Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Fear & loathing in NYC

This months cover by K.K.W,
with layout by Aleksandar Ares.
N.Y.C: the good, bad & the ugly. Article & photos by K.K.W

I think everyone comes to a point, living in an urban center, where they begin to detest certain things about it. What truly seemed like an oasis, has become a center for chain-stores, apathy, corporate thugs, inner-city thugs,  hipster-thugs, post-grunge thugs, cycle-thugs, and the near soul-less consumers who can only be satisfied like junkies on the prowl [the chemical junkies are gathering spare-change for a lawsuit]. Therefore, I'm listing my reasons for the decline of NYC. 

1. Cost of living is too high. Its hard to believe there was a time when living in New York city was either cheap or very affordable; not just 50 years ago, but 10-5 years ago. The cost of residential living has risen sharply, while most salaries didn't. And while most are feeling the pinch - they are content to seek pleasure, after occasionally bitching [if only most had the testicular fortitude to take action]. The commercial sector may be even worse; many businesses aren't making enough to pay rent [fickle consumers always looking for the next trendy thing doesn't help either]. The store "Pearl River" will be moving after Dec 2014, from 477 Broadway due to rent its new rent: $500,000. Between North - Brooklyn [along Flatbush Ave] into  Manhattan, many store's are closing, and the people don't seem worried. 
Decaying street-art from West 14th,
near Washington street. I think the "cost"

prints are by Adam Cost. 
2. Freedom & anything goes? But at the price of being held in contempt & excluded by those who don't agree; which creates more emotionally-scared, urban outcasts. Oddly enough this is what created the Hippy's & the Beats. Normally this is just life, but these day's each tribe or social-gang believe their way is right [which is poppy-cock]. I think most of us are closet fascists, bitching about a lack of freedom. 
Street-art from Mercer street [artist(s) unknown]
3. Great culture? Yes, there's all the culture stemming from museum's, galleries, art-spaces, plays, films, street-art and music performances.  There's all the history of NYC, the rest of the country, the circumstance's that led to where we are now [yet most of us could-a-shit]. All on low-levels & high up as well; and yet, its drowning in a sea of collective ignorance & apathy. Too many would prefer shopping & entertainment. 
Bushwick Brooklyn 2014.
4. Diversity aplenty?  What good is diversity when many are still too primitive to enjoy it? Okay, perhaps that was a tad-bit-harsh. While there are still too many, unwilling & can't deal with diversity, many more thrive on this aspect of our culture, further improving it. Although with every new social-group, lone-nut and tech-counsuming youth, those of us who knew low-rent NYC before starbucks are becoming afraid.  
Image from a print @ a cafe on Bushwick Ave near,
Montrose in Brooklyn [artist unknown]
5. Ethnic melting pot? Blah, blah, f...ing-blah. Well... Not exactly. We melt in moments...on certain days, holidays and because we dress in a similar way. Together we buy products from the same companies that compete for our loyalties, though often can't or can barely look each other in the eye.    
@ Saint Patrick's [during the renovations]
6. Scruffy-bearded, tattooed young men & women with flannel shirts, tight pants, 20-30 keys hanging from their waist & full of attitude. Not sure what it is that makes so many of them hold people like me, and many others, in social contempt. Perhaps its the solid-color, button-down shirts and a clean-cut, non Hip-Hop, gangster Rap look confuses & makes them angry. They prowl NYC as if they embody the cultural sprit, when almost all of them moved here from the mid-west [with little originality, and a deep belief social prejudice].  
Madison Ave, Manhattan, NYC.
I understand that things changes, people change, as-do-cities. And yet, it seems too awful to comprehend; something out of a Hitchcock film. Or maybe I'm just getting old.  'Art is the reason, art is the way' 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Summer-tunes [for Litha] #2

This months cover by K.K.W,
with layout by Aleksandar Ares.
Music now: the summer-list (for Litha/summer solstice) Part 2 By K.K.W

Spring came late this year and summer is already here, as we move towards Litha, turning us right-round and cleansing our troubles. And what better compliment to the glorious season then fine music [aside from good booze, food, friends and a reasonable supply of cash or credit to ensure one hell-of-a-great ride!]?

So, in the Spirit of Apollo, Aten, & Juno, we give you a list of music to guide you towards, through & past Litha:

Life Recorder. Image courtesy of the artist.
nd_baumecker. photo courtesy of the artist.
Bastille. Photo courtesy of the artists.
Abe Ana Choveche. Photo by K.K.W
Tropical Rock. Image courtesy of the artist.
herMajesty. Photo courtesy of the band. 
Michael Vincent Waller. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Hopefully some of the music will strike a cord in you,
and you'll buy it. 'Art is the reason, art is the way'

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Russian Oil & The Republic of Macedonia

This months cover by K.K.W,
with layout by Aleksandar Ares. 
A Russian oil pipeline & VMRO falling? By K.K.W

You don't have to be an energy expert to know that every country, its cities and economy depend on it. And when it comes to oil & natural gas the U.S may not care for the influence on Western Europe from Russia. And, that the Republic of Macedonia stands to gain a great deal financially from part of a Russian pipeline through their country. "...several countries in southeast Europe, including Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary and to some extent Austria, remain enthusiastic about obtaining a direct feed of Russian gas through the South Stream pipeline, which Gazprom proposes to build across the Black Sea. They think the pipeline would reduce risk of cutoffs by bypassing Ukraine, while most other European countries, plus Brussels, lean against it because it would largely remove a key card that Kiev has in its duel with Russia." [1]
Photo by Ognen Teofilovski. 
However, the "South Stream" pipeline project was abandoned in December [because of an EU rule that forbids one entity from owning the pipeline & the gas it carries through EU territory] after which, "Turkish Stream" was conceived. And seeing no alternative, Moscow has agreed to relinquish its shares in the pipeline given that Gazprom is a state owned company. 

The pipeline would go through Turkey, the Balkan's [The Republic of Macedonia & Serbia], possibly Greece then under the Adriatic sea to Italy. Aside from avoiding further disruptions from Ukraine, given the current situation & those in the near future, the pipeline would be yet another stable source of energy to Europe. The current leaders of Macedonia [especially Gruevski, who is on record as such] are against sanctions imposed on Russia, and in favor of the "Turkish Stream" pipeline. The pro-western opposition in Macedonia clearly feels otherwise, and most recently released recordings [& transcripts] of mass- illegal wiring-tapping by Gruevski's government. 

Sergei Lavrov. Photo courtesy of Business Insider. 
The recordings [giving evidence of murder cover-up, bribes, etc] led to major protest's, international intention & social media backlash. All of this causing Russia to wonder about the situation in the country, and some to speculate that outside forces may have helped in causing all this. Russian news service Tass, quoted Sergei Lavrov as saying "the Macedonian events are blatantly controlled from the outside". [2]  Vladimir Choizhov, Russia's ambassador to the EU, agreed; "I don't have any hard-line facts, but its a logical suspicion" [3], he told Bloomberg TV. 
"Well this is a result of the fact that the opposition leader was served these transcripts by foreign intelligence services and he admitted that". [4] "What is very interesting is that this unrest, the latest terrorist attack took place on May, 9 - precisely at the time when the Macedonian PM was only one of the few European leaders in Moscow attending the Victory Day parade". [5] 

Photo by Ognen Teofilovski.

The West is pushing for its own pipeline, TANAP [ shipping gas from Azerbaijan & maybe Turkmenistan as well] which would not only eliminate Ukraine from the equation, but Russian gas into south eastern Europe, and reduce their exporting into western Europe as well. If "Turkish Stream" is implemented and goes through The Republic of Macedonia, it could be a serious catalyst for the economy, leading the country to a new era. And provided the profits are used wisely, many of the country's problem's could be greatly reduced. 

Partisan Blvd, Skopje [The Republic of Macedonia].
Photo by K.K.W
If you would like to know more, go to:http://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Macedonia-Caught-In-East-West-Pipeline-Tug-Of-War.html, or:http://rt.com/op-edge/259541-macedonia-unrest-west-russia-pipeline/

1 - N.Y, Times, David Buchan. A senior research fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. 

2-3 from the article Macedonia caught in East -West pipeline tug-of war, by Andy Tully of Oilprice.com. 

4-5 Srdja Trifkovic, from his interview with RT.com

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Summer-tunes [for Litha]

This months cover by K.K.W,
with layout by Aleksandar Ares. 
Music now:the summer-list (for litha/the summer solstice) part 1

Spring came late this year and summer is already here, as we move towards Litha, turning us right-round and  promising to cleanse our troubles. And what better compliment to the glorious season then fine music [aside from good booze, food, friends, and a reasonable supply of cash or credit to ensure one hell-of-a-great ride!]?
Rachel Mason - photo by K.K.W
Alveol https://soundcloud.com/alveol
Muriel Louveau - photo courtesy of the artist
Jeanann Dara - photo by K.K.W
Herzel - photo courtesy of the artist
Genoveva - photo courtesy of the artist

Melis Aker - photo by K.K.W
Anna/Kate - photo by K.K.W 
Lily Virginia - photo by K.K.W
Along with listening to the music, purchase what you like & support the artist's. 'Art is the reason, art is the way'

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Q&A: Souhad Rafey

This months cover by K.K.W,
with layout by Aleksandar Ares.
Samira Abbassy [left] & Souhad Rafey
"Artistic Weapons of Mass Communication", with Souhad Rafey. Photos & interview by K.K.W

K.K.W: What was the earliest influence of art in your life?

SR: I would have to say my mother, since she was incredibly artistic and creative. As a young child I was impressed by everything, from pottery she made, to works she painted, to clothes she designed and sewed for me. My mother had a great sense of style and an elegant refined taste in all the "art" that encompassed me as a child. I also have vivid memories of visiting weavers in the mountains of Lebanon, at an early age, during one of our family vacations. The experience stayed with me and I ended up minoring in weaving during college and continued the practice for close to 20 years. 

K.K.W:  Was being a curator a call you eventually had to answer, or perhaps something you decided you had to do? 

SR: Not at all. I thought I wanted to work in the arts but I wasn't certain in which way. In graduate school, I went from various departments (craft, art education, art history) before focusing on and receiving an advanced degree in Museum Studies. I experienced work with conservators, registrars, art administrators, and curators before settling on what I do, now.

Art work by Rajie Cook
Art work by Samira Abbassy
K.K.W:  Usually much of what we do reflects some of who we are; do you feel your choices in art show aspects of your subconscious?

SR: Of course.

K.K.W:  All art communicates something, however, these days most of it is far from dealing with important social/political matters. Do you feel this should change in order to improve the art-world?

SR: Aside from social/political matters, I afraid the art world has gone far beyond its tipping point with no reversal in sight. It has become big business at its worst but that is another conversation. I have much respect for artist who stay true to themselves. I appreciate the impact art can have when its relevant. Of course, some artists happen to be much more aware of our world as a whole and they may place greater importance on history and politics than others. This becomes evident in their and intentions of exposing viewers to their views. And artists who chose not to wear their conscience on their canvas may give in other ways, so I prefer not to judge or dismiss work that does not address social/political awareness. I admire creativity and imagination that is born from political turbulence and unrest but it can become a strong ally of revolution only insofar as it remains true to itself.  
Art work by Mary Tuma [foreground], John Halaka [backround]
K.K.W: If the art work is a weapon, then the artist maybe considered dangerous.
And, are they now to be labeled soldiers? 

SR: I guess art that is used to gain a strategic, material or mental advantage over traditional mindsets could be considered a dangerous weapon of sort to other who don't share the same views. In turn, the artist delivering the message may be viewed as the soldier (or recruit or fighter) in this context.

K.K.W: Even strong statements through artistic means doesn't always 
have an impact. What then to reach the "...traditional mindset..."?

SR: Perseverance.

K.K.W:  As the curator, was your focus on effecting the "...traditional mindset...",
or leaving that to the art work itself? 

SR: Both. In tandem, there was more possibility of this occurring. 

K.K.W: Do you feel like some of the message(s) within the show was lost in translation,
given that people need to like the art [& the artist] before they will accept the message?

SR: Most don't like to be force-fed or hit over the head with information. If the message isn't obvious there is so much on the internet that one can find out if interested or confused or in need of more details. FiveMyles was generous in printing a thorough and informative brochure to acompany "Artistic Weapons of Mass Communication" and the gallery also gave the artists an opportunity to discuss their work with the public one evening. 

K.K.W: What is it about art & being involved with it that moves you?

SR: Many aspects - especially the human contact I have with the artists. It is very rare to find galleries in the art world (NYC in particular) as intrepid as Hanne Tierney. She was generous, enthusiastic, and most willing to include work of this loaded content without hesitation. It was both enlightening and refreshing to learn more about FiveMyles and the work it does to continue embracing its community. 
Art work by Ganzeer
If you would like to know more, go to:www.fivemyles.org/artistic-weaponswww.samiraabbassy.comwww.rajie.orgwww.johnhalaka.comwww.ganzeer.comwww.marytuma.com. 'Art is the reason, art is the way'

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

@ Pianos

This months cover, by K.K.W.
Layout by Aleksandar Ares 
Female artist showcase (@ Pianos). Article & photos by K.K.W

Hours before going to Pianos on Friday for an event, I tried thinking of reasons not to go. Walking along Ludlow street I could feel the collective energy of the area, mingled with the dying light, illuminating the worn-down streets. By the end of the show, I was glad I showed up.
Melis Aker
I took a stool at the the darkly-lit bar in a medium size-room with a stage; while most of the performers mingled amongst themselves, like old friends. And as Melis Aker started her set, I slowly began to warm-up. There was certainly something pouring out of her, into the dark back-room. The lovely voice merging with poignant lyrics that obviously emanated from her passion, and some place quite private. Her compelling  rendition of "A case of you" by Joni Mitchell cemented the moment, leaving all present throughly satisfied. She's certainly as talented as she is easy on the eyes.  

Melis Aker
As soon as Anna/Kate took the stage and the first song commenced, something magical happened. The ukulele, passion of feelings through their voices, along with the rest of the band [Mark on Bass, Brian on Drums, & Melissa on Cello] made for a unique sound that could not be ignored. An upbeat, almost pop-sound quality to the music, yet never just saccharin, but from a laid-back personal source, laced with the pain of having lived. Love is a recurring theme, whether directly or indirectly, [there are a few love-songs on the EP] as is  the nature of their [Anna/Kate's] queer-sexuality - giving the feeling of raw honesty.
Lily Virginia
Lily Virginia
The wait for Lily Virginia seemed too long, but certainly worth it. Having already known her music from her self-titled EP, to see her live was a thrill. She held the crowd with the power of her sound like gentle fire, poetic lyrics that allude to something unique. The music has a california vibe, folk-rock feel; light & playful like Sara Holtzschue's "Angel (For KRS)" & "For KB". But just as easy she can change pace with a track like "Yuriko", filled with potent-verses, anguish, longing joy & regret Like Patti Rothberg.  Recently she made a cover of "Te Extrano" ["...a cheesy pop-song..." as she put's it], which she performed that night. And I have to say, it was really cool; her singing in Spanish, the vibe, the flow of the song. If its a cover of something cheesy, she made it beautiful. Her talent was flowing straight out of her, and filling up the room. 
Lily Virginia
Lily Virginia
If you would like to know more, go to:www.melisaker.com www.annakatemusic.bandcamp.com, or:  www.lilyvirginia.com. 'Art is the reason, art is the way'