Idris Elba – Hollywood’s nearly man

Lack of major roles for prodigious talent a loss to us all, writes Alyssa Rosenberg.

As the troubled, long-awaited adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower rolls out to dismal reviews, I’ve had to resist banging my head against the wall in frustration, and not because I’m a King aficionado grappling with shattering disappointment. Rather, The Dark Tower is the latest frustrating example of how nothing ever seems to go quite right in the career of Idris Elba – and what a loss that is for the rest of us.

Although Elba had been acting steadily for eight years before the premiere of The Wire, most audiences know him best from his performance as charismatic, sophisticated and ultimately doomed drug dealer Stringer Bell, the nemesis of Baltimore Detective Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West).

Stringer Bell was one of those exceptionally rare roles that give an actor a chance to demonstrate that they can do many things very well.

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As Stringer, Elba could be intimidating when up against a rival, dryly funny when messing with McNulty, pedantic in his dealings with underlings, seductive in an old-fashioned way that we rarely see on screen anymore, and full of pathos when Stringer’s dreams of going legitimate bumped up against the limits of his experience and education. The Wire should have set Elba up to do anything: to be an older Black Panther in a Marvel adaptation; to revitalise the old-school movie romance in an era where Fifty Shades of Grey was bringing more adult sexuality back to the multiplex; to star in a range of historical biopics at a moment when directors such as Ava DuVernay were turning their history to black America’s past.

But somehow, the next great role, the one that should have made Elba a genuine movie star, or that should have put him squarely at the centre of his own outstanding television show, never quite arrived. And even when parts did materialise, they didn’t quite resonate the way they could have.

After The Wire, Elba took guest roles on series such as The Office and The Big C. As many black actors in Hollywood do, he ended up in a number of sentimental movies aimed largely at African-American audiences, among them the melodramas Daddy’s Little Girls and The Gospel. He and Beyonce co-starred in a stalker drama, Obsessed.

And over and over, Elba was cast as supporting characters in genre blockbusters: as Heimdall, the blind guardian of Asgard’s Rainbow Bridge in Marvel’s Thor movies; as a priest in the second Ghost Rider movie; as Janek in the Alien prequel Prometheus; as a Starfleet captain who lost his sense of mission in Star Trek Beyond.

Idris Elba, left, and Matthew McConaughey in the Columbia Pictures film, The Dark Tower. Photo / AP

Idris Elba, left, and Matthew McConaughey in the Columbia Pictures film, The Dark Tower. Photo / AP

Even as movies like these helped raise the profile of actors like Chris Hemsworth, who plays Thor, and Chris Pine, who anchors the Star Trek franchise, these roles seemed to hem Elba in rather than help him reach the next level. This is not to say that Elba hasn’t done outstanding work in the years since Stringer Bell died at the hands of Omar Little (Michael K. Williams) and Brother Mouzone (Michael Potts) in the third season of The Wire.

He was wonderful as Nelson Mandela in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, capturing both Mandela’s militancy and his hard-won patience. But that movie (which also featured a marvellous performance by Naomie Harris as Mandela’s wife, Winnie) came out the same year as Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave. In an industry that often seems incapable of recognising more than a few black artists at a time, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom was largely shut out of year-end awards after a modest box-office performance.

Elba did similarly strong work in Beasts of No Nation, as the commandant who manipulates and deploys child soldiers. That film, though, was distributed through Netflix, which bets on daring content but doesn’t yet seem to have figured out how to make its glut of original movies and television shows capture the cultural conversation.

Arguably some of Elba’s best and most popular work – and the roles that have let him do comedy as well as drama – come in animated films where his face is off-screen, but his rumbly baritone makes an unforgettable impression.

Three of those roles came in 2016 alone, when he played an exasperated water buffalo police chief in Zootopia, Disney’s wildly successful allegory about racial profiling and law enforcement; the menacing tiger Shere Khan in the gorgeous live-action remake of The Jungle Book; and Fluke, one of two jocular, slightly bullying sea lions in Finding Dory. It’s as if Hollywood can only figure out what to do with Elba when it separates his lively, versatile voice from his body.

That’s an awful shame, and it speaks more to the entertainment industry’s failures of imagination than to anything lacking in Elba’s talent. And while I’m sure this frustrates Elba and his agents, this state of affairs is a loss for everyone.

The space between what Elba is capable of and what Hollywood has been willing to give him to do is a gauge of the industry’s creative failure and timidity. And for those of us who love to watch Elba work and hate to see him wasted, the weight of performances that could have been but never will be is crushing.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

A Forecast On Media Investments

DUBAI, UAE, August 6, 2017 /EINPresswire.com/ — “…global spending on entertainment and media is projected to rise from $1.6 trillion in 2011 to $2.1 trillion in 2016, a 5.7 percent compound annual advance….” (PwC’s Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2012-2016).

This is an astonishing figure, but when you consider the breadth and depth of media, it’s easy to see why. Alongside food, clothing and energy- media is one of the few industries that pervades into the lives of practically every consumer on the planet- delivering content ranging from news to gaming, films, TV programs and more. As technology has advanced, the number of channels (and types of content) has grown meaning that investors can now access everything from global hits (such as the film Avatar which grossed over $2.7billion in cinemas alone from an investment of around $300million) to niche events and productions targeting specific communities.

Entertainment and media are growing and globalizing. Media assets which once would have only been shown or experienced in their country of origin are now global instruments, which can be exploited in markets worldwide. Previously developing economies such as the Middle East, Latin America and Asia have also become incredible consumers (and producers) of media. These fundamentals represent a powerful case for investors.

To learn more, I spoke to Ethan Young, CEO of Ennahar Production who- since their debut in 2006 – have raised and invested over $3bn in the media and entertainment sectors.

Ethan is the Chief Executive of Ennahar Production with overall responsibility for the company’s fund raising and investment activities across its target sectors of cinematic animation & effects, music copyrights acquisition, and gaming developments. Ethan previously worked for a leading media and entertainment law firm specializing in media finance.

Q: What is the case for investing in media?
Ethan Young: Our model is very much investing in media cash-flows. We don’t take positions in quoted media stocks, as that introduces too much exposure to volatile equity markets- and media tends to get hammered more than other sectors when the markets have any degree of turbulence in them. We’re platform agnostic. People tend to see the market in terms of discrete sectors such as film, TV, music, video games, live and so on. We like to invest in content you can view many different ways- and that gives us depth and diversity within our portfolio.

Q: What makes a film ‘investable’?
Ethan Young: On features, we look for two key things. Firstly, the track record of the film making team- next, that the project has access to the best possible distribution. When we’re investing in independent films, we look for market tests in the form of pre-sales. This demonstrates that there are end-buyers for it. When we’re investing in studio-films, it’s about finding the closest possible alignment with the interests of the studio itself and making sure we’re accessing the economics of studio distribution.

Q: What do you see as the big sector opportunities in the future?
Ethan Young: Gaming is gonna be huge. Right now it’s worth an annual 100 billion USD and growing! That’s worth more than the movie industry. Mobile gaming has become such a big industry, its eclipsing PC and console gaming. So now is the time to focus on this rising trend and while it’s still relatively new, stamp your authority in it.

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RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Dems aren’t ignoring black voters, African American congressmen insist

Stung by criticism that its “Better Deal” agenda ignores black voters, African American members of Congress strongly defended the party’s latest pitch to woo white working class voters.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., an architect of the mostly-economic relief plan the party unveiled earlier this week, said it will benefit all voters. He maintained that the overture to white voters won’t stop Democrats from trying to expand their African American and Latino base, historically among the party’s most loyal voting blocs.

“No one in the House Democratic Caucus is going to walk away from issues such as criminal justice reform, ending mass incarceration, cracking down on police brutality, dealing with voter suppression and correcting the long-standing injustices that have plagued many in the African American community since the dawn of this great country,” Jeffries told a small group of reporters Wednesday.

Some congressional lawmakers and African American activists – notably at the NAACP annual convention in Baltimore, which ended Wednesday – have expressed fears the agenda places too much emphasis on economic issues and sidesteps social issues and matters of race.

The “Better Deal” plan has received mixed reviews since its Monday rollout. Several liberal Democrats praised it, saying it harkens back to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “New Deal” during the Great Depression of the 1930s and borrows from Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign platform.

But the new plan has also been panned as warmed-over Democratic talking points that give few specific nods to African American and Latino voters who’ve been instrumental in helping the party win congressional seats and presidencies. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton last year won 89 percent of the black vote and two-thirds of the Latino vote, according to network exit polls.

Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, suggested that the Democratic Party would do better by spending its time and campaign money on bolstering its minority base instead of trying to attract a white voting bloc that a Democratic presidential candidate hasn’t won since 1964.

“I think we need a turnout message, and I don’t believe this is it,” Fudge said. “We’ve been losing blue collar white males since Jimmy Carter.” Carter last ran for president in 1980.

“This isn’t something that just started,” Fudge said. “But as our country becomes more and more polarized, it is going to become more and more difficult to get back a base that we’ve lost.”

She added that “It’s interesting to me that every time we don’t win an election, it’s because African Americans don’t vote, but yet when we go to try to figure out who to reach out to to vote, it’s not African Americans. It makes no sense to me.” African American turnout dipped to 59.6 percent last year, its worst showing in 20 years, according to Pew Research Center data.

Jeffries, co-chair of the House’s Democratic Policy and Communications Committee and a black caucus member, said the Democrats’ new plan, unveiled in rural Berryville, Va., would benefit everyone including African American voters.

The economy and jobs have long been African American issues, Jeffries said, noting that the full name of the the 1963 March on Washington, a landmark moment of the civil rights era, was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

These days, African American voters are too often identified as solely social issues voters, to the black community’s detriment, Jeffries said. African American voters comprised about 12 percent of the total electorate last year.

“What often happens is that the African American community is put into a box as if the only thing we’re concerned about is social justice issues, which allows some in the establishment to disconnect us as a community from the mainstream economy,” he said.

Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., a past critic of the Democratic Party’s African American voter outreach efforts, agreed.

“The people who worked on this plan are all involved in the social agenda,” Hastings said. “But if you spend your time looking at just the social concerns in this nation, then we won’t build a majority and we can’t do anything about the social concerns. It would be hard to argue that black and brown people aren’t concerned about the economy.”

Jeffries said Democratic leaders intend to flesh out more details about their Better Deal” agenda and its relevance to minority voters, a conversation that Fudge said she’s looking forward to.

“This is the beginning of a conversation, not the end,” Jeffries said.

A digital approach to tackling drug abuse

People looking for help with drug addiction or resources for a loved one have a new place to find treatment and recovery options.

Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke unveiled a new website Monday that compiles contact information and descriptions of local resources for people trying to prevent and treat addiction, or just learn more about the causes of substance abuse.

Among other goals, the Mayor’s Substance Abuse Task Force is trying to decrease the demand for illegal drugs, while other policies and law enforcement deal with stemming the supply of those drugs.

“We need to deal with the root causes and make treatment more accessible,” said chairman Dr. William Wooten. Wooten is the founder of Youth First and also spent years treating addiction as a doctor before his retirement.

The Substance Abuse Task Force is a revamped version of the Mayor’s No Meth Task Force, created shortly after Winnecke entered office in 2012. While meth lab seizures have gone down since 2012, drug use continues.

That’s why the new team has a broader mission, looking at ways to deal with heroin and other opiate addiction as well as alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. That means involving the entire community, Winnecke said, from educating people about substance use to getting neighborhoods and community groups involved in prevention.

The website is part of that mission, providing details about substance use and mental health, tips for preventing substance abuse and links to local health providers and support groups that are part of the Task Force.

The expanded mission is partly due to the opioid crisis that’s become an increased problem in the Evansville area, Winnecke said. According to Vanderburgh County Coroner Steve Lockyear, 29 people died of heroin or fentanyl overdoses last year in Vanderburgh County, more than four times the number of fatalities in 2015.

“We just can’t turn our heads from it,” Winnecke said.

The mayor hopes the website will be a tool for people who want to help but don’t know where to start.

“They are not out there alone as they try to help a loved one, a neighbor, a coworker,” he said.

The Task Force, made up of 20 members from fields including public health, addiction treatment and law enforcement, also invited author and professor Robert Meyers to Evansville in October to train people on helping loved ones get addiction treatment.

Meyers will be available to train health care workers Oct. 10 through 12 and will also host public presentations Oct. 12 and 13 for people whose loved ones are dealing with addiction.

People can register and learn more about the event on the Task Force’s website.

Wooten said it’s time to destigmatize substance abuse disorders so people suffering from them can get treatment.

“It’s not a moral failure on the part of the individual,” Wooten said. “We need to bring this problem out of the closet and into the public eye and make it easy for people to get the help they need.”

Learn more about the task force and resources available at msatf.org.

Read or Share this story: http://www.courierpress.com/story/news/local/2017/08/07/digital-approach-tackling-drug-abuse/104372666/

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Boykin vs. Preckwinkle

Opinion: Editorials

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017 2:30 PM

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In a county government that has had little to recommend it to citizens over the decades — taxes too much, innovates not at all — we are enthusiastic about both Toni Preckwinkle, the county board president, and Richard Boykin, our 1st District commissioner.

Too bad they hate each other.

And may wind up running against each other for county board president in 2018.

Boykin confirmed to the Journal this week that he is actively considering a race against Preckwinkle though we kind of figured it out owing to his full-bore attack on Preckwinkle and the hefty sales tax she has worked to impose on sugary drinks in the county.

Boykin told us he is waiting for a third-party poll in the fall to tell him if he would be credible in a run against Preckwinkle. Perhaps the poll released this week by a beverage industry group showing that 87 percent of county residents oppose the tax is the only poll he needs.

If you support ramped up taxes on tobacco and liquor, and we do, then taxing soft drinks is not much a philosophical leap. If you run a public health system where resources are gobbled up treating obesity and diabetes, then taxing sugar drinks is logical.

We have always found Preckwinkle to be unusually candid and effective in confronting the confounding issues county government handles — mainly public health and criminal justice. She has been resolute in improving the physical and mental health care provided by Stroger Hospital in a time of colossal uncertainty in health care. She has been laser focused on the vast inequities of what passes for criminal justice in this county. She speaks plainly about the profound racism built into the courts and County Jail and the impact it has on our struggling communities of color. 

Boykin, now three years into his term as our commissioner, earns respect for his visibility and outspokenness on critical issues of gun violence and mis-investment in West Side neighborhoods. Lots of money for incarceration, little for job creation. Inevitably we compare Boykin’s activism to the total invisibility of his now pensioned-off predecessor, Earleen Collins.

We see in Boykin vitality. We know some see over-the-top grandstanding.

No doubt Boykin is ambitious politically. Within a year of earning county office he made noise for months about running for the U.S. Senate. He has been considered, rightly or not, to be the heir apparent to Cong. Danny Davis when he eventually succumbs. And now, potentially, the race for county prez.  

In a county government that has historically distinguished itself for self-dealing, Preckwinkle and Boykin are legitimate and rare change agents. In a city and county short on African American leadership they are, in contrasting styles, genuine leaders. But the antagonism they feel toward each other is longstanding and palpable if they are in the same room. 

We would not like to see them destroy each other in a political wrangle.

Citywide project to fund art installations on West Side

The work of photographer Dorrell Creightney will become public art as part of the program

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017 9:54 AM

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The 37th Ward is developing new art projects on Chicago Avenue and at other major intersections as part of a $1 million citywide initiative designed to fund the installation of public artwork in each of the city’s 50 wards.

“Cities that are culturally alive and thriving are the cities that are succeeding,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said last month when he announced 34 individuals and groups selected by 36 aldermen for the 50×50 Neighborhood Arts Project.

The project calls on each of the 50 aldermen to allocate at least $10,000 of their $1.3 million menu money—an annual fund used for neighborhood infrastructure enhancement—to install sculptures, murals and other public art this summer and fall.

The 50×50 Neighborhood Arts Project is part of the Year of Public Art – a citywide celebration of Chicago’s arts legacy and future, which will also include a series of exhibitions and events throughout the year.

“This 50 x 50 features art projects is in every ward, not just downtown or on the lakefront,” Emanuel told about 100 artists, city officials and reporters during an event earlier this summer.

The project is also marking the 50th anniversary of two iconic art pieces – the Picasso in Daley Plaza and the Wall of Respect, which once stood at the corner of 43rd Street and Langley Avenue.

Among 270 artists across the city who applied to be part of the initiative, 157 have been placed on the pre-qualified list, said Mark Kelly, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

“What’s exciting about this initiative is it’s something more organic and authentic, street artists being honored and celebrated in every ward of the city,” Kelly said, adding he expects the public arts to become Chicago’s “defining feature.”

Chicago has more than 500 public art pieces installed in CTA stations, park districts and on main streets, with almost 40 on the lakefront alone, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Fourteen aldermen are still in the process of finalizing projects in their wards, including Ald. Chris Taliaferro, whose 29th Ward covers much of Austin.

Some artists will complete projects in multiple wards, with each ward having a typical budget ranging from $10,000 to $30,000. The cultural affairs department will match the menu funds dollar for dollar.

So far, projects being installed on Chicago’s West Side include a photograph wall at one of the major intersections in the area and a banner at the corner of Chicago Avenue and Karlov Avenue.

The two projects, selected by Ald. Emma Mitts in the 37th Ward, are commissioned by Dorrell Creightney Photography and Industry of the Ordinary. Both are working with the alderman on the specifics and logistics, including how much money they will get from the $1.3 million aldermanic fund.

“We are right now discussing with the alderman about the location for the installation,” said Vanessa Stokes, managing director of Dorrell Creightney Photography and daughter of the late Austin resident and advertising photographer.

The three options are the intersection of Laramie Avenue and Lake Street, an area next to Chicago Avenue and Cicero Avenue, and the intersection of Grand Avenue and Laramie Avenue.

“We’ll have images printed on vinyl to be installed on the walls,” Stokes said, adding the project will feature two to four black and white photographs taken by Creightney throughout his life.

The images are very likely to be focused on Creightney’s street photography, especially those that document the lives and work of Chicago musicians, Stokes said.

“My father is a very versatile photographer,” said Stokes, who manages Creightney’s archive with her sister Samantha and her mother Maxine.

Dorrell Creightney, who died in 2011 at the age of 75, was the first black artist who owned a photography studio in Chicago. He’s known for pictures of models, fashion, nudes, landscapes and Chicago jazz greats.

The photograph wall will be the first permanent project developed by Dorrell Creightney Photography, she said.

The project is an opportunity to preserve Creightney’s art in Austin and to change the narrative of the West Side, Stokes said.

“We want to show positive images of black people and black lives in a black community,” she said, adding they hope to complete the installation by September. “There are positive things in our community.”

The voices of the underserved communities should be heard, said Adam Brooks, who formed the Industry of the Ordinary with English artist Mathew Wilson in 2003.

The team, currently based in Chicago, is developing a multi-part project in the 37th Ward that includes a 10-foot by 12-foot banner at the corner of Chicago Avenue and Karlov Avenue; a recorded oral history of the neighborhood; and a day-long performance on Sept. 16, from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., at the Silent Funny space, 4106 W. Chicago Ave.

The two artists, who have lived and worked in Edgewater, Pilsen, North Lawndale and Bridgeport, have done a handful of public art projects across Chicago, nationally and internationally, including a literary window at the Bucktown-Wicker Park Library building.

The oral history will be downloadable online and “stand as an ongoing record of the people who live and work in the 37th Ward,” Brooks said, adding their work is intended to reflect “the everyday and the usual” through visual and performative arts.

The community needs to be more engaged in developing public arts, Stokes said.

“We do not have as much visible art in the lower-income communities,” she said, adding that’s partly because of the lack of knowledge and information about public arts promotion and its influence in communities. “Sometimes art is secondary,” she said.

But it’s important for people to see positive images themselves, she said. And like other parts of the city where public artworks highlight the residents’ own culture and ethnicity, Austin needs the same imagery within its community, Stokes added.

CONTACT: austintalks.org@gmail.com  

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Nuns on the loose in ‘The Little Hours,’ plus racism in…

Randy nuns in “The Little Hours,” opening at the Capawock Theater on Friday, August 11, at 8:30 pm, are full of unexpected shenanigans. Set in 14th century Tuscany and based on Boccaccio’s rowdy tales, this film mixes its medieval setting with millennial … RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News

Hybrid cars can be tricky, so  just stick with a normal one

By BARAZA JM
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Thank you for the good work you are doing.

I would like some information on hybrid cars, specifically the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight.

Some of the issues I am not clear about are: 

1) Warranties for the batteries of these vehicles.

2 Their survival rate on Kenyan roads, considering they are already used.

3) Between the Prius and the Insight, which would you place your money on?

4) Considering fuel consumption, would it make any economic sense to buy one?

5) When it breaks down, can the batteries be replaced?

6) Compared with fully fuel-powered vehicles, is it advisable to buy one?

Hello Jamal,

1) The warranties depend on the manufacturers.

2) What about Kenyan roads makes them more or less likely to survive compared to non-Kenyan roads? Do our roads cause more battery drain or less? If they are already used, don’t expect much from them.

Battery longevity is measured by, among other things, the number of charge cycles they undergo before becoming totally useless, so the amount of life left in them depends on how many times they were charged by previous/current owners.

3) None of the above. Both look unpleasant, both are underpowered and both are bought by lightly informed people who think they are doing the Earth a favour when they really aren’t.

Also, both were conceived when both the electric and hybrid motive technologies were fledgling, and they show their pioneering roots. Would you buy a PlayStation One if you got it on sale? Or a laptop from the early ‘90s? I didn’t think so.

If I want to go electric, I will get something contemporary, interesting and powerful, like a Tesla. The Model 3 has only just come out, at a cost of $44,000 (Sh4,532,000), which is “affordable”, considering what its Model S and Model X predecessors cost.

If I want a hybrid, I’ll probably look at the Prius’ more attractive Lexus siblings like the CT200h.

4) This really depends on your mileage. Of course electricity is cheaper than fossil fuel but some things, such as convenience, cannot be quantified directly. Range anxiety and the current lack of support infrastructure will make ownership of these futuristic wheels a veritable cross to bear, so the gains made by not buying fuel can easily be washed away by the frustration of being one of a kind in an industry that favours safety in numbers.

5) I am pretty certain the batteries can be replaced.

6) This goes back to (iv) above. It boils down to whether or not you really want one. Will driving one give you peace of mind that you have moved along with technology into the future? Will it assuage your conscience that you are not (knowingly) polluting the atmosphere? Will it sate a burning desire not to use fossil fuels anymore? Then go ahead.

However, if your ultimate goal is to save money, whether short-term or long-term, stick to internal combustion for now.

There are cars that run on petrol/diesel that will still return broadly similar consumption figures as a Prius, an overpromised, heartstring-tugging, Venus consumer flytrap whose economy rating had been grossly overhyped from the outset.

Get a small saloon car, sub-1500cc and drive like you are going to meet a creditor or to the dentist; your economy figures will be surprisingly pleasant.

Dear Baraza,

Help me understand how a 1996 Toyota Landcruiser 80 Series model with 200,000 km on its odometer, converted into a manual, would retail at over $25,000 (Sh2,575,000)! Is it just me or is that an exaggeration on the part of the seller? Would such a car even qualify as a vintage or a collector’s item to command such a price? Even with the warped Toyota resale values in this peculiar country of ours, that does seem quite a stretch for a car more than two decades old.

Mwaura wa Ngundi

The laws of supply and demand create strange and sometimes unforeseeable outcomes in the marketplace. To these two parameters add desirability, which might or might not be influenced by street cred and you can see where this is going.

The 80 Series keeps appreciating by the day, which is a good thing because it has reached a point where the 100 Series is well-nigh cheaper than its predecessor, and the 100 Series is the one I truly like.

That means I can almost afford one before people wise up and shift their focus to it, driving its price up like the 80.

The 80 is highly capable but I am on your side here: I don’t understand why I’d pay that much to get one. The 100 looks better, is faster, more comfortable, more economical, handles better and is just as capable off-road as the bulbous 80 (Yes, Landcruiser fanatics, I said it! The 105, to be specific, is just as capable as any old 80. Sit down!)

But the 80’s price remains high. There is the belief that this is the last of the truly analogue full-size 4x4s, which is true, so this little facet lends it the aura of collectability.

The car will also not break; it will run indefinitely year on year, which justifies its desirability for those who actually use them as they should: for unforgiving off-road adventures. But $25,000 (Sh2,575,000)? Really? I can find me a nice V8 Cygnus with similar mileage for that outlay…

There is another Toyota 80 that also commands high mark-ups on the used market for unmolested examples and has officially attained collector status, and that is the Toyota Supra RZ, the famous twin turbo “Mk IV” torque monster that, alongside the Nissan Skyline GTR, Honda NSX and Mazda RX7 FD3, had Europe rethinking their standing as sole purveyors of wedge-shaped time-warping road-going equipment.

The JZA80 Supra clocked 100km/h from standstill in four-and-a-half seconds and thundered on to a top speed of 285km/h… and that was in 1993. This easily placed it within Porsche and Ferrari territory, for the time. Toyota has not built anything as quick or as seminal since then; for that you have to look at its ritzy Lexus glitz department, and even then, it more likely than not will have an F in its name for it to qualify for membership into that rarefied atmosphere.

Given that the Supra suddenly found itself as a hot enhancement favourite courtesy of the joint pop culture influences of Need For Speed video games and the Fast and Furious movie franchise, you have a higher chance of being struck by a meteorite than you do getting a clean, stock example today.

It is highly desirable — the one and only Toyota to perform like an exotic is definitely something worth finding and keeping — and the numbers of uncrashed and unmodified cars are dwindling. As a result, just like its off-roading numerical namesake, punters are charging ridiculous amounts for well-kept samples – as high as $100,000 (Sh10.3 million), which is just insane. But unlike the bulbous truck, the Supra might well be worth the money, say Sh2,575,000, just not Sh10.3 million).

Hi Baraza, 

Good job on your articles, very informative. I wanted to inquire on the validity of an article  in the Daily Nation of June 20, which said one Shailesh Chandaria had driven from Nairobi to Naivasha on 3.4 litres of fuel in an Alfa Romeo Giulietta.

How does one go about achieving this?

Well, the article is valid, for two reasons:

1. It is written in the same publication I write for, so… yeah.

2. It is possible, but it calls for several things, the most important of which is you have to know what you are doing. Not just anyone will clock 28km/l in a four-door Italian saloon car.

The technique is called hypermiling and it is a combination of physics, automotive understanding, patience, excellent muscle control and plenty of risk. Squeezing the maximum number of kilometres from the minimum number of litres of fuel demands strenuous brainwork, which is why doubting Thomases like you question its veracity.

These are some of the tricks to help you on your way to “three litre” driving (three litres of fuel per 100km):

Lose weight: shed as much weight as you sensibly can. However, these contests have rules and regulations that might not allow participants to drive vehicles that are not “stock”, e.g. you are not allowed to remove the backseat or the windows, or the spare tyre.

Aerodynamics: keep the shape of the car as slippery smooth as you can. That means starting off with a pointy car that will slice through the air as effortlessly as possible, but aerodynamics is not determined by ogling: do your research, get those coefficients of drag figures and compare them. You’ll be surprised that some wedge-shaped cars are not as aerodynamic as they look while some “blocky” ones have shockingly low Cd numbers.

Once you have your vehicle, delete any wind-blocking features such as body kits and wings. You can tape up the seams and panel gaps as well, for that extra .01 of mileage you might get.

Rolling resistance: overinflate your tyres. Underinflated tyres have high rolling resistance that increases consumption. While still on tyres, use skinny eco-friendly affairs. You will not be doing full bore standing starts or tickling the outer edges of the performance and handling envelopes on an economy run, so you do not need 285s or their ilk.

Fuel very early in the morning: fuel is sold per litre (by volume) at the pump, but fuel is consumed per kilogramme (by mass) in the engine. That means you want the highest number of kilogrammes of fuel per shilling spent, which also translates to per litre dispensed, which in turn means you want the highest density fuel possible. Density of fluids increases with decrease in temperature. If temperatures ever dropped to sub-zero, that would be the best time for fuelling; for now we have to make do with gassing up at dawn.

So now, you have the hardware in place. Next is to deal with the software, the programming, the operating system that runs in your brain and controls your actions:

(Parental Advisory: Some of the techniques described herein are borderline illegal and some are downright dangerous. Do not try this at home):

Drafting: taking shameless advantage of the laws of fluid dynamics to let someone else spend the effort of cutting through the air for you. Tailgating is not only risky but also extremely irritating to the victim and has on more than one occasion led to road rage. If the vehicle you are drafting off of chooses to brake-check you, things will go south faster than your fuel level with a leaking tank.

No braking: braking wastes energy in the form of heat and kills momentum that was otherwise acquired by accelerating, which in itself burns fuel. It, therefore, follows that minimal braking boosts your economy, while not braking at all takes that concept and cranks it up to 11. Driving without braking calls for some unwise and high adrenaline sort of manoeuvring such as dangerous overtaking to avoid crashing, it need not be said. 

Power down, coast up: now this is an interesting one. Most people engage neutral (Blegh!) when going downhill under gravity then get back on the power as they start ascending again. Ha! Novices! Newbies! Greenskins! Have you never heard of a load sensor?

You want to save even more fuel? Listen here, because this is just about as counterintuitive as it gets. Power up when going downhill, but not on full throttle. Just accelerate towards the centre of the earth at whatever speed you can attain – the higher, the better.

Once you have crossed the perigee of whatever landscape curvature you are traversing, throw the transmission into neutral (or turn the engine off if you think you are Chuck Norris). Use that momentum to coast as far up the incline as you can.

If you start running out of kinetic energy halfway up, restart or re-engage gear and gently feed in the power.

Think I’m talking out the side of my neck? This is the logic: since the load is minimal or nearly non-existent when accelerating at 9.8 metres per square second like Newton’s apple, the ECU will deliver very little fuel into the cylinders since the engine is barely doing any work besides piling on the momentum that gravity is largely taking care of.

Going uphill, on the other hand, tasks the ECU to manage the torque requirements for ascent, a task that involves burning extra fuel.

So it only makes sense that you should use fuel when it is least needed since very little of it, if any, is required and use no fuel when it is needed most: going up a mountain. Bend the rulebook. Use Mother Nature against herself. Geophysics for what?

Engine off: in extreme cases, one can shut their engine off on long downhill stretches such as the descents on either escarpment into the floor of the Rift Valley.

Just keep in mind that with the engine off, braking and steering become effort-intensive and lack the proper reactionary alacrity required to stay sharp on public roads.

Now, I’m not suggesting that Mr Chandaria dabbled in quasi-legal driving practices or endangered himself and others on the road (but then again I’m also not saying he did not), but if you want those interstellar mileage figures on mere whiffs of petrol, then this is the way to do it.

However, I seriously advise against it, unless you are competing. None of it can be considered as “driving”; it is more of a black art.

Dear Baraza,

I bought a Honda Fit 2009 model in January but due to its low clearance, I changed the coil springs to ex Japan and the clearance improved.

However, trouble started because when I drive past 80km/hthe vehicle starts wobbling but past 80 it settles down. I have tried wheel balancing, alignment and even gone further and bought new tyres — (145/R16/55)  to 205/R16/55 — since the old ones were low profile  but the problem has  become even worse.

Please Advise.

This is definitely a balancing issue. Try both static and dynamic balancing to factor in all possibilities.

The advantage of dynamic, wheels-on balancing is that it takes into consideration the effects of brake discs/drums on the wheel balance while static wheels-off balancing does not.

One of your rims could be out of round and needs replacement.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Defining Black art in the age of Black Power

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What was the role of the African-American artist in the 1960s and 70s? A new exhibition at London’s Tate Modern explores the many answers to this complex question….

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Published By: DW World – Wednesday, 12 July

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