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This video, directed and animated by Warren Lehrer with Brandon Campbell, features the words of Eugene Hütz—leader of the gypsy-punk-cabaret band Gogol Bordello—sharing his views on ‘globalization’ and putting forward an alternative vision of what he calls “multi-kontra-culture.” This animation, with sound production and arrangement by Judith Sloan, is the newest manifestation of Lehrer/Sloan’s multi-media project, Crossing the BLVD: strangers, neighbors, aliens in a new America, which documents and portrays new immigrants and refugees in the United States.
Warren and Judith were hanging out on a Lower East Side rooftop one hot summer evening, drinking vodka and sharing stories with members of Gogol Bordello, when Eugene came out with his critique of multi-culturalism, and offered up a kind of extemporaneous manifesto of multi-kontra-culture. They liked his vision so much, they ended their 400 page, 4-color book with it (W.W. Norton). Judith mixed it with some street noise and the accordion of Yuri Lemeshev, also from Gogol Bordello, and made it the last cut on the Crossing the BLVD CD. That cut called “Globalization” is the soundtrack of this 4 minute 15 second animation, which Warren recently completed in collaboration with artist/animator Brandon Campbell.

 

The project was supported, in part, by public funds from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
is an artist-driven non-profit arts organization dedicated to uncovering and portraying stories of the uncelebrated. Founded by Warren Lehrer and Judith Sloan in 1999, our projects bridge the divide between documentary and expressive forms in books, exhibitions, on stage, in sound & electronic media. We are committed to fostering understanding across cultures, generations, gender and class, through artistic productions and education. We bring our work to theatres, museums, festivals, schools, universities and prisons.

Warren Lehrer is a writer and artist known as a pioneer in the fields of visual literature and design authorship. His books are acclaimed for capturing the shape of thought and reuniting the traditions of storytelling with the printed page. He just completed an illuminated novel entitled A Life In Books: The Rise and Fall of Bleu Mobley, which contains 101 books within it. Judith Sloan is an actor, writer, radio producer, and oral historian whose works have been performed and aired around the world. Her award-winning radio documentaries and audio essays merge reportage with music and sound art. Her new play, Yo Miss! Teaching Inside the Cultural Divide, is part documentary, part music, part poetic autobiography. For more information about EarSay, Warren Lehrer and Judith Sloan, visit www.earsay.org
Combining elements of punk, gypsy music, and Brechtian cabaret, Gogol Bordello tells the story of New York’s immigrant diaspora through debauchery, humor, and tremendous musicianship. Gogol Bordello is arguably the hardest working—and hardest rocking—group of our discordant new century, maintaining a touring schedule and an onstage energy level that would send the average combo running for the emergency room. Their encounters and adventures, as well as the band members’ own immigrant histories, fuel the subversively upbeat story-songs on their latest recording, Trans-Continental Hustle. Front-man and lyricist Eugene Hutz spins out scenarios that are, by turns, hilarious and heartbreaking—from the outsider experience of gypsies in his native Ukraine to the struggles and celebrations of Brazil’s favelas. For more information about Eugene and the band, visit www.gogolbordello.com

join the conversation…

What does Globalization mean to you and how do you see it affecting the world around you, for better, worse, and/or otherwise?
  • http://www.facebook.com/montrealer Amin Ra.

    test…

  • Charlie Lang

    I see that originality that we take for granted may be more original than we think. Doing what you feel,that you have strong feelings about gives to every culture. Of course you can fall into traps and be boring in one way while being totally original in another.As a songwriter/recording person I can use “ethnic instruments” in a piece of music, but if I force a style that goes with that instrument on a song that is a different style-where is the uniqueness in that.I’d rather make up a new part that has something to do with my song.My solution would be to find someone who had so much felling in their playing that a unique part would be inevitable.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-MetroSonics-Josephs/552412805 Paul MetroSonics Josephs

    First of all, the piano to bar-code sequence had me hooked from the jump. This is a brilliant piece of work that kept me engaged throughout.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.habeck Jeremy Habeck

    know who we are- where we are from- where we wanna go- and its more fun getting there with somebody you can learn from

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.habeck Jeremy Habeck

    know who we are- where we are from- where we wanna go- and its more fun getting there with somebody you can learn from

  • Corto

    I think, without Globalization, we could not even have Gogol Bordello as we know them. Yes, it’s true, Globalization brings lots of negative stuff. And yes, it spreads sameness everywhere. But it spreads culture too, maybe not directly, maybe it is not is aim at all, but is an inevitable consequence, as it is the possibility for all these “spreading” cultures to merge together, to collide, to create something new. Multi-Kontra-Culture is an unexpected, fantastic way to let us see that Globalization may be not so terrible as it seems. it brings sameness, it brings macdonald’s everywhere, it tends to reduce the different cultures in a global-massive-sterile culture. But only who accepts this passively is really affected of this sameness. Multi-Kontra-Culture addicted people don’t, and we can see it if we look deeply in all the cultural movements that are emerging, they brings inside lots of creativity. First of them, Gogol Bordello. Globalization is a neutral event, and as all the neutral events it can be used as an evil-destructive way, or in a good-constructive way. It depends on what we do.
    I think so, but I am no one, and I may be completely wrong…Aniway, this is how I see the problem now. Thanks to Warren Lehrer for this beautiful video, and obviously thanks to Gogol Bordello!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charles-Scott-Acken/1392078521 Charles Scott Acken

    Wow that’s deep. When I was in Moscow last month, our friends took us to lunch. When they asked me if I was hungry I said yes. Unfortunately.
    We went to a SHOPPING MALL FOOD COURT BURGER KING. (I never eat fast food.) I tried not to be visibly disturbed, but it was hard with my Ukrainian wife elbowing me in the ribs asking what’s wrong, in front of the friends. I should be pleased, because it is American, right? I never feed that shit to my kids either. The rest of the trip, each time we sit down to a meal I would hear ‘is this good enough for Scott?’
    Globalization is a double edged sword. Maybe more bad than good, but who is say. Best thing to do is raise awareness to see through the corporate BS. Maintain internet freedom of expression and speech. Raise the Knowledge, Eugene

  • http://whiskeyandmusic.com/ Jsunfun

    Eugene may have a good point or idea, but it’s lost in these ramblings. How lazy is it to say that Massachusetts and Connecticut are the same? Look beyond the highways and you’ll find plenty of differences. But considering they’re both states in the northeastern U.S. that border each other, you’ll find plenty of similarities as well. Try comparing Boston to New Orleans to Nashville to Fargo to Flint, etc. And look at the people, the history, the culture, not just the corporations that have set up shop there.

    I get part of what he’s saying. I’m from Boston and I was disappointed when I went to Dublin and found Dunkin Donuts everywhere. I love DD, but it was a bummer to see that a coffee business that started in Massachusetts has spread its capitalistic tentacles so far out that it was taking over the streets in Ireland. Go further into the country and you find more unique culture. I get that. But I still think the “ehh what’s the difference” comment misses the mark on the point he’s trying to get across.

    Also, Eugene says he was alarmed when people described Gogol Bordello as multicultural, and then goes on to say that they are multicultural. Call it multi-kontra-cultural or whatever, but it sounds like he’s struggling with criticizing something that his band is a product of. It’s okay to recognize that there are positive and negative aspects to something, like globalization. Attack and expose the negative parts; celebrate and magnify the positive parts. But don’t try and pretend that they’re not two sides of the same coin.

  • Shantanusuman

    To me talking about globalization is like walking the thin line. Its a double edged sword. Being from India, I know how much globalization has helped people in India learn about the other cultures. But it has a lot of demerits as well. I believe it totally depends on the culture of the country if it can handle globalization. Getting an understanding of other culture, while being in your own culture is a good idea. But of course, as this animation says, do it while, ‘preventing the idea of sameness’. On the other hand talking talking about multi-kontra-culture, i am not sure if I understand the term right. According to me it means mixing two cultures. So my question is in which country does this multi-kontra-culture exist, the country that borrows or the one that lends or both? And while mixing two cultures how will you decide which culture will have an upper hand? Also what if the new product that you create doesn’t do justice to any of the cultures, you are borrowing from? In that case you are creating a new culture which has no roots of its own. And this is already being done all over the world. McDonals opens up branches in India and changes its food to serve the Indian market. Recently I heard Starbucks is trying to open up coffee shops in India and changing its menu partially to serve the India market. I have eaten at a lot of Indian restaurants in the US that talk about authentic Indian taste. But on the contrary its just a mix of the Indian and the western style cuisines. I am not against multi-kontra-culture but I do have my questions regarding its existence. How different is it than just giving a new name to Globalization and getting permission to mix culture, for better or for worse?

  • CMSciortino

    I first saw Gogol Bordello perform at Bonnaroo 2007 and I was amazed at their different costumes and the incredible energy of their performance. I think it’s clear that they strive to prevent the sameness of the world.

    I think globalization is really prominent, not only in America but all over the world. I noticed it a lot when I was living abroad. I thought what Eugene Hütz said about having McDonald’s everywhere was really relevant – when I was living in Paris, it was right down the street from a McDonalds and when I was living in Prague, I neighbored a KFC. I was really surprised to find these things… It does kind of indicate the Americanization of so many other cultures. French people that I worked with in Paris often complained about French citizens using English words instead of French ones. I think that’s another example of globalization. I also think globalization has a lot to do with the way in which we communicate – not only in the words we use, but the platforms. I use Instagram and Twitter and follow lots of people around the world. I can talk to anyone in any country at any time with Skype and Facebook. Globalization also effects education. I’ve seen it especially at NYU where we have so many international students and so many campuses in other countries. Boarders are especially transient for students who can get visas easily to a majority of countries. That also does increase competition for jobs in America but it also opens up American students to a vast global job market.

    I love this animation! I think it is so well done and perfectly illustrates Eugene Hutz’s comments in a clever way!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Eliza-Lloyd/1548146554 Eliza Lloyd

    There should be no dimension of life, or the world, that does not mix and combine with the other.As colors merge and change and blend,as the constant work of bees create honey ,the world mix cannot but produce more and more of wonderful everything, for better and better and better.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brainardcarey Brainard Carey

    Thank god for eugene and the animations that brought his words to life. You commenters are missing the point, don’t look at eugene like a politician, he is an artist, and his band, gogol bordello fuse all kinds of music together and are often described with multi-hyphenated terms because there is no one word for it. And of course all those hyphens look ridiculous, thus the brilliant rant here by eugene who sets the record straight.
    His band defines multiculturalism in an institutional sense and they (institutions) love him because of it, but as an artist he can and does make fun of the way he is being packaged and commodified and co-opted by the art and music mainstream.
    So for me, this is about eugenes great sense of humor. Globalization is the punchline because in this context it seems like an absurd, made up academic concept that really means nothing!
    Long live eugene and the heroes who give voice to the unsung heroes!

  • Dan

    I am from the Illinois/Wisconsin region. I am 27, and have been all over the place, mainly N.Amer but a few trips out… I am not wealthy so I have always traveled as a traveler, not a tourist or vocational… My times abroad were amazing indulging in the other cultures where I saw many of my Merican tourist counterparts sticking to merican signs, labels, etc..
    or , stateside, no matter what region you are you see the same signs, like only corporations can afford to advert on the highways.. Being from the midEast of Merica it always gets me most driving through any ol town that 70 years ago would have been ag kings, but now, you drive through the down towns and everything is closed up! old theaters get me most, seems every town used to have great places for their own entertainment. So a dead down town, then you drive to the part of town that you cant walk to and there’s all the cars, in parking lots for businesses that are in every town… Where is the uniqueness? Everything is the same…burbs no matter what state you are in are the same,(and that generalization generally pisses burbanite yuppies off, but heh, truth hurts sheeple). Seeing the oversized houses that get planted atop each other across the nation with green yards in deserts… no sense.. To me globalization is simply cultural suicide. I have had a great time exploring cultural differences and feel more time needs to be devoted to micro cultures. Globalization just keeps the sheeple comfy enough to keep spending; providing nothing good, but hollow comfort.