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.
April 11, 2012
California table wine
Natural fruit flavors
The label read “Chateau Diana—Pinot Grigio California”, but it didn’t smell and taste like wine at all. V2 Schneider had to spit it out back into his glass. A bad aftertaste remained.
To get rid of it, he walked down Grand Street deeper into Chinatown to find fresh deep-sea scallops. But what he brought back was much more:
2 lbs. of scallops
3 bottles of Arneis
5 cloves of garlic
3 cloves of ginger
4 kasha knishes
1 bundle of coriander
2 bundles of red hot chili peppers
1 loaf of bread
1 bottle of olive oil extra vergine d.o.c.
1 package of sea salt
3 packages of DeCecco penne rigate no. 41
3 packages of DeCecco spaghetti no. 12
18 cans of Stella Artois
Later that afternoon, Schneider finally received the text message he’d been waiting for: confirmation of his accreditation for Kraftwerk’s second show, Radioactivity. The procedure was ridiculous, to say the least: He had to arrive two hours in advance at the MoMA restaurant to sweet-talk the PR representatives and small-talk various assorted gonzo journalists going through that same procedure, all the while filling up on Japanese/Portuguese/Italian/Korean fusion fingerfood and warm white Chilean wine. From there he had to pass the photo ID counter, get fingerprinted and sign a form stating that he wouldn’t tell anybody anything he’d see or hear backstage. He was then escorted by a middle-aged woman wearing a deep-blue Moschino skirt, elegant black Prada shoes and a matching Costume National jacket to the atrium in the second floor of the MoMA—now familiar to Schneider—to attend the concert.
Like the day before, Kraftwerk opened up with a powerful version of ‘Robots’. Hearing it live for the second time, Schneider began to understand the patterns and the grids that formed the foundation of the band’s musical architecture. Ralf Hütter and the new members Henning Schmitz, Fritz Hilpert and Stefan Pfaffe upgrade and update the music they revisit in the very moment they perform it. For example, Schneider noticed that Hütter always played the melodies from his console with a minimal delay, thus creating a brilliantly laid back narrative guide and, like every exceptional band leader, confidently relying on his uniformed sidemen to keep things unwaveringly steady. Instead of playing instrumental solos, the four musicians tweaked and positioned the individual sounds in the sonic spectrum with a wide variety of dubby delays, reverbs and filters. Scheider realized, that listening to Kraftwerk live challenged his listening habits. Unlike in jazz or rock, the improvisation had very little to do with soloing and everything to do with the abstract space of three-dimensional sound. He asked himself: Were Kraftwerk offering a vision of the future—again? Will 2012 be the birthyear of widespread non-linear listening habits?
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Durch stetigen Zerfall
Entstehen radioaktive Strahlen aus dem Urankristall