Month: May 2018

Speedy Ortiz: Twerp Verse

Speedy Ortiz Twerp Verse Carpark Records Speedy Ortiz are the darlings of the indie scene in Northampton, MA, just down I-91 from me.  Frontwoman Sadie Dupuis moved to NoHo, as the hipsters call it, back in 2011 to start her MFA at nearby UMass-Amherst.  I was piqued by the band’s name, Speedy Ortiz is a character in the Love and Rockets comic series, which is from whence one of my favourite bands of all-time took their name.  Come to think of it, I’m not sure they’re even a NoHo-based band anymore.  Wikipedia has claimed they’re based there, Boston, and Brooklyn.  Whatever....

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A Place to Bury Strangers: Pinned (Brainwashing Machine Edition)

A Place to Bury Strangers Pinned (Brainwashing Machine Edition) Dead Oceans   I first saw A Place to Bury Strangers opening for Big Pink (a case for a Whatever Happened To… segment if ever there was once) at Club Soda in Montreal in 2009.  They were incendiary live, loud, cacophonous, and intense. It was the second coming of the Jesus and Marychain, the same loud guitars, feedback and precision beats of the Marychain’s 1980s heyday.  But there was an industrial aesthetic underneath all that noise.  When my ears finally stopped ringing, and I listened to the CD I bought...

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Housing Thinking

[Originally published in House US, eds. Jae Sung Chon and Kent Mundle (Winnipeg: OCDI Press, 2018)] “Les 5 étages du monde parisien”, Edmond Texier, Tableau de Paris (courtesy In comparison to the design of a single (-family) house, or indeed any singular architectural object, housing involves a different way of thinking. The architecture of housing has more to do with systems, economies of scale and multiplicity. It forces us, more than with any other kind of architectural design project, to consider space in terms of public versus private use (and the various shades of grey in-between), spatial appropriation, flexibility, efficiency, and yes, practicality. It requires us to think about the spaces between buildings as much as those inside, and to think about landscape in much more subtle terms than merely “green space”. Housing is architecture at its most humanitarian, social, and ecological, and as such at its most political, urban and complex. It is where architecture comes closest to confronting the ecological and therefore ethical question of how we should live; of how we should construct our habitat so that it is fair, just, and sustainable. Housing thinking addresses the very form of everyday human life itself. After all, housing is what mostly makes up the built environment. Other types of buildings might be accorded more monumentality and prestige, along with bigger budgets, but the mere bulk of housing...

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Jean Grae/Quelle Chris: Everything’s Fine

Jean Grae/Quelle Chris Everything’s Fine Mello Music Group Jean Grae is one of the best rappers and lyricists in the world today.  Why have you never heard of her?  I’ve got one word: sexism.  While male rappers of middling talent go on to dominate the world, wicked female MCs toil in the underground.  And that’s where Grae has been throughout her career.  At the same time, she has mad respect within the hip hop world, and has an international presence, having worked with such luminaries as the Herbaliser, Talib Kweli and Cannibal Ox. Here she teams up with Detroit-based...

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Reports from the Picket Line: A Rousing Day for Solidarity at Columbia

Over the past four years we have been told steadfastly by our administration that we are not workers because we are students. We are routinely reminded of our privilege in having made it through the hallowed gates of the Ivy League, and told to be content with whimsical “enhancements” and “improvements” over which we have no say. President Bollinger and Provost Coatsworth would have done well to attend our picket and rally today- they may have learnt a thing or two about labor solidarity, and the importance of giving workers their due. But our administrators do not want that...

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