Enongo Lumumba-Kasongo used to get the same question every time she set down the mic and stepped off the stage. She came to expect it after performing in crowded bars, big music festivals or comic book stores, and the question usually came from a well-meaning stranger or new fan of her music. This would happen right after she'd screamed into the mic that she was Sammus, a producer and rapper, and that everything she just did on stage was her work. The question would come in different forms -- "Where's your boyfriend?" People assumed Sammus didn't produce her own music.
This is the year when Kirk Douglas, one of Hollywood's most iconic stars, will celebrate his 100th birthday. To mark the event the UCLA Film & Television Archive has put together a massive series that will run from the beginning of July through the end of September showcasing the range of his films. The series, screening at the Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum in Westwood, kicks off this weekend with a trio of Douglas' best-remembered films, starting Friday at 7:30 p.m., with Douglas playing Vincent van Gogh to Anthony Quinn's Paul Gauguin in Vincente Minnelli's rapturous 1956 "Lust For Life." That's followed on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with a splendid double bill of two 1951 classics. First comes "Ace In The Hole," directed by Billy Wilder, and starring Douglas as an ambitious reporter (is there any other kind) who is not above exploiting tragedy for his own aims. Also playing is William Wyler's "Detective Story," with Douglas as a police detective whose zeal knows no bounds.
The fourth edition of San Diego's CRSSD will take a slightly darker, all-club-music tone. The biannual dance music festival, which takes place Oct. 1-2 at downtown San Diego's Waterfront Park, will sport the Swedish electronic pop act Miike Snow and the brooding house music producer Zhu atop the bill, with a wide range of party-friendly and edgier underground acts throughout the weekend. Bonobo, Thomas Jack, Kanye West's "Wolves" producer Cashmere Cat and Lido are slated for peak sets on the main stages, while Sophie, Maya Jane Coles and M.A.N.D.Y. are billed in the sweatier underground areas. The festival – produced by the San Diego firm FNGRS CRSSD, whose founders have collaborated with Goldenvoice – can hold 15,000 fans for each of its two days, and it has become a popular day trip for LA fans. After a brief experiment with alt-rock (booking the Flaming Lips and TV on the Radio in 2015, where attendance dipped), the fest returned to an almost-all-dance lineup for this year's spring fest and continues that approach this fall.
A new Iron Man is in town, and she goes by the name of Riri Williams. In Marvel Comics' relaunch of "Invincible Iron Man," a 15-year-old black woman will take over Stark's role and step into the armor for a more contemporary superheroine story. According to "Iron Man" writer Brian Michael Bendis, Williams attends MIT and builds her own Iron Man suit in her dorm room. Bendis told Time magazine that the idea was inspired by young people rising up from street violence. "[I]t just seemed that sort of violence inspiring a young hero to rise up and act, and using her science acumen, her natural born abilities that are still raw but so ahead of where even Tony Stark was at that age, was very exciting to me." Introducing diverse major characters to the Marvel Universe is nothing new for Bendis.
In terms of popularity, nerdcore occupies a space somewhere between underground hip hop and the end of the universe, according to rapper and educator Mega Ran. Nerdcore is a brand of hip hop characterized by a focus on geeky things, which means its subject matter is as vast and varied as Tolkien's Encircling Sea. It's niche but limitless; visible but not known. It's big enough to support the musical careers of artists like MC Lars, MC Frontalot, Beefy and MC Chris, yet it's small enough that even the most fervent Star Wars fan may have never heard of it. Even in an age where geek chic is hot and "nerd" is no longer a vicious insult, nerdcore remains underground -- but its influence on popular culture is showing.