Tag Archives: music

Iceland can’t be real

Have you ever seen “Heima”, the 2007 documentary about Icelandic band Sigur Rós’s homecoming concert tour?  They do their concerts in valleys and fields and abandoned factories and other such poetic hotspots. After watching this with my tall friend, I concluded that Iceland is fake.

I can take completely random screenshots from this documentary and they will all be breathtaking calendar shots (no shots of the ever-desctructive and airplane-hating  EJYALKFDKUGLLHJ). In fact, I think I will.

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And it’s not like this movie is the only thing I know of Iceland. I read architecture magazines. So there.



Why It’s So Freaking Hot in the Subway

If I were an investigative reporter, or if I had the mental energy right now to do some actual research, I’d look for some articles on air circulation in city undergroud rail systems.  However, I do not want to become an investigative reporter, nor do I have the energy to do some actual research on air circulation in city underground rail systems.  So I’ll just complain.


Actually, it’s not some much complaining as an observation, because I like to think of myself as someone who doesn’t complain (which makes me a hypocrite because I know full well I’m complaning).

The subway, year-round, but particularly the summer months, have the habit of being just nasty.  It’s warm (like, very warm), humid (like, very humid), and it’s probably just as clean as a keyboard (which is just as dirty as it is boring).

A few hotspots:

  • The 4-5-6 Canal Street Stop
  • The E-M 53rd & 5th Stop
  • That God-forsaken tunnel between the N-Q-R 42nd Street Times Square Stop and Port Authority

That last one is pokes itself it the butt sometimes (I think I just made that euphamism up; I’m going for a makes-fun-of-itself type figure of speech).  Once you start the journey through that tunnel and realize it’s particularly dank in there, you have two options: 1) turn around and get onto the street, or 2) continue on in the hopes that Good Lord will have mercy on you today and make the experience a shorter one.

Now I read somewhere this past week that the London Underground was designed so tightly that there was no room to install air conditioning when the technology became available in the second half of the 20th century, which means that commuters have to endure scorching internal temperatures day in and out.  Upon reading such truthfact, I felt ashamed for being so whiny about my own Subway, which at least has beautiful AC within the cars themselves. Then I remembered going to London last year for a family visit, during one of London’s “heat waves”. UMM, NO. During that heat wave temperatures “soared” to like, 75 degrees Fahrenheit. I feel no sympathy.

Most people (all people) have no choice but to just get on with it.  And these people are my heroes. And since I am one of those people, I am my own hero. #selfesteem

All this gets me thinking. AND SO. From the depths of the broiling New York Subway, a list of personal heroes:

  • MTA Information booth workers
  • Homeless People
  • Crazy people with homes but choose to prophesy in the Subway anyway
  • Musical performers for tips
  • People who miss their train and have to wait 20 min for the next one
  • People who can’t fit in a crowded train and have to wait for the next one
  • Classy ladies who insist on wearing cardigans
  • Suits
  • People who run the platform magazine stands
  • Workers who remove and replace the posters on the wall
  • That one guy with the old broom who picks up pieces of paper
  • That Chinese lady who sells baby turtles
  • Metrocard machine repairpersons
  • Christian Fundamentalists preaching against the walls

Here’s to you.

The MUJI aesthetic: What prompts us to use fancy words like “aesthetic”

Earlier last week I made a visit to the MoMA Design Store on 53rd, whose rear third is dedicated to MUJI products.  MUJI’s a Japanese domestic design company whose only stores in USA are here in New York. A visit to their website is kinda sorta necessary. It’s very purrdy.

I like MUJI for many reasons.  And I’m currently attempting to put these reasons into words. Actually, maybe there’s just one reason but that one reason has an enormous number of facets that make me, who doesn’t have a firm grasp on the nature of my consciousness, think there are many reasons. In any case, I like MUJI.

I hesitate to call them a high-end IKEA, firstly because IKEA’s 40 years older and one must respect one’s elders, secondly because the global scale of the two is incomparable.  Also, IKEA is all/mostly furniture, and MUJI, like, isn’t, so duh. Also, why am I caps locking MUJI. I don’t have to.

Muji’s known for it’s “no-brand” aesthetic, meaning it doesn’t market and brand its products.  Which is why it’s so successful. There’s a sense of exclusivity and anonymity that offers an “origin-less” product of successfully simplified design. At least that’s why I like it.  That and the website’s pretty. I hate saying things like “It’s very Japanese”, but here it applies.  Japanese apparel/domestic design companies have the habit of creating these sexful online stores where their products take a back seat to the website itself, and I love that about them.

Case in point: The Uniqlock.


Apparel brand UNIQLO's online clock features girls doing random dance moves in 10-second loops. Go on it sometime; time goes by really fast around you.

The less you promote yourself, the more you allow the average person to construct a mental promotion for him or herself self in his or her head.  For Muji this consists of cotton and recycled material and the color white and probably yoga. And once he or she discovers the total awesomeness of just thing from the store, the rest falls into place. This is all common sense but I’m just putting it down for the sake of clarifying it in my head.

Anyway, back to the MoMA Muji. I bought two notebooks and a checklist. 🙂

Apparently there are no pictures of the checklist online. Use your imagination, it’s sexy (your imagination and the checklist).

Why Clepsydra still makes my heart a-flutter, six years later


Apparently, really good things happen when artists Konstantinos Vita and Dimitris Papaioannou get together and decide to make love with the minds of billions of people around the world.

Six years ago I had just graduated the eighth grade, and it was the summer of the 2004 Athens Olympics. I had been obsessed with the idea of the opening and closing ceremonies ever since Salt lake City in 2002, and I was literally counting down the days until the Athens opening (in the back of my math notebook).

Unless you were going into cardiac arrest – or, like, had work that night – I wouldn’t understand why you wouldn’t have seen it (awkward verb navigation there). The deep aqueous color schemes, the role of rhythm as a sort of  physical, atmospheric setting, the balance between exclusively Greek symbolism and extensively global contemporary aesthetic – ahh, someone get me a dvd copy. I remember not wanting to blink for fear of missing something amazing.

Greek Boat Boy

The opening drums, so good

Olive leaf torch like seriously <@333

Every moment was “ap images”-able. And while Jacques Rogge’s repeated attempts at making a Katara-style hope speech without his signature awkward pauses every four seconds that herald subsequently awkward applause make me warm inside all the time, the reason I’m writing about it six years and three Olympics later is because of the Clepsydra, directed and music-ed by Dimitris Papaioannou and Konstantinos Vita, respectively.

Δημήτρης Παπαϊωάννου, professional dreamer

Κωνσταντίνος Βήτα, professional musical BAMF

Like, if you haven’t seen this portion of the ceremony but are really into Greek history, you kind of really need to.

“Clepsydra” means timeline (at least that’s what Bob Costas said in the opening ceremony commentary), and that’s basically what the piece was about.  It was a living timeline of the history of the Hellenic peoples and their lil’ ol’ plaything da ‘Lympics.

A train of moving platforms carries living figures embodying Papaioannou’s vision of the Greek timeline.  Colors are striking but subdued, slow-moving people create breathing pictures reminiscent of the art and sculpture speaking the language of all the building blocks of modern “Western civilization”.

The rhythmic echoes of K.bhta’s composed piece didn’t just serve as background music to a visual spectacle, it was an integral part of it.  Music evolves with the Clepsydra, alluding to a state of human existence more than Greek -more than human, even.

The piece was both self-referential and universal.  While the subject matter (Oh gosh, 10th art class vocabulary) remained very Greek, the mood Papaioannou and K.bhta chose to set was molded beyond a sense of spectacle and deeply embedded in some sort of psychological hunger for a sensation of other-worldliness to be found in any sector of human history.


Here, just, just watch it: