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Pop Culture

Omar Souleyman - Leh Jani

[...] Here, classical Arabic mawal-style vocalization gives way to high-octane Syrian Dabke (the regional folkloric dance and party music), Iraqi Choubi and a host of Arabic, Kurdish and Turkish styles, among others. This amalgamation is truly the sound of Syria. The music often has an overdriven sound consisting of phase-shifted Arabic keyboard solos and frantic rhythms. At breakneck speeds, these shrill Syrian electronics play out like forbidden morse-code, but the moods swing from coarse and urgent to dirgy and contemplative in the rugged anthems that comprise Souleyman’s repertoire. -Sublime Frequencies

Several hundred thousand refugees have left the US-backed violence in Syria. BBC says the number should reach 700,000 refugees by the end of 2012. Already Turkey has reached its  limit of 100,000, and in Jordan, that number is expected to climb to 250,000 by the end of the year. This massive displacement of people will undoubtedly do a mix on the music and culture of Syria. As the caption for this video above describes, the music of Omar Souleyman is a kind of geographic finger print of the diverse influences in Syrian Pop Music. How this war will change the music we wont know until the dust settles. Meanwhile, this is not to say another type of Syrian music will not arise from the refugee camps of Turkey, Jordan, or Lebanon. Maybe now as I write, a new tune is being composed. A tune that will develop from it’s extra-specific place to carry message about the Syrian situation. If we really believe in the people and their culture, we would be listening for this new tune instead of the accepting the constant spin and spectacularization of “democracy” in the main stream media.


Converse shoe company set up a popshop full of flowers they will be giving away at 5:30pm today. Not sure what the campaign is for but a large sign outside says that by entering you will be filmed and photographed. Must be for an ad for a new line of naturally made sneakers? (@ Lafayette and Houston St, NYC)

Chinatown Panopticon, April 5, 2010

Where did all the counterfeit Gucci sellers go? Where ever the panoticon can’t see, that’s where. Down the alleys and back behind the main streets. Passing by Chinatown NYC a couple of months back I saw this mobile observance tower, it’s hard to tell if anyone is really in there with the dark windows. It works magic in the area but doesn’t really stop the counterfeit dealers and buyers. I still see them doing business all the time to either Europeans on a tight American vacation or Americans  from outside of New York looking to look good on the cheap. It’s the cult of vision that has common folks like us breaking the law. What’s wrong with a little corporate image blood letting anyhow? The only thing they are losing is the control over who wears their brand.

In the last days of my trip to Berkeley California I realized that I hadn’t planned some sort of pilgrimage through Silicon Valley. Honestly, my geographic knowledge of the West Coast is close to nil. Assuming the Bay area was too expansive to cover in a 6 day trip, I didn’t think about the possibility to drive in search of the monoliths of the computer industry in the area. It was only after a day trip to San Jose, after a 2 hour tour of the Winchester Mansion, that we made the wrong turn off of the main highway and had to do a U-Turn at the entrance of eBay that I realized how snugly fit all the cities of the Bay Area really were. But by then it was too late. At that point, The only thing I could do was look through the area map and only imagine where in Cupertino Apple Computers might be, or Google’s Mountain View camp. I could almost imagine how the majority of headquarters of these famous sites might look with their low-rise expansion of buildings scattered across lush green grounds, maybe a small knoll with the companies logo modestly displayed. I’d be back someday, and maybe it was too soon to start making these type of recent-history pilgrimages, I thought to console myself.

Perhaps the least conventional of them all might have been the headquarters of Craigslist, which I had seen on television before. Craigslist is housed in a modest 4 story San Francisco style house in the Sunset District. What attracted me to Craigslist was what I had been hearing about Craig Newmark, the listings’ founder. It was known that unlike the other pirates of the Silicon Valley, Craig was not out to conquer the world, but more simply to put the idea of neighborhood into the internet-where people help one another for the benefit of all – contrary to current money making schemes. Furthermore, I read in wikipeadia that unlike most companies out there Craigslist had no plans to maximize profits – making it a very peculiar for-profit company and perhaps one of the more humble of all vestiges on the web today.

There is more trivia on the wikipedia entry for Craigslist if you care to learn more. The section “Significant events for Craiglist” highlight some interesting facts such as their eBay auction bid that won them the rights to beam 2 million classified ads into outer space. Craig’s comment was, “We believe there could be an infinite market opportunity”.

Another interesting thing I discovered on Craigslist.org was their “Best of” list compiled by readers… These are a few from Craigslist’s Best of …New York City. Reading them now is starting to make me home sick

20 Apr 2008 – who put the dead bird in my mailbox? – w4m


17 Apr 2008 – Ibanker seeking romance

12 Mar 2008 – Silda Spitzer, I will totally do you. – m4w

27 Feb 2008 – OK . . . I give up . . . just fuck me like a whore

07 Feb 2008 – Fingered on the RED line – Columbia University – w4m

25 Jan 2008 – Dear Star Wars ex-boyfriend, my vag is sore

10 Jan 2008 – Replying to w4m casual encounters ads? A little feedback ..

26 Dec 2007 – No, really – someone come get this horrible Chili Beer

18 Dec 2007 – fancy being lavished during the holidays?

02 Dec 2007 – To the person who broke into my car last night

26 Nov 2007 – Wanted: Heart Surgeon for 1/2 Day Gig – No Pay

21 Nov 2007 – Help me keep the shell people alive.

11 Nov 2007 – Why Must You Bother the Nice Women?

23 Oct 2007 – We met for a drink and you caught me making out with a man – m4w

11 Oct 2007 – To the gentleman who called me a depreciating asset

14 Aug 2007 – Diola lle, lovers of Middle Earth – w4m

Reborn Doll Ebay

Maybe I’m late to report this craze, but a recent spam post tipped me off to “reborn dolls” listings on ebay – baby dolls made to look like hyper realistic babies. I Googled and found this site MBB Creative Doll that has the tag-line of: Art that Captures Life. I don’t really know how to categorize this post? Is it art? games & toys? science & tech? pop culture? All of the above it is!

E-Flux PawnShop

Bills piling up? Short on studio rent? Stop by E-Flux’s Pawn Shop if you said yes to either question. E-Flux, the international art email list has opened up shop, a *Pawn* Shop to be exact. It began in November and is running until the end of December, the store front at 53 Ludlow Street has been transformed into an art pawn shop. A unique experiment for those who are interested in a new perspective on venues for art or for those who are really hard up for cash. Anyone can pawn their art work at the Pawn Shop, just bring your work in an have it evaluated. A hint on how to successfully pawn your work is by making sure whatever you bring in can be sold for at least $99.99. Because if they accept your work they’ll give you a flat $99.99 loan. The loan is  good for a month, at that point you can either repay the $99.99 with interest and reclaim you work, or if you default within this time period you work will be sold for a minimum of $99.99. The profits go to Doctors without Borders.

Events at the Pawn Shop:

FRI Nov. 23rd All Day – *BUY NOTHING DAY*
(as opposed to Black Friday??)

a discussion with Julieta Aranda and Liz Linden on ethical consumerism and strategies of reverse-gentrification, with surprise special guest.

More information at:
PAWNSHOP at e-flux
53 Ludlow Street
New York, NY 10002

pawnshop@e-flux.com or call 212 619 3356.

Elizabeth Peyton's Sid Vicious for Taget beach towel Above left to right: (inset) The original source image of Sid Vicious. Peyton’s painterly beach towel image. Original source detail of Sid’s T-shirt.

Target, the department store, has been teaming up with artist to produce various consumer items for sale in their store. A friend of mine forwarded me the link to their over-sized beach towels on sale now. Looking through the beach towels of Cindy Sherman, Jeff Koons, et al., I immediately recognized the iconic image of Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols as painted by Elizabeth Peyton. I had a laugh but was a bit shocked that Target would use this image since Elizabeth’s interpretation still retains the essence of Sid Vicious’ torn t-shirt: two cowboys with their pants down having a sword-fight (Is that what it’s called?)

(P.S. It’s hard to write a perfect headline, this is the best I could do)

Elizabeth Peyton Oversized Beach Towel – 60×70″
at Target.com – new $50.00

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Appended: 11/26/07
Looks like the towels already sold out? I read that they are yester years item?!? Here is the company that makes them:

Works on Whatever