Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Man Behind the Dossier

New Yorker – "Christopher Steele, the Man Behind the Trump Dossier"
By Jane Mayer

The Oklahoma City Thunder's Artist Fan in Japan

Wall Street Journal – "The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Biggest Fan Lives in Japan"
By Ben Cohen

Instagram: @Perspective_7A

You Were Never Really Here

April 6, 2018
Written & Directed by Lynne Ramsay
Based on the Novella by Jonathan Ames
Starring Joaquin Phoenix
Winner of Best Screenplay and Best Actor at last year's Cannes Film Festival

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Color Zeitgeist of America

New York Times – "What Is the Perfect Color Worth?"

"There were spirited, far-ranging discussions of art, film, music, theater, books, fashion, museum exhibitions and advertising — anything that might hint, even remotely, at where color was headed. Amid the clamor of voices, Shah asked an American forecaster in the room to give the view from across the Atlantic.

“What is the zeitgeist going on in the United States about color?” Shah asked. “Are they big colors? Are they strong colors? Prime colors?”

“I think what’s going on in the United States now is that it’s all happening,” the woman replied. “It’s almost reflective of the conflict going on around us — where you’re not having one definite color correction, but you’re seeing examples in various areas. I think it’s mostly about mixes.”

“So it’s not about solids,” Shah said. “It’s about how you put colors together?”

“Exactly, and different from what it’s been before,” the woman said. “It’s almost like a counterculture type of a feeling — you deliberately use colors that would not ordinarily work together.”

“Accidental colors,” Shah said, coining a phrase."

Entertainment Enthusiast Culture

New York Times – "The Little Movie Studio That Could"

"In fact, looking at A24’s box office results, it would be easy to wonder what all the fuss is about. Before “Lady Bird,” the studio’s biggest hit was “Moonlight,” which collected about $28 million at the domestic box office, making it one of the lowest-grossing films ever to be named best picture. (It also cost only $1.5 million to make, however.) A24 has also had its share of misfires, including the 2014 crime drama “A Most Violent Year,” which cost $20 million and collected $5.8 million.

But even those in Hollywood who believe A24 is overhyped — and there are plenty, perhaps nudged along by envy — concede that the studio has done an astounding job at building a brand.

And it appears just to be getting started. In an unusual move by Hollywood standards, the studio introduced its own podcast this week. (“A24 in your eardrums. No host, no ads, no rules.”) It publishes an A24 magazine that is distributed free in trendy hotels. The company also sells limited-edition merchandise on its website and is planning special musical events.

“What’s so interesting is that they’re tapping into a new type of entertainment enthusiast,” said DeeDee Gordon, an independent brand strategist who has consulted for A24. “It’s similar, I think, to what happened in foodie culture. It used to be a rarefied niche. Then it became democratized. Every income level. Every life stage. Global. That is the opportunity that A24 now has at its fingertips.”"

Southwestern Style

New York Times Fashion Magazine – "Cowgirl Meets Aspen Divorcée — on the Runway"

"So why now? For one, bright tiles, fringe and Pendleton blankets are well suited to the Instagram era. It may also be that in a time of techno-overload and environmental uncertainty, designers are drawn to the earthy and elemental. And, of course, Europe has long been fascinated with the mythology of the American West (see classic mid-’60s Spaghetti Westerns). Finally, if there is a look that evokes an idealized American past, while also nodding to our original resistors and outsiders, it’s this. As O’Keeffe said of the jeans she took to wearing while painting in her Abiquiú, N.M., studio: “I rather think they are our only national costumes.”"

Saturday, March 3, 2018

The #1 Album of 1998

Outkast – Aquemini
Eric Harvey for Pitchfork:

"Three years and one great album after they were booed at the 1995 Source Awards, OutKast still held a grudge against the rap establishment. On the last song of Aquemini, the scorching, Funkadelic-flavored “Chonkyfire,” they finally squashed it. As the track melts away, they hit play on the entirety of their Best New Artist acceptance speech, on which a 20-year-old André Benjamin claimed he was tired of “them closed-minded folks” and asserted that “the South got somethin’ to say.”

If the previous 71 minutes of Aquemini had proven anything, it was that Dre and Big Boi had plenty to say to closed-minded rap purists. Two years earlier, they fretted about their new fame leaving them floating face down in the mainstream, but with Aquemini, that question turned moot: They put Atlanta on the map while hovering far above the noise. Aquemini was not only the best album released in 1998, it was also Southern rap’s The Chronic and Are You Experienced?, a rap album full of live funk that established new lanes for “real”-ness and psychedelia. The same year that Jay-Z hit the pop charts, New Orleans blew up, and Lauryn Hill’s R&B/rap mind-meld swept the Grammys, OutKast earned their crown—one of their own design.

Driven by Dre’s increasingly spaced-out spirituality—a cocktail of astrology, Rastafarianism, and Baduizm—and leveled by Big’s technical skill and knack for hooks, and as always supported by the duo’s Dungeon Family associates (including members of Goodie Mob) and the Organized Noize team of producer/instrumentalists, Aquemini doubled down on ATLiens’ groove-first extra-terrestrialisms in service of their own Southern-fried G-Funk. Needless to say, the first single from the album, “Rosa Parks,” was unprecedented in popular music, let alone rap: a brilliant flip of 1960s Civil Rights iconography into a back porch country hoedown (complete with harmonica solo) themed to OutKast’s dominance. The deep-cut “Liberation,” featuring Cee-Lo Green and Erykah Badu, was equally novel for a putative rap record—a brooding, nine-minute jazz-n-b meditation on black identity and struggle that dialogued directly with Badu’s nascent Soulquarian collective.

Eight years before Idlewild, OutKast wrote a feature-length screenplay to accompany Aquemini. Though a studio squashed the film idea, the album’s “Da Art of Storytellin’” diptych clearly demonstrates that the duo’s capacity to work in Southern hood realism and post-apocalyptic sci-fi modes. Then there’s the eternally great “SpottieOttieDopaliscious” on which the full gamut of the duo’s world-weariness and knack for rich detail power seven delirious minutes of blaxploitation reggae. At a time when rap storytelling primarily comprised coming-of-age stories that inevitably ended in wild success, Dre and Big carved out new narrative territory: both new fathers in their early twenties, they warned of the inevitable comedown of street life and recalled being too drunk to get out of the van at the club. It’s not hard to imagine a precocious, preteen Kendrick Lamar taking notes.

The late 1990s were an odd time for pop music, and 1998 might have been the weirdest of all. While styles and scenes rapidly mutated into new forms, digital technologies transformed adventurous sampling and genre recombination into the pop norm, not the exception. OutKast were the new kings of this fractured landscape, and Aquemini is their magnum opus, a minor miracle of creative synthesis. Perhaps most impressively, they pushed against the tides of gangsta rap without sounding like scolds, coming across like true iconoclasts probing the outer reaches of what the culture could withstand. No one has matched it since."