Sunday, May 31, 2020

Creative Genius: Andreas Gursky

Wikipedia – "Andreas Gursky"
Wikipedia – "List of most expensive photos"

Creative Genius: Katherine Bernhardt

Wikipedia – Katherine Bernhardt
GQ – "Paint it Loud"
GQ – "Creativity in the Time of Quarantine"

"The New York City painter has been in Antigua, Guatemala, making murals and mingling with exotic birds by the pool.

What kind of work have you been making? 
 I have been working on painting items from popular culture in Guatemala and things found around Antigua. Coffee Mate is popular at the breakfast table here, so I’ve been painting it. It’s hard to find, though, since birds here swoop onto the table and fly off with it in their beaks. They prefer it to any of the other types of sugars and sweeteners available. I also found a Little Caesars pizza box in the street the other day while on a walk. I’m painting that too.

Where are you making work, and is that typical or unique to this situation? 
I love working outside and working at different spots around the hotel grounds. The vibe feels kind of like scenes when Penélope Cruz is painting from the film Vicky Cristina Barcelona, one of my favorite movies!

To what degree would you say the work that you’re making is at all “about” the crisis? 
Some of it is about the crisis (the mural), and some works on paper focus on it. And all of it is about Guatemala, where I am unexpectedly located, thanks to the borders being closed.

What have you been reading, watching, and/or listening to? 
I read the local daily newspaper, Prensa Libre. To put this crisis in perspective, I have recently reviewed the introduction in Boccaccio’s The Decameron and am about to read El amor en los tiempos del cólera, by Gabriel García Márquez. And I have just finished bingeing Tiger King. And I am listening to my usual music: Bad Bunny."

GQ – "Desus & Mero Know the Ultimate Quarantine Flex"

"What would you say is the soundtrack of your quarantine? 

Mero: Bad Bunny. When I'm not in my house I'm uptown, Washington Heights. That's the soundtrack to that 'hood. I was so hyped to be out drinking in the street, listening to this music. Now I guess it's gonna be headphones for me.

Desus: Little Dragon’s new album, New Me, Same Us dropped right when this was starting, and now it feels like I'm in some weird independent movie and that's the soundtrack. One of those weird things where you didn't mean to link two things together. "

Legend of the Wild West

New York Times – "Guns, Gunfights and the Legends of the Wild West"

"The revolver is as iconic for Americans as the samurai sword is for the Japanese or the longbow for the English and Welsh. The difference is that we know who invented it. The fact of its invention matters almost as much to our self-image as the gun itself. We remember its creator, Samuel Colt, as the definitive Connecticut Yankee, ingenious and acquisitive. But his missteps are as fascinating as his accomplishments…

It’s startling to realize that Colt was born in 1814, just before British troops carrying flintlock muskets burned the White House. America was a nation of farmers, artisans, merchants and the enslaved; it still was when he died in 1862. But he helped to create an industrial, technological future by multiplying the productivity of personal violence.

The rise of the Colt revolver’s multishot technology coincided with the disintegration of political order, as the United States descended into the Civil War. But the weapon achieved its greatest fame in the postwar West. There, enhanced individual lethality met minimal legal and social constraints, or so myth would have it. As with Colt, the truth is not the opposite of legend, but more complicated and interesting."

Exercise Risk in a Quarantine

New York Times – "Do Runners Need to Wear Masks?"

"Even in Hong Kong, a city so committed to face coverings in public that it has been widely praised as a model, there is little expectation that runners will wear masks, said Brian Woo, a founder of a running group there. “I assume it’s just understood that running is not a time for wearing masks,” he said.

Still, there’s evidence that runners and bikers should wear masks, right?

There is no scientific consensus around the importance of wearing a mask while exercising, primarily because so little relevant research has been completed.

Researchers do agree that masks slow the spread of the virus. They also agree that it’s best to avoid exercising within six feet of anyone beyond your immediate household and that working out is less risky outside than inside.

Donald Milton, a professor of environmental health at the University of Maryland School of Public Health who has studied masks’ ability to block respiratory droplets, suggests their value depends on location. “Outdoors is relatively safe, and masks would only be important if you are exercising in crowded areas or indoors in space shared with other people,” he said."

NPR – "From Camping To Dining Out: Here's How Experts Rate The Risks Of 14 Summer Activities"

"Spending the day at a popular beach or pool: low risk

As long as you can stay socially distanced, this could be a pretty safe activity, our experts say.

The water itself is not a risk. "The sheer volume of water will dilute out the virus, making the water a highly unlikely source of infection," says Janowski.

What alters risk? The key question is, how close are you to others? "Can you ensure that you can stay 6 feet [or more] from anyone outside of your designated family?" asks Rebecca Katz, director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University Medical Center."

Remake of Perry Mason

June 21 on HBO.

New York Times – "In ‘Perry Mason,’ Matthew Rhys Plays Defense"

"HBO needed an actor to portray pulp fiction’s most successful criminal defense attorney. Rhys, an Emmy-winner for “The Americans,” took the case."

Monday, May 25, 2020

Alison Roman, Bon Appetit YouTube and the Global Pantry

Eater – "Stewed Awakening"

"Roman, after all, is arguably the most fashionable avatar of a broader shift. We are living in the age of the global pantry, when a succession of food media-approved, often white figures have made an array of international ingredients approachable and even desirable to the North American mainstream — the same mainstream that, a decade ago, would have labeled these foods as obscure at best and off-putting at worst. This phenomenon is why you now see dukkah on avocado toast, kimchi in grain bowls, and sambal served with fried Brussels sprouts. It’s a kind of polyglot internationalism presented under the New American umbrella, with the techniques and raw materials of non-Western cuisines used to wake up the staid, predictable flavors of familiar Americana.

Not long ago, you could see this playing out on the menus of hip restaurants across the country. At AL’s Place in San Francisco, squash tahini was served with burrata, sumac-galangal dressing, pickles, and dukkah; in LA, there was preserved Meyer lemon and lacto-fermented hot sauce in Sqirl’s sorrel pesto rice bowl, and a “Turkish-ish” breakfast of vegetables, a sumac- and Aleppo pepper-dusted egg, and three-day-fermented labneh at Kismet. Over in Nashville, Cafe Roze put a turmeric egg in its hard-boiled BLT and miso ranch in its barley salad. Up in New York, Dimes served a veggie burger with harissa tofu and a dish called huevos Kathmandu that paired green chutney and spiced chickpeas with fried eggs.

But now, as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced most of us to stay home and make the most of our kitchen skills, the global pantry is most visible on the pages and websites of establishment food media. It’s Bon Appétit’s gluten-free coconut-turmeric pie and kimchi-cream cheese toast; Food & Wine’s tofu masala and rosy harissa chicken; the New York Times’s brothy chicken soup with hominy and poblano; and Every Day With Rachael Ray’s minty matcha smoothie and Korean barbecue burgers. You can see it all over social media and particularly Instagram, where its most viral example is #thestew, Roman’s 2018 recipe for a chickpea-coconut milk stew whose broth is made golden with turmeric. And you can see it on Bon Appétit’s extremely popular YouTube channel, where its test kitchen stars make everything from saffron brittle to “dahi toast” to slow-roast gochujang chicken to spicy chicken katsu sandwiches (though it bears noting that the first two of those recipes were created by people of color).

As the culinary has become a marker of contemporary culture, occupying much of the space once monopolized by music or fashion, food media and social media have fused to create a supercharged form of aspirational desire. Within this mode of desire, however, the idea of using new, hitherto “exotic” ingredients only seems to become aspirational when those ingredients appear on the pages of prominent tastemaking magazines (or, perhaps more relevantly, on Instagram) — or are espoused by white tastemakers. Remember that time in 2018 when the author Stephanie Danler told T Magazine about her “kitchari cleanse,” explaining how the Indian dish of lentils and rice (actually called khichrhi) allowed her to “reset [her] system”? Or the time that haldi doodh took over coffee shop menus, the food media, and Instagram after being rebranded as the turmeric latte? "

Top Stubborn Design Trends

New York Times – "9 Top (and Stubborn) Design Trends"

Subway Tile

"White tile was a fixture in middle-class Victorian homes long before the New York City subway opened in 1904, covered in the stuff. Unlike fancier, colorful tiles applied to fireplace surrounds and hearths, glazed white tile appeared in high-traffic areas like kitchens and bathrooms, offering durable surfaces that made dirt conspicuous and were easy to clean.

Transferring the same hygienic principles underground, the subway station designers Christopher Grant La Farge and George L. Heins created a huge, elaborate canvas for white field tile installed in a running bond pattern edged in coves and other trims. The three-by-six-inch rectangles had a distinctive look, with beveled surfaces and narrow grout lines.

Though the color and material palettes (and even size range) have expanded, this is the hugely popular wall treatment (214,000 Instagram hashtags) we now call subway tile.

When did that term appear? Nobody seems to know.

Keith Bieneman is the owner and managing director of Heritage Tile, a company that does restoration work on New York’s subway stations, using tile manufactured to the original standards.

“There was a resurgence in artisan tile making throughout the U.S.” in the 1990s, he said. “People started focusing on the kitchen and started putting in high-end appliances and looking at backsplashes as art pieces as opposed to utilitarian surfaces.” Subway tile fulfilled aspirations for the authentic remodeling of many 20th-century homes (it had exploded in the 1920s when its manufacture and installation were standardized) and yet it looked timeless.

Another powerful influencer was Schiller’s Liquor Bar, the retro-styled restaurant Keith McNally opened on the Lower East Side in 2003. For 14 years, it dished out steak frites in a space with a pressed tin ceiling, tarnished mirrors, a black-and-white checkerboard floor and square yards of vintage subway tiles.

Schiller’s has plenty of imitators, including a minutely detailed copy called Café La Favorite on the Rue de Rivoli in Paris.

“This Jazz Age New York style, that’s something that’s admired tremendously around the world,” said Mr. Bieneman, whose company manufactured tile for La Favorite, and for Schiller’s copycats in Dublin, Stockholm and Guangzhou, China."

Bar Carts

"The bar cart, a midcentury artifact, made its return about a decade ago, a few years after “Mad Men” showed us what an asset it could be. In you took the AMC series as your model, you parked the bar cart in your living room (or better yet, office) and visited it as frequently as a diabetic zebra at a watering hole. You learned that anything small and on wheels feels friendly and informal, even when it is a vehicle for bad behavior.

Well, five years have passed since “Mad Men” ended, and the bar cart is still with us (150,000 Instagram posts). It turns out to be useful in so many un-louche ways.

Bar carts can be plant stands and end tables. Magazine holders and unused corner fillers. You can even pull them up to your open-plan kitchen for emergency counter space when you have no other place to put the roast.

“To me, bar carts signify swagger. I think that’s le mot juste,” said Jonathan Adler, who began designing them 15 years ago, before Don Draper lurched onto the scene. “If you see someone with a bar cart, you think they’re fun. They make young people seem sophisticated and old people seem young.”

He said his personal love affair began when he bought a vintage bar cart by an under-sung midcentury Italian designer named Aldo Tura, who worked in lacquered goatskin. Since then, Mr. Adler said he’s done a “bazillion” ones with different degrees of functionality and had just gotten out of a Zoom meeting discussing the development of his next.

“I’m going to do a round one,” he said. “One of the things I love about them is an opportunity to get quite sculptural.”"

Also mentioned:
Fiddle-leaf Figs
String Lights
Kitchen Islands
Hairpin Legs
Beni Ouarain Carpets

Sort-of related:
1960's Conversation Pits
The Millennial Aesthetic … “People are tired of the sameness and already craving something new”

Glass Brick Nostalgia

From @KatyKelleher: "Bring 👏 back 👏 glass 👏 brick!"

The Walrus – "Why Nostalgia Is Our New Normal"

"Appropriately for the elusiveness of the concept, the word nostalgia did not originally mean what we now consider it to—also appropriately, it was coined with a longing for a time when there was no word for what it described. In 1688, a Swiss medical student named Johannes Hofer gave the name nostalgia to a malady he had noticed in young Swiss people who had been sent abroad—chiefly mercenaries, one of Switzerland’s prime exports at the time, though also household servants and others who found themselves in “foreign regions.” As was the style at the time in the nascent field of “medicine more complicated than bleeding humours,” Hofer used a portmanteau from an indistinctly highfalutin form of Ancient Greek: nostos roughly means “home”—although it more often means “homecoming,” which incidentally was also the name for an entire subcategory of Greek literature, most notably the Odyssey—while algos means, more simply, “pain,” derived from Algea, the personifications of sorrow and grief, and a common classification at the time, attached to a variety of maladies that have since gotten either more precise or more vernacular names. "

Spike Lee’s New York & Da 5 Bloods

New York Times – "Spike Lee and the Battlefield of American History"

"As his own tribute to the essential workers of New York, Lee made a short film, “New York, New York,” that premiered on CNN earlier this month. Filmed over a month and using Frank Sinatra’s iconic ballad of the same name as its soundtrack, the film captures the city’s eerily empty landmarks. But it ends on an optimistic note: hospital workers in personal protective gear who arrive like the cavalry.

“There’s going to be great stories about this time — novels, music, documentaries, poems, feature films, TV shows — it’s going to be a cottage industry!” he said. “And hopefully people tell the truth. There are plenty of real heroes,” he continued, adding, “just tell the truth, and it will be captivating.”

(Da 5 Bloods – June 12 on Netflix)

"The four veterans of the film — played by Lindo, Clarke Peters, Isiah Whitlock Jr. and Norm Lewis — affectionately refer to one another as “bloods,” a term used by their real-life counterparts in the war. In a story that pays homage to “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” (1948), “The Bridge on the River Kwai” (1957) and “Apocalypse Now” (1979), the bloods are on a mission to recover the body of their former squad leader, Stormin’ Norman (Chadwick Boseman), which is not incidentally buried near a secret treasure.

The drama that unfolds — among the men, and between the group and their present-day Vietnamese rivals — is a modern parable about the enduring depravations of war and the false promises of American individualism.

“All of us, and humanity as a whole, have to learn to think about more than just ourselves,” Lee said. “If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that we’ve got to support one another. We can’t go back to what we were doing in B.C., before corona, with great inequalities between the have and have-nots.”"

Saturday, May 23, 2020

From North Carolina...

ESPN – "Michael Jordan: A History of Flight"
By Wright Thompson

"His dad said that Nike's commitment was on display because Phil Knight had waited so long, and its design skills were on display in the IIIs, and that this seemed like the right move for his future. Michael listened. That's where the legend began -- with North Carolina exerting its pull outside an Orange County hotel. From that parking lot to recognition from the president, not just of his athletic prowess, or his marketing savvy, but of his drive, his competitiveness, his essential greatness. It could be seen as a culmination of a life spent escaping a past, or a post-racial brand strategy anomaly, an American unicorn, or it could be seen in another way: a man actually fulfilling a destiny, carrying his family with him on his rise, coming from somewhere. Michael Jordan didn't just appear. He was raised -- by his parents, by a community, by the stories of those who came before.


There's a version online I've been playing over and over, from Game 4 of the 1998 Finals. The crowd is as loud as the big arena speakers. The top comment on the video says, "Karl Malone hears this in his nightmares." It's thrilling even all these years later. After Clay announces the fourth starter, Ron Harper, the crowd gets louder -- because he's also 6-foot-6. They know what's coming. Every child of the 1990s can almost recite Clay's next words by heart, how he says Jordan's home like he's talking about Sparta or something: FROM NORTH CAROLINA ... That signifies many worlds. Not just North Carolina but coastal Carolina, always different than the mountains or the Piedmont plain; and not just coastal Carolina but Wilmington, and not just Wilmington but the rural riverbank swamps stretching out from the edge of town. And not just generic swamps but two in particular. Holly Shelter and Angola Bay. That's where the Jordans come from. A tight wedge of brackish land outside Wilmington bordered by Highways 17 and 24 to the south and north, and Highways 117 and 50 to the west and east. Keep drilling down, before names and roads and any of that, go all the way back, because these 560 square miles of land tell you as much about the man as a story about being cut from a basketball team ever did. "There is a lot of power in staying connected," says Zandria Robinson, a Georgetown professor studying race, gender, popular culture and the U.S. South. "There is power in that particular kind of rearing too -- all that work. This is why they stayed connected to that land."

Long before Michael Jordan came into the world, this is where he was born.


They told Michael to turn all negative events into positives, which later became his armor made of slights. Michael's mother wrote children's books after he got famous, and in one of them, her parenting philosophy was revealed: Saying you want something is fine and well, a good start, but doing something about it is what really counts. At the end of that book, when the mother puts her son to bed after his first successful basketball game, she tells him with pride, "I guess you aren't just a dreamer but a doer, Michael." "

Japanese Soft Power

Quartz - "How Japan’s global image morphed from military empire to eccentric pop-culture superpower"

"In just a few decades, Japan’s global image has changed radically, especially in the West. The shifts have been so drastic it can be hard to recognize the same country in these different visions of it. Particularly in America, which has had a close and complex relationship with Japan since World War II, this image has evolved from fearsome enemy to producer of cheap cars and gadgets to, finally, whimsical creative fantasy factory.

This last step shows just how potent pop culture can be in shaping national identity on the global stage. Today the country’s exports of TV, movies, and toys stand as one of the world’s premier examples of soft power, or the ability to influence and attract international cooperation through persuasive means, such as culture, rather than by direct payment or force. They’ve even become a major source of national pride.


There are various theories about why Japan has proved so adept at producing them. Matt Alt, cofounder of translation and consulting service AltJapan and author of multiple books about Japan, including the forthcoming Pure Invention, which traces the country’s pop-cultural ascent, believes Japan possesses cultural traits which make it adept at conjuring up characters, or at least seeing them where others might not. “Unlike the West, Japan has this long polytheistic, animistic tradition,” he says, pointing to the Shinto religion and its 8 million gods. “It gave rise to this culture of personification of all sorts of things.”

During the Edo period from about 1603 to 1867, those personifications resulted in monster-like characters dubbed yokai, which emerged first in local tales before becoming part of Japanese folklore. They could appear as anything from a sentient broom or shoe to a fully invented creature. Alt argues all these elements laid the groundwork for the present.

“That kind of ability to tell stories and to create characters from almost anything fueled the rise of things like Hello Kitty or Mario or the Pokémon or Dragonball that turned into these massive franchises,” he says. “Japan has always had this ability to pair really compelling characters visually with really compelling stories, and that’s really what popular culture and entertainment is about.” There’s also Japan’s shokunin, or artisan, spirit, which promotes devotion to a craft, arguably making Japanese creators more likely to lavish extra attention on the fine details that elevate work from good to great.

The artist Takashi Murakami has provided a different explanation. He’s described Japan as the world’s first post-apocalyptic society—the product of two atomic explosions that inflicted deep trauma in the national psyche. Japanese creators, he believed, turned to manga, anime, and other forms of pop culture to grapple with and express their anxieties. "

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Exercising in a Pandemic

GQ – "The Track Is for Everyone"
By Joe Holder (@OchoSystem)

"Running has become the defining sport of the quarantine era. With gyms closed and team sports on hiatus, it's one of best ways to move our bodies and focus on our mental and physical health—which we all need right now. Which is not to say it's not a strange time to run: races are cancelled for the foreseeable future, you can't meet up for a workout with your friends or teammates, and practicing social distancing makes a lot of routes frustrating or impossible. But at least we can run.

That's something I'm grateful for, because running has become a huge part of my life. In high school and college I ran track and played football—I never thought distance running was for me. As recently as four years ago, I said I'd never run a marathon. Now I'm dead set on running my fourth. It all started when I took ten weeks to train a client of mine, Eugene Tong, from scratch to chugging through 26.2 miles for a respectable finish at the New York City Marathon. Running with him during training and seeing his progress lit a fire in me—I signed up for next year’s L.A. Marathon the next day. I struggled through that course’s endless hills and found God at mile 18. That same year, I surged through the streets of New York, feeding off the energy of my current home. Then last year I met my goal of breaking three hours with the oh so flat course of Chicago. It’s been a wonderful experience. Everyone knows that running a marathon is about endurance, and it is, but to do it well you need more than that. My secret was picking up the pace on some runs and turning up the intensity on at the track.

In this weird time, the track is one of the best places to get a workout in right now. It's a bit counterintuitive, since it's a gathering place, but unlike parks or sidewalks, there aren't any dog walkers or rollerbladers to weave six feet away from. And a standard track is more than 30 feet wide, meaning there's plenty of room to give each other enough space. "

New York Times – "People Are Panic-Buying Meat, Toilet Paper … and Pelotons?"
Bloomberg – "Peloton Attracts a Record 23,000 People to Single Workout Class"

New York Times – "Sports Are Restarting in a ‘New Normal’"

"In Mission Viejo, Schubert got half of his 36-member elite group to return to the pool, using social-distancing guidelines provided by U.S.A. Swimming and approved by the city’s mayor, Brian Goodell, a Schubert protégé who won two Olympic gold medals in 1976.

Most nearby teams haven’t received similar backing from their local government agencies, a disparity that illustrates the complexities and inconsistencies for sports and many other industries. Terry Stoddard, the general chair for Southern California Swimming, noted that his organization has 160 member teams and said: “I wake up every day and try to figure out how to get the other 159 teams in the pool.”

For Mission Viejo’s Katie Crom, 16, the seven-week layoff was her longest since she began competing in 6-and-under age-group races. Crom, one of the country’s best butterfly specialists, said she was glad to be back swimming, and not just for the exercise.

“It is really great to see my friends again, even at a distance,” Crom said in a text message. “That is something we certainly took for granted.”

Crom and her teammates arrive wearing their suits, since the locker rooms remain closed, and enter the pool deck from the parking lot one at a time. They don’t stray from the middle of the lanes as they complete 75-minute workouts that are written on paper and affixed to the end of each 25-yard lane set up across the width of the 50-meter competition pool. Schubert wears a surgical mask and stands far enough away, Crom said, “We can barely hear him.” If the swimmers have to use the bathroom, they must trek up a hill to the single toilets at the swim school, and they are required to sanitize the toilet afterward.

“Nobody has asked to go to the bathroom,” Schubert said on Monday. “I think because nobody wants to clean the toilets.”

Or perhaps, as Crom suggested, after being kept out of the pool for so long, nobody wants to miss a single minute in the water. “Before the quarantine we took everything for granted,” Crom said, adding, “Swimming in a pool and lake was always available, since I was a child. I never thought that water would be restricted.” "

New York Times – "Many N.B.A. Stars Lack Home Court Advantage: Basketball Hoops"

"Numerous N.B.A. stars — including Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, Oklahoma City’s Chris Paul, Portland’s C.J. McCollum and, until recently, Boston’s Jayson Tatum — have said that they have gone weeks without shooting during what would normally be playoff time.

“Whoever thought times would get like this where you can’t even have access to a basket or a gym?” Butler said. “Nobody thought it would come to this. But it has.”

Meyers Leonard, one of Butler’s Miami teammates, said: “I can’t remember a time in my life, since probably the third grade, that I had gone this long without shooting a basketball. It’s been a weird feeling to not shoot, practice and compete. So it felt amazing to get a ball back in my hands and shooting.”

The Washington Wizards and the Dallas Mavericks said only two of their 17 players initially had access to a basket. Only two of the 16 Denver Nuggets players had a functional rim nearby.

There is a popular perception that N.B.A. stars have gyms and courts at home. Most pros do not regard shooting at an outdoor basket as suitable preparation for shooting at a regulation rim, but the misperception most likely stems from pop culture, especially the famed October 2003 episode of MTV’s “Cribs” in which Shaquille O’Neal opened the doors to his Orlando-area manse and revealed his own full-size court.

The situation could not be more different in the Bay Area, a more congested region where only three of 14 players on the Golden State Warriors reported that they had been able to maintain some semblance of a shooting routine. Many of the Warriors’ younger players have been hampered by that space crunch, but Klay Thompson, one of the most feared 3-point marksmen on the planet, does not have a hoop to shoot on. Stephen Curry, Thompson’s “Splash Brother,” recently told The Wall Street Journal that he did not have a basket at home until his wife, Ayesha, ordered him one.

Jamal Crawford, the noted gym rat and 19-year N.B.A. veteran who had hoped, at age 40, to sign with a team this season, has been in Seattle trying to stay ready for a comeback.

“Luckily we had a hoop outside,” Crawford said. “It’s funny because we only had the hoop so my son could lower it and dunk on it. Ever since we’ve been quarantined, this hoop has been everything for us.”

Of his sessions with 9-year-old J.J., Crawford said, “Shooting outside isn’t to the level of shooting inside, but it gives some kind of peace of mind just to shoot at all.”"

Home Office Inspiration, Part 2

From Facebook/Instagram's Adam Mosseri.

Home Office Inspiration

Reflecting on J. Crew

Washington Post – "J. Crew taught men how to dress. Its bankruptcy leaves them on their own."
By Derek Guy of Die, Workwear!

"But even as J. Crew struggles to turn a profit, men who are trying to build a better wardrobe very much need companies like it. J. Crew served as a bellwether for American men’s style — not necessarily setting the trends so much as confirming them. In doing so, J. Crew helped men dress better without trying too hard.

J. Crew didn’t start the heritage menswear movement that defined men’s fashion during the late aughts, but it was its most visible mass-market retailer. By framing cotton button-downs and chinos in the context of throwback masculinity, J. Crew made them seem more interesting and less utilitarian than the cotton button-downs and chinos in the stores on the other side of the mall concourse. The company struck a happy medium: less staid than Brooks Brothers, with more flavor than the Gap. It was more relatable than Dior but not a caricature like Abercrombie & Fitch. Most of all, it provided all its “elevated" basics under one roof and at affordable, mid-tier prices.

For millions of men, it was at a J. Crew store where they first got to handle chin-strapped chambray shirts, spongy Fair Isle knits and heritage brands such as Barbour and Baracuta. By telling the history behind materials such as madras — a once-rare fabric made famous in the 1960s by Brooks Brothers — J. Crew helped make classic American clothing feel relevant to a younger generation.

J. Crew lowered the barriers of entry and made a higher-quality wardrobe accessible. It used a relatable design language and told stories about clothes that inspired confidence and made dressing well something to aspire to. The once-innovative, now-cliche J. Crew pieces — the gingham shirt; slimmer-fitting, flat-front chinos; narrow-lapel suit — became the professional guy’s uniform because they made guys look better.


In some ways, fashion has developed along the same trajectory as television. Back when everyone had cable, you could discover things without looking too hard. Because everyone relied on the same small number of networks, the best shows continually popped up in conversation. Today, the Internet has made possible a near-infinite number of streaming services. There’s more niche programming, but you have to pay closer attention to know what to watch.

Today it’s unclear whether J. Crew will be able to find a way forward. The company has lost most of its cultural capital, it’s saddled with $1.7 billion in debt, and it has trained customers to shop on sale with near-constant promotional codes. But many men would still benefit from having a J. Crew — or something like it — nearby."

The Music of The Last Dance

New York Times – "Rap Soundtracks the Michael Jordan Doc. The N.B.A. Wasn’t Always That Way."

"How one experiences “The Last Dance,” ESPN’s 10-part documentary series about Michael Jordan’s final season with the Chicago Bulls, depends largely on the viewer’s relationship with the man commonly regarded as the most famous — if not best — player to professionally dribble a basketball.

But one element has received near-universal praise: the music. Beyond the dramatic strings and moody transitions typically found in documentaries, the makers of “The Last Dance” have assembled a soundtrack that not only snapshots the music of Jordan’s era — particularly hip-hop — but organically accentuates both the documentary footage and the actual basketball being played.

“Been Around the World,” the opulent 1997 Puff Daddy track featuring Mase and the Notorious B.I.G. that opens the documentary, perfectly captures the cultural glamour the Bulls had attained by the late ’90s. A montage of Jordan’s 63-point playoff game against the 1985-86 Celtics is perfectly synchronized to the booming percussion and braggadocious rapping of LL Cool J’s “I’m Bad” — marvel at how Jordan eyes the opening tipoff as LL’s voice builds in pitch and intensity.

But hip-hop is by far the dominant influence. “The entire story of the Bulls for someone like me, who’s 43 years old, is grounded in nostalgia,” Hehir said. “I really wanted to reflect the music of the times in telling the story of the ’80s and ’90s and the world the Bulls were living in.”"

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

The Making of Mortal Kombat

Lovecraft Country


August 2020 on HBO
Based on Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff
Executive Produced by Jordan Peele, J.J. Abrams and more

Recruiting Kevin Garnett

"Gary Williams, who coached at Maryland from 1989 to 2011, first saw Garnett play on the summer grassroots circuit and said his intensity, especially on the defensive end, immediately stood out.

“You didn’t have to be a genius,” Williams said. “The thing that separated Kevin in my mind was the effort he put out there on the court. Especially in AAU, (if) you see a great player who knows he’s going to be a great player, (he’ll often) go through the motions. With Kevin, that’s what I always thought separated him. Every time he took the court, how hard he played showed he really respected the game.”"

Sunday, May 3, 2020