Tuesday, June 07, 2005

A Literary Map of Manhattan

NY Times Literary Map

"Hey Horwitz," I said. "You ever pass by the lagoon in Central Park?"
-The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger

As if I couldn't already conceal my elation for heading back home to New York, the New York Times yesterday released a 'Literary Map' of Manhattan. The interactive flash map allows you to pinpoint locations in Gotham where fictional New Yorkers from famous novels frolicked, or as the
Times so aptly put it, "played, drank, walked, and looked at ducks."

The map is impressive to say the least, and begs at least a cursory glance. It includes characters from author's Saul Bellows and J.D. Salinger to the more esoteric Thomas Pynchon and William Burroughs.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

"Soapy" the Hermit Crab. Found in my back yard in Saipan. Any Comments?  Posted by Hello

Friday, June 03, 2005

Are DJ's Taking a Back Seat?

Throughout the late 80's and most of the 90's, there was nothing more ubiquitous in dance music than the DJ. Taking seemingly unknown music, and pumping it at 150 decibals for a room full of sweaty, phrenetic and often high clubgoers, DJ's ascended to a god-like status.DJ's like Paul Oakenfold, Carl Cox and John Digweed came up through the European Dance Scene, Starting in clubs in Ibiza, then proliferating their upbeat dance tunes to London, Paris, Amsterdam and then throughout Europe. From there, U.S. began recognizing and praising its own grass roots House, Garage and Jungle DJ's coming out of Chicago, New York and California (respectively). The world was taking note of these power figures who were being paid tens of thousands oof dollars for one nights work.

With relative economic success in Europe and the U.S. for much of the 80's and mid-90's, coupled with an unbelievable proliferation of club drugs, like Ecstasy, and GHB, DJ's were untouchable. By the 1995, youth aspiring for stardom put down the electric guitars and bought turntables. By 1997, celebrities like Tommy Hilfigger were throwing exclusive parties at posh locations where they would play 'private dance sets.' By the Millenium, Paul Oakenfold was getting $40-50,000 paychecks for single nights of work. Labels like Ministry of Sound, Global Underground, and Bedrock were flourishing under the releases of their DJ-Mixed albums. Partnerships with large American, British and European media conglomerates created larger records, larger venues, and more exposure to the music.Cut to 2005. The pulses of the electronic music and dance world like Urb, XLR8R, BPM spend more and more time lauding the electronic music artists, bands and producers, and less and less time praising the world-hopping DJ's.

It seems that the artists producing electronic music no longer needed the DJ's for exposure. For years, artists would come into the limelight when their track was featured on a popular DJ's mix. A famous example is BT (Brian Transeau): When tracks by BT were featured on Sasha's Global Underground: Ibiza, BT was launched into the scene and heralded as a production genius. A whole crop of electronic music artists were launched as a direct result of Paul Oakenfold's Tranceport series-which for many represent an early opus for trance music.

But with the success of musicians like Basement Jaxx (1999 debut Album "Remedy" scene above) the artists creating the music began taking a front seat. This process came about unmistakably at the advent of the Internet music generation. It would seem artists no longer needed DJ's to thrust them into the mainstream of Dance music-they had the Internet to do it.Legal and Illegal digital music downloads allowed hundreds of artists to find ears all around the world through the Internet. Fan sites, and eventual blogs further touted musicians who were otherwise unknowns. The proliferation of free and pirated electronic music software and cheap laptops set of a grassroots revolution, spawning such well-known and well-respected artists like Four Tet, and Notwist.

Artists gained more and more exposure music mag covers and even in festivals like the ubiquitous Winter Music Conference (WMC) in Miami Beach, and its tandem rave, UltraFest.

Though, that as popular as individual artists become, DJ's still hold a sacred and almost nostalgic place in the hearts of electronic music and dance fans. Without the club experience to compliment the music, Dance music seldom meets its maximum potential. That is why clubs across the world -like Velfarre in Tokyo, and Exit in New York- pack in 2-4000 sweaty dance music fans every weekend. DJ's like Oakenfold, Sasha & Digweed, Tiesto, Steve lawley, Carl Cox, Junior Vasquez and others still hold residencies in three or more clubs around the world, and recieve oversized paychecks all the way around the globe.

It seems that if dance music is a religion, the place of worship will always be the club, and the DJ will always be god.


Thursday, June 02, 2005

Are You Generic?

Because branding sucks.


So often people identify 'who' they are by the diet they maintain, the style they keep, and inevitably, the brands they consume. Along with the purported freedom of a capitalistic democratic/republic system comes the ubiquitous presence of corporations and the brands they sell.

Yesterday I acknowledged that I am not above this brand-fixation. Walking into the shoe-store, I found and bought a pair of Airwalks, vintage a-la 1980's. I felt cooler wearing them.

Areyougeneric.org at least gives you the flexibility to choose what you consume, and furthermore, what corporate franchises encroach into your neighborhood. I feel that at least acknowledging your role in the consumer machine is better than not knowing you are a part of it.

Sentient consumerism should be a first step towards independence from ever growing haphazard consumerism.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Style and the Anonymous Oblivion

I bought new shoes.
Airwalks. And I'm still questioning whether the resurgence of Airwalks is fashionable, or an attempt to rekindle some sort of 80's nostalgia amongst 20 somethings. Who cares, their comfortable. But the greater point is that I bought them with a conscious desire to look good when traveling to Tokyo and New York. The question is why I would prefer to look stylish when I travel to cities where I will be lost within a tide of people? Where I live now, I see on average of 20-30 people whom I know personally, but I have little desire to 'dress to impress.' Going to these teeming metropolis', I want to look perfectly smashing, but for whom? Do people dress up in large city centers because they will be seen by thousands of strangers a day? Is that the basis for their decision in dress? Is advertising more effective among urban dwellers?

Nonetheless, I'm going forward towards my June 10th travel with an increasing number of brain cells concentrating on style. Style that I've loathed and written off as consumeristic doppelgangerism. Why should I look the part? What the hell is the part? I've been under no pressure to wear anything for the past two years, but now I've caught myself visiting GQ online and even :gasp: Maxim. Everything I've considered a concept of increased consumer education and awareness all washes down the drain in an attempt to look good.

And people wonder why advertisers use psychologists to create ad campaigns...