Spooky: New Genius Remix of Dusty Springfield’s Classic Tune is Scary Good.

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Some songs are like lonely vagabonds that hop on random trains, crossing vast swatches of country, in and out of towns, villages and cities, picking up where others have left off. Spooky, is one such track. Originally an instrumental courtesy of saxophonist Mike Sharpe “Shapiro” and written by Harry Middlebrooks, Jr. back in 1967. A year after, and the song gets it’s lyrics thanks to guitarist James Cobb and producer Buddy Buie.

Fast forward to three years later, and Dusty Springfield’s version drops with that platinum blond tinged quintessential soul. The song opens with a breezy start, allowing for trademark Springfield velvet vocals, coated with a death ray of coolness:

In the cool of the evening
When everything is gettin’ kind of groovy

With an opening like this one, it’s easy to contemplate this is the same chick that brought us Son of a Preacher Man, a song that transcends time, effortlessly searing it’s way decades later back into pop culture consciousness thanks to being featured in 1994’s Tarantino hit Pulp Fiction. It’s just the first 2 stanzas of Spooky that get repeated in the Genius version, but the original held some secrets that might reveal a bit more:

Just like a ghost
Youve been a-hauntin’ my dreams
But now I know youre not what you seem

Love is kind of crazy
With a spooky little boy like you
Spooky

The earlier version of this song centered on a girl, while Springfield’s lyrics offered a gender flip on the subject. It may be telling that Springfield’s sexuality was often questioned by a largely homophobic culture. Springfield had openly had several relationships with women, at one time claiming that men frightened her. The song may in fact hint at a kind of darkness in Springfield’s own troubled life in retrospect, but it’s absent in this Genius re-work, where the focus centers instead on stripped down coolness. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a lovely tribute to a great track; there’s only a small sprinkling of beats that manage to accentuate the existing coolness, which is all very well and good. Sometimes that’s all you need.

Here’s Genius’ fresh new take on Dusty Springfield’s Spooky, followed by the original track. It’s worth watching not only to hear the audio tweak differences. There’s something slightly askew with the visual performance; Dusty lip synchs the words while acting out some of the lyrics with awkward hand gestures. She wears a long, colourful dress, while positioned sitting on top of a giant spotlight, inside a comically oversized wire frame box. It’s as though the audience can see through her. And yet with a faraway, vacant expression, she gives nothing away.

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Thrift Paint Remix: Dave Pollot Likes His Art with Robots & Spaceships.

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We’ve all done it before. Scouring the aisles at your local Sally Ann or Value Village, searching for that special, unique, one of a kind, je ne sais quois. Macklemore’s 2012 ode to the thrift shop experience made shopping for vintage cool again, even though it was always arguably way cooler to get dope threads for a fraction of the cost of what the local department store charges. If you’re not into clothing, there’s also board games, but you gotta check for missing pieces. Then there’s the gadgets, like old super 8 cameras and 3d viewmasters. Sure there’s some obsolete stuff like VCR’s and tape decks, but there’s usually a decent stereo receiver that you stare at and wonder if you should get. 30 bucks. Hmmmm. Wonder if it works.

Then there’s the “Art” section. Amidst the piles of cat posters with inspirational sayings, there’s usually a pile of amateur grade landscapes and my personal favourite: dogs. Or more cats. Some of them are just so bad. But some of them, are so bad that they’re good. Kind of.
Dave Pollot buys these paintings.
Then, he makes them better.

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Dave is a software writer with a Computer Science degree, but he also happens to be a talented painter. He began his repurposed thrift art career one fateful day in 2010, and hasn’t looked back since. An avid pop culture and science fiction fan, Pollot injects a variety of references from his creative arsenal: spaceships, robots, video game characters. There are also references to iconic films like Ghostbusters, Star Wars, Donnie Darko, X-Men, Simpsons, Futurama, and tons more all playfully inserted into the unsuspecting landscapes of yesterday. The great news here is, like what you’d find at that dusty old thrift store, Pollot’s remixes are super affordable. Check out his store and buy one today.

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Posted in art, Culture, entertainment, illustration, Movies, painting, pop culture, Science Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Irvine Welsh on Ecstasy, Heroin, EDM & The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins.

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Edinburgh born author and counter culture legend Irvine Welsh dropped in on the Reddit community for an AMA session while promoting his latest book The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins.

Here are some highlights:

On who he based the Sick Boy character on:
“Sick Boy is probably an amalgamation of about 2-3 people. I think all characters are also a little bit a part of the author, or a younger version.”
On his inspiration for Filth:
“I worked in Edinburgh Council and there was a crazy guy who hated the world. He hated his bosses, and his subordinates. I thought: make him a cop, then he can do some real damage. There is always a lot of stuff in the papers about dodgy coppers, because its far damaging than dodgy council workers.”
Does he still do drugs?:
“I can’t really handle them now. You spend so much of your life fucked up that being sober feels quite trippy. If something new and mind-blowing came on the market though…”
And finally: What was the magic secret behind the now infamous Trainspotting toilet scene?
…Yorkie Bars.

While the interview may not prove the most lengthy or provocative AMA’s, there are some kernels of interest about what makes him tick as a writer. Most notably, that he doesn’t write unless he gets an uncomfortable feeling from the material. There’s a reference he makes to a notorious interview he gave for Rebel Inc. where he takes ecstacy in the middle of it with Kevin Williamson. It’s not easily found on the interwebz, so I’ve been unable to come up with a link for it. For anyone (like myself) hoping to hear news of Porno hitting the big screen, we’re not left with any definitive news, unfortunately. He does, however talk about how his past drug use influenced his works, as well as what he thinks of the EDM scene in the US, and what he puts on his pizza.

Read the entire AMA over here. You can read more about Welsh’s new novel over here.
And finally, from the internet archives, here’s a brief interview with Welsh on the set of Trainspotting shot on vintage Hi-8 below.

Above Photo courtesy of The Cavern

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Beyond The Fallen Tower of David.

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Anyone familiar with the third Season of Homeland may remember lead character Nicholas Brody, played by Damian Lewis, finding himself in a decrepid highrise somewhere in Venezuala. What you might not know is that there is such a place, and it’s known as the Torre of David, or The Tower of David. Construction on the 45 story Centro Financiero Confinanzas began in 1990, but ended abruptly in 1994 before it was completed as a result of the Venezualan banking crisis.

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Soon after, an estimated 2000 impoverished families moved in to squat inside the unfinished building, in order to build a new life for themselves. They somehow managed a jerry-rigged system of utilities that included both water and electricity. A number of bodegas sprang up. There were also day cares, internet cafes, hair salons. Even a dentist set up shop. Photographer Alejandro Cegarra managed to capture this underground commune with some incredible images, featured throughout this story.

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Then, just last year, Operation Zamora rolled in. The tower was deemed unsafe to live in. It wasn’t just the kids that had accidentally fallen off the building. Despite the well organized community, there were rumours of ties to organized crime. The government sent in soldiers to evacuate the building’s residents and re-locate them to a housing project. The tower still stands today, although it’s future, like that of it’s residents’ children, remains unclear.

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Almost four thousand miles North of the Torre of David, in the city of Toronto, it’s slightly colder than it is in Caracas. And, even though our climate may be vastly different, the issue of homelessness is something we share in common.

This winter alone, three homeless men have died as a direct result of sub-zero temperatures in a series of extreme cold weather blasts; one in a bus shelter wearing only a t-shirt, the other inside an abandoned van. Just last week a man had burned alive after trying to keep warm in a makeshift shelter behind a concrete making facility. With a new Mayor behind the reigns, eager to repair his city’s image, the deaths have re-ignited debate on how to solve the age old enigma.

The knee jerk reaction is a call to build more shelters. But ask anyone on the street why they choose to take their chances elsewhere and you’ll get a fistful of answers, almost as varied as the coins made from a panhandler’s daily take. They’re dirty, dangerous places, they’ll say, you’re more likely to be assaulted or robbed inside a shelter than outside. Not to mention the rampant alcohol and drug use.

So what’s the alternative?

Multiple studies have stated that there is a clear path to end homelessness. The answer lies in long term housing, alongside access to training programs and addiction counselling. Not only does providing housing help people off the streets, it actually costs less doing so. The costs of a shelter bed per year far exceeds the cost of a self contained longterm apartment.

If the solution to the homeless crisis is in front of us, why don’t we go for it? Here are some compelling reasons why solving it is in all of our best interests.

1. Less crime. It stands to reason that if homeless people are off the streets, and provided food and shelter, but most importantly, also have access to treatment programs for addiction, anger management, or for other health and mental issues, there would a reduction in robberies to feed addictions, fewer assaults, etc.

2. Less health related illnesses. If the homeless are given stable, long term housing, they should have better access to health care. Regular check ups would mean preventative diseases can be caught earlier, before they get more serious, and end up costing the health care system more.

3. More hospital beds. Currently homeless people account for a high number of emergency beds, adding to an already heavily burdened system. A study put forward by the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that Homeless residents also end up staying longer in hospital, which each visit costing more than non-homeless residents. If they had better access to health care, hospitals would be less burdened.

4. It makes good economic sense. Having the homeless off the streets would lessen the burden on law enforcement, the justice system and health care management. With re-training and education programs, housing the homeless would allow a formally disenfranchised sector to become productive members of society. Either by being hired across many sectors of business, or, by starting their very own businesses; it’s ultimately beneficial to our economy as a whole. Just ask Frank O’Dea, a former homeless man, who would one day go on to become founder of Second Cup.

5. There is a moral obligation to do so. In a so-called world class city in one of the world’s wealthiest countries, how can we casually walk over frozen bodies on our way to the local Starbucks?

6. We already have a plan of strategy ready to implement. In 2006, The Wellesley Institute, a local non-partisan, non-profit think tank developed a detailed Blueprint to End Homelessness in Toronto based on 30 years of comprehensive research. Instead of pretending to deal with the issue by throwing money at another study, it’s time to dust off and implement a feasible course of action that’s been sitting on a shelf for far too long.

It’s more than likely that no current government wants to step up to the plate and build the housing we need to get the program in place. We’d rather spend 709 million dollars building housing for the Pan Am games’ athletes, than pursue this crazy idea. But imagine if we did. Imagine becoming a city without any homeless people.

It may not be such an impossible dream. South of the border, two cities are well on their way to doing just that. Salt Lake City, in Utah, and Phoenix, Arizona have both almost completely managed to provide housing for homeless veterans. In a city dubbed “the best place in the world to live”, courtesy of The Economist, shouldn’t we represent the innovative benchmark for tackling social problems, and lead this country by example?

Unfortunately, for the moment, we’ll have the cold comfort that 90 new shelters have been temporarily added by renting out 20 motel rooms in the city’s West end. The proposed 2015 budget for the City of Toronto will include funding for 100 new shelter spaces and 2 drop in centers for women. On paper it sounds good. The unfortunate reality though, is that it’s more of the continued band-aid style solution for a problem that has not improved over the years, and is not going away any time soon.

In the interim, all we can hope for is for warmer temperatures, and people to come in from the cold.

 

If you live in Canada, and you’d like to help get involved in the fight to end homelessness, you can check out the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness. Join their Facebook page here.

If you are in the US, check out the National Alliance to End Homelessness. Join their Facebook page here.

If you’re in Europe, check out FEANTSA, the European Federation of National Organisations working with the Homeless. Facebook page here.

Posted in Culture, longform, Photography, Photos, Toronto | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

The Freshest of the Fresh: 10 of the Very Best Tracks, Remixes & Re-Edits from 2014.

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Full disclosure – this is as incomplete and unofficial as it gets. If you are a frequent follower of this blog you’ll know I haven’t been posting in a while, so this isn’t just a tally of the best of this year, it’s also a way for me to play catch up on stuff I’ve been jonesing to cover for awhile, but just haven’t had the chance to. So here we go:

10. Ronald JenkeesAlpha Numeric

Jenkees may have built his career on short quirky Youtube vids, but he has since gone on to greener and more lucrative pastures, providing remix work for some of Hip Hop’s legends. He’s still working on his own thing though. Alpha Numeric has this epic in scope thing going on, and if this tune sounds a bit video gamey, that’s because it is for a video game, namely There Came an Echo – which drops sometime later this year.

9. Rome CeeAmerican Made

American Made is off Baltimore area Rome Cee‘s latest album Glimpse, which is chalk full of tightly packaged fresh beats brimming with soul and laced with lyrics that will make you think, all delivered with a perfect mix of power and artistry. It’s been written that one of Rome’s influences is Nas, and it’s pretty clear with tracks like American Made. There’s lots of content covered in street storytelling lyrics like slavery, crime and punishment, with bone chilling results that make you bop your head. Check out the whole album over here.

8. Jon Hopkins – Abandon Window (MODERAT Remix)

A jewel of a track gets an outstanding remix, retaining the original, essential Jon Hopkins ambient flavour that borders on the sublime. You will want to listen to this one again and again.

7. Pat BenatarLove is a Battlefield (Belanger Remix)

Like the return of fanny packs and mom jeans courtesy of NormCore, some things from the 80s are back with a vengeance. Here is Pat Benatar as you’ve never heard before, courtesy of NYC producer Belanger.

6. Frontin’ – Pharrell ft. Jay Z (Disclosure Re-Work)

Bouncy beats are like slow cooked pork ribs. You can’t rush the process. Just add some brown sugar for sweetness, and you gotta be patient. Let the science work it’s magic. I have no idea what ribs have to do with this track, except that I like them both. Maybe I’m just hungry. The boys from Disclosure dish us a plate with a slow start that’s a generic 4:4 beat, leaving plenty of time to add to it, but be sure to stick around till the 35 second mark and you’ll know you’re in for something special. Just add a dash of Pharrell vocals and ya’ll be cooking for real in no time.

5. Crystal Waters – Gypsy Woman (Genius Remix)

There’s lots to choose from in the Genius bucket of remixes, but there’s nothing quite like that original riff from Gypsy Woman that gets singled out for this remix. It’s a track that deserves a re-visit and this remix is a fitting tribute to the original.

4. Mister Lies – Push Becomes Shove

I had trouble covering Mister Lies latest album, entitled Shadow, even though I had been looking forward to it for so long. Nick Zanca had been warning people for months not to expect another False Astronomy, and he was right. This album is a clean break from those days, and it’s very good. Production wise, it’s unparalled, there’s a gorgeous array of fresh, innovative beat samples. It’s just a bit slower than most of the tunes I cover for Digitized, but it’s a great album that should be checked out – there’s also tons of poetic lyrics and wonderful, strange new territory to explore. Looking forward to hearing whatever comes next from this artist.

3. Treat Me Like Fire – Lion Babe – Snakehips Remix

It’s no secret that Snakehips have consistently been dropping bullet proof hit after hit. Slightly slower tempo than glitch heavy After I met you, but with more meat on it’s bones than No Other Way, the remix treatment for Lion Babe’s Treat Me Like Fire is a fitting tribute to it’s original Motown tinged flavour; beginning with stripped down vocals from Jillian Hervey and simple piano chords, then dropping a sweet Biggie sample, then it’s off to Snakehips country. Flawless as per usual. Look out for fresh new tunes from the Snakehips crew this January.

2. Odesza – Say My Name feat. Zyra (Jai Wolf Remix)

It’s kind of hard to choose a favourite track off Odesza‘s latest effort In Return. There’s a definite leaning to a kind of grandiose, world beat/tribal vibe to alot of the tracks, while Say My Name stands out as a playful throwback to why I fell in love with Odesza the first time. It’s just some gorgeous music to dance to. With lyrics that shout: I wanna dance, I wanna to dance with you – It’s blatantly honest with it’s message, maybe that’s why I’m so in love with this tune. For those bass heavy lovers check out the Kastle remix over here.

1. Broken Bells – Holding On For Life (Solomun Remix)

I’ve snuck this one in again because I just had to. Here’s the full version of the track originally posted in one of my previous Freshest of the Fresh posts. Without a doubt, the dopeness is strong with this track, and in my humble opinion hands down beats the original. Total banger of a tune. Happy New Year everyone.

Bonus Track – Bondax – Dusk Funk

Released mere days ago, tracks like this one don’t come any fresher. Glorious disco themed Dusk Funk is everything a Bondax Banger needs to be and more. This is off their latest release of re-mixes, buy it here.

Posted in art, Culture, electronica, entertainment, Hip Hop, Music, Music Videos | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No Man’s Sky: To Boldly Go Where No Other Video Game Has Gone Before.

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I won’t bore you with details, but something significant happened in my life a few months ago. More specifically, to a family member that I love very much. This is very much related to the lack of posts for some time. When stuff happens, sometimes you fall back on old habits. You may turn to an old friend. Sometimes that friend comes in DVD format. And sometimes that DVD format contains the first Season of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

star trek- tng Hello, Friendos. Glad Wesley eventually traded in that sweater for a uniform.

It’s a season I’ve avoided for some time now, I’ve always equated it as the worst one, just in terms of not having a polished look – the series was first released in 1987, after all. Some of the special effects and uniforms are a bit dated, some of the characters are not quite developed, there is some clumsiness in dialogue. Looking back on it now, sure, there is a certain level of awkwardness, it’s not quite as refined as some of the later seasons, but there are still some great episodes. But what is really great about the season, is what I love about the entire series, and dare I say it; the entire Star Trek franchise.
It’s an astoundingly simple premise.
A ship sails off into the unknown. Who they encounter, where they visit, what phenomenas they come across; the possibilities are endless. There is a constant element of danger, excitement and surprise.
Maybe that’s why No Man’s Sky has excited me so much. This is a video game developed by Hello Games, and it’s based on essentially the same premise. You fly off into space with your own space ship, exploring the galaxy. You can spend as much time as you’d like on each planet. The eventual goal of the game is to upgrade your ship to go deeper into space until you reach the center of the galaxy where a still unknown surprise awaits. Founder and Game Programmer Sean Murray is passionate about exploring the roots of science fiction; that sense of wonder and excitement that we first had as children, maybe it was reading our first Philip K. Dick novel, or watching our first episode of Star Trek. Alot of the artwork contained in NMS, is in fact, a throwback to sci-fi book covers from the 60s and 70s.

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But it’s not just the uber cool premise of the game, nor the artwork that make No Man’s Sky so groundbreaking. It’s also the engine behind it. You see, this game doesn’t come on a disk. It’s not stored in a cloud. It’s a game based on what Murray describes as “procedural mathematical formulas”, meaning the game’s environment gets built as the player moves forward, exploring what’s around them. Sounds pretty neat, right? But how detailed is the game? Well, it turns out, to say the game is complex or very large would be a vast understatement. When you start the game, you begin on a planet; in a star system. One of hundreds of millions in the game. That’s not a typo. Think about that – there are hundreds of millions of stars, each with it’s own set of planets to explore. Players that encounter planets (or the species on them) for the first time get to name them.

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This Friday will mark the 42 year anniversary of the Appolo 17 mission’s conclusion. It was the sixth and final mission for Humans to land on the moon.
Let’s hope a video game is not the only way we can explore space in the future. In the meantime, we’ll have to settle for No Man’s Sky. It should be released sometime in the new year, on Playstation and PC.

Posted in art, Culture, entertainment, gaming, Science Fiction, Space, Technology, video games | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

My Rules :: Underground Shooter Drops New Book Feat. Old School Skate, Hip Hop + Punk Culture.

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It’s a rare thing to be at the epicentre of a new subculture. It’s an unpredictable, sometimes dangerous place, filled with a raw, seemingly uncontrollable energy. Yet somehow photographer Glen E. Friedman managed to be there. First as a 14 year old boy with an instamatic in his hand at the side of an empty pool in Dogtown, shooting his friends who happened to be some of the dopest skaters at the time. Later on, he would bring a camera along to some of the punk shows he was attending like Black Flag.  Eventually he started doing some promo work for Russell Simmons’ label Def Jam recordings, which included shooting iconic Hip Hop legends like Run DMC & Public Enemy.  On the 20th anniversary of his last book, aptly titled Fuck You Heroes, he’s just released a new book; My Rules, designed with the help of renowned street artist Shepard Fairey and featuring an uncompromising look at some of the most important youth culture icons of their time, including Fugazi, Ice-T, Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat, The Misfits, Bad Brains, Beastie Boys, and Skateboarding legends Tony Alva, Jay Adams, Alan “Ollie” Gelfand, Duane Peters, and Stacy Peralta, and Tony Hawk.

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Posted in art, Culture, entertainment, Hip Hop, Photography, Photos, punk, skateboarding | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments