I have a new piece on Slate about Azerbaijan's hosting of the Eurovision song contest, and the various complications that Baku has had to deal with as a result:
Baku, the petrocapital on the shore of the Caspian Sea, has been designed under the principle that too much is never enough. Its newest monument is the Flame Towers, a set of three flame-shaped buildings on a hill overlooking the entire city, with LED lights that at night alternate between animations of a flickering fire and a figure waving an Azerbaijani flag. Close by is a TV tower bathed in iridescent purple light. Below that is what was, for a short time, the world's largest flagpole. Baku is kitschy, brash, and over the top.
In other words, it's the perfect place to host the Eurovision Song Contest.
Read the whole thing here. And a video of the Flame Towers with flag-waving animation: