— THE SOCIETY OF THE SPECTACLE

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Tag "New York"

A slight deviation from my usual digital orientated postings, I wanted to bring to the fore this fantastic 12 minute slice of DFA life. Produced to coincide with the Red Bull Music Academy festival in New York this month, DFA Records was, and remains one of the touchstones of my life musically. (I urge everyone to get this album from 2004: A DFA primer, it’s basically their ten musical commandments…) Their bands, their commitment to great music, and their sheer joy has fueled what much of what makes music so interesting these days, yet they’ve done this through one of the most tumultuous times that recorded music has ever faced, let alone record companies. (Whose woes are well documented and plentiful.) This film shows that passion fuels great art. And the best communication, always comes from the best art. It’s a great coda to the outright quasi-religious experience that was ‘Shut Up And Play The Hits’ 

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It’s a year ago this week that I had the profound privilege of being at Madison Square Garden (and the ridiculous after party at the Tribeca Grand Hotel), and saw the final ever gig of LCD Soundsystem. The band that pretty much documented my 20’s in the mid 2000’s. Even from their earliest records, LCD (and James Murphy) always felt like musical kindred spirits, the soul of crate diggers everywhere, and fundamentally hard-wired into the greatest city on Earth. So it was only appropriate that their final gig was a 20,000 people 4 hour barn stormer, packed with unforgettable moments.

While my memories will always be unique, it sent a glorious chill down the spine to know that there was a film being created of that night. ‘Shut Up And Play The Hits’ in fact does more than just become a memorial of one night, but, as this interview with the directors (Via The ever excellent Creators Project) explains, is also a mediation on that all-too-rare ability these days to go out at the top of your game. What happened when the sun rose at the Tribeca Grand? the drink had been drunk and the records had been played? I know I felt a state of shock, so god alone knows what is was like for James and the LCD Gang.

It’s a novel approach, the trailer (see above), gives you a pretty good sense of what that night was like. But for prosterity’s sake, here’s a couple of videos from the final song (and the emotional ‘New York I Love You’) as well as some after party madness that showed that New York, and the world weren’t quite ready to give the band up that easily.

I cannot wait to relive it again.

Shut Up And Play The Hits premiers at Sundance Festival

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This is certainly one of the coolest and most ambitious ideas I have seen this year. All based on a very simple truth. New York Writes Itself, is literally that. A crowd-sourced film script made up of thousands of New Yorkers imaginations and reflections of their own city, billed as a ‘A Production By The People Of New York’.

It’s such a simple thought; a city as diverse, as complex and as densely rich in story as New York could quite literally write itself a script. It’s not like New York hasn’t already been explored in minute detail by some of film’s great directors, from Spike Lee’s Bed Stuy masterwork Do The Right Thing to Woody Allen’s Upper West Side neuroses in Manhattan, or Times Square’s squalor in Midnight Cowboy and Taxi Driver, (the tip of the iceberg obviously), but what makes this different, and therefore worth the follow is the threading together of these disparate experiences. Can you really make a script of something as vast as New York? All these films put a microscope onto a particular slice of New York life, giving you an opportunity to truly experience that slice of life. The creators have neatly sidestepped this by allowing all the elements, Quotes, scenes and characters in the script to be selected and made into their own productions – like posters, exhibitions, music videos and short films.

Projects are already underway, with the first one being ‘The Chairman’ (below)

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If you wanted to take this exploration further, then this project is another example of either the strength or weaknesses of crowdsourcing projects. What are the rewards of participation?  I personally believe the reward is in seeing your own experience recreated in some way. Your unique experience of New York becomes a unique thread in the cultural pattern of the city. You are now immortalised in your metropolis. When at times we can feel alienated from the scale and enormity (and relative anonymity) of cities, the chance to write your own piece into it, seems to be too tempting. A project to follow with interest.

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Awesome promo film for NYC in 1962. Ostensibly capturing the changes to the skyline and the ground (a promo for Equitable Life Assurance Co it seems), it also captures the reality of Manhattan life at that time. This really does feel like the time of the Mad Men. Music included. (Lots of cute jazz riffs).

And to think, with all this optimism, the city would be bankrupt and told to ‘Drop Dead’ 14 odd years later. Amazing.

(Via Buzzfeed)

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Nice simple execution here from Mike Bodge at LOLZ LLC.

N SKY C that tracks the sky every 5 minutes over New York City. This might sound as interesting as watching paint dry, but the tones of colour, when combined with scrolling through previous days, make for a different and cute way of looking at the weather. It is also making me jealous of the great weather they’ve been having over there.

I also like the sentiment of ‘Why The Fuck Not’ about it.

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I Just recently came back from second trip to New York in the last three months. Each trip has been memorable for many things, but this one really was truly magical. Apart from being privelidged to go and see LCD Soundsystem at Madison Square Garden, I also got to see some fabulous films, art and culture, that, certianly in regards to the latter, was as qunitessential to the New York experience as you could imagine.

Of the films I saw, one stood out above all others. A documentary recommended to me on the life, career, and unique New York character that is Bill Cunningham.

In Bill Cunningham; New York We discover the world of the man who, for more than 30 odd years, has worked for the New York Times as the photographer of ‘On The Street’. His weekly round-up of what the ordinary and extraordinary New Yorkers are wearing. The page these days is considered the template for the huge growth of street photography embodied by The Sartorialist, Jak & Jil, Facehunter and many more. His style, quick snatched imagery (while roaming the streets on his 28th bike – the other 27 stolen over the course of that career) has captured a city in constant style evolution. His eye for detail, honed through a career in fashion dating back to the 1950’s, is egalitarian, but treasured by the ultimate power brokers of fashion. So much so that in fact, that he is awarded the highest cultural honor in France (the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) in the final third of the film.

He was responsible for almost all the photography in the upstart DETAILS Magazine, which chronicled the off kilter styles of the 1980’s Downtown scene in glorious detail. Yet, he is also the photographer of choice for the uptown party scene, (His ‘Evening Hours’ page in the New York Times) and the mail deluge of invites to fundraisers from the moneyed doyens of Park Avenue and Republican high fliers never ceases.

This chameleon like nature, only deepened once the film exposed Bill’s lifestyle beyond the camera. If you could call it that, as such was the dedication to capturing fashion in all it’s myriad forms that it had consumed him, and as the viewer, you are left with this confusing sense of whether this is how he wanted it to be, or how it was forced upon him by outside influences that he felt beyond his control (the religious aspect of his character seems to point to this way for me)

The climatic scenes of the documentary are amazingly raw and touching. I won’t spoil it, because if there is one documentary that you should try and see this year, then this would be it.

As far as I know, it doesn’t have a UK release date (it does feel like a film made by New Yorkers for New Yorkers to be fair) but keep checking, as it’s worth the effort.

Trailer below.

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Hello again.

People who have visited this blog in the last month (I do know you’re out there…) Will have noticed it’s been a bit quiet around here. Well, apart from the excesses of Christmas and a general disengagement from all things ‘Internety’ I spent two wonderfully inspiring weeks soaking up the wares of New York City. (Flickr link to come…) It gave me time to think about the year that has been (e.g: shit), and the year that now is (better be immense). In response to my shitty 2010 I didn’t indulge in any of the ‘best of 2010’s’ lists but suiting an outlook gleaned from NYC, looked to the future.

The Guardian got in early with it’s 20 predictions with the next 25 years. Which, while interesting, is so far into the future it borders on the pointless. So, with the a focus firmly on the near present, JWT Intelligence (Out of it’s New York headquarters) have presented their “100 Things to Watch in 2011”. With a number that big, you could be forgiven that this would be a scattergun approach and varied in it’s quality. I’m happy to say that it’s neither. It’s smart, concise and relevant to the very particular challenges and opportunities that face both culture at large and advertising in 2011. It’s worth a read and a bookmark. Let’s see at the end of the year how many of these predictions came true…

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