Posts Tagged ‘ modern culture ’

Lyric Analysis #1 [If I Were A Boy – Beyoncé]

I was listening to “Single Ladies” by Beyoncé (don’t ask) this morning when a thought struck me. What if I actually pay attention to the words she sings? I then thought I’d open Spotify and take a listen to her album “I Am… Sasha Fierce”. Someone once told me that it was a good album. I was skeptical, but I played the first track and instantly wondered what the shit she was harping on about.

And then the idea came to me.

Lyric Analysis: THE SERIES

The idea is that I play a couple of pop songs each week to @Dehyphenated (follow!) and she will comment on them line-by-line. I’ll post the resulting words here for your enjoyment. Lyrics to the songs will be italicised and comments made will be in bold.

So now without further ado, the lyric analysis of Beyoncé’s If I Were A Boy.


If I were a boy,
even just for a day,
I’d roll out of bed in the morning,

I do that anyway.
and throw on what I wanted and go,
I do that anyway.

Drink beer with the guys,
Do that too…
and chase after girls.
Not so much of that. But if I were a lesbian, I suppose…
I’d kick it with who I wanted,
Does that mean just hang out? Yep. I do that.
and I’d never get confronted for it,
Confronted for what? Hanging out with my friends? What the fuck? What kind of miserable life does a woman lead?
cause they stick up for me.
Alright, yeah. Because girls are bitches and they don’t stick up for their friends.

If I were a boy,
I think I could understand,
How it feels to love a girl.

I’m pretty sure I can understand what it feels like to love a girl. I think it’s probably just the same as loving a guy. Also, if I were a lesbian, see she’s living in this world where there are no gay people at all.
I swear I’d be a better man,
If I were a man, I would be a better man? Yeah, because you were a woman before. You’re not a very good man if you’re a woman.
I’d listen to her,
Cause I know how it hurts,
When you lose the one you wanted,

Who am I listening to? Who is this ‘her’? ‘Her’ has never been established. Is she implying, then that as a woman she doesn’t listen to her boyfriend?
Cause he’s taking you for granted,
And everything you had got destroyed
So her reasoning for being a better man is: she’s a woman? Genius.

If I were a boy,
I would turn off my phone,
Tell everyone it’s broken,
so they’d think that I was sleeping alone
What? Every night? Wait, what? I don’t get that. What is that?

I’d put myself first,
and make the rules as I go,
Cause I know that she’ll be faithful,
waiting for me to come home, to come home.

Alright, so, she’s got herself a little house-wife? And how does she know that her girlfriend isn’t fucking around with someone else? Just because she as a woman wouldn’t fuck around with someone else doesn’t mean that her new girlfriend wouldn’t fuck around with someone else. My head hurts.


It’s a little too late for you to come back,
Say it’s just a mistake,
think i’d forgive you like that,
If you thought I would wait for you,
you thought wrong.

This has nothing to do with her hypothetical sex-change. It’s just her getting angry at a guy. Again. Pretending like she’s better than him. Fuck sake.

But you’re just a boy.
You don’t understand,
and you don’t understand, ohhhh,
How it feels to love a girl.

That’s a shame, but it doesn’t mean she’d be a better man. He can’t help it if he doesn’t love her.
Someday you wish you were a better man,
You don’t listen to her,
You don’t care how it hurts,
Until you lose the one you wanted,

But what? He didn’t love her so he hasn’t lost the one he wanted! This is the worst narrative EVER!
Cause you’re taking her for granted,
And everything you had got destroyed

But you’re just a boy.

Also, why is she having sex with boys?


Beyoncé uses Batshit Woman Logic. Enemy Pokémon has fainted!


House of Building.

In the last three, maybe four years I’ve been quite fascinated with Bauhaus, the German style of architecture and design that was developed by Walter Gropius. The Bauhaus was a German fine arts and architecture school that was opened in 1919 and closed under pressure from the Nazi regime in 1933. You’ll have probably come across some of the more famous examples of Bauhaus; the Wassily Chair or the Engel House in Tel-Aviv and you’ll have probably heard their motto “Form follows function”; the idea that the shape of an object or building should be based on its intended purpose. The Bauhaus has had massive influence on developments in modern graphic, interior and industrial design, typography and architecture.

Below is an article written by Erik Spiekermann last November for Blueprint magazine discussing Bauhaus as a style.

For more than 40 years my let­ter­head has con­sisted of a red bar at the top of the page, with my name reversed out of it. Some of my edu­cated friends still feel they have to make remarks about that device, espe­cially now that the Bauhaus cel­e­brates its 90th birth­day and Berlin is cov­ered in posters emu­lat­ing what is obvi­ously per­ceived as a spe­cific style.

Per­haps we Ger­mans should be glad that we have cre­ated at least one world-famous and per­haps even pop­u­lar style, but, know-alls that we are, we have to point out that the Bauhaus was much more than a sim­ple style. Hav­ing been invented in Ger­many (if not entirely by Ger­mans), it had to have a the­ory as well as a seri­ous mes­sage to mankind.

Her­bert Bayer para­phrased the Bauhaus propo­si­tion as ‘com­bin­ing the areas of util­i­tar­ian design, after research­ing their con­stituent ele­ments, under the pur­pose of “Bau” (Ger­man for build­ing or con­struc­tion)’. ‘Research­ing their ele­ments’ meant dis­cussing eco­nom­i­cal, social, for­mal and eth­i­cal top­ics to form a the­o­ret­i­cal, sci­en­tific basis for design, in order to move away from per­sonal, purely artis­tic atti­tudes. ‘Bau’ meant every arte­fact, not just build­ings made from stone or steel.

One of the main prob­lems with most of what we know about the Bauhaus (and other peri­ods or styles, for that mat­ter) is that we have only seen these arte­facts fil­tered through some inter­ven­ing tech­nol­ogy: pho­tographs of build­ings; scans of book pages, more often than not repro­duc­tions of repro­duc­tions and hardly ever at the orig­i­nal size. This process tends to be kind to the printed pieces from the Bauhaus work­shops. What was actu­ally fairly crude type­set­ting from a very lim­ited choice of fonts and plain let­ter­press print­ing on bad paper, today appeals to us as lov­ingly hand­made, put together by charm­ing, bespec­ta­cled gen­tle­men, sport­ing inter­est­ing facial hair-styles, under enam­eled lamp­shades in cosy mid-European ate­liers. I bet the poor com­pos­i­tors who had to work to detailed sketches from design­ers such as El Lis­sitzky hated every minute of it. They would have much rather set straight­for­ward columns of plain type instead of hav­ing to com­pose impos­si­ble illus­tra­tions from metal rules and 12-pica full points. At the same time it must have been frus­trat­ing for Lis­sitzky and his col­leagues to have their imag­i­na­tion con­strained by the tight lim­its of a mechan­i­cal craft that was more rule-based than the most Teu­tonic of engi­neers could have wished.

Crude as it was, this new way of con­struct­ing pages, rather than sim­ply set­ting them from the top down and cen­tred, soon cre­ated a demand. In 1928, Bayer observed that more than 50 per cent of the orders taken by print­ers in Frank­furt were spec­i­fied to be set in the ‘Bauhaus Style’. By that time this had been reduced to big dots and heavy bars or, worse still, orna­ments and imi­ta­tions of nature by means of typo­graphic mate­ri­als. The orig­i­nal con­cept of being true to the mate­r­ial had come full circle.

If the Bauhaus con­cept had already been reduced to a mere style as early as 1928, while it was still going – per­haps even as strong as in the begin­ning – how can we be sur­prised that today a red bar is enough to evoke it? What would it mean today to be ‘true to the mate­r­ial’ when the mate­r­ial con­sists of invis­i­ble noughts and ones? How would we define ‘util­i­tar­ian design’ when we are sup­posed to invent expe­ri­ences and vir­tual worlds for the con­sumer to get sucked into?

What’s left? Dis­cussing eco­nom­i­cal, social, for­mal and eth­i­cal top­ics may well be desir­able again when we design not just arte­facts but processes, pol­i­tics and, in fact, our future. Con­nect­ing these issues under the topos of design is what the Bauhaus invented. Cre­at­ing net­works, think­ing across dis­ci­plines. What we call net­works but tend to only get in the shape of cables is the way out for design­ers. The way out of their iso­la­tion, caught between clients ask­ing for free pitches and com­peti­tors ready to do the same work for half the fee. The way out of the alien­ation and iso­la­tion caused by unlim­ited tech­nol­ogy, which, by def­i­n­i­tion, is irresponsible.

If the red bar on my let­ter­head reminds me of this premise, I can live with the fact that, for most peo­ple, the Bauhaus is just another style.

Selected Trueisms.

A single event can have infinitely many interpretations.
Being sure of yourself means you’re a fool.
Crime against property is relatively unimportant.
Dependence can be a meal ticket.
Emotional responses are as valuable as intellectual responses.
Fake or real indifference is a powerful personal weapon.
Going with the flow is soothing but risky.
Humanism is obsolete.
It’s better to be lonely than to be with inferior people.
Just believing something can’t make it happen.
Knowledge should be advanced at all costs.
Low expectations are good protection.
Mostly you should mind your own business.
Noise can be hostile.
Offer very little information about yourself.
Planning for the future is escapism.
Raise boys and girls the same way.
Stupid people shouldn’t breed.
The most profound things are inexpressible.
Unquestioning love demonstrates largesse of spirit.
Violence is permissible even desirable occasionally.
Wishing things away is not effective.
You must have one grand passion.
Zeal alone will get you nowhere.


Warning: The following entry is quite wanky and self-indulgent. If you can’t stand to read people talking about their work on a personal level and using phrases like “take stock of who I am as a person” then I suggest you skip over what’s written below.

Above is the result of several hours’ work in Photoshop and my first real stab at anything to do with typographical design. In the past I’ve played around with different typefaces, designed posters, logos and album art and I’ve been pleased with the results for the most part. I’ve even received compliments on my work which is always lovely.

However I felt that my problem was that I’d always stick to maybe one or two typefaces and not really explore colour, placement and text manipulation. It was as if I were restricting myself by sticking to what I knew and trusted. While this most recent project may not be anything too adventurous, it was still quite a step forward for me; not only in terms of pushing what I can do with visual design, but also in terms of trying to compress myself into the space of two 500 pt letters.

I’ve always maintained that I’m rubbish when it comes to expressing myself visually. I’ve been writing music since I was ten and I have no trouble putting what I have in my head into a program like Acid and writing a piece of music. However when I try this on paper, in Photoshop or Illustrator it’s as if I hit some kind of mental block. I would desperately love to be even half as good as some of the visual artists I know, but when I actually try to apply myself it just doesn’t want to come out.

Maybe I just need to practice, practice, practice.

The letters C and n are the first and last letters of ‘Cohaagen’, a moniker I picked up a couple of years ago and a name I tend to use when I’m dealing with music I’ve written; an artist name, if you will. I was going to use M and L (my initials) but I didn’t like how the letters sat together; they seemed too angular and harsh. The typeface used for this is Meta, a humanist sans-serif typeface designed in 1991 by Erik Spiekermann, a personal hero of mine. It’s one of my favourite typefaces and I think I might even prefer it to Helvetica. It’s a close call, but just look at it. It’s great.

I decided that I wanted to fill the letters with words that mean something to me, thus bringing my moniker and I closer together. I’m not a fan of artists proclaiming to have an ‘alter-ego’; see Beyoncé and her alter-ego “Sasha Fierce“. I tried to balance material and immaterial aspects as best I could because, as much as I would love to shun my materialistic side, we’re all defined by the things we use and own as well as the things we say, think or do, so it was important for me to mention my love for gadgets and calculator watches as well as my love for science and music.

I also used it as an opportunity to take stock of who I am as a person and publicly admit flaws in my person; arrogance and laziness, for example. At first I felt a little reticent about adding some of my flaws, but when I thought about it I realised that they’re just as important to who I am as a person as my rationality and my excitability.

After placing the text I finished up with a couple of special effects and the colouring. I chose green and blue because they’re my two favourite colours and because they blend so well together, no other reasons.

I’m happy with the result.

Words (Aren’t Always Needed).

The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble (aka The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation) is probably one of the coolest names for a band I’ve ever heard. The name alone was enough to spark my interest and listen to their music.

‘Here Be Dragons’ is the name of their latest album, and I can honestly say that I haven’t heard such a warm, captivating, familiar yet unsettling work in a long time. The album reminds me of the darker, murkier side of the Polish Jazz duo Skalpel.

It’s certainly an album that demands the listener’s attention, from the groaning intro of ‘Lead Squid’ right up until the breathy, almost aged, metallic outro of ‘The MacGuffin’. It’s certainly not an album you’ll be able to have in the background while doing other things. Casual listeners may find themselves out of their depth, but Jazz listeners who haven’t yet explored the realms of experimental or even drone Jazz should lap this up.

Click here to download.

Listen below.

Travel Sickness.


Travel Sickness (TS) is a potentially deadly cultural illness, a virus found in the heart, mind, body, and politics of certain humans. People can become infected by:

  • Willingly engaging in meaningless, emotion-based movements spawned by corporate interests.
  • The purchase and consumption of personal image products intended to mask individual creativity and independent thought.
  • Being exposed to disingenuous, uninformed, or other culturally retrograde concepts, often conveyed by parents, education systems, and peer groups.

TS causes people who are born healthy and without prejudice to slowly become very ignorant. Shortly after birth (about two years), humans are generally infected with the virus through parents and extended family, often developing a gradual distrust of thought and analysis and increased reliance upon received information (via hosts such as parents, peers, and educators) and factual regurgitation. Other symptoms of TS may include:

  • Difficulty accepting human uniqueness and individuality.
  • Propensity toward mindlessly repeating information culled from any media or source of authority (assumed, presumed, or otherwise).

Without treatment, TS may cause death of the soul. Most spiritual deaths caused by TS occur within humans who live too long without an appropriate degree of intellectual and emotional development.

Once a person develops TS, treatment for the illness is self-actualization and personal awareness, including focused attention to intellectual and emotional development to foster a sense of true individuality (as opposed to the individuality presumed in the assumption of dead political and socio-economic lifestyles). Yet this treatment, while self-administered, usually gains potency only upon consistent application and usage throughout adulthood.


Click the link.

A book of faces you say?

Yeah.  That.

Yeah. That.

I got rid of my facebook account recently.  Committing social-network suicide wasn’t so hard, merely a case of logging onto my account via my phone’s browser, heading to the relevant page and hitting the appropriate button.  I didn’t need to brace myself, nor am I having intense withdrawal symptoms from being without the big blue leviathan.

I joined facebook less than a year ago with the same idea as every other hapless individual; meet / get friends, talk to friends, hear what they have to say and have some fun in the process.  I’m no stranger to social networking and I quickly grew fond of facebook.  I enjoyed its subtle shades of blue, its clean lines and its neat, well thought out site plan.  It looked great and was a joy to use; far superior to Myspace, Orkut, Bebo or Friendster – sites that I grew infuriated with and ended up cancelling my account or abandoning early on.  I continued the seemingly endless task of finding people to befriend and adding them to the ever expanding list of people I knew in one way or another.  The rate at which I checked my profile increased steadily and at the height of my usage I even wrote a small script for my mobile phone to refresh my facebook’s home screen once a minute so I didn’t have to do it manually.


The more I used facebook, the more I realised what was going on.  The time i spent sending emails or holding conversations on peoples’ walls could have actually been spent with the person in real life (which I shall call RL from now on).  It could have easily been a quick phone call to catch up or even a meeting for lunch, anything other than what it was – a faceless meeting of text and impersonal, often forced, chit-chat.  I think back to the times where I would spend a good hour or two trawling through photographs of friends, then the photographs of their friends and so on until it got to the point where I was looking at photographs of people I didn’t even know doing things with more people I didn’t know.  Instead of giving people up to the minute updates on what I was doing or posting links to people who didn’t even care I could have spent the time emailing my friends in RL and arranging real meetings and having real conversation.

Toward the end of my relationship my wall steadily became a place where people exchanged bitchy or snide comments.  The groups I’d joined previously bared no meaning on anything in my life – mindless free-for-all forums where anyone could and often did say whatever they wanted, their mindless, poorly thought out and badly worded opinion bandied about the Internet like a cheap whore.  Of the 85 or so people in my friends list, I could only name around 10 to 15 people who I could honestly say I spoke to on a regular basis.  The endless stream of information on the home page just disintegrated into a place for people to bitch and moan at each other about all their differences.  Friends of mine would snipe at one another through their status updates and their friends would join in and their friends would join in and so on and so on until the endless clusterfuck of human society and modern civilisation had well and truly raped its way through the nooks, crannies and crevices of the Internet onto my screen.

I do not want a representation of the thing I despise so viciously splayed across my monitor.

Facebook is caustic.  It is faceless and by its very design is crafted to lull the user into a pit where an almost permanent connection to your ‘friends’ is required.  The need for streamed information is all well and good, but facebook latches onto the addict in all of us, with some even going so far as to use it as a means to organise or at least publish their entire lives.  Facebook relieves the user of face-to-face interaction to the point where people feel more comfortable behind their monitor or above their mobile phone, poking away at their ‘friends’.  This ‘grooming’ of the user  has become yet another one of the millions of influences that drives people in subway cars to avoid eye-contact at all costs.  It soothes the facebooker with its subtle blue tones, clean lines and squircles, making you feel safe and like you’re taking part in something that just feels natural and oh-so-easy.

I understand that I have a somewhat addictive personality and people who know me well would tell you that I pick up things and cling to them rather easily, but I don’t think this is entirely my fault.  At the beginning I found it rather hard to be left out of something so popular.  The need to follow the crowd is a strong one in a society so driven by the media and a constant message that there’s nothing more important than being #1.  I would imagine that if all the people were taken and lined up in rank of coolness, the guy (or girl) at #1 would almost certainly have an active facebook account.  When someone asked me if I had a facebook page within 10 minutes of knowing me, I pretty much realised on the spot that this is something that’s not going to go away.  It’s normal, much like having a mobile phone or an iPod, but this makes me wonder what life after facebook is going to be like.

One final thought.  A friend of mine once said;

For every friend you have on facebook, that’s minus one friend in real life.  You have 86 friends.  That means you have negative 86 friends.  Your life sucks.