Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Not Since Tupac.

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

By way of the A/V Club, I’ve learned of something called “Holler if Ya Hear Me”, a Broadway musical “inspired by the music and lyrics of the popular rapper Tupac Shakur”.

While some Broadway shows rely on budget reserves to muddle through slow weeks, “Holler” struggled from the outset. The production never brought in more than $175,000 a week in gross revenues, becoming one of the worst-selling musicals of recent years. Last week the show grossed $154,948, or 17 percent of the maximum possible amount, and only 45 percent of its seats were occupied.

Here’s the NYT review:

Drawing on themes that Shakur rapped about in his scabrous, four-letter-word-filled lyrics (no one has taken a kid-friendly Magic Marker to them, I’m glad to report), the musical attempts to draw a vision of black life in urban America that acknowledges the danger, the violence and the self-destruction but also the hope, the courage and the potential for transcendence. To this end, it employs more than a dozen of Shakur’s songs and a couple of his poems. But the lyrical density of rap — in words per minute, many of the songs are off the charts — makes an uneasy fit for theatrical presentation, since the sizzling phrases fly by almost before you can grasp their meaning.

At this point, you’re probably not wondering what brought this to mind:

It will close at a financial loss after 17 preview performances and 38 regular performances at the Palace Theater.

And, of course, there’s the usual invocations of “it’s going to be difficult to do another rap or hip hop show on Broadway” and “Tupac’s urgent socially important insights and the audiences’ nightly rousing standing ovations deserve to be experienced by the world.”

As for the latter, no comment. As for the former:

Yet one new musical featuring rap and hip hop, “Hamilton,” is widely expected to come to Broadway during the 2015-16 season after an initial run at the Public Theater this coming winter. The show is by Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose show “In the Heights,” which also featured rap and hip hop, ran for three years on Broadway and won the 2008 Tony Award for best musical.

Edited to add: more from the PoR:

In truth, the problem with “Holler” wasn’t really the music at all, but the ham-handed, sentimentalized story line concocted to underpin it.

Art, damn it, art! watch. (#45 in a series)

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Box Sized DIE is a public installation in a London banking district by Portuguese artist João Onofre. It’s a soundproofed, airtight black box. Inside, UK band Unfathomable Ruination will be playing death metal until they run out of oxygen, every day for most of July, starting on Sunday. The installation is part of the Sculpture In The City public art program by City of London.

My first thought: what do they mean by “run out of oxygen”? Does the band play until they pass out? If so, how will anyone know, given that the box is soundproofed and opaque? Do they just play until a certain CO2 level is reached? Do they have sensors and an alarm in the box?

My second thought: how long will the band actually play? Or, to phrase the question in another way, how long does it take to use up all the oxygen in the box? Apparently, this isn’t the first time a death metal band has played in the box (though it is the first time this has been done in London). Surely there must be some stats on this, like average length of time spent in the box.

My third thought:

My fourth thought:

Art F City argues that this is one of London’s “worst public art projects,” because “Passersby can’t hear them play, so what’s the point of choosing death metal over anyone else?” But there are many things we can’t see or hear directly from a sculpture. Onofre is charging the invisible core of the object with the specific force and drive of death metal. It’s black. It’s claustrophobic. It’s all angst. Of course it had to be black metal! Unlike most conceptual public sculptures, we know exactly what’s “inside.” Maybe it’s not the most subtle form of compacting tension and placing it into a public space, but I’m biased, so… \m/

Sounds like pretentious bullshit to me.

Obit watch: June 18, 2014.

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Stanley Marsh 3, “legendary West Texas eccentric“.

This is Marsh’s most famous creation:

And Marsh spent the last years of his life entangled in civil suits and criminal accusations involving his alleged abuse of young men.

Texas Monthly
has the best coverage I’ve been able to find so far. Nothing in the papers of record yet, and the DFW papers are just running the AP obit.

Daniel Keyes has also passed away at the age of 86. Keyes was most famous for the novella “Flowers for Algernon”, later expanded into a novel, turned into the movie “Charly”, and the subject of countless popular culture parodies.

Random notes: May 14, 2014.

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

Obit watch: H. R. Giger. NYT. A/V Club. LAT. Lawrence.

Also: Malik Bendjelloul, who directed the Oscar-winning documentary “Searching For Sugar Man”. NYT. LAT. A/V Club.

I haven’t seen “Searching” yet, but Bendjelloul’s death is depressing; it was his first film, and he was only 36.

(Edited to add this. The number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.)

The history of red velvet cake.

In San Francisco, where one presumes people know better, the American Cupcake bar and bakery offers chicken that has been soaked in red velvet cake batter, rolled in toasted red velvet cupcake crumbs and fried. The dish comes with garlic- and cream-cheese mashed potatoes and cocoa-infused slaw.

You know, I’d try that. It might be something I’d only want to eat once, but I’d give it a try if I could travel to San Francisco. (I don’t currently have a passport, so I can’t go to places outside of the United States.)

Walter Olson has some good stuff up at Overlawyered and Cato about the bad Philadelphia cops. Interesting development:

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey announced yesterday that Officer Jeffrey Cujdik has been suspended for 30 days with intent to dismiss, the Inquirer reported last night.

About damn time. But let’s wait and see what the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police does.

Art, damn it, art! watch. (#44 in a series)

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Good news out of Palm Springs this week: Work has begun on dismantling “Forever Marilyn,” the grotesque colossus fabricated with typical ham-handedness by sculptor J. Seward Johnson, which has been marring an already vacant lot at a prominent downtown corner for the last two years.

Gee, Christopher Knight, why don’t you tell us how you really feel?

Obit watch: January 15, 2014.

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Neal Barrett, Jr., one of the great Texas SF writers.

Madeline Arakawa Gins, of Arakawa and Gins fame.

Their work was underpinned by a philosophy they called Reversible Destiny. Its chief tenet, as the catalog of a 1997 joint exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum SoHo put it, was, “Reversible Destiny: We Have Decided Not to Die.”

Gins was 72. Arakawa passed away in 2010 at the age of 73.

Edited to add: the Statesman published an obituary for Mr. Barrett. Bad news: it is behind the paywall and thus unlinkable.

Legal update part 1.

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

The lawsuit by Alexander Calder’s heirs against his former dealer has been dismissed.

In a decision dated Dec. 23, Judge Shirley Werner Kornreich wrote that “all of these allegations are so patently inadequate that the court can only conclude that they were brought solely for the purposes of harassment or embarrassment, without any consideration of their legal sufficiency.”
The judge also invoked the statute of limitations, writing that the plaintiffs were trying to litigate issues that stretched back “decades without any personal knowledge or contemporaneous records, where nearly all of the people who had personal knowledge of the facts are dead.”


(I expect to have a second legal update later today; I’m just waiting on events.)

Random notes: December 21, 2013.

Saturday, December 21st, 2013

I’d never heard of Ned Vizzini until yesterday; this isn’t a shot at him, I just don’t read a lot of YA fiction. But this is just sad and awful.

The number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).

The WP reviews “Chris Burden: Extreme Measures”, a retrospective of his work. I believe Mr. Burden and his work have come up here before, but for those who don’t remember…

In 1971, in a bare gallery space in Santa Ana, Calif., artist Chris Burden filmed himself being shot with a rifle. The bullet went through his left arm, causing more damage than expected. The moment after he was shot, the boyish young man with short-cropped hair staggered forward a few steps as if stunned by pain or shock, and was photographed later with blood dripping from the wound. In the previous few years, tens of thousands of men his age died in Vietnam, and the performance, titled simply “Shoot,” obviously had something to do with the political climate since 1968.

Unmentioned because it isn’t really relevant, but: Burden’s performance inspired one of Laurie Anderson’s early works, “It’s Not the Bullet That Kills You (It’s the Hole)”.

TMQ Watch: December 3, 2013.

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

Instead of a musical interlude, or random snark, we’ve decided this week to bring you something we hope you’ll really like: an interview with Gregg Easterbrook about The King of Sports: Football’s Impact on America from Reason magazine. Why? Well, we self-identify as libertarians, we like Reason, and we’d like to give them some more exposure. Also, we think this is a rare opportunity to see and hear the man himself, just in case you were wondering what TMQ looks and sounds like.

After the jump, this week’s TMQ


Random notes: November 28, 2013.

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Some thoughtful posts on the FDA and 23andMe: Derek Lowe. Popehat. Overlawyered.

This is how I want Lawrence‘s tax dollars to be spent: safety tips on turkey frying from the Round Rock Fire Department.

All the Vermeers on the Eastern Seaboard.

(There was a period of time when I was going to see a lot of movies at the Dobie Theater here in Austin; this was before the Alamo Drafthouse, and Dobie was the “art” film theater. Anyway, it seemed like every movie I went to see had the trailer for “All the Vermeers in New York” in front of it. Drove me absolutely bugf–k nuts. The trailer was so annoying, it killed any desire I might have had to see the movie.)

Photographer Saul Leiter passed away on Tuesday. I had not heard of Saul Leiter until I started listening to the “On Taking Pictures” podcast (which is my new favorite podcast in the world): Saul Leiter is an obsession of theirs, to the point where he made it into the OTP drinking game.

To be serious, I wish I had found Leiter’s work much earlier. There’s some good stuff over at the NYT Lens blog about him as well.

Art, damn it, art! watch. (#43 in a series)

Friday, November 15th, 2013

I’m going to quote the lead of the week here:

MOSCOW — Artist Pyotr Pavlensky’s protest performances have begun to take on a familiar, if chilling, pattern. First, horrified policemen stare at him in confusion. Then they call a doctor.

Click through to the article at your own risk, especially if you are male.

Yes, it hurt.

Art, damn it, art! watch. (#42 in a series)

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

It’s not a balloon, it’s a Zeppelin Bansky!

“I don’t have it as art on the invoice,” said Deputy Chief Jack J. Trabitz, the commanding officer of the property clerk division, which maintains facilities around the city for evidence storage. “We have it as a balloon.”