Here's how to do Teotihuacan in style: This Japanese couple chose a perch atop the Pyramid of the Sun earlier this month to sit down for a sushi picnic.
* Previously, "Spring equinox at Teotihuacan."
Here's how to do Teotihuacan in style: This Japanese couple chose a perch atop the Pyramid of the Sun earlier this month to sit down for a sushi picnic.
* Previously, "Spring equinox at Teotihuacan."
He's looking at a sweater. He's looking at cotton. He's looking at rubber boots. He's looking at a door. This is what Tumblr is made for: Kim Jong-Il Looking at Things. I went through 14 pages and decided to stop (and resume later).
at last the dear leader has quit this mortal coil. i have decided, nonetheless, to keep the blog running as long as my photo archive will last. i don’t how long that will be but i figure that if you’re reading this, you never minded the lack of good taste in this form of humor, which i’m very proud of, and the fact that he’s dead will make little difference.
i have also decided to make no change on the captions. they will remain in the present participle, as always. much like his father still is, and forever will be, the ‘eternal president’ of north korea, so will kim jong-il forever look at things on this site. well, not forever, it’s not like i have infinite photos of the guy, but you know what i mean…
you may tune-in as regularly as before, or if you prefer, join the myriad of successors that have appeared. or do both, if you don’t suffer from some form of attention deficit disorder, which i hope you don’t.
I know about the knock-off, Kim Jong-Il Dropping the Bass. It's amusing and all. But I must say, nothing can compare with the purity of Kim Jong-Il ... simply ... Looking at Things.
* Elsewhere, an amazing set of photos from inside North Korea, at The Atlantic.
"In the last decade, Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil got married, got divorced, came out of the closet, and talked to Oprah Winfrey -- and now, he's spreading awareness about a spreading HIV crisis in India."
Buildings crumble like mud and bread, people fall dramatically to their deaths from exposed rubble, stuff falls on people and crushes them, looters get shot. I remember seeing this film when I was kid. It was terrifying back then. Right now, would I laugh watching it or go check to see if we have a fresh earthquake kit?
The news in the United States is intensely upsetting right now. It feels like it's from another world. But no, it's here, the world we've created. Watch this Russia Today report from what appears to be West Los Angeles. Correspondent Ramon Galindo, emphasizing the words "extra precaution" over and over, asks a regular citizen named Aaron Gonzalez how he's preparing for the coming nuclear apocalypse:
Gonzalez: "I've been following several subscribers on YouTube that broke the news early, so I was able to get to Whole Foods and beat the crowd and I was able to get a hold of several bottles of the potassium iodine pills so I can distribute to my family and friends."
Galindo: "Besides the pills, have you heard of any other people taking extra precautions to prepare for a possible radioactive cloud coming this way?"
Gonzalez: "I've heard of people saran-wrapping their doors and windows, loading up on rice and grains, storing water."
Then this: A Berkeley-educated geologist who claims he can predict earthquakes and says we should expect one this weekend. Jim Berkland (bio here) accurately predicted, to the day, the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area. He told Fox News -- where the threshold of speculative wackiness is usually very high -- that he predicts a large earthquake on the U.S. Pacific coast this Saturday, March 19. Watch here.
Berkland's evidence: schools of fish washing up dead (happened in Redondo Beach three days before the Japanese quake, and on the day in Acapulco, only the Mexican fishies were alive), animals fleeing their homes, high tides, and the spring equinox, arriving on Sunday, March 20.
When the anchor thanks Berkland for appearing on air, Berkland replies: "My pleasure, I hope."
We don't know how or when it started, and wouldn't know what to properly call it. All we have to work off right now is this video recently commented by friend Anahi. Potentially, these are "cowboy crews" at Salinas High School on the Pacific slopes of California's San Joaquin Valley.
That's where generations of migrants from Mexico have traveled to pump out the crops that help make up the breadbasket of the United States. That's what my dad did. Migrants pick your fruit but also have kids. Kids go to high school. And make culture.
Here, they're taking banda music from Mexico and the Mexican diaspora in the U.S. and applying a dance style to it that involves the hopping and spinning of duranguense (previously explored in Intersections here) but with new acrobatic tricks. Mainly, flying into the air and to the ground and landing on your ass, then picking up the hopping right from there. The boys also do this break-dance-rooted diving move.
It looks competitive.
Oh not to worry. This kind of hyper-physicality is totally Mexi. Remember the "dos borrachos" dance clip that went viral a couple years ago? Realness.
But these cowboy crews? Are they big, big? Do they have them in L.A.? In other U.S. cities that are Mexicanizing? Atlanta? Salt Lake City? On Long Island? How are they socially organized? If you're reading this and in a cowboy crew, let us know what's up!
One of the best in blogs in L.A., Chimatli, caught duranguense early on. Here's the blog's dance category. Great stuff. Here, I've looked at tektonic arriving in Mexico City (but since kinda gone?), the cholo-cumbia-chuntaro current in the North, the mosh-pits of Ecatepec, and the (guarded) sonidero scene in and around Tepito.
From a Southern California strip mall near you, above, "Japanese Mexican girls," by artist Shizu Saldamando, via FB. Can I get a pose, too? Check out some of Shizu's work here. A personal favorite are the romantic embraces in "18 With a Bullet."
What is a common Mexican euphemism for the farthest, most alien place you can imagine? For a place you've never seen, a source of both unease and infatuation? Carlos Reygadas, in a stroke of genius, is well familiarized with it. From my working manuscript:
The basic obsession that binds them all is the fixation with personal appearance, with costumes and masks, with communicating a culture through their dress. On the surface at least, the tribal scene here is so intense sometimes it can feel like walking in parts of this city must be like walking among the fashion-obsessed Harajuku youth of Tokyo.
That would be Japan's El Chopo. So ... are we almost there?
* Above, between red wine and atole with fashion designer Denise Marchebout, Thursday night, May 14, downtown Mexico City.
These are Tokyo kids hanging out in a club in Roppongi, photographed by Ritzy Periwinkle, who writes: "Please notice La Virgen de Guadalupe on his shirt." Yup, of all the styles of dress that Tokyo youth fervently adopt, it shouldn't be surprising that among them exist those who choose to wear modern Southeast L.A., head-to-toe. Or is it the "Vatos that time forgot"?
* More photos at LA Eastside.
Now, pity for the human toll of nature's fury is not normally an impulse we heed on Intersections. What can be done? Right now, Burma is dying. Towns in Oklahoma have been wiped out. Yet these past two days I've been walking the streets, eating, taking the train, waking up, all in a dazed sense of grief over Monday's earthquake in China. It's a total human nightmare.
A friend just sent me this, a report by NPR's Melissa Block from Duijiangyan. She comes across a couple looking for their child and his grandparents in the rubble of a collapsed apartment building. It is very, very difficult to listen to the story's inescapable conclusion.
* Here is another report from Duijiangyan, in The Guardian. Here is Jim Yardley on the anger and agony of grieving parents in Juyuan. And here is the English edition of China's official news agency, Xinhua.
These are just a few of many shots I took at the Expo Manga Comic TNT over the weekend at the World Trade Center. It was a huge, three-day comic con even a San Diegan could love, with blaring video game consoles, archery, sword jousting, live bands, and lots and lots of people in highly detailed costumes.
Trust me, based on interviews and observation, kids in D.F. know their manga. And Marvel characters. And Harry Potter. And ninja gear. And home-made magical cyborg samurai mouse creatures like homie does below. (He said he got help for his razor-sharp cosmetic dentures from his dad, who is a dentist.)
"In 1990, four years after Los Angeles broke ground on its Red Line subway, Shanghai began to build a subway system too," begins a recent L.A. Times article. "Los Angeles was one of the richest cities in the world, with an extensive freeway network, top-notch engineers and serious congestion problems. Shanghai was poor, a decaying post-colonial metropolis shaking off decades of economic stagnation. Its streets were congested too -- with bicycles."
So what happened? In less than 20 years, Shanghai has built one of the largest metro systems in the world. And it's still growing, rapidly. Los Angeles, already suffering the embarrassment of having dismantled its extensive early rail systems, still can't build a subway to the sea. Nevermind one that connects Long Beach to Pacoima or Venice to El Monte. In Shanghai, the goverment draws up a future subway line, the people in its way are moved and compensated, and that's that. By 2020, it will have some 22 lines, hundreds of stations, and serve millions of people every day. In comparison, Shanghai completely squashes L.A.'s measly metro and it's slow-moving expansion plans into East L.A. and Culver City. (Check out this other imaginary L.A. metro map, and whimper.)
The LAT story gets dissected at LAist with the help of a contributor at Shanhaiist, who wonders why the paper didn't quote anyone unhappy with being displaced by the Communist government. You can learn more about the Shanghai metro at the Shanghai Public Transportation blog by Micah Sittig, and Wikipedia.
Fresh off explorations of the true rainbow that is Mexican ethnic heritage, there's an interesting show up at Art for Humans on Chung King Road in Chinatown devoted to work from or related to Mexicali, a Chinese city on the U.S.-Mexico border. Over the weekend, Art for Humans hosted Mexicali art collective Bezando and artist Armando Rascon for what looked like an intense multimedia performance. Check out the Flickr shots.
Included is a documentary about Mexicali, the most Chinese city in Mexico and some say all of Latin America because it was founded as a Chinese settlement. The video has an interview with a young guy who basically looks as Chinese as can be but is speaking the most perfectly pitched Spanish in the Baja California dialect I grew up listening to on the border, describing the life around him. The effect is a really incredible and welcome dose of cognitive dissonance.
Mexicali is a couple hours east of Tijuana. When you cross the border from Calexico, you are greeted by a huge pagoda. The old city center, the "Chinesca," is filled corner to corner with Mexican Chinese restaurants. Just the same in Calexico, the much smaller village on the U.S. side next-door. Sadly, Art for Humans told me Monday the show remains up only till Wednesday.
Tijuana is pretty Chinese, too. My new brother-in-law's surname is Cerda Wong, and as I saw over the weekend back home, the Asian heritage of TJ lives on in the many faces of my cousins and nephews. (Same goes with the historic Russian influence in the region, in the faces, and names: Anya, Sasha, Vanessa, Katia, etc.) We really are becoming the manifestation of Rodriguez's concept of "Brown." Brings to mind the fallacy of the recent bigotry-tinged row over Zhenli Ye Gon. On that subject, La Opinion has this fresh piece on being Chinese Mexican, and this short look at the impact of the Ye Gon story on the D.F.'s Chinese, who say business has fallen dramatically in the their Chinatown since the scandal broke.
** Art for Humans is that gallery on Chung King where there always seems to be kids playing, as seen in the picture above, originally published here.
*** BLOG NOTE: Apologies to my blog comrades for being late on the blog roll. Many more are on the way.
Tuesday night, home drearily YouTubing M.I.A., and my friend Dan calls with news of an extra ticket for her second and last show at the Echoplex. Click-click! We head over, and I can happily report that homegirl held it down! Her beats are direct hits, an unrelenting barrage from the sonic depths of basically the whole planet, and she performed with real hunger and faith, mercilessly flirting the whole time. The room felt aflame, and the crowd was hyped, soaked. "I need to get married tonight," she said at one point. "I have eleven months on my visa. That's enough time to get married and have a baby. Shout out to the FBI in the house!"
It's no surprise the singer's having "visa issues." M.I.A. is a walking rocket of cultural terrorism, metaphorically bombing borders by sounding like Iran mixed with Mexico mixed with India mixed with Ghana mixed with Nigeria mixed with Jamaica mixed with the Bronx mixed with Puerto Rico mixed with Brazil and pulled together by a stunning package of Sri Lankan glamour. It's like globalization carnival ride music -- for the scary rides.
If she were frumpy, was chubby and had a double-chin, would we still worship her? If her eyes were a half-shade less intense, her bouncing a little less rubbery, her cockeyed sailor's hat a little less perfect, her anthems a little less sticky, would we bow down before her the way that we did last night?
The answer is, Yes, give us more! But who are M.I.A.'s fans, really? Anyone else besides insider-y, media savvy hipster kids like the sort that populate parts of L.A. and Brooklyn, those who got to see one of these four small-venue shows on either coast? As she grimes it up ostensibly for the world's dispossessed, will we ever hear the working poor of L.A. bumping M.I.A. while driving down Figueroa? Remember, M.I.A. might say, "piracy funds terrorism."
* Photo lovingly borrowed from the Fader.
M.I.A. plays her second show tonight at the Echoplex, and Losanjelous, bless their hearts, has pictures from last night. The image above is from their nice assortment of close-ups. There's so much hype around these scarce shows: Apparently 1,000 people showed up Monday to get precious few tickets released at the last minute due to demand. If you're going tonight, blessings. Baile-funk the sh*t out of her new stuff. I'll be home a few blocks away in my sparkle-motion tights and floppy neon green painter cap (kidding), YouTubing her:
That's "Boyz," one of the new tracks. M.I.A., a Londoner-by-way-of-Sri Lanka, has a compelling personal saga, but as you can see, part of the phenomenon is how visually striking she is, and how much she's influenced street fashion by excessively piling on mismatched, painfully bright colors and shimmery prints until she and her fans start looking like some kind of deranged tribe of sugar-high post-ethnic Smurfs.
In any case, it's good she's back in "America" after running into visa trouble last year. M.I.A., hyper-stimulating grime goddess of the global subaltern, keeps a place in Brooklyn.
** Add: The LA Weekly Play post on last week's Rapture show that I found a way into. Caught funky-fun Chromeo later that same night. Chromeo played new stuff too, but seeing them again just made me real nostalgic for 2005. * Thanks, Lxs.
We're on a bit of a global kick at Intersections lately, so bear with this excursion to the shadowy corners of one of our newly minted "global cities," Istanbul. NPR's Ivan Watson takes us to Tarlabasi, a teeming district of Istanbul that is basically one of humanity's many urban badlands, a place that attracts the Turkish capital's outsiders and miscreants, its dope dealers and transsexual hookers, its gypsies and illegal immigrants from Africa. Not surprisingly, the area is not mentioned in The New York Times' recent "36 Hours in Istanbul" feature.
The NPR piece is worth a listen, and the audio slideshow is excellent. Link. And also, this attachment feature on Tarlabasi at De-Regulation. Read more on the cultural scene of the greater region, always at Bidoun.
Things haven't been going well in America for Jeong Ji Hun, also known as Rain, a 25-year-old K-Pop superstar from Seoul. He was supposed to have done a huge concert at Staples Center over the weekend but at the last minute the show got canceled, to the horror of weeping fans who had already started showing up. Some traveled from as far away as Japan and Canada to see him, the L.A. Times' Chris Lee reported this week. Lee breaks down the back-and-forth between Rain, sometimes called the "Justin Timberlake of Asia," and his U.S. promoters:
The cancellation comes as the capper on what the Korea Times called "perhaps the most ambitious and expensive world concert tour by any Korean artist" and on the heels of postponed Rain concerts last month in Honolulu, New York, Atlanta and San Francisco because, Kim said, tour organizers hadn't anticipated the difficulties of transporting the singer's 28 18-wheel trucks worth of stage rigging and 96-person entourage from Asia.
A lot was riding on the show: the possibility of a K-Pop crossover and raising the profile of the L.A. Korean American market (77% of tickets had been sold). Cathy Rose A. Garcia, a staffer at The Korea Times, filed this report on a Rain concert at the Tokyo Dome in May, a first for a Korean artist. On Sunday morning, Rain met with fans at an L.A. hotel to apologize. ShenYue!, a Korean pop culture blog, has more coverage here.
* Photo of Rain performing in Tokyo by AP via The Korea Times.
London's Tate Modern is featuring an exhibit right now on "global cities," focusing on Cairo, Istanbul, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Mumbai, São Paulo, Shanghai and Tokyo through the broad themes of size, speed, form, density, and diversity. There are interesting videos accompanying these themes at the Tate's webpage on the show. By next year, half of the world's population will live in an urban zone, BBC reports, with this cool interactive map showing how megacities have grown in the last fifty years. From The Guardian:
The great thing about cities is not how awful they are, but how wonderfully well they work, considering that putting more than 20 million humans in close proximity to engage in serial acts of competitive individualism could not be considered a reasonable idea. If you put rats into claustrophobic circumstances, they become cannibalistic in no time at all. But humans find ingenious solutions: Maglev trains, underground car parks, Korean supermarkets, pizza delivery, cycle lanes, very tall buildings.
I don't care about seeing the show as much as I care about seeing the cities included, which I think is the point. The inclusion of L.A. is another sign that our town is on the international radar more than ever before. If anything, it's another reminder that a better perspective on living in and absorbing L.A. is to try to see it as part of a broader picture, a happy product of huge forces in technology, trade, media, culture, migration, etc. The museum brings together some great work by international artists for the exhibit, such as photographer Andreas Gursky, author of the above image, "Copan, 2002." * Links via Curbed LA.
Dropped by the gallery at REDCAT this afternoon, where I usually find something interesting. The current exhibit, "Eternal Flame: Imagining a Future at the End of the World," features artists working on Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Los Angeles, and New York. A stand-out is Tuan Andrew Nguyen, who presents straightfoward oil paintings depicting streetscapes in the modern Vietnam, each employing a message of propoganda, advertising, and graffiti. Graffiti, it turns out, is a very new cultural phenomenon in Vietnam. In the rear of the REDCAT space, Nguyen shows a documentary with interviews with his country's new graffiti writers. It makes for highly compelling footage. One young female writer, 15-year-old Meo Meo, says she only does sketches for her crew because she is not strong enough handle spraypaint tips. "It is like a career where there is no salary," observes another writer.
This is starting to feel like satire. AsianWeek, the paper out of San Francisco, ran a (shitty) column by one Kenneth Eng in which he lays down why he hates black people. Then they fired him. But what about his editors? The column, an unprovoked slap in the face to San Francisco's African American community, is another reminder that cross-ethnic prejudices in California are begging for adequate efforts to counteract ignorance and fear, and the perils of ethnic essentialism. In this NPR report by Richard Gonzales, one of the co-owners of AsianWeek notes ruefully that recent Asian immigrants arrive with no historical appreciation for African America or the Civil Rights Movement. Which is also often the case with recent immigrants from Latin America, as I noted here. Repeating the obvious is getting a little tedious: Asian Americans face discrimination, too. And, everyone is merging ...
In the blogosphere, author Jeff Chang says AsianWeek is Dead. But at least people are talking about this stuff now, thanks to ... Gawker? Humor helps. Here's a link to the San Francisco Bay View, the city's black newspaper, which has a (broken link to a) story by Ron Wilkins headlined: Mexico welcomed fugitive slaves and African American job-seekers. For conscious and cutting analysis of Asian America, the Asian diaspora, and everything else from the Asian-Am perspective, see hardboiled, out of UC Berkeley, and its blog.
* Photo above from Biochemical Slang, where the Eng column is reproduced besides an interesting map of Africa highlighting recent Chinese investments there.
The Guardian reports a "spectacular" underworld turf war is brewing among the criminal syndicate street gangs in the biggest metropolis in the world, Tokyo. This story comes with a photo of yakuza members displaying their gang tattoos: intricate, large, and filled with imagery from Japanese mythology, they're somehow familiar. The story says:
Japan's top yakuza don, who spent 13 years in prison in the 1970s for stabbing to death a rival with a sword, immediately joined hands with the Kokusui-kai, a much smaller gang based in Tokyo that had leased territory to the Yamaguchi-gumi's fiercest enemies, including the Sumiyoshi-kai.
There are fears that this week's shootings could be the result of the Yamaguchi-gumi's attempts to seize back the leases in an underworld version of a hostile corporate buyout.
* First I've heard of Hubculture and their Zeitgeist List but I won't question their methods: They've named Los Angeles the Center of the Universe in 2007. What a sexy list. Of the few cities they hype that I've visited, and what I've read or seen from the others, it seems to be pretty right on. New York is always going to be awesome, but London is the New New York. We all know Beijing will be our global capital in about 20 years. Along with all those hot cities in India and the Middle East. And down the stretch, who doesn't want to check out Moscow or Mexico City? But L.A. is where it's at, exporting its culture around the world and proving that the Pacific Rim and Latin America will be leading the charge into the uncharted 21st.
* Photo above: An L.A. woman at the 2006 May Day immigrant rights' march from MacArthur Park down Wilshire Boulevard.
Coolhunter flags this amazing proposed design for a resort in Songjiang, China, which is either a district in Shanghai or in Heilongiang province. It's the sort of place that I remember daydreaming about and doodling when I was little: embedded into a quarry, with "underwater public areas and guestrooms." The blog reports it's soon moving into print. Congratulations to them.
* My favorite Coolhunter post remains this brilliant run-down of street fashion photo blogs from around the world. L.A. is noticeably absent. But, more pressing is the question: Could Helsinki be the most stylish place on Earth?
It's going to be a really fun 2008 Beijing Olympics. But if you're not a sucker for cute little cartoons characters meant to spread good cheer and world harmony, don't click here. It's the Olympics official mascots, Fuwa, and once you see them and read about how goddamn cute they are, you just might want to stuff them in your face and gobble them up right on the spot:
Each of Fuwa has a rhyming two-syllable name -- a traditional way of expressing affection for children in China. Beibei is the Fish, Jingjing is the Panda, Huanhuan is the Olympic Flame, Yingying is the Tibetan Antelope and Nini is the Swallow.
When you put their names together -- Bei Jing Huan Ying Ni -- they say "Welcome to Beijing," offering a warm invitation that reflects the mission of Fuwa as young ambassadors for the Olympic Games.
“Skin and Bones,” the show on fashion and architecture currently at MOCA downtown, initially feels like it's setting up an epic visual battle between those who make clothes and those who make buildings, with corresponding displays of clothes, then (fantastic) architectual models by Frank Gehry, then clothes, and so on. But after a while, the show begins arguing that the line between fashion and architecture is very, very thin. Visually, at least. The works that stand out are clothes that communicate as buildings and buildings that communicate as clothes. Look at Foreign Office Architects' plans for a 1997 conceptual work called “Virtual House,” and Shigeru Ban's 1995 “Curtain Wall House” in Tokyo, for architecture that works like fashion. For fashion that works like architecture, consider a piece from Hussein Chayalan's 2000 work “Afterwords,” in which a coffee table turns into a skirt. And Meejin Yoon's 2001 “Defensible Dress,” a prototype for a garment that raises defensive quills when it senses someone coming nearby, like a porcupine. By the end, the line between fashion and architecture totally evaporates. Literally. The final piece highlighted is “Blur Building,” a work from the 2002 Swiss Expo where the 'structural' enclosure is nothing more than mist.
Down the block, at REDCAT underneath Gehry's Disney Hall, curator Eungie Joo put together two delicious and disturbing solo installations by husband-wife duo Song Dong and Yin Xiuzhen, artists based in Beijing. The pieces, “Restroom M” and “Restroom W,” are walled compartments that really need to be experienced to be appreciated. "Restroom M" houses a golfing green surrounded by carnival-like reflective walls. "Restroom W" is creepier: a bare, cold space, with Chinese-style squat toilets lining one wall, a huge chandelier hanging low overhead, and a macabre surprise in a corner near the exit. The works are premieres and the show is the pair's L.A. debut.