April 14, 2012
V2 Schneider woke up at 8 a.m. sharp. It was a bright and sunny Saturday morning in Chinatown—NYPD sirens were audible in the distance and the people were busy on the city streets. After receiving an appropriately technopop haircut in a Russian barber shop at the Essex Market on Delancey Street, Schneider took a cab to West 3rd and MacDougal to have lunch with LMB at Arbeitersushi’s. They ordered Maguro, Toro, Hamachi, Hirame and Saba sashimi, as well as a miso soup and numerous refills of Japanese green tea. The music being gently piped through the speakers at the restaurant was sublime—a mid-1930s recording of Louis Armstrong, supremely confident in his horn playing and bursting with creative energy.
Stepping out of the restaurant, he literally bumped into a beggar in a suit who was selling his self-written poems for a dollar a piece. Schneider bought one.
One day or call
Could wreck it all
In the afternoon, Schneider had a double espresso with Juan Atkins at PS1. The subject of conversation: Batman movies. While Schneider suggested that Arnold Schwarzenegger had played in one, Juan Atkins adamantly denied it.
Schneider: “Yes he did!”
Atkins: “No he didn’t!”
Schneider: “Yes he did!”
Atkins: “No he didn’t. Maybe in some Japanese Batman rip-off but not in the real Batman.”
At the museum bookstore, Schneider bought issues #21 and #22 of the handmade, xeroxed and socio-politically oriented e-flux journal. He soon became engrossed in a contribution by Gregg Bordowitz:
Poems explore every condition
Physical, political, mystical
They confound reason with core emotions
They expand what we think is reasonable
But the chief purpose is not expression
The purpose is simple—fundamental
Two hours later, across the East River in Midtown Manhattan, the fifth performance of Kraftwerk’s retrospective was about to start. Computerworld. Oh yes. Why was this night different from all other nights? From the very beginning, it was louder and kicked harder than all previous shows. And for the first time, the MoMA’s atrium was packed. Grinning from all the vodka, V2 Schneider truly began to grok Ralf Hütter’s bizarre humor. During “Pocket Calculator”—arguably one of the most influential songs for Detroit techno—the visuals portrayed a calculator failing to compute even the most basic arithmetic. But perhaps the funniest detail could be seen in “Radio-Activity”: Here, the circular radioactivity symbol projected symmetrical black beams onto a yellow ground, all the while pumping like a bass speaker.
Schneider attended the show with German architect Daniel Schuetz. During “Robots”, Schuetz took notice of the machines’ melancholy expressions, almost lyrical in nature. Schneider immediately saw it that way too. It was a desperate sadness the robots emanated, one signifying a need to be human. They reached out with their arms into the audience, crying for help in silence.
After the concert was over, Schneider and Schuetz walked a few blocks over to Rockefeller Center and took the elevator to the rooftop terrace on the building’s 70th floor, where they gazed at the vibrating ocean of lights before them.
Next stop: vodka at the Old Town Bar.
Published April 19, 2012.