Monday, June 28, 2010

MusicMonday - Hamburg

I just spent a wonderful weekend in and around Hamburg - to show my New York friend Jessica (who is currently visiting from Thailand) where I grew up, to attend my mom's birthday party in her magnificent garden and to experience the Hamburg nightlife and the locals' passion for soccer (Germany - England 4:1... oh yeah).

With this in mind, here are a few of my favorite Hamburg songs:

(FYI - this video takes place in the St. Pauli soccer stadium)

And last but not least a classic that isn't directly about Hamburg (but about not being in Seattle) - yet the video shows Hamburg from its best gray and rainy side (not to mention how cute those boys were back then).

Friday, June 25, 2010

Dancing in Berlin - In A Berlin Minute (Week 8)

Dancing in Berlin: in clubs, in stores, on tables and on the street... There has been a good amount of it since I've been here - although there can never be enough! So here is a collection of a few choice dance moments I have observed this year in Berlin. As you can imagine, I put the camera down when I danced myself  - so there's no POV footage directly from the dance floor.

Dancing in Berlin - In A Berlin Minute (Week 08) from Luci Westphal on Vimeo.

The biggest highlight of the week has been the visit of one of my dearest Brooklyn friends, Jessica Gould (aka "The Queen of Fun"), who is currently living in Thailand and is the first foreign visitor during my Berlin time. It seems that makes it official that I live here. She was the one that suggested I should do a dance episode. And I do try to be a good host and fulfill all requests. She's the one with the lovely smile and the tapping "happy feet".

The song is "Do That Again" by Emma Van Hooven

Oh, right, and in case you hadn't noticed, it's the FIFA World Cup. Here you cannot get away from the matches, which are screened on TVs and projectors all over the city and often times outdoors. So of course, I had to give a little tribute to Mezut Özil, who scored the deciding goal that allowed Germany to move into the next round.

If you'd like to see some more, please check out this week's bonus clips. Below are the full versions of two dance sequences featured in the weekly video: "Hanas Tanz Team" (featuring music by Emma Van Hooven) and "Go Loco on La Rue" (featuring music by Sascha Braemer and shot at Van Liebling - right next door to my friend Andreas' shoe store Fu Manchu). Both dance sessions happened totally spontaneously, without any pre-planning or even announcements. Berliners just like to dance. And I like that!


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Way of The Brisk: The Untold Story

Over the last few weeks Scott has been working for Bright Red Pixels to produce several very funny videos for and Lipton Brisk Iced Tea.

"The Way of the Brisk: The Untold Story" tells the behind-the-scenes story of a video shoot going horribly awry when the puppet version of Ultimate Fighting Champion Chuck Liddell gets his fists installed before being provided with a brain... hilarity ensues.

Besides the main video, there are two shorter videos with more behind-the-scenes interviews and footage from the "actual video".

What makes the videos especially fascinating is the great animation of the Mini Chuck and the fact that even though this is "branded entertainment" and part of a Lipton Iced Tea campaign, the product is actually never mentioned or seen. All that sticks with you is the slogan "It's Brisk, Baby", the possible association to a previous Lipton Tea commercial campaign featuring similar puppets and the ads for the video on "Funny or Die" that feature a small logo. Maybe there is also an ad campaign in the US featuring Chuck Liddell? Pretty clever and subtle. Of course, the videos can also be found on the website for Lipton Brisk.

Monday, June 21, 2010

MusicMonday: Arcade Fire

Just a quick hurried music post because I'm running way late to the Fete de la Musique that is going on today in Berlin and other cities around the world.

A few weeks ago Arcade Fire released a new single with two cool songs. It struck me how much "Month of May" sounded like an old Bruce Springsteen song. I had heard the comparison with Neon Bible already but it never was this apparent. I like.

Unfortunately there don't seem to be videos for these songs? Or did I just not find anything that quickly.

Arcade Fire - "The Suburbs"

Arcade Fire - "Month of May"

The new album will be available in August. I cannot wait and hope I'll finally get to see them on this tour.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Alexanderplatz - In A Berlin Minute (Week 7)

A big square right in the center of Berlin - in the Golden 1920s it was at the heart of the city's nightlife (and inspired the Döblin novel of the same name, which in turn is the basis for Fassbinder's TV series).

For several decades it then belonged exclusively to East Berlin (and may have become a little drab during that time).

Since 1990 it's again right in the middle (and in the district Mitte) of the reunited city. It may be missing the exciting nightlife - but it still offers a lot of shopping opportunities (especially in near-by Alexa shopping mall) and great people watching. It's also a big hub for the trains and trams and, last but not least, is overlooked by one of Berlin's most famous sights: the Fernsehturm.


Monday, June 14, 2010

MusicMonday: Nouvelle Vague

Last week, I finally got the third studio album by Nouvelle Vague (danke, Papi): "3" - released in 2009. Nouvelle Vague are a collective of musicians: the French masterminds Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux and various different (almost exclusively female*) singers. All songs are covers of new wave, punk and similar genre hits from the 1980s - rearranged in lovely bossa nova style.

There is something so incredibly charming to hear these milestone songs, which are usually so loud, boastful, aggressive, dancey, rough and dirty suddenly so feather-light with these cute voices and sway-inducing drum brush beats. Are Nouvelle Vague's versions of "Bela Lugosi's Dead" or "Love Will Tear Us Apart" better than the originals? Of course not, that's blasphemy. But personally I have discovered a whole new love and insight to songs like "Guns of Brixton" and "Too Drunk To F**k".

I love all three albums, which are full of many jewels and I cannot wait for the release of a Best of CD in July, which is supposed to feature quite a few rarities. Apparently there is also a remix album, which sounds intriguing.

It's difficult to choose, but here are several of my absolute favorites - and their original counterparts.

* On the current album some of the original singers lend their voice for the back-up vocals - like Ian McCulloch and Martin Gore

** There's a rumor that a cousin of mine once played in Tuxedomoon. I really should check into that...

Friday, June 11, 2010

Günter Westphal Photo Exhibit - In A Berlin Minute (Week 6)

This week I took another trip to the countryside north-west of Hamburg to visit my parents. The opening of my dad's photography exhibit entitled "Wiesenkerbel und Wasserlilie" took place a few weeks ago already (the same day I shot the footage of the St. Pauli celebrations featured in In A Berlin Minute - Week 2), but it was just this week that I made it back to Haselau to see my dad again and get access to his original photos.

Günter Westphal Photo Exhibit - In A Berlin Minute (Week 06) from Luci Westphal on Vimeo.

If you speak German, you can read a bit more about my dad, Günter Westphal, and his art work, which he splits into two categories: photography and aesthetic work in social* and public areas.

The speech was given by Hajo Schiff, who has spoken at others of my dad's openings and also written at least one preface to one of his publications.

The quote in the video is by Raoul Hausmann and very loosely translates to: "But if the photograph of a landscape is supposed to be something else than just a postcard, then it's essential to not just take a snapshot is passing but to have experienced the change of the landscape, the kind of growth, its morning and afternoon character and much more. Because seeing is not just a casual glance. Seeing is much more often watching. A direction of all senses expresses itself in this watching, and from this direction the artist pulls his energy of creation. And, as far as it is possible with technical, mechanical means, even the photographer."

And in case you're wondering, yes, the photographs are all for sale and they are big, shiny and stunning when you see them in actuality.

*as it relates to sociology and social work, not to being social and hanging out sipping Martinis

Photo by Günter Westphal

Monday, June 7, 2010

MusicMonday: Girls - "Hellhole Ratrace"

Another song from the vault (2008): "Hellhole Ratrace" by San Francisco duo Girls with a video directed by Aaron Brown and Ben Chappell. I love the simplicity, poetic visual beauty (slow motion, shallow depth of field, human faces, sunset) and the sense of reality in this documentary-style video that follows the band and a few of their friends through an evening in San Francsico.

But it's the sad/happy music and lyrics of the song that really get me. And with that in mind, I'd like to dedicate this song to all my friends who are struggling with sadness right now, but especially to two friends who were recently dealt a terrible blow and with whom I hope to share togetherness, a dance and a laugh soon.

I'm sick and tired of the way that I feel,
I'm sick of dreaming and it's never for real.
I'm all alone with my deep thoughts.
I'm all alone with my heartache and my good intentions.

I work to eat and drink and sleep just to live,
Feels like I'm never getting back what I give.
I've got a sad song in my sweet heart.
And all I really ever need is some love and attention

And I don't want to cry my whole life through,
I want to do some laughing too.
So come on, come on, come on, come on, laugh with me.
And I don't want to die without shaking up a leg or two,
Yeah, I want to do some dancing too.
So come on, come on, come on, come on, dance with me.

Sometimes you've just gotta make it for yourself.
Sometimes sugar, it just takes someone else.
Sometimes you've just gotta make it for yourself.
Sometimes baby, you just need someone else.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Landwehrkanal - In A Berlin Minute (Week 5)

Still from the video Landwehrkanal - In A Berlin Minute (Week 5)

The sun finally came out! And following closely behind came everyone eager for some warmth and light and leg stretching.They walked, they biked, they ran, they pushed strollers, took boats or just sat around and exhaled.

Landwehrkanal - In A Berlin Minute (Week 05) from Luci Westphal on Vimeo.

To me the best place to enjoy the sun in my neighborhood is the Landwehrkanal, which creates a border between Kreuzberg SO 36 (East Kreuzberg) and Neukölln, or as the hip (or maybe exactly the unhip - I can never keep track) call that little Neukölln section south of the canal: Kreuzkölln.

In the video you only see a short section of the 6-mile long canal - mainly the Paul-Linke Ufer and across the way the Maybachufer (Mayshore). In other sections and during other times you can also enjoy a Turkish greenmarket, a fleamarket, lush lawns, a bridge loved and hated for people hanging around day and night playing guitars and drinking (Admiralbrücke), runners (including me), big dogs, boules (pétanque/bocce) courts, ping pong tables, a few restaurants, food stands and bars and some of the most desirable balconies in the city (if you ask me anyway).

Still from the video Landwehrkanal - In A Berlin Minute (Week 5)

Still from the video Landwehrkanal - In A Berlin Minute (Week 5)

Still from the video Landwehrkanal - In A Berlin Minute (Week 5)