Old-school typewriters attract new generation of fans

Wed, 2017-06-14 03:00

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.: Typewriter enthusiasts gather at an Albuquerque restaurant to experiment with vintage Smith Coronas. Fans in Boston kneel in a city square and type stories about their lives during a pro-immigration demonstration. A new documentary on typewriters featuring Tom Hanks and musician John Mayer is set for release this summer.
In the age of smartphones, social media and cyberhacking fears, vintage typewriters that once gathered dust in attics and basements are attracting a new generation of fans across the US
From public “type-ins” at bars to street poets selling personalized, typewritten poems on the spot, typewriters have emerged as popular items with aficionados hunting for them in thrift stores, online auction sites and antique shops. Some buy antique Underwoods to add to a growing collection. Others search for a midcentury Royal Quiet De Luxe — like a model author Ernest Hemingway used — to work on that simmering novel.
The rescued machines often need servicing, and fans are forced to seek out the few remaining typewriter repair shops.
“I haven’t seen business like this in years,” said John Lewis, a typewriter repairman who has operated out of his Albuquerque shop for four decades. “There’s definitely a new interest, and it’s keeping me very busy.”
Renewed interest began around 10 years ago when small pockets of typewriter enthusiasts came together online, said Richard Polt, a Xavier University philosophy professor and author of “The Typewriter Revolution: A Typist’s Companion for the 21st Century.” Since then, the base of fans has dramatically grown, and various public events have been organized around the typewriter.
“It’s beyond the phase where this is just a fad,” Polt said.
It’s almost impossible to gauge recent typewriter sales. Almost all of the original manufacturers are out of business or have been bought out and become different companies. The Moonachie, New Jersey-based Swintec appears to be one of the world’s last typewriter makers, selling translucent electronic machines largely to jails and prisons.
But operators of thrift stores and estate sales say typewriters are some of the quickest items to go.
“That’s part of the fun: the hunt,” said Joe Van Cleave, an Albuquerque resident who owns more than a dozen typewriters and runs a popular YouTube channel on restoring the machines. “Sometimes, like a little luck, you might find something from the 1920s in great condition.”
Doug Nichol, director of the upcoming documentary California Typewriter, said the interest stems from “digital burnout” and people wanting a connection to the past. That interest seems to transcend age, he said.
“Kids who grew up knowing only mobile phones and the computer are excited to see a letter typed with your own hand,” said Nichol, who owns 85 typewriters. “It’s a one-on-one interaction that doesn’t get interrupted by Twitter alerts.”
In his film, set for release in August, Nichol interviews Hanks, who said he uses a typewriter almost every day to send memos and letters.
“I hate getting e-mail thank-yous from folks,” Hanks says in the film. “Now, if they take 70 seconds to type me out something on a piece of paper and send to me, well, I’ll keep that forever. I’ll just delete that e-mail.”
Hanks owns about 270 typewriters but often gives them away to people who show an interest. “No one is ever going to make the great typewriter ever, ever, ever again,” he said.
One way the typewriter craze is growing is through organized “type-ins” — meet-ups in public places where typewriter fans try different vintage machines. Such events have been held in Phoenix, Philadelphia, Seattle, Los Angeles and Cincinnati.
During a recent type-in at Albuquerque soul food restaurant Nexus Brewery, around three dozen fans took turns clicking the keys of an Italian-made 1964 Olivetti Lettera 32 and a 1947 Royal KMM, among others.
Rich Boucher, a slam poet, spent most of his time on a 1960s-era Hermes 3000 crafting poetry and pausing while trying to figure out when to return the carriage for a next line.
“I haven’t used a typewriter in forever,” Boucher said. “This is a real refreshing way to spend a summer afternoon.”
After finishing his work, Boucher grabbed his phone and sent a Facebook status update about the experience. He then started looking online for a Hermes 3000.
“That’s the typewriter I want,” he said. “I’m going to find one.”

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In Africa’s fashion capital, Lagos, ‘trad is swag’

Agence France Presse
Wed, 2017-06-14 07:57

LAGOS: Leggy dancers in tight shorts, bottles of Moet champagne and flashy cars feature in Nigerian pop icon Wizkid’s bling-bling music videos.
But the singer himself has now swapped the Versace T-shirts and low-slung jeans that show his underwear for traditional African dress — a new youth trend in fashion hub Lagos.
Last year, Vogue voted Wizkid “Nigeria’s best-dressed pop singer,” a particularly coveted and prestigious title in a country where appearance is all important and competition is fierce.
Clothing that used to be considered only for the old or for people out in the provinces is setting the trend in fashion, from the Yoruba agbada, a large, triple-layered robe worn in the southwest, to the Igbo “Niger Delta” embroidered collarless shirt from the south, and the northern Hausa babariga, a long tunic worn with an embroidered asymmetrical hat.
In recent years, this traditional clothing — or “trad” as it’s dubbed — can be seen in offices as well as nightclubs, and at weddings and business meetings.
“It’s the in-thing now,” Wizkid told Vogue magazine.
“When I’m back home, all I wear is African fabrics. I get material from different parts of Nigeria — north, west, south — and I mix it up,” said the 26-year-old superstar.
Lack of space in Lagos, a sprawling megacity of 20 million inhabitants, has meant there are few shopping centers and ready-to-wear clothing stores are hard to find.
Economic recession and the free fall of the naira currency has put paid to wealthy Nigerians’ shopping sprees in Dubai, Paris and Milan.
Instead, they’ve had to make do with what’s on offer locally, sending the popularity of roadside tailors soaring.
In 2012, Omobolaji Ademosu, known as B.J., left his job in a bank to set up his own line of men’s clothing, Pro7ven.
In two tiny workshops in Ojodu, on the outskirts of Lagos, his dozen employees cut, sew and iron a series of orders to the sound of a diesel generator.
B.J. calls his style “African contemporary.”
His work includes magnificent made-to-measure agbadas with embroidered collars, which can sell for up to 150,000 naira ($475, 420 euros) each.
“Trad is swag,” smiled B.J.
“Any day, I can switch from Yoruba to Igbo to Fulani, I’m rocking it! It’s the Lagos spirit, there is no barrier, we are one.”
When attending professional meetings in business and politics, dressing in the ethnic outfit of your host is a sign of respect that can really pay off — or at least win big contracts.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s election campaign in 2015, for example, featured him in a variety of traditional outfits from across the country.
With more than 500 ethnic groups, Nigeria is able to draw from a huge catalogue of fabrics, styles and jewelry.
The beauty of each ethnic look is a source of pride, which has begun to extend beyond Nigeria’s borders.
In early May, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, a spokesman for South Africa’s Economic Freedom Fighters party, posted a picture of himself on Instagram, dressed in a dark “Niger Delta” outfit, complete with wide-brimmed hat and gemstone necklace.
His numerous and enthusiastic female fans were quick to comment with emoji hearts, affectionately calling him “Igwe” — an Igbo prince.
“Even in Paris, young people from the diaspora want to present themselves as African princes now,” said Nelly Wandji, owner of MoonLook, an African fashion boutique in the upmarket Rue du Faubourg St-Honore.
“Nigeria is clearly the leader in fashion in terms of style, creativity and number of recognized designers,” she said on a recent visit to Lagos.
“Lagos Fashion Week has dethroned Johannesburg. Nigerians have remained much more authentic, they have retained ‘African pride’, whereas South Africa is very Europeanized.”
Wandji, who is French of Cameroonian heritage, said the fashion trend was due to the African diaspora, of which Nigerians were the main ambassadors by sheer weight of numbers.
“Young people from the diaspora are the drivers of African fashion, they have reappropriated their culture and made it trendy because it’s seen in Europe or the United States,” she said.
Gloria Odiaka, a petite woman in her 50s, is the successful owner of a luxury traditional fabric shop in Lekki, a well-heeled Lagos neighborhood.
“The young generation are into native wear and they look gorgeous,” she said.
“My sons study in Canada and when I go visit them they say, ‘Please, Mommy, buy us some trads, I’m done with Canadian T-shirts’,” she said with a laugh.

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Man arrested for uploading “Deadpool” to his Facebook page

Associated Press
Wed, 2017-06-14 03:00

FRESNO: Federal prosecutors say a man was arrested in central California for allegedly uploading the Marvel film “Deadpool” to his Facebook page days after its February 2016 release.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California says 21-year-old Trevon Maurice Franklin was arrested Tuesday on a federal criminal charge of copyright infringement.
The arrest follows an FBI investigation.
The office says the film copyrighted by the Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation was viewed more than 5 million times on Franklin’s Facebook page.
It says Franklin used the screen name “Tre-Von M. King” to upload the film, which was one of the highest-grossing movies in 2016.
If convicted, Franklin faces a statutory maximum penalty of three years in federal prison.

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Katy Perry opens up about depression

Wed, 2017-06-14 03:00

NEW YORK: Katy Perry broke down with emotion when describing her depression and offered to bury the hatchet with fellow pop superstar Taylor Swift as she livestreamed her life for 96 hours.
To promote her fifth album “Witness,” Perry invited fans to watch her inside a Los Angeles home for a full weekend through Monday as the 32-year-old singer slept, cooked, did yoga, cuddled with her dog Nugget and chatted with a stream of celebrities who showed up at her door.
Despite putting her life temporarily under observation with 41 cameras, Perry — born Katheryn Hudson to conservative Christian parents in California — said she struggled to handle the attention to her life more broadly.
“I built up this Katy Perry thing that everybody knows and that’s the reason why they’re tuning in and it’s fantastic, but it’s more of a facade,” she told the therapist Siri Singh.
Perry, who said that therapy has helped her, cried at length as she said she struggled with depression.
“I’m ashamed because of course Katy Perry is so strong, but it’s hard because I feel ashamed that I would even have those thoughts and feel that low or that depressed,” said Perry, the most followed person on Twitter with nearly 100 million followers.
“I’m human and I’m living under this crazy microscope,” she said, tears smudging her mascara.
“Look at Katy Perry — she’s so glamorous, she’s rich, she’s luxurious, successful and, like, Katheryn Hudson — I didn’t have any money, I didn’t have any influence, I didn’t have anything.”
The former brunette said that her new hairdo — cut short and dyed blonde — was an effort to “be my authentic self 100 percent, so it hurts when I don’t feel that I can.”

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‘Wonder Woman’ buries ‘The Mummy’ at box office

Wed, 2017-06-14 03:00

LOS ANGELES: Superhero movie “Wonder Woman” maintained its lead at the North American box office over the weekend pulling in $58.5 million and burying newcomer “The Mummy,” industry figures showed.
The action film starring Gal Gadot has grossed an impressive $206.3 million in domestic ticket sales in two weeks, placing it in the top tier of movies that have managed to maintain such a lead at the box office.
Universal’s “The Mummy,” starring Tom Cruise, placed second, falling well below industry expectations.
Industry tracker Exhibitor Relations said the movie, the latest revival of the original “Mummy” made in 1932, took in a disappointing $31.7 million in its first weekend.
The film, which cost $125 million, has been widely panned by critics.
It managed nonetheless to make a strong showing overseas, grossing $141.8 million in ticket sales in 63 international markets, the largest opening ever for a Cruise film, according to
In third on North American screens was DreamWorks Animation’s “Captain Underpants,” based on the popular children’s books by Dav Pilkey.
The film, which tells the story of two students who hypnotize a school principal to believe he is a superhero, took in $12.2 million for the weekend.
Next was Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” the latest instalment in the popular franchise starring Johnny Depp as a dreadlocked pirate, at $10.7 million.
Fifth spot went to another Disney production, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” at $6.3 million.
The lighthearted tale about misfit space adventurers played by Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel has taken in more than $366 million domestically since it opened on May 5.

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Whitewashing? Tom Hardy rumored to play ‘Aladdin’ villain

Wed, 2017-06-14 03:00

DAMMAM: Disney’s upcoming “Aladdin” live-action remake has been met with whitewashing accusations after it was reported Tom Hardy was lined up to take on a key role in the adaptation. The English actor, however, has denied the news.
According to The Sun, director Guy Ritchie is leaning toward Hardy to play the role of Jafar, the scepter-wielding, fashionable-cape-sporting villain.
Speaking about Hardy’s potential involvement in the upcoming film, a source said: “Guy is a huge fan of Tom’s work and securing him would be a major coup.”
The potential decision of casting Hardy as Jafar got Twitter in a frenzy over concerns of whitewashing, or casting white actors in nonwhite roles at the expense of nonwhite actors.
One fan tweeted: “Tom Hardy is apparently in talks to be play Jafar in Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin so it’s nice to see white men in Hollywood never … change.”
Another wrote: “Great another diverse role gets white washed by Hollywood! @DisneyStudios”
“I wonder if in order to gain more audience they will replace parrot with dog and genie with fairy godmother,” posted one user.
However, Hardy’s representative has denied he has been approached.
“There is no truth to this rumor,” a spokesperson for the actor told the London Evening Standard.
Ever since the movie’s announcement, a big question surrounding the production has been whether Disney and Ritchie will do the story justice by casting Middle Eastern actors.
There have also been rumors that Jade Thirlwall of Little Mix is in a favorable position to play the role of Princess Jasmine. Thirlwall is of Yemeni, Egyptian, and English descent.

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‘Assassin’s Creed’ heading for Egypt to reignite gamers

Wed, 2017-06-14 03:00

LOS ANGELES: Ubisoft’s blockbuster “Assassin’s Creed” video game is heading for Egypt, taking the serial’s storyline back to an ancient world and overhauling play to reignite its top franchise.
The French video game star took last year off after hitting the market with annual releases and boasting overall sales of more than 110 million copies of the game since it first launched in 2007.
A cooling in fan interest appeared to prompt a step back, and an investment by Ubisoft to revitalize it was unveiled at a press event Monday ahead of the opening of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles.
Work on “Assassin’s Creed: Origins” began nearly four years ago, and included overhauling the combat system and building artificial intelligence into all of the non-player characters, according to game producer Julien Laferriere.
Every character has a “life” of its own, tending to work, worship, family, meals and other daily routines that players can take into account while on missions, an early glimpse at the game showed.
Players are also free to explore a virtual version of all of Egypt in 49 B.C., during the rise of Cleopatra to the throne.
“It is a part of world history we have wanted to do for a long time,” Laferriere said. “We wanted to be as authentic as we could.”
Players get to climb pyramids, explore beneath the Sphinx, and learn the origins of the brotherhood of assassins, whose deadly fight with the order of Templars is at the core of the franchise that segues from one generation of master assassin to another.
“Fans will have a front row seat to the formation of the brotherhood,” Laferriere promised.
Ubisoft hopes Origins will energize long-time fans and win new players at the start of the story in a game that has become fodder for books and films.
Versions of Origins tailored for play on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Windows-powered personal computers will be released on Oct. 27.

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Lovato, Valderrama reunite for photo year after their split

Tue, 2017-06-13 03:00

LOS ANGELES: It has been a year since Demi Lovato and Wilmer Valderrama called it quits and the two are still the cutest “couple,” E! Online reports.
In June 2016, the two announced on Instagram that they had ended their relationship after almost six “loving and wonderful years together,” adding, “we have realized more than anything that we are better as best friends.”
According to, Lovato later spoke candidly about the breakup. She told Glamour last year that she leaned on Valderrama as she addressed her struggles with an eating disorder, mental illness and substance abuse throughout their relationship.
“I think it’s healthy to be able to start over with someone else,” she said. “Being sick was always a part of my relationship with him; I always had something wrong with me. I needed to let go of that.”
Lovato and Valderrama reunited recently at a barbecue at her house. She posted on her Instagram stories and photos of the two looking happy together.
“Best of friends no matter what,” she wrote on Instagram.
Lovato and Valderrama’s reunion comes a couple of months after the singer broke up with her mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter boyfriend, Guilherme “Bomba” Vasconcelos. The two started dating late last year.
Last fall, Valderrama was linked romantically to Minka Kelly, after the two had dinner together in Los Angeles and also vacationed in Mexico with friends. The actress later said the two are “good friends.”

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Play inspired by Mideast peace talks wins in New York

Tue, 2017-06-13 03:00

NEW YORK: A play inspired by the Palestinian-Israeli peace process and Norwegian husband and wife diplomats behind the 1993 Oslo Accords was crowned best play on New York’s Broadway Sunday at the Tony Awards.
The homegrown play, “Oslo,” written by US Playwright J.T. Rogers was inspired by the back-channel talks, unlikely friendships and quiet heroics that led to the agreement more than two decades ago.
The play has won rave reviews and a Hollywood movie adaptation is also in the works, planned by Marc Platt, producer of “La La Land,” which won six Oscars at this year’s Academy Awards.
“To the ladies and gentlemen of the Oslo Accords who believed in democracy, who believed in seeing peace, seeing their enemies as humans, I give this up to them,” said Rogers.
Two-time Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey hosted the star-studded 71st annual edition of the biggest night on Broadway, the equivalent of the Academy Awards for US theater.
Beginning on off-Broadway, “Oslo” moved to the Lincoln Center this year and is scheduled to go to London in September.
“We are in a golden age of American playwrighting,” said Producer Andre Bishop as he accepted the award.
The real-life political thriller tells the story of the Norwegian couple who coordinated the secret talks that led to the handshake between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat on the lawn of the White House, and earned both the Nobel Peace Prize.
The play, which garnered a total of seven Tony nominations, also saw Michael Aronov win the Tony Award for featured actor in a play.

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Surf Syria: A refugee in Lebanon finds a dream at sea

Tue, 2017-06-13 03:00

JIYEH: Lebanon: Ali Kassem had never seen the sea before he fled his home in Syria for Lebanon, but now he is a regular in the waves and dreams of his own surf school.
Dressed in a purple wet suit, the 17-year-old confidently coats his board with wax and smears sunscreen on his face before dashing into the sea.
He disappears behind one wave and another until his small figure is barely visible from the beach at all, as though he were headed for the horizon.
“When I’m on my board, I feel free. I feel like I’m in another life,” the teenager says shyly at a beach in Jiyeh, 30 kms south of Beirut.
Kassem is from Aleppo, though he says he remembers little from his childhood in Syria.
His father has worked in Jiyeh for the past 25 years, and after Syria’s conflict erupted in March 2011, he decided to bring his family to Lebanon as well.
Kassem has two brothers and three sisters, but speaks little about his family and his life before he became a refugee.
A third brother died in the conflict, “killed in Aleppo at the beginning of the war,” he says, without giving more details.
His life now is dominated by surfing. “Surfing is like an art. It allows me to express my personality,” he says, his eyes sparkling in his tanned face.
“I become someone else. I have more confidence in myself.”
Kassem’s entry into surfing came through Ali Al-Amine, who became his mentor after meeting him in 2015.
At the sandy Jiyeh beach, a popular spot for surfers, Amine spotted Kassem trying his luck in the waves with a makeshift board.
“He was trying to surf with a piece of polystyrene he had cut into a plank shape,” says the 34-year-old, who runs a surf school in Jiyeh.
“He was very thin. I was afraid he would drown,” he says.
But after watching for a few minutes, Amine’s fears began to recede.
“He knew exactly what he was doing,” he says.
Kassem had spent long hours observing surfers in the water at Jiyeh before deciding to try himself.
“I didn’t know this sport existed. The first time I saw the surfers, I wanted to try it,” he says with a smile.
Amine decided to take Kassem under his wing, offering him a spot at his surf school and giving him a wet suit and board “on the condition he was good in class and behaved with his parents.”
And two years later, the guidance has borne fruit, says Amine, who considers Kassem like “a son.”
“He’s better than some people who have been surfing for years,” he says.

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