It’s official. I have moved to a new site and will be blogging and updating there. Due to the amount of people who still visit this site for various reasons, I will keep this blog open. I look forward to continuing this journey with you. Check out the new Dagny Zenovia Headquarters.
It has been a while since my last post. I wanted to let you all know that I have not forgotten about my cyberspace platform. I am in the process of re-designing and upgrading the site. With the work I am doing now, I want this website to incorporate all of my projects and be more than just a blog. Feel free to browse my previous posts for information, photos, or just for fun. The upgrade will keep them in some sort of archive form. I’m really excited about this and I hope you will enjoy it.
Janelle Monáe, a very innovative and futuristic artist who is refreshing the entertainment industry, is the new face for CoverGirl. I was very excited to hear about this because I am a big fan of hers and I admire CoverGirl’s initiative to showcase unique independent women. I admit I am not a cosmetics junkie, but I do believe it can accentuate natural beauty…when used appropriately. Congratulations Janelle!
A typical science-fiction movie features aliens, futuristic weapons, and some plot to take over the world. District 9, a 2009 film by Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, takes this formula to the next level and creates a plausible scenario that fills you with excitement and shock.
The story begins as an investigative documentary, featuring various “experts” commenting on the status of the District 9 initiative. In the 1980s, a space ship landed in South Africa. It did not attack or abduct anything. It just hovered in one spot with no sign of movement inside. Once the South Africans found a way inside the ship, they found a large population of aliens who seemed ill and starving. They were called “prawns” and were relocated to District 9, a refugee camp to administer food and other resources to help them. Fast-forward to 2010, good intentions and the refugee camp have deteriorated. It has turned into a militarized ghetto with every sort of criminal activity involved. A weapon corporation, called Multi-National United, is contracted to evict the “prawns” to District 10, located outside of Johannesburg. The main character, named Wikus van der Merwe, is put in charge of the operation not because of his position or intelligence, but because he is an easy scapegoat. During the operation he is exposed to an alien chemical which causes him to gradually transform into a “prawn.” The rest of the film portrays his struggle as he has to choose between humans, who want to harvest his body to utilize the alien weapons, or “prawns,” who just want to go home.
It’s been a long time since I have enjoyed a science-fiction film, and I could not stop thinking about this one for days after I watched it. There are so many aspects to it, from the way it is portrayed to the story line to the hidden messages and missing pieces. I will try my best to share all of this with you without ruining the ending.
Like I said before, the film was made to look like a documentary. The camera shakes sometimes, a number of angles are awkward, and the camera man is asked to stop recording a few times. The story jumps back and forth through time so that the viewer is constantly guessing as the pieces are gradually revealed. The influence of the media and corporate agendas are in full play in this film. The story seems to be primarily guided by human emotions reacting to something that is different, which begins with generosity and ends with hostility.
There was a lot of symbolism in this film. Referring to the outcome of the refugee camp, one could draw a distinct line connecting this story with apartheid in South Africa with the Bantu stands. There were images of signs that read “humans only,” echoing a time period where signs used to read “whites only.” The film also shed light on the struggle for power between politics and corporations. The South African government did not feature anywhere in the picture. Everything was run by the weapon corporation, who were solely interested in achieving their own benefits and exploiting the “prawns” weapon technology. The media gave the illusion of being transparent by providing live footage of everything that happened for the world to see, but were only reporting what the weapon corporation ordered.
I thought this was a very plausible storyline. The portrayal of the future of technology primarily affecting the development of weapons and power is definitely something that will continue…with or without aliens. This would be a great film to critique and discuss in an arts or film class. Why did the aliens come? Were they stuck or was it planned? Why were only two of the aliens planning to return, while the rest seemed less intelligent? If you have seen this film, please let me know. I would love to discuss it with you. I highly recommend this film to anyone who enjoys intellectual stimulation and exposure to an alternative view on human society.
My latest musical frenzy is focused on Kimbra, a remarkably soulful and diverse singer, songwriter, and guitarist from New Zealand. I stumbled on to her single “Cameo Lover” in February when I was sampling music for my radio show. The music video diverted me to check out the rest of her music that was available on YouTube.com at that time. She is nothing less than amazing.
Her debut album “Vows” was released in North America in May of 2012. I have yet to feel the urge to skip any of the tracks. Her voice has several dimensions that cross between soul to jazz to rock to just unique. The album is just as colorful. Some have lovely R&B rhythms while others fuse funk and rock or soft rock with pop. She wrote all the lyrics and they are definitely worth listening to. Kimbra is able to convey so much emotion without being cliché.
Her style is also worth noting. I like to describe it as retro with a modern twist and a burst of color. It is fun, creative, and truly an extension of her music.
At the time I first heard her music, practically every track was uploaded on youtube by someone else. I loved it so much, I actually went to Best Buy to purchase the physical album. I honestly cannot remember the last time I did that for a current artist. I highly recommend you check out Kimbra’s vows.
My current project is exploring and expanding my creativity and ideas within a forum that can showcase and benefit me. This blog is one form of it, but I now want to incorporate film and other aspects of entertainment.
DAGZ Productions is the next step. My premiere creation is The Spotlight Series. Below is the first episode.
The Spotlight Series is a video collection featuring interesting people and intriguing projects. Episode 1: The Lounge – a radio show at WRGW. DJ Dagny takes you behind-the-scenes of The Lounge and discusses producing a radio show, creating an artistic atmosphere, and dealing with a few challenges. http://www.mixcloud.com/TheLoungeWRGW
Please let me know what you think and become a fan of DAGZ Productions.
The experience included a classy ambience, a historic venue, friendly people, and brilliantly talented musicians. This past Saturday was honestly the most enjoyable outing I have had in the three years I have lived in Washington, DC. So, let’s go on with the story.
Esperanza Spalding, whom I have praised a number of times here and here, is currently on tour for her recent album “Radio Music Society.” I attended her concert on May 12th at The Howard Theatre and was blown away.
Let’s begin with the venue. The Howard Theatre re-opened this past April after two years – $29 million – of renovations. It originally opened in 1910 and was dubbed as the “Theater of the People.” In its heyday the theatre hosted performances by Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Sammy Davis, Jr., James Brown, Marvin Gaye, and many others. The restoration, architecture, and design were created by Martinez + Johnson Architecture and Marshall Moya Design. In my opinion, they did a magnificent job with the theatre. They were able to revive its historical value and authentic character with a modern flair of elegance and soul.
Before you enter the building, a red carpet and a friendly gentleman wearing a sharp suit is waiting to direct you to the entrance. The lobby is wall-to-wall marble. The box office is adorned with two large portraits of Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong. As you continue following the red carpet, a large flat screen shows images of upcoming performances. The groove of neo-soul and happy chatter gradually becomes louder as you enter the main floor to give your ticket to another gentleman wearing a sharp suit. You then have the option of turning left into the main room or taking the stairs to the right. I chose to start at the left.
I honestly felt as if I was stepping into another realm. Every intricate detail of the space was designed to contribute to the overall experience. The lighting was dim enough to not need sunglasses but still radiant to prevent accidentally walking into a wall. The sound system was fabulous and had a great playlist of old and new favorites ranging from jazz to soul to R&B. Elegant booths line both sides of the ground floor, all of which were taken by the time I got there. The bar is decorated with marble and two large portraits of James Brown and B.B. King. The center of the room holds the dance floor, which leads to a stage draped with blue velvet curtains. I then decided to check upstairs.
The second floor also has an elegant bar with two large portraits of Sammy Davis, Jr. and Ella Fitzgerald. There are two tiers of booths situated on an incline so that everyone has a clear view of the stage regardless of where they are seated or standing. I did not eat, but there were some delicious plates walking around, including steak, shrimp cocktail, and salads. This venue really has everything covered for a full experience. Everyone who works there are very helpful and personable. They are also great with compliments.
Now for the performance. If you are at any event where Esperanza Spalding is set to appear, you are guaranteed a great time. This was extra special because I was standing right next to the stage for the entire show. Granted I did not realize I would be standing the whole time, thus I was literally leaning on the stage due to the platform heels I was sporting, but it was completely worth it. The stage was set with a large facade of a radio that served as the music stand for all the wind instruments.
Esperanza and her band are so talented. In my opinion, jazz is a genre that emphasizes and personifies the art of music in regards to collective harmonies and individual improvisation while leaving a little room to expand in any direction the artist chooses. I think one of the reasons why Esperanza has such a large and devoted following is because she takes that room for expansion and raises it to another level that is refreshing and enjoyable. Her most recent album has more of an upbeat character and a conscious message. I loved how she transitioned each song as if they were all segments of a main story. We were even educated on the numbers of people who currently are enslaved and the reality of the Trayvon Martin case. Seamlessly playing the bass, singing, and conducting the band, Esperanza had each of her band members showcase their solo skills, as if they were sharing their own story through music. The audience, if you already guessed, enjoyed every moment of it.
Once the show ended, I went back to the lobby to buy a poster. A portion of the proceeds of her merchandise go to an organization called Free the Slaves. While I was in line I overheard many people mentioning that she will be upstairs doing autographs. I went upstairs to find a pretty full line. After a little wait, Esperanza came out, sat down at a little table with a tea-cup, and started signing autographs. When it was my turn she exclaimed, “Oh my. I love your hair.” She then touched my hair, after asking of course. I now know that my hair will definitely grow as long and beautiful as hers. She was so nice and down-to-earth. I of course praised her show and music while she was signing my poster. She said “thank you” and blew me kiss. This marks the first time I meet one of my inspirations and get an autograph. It was wonderful.
If you are into good music and/or classy venues, I highly recommend you check out The Howard Theatre in Washington, DC and see Esperanza Spalding in your area. If you are lucky to experience both at the same time, you are in for a very special treat.
Below are some photographs I took at the event.