Christian Bok – Eunoia

A perfect book for someone special – Eunoia is the shortest word in the English language to contain all the vowels. It is a poetry book in which each vowel sound is said to be a separate character – ‘U’ (as in duck) is particularly obscene, for instance. Bok’s poems each feature one of these vowel sounds, in just about every version possible – making a readable yet abstract vocal overindulgence.

The Girl From Ipanema Fence

Way back in 1996, an artist group called Greyworld rigged the railings in a Paris fence to play notes. Not just a regular scale, either – when a passer by ran a stick across it, it was tuned to play The Girl From Ipanema.

Why this song?

That was easy. Everyone knows it. You’ve either heard a jazz-rock version, or heard it in Tesco’s. In many ways, it represents public space as such, but you can’t listen to it without a smile.

The work Railings was widely copied around Europe – both with and without permission – and whilst many of them have been removed, versions can still be found in some cities today.

Greyworld have gone on to produce many other great public interventions, including The Source, an installation of balls that rise and fall in response to trading data at the London Stock Exchange, and Monument to the Unknown Artist, a robotic, apparently bronze sculpture that mimics the poses of the humans around it.

My favorite is Bridge 2 (2000), in which the sounds of people walking on the Millenium Bridge, Dublin, are changed to appear as if they are walking through crunchy snow, sloshing through water, or crunching across fallen leaves. Greyworld’s Andrew Shoben now lectures on Public Art at Goldsmith’s, London.

Haruki Murikami – A Wild Sheep Chase

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If you liked A Wild Sheep Chase, look up Pinball, 1973, of which this is a sequel. Sheep Chase is the third book in the author’s “Trilogy of the Rat”. A fourth book – Dance Dance Dance – also includes the Sheep Man and the same protagonist, however the rest of Dance Dance Dance is different enough to be seen as outside the “Trilogy of the Rat.”

The Hudsucker Proxy

The Hudsucker Proxy in early Coen Brothers film that is fascinating to see what they kept, and what they left, to form their oeuvre (convoluted titles with minimal mainstream cues stayed). And worth it just for this scene of the coolest little dude ever.

The Ice Storm

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Another great example of a cinema flop, which later became a critical and financial success, Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm is a masterful study of the fashions, issues, and changing mores of 1973 suburban America. Strong performances throughout, including those of Tobey Maguire, Christina Ricci, Kevin Kline, Elijah Wood, and Sigourney Weaver keep you gripped to its suburban, terrifying finale.

The Accomplice

This article on Saif al-Islam Qaddafi is an old one, but it remains one of the best feature studies of a figure in the news. Taking as its subject the mercurial second son of Muammar Qaddafi, it analyzes the man from three different viewpoints – from the perspective of his philosophy department academic supervisor, then by his old friend and mentor, and finally by a criminal investigator for the International Criminal Court.

What is fascinating is the extent to which the academic (who spent years with him professionally discussing the intricacies of philosophy and politics) is the person most fooled. His friend and mentor only knew the better half of him. And the prosecutor – armed with hard evidence (text message intercepts and official signed documents) knew him the best. At least to the extent by which his subsequent behavior could be explained.

A fascinating illustration of by their fruits ye shall know them.

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