Tag Archives: Culture

America

I am back in America. Trees stretch like paint gobs. The sky is as large as the Walmart that we end up at everyday (to feel stimuli, to be stimulated). You and me. We push the cart past tubs of DVDs, dog food, Milk Bones, baby clothes (bright pink, electric neon), Asian Food (Teriyaki Noodle), Jacked chips, Speedy Checkouts.

We might park by the lake and take a photo to show others how far a lake can be or what clouds look like when we sit in a car and talk. We are in Michigan. I’ll stop at the Doggie Wash where we can wash the dogs ourselves, but when I enter, no one is there: two tubs, insert bills, spray hose, oatmeal bath. Call Joanne for details.

The television shows Boston. The television says no one knows why or who or how many and we mourn. Some are dead. Some are limbless. I hear weeping.

It rained last night, but when I stand in the dusk and walk Butoh steps across the lawn, I feel less wet than the grass tells me I should be.

Our dog limps. She has stepped on too sharp snow. We have two dogs. One of our dogs was dropped off in Detroit, her kennel left abandoned there by Immigration, by a garage door like that whole place is one large warehouse. Our other dog was driven from Chicago, driven to a Days Inn (thirty hours away from us). I spent two days in the Days Inn and had continental breakfast (biscuits and gravy, cereal, a bagel) while the television spoke of Cuba, of tornadoes, of caution.

Yes, I’m back in America and this is the wide sky I jump into as I push a cart from the electronic doors of Walmart, past the feed, past the gigantic automobiles and to the corral. I will listen to Scott Walker on the way home. The way home. I like the way that sounds. The way home. I could say that forever. 

Blue White Noise (I ATE TIONG BAHRU): by Stephen Black

Floor

Photograph by Stephen Black

Two of the walls are dirty mirrors. Caught between them, the guts of this place are repeated and jammed into grimy centers of infinity. Red plastic chairs, white Formica tables, the fluorescent lights, the people; all are mirrored and squeezed. In back, two young mainland Chinese women boil and cut yong tau foo. They’re silent.

Below the streetlights a river flows. It may flood again. Angry and worried, a small Chinese woman in a tight pink dress: the taxi stand, her watch, the taxi stand, her watch, the rain, the taxi stand, her watch… On TV, subtitled Chinese promises of eternal love by a couple wearing something like Gucci,before cutting to a lit match above a gagged woman sitting in gasoline. She tries to scream.

The man near me leans back and his orange hair enters the mirrors. Three shopping bags by his sandals, nothing on his table. He begins combing.The Filipinas drink Coke and make phone calls at a table covered with Tiger bottles and globs of chocolate cake. Young Bob Dylan rushes by with a newspaper over his head. Bob’s red-faced, with a platinum blonde Chinese woman on his arm. Bob’s wearing a Nirvana Tshirt. 5AM in anywhere.

The vacant field, the Tiong Bahru Estates. The small blue signs of Kim Pong Street. The rain.This shop has a month to live.

/// /// /// /// /// /// /// /// /// /// /// ///

Stephen Black is usually easy to talk to but often difficult to explain. http://glossi.com/bookmerah/4438-half-black-stephen-black-2012-review

/// /// /// /// /// /// /// /// /// /// /// ///

Beijing: A Short Introduction

The first thing that struck me about Beijing at night was the signs against the black sky. One after another, red signs passed by the car window as a winter haze hovered around us. It was cold, bitingly cold, a cold that Tokyo knows not the likes of. The congested traffic comforts and annoys me. I am American, so am used to traffic jams, honking horns, being “cut-off” as well as having to drive on a daily basis. Returning to this way of living as opposed to Nippon will once again take some getting used to, but is by no means impossible. Outside my window is a Detroit-esque mixture of urban high rise apartments and absolute rubble. Horses pull carts filled with food, which the vendors will sell, while an old woman stares out from her balcony. “Where should I put my cigarette butt?” “This is China, you can put it anywhere.” A dog limps by and another tries to bite me outside of a supermarket – a “Merry Mart.” Everyone’s eyes are glued to me and fingers are pointed, as well. “Don’t worry, they are not looking at you.” Yet, I know they are looking at me. Meanwhile, in the apartment, a pleasant heat fills the rooms, music floats in from outside and, earlier in the morning, a light snow dripped to the ground. Beijing. Here we go.

The Cobrasnake: Creating Culture

The Cobrasnake (Mark Hunter) takes photographs and makes T-shirts. His brand has expanded; he has infiltrated the clubs and the streets of the world. A casual glance at his website shows only the latest T-shirts available for purchase and a dense archive of Cobrasnake’s photographs. Said simply: the man is busy. The people caught in the lens of his camera are not models, posing professionally, but seemingly random people, musicians(or people who happen to be wearing Cobrasnake T-shirts). Through the photographs, a new culture is created and takes form. Cobrasnake is not simply taking pictures, he’s creating cultural identity. Take note.

In this developing age of openness to personal branding, the Cobrasnake’s idea of selling limited runs of handmade T-shirts and hitting the clubs to snap the young and the restless works well. Everyone, it seems, these days is using some kind of social media as an extension of their daily life. What Cobrasnake goes is gives people a base from which to view the blossoming of club culture, the fashion of a certain party or event and so on. As he says in an interview with MediaTemple, “When i started shooting nightlife it was funny because people were not used to having their photo taken by someone that wasn’t their friend. Now most people want as many people as possible to take their photo.”

Gazing at the pictures on his website, we can see a myriad of “beautiful” people, enjoying themselves or at least being out, being seen. They do not possess the lifeless “looking past the camera” gaze that many professional advertisements rely on, but offer a more personal view of the scene. Some of them are almost inviting, comforting. After spending enough time clicking through the photo albums, you, too, may be enticed by the idea of joining the social enterprise that Cobrasnake offers. Or…

One Twitter user, wrote, “Not sure if he hates the Cobrasnake due to hatred or jealousy.” as his tweet. Perhaps this is the feeling that many viewers of the brand experience. The Cobrasnake, by showing you what is fashionable, what is happening in the “hot spots,” may make you realize how actually detached you are from those scenes. Wanting to leap into the scene, but unable to press beyond the computer screen. Meanwhile, somewhere, maybe right now, The Cobrasnake is plotting, working, selling, and enchanting folks with an invitation to transform themselves into a new person.

Links for more information on this enterprise:

The Cobrasnake (Official)
Cobrasnake Interview
Cobrasnake on Wunderbuzz
Cobrasnake Interview on The Brilliance

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Japanicity: Notes on Akihabara

秋葉原電気街Image via Wikipedia It’s not that I dislike the area of Tokyo known as “Akihabara.” Nonetheless, after several hours of being there, several long hours of being sucked into the ultra-consumerist spirit of the place, I start to change. I begin to count the number of steps back to the station, where I can buy a ticket to another land of confusion. For me, the area is convenient when the object of purchase is kept in mind, but, beneath the electronic veneer of the area lurks something different.

The streets of Akihabara bustle with the lust of electronic consumption. Young women in French maid outfits roam the streets, handing out fliers or loitering in front of the station promoting their cafe of employment. This is a not a place to relax, but a place to spend.

One shop clerk, standing outside the shop, with microphone in hand, was performing an upbeat and speedy rap to the tune of the store’s music. One hour later, he was still there, still rapping for us. Computer shops abound. Turning down a side street, we can see the remains of forgotten laptops and the skeletons of personal computers all for a price. Old IBM Thinkpads, refurbished and polished up…$300.00. Almost one year ago, after waking up to a dead Macbook, I headed down to this same area and bought one of these Thinkpads. I’m now using it to write this article.

In the “Doutour” coffee shop, the smoking section outweighs the non-smoking section. A group of three men sit next to us. One of the men is just a teenager. The other two, his older friends, must be in their forties. Over cups of ice coffee, they rattle on about the intricate stories in their favorite manga. I chain smoke and try not to listen. On the other side of us, two men in their late twenties. One of the men, head down, is apparently asleep or dead. His friend, a husky Japanese man, calmly smokes his MildSeven cigarette and looks at the ceiling. I order another double espresso and drink it quickly. It is time to go. I know this, somehow. I sense my relative peace will soon turn to that odd sense of discomfort that comes from being in Tokyo for too long.

We are in a busy shopping area. A man with two pet bunnies is feeding them warm milk outside of a juice bar. The bunnies tremble and fidget as they sip, sip, sip the milk. Spectators have gathered to see the man with the bunnies. The word “cute” can be heard repeatedly as if it’s the only word that people can say. I tune it out.

A man walks by us with a pink wig, a tight-fitting dress and what looks to be a racoon tail attached to his bottom. No one seems to look twice. Meanwhile, the sounds of the city are overwhelming as the sun sets and a dull darkness fills the streets. The shopping doesn’t stop. We turn a corner and see bags, people pushing around other people, more bags. A man is playing an Xbox 360 outside of a foreign game store. His face is about six inches from the plasma screen. He is playing a game in which his character, a mohawked “punk rocker” lookin guy in fatigues is creeping around with an M-16 assault rifle. The man is so close to the screen. It is like he is being slowly sucked into a trance. Two more teenage maids walk by us.

A white man with gray hair is in front of us. He is slow and lanky. I want to follow him for a little while, but get distracted by a camera shop and remember why we came to this depressing part of the city: to eat at Burger King. We circle around the station and find the entrance to the joint right next to a McDonalds. A businessman whose table is located next to ours has fallen asleep. The back of his head leans over onto our side of the table. It is like a fuzzy black animal watching over us.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Sleeping with Sleepbot

Sleepbot is bliss without a botttle: mind-medicine, explorations, other worlds. Last night, I resigned to my bed early and decided to leave Sleepbot on, which, at that time, filled the room with some kind of vocal incantation in a different language. After reading some of Jack Williamson’s “Darker Than You Think,” the light went out. The drift of a processed tone hovered in the room. This must have knocked me out. Sleep was upon me.

I must have woken up more than four times. I can’t quite clearly remember. I do remember the jazz, jazz like you might hear in a David Lynch film, the jazz of a smokey lounge. I had forgotten where I was or where the music was coming from. I also remember an ungodly hum. Surely, I thought, this is the coming of that big earthquake someone told me about earlier in the day. Then the hum changed, the progression of notes became apparent. It was only Sleepbot. I fell back asleep. My mind twisted around dreams that, at this early morning reflection, seemed all too real. Why was I trying to sell that old Nintendo filled with coffee grounds? Why did the skateboard shop only sell used books in foreign languages? What about the snow storm? Why was I so angry at the clerk? I usually don’t have dreams this intense, this real, I thought. I remember trying to run, not being able to run.

My eyes creeped open, crusted over from the night’s adventures and I realized it was morning. Sleepbot had died down into something barely audible. Saturding morning had come. I was relieved. “I made it,” was the feeling rising from my parched body. A cool 76 degrees and the coffee dripped shortly after. Listening to Sleepbot now, in the morning, in the cool of the morning, is refreshing, welcoming me back to the land of the living.

I’m not sure if I will repeat this experiment again, as I am fond of sleep without waking. The random aural “disturbances” fuel my ability to dream deeper. Sometimes it is best not to experience those hidden dimensions. Being susceptible to the music, I am now aware of the power of Sleepbot.

The 24-hour Sleepbot Environmental Broadcast can be downloaded and streamed from here:

Sleepbot Environmental Broadcast

This is the way ambient music should be. Unending.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

N/V/E (Noise-Visualization-Experiment)

Kazumoto Endo & Blazen Y Sharp: Ask For it By Name (7″ Vinyl)
Gender-Less Kibbutz, USA

NOTE: The following is an exercise in imagery. I have had this “Ask For it By Name” record for many years and rediscovered it on a trip back home to the USA this summer. The cover art is black text on a pure white background. The vinyl is unmarked, simply a ring of white around cold black vinyl. No information other than the name of the artists and the name of the release are given. I am not sure which side is performed by Kazumoto Endo or which side is performed by Blazen Y Sharp.

The NOISE-VISUALIZATION EXPERIMENT begins now:

Side
The reverberations of a factory, an abandoned factory, perhaps. Scraping against corridors and being pulled into the mechanical churning of a machine, a rusty machine. The obscenity of electricity ignites the situation, briefly, with an intense fervor. The blast continues, eliminating the mechanical repititions. They return, this time in the form of a sine, a rapidly pulsing presence. Exit into darkness.

Side
Crinkling metal against metal. Raindrops of metallic shards rap gently against the window’s exterior. Sky gray turns to sky black while a hovering force steadily approaches, subdued…subdued. The metal breaks. An opening, which mixes the hovering mass with the window frame combine, grinding against each other. The sinking away, sudden bursts of trembling scrapes hang lonely in the air. Exit into darkness.

Thank you.

Kazumoto Endo