Imagining the unimaginable, Juche United Korea

Reminds me of George W. Bush for some reason.
The gap between North and South seems so deep and wide from outside that a union  would come as an almost unthinkable event. First we have living standards far from being similar, then we have culture, equally incompatible. For the two countries to unite, sadly, some kind of event of cataclysmic proportions needs to happen, I don't see any other way for the two very different peoples of the Korean Peninsula to sit at the same table without ultimately feeling the magnitude of their differences.

How would a Juche South Korea look like? This question shows I have a lot of spare time today but for entertainment purposes let's proceed.
- Your Samsung Galasy S III will get a forced update with all the works of Eternal President Kim Il-sung, 100 volumes of wise thoughts from the founder of the largest maximum security prison on Earth.
- There will be a five year plan to make the South as prosperous as the glorious North. Food rations will be implemented in order to stop waste while all excess food will be divided brotherly among the top members of the Workers' Party of Korea.
- The body of "eternal leader" Kim Jong-il would be enshrined in the building of the National Assembly in Seoul.
- The Ryugyong Hotel will finally be finished.
- A Museum of Love and Cooperation marking the moment of unification would be made with the voluntary help of thousands of South Korean businessmen.
- Your Kia will come, as a standard feature, with a plastic statue of Kim Jong-un next to the driver's seat, in this way his great mind and spirit will guide you to your destination better than a GPS.
- Due to the enormous insanity that would follow in the Korean Peninsula, the Chinese People's Party will dissolve and America will turn fascist.
- Pizza will be outlawed.
- All citizens would be cut off from the Internet and instead, added to the Kwangmyong where they will be able to deepen their research of the exterior, barbaric world with no fear of being deceived by deviant thoughts. (1)
- South Korean cinema will learn how to make scenes of thousands of people crying simultaneous like their life depended on it.
- The border will not be opened immediately, oh no... a decade or so would have to pass before the South catches up with the North, otherwise North Koreans will realize they live in hell and South Koreans will know where they are headed. 

To be honest this is nothing to joke about and I sincerely hope that North Koreans will be freed from their prison as soon as possible. For a hands on approach to the Juche republic you can read this article by Marc Bennetts on his Deeper than oil column on RIA Novosti. 


Around the World in 7 Notes: Georgia, Nino Katamadze

From Russia we will go south, along the eastern shores of the Black Sea where Georgia will welcome us. You all know about the armed conflict between these two neighbors but their socio-political relation during Soviet times is not to be neglected either (for history buffs). Never been there but the pictures look nice, anyway, I searched hard for something appropriate, musically speaking, and I think I hit Jackpot. Nino Katamadze is a Georgian jazz singer with great success in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. In fact Russia is what made her an international success. 

The song you are listening to now is called "Autumn" and it's the 9th track from her 2010 "Red" album. Regarding the lyrics, they can even be gibberish cause I don't understand a single word, can't even make out the verb from the noun. I admit however that Georgian is on my list of languages I want to learn right between Tagalog and C++.  All jokes aside, this song and her voice hooked me instantly. Her very emotional style with an intensity that has the power to overwhelm your own feelings is a true gift. Jazz is the perfect medium, in my opinion, to achieve such a thing. 


Jack Vettriano (visual) and Suzi Quatro (audio)

All right, since from today I'll change the day when the Duo is published from Monday to Friday I say let's get wild, I have a feeling Duchovny would like this post. For the musical side of things I selected Suzi Quatro with the song entitled "Love Touch" from her 1991 album "Oh, Suzi Q". The song is written by the Bolland brothers who also wrote "Rock Me Amadeus" for Falco and "In the Army Now" for Status Quo. I found it suitable for the images which will follow.
Official site: http://www.suziquatro.com/

Jack Vettriano (Scottish painter) is not very loved by art critiques, some of whom go so far as not even considering him an artist. I don't want to enter into a polemic right now with where I think they are wrong but I will try to do Vettriano some justice. First of all, art developed an impressive array of forms in which it was molded with time and especially during the last two centuries. I like what Vettriano does because it lacks that useless complexity often appreciated in art by art critiques. The artist clearly and firmly expresses his admiration for a vintage and slightly pop influenced world.  His works are sensual and sincere, offering a world of intense love (either erotic or romantic) to the viewer in purely modern "genre" scenes (with people doing everyday things).
Official site: http://www.jackGallery vettriano.com/

If you have someone special, try to have an intense and also calm life together, live it to the fullest, there's no second chance.


The Singing Butler
All Systems Go
Back Where You Belong - 1996
Right Time, Right Place - 1993

Yesterday's Dream

Betrayal, No Turning Back, 2001

Dance Me to the End of Love


The Rum Diary

In a very vintage and alcohol vapor filled atmosphere of 60's Puerto Rico, an unsuccessful writer sets out to try to become somewhat successful by joining a rag tag band of journalists at a local daily newspaper. I found the first fifteen minutes abounding with clichés and characters drowned in their own self pity, guides to a world on the brink of collapse. Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) is the writer in question and he will experience all sides of the island, from a five star hotel to prison, from flirting with the fiancée of a big shot to visiting a hermaphrodite witch doctor.

Leaving all the eccentricities aside, this movie deals with a fundamental (and growing) problem, the divide between the rich and the poor and how these two worlds rarely meet, separated by fences and guards or by fear and ignorance. When they indeed meet it's all very "Nitzschean", the powerful rule the weak, sometimes the powerful are the ones with the money, sometimes not.

A great movie overall, you need to see it.

I find this trailer not very representative but we have to make do with what we have.

Directed by Bruce Robinson ; Based on "The Rum Diary" by Hunter S. Thompson ; Starring: Johnny Depp, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Rispoli, Amber Heard, Richard Jenkins, Giovanni Ribis ; Year: 2011


Around the World in 7 Notes: Kino - Peaceful Night

I listen to much Russian (and Soviet) music even though I just now started to learn the language. There is something about Russian music that fascinates me... my life, in a way, gravitates around music and in the same time it's also surrounded by music. People stop at the surface and are quick to judge, to label, to feel they are themselves superior (through this) because... well... they can't be "superior" in other ways. This is why I listen to music, and why I consider it to be like the air I breathe, like the blood that flows through my veins, it doesn't judge and never lies.

Russian music from the 70s and 80s, first underground and then starting to rise to the surface due to the reforms of Gorbachev opened the way for an astonishing series of bands and songs. 80s USSR was going though profound changes  and bands from the second half of that decade show us perfectly how life was like. Music was a way for the youth to shout their frustrations and expose their dreams.

Kino - Peaceful Night (English translation)

Rooftops are shaking under the pressure of days
A shepherd in heaven hereds the clouds
A city shoots its lights into the night
But strong is the night, great is her might

Those who got to bed, good night, good dreams
I've been waiting for this time and here it is
This time has come
Those who ere silent started to talk
Those who've got nothing to wait, mount their horses
You won't catch up with them, no, not now

Neighbors come, they complain they hear hooves clicking
They can't fall asleep, it disturbs their dreams
Those who've got nothing to wait for take off
And those who were saved-they are safe

The leader of Kino was Viktor Tsoi (21 June 1962 – 15 August 1990), remember this name cause it's the name of a hero.

Крыши домов дрожат под тяжестью дней,
Небесный пастух пасет облака,
Город стреляет в ночь дробью огней,
Но ночь сильней, ее власть велика.

Тем, кто ложится спать -
Спокойного сна.
Спокойная ночь.
Тем, кто ложится спать -
Спокойного сна.
Спокойная ночь.

Я ждал это время, и вот это время пришло,
Те, кто молчал, перестали молчать.
Те, кому нечего ждать, садятся в седло,
Их не догнать, уже не догнать.

Соседи приходят, им слышится стук копыт,
Мешают уснуть, тревожат их сон.
Те, кому нечего ждать, отправляются в путь
Те, кто спасен, те, кто спасен.
- Original Russian lyrics, Кино - Спокойная ночь

The song is the fourth from the 1988 album entitled "Gruppa krovi".


Album cover - Gruppa Krovi


Przemyslaw Stradczuk (visual) and Firma (audio)

(left) fragment from "A" by Stradczuk, (right) Rocca
In 2001 a local music television channel showed a clip from a band I never heard of before called Firma. The song "La Orbire" was revolutionary for Romanian standards at the time so it was obvious to stir my curiosity, however not the interest of record companies. Two years had to pass in order for the band to release their first album (with the same name), so in 2003 I finally managed to see what Firma is all about. The song you will listen to is not  "La Orbire" but a largely instrumental piece called "Pe Marginea Prăpastiei" (On the Edge of the Abyss). I choose this because of both aesthetic and practical reasons, no need to worry about a language barrier while at the same time giving a sneak peek at Rocca's voice at the end of the song, it's also my favorite song from the album, after "La Orbire". The band members are: Daniel Rocca (voice), LiX (guitar), Sorin Erhan (bass) and Cristi Raducanu (drums).
Respect the artists, buy their work.
"Thought you said you wanted pleasure,
thought you said you wanted to forget about yourself
to forget about everyone else. 
Don't worry, my friend.
You've got all the pleasure you need
On the edge of the cliff." 

Przemyslaw Stradczuk, or Bucz, so as to keep things simple, is a Polish artist currently living in the United Kingdom focused on photography and photomanipulation. I see his work as rather dark but not macabre, some images can be mildly disturbing for the casual viewer and this is the reason I searched for music which is somewhere at the middle with one leg in the land of thought and introspection and the other in our "normal" world. There is a (what I call) rock n roll attitude in the first four images, a type of nonchalance, which gives great personality to the photos. The last two images go very well together and you don't need me to point out the religious aspect in them... although being in a period of intense religious studies I may surpass the most indulgent limits of subjectivity in this matter, even in art. Stradczuk's art makes me question myself and encourages me to seek answers; I don't know where you aimed but that's where it hit. His facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Przemyslaw.Stradczuk.Photography and deviantART: http://bucz.deviantart.com/
Enjoy and remember, respect the artist, buy his work.



"(...) This earth will grow cold one day,
not like a block of ice
or a dead cloud even
but like an empty walnut it will roll along
in pitch-black space . . .
You must grieve for this right now
--you have to feel this sorrow now--
for the world must be loved this much
if you're going to say "I lived". . ."

- On Living by Nazim Hikmet


Maayke Klaver (visual) and Faith Assembly (audio)

Maayke Klaver (left) and Mark Stacy (right)
Faith Assembly is a synth-pop project of Mark Stacy started in 1991 but which, in spite of 20 years of (more or less) consistent activity, did not manage to break through the wall dividing underground and mainstream. This simple fact doesn't mean that Mark doesn't do a good job in arranging notes and instruments it just means that Faith Assembly did not develop the personality to stand up to related projects like Depeche Mode or Gary Numan. The song you will hear is, in my opinion, the best from their sixth album entitled "Descent into Madness" and released in 2008. "Amnesia" has a wonderful orchestration with the guitar definitely adding much value to the song along with the clean voice of Mark. Their official website is here: http://www.faithassembly.com/ . Respect the artists, buy their work.

Maayke Klaver is a biology student and nature photographer based in Wageningen, the Netherlands. On her website she states:
With my photography I try to transmit feelings and memories rather than reality as the human mind perceives it. I hope you will enjoy my colorful planet.

And now that we introduced ourselves let's get to know each other better. What I love at Maayke's photos is very difficult to put into words because she doesn't try to make art with a political or philosophical theme. Don't be fooled, this doesn't mean that her work lacks depth, on the contrary, Maayke succeeds in showing us nature like we rarely (and some never) see, and this is a hard task. Simply pointing your camera and pushing a button doesn't do, you need something more, much more, you can call it talent or you can call it creativity (because the image needs to be processed), no matter, Maayke Klaver has both talent and creativity along with eyes to see the beauty in this world. I will let the images speak for themselves because words are useless when confronted with this beauty. You can visit her official website here: http://www.maaykeklaver.com and also her deviantArt page: http://maaykeklaver.deviantart.com/
Respect the artist, buy her work.


Golden Hue


Fade Away

Illuminate my World

Lost Soul

Moments Passing

Out there Somewhere

Towards The Light