Thursday, June 30, 2016

Geopolitics: Brexit - A Victory For Democracy

(Drivebycuriosity) -  Brexit is a victory for democracy. In the UK the people have decided, the majority - not the politicians, not the banks, not the administrations, not the bureaucrats. Brexit means that the UK is leaving an organization which is not democratic.

The English divorced themselves from an European Central Government - kind of. Brussel has been gaining more and more power over the years - developing the European Union into something like the defunct Soviet Union, a bundle of states ruled by a central government. The European Parliament and the EU committee, especially Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, treat the EU increasingly like a kingdom. Even after the Brexit decision they want to expand the power of the EU and demand more integration, meaning more power for Brussels (

In some days the Americans will celebrate their Independence Day (Fourth of July). They had fought a war because they didn´t want to be controlled by an foreign power and pay taxes to her. The English people want independence as well - without a war. Many commentators who want to shame the "leave" decision, don´t understand democracy, they don´t want it.  People, who claim that Brexit will cause "chaos", mean that democracy is chaos. They equalize  freedom with disorder & disarray. 

Brussel is deciding about almost  everything in the Union. Take for instance Commission Regulation (EC) No. 2257/94 of 16 September 1994 which is laying down quality standards for bananas, also known informally as bendy banana law. It is a European Union regulation specifying classification standards for bananas ( wikipedia ). According to EU law, the Brits couldn´t work for more than 48 hours a week, averaged over 17 weeks ( marketwatch ). And there is much more:  60% of the laws in Uk came from the EU in Brussels rather than from Parliament in London ( marketwatch.). Growing bureaucracy and controls (Eurosklerosis) are holding growth in the Union back. "It's not hard to understand being pissed off at being subject to unaccountable bureaucrats in Brussels", writes Rolling Stone author Matt Taibbi ( rollingstone ).

 I am  for free trade and I agree to an European Free Trade area (the more countries participate the better, best would be the whole world). But I am against the overgrowing bureaucracy. And the EU is certainly not for free trade. The EU is a bastion against globalization behind high tariffs and other barriers against foreign goods & services.

The British economy also will benefit because there will be less regulation. A liberal (less regulated) England could attract companies and investors from all over the world. The economy blogger Scott Grannis writes "one of the very good things that could come of a Brexit: shaking off the Eurosklerosis  that has held back growth in the Eurozone for many years" ( scottgrannis ).

Small countries can prosper even when they are not part of a big union: Switzerland and Norway aren`t member of the European Community - and both countries are doing well. People worldwide are buying Swiss products & services and don´t care whether the country is part of an union or not.  If you need more examples for small independent countries who are prospering, you might take a look on the history of Singapore & Hong Kong. It is highly unlikely that the rest of the world will curb trade with England and invest less there if the country is on her own. Companies are doing business with the island because they are making profits there. Why should they give up these profits?

Btw. In the moment of writing the FTSE 100, the gauge for the British stock market, hovers at 6,422 points. On June 23,  the day before Brexit results came out, the index finished on 6,388 points. So what?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Street Art New York: A Documentary - June 2016 Edition

(Drivebycuriosity) - I am a connoisseur of street art and collector of street art images. Living in New York City gives me a lot of opportunities.  Since my latest street art report (May 2016 driveby ) I spotted more interesting new murals, stickers & graffiti @ Lower East Side, East Village, Soho and other Manhattan neighborhoods. As usual I document the newest street art in this area.

I found the balloon man somewhere in Lower East Side and the Grandpa mural on East Houston/2nd Avenue (across Whole Foods).

There were a lot new shutter door murals all over the Lower Lower East Side. It seems they are getting more & more important to find the attention of potential customers.

The sticker & stencil industry was productive again. I spotted the ladies above on East Houston some feet west of the Bovery.

To be continued!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Culture: The Cure @ Madison Square Garden, New York

(Drivebycuriosity) - Finally. I got to see "The Cure" live. Last Monday my wife and I attended their gig in New York`s Madison Square Garden. I have been loving their songs since the late 1970s and amassed about 10 albums (including some live recordings & singles collections).

The huge hall (capacity 20,000) was sold out. The concert lasted almost 3 hours and contained 32 songs from 4 decades (here the setlist  setlist ) - quite an experience.

During the early 1980s, the band's increasingly dark and tormented music was a staple of the emerging gothic rock genre, reports Wikipedia ( wikipedia). And even much later albums like "Bloodflowers" (2000) & "The Cure" (2004) had some dark and raucous pieces.

But bandleader Robert Smith presented a different "Cure", maybe because last Monday also was the begin of the summer (even that they performed the song "End of Summer").  We observed  a very buoyant & cheerful program, certainly catering the assembled crowd. Temporarily Smith converted the Madison Square Garden into a dance hall. Though I missed the dark songs from the defining albums "Seventeen seconds" and "Faith" and some of the younger noisy pieces, his "Lullaby " and a lot of other songs comforted me fully. On Smith´s iconic voice combined with a perfect band was pure bliss.  On balance it was a great concert.

Unfortunately I wasn´t able to get good pictures of Robert Smith & Co. but the camera - iPhone 6s plus - captured at least the awesome light show.

Thanks a lot Robert Smith and band! 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Contemporary Art: A Gallery Walk In Chelsea, June 2016

(Drivebycuriosity) - I like to visit the art galleries in New York`s classy Chelsea district. There is a cluster of top-art dealers who often have amazing shows. Recently I posted about some awesome exhibitions: Richard Serra @ Gagosian  (here), Sigmar Polke @ David Zwirner ( here), Anish Kapoor @ Gladstone (here) & Nicole Eisenman @ Anton Kern (here).

But there was much more to discover. The gallery Stricoff Fine Art had some fine photorealist paintings ( stricoff). Above "Trocadero" by Debra Goertz (Oil on wood, 30 x 40 inches) followed by "Montreal" (Oil on Canvas, 30 x 40 inches) & "Red Bag" (Oil on Canvas, 30 x 40 inches).

The press release explains that Goertz "is primarily fascinated with exploring possible relationships between cinema and painting". "Each painting taken by itself is an attempt to reconcile the stillness of a “frozen moment” with the feeling of some passage of time".

I also enjoyed the surrealist work by Ryan Reynolds also @ Stricoff. Above this paragraph you can see "Entrance" (oil on panel, 40 x 30 inches) followed by "Looking Out" (oil on panel, 40 x 30 inches); "Liminal" (Oil on panel, 48 x 36 inches) & "Alviso" (oil on panel, 30 x 45 inches).

Catherine Makey`s "Doors on the Bay" (mixed media on panel, 48 x 60 inches) fill well into this esemble.

Fredericks & Freiser showed portraits of imaginary women by Jocelyn Hobbie (oil on canvas fredericks ).

Unix Gallery displayed work by Los Angeles–based artist Desire Obtain Cherish  ( unix).


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Culture: Punk Island 2016, Governors Island, New York City

(Drivebycuriosity) -  Punk is still alive and kicking. Last weekend lots of punks pilgrimaged to Governors Island, a green island south of Manhattan,  to celebrate themselves, their culture, their music and the start of the summer. As in the years before my wife and I took the ferry from Manhattan to attend the annual "Punk Island", a free of charge rock festival.

About 70 bands played over 7 hours on 8 stages (!). They delivered a broad spectrum of styles, even that all focused on the rough realm of punk. You could hear pop, hardcore, brass,  metal, funk & much more. I guess the program showed the state of art in the current punk scene - pure Rock`n Roll.

My favorite band was Manic Pixi ( manicpixi     bandcamp ). Kat Hamilton, the front woman, has a good voice with a wide vocal range which allows her to perform a perfect mix of melodic with raucous parts. Her interpretation of Curt Cobain`s  "Heart-Shaped Box" ("Hey wait I've got a new complaint") is one of the best Nirvana covers I know. The show was as manic as the group name promises. Wow!

                                                      Powerful Group Dynamic

The audience was part of the fun. So many happy joyful people! There were lots of tattoos, colorfully designed hair and much more to see. A congenial part of Punk Island - like every rough rock event - are the very dynamic group dances where the people jump into each other while creating a powerful group dynamic.

We enjoyed not only the powerful music and the show, we also indulged into a beautiful summer day in the company of lots of nice people. Governors Island belongs to the green lungs of New York City. The ferry from Manhattan is very cheap  (just $2) but commutes only twice in n hour, the last back at 7pm,  and on a sunny day there is a long queue for going back.

I hope the tradition will continue. 

PS: Thanks to all the bands and organizers for the nice, peaceful and pleasant event.