July 21, 2010

The Fabled Chinese Hipster – Parts 2.1-2.3

See also: Part 1, One Point Five and 2: Reprise.

PBR: three letters that spell the beginning of the End for Eastern Civilization.

pabst-blue-ribbon-landai-beer

However, as with just about every Chinese variant, the adjective ‘bizarro’ prevails: Evan Osnos of the New Yorker applauds Danwei‘s eye for PBR’s PRC rebranding as Blue Ribbon 1844 (蓝带啤酒), a premium craft beer.

That reliably blue-collar Milwaukee lager, later adopted by unbearable hipsters on the coasts, has turned up in China. And P.B.R., best known in the U.S. for being the cheapest beer on the grocery-store shelf, has—like so many expatriates before it—taken the move as an opportunity to change its image. For a beer, that appears to involve an elegant glass bottle and a fantastically ridiculous price tag. One bottle: forty-four dollars.

–Evan Osnos, Pardon Me, Would You Have Any Pabst Blue Ribbon
Letter from China blog on The New Yorker, July 19 2010

Osnos, ever duly diligent, also includes this link to PBR [advertising] through the ages. In fact, the story is so fascinating that he has just posted a follow-up post with a few choice quotes from PBR / BR1844 Brewmaster / Chief Representative – Asia Alan Kornhauser. Short of outright plagiarism, the relevant excerpt is reproduced below:

I formulated a special high-gravity ale called “1844.” It’s all malt, and we use caramel malts from Germany. The initial aging is dry-hopped rather heavily. Then we do a secondary aging in new uncharred American oak whiskey barrels. We bought 750 brand new barrels to the tune of $100,000. This is a very special beer; it’s retailing for about over $40 U.S. for a 720 ml bottle.

–Interview with Alan Kornhauser, All About Beer, July 2010

Indeed, Osnos’ colleague (New Yorker Beer Correspondent) Jesse Rodriguez notes that:

Traditional P.B.R. is light and fizzy with a distinct cloying malt profile, while the B.R. 1884 [sic] has a rounder mouthfeel with a notable hop presence on the front palate and finish. Is it worth the money? Probably not, but it’s definitely not a P.B.R.

–Jesse Rodriguez in Pabst in China, Continued,
Letter from China blog on The New Yorker, July 21 2010

pabst-blue-ribbon-1844-via-danwei

The interview continues with a few more telling tidbits:

There’s an audience there for it?

There’s the nouveau riche, and in China, perception is everything—look at me, I’m rich. Then also, there is another group that may be part of our market, and that’s state banquet dinners. Normally, you’d drink brandy, and this beer kind of has the look of brandy—it’s a reddish-brown color, but it won’t hurt you as much.

The beer combines a new flavor and a Western status symbol. Apart from the prestige, how are you selling these new tastes?

It’s new on the market, so I’m not sure exactly how it’s going—I have very little to do with the sales side. There is a TV commercial that’s quite attractive, that uses old still photos of the early days of Pabst, back when they used wooden barrels there.

What’s Pabst’s story in China?

We were the first foreign brewery in China, since the liberation in 1949—as it’s called there. We’re doing about one and a half million barrels there. Our first brews were, I believe, 1993; I didn’t get there until 1998. At that time, the largest-selling foreign brand in China was Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Read all about it

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Possibly more related than one might think: the hipster fashion cycle.

hipster-fashion-cycle-infographic-via-flavorwire

I would hypothesize that Chinese fashion fundamentally differs from Western trends (to which the infographic applies) at the mainstream and conservative stages, where the former tends to correlate with (said) nouveau riche and the latter is either mainstream in the Western sense or more traditional Chinese. Nostalgia, then, would be informed by Western trickle-down imagery, while the ironic stage is virtually non-existent.

Though there are examples of ironic style on display in China—Mao’s face, red stars, military regalia are today worn with something less than earnestness—there is also more at stake in young people’s fashion choices.

–J. David Goodman, Are There Really No Hipsters in China?, Slate, April 21 2010

Flavorwire via PSFK

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chinese-dorm-via-newsweek

Why the FCH is still a rare breed: Smart, Young and Broke; insert bad pun about higher education not necessarily being hire education. (Thanks Eugene; cf.)

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June 7, 2010

Unsorted Links

UPDATE: Rearranged with respect to the next post; trust me, it’s better for everyone this way.

http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2010/06/perceptions.html

Richard Barnes - Murmur 8, December 14 2005

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May 26, 2010

Assorted Links

UPDATED, one last time before midnight.

Os Gemeos & Blu (Works in Progress) in Lisbon

Os Gemeos & Blu (Works in Progress) in Lisbon

Street art’s symbiotic relationship with the Web makes you wonder whether the genre’s broad popularity stems from the fact that its characteristic features—swift execution, quicksilver response to pop culture and politics, the dominance of quotation and commentary, snarky attitude, fragmented statements embedded in the world rather than meant to stand apart from it—actually reflect the way that plugged-in people process information, more so than “traditional” art. There is something particularly contemporary about street art’s whole M.O., in this sense.

–Ben Davis, Is Street Art Over?, Slate, May 26 2010 (Highly recommended)

Fresh Stuff from Ron English in Queens

Fresh Stuff from Ron English in Queens

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Two perspectives on Marina:

She and MoMA have brought some magic back into art—the sort of magic that all of our courses in art history and appreciation had encouraged us to hope for.

–Arthur C. Danto, Sitting with Marina, The Stone blog on NYT, May 23 2010

There are euphoric moments and then intensely sad feelings of heaviness. Whatever you’re feeling becomes intensified. Certain truths about things I need to fix in my life are revealed to me. Marina says that in her own life she’s not so disciplined—that the performance gives her structure.

–Deborah Wing-Sproul, The Performer Made Bare, NYMag, May 23 2010

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prokhorov-bloomberg-jayz-via-espn

[As Prokhorov] explained to “60 Minutes,” “I don’t use a computer. We have too much information and it’s really impossible to filter it.”

You know what? He’s not necessarily wrong. Do we REALLY need all this information? Like, right now—you’re reading this column and hopefully enjoying it, but ultimately, could you have survived the weekend if you missed it? I say yes. Just about everything online fits that mold—you have to sift through loads of bad writing and irrelevant information to find the occasional entertaining/funny/interesting thing, and even then, it’s not something that’s making or breaking your week. Ever been on a vacation and had little-to-no Internet access that week? You survived, right? Maybe the big Russian is on to something.

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Candy-Darling-by-Peter-Hujar-via-huffpo

Candy reminds us of the postmodern notion of self-creation—the way we don social signifiers with the same ease as clothing, constructing our selves bit by bit from cultural cues and images. Rather than the solid frameworks we cast them as, our selves are more like sweaters we put on and take off. When it comes to social identity, we’re all a wee bit in drag.

–Caroline Hagood, New Documentary Tries to Solve the Riddle of Andy Warhol’s Candy Darling,
The Huffington Post, May 21 2010

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Was2651110

The problem of negative externalities [refers to] costs that accrue when the self-interested actions of one person leave bystanders worse off. The biggest example of a negative externality is global warming: When we burn carbon-based fuels, we benefit ourselves while imposing a great cost on billions of other present and future inhabitants of the planet.

–Felix Salmon, The Man Who Could Unsnarl Manhattan Traffic, Wired, May 24 2010

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j-bennett-fitts-land-of-ahs-via-good

GOOD Picture Show has a gallery of J. Bennett Fitts' incredible photos of Middle America

Read the rest of this entry »

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May 24, 2010

End of an Era

“Let’s go to another commercial.” –PC (1:45)

Apple’s iconic “Get a Mac” ad campaign is no more: Jobs & Co. have pulled the plug on the cheeky TV spots that pitted stuffy-button-down-middle-aged-guy John Hodgman against relatable-young-hip-dude Justin Long (human representations of PC and Mac, respectively).

Here’s a montage of some memorable moments between the two titans of technology:

via Mashable

It’s an easy metaphor for the shift from the PC vs. Mac decade to a full-fledged, multi-platform war between Apple and everyone from Google to Adobe to Amazon—not to mention Microsoft ever-looming in the background—though it’s far to early to tell who will be the next Hodgman.

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April 29, 2010

Images: Super Deluxx Edition

Henri Cartier-Bresson's portrait of Sartre is currently on view in his retrospective at MoMA

Henri Cartier-Bresson's portrait of Sartre is currently on view in his retrospective at MoMA

As with his entire body of work, Sartre’s theory of imagination refers to—and, naturally, affirms—his ontology, in which he explores Husserl’s tenet that “all consciousness is consciousness of something” in the context of the ‘detotalized totality’ of being-in-itself / being-for-itself dualism. Sartre postulates an admittedly underdeveloped notion of image consciousness in his early work The Imaginary (1940), though these writings are largely eclipsed by his later political [viz. Marxist] proclivities; nevertheless, his theory of imagination is a sufficient foundation of a phenomenological aesthetics.

Notably, Sartre implies that the imaginary (or ‘irreal’) has the same ontological import as the real: if the real is never beautiful, it is simply because beauty is, by definition, imaginary, where imagination is a permanent possibility of consciousness. A painting, photograph, film, song, performance, etc., necessarily transcends perception—i.e. consciousness of oil on canvas, ink on paper, a projection, an actor, etc.—as an object of image consciousness, which overflows with the meaning of the portrait (etc.): a particular arrangement of brushstrokes or sounds immediately presents itself to consciousness as an image or melody. The abstract, then, is that which escapes us in experience qua perception; colors transcend pigment to conjure mood or geometry.

Hence, Images (in no particular order):

Liu-Bolin-via-artcat

1.

scott-campbell-if-you-dont-belong-dont-be-long-via-ohwow

2.

youngerthanillbe

3.

http://static1.slamxhype.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/michael-joo-damien-hurst-have-you-ever-really-looked-into-the-sun.jpg

4.

barz-art-pink-terror

5.

Faile-Bast-Deluxx-Fluxx-NYC-via-TBWE

6.

maya-lin-what-is-missing-video-still-via-designboom

7.

http://www.designboom.com/cms/images/rid09/zaaa07.jpg

8.

Picture-5-450x318

9.

basquiat-nowness-still

10.

http://kitsunenoir.com/blogimages/mwm-crystals-lasers-1.jpg

11.

http://theworldsbestever.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/Whistlers-father.jpg

12.

deadoralive-mad-animal

13.

marina-abramovic-made-me-cry

14.

shepard-fairey-mural-houston-bowery-deitch-via-arrested-motion

15.

http://www.archdaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/1271684823-0032686-488.jpg

16.

http://www.hypebeast.com/image/2010/04/dqm-2010-spring-lookbook-15.jpg

17.

doug-mike-starn-big-bambu-met-roof-garden-flickr

18.

peter-root-ephemicropolis-via-designboom

19.

21.

20.

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April 12, 2010

Thy Fearful Symmetry

Earl Woods did not live to see his son’s scandalous downfall, but he may be instrumental in restoring the good name of the shamed Nike pitchman… though I prefer the Christian Bale remix (below):

via Buzzfeed

Most commentators see the commercial as distasteful or exploitative—Colbert notes that Nike is selling Woods instead of vice versa—though ad execs are rather enamored with the 30-second spot, insofar as it offers a curiously intimate moment with the athlete.

http://cdn.mashable.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/Tiger-Nike-Online-Video-Ad-Visible-Measures.jpg

Visible Measures charts the spinoffs; via Mashable

I can’t say that I’m particularly keen on golf, but I do love pop culture, celebrity, and Nike—not to mention the role of marketing in all of the above—and I’m curious if this is the epilogue to the whole sordid affair. As per the title of the post, did William Blake portend the meteoric rise of golf’s biggest star?

Cheap Shot (Reprise) after the jump— Read the rest of this entry »

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March 19, 2010

Hipsteria

or, What Hipster Means to Me

Hipster. Reject the label or embrace it, Sisyphus does not envy you though your path is clear: you like art (check), music (check), design (√), fashion (√), film (√), food (√) and biking around Brooklyn to jam with hipster friends or go to (i.e. be seen at) art happenings and step out for smokes (√√√√√). And you blog about it (√). There is no possibility that you have freely chosen to do these things: the hipster is a sheep, a cartoon, a robot, a target market—anything but a living, breathing human being. The hipster is Sartre’s waiter.*

[It would be too easy to populate this post with photos from LATFH, Vice, Cobrasnake, Last Night's Party, Lookbook.nu, etc. etc., so we're going with photos from Beijing's Ren Hang, via Neocha Edge. Are Chinese hipsters more or less authentic than their Western idols? Is Chinese anything more or less authentic than Western versions of the same? Meta-migraine...]

The New York Times recently ran a blurb on the (decline of the) hipster with a handful of decent and not-too-hateful comments. The piece cites Salon’s recent article on Hipsters+Food Stamps—which itself has elicited the usual anti-Trustafarian screeds and counterarguments in defense of food(ies), etc.—as the latest development in the ongoing culture war between “Young, Creative Urbanites” and regular people. Meanwhile, Adbusters is over it, which is probably for the best.

In any case, it’s worthy enough of an occasion to reflect on What Hipster Means to Me. (Ok so that’s probably an inappropriate, if pithy, exordium for what is intended to be a thoughtful, unironic and somewhat ambitious essay, but it was just too good to pass up.)

In other words, I’m not in denial about my hipster proclivities, so long as I might be granted the possibility of unironically self-identifying as a hipster. Similarly, Idolize Your Killers is (to borrow WordPress’s felicitous phrasing) “Just another hipster blog”—lest we forget that meta-commentary is the trademark of postmodernity and, by extension, hipsterdom and digital culture alike.

Yet “hipster” has been a pejorative term for nearly a decade now—a pigeonhole, a pariah, or worse: a Platonic “idea of Hipster.” This archetype finds infinite variations of empirical manifestations, though it is never fully realized; instead, an individual is reduced to his urban outfit, fixed-gear bike or love of Animal Collective, etc.

A brief overview on the case against hipsters: as the indie nation evolved alongside American Apparel*, so too did pent-up indignation at their smug, unleashed most memorably in Adbusters’ seminal July 2008 cover story “Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization.” Time Out is known to dabble in hipster-bashing; Paste did its part last year; Gawker and Gothamist hit the hipster hot button when they want to pander for pageviews. (I’m sure I’ve omitted many a rant; those are just the media that come to mind.) Conversely, the proto-hip tastemakers at Vice have somewhat validated the hipster with VBS’s ongoing alt-journalism efforts, which are now featured on the likes of CNN and Huffington Post.

Read the rest of this entry »

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March 16, 2010

Daylight Saving Time & Other Items

» Aesop Rock – Daylight (4:25) – 4.1MB m4a @ 128kbps

The Persistence of Trite Imagery

The Persistence of Trite Imagery

Since this Sunday marked Daylight Saving Time, I decided to put my philosophy degree to good use by pondering the psychology and metaphysics of this semi-annual ritual.

First of all, there is technically only one daylight to be saved: contrary to folk wisdom that might suggest otherwise, daylight is an indivisible entity. In a sense, daylight is like money—which is also grammatically singular but conceptually plural (insofar as one would hope to have more than one money)—such that daylight is quantifiable, at least in terms of daylight hours. In other words, official terminology denotes that summer is ‘Time to Save Daylight’—i.e., Time for Daylight-Saving—while the colloquial (if not altogether prevalent) shorthand “Daylight Savings” is a gerund, as per the nominal usage of “Savings” for that type of  bank account. (Even the Wikipedia URL for the Daylight Saving Time entry is Daylight_savings.)

The monetary metaphor is useful in illustrating how DST’s pithy essence “spring forward, fall back” belies the curious phenomenon that either occasion—the turning of the clocks in spring or in fall—can be described as gaining or losing an hour. Common parlance suggests that we have indeed acquired a full 60 minutes, yet this increment simultaneously seems to have slipped through a mysterious temporal rift in the wee hours of Sunday morning. It appears that we have both gained and lost an hour on Sunday, a discrepancy that reveals two divergent systems of belief concerning time and how it is measured: absolute vs. relative. The two views correspond to a scientific picture of an independent physical world and a pragmatic ‘lived’ experience of time, respectively.

The former system holds that time marches forward of its own accord and that to push a clock forward—from 2AM to 3AM, say—disturbs the clockwork of the universe to the effect that humans have erased an hour from their day. Here the bank analogy must be modified: on Sunday, we withdrew an hour on credit, which we will pay back in October; for the next six months, we owe one hour to the universe, or nature, or whatever. We have lost it in the interest of practicality—we need to borrow the hour for the better half of the year—though we plan on restoring balance in six months or so. For the absolutist, the hour is deferred.

Those who abide by the second perspective, on the other hand, see time as more malleable, where chronology is purely pragmatic: we gained an hour on Sunday because we now have an extra hour of sunlight—and, ostensibly, productivity—to the effect that the days themselves grow longer. By springing forward, we stake a claim to the greater daylight afforded by the rotation of the Earth, silently folding one hour into the shroud of slumber in order to extend each and every day in those six months. For the relativist, it’s possible to save daylight like money albeit not in the interest of yielding a long-term dividend: everyone cashes out the same predetermined amount at the end of each day.

Of course, both schools of thought understand that the actual demarcation of time to be incidental (i.e. pragmatic in a broad sense)—otherwise we wouldn’t have license to give and take (or take and give) hours as we please. Nevertheless, I wonder if there is any correlation between the saving(s) locution and the gain/loss dichotomy: are relativists more predisposed to regarding DST as a savings account, as opposed to absolutists who treat the extra time as a line of credit?

Does that even make sense? Rather, does it even matter?

Now for the real news:

  • Advertising 2.0: This Time, It’s Personal. FaceBook is now crowdsourcing targeted advertising like social AdSense (=AdBook?). (NYT, Future Perfect) Also, Product Placement: Geolocation is so hot right now (NYT)
  • Mattel Mentality x Mad Men = Barbie. WTF. (NYT)
  • Google Maps now has (spotty) bike directions: Gothamist blurbs, Streetsblog mentions, Wired crowdsources; Bike Snob NYC is more thorough, with an incisive riposte to the Post
  • Big ups to the Alma Mater in the Times. But seriously, the prospect of digitally tracking writers’ inspiration and composition process is quite fascinating.
  • Stanley Fish on Pragmatism’s Gift.
  • I’ve always been a stickler for free throws (i.e. I don’t understand why every player isn’t shooting 90+% from the line), so I was pleased to see that Wired has posted a guide on How to Nail a Free Throw.
  • Old news, but here’s a couple of interesting articles on sports video games and their source material; specifically, how video games are have become increasingly true to life for athletes: League of Gamers (ESPN); Gamechangers: How Videogames Trained a Generation of Athletes (Wired)
  • Speaking of video games, Virtusphere. Just watch the damn video.
  • G4 (correctly, I think) identifies Chatroulette’s ‘Merton.’ NYMag’s Vulture (correctly, I think) identifies Ben Folds as a “Fin de siècle singer-songwriter.” Just watch the damn video.
  • (Over)analysis of Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” music video. (Vigilant Citizen)

Music news:

  • What Would They Know: Matthew Perpetua interviews Liars for Pitchfork.
  • Time to Get Away: LCD Soundsystem finishing up their last record. (Daily Swarm)
  • Wanna Be Startin’ Something: MJ posthumously lands a massive record deal. (WSJ, NYT)

Art news:

Bonus Trailer:

Ride, Rise, Roar trailer via Wired.

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February 8, 2010

Nightmares Never Sleep

Better slip you an Ambien. –Jay-Z

Even as I watch Vinsanity tear the Hornets a new one, I’m not quite sure if I’m looking foward to NBA All-Star weekend as it approaches hot on the heels of the Super Bowl (and, perhaps, will step on the toes of Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day). It’s not so much that it’s an inopportune time, but the fact that the game and competitions feel like empty spectacle since there is really nothing at stake.

However, these new Nike spots (both by W+K’s Portland headquarters) definitely do the trick.

Bonus pic:http://www.hypebeast.com/image/2010/02/kobe-bryant-bruce-lee-nike-zoom-kobe-v-3.jpg

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January 31, 2010

Media

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