I guest lectured an NYU class on the future of media and entertainment on Wednesday. The class was about 50 students from NYU's Tisch (film/tv/media), Stern (business) and Gallatin (individualized study) schools. Here's my profile on RateMyProfessors, with 2 ratings so far. Posting this comment from a student for my mom to see: Enjoyed listening to his job description. Powerpoint was amazing, loved the pictures. He made the entire class interesting and fun. Great sense of humor and personality. I've never have been so sad to see a guest speaker leave before. Thank you Mr. Martin for coming. Notice the student did not comment on my hotness. I begged the class to go on ratemyprofessors.com and give me "chili peppers" (an indication of a professor's hotness) -- to prove to my wife that I am indeed still hot -- but, sadly, nobody felt so moved to do so. Great class, though. Asked some insightful questions. Most watch Jersey Shore, but none actually know when it's on (they TiVo it). The whole experience gave me a chance to feel like a college professor again.
Simin Behbahani is the Poet Laureate of MTV's college network, mtvU. Last week, she was placed under house arrest by the Iranian government. Here's the latest from NPR: March 19, 2010 Tehran Halts Travel By Poet Called 'Lioness Of Iran' The authorities in Iran continue to block the travel of the nation's most prominent poet. Last week, as she was about to board a flight to Paris, police seized the passport of Simin Behbahani, who is 82 and nearly blind. Behbahani was interrogated all night long and then sent home — without her passport. So far, she has not been charged with any crime. Neither the police nor the Revolutionary Court has asserted any legal basis for taking her passport. 'We All Thought She Was Untouchable' Known as the "lioness of Iran," Simin Behbahani has been writing fierce poetry for decades, during the reign of Iran's Shah, during the Islamic Revolution, during the reign of the ayatollahs, and over the past year's political turmoil. Through it all, she was not imprisoned and continued to enjoy the freedom to travel, says Farzaneh Milani, who teaches Persian literature at the University of Virginia and is one of Behbahani's translators. "We all thought that she was untouchable. And it's amazing that a woman of 82, a woman who can barely see anymore, a woman who has brought nothing but pride for Iran, is now a prisoner in her own country," Milani says. Poetry Of The 'Lioness' NPR posted two of Simin Behbahani's poems, including "Stop Throwing My Country to the Wind," on its Web site in June 2009. Learn more about them and hear Behbahani read the poems in Farsi over a telephone line from Tehran (with a reading of the English translation provided by NPR producer Davar Ardalan). Behbahani has been nominated twice for the Nobel Prize in literature, and she has received many literary accolades around the world. She was on her way to read her poetry in Paris, where last year she was awarded a prize for her defense of women's freedom. In a 2007 interview with NPR in Tehran, Behbahani expressed horror at the practice of stoning to death women convicted of adultery. "In the last 28 years after the revolution in Iran, this has been repeated. And even once at the beginning of the revolution, we had a woman condemned to stoning to death. While they were stoning her, she would not die, as she was resisting. At the end, one of the police, or Revolutionary Guards, got a piece of heavy cement and put [it] on her head to kill her," Behbahani recalled. In recent years, it has not been easy for Behbahani to publish her poetry in Iran, and for much of the last decade, she was not able to publish at all. Not long ago, she did release a book of poems, but only after government censors required her to remove 40 poems or fragments of poems. In 2007, the government closed a magazine that published a poem of hers about the Iran-Iraq war. "It was an anti-war poem. And it would question the people who created and started the war," she said during the 2007 interview. "Most [Iranian] writers cannot write, cannot publish exactly what they have in mind and what they have written. And they are forced to change or modify some of what they have written." Repression Intensifying? That pressure didn't hold Behbahani back after Iran's presidential election last June. Millions of people poured into the streets to challenge the declared result, which gave President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad another four-year term. The protesters were met with police truncheons and rifle fire. Behbahani wrote "Stop Throwing My Country to the Wind," a poem adding her voice to that of the protesters: Stop this extravagance, this reckless throwing of my country to the wind. The grim-faced rising cloud will grovel at the swamp's feet. Stop this screaming, mayhem and bloodshed. Stop doing what makes God's creatures mourn with tears. My curses will not be upon you, as in their fulfillment. My enemies' afflictions also cause me pain. You may wish to have me burned, or decide to stone me. But in your hand match or stone will lose their power to harm me. Behbahani has been told to appear at the Revolutionary Court in order to get her passport back, but so far she has declined. Milani, one of the translators of "Stop Throwing My Country to the Wind," is fearful Behbahani's treatment may signal intensified repression in Iran. "She has been doing this all her life. She has always said, 'I'm going to write what I see. I'm going to be honest and candid and truthful,'" Milani says. "I believe she has never sold her pen or her soul. Simin Behbahani has always written poetry that portrays the reality of life in Iran."
So psyched for these guys, especially Paul DeGeorges & Steve Schutzman. RateMyProfessors.com is already mad popular (I see their traffic numbers every day and they're astounding). Now they bust out with a superfun app that's the perfect utility, in response to user demand. Big ups to the impressive RateMyProfesors team.
Today I got to hang out with a new hero of mine, Jamie Tworkowski. You know Jamie, right? He founded TO WRITE LOVE ON HER ARMS, a non-profit movement "dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery." Not sure I know anybody as effective as Jamie who is still so, like, nice. My new goal for 2010 is to be as nice as Jamie for at least ten minutes a day.
We've worked with Jamie a bit -- he participated in the Half of Us campaign and was recently awarded a Woodie Award by college kids, presented by will.i.am, for his work with TWLOHA (beating John Legend, Alicia Keys, Wyclef and Kenna). But today we hung out for the first time, and I got to get a better sense of this guy I've been hearing so much about from friends. It's remarkable how humble Jamie is. Here's a guy who is funding his hugely impactful non-profit with the sale of t-shirts. Yep, t-shirts. I got one today. I'm buying many more after I type this. Jamie first started selling the t-shirts locally, in Florida, to raise money for a friend's treatment for drug addiction. Then Switchfoot, Anberlin, Amy Lee from Evanescence, Hayley Williams from Paramore and other artists all began wearing his shirts on stage at shows. It took off from there. I'm supporting TWLOHA's new initiative, IMAlive, a peer-to-peer online crisis network that will provide real-time online crisis support to millions of people and will be the first 100 percent certified and trained staff and volunteer crisis line. Users will be able to talk one on one to responders through the IMAlive’s instant messaging program.
TWLOHA has an event coming up in Orlando, January 9th, called HEAVY & LIGHT. Matt Kearney is headlining. If you've never seen Matt, you should check him out. And Jamie puts together a great show. Here's how Jamie opened this year's HEAVY & LIGHT concert... And today Jamie showed me this guy, world champion slam poet Anis Mojgani, who will also be at the show in orlando.... Ok, overloaded, going to bed, see you tomorrow...
Jeffrey Keyton's such a design genius, I've literally stalked him to get him to work with me. The guy's a complete legend in these halls because so much of the visual language of MTV for the past 20 years, well, came literally from him. When Jeffrey dropped by my office and picked up this cheap, out-of-tune guitar from the set of last year's series Engine Room, then started jammin' on it, I grabbed my Flip and hit the red button.... After he got a little warmed up, Jeffrey settled into a groove and pulled this out...