Friday, April 30, 2010

all's fair

when i think of the fair, i think of a carnivalesque erector-set of unsafe thrill rides, sketchy game-masters, every form of fried food imaginable, and occasionally beauty pageants for 9 year olds and booths of "kuntry krafts" where one can purchase such artifacts as life-sized stuffed children with their eyes hidden in a permanent game of hide and seek.

however, the world's fair, or world expo, was and is still a much different sight.

on april 30, 1939, the world exposition held it's grand opening in new york city. this was not the first world's fair (which was held in london's hyde park in 1851). it was, however, the largest world expo to date and i assume there are some artifacts in NY still marking its existence. UVA's american studies program has a pretty detailed description of the fair and its focus on the "world of tomorrow." also, this site comes from an image collector who has put together a book of images and postcards from the fair. the book looks a bit more detailed than the postcards on the site.

probably the most well-known fair-related piece of pop culture is 1944's meet me in st. louis. as of today, the blogger has not yet seen this film (for shame) and if i had a netflix cue,it would be somewhere near the top. in any case, the 1909 st. louis world expo sounds like the ideal place in which to hold a musical. there is the lesser known elvis extravaganza, it happened at the world's fair (1963), which just doesn't seem to have the same charm as vincente minnelli's and judy garland's take on the exposition.

the world's fair today doesn't get as much press or recognition as it did back in the day, perhaps because now it's so easy to trade ideas and cultures via rapid communication forms. it there a need to collect ideas in one physical place anymore? still, there is something about the magic of amassing visualizations of the future from around the world and seeing them play out in tangible forms. the closest thing i can imagine to visiting the fair would be disney's epcot center and i'm sure epcot's designers had the world expo in mind when they developed the park.

this year, the expo is being held in shanghai, and it's amazing that china was able to put it all together after the 2008 olympics in beijing (especially considering it will be the most expensive fair to date). the opening ceremony was held on april 30 and the video below shows some amazing view of the city...

Monday, April 19, 2010


there are few people who can honestly say that they haven't had some small secret fantasy to be famous. and as far as fame fantasies go, there's nothing more commonplace than to want to be a rock star. the aura of being a successful rock musician is one that grasps many of us at some age. for me, it was during the early years of high school that i was taken by the lure of wanting to be a musician (or at least to bear a slight resemblance to one, and hopefully it wouldn't be keith richards).

this was not the aspiration i told everyone about as i was fully aware of the low probability of going from playing guitar along to cds in my bedroom to getting spike jones to direct my next music video. (which, by the way, music video director was also one of my secret "pretty much impossible but would be awesome" career options)

in honor of never making it to behind the music, today's post is for all of the wannabes.

  • Couch-ella:'s tribute to fake TV bands...don't feel bad - even the bands in TVland didn't always make it to the top (see: Jesse and the Rippers)
  • Guitar Hero and Rock Band: these games have provided musically challenged people the forum to become rock stars in their living rooms (friend's parent's basements). these games must have some impact on the number of kids (and adults) who do or don't pick up real instruments because time is spent playing the electronic versions instead. time magazine even named game creators alex rigopulos and eran egozy two of the most influential people of 2008.
  • do not like his shirt. :'-(
  • in case you want to keep the dream alive, there are camps such as toronto's league of rock and the rock'n'roll fantasy camp (in london this year) where adults (and jams and rock farm camp) can somehow learn in a few weeks how to become professional musicians. groupies and drug addictions not included.
  • and finally, in case you can't even think of a name for your band that never quite got around to practicing together, there's the band name generator. my personal favorite results: molotov loser, panama association, and almost jessica and the interference.

Monday, April 5, 2010

making do

travel is on the horizon. but sometimes to sate wanderlust, you have to make do.

without even leaving home:

steinbeck as a travel writer. i had no idea that john steinbeck wrote a travelogue, travels with charlie, chronicling his roadtrip across the u.s. in the early 1960s. less known because it was outshone by of mice and men and the grapes of wrath, travels with charley reveals the author's dilemma of finding "the real america" and offers insights like the following:

  • "A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike...We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us...In this a journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it."
  • "So much there is to see, but our morning eyes describe a different world than do our afternoon eyes, and surely our wearied evening eyes can report only a weary evening world."
  • "Perhaps we have overrated roots as a psychic need. Maybe the greater the urge, the deeper and more ancient is the need, the will, the hunger to be somewhere else."
above: rocinante, steinbeck's coach, aptly named after don quixote's beast of burden.

musical meanderings:

i noticed that i kept hitting "next" when i put the ipod on shuffle and decided it was time for some new tunes. presenting a mental map of how i went from one place to another in my quest for new tunes:

i started out knowing i really wanted the new black rebel motorcycle club single "beat the devil's tattoo"-->nico vega-->JET-->eagles of death metal-->the velvet underground-->the parlor mob-->the black keys-->wanda jackson-->etta james-->james brown
somewhere along the way, there were brief stops at the queens of the stone age, wolfmother, and the dead weather, got lost on the "trainspotting" soundtrack (took a turn at the velvet underground to the stooges-->iggy pop--> recalled how much i liked underworld's "born slippy" even though it has no place on this mix whatsoever.)

also,etta james was a badass. i'm hoping to get a copy of her autobiography, rage to survive soon.

real trip coming soon, rockies, deserts, and canyons oh my.