About Billy Beyond

artist - NYC - and beyond

The Soundtrack To Your Spring Cleaning

This mix cleans under carpets – ALL the carpets – This mix doesn’t mind your Meile’s whir overtop and keeps you cleaning through every room. Make Alexa play it upstairs. Dance breaks are inevitable when switching cleaning heads – Keep it clean, people.

Fuck The Vessel | Kate Wagner

from  https://thebaffler.com/

The Vessel is really a perfect name for the sixteen-story monument nestled in the midst of the now complete “neighborhood” (read: real estate scheme) of Hudson Yards, New York City. Designed by Thomas Heatherwick, one of architecture’s premier grifters, a man who should be banned internationally from using the term “parti,” the Vessel is composed of 154 flights of stairs, 2,500 steps, and 80 landings. Apparently the architect drew inspiration from an early experience with, to nobody’s surprise, an old staircase. The depth of architectural thinking at work here makes a kiddie-pool seem oceanic.

The Vessel is a structure that invites parody—it has already been likened to a giant shawarma, a beehive, a pine cone, a wastebasket. Apparently, there is to be a competition for a new name, as “The Vessel” was only supposed to be a temporary one. It really is the perfect name, however, not least because it implies a certain emptiness. One asks, though, what it is a vessel for?

It is a Vessel for the depths of architectural cynicism, of form without ideology and without substance: an architectural practice that puts the commodifiable image above all else, including the social good, aesthetic expression, and meaningful public space. It is a Vessel for the architecture of views, perhaps the hottest spatial commodity of all.

It is a Vessel for capital, for a real estate grift that can charge more for an already multi-million dollar apartment because it merely faces it. It is a Vessel for a so-called neighborhood that poorly masks its intention to build luxury assets for the criminally wealthy under the guise of investing in the city and “public space.” What is public space if not that land allocated (thanks to the generosity of our Real Estate overlords) to the city’s undeserving plebeians, who can interface with it in one of two ways: as consumers or interlopers, both allowed only to play from dawn ‘til dusk in the discarded shadows of the ultra-rich? Unlike a real neighborhood, which implies some kind of social collaboration or collective expression of belonging, Hudson Yards is a contrived place that was never meant for us. Because of this, the Vessel is also a Vessel for outrage like my own.

It is a Vessel for labor without purpose. The metaphor of the stairway to nowhere precludes a tiring climb to the top where one is expected to spend a few moments with a cell-phone, because at least a valedictory selfie rewards us with the feeling that we wasted time on a giant staircase for something—perhaps something contained in the Vessel. The Vessel valorizes work, the physical work of climbing, all while cloaking it in the rhetoric of enjoyment, as if going up stairs were a particularly ludic activity. The inclusion of an elevator that only stops on certain platforms is ludicrously provocative. The presence of the elevator implies a pressure for the abled-bodied to not use it, since by doing so one bypasses “the experience” of the Vessel, an experience of menial physical labor that aims to achieve the nebulous goal of attaining slightly different views of the city. Unlike the Eiffel Tower, to which the Vessel has been unfathomably compared, the Vessel is just tall enough to make you feel bad for not hiking up it. To climb the Eiffel Tower is equally pointless, but its sheer size makes taking the elevator the de facto, socially normalized experience. The elevators of the Vessel and their lackluster architectural integration belie the architectural profession’s view of accessibility as a code-enforced concession rather than an ethos, a moral right to architecture for all. By taking the elevator up the Vessel, you are both inviting the judgment of your peers who insist on hauling ass up sixteen stories and confirming its sheer pointlessness as a structure; for, unlike the Eiffel Tower, which has a restaurant and shop, there is nothing at the top other than a view of the Hudson and the sad promise of the repeat performance of laboring your way back down.

The Vessel is a vessel for another type of labor: digital labor. Until a few days ago, after a moment of social media outrage, if you were to take a selfie or a photo at the Vessel, the Hudson Yards developers would own the rights to your content in perpetuity. (Now they have the right to circulate and use your media, but not to own it outright.) Regardless of these changes, by taking a selfie or photograph (an act that, to be fair, is perhaps the only true purpose of the Vessel), you are still doing the unpaid work of promotion and content creation for a developer conglomerate, regardless of your intent. By merely stepping foot in the complex, you waive your right to privacy and are ruthlessly surveilled by subtly hidden cameras. What is done with this footage can only be suspected, but it doesn’t stop our malevolent shawarma from serving as a convenient, yes, architectural vessel—not only for affective labor but also the dystopian world-building of surveillance capitalism itself. The Vessel betrays the fact that behind the glitzy, techno-urbanist facade of the Smart City™ lies the cold machinations of a police state. That architecture is used as live bait for these purposes is but one of many symptoms pointing to a field in a state of ethical decline.

The Vessel has invited nearly universal vitriol, even amongst the politest architecture critics. It is an object lesson teaching us that, in our neoliberal age of surveillance capitalism—an era where the human spirit is subjected to a regime of means testing and digital disruption, and a cynical view of the city as an engine of real estate prevails—architecture, quite frankly, sucks.

In Toward an Architecture of Enjoyment, Henri Lefebvre conceived of architecture as a specific level of social practice, on which the reality of everyday life emerges to suggest new, better possibilities. He writes:

There is no thought without a project, no project without exploration—through the imagination—of a possible, a future. . . . There is no social space without an unequally distributed stock of possibles. Not only is the real not separated from the possible but, in a sense, it is defined by it and, therefore, by a part of utopia.

In short, the Vessel is a vessel of its time, and its sheer shittiness as architecture and urbanism, itself a small part of the bigger tyranny of capitalism, at least invites us to dream of something, anything, better than this.

Kate Wagner is the creator of the viral blog McMansionHell, which roasts the world’s ugliest houses from top to bottom, all while teaching about architecture and design. Since its launch in July 2016, the blog has been featured in a wide range of publications, including the Huffington Post, Slate, Business Insider and PAPER.
Outside of McMansion Hell, Kate has written for Curbed, 99 Percent Invisible, The Atlantic, Architectural Digest and more. She recently graduated from Johns Hopkins with a Masters of Arts in Audio Science, specializing in architectural acoustics. Her thesis project examined intersections of acoustics, urbanism and Late Modern architecture.

Hattie’s Parade

Good-bye Brian. I will miss you. You always respected me and my ideas even at the age of twenty! Loretta B. Demille. Hattie Hathaway. Brian Butterick. You helped make so much possible for me and so many others. They even stopped the traffic on 2nd Avenue for your memorial march. Impressive.

Zazous: What punk culture meant in World War II France


Long hair, baggy suits, sunglasses, cynicism—deadly style

Quiff hairdo, pencil mustache, baggy suit? Yeah, the boy’s a zazou. (Albert Harlingue/Roger Viollet/Getty)

Why is it always the long-haired freaks who cause trouble?

Well, for the zazous, a rebellious youth subculture in World War II-era France, long hair was a literal form of protest. A 1942 government decree asked that all barbershops collect and donate hair to the war effort, to be manufactured into slippers and sweaters. The rebellious zazous refused, and grew their locks long.

During those years, the country’s conservative Vichy regime and its prime minister Philippe Pétain were collaborating with the occupying Nazis to impress strict morality laws on a youth population it deemed lazy and dissident.

In protest of Vichy ideology and enforced austerity, zazou followers challenged the image of an obedient, gender-normative, homogenized French citizenry. When the government imposed fabric rations, zazou men wore long, billowy jackets to their knees, gathered trousers, and tiny moustaches. They carried “Chamberlain” umbrellas even on sunny days, a parody of English style. Women wore jackets with wide shoulders, short skirts, bold lipstick, and bleached Hollywood-style hair.

1: Zazou woman in typical attire. 2: A young zazou playing records on his gramophone, during World War II. (Albert Harlingue/Roger Viollet/Getty Images)

Like their counterpart swing kids in Germany, zazous were fixtures in the jazz scene, which had originated in the African-American community and spread across the world by mid-century. In fact, zazou probably got its name from a song called “Zah Zuh Zahby” by Cab Calloway, a Harlem jazz musician. Apart from the jazz clubs and cinemas, zazous frequented two main cafes in Paris, the Pam Pam cafe on the Champs-Élysées and the Boul’Mich on the Boulevard Saint-Michel. They drank fruit juice or beer with a shot of grenadine syrup, and were particularly fond of grated carrot salad.

Cab Calloway and the American zoot suit influenced the zazou aesthetic. (20th Century Fox)

“To be a zazou meant you had to have time, leisure, and money to spend on [this type of protest],” says Sarah Fishman, associate dean of undergraduate studies at the University of Houston. Zazous were typically educated, wealthy and between the ages of 17 and 20.

Yet the zazous were the most visible, the most branded in their displeasure. When the yellow star was forced upon Jews, some zazous wore their own yellow star painted with the word “zazou.” March 27, 1942, was the day the first train of Jews left Paris for Auschwitz, and also the day of the barbershop decree. The Cri du Peuple newspaper ran a drawing of a Vichy youth organization member forcibly cutting a zazou’s hair. They began rounding up the zazous from their cafes and cinemas and beating them in the street.

“They drove the officials crazy. They hated this phenomenon,” says Fishman. The collaborationist newspaper La Gerbe proclaimed on June 25, 1942, “We are having great difficulty in eliminating the venom of Americanism. It has entered our customs, impregnated our civilization. We must devote our utmost efforts against these transgressions of taste and bearing: the decline of critical faculties, the follies of nigger jazz and swing, the contagion of our youth by American cocktail parties.”

In July 1942, French officials mounted the most aggressive expulsion yet, raiding cafes to collect zazous and send them to work camps in the countryside. Another Vichy-symphathizing paper, Gringoire, celebrated that the police had stomped “the perverted kids and idle little girls who haunt the cafes and brasseries of the Champs-Élysées and the Latin quarter who have adopted the slogan: A swing France in a zazou Europe.”

Depictions of zazou in the pro-Vichy newspaper, Gringoire.

As zazous escaped underground, the lore around them only grew. It was difficult, after all, for authorities to distinguish between a political uprising and a mere commercial trend. It’s partly why showbusiness loved the group’s subversive message. Singer Andrex released “Y’a des zazous” in 1944:

Up until now a man could be black or white or yellow or red and that’s all,

But a new race was born, it’s the Zazous.

A false collar up to the jaws with a jacket down to the knees,

Hair down the back,

That’s the Zazou, that’s the Zazou.

There are Zazous in my neighborhood

I’m half there myself

And one of these days,

You’ll all be Zazous like them,

Because the Zazou is contagious.

It’s difficult to say when zazou culture truly died out, but historians estimate it began when Germany imposed forced labor in France between 1942 and 1943. Says Fishman, “That’s the point where you don’t want to call attention to yourself as an able-bodied young man.”

Though the zazou movement ultimately dissipated, it helped establish what youth counterculture could look like—fashionable freaks with a message.

Jazzy Squirrels with Beauty And The Bees

They call themselves The Nutty Squirrels but they are actually very jazzy.

Just a little rodent jam to start the week – but then let’s here from the insects’ side…

Uh Oh! Part 1 – The Nutty Squirrels

Beauty and the Bees – from It’s Tough To Be A Bug!

You Can Catch The Brass Ring Right Here!

I have a little present for you so cheer up. I’m giving you a flawlessly ripped and mastered digital version of an album by The Brass Ring – Love Theme From Flight Of The Phoenix (I know, longer title please.) This record is a state of mind and it’s an excited state, so please, if you are on any kind of uppers or crystal meth or six cups of coffee please BE CAREFUL. Peppy is not the word. Personally I love this album. It gets the house clean if you know what I mean. Musically The Brass Ring were the real deal. Some referred to them as an East Coast Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass. Mmm….maybe. The recordings are top notch – This was ripped from a sealed copy and the label is Dunhill Records (class) and the pressing is deep. There is NO REMASTERING on these recordings. Get into it – this is from the needle to the numbers. I just made that up. You can read all about TBR on Wikipedia but nobody is going to do that except me ad Douglas Demille and he’s dead. So it’s time to upgrade your lounge collection, peeps. Get this into your iTunes and blast the bitch. There is so much to listen to on this one, things waaaaay in the back somewhere, things over on the right, things that make you ask – what the hell even was that? You’ll see, but don’t try blaming me later if you have a seizure or just can’t ever get enough of THE BRASS RING because there is no cure for the TBR addiction. I should know, I have been listening to TBR for about 23 years, five months, six days and, what time is it? – Time to play THE BRASS RING AGAIN!!! YAY!!!

DOWNLOAD THE ALBUM HERE

This is a personal link so no funny business like your flash player is out of date or that type of bullshit. Tell your friends! There’s plenty of TBR for everyone here at Billy Beyond Dot Com. If I can just suggest one thing to you though, stereo separation is important to the experiencing of this record’s fine fidelity. Stop looking at me that way. It’s true. Somany bullshit bluetooth (compressed even more) speakers are sadly mono. Nobody wants mono, do you? Stick to two speakers with a space between them and you’ll be glad you did. What we are talking about is dimension is sound. It’s a must. (Did I just ruin it for your new bluetooth speaker? – well, Sorry! You can take it back if you used Amex. Byeeeeee)

DIG THE FRONT
DIG THE BACK
LABELS DARLING.
SIDE B, LADIES

A New Sequin

When I first watched about a third of this video I was halfway interested in a “NEW SEQUIN.” Hey, I’m only human. But not long after it started one word came to mind…

NAFF

Word Origin and History for naff
v.
British slang word with varied uses, not all certainly connected; see Partridge, who lists three noun uses: 1. “female pudenda” (c.1845), which might be back-slang from fan , shortening of fanny (in the British sense); 2. “nothing,” in prostitutes’ slang from c.1940; 3. a euphemism for fuck (v.) in oaths, imprecations, expletives (e.g. naff off ), 1959, “making it slightly less obvious than eff ” [Partridge]; and an adjective naff “vulgar, common, despicable,” said to have been used in 1960s British gay slang for “unlovely” and thence adopted into the slangs of the theater and the armed forces.

It Could (No Longer) Happen To You…

…because Ed McMahon is no longer with us.

When I worked with Ed in LA I had no idea it would be the puffiest point of my life. (I am the pale pink guy on the left.) This Polaroid was taken by the talented Charlie Altuna during a month long photoshoot for TV Guide that was literally a daily carousel of stars. This picture remains one of my all time favorite souvenirs. When I asked Ed to pose with me while pointing to a check I thought I was being pretty clever. His reaction was a stone-faced, “no reaction” and he said simply, “Oh, you want it with the check, sure.” The whole thing took about two seconds. We stepped outside and approximately half a second before the shutter snapped he hit the pose and his face became the Ed McMahon all of America would recognize. We go it. Later we had a few laughs while waiting for lighting and I think he appreciated my “classic corn” style banter and I did get him laughing more than once.

When he was about to put his jacket on for the shoot he called me over to show me his cufflinks – a gift from his wife. They were little gold watches. The right one was set three hours ahead of the left one. He was soft spoken and made sure I got a very up close good long look at them. Leisurely he told me how he honestly needed them because he was back and forth across the country so often that this was the only way he could keep track of time.

While giving each cuff a final little tug he delivered the unexpected punch, (but softly and without emotion) “Left coast, right coast. That’s how I keep it straight.”

I was instantly in silent hysterics. Talk about timing! That was a private three minute performance…and no smerks from Johnny. Did you know Ed was also a singer?

God, I miss showbusiness. Is anybody in showbusiness anymore? I guess not.

Yes, You May(belline)

The man who finds Buddhism in mascara

A report from our Left Coast Wessside Reporter

Kodo Nishimura is a make-up artist from Japan. He leads an unusual double life, as he is also a fully trained Buddhist monk.

As a gay man, he has found that Buddhism has accepted his sexuality. Some of his followers on Instagram ask for his advice, telling him that their families frown upon homosexuality because of their religion in their parts of the world. For Kodo, Buddhism has instead shown him equality, and encouraged him to be himself.

In Japan, Buddhist monks can have other careers alongside their life as a monk. Kodo got to train as a make-up artist in the US, and he believes that allowing monks to lead lives outside the monastery has helped the faith survive in contemporary Japanese society