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Archive for February 15th, 2008

when ambience attacks!

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Check this out:

Bushwick is big (it’s like saying “the Village”). It’s also notoriously
bad. Bushwick suffered the worst of the rioting that struck New York in
the summer of 1977. The area is home to a mostly poor Hispanic and
African-American population, though there are pockets of
gentrification. My corner of the neighborhood, a loft district that the
city is trying to re-brand as the “East Williamsburg Industrial Park,”
mostly warehouses kids just out of art school. It’s a bleak,
rubble-strewn landscape pocked by cement factories and hemmed in by
towering projects. When I moved to the neighborhood, some of my friends
were spooked by the blight, but I only saw the beauty. This is what
Soho in the early seventies or Tribeca in the early eighties must have
felt like, I thought. When I came to New York almost twenty years ago,
those places had been overrun. But when I got to Bushwick, I knew I had
finally found the New York I was searching for—a scrappy loft
neighborhood full of young bohemians camping in their studios. This was
the pre-gentrified New York I wanted to be a part of.


The real drama of the attack was its aftermath. Within 24 hours of my release from the hospital, I made it back to San Francisco, where I grew up; within 48 hours, I decided to quit my job and move back there; and by the end of the week, it was done: I had given notice to my landlord, quit my job, and asked my girlfriend to move in with me. It all made perfect sense to me, a row of falling dominoes. The only thing I couldn’t understand was why everyone kept acting like I had post-traumatic stress disorder. “Only a flesh wound!” I joked. Now I understand, because in retrospect, I realize that maybe I do have a touch of PTSD. I’m not quite the same person I was. Blight, graffiti, empty buildings—the signifiers of every artsy New York neighborhood for the last 40 years—have lost the romantic appeal they once held. I carry a knife now, a small utility blade that I picked up at the hardware store. And when friends of mine get nostalgic for the bad old days, when lofts were cheap and New York was edgy, I tell them that it’s all still there, if you know where to look.

Morality tales from the gentrifying fringe, ah. Boy goes in search of reality, and reality bites him on the ass. I mean, we shouldn’t laugh, but he’s the one who put the damn thing in the magazine, copped to something obvious and ridiculous at once.

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February 15, 2008 at 6:12 pm

Posted in distraction

creative destruction

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Sisyphus just gave me a little present in the comments below:

She’s right, it’s terrific. And it’s of the same sort as the Sky Movies one below, harnessing adbustery rage in service of brand renewal and the like. But even better is the sense that it’s also some sort of self-expression on the corp.’s part of frustration at its own ineptness – 2005, when the Gap began to die after a good run.

Except more of these to come as things slow to a halt. Citigroup analysts being run over by their own Hummers, Walmart visualizing the clusterbombing its own Chinese sweatshops, etc etc, United Healthcare wishing prostate cancer on their own headset-wearing guardians of the meds, all in 30 second spots.

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February 15, 2008 at 11:18 am

etiqueta negra

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n+1 has something interesting going on the the Lima based Etiqueta Negra.

There are free pdfs available here – always appreciated, those. (Hint: start with No. 50, 46-49 don’t work…)

One of the longstanding problems with our corner of the ‘sphere is the fact that we can’t or won’t or don’t want to or don’t try to internationalize it. We thought about this rather frequently back in the day at Long Sunday, but couldn’t ever quite slip the Northeastern US + Greater Toronto + London axis.

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February 15, 2008 at 10:59 am

Posted in magazines

perils of going plastic

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Just try doing this with your Visa card:

Written by adswithoutproducts

February 15, 2008 at 10:52 am

Posted in economics

nostalgie de la boom… and ads without ads

with 8 comments

My wife and I have introduced a thing where each of us takes one night a week out by ourselves while the other watches the kiddo. (We’re late getting to this – it was suggested long ago – but what the hell were we going to do with our nights out in the old place, so the time is right…) On my night, I headed down to see the Rodchenko exhibit, but the damn place was closing (nice opening hours here, god). So I had to come up with something else to do with myself. Good movies were out – they’re reserved for some barely imaginable time when we can see them together. So I saw Cloverfield instead. I feel an obligation to see such things, which my wife definitely does not share, and so… 

(Parenthetically: $26 to see a fucking movie? Are you out of your minds? I saw the damn thing in the worst and likeliest of all possible places I guess, but back in the states there’s a constitutional right to affordable consumption of crap movies. I think it’s administered by the Dairy Board, whomever it is who gives the free milk and bread to the starving grad student moms… But I digress…)  

So. Not much to say about Cloverfield. Fun I guess. The genre’s looking very, very tired. But in the very fatigue of the form, I do think we’re seeing something new and interesting afoot. Semi-new anyway. The producers and writers of the thing are all at least my age, but the presumed audience, I guess is a lot younger. Young enough, in fact, to have the same relation to the attacks so heavily quoted in this film as my students are starting to have. For a few years there, we were all in it together. Now, it’s getting a bit strained. Shocking when it dawns on you that your youngest students weren’t even teenagers when the shit when down. In a year or two, when we’re dealing with kids that were seven or so in 2001, it’s going to feel even stranger – for them as much as for us, who somehow can’t stop threading it into our conversations. 

In Cloverfield, I think we see early signs of an anxiety not about terror, but about its absence. It is a movie tailor-made for a demographic that has grown up hearing about 9/11 but which has only vague, mostly false, memories of it. A generation who parents worried about shielding from the tv, even when they were far too young to distinguish the threat of annihilation from the threat of, dunno, the scary shit that lives in your closet. 

(Heard Bush mention the other day the “attack that occurred six-and-a-half years ago.” It’s been a long, long time. Wow…)   

The yupster parties in loft spaces (hahaha) on the Lower East Side (hahahaha) are going to feel something missing, are going to long for the crisping threat that something will happen downtown, that there will be a reason to run up to the roof, that their emotionally desolate choice (just for instance) to leave the girl behind to take a VP position in Japan (? – oh, i see, godzilla. Try Dubai…), the iron continuities in play behind that, will come to a sudden and abrupt end when some rough beast inaugurates another round of trauma sex, epiphanies of “what really mattes,” a war or wars to momentarily back and then, later, pretend that you opposed from the start etc etc etc. 

But unfortunately, this dystopian fantasy is positively utopian in its impossibility. The crows won’t come home to roost, not here, not anymore. The world, dearies, has moved on. The Time Warner Building ain’t the double-barreled omphalous of the world anymore – it’s in the wrong country to matter. No one’s going to expend good fissile material on a nation and an economy doing a great job fizzling out on its own. The catastrophes to come for the kids that were meant to see this film are going to be far less picturesque, and certainly won’t be available for videotaping. 

Anyway, wow. At least I’m blogging again, right?

One other thing, on a related note: saw this little number at the end of the extremely long strand of ads (mostly for cars and other new dystopian movies) that ran before Cloverfields:  Brilliant, and very very strange indeed. And strikingly beautiful! An ad for adlessness, if there ever was one. It may become the totemic youtube of this youtube intensive blog!

And even better, way better, is that the damned thing looks like the opening sequence of an absolutely incredible (and a good deal more horrifying, to many in the wider audience, than Cloverfields, which isn’t very horrifying at all) of a very different sort of speculative fiction, one about a specter lurching back from the place where dismissed specters go in order to decapitate the idols of the era, break open the walls of the buildings in the expensive neighborhoods, and leave most bedazzled and exhilarated at the sweep of violence that has rubbled so many things we thought could never go, that we believed, despite ourselves, that the world simply couldn’t live without.  

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February 15, 2008 at 1:12 am