Street Art: “A Visual Gift”

23 12 2011

It seems like Penn Quarter is quietly becoming the new hot spot for street art sightings. It’s surprising because this little neighborhood is always changing its appearance and is currently going through some remodeling in terms of new business coming in. Over the past few weeks, I’ve already seen some pretty cool street art budding along the streets, so it’s cool to see a consistent flow of new pieces popping up.

Today, I’m featuring a piece I saw at the beginning of the week. Drawing on the Postal Service’s address stickers is popular, probably one reason being, because they are a free medium. As I was walking down on 7th St., I couldn’t help noticing this bright design, gracing the side of the future Wagamama. I love the bright colors used and the playful amorphous design shown. The warm colors stand out in these (supposed) colder months. I also like that you can see that this piece was obviously drawn using markers/pens, a very accessible drawing medium, unlike some street art pieces done with spray paint or a printing process. This piece is like a visual gift for the eye, not dealing with any (obvious) message or reference. How delightful!


The “Non-Love Song” Song of the Day: Holiday Edition

22 12 2011

It’s another much needed edition of the “Non-Love Song” Song of the Day. I don’t know about you folk, but I like to think of this as a sort of “therapy” for my life. What do you have to turn to when your friends are all getting married/pregnant/dating/etc? Why, you turn to CAPSLove of course, for your next helping of songs that have nothing to do with all of that. Because let’s face it, some of the best music has nothing to do with love, and that’s how I like it.

One of the only good things about the various winter holiday music is that it rarely has anything to do with love. Maybe it’s a wholesome kind of “everyone should love one another” love, but I don’t necessarily include that in the love songs genre. A song about a reindeer with a red nose has nothing to do with love. As song about a spinning top that is made out of clay also has nothing to do with love. So as much as I may not prefer to hear the never-ending melodies this time of year that help to celebrate the winter-time holidays, it could be worse. They could be love songs.

So here are some of the best versions of Non-Love Songs that relate to the holidays. First up is “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer” by none other than one of my favorite groups, The Temptations. I love this version: it’s got soul, it’s got funk, and it’s something you can dance to, rather than hear some squeaky kids sing. This cover should be substituted for every other version you will hear on the radio. It’s great.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Pudge.

Next up is probably the greatest version of “I Have A Little Dreidel” that has ever been done. This song is done to the tune of, “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me,” and because I know you just won’t believe it, you should definitely give it a listen. I love that these are two completely different songs, but that someone figured out how to get them to work together. This song too, has soul and it’s unique and I’m pretty sure that from now on, this is the tune to which I will sing the well-known song.

Wow, this is bad.

So next time you decide to listen to your favorite non-denominational holiday music, I advise you to choose wisely and pick a song that has nothing to do with love. Sure, it might not be difficult, but those love songs can hide well amongst the holiday cheer. No thanks, lovey dovey songs, I’m fine rocking out to the rest of the mix!

Street Art: Janky, Batman, and I Rock

16 12 2011

It’s Street Art Friday! And I have some pretty amazing samples of street art and graffiti to share with you this week. Today’s posting is unique because it features three very different styles of street art, but all of which are pretty rad. They can’t get much more different: we have stickers, a flier, and paint as for mediums. Styles range from the comic book-looking to the child-like hand drawings. The only thing tying these all together is that all three images use only a black and white color palette. Let’s take a look-see, shall we?

First are a couple of stickers by an artist I assume is named “JANKY.” (Hi back!) These pieces speak playful messages to the viewer and are very self-aware of themselves. The first, “JANKY made me” depicts a young figure that is slightly androgynous-looking. The figure has their wrists bound together and is shown in an awkward position. The second figure is simply wearing a large puffy jacket and holding a sign. The comic-book stylings of these figures stand out to the viewer and work well with the combination of the bold lettering.

Next up is a simple flier with a humorous but simple message. We see the well known figure of Batman, with the text, “Believe in me plz,” implying to the viewer that Batman isn’t a real person. But even though the popular super hero may not be accepted as being real or successful (the question of whether we should “believe” is not specific in to what it is referring to), he is petitioning for himself to be recognized. The child-like drawing and abbreviated spelling/text-speak immediately grabbed my attention: I wanted to know what this flier was from and who created it.

So while the first two photos were taken last Saturday in Friendship Heights, I can’t remember the exact location of this third image. On the back of this stop sign we see a number of different tags, stickers, and drawings, but my absolute favorite is the graffiti image of the figure with the words, “I ROCK.” Yes you do, cute little person-figure. I love that this artist chose what looks like kid proclaiming how cool they are, as the subject for their graffiti. It’s simple, lovable style captivated me right away. And it delights with with a positive message. You rock, kiddo! I hope to see more graffiti like this that is so awesome.

Not An Ugly Christmas Sweater

15 12 2011

Last weekend I was pretty excited when I got to show off my ugly holiday sweater. But to my surprise, instead of receiving compliments on how ugly and how appropriate my attire was, instead I was greeted with comments about how it wasn’t that ugly and how it wasn’t “seasonal” enough.

My goal when I was looking for an ugly holiday sweater was not to get something blatantly Christmas-y, but rather something that was generic for the holiday season and the winter months. I ended up finding a fantastic sweater that had a blue and white color palette and that showcased winter symbols, without a Christmas tree or a Santa in sight. I thought this was a major score.

But at the party, people were suggesting that the sweater could be improved by adding some red and green decorations to it. Excuse me, but the whole point of this sweater that it wasn’t for Christmas. I was under the belief that a sweater could be both hideous and for the holidays, without having to represent a religion. Plus, what really bothered me was that when I reflected on what my peers were saying, it seemed that they only thought that sweaters for Christmas were ugly. If there was an obviously unattractive sweater but it didn’t portray the Christian holiday at all, then it had to be an approving garment.

I’m sorry folks, but I’m sure there are many “holiday” or winter-themed sweaters that are also quite unattractive. Let’s look at these examples, shall we?

A family of snow-people

This snowman's just chillin'!

Generic winter symbols.

Just a couple of dogs and snowmen.

What a jolly looking snowman!

Street Art: Mexican Skulls

9 12 2011

Who’s been missing my street art postings? I know I have. Today I’m featuring a couple of stickers that I recently spotted in Chinatown, specifically around the intersection of 7th and E St. NW. I’m inclined to believe that these are both done by the same artist, mainly because of the unique subject matter. These Mexican Day of the Dead-style skulls are pretty fantastic. The detail work is well done and the colors are bright and hard to miss. Yet, they’ve been placed on newspaper vending boxes- so not necessarily at eye level, or a place that let’s them take the spotlight. Nonetheless they are great:

Outside Starbucks on the corner of 7th and E St.

Outside The Lansburgh apartments on 7th St., just South of the E St. intersection.

I love how similar they are, yet the pieces show obvious differences. The top piece is drawn onto a post office sticker- the medium here is obvious, as the label’s text is visible through the design. Whereas the bottom piece has been cut to form the shape of the skull. The second piece is more cartoonish and humorous than the first picture which is more of a serious design. The first piece also uses more variation with the thickness of lines as well as shading, creating a more realistic image.

I would love to know a few things about these mysterious stickers. Are they done by the same person? What is the meaning behind them? Why weren’t they put up during Halloween/The Day of the Dead? -I’m sure I would have noticed if they were up then. Would that have been too obvious of a time to showcase these beautiful designs? I hope there are more of these stickers around town. These may be some of the best street art stickers I’ve seen in D.C. lately.

The Non-Love Song Song of the Day: Dance Music

6 12 2011

Today I am in need of another installment of some music that has nothing to do with love. Last week I somehow went without posting any music that had nothing to do with love, which was a little saddening (but then again, many of last week’s posts dealt with hockey, which is not a bad substitution). So today we’re bringing back the  Non-Love Song Song of the Day. Today features some fun music that people like to dance to. Dance music very frequently does not talk about love, so this might be my new favorite genre of music.

The first example is from the ever -popular 1990s. Now, who doesn’t like Will Smith? Will Smith touches things and they turn to awesome. Take, his brief rap career of the 90s. Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It is a fine example of a song about pretty much nothing. That however, is not to say the lyrics are junk. Check out some of the fantastic lyrics:

You gotta Prada bag with alotta

Stuff in it- give it to your friend

Let’s spin.

– – – – – –

Ciga-cigar right from Cuba-Cuba

I just bite it.

It’s for the look- I don’t light it.

– – – – – –

No love for the haters, the haters.

Mad ’cause I got floor seats at the Lakers.

See me on the fifty yard line with the Raiders.

Met Ali he told me I’m the greatest.

If this isn't gettin' jiggy wit it, then I don't know what is.

If those aren’t some fantastic lyrics about nothing, then I don’t know what is.

Our second example of a song that is purely about having fun is LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem. The title of the song should give you enough of a hint that this song is just about having fun. The lyrics are purely about having a good time. Something that love doesn’t necessarily guarantee.

Party rock is in the house tonight.

Everybody just have a good time.

And we gonna make you lose your mind.

Everybody just have a good time.

Want more evidence that this song makes you feel like dancing and having fun? Just check out these stills from their famous car-commercial-turned-music-video. I don’t know about you, but when I see hip, dancing hamsters break up nuclear warfare, it just gives me that warm, fuzzy feeling inside:

These robots are here to KILL.

Hamsters to the rescue!

You know it’s a good thing when a song has no mention of love, but instead feeds you confusing imagery of dancing rodents saving the world in a souped-up new car. So take that to the songs that think they can only strive on that lovey-dovey feeling. You’re doing it wrong.

A Christmas Exorcism

5 12 2011

Over the weekend, I saw the play, “A Christmas Carol” for the first time in my life. The production I saw was at Ford’s Theatre and runs through January 2, 2012. As this was my first time seeing the show, I went into the experience with a skeptical mind- I’m not the biggest fan of the Christmas holiday, so I was looking forward to identifying with the Scrooge character. Instead, I concluded that Charles Dickens’ story could actually be viewed as being pretty dark. I could definitely imagine, “A Christmas Carol” being retold with either zombies or with real, spooky ghosts, much like the movie, The Exorcist.

I’ll begin with the three ghosts that Scrooge encounters on Christmas Eve. In the Ford’s Theatre production, when he meets the first ghost, Scrooge is laying in bed and his bed spins maniacally in circles for a minute or so. If that night terror wasn’t influenced by The Exorcist or maybe even Beetlejuice, then I would be truly surprised. (Like this, only faster, and scarier.) The first ghost that Scrooge meets is the ghost of his past business partner, Jacob Marley, as seen in the above photo. We aren’t treated to much else besides the spinning bed from Marley’s ghost, however, because he is just there as the introduction to treat us to the real fun of the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.

The Ghost of Christmas Past can be seen as possibly the most haunting of all the ghosts. In the story, This ghost takes Scrooge back in time to see what his life was like growing up. In the past though, Scrooge basically is among an other-world full of ghost-like beings. Either that, or this part of the story would be equipped with a Delorean, the clocktower, and Doc. Back To The Future for A Christmas Tale? Sounds right to me. However, unlike in Back to the Future, thankfully, Scrooge is not able to muddle with the past- only view it. I thank Charles Dickens’ for doing this, or else, “A Christmas Carol” would be a completely different story and lose its message.

Back to the Future

After about an hour of living-person time, Scrooge is plopped back into the present day and is taken for a stroll alongside the Ghost of Christmas Present. Only, as he is being accompanied by a ghost, things aren’t exactly normal, once more. Scrooge’s out-of-body experience in the Land of the Present can best be described as going on a Disney ride throughout your life, only you can’t interact with things or people, unless they are ghosts. While being in the past was perhaps the most ghost-filled and haunting, the present is probably the most confusing. Scrooge is probably too spooked at the time to notice it, but  he is indeed walking amongst the un-dead: these people are his peers, yet they can not see him. Duh- he must be a ghost. I imagine this is where the hauntings from the ghosts really began to mess with his mind. Scrooge could not get past the “third wall” (if you will) and had no control over real goings-on as they were happening. He was basically living the life of an un-seeable ghost.

Ghosts. If you can't see 'em, join 'em!

It’s one thing to be spooked and haunted by ghosts, but when they turn you into a ghost to get their way, well then you know something must be up. After the second haunting hour, Scrooge is once more visited by a ghost. In the Ford’s Theatre production, this ghost can best be described as a chillingly fantastic version of the following:

The ghouls from Disney's Fantasia's Night on Bald Mountain

The Dementors from Harry Potter

The "ehh ehh" guy from Spirited Away

By the time Scrooge encounters the Ghost of Christmas Future, he already knows what is to become of him. Frankly, one can reach the conclusion that by this time, Scrooge has experienced so any hauntings, he can predict the future, much like we are to believe ghosts can do. This is the whole point of the future-land. Scrooge can now see into the future, a power that is only capable of ghosts.

After all the hauntings, he is returned to his home, to his no longer spinning bed. But there is nothing of an exorcism, so we are only led to believe that Scrooge is forever possessed by evil beings. What other reason can explain an old man wandering around town in just his nightgown, acting completely bonkers and rambling about seeing ghosts. To make matters worse, the good townsfolk don’t really even question his “Christmas Spirit” and welcome his deranged self into their hearts and homes. Seriously: if this took place in modern day, a mumbling old man in just a night gown would not be welcomed in. The ending of “A Christmas Carol” is indeed the  worst part. Poor old Scrooge had been hypnotized by the ghosts and can never again return to his normal self.

A modern day, Scrooge. (aka: the epitome of a creepy old man)

Plus, to make matters worse, the moral of the story is basically that if you are encountered by ghosts, you should go along with their soul-taking ways. In the end, a soul-less person is better than a person who has been led astray. We are led to believe that possessed humans are an acceptable part of society, and that insane people should be led on so they do not know they are acting strangely. This is quite the horror story and indeed not a happy ending.