K-Pop takes America: how South Korea’s music machine is conquering the world

Walking into the DoubleTree Hotel in Irvine, California, the Verge team was greeted by representatives from K-Pop United, a world-wide fan organization. The Los Angeles chapter was apparently quite new, and the three reps (two young women and one young man) seemed really psyched to be there. They told us about the chapter in Las Vegas that holds some sort of big concert or parade or something every year, and about how they arranged to have one cancer stricken member come to Irvine to meet her favorite K-Pop star.

“We’re actually here to do a story on this,” I said.

“On K-Con?” The most vocal of the three asked. She was referring to the K-Pop fan convention being sponsored by Mnet America, a TV network devoted to Korean music and culture.

“Yeah.”

“What for?”

“The Verge,” I said, wondering if she’s heard of it.

“The Verge, cool,” she said. Then she cocked her head to the side, still smiling, and challenged me: “You’re not here to write about Psy, are you?”

I assured her we were not, and she seemed satisfied with the answer. I guess now I’m going to make a liar out of myself.

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Pittsburgh hostage drama plays out on Facebook

Around 8:15 AM, a twenty-something individual walked into CW Breitsman Associates, a benefits administration firm in downtown Pittsburgh. He asked to speak to the owner, Charles Breitsman. As they entered a private office and the door closed behind them, Breitsman told his daughter to call 911. The office soon cleared of everyone but the two men, and for almost six hours the city had a full-blown hostage situation on its hands.

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Matt Stroud, who co-wrote our recent piece on the Republican National Convention for The Verge, has just written a follow-up on the Democratic National Convention.

Read it now on The Verge

Close to the edge: a week on the fringes of the RNC

Co-written with Matt Stroud

In every direction, Jersey barriers: heavy concrete walls used for deflecting cars and, in this case, slowing down human mobs. Just shy of three feet tall and chipped uneven from having been hauled back and forth to various worksites over the years, they’re now being used to establish a perimeter, within which one might choose to legally go and protest the Republican National Convention. In contrast to the rest of the city, which has been swept clean and done up in red, white, and blue in anticipation of the cash influx this event is supposed to provide, the lot we’re in now is a dusty, hot, and muggy mess, a good twenty minutes’ march from anyone of importance. There is no shade, and we’re feeling it — but not nearly as much as the sixty cops in riot gear who just marched into the box. There are also a half dozen protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church. Their signs bear legends like: “Too Late To Pray,” “Ye are of your father the devil,” and of course “God Hates Fags.” One sign features a picture of an Anonymous / Guy Fawkes mask in crosshairs.

We are in a tucked-away industrial expanse, sweating our asses off, while a couple hundred Anarchist and Occupy protesters dance provocatively and scream at the “God Hates Fags” creeps, to no real effect. This is definitely not the tightly scripted and “on message” Republican National Convention that we expected when we flew to Tampa.

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Beyond lies the wub: a history of dubstep

The atmosphere of Belvedere’s, a dive bar on Butler Street in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood — with its stage and pool tables and little in the way of ambiance — was completely transformed by the bass. It reminded me of a water jet cutter. Taking water and streaming it at such a high rate that it could slice into steel and marble? Genius. In the same way, the sound system was taking these records that, all together might not add up to much — a drum pattern and a bassline, some sound effects — and pushing them out at such a volume as to consume all the empty space in the room. I imagined that it might be transforming the molecules in the very air that surrounded me.

Under the right conditions, this is dubstep. The product of a handful of DJs and producers driven to forge a new sound, it is comprised of elements familiar to the London underground — drum and bass, two-step garage, hip-hop, for starters — yet it is still somehow very exciting, very different. Initially the sole province of tiny clubs and pirate radio stations, the last few years have seen a radical evolution of this mutant dance music genre, spurred on every bit as much by the internet as by the devotion of its fans.

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“Beyond lies the wub” dubstep mix

Soundtrack to a story I wrote called “Beyond lies the wub: the strange history of dubstep.”

  • Super Sharp Shooter White Label (1999)
  • Oxide and Neutrino: Bound 4 Da Reload (Casualty). EastWest (1999)
  • E.S Dubs: Standard Hoodlum Issue (Zed Bias Mix 1). Social Circles (1999)
  • Horsepower Productions: Gorgon Sound. Tempa (2000)
  • Skream: Midnight Request Line. Tempa (2005)
  • P. Dutty and Pinch: War Dub. Tectonic (2005)
  • Pinch: Qawwali. Planet Mu (2006)
  • Benga: 26 Basslines. Tempa (2008)
  • Chase & Status: Eastern Jam. RAM Records (2008)
  • Snoop Dogg: Snoop Dogg Millionaire. Terrorhythm Recordings (2009)
  • Skrillex and The Doors: Breakn’ A Sweat. Big Beat (2011)
  • Joker & Ginz: Purple City. Kapsize (2009)
  • Rusko: Cockney Thug. Sub Soldiers (2009)
  • Genetix: Hangin’. Z Audio (2010)
  • Dieselboy, Mark Instinct, Bare: Murder Machine. Subhuman (2011)
  • Bare: Enemies. Subhuman (2012)
  • Flux Pavilion: Daydreamer (Extended version). Warner Music UK Ltd. (2012)

When animals attract: Inside Anthrocon, the Furry utopia

If you’ve been mercifully cut off from the more absurd aspects of internet culture since, well, the dawn of the world wide web, you might wonder what Anthrocon is exactly. First, you have to be acquainted with furry fandom. A “furry,” in their lingo, is an anthropomorphic animal: Bugs Bunny, for example. He contains the characteristics of a rabbit — the tail, the ears, the buck teeth — as well as those of a human. He walks upright, and he presumably has vocal cords that allow him to speak English. Kids love this shit. And sometimes kids grow into adults that love this shit, as well. And some of them don’t just love the funny animals, as they’re known. They want to become funny animals, and they purchase several-thousand-dollar fursuits to make their transformation into an anthropomorphic beast feel a little more real. These people, the fans of funny half-human / half-animals who spend so much time buying comics, creating artwork, and developing full-scale animal personas, or “fursonas,” are known as furries. Their biggest in real life meet and greet is Anthrocon, which takes place annually in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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Yasha Levine: using the web to fight ‘journalistic malpractice’

In the United States, the question of who is (and isn’t) a journalist has always been hotly debated, but in the age of blogs and web-only news organizations the issue is more important than ever. For Yasha Levine, a founding editor of The Exiled, this isn’t rhetorical — and he has the mugshot to prove it (or he will, as soon as he gets around to asking for one).

Yasha and I recently spent an hour talking about the rise of Russian-style politics in this country, Occupy LA, the hazards of going against the media mainstream, and what The Exiled is doing about “journalistic malpractice.”

Continue reading at The Verge

Mitt Romney goes to Scamworld: Prosper, Inc. and its powerful friends

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One of the biggest boiler rooms in America has ties that could lead all the way to the White House

Commenters on The Verge agree!

Congratulations, Joseph L. Flatley. Your poor attempt at a political hit piece, complete with sensationalized headline just cost The Verge a regular reader. Sad to see what is otherwise an excellent tech site stoop to this kind of “journalism.”
— ljc1423

This was disingenuous and in poor taste.
— Modred189

Add me as another name on the pile who thinks that this, while mostly an interesting follow-up to Scamworld, ends up feeling like a lefty hit piece with an atrociously irresponsible headline.
— RainingGlitteryMind

This “Romney to Scamworld” is nothing more than a lame, deceptively titled hit piece. I am extremely disappointed, as I have quickly come to expect much better than this here at the Verge.

This Joseph Flatley character, if that is his real name, should be ashamed of his laziness and unprofessionalism, and he no longer has any credibility with this reader. The Verge has seriously damaged its brand with this garbage.

Both the author and the editors owe the readers a sincere apology.
— ffarkle

If I wanted to read thinly veiled hit pieces on the GOP then I would go to MSNBC.
— mike.may85

Read it now on The Verge

(photo credit: Xavdog)

I’m on The Vergecast!

As pre-millenials, The Vergecasters are ancient enough to remember when an IM was no more ruthless than a little yellow man that said “ding” a lot through a crusty ol’ 2400-baud Sportster. Now, all the IM’s come through FiOS and look more like D-grade Bollywood stars…or do they? Hear the complex story of the modern Internet Marketer unfold before your ears here, in this, the Thirtieth Vergecast of the twenty-first century.

Listen at The Verge