Dive into the archives.
- VERY FEEL feel the most: 2008 Best List
Year’s Best Lists: So many by so many about so many. How & why would you keep up? Last year, I tried to deal with the year end list overload by making a section of the Top 5 Top 5 lists I could find. I can’t do that this time, and actually I was planning to just let this year slide quietly out the backdoor. But tonight I went to an event where they asked everyone to fill out forms stating their favorites of the past year. So I did it and, being the serious person I am, I answered it seriously and then, being the flaky person I am, I forgot to turn it in at the end. So I still have it and figured since I’d worked it out anyway, might was well take the chance to put it up here.
One of the reasons I dislike Year’s Best lists is I never feel there’s enough substantiating evidence to support any of the choices, so I’m going to try to provide some backup for mine. The funny thing is I realize I’ve bigged up a lot of these artists and artworks over the course of the year anyway, so I guess this post is just a high-concentration version of what VERY FEEL is about. Anyway, here goes…
- VERY XMAS
Welp, it’s that time of the year again. Egg nog and suger plum fairies and things of that nature. I’m still in Beijing so I’m planning to brush Xmas off my shoulder this year, but my friend Alex P sent me a great mix of random holiday tunes, so in this season of giving I felt I should pass it on…
Here’s a few highlights:
Freddie McGregor – Irie Christmas
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Odile Closset & Manu Markou – ‘La lettre au Père-Noël’
And, more relevant than ever in this time of economic woe…
The Kinks – Father Christmas (Gimme some money)
There’s lots of other great songs, including “I want a monkey for Christmas”, “That was the worst Christmas ever!”, and “Santa Claus is a black man”. I highly recommend checking. Get it here.
- TD Year in Review
I just received this XMas/New Year’s card from my friend Theo of TD Architects. It’s rendered in Theo’s often-imitated-never-duplicated collage style and covers some the key events of 08. I was thinking about making a year in review type post, but this is better. Click To Read.
- Naija meets Nashville
Uchenna Ikonne is a writer & filmmaker originally from Nigeria now based in Boston. He makes an amazing blog called With Comb & Razor dedicated to Nigerian (and Brazilian and other types too) music. He recently put up a mix of Nigerian country tunes. If you had no idea that country music was popular in W Africa, you are not alone. But this is definitely worth checking. Pleasing to the air and expanding to the mind. Here’s a sample:
Bongos Ikwue – “Show Me A Virgin (In A Maternity Ward)”
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Get the full mix & tracklist here.
- String Theory
One time when I was on a flight to Dublin a hard drinking Irishman seated next to me told me that my ipod could only produce electromagnetic interference if I was listening to electronic music. Acoustic music, he explained, could be enjoyed to the heart’s content without disturbing the plane’s navigational frequencies or endangering anyone. He was already pretty twisted at this point, but he told me his theory with dead seriousness and ever since whenever I fly I make a point of listening to as much unplugged music as I can as a kind of tribute my neighbor’s next level thinking.
Aaaanyhoo, the other day when I was flipping channels I caught this performance by Bon Iver on Letterman and it reminded me of that story…
Awesome. What a beautiful group of weirdos. I would like to get a job as a tambourine player or dancer or something with these gentlemen. The lumberjack looking dude is named Justin Vernon. He wrote and recorded all songs on Bon Iver’s debut album “For Emma, Forever Ago” in a cabin in northern Wisconsin. The album is good and about as acoustic as it gets. I’m flying back to Beijing tomorrow and this will definitely be in my earphones.
The song is called “Skinny love”. Here’s the log cabin version:
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- Urban China Source Material 03: Bare Life
Man alive, it’s colder than the 9th Circle of Hell in Beijing these days. It’s enough to make this winter-coat-less dummie long for the sweat-soaked smog-choked days of summer. Luckily I’ve spent most of this morning laying out images like the one above. It’s from a series called ‘Bare Life’ that was created by an artist named Wang Zi (王子). He took them in the summers of 04 and 05 in an area called Qianmen, a hutong not far from Tian An Men Square. Wang Zi grew up in a hutong nearby that has since been demolished. Here’s a selection from a text he wrote about the neighborhood (translated by Wang Ruocheng):
Before 1949, Qianmen was the busiest commercial area in the city, with the best courtyards and the most flourishing shops. Nowadays, however, this area has declined to a slum. The dilapidated single-story houses and the embarrassing lives within contrast sharply with the modern skyscrapers that surround them.
Qianmen is located close to Tian An Men Square. In every corner there are symbols and characters from different historical periods. They have been changing along with the developing city and include political slogans from the Mao Zedong period and the advocacy of economic development from the late 1980s, as well as small pieces of paper that advertise, declare of building soon-to-be demolished, celebrate the Olympics, etc. These symbols and Chinese characters have no value themselves; their original meanings may have been forgotten by their writers. Their meanings are confused, the accumulated results of mistakes.
For the poor residents, several families live together in one courtyard, sharing the same water tap. Under that tap there is a cesspool made of bricks, into which all the liquid waste and urine are poured. Insects will settle down here in summer, making it unclean. However, it is the squalor that brings people together, making the area around the tap in the courtyard an important public space. Residents used to clean vegetables and wash clothes here. Passersby even drank the water. All the above are not so common nowadays.
Without fine waste pipes, residents could not have toilets in the courtyard. Instead, they need to walk several minutes to the public toilets in the hutong, where queues can be seen at “rush hour” in the morning. In order to take a shower, people have to walk several kilometers away to a public bathroom. This happened in nearly all of the hutongs and courtyards downtown. Although some families can have simple shower facilities, most people can not afford facilities in their courtyard because they have less than five square meters of housing area. So wiping the body with a wet cloth becomes the most convenient way of taking a bath.
The plight of Beijing’s hutongs triggers strong feelings of nostalgia and righteous indignation on the part of locals and foreigners. These images and text I think capture a slice of that radically diminished aspect of the city without the usual melodrama. They also provide an interesting overview of Chinese male body typologies, but that’s a bonus. More images after the jump. Click to enlarge…
- Urban China Source Material 02: Red Scarf
As I mentioned last time, for the next few weeks I’m going to be posting material from a book I’m putting together based on the work of Urban China magazine. These photos are taken from Issue 22 which dealt with the topic of Chinese Education. They were taken by Du Yingnan (杜英男), a photographer from Manchuria who’s currently based in Shanghai. Du took these photos during a visit to an elementary school in a small village in Fujian Province, and they pretty much speak for themselves. The red scarfs that kids wear are generally associated with the Young Pioneers, a kind of Socialist Boy Scouts, but also serve as a overall symbol of primary education.