It's not a secret that Star Wars Episode 1 is not only a horrible Star Wars movie, it's just a horrible movie in general. Sitting through it is a task, it's so dense and filled with boring political plot points, bad acting and computer graphics. It feels more like an ILM portfolio showcasing CG techniques rather than a film.
I can remember as a kid watching it for the first time and leaving the theater confused. I thought maybe I wasn't watching as careful as I should have been? I dunno what it was but I felt like I missed something because, its Star Wars, isn't it supposed to be good? I thought, "Did I just black out for most of that movie? Was I daydreaming the whole time?" I begged my parents to take me again, so I could see what I surely missed but they wouldn't take me. I had to wait for it to come out on video when I finally realized that it wasn't just me, this shit really does just suck.
Anyways, I have no idea why I have a DVD copy of this fucking horsecrap movie but I do. I think someone just gave it to me. Whatever. I'm bringing up the DVD because there's actually a great hour long making of featurette on it. I honestly don't think I've watched the movie itself off this DVD once but I've seen this making of thing over and over. I just watched it again yesterday in light of The Force Awakens coming out and, I have to say, it's now pretty funny to watch. Knowing how hated this movie would become, watching them work on it and talk about the problems that will eventually be it's downfall is sort of fascinating.
"This project, that started as a desire to create New York inspired miniature replicas, became a study in politics, community, and social issues."
Randy Hage's New York storefront project instantly caught my eye. This was not only due to his attention to detail but it was also the subject of the work itself that really interested me. For years now, Randy Hage has been recreating the most iconic NYC buildings with painstaking detail in 1/12th scale. His three dimensional snapshots preserve a moment in time in which the storefronts they depict were still open for business. From Pearl Paint to CBGB's, Hage spends his time recreating a New York City we used to know and still love. It's a testament to hard work, not only the hard work of Randy Hage, but the hard work of the independent store owners as well.
-Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into model making.
-What are some of the film/tv projects you've worked on?
For over 25 years, I worked as a prop and model maker for television and film. During that time I was able to work with almost every major studio and network. I also worked making products for commercials, museums, and trade show exhibits. For a few of those years I taught prop fabrication at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, (FIDM) in Los Angeles. I was working freelance and everyday brought new and odd projects to my studio. Much of the work that I did was burned or blown up for effects. A lot of background structures and odd props. I never had an emotional connection to the work like I do now. There is such an iconic, recognizable, and meaningful element to my recent work. It’s a whole different way of life when you are following your own path and dreams as opposed to doing commissioned pieces.
-Your New York City storefront miniatures preserve the classic architecture of the city, which is unfortunately becoming extinct. The mom-and-pop shops depicted in your work are now being replaced by corporate entities, altering the unique look of NYC as well. Explain your interest in these storefronts and how you feel about the changing face of New York City.
In the late ‘90s, I began to make trips to New York to photograph the old Cast Iron buildings for some potential projects that I had in mind. I was drawn to the small “mom and pop” storefronts that were typically located on the street level of these buildings. I was intrigued by the hand painted signs, the patinas, the layers of architecture and remodeling and by the colors. I continued to photograph the storefronts for the next few years and began to notice that these businesses were closing at an alarming rate. Shops that had served the public for 60 to 100 years were suddenly going out. One expects to see some closures when urban renewal and gentrification begin to take place, but the amount of closures in NY were stunning. The neighborhoods were being quickly transformed both physically, and in regard to the demographics and the community of the area. This project, that started as a desire to create New York inspired miniature replicas, became a study in politics, community, and social issues. It was difficult to witness the displacement of communities that had occupied these areas for so many years. Over the past 15 years, I have photographed and documented over 700 storefronts and in that time, over 60 percent of them have closed. Through my work, I not only seek to preserve a vision of the past, but also to call attention to the loss of established and diverse neighborhoods, as urban renewal and gentrification displace the store owners and the area residents who make up the tapestry of these communities. My storefront project reflects my love for these iconic structures, as well as a passionate interest in the communities that they serve. My sculptures represent more than fading facades, they honor the very soul of the city...its people.
-These models are painstakingly precise to their real-life counterparts. Your attention to detail is apparent, from the flyers in the window of your CBGB's model to the stickers and graffiti covering Mars Bar. You even have teeny tiny 1/12th scale cigarettes and leaves on the sidewalk of the miniatures. What's your process in making these miniatures, how do you make them so exact from the original and approximately how long do they take to create?
How long do they take is probably the question that I get the most. The simple answer is two months. But, if you count the photographic documentation, study, planning, material acquisition, and dreaming, it’s much longer. An artist is always working in their mind so it is hard to quantify the exact time it takes. I appreciate it when someone notices the small details. They are often missed but are truly important. One of the detail items that I always use in my work are leaves. These fallen leaves break up the eye line of the sidewalk and create interest. They are also representative of change. I use a punch to create the shape and then draw the veins in with a pencil. I then stain the leaves individually with multiple color pens to give them a variegated look. Then I burnish them with a stylus to make them cup like a dried leaf. It’s tedious and time consuming but well worth the effort. For the cigarettes on the sidewalk, I photograph the real thing and then reduce them in photoshop. I cut them out and the roll them on a knife edge to create the round shape. I get a lot of funny looks when I am in New York and photographing cigarette butts and trash. Adding posters to my work is fairly easy. I reduce the size in Photoshop and then print on the appropriate sheen paper. I cut the poster out, and to get closer to the proper scale thickness of the real poster, I carefully split the paper with a craft knife and peel the top layer off. Glue it in place, maybe curl the edges, and weather it as needed.
-Classic storefronts are closing all the time in NYC, how do you decide on which particular storefronts to make?
When I’m home, I spend time online and on google maps researching locations for old and notable storefronts. Friends often make suggestions of places that they like to frequent. When I am in New York, I walk 6-8 hours a day hunting down the storefronts and exploring the city. Typically I photograph about 35-40 storefronts during each visit. I take hundreds of shots of each location, making sure to capture all of the details. When I return home, I select the pieces I want to create from these photos. Color, composition, and character all play a part in the subject that I choose to recreate.
-What are some buildings you plan to recreate in the near future?
I just finished installing my most recent show and once it concludes I will start to sift through all of my photographs to decide which structures are next.
-Thanks so much for taking the time out, Randy. As a native New Yorker, it's really great to see you preserving the look of this city in your miniatures. Do you have any final words for our readers?
Change is inevitable. New York has always evolved and changed. I think the difficulty comes about when that change is rapidly driven by politics or by developer greed instead of community need. No one can deny the benefits of cleaner streets, less crime, and improved infrastructure, but redevelopment should always be implemented with the existing community in mind.
Randy Hage currently has a solo show at Flower Pepper Gallery, Pasadena, Ca. The show will run through November 18th, 2015. If you would like more information please contact the gallery at www.flower-pepper.com
Noisey explores the New York Hardcore scene, narrated by Tim Armstrong.
I recently came across this music video on Worldstar Hip Hop, judging by the video quality I'd say it's at least five years old. Judging from the song, I'd say it's fresher than breast milk. I tracked down the Young White Rapper, Adrian X, and we discussed everything from the employee discount at Cracker Barrel to time travel.
Rob: Hey, Adrian! Tell us a little about yourself.
Adrian X: My name is Adrian Trechsel, I'm 17 currently and I'm from Birmingham, AL. I grew up a white kid in a predominantly black neighborhood. It was a rough area called East Lake. We lived in the nicer section however it was still rough. I was immediately immersed into the current African American culture. I wanted to be like everyone else in the neighborhood and, stereotypically enough, everyone wanted to be in the NBA or be a rapper. So I spent my days after school playing basketball with the neighborhood kids and eventually learned to be one of them, however, I was still really young and didn't understand a lot of stuff they said. The song Deeda Bwah was inspired by my favorite rap song at the time, Get Crunk by Lil Jon and sounds almost identical to it. I just remember the way the song went but never could make out the lyrics so I just took what I heard around the neighborhood an incorporated it into my rap
What's the story behind the Deeda Bwah track?
My dad made the beat and filmed it. There isn't much meaning to it besides getting money and not snitching on your crew. "We bad Wintomen said we are"...Wintomen was a made up character we came up with in the hood, we called him the God of rap. Like if God was a rapper that'd be his name. So Wintomen was saying my crew was bad.
Was Wintomen made up by you and your friends or was this something the whole hood knew of?
Me and my friends, as far as I know, but who knows maybe the whole hood knew.
You heard it hear first, people. The whole hood of East Lake, Alabama may have been praying to a God of rap named Wintomen.
Hahahaha. The news is finally leaking
Deeda Bwah feels strangely current, almost too current. From your rap style, to the minimalist beat, to the cats featured throughout; if you ignore the puka shell necklace around your neck and the apparent old video recording, I bet most people would think this is a song from 2014. I just have to ask...Are you a time traveler?
Actually yeah I did some time traveling one day when my boy Rondrale gave me some crack, I came to 2014 saw Young Thug doing his shit so I flew back to 1986 then I realized that was the wrong year so I came back and wrote the lyrics down.
Funny you should bring up that confusing timeline, it kinda leads into another question I have...A strange shift in the time space continuum lies in the line "now back in 1986 there was a spiritual blitz, 15 years later I'm still doing my thing." I'm assuming the obvious explanation is that your birth created a "spiritual blitz", and at fifteen years old, you're still doing your thing ala the "Deeda Bwah" video? I was born in 1986 and I'm 28, how in mother fuckin hell are you 17 years old?
Well actually I'm rapping as the Deeda Bwah, it's a spiritual being that was manifested back in 1986 and was the profit of Wintomen. Hence the "spiritual blitz" 15 years later I'm still doing my thing and I am the savior of hip hop
So if Wintomen is God then you, Deeda Bwah, are Jesus...sorta?
Yeah that's it exactly. I'm waiting til I get a little older to change hip hop I don't have the money to do anything serious yet
How old were you when you made this video?
10 years old
I'm confused, your math isn't adding up. The "spiritual bliss" is in 1986...then 15 years later, you're in a video doing your thing but your only ten years old? I'm lost.
Something like that, I was never taught math but I can count money
Well now that that's all explained, lets move on.
I have to break down some of the lines here...first off the following line "step away from what has got you waddadae up day up. shaladae up day naladae up day up waladae up day up. nee fee nee nah nee po nee nah needa leeda nee nah nee wo nee nah" What does that mean for people that aren't versed in the language of time travel?
It's basically explaining like, no matter how poor you are, you need to be dancing at the club and enjoy life. You only get one life so enjoy it even if you wack or broke.
Ah, I like that! Kinda like "Hakuna Matata" but a little longer. Seems like you've still got some positivity even after growing up in the East Lake ghetto.
Yeah I'd say I know a lot about philosophy and shit
Robert O'Neill, the SEAL Team Six guy that supposedly killed Osama Bin Laden was a red head, a "ginger" if you will, and he actually had a tradition of cooking gingerbread men for the whole SEAL Team every Christmas, this lead to his nickname "The Gingerbread Man". You say in the song "Now Osama just said to The Gingerbread Man..." Osama was killed by "The Gingerbread Man" in 2011, yet this song was made in 2008. Please explain...
Well the government actually caught on to my journey so I'm not really allowed to respond to this question but you can just say that I witnessed it all ahead of timeCan you tell us anything else you've seen in your travels, Deeda Bwah?....and what do you prefer to be called, Deeda Bwah or Adrian X?
I prefer to go by Deeda Bwah or Young White Rapper or Adrian X, they all have the same power. Kinda like how Eminem goes by different names. I like Adrian X because one of my favorite people is Malcolm X. Hah I'll write about my travels in future songs, It'll be better than just reading text.
The greatest artists always keep them wanting more!
Same goes for Jesus Christ, he really kept them wanting more too.
Yee, Jesus would be proud.
It must be hard when you visit this time period as a white rapper, being that there is still a prejudice against pale faced people attempting to rap. How do you feel about this prejudice and don't you find it ironic that a culture predominantly of African American descent might be prejudiced against other people. Although, one could argue that white men have taken a lot from the African American people and hip hop culture is a reaction to it, so having white people replicate it may be upsetting to some.
Not sure how to answer this, but this time period is pretty messed up morally. Racism in rap is ridiculous, racism in general is ridiculous. Growing up all I wanted was to be black so I could fit in but I realized it's not about the type of bag you keep your drugs in but the type of drugs you keep in your bag, ya feel. Ignorance is going to slow the progress of civilization always. I need to speak with Obama on plans for this nation and world.
A Deeda Bwah x President Obama collab on world issues would be dope. You probably get asked this all the time, except from people in the future, when is your full length album gonna drop!?
Well I'm just waiting for some time and money to do so, I think I'm about to get hired at Cracker Barrel so there's that.
Cracker Barrel is so good, what kinda discount you looking at?
Recently, the Deeda Bwah video was featured on Worldstar Hip Hop, hows the reaction been? Approx how many times does MTV call a day? any labels calling?
Ehh, I don't think they know how to reach me, I'm the one who submitted it to Worldstar and now it's at almost half a million views. I'm not that surprised it was pretty cool though. Actually one label contacted me from New York called Sweatpants Money Records.
What did Sweatpants Money offer you?
They just emailed me and then when I responded they didn't say anything else, guess they got scared. I actually got a new track out with my brother called Ice Cold Killa. It bumps, it's a diss track to Kanye West actually.
"Bed bugs in my bed cause I worship the devil, bed bugs in your bed cause you don't worship the devil" is my favorite line off that track...what's the meaning behind it?
I've got a bed bug problem/infestation and I've had em since the Deeda Bwah days and I used to worship the devil.
Moving on, what future collabs are you working on right now?
None at the moment, I hope to get on a track with Young Thug & Drake though and I wanna rap battle Kanye West but he don't want to
If Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross and rose again, how will you be crucified in the rap game and when will you rise again? I wanna set it on my Google calender.
Well in the year 3032 I'll be crucified after we've left mars due to climate conditions in the traditional Jesus way because even the people of the future are ignorant and can't handle true talent when they see it.
Welp, that about sums it up! Any last words you'd like to say?
Give me some money! That's what I gotta say! Link me the interview whenever you're done, you got my email just in case you wanna send me money or whatever.
Alright Deeda Bwah or Young White Rapper or Adrian X, good luck with the Cracker Barrel job!
Follow Adrian X on Twitter @adriantrexel
by Rob Blair @bobblair