Posts Tagged ‘Contemporary Culture’

Thank You!

24 February 2010

A few days ago, we posted the responses we received to our survey and were delighted to report that a majority of the readers who took the time to complete the survey were generally happy with Pue’s form and content. Our response was a momentary pat on the back followed by a now-continuing consideration of the ways in which we can tweak, transform, and generally impove Pue’s to best reflect the demands and desires of you, our readers. This week we’ve had cause for further celebration and renewed dedication to our commitment to making Pue’s the best it can be: we’ve been nominated in three different categories – Best Arts and Culture Blog; Best Group Blog; and Best Newcomer – for the 2010 Irish Blog Awards! Judging begins next week, but even if we don’t win anything, we’re absolutely thrilled to be nominated as such a relatively young blog. As you’ll see from the nominations list, we’re in extremely good company, with an incredibly wide range of blogs, some of them very well-established. It’s going to be a real pleasure exploring the blogs – some new, some old – nominated alongside us, and we encourage you to do the same. Also, check out the sponsors who fund and enable these awards, including Poetry Ireland, Red Fly Marketing, and Most importantly though, give yourselves a big pat on the back for making this possible for Pue’s. We’re incredibly grateful to you not only for nominating us for the 2010 Irish Blog Awards but also for your continuing support, readership, and loyalty! Thank you!!

A country-wide peek at Culture Night…

25 September 2009

By Lisa-Marie Griffith

Recomendations for Culture Night Pue's OccurrencesTonight is Culture Night 2009 and this year even more cities and towns than ever will take part in the event. BelfastCork, Dublin, Galway, Letterkenny, Limerick, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo, Tralee, Waterford and Wexford so I have taken a quick look at whats going on around the country to make some recommendations on what to see.  Belfast is participating in Culture night for the first year and most of the events will take place in the Cathedral quarter which ‘will be totally transformed for the evening as public areas and streets are turned into performance spaces. Read more

‘Something’ for the weekend

12 September 2009

The Beatles in Rolling Stone MagazineBy Kevin O’Sullivan

They’re clogging up the charts with the re-mastered versions of their thirteen albums, you can’t escape them on the radio, you can be them on Rockband. Thirty-nine years after they split for good, the Beatles are still the reference by which all popular culture for an entire generation is defined. As the Financial Times puts it today: ‘As all philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato, all modern popular music is a riff on the Beatles.’

But you don’t need me to prattle on about the band and its significance. Instead, head over to Rolling Stone and check out their ‘Essential Beatles’ guide, with fascinating photographs and audio interview with John Lennon from 1970. Or, better still, get your hands on the 3 September hard copy edition of the magazine (in the shops on this side of the Atlantic right about now) and read Mikal Gilmore’s fascinating lengthy investigation into the long break-up of the group: the creative tensions, the shock of manager Brian Epstein’s death, the arrival of Yoko Ono, the torturous recording of Let It Be, and the divisive battle over the appointment of New York accountant Allen Klein as business manager (McCartney: ‘I said, “Look John, I’m right.” And he said, “You fucking would be, wouldn’t you? You’re always right, aren’t you?”‘). Even if you’re not particularly into the Beatles, this is one of the best pieces of music journalism/history I’ve read in ages.

Under the Czars

7 September 2009

By Kevin O’Sullivan

Smirnoff Black Press Ad

A question to you dear marketing gurus. Read More

Everywhere there was song and celebration

31 August 2009

By Kevin O’Sullivan
Woodstock_redmond_hairIt’s forty years since Joni Mitchell went on down to Yasgur’s farm to join in a rock’n’roll band, camp out on the land and try and get her soul free. The same has passed since Abbey Road, Let It Bleed, The Band, Liege and Lief, Tommy, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Dusty in Memphis, Songs from a Room, Five Leaves Left and Led Zeppelin II first hit our shelves. It’s been fifty years since the first Newport Folk Festival. Next month the Beatles release the digital remasters of all their studio albums. Neil Young calls his re-release programme ‘The Archives’. The record industry is dead? Long live the music.

It’s everywhere now: on the train, in the shops, in the bath, on your television, on your phone, in the lift, in the swimming pool (I kid you not). Everyone’s a collector, everyone’s got their favourites on shuffle. Everyone, it seems, has released their own version of ‘Hallelujah’.

But amidst the saturation, it is easy to lose sight of the important role played by popular music in the social and cultural history of Western and, increasingly, global society over the past fifty or so years. There are plenty of treatises out there on music, culture and history, from journal articles to broader texts like Arthur Marwick’s The Sixties: Cultural Transformation in Britain, France, Italy and the United States, 1958-74 (1998), Mark Kurlansky’s 1968: The Year that Rocked the World (2005) and Eric Harvey’s interesting recent social history of the mp3 for the online magazine, Pitchfork. But by its very nature, the medium itself – the music – demands an altogether different approach. Read More

Is this city fit for purpose?

20 August 2009

By Lisa-Marie Griffith

Culture and the city DebateLast night Exchange Dublin and Temple Bar Cultural Trust hosted their open access culture and the city debate ‘Is this city fit for purpose?’ in Meeting House Square. Considering how wet the evening was I was very impressed with the turn out. The other noteworthy point about the turnout was that 90% of the audience consisted of 16-25 year olds. Surely this proves how eager Dublin’s young population are to have their say in the culture and activities going on in their city. The event, like most hosted in Temple Bar also had a novelty factor; each of the participants was asked to wear a white mask covering their face. The idea behind this, explained by Dylan Haskins of Exchange Dublin and the Debate Curator, was to provide an ‘opportunity for people to say what they really feel as users of the city without worry of who it might offend’. At several points, speakers both objected to the use of masks and offered support to the initiative. Some felt that if the debate was to be an honest one the participants should come together in an open manner that allowed them to get to know each other. Others felt that the masks allowed them to express their opinions uninhibited. I felt mine was made me far too sweaty and uncomfortable so I lost mine half way through. It was an interesting idea and while highlighting that as citizens of Ireland’s largest urban dwelling we can often feel marginalized and anonymous, without a say in how our city is run, it can also be accused of having sidelined the main discussion; Is Dublin fit for it’s purpose?

The question prompted many interpretations from the guest speakers and many answers, the most interesting were from the audience. Like any open access debate there were many rather eccentric, forceful and unpractical suggestions aired, but there were a lot of very interesting opinions aired about youth, culture and the times we live it. Read more

Coco Avant Chanel

29 July 2009

By Lisa-Marie Griffith

Last night I went to an early screening of Anne Fontaine’s Coco Avant Chanel at the IFI. I have to admit I have been waiting eagerly for this film, which included a Q&A with the director after the screening.I have had my tickets for this screening for three weeks, probably a good thing as the screening was sold out. Unfortunately, due to personal circumstances, the reason cited, Anne Fontaine could not attend. The cynic in me would like to believe this had more to do with how successful it seems the film will be when it goes on general release rather then personal reasons, but thankfully this did not take from the screening. Read More

GAA 125

9 July 2009

By Kevin O’Sullivan

Louth All-Ireland Champions 1957The GAA is 125 years old this year, in case you hadn’t noticed. (If you genuinely hadn’t, welcome back. The weather’s been pretty good, but the economy’s gone to the dogs, Bertie’s gone, everyone’s waiting for the day they can say ‘back in NAMA’, Kilkenny are perpetual All-Ireland champions and Louth still can’t get past the Leinster quarter-finals.) Though certainly not without its faults, the GAA is one of the successes of modern Ireland: for its vision and application in the construction of Croke Park; in its continued growth and consolidation in parishes and local communities across Ireland.

At the heart of that success is a strong awareness of the organisation’s history. The GAA’s culture and tradition are, though its grassroots followers might balk at the term, very much part of ‘the brand’. But unlike the comfort you’re supposed to get from watching montages of old Guinness, Persil or Hibernian Aviva ads, there is something a little deeper to the admirably wide-ranging analysis coming out of Croke Park. Maybe it’s something in the canal water or just the influence of all those schoolteachers. It’s certainly a far cry from the conference I attended at Croke Park in 2005 which was just the wrong blend of history Read More

It was thirty years ago today

6 July 2009

By Kevin O’Sullivan

Sony Walkman LogoThere are two ways to write about the thirtieth anniversary of the Walkman. The first is the survey history: examining its cultural significance, from its birth as an escape from the aural and visual assault of modern Japanese society and wholehearted adoption in the West, to its numerous imitations, reincarnations and digitisations, from Walkman to Discman to Minidiscman to mp3 player to iPod. That history would lead to an examination of its broader impact, revolutionising the nature of social interaction in modern society, with a side look – or room for another weighty tome – on how it has changed an art form, transforming recorded music from a solitary experience (often in dark teenage bedrooms soundtracked by the wisdom of a Billy Corgan or Kurt Cobain) to the inescapable (and increasingly banal?) background noise of contemporary living and concurrent rise of the loud=good effect to the detriment of nuance and the annoyance of commuters worldwide.

But that might seem a little bit boring, a little academic, a little lifeless, so here’s the second option: the micro-history, using personal experience to analyse broader patterns of change. I remember my first Walkman, a Christmas present at the age of ten, accompanied by Now 23 (the good: Tasmin Archer, Arrested Development; the bad: INXS, Freddie Mercury; the ugly: Billy Ray Cyrus, The Shamen, East 17). Read More

Michael Jackson

26 June 2009

By Kevin O’Sullivan

Michael Jackson - HistorySo in the midst of all of the talk, what can we say about Michael Jackson? Well, how about asking how future generations will remember a man who, we should not forget, among his all-too-apparent faults, had a keen sense of how to model his own legacy before it slipped away through his fingers – career retrospective called HIStory: Past, Present and Future coupled with a giant statue of yourself floating down the Thames through central London or planned fifty-night run at London’s O2 arena anyone?

Which Michael Jackson will we remember? A man held up as a symptom of an age of celebrity excess, the victim of the spread of global media, remembered more for the accusations and scandal that haunted him throughout his life? How about an example of a new age of media corruption and the destruction of a childhood played and re-played in front of a worldwide audience? Or will he – the inane posturing of ‘It don’t matter if you’re black or white’ aside – be viewed as someone who transcended racial boundaries on his way to becoming a superstar, a case study of changing cultural stereotypes, as one of the first true embracers and torch-carriers of the MTV generation and at the cutting edge of a new cultural movement, one of the last icons of an industry that died along with him? 

Anything, I’m willing to bet, but the simple fact that among all the posturing, all the hubris, all the overblown nonsense (I’m pointing in your direction, ‘Earth Song’) and all of the mistakes, the man (heavily aided by Quincy Jones and Rod Temperton, it has to be said) did make some of the best pop music of his generation.