Tag Archives: shoegaze

RIP Knut (2006-2011)

When I was on vacation in Germany in 2007, a billboard promoting Frankfurt with a picture of a piggy bank on it read: “Berlin hat Knut.  Frankfurt hat Schweine.” I understood that “swine” in this case referred to the financial industry centered in Frankfurt, but a random German on the streets had to inform me what “Knut” meant.  He was a polar bear born in captivity in the Berlin zoo.   His polar bear mother (a former circus-performer) rejected him, so surrogate father, zookeeper Thomas Dörflein, raised him, and little did I know that I’d arrived in Germany at the dizzy peak of “Knutmania.”  Deutschland loved the cuddly runt.

Here Comes Knut! video.

Knut’s upbringing may have been unorthodox, some would even say “unnatural,” but was it wrong?  Animal rights activist Frank Albrecht thought so.  The life of a polar bear without a polar bear mother’s love and instruction was no polar bear life at all.  Albrecht and a few others advocated euthanasia for Knut, but the children of Berlin stood in his corner, and the result was the zoo’s most profitable year in its then-163-year history.  So that shut Albrecht up.

But the light bulb that burns twice as bright lasts half as long, and like all child stars, Knut didn’t grow up quite right.  At 2 years old, when his surrogate zookeeper father died of a heart attack at the age of only 44, Knut was considerably less adorable.  He was also a little strange, letting the polar bear ladies in his enclosure walk all over him.  Some have argued that the stress of his living situation may have contributed to his premature death (captivity polar bears can live up to 30 years; Knut was 4), which the results of a recent autopsy blame on brain disease.  Witnesses say his rear leg began twitching before he collapsed in a pool of water and drowned as zookeepers rushed to rescue him.

What did the people of Germany see in him?  The story of Knut is one of captivity, exploitation, controversy and a-cute (too soon?) heart break.  In honor of his story, think of him as you gaze at your shoes in sadness, listening to “Polar Bear” off of Ride’s 1990 debut, Nowhere:

Ride, “Polar Bear” [Buy Nowhere]

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My Bieber-y Valentine

You want to hear something really scary?  Soundcloud user Shamantis has scored a lot of listens by timestretching Justin Bieber’s “U Smile” by 800%.  The result is 35 minutes of the shoegaze-y bliss Canadians hear when they get to heaven.

J. BIEBZ – U SMILE 800% SLOWER by Shamantis

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Philebrity's lush life

Philly’s local tastemaker blog Philebrity is occasionally infuriating with its snark and local scene infighting, but brass tacks: I go to this website at least as much as any other on the web for its buzz on local news, music, and the rest.

And through the years, this has served me well: in 2006, they introduced me to Blood Feathers (now signed to Philebrity’s label), whose “Sea Legs” defined 2006-7 for me and who, in February, were simply the best and most impressive 50’s coverband for an Under the Sea fake prom I could imagine. And now I’m even better served; Philebrity’s introduced a new feature where they run down 10 local tracks. Lots of fantastic ish, and makes me very proud (undeservedly) and happy (doubly so) to be a Philadelphian. Although I have many new leads to follow, Lushlife‘s remix of Washed Out is my new spring jam: why wouldn’t hip hop come to shoegaze? And how could I not love anybody who promises to “rock hard” my bobo with an underbelly Bella Vista hood?

Washed Out, “Feel It All Around (Lushlife Remix)

And now, seriously, go check out all the tracks on Philebrity: intowners, so you’re in the know; outoftowners, so you’re in the envy.

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