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- Listmania 07: Top of the Tops
With the year ending and my b’day coming up (Capricorn, rock on…), I’m getting ready to set off on an epic bender inspired by the antics described in this book, which I received from my cousin for Christmas.
But before I do, I thought it’d be fun to end the year off with one of those year-in-review type posts that so many blogs do. So I started to think of what subjects I know enough about to be able to make a definitive list of 07′s best or worst. I promptly came up with nothing, so I started looking around to see what other people had done, and was kind of amazed at how many weird lists you can find floating around cyberspace. So after a little while I realized that the best thing to do is compile a list of the best lists. To save space and hopefully spread love to the original sources, I’m only going to include a selection from each list. And to add at least a small bit of originality I’ll include a recommendation for something that was left off… So all that whatever whatever, here it is: THE TOP 5 TOP 5s of ’05(+2). Dig it:
#1 The 5 Strangest Student Science Projects
Two students from MIT have created the world’s first fully automated dorm room, featuring web control, voice activation, security system, large continuously running information displays, electric blinds, and one-touch parties. Party mode demonstration above. [Courtesy of techeblog.com]
According to the AP:
An MIT student with what police feared was a fake bomb attached to her chest was arrested at gunpoint Friday at Logan International Airport and later claimed it was artwork, officials said.
Star Simpson, 19, had a computer circuit board and wiring in plain view over a black hooded sweat shirt she was wearing, said State Police Maj. Scott Pare, the commanding officer at the airport.
“She said that it was a piece of art and she wanted to stand out on career day,” Pare said at a news conference. “She claims that it was just art, and that she was proud of the art and she wanted to display it.”
Simpson was “extremely lucky she followed the instructions or deadly force would have been used,” Pare said. “She’s lucky to be in a cell as opposed to the morgue.”
Media response was immediate and predictable.
- Live from New York
Greetings from New York, the city so nostalgic they named it twice… Holiday spirit is in full effect over here, and I’m doing everything I can to avoid working. So far so good.
There are two unavoidable songs in NY at the moment:
- 街头艺术, you are not street enough.
Yesterday my friend Lulu excitedly showed me a copy of something called The Street Art Colouring Book. As the name suggests, it’s a book of black and white graffiti images that the reader is encouraged to color with some crayons that come along with it. She thinks that the book (recently released in China) will be a good way for unfamiliar people to gain interest and appreciation for “street art”. But as a person who spent large chunks of his teen years vandalizing, I was nearly driven to tears by the merciless corniness of the whole enterprise.
The street art book seems to be a red hot item in the People’s Republic these days. Every graphic designer I’ve ever met here has at least three in his office. All the ones I’ve seen are translations of western editions that usually focus on Banksy-type stencils or Shepard Fairey-style wheat paste posters or (rarely) actual spray can graffiti from someone like Twist. You can clearly see the aesthetic (rough, drippy, ironic, etc.) effecting design here, but in a kind of harmless, bland way, sort of like the visual equivalent of a karaoke instrumental. And, with the exception of the very cool but now decade-old demolition-bombing of Zhang Dali, there doesn’t seem to be any actual street art on any of Beijing’s actual streets.
So… I invested a good 30 seconds to hardcore pondering this problematic and came to the conclusion that street art just ain’t street enough. It’s too disconnected, too easy to transplant onto a t-shirt or a flyer or some similarly worthless piece of shit item. So to bring the focus back to what really matters, here’s a little review of artists from around the globe who are keeping it really really street….
São Paulo, Brasil: 6EMEIA
Montréal, Canada: Roadsworth
Drachten, The Netherlands: Henk Hofstra
Washington DC, USA: Mark Jenkins
London, UK: Slinkachu
New York, USA: Kellotron
Prague, Czech Republic: Bog Art
Bloomington, USA: ???
Leicestershire, UK: Julian Beever
Las Vegas, USA: Kurt Wenner
Becheln, Germany: Edgar Müller and Manfred Stader
Barcelona, Spain: Dixon AKA Juan Carlos Noria
Everywhere, Japan: Manhole Manga
This is thrown together quickly and on little sleep. But I did make a point of listening to The Streets while I made this, if that counts for anything. If I’ve missed some good ones, please let me know…
- My ass went to the Shenzhen Biennale and all you got is this lousy recap
This weekend was the opening of the Shenzhen Biennale (also known by its ultra sleek ceremonial name The 2007 Shenzhen & Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture) – a three-month festival of city life, staged in an old industrial complex. The enormous show was curated by my friends Charlie Koolhaas & Qingyun Ma and featured the work of a bunch of other friends, so I went down on Saturday to support and check it out.
I’d planned to do a big, full-bodied post about the biennale, since there is almost no online evidence of its existence. But then I got there and realized my camera had no memory card, then I arrived at the site and things got all hectic with helping people move shoes and find extension chords, and reuniting with old friends, and everyone was drinking and delirious from not having slept properly for days, then it was the opening ceremony and I had to get my shit together to DJ at the after party, and, in the end, I left the place having taken five photos with my phone. For the record:
The two other photos I mentioned were blurrier versions of those guys playing with the rubik’s cubes. So, that’s not much of a record. But even from these three I think you can sense the casual, participatory vibe that makes the biennale really fun and radically unlike the typical architectural affair.
But I don’t want to shortchange an event that my friends spent so much time and money and mental health points working on, so, like any good party crasher, I’m going to boast about what I took home in my gift bag and in the process name drop! Now then:
The biennale’s catalog is basically an enormous pink brick filled with black & white posters, one poster for each of the 200+ exhibits. I haven’t really looked in it yet but, like Mount Rushmore or Britney Spears’ pre-nup, I admire it for the sheer quantity of labor that went in.
The biennale organizers created a list of ten questions about cities, with the idea of urban regeneration and expiration in mind especially. They got a lot of interesting responses and painstakingly arranged fragments of the best ones into a series of meditations of cities and life itself. They formatted it as a newspaper with the intention of distributing them free throughout the biennale. Then the printer flaked out and somehow showed up with boxes of two separate pieces with non-sequential pages. China.
My friend Lok is an architect and illustrator in Tokyo. A set of his pieces were printed on light boxes and hung up along a concrete wall, and everybody loves them. I don’t have a picture of that, of course. But I’m sure he will. Check his site out here.
My roommate for a night Andre Schmidt has produced a blow-up version of the Berlin TV Tower. It’s cool and incredibly phallic. That doesn’t bother Andre one bit, as is evidenced by this promotional video he’s hooked up for it:
For more info on what it is and where to buy, go here.
5. You by Dynamic City Foundation
This is a very beautiful little book about, among other things, the dreams of everyday Chinese people. Truthfully speaking, I didn’t get this book at the biennale. But it was available at the biennale, so I want to bring it up because its creator Neville Mars produced one of the most beautiful exhibits and, of course, I don’t have any photos of that. But in this case, that doesn’t matter so much because Neville has painstakingly documented it all here. Neville was also rinsing it out on the dance floor at the after party so he gets extra props for that too.
This is a book about Dubai edited by my friend Shumon. I haven’t had a chance to look through it yet, but need to because I really don’t know much about Dubai.
Reineke produced by all accounts a very beautiful and smart exhibit on her World Skin Colors project. But half of it was removed by the Shenzhen government, because it didn’t properly identify Taiwan as part of China. One of those cultural mistakes that’s very very easy to make when you’re not in China and impossible after you’ve been here for a while. Reineke’s also a gifted photographer. Check out some of her work here.
My peeps Urban China also had an exhibit at the biennale and it also was censored. They seemed to take it in stride, and gave me their latest issue about Chinatowns and it’s excellent. If you can read Chinese or are feeling adventurous, check them out here.
Too is a good new magazine made by a crew of people in different parts of China. They made a special issue for the biennale that focuses on Shenzhen and includes a bunch of funny and fascinating portraits of people there.
Prophecy is a magazine based in New York with a very good sense of style and the type of international spirit that I always get behind. I was introduced to its publisher Kevin and he hit me off with this. Check out the Prophecy site for more info and some very good mixes.
Last and least I have a clip of part of my set at the after party. It was described by the biennale’s head curator Charlotte Koolhaas as “music for a 12 year old’s birthday party” and includes back-to-back-to-back hits from Michael Jackson, back-to-back Britney, Chris Brown, Usher, Nina Sky, Kevin Little and some more I forgot. It gets cut off abruptly because the authorities ended the party by shutting off all the power without warning. China.
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- Stay tuned – Drunken Lion Radio #1
I meant to put this up this weekend, but a new extended version of the Drunken Lion Sound System Winter Workout mix is currently holding down the guest Selector show at the internet radio station Lijn 5.
Check it out, mixed by sincerely yours Expensive Jewelry.
And made possible by the man Niek – Drunken Lion name creator, flyer maker, and all around DOMME SHIT lover.
- UGK for life: RIP Pimp C
I came on here ready to post some silly shit about dinosaurs when I saw that Pimp C, one half of the group UGK and one my favorite rappers, was found dead in a hotel room in LA. He was 33. I’m sick of this bullshit.
I want to make up a tribute mix, but I don’t have time right now and I’m too mad. So here are a couple things just to show some love…
Pimp C was a true everything man from a hip hop point of view. He could rap, produce, sing, even dance a little bit. But what made him a consummate entertainer is the fact that he had the meanest interview game in music. He was was always funny and honest and through the sheer strength of his charisma could make you entertain even the most ridiculous of arguments. For example, here’s a clip of an interview he gave with 107.9 FM in Atlanta in which he (seriously) attempts to convince the hosts that Georgia isn’t in the south.
There’s too much of his music that I’d like to share, but for now here is the most appropriate choice – “One day” off the (stone cold) classic album Ridin’ Dirty.
Here’s the lyrics to C’s verse:
I’m up early, cause ain’t enough light in the daytime
Smoke two sweets, and stove these chickens
fo’ the clock strikes nine
Bring that ho to my boulder, smolder on the P.A. pipes
AK loader, as i get swallowed under city lights
Niggas be lookin shife, so i look shife back
Can’t show no weakness with these bitches, get yo life jacked
Man it’s a trip where i stay, especially for me
These bitches tryin to lock me up for the whole century
They gave my nigga Donnie 40, Donte 19
I wish that we could smoke again and take a tight lean
The world a trip you can ask Bun B bitch I ain’t no liar
My man Bobo just lost his baby in a house fire
and when I got on my knees that night to pray
I asked God “why you let these killers live,
and take my homebody’s son away?”
Man if you got kids show ‘em you love em
cuz God just might call ‘em home
Cuz one day they here
baby the next day they’re gone…
Finally, here’s the video for “International Player’s Anthem”. Vintage UGK and, in my opinion, the best video of 2007:
Love to the whole Butler family and his partner in rhyme Bun B.
Here’s an amazing, heart-breaking interview with Bun B on 97.9 in Houston.
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- Nice up the Republic: a conversation with Beijing’s ambassador to reggae
One of the coolest things about being in Beijing at this point in its history is watching the ways that the city processes the huge amounts of new cultural information that enter it each day. On its surface, Beijing’s cultural identity seems pretty fixed. It’s the PRC’s symbolic center, and it needs to look the part. But if you look below the surface, you see a city passionately seeking out and soaking in new forms of life and living. For the past few months, I’ve been interviewing some of the people who seem to be at the front of this process. I’ll post up some my favorites as time goes by.
To start, here’s a conversation I had a couple weeks ago with Robin Liao. Robin owns Together Bar, Beijing’s #1 (and only) reggae spot. I hope you enjoy….
“Reggae in China is like blind people touching an elephant.”
“If you put Bob-anything in the internet, you get Bob Dylan.”
“Sometimes an opportunity just falls down from the sky – like a pie in the sky. But sometimes it is really a pie.”
“I’m a Gemini so I always jump.”