Case of the Mondays – Kirko Bangz “Rich”

I had an interesting conversation with my father the other day. The summarized version of the convo went like so:

Dad: “All kinds of doors open when you have money,”

Me: “Not really…Mo money, mo problems” (clever response, I know)

Dad: “I’d rather have money and problems than no money and no problems”

Me: “Wait what?”

Dad: “You know what I mean…”

 

The moral argument in life is that you should do what you love – that money shouldn’t be the goal. One of my favorite takes on this idea comes from Aristotle, who beautifully argued in his Nicomachean ethics that happiness is the only thing that is a goal in and of itself:

And of this nature Happiness is mostly thought to be, for this we choose always for its own sake, and never with a view to anything further: whereas honor, pleasure, intellect, in fact every excellence we choose for their own sakes, it is true, but we choose them also with a view to happiness, conceiving that through their instrumentality we shall be happy: but no man chooses happiness with a view to them, nor in fact with a view to any other thing whatsoever.

It’s pretty hard to argue against the idea that most of what we do is with an aim towards happiness (though the definition of happiness itself can be debated, at least in my opinion). Whether you work a 9 to 5, play sports, have children, etc. – almost everything we do in life is with an aim towards self-fulfillment – even making others happy (or miserable, if you’re that cruel) reverts back to one’s own happiness.

On the other side of the coin however, it seems like society constantly perpetuates materialistic things as the primary means by which one achieves happiness. And to attain these materialistic things, you need money. This idea really came to mind as I was walking through Jeff Koons’ exhibit at the Whitney Museum this past weekend. He has to be one of the most ‘oxy-moronic’ artists alive today. Most of his pieces seem to take a jab at the over-indulgence of the consumer, yet the consumer is the one that pays millions for his work…and he walks to the bank. I found this quote below particularly interesting:

I’ve always tried to use materialism to seduce the viewer and to try to meet the needs of the viewer, just like the church uses materialism. Every industry uses it, but the church is the great master and a great manipulator of materialism. If somebody walks into a church and they’re hungry and they do not feel secure with their own economic position in the world, they’re not in a position in the world, they’re not in a position to have a spiritual experience. So the church uses the Baroque and the Rococo, you just go in there and you feel like you’re participating in social mobility. This is how the Baroque and the Rococo were used; so that the public felt their needs were being met. I’ve always tried to do the same thing with my works.

So, he uses materialism to try to meet the needs of the viewer. The viewer of today, is a consumer who indulges in materialistic things to fulfill what? Happiness? Or are the materialistic things the goal in and of itself? For as my dad pointed out above, money does open up a lot of doors, and never has the economic disparity in America felt as large as it does now. You just have to wonder if there’s a shift in the mindset of the consumer occurring in our world right now. And as shown by our case of the Mondays song, if music is perpetuating it.

 

Kirko Bangz, “Rich.” Full disclaimer: I actually really like this song.

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Music for the Weekend: Esperanza Spalding

Little Fly
Thy summer’s play,
My thoughtless hand
Has brush’d away.

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?

For I dance
And drink & sing;
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength & breath;
And the want
Of thought is death;

Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die.

-William Blake

 

It’s a little strange how I stumbled upon Esperanza Spalding again. While she’s an extremely talented musician, I haven’t encountered her music since she won a Grammy for Best New Artist a few years ago (where she was the first jazz artist to do so). To be frank, the only reason I stumbled upon her music is Pandora. I needed some help sleeping last night, so I gave my Pandora a spin and put on the ‘jazz’ genre. Later (must have not been that much later since I hadn’t got the “we try not to play to an empty room” notice yet), I found my dream being interrupted by a beautiful song. Have you ever felt like you were half asleep, yet half awake? Well, that was me. “This sounds so wonderful,” I thought…I subsequently rolled over, pressed my iPhone and tried to find the like button through my blurry vision.

Ironically, I didn’t remember that I did this until about an hour or so ago. Our subconscious has a funny way of thinking doesn’t it? What’s even better, here are some of the lyrics of the song:

 

They say if you live in a dream,
You’re hopelessly lost
Well this ain’t just any old dream
For our paths have crossed
And I may be hopelessly lost
But somehow I’ve managed to find heaven

I briefly found heaven in this song, and as always, thought I’d share (video below). Hopefully she makes a comeback one of these days…though, as we know, artists are always disappearing from the mainstream scene. If you’re in NYC, Esperanza will be playing this weekend at the Jazz Standard ($30). See here for more: http://www.jazzstandard.com/

New Song: Brika – Options

I can’t stop playing this song. It’s so good, that I’m going to let the music speak for itself on this one. But in case you’re curious about the artist, here’s a bio from Brika’s VEVO page:

Brika can best be called a product of her unique surroundings. She was born and raised in Miami and despite her eclectic taste, her primary influence is Coldplay. Her music can best be likened to a Pollock painting or a Rauschenberg collage; overflowing with fast, temperamental bursts of creativity, imbued with a daring sense of honesty, and charged with a damning refusal to be categorized or quelled for the sake of fitting a description. Her natural charisma and traveler’s air lend an impulsive and nomadic tone to a body of work characterized by simple, cryptic lyricism and minimalistic production. Thematically, her mind seems attached to a few key fixations (loss, psychology, and the nature of truth), all expounded on in fresh and innovative ways through the power of song. A true iconoclast, Brika is a talented singer-songwriter with enough rawness and accessibility to enthrall audiences the world over.

Remember the First iPod?

Next month, October 23, 2014 will mark the 13th anniversary of Steve Jobs’ introduction of the iPod. Given the upcoming release of Apple’s new iPhone 6 on Sept 18th, it seems like a perfect time to look back on the day when Steve Jobs unveiled this device. Arguably, this was the presentation that marked the beginning of a new era for music, technology, and our world.

People hate change, even when it’s necessary. So perhaps it wasn’t exactly surprising to see the amount of naysayers that emerged on the back of this release. CNET’s post after the event was titled:

Apple’s iPod spurs mixed reactions

Comments on macrumors, which seems to hail Apple as a god these days, were pretty bad to say the least…

NO! Great just what the world needs, another freaking MP3 player. Go Steve! Where’s the Newton?!

I still can’t believe this! All this hype for something so ridiculous! Who cares about an MP3 player? I want something new! I want them to think differently!

 

OH NO! Just checked Apple Store – they want $399.00 for this thing…Ouch!!!

 

All that hype for an MP3 player? Break-thru digital device? The Reality Distiortion Field™ is starting to warp Steve’s mind if he thinks for one second that this thing is gonna take off.

Just another MP3 player right? Little did they know, that iPod’s sales would not only look like this

iPod

…but would also change the face of both music as we knew it. Indeed, iTunes + iPod spurred a revolution in the music industry – from the way labels release music, to the way consumers listen to it.

Steve Jobs was a visionary. And the success of his $600B market cap company adds testament to the fact that you cannot let the opinion of others change your vision…something perhaps said better by the man himself:

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.

Every week, we aim here to discover new music & pieces of culture, to try to go against the “normal way” of thinking. Apple is a tech company, but it is ever so present in music and even the fashion/design industry. So, perhaps it’s important to not only come up with new ideas, but also to transcend sector boundaries – allowing one to broaden his or her horizons and way of thinking.

Really, our time is limited, so Think Different.

10 Things to Do in NYC this Fall

It’s starting to get a bit chilly here in New York. I saw a woman wearing a scarf under her suit during her morning commute. I myself had to opt for boat shoes instead of sandals during mine. Hopefully winter isn’t coming, but summer is definitely going away.

In preparation for the cold weather, people – New Yorkers especially – tend to swap light clothes for dark ones, and huddle around fires inside . Sounds depressing doesn’t it? Luckily, much can be done to combat this. After all, NYC is a big city with a lot to offer.

Below are 10 “artsy” events that I pulled from a great interactive article by the NY Times of the “100 events that have us especially excited”. Take a look for yourself to see what you prefer, but here’s my list (it’s not just a music list, for once):

1. Ernest Cole’s photographs of life under apartheid

  • 100 photographs by one of South Africa’s first black photojournalists give insight into life under apartheid
  • Date: through Dec 6.
  • Location: Grey Art Gallery, New York University / nyu.edu

2. Classics from the Classical Age at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Exploring the decentralized, mercantile societies of an expanding Assyrian Empire, this major international loan exhibition will include some 260 works from 41 museums in 14 countries.
  • Date: Sept 22 – Jan 4.
  • Location: Metropolitan Museum of Art / metmuseum.org

3. Israeli pianist Inon Barnatan Steps out

  • It is a busy season in New York for the talented Israeli-born pianist, who plays a solo recital at SubCulture in September, a program with the Jerusalem Quartet at the 92nd Street Y in October and concerts with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, both in November. He also begins a multiyear term as the New York Philharmonic’s first “artist in association,” an intriguing position intended to give rising artists extensive exposure to the orchestra’s audiences. In December he plays a chamber recital with Philharmonic musicians and his frequent collaborator, the cellist Alisa Weilerstein, then Dvorak’s Piano Quintet on the stage of Avery Fisher Hall in February before his full-orchestra debut in March with Ravel’s Concerto in G.
  • Date/Location: Various

4. Tail! Spin!…Politicians (try) to say they’re sorry on stage

  • This verbatim re-enactment of email, text messages and tweets that screamed “sex scandal!” and changed the lives of formerly successful politicos including Anthony Weiner, Mark Sanford and others, created and written by Mario Correa, gets an Off Broadway bow after a successful run at the 2012 New York International Fringe Festival. Dan Knechtges (“Lysistrata Jones”) directs
  • Date: Previews begin Sept. 18. Opens Oct. 1. Closes Nov. 30.
  • Location: Lynn Redgrave Theater at the Culture Project, 45 Bleecker Street, near Lafayette Street, East Village

5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

  • Those who keep an eye on London theater have been hearing about this show — and reading the rapturous reviews — for a few years, so it’s exciting that Simon Stephens’s multiple Olivier Award-winning play about a teenage boy with difficulty connecting to the world around him, who tries to solve the mystery of a dead dog, is headed to New York. Marianne Elliott (“War Horse”), the original London director of this drama, adapted from the novel by Mark Haddon, is on board.
  • Previews ongoing. Opens Oct. 5. Telecharge.
  • Location: Barrymore Theater, 243 West 47th Street, Manhattan / curiousonbroadway.com

6. Henri Matisse cut-outs

  • Centering on MoMA’s newly conserved Matisse cutout “The Swimming Pool,” this largest show ever devoted to the artist’s late cut-paper works will include some 100 examples and related drawings, illustrated books, stained glass and textiles.
  • Date: Oct 12 – Feb 8
  • Location: Museum of Modern Art / moma.org

7. The music of South Africa, with films by William Kentridge

  • This capacious festival, organized by Carnegie Hall, sprawls over jazz, classical and indigenous music, including maskandi (known as the “Zulu blues“) and folk music from the country’s Cape region. The concerts include the New York recital debuts of the South African sopranos Pretty Yende and Elza van den Heever as well as a musical and theatrical evening conceived by the violinist Daniel Hope and a program of films by the artist William Kentridge, set to music by Philip Miller.
  • Date: Oct 10 – Nov 5
  • Location: Carnegie Hall

8. Sculptor Judith Scott at the Brooklyn Museum

  • The sculptor, who was born with Down syndrome and worked with the Creative Growth studio program for adult artists with intellectual and developmental disabilities, wrapped scavenged objects in lengths of yarn and thread. This is her first retrospective in the United States.
  • Date: Oct 24 – March 29
  • Location: Brooklyn Museum / brooklynmuseum.org

9. Artists inspired by “Ebony” and Jet magazines

  • The longstanding magazines Ebony and Jet have frequently appeared in contemporary artworks; this show takes a deeper look at the phenomenon.
  • Location: Studio Museum in Harlem / studiomuseum.org

10. Bradley Cooper brings “The Elephant Man” to Broadway

  • Bradley Cooper stars as the severely disfigured Joseph Merrick in this revival of Bernard Pomerance’s Tony Award-winning 1979 drama. Mr. Cooper, Alessandro Nivola and Patricia Clarkson will reprise roles they played in a 2012 Williamstown Theater Festival production. Scott Ellis, who directed then, does the same for Broadway. Previews begin Nov. 7. Opens Dec. 7. Telecharge.
  • Location: Booth Theater, 222 West 45th Street, Manhattan / elephantmanbroadway.com

 

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be updating the calendar on this site of interesting upcoming events that I come across. Let me know if you hear of anything too – what type of events are you looking out for?