Fishing for compliments. #fatherofthenationbod
During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Russia this May, enjoy this honest and unbiased video in which ORDINARY CHINESE PEOPLE have DEFINITELY NOT BEEN COACHED OR COERCED into giving their opinions of Russia and particularly of its “handsome leader, like President Xi”: Vladimir Putin. Show solidarity to COMPLETELY UNPROBLEMATIC COMRADES WHO ARE IN FULL COMPLIANCE WITH INTERNATIONAL LAWS AND TREATIES by eating bread, consuming dairy products, admiring Putin’s “big muscles” (not shown in these pictures), and repeatedly, SINCERELY expressing your desire to marry him. But REMEMBER to appreciate Putin’s big muscles only in a HETEROSEXUAL MANNER because he strictly forbids any reception upon his person of HOMOSEXUAL EYE BEAMS. Pity all countries which do not have handsome, shirtless, DEFINITELY HETEROSEXUAL leaders with big muscles. Presumably photos of Xi Jinping in his budgie smugglers are to follow shortly. You will ENJOY THEM and praise the MANLINESS of President Xi and announce SPONTANEOUSLY and VOLUNTARILY that you would like to marry him.
His Little Pony.
An East German propaganda leaflet issued during the Berlin Airlift (1948-1949), when Stalin attempted to blockade the already geographically surrounded people of West Berlin into submission. American and British crews flew in food and other supplies, thereby demonstrating both the superiority of Western air capabilities and the extremes they would go to in order to check Soviet politicking. And so began the Cold War.
This leaflet about Amikäfer (“Yank Beetles”) claims that the airlift is just a pretext for ruining East German farming by dropping “imperialist weapons”: potato-devouring Colorado beetles (Kartoffelkäfer). The back cover warns about confusing them with harmless Marienkäfer (ladybirds).
Ridiculous propaganda even by the standards of ridiculous propaganda, but I have to admit that the adaptation of the beetle’s markings into the Stars and Stripes is pretty good.
A woman plays a housewife, with a surreal audience pressed against the glass behind her. 1952.
This strange image, which looks like it could be a still from The Twilight Zone, is in fact from a 1952 exhibition in West Berlin: ‘We’re Building a Better Life’ (‘Wir bauen ein besseres Leben’). It was part of the German Industrial Trade Fair; a strange human zoo where the new paradigm of civilian living was played out by two shifts of adult actors playing husband and wife, along with eight pairs of children. In the picture below you can see a bird’s eye view of the house, and of the strange– and disturbing, given that this was less than ten years on from German death camps and the devastation of central Berlin– observation tower with a white-coated narrator. What was the new paradigm? According to the US State Department, who were behind it, the new way of living was to be a “high production, high-wage, low-unit-cost, low-profit margin, high consumption system.” And so it came to pass. One of the actresses playing a housewife was perhaps in the grip of some peculiar combination of Stockholm Syndrome and cabin fever when she said “The house is so perfect that I am afraid we will not want to move out… What will happen if I fall in love with the kitchen too?” A German magazine also described it as a “white paradise”, presumably referring to the kitchen equipment but still demonstrating that sensitivity to political correctness was a long way off.
During its three week run, the simultaneously aspirational and voyeuristic exhibition attracted over half a million visitors, nearly 40% of them from East Germany. It later toured to Stuttgart, Hanover, Paris and Milan.
This stuff is from Cold War Modern, a great book about Modernist design and industry between 1945-1970 and based on the Victoria & Albert Museum exhibition of the same name in 2008. The exhibition was also good, if a wee bit gung-ho and overly gushing about the design aspects while for the most part noticeably glossing over the suffering and poverty of the millions who found themselves arbitrarily trapped behind the Iron Curtain after the Second World War.
Transparent show house at ‘We’re Building a Better Life’. West Berlin, 1952.
It’s 2013, my computer is over five years old and that means the hard drive is full of crap. During a recent attempt to clean up and rationalise I’ve found a number of things that interested me at some point, or were research materials for writing, art or film projects that never came to anything (i.e. most of them), or that I otherwise downloaded for reasons now lost to posterity. Sometimes I had the foresight to rename them so I could tell what they were, sometimes not. All posts involving this material will be filed under HD detritus; if anyone knows what any of these things are, where they come from or to whom they should be credited, please let me know in the comments.
Let’s start the recycling with this interesting/inexplicable collection of Chinese Communist LP covers, because I think we all need more of those in 2013. I last interacted with them in December of 2007; I lived in China at that time, but I definitely didn’t do these scans. Some of this stuff– and its modern equivalent– is still available on CD in Chinese shops and let me assure you there’s nothing good about any of it, not even kitsch value. If anybody owns up to having these LPs then we’ll all know what to say when she or he asks us if we’d like to hear a few records.
In this lady’s house, simple requests for a cup of tea often end with a trip to the Accident & Emergency department.
Is she balancing tea on her arm? Good trick, maybe a bit dangerous, but they’re not big on health and safety regulations in China. The woman on the right seems to agree with me, if her expression is anything to judge by. I think this one is attempting to suck up to Hua Guofeng, who briefly took the place of Mao after the latter’s death. Despite remaining a hardline Maoist, Hua deserves some credit for curbing the worst excesses of the Cultural Revolution and for ousting Jiang Qing and the Gang of Four, who were far worse than him. Despite this looking like something from the 1960s or even the 1950s, this record can only be from late 1976 to mid 1981– disco era in the West!– because Hua was ousted in his turn by Deng Xiaoping in 1981. Continue Reading
From Eagle and Boys’ World, 5th October 1968.
Eagle‘s slightly suspect enthusiasm for all things Eastern Bloc and totalitarian (holidays in Leningrad, etc.) emerges yet again, this time in an article about North Korean postage stamps that somehow takes in “gosh, how exciting” and “silly foreigners” at the same time. The two subheaders being “Stringed instruments” and “Ironing board” demonstrates this duality quite well.
Eagle also once did a quiz so young boys could find out for themselves how much like Kruschev they were.
I DO NOT APPROVE OF OR UNDERSTAND ANY KIND OF UKELELE.