Nova Rockafeller gives a taste of 2013. There’s more where this came from.
Nova Rockafeller gives a taste of 2013. There’s more where this came from.
JENSEN KARP is on a mission to use his encyclopedic knowledge to get us up on obscure moments from the world of Hip-Hop on this week’s episode of THE FOGELNEST FILES! Plus, how can two white Jewish dudes talk about Hip-Hop and not make a phone call to 80’s stand-up legend, BARRY SOBEL!
Well my name is Jake and I’m here to say, you’ll dig these clips in a major way!
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ME. RAP MUSIC. BARRY SOBEL.
Every Thanksgiving I think of the same story that went down during my short stint as a writer on WWE’s weekly live wrestling show, RAW. During my 5-6 months creating ridiculous dialogue and storylines for pro wrestlers, I obviously found myself in some pretty crazy situations, most I will hold onto until some book I decide to write or a deathbed I’m confined to. But every last Thursday of November, one moment from my time near the squared circle can not be forgotten, and that story involves the Native American warrior known as Tatanka.
Tatanka first debuted in the WWE in 1991, coming to the ring in intricate headdresses and carrying a tomahawk, in the vein that most stereotypical ethnic portrayals wrestling fans have witnessed since its birth. But being 12 years old myself, I saw nothing wrong with the character and gimmick given to former NFL player Chris Chavis and Tatanka actually became one of my favorite wrestlers. I even remember forcing my mom to take me to Toys R Us to buy his action figure. I looked forward to seeing him rain dance every week, and defeat whatever jerk was in his way, especially during an undefeated streak he held early in his career. But like all wrestlers, he had a run, then he disappeared.
In 2005, I was getting fat and depressed as a WWE Creative Writer, mostly assigned to low level talent and writing bits that involved foot fetishes (word to Snitsky). I was hardly creatively stimulated and was contemplating leaving within 2 months of my hire. And that’s when I heard Vince McMahon had taken a meeting with Tatanka, now 44 years old, and was contemplating re-hiring him to the company, based on name recognition amongst nostalgic fans. I quickly became a vocal proponent in bringing back one of my childhood favorites and I was pretty excited when it became official: Tatanka was returning. I figured I could stick around for a bit longer. This seemed fun.
I remember being one of the first people to welcome him back when he showed up to his first RAW that year. He was so gracious and sweet, and he seemed genuinely over the moon at this chance. He even commented on being happy to portray Native Americans once again on TV in such a rewarding and positive light. He had been working on pre-recorded, highly produced vignettes with the talented Alex Greenfield, another writer, who came back with some intense stories, since they were all shot on a real reservation involving serious Native American traditions and ceremonies. Things were looking up for Tatanka, and Alex even let me put my two cents in for his first few appearances, which thrilled 11 year old me. Unfortunately for Tatanka, the fans didn’t seem to care in the same way that pre-pubic hair Jensen did, and the response was mild at best. It was just not working out the way the Creative Department had planned.
Quickly many of the writers, including myself, who liked both Tatanka’s legacy and the actual man, responded to the icy reception and suggested we turn him “heel,” or into a bad guy, where he can complain about the treatment of Native Americans and actually address the boo’s. Vince and his daughter Stephanie were into the idea, and we went back to trying to fix our Tatanka problem. But while writing down some of the ideas, we heard there was a concrete concept for Tatanka and we’d love it.
And so during the weekly Creative meeting, Tatanka was one of the first things we addressed. Vince explained that he too loved Tatanka and was bummed to see the crowd reaction, especially after he spent a lot of money on the “Let’s Visit Tatanka In His Tent” segments they had taped. Vince said they had come up with the solution to make this character memorable and then he looked us in the eyes and said…
“Let’s turn him into a casino owner.”
Very little can make me spit take. Especially after months of working in this traveling circus, which included working hand-in-hand with Chris Benoit, who soon after would kill his whole family, and then himself. But hearing Vince say this, literally made me spit up the water I was sipping. Vince explained Tatanka would come out in jeans and a leather jacket (to his credit, that is what Tatanka wore on the road), and stick it to the white man, letting them know exactly how much money he’s making, tax-free and without real laws, all while on their land. This after weeks of Vince letting us know to take his heritage very serious, as the tradition and history is what will sell him to the fans. We were frequently running shows at the Mohegan Sun Casino in nearby Connecticut, so Vince explained he would debut there, and we would do it as close to Thanksgiving as he could.
I admit I laughed. And if I didn’t know Tatanka, and he was still just an action figure to me, this easily could become my favorite post-modern wrestling character ever. But having worked with Tatanka during his rebirth into the WWE, this was devistating. We’re now going to be asking a proud Native American man, who has made his living being a proud tribe member across the world, to basically burn his headdress and regalia, in order to portray one of the most despised stereotypes in the United States, and antagonize White America by gloating about land and money, that in reality they rightfully deserve. Alex Greenfield and I laughed, but also sort of feared what would happen when he had to tell the man.
At the next TV taping, Alex explained he was about to go tell Tatanka. I wished him luck and listened closely for plates from catering to be thrown in disgust. Hours went by, and I didn’t hear or see Alex (probably because I was helping with life changing backstage pieces like this). It wasn’t until the end of the show that I saw Alex as we were boarding Vince’s private jet that took us from city to city.
I said with concern, “So…what happened? How mad did he get?”
Alex laughed and said, “Mad? He has storyline ideas. He’s thrilled. He’s hoping he can debut it Thanksgiving week also.”
The Casino Owner gimmick never actually happened, for reasons I don’t really know, but probably understand. Tatanka lasted another year or two in the WWE before leaving on his own accord, and I think he shows up still every once in awhile, as a “Legend.”
But every Thanksgiving I remember that dude, and how he almost played a villainous Native American Casino Owner on TV, changing his decade long run as one of the most positive and popular portrayals of his lineage ever in pro wrestling. But then again, I also remember he played football for the Washington Redskins and I kinda laugh.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
When I was 15 years old, I made this custom basketball card for Sam Cassell and the Acutane Warning Baby. All of this because he looked like the warning on the box of Acutane for pregnant women. This is the baby you would have on the meds btw, so, yes he looks weird, but he’d be a decent leadership-based point guard too.
Also, I was a weird kid.
And this was announced today for December at G1988 (Melrose)…
The incredible show from Dave Perillo & Tom Whalen is now available for viewing and purchase online -
Thank you to Andrew Baik (http://andrewbaik.com/) for putting together this video in literally hours. Thank you to Aris Pinedo (our NY gallery manager), Ryan & Crystal (who were thrown into literal chaos as our gallery assistants) and Daniella (who came to say hello and ended up with a STAFF shirt). Without them, we would’ve drowned. And thank you to everyone who stopped by, and will stop by. This was amazing.
Tomorrow night we open our 6th annual Crazy 4 Cult show, our favorite annual exhibit where artists are creating pieces based on their favorite cult movies, but this year it’s obviously a little different. We’ve decided to take the biggest step in our gallery’s history, and by far our largest investment, and move the show to New York City, in a beautiful space in the middle of the busy Meat Packing District. A lot of our loyal local buyers have expressed some sadness in us moving it clear across the country, so I wanted to just give a quick paragraph on what this temporary move means specifically to me.
My father was born in Brooklyn and lived in NY, until his 30’s - the age I’m at today. He WAS New York. He sounded New York. He looked New York. He always told me how easy I had as I floated in a swimming pool during 74 degree heat in the San Fernando Valley. He was right. I knew about Nathan’s, Macy’s front windows, Coney Island’s Cyclone, the Russian bath houses, how you get ripped off from three card Monte and the peep shows in Times Square (then how Giuliani didn’t understand the city when he banned them). I knew the candy store where my father hung out in Flatbush as a rough teenager, the Catskills where he had his first job, and the building where he learned his eventual profession in his 20’s - sales. My dad was my hero and NY was his land. Doing business here was his thing and it seemed hard. That’s how I got to live in the nice weather he couldn’t as a kid. I never saw it for 8 year old Jensen in his floaties going to school with celebrity’s kids.
My dad was able to see the first 5 years of the gallery before he passed. He just was barely able to see what this weirdo little pop culture art gallery idea had become. Moving this show to NY was to share this concept with a new coast - but it was also for my father. He worked so hard for me and he did it in New York. That’s where he learned it all. He did it in actual streets, with actual seasons and real people. I didn’t really, but I wanted to. I’ll probably live in LA my whole life to be honest, but doing business where my father did the same thing, is a BIG DEAL to me.
He would be so fucking proud of Katie and me. He wouldn’t even believe it if he saw it. Everyday I genuinely imagine what his face would look like if he could walk into the NY gallery and it makes me smile so big.
I ask that you come by tomorrow night, not just because we’re investing so much into this (BUT THAT’S A HUGE REASON, DUMMY) - but because the art is so good. The artists all made amazing pieces to debut in a city where they’ve never shown before. In the email where we invited our group of artists, we asked for our first “favor” ever, and we can’t thank them enough for what they’ve delivered.
I’ll be at the opening reception, with many of the artists, Thursday night, August 9th, from 6-9 PM (but 10 PM really). It’s at 64 Gansevoort in the Meat Packing District, where the Highline ends basically.
And you’ll see all the pop culture goodness tomorrow. In a real city. With real seasons. With real people. For my dad.
Join us this Friday night, July 27th, at G1988 (Melrose) as we open “Velvet Paintings For Your Inner Nerd,” a solo show from artist Bruce White. Bruce has been a total stand-out in our past years’ group shows and now he bring his unreal acrylic paintings on black velvet to a focused show at our landmark space. Join us 7-10 PM this Friday, with Bruce in attendance, as it is has to be seen to be believed. This show will run through August 15th/
Artist Jon Defreest created these sneakers specifically for our Breaking bad campaign. And for the reveal of the 12th Breaking Gifs poster, we’ll be at CRSVR in Las Vegas at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. We have 4 pairs TOTAL and we’re giving them away. They open at 11 AM PT.
I’m bringing my art gallery and annual show, Crazy 4 Cult, to NYC on August 9th. It will run through the end of the month. See you there.
LISTEN TO THIS. Howard’s tape is bonkers.
It’s here and it’s brilliant…
On June 6th, 1987 comedian/musician Howard Kremer made a radio tape.
On June 6th, 2012 Howard and friend/living hip-hop encyclopedia Jensen Karp (AKA Hot Karl) rediscovered the tape. Join them as they explore the early years of hip-hop on this Feral Audio Podcast Special.
Now sit back and enjoy a treasure trove of audio from America’s first hip-hop program. Six hours a week New York radio stations WBLS and KISS broadcast the birth of hip-hop, straight from its birthplace. Their frequencies traveling through the night air to the warm transistors and boom boxes of a then teenaged Howard Kremer. This innovative new style of music completely informed the rest of Howard’s life, and forever changed his and countless others’ taste in music.
NOVA ROCKAFELLER. You should know now.