Sup guys? So one of my photos was recently selected by the DC based blog, the DCist, and they opening is March 15 – 16. The pictures will be presented inside of the longview gallery near the Washington Convention Center. Anyway below is a link to get a magazine they put together of all the selected images.
Featuring almost 200 images of the Washington, D.C. area. These photographers were winners of the annual DCist Exposed photography contest, 2007-2011, for their images of the music, food, sports and street culture that make living in the nation’s capital such a unique experience.
I made it home, safe and sound, and not a moment too soon, but the sound the TV is currently making. Now I don’t intend to have any political slant to my blog, but given what is going on in the Middle East/Africa right now, I am really happy not to be in that region right now. It’s all very exciting, but I am just glad to be back home
Anyway, now that I am back home, I feel like I should do a little recap of my adventure.
So the majority of the time I was there, I spent my time on Victory Base Camp (VBC (Everything has an acronym and I don’t know what most of them stand for)). So, like most places in the Middle East, the history of places is pretty interesting. This particular army base was at one point used as a hunting, (we’ll call it a) ranch. It even had man made lakes that he made by diverting the water from the villages he didn’t like so that he could go fishing in the middle of a desert (pretty big dick move).
So anyway the biggest highlight of this base was his palace which was situated right in the middle of it. It is now used for offices and the rumor is they will eventually turn it into a convention center and I was lucky enough to be able to work in it for a few days. I was also able to go onto the roof where I discovered some golf clubs. I later found out that some of the soldiers would hold cigar club meetings on the roof of the palace and hit golf balls into the man made lakes. I really wish I had a cigar and some golf balls with me because that story would top most. The rest of the time I spent on base was pretty non descript though. Sat in front of a computer, ate some institutionalized food, drove our pathfinder through some mud.
The biggest highlight of the trip though was when I was actually able to go into the red zone. The purpose of my visit was to meet one of our business partners out at his office and the visit there would have made a pretty decent action film scene. The trip basically consisted of two escorting trucks driving at near 100mph speeds through the highways of baghdad with AK-47s and aggressive driving styles. Apparently our escorts knew all of the guards because we would fly through the check points, at least I hoped that they knew the guards as many of the checkpoints came equipped with tanks and proper machine guns. The trip was an adrenaline rush to say the least.
The actual business meeting seem lifted from a political thriller as well. Once we got into the office I was greeted by a large man in a leather jacket who was introduced as “the General” and he fondled a shinny black pistol while he was in the room. It was certainly surreal and was sort of a mix of a James Bond movie and an episode of the Sopranos. Anyway, after about 4 hours and 10 packs of cigarettes later the meting concluded with some solid business being done and we took the same adrenaline filled ride back to base.
All in all, it was tremendous experience that I’m glad I had and when I go back I will have a much better idea of what to expect. Iraq is still a dangerous place, but some level of normalcy can still be appreciated when taking the proper precautions.
Anyway, I’m leaving for Europe on Tuesday. It will be nice to go to finally travel to some countries that aren’t warzones.
Hey, so I have made it one day so far in Baghdad. I went outside of the base today and everything. It still feels a little weird to be here though, and not just because I am living on an Army base all week. It’s because this base is hit by rockets from time to time. Now mom, don’t worry. 99% of the time they don’t hit anything; the base is so big and their is so much open space that sometimes they can’t even find the shells, but it is still something thats on your mind that certainly isn’t on your mind when you are back home. I am developing some serious respect for the soldiers and contractors who have lived here for multiple years. Brave dudes.
On a lighter note though, I went inside Saddam’s old palace. (It’s the same one that Colbert did his show from) It is gorgeous and such a contrast from the all tan everything else. I will try to take some pictures of it when I go back. They are a little funny about pictures on the base, so today I just played it cool and tried to get comfortable traveling around. Tomorrow I will try to take some pictures of some cool stuff.
Anyway, I’m off to bed now. I gotta get up early to do some business stuff. I will do my best to write a post tomorrow. Until then…
So I have been in Bahrain for about 12 hours so far. It’s OK, honestly I don’t really have much to say about it. When I landed I was super tired and took a pretty massive nap. When I woke up, it was the middle of the night. Unfortunately I was wide awake, and since it was so late, most places were closed, so I watched some episodes of the daily show and mad men.
OK so I realize that this is a super boring post so far, so let me at least spruce it up with a picture of the pool in my hotel.
View of the Bahrain World Trade Centre
You can’t really tell from the picture, but in the distance is the Bahrain World Trade Center which I realized, after a wikipedia jaunt, that is a very cool building (like most of the buildings in the UAE) see cracked.
Anyway, I’m going to figure out how long I can stay in my room, because I just realized that if I have to check out at noon or something, my luggage will severely limit my mobility. Anyway, I will either head out into the city or the airport. I’ll try real hard to have a more interesting update next time.
Hey everyone. So it’s been more than a minute since I have updated my site. Obviously I am the only one who I can blame and I have no excuses, but anyway I’m Back! And now I’m off!
Iraqi Coat of Arms
I figured it would be appropriate in my blog’s relaunch to kick it off with another trip into a far away land. Tomorrow I will be flying to Iraq. Well, sorta. I will be flying to Kuwait, then Bahrain, then Baghdad. My goal is to have at least one update a day, so we will see how much will power I can muster in order to meet that goal.
Anyway, I need to start packing. Stay tuned…
P.S. I will post more music too. Actually I will post something now.
Ok, I haven’t updated my blog in a minute and I apologize. No Excuses.
OK, you really wanna know why I haven’t updated it, the new Kanye West album has sorta warped my musical sensibilities. I thought I had the musical world all figured out, (I mean I still have the majority of it on lock , but I pretty much had Kanye West pegged as a douche bag. I was convinced that he would burn out into obscurity in the next few years, but My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy shows that he really is a true artist and visionary who will compromise nothing to prove himself.
MBDTF is a record that is unapologetic yet pleads with the listener at the same time. (yeah Mark, thats some serious pretentious blog talk. what does that mean?) Here’s the thing about Kanye, he wants to be the best musician out there, but he also wants you to know it. Therefore if you don’t think he is the best, then he considers his product a failure. The byproduct of this megalomania is an epic album that assures the listener of his greatness and then, like it or not, West proves it.
Now the internet is full of other reviews that praise this album for various reasons (production quality, guest appearances, etc.) , but since I have your attention, and this is my blog, I’m going to tell you about the song that won me over.
“Lost In the World”, the last song on the record, might be the best genre bending, song to come out of the hip-hop since Outkast’s “Bombs over Baghdad“. ”Lost in the World” heavily samples indie-folk-misanthrope, Bon Iver‘s 2009 haunting track “Woods.” To anyone who has followed Bon Iver over his relatively short career knows that his sound is defined by his vocal recording techniques, marked by a liberal use of reverb to establish a sense of isolation from the world. “Woods” is strays from Bon Iver’s typical repertoire because all of the vocals are is completely and heavily auto-tuned.
Auto-Tune- you mean that really obnoxious studio effect that T-Pain uses? Yes, the same. That effect has dominated Hip-Hop and Pop music for the last couple of years and has unfortunately made it so nearly anyone can “sing” as well Aretha Franklin, thus making those with less talent sound about as good as those who do. Think of it as a auditory airbrushing. So what’s so great about Bon Iver’s song? Well instead of the same sound that everyone else has been going after, Justin Vernon, the singer of Bon Iver, used the effect to create a melancholy symphony which reflects upon being lost in the woods (a pretty great mondegreen for world).
This brings me back to Kanye. His choice to sample this track demonstrates his range of musical acuity. “Woods” was released on a EP by a relatively unknown artist. It’s not like his song “Stronger” when he sampled “Harder Better Faster Stronger” by Daft Punk. Yet, “Woods”, probably the most un-Hip-Hop song ever made, found its way as the anchor to what many people are unquestionably saying is the most important album in Kanye’s career. So I find that choice by Mr. West pretty wonderful.
By closing with the song, Kanye reasserts his dominance over auto-tune and Hip-Hop production in general. It demonstrates that he still can produce better sounding songs than anyone, which is truly his forte and where he started his career. This virtuosity is paralleled throughout the entire record and leaves me unable to listen to too many other things right now.
This week one of this year’s most highly anticipated record finally came out. Cee Lo Green dropped The Lady Killer on a tidal wave of viral video buzz for (what I think is a contender for best song (and video for that matter) of the year) Fuck You,
Now obviously Fuck You is the record’s show stealer, but I really want to share another song with you. It’s called Love Gun and it features Lauren Bennett. It’s one hell of a collaboration and is the best use of gun shots since M.I.A’s Paper Planes. Enjoy
Stoner metal is a funny genre. Literally by it’s definition, it presumes so much, like you must be on drugs to appreciate it, or the musicians are space cadets. Well I personally can’t vouch for the ladder, but the former certainly isn’t required. On Sunday night (to my boss: read Saturday night) I went to see Black Mountain at the good old 9:30 club.
I have been waiting to see these guys live for a few years now. In the Future has been one of my favorite albums for several years and I regret to this day not seeing them when they played the intimate local 506 in Chapel Hill, but I think the wait was well worth it. Mainly because the sound system at the 9:30 club is one of the most precise and powerful systems for a club it’s size anywhere in the world; and Black Mountain made sure to use it to blow my mind.
So Mark, how did they blow your mind? Well imagine Pink Floyd (circa animals) hung out with male/female call and response of the xx. That sounds pretty mind blowing right? Well if that description doesn’t do it for you, then check out this song.