Urban Nomads – We Make Music

Folks, its not hidden a secret that I am a part time Urban Nomad by profession.

Islington

Urban Nomadic Sessions 001

What do us Urban Nomads do I hear ya ask?

Simple, we traverse urban settings, admiring cities, architecture, noise, markets, music, people, shops and most importantly, our built environment.

Our activities include but not limited to:

  • Finding cool hidden gems, in my case the focus is on architecture and food.
  • Chilling in coffee shops and coffee related establishments. We can spend tons of hours in these places.
  • Walking in unknown parts of whatever city we happen to be in. We do that to discover new things, but also because it expands our understanding of our environment. It sometimes puts me in trouble. Worth it.
  • Our nomadic nature means we cannot get too attached to one city, place or setting. But we often do.
  • Running new routes around the city and seeing things at 20 km/hr while your heartbeat is at 100 bpm.
  • Attending gigs, going to museums, enriching ourselves culturally.
  • Airports
  • Metro/Subway/Tube inspiration
  • Finding cool hidden gems when we run of things to do
  • Make/be music as you listen to music.

And this brings us nicely to my latest project.

You might have been with me long enough to know about Kay-Ville, District Funk and then Disco Blasphemy. These were awesome shows which were broadcast and had their fun in their sun. Time for something new.

My latest is a no brainer. One of the main accessories of the discerning Urban Nomad is his headphones and music selection. It is highly unusual to find me walking random parts of Paris’s Courbevoie or New York’s Lower East Side without my headphones on, banging tunes, taking it all on.

When I often playback some tunes, it elicits such a strong feeling of a particular setting that I often can no longer but associate that track with that place. And hence my idea – put together tracks I play while hopping about places in one mix and see what that sounds like. And thus ‘The Urban Nomadic Sessions’ is born.

The first session takes us to one my favorite parts of London and where I have so many fond memories, Islington, up Naaarrffff.

Representing N1, N4, N5, N6, N7, N8, N16 and N19, with a silent ode to the gunners! Here we go!

Tracklist:

  1. Grüün – GrüünGrüünGrüüün
  2. Deetron Feat. Ovasoul7 – Out Of My Head (Dub)
  3. Roman Flügel – More & More
  4. Aaron FIT Siegel – Tonite (DD Mix)
  5. Rachel Row – Follow The Step (KiNK Mix)
  6. Doc Daneeka – Everyday
  7. B.G. Baarregaard – Tocame
  8. Olivier Giacomotto – Together
  9. Martijn – Strada 23
  10. Flori – SU-3150
  11. Moodymanc – Joy (Ralph Lawson Dub)
  12. Dave Seaman – Private Education
  13. JC Williams – Need No More (NY Stomp Remix)
  14. Koelle, Elli – All You Got (Richard Seaborne Dub)
  15. Prok & Fitch – One Of These Days
  16. P A U L I E – Spread Love (Holmes Price Remix)
  17. Climbers Feat. Yasmine Azaiez – Left Your Love (Director’s Cut Signature Mix)
  18. Jacob Bech – The Kibosh
  19. Pablo Bolivar – Destination Novgorod
  20. Softwar – Believe
  21. NY’s Finest – I Can’t Wait Till Tonight
  22. James Welsh – Horse Fight
  23. JimmyTheTwin – Party Down
  24. Surrealism – So Much
  25. Matthew Collins – Nobody’s Fool (Young Hand Remix)
  26. System Of Survial – Iper Island
  27. Jesse Rose – Alone
  28. Benoit & Sergio – House With 500 Rooms (Dub)
  29. Sasse – Flushing Meadows (Mark E Remix)
  30. Jens Bond – Two Seconds Of Silence
  31. Chamboche – Into The Murk
  32. Phil Weeks – Stay Stayin
  33. Daniel Steinberg – 1981
  34. Dalson – Back Home
  35. Joe Morris – Elysium
  36. P. Laoss – Play My Music
  37. White Wolf Worx – MFED
  38. System Of Survial – Shaking Slow
  39. B.G. Baarregaard – C.R.A.Z.Y
  40. Alkalino – Have A Ball
  41. Crazy P – Cruel Mistress (Ron Basejam Remix)
  42. The Groovers – Make Me Feel
  43. 78 Edits – Don’t You Know
  44. Mario Basanov – More For The Less (Pablo Bolivar & Maurice Aymard Remix)
  45. Closed Paradise, Tesla Boy, Sasha Anastasov – The Daulphin
  46. Martijn – Sestriere
  47. The Groovers – Where You BelongB
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The Day I Climbed The Egg – Beirut

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The Egg - c. 1995

The Egg – c. 1995

Affectionately known as ‘The Egg’ by the locals, this is all what remains from what was once an architecturally ground breaking multi-purpose complex in Beirut, designed by the modernist genius that is Joseph Philippe Karam and built c. 1965 – called ‘Beirut City Center’ at the time.

On a recent trip to Beirut, I made it one of my must do goals to climb up the Egg (legally or illegally – had to be done). And so I did!

The complex was a concatenation of office and residential space, combined with a mall on the 1st three floors that could be reached by escalators from the ground.

The hollow, soap like structure was actually the complex’s multi-purpose performance space, mostly used as a theater and a cinema. It was built around the time when Arab cinema was at its golden age and Beirut was the pioneer of the dream sequence technology. Be it actors, technicians, studios or just good old cinemas, where Beirut went the Arab world followed. As the old saying went: “Shot in Egypt, made famous in Beirut”.

After the civil war broke out, the complex, situated right on the ‘Green Line’ that separated east and west Beirut, suffered extensive but certainly repairable damage. Shortly after the war ended however (in the mid-90s), the Ministry of Finance bought the lease of the land and destroyed the main building with the aim of rebuilding its own ministry premises. The plans were later abandoned but not without leaving ‘The Egg’ as the only remaining structure of a once ground breaking plaza.

Ever since then plenty of plans have come and gone and the structure has been threatened several times. Lebanon’s laws on architectural heritage are lax, and they hardly ever protect modernist and art-deco era 20th century era buildings. The focus tends to be on much older buildings leaving a country with a wealth of modernist structures in danger of losing some of its most important assets.

And so here I am on a hot summer day in June. I make my way up, one broken step at a time. I am not the first person to do this, in fact in the late 90s all the way until quite recently the space was often used as an art gallery, impromptu theater and sometimes as a good old raving spot. But having been sealed off since 2007, I was pleasantly surprised that this time the barriers were removed.

A few short hops and hikes, and a dirty suede shoes later, I made it. The incredible smooth concrete finishing was right there, riddled with bullet holes of various sizes and idiosyncratic graffiti. Those curves in all their beauty, the iron clad pillars holding this alien like structure, all there. This was urban raw Beirut as I’ve come to fall in love with it ever since I was born. The city of dreams, resistance, resistance to resistance and where icons are made and crushed.

My trek up the Egg was magical, sad and wildly invigorating. I learned that man-made structures, through our own perception of our reality as humans, become an almost indispensable intrinsic part of our internal psyche. They are so closely weaved with our identity, our culture and what we come to call our home. That was the day I got close to the structure that I’ve always admired and drove me to obsession as a young kid – just ask my parents who had to constantly deny that it was an alien space ship that had landed in Beirut and no one is allowed in because the government is protecting it.

Public perception of modernism in Lebanon is unfortunately quite mis-guided. The abundance of these buildings from the early 20th century all the way to the mid-80s meant that they have become part of the Lebanese urban landscape and in no way seen as endangered. But they are dwindling and are being eroded by the day to be replaced by soulless blocks of bland stone bricks that have little design quality and are built with little care about their surroundings.

Back in the Egg I stare out of its well crafted big square ad-hoc windows. I’m seeing the massive construction boom that Beirut is currently undergoing as the city becomes a play ground for real estate realtors, developers and mega rich property investors. And then in the middle of all this commotion a lovely derelict church, Mar Mansour, stands there idly and powerfully in the face of a briskly changing landscape. It too is undergoing its own battle for survival. Such is the case in Beirut, a place where only the strongest and fittest (but also the most corrupt) survive and I ponder what this place will look like in a decade from now. Twenty years ago this was a decrepit pit hole of rubble and destruction, now it is one of the most expensive square miles in the world.

Recently some civil society and architecture groups have managed to bring this issue back into the forefront and The Egg in many ways is the symbol of this fight. Lose it and very slowly but surely, we will lose all of Lebanon’s modernist history. Win it and we might, just might, have a chance at preserving the dreams and identities of not only the men who designed and built an era, but the countless people whose lives have become defined by these familiar buildings that have become as Lebanese as Tabouleh.

Beirut continues its phenomenal growth

View from the Egg: Beirut continues its phenomenal growth while some struggle for survival

The World in Heathrow’s Eyes

Heathrow marketing - You're either a Customer or Opportunity!

As I was making a journey on the London Underground today I was struck by an unbelievably patronizing map ad by Heathrow. Apparently the new aggressive Heathrow marketing strategy is to highlight the fact that everywhere/everyone else on earth other than the UK is actually one of two:

1- Customers

2- Opportunity

I say this wreaks of utter self centrist stench! It would seem that the aim is to pressure the government into crafting a much more Heathrow friendly aviation policy that would put Heathrow back on the global map. As demonstrated by the Heathrow marketing team in this rather traditionally British Euro-phobic video below, France and Germany are one up the UK because of their aviation policies. The British Chamber of Commerce’s recent recommendations back that up with a call for a third runway at Heathrow amid Labour’s new shift to overturn its previous support for the same plan.

But Heathrow aren’t using the T word just yet, instead they’re relying on heavy usage of the word “growth” in an attempt to make it work both ways.

I’ve personally always been of the thinking that Heathrow cannot compete realistically without a third runway. I am sorry my environmental friends, I too despise Heathrow’s complete lack of regard to its surroundings, but from a purely business sense, I “understand” why it might be needed. Heathrow at one point had six, only to scale back because of growth needs and lack of spacing. But a third runway is highly unlikely any time soon, the best Heathrow can hope for is a more lenient government policy regarding frequency of flights and even potentially bringing back night flights (after 1AM). For now they’re going to try out using both runways simultaneously for four months, even though the cap of  480,000 flights a year would hold.

WW1 propaganda - Lets fight these dogs!


But regardless of how strong or weak their point is, they cannot seriously expect anyone to support them if they’re going to go with marketing plots that resemble more a WWI propaganda map poster than anything else in the 21st century! Surely! Right?!

#kaysawesometrip2011

It looks just like the continuum transfunctioner

It looks just like the continuum transfunctioner

Tsup peeps?!

Just got back from an awesome mini euro trip for around a week or so which saw me lose my phone, clothes, money and almost myself! If that’s not a clear sign of fun than I don’t know what is!

Due to logistical reasons beyond my control and lie solely in the hands of the Gods of the 3.5G, I was unable to log on to the respected word press and spread my propoganda, so I was demoted to simply tweeting lamely once every 2 days or so … that is until my connection to the outside world was stolen by a group of ignorant aliens who thought it was the “Continuum Transfunctioner”. What can you do, when a group of angry Bruggians ally themselves and pledge allegiance to a group of ultra hot femarobotic species who just landed from Gleise 581g, then you just have to give up that gun.

The aliens took on seductive forms like this

The aliens took on seductive forms like this

It is due to the unfortunate event mentioned above that I have no photographic evidence of the events that took place on the Old Continent last week, but you just have to take my words for it I would propose.

After a romantic first 24 hours in Paris, I reconnected with nature and camped out in the wild with around 3000 weirdly dressed folks in search for some rhythym and melodies in the northern outbacks of Arras. The search did not yield much succesful results and I was left batteling loud animal like sounds produced by highly repugnant but equally morally dichotomised individuals every night. Alas, with a few rare expections, the melodic pilgrimage was a failure by most measures, but connecting with mother nature was solace enough.

The journey continued and the search for the ‘Rings of Power’ continued. Lille was forever trendy and funky, while Brugge was exactly as Harry Waters described it, a ‘fairytale city’. I attempted to jump from the Belfort, but the alliance in search of the transfunctioner was quick to stop me. That day the alliance got their way and I lost my communication device…

I guess ultimately it was meant to happen, you can’t carry around a device that resembles a very mysterious one that has the potential to destroy the universe and get away with it, especially in Brugges, the fairytale city! And if any of you aliens are reading this then I demand my machine back, else prepare for a very thirlling and bone cracking paper rock scissors battle!

Zoltan