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Blok M architectural history with the sterling eye of Tariq Khalil

Blok M is one of my favotire areas of Jakarta and my pal, the energetic and engaged Tariq Khalil, has penned a fine article about the architectural history of the place for Indonesia Design magazine.

Check it out here: http://www.indonesiadesign.com/architecture-interior/side-blok-m-wish-knew/

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Saint Jack in Playboy 1978

Not long ago I wrote about the excellent film Saint Jack, shot on location in Singapore in the late 1970s, for my Opium Traces column at PopMatters.com. You can read that here.

One of the sources for my work is Ben Slater’s 2006 book on the film (link in the article), and one of Slater’s sources is an article about the film in the December 1978 issue of Playboy magazine. The article features some racy pictures (pretty but tame by today’s standards, but NSFW even still) as well as a long interview with the director Peter Bogdanovich…because, you know, people read Playboy for the interviews…

Out of the goodness of my heart, I’ve bought the issue and scanned the article and posted it here…click to enlarge and enjoy!

 

 

Kebayoran Baru in Jakarta with roving mind Tariq Khalil

My pal Tariq Khalil continues his awesome series on mid-century Jakarta architecture in Indonesia Design magazine with an engaging write-up on¬†Kebayoran Baru. Once a satellite town of old Batavia, but now lost in the chaotic sprawl of modern Jakarta,¬†Kebayoran Baru boasts some of the best kept mid-century domestic architecture in town. Long underappreciated, the post-war architecture of Indonesia is due for a revival: unique, dynamic, beautiful…

Check it out here: http://www.indonesiadesign.com/culture/wild-story-behind-kebayoran-baru/

Yankee architecture in Indonesia

Well, Yankee but called by the locals ‘Jengki architecture.’ My mate Tariq Khalil has written a nifty article about this cool and nearly forgotten style in an exclusive article for Indonesia Design magazine. Read that at the link below and discover a world you never knew existed…because Indonesian urban architecture is really awesome and sorely neglected in every sense of the phrase.

http://www.indonesiadesign.com/architecture-interior/discover-indonesia-cool-yankee-architecture/

Pekojan and Glodok walks Jakarta

Rummaging in old photos from the past year and came across a bunch from one of my JKT urban adventures with my excellent buddy, the local artist Sheila. Unfortunately I didn’t have my DSLR on this excursion, only my Sony hand phone. Nonetheless, here are some highlights of what remains of what was the eastern side of old Batavia.

We started just north of the old Chinese district of Glodok and walked into the old Arab and Indian trading district now called Pekojan.

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Here is the sadly dilapidated Langgar Tinggi mosque, built in 1829, front back, and behind. Despite the dirt and neglect, she’s still got lots of beauty…

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Nearby are houses built by Indian merchants that probably date to the late eighteenth century… dilapidated but charming…

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Despite the decay and the proximity of a large rampaging highway, it’s a vibrant neighborhood with no end of energy…

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We wandered back into the eastern edge of Glodok, the old Chinese district…note the shophouses and temples in the chaotic sprawl…

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The narrow, twisting alleyways are filled with architectural gems in various states of neglect…

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It is however a working neighborhood so while some of these buildings are abandoned, most are still used as shophouses…note the bridge room over the alleyway here (above the silver umbrella)…dsc_0194 dsc_0199

And sometimes 20th century gems stand cheek-by-jowl with 18th century structures…

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Unlike the UNESCO flavored historical attractions of Penang and Malacca, Jakarta’s Chinese, Arabic, and Indian colonial trading heritage buildings are part of dirty, smelly, dangerous, chaotic working neighborhoods in a sprawling mega-city which means walking their streets is to experience the old days without the veneer of sophistication in the more well-known Straits architecture tourist destinations. The neglect is sad but the neighborhoods are brimming with energy…definitely not an outdoor museum and there’s nary an art gallery or wine bar in sight…

 

 

New Opium Traces article on popmatters…Saint Jack!

After a hiatus to work on the upcoming NIAS Press release of Alfred Raquez’s In the Land of Pagodas, I’m once again writing the Opium Traces feature column for popmatters.com.

The return…a meditation on Saint Jack, the book and film that captured Singapore in the swinging 1960s…

Check it out now!

http://www.popmatters.com/column/the-absolution-of-saint-jack-in-a-world-lacking-irony/

Crime Scene Asia spotted at Chiang Mai airport

Eagle-eyed drifter and esteemed academic partner Paul Bruthiaux spotted Crime Scene Asia, in which appears my short story “The Hanoi Sword Swindle,” recently in Chiang Mai airport…

The manuscript of our translation of Alfred Raquez’s first book, In the Land of Pagodas, is now with the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS) Press…the book is due out before the end of the year.

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