This week's state-of-healthcare-reform piece comes from The Economist.
So China has a $1.5 trillion stake in the federal government. How did we get here, and where are we going?
Something that people have recently started to pay attention to: the Obama administration has been even more blatant than the Bush administration about assigning ambassadorships to people whose main qualification is that they raised a shit-ton of money for the Obama campaign. ("Obama may appoint more career diplomats in the future", Chris Beam wrote in late May. And, of course, he may not.)
That said, as President, Obama is deeply engaged in creating, and coordinating, foreign policy and diplomatic strategy on all fronts.
For what it's worth, Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Ciaran Hinds and the rest of Mossad could have captured Josef Mengele in the early 60s, if they had really wanted to. This is an interesting look at how, and why, an intelligence program sets and resets is priorities (and a reminder of how Mossad is like the CIA only scary-good at their jobs).
Booker winner John Banville, aka thriller writer Benjamin Black, makes a Freudian slip that reveals anew the divisions between literary and genre ficiton.
New Fiction: "Li Ling", by Atsushi Nakajima, from the most recent issue of A Public Space, Brooklyn's best lit mag.
Old clip: Roger Angell, Frank Deford and George Will talk about the McGwire-Sosa home run chase on Charlie Rose, during a more innocent time.
In a laudable effort to try to wring some excitement out of the art world's slow summer months, Lyons Wier Gallery (175 Seventh Ave, at W 20th St) has been offering space on its walls to whomever wants it (it's not a TV show, but hey, free space!). Not surprisingly, this has led to some epic queuing outside the Chelsea storefront space, with artists from all over the city hoping to squeeze something into the rotating summer show. If you're interested in seeing/getting in on the show, dubbed Art Bazaar, head over to their Chelsea space any or every weekend morning (or the night before) through August 16 for a shot at 6 feet x 11 feet of white cube space. You should probably also read the rules before you go.
It's the middle of the summer, and the art world is pretty much hibernating. Accordingly, tonight's opening schedule is super-meager, so maybe your time would be better spent checking out one of the super-huge summer surveys at a museum. There's the spectacular James Ensor show (pictured) at MoMA, which is free on Fridays between 4pm and 8pm, and the exquisite Richard Avedon retrospective, Avedon Fashion: 1944-2000 at the International Center for Photography, where entrance is by donation on Fridays from 5-8pm.
Lower East Side
The Summer Screenings series continues with films by Liz Windelbo and Allen Cordell at CANADA, 55 Chrystie St (between Hester and Canal Sts), 7pm
Opening reception for the J. A. Holt-curated group show Seduction at C.C.C.P. Gallery, 38R Marcy Ave (at Hope St), 7-9pm
Special one-night-only Pop Up Show of artists from Gitana Rosa Gallery at 151 W 19th St (between Sixth and Seventh Aves), 7:30-10:30pm
(image courtesy the Museum of Modern Art)
For any number of carbon-bigfooting reasons, obvs, but this factoid is particularly sobering: despite the new, encouraging emissions standards enacted by Congress and the Obama administration earlier this year, "by 2020, U.S. transportation emissions will still be 4 percent higher than 2005 levels, because advances in fuel technology and efficiency will get still swamped by the growth in population and vehicle-miles traveled", according to a new report, and interpreted by Brad Plumer at TNR.
To actually cut auto emissions, we'll have to drive better, in more efficient cars, running on more efficient fuels — this is maybe not exactly a scoop, any more than the recommendations for "lowering speed limits, ending subsidies for parking, setting up congestion tolls, bolstering public transit, encouraging urban density, promoting pay-as-you-drive insurance, shifting freight over to rail". Still. Earth is not suited for human life as it is currently lived, and the curve is still bending the wrong way. Have a nice weekend!
Hey, it’s Blockbluster, our seasonal feature in which Benjamin Sutton and Henry Stewart laugh off their art-house pretensions to find out during what sort of movies regular people all over the country are eating popcorn. This week they chuckle through Judd Apatow’s Funny People, but not the funny parts.
Did you get the same impression that I did, Henry, from Judd Apatow’s epic bromantic comedy about comedians, Funny People, that he’s gunning for the kind of career-defining meta-message that Billy Wilder conveyed about the studio system in Sunset Boulevard and that David Lynch articulated about millennial cinema in Mulholland Drive? Put more clearly, Funny People seems to be very self-consciously reaching beyond the realm of masturbation jokes and barely adult romance in order to (as you might write) Make A Point about the entertainment industry. If so, the weird mid-movie cameo extravaganza (featuring Andy Dick, Charles Fleischer, Norm MacDonald, Dave Attell, Paul Reiser, George Wallace, Ray Romano and, inexplicably, Eminem) accidentally makes a very incisive point about the patriarchal synergy that fuels America’s television, music and movie corporations.
Since their 2002 debut, Lord Willin', Virginia Beach hip hop duo The Clipse (Pusha T and Malice) have sort of been like a new, better version of EPMD. They're both decent rappers (not great, though they've improved hugely), and they have full access to arguably the best hip hop producers since Eric B., The Neptunes. Following a bunch of surprisingly good mixtapes (the We Got it 4 Cheap series with their Re-Up Gang clique), their third album, Till the Casket Drops, is slated for an October release, and they've just released a new song from it that is absolutely awesome. "All Eyes on Me," with Keri Hilson and Pharrell is basically the album's third pre-release single, following the pretty good "I'm Good" (also featuring Pharrell) and the totally amazing "Kinda Like a Big Deal" featuring Kanye West (video after the jump). All in all, this is shaping up to be their best album to date, and possibly the best of the millennium. Just listen:
Don't miss the "Kinda Like a Big Deal" video after the jump.
We tried to anticipate just what would go down at last night's intensely, desperately
ginned up anticipated meeting between the prime actors in America's latest race agon. And we were wrong. Forthwith the absolutely true, non-speculative fiction transcript of America's MOST IMPORTANT BEER SUMMIT EVER, featuring Barry, Skip, Joe and Jim. (Obviously, we had an inside man. Hi Joe!)
Jean-Luc Godard owned the 1960s’ generational mojo as no other international filmmaker did, with a run of some 15 masterpieces that rearranged our axons in considering movies not as an alternative to, an escape from, life, but rather life itself, as integral and luscious in the flow of our days as a sexual act or a game of tennis or a dockside lobster or you name it. Of course, history and politics and society are always autopsied as well in the process, even in the relatively small-framed but crystalline Vivre sa vie (My Life to Live, 1962), a virtual dissertation on gender-exploitation ambivalence, as Anna Karina’s ocean-eyed gamine turns to prostitution to pay her rent, and the film documents her downward trajectory in twelve discreet chapters with a balance of pitiful fascination and icy critique. Sometimes overlooked in reconsiderations of Godard’s belle epoque, the movie is a formal gesture, spare on the surface but resonating with feeling. Sex work became here one of Godard’s ruling metaphors, but more importantly this is his second film with Karina and his first after their marriage, and the beautiful arc of their on-screen romance — thrumming for only a handful of years and a few films before collapsing and dying on the operating table that is 1966's Made in U.S.A. — is here in its ardent-yet-questioning early stages. The justly famous sequence of Karina crying in the theater dark watching Dreyer’s Passion of Joan of Arc is both a crucial thematic moment and a peerless paean to movie love. Godardians have no choice but to step up, but civilians should consider that the out-of-print, eleven-year-old DVD of Vivre sa vie is pricey, rare, and overdue for a revamp.
Vivre sa vie screens Saturday and Sunday afternoon at the Museum of Arts and Design.
Funny People: Where are we on Judd Apatow? Is it cool to like him again? Are we stuck on backlash, or did that not actually start in full swing yet? Did we get to backlash-to-the-backlash? Even I, an avowed fan, can forget how much I actually like the guy when wading through his sea of collaborators and the resulting movies, including stuff he produced that's actually better than his own personal projects (Superbad); stuff he produced but fewer people associate with him (the Ferrell-McKay comedies); and movies he had nothing to do with but everyone assumes he did (I Love You, Man). Maybe this is why the ads confirm that Funny People is, in fact, the third film from Judd Apatow — as opposed, presumably, to the thirtieth or three-hundredth. I'm especially interested in two of its presumed themes: (1.) the neuroses and mechanics of professional and aspiring comedians; and (2.) the use of Adam Sandler in serious movies to ground his broad-comedy persona in real-life dysfunction. The latter works when the movie itself isn't very good (Reign Over Me; Spanglish) and even better, obviously, when it is (Punch-Drunk Love). Having Sandler play a comedian who's logged time in countless crummy movies? Icing on the meta-cake.
Sorry I haven't been posting in the past couple days. I've been sitting at my desk for 24 hours straight, eyes held open with tape, trying to figure out what in the name of christ Quietus writer Mimi Haddon is talking about in this bullshit article, Dirty Projectors & The Curse Of Brooklyn's Hipster Ephemera. Her point, allegedly, is that Dirty Projectors "stand for everything that's wrong with the hipster mentality." She finds them sexless, I've gathered, which I think a few members of each gender might take issue with. She thinks the line, "Is everything under the sun just a crazy, crazy dream" sums up the "indulgent apathy of swathes of youth," even though that doesn't make any sense. The problems are endless, really. In an attempt to explain how the Dirty Projectors example carries over into other Williamsburg bands, all she can come up with is Bear Hands, School of Seven Bells and, ooooh... er, Vampire Weekend?
Some day soon, people will stop writing these articles. There is a reason no smart person has ever tried to write one.
One day at Max's Kansas City, his favored watering hole, Andy Warhol grabbed a cocktail napkin, drew a line down its middle, and said that he'd like to make a movie with two images projected side by side, "black on one side, white on the other." With the help of Paul Morrissey, he then made Chelsea Girls (1966), over three hours of Warhol superstars shooting up, nattering on and making a spectacle of themselves. It was a financial success and quickly became a kind of legend, and this status has been spurred on by its continuing unavailability: I can remember when the now-defunct Mondo Kim's on St. Marks Place procured a copy, which I was eager to see. Kim's had a bootleg of nearly everything, including most of Warhol's early films, but Chelsea Girls was almost immediately confiscated by his estate. On August 1 and 2nd, Anthology Film Archives will be hosting screenings of this elusive beast; when I previewed a DVD of it, Chelsea Girls proved to be both more and less than I had hoped.
Lower East Side
Frankie Martin, Leidy Churchman and Larissa Velez kick off CANADA's (55 Chrystie St, between Canal and Hester Sts) four day summer screening series at 7pm (click here for full schedule).
The third installment of collaborative exhibition series Movement, Mirror Me, opens at DISPATCH, 127 Henry St (between Pike and Rutgers Sts), 8:30pm
Gallery for Middle Eastern art Kleio Projects celebrates its new space with short films and live music, 208 E 7th St (at Avenue B), 7pm
Artists turn their subjects into fascination characters for Reflection - people at Destination Art Space, 32-36 Little West 12th St (between Washington St and Ninth Ave), 6-8pm
Benefit party and auction for artist injured in 5Pointz stairway collapse, with original postcard art available for $40 a piece at Priska C. Juschka Fine Art, 547 W 27th St, 2nd Fl (between Tenth and Eleventh Aves), 5:30-9:30pm
Read Baldwin's impressionist landscape paintings at Blue Mountain Gallery, 530 W 25th St, 4th Fl (between Tenth and Eleventh Aves), 6-8pm
Delightful news: Don DeLillo's underrated 2003 novel Cosmopolis is to be adapted and filmed by David Cronenberg.
At first it sounds disastrous, this pairing of the intensely visceral Cronenberg — the director of subjective physiological horror stories A History of Violence and The Fly is sometimes called, to borrow the title of Cosmopolis's predecessor, "The Body Artist" — with DeLillo, who deals in iconography and technology, and whose most characteristic passages work to detach ideas from their physical correlatives.
But. Cosmopolis, an allegory of collapsing global financial markets, the instantaneous digital future, and impending ruin, takes place primarily inside a trader's monitor-studded limousine over the course of an epic ride across midtown Manhattan. Or, put another way: TV screens and cars.
(For the structure of Cosmopolis, incidentally, DeLillo cannibalized a then-unproduced screenplay called Game 6; it was later turned into a not very good movie.)
Hey, remember Saddam Hussein's crazy-awesome PR guy, whom western media lovingly dubbed Baghdad Bob? One of the brighter lights over at paranoid Right-Wing clearinghouse Free Republic realized that Obama's PR guy was also called Robert, which can be shortened to Bob. 5-4-3-2-1... let's call our own government PR guy "Baghdad Bob," like that other guy! This crystalline moment of Swiftian brilliance occurred here, back in April, and the nickname has stuck. I do think it's kind of funny, even if there's no real logic to it, beyond, you know, "Bob" (which isn't even the actual name of the other guy, but whatever. You go, Freepers!)
Most of us are not farmers or builders or experts on much of anything at all — we're consumers, and so we try, at least, to make the right decisions about which farmers and builders we pay to do all the real work we don't know how to do. Thus, EcoBrooklyn, a Brooklyn-based green contractor specializing in green building techniques, as well as green improvements on existing structures.
Best of all, perhaps, is their Green Show House, a Carroll Gardens brownstone they're gut renovating using all the techniques and materials they offer. Schedule an appointment with your landlord.
This morning's rooftop mystery over at Curbed, spurred by the picture at right, was solved by some astute commenters who quickly recognized the oddly inimitable Pop Art work of Jeff Koons on the penthouse balcony of 1 Sutton Place South (where, obviously, I should be given an honorary apartment). One commenter also speculates that the dotted white wall might be one of Damien Hirst's Spot Paintings, which would make this the city's most expensive semi-permanent outdoor art installation since Olafur Eliasson's Waterfalls project last summer. It also makes me wonder what other highly visible and frustratingly private art installations occupy the city's rooftops. Any hunches, commenters? (Bonus points for art on buildings or above streets that share a name with an L Mag staff-member.)
You know that whole thing about how the Internet has made everyone and their computer-literate parents a writer? Well, Holy Taco recently took the next logical step in that electronic media evolution and reverse engineered the words of their favorite commenters into a prototype for a print magazine dubbed, simply, Internet Commenter Weekly (pictured, the cover of issue number one).
More than a clever punchline about self-important commenter critics, this might actually be a brilliant way for online publications to make money and encourage less ironic/uninformed/insulting/racist reader participation. It could work something like this: for every year of membership on a site, users can purchase a printed edition of the most-read stories with all the accompanying commentary. Finally, your name in print!
You already know about today's bro-down chugfest at the White House with smart, irascible Skip Gates, smart, smooth-talking Barack Obama and not-as-smart, arresty Boston cop James Crowley. Obviously, it was already going to be a bit awkward, with Gates being all like, "That dude's a racist," and Crowley being like, "Naw dude, that dude called me a racist, which sucks," and then Obama would be all like, "Hey, have you tried the Duvel?" to which the other two dudes would be all like, "THAT IS SO GEIGH DUDE!!" [Wow, I feel like I could write this kind of trialogue for ever and ever.]
Anyway, things are about to get even more awkward.
Dash Snow, the spectacular and spectacularly young downtown art star who died earlier this month, is well on his way to one of the swiftest contemporary art canonizations ever. His first retrospective — technically billed a "memorial," but basically a small museum show with an unconventional curatorial approach — opened last week at Deitch Projects (76 Grand St), the Soho gallery that showed much of Snow's work over the last decade.
The memorial features a massive mural of Snow's tag "SACER" on Deitch's Grand Street facade, a blank wall where visitors can write messages, a series of previously unseen Polaroids discovered in his studio, and whatever pieces his friends, family and admirers choose to contribute. It's basically a community grief project that will also produce a rich and fairly comprehensive chronicle of Snow's evolution over the years. As more works are added to the show every day, don't forget to check back in regularly throughout the exhibition, which closes August 15. Click here for more details.
Today, the New York Times published an article on the ongoing debate regarding the posting of the ten original Rorschach inkblots and their most common answers on Wikipedia. Apparently a bunch of psychiatrists still depend on these images and say posting them is like creating a cheat sheet for patients; on the other hand, the images, published about 90 years ago, are no longer copyrighted and the free-information nerds over at Wikipedia think its ludicrous that they be taken down. But that's all boring logistical stuff. So, as an eager intern, desperate to get a byline wherever I can, I've decided to take a look at the ten Rorschach inkblots and see if I can muster up any suppressed childhood traumas and/or have a psychological breakdown in front of everyone else in the office. Enjoy!