Tuesday, October 8, 2013

David Byrne asks: Is Gentrification Eliminating the Artists Who Make NYC the Cultural Capitol of the World? + Cantonese Lobster Hot Pot + Are You too Old for the Arts?

Peter Halley, Indexed, 1997.
ART PICTURED: Peter Halley, Indexed, 2007

David Byrne: 
Will Work for 

David Byrne considers New York City's present and future ahead of the 2013 Creative Time Summit: Art, Place & Dislocation in the 21st Century City. 
(2013 Creative Time Summit can be viewed via Livestream on October 25–26)

This piece was commissioned by and first appeared in Creative Time Reports. The story has also appeared in The Guardian. This story is being re-posted after asking for permission from Creative Time Reports

David Byrne:
I’m writing this in Venice, Italy. This city is a pleasantly confusing maze, once an island of fortresses, and now a city of tourists, culture (biennales galore) and crumbling relics. Venice used to be the most powerful city in Europe—a military, mercantile and cultural leader. Sort of like New York.
Venice is now a case study in the complete transformation of a city (there’s public transportation, but NO cars). Is it a living city? Is it a fossil? The mayor of Venice recently wrote a letter to the New York Review of Books, arguing that his city is indeed a place to live, not simply a theme park for tourists (he would like very much if the big cruise ships steered clear). I guess it’s a living place if you count tourism as an industry, which I suppose it is. New York has its share of tourists, too. I wave to the double-decker buses from my bike, but the passengers never wave back. Why? Am I not an attraction?
New York was recently voted the world’s favorite city—but when you break down the survey’s results, the city comes in at #1 for business and only #5 for living. Fifth place isn’t completely embarrassing, but what are the criteria? What is it that attracts people to this or any city? Forget the business part. I’ve been in Hong Kong, and unless one already has the means to live luxuriously, business hubs aren’t necessarily good places for living. Cities may have mercantile exchange as one of their reasons for being, but once people are lured to a place for work, they need more than offices, gyms and strip clubs to really live.
New York is funky, in the original sense of the word—New York smells like sex.

Work aside, we come to New York for the possibility of interaction and inspiration. Sometimes that possibility of serendipitous encounters—and I don’t mean in the meat market—is the principal lure. If one were to vote based on criteria like comfort or economic security, then one wonders why anyone would ever vote for New York at all over Copenhagen, Stockholm or some other less antagonistic city that offers practical amenities like affordable health care, free universities, free museums, common spaces and, yes, bike lanes. But why can’t one have both—the invigorating energy and the civic, intelligent humanism?

Maybe those Scandinavian cities do in fact have both, but New York has something else to offer, thanks to successive waves of immigrants that have shaped the city. Arriving from overseas, one is immediately struck by the multi-ethnic makeup of New York. Other cities might be cleaner, more efficient or comfortable, but New York is funky, in the original sense of the word—New York smells like sex.

Immigrants to New York have contributed to the city’s vibrancy decade after decade. In some cities around the world, immigrants are relegated to being a worker class, or a guest-worker class; they’re not invited to the civic table. New York has generally been more welcoming, though people of color have never been invited to the table to the same extent as European immigrants.

I moved to New York in the mid-1970s because it was a center of cultural ferment—especially in the visual arts (my dream trajectory, until I made a detour), though there was a musical draw too, even before the downtown scene exploded. New York was legendary. It was where things happened, on the East Coast anyway. One knew in advance that life in New York would not be easy, but there were cheap rents in cold-water lofts without heat, and the excitement of being here made up for those hardships. I didn’t move to New York to make a fortune. Survival, at that time, and at my age then, was enough. Hardship was the price one paid for being in the thick of it.
I don’t believe that crime, danger and poverty make for good art. That’s bullshit.

As one gets a little older, those hardships aren’t so romantic—they’re just hard. The trade-off begins to look like a real pain in the ass if one has been here for years and years and is barely eking out a living. The idea of making an ongoing creative life—whether as a writer, an artist, a filmmaker or a musician—is difficult unless one gets a foothold on the ladder, as I was lucky enough to do. I say “lucky” because I have no illusions that talent is enough; there are plenty of talented folks out there who never get the break they deserve.

Some folks believe that hardship breeds artistic creativity. I don’t buy it. One can put up with poverty for a while when one is young, but it will inevitably wear a person down. I don’t romanticize the bad old days. I find the drop in crime over the last couple of decades refreshing. Manhattan and Brooklyn, those vibrant playgrounds, are way less scary than they were when I moved here. I have no illusions that there was a connection between that city on its knees and a flourishing of creativity; I don’t believe that crime, danger and poverty make for good art. That’s bullshit. But I also don’t believe that the drop in crime means the city has to be more exclusively for those who have money. Increases in the quality of life should be for all, not just a few.

The city is a body and a mind—a physical structure as well as a repository of ideas and information. Knowledge and creativity are resources. If the physical (and financial) parts are functional, then the flow of ideas, creativity and information are facilitated. The city is a fountain that never stops: it generates its energy from the human interactions that take place in it. Unfortunately, we’re getting to a point where many of New York’s citizens have been excluded from this equation for too long. The physical part of our city—the body—has been improved immeasurably. I’m a huge supporter of the bike lanes and the bike-share program, the new public plazas, the waterfront parks and the functional public transportation system. But the cultural part of the city—the mind—has been usurped by the top 1 percent.
In New York there has been no public
rejection of the culture that led to the financial crisis.

What then is the future of New York, or really of any number of big urban centers, in this New Gilded Age? Does culture have a role to play? If we look at the city as it is now, then we would have to say that it looks a lot like the divided city that presumptive mayor Bill De Blasio has been harping about: most of Manhattan and many parts of Brooklyn are virtual walled communities, pleasure domes for the rich (which, full disclosure, includes me and some of the Creative Time team), and aside from those of us who managed years ago to find our niche and some means of income, there is no room for fresh creative types. Middle-class people can barely afford to live here anymore, so forget about emerging artists, musicians, actors, dancers, writers, journalists and small business people. Bit by bit, the resources that keep the city vibrant are being eliminated.

This city doesn’t make things anymore. Creativity, of all kinds, is the resource we have to draw on as a city and a country in order to survive. In the recent past, before the 2008 crash, the best and the brightest were lured into the world of finance. Many a bright kid graduating from university knew that they could become fairly wealthy almost instantly if they found employment at a hedge fund or some similar institution. But before the financial sector came to dominate the world, they might have made things: in publishing, manufacturing, television, fashion, you name it. As in many other countries the lure of easy bucks Hoovered this talent and intelligence up—and made it difficult for those other kinds of businesses to attract any of the top talent.

A culture of arrogance, hubris and winner-take-all was established. It wasn’t cool to be poor or struggling. The bully was celebrated and cheered. The talent pool became a limited resource for any industry, except Wall Street. I’m not talking about artists, writers, filmmakers and musicians—they weren’t exactly on a trajectory toward Wall Street anyway—but any businesses that might have employed creative individuals were having difficulties surviving, and naturally the arty types had a hard time finding employment too.
If young, emerging
talent of all types can’t find a foothold in this city, then it will be a city closer to Hong Kong or Abu Dhabi than to the rich fertile place it has historically been.

Unlike Iceland, where the government let misbehaving banks fail and talented kids became less interested in leaping into the cesspool of finance, in New York there has been no public rejection of the culture that led to the financial crisis. Instead, there has been tacit encouragement of the banking industry’s actions from figures like Mayor Bloomberg. The nation’s largest financial institutions are almost all still around, still “too big to fail” and as powerful as ever. One might hope that enlightened bankers might emulate the Medicis and fund culture-makers—both emerging artists and those still in school—as a way of ensuring a continued talent pool that would invent stuff and fill the world with ideas and inspiration, but other than buying blue-chip art for their walls and donating to some institutions what is, for them, small change, they don’t seem to be very much interested in replenishing the talent pool.

One would expect that the 1 percent would have a vested interest in keeping the civic body healthy at least—that they’d want green parks, museums and symphony halls for themselves and their friends, if not everyone. Those indeed are institutions to which they habitually contribute. But it’s like funding your own clubhouse. It doesn’t exactly do much for the rest of us or for the general health of the city. At least, we might sigh, they do that, as they don’t pay taxes—that we know.

Many of the wealthy don’t even live here. In the neighborhood where I live (near the art galleries in Chelsea), I can see three large condos from my window that are pretty much empty all the time. What the fuck!? Apparently rich folks buy the apartments, but might only stay in them a few weeks out of a year. So why should they have an incentive to maintain or improve the general health of the city? They’re never here.

This real estate situation—a topic New Yorkers love to complain about over dinner—doesn’t help the future health of the city. If young, emerging talent of all types can’t find a foothold in this city, then it will be a city closer to Hong Kong or Abu Dhabi than to the rich fertile place it has historically been. Those places might have museums, but they don’t have culture. Ugh. If New York goes there—more than it already has—I’m leaving.

But where will I go? Join the expat hipsters upstate in Hudson?

Can New York change its trajectory a little bit, become more inclusive and financially egalitarian? Is that possible? I think it is. It’s still the most stimulating and exciting place in the world to live and work, but it’s in danger of walking away from its greatest strengths. The physical improvements are happening—though much of the crumbling public infrastructure still needs fixing. If the social and economic situation can be addressed, we’re halfway there. It really could be a model of how to make a large, economically sustainable and creatively energetic city. I want to live in THAT city.
Are You Too Old?


When do I start doing
what "I" want to do? 

(SOURCE: Tony Robbins  tonyrobbins.com

Everyone always thinks they are too old. I hear 20-year-olds often say they are getting "so old". I also hear 30-year-olds saying the same. I hear 50-year-olds say they worry that their best years are behind them. I hear 60 and older people say they are too old to make changes or to still make plans for future accomplishment? Do you think you are too old ?  What is your mind set?

Inspired means "In Spirit"! By following your passion, you will be naturally "inspired".

Pleasure last for a short time.
Achievement is different for everyone.
Fulfillment makes you feel alive and gives your life meaning. - Fulfillment comes from your contribution, give to the world your passion. Give to others what you do best.

Don't blame yourself, others or events that have or do effect your life.
Clear focus creates priorities. The choices are your focus vs all distractions.
Focus on your passion, by making decisions and focusing on the things you CAN control. 

You can read about and study how others did it, then you can create success by emulating success. No matter your age, take action toward fulfillment. 

Are You Too Old? 
Making it in Music
Originally posted on Echoes by Scott James of the Independent Rockstar Blog ALSO posted by diymusician.cdbaby.com  Kevin Breuner
iStock 000011879602Small 200x300 Are You Too Old to Make It?

Musicians I know hold a dream to someday ‘make it’ in the music business. To play in front of huge crowds and live a lifestyle that they can only imagine. Many of us believe that we’ll someday get there. Unfortunately most of us find ourselves growing older with an ever increasing fear that we’re missing the boat.
We’re conditioned to believe that if we’re going to make it then we have to do it at a young age. I had already started to have this feeling when I was in my early 20′s. I felt like I was slacking because I hadn’t ‘made it’ yet.
So how old is too old? Well, I think what we need to look at is the fundamental equation the whole business boils down to. It’s a value exchange between the audience and the artist. The audience pays money for the value they get from the artist. So ask yourself: how old would a performer have to be before you stopped receiving value from them? Would you not pay for a great artist who was 65 years old? I would. One of the best performances I’ve ever seen was a rock and roll band of men who were all in their 80′s!
So if people are willing to pay for good music then what’s standing in your way?
I saw an artist last night who didn’t mention her name once. There were no visual cues to let me know who she was. She never mentioned anything about CDs or merchandise for sale. No website. No mailing list. Nothing. When the show was over, she walked off the stage and into the dressing room.
It’s easy to look at her and see what she did wrong. What’s more difficult to see is that to one degree or another, most of us are making similar mistakes. A lot of musicians fall into the trap of thinking that either they’re going to be ‘discovered’ or nothing is going to happen at all, so there’s no real need or urgency to actually do the right things to grow an audience and a career.
So I urge you, instead of having your head in the imaginary future all the time, to take an honest look at where you are now. You have positive things going for you right now. It’s time you capitalize on those things and make the most of what you’ve got in front of you. Success is created in the present, not the future. You may never get to play Wembley Stadium or sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl, but you can absolutely have more and more fans coming to your shows. You can have a room full of people screaming your name. It may not be a 60,000 seat venue, but believe me, it will feel good.
What you need to do is let go of the belief that someday someone is going to make it easy for you and instead take 100% responsibility for your career. Have CDs and merchandise for sale and take responsibility for learning how to sell them. Have a mailing list and learn how to get people on it and how to use it. Take responsibility for letting people know who you are and how they can stay connected to you. Good things will happen in the real world when you step up to the plate, and believe me it will feel even better than when they happen in your imagination, no matter how old you are.

Cantonese Lobster 
served with rice noodles 
and XO broth.
Last night I went for a walk, not expecting to eat out, but I came across "Confucius", my favorite Chinese restaurant in Jersey City, NJ. The manager greeted me at the door and quickly told me he had made a good deal on Lobsters and this evening his lobster dishes were no-more expensive than a regular entry. 
Peter (the manager) is from Hong Kong and all of his chefs are Cantonese also. He recommended the "Lobster in X.O. Sauce."
Cantonese is an Asian cuisine with a focus on the "Hot Pot". A large pot with everything you eat served in steaming broth and one big pot. The pot is either kept over the heat or presented at the center of the table and all parties are given some rice with their own bowl, ie: you serve yourself, family style. Everyone eats the solid pieces with chopsticks, while drinking from their bowl and slurping the noodles out by pushed them into your mouth with the chopsticks.

Cantonese dishes are not typical served in most Chinese restaurants. This dish is a real Hong Kong treat. Like all Chinese cooking, the meat, shellfish, fish, etc. are chopped-up, bones, shell and all. In this case the chopped lobster made eating it a challenge for me, with lots of picking at the meat and trying to suck it out of the shells, not to mention constantly extricating the small pieces of hard shell from my mouth along with those fins of cartilage in the claws. 

BUT I am painting the wrong picture here, the overall experience was nothing short of magnificent! I felt like I was back in Hong Kong. That city always reminds me of James Bond movies and I am certain, James would have ordered Lobster in X.O. Sauce, after downing his Martini.

Lobster in X.O. Sauce

- X.O.Sauce:
The exact circumstances surrounding the birth of spicy XO sauce are unknown. It is likely that the combination of dried chili peppers, dried shrimp, dried scallops, garlic, and other seasonings first graced the table of one of Hong Kong's pricier dining establishments. Furthermore, it's probably not a coincidence that the creators of XO sauce chose to name it after a popular but decidedly expensive brandy: ordering a bottle will add dollars to your restaurant bill. 

- Vermicelli rice noodles: 
Rice vermicelli are thin noodles made from rice. They are sometimes referred to as rice sticks, but they should not be confused with cellophane noodles, which are another type of vermicelli.

- Live Whole Lobster, (remove intestine, then chop into bite-sized pieced, shell and all)
- Scallions, chopped
- Celery, chopped
- Garlic, diced
- Cornstarch
- Oil & butter

- Put water into the pot, add condensed X.O. sauce (see below) bring to a boil. - Taste for richness, adjust with more X.O.Sauce or water.
- Chop-up lobster and coat all pieces in cornstarch. Sautee the lobster in sesame oil & butter along with chopped scallion greens and whites plus chopped celery and diced garlic, sautee all until cornstarch begins to brown, then pour into the X.O. broth and stir.
- Bring broth back to a boil, and cook lobsters until done.

For X.O. Sauce
1/4 cup dried scallops
1/3 cups Chinese sausage
1/4 cup dried small shrimp
1/4 cup dried crab meat
1/2 cup minced ginger
1/2 cup minced shallot
1/2 cup minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper
3 tablespoons fermented bean paste
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup sesame oil
  1. Cover the dried scallops, shrimp and crab meat with boiling water and rehydrate overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. The next day, drain the water from the seafood. Render the fresh sausage carefully, going for a deep golden brown without burning. Pour off the fat except for 1/2 cup.
  3. Meanwhile, slice the dried scallops, shrimp and crab meat until finely chopped. Reserve. Once the sausage has caramelized, add the red pepper and cook 30 seconds, then add remaining ingredients including the reserved 1/2 cup sausage fat (but not the sesame oil) and cook very slowly, stirring frequently. The idea is to lightly caramelize the mixture by cooking slowly for 20-45 minutes.
  4. Once desired color has been achieved, add sesame oil. Combine well and adjust seasoning.

Until later,
ARTSnFOOD, is an online publication dedicated to "The Pursuit of Happiness through the Arts and Food." ™ All rights reserved for all content. Concept, Original Art, Original Text & "Original or Assigned Photography" are © Copyright 2013 Jack A. Atkinson under all International intellectual property and copyright laws. All photographs were taken and/or used with permission. Artworks © individual artists, fabricators, respective owners or assignees.

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