Ezra Furman and The Boy-Friends, I haven’t forgotten about you

Last weekend, I wandered around in the woods of a small Dutch island. At the intimate festival called Into the Great Wide Open (only 6,000 attendees), concerts take place in the forests and at the beach. On Sunday, I stumbled upon a concert by Ezra Furman and The Boy-Friends and was captured by the incredible charismatic stage presence of Furman and the energy in his music. He combines garage rock with a hillbilly sound and a saxophone. When Furman started playing the field was mainly empty, apart from some scattered groups of people having a picnics. At the end of his gig, hundreds of people were dancing. During songs, Furman preached:

‘What’s great about a festival is that the only thing that matters now is the band your listening to. You have forgotten everything before this, and won’t think about the future. Until the gig is over. Then you should forget about us too. But for now, it’s all about us’.

Damn right, Ezra Furman, it’s just that I haven’t forgotten about you.

Couldn’t find a good live recording, so here’s one from the Dutch radio station he went after his festival show:

And find him on Spotify here.

PS. For those of you who live in Amsterdam as well: he  plays at Paradiso tonight.

Patti Smith gives advice to the young

A friend alerted me to this interview with Patti Smith – the epitome of punk cool – from 2012. She encourages young people to ignore everybody (‘don’t expect to be embraced’), to build a good name (‘protect your work, don’t compromise’), don’t be afraid for big audiences (‘the more people you can touch, the more wonderful it is’) and enjoy the great moments, since you’ll be ‘really fucked’ at some point in your life anyway.

PS. If you haven’t read Patti Smith’s memoir Just Kids yet, please do as soon as possible. It’s filled with anecdotes about New York in the seventies and tells the struggle of an artist in a touching and raw way.

How to become ‘completely free’

“Solitude did increase my perception. But here’s the tricky thing—when I applied my increased perception to myself, I lost my identity. With no audience, no one to perform for, I was just there. There was no need to define myself; I became irrelevant. The moon was the minute hand, the seasons the hour hand. I didn’t even have a name. I never felt lonely. To put it romantically: I was completely free.”
Christopher Knight aka The Last Hermit

Fascinating and detailed story in GQ about a man who wandered the woods of Maine from 1986, until he got captured in 2013.

There’s a new WordPress in town

WordPress has just released its fourth version and named it after one of my favorite jazz musicians: Benny Goodman. I love how WordPress is improving media embeds, since it’s one of the major advantages of the medium blogging: combining a ton of different media types in your publishing. Here’s a showcase:

And please, don’t forget to listen to Mr. Goodman himself.

Michael Bloomberg once again reigns over Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg (72) leads Bloomberg again. He planned on focusing on philanthropy, but had too much fun walking around in the Bloomberg building. Here’s what the former CEO has to say about it:

“Mike is kind of like God at the company. He created the universe. He issued the Ten Commandments and then he disappeared. And then he came back. You have to understand that when God comes back, things are going to be different. When God reappeared, people defer.”

This is the most impressive documentary about journalism I’ve seen so far

On this blog, I’ve been collecting movies about journalism (part 1, part 2). Those lists consist of powerful and beautiful films, yet none of them show the importance of journalism as the documentary I heard about this week, called Nero’s Guests (2009).

It depicts the quest of Indian journalist Palagummi Sainath, who writes about the staggering amount of suicides amongst cotton farmers. In a country where most media just report on celebrities, he fights for getting poverty on the agenda. Not just by writing, but also by giving speeches.

During the documentary, he gives an impressive speech on inequality and it’s this talk that the film owes its title to.

Please, find an hour to watch this film. Not just for the sake of journalism, but also for the suffering of Indian farmers.

This psychedelic thing called the opera

During my studies, one professor always expressed his admiration for the opera. When he did, I always pictured the cliché: a grand lady in a red dress, endlessly singing something in Italian.

I was wrong.

Thanks to the welcoming people at the Dutch National Opera I have now seen three operas in the last couple of years. They where all, well.., pretty psychedelic.

Yesterday, when I visited Gurre Lieder, I saw a giant fish floating over the stage, while a futuristic jester walked around with a giant white balloon, a tormented king lied for dead on the ground and hundreds of soldiers paraded with their dead horses. Meanwhile, this all took place in a decor which reminded me both of an apocalyptic wasteland and of a palace.

I could easily describe the other two operas I’ve seen in the same way (Einstein on the Beach and Faust), but at the same time I realize my focus on the psychedelic is also a beginner’s trait. I hope, after enough training, I will also come to appreciate the music and singing more.


How a department store competes with web shops: Le Bon Marché leads the way

Last year, I visited Parisian department store Le Bon Marché twice. The first time, I only admired the roof – designed by Gustave Eiffel – and considered the store as a relic from the past. Once a local gem, now a dull showcase for the advertising of world’s biggest designer labels.

I see it happening in my city too, where department store De Bijenkorf only serves as house for shop-in-shops like Louis Vuitton and Hermes and their Russian and Chinese customers (even the announcements are  in Russian and Chinese).

But last week, my second visit to Le Bon Marché pictured a totally different picture. The shop reserved the most beautiful floor – right under Eiffel’s roof – for an exhibition-like store with a clear theme: Japan. I estimate that around thirty Japanese suppliers had a stand at Le Bon Marché Japon where they could showcase their goods and it was clear that they were neatly selected, only offering quality and original products.

There was also an art installation, honoring the art island Naoshima in a rather dramatic fashion:

Seems like Le Bon Marché figured that to compete with web shops, they have to put up a show.

Judging from the amount of shoppers in the store and the Japon-bags on the streets, this project seems successful. It proves that when vendors offer something else than the usual designer-subjects, customers are willing to visit their department stores again.

Visiting the museum at night: an everyday reality at Palais de Tokyo

Palais de Tokyo is an art museum that is open from noon to midnight, so I was able to visit on Saturday evening around 9pm, which I absolutely loved. During the evening, I’m in a better mood to experience the art installations of Palais de Tokyo. During the day, I’m more concerned with the next thing on the schedule, but at night, none of that is bothering me.

The Parisian museum basically is a ruin – especially the basement – and it’s filled with conceptual art – which is not to be understood, but to experienced. Such as Ange Leccia’s impressive loops of the Costa Rican coastline:

After visiting the exhibitions, we had dinner on the courtyard, that is surrounded by pillars and even offers an accidental view on the Seine and the Eiffel Tower. As we saw the crowds gather for club YoYo’s front door, the waiter served us BBQ pork ribs. Outside the terrace, people sat down on the staircases, enjoying picnics and their skateboards.

The Palais de Tokyo really seemed part of daily life for at least hundreds of Parisians, what I absolutely loved and which should serve as a blueprint for other modern art museums.

It would be admirable if more museums opened their doors at night. Art after work!

Dries van Noten shows his inspirations to the public in Paris

My girlfriend is in fashion and wanted to see the Dries van Noten exhibition in Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris, so we took the train from Amsterdam to get there, which felt like a very cosmopolitan thing to do.

Belgian fashion designer Van Noten (1958), who still owns 100 percent of his company’s shares, shows his inspirations, grouped in loose themes like ‘Graphic’, ‘Uniforms’ and ‘Foppish’. Per theme, you’ll see a vitrine with Van Notens designs, accompanied by pieces he found in the museum archive and his personal inspirations, like extracts from his favorite movies.

I especially liked the part where Van Noten combined Jean Cocteau’s sword with a portrait of David Bowie and his own impressive men coats.

Photo by Erin Baiano
Photo by Erin Baiano

The whole show felt like an enormous and sophisticated mood board and reminded me of the book by American author Austin Kleon, who encourages artists to share their inspirations publicly: Steal Like an Artist (2012).

(Exhibition runs until November 2nd)

Here’s the legendary La Grande Bellezza dance scene

So this is on YouTube! I can now watch the dance scene from La Grande Bellezza over and over again. Especially the part where Jep Gambardella turns around, cigarette hanging from his mouth, tantalizing smile on his face – which, for studying reasons, I have captured in a GIF:

La Grande Bellezza dance gif

And here’s the scene: