Vhcle Issue 16

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Seasons / Is it Just Fond Memories? Separating ‘Neural Nostalgia’ from Reality / London’s Skyline and the New Wave of Skyscrapers / The Pocket Universe / Vhcle Books: L eaving the Atocha Station, Confessions of an E -reader hypocrite, Tampa / Vhcle Recommendations / Featured Artists: Reuben Wu, Wendel Wirth

Wendel Wirth Featured Artwork (pp72- 87)


Gannett Winter 73




04 contents

music film


photography Design

06-07 Contributors

fashion life

08-13 Seasons


By Tim Sunderman

Vhcle man / Woman

/ Recommendations

14-19 Is it Just Fond Memories? Separating ‘Neural Nostalgia’ from Reality By Marc Ingber

20-25 London’s Skyline and the New Wave of Skyscrapers By Dr Michael Short

26-31 The Pocket Universe By George Diez 32-45 VHCLE BOOKS 34-37 Leaving the Atocha Reviewed by Jamie Thunder 38-41 Confessions By Emma Davies


of an E-reader Hypocrite

42-45 Tampa Reviewed by Amelia Forsbrook 46-49 VHCLE STAFF RECOMMENDATIONS 50-87 FEATURED ARTISTS


52-71 Q&A

with Reuben Wu

72-87 Q&A

with Wendel Wirth


Charlie Lee / Founding Director charlie@vhcle.com Editorial

Cassie Lee / Founding Editor cassie@vhcle.com Jamie Thunder / Books Editor, Sub-Editor jamie@vhcle.com Designers

Raoul Ortega / Visual Director raoul@vhcle.com Thomas Adcock / Visual Designer thomas@vhcle.com CONTRIBUTORS

Tim Sunderman, Marc Ingber, Dr Michael Short, George Diez, Jamie Thunder, Emma Davies, Amelia Forsbrook, Reuben Wu, Wendel Wirth Cover: Reuben Wu Photo (p20): The new London skyline from the south bank of the Thames © Author’s own image Vhcle Books: Illustration by Thomas Adcock -Vhcle Magazine Tel: USA +1 415.364.8568 Email: contact@vhcle.com Issuu: issuu.com/vhcle / Twitter: @vhcle / Facebook: Vhcle Mag / Instagram: instagram.com/vhcle -Published by Charlie Lee: Vhcle Magazine, www.vhcle.com. All content copyright 2014-2015. All rights reserved. Without limiting rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior written permission from both the copyright owner and the publisher of this magazine. Vhcle Magazine is not responsible for the return or loss of, or for any damage or injury to, any unsolicited manuscripts or artwork.


CONTRIBUTORS / alphabetically by last name

– Vhcle — United Kingdom

emma davies / writer

Emma Davies is a journalist from the south-west of England. She likes books, red wine and her duvet, and is at her happiest when managing to combine this trio of good things. – Vhcle — San Francisco, CA

George diez / writer

George Diez is a recent LA-to-SF transplant with a million hobbies. When he isn’t writing about technology, entertainment, and video games, he’s catching up on the newest wonders in food and fashion. Fascinated by history and the origins of trends, he lays awake at night wondering, “What comes after ‘bae’?” – Vhcle — London, UK

Amelia forsbrook / writer

Amelia Forsbrook is an Associate Editor at Bare Fiction Magazine, and a freelance critic and arts commentator across a number of publications. With particular interests in regional arts, South Asian performance, twentieth century European theatre and quirky little numbers involving improvisation, emotional outburst and abandoned buildings, Amelia is also part of the judging committee at London Off West End Awards, and is currently editing the Casting Call Pro Actors’ Handbook. – Vhcle —Minneapolis, MN

marc ingber / writer

Marc Ingber is a communications specialist and writer for a nonprofit based in Minneapolis, MN. He was born and raised in the Twin Cities and attended journalism school at the University of Kansas. His primary interests include rock n’ roll, movies, food and drink, the Minnesota Vikings and the Minnesota Twins – probably in that order. – Vhcle — United Kingdom

michael short / writer

Dr Michael Short is an academic, urbanist and conservationist interested in issues of design quality in the historic environment, the form of cities and skylines. He teaches urban planning, architecture and conservation at the University of the West of England Bristol, UK.


vhcle issue 16

– Vhcle — San Francisco, CA

tim sunderman / writer

Tim Sunderman is a graphic designer in the San Francisco bay area who does most of his art without a computer, using traditional techniques in drawing, painting, photography, calligraphy, and even sculpture. He is a graduate of the Academy of Art in San Francisco. He eschews speaking of himself in the third person, as he is here, but doesn’t mind too much for shameless self-promotion. www.timsunderman.com – Vhcle — London, UK

jamie thunder / writer

Jamie Thunder is Vhcle’s books editor, and he works, reads and writes in the South of England. When he’s not doing any of these he runs long distances, and is always very relieved when he’s got to the end. – Vhcle — Idaho, USA


Wendel Wirth is a 2015 Idaho Visual Arts Fellow. She received her MFA from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, graduating Magna Cum Laude and her BFA from Denison University. In 2013, her work earned her a Juror’s Merit Award at the Boise Art Museum Triennial exhibit. She is currently represented by Gilman Contemporary. When she’s not in her studio creating, she can be found outside enjoying whatever sport the season has to offer. www.wendelwirth.com – Vhcle — United Kingdom

REUBEN WU / PHOTOGRAPHER Reuben Wu is a fine art and commercial photographer, director and music producer. He has had two personal photography exhibitions recently in Chicago and San Francisco, directed branded content for companies such as GE and Google, and has imprudently toured the world performing electronic music with www.reubunwu.com an excess of (very breakable) analogue synthesisers.


vhcle / L IFE

Seasons By Tim Sunderman



Issue 16, pp8 -13


9 when we feel disconnected, times when we feel so caught up in our own narrow range of focus that we feel that life is moving on without us. Even socially, we might yearn for experiences that speak more to the heart. We are living in a time where we run the risk of being enmeshed in a cocoon of wires. And the connection that those wires may have been intended to create can become a pallid substitute for connection, carrying just an image without substance. Ther e a r e t imes

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So, where do we look for that deep-seated connection? Perhaps no further than the seasons themselves.

a filled refrigerator, electric lights, wireless communication, and a double-locked door, we are insulated against the daily threats to survival that we used to contend with. And along with being insulated against these threats, we have inadvertently insulated much of our experience from life itself. Thankfully, there are simple changes we can make to align ourselves with natural cycles without reverting to a feral existence.

At our deepest biological levels we are oriented to the solar cycle, and so much of the mythology and metaphors that have laid the foundation of our collective cultures are built on the rise and fall of the seasons. Birth, blossoming, bearing fruit, and death are the biggest events in this existence, and our most universal metaphors hold a mirror up to these cycles: the long days of summer and the glory of our vitality; the stark desolation of winter; the rich harvest of autumn; or the delicate blush of the uncertainty of spring. All of these engage us at our very core, and this pattern can be laid across a day, a year, a lifetime, or an entire civilization. These are the ebb and flow of all things. Before industrialization and the discovery of electricity, we lived much closer to the land: our shortened lives’ survival was intrinsically intertwined with the growing season. But in a temperature-controlled room next to


Most of our holidays find their origins in these sun cycles, even if they have by now been co-opted. The new year emerges from the darkest days, and we find ourselves naturally looking out ahead to chart our course and make those necessary adjustments that become the path of our intent. But there is also a natural dormancy in winter. This is the time, not so much to act, but to gestate. There is a delicate phase when that which we imagine takes time to form, when too much conscious meddling or rush can stultify our plans in a kind of premature birth. Winter tells us this when we take time to turn our attention to the cycle.

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The midpoints of seasons used to be given much more attention, especially in agrarian societies whose subsistence depended so closely on the growing seasons of crops and livestock. The mid-day of winter, around the beginning of February, was a time when the tiny roots and shoots underground start to slowly awaken. Many cultures even tied little bells on their ankles as they walked through the fields to encourage the life forces out of their long slumber. The emerging spring is a time for all things new – new ventures, new projects, new love. Its innocence carries two faces of the same coin. Beginner’s luck is tempered by April’s fool. But if we give in to our own cynicism, we will find that by defending against gullibility, we also block the opportunities presented by spring’s compulsion to act spontaneously. All of nature is in full bloom in its brightest colors. Spring is defined by fertility – and not just having children or raising a garden. Fertility also has to do with the creativity of our actions and bringing into being the plans

we have made. If ever there were a time to act impetuously, it’s when your sap is running and your colors are at their brightest. So, when summer arrives, the engine should be running in its highest power. No more tentativeness. This is not the time for planning. This is not the time to sit back and analyze. A musician or an athlete can’t perform and spectate simultaneously: to be fully immersed in your pursuits is the apex of all the planning and direction. Being in the moment moving forward is the crest of the wave which is summer. Surfing is a living metaphor for this concept. Once, body surfing in the Pacific Ocean, where the waves were nearly twice my height, I learned the importance of timing and aligning myself to the forces. To body surf, you have to approach a wave at the swell just before it breaks. In learning this, it was my misfortune to find that if I did not arrive on time, I was met by the already crested wave falling on top of me. Tons of sea water crashed down on me and rolled me along the


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sandy ocean bottom. But I also learned that if my timing was impeccable, I was effortlessly pushed along by that same immense force of moving water. This perfectly encapsulates the impact of aligning to the vast limitless energy of the natural cycles that surround us.

If we don’t stop to reflect and assert the guidance that reflection brings, we run the risk of being a mere pinball, pushed, launched, and bounced by forces never seen or looked for.

But, as every crest will fall, summer’s fleeting presence can be felt in slipping away in the long evenings of August. There is an urgency to accomplish all those things we have set out to do as the failing light cedes its crown to autumn. And yet for some, autumn is the best of times. To farmers, autumn reveals the measure of success that the year’s work has brought in very literal ways. But even without a literal harvest filling the silo, we all have accomplishments that not only deserve our own attention, but require it. Fall is the time that naturally elicits a certain reflection, a turning inward. Look at your good works. Consider the effects that ripple out from them. Take time to acknowledge and appreciate what you have done and see it in the larger context of what you have set out to do.


But in the same way that autumn compels us to look back, it also encourages us to gear down and enjoy the fruits of our hard work. It brings a certain leavening and acceptance to the way of things as we settle into the long dark night of winter. And the calmness that comes with that deep rest is the reassurance that everything is in its proper order. The seasons are so embedded in our being that if we can learn to attune our attention and our efforts to its course and turn, we can find that elusive connection to the vast waves of energy that pull the planet itself. It is a matter of lifting our attention from our own little sidewalk to engage the energy that propels all of life. Unplug and take a walk.

vhcle / M USIC

Is it Just Fond Memories? Separating ‘Neural Nostalgia’ from Reality By Marc Ingber



Issue 16, pp14 -19


15 A few months back I

was with a couple friends from high school at a bar when for some reason we got to arguing about which band was our generation’s version of the Rolling Stones. Lord knows why these things happen. For clarification, I graduated high school in 2000 and consider myself a product of the 90s, pop-culturally speaking, so in this case “our generation” probably starts around Nirvana’s Nevermind and ends ingloriously around the emergence of Korn and Limp Bizkit.

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My friends were sure that the equivalent of our generation’s Stones could really only be one of two bands – Pearl Jam or the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Both made sense on some level. Like the Stones, both of these bands have found a way to remain relevant in the music world long after their best albums came out, mostly by embarking on regular, large-scale worldwide tours that include plenty of songs from their earlier albums.

are considered. Simply put, our generation’s versions of the Rolling Stones weren’t as good as the actual Stones.

Much like anyone going to a Stones concert in 2014 would rather hear them play a song they wrote in 1968 than 1998, it’s fair to say many people would rather hear a song from albums like Ten or BloodSugarSexMagic than something Pearl Jam or the Chili Peppers did recently. But despite some similarities, it was my opinion that ultimately my generation doesn’t have an equivalent to the Stones. It’s not that we didn’t have bands that are and will continue to be enjoyed by subsequent generations. It’s just that few music critics 20 years from now will cite the Chili Peppers as one of the greatest bands of all time, which is typically what the Stones


In my teen years I spent many an hour listening to bands like Pearl Jam and the Chili Peppers. It was also around this time I began wading into the back catalogues of 60s greats like the Stones, Beatles, Velvet Underground, Hendrix, Dylan, etc. – music I have been exploring ever since. About 20 years removed from this time, I still like Pearl Jam and the Chili Peppers, but I can say with great certainty that Ten and Californication aren’t remotely as good as Exile on Main St., Blonde on Blonde, or Abbey Road. Pearl Jam and RCHP have plenty of classics from their era, but in terms of the “all time” argument, it’s just not a contest. The irony is that my whole argument directly contradicts the findings of a few recent studies that looks at music and nostalgia. The main gist that these studies found is that most adults are and will forever be drawn to the music they listened to in their teens and early 20s.

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Mark Joseph Stern writes about this phenomenon in an article for Slate, “Neural Nostalgia”. He quotes Petr Janata, a psychologist at University of California– Davis, as saying our favorite music “gets consolidated into the especially emotional memories from our formative years”. Stern says “between the ages of 12 and 22, our brains undergo rapid neurological development – and the music we love during that decade seems to get wired into our lobes for good. When we make neural connections to a song, we also create a strong memory trace that becomes laden with heightened emotion, thanks partly to a surfeit of pubertal growth hormones”.

uncommonly important throughout the rest of your life. They didn’t just contribute to the development of your self-image; they became part of your self-image – an integral part of your sense of self.” Since I spent a large chunk of these ages listening to bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and the Chili Peppers, the research suggests I should still be drawn to these bands today as a 32-year-old.

Janata also discusses something called a “reminiscence bump”, the name for the “phenomenon that we remember so much of our younger adult lives more vividly than other years.” On this, Stern writes:

But in my case, it’s not reality. I still like all these bands, but there is no doubt I don’t get the same rush from them as I did when I was 13. Close to 20 years removed from my junior high years, I find many of the grunge albums I loved a bit too “angsty” for my current taste, for lack of a better term. Similarly, I listened to the Chili Peppers’ BloodSugarSexMagic album about 346 times throughout junior high, but if I’m being totally honest, a lot of the lyrics seem pretty juvenile to me now.

“The period between 12 and 22 is the time when you become you. It makes sense, then, that the memories that contribute to this process become

Apparently, the theory of “neural nostalgia” doesn’t apply as advertised for me. I can look back and understand why I loved what I loved


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then, but I’m not so romantically inclined that I still hold onto those tastes out of some stubborn “glory years” kind of sentiment. Even though I wasn’t alive, it is often the music of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, I am drawn to – everything from early R&B and blues to classic rock, Motown, punk, funk, New Wave, soul and back again. I don’t know if that means I was born at the wrong time. More likely it means that – in my humble opinion – the music from this era maybe actually was better than what has come since. For children of Baby Boomers (like myself), this notion is a bit of a nightmare. Our whole lives we grew up listening to our parents waxing on about how the music was so much better in their day. As a teenager I just felt they were out of touch, but now as an adult, I must admit they were actually right. The evidence is on the turntable.


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vhcle / design

London’s Skyline and the New Wave of Skyscrapers By Dr Michael Short /

Issue 16, pp20 -25


21 are defining urban growth in the twenty-first century in the world’s major cities. Cities as diverse as Taipei, Toronto and Moscow are seeking to use the legacy of particular tall buildings to promote their world city credentials and to compete with each other in the global market for investment, tourism and jobs. London is central in these competitive battles, with tall building champions promoting specific proposals from famous world-renowned architects. Facing a competitive threat from other European financial centres such as Frankfurt, Berlin and Paris, as well as world centres such as New York and Shangahi, Boris Johnson’s desire for London to retain and strengthen its pre-eminent economic position in Europe has meant the prioritisation of financial and business concerns Tall buildings

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The Shard viewed from the north bank of the Thames – one of the most controversial of the recently built tall buildings © Author’s own image


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in spatial development planning strategies. In essence this has meant that large scale development projects, specifically for tall buildings, are given a high priority by the mayor. Tall buildings do, however, have their detractors in London. In particular some of the constituent municipalities are concerned that over-development and the destruction of the character of their areas might result from poorly regulated tall buildings. Furthermore, English Heritage, the country’s heritage watchdog, has become increasingly concerned that the city has been – and will be – irreparably damaged through the sheer size and numbers of tall buildings succeeding in gaining planning permission. Not only might these buildings impact on the character of individual listed buildings and conservation areas but on the metropolitan whole. Increasing concern is also being registered over the potential cumulative impacts of tall buildings in London. The issue for London is not purely one for the mayor to concern himself with; UNESCO has become involved in debates around the creative destruction of the capital’s World Heritage Sites (Tower of London, Maritime Greenwich, Palace of Westminster, Kew Gardens) through perceived

inappropriate tall building development that might negatively impact upon the character of the sites. The British government has, as a result, become directly involved in debates about London’s spatial future. We can see therefore a multi-scaled negotiation around the appropriateness of tall building proposals in London which includes UNESCO, the British government, the London mayor and Greater London Authority, and each of the 33 London municipalities. London has a long history of building height regulation, often focused on particular views of key monuments and palaces throughout the city, and in assessing tall building proposals there is evidence that there are fundamental tensions between the competing requirements of managing change in dynamic urban environments, competing planning policy frameworks and the politics of development in particular locations. The planning system is discretionary in the UK, as opposed to the US as-of-right or zoning model. Plans are indicative only and do not imply that planning permission will be granted if the proposals are in conformity with that plan. Generally permissible uses and types of building are outlined in such plans, which form the basis for detailed proposals to be submitted to the


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administering authority for approval, as a framing device (Healey et al, 1995). In other words the system of development planning offers flexibility and commitment but is open to influence by stakeholders throughout the process of approving development.

design, enhancing the quality of the public realm, tall buildings and developing London’s economy amongst others. At the same time however, ICOMOS-UK indicated that it was now time for a line to be drawn to prevent further tall buildings eroding the setting of the Tower of London World Heritage Site reflecting the grave concern of UNESCO about the issue of tall buildings impacting upon the character and setting of World Heritage Sites in London.

The so-called Walkie Talkie building in the City of London is nearly complete – the approval of this tower reflects the tensions in tall building decision-making in London. The tower, a 45 storey building, was opposed by a range of bodies and people including English Heritage, ICOMOS-UK, Tony Tugnutt and a number of local conservation bodies. The proposal was however supported by the city, a panel of international architects, CABE and business in London. The fundamental tensions therefore rested on the relative power of the organisations involved; in recommending approval for the scheme, the inspector at the public inquiry indicated that the site is appropriate in principle for a building of the height proposed, which should be considered on its merits and that there would be no significant impact on the Tower of London World Heritage Site. Furthermore, the Greater London Authority indicated that the proposed development would deliver many of the strategic planning policies including promoting world-class architecture and

The management of tall buildings in London is a topic that attracts vociferous opinions, both for and against. The institutional and policy context for tall building management in the city is complex and multi-scaled and as such, in an attempt to cut through these complexities and tensions, the existing weak planning frameworks will become redundant and completely ineffectual. Opportunities have been created through the production of the London Plan (2011), London View Management Framework (2012), the recent Character and Context Supplementary Planning Guidance (2014) and UNESCO/central government concern about World Heritage Site for an honest and open debate about the future direction of London and what types of development might be appropriate and where.


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Walkie Talkie tower looming over the City © Author’s own image


vhcle / L IFE

The Pocket Universe By George Diez /

Issue 16, pp26 -31


27 There are those who

swear that a glance at a man’s shoes can reveal his true nature; others say his hair; his watch, and especially the cut of his suit will also come under scrutiny. In the last few years, yet another opinion has not only gained traction, but begun to feign a long-term normalcy: the contents of a man’s pockets. There’s no point in an attempt to maintain a gendered bias in the discussion – keys, wallets, and phones are fundamentally unisex items, despite heavily gendered variations. Regardless, it seems that one of the fundamental tropes of the ‘carry’ culture is to exude something between utilitarian and elegantly masculine – often with the goal of eliminating the unnecessary.

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The popular blog Everyday Carry (more commonly, EDC) might be the best digital shrine to the cult of carrying. What was years ago a simple photos-on-solid-backdrop tumblr has evolved into a high traffic standalone blog with its own ads – all the more impressive when you realize that the vast majority of its content is from fans emptying out their pockets and submitting photos for all to see. Just a few pages in, already some of the basic conventions of EDC make themselves apparent – the items all serve purpose, exhibit style, and reflect on the carrier’s taste. Some go beyond the usual keys, wallet, and phone, featuring carefully chosen pens, flashlights, pocket notebooks, glasses, cameras, and many other essential odds and ends.

even a quick glance at the blog will illuminate the startling fact that almost every single set contains some kind of knife, and some quite intimidating ones at that. Exactly in contrast to American Psycho, where harmless cards sublimate aggression, in an EDC set there is little to no concern for the semiotics of a bottle opener in connection to drinking habits, or of a compass to extended time in the wilderness – so the violence a knife implies does not mean to reflect on its owner’s character.

In some respects, these meticulously chosen items bring to mind the famous business card scene from American Psycho, where the cards are pieces in an obsessive competition of taste and personal merit. While each item serves a unique purpose and informs an outside observer to what ‘obstacles’ the owner expects to face, the suggestive nature of the items seems secondary to their assembly overall. After all,


Instead, EDC states on its website that its name reflects “a philosophy of preparedness” (and in fact the phrase ‘everyday carry’ generally refers to items that reflect that philosophy beyond the blog’s usage). The only pretense for an item’s inclusion is that it merges form and function in dealing with potential challenges, and not limited only to expected challenges. In some ways, this philosophy manifests as almost a Buddhist meditation on tools. When you see a screwdriver, its utility acknowledges a problem in the universe: somewhere there is a loose screw. EDC is in some ways a pocketful of acknowledgements to the mundane problems that a life can be filled

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with, and offers elegantly simple solutions. The knife, possibly because of its wide utility, is often one of the most stand-out pieces in any set; because of the immense diversity in style and luxury that knives come in, this would-be weapon acts as something of a ‘signature’ in the collection and subtly states “I could have had any knife, but this is the one I chose.” While it isn’t surprising that the long established marriage between form and function has reached into our pockets, this aesthetic seems to have roots in a few other long standing traditions. Of course we can look back to the hundred-year old tradition of the Swiss Army knife, the boy scouts, and popular handymen like MacGyver as part of the ‘cult of preparedness’, but more striking figures like that of James Bond offer up an air of mystery and sex to objects that serve discreet, potent functions. For a long time every high fashion house has produced and distributed key chains - Gucci swatches to affix to your keys to match your wallet, golden Versace medallions to declare your brand loyalty – and as far as what was specifically for men, Nordstrom

and Neiman Marcus typically feature an even smaller, yet equally logo-splattered selection. Perhaps the popularity of pocket-customization comes paired with the increasing popularity of men’s-focused multi-brand flash sale sites like JackThreads, Plndr and Gilt, which all feature a wide variety of accessories in their rotation that are usually just the right price to push your intended purchase into the ‘free shipping’ range. Maybe, after exploring one of the above options, a person finds the attachment gaudy or exaggerated and removes it – only to then realize that their keys look too bare, and dedicate a fair portion of their time making it perfect. I’m of the opinion that Every Day Carry taps into a more fundamental part of psychology and culture. If we look to the Japanese, their longest running and most popular icons are plastered almost everywhere, especially personal items. It’s easy to imagine Pokémon on wallets, Hello Kitty on pens, Lady Gaga cell-phone charms on a Totoro-print keitai. Part of this stems most obviously from merchandising, but there is an element of


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security consumers get from these items. It’s been researched that items that feature characters or ideas take on a perceived magical, totem-like quality that makes people feel safe. That’s part of why Pokémon is such a popular franchise to begin with: beyond the colorful monsters and their extraordinary powers, there is the message that these creatures will fit into a small ball that you can keep in your pocket and that they will come to protect you whenever needed. Totems have existed everywhere for thousands of years – kimono netsuke with animals or Buddha in Japan, beaded-rosaries featuring Christ throughout the Catholic world, coins bearing the faces of rulers or heroes – and our most contemporary American examples would be our characterfocused hats and t-shirts, and the ubiquity of pop-culture tattoos.

cannot forget the simple truth Tim O’Brien’s short stories of soldiers in Vietnam in The Things They Carried repeatedly illustrate: that the objects a person burdens themselves with will always reveal some aspect of their life, character, and desires. After all, these items are all extremely personal. Almost no one will see a person’s keys unless they are taken out and left on a desk, as EDC’s submissions typically show. In some ways the pictures we keep in our wallets are even more intimate than our socks or underwear, and because of that it’s even more charming.

Though the minimalism of most EDC items eliminates any possible affinity toward a character, I think these items still, when collected and arranged, tell a narrative that their holder wants to be a part of. Despite the impersonal pragmatism exuded by most of these sets, one


Imagine the phrase “Stay Calm, You’ve Got This” written across a t-shirt; a message to the world on a shirt is likely to seem trite, or as an obnoxious advertisement of another person’s lifestyle. Instead, the same phrase written on a small silver tag, on a keychain; suddenly, there is a level of sweetness and charm in knowing that this is a message its holder meant for themselves, revealing what words they feel they need to give themselves. While less direct, all EDC items serve the exact

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same purpose, populating the holder’s interior world, their own personal pocket universe – and to an outside observer, among the utilitarian’s armory there will always be a hint of its owner’s humanity. So, perhaps its true after all, that to really know a man you should look into his pockets and see all those things that he’s given to himself.



vhcle books /

Issue 16, pp32- 45

/ Illustration by Thomas Adcock

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Leaving the Atocha Station Ben Lerner --

Reviewed by Jamie Thunder /

Ther e’s on e wor d

V hcle Book s, Issue 16, pp34 -37

in any book review that immediately makes me wince: “Hilarious.”

A ‘hilarious’ book can be one of two things. It can be a tiring stand-up comedy set trapped between two covers (sorry PG Wodehouse, you just exhaust me). Or it can be something overly-clever designed to make critics stroke their chins and give a wry nodding smile. In neither case is it particularly satisf ying. So it was with some trepidation that I approached Leaving the Atocha Station, the f irst novel by Ben Lerner, given that it had seemingly led all who came into contact with it to break out into uncontrollable guffaws. To make matters worse, it involved an alienated, bratty genius writing in the f irst person – which, if done badly, easily becomes an unbearably pretentious outlet for the author’s ego.

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For the f irst 30 pages I was convinced the only saving grace of this book would be its brevity (as a poet, Lerner is certainly economical). Young poet Adam Gordon, on a scholarship year in Spain, wanders round an art gallery pontif icating on the paintings and the “profound experience of art”. It’s all very clever and knowing, but a bit hollow: think Less than Zero without the wired charm. But then something clicked. As the book continues we’re let into Adam’s life more intimately – he’s anxious and confused about his place in the world, which seems to be somewhere slightly removed from it, even when caught up in History in the Making. He questions the legitimacy of his poetry (the entire purpose of his time in Spain), which he creates by splicing Spanish dictionary translations and word association. And to make matters worse, he’s stuck in a country where he barely speaks the language and has two sort-of relationships to contend with. It would have been easy for Lerner to slip into grey introspection, but he balances Adam’s alienation with some whip-smart observation and never loses sight of the world outside. It’s an audacious trick to pull off: Adam’s a liar and a fraud, yet by the end you’re cheering for him (or at least want to see where he ends up). W hat’s even more impressive is that he’s not an anti-hero: you not only want him to succeed, but think he deserves to. That’s probably because while his company is hugely entertaining, it’s rooted in a winning but entirely recognisable self-doubt. W hen he lies that his mother is dead and his father is a fascist it’s not because he’s a callous cad; he told a lie for sympathy that he then had to maintain to save face. It’s pathetic, but Adam is as baff led at himself as we are, and as confused by his actions as he is by other people.


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And yes, alright, it made me laugh (or least give a wry nod). Leaving the Atocha Station is Adam’s stumbling, staggering journey to f inding an authentic voice, which to his own surprise he f inds through his piecemeal poems. It turned out that the process didn’t matter – what was important was that it meant something to someone. And while its plot hardly registers beyond the set pieces, I closed Leaving the Atocha Station unexpectedly heartened.


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Confessions of an E-reader Hypocrite --

By Emma Davies /

V hcle Book s, Issue 16, pp38 - 41

One moment I was idly wondering whether I’d ever actually want to own an e-reader; the next, I was browsing Amazon’s Kindle store. And questioning everything I knew about myself. The idea was i nsidious.

You see, I’ve always loved books. As in, the physical product. Pages to f lick through, a satisf ying weightiness, the sensual luxury of settling down to an experience that’s tactile as well as mentally engaging. A ll of those things you only get with a book itself. I’m not precious about them – I turn down pages, chuck them in my bag and occasionally even drop them in the bath. Like an old teddy, the tattiest books are the best-loved.

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As such, I considered myself absolutely not an e-reader person, ignoring the evangelism from converts with a def iant “nopenopenope”. I didn’t need something smaller and lighter than a paperback. I didn’t have to be able to carry an entire library every where with me. I could get cheap books in second-hand stores, charity shops and supermarkets, thanks. It wasn’t just about the story I was reading; it was about the whole package. I shop for books in an entirely haphazard manner. I go by titles, blurbs, imagery. Yes, I judge a book by its cover. W hat’s more, after more than 20 years’ reading experience, my hit rate is damn high. I know what sort of thing I like, and I love browsing to f ind it from an author I’ve never heard of before. Second-hand bookshops are my Kryptonite; I love the way they smell. E-readers don’t give off a musty aroma, do they? I maintain that an all-digital future is not the way I want things to pan out. I own a lot of books. There are probably 15-20 on the bookcase in the lounge that I’ve yet to even read. And after one of the shelves in our kitchen started sagging, my boyfriend gently but sternly suggested that no more recipe books should cross the threshold of our apartment. Sure, I could download them to my iPad, but that screen seems awfully fragile, and our cupboards are prone to throwing random items outwards whenever their doors are opened. Perhaps a Kindle would be a sturdy, cheap-ish compromise. With lots of bargain cookbooks available. Maybe I could sync up my Instapaper account, too – it would be nice to have a bunch of ready-to-peruse articles with me at all times, after all... I caved, of course. Largely due to a substantial discount voucher landing in my inbox (damn these big corporations getting inside your head), making a Kindle affordable enough to lug around with minimal fear of smashing, scratching or losing it. As a previously self-professed literary Luddite, I hung my head in shame. And then I went a bit mad buying books for the damn


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thing. A ll those points the converts had made? Turns out I do in fact love those things, too. So far, I’ve raced (and sobbed) through The Fault in Our Stars in the space of one evening, devoured and been baff led by Gone Girl, made rapid inroads into Little Women, taken advantage of a bunch of special offers and downloaded an array of freebie classics from Project Gutenberg. I’ve also discovered that I can shop for books from my work computer when I’m bored and have them instantly delivered to the device, a fact that both my bank manager and company IT manager have doubtless taken umbrage with. I’ve yet to read a single article on it, either – just those e-books I’d sworn I def initely wasn’t interested in. Oh, how the haughty have fallen. Best of all, though, was the realisation that I can have the best of both worlds. The book police aren’t going to stop me from wandering into an independent bookstore. I can still grab a copy of Stephen King’s (excellent) Doctor Sleep from the supermarket shelves. There’s nothing to keep me from getting stuck into that beautiful hardback copy of Valley of the Dolls sat on my bookcase. Despite what I’d feared, an e-reader hasn’t killed my love for books – it’s just given me another way to explore it.


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Tampa A lissa Nutting


Reviewed by A melia Forsbrook /

V hcle Book s, Issue 16, pp42- 45

of the twentieth century Bret Easton Ellis gave us Patrick Bateman, a slickly conceived sociopath, masked by a sharp suit and artfully-formatted business card. In 2013, down in Florida, A lissa Nutting conjures up a new lawless icon of American modern f iction. In Celeste Price, a remorseless paedophile hidden behind a toned body, red convertible and carefully-applied mascara, we witness the type of conf lict that certainly isn’t new in f iction – but as the walls between public persona and private desire gradually fall to fragments, Nutting uses her fearless satire to delve into a form of sexuality that remains very much a taboo. At t he e n d

The novel’s impeccably plucked and preened protagonist is fashioned upon Debra Lafave, a former classmate of Nutting who, after a sexual relationship with a pupil, was convicted in 2005 on charges of lewd and lascivious battery but escaped jail on account of being “too pretty for prison“. Celeste echoes a number of her inspiration’s biographical characteristics: she’s beautiful, she’s married and she teaches at a secondary school in Florida, a location that’s handy for this book ’s wickedly homophonous title.

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That said, Celeste is also a shamelessly f ictional construct, absorbed in cultural ideas of desire. In Tampa, Nutting twists Lafave’s status as an English teacher to craft a new hyper-f ictionality for her central character. Fitting neatly into the well-carved fantasy motif of sexy school-teacher, Celeste references Elizabeth Báthory, the countess who was said to have bathed in the blood of virgins, speculating that “having sex with teenagers was the only way to keep the act wholesome”. She imagines adolescents violently escaping her husband’s body, in a fantasy bearing “the feel of Greek Myth”. Later, she pictures rival boys on “the dirt f loor of a Roman coliseum, f ighting to the death so I could copulate with the winner”. At times, such Classical allusions work to foreground the narrator’s relentless delusion. Celeste is speeding through a life of which she longs to be the author, using a cocktail of drugs to skip out the chapters where her husband casually rapes her, and clinging on to established stories to bring her morally unjustif iable actions into a more comfortable discourse. At other points, these metaf ictional elements remind us that Nutting is the true manipulator: this story, after all, is nothing more than a work of f iction, and so while our central character muses over the meaning of her victim’s appellation (“I hope that Jack Patrick ’s two f irst names meant he was two boys in one”), we are urged to contemplate the allegorical suggestions behind “Celeste Price” – a heavenly voice brought to justice. When Nutting passes the reins to Celeste, our narrator is a master of manipulation, simultaneously mocking every individual in her life who isn’t a teenaged boy and maintaining a relatable, friendly tone with her reader. It’s important to the narrative that we join the long line of individuals enthralled by her various charms, and so the true thrust of this text lusts after the villain as much as her victims. The descriptions of Celeste’s body are rather graphic:


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before meeting her class, Celeste takes “pains to set [herself ] up perfectly, inside and out, like a model home ready for viewing”. Locating herself near air conditioning units so that her nipples harden, and letting down her hair suggestively as her victim first answers the register, Celeste makes sure that her sexual appeal to us is as brazen as the boys’ burgeoning erotic allure is to her. Unable to escape the power of one of her earliest sexual encounters, Celeste cultivates a stunted preoccupation with the present. Taking “precautionary botox” in salons that silently remind her that “everything on you will one day sag”, and shying away from conversations that touch on the longevity of her juvenile relationships, Celeste is in constant pains to forget “that our bodies and everything we’d each ever known, would all inevitably decay and fall apart”. The narrative leer latches onto the young, so that both Celeste and her victims are idealised for their soft skin, eventually enabling Celeste to use her “doe-eyed” youthfulness to escape a f irmer sentence. As she treads these parallels and paradoxes, Nutting delivers a commendable dedication to a less than savoury mind, tapping into the Western obsession with youth and beauty with a devilish, spirited bite.



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/ Issue 12, pp38- 43

/ V hcle Maga zine Issue 16 pp46 - 49

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This man’s music has seen me through so much this past year, how can I not recommend him? The songs I keep returning to: Famous Blue Raincoat and Chelsea Hotel #2.


There are many cool little indie bookstores in the San Francisco Bay I can recommend, but when it comes to simply wanting to purchase a bunch of used books at one stop, you really can’t beat Half Price Books. It’s amazing how well-stocked their clearance section is with quality fiction and award-winning authors, and not just unreadable leftovers usually found in clearance aisles.


Is matcha tea a new trend? I don’t know – I just know I love it. I’m seeing it more everywhere, but a matcha latte from Matcha Love has my devotion. Although these small cafés can only be found in California and have very few locations, I’m sure you can find something similar near you.


b / charlie

Tucked away in the heart of the Financial District in San Francisco, this editorial boutique gives a variety of choices for the avid reader – from your favorite magazine to your daily newspaper.

b / U n k now n Pleasu r es by Joy Division

It’s one of those older albums you listen to once in a while, but it’s been on heavy rotation on my playlist lately.

b / fr a n k clegg br iefc ase

This sturdy bag will hold all your daily essentials with style as you cram your way into the crowded train, and walk down the streets of the city and into your office.

c / raoul c / A rt Comes Fir st X The Kooples H at

I haven’t actually been able to get my hands one of these bad boys yet but I’ve been a long-time fan of the boys of Art Comes First. They collaborated with The Kooples with a classic hat creation that inhabits modern elements with vintage undertones.


c / Benjamins Shoes

These hand stitched cashmere shoes are nothing less than incredible. A comfortable shoe with a timeless style appropriate for a night out, trip to the library or just lounging around at home.

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d/ jamie

d / Slow Clu b - Chr ist mas T V

It’s that time of year again: the time I play this on repeat while wearing a snowman jumper. Heartwarmingly sweet, and not a patronising lyric about Africa in sight.

d / Richa r d Yat es – Eleven K inds of Lon elin ess

There was always going to be a book on here. If you've read Revolutionary Road you'll know what to expect, but at their peak these stories of frustration, isolation and suburbia reach its malcontent depths. Terrifying in their mundanity.

d / Richa r d Her r ing's L eicest er Squa r e Theatr e Podc ast

Once part of 90s' British comedy duo Lee and Herring, for the last few years Richard Herring has been badly interviewing comedians on this free podcast and making me laugh out loud while I'm on the Tube. If Serial doesn't have enough jokes for you, try this.

e / thomas

e / Weight Vases

Thai designer Decha Archjananun has made a series of vases with concrete bases to hold water and wire frames to support flower stems. The concrete parts sit within each steel frame and weigh the pieces down to prevent them toppling over. Called Weight Vases, the collection comprises different shapes for different types of flower arrangement.

e / Braun BN0171 (stone grey)

The Braun BN0171 is a watch that commands little attention with its minimalist aesthetic. Different than Braun’s other watches, this particular model features a ceramic bracelet and a slightly larger face. These attributes make this watch suitable for any occasion, formal or casual.

e / Rega RP1 Turntable

c / Do It Now ! (Pa rchmen t Jou r nal)

I’ve always been all over the place with my organization and time management but to-do lists are usually my go to. The Do It Now! parchment journal takes to-do lists to a whole new level. The parchment paper stock is light weight and gives the journal a weathered look that feels great to the touch and looks better with age.

This multi-award winning turntable is designed and engineered to achieve outstanding performance way beyond the expectations of a product at this price point. The minimalist design of the RP1 and the use of extremely high quality components throughout ensure this amazing product will deliver unrivalled performance for the price. Excellent build quality, reliability and the ease of use of this‚ ‘plug and play’ design, combine to make a product guaranteed to offer a lifetime of musical enjoyment. The only thing entry level about the RP1 is the price.



featured artists


Issue 16, pp50 -87



R euben W u W endel W irth

Instance II

Reuben wu /

V hcle Issue 16, pp52-71



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Tell us a little bit about yourself

What superpower would you want and why?

I’m a British photographer, director and music producer. I spent the last 14 years travelling the world performing and releasing music with my band Ladytron. All my photographs (taken as I travelled with and without the band) were kept private until about two years ago when I decided I felt comfortable with sharing them publicly. I like to avoid crowds, go out at night by myself, and make myself believe that I am truly discovering new territory.

I’d like to be able to consistently blag my way into every airplane first class section.

What is the inspiration behind your work? I’m inspired by science, technology, our planet, and humanity. I’m also fascinated by the idea of an inner vision, a combination of memory, imagination and physical reality. Like many artists and photographers, my images don’t represent reality, but a fiction framed by reality. I’m interested in finding unfamiliar terrain where there is a hint of the familiar, therefore posing a threat of looming possibility. What do you think is the artist’s role in society? I don’t really think about it much, but an artist’s role is to catalyse change, and to give solace and enjoyment to people who seek it.


Favorite drink? Whisky, bitters, sugar & orange peel fire.



Wendel Wirth -/

Vhcle Issue 16, pp72-87


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Richf ield Winter 28


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Richf ield Winter 81


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Fairf ield Winter I


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Fairf ield Winter II


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Caribbean Rain I


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Tell us a little bit about yourself I am a contemporary photographer interested in minimalism, subtlety and color. Originally from New York City and Chicago, I live in the mountains of Ketchum (better known as Sun Valley), Idaho with my husband, daughter and two well loved dogs. What is the inspiration behind your work? I am continually inspired by my surroundings. I live in the middle of six mountain ranges and am able to spend time outside doing the things

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I love to do: hiking, biking, and skiing. I have learned that this is a large part of my creative process as it gives me time to think and gain clarity on my work. I also read a lot. I am interested in what other artists are doing. I am interested in concept, theory, and philosophy. Projects usually evolve from a combination of these thoughts. This body of work, Considerations of a Modern Landscape, was inspired by the sensory experience we get from nature, specifically at the crossroads of a horizon. Eastern philosophy further influenced my ideas of balance and symmetry.


What do you think is the artist’s role in society?

Favorite drink?

I believe that the role of an artist is to prompt thought, emotion and conversation in a manner that we may not otherwise encounter. It offers us a means to explore the world around us which is, of course, eternally fascinating.

Tea, hot or cold, by day. Good tequila with fresh lime juice by night... now and again.

What superpower would you want and why? This question makes me laugh. There is only one super power I have truly ever wanted and that is the ability to blink and take a picture. Large format quality, of course. No explanation necessary.


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Richf ield Winter Night



vhc le I ssue 17 c oming 3/2015

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