The Filtered Excellence: October 19, 2017

Bob Geldof once asked us, “Where is the filtered excellence!?” It’s right here. Once a week we take a break from comedy to bring you this week’s picks of the best things to watch, the most interesting things to do, great things to try, the best picks to read, our favorite things to listen to and more.


Tracy Ullman’s Show.  Tracy Ullman’s critically acclaimed HBO sketch comedy series is back for a new season.  Expect Ullman – playing a variety of characters from across the globe – take yet another stab at modern life in Great Britain along with hilarious takes on German Chancellor Angela Markel, Camilla Parker Bowles, and, of course, Dame Judi Dench.   Whether it was for the BBC or here in the States, Ullman shows time and time again why she’s comedy gold.  The new season of Tracy Ullman’s Show premieres this Friday at 11pm Eastern on HBO.  You can also go to for more information.

BPM (Beats Per Minute).  This new film by Robin Campillo looks back at HIV/AIDS crisis and ACT UP, the group of activists, who, through a series of immediate, confrontational acts, forced the government and its respective agencies to take more aggressive action in addressing the epidemic.  Set in Paris in the 1990s, it stars Arnaud Valois as Nathan, a newcomer to the movement who falls in love with Sean (Nahuel Perez) the most outspoken member of the group.  They, and other ACT UP members (most of whom are gay and HIV-positive) go a literal life and death crusade to bring awareness to the disease, pushing health care officials and pharmaceutical companies towards developing a medical breakthrough.  Between the protests, rallies, intense debates and wild dance parties, Sean and Nathan try to build a relationship despite the spectre of death overshadowing them and their campaign.   Campillo wonderfully captures the urgency and energy of the movement, giving the viewer a ‘you are with them’ vantage point from planning stage, execution and aftermath.  It’s also a celebration of life with the ACT UP members finding release in dance parties and just being in the moment of everything.  The film also serves as a tribute to the many activists around the world who made everyone aware of the AIDS crisis and how it affected us all.  A passionate, vibrant, life-affirming film.  BPM (Beats Per Minute) opens this weekend.  You can also go to for more information.

George Michael: Freedom.  George Michael was putting the finishing touches on this documentary when he shockingly passed away on Christmas Day last year..  Working with long time friend and collaborator David Austin, Michael narrated, co-directed and co-edited this self-portrait of an artist who dominated the 80s and early 90s with such hits as ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’, ‘Careless Whisper’, ‘Faith’, and ‘I Want Your Sex’, among others.  While it covers his success with Wham and as a explosive run as solo artist, it goes into great depth his long battles behind the scenes:  His extensive battle with Sony leading up to, and after, the release of his album Listen Without Prejudice, Vol 1; and how the deaths of his mother and lover Anselmo Feleppa became the basis of his 1996 album Older.  As his own narrator, Michael mixes warmth, humor, intense introspection and, at times, blunt honesty looking back on key moments in his life and career.  There’s moments where you feel as though he’s putting all out there knowing that his time was up.  Stevie Wonder, Nile Rodgers, Mary J. Blige, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Kate Moss, Mark Ronson, James Corden, and a scene stealing Liam Gallagher are just some of the guest stars who appear to give warm insights and remembrances about working with Michael.  It’s a fitting salute and a haunting coda to a musical giant.  George Michael:  Freedom premieres Friday at 9pm Eastern on Showtime.  You can also go to www.sho.comfor more information.


Chuck D Presents This Day In Rap And Hip History by Chuck D.  With fans across the globe, Hip-hop has been on the cultural landscape for over 40 years and has become a billion-dollar industry.  But even as it dominates the music industry, there’s hasn’t been much documentation covering its rich and varied history.  Until now.  Based on his radio show on, Chuck D has put together a massive chronological survey of hip-hop and rap from 1973 to the present.  It covers everything from Kool Herc’s genre-defining shows in The Bronx in the mid 70s, early mainstream successes by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five and Kurtis Blow right through artists such as Lauryn Hill, Kendrick Lamar and much more.  Chuck also offers his perspective on many of these key moments, giving the reader an insider’s view of a movement that is at the forefront of all things pertaining to popular culture.  Whether you are new to hip hop or just want to gain more knowledge and insight to the culture, this is the definitive look.  Chuck D Presents This Day In Rap And Hip-Hop History is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Nobel and all major book retailers.

Smithsonian Rock And Roll:  Live And Unseen by Bill Bentley.  In 2015, The Smithsonian was putting together a project that celebrates the Rock experience.  But rather than calling on some of the top photographers to submit their work, they asked fans to send in photos that they took at their favorite club, arena or festival.   They ended up receiving over 4000 shots from around the world, spanning over 60 years.  Bill Bentley, who’s been everything from a record store clerk, DJ, concert promoter, music producer, A&R Director and a publicist, has culled together the best pics for this new book that captures rock at its best from the fans who were there to see it.  It runs the gamut from Elvis to the Alabama Shakes, tracing rock n roll’s evolution from small clubs to stadiums, Woodstock to Lollapalooza, from local scenes to global stages – all from those who love it the most:  The fans.  A must-have for anyone who loves music.  Smithsonian Rock And Roll:  Live And Unseen by Bill Bentley is available October 24th through Amazon and all major book retailers.




New York City.  Vietnam 1945-1975.  The New York Historical Society Museum and Library presents this new multimedia exhibit devoted to a 30-year conflict that had a profound and lasting effect on all nations involved.  It features over 300 artifacts, photos, artwork, films, and interactive digital media to convey the enormous toll the war had here and abroad.  Some of the highlights include video presentations of the 1968 Tet Offensive and 1970 Cambodia Campaign; a copy of The Pentagon Papers, personal items that were left at The Vietnam Veterans Memorial and much more.  To see these items up close is still a shock to the senses, bringing you close to a war that we are still trying to comprehend.  The Vietnam War 1945 – 1975 will be at the New York Historical Society Museum and Library through April 22, 2018.  You can also go to for more information.

New York City.  We Are Witnesses.  The Marshall Project and The Schomberg Center have teamed up to present this new video presentation about the many layers of the criminal justice system.  It features twenty people – a crime victim, a corrections officer, a judge, a formerly incarcerated woman, a parent, a child, a D.A, and more – giving first-hand experiences of crime, policing, prison and all of its surrounding politic.  There will also be a panel discussion immediately after which will cover the most pressing issues in criminal justice, reform proposals and much more.  Given the fragile political dynamics in major cities and across the country, this is a great chance to get involved as much as informed.  We Are Witnesses will be at The Schomberg Center in Harlem on Thursday, October 26th.  You can also go to for tickets and more information.

New York City.  Black Skin, White Masks: Cinema Inspired by Frantz Fanon.  As a noted philosopher, psychiatrist and revolutionary, Frantz Fanon was one of, if not the first, to confront and document the mental and psychological effects of racism.  His writings had a profound effect on everything from the American Civil Rights Movement of the 50s and 60s, the political revolutions that occurred through Africa in the 60s & 70s. right down to the Black Lives Matter campaign happening today.  Fanon’s work was also the inspiration of several films.  BAM Cinematek will feature a week plus long retrospective that reflect Fanon’s take on race, identity and power.  Included in this series are The Battle Of Algiers, the rarely seen film adaptation of Richard Wright’s Native Son starring Wright; and Condemning Violence, a documentary that based on Fanon’s seminal work, The Wretched Of The Earth and narrated by Lauryn Hill.  There will be guest introductions, post screening panel discussions, Q&A’s and much more.  A perfect salute to a literary giant.  Black Skin, White Masks: Cinema Inspired by Frantz Fanon will be at The Brooklyn Academy Of Music through October 26th.  You can also go to for a complete list of films, tickets and additional information.

Los Angeles.  The Vintage Vibe Festival.  Located in the heart of Palm Springs, this two-day festival celebrates nearly a century of American style and pop culture.  Vendors will be present selling clothing, books and other items from each era, there will be a kick off pool party, a book signing featuring Donna Loren of Shindig, live music from Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, Best Coast, Cactus Blossoms and much more.  Featuring great weather, cool music and waves of nostalgia, this is the ultimate celebration of all things cool.  The Vintage Vibe Festival takes place this weekend.  You can also go to for tickets, a complete list of events and more information.

Want more excellence? Read last week’s the filtered excellence.

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Earl Douglas is a writer/photographer based in New York City. A frequent contributor to The Interrobang, Earl is also Executive Director for the New York chapter of The Black Rock Coalition. Earl worked in radio for nearly two decades at WNEW-FM and XM Satellite Radio, which included being the on-air producer for Carol Miller, Scott Muni and Ron & Fez, and a contributor to Opie & Anthony. Earl has also independently published a number of books including Black Rock Volume 1, Urban Abyss, Mobile Uploads, and For Shimmy. His latest project is the photojournalism magazine PRAXIS, which is available exclusively through

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