Lang Lang takes Christmas Eve – and talks Alicia Keys, remixing Liszt and snubbing the White House. By Kyle Mullin for The Beijinger, Dec. 21 2011
It’s as if he’s pressing arteries instead of fingering keys – looking not for a melody but a pulse that drives the song. As Lang Lang flails and practically pants at the piano to resuscitate old concertos, fans say the Shenyang born virtuoso makes classical music look as compelling as it’s ever sounded – a sight that hundreds of fans will get a chance to glimpse during his Christmas Eve performance at the MasterCard Center. But in a telephone interview with The Beijinger Lang said his energetic performing isn’t meant to revive aged symphonies or make them fit for modern times. Below he answers our questions and reveals, among other things, why he couldn’t care less whether or not you care for classical music.
Why is your body language an important part of your performance, how does that help you make compositions by Beethoven and your hero Franz Liszt more accessible?
My goal is not to make classical music interesting. When I perform I don’t move my body just because the audience likes it. People find it more interesting when they watch, but when I was a kid I always played this way. It’s in my genes, it’s very natural.
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Can trash art inspire us to see junk in a new light? By Kyle Mullin for The Beijinger Monthly Magazine, December 2011
The next ice cream wrapped or empty bottle you toss could end up on a gallery’s walls.
From a city perimeter of litter captured by photographer Wang Jiuliang to the moldy garbage molded anew by sculptor Luan Xiao, brimming local landfills have prompted the town’s most creative minds to craft a new genre of ecology: trash art.
Used motor oil canisters are difficult to recycle; even when empty, they are still slick with traces of fuel. Most of us would throw away such containers, thereby contributing to already packed trash dumps. But Luan Xiao collects and strings them together in a bulky oblong tapestry, and then binds them to a tree. The canisters form a shell around the trunk, their colorful plastic glinting almost as bright as Yuletide bulbs, leaving Luan with a “trashy” abstract art Christmas tree.
“Oil containers cannot simply be regarded as a menace,” Luan said about the canisters that normally clog landfills. “By letting them become a creative resource, they could offer a solution and become themselves
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REFUSE AS MUSE (Starting on Pg. 12)
Rock troupe Demerit merges inked skin and raw rhythms. By Kyle Mullin for The Beijinger, Dec. 15 2011
Bold. Jarring. Colourful. Edgy enough to pierce your flesh – be it the pores on your bicep or your eardrums – punk rock and tattoos have much in common. Nowhere in the world have the two bled into each more murkily than China, where such art forms are now free flowing after years of clinching taboo. They both converge on Qingdao-born, Beijing based Spike (Li Yang), who has a sleeve of ink running up and down his arm. Those tattoos are easily visible as he darts across the stage while fronting his punk troupe Demerit, which will showcase that edgy ethos at Yugong Yishan on December 17.
“It looks different from ordinary people,” Spike says of the image overlapping in both punk and tattoo cultures, before summing that idea up in one breath: “Rebel peace.”
Unlike Westerners – for whom such trends are far too common – the kind of tattooed Bejingers that will mosh at Demerit’s show still raise many of their neighbours’ eyebrows. One of the world’s chief ink aficionados says that’s because many Chinese still have a very traditional attitude about the punk image.
“Until recently, most developed societies, including China, regarded tattooing as some form of perversion,” says Chris Wroblewski, a British photographer who has published 21 books full of his tattoo-themed pictures, including 2008’s China Tattoo. “[The idea of tattoos] sat uncomfortably with Confucianism, (which) pronounced against the desecration of the sacred body.”
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BEIJING PUNK TATTOOS
Producer to host screening of lauded Sundance feature. By Kyle Mullin for The Beijinger, Dec. 14 2011
A typical day at home for young Ernest Chin would be anything but normal for the rest of us. Down the hall from the 13 year old’s bedroom, hookers get down to business. Beggars barge up the stairs. Then there’s his stern Chinese mother, who’s more judgmental of her son’s every test score than her guests’ biggest transgressions, literally handing those shady strangers keys to the front door.
The Motel tells the story of a traditional immigrant family renting out rooms to their sleazy New York neighbours. It’s a unique glimpse of immigrant life through second-generation teenage eyes and has garnered nominations for the Independent Spirit Award and the Humanities Prize at Sundance. Watch the film and meet one of the producers, George Huey, at The Culture Yard on Friday, but in the meantime, pull up a chair as we chat with Mr. Huey himself.
The producer (who also contributed to the screenplay) is between films right now, working as a sports consultant in Beijing. But he hasn’t abandoned show business, penning fresh scripts and hosting events like this weekend’s screening of the breakthrough film. Here he answers more of our questions:
This setting in the film, is it based on reality?
We scouted over 100 motels in the New York area , and almost all of them were run by South East Asians. The one we chose was busted for prostitution a year before we shot there. It had low income families getting kicked out while we were shooting.
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CHINESE IMMIGRANT INDIE MOVIE
Multi-talented raconteur Kinky Friedman turns again to music after entertaining forays into writing and politics. By Kyle Mullin for Albuquerque’s Local IQ, Dec. 8 2011
It was under the scalding Southeast Asian sun that Kinky Friedman became a true redneck.
He was there on a Peace Corps stint from 1966 to 1968. It was the first of many odd jobs for the now 67-year-old novelist, animal rights activist, politician and singer, who will showcase the latter talent on Dec. 10 at Sol Santa Fe. As an enlisted man, he traveled to the island of Borneo in the South China Sea. While there he worked for 11 cents an hour with the Dayak aboriginals.
“I was supposed to be an agricultural extension worker,” Friedman says in an interview with Local iQ. “My job was to teach these people who’d been farming successfully for over 2,000 years how to improve their methods. It was daunting; I learned a lot more than they did.”
Those locals would invite Friedman onto their flimsy rafts to drift along the glassy rivers, the jungle steaming with humidity behind them, schools of yellowfin tuna and barracuda sloshing rhythmically just within earshot.
“Their idea of fishing translates to visiting the fish, because they (the aboriginals) get drunk on this jungle wine and make a lot of noise, so they rarely catch anything,” Friedman chuckled at the memory, before adding that the Far East setting soon made the United States seem exotic. “It’s a real healthy thing to look at America from thousands of miles across the sea. That’s when I started writing country music.”
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World record breaking podcast host denies accusations of racism. By Kyle Mullin for The Sacramento Press, Dec. 7 2011
Adam Carolla’s wheels aren’t spinning. In fact, his engine has literally stalled.
“I’m down in the garage trying to get a Lamborghini 400GT to start. And I narrowed it down to the fuel pump or the fuses right before I came up here to call you,” the comedian, podcast host and amateur mechanic says in an exclusive phone interview with The Sacramento Press. He’ll perform his stand-up routine at The Crest Theatre on Friday.
In some ways, Carolla’s career has switched to high gear. A decade ago, he co-hosted goofy fare like “The Man Show” with Jimmy Kimmel and “Loveline” with Dr. Drew. Now he’s taken more creative control on projects like Fox Sports’ “The Car Show” and his own wildly popular podcast, which won the Guinness World Record for most downloads. But the flack Carolla’s been hit with because of his edgy jokes and social commentary, especially on the unrestricted podcast, just might send him into a tailspin.
“It drives me nuts… when you put your opinion out there, people grab it, turn you into whatever,” he says of all the ire “The Adam Carolla Show” has drawn. “Back in the day, in order to be a racist, you had to be in the clan or you had to light a cross or lynch somebody. You had to do something to be a racist. Now, just make a Pollack joke and you’re a racist. You can have gay friends and black friends and never have laid a hand on a woman in your life, and still (be called) a homophobe and a racist and a misogynist, and never (have) done a f—kin’ thing.”
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Electro virtuoso is shamelessly, openly, quirky. By Kyle Mullin for The Beijinger, Dec. 7 2011
Hugo Manuel may be the only songwriter to snag his stage name from a UK toy company that started up during the Victorian era. But what’s even stranger is why the budding British electro guru copied that goofy title. His drawing on such an obscure reference had nothing to do with know-it-all pretentiousness. In fact, aside from using the name as his own, Manuel has no intention of paying homage to Chad Valley at all.
“I like things that conjure up feelings without actually having much meaning,” Manuel says of the plaything mimicking moniker he’s used on an endless tour, which reaches Beijing on Dec. 7 at the Temple Bar. “For some people Chad Valley reminds them of toys and thus childhood, and for some people it sounds like an American surfer jock’s name. Some people assume it’s my real name. I like the ambiguity of it, but most of all I like the way it sounds.”
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