Thursday, March 3, 2016

Music | Top 13 from the Vault (2006 - 2012)

Mixed tapes, and their newer format equivalents, have a long tradition of pinning down the mood or expression of the time with music, the assumption being that some careful selection went into the process. However, it's not the tack I took back in 2006 when leaving one continent for another. I took my iThingy and looked at the stats to find out what were the Top 13 tunes I played by October of that very year knowing that I wiped and reloaded all the tunes sometime before January of the same year. Then I repeated the process in two year increments till 2012, before a hiatus that had no other reason than being absorbed by other commitments. Listening back and navel gazing and all, I am wondering if my approach pins down the mood of the time regardless. Would it for you?

  • 13. Jump / Madonna
  • 12. How High / Tricky
  • 11. Mojo / Peeping Tom feat. Rahzel & Dan the Automator
  • 10. Thomas / A Perfect Circle
  • 9. Kootchi / Neneh Cherry
  • 8. Are U Comin’ / Moodorama
  • 7. Diesel Power / The Prodigy
  • 6. Whoa / Lil’ Kim
  • 5. Danger / Erykah Badu feat. China Black
  • 4. Risingson / Massive Attack
  • 3. Sucker / Peeping Tom feat. Norah Jones
  • 2. Judith / A Perfect Circle
  • 1. Sex / Atari Teenage Riot
  • 13. 2 Hearts / Sugababes
  • 12. Kitty Box / Lil’ Kim
  • 11. I Against I / Massive Attack
  • 10. We’re Not Alone / Peeping Tom
  • 9. The Way I Feel / Oakenfold feat. Ryan Tedder
  • 8. Amsterdam / Oakenfold
  • 7. Welcome Home / Coheed and Cambria
  • 6. Rehab / Amy Winehouse
  • 5. Cry Baby / Roisin Murphy
  • 4. The Hand That Feeds / Nine Inch Nails
  • 3. Before I’m Dead / Kidneythieves
  • 2. The Pot / Tool
  • 1. Faster Kill Pussycat / Oakenfold feat. Brittany Murphy
  • 13. Father Figure / George Michael
  • 12. Zero / Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • 11. Level / The Recounters
  • 10. Purple Haze / Jimi Hendrix Experience
  • 9. Hometown glory / Adele
  • -. Fuck Up Beats / The Chemical Brothers
  • 8. Battle Without Honour or Humanity / Tomoyasu Hotei
  • 7. U + Ur Hand / P!nk
  • 6. Killa Bunnies / Moloko
  • 5. Empire State of Mind / Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys
  • 4. White Rabbit (Spc Eco Mix) / Collide
  • 3. You’ll Find a Way (Switch & Sinden Remix) /Santogold
  • 2. Heavy Cross / Gossip
  • 1. Song With a Mission / The Sounds
  • 13. Tomorrow Never Knows/ The Beatles
  • 12. Silence (Tiesto Mix)/ Delerium
  • 11. Love Long Distance/ Gossip
  • 10. Play Dead/ Bjork
  • 9. Passenger/ Deftones
  • 8. Sly/ Massive Attack
  • 7. Stripsearch/ Faith No More
  • 6. Freedom 90/ George Michael
  • 5. Express Yourself/ Madonna
  • 4. Puppy Toy/ Tricky
  • 3. Learn How to Love/ Tedeschi Trucks Band
  • 2. Born This Way/ Lady Gaga
  • 1. Immigrant Song/ Karen O, Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Interesting Couple | Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera

Over the weekend a Pinterest-er I follow streamed a bunch of pins (well, about 13 and maybe growing) for a new board called “Frida Party”. … … What a great idea! The pins show lots of festive decorations where bright colors abound, cupcakes and cookies with Frida’s image look too cute to eat except they also look sugary tasty, and more fun stuff – find your own inspiration out there. I like the "Vibrant & Festive Frida Kahlo Inspired Mexican Party" by Hostess with the Mostess. There is a bottle of tequila Frida would approve.

All this Frida kerfuffle started long after her death in 1954 with a new found interest in Neomexicanismo in late 1970s to early 1980s, with another bout of purchases and inspiration in early 1990s, and reached a zenith of sorts in 2000s that started with a big thrust of her persona and art into wider consciousness through American biographical movie “Frida” released in 2002. The movie is a great visual feast behooving Frida, and since it is a biography it shows the tumultuous relationship between Frida and Diego Rivera, whose art overshadowed hers through their two marriages and all the in-between till she was rediscovered on her own terms, albeit posthumously. I will leave this blog as mostly about Frida; Diego had his time in the press with his larger than life works and person. Together as people who created great works so different in scale and themes, they are an Interesting Couple.

Monday, June 8, 2015

At Home | Kendrick Bangs Kellogg High Desert House

Joshua Tree National Park is an evocative place. At least that is what I make of it through images; I have not been there and will have to remedy that at some point.

Then Jay and Bev Doolittle got an idea in the 1980s and Jay wrote to Kendrick Bangs Kellogg

“Dear Mr. Kellogg,
My wife and I recently purchased a very interesting, though unconventional, building site in the California desert. …”
Source: T Magazine | The New York Times | “Rock Legend” by Nancy Hass

And so began the long process that produced 5000-square-foot High Desert House, which I venture to guess Gaudí would approve, and he is my benchmark for architecture and interiors that hark the organic, him and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, latter for modernity fitting the landscape. The High Desert House changed hands since Doolittles, and has been preserved as art. I cannot argue, it is status it well deserves. “Alien spaceship or a giant armadillo” outer structure fits the neighborhood and its colors, and encases custom everything. Surreal, yet comforting looking interior appears conducive to creative musings and work, or just plain good old fashioned lounging, without being disconnected from the outside. That is good for the mind, body and soul.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Food & Design | My dear Urbanite, we give you fresh sprouts from your own Microgarden

So you live in an apartment? No balcony to speak of. Definitely no garden or a yard. No worries. INFARM, a multidisciplinary firm and a research lab from Germany, has partnered with Tomorrow Machine, a Swedish design group, to provide an answer made of recyclable polypropylene sheet folded like an origami into a “greenhouse” inside of which sprouts can germinate and grow on a bed of seaweed-based gel, and appear in just 3 days. They have been crowd-funding for a while and now you can get the kit delivered to your door (look, read and select your perk here). Then, “peppery rucola, crunchy mustard and spicy radish” are not far off for your nibbling pleasure. Images from INFARM.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Photography | Mary Ellen Mark

To see her body of work and to read her biography (one doesn’t have to go far but the “trusty” Wikipedia), is quite something for a female – Mary is no shy flower, do not get any ideas just because she is nicely spoken when interviewed or when lecturing. I don’t think she is aggressive, though. A person who says, “I just think it’s important to be direct and honest with people about why you’re photographing them and what you’re doing. After all, you’re taking some of their soul.” respects their subject and will get the image that is honest and compassionate. That is Mary Ellen Mark – no matter if she photographed demonstrations, movie sets and stars, the down and out, the streets, circus people, prostitutes, saintly missionaries, you name it. Her photos like their people. I like her photos.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Art | The boobs, bellies, butts, private parts of Lisa Yuskavage’s nudes

Ah the provocation of female sexuality. Who wants to get their jollies off? Who wants their morals tested? Did I get you at the title? More to the point – did Lisa’s nudes capture you? As art world goes, there is always a way to explain any provocation it decides to pay for and display in hallowed gallery rooms, but let’s not get cynical here – Lisa has her technique up to par. “Using Renaissance-era techniques” to paint naked ladies? Now tell me that is not a stroke of mastery genius and so spot on for the subject matter, I dare you. Personally, I don’t know what to think of the occasional cutesy colors somehow reminiscent of 1970s skin magazines, but I guess that is rather the point. They are so cute in their lasciviousness. But really, it is the ever present frankness that is the ticket. According to WJS, the bigger deal is that Lisa is now painting men. Gasp? The title of the report is a bit of a pity – “Painter Lisa Yuskavage Goes From ‘Vulgar’ Women to Saintly Men” – but journalism sometimes likes to polarize, if only to sale … ahem, open a debate. Now, now. Let’s just enjoy it all. This nudity.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Fashion | Gotta keep it separated, J.W. Anderson

I am not on it. I won’t even pretend to be. But as I said before, I like to watch. The good ‘ole Grey Lady, has a playlist going called In the Studio | The New York Times: “Where does a collection begin? In the mind and imagination of a designer, of course, but also in a physical space, an insider sanctum that is almost never seen by consumers: the office and atelier. In many ways, these private spaces reflect the choices and points of view that inform fashion as much as any runway show. If in doubt, simply consider the outtakes from a series of behind-the-velvet-curtain videos in which designers from New York to Paris invited The New York Times into their professional lives.” Beyond hearing/reading his name, I don’t know much about J.W. Anderson or the specifics of his designs for, as it turns out, two labels: his own and Spanish luxury emporium Loewe. However, I now absolutely admire how organized/compartmentalized he tries to be. See this still from his interview! Com’on – this mobile phone separation and labelling is something to emulate! Neat and sanity preserving.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Art | Polly Morgan’s Artful Taxidermy

The Internet is a wondrous place! The remaining Luddite in me is having a little tantrum now. I will let it till it tires itself. One two three … ten. What makes it wondrous is the access and exposure it can give to those of us who do not have access to, in this case, BBC Four. BBC Four has had a fantastic series – “What Do Artists Do All Day?” – billed as “Intimate, observational portraits of leading artists, revealing unique insights into their working lives and creative process.” Glee! Right now, the episode I want to refer to, is available for a month through BBC Four web site, but do not fret – as long as copyright folks do not pull a plug – YouTube channel Art Documentaries has some episodes, too. And this is how I got to know of Polly Morgan and what taxidermy can be.

I have not had much liking for taxidermy. It’s a strange and often dusty substitute, better at a museum and only when the local zoo does not have the real thing. It’s downright creepy inside of any house except maybe when it is a lodge. I am not judging. It’s how I respond to it, and I cannot see it at my place. However, what Polly does may make me change my tune. The creepiness is still there, but the faux art snob that I am is attracted to this different presentation. Take “Rest a Little on the Lap of Life”. It’s a friggin’ rodent exulted to a dessert puff, sleeping below a chandelier, presumably peacefully under that glass case! I can see this piece having a prime spot chez moi. Seeing Polly at it and talking about it adds a contextual dimension I can totally saddle next to. Check it out when you can.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

At Home | Rick Owens’ and Michele Lamy’s Paris Home

Oh thee cult inspiring Interesting Couple! Not exactly a style I would want to copy or live in, too ascetic for my feigned minimalism although I can see how it would salve after hedonistic adventures. I am inspired by its details and quality. When it comes to Rick and Michele, the consistency of their presentation to the public is supreme, despite Rick Owens brand not exactly playing the fashion marketing game. There are legions (did I mention the word “cult”?) that surface what it might be like in Owens-Lamy world through photos, interviews, articles the couple and the brand seemingly do not chase but nevertheless oblige. In the interviews, they are calm coolness, and seeing these photos of their home, it makes sense. They know who they are and what their aesthetic is. The way they present themselves and the way their home is are in sync.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Photography | Josef Koudelka

Josef Koudelka comes to me as a triptych: a photographic window into lives of Gypsies in Slovakia and Romania, a photographic document of the crushing invasion of Prague by the military forces of the Warsaw Pact, scion of the legendary Magnum agency. See a selection of his work at Josef Koudelka: Nationality Doubtful – I wish I was timelier and posted this when the exhibitions were still on (either at the Art Institute of Chicago or Getty Center in Los Angeles), but exhibitions have a time limit, Koudelka’s photographs don’t, no matter where you see them. Although photography pins a moment in place by its very nature, in the eye and hands of a master the results live forever to show us what we were not witnessing, and to inspire with the craft.

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