Five Cool Things for Sept 4, 2011

Let there be coffee.

Indie rock bands are a pleasant distraction for some and the band Beirut seems to be rocking critics and fans alike. Aside from your occasional (and worthwhile) distraction via this particular publication, what are the nature of your distractions and do you have the tools you need to win the battle? The Chinese based artist Ai Weiwei speaks truth to power and is not afraid to use the Internets to do it. Mr. Errol Morris has one keen sense of serendipity. Way back when Paul Bowles was writing about the cafe’s and salons of Morocco while considering the mountains of Andalucia that beckoned from across the Strait of Gibraltar. Here, courtesy of Mr. Bowles, is a little provocation for your Labor Day weekend. “No one can ever heap enough insults upon me to suit my taste. I think we all really thrive on hostility, because it’s the most intense kind of massage the ego can undergo. Other people’s indifference is the only horror.”

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1. March of the Zapotec | Indie Rock Band Beirut

From Salon:

Beirut

Zach Condon is an unlikely heartthrob. The band he fronts, Beirut, features neither dance beats nor electric guitars, and sells neither sex nor rebellion; its main influences are French chanson and Balkan and Mexican folk music. Onstage, he moves little, playing trumpet and ukulele and singing in the theatrically melancholic baritone of a pre-rock ‘n’ roll crooner. And yet, when he steps up to the mic, young girls scream, white-haired folks beam and everyone thrusts their arms into the air.

Speaking over the phone from his hometown of Santa Fe, N.M., the tousle-haired 25-year-old Condon admits this kind of crowd reaction is common around the world — and it leaves him happily baffled. Late update: Beirut just recently played Portland’s Crystal Ballroom.

Read the entire Salon article here>>
Sample Beirut’s music here>>

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2. Put. The. iPhone. Down | A Simplicity Manifesto in the Age of Distraction

Focus Leo Baubata

Focus

This is probably more for me than you, but if the hat fits and all that. Illustration is from Learning Fundamentals. Focus is a free Ebook that is packed with tips, tools, ideas, concepts, suggestions and so on to help you still the waters; to lose the distractions and get your work done. Zen flavored and very calming. Hey you. Put. The iPhone. Down.

Download the free Ebook here>>

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3. Ai Weiwei | Truth to Power

Dropping the Urn

In China, the power of the Internet is a real threat to State control over information. Hence the infamous Chinese “firewall.”  Ai Weiwei is a China based artist who’s been jailed, had his studio bulldozed and been a frequent target of the State, as uses traditional media and the Internet–via blogs and social media–to reach a worldwide audience to focus attention on his art and his country’s basic lack of freedoms. Read his powerful piece on the City of Bejing, just published in Newsweek in August. To get a taste of how subversive Weiwei’s art is, have a quick read about his work called, Dropping the Urn. In which he drops …them to pieces. Cool article on his work, here>> The video is from his TED talk.

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4. Tabloid | A New Film by Errol Morris

Aside from the love of a good woman, or man, or a great meal, or being surrounded by your family & friends, or international travel, I’m not sure there’s anything better than the release of a new Errol Morris film. This one has kinky sex, Mormon missionaries, kidnapping, celebrity and yep, tabloid culture in jolly England. Such juicy goodness! And how cool is it that Morris released this film now, post News Of The World?

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5. Paul Bowles | Inside the Cafe’s and Salon’s of Morocco

{Worlds of Tangier published in Holiday, March 1958}

Black and white photo of Paul Bowles

Paul Bowles

“In the summer of 1931, Gertrude Stein invited me to stay a fortnight in her house at Bilignin, in southern France, where she always spent the warm months of the year. At the beginning of the second week she asked me where I intended to go when I left. Not having seen much of the world, I replied that I thought Villefranche would be a good place. She was gently contemptuous. “Anybody can go to the Rivera,” she declared. “You ought to go somewhere better than that. Why don’t you go to Tangier?” I was hesitant, and explained that living there might cost more than my budget allowed me. “Nonsense,” she said. “It’s cheap. It’s just the place for you.”

A week later I was aboard a little ship called the Iméréthie II bound for various North African ports, and ever since I have been grateful to Gertrude Stein for her intelligent suggestion. Beginning with the first day and continuing through all the years I have spent in Tangier, I have loved the white city that sits astride its hills, looking out across the Strait of Gibralter to the mountains of Andalusia.

Read the full story here>>

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