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Episode 125: Duplitecture – 99% Invisible

I love a good fake. Fake Nikes, those crappy copies of movies you can buy on the train for two bucks, impostor cologne. I had an awesome bogus Transformer I bought at a swap meet when I was ten that I still get nostalgic about. Shoddy copies intrigue me, almost more than the masterfully done ones. I recently heard a Snap Judgement on Elmyr de Hory, the infamous art forger, that made the topic that much more compelling. Big thanks be to  99% Invisible for taking a deeper look at the art of duplication.9DDA31E0C6D11111B76F5361D7A2D_h401_w598_m2_q90_ckSGozlao

“Stealing plus lack of talent equals creativity”

Fake Apple stores complete with employees who think they’re actually working for Apple.  Venices complete with canals and replicas of the Doge’s Palace. Eiffel Towers and an Arc de Triomphe. Orange County subdivisions. China, it seems, is having an imitation renaissance.

This episode clocks in around 12 minutes, and really speaks to the art of imitation.

According to the 99% reporter (her name escapes me) Shanghai alone has multiple towns all built in the style of famous European cities. You can traverse all of Europe in a couple hours should the mood strike you. Breakfast in Germany and lunch in France.

The gist of this episode revolved around imitation and its role in innovation, and how duplication should be revered not dismissed. Of course there are copyright issues one would have to contend with here in the States, should the designer monetize their creation. But did you know we wouldn’t have many of our own great architectural wonders were it not for copy cats? Washington, DC is one big knock off, and we LOVE it.

There was a comment in the thread that really made me think about our own lack of appreciation for our creations and kind of summed up the episode’s subtext.

“Could it be that the Chinese care about traditional Western architecture more than we Westerners do? I’m afraid we’re knocking down our great heritage buildings faster than China can copy them.”

Just saying. This episode’s a great snack if you’re feeling peckish.

99% Invisible – Busta Ryhmes Island

Episode 105 of 99% Invisible isn’t actually called “Busta Rhymes Island.” It’s called “One Man is An Island.” But wouldn’t you have preferred the former?


99% reporter Sean Cole was working on a radio story that required a quick one-on-one with Busta Rhymes. So he did a Google search for the ’90s hip-hop mogul and added the keyword “Boston.” There were no tour dates, no publicists, no relevant, useable information of any kind. What did turn up (see image above) is why we have yet another enticingly clever episode of 99%.

Dateline: Shrewsbury, Massachusetts 2000ish. Some dude decides to name his favorite little atoll after his favorite rapper, the aforementioned Busta Bus.  (I know an island is not necessarily an atoll.)

What we get, some 15 years later, lucky listeners, is a thoughtful deliberation on the legalities of naming a place after a person. And as is usually the case with a 99% story, there’s more complexity there than one would assume.

In fact, this snack of a podcast is so perfectly brief, you can listen to it right here: