NOTE: PopWork USA is on a break. Like all hard workers(well, most with good laws in place), we’re taking a well-deserved vacation for a period of time. But feel free to rummage through our past posts and archives for ideas, resources and inspiration.

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Outdoor Video Projection Amplifies Home Care Workers Voices in Sacramento, “Virtually Tagging” the State Capitol

Dear Leaders for the People: a Video Letter from SEIU UHW on Vimeo.

As part of a 10 Day of escalation by home care workers, seniors and the disabled to fight proposed cuts to CA’s in-home care services program, an outdoor video projection was mapped and displayed onto the State Capitol Building itself.  Using basic 2-D mapping software, it conformed to the facade of the building and offered a powerful amplification of home care workers voices.   PopWork’s own Wyatt Closs, wearing his hat at SEIU ULTCW, took the thesis from this site and applied it in a real-time, campaign-based, got-to-get-it-done-in-a-hurry way.  The whole project was conceived, written, sourced, rendered and projected in 6 days. \”Dear Leaders for the People:\” outdoor video projection

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Teamsters to “Hug it Out” on Reality TV? Ask Mark Wahlberg

Mark Wahlberg
Creative Commons License photo credit: Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer

Mark Wahlberg, who has had quite the run of successes as a producer in TV and film with shows like “Entourage”, “Boardwalk Empire”, and “How to Make It in America”, not to mention the Oscar-nominated “The Fighter” is about to tackle the true gritty life of unions.  He’s looking to do a reality show based on a Teamsters local in his hometown of Boston.  Its to happen on A&E(no slouches at Reality TV themselves) but details are still getting worked out.  The question of course, is how real will it be?  And what will America learn as a result?  This is definitely one of those “hit or miss” moments for amplifying workers’ voices in pop culture so watch closely. But it starts out with a fighting chance given Wahlberg’s own history, previous depictions(see prior post here about an “Entourage” episode), and successes.Here’s an article about it here in Vulture online  And another depiction of the situation in the Boston Business Journal

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Mike Daisey’s performance exposing China factory worklife finds another more accessible platform

The talk about this performance just keeps piling up. Featured today in cover story for CBS Sunday Morning show here,  Having started at Berkeley Rep and then Washington’s Wooly Mammoth, monologist Mike Daisey’s brilliant, funny, disturbing report on working conditions in the Shenzhen factories where most of Apple’s products are assembled is now running at New York’s Public Theater but radio host Ira Glass has taken it one step further.  He aired a one-hour audio version of The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs last Friday on This American Life and has now made it available as a podcast. This is a great opportunity for all to get this poignant theatrical insight into Chinese factory worklife…and its American connections to it.


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@Sundance: More Champagne with your Justice, sir?

One struggle (of sorts) for those in the pop culture world these days (well, wealthy celebs anyway) is how best to carry themselves in the context of being progressive and for economic justice in the midst of a down economy.  Finding themselves in that odd place called Sundance Film Festival where consciousness and commerce have always been commonly experienced, this year seems uniquely uncomfortable. For some.  Check out this LA Times article that lays it out.,0,4690873.story

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Occupy Sound! Vol 2 – The Playlist

Thanks again for everyone’s ideas. To hear it just go here.  And be on the lookout for Volume 3: The Originals, all from new, emerging artists inspired by the Occupy movement, freshly written and recorded songs.  Here is the playlist for Vol 2: Power to the People (excerpt) – John Lennon; Amerika V. 6.0 (The Best We Can Do) – Steve Earle; The Harder They Come – Jimmy Cliff; Pull Up the People – M.I.A.; Rise Above – Black Flag; Ball of Confusion – The Temptations; Soobax – K’naan; Lapdance – N.E.R.D.; Church of the ATM (excerpt) – Chris Rock; Mr Greed – John Fogerty; Get Up Stand Up – Bob Marley; That’s What I Want to Hear – Phil Ochs; Open Letter – Living Colour; Our Song – Joe Henry; Bluestime in America – Michael Hill’s Bluesland; Who Will Survive in America – Kanye West/Gil Scott-Heron; Water No Get Enemy – Fela Kuti

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Occupy Sound! Vol 2 is out. It goes boom-boom.

This is a follow-up to the engaging PopWork USA/Rebuild the Dream collabo project featuring songs of struggle and beats that let you can get your march or rally on properly. This volume includes suggestions by online listeners and participants on the Rebuild the Dream website. From Steve Earle to the Temptations, Black Flag to Phil Ochs, M.IA. to N.E.R.D. For those of you with original songs or recent songs inspired by OWS, send in those MP3s! Send to One special podcast soon will feature all of these genuine contributions that have streamed in over the last few weeks from songwriters and musicians.

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2011 Workers Voice Awards Announced!

PopWork USA is proud to bestow its 2011 Workers Voice Awards to an impressive array of artists and entertainers and their products whose efforts show work vividly. Based on a survey of people in the arts, entertainment, union, and working family advocates, these awards are an attempt to shine a light on works that reflect the voices of workers today. Survey facilitated by Wyatt Closs.

Criteria for Awards: Evokes voices of workers or issues of working families; Released or were in public sphere between August 1, 2010 – July 31, 2011; commercially available or easily accessible. 

Best Film (Feature)
A Better Life. Director: Chris Weitz (Summit/Green Orchard)

Best Film (Documentary)
Triangle: Remembering the Fire. Director: Marc Levin, Daphne Pinkerson (Blowback Productions/HBO Films)

Best Television Show (Drama)
Friday Night Lights. Producer: Peter Berg, Brian Grazer, David Nevins (NBC/DirecTV)

Best Television Show (Comedy)
Parks and Recreation. Producer: Greg Daniels, Michael Schur (NBC)

Best Television Show (Reality)
Dirty Jobs. Producer: Craig Piligian (Pilgrim Films/Discovery Channel)

Best Art Exhibit or Display
Wisconsin Labor: A Contemporary Portrait. @The Overture Center for the Arts (Madison, WI)

Best Online Video Short
“We Are Wisconsin”. Producer: Finn Ryan, David Navala (on vimeo)

Best Book (Fiction)
A Moment in the Sun – John Sayles (McSweeney’s)

Best Book (Non-Fiction)
Griftopia – Matt Taibbi (Spiegel & Grau)

Best Song (for Listening)
“I Need A Dollar” – Aloe Blacc (Stone’s Throw)

Best Song (for Rallying)
“Union Song” – Tom Morello (New West)

For a full list of all works in every category that were under consideration, just click here. And go check them all out!

They are worthy of your attention and sharing with others.  The voices of working people in popular culture are simply still not loud enough!  Make a film, write a song, finance either. Get inspired and tell their stories the best way you know how.

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“Keep Wall Street Occupied” video among the cleverest so far

Tons of “Occupy Wall Street” videos are in motion these days, from raw documentation of activism and sometimes police violence to speeches and rants by various icons and then there’s the few, the bold, the cheeky.  Here’s one nod to the latter. In this video, the filmmakers conduct a “how to” video on how to get revenge on Big Banks using dead pan humor and a simple business reply envelope. Its among the best. And proves all messages need not be “on the nose”. Have a good one you’ve seen? Then tell us!   

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“Sing Your Song” A Man. A Voice. A Movement.

Harry Belafonte gave his voice to the civil rights movement and out of that collaboration, the true artistry of Mr. Belafonte grew. To this day, he continues to seek out injustices and speak truth to power. HBO premiered a documentary of this great man’s life on October 18th. Watch the trailer. It’s playing on HBO  and you can also watch it on HBO Go and On Demand. There are also screenings happening in LA and NYC. The film is co-sponsored by the 1199SEIU Bread and Roses Cultural Project.


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