Journey to the UWS

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UNS 002 – UWS

This one is a bit belated by totally worth it. Trust me. ūüôā

The next installment of UNS took me to New York’s Upper West Side. It was a lovely warm day in spring and the sun was shining. Cruising along Broadway, eating at Papaya’s, chilling with Tom and imaging Kramer walking in and Elaine complaining about her hair and finally having a lie down at the Colombia campus benches.

I’ve never really been a through and through UWS type of dude. It’s always felt like a poor man’s UES to me, and you know how much I love the UES. Well you don’t, but I am telling you now, I fucking do, and I will find Woody Allen one day.

Anyways, here you go, enjoy!

Tracklist:

  1. Lemon D – I See Sunshine
  2. Vtgnike – U Tebya Takie Glaza
  3. Lemongrass – Cafe De Paris
  4. Paul Hardcastle – It Must Be Love
  5. Patrice Rushen – Where There Is Love
  6. Gentle Persuasion – Gotta Lotta Love
  7. Tassel & Naturel Feat. DJ Cam – Drivin’
  8. Double Dee – Found Love (Reprise)
  9. Mary J. Blige – Good Woman Down
  10. Swamburger – Womanside
  11. Jay-Z – Moment Of Clearness
  12. Problem Kids Feat. Ashley Beedle – Mardi Gras
  13. Joss Moog – Room 27
  14. Adrian Hour – The Reason (Desos Remix)
  15. Curtis Hairston – I Want You (All Tonight) (JM After-Session M&M Mix)
  16. Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King – Love Come Down (12″ Version)
  17. Candi Staton – Young Hearts Run Free
  18. Streetlife Originals – Sidewalk Story
  19. Hackman – Carry On (Dub)
  20. DJ Koze – XTC
  21. WILLIAMS, Boo – Teckno Drome
  22. Pascal Viscardi – Lakefront (Worker Union Remix)
  23. Profundo & Gomes – Sexophonic
  24. DJ Qu – Loveboxx
  25. Mood II Swing – Move Me
  26. DJ Qu – SS1
  27. Jacob B – Rave In The Cave
  28. D FUNC/MARCEL HEESE – Patience
  29. MUNK – Purple Dust
  30. Hefner / Cosmos – Dive Into You (Tom Middleton Vox)
  31. Billy Shane – Hold Yor Heart
  32. ANDRADE – Optimistic
  33. Streetlife Originals – Sidewalk Story
  34. Mountal – Would You Be Mine?
  35. Eli Escobar – NY So Hi
  36. Butch – Praise The Lord
  37. Steffen Deux – New York Sun
  38. DJ W!LD – All About You
  39. Jazz-N-Groove – Do Ya (Tribal Jazz Mix)
  40. Life On Earth – Can’t Give You Up (Joey Negro Club Mix)
  41. Palms Trax – People Of Tusk
  42. Entro Senestre – Rosegold
  43. Art Of Tones – Queue De Cochon
  44. Sello – Bla Bla Bla
  45. Kim Brown – Ternevej
  46. Theory Of Happiness – Relax (Soothing Club Mix)
  47. Toni Martin – Deeper (Blaze Deep Mix)
  48. Brothers’ Vibe – Take Me 2 The Raw
  49. Munk РHot Medusa (Kai Alcé Dub)
  50. Pal Joey, Beautiful People – I Got The Rhythm (Club Mix)
  51. Helvert Feat. Elif Bicer – Neu
  52. The Bird And The Bee – Runaway
  53. Grant Nelson – Season Of Jack
  54. Grant Nelson – Spellbound
  55. D. Ramirez & Mark Knight – Colombian Soul (Gabriel And Dresden Tuscan Soul Reconstruction)
  56. Red Grey Purple – Music Matters (Mark Knight Remix)
  57. Moodymanc – Joy
  58. The Far Out Monster Disco Orchestra – Mystery (Instrumental) [Feat. Arthur Verocai]
  59. N.U. – Do It Again (Touchsoul Edit)
  60. Jack J – Something (On My Mind)
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Urban Nomads – We Make Music

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

Islington

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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. Gr√ľ√ľn – Gr√ľ√ľnGr√ľ√ľnGr√ľ√ľ√ľn
  2. Deetron Feat. Ovasoul7 – Out Of My Head (Dub)
  3. Roman Fl√ľgel – 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

The Day I Climbed The Egg – Beirut

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The Egg - c. 1995

The Egg – c. 1995

Affectionately known as ‚ÄėThe Egg‚Äô 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‚Äôs 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 ‚ÄėGreen Line‚Äô 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 ‚ÄėThe Egg‚Äô 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