Boing Boing 

How To: Make Polaroid Film

Joel Johnson and Bill Barol have blogged here before about The Impossible Project, a group of Dutch Polaroid enthusiasts who bought an old Polaroid factory and recreated the company's instant film manufacturing process. General consensus: It's an impressive undertaking, but also kind of unnecessary and expensive.

Today, we're going to focus on the impressive part, with this video showing the manufacturing process that creates Impossible Project instant film. It's 5 minutes long, but the joy you'll get from watching it rivals those old Sesame Street crayon manufacturing videos, so it's totally worth it. Conclusion: The Impossible Project may not be necessary, but it sure is a lot of fun to watch.

Video Link

Via Gizmodo, with a tip of the hat to Gideon VanRiette.

Kid has right idea about royal wedding

royalwedding.jpg Grace van Cutsem, 3, has clearly had enough. Photo: Reuters/Darren Staples.


It looks as if this guy filmed this whole crazy clip himself with no one else around. (via The Awesomer)

RIP LeRoy "Granny" Grannis, surf photography pioneer

leroy-grannis.jpg Iconic images by Gannis: Mike Doyle surfing Waimea in 1967 and "Midget" Farrelly surfing Shore Break, Makaha 1968. Gannis was a master of using light to convey emotion.

LeRoy Grannis, who along with "Doc" Ball helped revolutionize the field of surf photography, has died. He also co-founded what's now Surfing Magazine. A lifelong surfer himself, Grannis didn't take up photography until 1959, when he was 42. That was the year surfing hit mainstream consciousness through the film Gidget.

Grannis' amazing black and white photos really give a sense of surf's rapid shift from subculture to mainstream as Gidget and Beach Boys mania took hold. If you love beautiful photo books, the retrospective Leroy Grannis: Surf Photography of the 1960s and 1970s is one of those crazy-expensive Taschen books that really shows his work beautifully. (LA Times obit)

Bryan Lewis Saunders' 15+ years of drug-induced self-portraits

brian-lewis-saunders.jpg Images: Bryan Lewis Saunders self-portraits on crystal meth (left) and huffed gasoline (right).

Cord Jefferson at Good posted a cool piece on artist Bryan Lewis Saunders. Since 1995, Bryan has created about 8,000 self-portraits, one each day, some of them while under the influence of various chemicals. He believes this has caused brain damage, so he says he now does that series while under medical supervision. Bryan does a lot of other work that mixes creativity with self-experimentation, so check out his site! (Thanks, Calpernia!)

Slideshow: This Is Your Artistic Brain on Drugs

Bryan Lewis Saunders: Self-Portraits

Sarah Palin Breathing Wall of Nightmares

BEHOLD: The Sarah Palin Breathing Wall of Nightmares. Here's a bonus nightmare.

Video of a walk in Maple Creek Park

A Boing Boing reader claims the Frank L. Sharp's video about Maple Creek Park is much better than the Neature Walk video. I agree! Don't miss good-natured Frank's other videos.

Maple Creek Park.wmv

Awfully awesome dance moves

Watch out, Mosh Girl and Napoleon Dynamite... a challenger appears. The world would be a better place if everyone felt as uninhibited and expressive as Happiness.

Dr. Franklin Ruehl's promo tape and channel

Some of you may recall that I am a big fan of physicist Dr. Franklin Ruehl. I previously mentioned an episode of The Tupperware Container of Ironic/Coincidental Hollywood Deaths. Aficionados of weird video unfamiliar with his oeuvre, prepare yourselves for a weekend treat. Since my last post, he has uploaded a lot of his vintage work to his YouTube channel, including several of his Pat Sajak Show appearances, and a demo reel (above) that includes his hand-made replica of the world's largest shoestring bezoar, among other timeless treasures.

drruehl on YouTube

Transvestite had sex with dog in English castle moat

Pendennis_1683141c.jpg From Britain's Daily Telegraph:
The cross-dressing man was caught with the animal in the dry moat of King Henry VIII's Pendennis Castle overlooking Falmouth Bay in Cornwall. ... As the two ladies spotted the cross dresser he ran away. Later one of [their] dogs chased after the man; by the time the women had caught up, the man was having sex with the pet. Castle staff then restrained the man while police were called.
The gent was cautioned by police for "outraging public decency." Transvestite had sex with a dog at English Heritage castle [Telegraph]

Colton Harris-Moore has a posse.

Momma Tried: Colton Harris-Moore has a posse. And t-shirts. (previous post / thanks Jason Weisberger)

Happy Saganseve, Everybody

November 9 would have been Carl Sagan's 75th birthday. To celebrate the man, his work and the awesome wonderment of science, Broward College in Davie, Florida is hosting the first ever Carl Sagan Day tomorrow (Saturday the 7th). If you're in that area, they've got a whole day's worth of activities going on---from planetarium shows and stargazing, to a "Cosmos" marathon, to appearances by Bad Astronomy blogger Phil Plait and James "The Amazing" Randi (who was a personal friend of Sagan's).

The majority of us not conveniently located in southern Florida, however, will have to find other ways to celebrate. Perhaps you've already got a Beethoven's Birthday-style public march planned, but, if not, you can at least enjoy some fine video tributes. BoingBoing already linked to the soothing memorial techno remix of Sagan's "Cosmos" PBS show, so I'm going to go in a different direction and offer you one of his last interviews, from May of 1996, on Charlie Rose. Among other things, Sagan talks about his (then) new book (and one of my favorites), "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark". Enjoy.

Thanks to the Bad Astronomy blog for the holiday tip-off!

Collecting Solar Power, the Black Hole Way

Not pictured: A convenient terrestrial solar panel. Image from thebadastronomer Flickr stream, via CC.

Light can't escape a black hole. Some people look at this fact and get the shudders. Others think, "Hey, that would make a really effective solar panel!"

Or, rather, it might if not for that whole "massive, crushing force of gravity" problem. MIT's Technology Review has a neat piece about scientists trying get around that minor hiccup. They're working with light-distorting metamaterials, the stuff you frequently see written up in stories about the coming of futuristic cloaking devices, alongside references to Harry Potter's invisibility cloak. But instead of bending light around the metamaterial, these researchers are focusing on a weirder--and, in my opinion, much cooler--goal.

...a metamaterial that distorts space so severely that light entering it (in this case microwaves) cannot escape.Their black hole consists of 60 layers of printed circuit board arranged in concentric circles (see picture below). The printed circuit boards are coated in a thin layer of copper from which Qiang and Tie have etched two types of pattern that either resonate at microwave frequency or do not. They've measured microwaves at 18 GHz going in and none coming out. And the circular symmetry of their metamaterial means that the microwaves are absorbed in all directions at once.

There you have it: The light-capturing power of a black hole, without the teeny inconvenience of being smooshed. Incorporate the material in solar collectors, and you could end up with a much more efficient way of harnessing the sun for energy.

She's Got It

"It", in this case, referring to "The Right Stuff". Brandon Keim at Wired Science had a great post yesterday about attempts by NASA contractors to get women into the space program during the late 1950s. The (ultimately unsuccessful) charge was led by Randy Lovelace--the doctor responsible for putting together health tests for astronaut hopefuls during the original Mercury 7 selection process--and Donald Flickinger--an Air Force general. Flickinger founded the Women in Space Earliest program in 1959, Keim writes...

But the Air Force canned it before testing even started, prompting Lovelace to start the Woman in Space Program. Nineteen women enrolled in WISP, undergoing the same grueling tests administered to the male Mercury astronauts. Thirteen of them -- later dubbed the Mercury 13 -- passed "with no medical reservations," a higher graduation rate than the first male class. The top four women scored as highly as any of the men

It's pretty fascinating stuff, I just wish Keim had included more biographical information on the women involved. Unlike the male astronaut candidates, they couldn't have come from the Air Force (and 1959 seems a little late for women who'd been with the WAC in World War II to be in prime physical condition), and yet, the women were trained, experienced pilots. There's some great stories fluttering in the shadows around this piece. I, for one, would love to know more.*

*Read: I would kill to interview one of these women. If you, your mom, or your grandma were involved, email me. Seriously.

Art is People! It's People!

When I saw this picture last summer on the Awkward Family Photos blog, I had to know where it came from. Most of the commenters were convinced the answer was "a really freaky, messed-up hippie family." But one intrepid denizen of the Interwebs offered a better explanation.

In reality, these hand-knit people suits--made from angora--are the work of artist Anna Maltz. She makes them in the aforementioned "natural" version, but also in muppet-esque blue, mermaid, and Superman styles. Then she takes photos of people wearing the suits.

This video from San Francisco's KQED takes you along on one of Maltz's shoots.

And, if that's not enough to make her completely awesome, in 2004 Maltz apparently wrote an essay about her work called "Don't Be the Bunny." "Urinetown" references = +1000!

Indian farmer's daughter is most bad-ass woman in the world


A quick-thinking farmer's daughter disarmed a man who broke into her home in the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir. In a phenomenally bad-ass series of moves worthy of a Tarantino screenplay, 21-year-old Rukhsana Kausar attacked him with an axe, then shot him dead with his own gun. The civilians' residence is 20 miles away from the ceasefire line between Indian and Pakistani forces. The intruder was reported to have been a combatant from the other side of the border.

Miss Kausar said she had never fired an assault rifle before but had seen it in films and could not stand by while her father was being hurt. "I couldn't bear my father's humiliation. If I'd failed to kill him, they would have killed us," she said.
"Farmer's daughter disarms terrorist and shoots him dead with AK47" (Telegraph, via Maggie Koerth-Baker)

Video after the jump.

Read the rest

John Muir, naturalist and maker of odd inventions

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John Muir, Sierra Club founder and Yosemite savior featured in the new Ken Burns docoumentary, was a fantastically creative maker too! The Sierra Club has posted details about several of his inventions, including an alarm clock that knocks the leg out from under the bed, and his mechanical study desk, pictured above, that "would automatically light his lamp and fire, open the right book to study, and then change books after half an hour." "Was John Muir a Mad Scientist?" (Thanks, Orli Cotel!)

Radio Free Africa

"Freedom of expression and of thought was not invented by the West. It has existed in traditional societies -- even primitive ones -- for centuries. Human progress would not have been possible without it. I'm saying this as a black African from Ghana because today around the world, we have 'educated' barbarians who want to suppress this freedom by arresting and jailing dissidents, writers, journalists and those they disagree with."
-- George Ayittey on the BBC, September 20, 2009.

Ayittey, whose famed "cheetahs vs. hippos" TED speech I've blogged before, is co-founder of an inspired new project called Radio Free Africa. (thanks, Emeka Okafor)

The Lessons of Lindsay

A powerful and beautiful photo-essay by Matt Mendelson about a powerful and beautiful young woman from my home town named Lindsay Ess, a fashion major at Virginia Commonwealth University. Same school, even the same building where I spent a lot of time as a kid, growing up -- so the story *really* felt familiar and personal to me, even though I do not know her, and cannot imagine what it feels like to endure what she's prevailed through.

The story begins at a student runway showing, where Linsday is looking on:

Lindsay, it should be noted, has no hands to clap and no feet on which to get up. She had them back in the summer of 2007, when she was tall and thin and had just graduated from VCU with a fashion merchandising degree. Then, to use her words, a blur. When she entered Henrico Doctors' Hospital that summer, the procedure to remove a small piece of inflamed intestine, a nagging complication of her Crohn's disease, was supposed to go routinely. But supposed to go routinely rarely turns out well, and there hasn't been a routine day in Lindsay's life ever since. Not since the leak, not since the sepsis, not since the organ failures, the brain seizures, and not since the coma. Definitely not the coma. Not since one day in August turned to October and then drifted on towards Christmas. Certainly not since the quadruple amputations, the cruel coda to having been so close to death all those months and then surviving. Oh, honey, you know what they're going to do, right? the nurse said. There's no routine to being bathed and fed and dressed like a child mere months after you've graduated college, and no routine to learning how to walk again at the age of twenty-five. No routine in continuing a long-distance relationship with someone who admits to having originally been smitten by your looks, or to being with your mother almost every waking hour. There's no routine for taking a fistful of pills a day--the Pentasa, the Entocort EC, the Lexapro, the Keppra, the Urosidol, the Spiranolactone, the Zolpidem, the Lyrica, not to mention the occasional shot of actual alcohol. There's no routine, no manual, for wishing you were whole again, so that just one morning of your life you could actually wake up and make it to the bathroom on your own, even if the arms and legs you now covet so are made of acrylic and not skin and bone and muscle. And, perhaps most of all, no routine for the long, slow realization that those acrylic arms and legs might not, in the end, be the answer to anything. If you're Lindsay Ess, routine pretty much stopped on August 3, 2007.
The Lessons of Lindsay (story) Sports Shooter Q & A: with Matt Mendelsohn (chat with the photographer).

(Sports Shooter, via @Glennf)

Griddleville: amazing cartoon made entirely by one dude.

Jesse Brown, a BoingBoing guest-blogger, is the host of TVO's Search Engine podcast.

The most creative guy I knew in high school was this kid Ba Blackstock. He drew hilarious cartoons, directed theatrical adaptations of Dan Clowes comics and made crazy short movies.

Later, he spent years of his life making this cartoon. He went old-school, penciling by hand over a light board (he's entirely self-taught). Then he inked and colored it and added 3D stuff digitally. Of course, he nearly lost his mind in the process.

The resulting cartoon speaks for itself.

NOTE: this is just one chapter. I recommend watching the whole 14 minute thing (link.)

Jim Carroll interview from 1987


Here's a scanned copy of an interview with the recently-departed punk poet icon Jim Carroll, by Joseph Menn in the Boston Globe. The article is not available anywhere online, and it's a fascinating read, so I'm glad Joe scanned it and published to Flickr.

Joe says, "[The interview took place] in person, at a Boston hotel in 1987. He was an amazing mix of imaginative power at work and straight-up stoner dude. He talked about how when he was in heroin withdrawal, the images he wanted would pile up uselessly like parked cars, then move too fast for him to catch, as in Koyanisqaatsi. But first he saw the chocolate on his pillow and said, 'Man, I could dig THAT later!'"

Flickr set of scanned images. Click "all sizes" on each scanned page to view a size large enough to read comfortably on-screen, they're scanned in high-rez. You can follow Joe on Twitter here.

Previously on BB: The great punk poet Jim Carroll has died.

NYC skateboarding legend Andy Kessler has died.


Glen E. Friedman, a photographer who chronicled the birth of skate culture, shares sad news:

If skateboarding was a town, this guy was its mayor. Andy Kessler, one of the good ones, died yesterday apparently of an allergic reaction from a wasp sting that led to a heart attack. This was a great dude, NO ONE could say anything wrong about this dude.

He was one of the oldest, if not the oldest, skater in New York City, holding it down, real since the 70's. Andy will be seriously missed by many including myself. Obituaries and discussion threads: ESPN, bulldogskates, newyorksurf, bulldogskates 2.

Above, a portrait of Kessler around 1976 or 1977 which Glen says was among the skater's favorite. If you know the name of the photog, please share in the comments and I'll amend the post. Photo credit, via a commenter in this thread: "KESS cuttin' it off the lip at the 9' marker, the Deathbowl in Riverdale, 1978. (Photo by Marc André Edmonds)"

Another striking portrait, skating the streets of Manhattan, here.

After the jump: a 2007 video interview. Kessler immediately strikes you as a gentle, thoughtful person -- who could shred like nobody.

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Hedy Lamarr: '30s film diva, mobile phone tech pioneer, anti-Nazi gadget inventor.

Snip from an essay by artist Michaela Melián on Hedy Lemarr, the Austrian-born American scientist and actress who was once described as the most beautiful woman in the world by MGM's Louis B. Mayer. Art Fag City Editor Paddy Johnson says, "Not only was she the first actress to simulate an orgasm onscreen in 1933, but her frequency-switching device (now known as frequency hopping) developed with partner George Antheil, is the technology upon with cell phones are built."

Melián assembled this online essay for Art Fag City's annual IMG MGMT which, in which artists are invited to curate image essays on the blog. She also wrote a score to accompany the old school style slide show, which is embedded in the post.

Image above: Michaela Melián, Frequency Hopping, 2008, C-print, watercolor, thread, 35 x 28 cm.


In her ex-husband's Salzburg villa, the immigrant had seen plans for remote controlled torpedoes, which were never built because the radio controls proved to be too unreliable. After the outbreak of the Second World War, she worked on practical ideas to effectively fight the Hitler regime. At a party in Hollywood, Lamarr met George Antheil, an avant-garde composer who also wrote film scores. While playing the piano with the composer, the actress suddenly has an important idea for her torpedo control system. Antheil sets up the system on 88 frequencies, as this number corresponds to the number of keys on a piano. To construct it, he employs something similar to the player piano sheet music that he used in his Ballet Mécanique.

In December 1940, the frequency-switching device developed by Lamarr and Antheil was sent to the National Inventors' Council. A patent was awarded on August 11, 1942. The two inventors leave it to the American military to figure out how to use the device. Lamarr's and Antheil's Secret Communication System disappears into the U.S. Army's filing cabinets.

Finally, in 1962, as the Cuba crisis brews the technology now known as frequency hopping is put to use. Its purpose is not to control torpedoes, but to allow for safe communications among blockading ships - whereupon the principles behind the patent become part of fundamental U.S. military communications technology. Today, this technology is not only the foundation for the U.S. military's satellite defense system, but also used widely in the private sector, particularly for cordless and mobile telephones.

IMG MGMT: Life As A Woman, Hedy Lamarr (Art Fag City)

Keeping the Googling Good Life Going in a Post-Box Store era: Doug Fine

We covered Doug Fine's radical off-the-grid lifestyle experiment last year on Boing Boing TV -- embed above. He is the author of Farewell, My Subaru: An Epic Adventure in Local Living, and he's still going strong out there on the Funky Butte Ranch. When he's not out in the fields turning the compost heap or feeding chickens, he's working on his next book, which I'm looking forward to reading. Doug has a thought-provoking piece out in this Sunday's Washington Post Outlook section, here's a preview:

I have a fiancee and a son to provide for, so I decided to take a hard look at our prospects for survival if our consumer safety nets went away. For now, my green lifestyle choices at my remote 41-acre outpost in the American Southwest are optional. You know, growing lettuce instead of buying Chilean. Using organic cotton diapers instead of buying Pampers. But what if one morning in, say, 2049, I wake up to milk my goats and find out that supplies are no longer streaming in from China and California? What would I do if both box stores and crunchy food co-ops suddenly were no more? In other words, I'm examining my place in a hypothetical post-oil, post-consumer society 40 years in the future.

Now, I'm not rooting for such a thing. Slave labor, forest depletion, climate change and global resource wars aside, globalization has a lot going for it. I love that I can email a musician in Mauritania and ask to download his latest album. And anyway, lots of people still see globalization as the economic model for the foreseeable future. But when I was covering the former Soviet Union as a journalist in the 1990s, every single person I met told me that they'd thought pigs would fly before the Politburo crumbled.

On My Ranch, Ready for the Great American Meltdown (Washington Post)

Tibetan documentary filmmaker faces trial in eastern Tibet for "inciting separatism."

Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen, who directed and filmed the documentary "Leaving Fear Behind" (excerpt embedded above) has been charged with "inciting separatism" and is awaiting trial in Siling in eastern Tibet (Chinese: Xining, Qinghai Province). The Chinese government will not allow his lawyers to represent him, so there is not much hope for a fair trial.

Supporters are urging people to take action, by sending a letter to Wu Aiying, China's Minister of Justice and Zhang Yesui, China's Ambassador to the United Nations, demanding Dhondup Wangchen's immediate and unconditional release.

Dhondup Wangchen has been detained since March 2008 and has suffered torture and ill-treatement at the hands of the Chinese authorities. He is being targeted for simply exercising his right to freedom of expression, and the charges against him are part of the Chinese government's widespread campaign to punish and silence Tibetan voices of dissent.
(via Students for a Free Tibet)

Jasmina Tešanović: "The Murder of Natalya Estemirova."


Image above: Natalya Estemirova, courtesy Human Rights Watch. The following guest essay was written by Jasmina Tešanović. Full text of essay continues after the jump, along with links to previous works by her shared on Boing Boing. See also this related New York Times piece, written by a journalist who knew Ms. Estemirova.

On 15 July Natalya Estemirova, 50, was kidnapped and murdered by unknown assailants in the Chechen capital Grozny. The mother-of-one worked for the human rights organisation Memorial and was a close friend of the journalist Anna Politkovskaya, also murdered in 2006.

A human rights activist is killed like a dog, executed, dumped and humiliated in front of the eyes of a million people, who know that what she was saying was true, right, honest and proper.

Because, you see, WE ALL DO KNOW THAT. Good and bad guys know Natalya was telling the truth, in Russia, in Chechnya, in US in Europe. And yet we all stay silent about her death. Most of us turn the head the other way, as if it is none of our business, as if it is inevitable, as if it were somebody else's world.

Presidents sometimes say: a serious inquiry should be done in this case. Violence on journalists is not permitted. How could they say otherwise? Today when words count almost nothing compared to the escalating violence, to the human annihilation.

Where are the movie stars, those celebrities who adopt poor children, sing songs in the deserts, catwalk all the politically correct arenas? Why don't the superstars for once raise their voice and protect ONE peaceful human rights activist -- who in her or his life has done more than the whole constellation of stars shining from their heaven on the global poor?

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Citizen Engineer: open source hardware comic and kits

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Our pals at Adafruit Industries have launched a new series of kits that include a full color comic book/zine. The first volume of Citizen Engineer is all about SIM card hacking and has the parts to build your own SIM card reader/writer. Citizen Engineer (via MAKE:)

Iran: More on the life and death of Neda Agha-Soltan


An amazing piece by Borzou Daragahi, in Tehran, from today's LA Times on the life and death of Neda Agha-Soltan (shown above in a family photo). Her death, documented on cellphone video and spread online, has become a potent spiritual emblem for the popular uprising in Iran.
The first word came from abroad. An aunt in the United States called her Saturday in a panic. "Don't go out into the streets, Golshad," she told her. "They're killing people."

The relative proceeded to describe a video, airing on exile television channels that are jammed in Iran, in which a young woman is shown bleeding to death as her companion calls out, "Neda! Neda!"

A dark premonition swept over Golshad, who asked that her real name not be published. She began calling the cellphone and home number of her friend Neda Agha-Soltan who had gone to the chaotic demonstration with a group of friends, but Neda didn't answer.

At midnight, as the city continued to smolder, Golshad drove to the Agha-Soltan residence in the eastern Tehran Pars section of the capital. As she heard the cries and wails and praising of God reverberating from the house, she crumpled, knowing that her worst fears were true. "Neda! Neda!" the 25-year-old cried out. "What will I do?"

Neda Agha-Soltan, 26, was shot dead Saturday evening near the scene of clashes between pro-government militias and demonstrators who allege rampant vote-count fraud in the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The jittery cellphone video footage of her bleeding on the street has turned "Neda" into an international symbol of the protest movement that ignited in the aftermath of the June 12 voting. To those who knew and loved Neda, she was far more than an icon. She was a daughter, sister and friend, a music and travel lover, a beautiful young woman in the prime of her life.

Family, friends mourn Iranian woman whose death was caught on video (via @eecue)

Miles O'Brien: The Hubble Constant

Miles "Intergalactic Space Badass" O'Brien, whose work we've been featuring as a guest contributor on Boing Boing Video, has a must-read piece at True Slant about the recent end of NASA's mission to repair/upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope.

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Hubble Repair Missions. After all, I cut my teeth on the space beat covering the legendary STS-61 mission in December 1993 - the first, the most dramatic - and certainly the most important - of the five astronaut telescope calls now inscribed in the space history books.

So I must confess I am a bit wistful - even a little misty - now that it is all over. We will no longer have the good fortune to witness the live drama of human beings pushing the envelope of impossibility to improve a machine that pushes the boundaries of our understanding of the universe.

Over the years, sixteen Mr. Starwrenches finessed, improvised - and sometimes used brute force - to fix what ailed Hubble - or make it better. It was Reality TV for the Space Cadet Nation.

The Hubble Constant: High Interest (True Slant)

Image: "The Ten Billion Dollar Man - Last Shuttle-eye view of Hubble."

BB Video - $5 Cover: Craig Brewer's New MTV Series on Local Indie Music Life

(Download MP4, or watch on YouTube)

In today's Boing Boing Video (brought to you in part by, director Craig Brewer (Hustle and Flow , Black Snake Moan ) talks to us about his latest project: the MTV online series $5 Cover, which chronicles the internet-age lives and dreams of struggling musicians in Memphis, Tennessee.

$5 Cover is described as "a rough-and-tumble show set in the clubs, bars, and all-night cafes of present-day Memphis," and follows "young musicians as they fight for love, inspiration, and money to pay the rent." These are real people, but this is not reality schlock.

When I first saw clips of the series in production during a visit to the MTV offices, I knew it was going to be great. I grew up an MTV teen, but am not generally a fan of MTV's present-day on-air programming. I've felt for some time like the network no longer produced stuff I'd find interesting.

But this is different. Maybe part of what allowed something this authentic and engaging to incubate at MTV is the fact that this is primarily an online series.

And then there's the fact that Brewer is at the helm. I'm a big fan of his big-screen work, and he clearly loves the stories at the heart of $5 Cover -- the lives and art of musicians who are his own community, in Memphis.

Boing Boing asked Brewer how the internet is changing what it means to be an independent artist, and how technology is changing the nature of what "local music" means. He talks to us about why he created the show, how this is different than directing for film or television, and why all of this matters so much to him.

When MTV sent us a DVD of the completed episodes, Boing Boing Video's editor and I watched them all, back to back, and then vowed to buy some of the music online. I'm not kidding, it's that great. We went particularly nuts about Amy Lavere, an artist featured in the first part of the Boing Boing Video episode. She's from Memphis, by way of TX and Louisiana. Al Kapone was another personal fave.

More about $5 Cover: New episodes premiere Friday nights at midnight on MTV and at throughout May. There are mini-documentaries about what went on in each week's episode here, and Flipside Memphis gives you an even deeper dive into the Memphis culture. The entire video series, along with music videos and other related video, is available on iTunes for download to own. The soundtrack is available digitally through services including iTunes and Rhapsody, and I've been googling my way to the artists' websites and myspaces and discovering lots more on my own.

RSS feed for new episodes here, YouTube channel here, subscribe on iTunes here. Get Twitter updates every time there's a new ep by following @boingboingvideo, and here are blog post archives for Boing Boing Video. (Special thanks to Boing Boing's video hosting partner Episodic)

Sponsor shout-out: Boing Boing Video is brought to you in part by, in partnership with Intel and Asus. is a site where users come together to "share ideas, images and inspiration about the ideal PC." Participants' designs, feature ideas and community feedback will be evaluated by ASUS and "could influence the blueprint for an actual notebook PC built by ASUS with Intel inside."