It's awful. Completely cringe-inducing. But ow, you know? I feel the ongoing unjust sting of Hypocrisy In
Action. Look, Wonkette is having a big funny over Sarah Palin's potentially white-trash tattooed lipstick, and I can't stop grooving to a song that talks about how she's unqualified to do anything other than have lots of sex with rappers. I really don't want to become the nutty liberal version of these Olds, yelling about the bailout from my retirement cardboard box.
That fine line between utter horror and batshit hilarity just keeps getting skinner. Like all the grandchildrens. We should eat more! All of us. Eat, eat! Sigh, amen, etc., I'm off to gorge on apples and honey.
Flaming Lips Movie.
A long-awaited, years-in-the-making science-fiction project has finally seen the light of day. I'm not talking about anything directed by James Cameron; this one involves musicians. And I'm not talking about Chinese Democracy; I'm not yet sure of the science-fiction component of that one, apart from the dystopic undertones of those Best Buy-exclusive rumors. No, I'm speaking of Christmas on Mars, a film by Wayne Coyne and the rest of the Flaming Lips (which Rolling Stone did, in fact, refer to as "the Chinese Democracy of rock movies").
As a committed if not strictly devout Flaming Lips fan, I've been hearing about Christmas in Mars since I was in college. That might not seem like such a long time, but keep in mind that I just turned twenty-eight and have begun feeling extremely old, which you should not take as an insult if you are older than twenty-eight. In fact, if you're older than twenty-eight, just think about how when the Flaming Lips began production on this movie, it's possible that you were still in your early or mid twenties, or in your twenties at all, and as such, slightly more full of hope than you are now.
In any case, Christmas on Mars has been in the works for a long time, and is now open to the New York public at the KGB Complex prior to its DVD release later in the fall (see the link above for info). The movie is about a bunch of possibly-doomed astronauts who have colonized mars. Lips multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd plays sort of the Charlie Brown of this piece, an astronaut trying to put together some sort of space-station Christmas pageant to celebrate the colony's first artificial birth. Wayne Coyne, naturally, plays a serene-looking martian.
"The Sun shone brightly, though too briefly," the mayor said, calling the paper's writers "smart, thoughtful, provocative."On the up side, staffers will get to keep their health insurance until December, and they'll be paid salaries through November. But, you know, bummer to the max. I hope they don't read the Mediabistro messageboards -- unless they want to die a little bit on the inside!
In other dead-inside news, Alanis Morisette is probably off sobbing
somewhere, and I kind of want to hug her in my head. Why so weepy?
Scarlett Johansson and Alanis's former fiancé Ryan Reynolds wed at "a remote wilderness resort
outside Vancouver" on Saturday, according to US Weekly. For some reason, I'm not feeling
the two of them. Scar-Jo's gotten kind of smug lately!
My thoughts are with you, jobless reporters and hella awesome "Ironic" lady-singer who I still respect even though your last album bombed. Just keep your heads down and power through it.
Ah, The New Yorker, every week you take me out for coffee and give me a long-view briefing on the important political and cultural issues of the day, always being sure to leave me with a few mentally adhesives facts and anecdotes and turns of phrase, so that I can hold my own in grown-up conversations on the off chance that I find myself in one. (Just because it hasn't happened yet doesn't mean it never will.)
And, ah, New Yorker Festival, how you replicate this platonic ideal of grown-up conversation over the course of one weekend every fall, like for instance this coming weekend, with your literary readings and author talks and beard-stroking panel talks and aura of accessible intellectual celebrity. (And Sasha Frere-Jones's dance party. You know, for kids.) So yeah, this is a Your Weekend post, in advance; I'm doing it on Tuesday morning rather than Friday afternoon on the assumption that the more highbrow (and seated) an event is, the longer lead time you the NYC eventgoer require. Tickets to many events are sold out, but many tickets are held until festival weekend for walk-up sales at central and individual locations. Including, for instance, Alice Munro's talk on Friday night, about which you can expect me to deliver a 10,000-word cut-and-pasted-from-iChat post come Monday, whether or not Sharon minimizes the chat window and waits patiently for me to stop.
I finished this book a while ago, but given that the world is collapsing around our ears, now seems a good time to talk a little more about end-times good-times.
Someday soon, someone will write a really a good parody of The Road — all short paragraphs, stucktogether words and vocab words and contractions that dont have apostrophes, mentions of ash and tarblack trees and racking pain and then ending in an emotional upsweep of either apocalyptic despair or transcendental belief; repeat for a couple hundred pages. I will not be the person who writes this parody.
Working with a team of forgers, artists and technicians, Muniz oversaw
the making of down-to-the-last-scratch exact replicas of the backs of
such iconic works as Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon and Hoppper's
Night Hawks. You can't stop yourself from picturing Van Gogh's Starry
Night when you gaze at Muniz's version of the back, which contains
peeling, weathered labels marking the MOMA's ownership and the museums to
which it has been lent. Tapping into our collective memory and the
lasting impressions of great artworks, these replicas are able to
conjure a sense of the original and steal a feeling from them:
nostalgia perhaps, or something more. In consideration of the
craftsmanship, certain details become mental fixations â- a small,
jagged piece of yellowed masking tape, perfectly aged, or the finely
duplicated curve of a carelessly scripted number two. For six years,
Muniz worked with the conservation departments of the MOMA, the Guggenheim and the Art Institute of Chicago to ensure such
In the backroom of the gallery, Muniz is showing similar re-creations: the backsides of iconic images from the New York Times. The versos of these photos have clippings pasted on, as well as stamps and handwritten notes, bringing the filing and business behind each image to the forefront. From these messy, natural collages, big ideas come to mind. The back of The Winner in Broad Jump, Jesse Owens is a 6.75 X 9.12 inch frame that contains clippings of captions, date and publishing stamps, and accidental ink marks, including a stamp reading "made in Germany." These few words and dates bring up a flood â- Hitler, race relations in the US, the 1936 Berlin Olympics and history's path to Beijing. The idea is clever, even cute: like successful advertising, it gets your attention and then burrows deeper through collective social-emotional moments.
Muniz has said of his work with sugar, wire and thread, "I don't want people to simply see a representation of something. I want them to feel how it happens. The moment of that embodiment is what I consider a spiritual experience." The idea certainly extends to Verso, work most alive in that moment of misunderstanding, when distinction of fake and real falters, or doesn't matter. With pleasure, I imagine one of these pieces on the floor of a private home or a museum. Brand new, antique and confusing â- at the very least, inspiring respect for precision.
Vik Muniz: Verso will run until October 11 at Sikkema Jenkins & Co.
Go forth and survive:
The conspiracy-minded, bad art of Millenium Ark.
The cosmic benevolence of the Gentle Survivalist.
The Army Field guides (yeah, like we'd trust these guys at this point).
The Red Dawn fetishists at Captain Dave's Survival Center.
The Matrix fetishists at Code Name Insight.
The wing-nut libertarians of Frugal Squirrel (with a surprisingly nice design aestheticâ¦ kudos wingnuts!)
The haha goodtimes fear mongering at the End Times Report!
CNTL + ALT + DELETE, DSW! I cannot afford your wacky ankle booties under $50 anymore. Leave me and my non-dollars alone, kthxbai.
Film criticism is not in crisis so much as it's the victim of the many crises going on all around it. Kent Jones, editor-at-large of Film Comment, noted, of course, the economic crisis happening in newspapers and magazines, which has a direct effect on the health of film criticism. But as long as people take criticism seriously, Jones said, the practice itself won't be in crisis.
But that's the issue—what role does film criticism play in our culture today? Seung Hoon-Jeong, formerly a writer for the Korean film magazine Cine21, noted that in his native country people look to criticism as a consumer guide, the equivalent of a recommendation from a friend. "They don't want to suffer from any headache," he said. Jones noted the same thing happening in this country: "there's a lot of reviewing," he said, "not necessarily criticism."
"Criticism is writing and re-writing," Jones added. Increasingly,
however, editors are encouraging critics to move in the opposite
Film criticism might be in crisis because the national, even international, film culture is in crisis. Film's role in society has changed over the past several decades. Jones said he has memories of his parents and their friends arguing about films like A Clockwork Orange and Last Tango in Paris. (He cited Ghostbusters as the film that ended this era.) He quoted Louis Menand on Pauline Kael: "She lead a national conversation about film." Is there even a national conversation, like the one in which Jones' parents were participating, to lead anymore?
Kael was famous for writing her reviews in a collective voice, using the pronoun âwe'. Jonathan Rosenbaum (formerly of the Chicago Reader) said it was no longer possible to write with âwe' in this country. "We're in a Civil War now," Rosenbaum said, adding that a figure like Kael would no longer be possible.
Smith (who admits to using Bit Torrent to download movies) interjected to note that Kael was never really speaking to everyone; she wasn't, for example, speaking to Nixon's "silent majority." But she lead the country's intellectual discussion; the real problem is the rise in anti-intellectualism that sprang up in the Reagan era. "We're still living in the aftermath of that," Smith said. A national cultural discussion is no longer permitted and, as a result, editors are not looking for serious critics.
Emmanuel Burdeau, the editor of Cahiers du Cinema, noted that film's role in the national cultural conversation has largely been replaced by television; shows like The Wire are once again opening up that universal sense of âwe'. He referenced a French writer, whose name I could not catch (Bah-Bwa de Boo-Beh-Bwa?), and his theories about a symmetry between what's on the screen and the audience watching it. In the early days of cinema, he said, lots of people in theaters watched lots of people on the screen. But now all we have are Vin Diesel movies, where a lonely audience member watches a lonely guy.
Television, on the other hand, is a medium that still deals with community, "whether it's a mob family or proletariat black people in Baltimore." Kent Jones agreed, saying a sense of community had disappeared from American screens because of studio executives' fear of needing to please everyone. Smith noted that the traditional boundaries between television and film were being increasingly blurred, evidenced by the fact that a forum on the future of film criticism had spent a large chunk of its time discussing The Wire. (I know that I discussed the last season of The Wire or the final episode of The Sopranos with more people than I've discussed any individual film ever.)
What, then, could be done to restore film's position in the cultural order?
During the subsequent Q&A, one audience member noted that film has been removed from our lives and that perhaps the key was to make concerted efforts to create new CineClubs as well as to show "difficult films" to thirteen-year-old kids in schools. Pascual Espirito, the founder of the Strictly Film School blog, said that film education needn't be institutionalized like that—it's available on the web whenever people are "ready for it".
Of course, people are building communities around film interests on the web all the time, but are these sufficient to revive film criticism? One problem, which Rosenbaum hinted at, is that people no longer watch movies according to the models by which they're reviewed. Business dictates what critics have to see and when—everything that opens on Friday—but most consumers don't watch movies on that schedule. Increasingly, people watch their movies on-line and through Netflix, which means they're more likely to be ready to participate in a discussion about a film weeks after it has been released, when the critical establishment has already moved on. Perhaps criticism needs to change its model of distribution. (Burdeau and David Hudson, the editor of GreenCine Daily, both thought critics might take on the actual distribution of films in the future.)
But is the Internet really the answer? It does encourage community building, but I think that communities need leaders like Kael; at present, the web is far too fractured and spread thin over niches. I worry that such compartmentalization could ultimately leave us cinephiles discussing films in groups of two while everybody else is watching TV.
They're the unsung heroines of every publication, which, I guess, explains why they get really nice write-ups after they die? In the NYTBR this Sunday, Dorothy Gallagher eulogized Helene Pleasants, her former copy-editor and mentor at Redbook. Pleasants' story is a touching one ("She loved good writing, therefore she loved the reader: good writing did not cause the reader to stumble over meaning."), so much so that hers immediately reminded me of another similar tale. Miss Gould, another sassy lady copy-editor passed away and was fondly remembered by David Remnick in a wonderful Talk of the Town that ran nearly three years ago. I never forgot it.
Based on the write-ups, I've come to the conclusion that the two of them really ought to have been friends. Or frenemies, at the very least.
Perhaps because a couple of close friends of mine recently became or are in the process of becoming teachers, I've lately been struck by a couple of works that've used young teachers as a potent metaphor for the rather quintessential realization that grown-ups aren't other people, they're us. I talked about this a little when in my New Yorker Reader on Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum's story "Yurt," and thought about it again when watching Sally Hawkins's force-of-nature performance as the eponymously skylarky elementary school teacher in Mike Leigh's Happy-Go-Lucky. And maybe it's just because of where I'm coming from, but I think that many critics aren't honing in on the specificity of the movie's message and how it communicates it. Yes, the movie is about a philosophical outlook — it's a comedy about being of good cheer as a response to a world as unrelentingly harsh as the world of Leigh's echt-miserabilist Naked or Vera Drake — but it's also a movie about life as a process of continuing education, about people as each other's teachers and our responsibility towards a shared environment.
"If we don't pass it, we shouldn't be a Congress," Mr. Gregg said Sunday afternoon.That's sort of the equivalent of saying, "If you don't like Pavement, you don't like music." Come on, guy. Not everyone's a Malkmus fan.
"This is something that all of us will swallow hard and go forward with," Mr. McCain said in an interview on ABC's "This Week." "The option of doing nothing is simply not an option."Sounds like someone's super cranky after waking up from his weekend-long nap!
Mr. Obama, in a statement, said: "When taxpayers are asked to take such an extraordinary step because of the irresponsibility of a relative few, it is not a cause for celebration. But this step is necessary."What, you mean people didn't throw Greatest Depression parties in the 1920s? They should have! We're all totally stoked about it in the 2008!
Saturday's intense negotiating effort followed a tumultuous week, including a contentious meeting at the White House with President Bush and the two presidential candidates.Weee! It's like Bush is Leonardo DiCaprio, the Titantic is America, and Iraq is Rose. He'll never let go! Awww. Wait, did Mo-Do already write that column?
That meeting had moments of drama, including a blunt warning by President Bush. "If money isn't loosened up, this sucker could go down," he said. It ended with angry recriminations after House Republicans scotched a near-agreement from earlier in the day.
Mr. Paulson scrambled to revive the talks, and they resumed almost immediately.The real question is: did he scramble ON BENDED KNEE? Because that's pretty much how I picture him doing absolutely everything from now on. But get your minds out of the gutter.
They must pass out the B-berrys like M&Ms on the Hill. Those poor, befuddled tourists, just trying to learn a little bit about What Makes America Great.
Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the lead negotiator for the House Democrats, said that there was no expectation of making anyone smile.
Outside, stunned tourists visiting the Capitol watched as camera operators shoved one another to get footage of lawmakers talking outside of the meeting room.
At one point, when too much information was leaking out, staff members' BlackBerrys were confiscated and collected in a trash bin.
Lulz! Yep, definitely not "happy" about this. Cat pictures, anyone?
The money will disbursed in parts, with an initial $250 billion to get the rescue effort under way, followed by another $100 billion upon a report by Mr. Bush to Congress.
The president could then request the balance of $350 billion at any time. If Congress disapproved, it would have to act within 15 days to deny the Treasury the money.
Steal all your office supplies NOW. But...
In a brief speech on the Senate floor, Senator Kent Conrad, Democrat of North Dakota, said: "It's not just going to be Wall Street. The chairman of the Federal Reserve has told us if the credit lockup continues, three million to four million Americans will lose their jobs in the next six months."
Does this mean we all get post-bailout stimulus checks?
The ultimate cost of the rescue plan to taxpayers is virtually impossible to know. Because the government would be buying assets of value — potentially worth much more than the government will pay for them — there is even a chance the rescue effort would eventually return a profit.
From the perspective of moral instructiveness it would probably behoove us to remember Paul Newman as above all an inspiring philanthropist, but old blue eyes (I mean, seriously, yowza) was also an actor uniquely suited to embody the self-confidence and insecurities of a postwar nation on the move.
He could be a man on the make, ruthless and driven and self-obsessed, and exactly as charming as he had to be:
He could have a certain snake-oil appeal, playing an irresistible salesman of himself — often in the person of an outlaw, since he had too beautiful a motor to be constrained by society's speed limit:
And later in his career he brought spark and invention and fatal charisma to characters who were running on empty, and knew it:
(Jesus, everybody watch Slap Shot this week; if there's a funnier, more profane, truer movie about the look and feel of uniquely American dead ends I don't know it. And along with his sad-eyed, knowing, compulsively charming third wheel in Butch Cassidy it's my favorite Newman performance, a one-time hotshot breathing hard to outrun his flaws.)
the questions asked of Audrey Ference, The Natural Redhead, in the current issue of the L.
I was having drinks with a gay couple (friends) last night. During our conversation I was enlightened to find out that many gay men do not engage in penetration (anal sex). Before the topic could be expanded on, a few more friends showed up and the conversation changed. Audrey, I know that you are not a gay male, yet you have your sources. If there is no penetration, is there something more than hand-jobs and blowjobs? Are the heterosexuals missing out on something? Moreover, if we are, is it something my girlfriend can learn to do?
I cannot speak for humans, sir, as I cannot communicate with them except by the admittedly imprecise method of honking and busily flapping my wings, but I asked several of my closest gay goose friends and they were all like, yes, of course, during the coming-out process, once a gay goose's commitment to the lifestyle has been ascertained to their satisfaction, the Gay Goose Mafia takes you aside and performs a surgery on you so that you have an extra hole that only gay people have, no of course not you idiot it's pretty much just the one although sometimes there is dry-humping because no one really ever outgrows that and the permutations are all but endless.
Enjoy your last weekend before the Chinese takeover of our economy, everyone, by coming to Common Ground on Avenue A and doing Jaeger shots with Sharon Steel and the rest of the L Mag editorial team at Saturday night's The Best of Literary reading, our contribution to the hopefully epic Lit Crawl NYC, about which I believe I've spoken previously. We'll start at 7:15 promptly, assuming Jonny hasn't decided to suspend our reading.
Also tomorrow night, and also previous plugged in this space because it will be excellent, you can party like it's 1999 at BAM's Takeover party, featuring an all-night dance party, four-screen movie marathon, live music, art installations, hangout rooms, and many hundreds of your closest friends. Two thousand zero eight economy over oops out of time, but you should at least have fun on Saturday night. See you on Monday, assuming there aren't just tumbleweeds tumbling across this blog by then.
A debate, that is! Answer: a U of Mississippi worker bee dude vacuuming the podium in full-suit! It's exactly like those ridiculous cleaning-product commercials where the ladies keep house in business casual-wear, except, he's a man! Doing some masculine old-skool sweepin' (baby steps: fighting sexism in this campaign!). But why is that vacuum so OLD, srsly? Oh who am I kidding, nobody can afford one of these freakish Dyson things anymore, not even him.
Just a little unintentional LOLZ courtesy of the Times's The Caucus blog.
Also, whatwhat, L.C. and Nate Archibald will be booty-texting each other tonight while the rest of the nation sews their cash into their matresses during the commercial breaks. At least somebody's having fun!
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