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Brands, competitions and insight

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This pic is about art competitions run by corps but I feel its main point is widely applicable across all art and music scenes. It also gels with a lot of what I'm usually saying on the topic here.

The cartoon is by Jeannette Langmead ...

... and I am reblogging it via Twin Horizon

click for larger

Dystopian towers in the night

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Other things I do: cycle around Shanghai at night when it's cool, there's no traffic and the views are inspiring.

night tower

Overwork deaths, also ad agencies et al

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Pic and my source Shanghaiist here's the original article - 600 000 overwork deaths a year here

Everyone is talking about Li Yuan, the 24 year old ad agency employee who died of heart failure / overwork stress. This happens a lot more than you'd think. Tragedy. 

However, it makes me think of how what used to be thought of as basic working rights are routinely dismissed even by rich companies who think of themselves as creative or progressive. In a passionate online discussion among us Shanghai folk, many insightful things were said, by people inside the industry too.

I want to reprint this from Mike H. of Shanghai rockers Hello Money:

It's an incredibly toxic and delusional culture. Most offices have a touch of delusion to them, of course, but the advertising industry seems to have fooled itself into thinking it's a global creative force and needs to be taken seriously artistically. That's how they have developed the overtime culture I*** ****** describes - the reasoning is essentially that one shouldn't watch the clock when creating art.

In reality it's literally the EXACT opposite of art: content created SPECIFICALLY to sell things (not even their own things! Other people's things!) with all artistic merit compromised.

Now, a lot of people outside the advertising industry do this kind of thing, we've all gotta make a dollar/RMB here and there, and there's no shame in it, but what makes advertising so pungently repulsive is that not only do they deny the extent to which they are sell-outs - they argue that they are a global creative force. It's possibly the most delusional group of people I've ever seen.
This is a horrific quality video but it's a nostalgia trip for me. Zodiac Mindwarp was actually a kind of ironic / meta rock band project started by art school student Mark Manning but they were just really really good at it and took off. 

The band have a special place for me because Zodiac Mindwarp was the first proper rock gig at a professional venue with a bar that I went to. The first one my mum let me go to, in fact. The Wonderstuff supported and it was at the Liverpool Royal Court Theatre. I wondered what the actual date was and lo and behold ... it was March 13th 1988. Oh, shit. So I was 15 years and three months old.  

Jetpack solves everything

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click for full size / clearer

Picture: Villa on Columbia Road

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The time I met Rick McGrath and the subsequent work we did for his Ballard site is still bringing all kinds of contact from people around the world. I recently met with some Ballard family members to tour about the sites here in Shanghai and this week there's some interest in the photos on the site for a book. 

Looking through, I really like this shot of the villa nearby/opposite-ish the Hudec House on Columbia Road (now Panyu Lu). I took it from the apartment block in front. It's around where Panyu Lu meets Pingwu Lu. This was originally in the grounds of the Columbia Country Club.

Hudec House

Parkour Girl and Yellow Fish Car flash site

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PKG flash site
Do you want to read a novel that mixes detailed modern Shanghai life, good writing and costumed hero action?

No? Oh ... sorry.

Well, my book is officially live now so why not give it a try? Anyway, we now have an eponymous URL and flash site for the book.

The original art was done by Wuduo Studio and the site coded by Netricks. As with the cover, what really excites me about this is just seeing that style of art or story but in Shanghai. We now move on to phase three of our master plan and I'll soon start to post up the whole naked process at the Indie Everything site. Soon.

In the meantime, help an indie culture maker out and spread the word anyway you can. If you've read it and have an Amazon ID, add a review. Blog it. It's cheap cheap cheap, but also, if you or someone you know has a legit site or job for reviewing I could send a copy over. Let me know.

Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition: oh, I'm old.

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Warning: long, long non music post

"This is a game that is fun. It helps you to imagine."
F. Mentzer, Preface to the Basic Boxed Set. Feb. 1983.

Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) is a table top role-playing game (RPG) that I have played since I was about 12. I'm 39. Now we have the news that current owning company Wizards of the Coast are play testing the 5th Edition. 

Also, a recent game of V4 means that I have now played all the existing editions organically. I mean, as they were current. 

Here is an excellent mid length article to summarize. But I'm going to go on about the same thing anyway.

So, on to my thoughts ...

My book: an early look

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amazon pic
Alright then. 

Err, so, I wrote a book. It's a regular novel. 

Close friends know that I write books all the time. But this was the first one to get feedback that encouraged me to get it published. Actually the publishing/marketing process is still ongoing and in early stages but it's now up at Amazon for Kindle and other eBook readers. Here:

(Mail me at the blog addie for review copies, writer people)

The cover illustration was done by Ivan Belcic at Twin Horizon.

It's a fictional work about vigilante heroes in modern day Shanghai and people who live here will see that most of it is either true or very closely based on true Shanghai stuff. Just not the costumed hero battles. There's a synopsis thing at the Amazon link. For non-Shanghai people, this will give you a look at modern Shanghai that's completely out of the mainstream. 

It's also full of action and genre stuff to please all fans of heroes and whatnot.

This is still very much DIY by the way. I just happened to find someone who believed in the book and was willing to sponsor a kind of assisted indie publishing method.

And for those that read it and know me or the scene ... no the real Zack Smith is not a vigilante hero on a team with Parkour Girl and Lightning ... or is he?  
Ok, this is a follow up post dealing with this trip from just before Halloween:

You really needn't read on unless you are into urban exploration in Shanghai. You see, despite being in my late thirties, I still get a lot of pleasure in sneaking around like a ninja, ducking guards and going places you're not allowed to go.

I went back up the crane with the idea to take better photos. There were two problems. First, despite going around midnight, people are starting to know this place and security were actively doing rounds still. Secondly, I suck and my camera can't handle low light. By the way, there's a beautified disused railway line that starts by the skate park and is full of bushes and darkness. That's where I stashed my bike.

So, you'll need to open this crane picture for reference.

Here are the second level gates I talked about in the first post, from the inside, entering from the skywalk thing. See, wide, easy to climb and safe.
CR 004

This next photo looked so good to me at the time. Check the ref photo of the crane. I'm standing on the small landing thing halfway between the top level and the lower two levels, where the stairs turn. It shows part of both lower levels and a light on the ground. Alas, the pic looks rather flat. The lighter walkway is a level below the darker parts on the right. See? No?Boo Hoo.
CR 002

OK, so we'll just have a look out from the stairs above that landing then. Almost to the top. By the way, when you are actually on the top, it's dark and, if you're me, you suddenly realize how high you are. I would have passed out had I done this one.
CR 003

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