Don’t Despair: Yeah Yeah Yeahs make landmark video

Leave it to the dead cooler than cool musical trio, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, to make history as the first band ever to film a music video atop the Empire State Building.

As compelling a muse as Karen O is, the iconic building and glimmering skyline steal the show, particularly in the last minute, which features a breathtaking view of the sun rising over the city that never sleeps as Karen sings, “Through the darkness and the light, some sun has got to rise.”  While the title of the song may lead you to believe otherwise, the video for “Despair” is hopeful and joyous, and the combination of the lyrics and the panorama of Manhattan at dawn brought a lump to my throat.

Karen O said:

“It’s a song about overcoming despair, acknowledging that it’s always going to be there, making room for it… Unhappiness is just another form of happiness, is what I read in a book recently. It’s a pretty appropriate song to be singing into the wind up there.”

I wholeheartedly agree.


Will Love Tear You Apart?

Still feeling tore up about this weekend’s Game of Thrones shocking Red Wedding and feel like prolonging the agony?  Check out the hauntingly conceptualized game inspired by Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and wallow. I do recommend that you play the game in full screen and with headphones on as the entry page suggests. Much more atmospheric.

I have to admit I have played this game several times now and I have no idea whether you can win.  Oh, hey, Gordon Calleja, I see what you did there!

Through the Looking (Google) Glass

As titillating as technological innovation is, I’m a person who believes in a little resistance to progress.  I still use a Blackberry rather than an iPhone, I brew my coffee in a French Press rather than using any kind of cup or pod device, and it makes me insane when people view entire music concerts through their phones.  That’s why reading Mark Willis’s thoughts about the new Google Glass product struck a chord with me.

I hope that certain social rules surrounding the public use of other forms of technology (i.e. don’t be that asshole speaking too loudly on the phone on the bus, you deserve to be smacked if you’re texting while walking, and hey, it’s rude to check your phone on a date) will extend to Glass and that people will be kind enough to use a little common sense and courtesy as the technology develops. Unfortunately, there’s no accounting for what creeps will do.

Of course, I admit that I might just be paranoid, and this is probably because I’m a little old fashioned (see first paragraph); I also never fully jumped on the reality television bandwagon. I want my productions to feel a little like productions, and not stolen moments of other people’s lives.

Agree or disagree? What do you think is the ultimate appeal of a product like Google Glass?

Keiko Fukuda: “Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful.”

If you are remotely interested in the world of women’s sports and in particular, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), then chances are you have heard of a former Olympic Bronze Medalist Judoka named Ronda Rousey who is making waves in the UFC. However, long before Ronda was even a gleam in her daddy’s eye, another woman named Keiko Fukuda was making her own incredible journey in the world of martial arts, quietly and determinedly leading the way for Ronda and many other women like her.

I was incredibly saddened to hear that Shihan (Grand Master) Keiko Fukuda died recently at the very ripe and respectable age of 99. Descended from samurai, she was the last living person to have trained directly under Master Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo, at the Kodokan, as one of a class of only 24 women. She is also the first and only woman ever to receive the rank of 10th dan. The first I ever heard of her was when she was awarded this honor from USA Judo after literally a LIFETIME devoted to teaching, in July 2011.

For anyone who whines about having to wait their turn, pipe down and listen up. Due to the sexist and traditional belief that there was no need for women to progress past the 5th level, Fukuda had to wait 30 years, while her male colleagues advanced, before she was finally promoted to the 6th dan in 1972. She was then denied promotion again to the 9th dan by the Kodokan just before her 88th birthday (although she received it later in 2006). A weaker person might have become embittered or turned their back on the sport, but despite these hardships, Fukuda displayed incredible grace, remained a lifelong devotee and ambassador, and was a living embodiment of her motto: “Be gentle, kind, and beautiful, yet firm and strong, both mentally and physically.”

Her lifelong achievements and dedication are even more incredible when you think of the other traditional mores of her time and culture. If you think it’s hard to swim against the current here in the United States, you’ve probably never experienced the joys of trying to make your own way in a Confucian society. Members of her family hoped she would eventually marry one of the other Judo practitioners, but Fukuda remained unwed, dedicating her life to the art of Judo and teaching that art to others, saying that it “was my marriage… I just never imagined how long this road would be.”

Keiko Fukuda is a role model to any woman anywhere who wants to achieve something in a male dominated arena, athletic or otherwise. The first time I watched the above clip, I cried. In fact, I cry every single time I watch it, and am always amazed and awed by the strength of this remarkable woman. Rest in peace, Shihan Fukuda. Thank you. You were and will always be an inspiration.

Tracey Emin’s Valentine to New York City

Like most of my fellow New Yorkers, I find Times Square to be an unbearable tourist wasteland, and can only stand extremely limited doses of the crowds and neon billboards (shoving, with elbows, on my hurried way elsewhere), but tonight you might find me braving the hordes of couples rushing to and from dinner and the Broadway shows, standing in the heart of midtown a few minutes before midnight, head tilted upwards, to catch Tracey Emin’s Valentine to New York City.

What can I say… I’m a romantic (sometimes) and we do crazy things for the city we love.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

A Little Pinspiration: Art & Culture

A Little Pinspiration: Art & Culture

Sometimes it saddens me that the majority of repins from my Pinterest account are pictures of food and other insanely delicious looking Franken-dessert cookie/cake frosted chocolatey hybrids, only because there are so many other interesting things on there to see.

A few things that amazed me this week:

  • French photographer Thierry Cohen’s photo-illustrations of what night skies over major cities would look like minus the light pollution:

  • The charming illustrations of French artist, David Cessac – love this one of Karl Lagerfeld!

  • As a native New Yorker, of course I feel a particular affinity for the sketches of my hometown, but Untapped Cities also provides beautifully written insight and art about many other urban communities across the globe, such as Paris, Los Angeles, Detroit, and London:

Have a Pinterest account?  If you have any particularly inspiring pins that made you stop and stare this week, please feel free to share, and if you like these bits, you can check out the rest of my boards here:

Thanks for reading!

“Bloom” & the sexual metaphor

I’m super late to the party on this one, but I watched the video and I think that conceptually, it’s an astounding metaphorical masterpiece about a girl’s sexual awakening. If the apple, the gushing stripper pole, the bucolic cottage, and giant blooming technicolor flowers weren’t all indicators enough, you have some very literal masturbation in the kitchen and a sex scene thrown in there for good measure. There are no coincidences here.

There is a lot of debate surrounding this video’s overt sexiness, especially shocking in a conservative country like Korea (my sisters and I still joke about how little kissing the romantic leads do in K-dramas, preferring instead to hug intensely between bouts of melodramatic martyrdom); of course there was some backlash and slut-shaming. However, there was also a lot of support for the music video. Some have called it a feminist manifesto, and said it was a huge step towards providing other K-Pop princesses such as HyunA with an alternative to the pandering slutty-for-him image. Without venturing too far into that debate and passing judgement on the sexuality of other female K-Pop stars, I do feel that this video is far less about selling sex than celebrating it. Ga-In’s character is clearly a woman who is enjoying herself (only some pun intended) and the sex is not gratuitous – it’s telling the story of a happy woman unapologetically and ecstatically in love, and not that weird, sexless, martyring, up-on-a-pedestal kind that is so often glorified by Koreans, and that in itself is pretty darn refreshing, in ANY culture. I really commend the director (who just so happens to be a woman, kudos to her).

All the cultural analysis aside, this video is hitting a visual 10 for me. The song is really catchy, Ga-In’s makeup and wardrobe are fantastic, the CG is crisp, and the choreography is tops (how can you not love her troupe of butterfly back up dancers?). Hit play and enjoy.