Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ice Bar

There are few things in London as visually amazing as the Ice Bar. Nestled in a gorgeous part of London, Ice Bar was an experience like no other. How often does one get to stand in a –5 degree temperature and sip delicious alcoholic concoctions from a glass made of ice? Not to mention, the designer parkas were fabulous. The group that went didn’t exactly know what to expect. Some wore sandals, which seemed to instinctually go against what one should wear to a room made of ice, but the below freezing temperature was bearable with our giant furry coats. The room itself was not very large, but there was amazing detail in the ice. On one wall there were giant wheels carved into the ice and the seats were interestingly beautiful. The lighting also added to the experience because it bathed everyone in a bluish light and made our drinks glow. Some ended up with neon green lips which made it even better! When our time came to end and it was time to return to a normal temperature, a few of us were thankful not to have lost toes, but I can honestly say I could have stayed longer and wished we had more time. We left with great pictures and a great story about how we drank in a room made of ice. How many other people can say the same? I think it is safe to say that the Ice Bar was one of the coolest places I’ve ever been, and yes, pun intended.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Banksy vs Bristol

Arriving outside the museum was a spectacle in itself... what a line! This shows how the anonymity of Banksy makes his work even more mysterious, therefore more appealing. It was made apparent that the audience would be in for quite a show early on by the display of a depressed, somewhat-suicidal looking Ronald McDonald adorning the entrance to the museum.
Numerous works spoke to me. In some of these pieces, the message was quite obvious, leaving no room for interpretation. But in many other works, ideas were simply proposed, leaving the viewer to draw their own conclusion. The lower level, all being Banksy's work, and ranging from social to political issues, bordered the line of humorous and disturbing. One of the more powerful pieces, depicting two fat white tourists being pulled by a young, dark skinned boy, gave me chills and made it difficult for my eyes to pull away.
Unexpectedly, this artist used robotic pieces in displays as part of the experience. The chicken-nugget display and the fish display, both poking at our culinary effects on the world and our environment, were not only fantastically constructed, but also relevant to today. This is what is so great about seeing Banksy's work, its directed towards todays world. Its relevant to our lives. Unlike seeing a wall covered in impressive golden frames, this work makes people think, and maybe even changes the way we respond to our environment.


It isn’t very common to drive over two hours to see a museum, but once we got to the Banksy exhibit it was obvious that the long ride and long line it was worth it. Banksy’s art is very “in your face” in a wonderful way. It speaks the truth bluntly and comically. Artists are always trying to capture the essence of cultural and political issues in a creative way, but I have never seen anyone achieve that goal with as much perfection as Banksy has. One piece that I really liked was of a young poverty-stricken boy pulling a fat American couple in a cart. The boy is looking out of the painting, at the viewer, while the couple is taking pictures with their camera phone. On one hand, it is comical because of the stereotypical way that the Americans are portrayed. But on the other hand, it is addressing very serious issues of poverty, child labor, and how industrial nations relate to third-world countries. Every piece that Banksy does has a similar effect and it is easy to see the purpose he puts in everything. The point Banksy is trying to make comes across easily and it seems so simple and yet genius at the same time. Overall, it was an amazing display of art and my only wish was that there was more to see!

Bansky vs Bristol Museum

Bristol was a very cool city. There were lots of younger college students, and the home of Bansky. The line was incredibly long and seemed to stretch out forever. After a quick two and a half hour wait we finally got to enter the Museum. You could tell even from the outside you were going to be in for a treat. The outside of the Bristol Museum had what appeared to be McDonalds spokesman Ronald McDonald, however he looked more like the clown from movie Clown rather than the happy clown in the commercials. If you thought that was strange and mesmerizing the inside was even more tantalizing. You enter the Museum and you see what looks like classic Greek statues, but are completely taken aback when you realize they are not. Bansky definitely likes making a statement in a humorous and satirical way on politics, social behaviors and anything controversial. The main exhibit of Bansky’s work displayed his stencils with a radio show recording discussing Bansky. My three favorite pieces in the gallery were the two fat tanned tourists in a carriage being pushed by a little poor boy. The picture was quite funny but made a very bold statement and was somewhat sad. The second one was the riot policeman in full gear frolicking through green gas holding a bunch of flowers was hysterical. But the best piece was the one of the Klu Klux Klan member lynched on the tree. After you left this exhibit you would enter a room of what looked like to be the “freak show” at a circus. There was the Tweedy bird in a cage all old and wrinkly, a monkey painting, fish sticks in a fish bowl, a rabbit putting on makeup in front of a vanity surrounded by pictures of young celebs, and hot dogs, and sausages glass cages all displayed like animals in a pet store or a freak show. Then one could wander around the rest of the museum and look carefully for Bansky’s hidden pieces among the other art collections. My friends who do graffiti would be incredibly jealous that I got to see Bansky’s work in the most unique way. The entire experience, out last cinetrek together with everyone was just fabulous.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Final Paper Fugitive Pieces

          The biggest aspect that comes to mind when thinking about the movie Fugitive Pieces is the great emphasis it has on memories.  Memories are the basis for the whole story.  The memories that the main character Jakob encounters are rarely pleasant, but he learns various ways to cope with the memories that constantly flood his brain.  The movie even provokes the audience to remember their own personal memories, even if it has nothing to do with loss.  While previewing the film I was personally flooded with various memories that I have of my parents who have both passed on.  Fugitive Pieces is a very powerful film when it comes to touching basis on the concept of memory and this view is shared in a journal article and a poem I found written by Elrud Ibsch and Averil Stedford.   Both authors give their own take on the original novel written by Anne Michaels and give their own take on the power of memories.

            Memories are very powerful when it comes to recalling them.  Memories can cause various emotions to arise in a person when they are reminded of the memory.  This is shown in Fugitive Pieces when the story of Jakob is told.  Jakob’s life revolves around the memories that he has of his childhood and the tremendous loss he faces when his parents and sister are killed by the Nazis.  The memories Jakob has of his traumatic event haunt him every night in his dreams.  These memories not only haunt Jakob, but they help him grow and become an amazing writer.  It is stated by Elrud Ibsch in the journal “Comfort And Scandal of Memory” about memory, “Anne Michaels tells the story of loss, describing the pain, necessity and healing power of memory” (Ibsch 1).  The memories Jakob have help him feel the pain that he needs to feel to go through the healing process of his loss, even though the healing process takes him a long time.

            The healing process that Jakob goes through is contributed to writing.  Jakob’s mentor Athos was an archeologist and he documented everything in journals.  Athos proposes to Jakob when he is a young boy that he should express his dreams and memories through the power of writing.  In the end Jakob finds comfort in keeping many journals and eventually publishes a book.  It is stated by Elrud Ibsch, “In Anne Michael’s novel, memory eventually brings faith, love, strength and the power to write poetry” (Ibsch 3).  Jakob writes beautiful poetry about his feelings and about the memories that he remembers.  The words he prints on paper become his therapy as the memories begin to surface.  This concept is expressed in a poem called “The Healing Pen”, written by Averil Stedford, which states:

“Writing can be a powerful therapy.  It raises curtains, brings the past to light.  Often what I write surprises me.  Dreams and fears that linger threateningly.  Appear in a new light in black and white.  Writing can be powerful therapy.”

Just like it is stated in the poem, writing can be a therapy that some people need, like Jakob, to express the memories they have when talking about them is too hard.

            While viewing Fugitive Pieces I was reminded of my own memories I have of my parents who have passed on.  My mother passed away when I was six in a car accident and my father passed away when I was twenty after having a heart attack in his sleep.  Both events were traumatic to me and were hard events to come to peace with.  Just like Jakob, I was haunted by memories of my parents that would take my breath away and make me instantly feel sorrow.  I have come to terms with both deaths now and I realize that I must push on to make them proud.  The memories that once gave me so much pain still bring a tear every once in a while, but also make me smile.

            The fondest memory I have of my mother is when she would get me ready for school in the morning.  I have never been a big morning person and I use to pretend I was still a sleep when my mother would come in to wake me up.  She would simply pick me up out of bed and set me in a chair that sat in the corner of my room and give me my favorite cereal bar.  In order to eat the cereal bar I would have to open my eyes and see what I was doing.  This method always worked and got the mornings started around the house.  My mother would always do my hair in the mornings and would dress me in matching outfits.  She took pride in presenting me looking nice, even if I was just going to go to school and get all messy from playing outside during recess.  My hair would always be done up in a sideways ponytail or decorated with various barrettes in the same color as my clothing.  Looking back I can’t help but laugh.  Looking back though also makes me realize how much she loved me and took care of me.

            A memory that was recalled about my father while watching Fugitive Pieces is a simple one, but a very powerful memory.  My father was a very caring man and he loved me more than anything in the world.  I would be reminded of this and still do to this day from various family members.  My dad had a ritual of always coming into my room in the morning before leaving for work, even when I was older and in high school, to give me a kiss on the forehead and tell me he loved me.  I would usually still be a sleep and I wouldn’t wake, but he still did it to show how much he cared for me.  My father was never afraid to show his love for me and before I would leave to go anywhere I would always get a hug and an “I love you” before leaving the house.  It is just the simple memories that bring back the most emotion.  It still brings tears to my eyes to think about these particular memories, but while watching Fugitive Pieces these memories came back  and the pain of loss came back as well with them.

            Fugitive Pieces was a magnificent movie with a powerful message.  Memories can be powerful means for pain and suffering, but can also empower someone to heal from a traumatic experience and move on.  Jakob is a prime example of someone who is haunted by his memories, but finds therapy in writing about them and helps heal from them.  While watching Fugitive Pieces you cant help but recall your own personal memories and experience the emotion they once gave you.  Fugitive Pieces was a wonderful movie and well worth the resurfacing memories, even if they did bring back old emotions.


Works Cited:

A Jay.  Journal of Medical Ethics.:  Medical Humanities London:Jun 2003.  Vol. 29,  Iss. 1,  p. 21 

Ibsch, Elrud. Journal of Modern Jewish Studies; Jul2006, Vol. 5 Issue 2, p203-212, 10p

Final Paper- Fugitive Pieces

The Movie Fugitive Pieces is a piece if cinema that takes the viewer in depth to not only a boy and his extremely difficult childhood but to a time in history where all of Europe was in chaos. This movie does a superb job at telling the story of Jakob and his life, but it also goes into further detail about the struggles of the Jewish people during the Second World War. When we first see Jakob he is running through a forest trying to escape from the Nazi’s who have just stormed into his house and murder his entire family. This symbolic part of the movie comes back many times throughout the movie were see Jakob having repeated flash backs and visions of his family and early childhood. In a way they are a painful reminder of his past, a past that he can never truly leave behind and seems to be haunted by throughout most of his life. During the 1930s to the mid 1940s was a very dark time for Europe and in particular the Jewish community. Being blamed for Germany’s struggles and oppression by the Third Reich they faced a growing discrimination and it put members within this community in a very difficult place. Some were force to leave not only their homes but their country in order to escape the Nazi’s and their ever growing power, but there were those who could not leave and ultimately would pay the heaviest price. In Fugitive Pieces we get a firsthand experience of someone who has gone through this horrific event, seeing the psychological damage that it has caused Jakob and his struggle to truly fit into society and really start feeling emotions again.
After Jakob’s family gets murder the audience sees a boy that is truly devastated with his family being killed, something no person should ever see. As Jakob finds a little ditch in the forest to rest in he attracts the attention of a man who is working at a construction site. When the man walks over to see the boy he is shocked to find a little child out in the forest all by himself. As the man faces this dilemma of what to do with the boy he decides to risk his life and take the boy as his own. The relationship between Athos and Jakob is one that seems to fit perfectly, both having lost the ones they love the most this is the dynamic that allows the relationship to be so successful. As Athos takes Jakob home to Greece he truly does not know how to raise him, and during the first years of their friendship Jakob becomes very quiet and does not like to leave the house. These being the likely affect of having watched his family get murder Athos learns to be very patient and understand with him. In a way Athos becomes the farther to Jakob, taking him underneath his wing and as he gets older they become best friends. As the Nazi forces expand their campaign they reach the town of Zakynthos where Athos and Jakob live, it becomes another painful reminder for Jakob about the lost of his family and as he states “I truly do not know why I cannot get this vision”(Fugitive Pieces). As time wears on the dreams for Jakob become more intense and he starts to have flashbacks of his Mom and Dad but more particularly his sister Bella. This suggests the bond he had with her before she died and in a way she took him underneath her wing and raised him. These type of flashbacks and memories seem to haunt Jakob during his life and are always a reminder of his past.
Jakob starts to open up as a person but he also starts to expand his relationship with Athos a bit more. Jakob learns that Athos use to have a wife and that she died awhile back, Athos being entirely caught off guard when Jakob bring this up. During this scene the viewer truly sees the relationship come full circle that even though these two people from different places and immensely different backgrounds the one component that truly unites them and that is their loathing for a companion and someone else to feel their pain. For the first time where Jakob realize that he must take care of Athos because they are both damaged in their own ways. During this stage of the movie that Nazi’s have retreated out of Greece which allows more freedom for Athos and Jakob to travel. One day Athos receives a letter for a school in Toronto asking him to come and teach at their university. Athos sees this as an opportunity to start over and leave the past behind. When both Jakob and Athos arrive in Toronto it is a total new experience for one another and in way it pushes them out of their comfort zone. As time goes on Jakob starts to establish a sense of normalcy going to school and meeting people his own age. One day he meets a girl by the name of Alex, that sweeps him off his feet by the simply fact the she gives Jakob an escape. Jakob evens claims that when Alex and him are together he "longs for the loss of memory", but only for the time being. This relationship runs its course due to the simple fact that Jakob cannot get by his past and becomes obsessive about what happened when his family was murdered.
Jakob and Athos stay in Toronto for quite a long time and in some ways Jakob wishes he could escape and go somewhere new but he knows that Athos cannot travel because he is too old. One night Athos is working on his book Jakob comes in and wishes him goodnight, but in the mourning Athos dies of old age. At this point Jakob reaches a cross road in his life not sure what direction he want to go he decides to go back to Greece to bury some of Athos belongings and honor him on last night. Jakob realizes that he both likes Greece and Toronto so much he ends up splitting time between the two. While back in Toronto he meets a woman by the name of Michaela who later establish a relationship of caring and nourishment. Michaela and Jakob end up getting married and a main reason that they do is that Michaela helps Jakob forget about the painful past. Michaela does truly understand him, very similar to the way Athos was to Jakob when he was younger.
Fugitive Pieces simply a great movie! The audience sees the character of Jakob come full circle from a scared boy who had nowhere to live or no one he could trust to a man who has overcome the trauma of watching the Nazi’s murder his family. In the beginning Jakob life is a constant struggle but with the help of Athos and Michaela he learns to live a normal life, but will never forget his past.

Compare and Contrast: Modesty Blaise's "Swinging London" with Today's London Social Scene

There are many similarities and differences between the social scenes of the swinging London period of the 1960s and London’s present social culture. London was an exciting place to be during the 1960s with an economic boom in the later half of the decade allowing for increased experimentation in color, style, and way of thinking. The 1966 camp movie Modesty Blaise is a clear example of what the social scene was like during the “swinging London” period. Like Modesty Blaise’s hair color, everyone and everything was changing continuously in the film hinting at the fact that this was a period where people altered the way they dressed, thought, and spoke on a constant basis. Mod subculture also played a prominent role in the film influencing Modesty Blaise’s bold outfits and imagery of all-night clubs. Sexuality was also beginning to become more accepted with references to the gay community through flamboyant characters like the evil mastermind Gabriel and his male servants in the film. In comparison to today’s social culture, there are still some remaining influences from “swinging London” but differences still. Experimentation is still a vital part of London’s social scene today with fashion, music, and art constantly taking on new forms. Mod subculture is still a prominent group, leaving its mark on London with the miniskirt bigger than ever and all night clubs far more popular. Sexuality, such as the present gay community, is bigger and more accepted than ever. Londoners, however, have become far more frugal since the economic recession compared to the economic boom during the 1960s. In this essay, I will compare and contrast Modesty Blaise’s “swinging London” social scene with London’s present social culture through ways of style, social subcultures, sexuality, and ways of thinking.

Modesty Blaise is the epitome of what “swinging London” was like during the later half of the 1960s. The lurid fashion clothing and prints to the influential mod culture to the witty and outrageous personalities and ways of thinking all added to this social phenomenon taking place at that time. The “swinging London” period resulted from an economic boom “after post world war II austerity and rationing” (1960s Fashion and Textiles). After London having to spend such a great deal of time recovering from war, Londoners finally had a chance to immerse in the social areas of their culture. In a scene from the film, Modesty Blaise and her partner in crime Willie Garvin drive carelessly on a desert road, enjoying ice cream and joining together in song all while being chased by their employers. The viewer is filled with a sense of liberation through the characters’ fearlessness and carefree attitudes in the film. This was the universal feeling during the later 1960s because Londoners finally had a chance to not worry and just enjoy what London had to offer. With new ideas sprouting left and right, fashion became an asset to individual expression during this period. The style during the “swinging London” period was heavily driven by the younger crowd where pricey couture was out and more affordable outfits were in (1960s Fashion and Textiles). The mod subculture also played a part in what was fashionable at the time popularizing “the simple geometric shapes” and “tailor-made attire” for maximum impact (1960s Fashion and Textiles). The youth were finally beginning to be recognized as an influential generation partly due to their impeccable taste in fashion. There no longer was a demand to pay high prices for pieces of clothing and younger people were one of the first to make affordable clothing look hip and fashionable. Another fashionable trend was “boldly colored garments” and miniskirts which were sold cheaply all over London (1960s Fashion and Textiles). In the movie Modesty Blaise, Modesty dons many of the popular trends of the time such as a tightly fitted hot pink dress in one scene while running through the streets of London.  Textiles in “brightly colored large-scale geometric repeats” were incorporated into clothing, furnishing fabrics, and even home decor.  When Modesty is held prisoner by Gabriel in the film, he places her in a groovy dungeon filled with a swirly, colored wallpapred room. Another influential factor to the “swinging London” social scene was the mod subculture. Mods were not only known for their fashion but for their “amphetamine-fuelled all-night dancing at clubs” (website). They believed in rejecting the "dull, timid, old-fashioned, and uninspired" culture of London that surrounded them (The Mod Generation). The Mods opened up a whole new way of social life for the younger crowd that was a complete digression from what was considered proper in British culture. The 1960s was also considered an era of “sexual freedom” where the pill was a “reliable method for contraception”, abortion became legal, and homosexuality was “decriminalized” (1960s Fashion and Textiles). The 1960s helped pave a new way for what was considered sexually acceptable. In Modesty Blaise, there are many references to sexual exploration such as the evil mastermind Gabriel and his male servants who are extremely flamboyant in their style and manner. The “swinging London” period broke all barriers for sexuality where things that would have been shunned in society before were finally beginning to become accepted. Not only was this era influential in its own time, but remnants of the “swinging London” period can still be seen in present British culture today.

Although there are still many remaining influences from the “swinging London” period in London’s present social culture, there are still some differences between the two eras. For instance, since this year’s global financial crisis, London has been hit since it has such a “prominent global role” where there is an expected loss of “70,000 jobs” in finance will be lost (1960s Fashion and Textiles).  From personal observation, there no longer seems to be that carefree attitude that was once so highly regarded during the “swinging London” period. Londoners have become far more serious which is what the reality of an economic recession can do versus the economic boom during the 1960s. However, there are still some aspects of the “swinging London” period that are still heavily present in today’s social scene. Mod style and subculture, for example, have made a comeback in recent years. The miniskirt is an essential in any girl’s closet and one can never fail finding geometric prints at affordable boutiques like Top Shop. Even all night clubs that were so popular in the 1960s are a still a huge part of today’s London night scene. Today a mixture of “21st century mods” form today’s “Mod Generation” where mods from the “late 70s/80s revival and original mods from the 60s” come together and arrange “club nights and events” similar to those in the 60s (The Mod Generation). Even today, the mod subculture is being kept alive and still is a strong presence in the growing nightlife of London. Sexuality has reached even greater acceptance over the decades especially for the gay community. Just recently there was a Pride London parade right here in London where over 1,000,000 came and participated which makes it the “largest LGBT event in the UK” (Pride London). This shows how prominent a role the gay community still plays in London and has continued to grow since the “swinging London” days where homosexuality was just starting to be accepted.

London has continued to evolve since the “swinging London” era but also maintain some of the social culture that took place during the later half of the 1960s. There are remaining influences of “swinging London” in today’s social culture because it was such an experimental time in London’s history, despite the differences that have accumulated over the decades. However, there is one thing that can be agreed on: London is a social mecca that is constantly changing and molding to its current yet still knows how to mix old with modern.

 Works Cited

“1960s Fashion and Textiles”. The Victoria and Albert Museum. 23 July 2009.            

 “Pride London.” 23 July 2009.

 “The Mod Generation.” 23 July 2009.