~TOMMY MALEKOFF . . The Outdoor World

& running 10:17 minutes


A singularly striking, but casually unwinding, almost freestyle cinematic ode – to MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE and also, to Black life . . .
as seen through the lens of a young New Yorker.
the word: vernacular – does come to mind.

TOMMY MALEKOFF leans into his subject, like a ski jumper leans into his skies.

‘The Outdoor World’ . . is a remarkable short film on MEMPHIS, of all places.
independently made by a young New Yorker, TOMMY MALEKOFF with a hand-held camera, and not much else. okay, and – with a lot of . . verve.
it also features . . an incredible, original sound track by JOE WILLIAMS aka DJ MOTION GRAPHICS. This singularly striking ‘travelogue’ with absolutely no words, but which is metaphor-rich, for your own taking !! is just transfixing – from frame one. it’s just the way TOMMY MALEKOFF, apparently a natural behind the camera, sees the world from his own very personal & straight-forward inquisitive . . vantage point. we are one with him, in his journey behind the lens, a young artist / explorer / producer just about to burst on the scene . . with no, or not much (!!) previous history or art world baggage to hold him back.

part of the magic spell of the film, besides just how strange vernacular Memphis can be . . . esp to a New Yorker, is the rhythm, the momentum, the framing & editing . . of the visuals – which pair up so nicely with the rhythm of the sound track, so completely, so sweetly. words ? who needs words. I might be wrong, but the closest I can come to describe the way the film moves, in words . . is, it’s the visual equivalent of house / wave / beach music.
it moves real casual, but it’s very transfixing. and then there’s the music.

in its own way, the film is also about . . BLACK LIFE.

as with most cutting edge art today – it’s also about indie low-key production, but big on both content, hand-lettered info graphics & real world digital photography . . in other words: small scale / big visions. DIY spirit, individual skills, and . . making your singular voice count, within the mass web of social media that surrounds us, bombards us 24/7 & then, focusing in on our own particular location-specific . . urban experience.

as for ‘graphics’ / sometimes called graphic design:
these 2 images are from Tommy’s website.
if ‘quiet beauty’ were a catalog, a style – this would be that, and that . . would be ok.
being right on the vibe – is hard to do.
don’t take it for granted, just how striking this singular home page . . is.


TOMMY MALEKOFF, and ANDREW KASS . . at ‘The Outdoor World’ – 170 Suffolk St, Lower East Side, NYC screening.

TOMMY MALEKOFF & ANDREW KASS are key players i.e. big energy & innovative creative contributors . . among the informal swirl of the very downtown, very politically aware, ‘seed-like’ & ‘gonna be’ very influential . . openly subversive, indie rebel, creative, cutting-edge & mostly underground . . urban-based, and informally structured . . artist crew centered around curator / artist . . SEAN VEGEZZI, is the best I can put it.
you know, the guys of . . 15 WARREN ST, 170 SUFFOLK, and 34 JOEY.
again, very urban-based in outlook, as in rooted in the actual infra-structure of the city, or with regard to global politics. a general over-all dynamic, as opposed to say . . specifically sticker art, or street art per se, though the group shows I have seen obviously include a lot of street art just by the nature of how things roll indie in NYC. the key is, these guys grew up in the downtown area, and within the underground fringes of the downtown art scene, and they don’t wait for things to happen, they just throw up the shows – on their own, or hit up other indie pop-up venues, or subway stations, lol. and abandoned buildings, and let’s leave it at that.

TOMMY MALEKOFF . . seems to have been blessed, not only with a natural eye . . for the camera & in turn – indie filmmaking – but, also with the insight that it takes to inform the footage, and thus blow up a small film of 10 mins – into quite the entrancement.
quite the statement.
and, with no .. words.

JOE WILLIAMS aka DJ MOTION GRAPHICS, and of whose moniker . . we have no doubt.
motion graphics – is what this film is all about . . style-wise.
and JOE supplied the original film sound track – and it is pro, and it is brilliant.

I asked Tommy to tell me a little bit more about how the film’s music score came to be, & this is what he emailed me:

“For the score – I came to Joe with 3 songs:
‘Walking in Memphis’ by Marc Cohn, ‘Where is da Bud’ by 3 6 Mafia, and ‘I can’t help falling in love with you’, by Elvis.
Joe took the melodies from these songs and applied strings to them instead of lyrics to make a more orchestral, atmospheric sound that referenced popular songs from/about Memphis. He also used samples of noises from mosquitoes and ducks for parts of the song(s). Each segment of the video has a special song made up of these references.”

backtrack: 170 SUFFOLK appears to be a large, vacant one story floor-thru space, much like a garage. SEAN VEGEZZI and pals put up an incredible pop-up, group show there back in June, 2014.
and interestingly enough, TOMMY MALEKOFF was one the featured artists. no, he didn;t show a film, it was kind of the exact opposite of a film, he put subtle ‘trash / tracks’ throughout the space. I know – it sounds crazy, but it really gave the place some . . ‘spatial’ grit. trash from North Carolina. bye the way. Tommy seems to be into . . geography. cities.
it made the space ‘bounce’, transcend. added city infrastructure ‘narrative’ – does that say it better.
one day I have to post the pix.
maybe soon.

as if . . anything by this crew needs grit.
grit & hardcore thought – am I.
I’m up for as much grit as you can throw at me. anything, but the wall-to-wall mediocrity this town’s art scene has become, for the most part.

of course inside it is dark. it is quite huge, and wide open and beautiful. raw, but not dysfunctional, with a great bank of high windows at the back near the ceiling, bringing the city lights inside. there was just enough light to pick out ‘poster’ mages from the film.
football. hmm. the outdoor world, you just never know.

DJ DONDERO, in front of one of the ‘film’ posters – featuring the MEMPHIS PYRAMID, what a strange tourist attraction.
and that’s just how the movie starts . .
the film’s outlook is curious, more than anything, I would say.
the ‘souvenir’ site, the ‘tourists’, mainstream America, America . . the Great Mall, speaks for itself. come up with your own metaphors, they are yours – free for the taking.
form the elevator ride down, to the crocs in the water. to the history of the place itself.
there was an info sheet hand-out, (it hosted the mega-fight between LENNON LEWIS vs MIKE TYSON in in 20020) – when you entered.

the projection screen was just off to the right, the back wall.

you can see the lights & buildings of the city’s night . . just outside, through the bank of large windows at the ceiling, just above the screen. very nice, lucky random draw-of-the-straw – real estate touch.

and then the film opens.

the film begins, with an aerial shot, and we descend via elevator into the Memphis Pyramid.

at first I thought, ok . . it’s going to be an ‘extreme urban infrastructure’ take down. a walk on the wild side, illegal high storied intrusion. but it was in fact, quite the opposite.
it was like finding a home movie souvenir, by a really smart kid. and then the music kicks in & you are off and running. entranced & wondering. wtf. this was no kid. this was a master at the vernacular. vernacular photography – look it up. not quite the same as ‘found’ photography . . because Mr. Malekoff is indeed the eye behind the camera of his very own footage. . with a pictorial style . . all his own, somewhere within the genre of ‘reality’ ‘souvenir’ and ‘documentary. it’s not fiction. it’s not made-up, but it is chosen & composed. and the vibe is very very cool, very chill. the direction, the easy scope, the unobtrusiveness, yet the telling . . of the average day to day, is not average at all. trust me, I’ve seen too many film projects in my lifetime – to know. the diff.
talent is rare, but when it spools – trust me, talent . . outs.

the croc.
the Outdoor World. Memphis – style !!

the big catfish . . ?
scale, size. animals. bio. haven’t I been hearing those very words, lately ?

the ‘tiny’ minnows.
we are minnows swimming in a sea of technology, social media & information overload.
we are on the other side of that glass. whose in the outdoor world, them or us ?
and hey, that’s just what I’ve been thinking . . who is really bio these days. we are . .
we are wired. we are . . wireless. we are computer merged. we are . . mutated.
and we are under assault by the nano life of the food chain. invisible particles. viruses. the icebergs are melting, but the viruses are growing.
everything is upside down.

the chicks, the cars. The Outdoor World – Memphis style.
the world was once so – easy. maybe that’s why souvenirs are so – pleasant.

LIL RON – the indoor / outdoor world ?!! (reference footage)
fab. bio. skills.
the dancing is called . . gangsta walking. it seems to be a form of ‘bio’ competition.
no wires, but wired !! but smooth wired. and nothing . . digital. well maybe the music recorded. it’s also referred to as ‘jooking’ . . it’s a dance native to Memphis.
Memphis must be such a special place. what’s in the water ?
besides crocs and catfish ? or maybe that’s it.
even, just the songs. the Memphis blues.

B. FRANK (reference footage)

LIL BUCK (reference footage)

back inside ‘The Outdoor World’ – at 170 SUFFOLK.

the hardcore party . . life.

sure to be a player. . .

in the outdoor world of NYC . . night life.


‘The Outdoor World’ . . comes inside, and takes over . . your world.
if just for 10 mins.
you are knocked out of the water, taken deep down into the faux pyramid, and turned onto ‘jook’.
just a homemade ‘vignette’. not.
just another spectacular NYC night !! this crew never fails to knock it out of the park.
and they’re so chill – at it. the way they throw you – for a loop.
style. graphics. timing. curiosity. music. culture story-telling. slice of life documentary. the celebration of the great American vernacular. Memphis as seen by NYC.
the great American city adventure. cities are . .. us.

downtown indie filmmaker TOMMY MALEKOFF, and musician JOE WILLIAMS . . aced it.


what a great title.


ps: @andrewkass & @doublebreed is a good place to start – if you want to follow these guys.