Category Archives: Art

Boomer reflections on the Hippie Era? Count me out.

I wish the authors of these Boomer disavowals would just replace his “There were” and ‘they’s with an honest ‘I’.

[T]here were gentle people, awash in new ideas, fresh attitudes, boundless energy and free love. There were also grimy, seedy, drug-addled loners and drifters who used the spirit of the Summer of Love as an excuse to avoid responsibility. There were all kinds, who gathered at the epicenter that was San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district. That’s what happens when tumult envelops a nation with a population at the time of about 200 million…

That’s what what?

But the Summer of Love was about a mindset, which lingers today in both the idealistic twentysomethings of 1967 who are now wistful sixtysomethings, and in the heirs to that revolution of thinking and behavior. The Summer of Love continues, fresh flowers and all.

Methinks thou doth project too much.

We see the Boomers without your personal emotional investment in that moment and that revolution. The new platforms for community and networking popular among our generation are a backlash or counterpoint to 1960s youth movements, leveraging your successes, trying not to perpetuate your failures. We are not a mirror, or a monolith, and we are not your heirs.

For a more thorough perspective on our generation worldviews, see the Pew survey on young voters which points to several fault lines and details a real libertarian streak among younger Americans.


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State of the Arts

Music and Game Design

Synthopia: Brian Eno and Will Wright on Generative Systems in Music and Game Design

designer Wright (r.) enlists Eno to collaborate on his new game Spore. Here, Wright and Eno discuss their creative processes.

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Contemporary Art

The New Criterion: Why the Art World is a Disaster
Sight and Sound: Art on the Cutting Edge?

Roger Kimball bemoans the decoupling of artistry and craft in the contemporary art scene. Brigitte Werneburg asks what contemporariness means in the art world today.

contemporary art cartoons, contemporary art cartoon, contemporary art picture, contemporary art pictures, contemporary art image, contemporary art images, contemporary art illustration, contemporary art illustrations

Global Hip Hop

Arena: Aboriginal Hip Hop
New Music Strategies: Case Study: Indonesian Hip Hop

American hip hop reaches some of the globe’s least likely corners.


Between a Rock and a Hard Place

The Idolator: Alt-Rock Radio is in Sort of an Icky Place Right Now
Commercial rock radio stations struggle to set tastes in the new media era.

NYT: The Boys in the Band are in AARP
How the garage band replaced the trophy wife and the sports car as the ultimate midlife crisis.


The Daily Record (UK): Kids Don’t Need Music
Meanwhile, the kids just don’t dig it anymore, Noel Gallagher bitches (for a change).

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Tonight – The Mugs @ Magnetic Fields, Brooklyn

the mugs

Come see my friends The Mugs @ Magnetic Field
with Condo
97 Atlantic Ave (between Henry and Hicks)
Tonight, Friday, 6/15, Doors open at 8 pm

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The Sopranos Finale: The Projector Breaks

RIP Phil Leotardo

Maybe it was a red herring, but the terrorism subplot was definitely not nothing, as many feared. His relationship with the homeland security agent was the chip that got him Phil Leotardo, the biggest prize of all. So long as Phil was alive and in hiding, Tony was an explicitly marked man.

Phil: We decapitate, and we do business with whatever’s left.

With this in mind, Phil’s death was beautiful, beautiful poetic justice. I waited weeks for this moment and it was just what I needed:

I liked the cat/’rat,’ I loved Tony and Paulie reminiscing on their early days, and I liked the final scene at the restaurant, to a point. Even though I don’t understand any of the Jersey references, I love the plugs which, my friends (and Peter King) assure me, are everyday local landmarks, like Holstein’s.

The Final Scene

A lot of people are miffed that, after the foreboding throughout the show and during the final scene, there wasn’t closure. [The usual masochists are in thrall to the auteur’s hi-jinx.]

Beyond Tony’s death (which some will argue was that ending) or his imprisonment (which still may come), would any closure have been cathartic? I’m not sure.

Throughout the scene, Tony watches his back vigilantly, as he will for the rest of his life. The man on his way to the bathroom might bring back a gun like Michael Corleone. Meadow might end up martyred like Sophia Coppola. But, so far as we see, those fears (at least individually) prove unfounded.

The biggest Soprano-devotee among my friends insists that as Meadow entered the restaurant, she made a shocked, fearful expression indicating danger we can’t see. I missed it, and I don’t have DVR, but I’ll have to check the repeat.

Cut to Black

Weeks ago, while vacationing at Bobby’s hunting lodge, Tony and Bobby discuss being whacked:

Bobby: “You probably don’t even hear it when it happens, Right?”
Tony: “Ask your friend in there – on the wall.”

In the spirit of this heart-to-heart, the Sopranos ends. Before Meadow can join her family, as she crosses the threshold of the restaurant door, the screen jarringly cuts to black and the soundtrack goes dead. Seconds pass before the music returns and the credits begin to roll. We all call our friends to make sure our cable box didn’t ruin the evening. Everybody’s had the same thought.

Did Chase just whack us, his audience?

It’s probably impossible to please a large and loyal audience with a finale like this. I didn’t know what to expect from the final episode, and I left mostly satisfied. But that cut has been bugging me ever since.

It was so ugly. The ‘Sopranos’ is gritty and realistic, but it’s also been beautiful. And the sweet, heartwarming moment we anticipate as Meadow enters the restaurant is snuffed out, not by an assassin or a cop, but by the editors, who let us hang in silence for several seconds. It’s like closing a symphony without a cadence. It’s physically disappointing for the audience.

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Sopranos’ finale predictions

One day more…

Predictions from around the Web


tony soprano

Slate TV Club

  • Terry Winter (Sopranos writer): Who needs Zoloft when you’ve got Sicilian pizza?

Carmela soprano

Ross Douthat (The Atlantic, The American Scene) : How The Sopranos ends

Ezra Klein (TAP): Sopranos predictions

New York Magazine: Staff predictions

Deadspin: Saying Goodbye to our Favorite Hour of every Week

Marc Peyser (Newsweek): Carmela in the kitchen with a candlestick?

The Plank (TNR)

phil leotardo Start your own Sopranos office pool

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Uncle Joe in Berlin

Jane Galt finds an awesome Soviet propaganda clip of Stalin visiting Berlin, where everyone, Megan notes, curiously speaks Russian.

Watching this masterpiece of socialist realism, I burst out laughing several times, which confirms for me what Julian Sanchez argues here. For those of us too young to vividly remember the Cold War, Soviet aesthetics don’t rankle Americans the way Nazi iconography does.

Unlike Triumph of the Will and similar Nazi films which use their crowds as a weapon, Uncle Joe just wants to greet and mingle with the newly-liberated Volk. Instead of celebrating power outright, the Soviet film patronizes with fraternity. Its director means to seduce rather than intimidate its viewer. Its writer believes he will win this argument.

But, as the 20th century shows, he’s mistaken: to the degree that the Cold War was “won,” the West’s cultural argument rendered the Soviet message impotent.

The Beatles and blue jeans, etc. (pleasure), were more tangible and rewarding than unrealized egalitarian abstractions. Riefenstahl’s films and Speer’s buildings overwhelm. They don’t seek outside approval, but submission. To a non-contemporary individual who prizes liberty, the Nazi zeitgeist is more explicitly ominous.

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Why I am not a writer

Last year I decided that, no matter how much I loved literature, I would never be a good novelist. After ten years of writing bad stories I was too embarrassed to share, after struggling to finish even one work that I could be proud of, I acknowledged the obvious: I simply wasn’t talented enough as a writer to compete in a market with too many writers and too few readers.

At a younger age, I would’ve viewed this as a pathetic concession to my own insecurities or the criticism of my peers. Before I left for college, I’d written the first 200 pages of a terrible adolescent novel, and through college I studied creative writing with the goals of finishing my novel by the end of college. But studying creative writing at school seemed as much a check on my creativity as it was a help.

Of course that had nothing to do with it.

I’m not saying that our creative writing workshops were ideal. I expect my experience isn’t unique: a room full of strivers not very interested in each other’s work, professors who were either too blandly supportive or vaguely critical, a shared preference for highbrow obscurity.

But the limitation was my own. When push came to shove, the problem was that my stories were bad. My straightforward stories bored my classmates while my obscure stories provoked questions and discussion. For a young writer seeking validation, this sent a message (not the correct one). I tried to write difficult, complicated stories that came our meandering, disorganized, and ponderous. The best thing about this period was my exposure to hypertext literature. The worst was that I didn’t learn that the purpose of language is to clearly communicate ideas to the reader, not patronize her.

During my senior year, I took a workshop with Robert Coover centered on game-oriented creative writing. I signed up for the class in order to study with Coover, not to fulfill the class’s goals. Instead of coming up with a new project (as the other students had done), I tried to incorporate my on-going thesis into the class. When we first met to discuss my possible inclusion, Coover was unsure whether to allow me to take the class. He let me enroll against his better judgment.

My project was an utter failure, on the classes and its own terms. Throughout the semester, I attended his office hours. Coover understood my work and its shortcomings better than I would’ve liked. In his gentle understated way, he tried to level with me, about my scattershot project and my participation in his class.

Toward the end of the year, I presented my hypertext project at the annual thesis reading, hosted by my mentor Bob Arellano. In front of an audience of friends, peers, and teachers, I read selections from my submission. A oral reading is not the ideal format for a hypertext work that depends so heavily on links, visual information, and context. I’m not sure I would’ve told my friends about it had the creative writing department not postered the campus.

As I read I looked from one friendly face to another with the same sympathetic, confused expression. I wanted to defend myself with another adolescent flashback to Prufrock:

That is not it at all.

That is not what I meant, at all.


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