Thursday, September 21, 2017

Culture: SubRosa & Wovenhand @ Saint Vitus Brooklyn

(Drivebycuriosity) - I am a connoisseur of heavy metal. I really enjoy atmospheric rock music with very heavy riffs. Fortunately my wife shares this taste. Yesterday we went week to Saint Vitus Bar, a tiny place in Brooklyn, practically a hole in the wall. 2 bands played there which we had enjoyed before.

We saw SubRosa @ Psycho Las Vegas this August. The quintet (Rebecca Vernon: Guitar, vocals, Sarah Pendleton: Electric violin, vocals, Kim Pack: Electric violin, vocals, Levi Hanna: Bass & Andy Patterson: Drums) call themselves an experimental sludge-doom metal band. I was fascinated then by the combination of very heavy metal riffs with fierce attacks by the two violins and the voice of Rebecca  - an unique experience. Unfortunately we missed one of the  female violin players yesterday, which reduced the sound experience somewhat. Maybe the tiny stage was too small for so many people (their website shows still 5 members subrosa). But anyway - the gig was an experience I want to repeat sometime. And I am grateful to the band who took the effort to squeeze themselves and their equipment through the densely packed audience (there was no back stage).

                                                     Metal Opera

Wovenhand delivered a very different show. We had seen the band @ Madrid`s Kriston Fest last May, which focused on stoner metal. This time Wovenhand was much more aggressive and heavy. Their sound changed from balladesque to gothic & psychedelic - a real gain. Frontman David Eugene Edwards has a strong voice, which reminded me a bit of Danzig singer Glenn Danzig. David, who is known as a devout christian, seemed to celebrate a Holy Mass. Even though I am an agnostic I was mesmerized by David´s powerful gospels which were enhanced by the massive riffs of the band - a kind of metal opera.

The concert was a strong experience, but I feel sorry for these outstanding bands, who perform in such mediocre venues.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Street Art New York: Best Of Summer 2017

(Drivebycuriosity) - The summer comes to an end. It was a good season for New York´s street art. I spotted a lot new & fascinating murals on the streets of Lower East, Soho & East Village. I show here my summer favorites, a very subjective selection as usual.  I spotted the Blondie mural in the East Village @ corner Bowery & First Street. It replaced a tribute to the Ramones (driveby ).

I discovered the girl photographing the blurred Mickey Mouse on Crosby Street between East Houston and First Street, a place where frequently amazing murals appear.

The "no parking face" beautifies a door in the East Village.

The legs above walk @ corner of Stanton & Christie Street on the Lower East Side.

I found this beautiful lady between East Houston & First Street. There is an area used by New York`s Centre-Fuge Public Art Project, a collective of street artists who show there their own works and murals by invited participants.

I caught these artists working @ the corner of Elizabeth Street & East Houston. This fashion shop sponsors frequently changing art work of high quality.

                                                                      Same Spirit

Some artists focused on cats. I saw the tiger on Lafayette and the lion looks onto Allen Street.

Above a mail collecting box on Suffolk & Stanton Street.

This work of anonymous art maybe not really street art. I spotted the sketch of a girl carved into a seat in the subway (D Train). But it shows the same spirit.

To be continued.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Photography: Boomtown New York City

(Drivebycuriosity) -  New York City is a boomtown again. Almost everywhere you can see new towers growing into the sky. The construction boom creates a lot of jobs & income. It raises the density & productivity of the megacity. The fledgling skyscrapers also enhance the complexity of the cityscape and are making New York`s skyline even more dynamic. The massive construction places with the huge cranes are fascinating objects for amateur photographers like me because of their impressive shapes & the composition of colors (I took the pictures recently with my iPhone 7 Plus).

Above you can see the growing Hudson Yards project on Manhattan`s East Side along the name-giving river. Hudson Yards is almost a town including 16 skyscrapers, open public spaces and more ( wikipedia). The buildings - and especially the majestic cranes - look elegant & powerful like the works by artists like Richard Serra, Anish Kapoor and other contemporary artists.

                                                   Breathtaking Speed 

Above a rising tower on the East River (250 South Street) in combination with Delancey Crossing, another mega construction project. Both are symbols for the breathtaking speed of the Lower East Side`s gentrification.

Two more towers are getting squeezed into the dense skyline south of Columbus Circle. I am fascinated how slim this constructions are.

I spotted another slim tower on Broadway somewhere in midtown.

One more midtown skyscraper.

This tower is rising in Tribeca. In the background you can see the Jenga-like Herzog & de Meuron building which got recently completed.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Contemporary Art: What`s New In Chelsea?

(Drivebycuriosity) - I love contemporary art. Therefore I sometimes explore the art galleries in New York`s Chelsea district which has a cluster of top-notch art dealers. At my recent visit there I discovered again some interesting new art works. I show here my favorites from this foray, a very subjective selection as usual.

Above you can see some paintings by Franklin Evans spotted @ gallery Ameringer McEnery Yohe (525 West 22nd Street  amy-nyc).

I also enjoyed the drawings & sculptures by William Tucker which I found @ Danese Corey  ( 511 West 22nd Street danesecorey).

The sculptures above are created by Barbara Chase-Riboud seen @ Michael Rosenfeld gallery ( 100 Eleventh Avenue @19th  michaelrosenfeld).

Above Rebecca Warren`s  "Los Hadeans" (2017, Hand-painted bronze and pompom on painted MDF pedestal) spotted @ Matthew Marks   ( 523 West 24 Street matthewmarks). The sculpture is part of a group exhibition which also shows Michel Majerus`mural "depressive neurosis" (2000, Acrylic on cotton).

The funny large murals by Kara Walker @ Sikkema Jenkins & Co. (530 West 22nd Street  sikkemajenkins) got a lot admirers.


Friday, September 8, 2017

Economics: China - Viva La Transformation

(Drivebycuriosity) - There is a lot skepticism about China. For years the China skeptics - including New York Times columnist Paul Krugman - have been predicting that the country`s rapid growth will come to a sudden end. It didn´t happen, China is still maintaining a growth rate of more than 6% p.a. But global investors are still wary and they now hold a decade-low underweight position in China equities, reports investment bank Morgan Stanley (morgan). I think that the China skepticism is unwarranted and the huge country will continue her swift ascent for many years.

China is still at the begin of a secular catching-up process, which is fueled by extreme income & wealth differences to the US and other Western nation values. In 2016 China had about $8,123 income per capita, the US number was $57,466 (worldbank).  China is following other countries which had managed to catch up to the leading economies before  (to UK before 1920, since then to the US, graph below) 

It is highly likely that China will continue her catching-up-process for many years. The country has a huge natural resource which is fueling the perpetual growth - a gigantic amount of human capital: 1.3 billion people who are intelligent, who work hard and who save money to achieve a better life. According to the World Bank the Chinese save more than 40% of their income, the American just around 20% (worldbank). High savings (capital accumulation) and a good education lay the fundamentals for sustainable economic growth. Wikipedia counted in 2014 already "2,236 colleges and universities, with over 20 million students enrolled in mainland China" (wikipedia). This fast expanding knowledge will drive science & innovations in the future and foster economic growth.

China has still a communist government but Beijing had conducted many reforms in the recent decades. Today the country has a lot of capitalist segments like stock markets, special economic zones and many private companies (bloomberg). The differences to the US system - where banks & industries are regulated and airports, harbors, railroads, subways and more are still public - are shrinking.

China`s growth is boosted by a rapid transformation process.  For decades the country has been changing from an agricultural economy into an industrial economy, following the role models of the US, Japan, South Korea and many other countries. Now China is entering another stage of the transformation process: Changing from an industrial country - which relies on exports - into a modern economy like the US which is dominated by services and focuses mostly on the domestic market.

For years imports & retail sales have been growing faster than exports & industrial production. Therefore a growing part of the national production is consumed in China, which reduces the country´s dependence from global markets.


                                           Greatest Migration In Human History

The transformation process is fueled by the rapid urbanization: Since the late 1980s several hundred million people have been moving from rural areas into the big cities, the greatest migration in human history. By the end of 2015, 56% of the total population lived in urban areas, a dramatic increase from 26% in 1990 (wikipedia ). The huge country now has more than 100 cities of over 1 million residents, a number that is likely to double in the next decade, writes the Guardian (theguardian).

The migration process into the mega cities rises productivity and incomes of the whole nation. History shows "that clusters of talented and ambitious people increase one another’s productivity and the productivity of the broader community, spurring economic growth", explains city lab, a think tank (citylab). "80% of economic output originates in cities: urbanization is the engine of economic growth", says the project syndicate, another think tank (project-syndicate). The migration process fosters a fast rising affluent middle class, driving consumer spending & economic growth.

China also is benefiting from the fact that her infrastructure (trains, subways, harbors, airports) are much newer and therefore much more modern than US. Beijing is pumping trillions into airports, railroads and other infrastructure, the country has already some of the fastest trains of the world.

It suppose that China´s catching process also benefits from historical lessons & the experience made by other countries. China does not need to reply the mistakes of other countries and is learning from them. Beijing`s central bank is doing a good job by avoiding inflation & recessions. China´s transformation also gains from technological progress: Rapid advances in software & Internet (including cloud computing), robotics, 3D printing, nanotechnology, genetic engineering and other technologies are all lifting the productivity of the economy.

The Internet - including the "cloud" - increases the flow of information and reduces the cost of data. New ideas can spread faster, encouraging discoveries and inventions and boost the technological progress & China`s transformation. A large part of the population uses already smartphones, tablets and other devices which allow them permanent access to the world wide web. These high tech devices help them to organize shopping, leisure time, traveling, dating, eating out and more and are so rising productivity & economic growth. Companies are using cloud services for organizing. China has already huge Internet  companies like Alibaba, Tencent & Baidu which are growing fast and are becoming global power houses. The government - and companies like Baidu - are investing massively into artificial intelligence which will boost transformation & economic growth for years to come. I suppose China`s rise will also foster the global economy and will make it more diversified & crisis-proof.

Viva la transformation.  

PS For illustration I used an image from the China Fashion Week in Bejing 2017 displaying creations by designer Tom Dong (xinhuanet).