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Ash Hampson

born in: Toronto
lives in: Toronto
Freelance journalist, writer, reviewer, photographer. I've taken a love of words — of expressing parts of myself through such fundamental, organic means, of manipulating the abstract to create something tangible — and a passion for music — in all its stages,... [more]

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Green Button croydon, United Kingdom










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Four authors in contemporary fiction who are relentless in their pursuit of humour, truth, beauty, and understanding. This is by no means a comprehensive list—rather one to appreciate and hopefully take something and discover from.

Jackson Tippett McCrae
McCrae is a writer who breaks moulds and transcends literary traditions. With three novels and a collection of short stories published, his writing immediately draws you in with its blatant humour and engaging and fascinating story lines. Of course, with nothing to back my claims up, you're forced to take my word for it, so consider the following excerpt from McCrae's novel "The Bark of the Dogwood": "When I was six years old I became locked inside the home of Helen Keller." McCrae intricately weaves offbeat humour with unbelievably developed characters and decidedly inconceivable plots in such an astonishing, entertaining manner you'll have trouble putting his work down.
Notable work: The Bark of the Dogwood

Dave Eggers
Most people who know of Eggers and are familiar with his work either love the guy or hate him. There seems to be no middle ground for the author of “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” and “What is the What”. Eggers’ ability to write conversational, true to life novels is perhaps what draws his crowd in. He’s not pretentious or overly wordy, his characters are like the friends you already have, and the situations they find themselves in don’t seem that far-fetched given their circumstances. These reasons are also why people loathe the guy—conversational writing about life’s trials and tribulations. The laugh-out-loud antics and confidence found in Eggers’ writing is reason enough to pick him up.
Notable work: You Shall Know Our Velocity

Nick Hornby
Anyone familiar with Hornby will know that as outrageous as his novels seem—full of self-pity, love, loss, rejection, bizarre love interests, even more bizarre friendships—you can always, at some point, relate to them. That’s the point isn’t it? Wanting to connect to the characters or situations they’re entangled in on some level, to know there are others out there who are just as, if not more, fucked up, damaged, confused etc., despite the work being fictitious. Here’s an author who can turn the touchy subject of suicide (in his novel “A Long Way Down”) into a gut-wrenchingly hilarious exploration of human interaction and behaviour.  His work is often sentimental and explorative, but in such a way that the reader feels connected rather than alienated.
Notable work: A Long Way Down

Michael Turner
The author of Hard Core Logo, a novel subsequently turned into a Canadian cult classic movie, writes compulsively addictive books. His novel “The Pornographer’s Poem” is a memoir from the perspective of a teenage boy growing up in Vancouver. It’s by no means about poetry, but it’s certainly rife with pornography, voyeurism, bestiality, and a few other questionable topics. Instead of being repulsed and turned off, though, Turner’s work is beyond fascinating. The book jumps between an interrogation with an unnamed tribunal and the events surrounding said questioning. As the narrator grows up, he finds himself in the porn industry, with the intention of making films that subvert the way the world is constructed. Of course, it all goes to shit, and the same world he rebelled against gets the better of him. Turner’s work is artistic and liberating, dealing with strong subject matter not many are willing to wade through.  
Notable work: The Pornographer’s Poem

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Kuduro’s roots can be traced to Luanda, Angola in the late ‘80s. The energetic, uptempo music started by layering African percussion with simple Soca and Calypso rhythms. Before long, western electronic music began to make an appearance in Africa, which Angolan musicians, eager to integrate their own musical styles, began rhyming, talking, and chanting over. 

Kuduro was almost immediately exported to the suburbs of Lisbon, Portugal, due in large part to the sizable number of Angolan immigrants. It was here Buraka Som Sistema, comprised of members from both Portugal and Angloa and named in part after a Lisbon suburb, took Progressive Kuduro (a mix of African music/percussion and house and electro) and exported it to the rest of the world. Buraka’s single “Yah!”, the first release from their 2006 EP From Buraka to the World, was a sensation across much of Europe and allowed the group to tour several European countries and even play a handful of festivals, including Glastonbury and Roskilde. Their expansion across Europe brought the group into contact with many hard hitting DJs and producers in the industry, including UK DJ and Fabric resident, Sinden. Buraka’s gritty synths and rapidfire, traditional percussion were the perfect mix for the likes of Fabric London and not long after their intro with Sinden they were making regular appearances.  

Jump to 2008, when the group released the groundbreaking “Sound of Kuduro”, a track featuring DJ Znobia, Saborosa, Puto Prata, and M.I.A., another artist whose sound incorporates and is heavily influenced by world music. The infectious, grimey track was a precursor to Buraka’s first LP, Black Diamond, an album coursing with traditional African percussion and Portuguese accents, but artfully mixed with heavy, dirty synths and rumbling bass. The perfect collision of traditional Angolan music and European electro.  The appearance of M.I.A. on “Sound of Kuduro” paired a familiar face with a raucous new sound. Combined as well with Buraka’s Fabric appearances, a helping hand from Diplo, and a familiarity in the European markets, the only thing left was to hop the pond and claim the North American audience. 

With the resurgence of distorted electro-house across Western Europe and North America, the frenetic upbeat stylings of Kuduro found on Black Diamond made its way across the Atlantic where Buraka found themselves warmly accepted by crowds riding the tails of Crookers, Boys Noize and much of the Ed Banger roster. Buraka began appearing in publications like New York’s ‘Sup and XLR8R, attracting supporters along the way to add to a burgeoning fan base.  Having just finished a North American tour, the group is back in Europe to spread their sound after leaving a permanent impression of Kuduro on the west.

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posted on 05.29.09

The Joe & Kurt Show

This interview, done originally by Playboy, is with two of the greatest satirists of the twentieth century — Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut. The interview takes place at Heller's home on Long Island and the two discuss war, literature, sex, and everything in between, in their trademark offbeat manner.

Published originally in Playboy, May 1992


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posted on 05.29.09


In this NY Times blog, Errol Morris states that without a caption, context, or some idea of what a picture is a picture of, you can’t answer the question of whether a picture is true or false. That question in and of itself makes no sense whatsoever, as Morris rightly points out. True or false in what regard? Specific questions must be asked in order to even authenticate the asking of whether a photograph is true or false. Are we asking about the time and place of a picture, the people or objects that happen to be in it, the meaning of the photograph itself?  I believe context within a picture can greatly shape the way we view and think of an image.

 As Morris demonstrates in the article, Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire, a picture of a boat with no caption, no background info, no mention of it in an article, is simply a picture of a boat.  It is when additional, printed information accompanies said photograph that we allow ourselves to associate the image with the text. The generic boat now becomes the Titanic. Those who are familiar with the event will now associate the image with whatever their minds conjure: panic, sinking, icebergs, maiden voyage, death, etc.  Those who are unfamiliar with the story will still view the image as that of a miscellaneous boat, albeit a named one, or apply a personal experience to it.   

However, just because we now have information to accompany a picture, doesn’t mean we are able to accurately pass judgement or verify the image to be “true”. In what context is the photograph being presented? How are we to know that the information accompanying the photo is true? Obviously some pictures need no introduction, no caption, no comment, as the photo truly does represent a thousand words. Pictures of massive line-ups of worn, tired, upset, angry people outside the Superdome in New Orleans after Katrina come to mind. But again, the context of a picture is everything. If we were shown these same pictures years and years later and asked to describe what we saw, the answers would vary drastically. Though the general premise would be the same — the people in the pictures are clearly in need of aid and assistance — who would know WHY they were in such a state? It's all speculation.

         To play devil’s advocate for a moment though, I don’t see why the context for a picture can’t exist in the mind of the viewer. Why is it necessary that we be fully aware of the context in which a picture is presented? If we like a picture, we like a picture. The events surrounding said photograph should have nothing to do with the way we artistically view it. With the way we critically view it, sure. In that case, context would play a significant role in the way an image is dictated. But art for the sake of art is viewed in many different ways by everyone. A picture is still worth a thousand words, it’s simply a matter of whose words they are.

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