Posts from 27th March 2004

27
Mar 04

And your prize is…

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And your prize is…

Many hoary old cliches (on that subject, is there much else that gets called ‘hoary’?) have some sort of basis in sense or fact, but one that I saw for about the thousandth time in XXX tonight seems to entirely lack sense.

The bad guys, who appear to be that rare breed, rich radical anarchists, have employed a team of scientists to build them what will help them destroy the world, or whatever the hell it is they think they are doing. The weapon is almost always a mcguffin, in Hitchcock’s terms, of course, but this is a distinctly weedy one – a solar-powered submarine, that “only has to surface to get sunlight.” Given the physics of this, that means it will sit motionless on the surface for every daylight hour available, then trundle around slowly for short distances at night. Anyway, once the scientists are celebrating completing the job (and before any testing, though I guess films (and comic books) understandably hardly want to bore us with that tedious stuff) the evil megalomaniac villain kills them all.

That is what I don’t get. Are scientists who are willing to work in seclusion for supervillains in such high supply that mowing down a dozen or so isn’t wasteful? Don’t these things get through to scientists? Do they not grasp that working for power-mad lunatics might be a bit risky? Dr Doom was always ‘rewarding’ faithful and valuable service with death, but it never seems to harm his recruitment of other scientists and technicians. It would put me off applying if I figured the punishment for failure would surely be death, but the rewards for success were just as likely to be death too.

(I put this on this blog after toying with Do You See?, because it’s sparked off by a movie, and The Brown Wedge, because I’ve seen it most often in comics. I don’t imagine this is a problem to which scientists in the real world have to give a great deal of thought.)

strange geometries ahoy

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strange geometries ahoy!!

if this “chicago blogmap” works how i think it works, it’s projecting a sector of the blogiverse back onto the stylised planar* real-world projection of the illinois city (move cursor to a station to see which blogger lives nearby): i can’t decide if this is a nice idea or a lame one

*(ie give or take topological fuck-around)

A few songs into my shift

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A few songs into my shift at the Birkbeck end-of-term party a guy came up to the decks. “Do you have a card?” “What?” “I’m getting married this year, I wondered if you had a card, you know, with your mobile on it.” I was flabbergasted! I reckon this is one of the most flattering things that can happen to a pop DJ: asking your mates to DJ your wedding is one thing but a complete stranger – !

Of course a lot of people do just that: the wedding DJ sector seems fairly immune to the music industry’s current travails, and has laughed off the ‘death of dance music’ – as long as human beings have legs they will want to dance to the “Grease Megamix”. I had been thinking earlier in the evening of how one becomes a wedding DJ – it’s something that genuinely appeals to me. It’s a high-responsibility thing to do, keeping a hugely diverse crowd happy and dancing – “diverse” not just in age but in attitude; for some attendees the wedding is one of the most important days of their lives, for others it’s just a booze-up or a bit of a chore. How do you juggle people’s tastes and expectations?

Of course you could just trot out the absolute standards but the difference between an OK pop night and a great pop night is the DJ playing the tunes that you had no idea you wanted to hear but that make you scream with pleasure when they do drop. That’s where the fun is. For the last 45 minutes at Birkbeck we DJed as a team, me on the decks with Steve, Tim, Steve’s Pete and Alix conferring to find the absolute hugest tunes. I also demonstrated the harshest skill in the rent-a-DJ’s armoury – the willingness to play absolute shite because you know it will get a crowd going (“There She Goes” by The La’s – the price of my soul in this case being one pint of session lager).

It was a very good night, all in all – but then any night which starts off with “I Love Horses” and ends up with “Tickle Tune” can be bad.

SOUL DIMENSION – “Trash-An-Ready”

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SOUL DIMENSION – “Trash-An-Ready” (aka PopNose2): I have been able to find out almost nothing about this track! Search parties came back empty-handed save for an offhand reference by the all-knowing Woebot to early hip-hop/dancehall hybrids. What else do I know? It’s from 1987 – I think – and it’s on B-Boy Records, which also put out the early BDP and KRS-One singles. This last is the one fact I’m sure of because the CD it’s from is called The Best Of B-Boy Records, a 2CD set on Landspeed, also it turns out recommended by Woebot and I have to give a hearty nod to that – it’s excellent, vibrant mid-80s hip-hop which puts its most famous tracks (“Strong Island”; “South Bronx”) at the end and you don’t even find yourself looking forward to them. “Trash-An-Ready” is completely atypical of the comp, which is mostly enormous dry drums and splashes of electro. The other amazing thing about the set is that you can buy it for THREE POUNDS in the Fopp Records beg pile: if you live near a Fopp go there NOW and clean them out of it. You can still get it on Amazon too but it’ll cost four times as much.

Anyway, this track. Mike Daddino and I had a chat about it – he thought it was a British MC, I wasn’t sure. I think now it might be, though I’m not sure what such a beast would be doing on an East Coast hip-hop label; maybe Brit-rap hadn’t got its bad rep at this point. Whatever the case the MCing isn’t the most fluent, and the stitching together of the rap bits and the ragga bits is very basic: in fact the ragga bits themselves are pretty obvious, riding a bassline so well known (“Sleng Teng”) that even I recognised it. But it works! It has a rough eagerness about it that I find very charming, and in context it’s both primitive and prescient.

Zaha Hadid Rules !

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Zaha Hadid Rules !

The thing with Zaha Hadid is that she does not do much theory, or the theory she does is a bout buildings and not cities. Her buildings are about the logical extensions of material and form–so radical in many ways that she is considered dangerous if she is considered at all. From her early work with Rem Koolhas, who taught her about joy, fun and sex to the debacle with the Cardiff Opera House to the triumph of Cincinnati’s Contemporary art Centre, she has come out as one of the most interesting and epic workers.

The opera house in Cardiff was a jangle of broken glass and shattered concrete, a deconstruction of modernist forms i the middle of the welsh countryside, looking at it from the crevice of green hills, it should not have fit at all. It did though, it rolled along with the landscape, and shot out like fountains of glass when an obstruction occurred. It offended Charles so much, that he banned it and she lost her commission.

There was the swooping, penetrating fire station in Germany
here
, which resembled nothing more then a monastery or bunker for the 22nd century. It was safe and projected this protectionist instinct. It would never fall, for wind or rain or flood or fire, it was the object that would protect the rest of the village, because it was so protected itself.

There was the ski jump in Innsbruck, here which was a virtuoso reduction. There was nothing there, but a hill–no chalet, no steps, nothing but a thrusting spire that resembled the mountain it was in. Radical because of its sculptural tendencies were not extraneous but nessecary to the function of the work. It was Le Corbusier’s machines for living, and Van De Rohes Form following function but there was nothing but the machine, nothing but function.

Then there was the museum in Cincinnati, herecubist and brutal on the outside, and entirely about making sure that the works are shown, there is a theatre and a cafe, but these are foreplay to exhibition spaces that are wide, and welcoming, womb like and retreating. This is no civil improvement project intended for the bragging rights of small minded burghers, this is the just a place to see the best art we could find.

There were other projects she lost, that were not understood and were cancelled. And now she has won the Pritzker, the first woman to do so, which means that she can do what she wants. There is the new museum in rome that is black and shiny, like a matrix of coaxial cable, and the BMW factory, also in Germany, which is a paraphrase of the first Bauhaus temples to industry.