です。シャオリン(ニューヨークのスタテン島)出身のヒップホップ・グループ、ウータン・クランが開発したブラウニー、「ウー・グー Killah Bee」は大麻のエキスを混ぜて開発した「食べられるマリファナ」、すべて自然な原料を使ったオーガニック・フードです。大麻の主要成分のTHC (Tetrahydrocannabinol  カンナビノイドの一種)入りなので、クサを吸ったときと同じ効果が得られるそうです。

先日、ロスアンジェルスのお店でサンプルを配ったところ、大反響、近々大々的に商品展開をすることになりました。気になる価格のほうは、ブラウニー一個入りのパックが$35-$40(¥3,850-$4,400)と、決して安くはありませんが、ハイになるだけでなく、薬としての効果もあるとかで一石二鳥。ブラウニーのほか、クッキーやグミなどの商品も開発してゆく予定だとか。

合法とはいえ、各州で法律が違うので、とりあえずはカルフォルニア州のお店のみでの販売だけで、地方発送はしないとのこと。詳細が決まり次第お伝え致します。

ウータンのデビュー・アルバム、Enter the Wu-Tang 36 Chambers が25周年を迎えました。

The Black Man Who Turned Down $500 Million For His Business

日本語

Who would turn down a cool $500 million?

Well, 31 year old black entrepreneur Tristan Walker did just that! Walker, Stanford MBA turns down a half Billion dollar buy-out offer from Schick, Gillette and Procter & Gamble to keep his skin-care and grooming line Bevel black-owned.

Tristan WalkerTristan’s company, Walker & Co. Brands raised an amazing $24 Million dollars in funding recently from several high-profile names including Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Andre Iguodala and several others; to develop beauty products tailored to people of color. The company also unveiled a new deal with Target to sell its flagship razor product, Bevel, at select Target stores in the United States and online.

tristan-selfie-750xx5760-3246-0-285Who is Tristan Walker?

Tristan Walker, 31, the highest-profile African-American startup founder and CEO of Bevel, a black men’s shaving, skin care and grooming line. Walker’s hustle and charisma aren’t the only reasons for his fame. Venture capitalists, startup founders, and big-time CEOs like to brag that the tech business is a color-blind meritocracy, but their boasts don’t reflect the facts. In Silicon Valley, even in 2015, a visible, successful African-American is big news.

BevelRaised in a couple of the roughest neighborhoods of Queens in New York City, Walker was one of the 50% of black children in the U.S. who grow up in fatherless homes—his was shot and killed when Walker was only 4 years old. His mother, Bettie, worked two jobs, six days a week—as an administrative assistant at the New York Housing Authority from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., then at Time Warner Cable from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.—and enrolled Walker in an after-school program at the Boys Club of New York. In eighth grade, he tried out for a basketball team that played against a variety of prep schools around New England.

He didn’t make it, but one of the coaches knew that Walker was a straight-A student and suggested he take the SSAT and apply to one of the boarding schools the team played. He did, and one day found himself with a full scholarship to Hotchkiss, a prep athletic powerhouse perched aside Lake Wononscopomuc in Connecticut.

He calls his time there the “four most transformative years” of his life. Instead of navigating the shoals of New York City’s public school system, he went to a place where the average class had just 14 students. Computers and other technologies were plentiful and up-to-date, and classes are offered in AP statistics, microeconomics, and computer science, along with Java programming and robotics. “I got to see how the other half lived,” Walker says.

After graduating from Hotchkiss and then excelling at Stony Brook University in New York, Walker landed on Wall Street through SEO, an organization that offers training and internship programs to underrepresented minorities in business. He traded stock for Lehman Brothers and J.P. Morgan, and dreamed up any number of moneymaking schemes but nothing clicked. These were dark days for the Street.

Tristan-Walker - BevelWalker decided to try to develop his entrepreneurial skills at Stanford Business School. He was accepted just after losing his job in the first round of layoffs during the 2008 financial crisis. Coming from the literal depression of Wall Street, Walker was struck by the vibrant, inspiring environment of the Bay Area. “I thought it was the most amazing place in the world because there were other 24-year-olds not only making millions of dollars but also changing the world,” he says. “I knew I wanted to be a part of that.”

Bevel AdAfter stints at Twitter and Foursquare, designer-marketer Tristan Walker was invited by revered tech investor Ben Horowitz to become an Andreessen Horowitz entrepreneur in residence. While there, Walker cooked up the idea for a health and beauty brand for people of color, filling a long-decried gap in the market. The first brand under his Walker & Co. is Bevel, a shaving line with sleek, vintage-inspired products that combat razor burn, a particular problem for black men.

ben2_400x400Hip Hop Meets Silicon Valley

Co-Founder of Andreessen Horowitz, Ben Horowitz grew up listening to hip-hop and to this day remains an unabashed fan has become friends with some of hip-hop’s biggest stars. Nas is one of them. Horowitz introduced Nas to Walker.

Nas + Tristan“Well, upon meeting him I just thought he was a good guy, and when he presented it, it was already up and going. I felt, here’s a project I can be a part of, and I love what he wants to do. That was it,” Nas commented on Walker & Co and the Bevel shaving system. He also admitted he experienced the razor bump issue. “I saw this brand as something that helps with a problem that a lot of blacks have with our curly hair. This is something that a lot of us have been looking for,” Nas said.

Nas 1Against considerable odds, Walker is working to rewrite that playbook, even if his startup has a modest $9.3 million in funding. If Walker can build a world-changing business, he will serve as an extraordinary role model for younger African-Americans.

AFROPUNK Madness!!!!

Erina 24
日本語

Having started out as a free, small-scale music festival in 2003, Afropunk has grown into a conduit for black activism and community action. From that initial output, the little black punk festival that could has grown from 100 attendees to 60,000. One of the organizer’s established relationships with brands and big-name artists, such as last year’s headliner, D’Angelo, helped boost the festival’s profil and attendance. This year’s two-day outdoor festival, the 11th, boasts that same high-caliber bang, with headliners Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lenny Kravitz and Kelis, but for the first time it will cost to get in.

Erina 32

Erina 38Harlem2Nippon’s self-proclaimed fearless reporter, Erina shared her Aropunk experience.

Erina 34We Can All Get Along

Reported by Erina

The Event: Afropunk Fest

The Dates: August 21 to 23, 2015

The Dig:    Commodore Barry Park in Brooklyn, New York

Erina 30If there is any music festival where black men, women, boys and girls can be their carefree, cool and creative selves, it’s at AFROPUNK Fest. You can find a wide assortment of skin tones, hairdos, makeup, body jewelry and clothing styles.

Erina 33When I reached the Commodore Barry Park the line was stretched a block from the general admissions entrance and it took me an hour and half to get in. Fortunately while we were waiting a friendly young security guy kept us laughing with his jokes.

Erina 4Once inside I was trying to figure out which one was the main stage (there were 3 stages). No event maps or instructions were handed out…….. On the first day, the main stage — a.k.a. the green stage — was set for girl power with acts ranging from newcomers Lion Babe to Grace Jones, a headliner, so I was told later. OK, first things first, I have to quench my thirst. Yes, beer sounds good. Then I got a chance to walk around. When it comes to food, there were plenty of options, from Indian to Belgian, but what caught my eyes was Café Habana from Brooklyn. I got myself this baked corn.

Erina 3

I looked around. So many people……. The vibe was so friendly and laid back. Very chill and a sense of togetherness.  Yes, it’s the people. The energy of the people throughout the event is so positive. It was my first time I felt so good among ocean of the people, talk to someone you never thought you would, and leave with the sense that you were just a part of something that really mattered.

Lauryn Hill - afropunk-festival-2015-42I waited faithfully for Ms. Lauryn Hill to grace the stage at Afropunk, and when she finally arrived I felt like the wait was rather short, even though it was almost an hour later than scheduled. Darkness had set over Brooklyn by the time the legendary rapper sat centerstage, guitar in hand. Her set was totally acoustic just like her NY Tour in 2014.

She moved through tracks from her Unplugged album. Us fans anticipated hearing cuts from The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, and she didn’t disappoint us singing my favorite “Doo Wop (That thing).” Everybody seemed to love Lauryn and I’m the biggest fan.

It was so beautiful and peaceful after dark and tall skyscrapers in the backdrop. Quite impressive.

Erina 23I first came to notice Grace Jones from a famous photo in the fashion magazine. All I know about her back then was that she was Andy Warhol’s muse and she revolutionized everything in fashion, in music and in art. But I have never seen her live performance until now.

One thing I found out yesterday was that she was 67! For real??

By the time Grace Jones were to perform, the crowd situation created a level of mayhem like none other. I was squeezed in to the passage connected to the stage. I can’t move………

grace jones afropunkfashion-4Maybe she would act like a diva just standing and sing…….. so I thought. “Ladies and gentlemen, Ms. Grace Jones,” said a robotic voice over as she appeared atop an elevated stage dressed in a billowing black cloak and a gold metal skull mask with a halo of pointy sun rays encircling it.

Then SHE came!!!! She came out!!

With fabulous costume changes — as unique as they could get — and fearless energy, Ms. Jones is one of the most vibrant performers you can ever see live.

Clad in white and black body paint, she also wore a hooded skeleton mask head dress as she showed out for the crowd.

grace_jones_078It was so socking that I couldn’t believe my eyes!! At age 67. Still topless…..!!!!

I don’t think she is human. Maybe she is a superwoman came from the outerspace.

Erina 27I was blown away by Queen Grace’s over-the-top live show then the group of people passed me by. What…….? Lauryn Hill and her entourage proceeded to V.I.P. tent designated for main performers. She joined her kids waiting there. I was happened to be by the passage to VIP Tent!! Lucky me!!!

Erina 28Erina 26I really can’t focus either Lauryn or Ms. Grace. I was looking at both back and forth. While I was distracted Grace suddenly appeared from a close range. She was wearing a silver sparkling wig riding on a man! I could see her shinning breast with white body paint.

grace-jones-in-a-hula-hoop-at-afropunk-concert-in-new-york-cityMs. Grace started to twirl a Hula Hoop as she launched into her smash hit song “Slave To The Rhythm.” Her longtime fans might be familiar with her act that once she started she won’t stop!! To my surprise she didn’t stop spinning her Hula Hoop until the end of her song. Where did she come from………???

Damn, I haven’t seen anything like this before!!

Then, something unthinkable happened. After the show, Ms. Hill walked towards me with her family. I couldn’t help but screamed “Lauryn, I love you!” She heard me and turned around and her raspy voice said, “Thank you,” and she reached out for me and shook my hand!!!

Erina 22Never in a million years did I dream that my favorite Lauryn Hill would shake my hand……!! My dream came true!!!! It felt flaky when she touched my hand just because it happened so quickly. I wasn’t prepared.

Thank you, Lauryn.

Erina 18The best part of my Afropunk experience was that I walked away feeling like I had learned something and seen something through an entirely new perspective.

I will cherish this precious memory till the day I die.