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Slowly, they surrounded us. Clad in black North Face jackets, hoods pulled tightly over their heads, they quietly looked my friend and I over. Judging from their body language, these young men — six, possibly seven — were absolutely bewildered. They spoke softly amongst themselves, revealing what sounded like French African accents, perhaps Senegalese, or from the Ivory Coast. (More…)

The north entrance to Yuyuantan Park in Beijing’s Haidian district is not the main entrance.  After passing through a working-class neighborhood of three and five-story brick apartment buildings, this entrance is at the bottom of a sloping street lined with fruit-sellers and hawkers.  On one side of the street, an old neighborhood is being demolished; on the other side, new apartment buildings have arisen.  These buildings are handsome, understated, some of the most expensive in Beijing, and the residence of the new neoliberal elite. (More…)

Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera, currently at the Walker Center for the Arts in Minneapolis, pulls together a terrific collection of photos which interrogate the role of the camera in the disintegrating boundaries between the private and the public. This show, which originated at the Tate Modern, raises a lot of provocative questions about the relationship between propriety and photography. (More…)

Rooms are very useful. Especially if you’re not into being outside. Sometimes a room is like a bowl, in which flour, eggs and sugar become a tasty cake. The room I have in mind is located in Landau in der Pfalz, a small town in the southern Rhineland Palatinate, best known for its wine and climate as the Tuscany of Germany. (More…)

During the four and a half years that I lived in London, I always found that I did my best reading on the tube. Not necessarily of my own books or periodicals (though I always had one or the other on me) but the newspapers I found other passengers reading. As an immigrant youngster, at first I imagined that the headlines I encountered represented the opinions of the British. As I grew older, and began returning to the country as a journalist, I of course learned otherwise. (More…)

From the amp-straining bursts that introduce Is This Hyperreal? through the robotic reverberations that close it, Atari Teenage Riot’s comeback album forcefully reminds listeners that technology has a history. But this is no conventional exercise in nostalgia, like records that fetishize guitar pedals from the late 1960s or synth effects from the early 1980s. The sounds on Is This Hyperreal?” are theatrically dated, but thrown together like the odds and ends in a costume trunk. (More…)

Here are two profound moments of  ’00s retro culture.

Listen:

Carlos Santana stares directly into the camera in front of a black background. “I love making people cry, laugh, and dance at the same time – giving and receiving a crucial orgasm,” he says. “I never wanted to be anything else since I was a child.”

His choice words are then brought to life. (More…)

Netflix recently came up with a creative way to charge its customers more: by separating their mailing and streaming content into separate rental plans that “better reflect the costs of each.” One can only imagine how well the already over-compensated marketing strategist who came up with that line was rewarded for it. His shit-eating grin must be even browner around the edges than usual. “Now our members have a choice: a streaming only plan, a DVD only plan, or both.” (More…)

For twelve months, my wife and I lived in a large 1950s apartment building on Milan’s Piazzale Loreto. Not exactly a tourist destination, the busy square is best-known to historians for having hosted the bodies of Benito Mussolini and that of his mistress, Clara Petacci, after they were killed by partisans. Immediately adjacent to place their corpses were hung, our home always held a certain kind of political significance, that as foreigners, we weren’t expecting to encounter. (More…)

I used to take walks between York University‘s student center, and the northeastern side of campus. This is a recording of one of them. I made it because I wanted to capture the sounds of a routine I found meditative and calming. Several days after this was made, the Toronto Transit Commission fenced off 90% of the area, in order to build a subway extension connecting York and adjacent, poverty-stricken neighborhoods, with the rest of the city. (More…)

When I was in kindergarten, I was a tomboy, dreaming of skateboarding with the surfers. I wanted a pair of Vans, but they were hard to come by then. For some reason, I also wanted a Barbie doll. Maybe because the other girls had them. (More…)

I first saw Richard Buckner perform a decade ago, at the now-defunct Nita’s Hideaway in Tempe, Ariz. Call it an intimate performance, or call it a half empty room; Buckner hadn’t really made a name for himself yet in Arizona. I was seated at a small table. I could’ve put my feet on the stage if I’d leaned back in my chair. Buckner was touring with a pedal steel guitarist. This was already three fantastic albums into his career, so I guess the acquired taste tag had already been placed on the deep-voiced, brooding singer. (More…)