Sunday, November 17, 2019
New York Times – "The Return of Golden Age Design"
"After watching cutting-edge contemporary residential buildings by starchitects like Zaha Hadid, Jean Nouvel and Frank Gehry sprout across the city for years, many developers and designers are now looking in the rearview mirror for inspiration. Rather than trying to develop buildings with contorted forms or monastic minimalism, they are aiming to evoke the romantic glow of New York’s past with new buildings that recall Art Deco, neo-Georgian and neo-Gothic style.
The activity isn’t limited to the Upper East and Upper West Sides, which have long been bastions of prewar style, either. New residential towers that riff on the grandeur of the city’s storied past — but include all the conveniences and amenities that 21st century buyers of new developments expect — are now rising everywhere from Morningside Heights to the financial district.
William Sofield, the founder of Studio Sofield, sees the activity as part of a broader trend that is bringing renewed interest to artisanal, handcrafted goods of all sorts, from hand-stitched leather handbags to bespoke, workshop-made lighting and furniture.
“It became this huge obsession, across the board, of things having quality, and things being handmade,” he said. “All of a sudden, glass towers felt cold, icy, alien. People went back to these things that had material quality to them.”
Compared to glass skyscrapers, Mr. Stern mused that his masonry buildings appeal to buyers because they look decidedly different from office towers and are eminently livable.
“You have walls between the windows so that in your apartment you can hang a picture,” he said. “Or, should you be one of those ancient people who still has books, you can have a bookcase.”
“We are the radical architects,” he said. “We are the architects who draw by hand as we design buildings, who look to the past for formal inspiration and who use wonderful materials, wherever possible, like limestone or brick.” "
The Ringer – "How Dre Forgot About Dre: The Story of ‘2001’"
"TheThe first sound you hear on 2001 is the THX Deep Note crescendoing and rumbling like an earthquake. It’s a fitting, on-the-nose introduction to one of the most cinematic rap albums of all time: Throughout 2001, Dre creates a highly curated noir L.A. soundscape, complete with skits, whirring helicopters, bar chatter, and whizzing bullets.
The production on “The Watcher,” like the rest of 2001, is the culmination of years of experimenting: It’s fermented, stark G-funk filtered through the noir of L.A. Confidential, complete with crisp violin plucks, delicate piano, low horns, skulking bass, and pulsing drums. The trademark high synth is still there, but instead of dominating songs, like The Chronic’s “Let Me Ride,” it lingers in the background, an eerie callback to simpler times. Dre had hinted at his new sound on those earlier Eminem and Snoop tracks that same year, but no one was prepared for what 2001 held in store. Even now, 20 years later, it somehow sounds futuristic.
Throughout 2001’s 22 tracks, Dre and Mel-Man reinvented what hip-hop could sound like. Instead of old funk records, this time around Dre incorporated French songs from the 1960s, several TV and film scores, and a bevy of R&B licks without compromising 2001’s nocturnal core. The album is a statement in simplicity, orchestration, and scientifically precise execution. “Xxplosive,” one of 2001’s best beats, flips the first few bars of the classic Soul Mann & the Brothers instrumental “Bumpy’s Lament” from the Shaft soundtrack and pairs it with triangle-twinkles and drums so solid that Kanye stole them to help find his own sound early in his career. “The Next Episode” prominently takes David Axelrod and Dave McCallum’s “The Edge” and pairs it with trembling, reverberating drum hits and a massive, endorphin-generating build-up. “Big Ego’s” and “Still D.R.E.” incorporate producer Scott Storch’s bone-chilling keys and Mel-Man’s gurgling bass, while “Fuck You” and “Light Speed” ooze synths so restrained they feel on the verge of petering out.
As I’ve gotten older, 2001 has remained in my personal rap album pantheon. The beats continue to thrill me, and most of the rapping hasn’t aged. 2001 still somehow sounds like the future. But my obsession with the album’s lore has steadily faded. I interviewed Hittman when I was 20 because his disappearance post-2001 only added more to the myth of the album—and the myth of Dre himself. But when I met Hittman, I found him living happily off royalties with his family in Pasadena, California. And when I learned the reasons for his disappearance—personal tragedy, a disinterested Dre, bad business deals—the bubble popped. Hittman didn’t mysteriously disappear; he got burnt out and chose to move on. The reality was far from the myth, and much more human.
How do we choose the stories we tell about ourselves? Dre chose to bury the shame, anger, and insecurity of his deepest self within tall tales of authority, menace, and, later, questionable contrition. He got one of the greatest rap albums of all time, and a remarkable life, out of that truth bending. But there is always a cost. I asked Hittman, back in 2014, on 2001’s 15th anniversary, whether he had any regrets. He quickly told me no. “And while I may have squandered any remnants of a career, I never compromised my character in exchange for one,” he said, sitting outside at a frozen yogurt shop, watching his two young daughters play. “So I can live with that.” "
Wednesday, November 13, 2019
Saturday, November 9, 2019
New York Times – "It’s Bong Joon Ho’s Dystopia. We Just Live in It."
By A.O. Scott
"In South Korea, where “Parasite” is already a blockbuster (having taken in more than $70 million at the box office), it has contributed to that country’s continuing debate about economic inequality. In the United States, where similar arguments are swirling, it has begun to turn Bong from an auteur with a passionate cult following into a top-tier international filmmaker. Fifty years old, with seven features to his name — most of them available on North American streaming platforms — he combines showmanship with social awareness in a way that re-energizes the faded but nonetheless durable democratic promise of movies."
"It’s part horror film, part satire and part tragedy, conveying a sharp lesson about class struggle in South Korea and just about everywhere else."
"“Parasite” is more noir than science fiction, farcical until it turns melodramatic."
New Yorker – "“Parasite” Explores What Lies Beneath"
By Anthony Lane
Early Oscar Hype
The Ringer – "Who Is the Mandalorian? Let’s Start With Who He’s Not."
"In Clint Eastwood’s 1960s collaborations with Sergio Leone—the films that both made Eastwood’s star and created the Spaghetti Western genre—he played the Man With No Name, a grizzled bounty hunter who wasn’t so much a “hero” as he was a guy whose self-interest sometimes rubbed shoulders with decency. Throughout the 100-minute runtime of their second film, For a Few Dollars More, Eastwood’s face rests at a 60-40 ratio of “ruggedly handsome” and “intimidating.” Watch the final duel again: He swaggers in, chewing on his hand-rolled cigar, stare a mile long, instantly and totally in control of the situation. The bandit deigns to make a move for his pistol. Then time slows down, and Eastwood, as cold as you could never be, shakes his head no.
It was the poncho, draped just so, that did it for actor Jeremy Bulloch. While shooting the The Empire Strikes Back, he noticed his character Boba Fett wore a cape just like it. Bulloch decided to model Fett’s mannerisms after Eastwood in Fistful, which is to say that the space bounty hunter, like the Man With No Name, is impossibly self-possessed. At least until that iconic Wilhelm scream Fett lets out as he falls—with his jetpack?—into the sarlacc pit. It was a pretty stupid death befitting a character George Lucas assumed would be minor in the long run, and not one generations of fans, filmmakers, and showrunners would find cool as hell. And this is despite him speaking only four lines of dialogue in his first on-screen appearance."
The Ringer – "How Boba Fett Became a ‘Star Wars’ Icon"
"heThe first concept artwork for Boba Fett began, like most rough sketches, in black and white. After George Lucas had established a pure villain in Darth Vader and his white-armored henchmen, he wanted to create a “Super-Stormtrooper” that could do Vader’s bidding and provide fans with another antagonist in the Empire. Eventually, wanting the character to have a bigger role in the story, Lucas rewrote him as a bounty hunter. “The Boba Fett character is really an early version of Darth Vader,” says Lucas in J.W. Rinzler’s book The Making of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. “He is also very much like the man-with-no-name from the Sergio Leone Westerns.”
Beginning in 1977, concept artist Ralph McQuarrie outfitted what the design team called its “supercommando” in all white, morphing a Vaderlike helmet into a signature T-shaped visor. A year later, art director Joe Johnston took the reins on Boba Fett’s exterior technology. His early sketches showed off the wide array of gadgets the bounty hunter had at his disposal, including a rangefinder readout, shoulder guards, rocket-pack nozzles, high-velocity armor-piercing projectiles, luminous flares, laser weapons, a flamethrower attachment, utility pouches, rocket darts, and extendable kick blades. In more developed and detailed illustrations, Boba Fett sported aquamarine coloring along with a dented helmet, a woven hide belt, and a wrap-around cape stolen right out of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly."
Sunday, November 3, 2019
Washington Post – "Why boxing disappeared after the Rumble in the Jungle — and why football could, too"
"Like football today, boxing owed its enormous national popularity to broadcasting. Originally, in the bare-knuckled days, bouts would often be staged in barrooms while bookies placed odds among the raucous crowds. At the turn of the 20th century, however, boxing emerged as legitimate amusement. State regulatory boards, pushed by promoters, fans and the media, began to sanction the sport.
Radio capitalized on the huge crowds that swarmed arenas around the world to watch iconic champions — the first real sporting celebrities — battle it out. Radio coverage cleaned up boxing, pulling it out of the smoky bars and grimy arenas and making it presentable in every American home. The networks showcased boxing stars by creating dramatic and sensational narratives around such heroic athletes as Jim Braddock, Max Baer and Joe Louis. In the 1930s, Louis’s championship bouts were the only network programming that proved competitive in the national ratings with President Franklin Roosevelt’s fireside chats. Everyone tuned in.
By the 1930s, heavyweight championship fights paid out almost unimaginable riches to elite stars. And over the ensuing decades, as radio evolved into television and “Friday Night Fights” became appointment viewing, even the boxers themselves couldn’t believe the money involved. In 1971, right before Ali fought Joe Frazier in Madison Square Garden, the crowd watched Ali chanting something while dancing around the ring. Everyone assumed he was taunting Frazier. In fact, he was quietly repeating to himself: “Two-and-a-half million dollars! Two-and-a-half million dollars! Can you believe it?”
But that popularity encouraged promoters to search for new revenue opportunities, and they found them outside the broadcast networks, on satellite and closed-circuit pay-per-view television. That is the significance of the Rumble in the Jungle: It did not appear on network television. The live broadcast occurred in the United States in closed-circuit-equipped movie theaters. This effort to capitalize on the sport’s popularity risked losing the interest of the casual viewer. As more top fights left free television, the networks settled for lesser attractions, and the quality of the matches eroded.
And then the violence of the sport took its toll on viewers. Boxing’s future on free television was most likely sealed by a series of events in 1982. First, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini seriously maimed South Korean Duk-Koo Kim live on CBS; Kim died a few days afterward. Less than two weeks later, while the public and politicians debated the horrifying savagery of that event, Larry Holmes pounded the face of Randall “Tex” Cobb into a bloody mess live on ABC. When the referee refused to stop the fight, a disgusted Howard Cosell turned on the sport that made him famous. Cosell’s anger presaged the frustration of his network bosses.
For them, the value proposition of running afoul of Washington’s regulators in exchange for now-second-rate sports programming with declining ratings was no longer viable. They had other options. Soon the NBA started drawing in the casual sports fan, and within a decade basketball stars filled boxing’s void in the global sporting arena. "
The Undefeated – "Bridgewater’s brief but brilliant starting run was a glimpse of what could have been"
"“In this town, people like underdogs,” said Saints Radio play-by-play man Zach Strief, who played offensive line for New Orleans for 12 seasons. “They like people that work hard. They like people who are like them. Teddy embodies all that. Certainly, the production helps, the fact that we’re winning helps, but I think the way that Teddy goes about his business does, too. He’s kind of quiet, he’s kind of soft-spoken, but he’s got kind of a confidence. He really embodies what the city is about: fighting your way out, being resilient.
“The things Teddy went through to get to this place, you could very easily build a metaphor of Katrina and what it was like rebuilding the city. At that time, people were talking about that this city may never come back. And yet it’s back, it’s better than it was before, it’s growing. It’s the same thing Teddy is going through right now.”"