Monday, August 31, 2009

London: Premium Nike ID

Someone slept in my bed last night, and it wasn't me. I had to take a different bed, which meant my bed didn't get made up this morning. I fucking hate hostels. I'm never staying in one again.

But for now, I'm making the most of what I have (because I can't get a refund). There's only one thing that will fix this problem - shopping.

Walked to Oxford Circus. Visited all the usual suspects - Topshop, H&M, Urban Outfitters (fuck you for not stocking Nylon x Nike), Carnaby Street, Covent Gardens etc. Found myself at Niketown. They have Nike ID, but they also have premium Nike ID. What's that you say? Well, it means you get to choose from special materials to design your IDs. So what else could I do but book myself in for some sweet custom kicks?

While I was there a young fellow came up and grabbed my arm. He was quite intent on having a good look at my tattoos. I'm not used to being grabbed. I liked it.

Went to Ping Pong for lunch. Ping Pong is a dim sum concept restaurant near Carnaby Street. I had an apple and sage cooler, and a selection of hand made dim sum, followed by mango pudding. Quite delicious.
I was very restrained today. I saw many items I would have liked to purchase, including 2 really cute skirts - but I didn't. Maybe it's because I was was soon to be going to Nike ID. I went back to Niketown and wandered around a bit. I went and had a look in the pleb Nike ID (the Nike ID everyone gets) and the guy who'd grabbed my arm earlier was behind the counter. How dumb am I? He works there. We had a little chat and he sent me upstairs to Premium Nike ID, and told me he'd ring ahead and get them to let me sit in the studio. When I got up there, I took some sneaky photos.
I sat down on a lounge and they gave me a beer. Boozing and designing custom kicks. I mean really, could this day get better? Apparently it could. The studio is filled with amazing Nike artifacts - like original sketches of Huarache designs and Dunks painted by London's best artists, including INSA.

Then the dude from downstairs rocks up again. Turns out he's my personal Nike ID designer. His name is Q and I have to say I'm quite intrigued. I decided I'd go with Dunks because I saw a really cute girl last night wearing dunks and it reminded me that I need to wear hi tops more again. I admit I've been going through a serious low cut phase, but it's time I got back to my roots. I'd show you a picture of what they look like, but I don't have one yet. They have to be made especially for me :)

Anyway... it was defs a fun afternoon hanging out with Q in the studio, drinking beer and making shoes. Can't wait to pick those babies up in a few weeks...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

London: Night Slugging

Caught the train from Bristol to London. Gave me some time to have a kip. Tubes are jammed because of Notting Hill Carnival. Found my hostel (I fucking hate hostels - never again!), dumped my shit and went out for the night.

Ate Korean in Soho. I fucking love kimchi.
Made my way to Vibe Bar at Brick Lane for Night Slugs. Drank cider. Danced to reggae. Got cold. Went inside. Danced to 2 step. Talked to strangers. Went home. London kind of blows. The end.

Bristol: Chi Chi Vs Banksy Vs Bristol Museum

Easyjet is quite a new flying experience for me. It's more ghetto than Virgin Blue. Easyjet herd people like cats onto the plane. Can't say the story I heard last night about this chick from Newtown getting DVT on her way over hasn't scared the shit out of me. Arrived in Bristol and it's fucking cold as. My hotel is cute and retardedly cheap. Blisters are killing me, but I'm pushing on. It's late, but I'm looking for food. Found a spot to have a curry. Now I remember why poms mostly repulse me. Trying to enjoy my thali, and an entire football team and their WAGs are yahooing inside the restaurant like they're on the football field. The manager gave me a discount because of the disruption. WIN! Still exy though. Time for bed...

6am wake up call. 7am to the Banksy exhibition. Walked from the hotel to the Bristol Museum, and thought I'd be nice and early because the lines have been hectic. I was mistaken - there was already a massive queue.
Shouldn't be surprised - it's a Bank(sy) Holiday here tomorrow and it's the last 2 days of the show. Of course it's gonna be busy. Sat in line for 3 hours.
Got to the front of the queue about 10.30am. The exhibition is free. WIN!
The show has elements of an exhibition - one room houses a bunch of Banksy's most famous work. Canvases, prints and a couple of installations. The stuff I expected to see. Another hall is filled with cages that house various 'animals', kind of like a Banksy zoo. The rest of the exhibition is scattered or rather hidden amongst the Museum's permanent collection. For example, they have a lot of plates and china, and hidden amongst one of the displays was a bong. I laughed out loud.
Overall I think it was well worth making the effort to go and see, but I think peeps are gonna have to stop calling him a graffiti artist, because his work has gone way beyond graffiti.
I was gas bagging to someone the other day that he's become bigger than Damien Hirst, which is quite ironic considering there's a Hirst piece in the exhibition which Banksy uses to takes the piss out of Hirst.
Undeniably, his artwork is simple enough to speak to people of all walks of life, on so many levels. Whether it makes you laugh or makes you think - perhaps Banksy has become the most prolific artist of our generation.

Berlin: Poet dropped my brain off

Poet dropped my beautiful giant brain over to me just in time for me to make my flight to Bristol. I love my brain and can't wait to stretch it when I get home.

Thanks to Poet for being rad and letting me visit! Maybe when you stop being scared of flying, you can come visit me in Australia! :)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Berlin: Rusko

Today I said my fond farewells to MacGuyver. She's (yes, she's a female bike named MacGuyver) served me well over the past few days. Rode over to Christine's and locked MacGuyver up out front. Riding around Berlin has made me think I should ride more at home. Although Berlin is pretty much completely flat, which makes riding a nike a breeze compared to riding around Sydney. Kicked back for the rest of the day. Packed my shit and sent a bunch of parcels home. DHL is fucking exy so my advice is don't sent anything to Australia from Germany. Even stamps to Australia are 1 EUR each. I think I'm going to have to curb my buy-and-send-home idea. It's just too exy. Had a nap. Woke up, got ready, and headed to Alexander Platz for the Wood Wood/Parra pop shop opening. Unfortunately I got the dates mixed up, and the opening is tomorrow night. This is the first so far I've gotten a date mixed up. Touch wood it won't happen again.

This leaves me in a bit of a pickle. It's 9pm, and Icon doesn't open until 11.30pm. So I go catch the train towards Icon anyway. You see some weird shit on the trains here. Dogs, cats, socks and sandals - but tonight I have to give kudos to a dude who was co-ordinated enough to take his bike and a brand-new-in-the-box 24" monitor on the train. I get to my stop and I wander around a bit looking for something to eat. Found a cute cafe and sat outside in the sidewalk seating. So euro. And it's quite a balmy evening. Treated myself to a steak and a Gin Fizz (because it's cocktail hour). The meal is sure to protect me from getting to drunk or being hung over. Either that or I'll be seeing my meal again in a few hours. My food arrives, and the serving is huge. It has it all - steak, pasta, bread, roasted veges and salad. Eat slowly, EAT SLOWLY! I always guzzle my food. If I eat at my normal pace, I'll end up asleep in the park across the road from Icon. Need to eat at Glenn pace (Hi Glenn!). Nope, can't do it. Finished in under 15 minutes (not that I could eat it all). Which means I still have more than an hour to wait before the club opens. Time to booze and muse.

Then I found this weird shit in the ladies toilets:
Seeing Rusko again is fraught with mixed emotions. He's one of my favourite DJ/Producers, and the last time I saw him is one of my all-time favourite gigs. So the anticipation of what tonight will be like has been killing me. But I've wondered if that night was made so great because my wingman Ki Ki was with me. Which makes me wish Ki Ki was here to elbow all the dumb bitches of the podium. Another quite emotional factor is a chain of events that began unfolding the week after I saw Rusko earlier this year. And some how I've tied those events to that Rusko gig. Hate to get all airy fairy, but I feel like seeing Rusko again is the whole thing coming full circle. Closure if you will. And let's not forget that seeing Rusko is the climax of my time in Berlin - which has been unbelievable. End rant.

This Gin Fizz is going down like a nightmare. Germans seem to put a lot more alcohol in their drinks than we do at home. Damn you RSA. ome Germans have freak deep voices. And my gaydar is completely off here. Gay dudes look straight, and straight dudes look gay. Free postcards are awesome. I just found one with a picture of a carrot that has a dick. I wonder which one of my lucky friends will be sent this piece of vegetative genius? I just found an offie that sells grapefruit beer. This shit is delicious. White beer or something. They start to taste a bit gross after 2. I'm seriously in bandaid hell right now. I can not for the life of me get bandaids to stick to me. I'm on my second set of bandaids (for blisters) for the night. If I have to go to round 3, I'm gonna get K.O.'d cos I'm running low. 20 minutes until Icon opens. People here seem to line up hellz early and I can't be sure how many peeps will come tonight. I wonder what he'll play? Oh joy, oh glee!

Totally different crowd tonight compared to Steve Aoki. It's a bit of a sausage fest from what I can tell so far. How can German men be so hot, yet so oddly dressed? I can't even count the number of fanny packs, socks with sandals and dreadlocks. So many Aussies too. I had a bit of a chat to Rusko and his Missus - they seem very nice.
But as much as I loved him the last time I saw Rusko play, I think he's the McDonald's of dubstep. Predictable, and a for the masses. He is starting to sound like happy hardcore for the next generation. I can't say he was bad, but he wasn't great either. He is entertaining - dancing around like the red headed madman he is behind the decks. I danced on the speaker stack - I guess that was fairly predictable too (if there's an object to dance on, I'll find it). I went home at the end of Rusko's set. The S-Bahn was still running. Thank god I'm not going to have a killer hangover tomorrow.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Berlin: Poet GFA

Poet GFA is a graf writer/artist from Berlin who's style and technique I really admire. And I've been hunting Poet since I got to Berlin. I went to several graf shops, and asked about where I could see his work around Berlin - which was generally met with blank stares and shaking heads. o I thought I was lucky to catch a glimpse of a few of Poet's throw ups from out the U-Bahn window.
Then other day I went back to Yard 5 to get sooky -la-la Masto a t-shirt, and I thought I'd give it one last try. I asked after him, and the guy that works there took my email address and said he'd give it to Poet to contact me. I couldn't believe my luck, but I didn't want to get my hopes up. This is Poet GFA, Berlin King. What are the chances? Good apparently! Poet sent me an email, and invited me to come to visit his studio. How could I refuse?

Thankfully his studio is quite close to where I am staying, so after a hard day a Niketown, I jumped on Ol' MacGuyver and rode to Poet's studio. He met me outside and showed me into his studio. Although it was quite a small studio, I was surprised by how many giant canvases he had in there. We chatted, and he showed me some of his artwork. First off he showed me his miniature Berlin Walls. He has organised the manufacture of miniature pieces of the Berlin Wall, much like mini trains, that you can buy and paint yourself. They are made of a lightweight concrete type material (not exactly sure what). The ultimate souvenir for any writer who visits Berlin. He had a few that he had done himself, and they were so beautiful.
Then he showed me his canvases. He had quite a few (mostly bigger than 1x1m), and as he showed me each piece, he explained the meaning and the technique in detail. Oh course when he showed me the first Poet brain, I was very excited. Obviously to me this is his signature piece - but I really love the way he makes the word Poet into many shapes. The Poet brain is really an extension of a style he's been practicing for a long time.A rather large 1.5x1.5m canvas really took my fancy. A Poet brain of course.
Painted on matt black, the brain is colourful and has a gloss black and white outline. I couldn't leave without it. I've been looking for a piece for above my bed for a long time, and I think this is perfect. There's something very reassuring about sleeping under the watchful eye of a giant poetic brain. Sort of makes me think that even when you are alseep, your mind is still working - just in a different way.

It was really great to listen to Poet's insights about graf in Berlin, art and how he works. He was humble about the impact of his work, and was quite shocked that his work was admired by people so far away. I feel really lucky to have met him, and now I have a little piece of Poet to take home with me.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Berlin: Trip to Niketown 2.0

Can't help myself today - going back to Niketown. I have the overwhelming to purchase shoes. Sometimes it's like a hunger that just can't be satisfied without the right meal. Like a burrito after a big night - if you go home without getting that good shit down your gullet, you're gonna regret it. Got to Niketown and notice I'd missed the entire Women's streetwear section the first time round. To put it into context, Niketown Berlin is epic. It's this huge 2 story space section into rooms using bridges, staircases and giant voids in between. I thought Nike ID Tokyo was pretty cool, but Niketown Berlin shits all over it. Not to mention the way they get the shoes in your size for you. The shop assistant scans a code on the shoe with a wireless scanner thingy, punches in your size, and as if by magic, your shoes arrive via dumbwaiter (a tiny glass lift). It's like the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory of shoes. And I'm XXX Gluch.

Try on 6 pairs to start, including Nike Gladiators.
Yes, I've been vocal about my mixed feelings towards the hybrids. They're not sneakers, and they're not sandals. Trying them on I found them surprisingly comfortable, not to mention that they look super dope! It's a given that they're coming home with me. Which sort of solves 2 problems: the first being that I killed my Valentine's. They are so ghetto, they maybe past the point of no return. I'm sending them home to Mummy, and hopefully a little bit of TLC with a toothbrush will get them looking decent again. The second is that I need some shoes that aren't sneakers or thongs, because some places sneakers and thongs just don't cut it.

Anyway, tried on a bunch of stuff, everything from AM1s to J3s. But the pair I couldn't get over were these Zeniths. On the shelf they didn't look much - some kind of AM1/Pegasus hybrid looking thing. Something was drawing me in, so I tried them. Damn, I'm glad I did! They look so gangsta on. Modify the laces, pull the tongue up high and suddenly they look like a different shoe. Don't think these bad boys have been released at home. Regardless, they'll make nice companions for my Twilights.

Berlin: Tresor

Tresor changed the lineup. No Joey Beltram tonight. Having a quick kip before I go. Woke up late. It's 1.30am. Better get my ass to the club. Lucky it's only 100m door-to-door. Got in easy as. Looks promising. Very dark and industrial. Walk down a very dark, smokey corridor. At the end is a room. This doesn't sound like minimal tech. This sounds like tech house (thank god). Room is packed. Crowd is pretty lowbrow. They serve Strongbow at the bar. Either there is a God, or they just have heaps of English peeps come to the club. The interior has a lot of similar features to Berghain. This can't be all there is to Tresor? Wonder if there is some kind of club scene feud? Tresor opened first, so Berghain might have borrowed the best ideas. This place is stinking hot. Clearly no fans. And you can smoke everywhere, no just in designated areas. It's kind of Berghains ugly, older step-sister. She used to be attractive and interesting, but since her younger step-sister came along, everyone forgot about Tresor. And guys ogle here. Everytime I look up, there's a pair of foreign eyes undressing me. Ew. I spy a guy wearing grey and blue Twilights. Things suddenly started to look up. Go outside to the beer garden. Chatted to some underage Berlin kids. They don't believe I'm 30. One of them can't stop hurling. Drug dealers are so blatent. But one dealer is wearing Structures, so I fogive him. A nice guy named Michael from Copenhagen shows me the way to the main room. I can't believe I thought that was it. We go down into the underground, underneath the massive factory. There's a huge cavernous space packed with people. How did I not know this was here? Hello Glebe silos - because that's exactly what this room looks like. Techno is way harder in here. Danced to a track Crookers play. The DJ plays behind bars. Danced for a while, but I know I need to save my energy for Rusko.
Phantom. As if I ever say goodbye anyway. Walking home. Wishing for a kebab. The cool air feels nice on my burning arm. And I'm home.

I don't want to leave Berlin.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Berlin: Push them pedals

Best idea ever - borrow Christine's extra pushie. Here she is (the Bike, not Christine), parked at the Berlin Wall. I like to call the bike MacGuyver. Note the Masto/Chi Chi/Dboe 2009 in red to the left hand side of the photo. Yes, I put us up on the Berlin Wall. But the Molotow I took with me was pretty useless on the degraded, crumbly concrete. Ah well, I tried my best.Then I rode to Yard 5 to get Dave an I Love Tags t-shirt by Poet. But they didn't have any in a suitable size (XL or XXL on old skinny legs would have been a hardcore ghetto gown, and that just wouldn't fly). So I got him an equally cool, distinctly Berlin graf t-shirt. And something else. But it's a surprise. I asked after Poet again. The guy at Yard 5 took my email address and said he'd give it to Poet to contact me. Sensory overload!

Trying to ride a pushy that's too big for you whilst carrying bags and shit is really hard. I have trouble carrying plastic bags on my handlebars at the best of times. So before I left Yard 5 with more bags full of goodies, I made a mercy dash to the bike shop across the road to get Christine a little thank you pressie I know she wants (well, I hope she wants!). I made a slight modification to MacGuyver that proved extremely useful. A basket for the back, with a super cool occy strap to boot. I put all my shit in it - and holy shit, does a basket make a difference to the enjoyment of riding around Berlin! Although I do think I might look a bit like Elmira Gulch (aka the Wicked Witch of the West):
Headed into central Berlin. Made my way to Modell Bauhaus. Spent my last Euros on entry. Couldn't take photos inside so I stole these for your viewing pleasure. My favourites were Joesef Albers work and the beautiful colour wheels. The Bauhaus furniture displays were fantastic.Rode to Kottbusser Tor. Got some cash. Decided to try a new burger joint called Ketchup & Mayo. Got a Krautburger (ie hamburger with Sauerkraut) and chips with you guessed it - ketchup& mayo. That's a tasty burger. Serving was way too big. Couldn't eat it all. Here's what's left...
Rode home. Need to catch some ZZZs before Tresor tonight. Got an email from Poet.

I love Berlin.

Berlin: She died with Mo's falafel in her hand...

Found this wall near Gleisdreieck at a DHL depot. Hot shit!

Today I met up with Christine and her French Couchsurfer (my bad I forgot her name). We rode bikes through the summer heat to Mo's for falafels. There's truth behind Mo's claim to be the King of the Falafel - they are bloody good. I think the fried haloumi you get on them makes all the difference really. So yum.
Then we sat by the canal to chow down. Om nom nom. There were a lot of swans. Swans aren't very elegant creatures - they make hideous noises, comparitive to Christine's burps. Then we went to the Turkish Markets. These are held every Tuesday and Thursday. I can imagine that if I lived in Kreuzberg, I wouldn't buy my groceries anywhere else. The fresh fruit and vege are ridiculously cheap. I'm taking less than 1 EUR for a punnet of fresh raspberries. I'm never seen raspberries so cheap. Not to mention all the other fruit and veg. You could shop here for everything you need - fruit, vege, meat, cheese, pasta (perhaps the best buy I saw was the fresh beetroot gnocchi for 1.50 EUR per 100g - CHEAP!), eggs... you name it.
Then we rode over to the East Side Gallery, which is actually a strip of the old Berlin Wall which has been painted with murals.
On the east side of the wall are a few bars - some of them known as beach bars. So we stopped off at one to sit by the Spree and have a bevvy, baclava and ice cream. It was steaming hot. Wasps kept annoying me. I think the Paw Paw cream attracts them. Such a lovely day.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Berlin: My new baby...

Yes it's still wrapped in plastic, but I couldn't wait. Here's my new tattoo, by Adriaan at Kreuzstich Tattoo in Berlin. I'll get some better shots tomorrow, but for now, this is the best I can do... taking a photo of the crease of your arm is like trying to lick your elbow - quite difficult on your own.

Berlin: Parra @ Pool

Dutch artist Parra has a show opening this Thursday night at Pool Gallery in Berlin. I shall be going. I hope Parra is there. I might be forced to buy something.

Berlin: A good reason to get a flu shot

Feeling like shit. Can't still be hung over - must have the flu. Aching from head to toe. It's a blue-sky day out and I can't waste my time in Berlin. Must. Get. Motivated. But it's only 7am. Nap for an hour or two. Do some much needed washing. Organise to post some things home. Post here is expensive. Despite feeling like shite, decided to find the Graffiti Halls of Fame the guys at Overkill recommended. Went to Mauerpark first. What a let down. The wall was in such bad shape - peeling and broken. I wouldn't exactly call many of stuff up there pieces - it seemed like the kind of place kids come to practice their tags.
This was about the best thing there:
These guys were painting. I don't think they really knew what they were doing. They didn't roll, they just threw straight up over the shit that was already there. I stopped and chatted to them, asking if they knew of better places to see really good stuff. They didn't know.
Thoroughly disappointed, I decided to push on. Next I'd try the Priesterweg Graffiti Hall of Fame. Priesterweg is kind of out in the sticks and it was a bit of a mission to find it.
It's somekind of old tram station in a park. And it wasn't really a Graffiti Hall of Fame - it was more like a Graffiti Graveyard. There was some new stuff there but it sort of looks like a place kids go to bomb and smoke cones. There was heaps better tracksides on the way to the spot. So I went home...

I had heard of a tattoo shop, Tattoo Kreuzstich, close to where I'm staying. An artist named Adriaan works there. He's Mexican and specialises in tattoo art with a distinct Mexican day-of-the-dead type feel. It was on my way home, so I just popped in on the off chance he was available. He was. Suddenly the flu symptoms seem minor and the adrenalin starts pumping. I described what I wanted, and Adriaan drew me a sketch on the spot.
It too about 2 hours to complete. And it's beautiful. But it's wrapped in gladwrap right now so you'll have to wait until tomorrow see it!