1) Watch your weight and appearance very carefully because we have a very simple and uncontrollably powerful algorithm in our brains that renders us less likely to commit to you with each additional pound of weight you gain. Once you’re over a BMI of about 22, the vast…
Dudes, get out your PUA MANuals, and get cracking on that new and improved block-free @twitter.
Last Wednesday I attended a karaoke “Fantasy Draft,” during which Slate editor Dan Kois and fifteen other people at various stations in New York media sang other people’s songs to a roomful of people whose connections to New York media felt distinctly more obscure. (The only person I talked to who wasn’t a direct participant was an Amazon employee.) I mostly went because someone told me to, but also because I found the entire conceit strange.
Karaoke invites participation. It’s the primary feature. Whether in a bar or a private room, you walk into a space, open a book, and develop anxiety. You interrogate your own abilities, forming subconscious indexes of songs you’ve memorized and songs you presume to know. You sing them to various aggrieved ends. On a slightly reconfigured timeline, everyone else experiences this. (Unless one of them is a seasoned “karaoke person”; in that case there is a lot of unusually-earned self-esteem in operation.) You are assimilated into the order of a shared experience. To reduce participation to a select few and invite others to witness it is to shrink the activity itself to interminable spectacle. You watch people perform other people’s songs with grace, incompetence, or irregular fits of adequacy, with no opportunity to identify yourself on the spectrum. People were encouraged to sing once it was over, but the songs available were the same sixteen we had just endured. To try a hand at one would seem to even the most unconscious person there a kind of inelegant upstaging.
The sixteen songs are part of an installation called SCARYOKE!!!, named after a method of karaoke Kois encountered in Portland, where participants wouldn’t know the song they were singing until they found themselves onstage. To visualize the concept, the stage at apexart is overhung by a ceiling of fake spiderweb. The karaoke monitor meanwhile is attended by a flaxen-haired Death, and the studio itself is flooded with a soupy red glow, submerging everything in an eerie and sacrificial light. (The exhibit opened on November 7 and is probably the result of a directive written into city law to extend Halloween interminably each year.) One is also able to sing in a fake car driving through generated landscapes of burning vehicles.
Thursday, once a song had been sung, it was struck from the list of choices, leaving the remaining participants with swiftly diminishing possibilities. Oddly enough, only a few exhibited discomfort in their performances. About halfway through, Kois retrieved Awl editor Choire Sicha’s name from the six-pack. Of the remaining songs, which, aside from The Beatles, were all in their own way unwieldy, he chose “Poison” by Bel Biv Devoe. Later someone informed me that this was Sicha’s first attempt at karaoke. Watching him, I couldn’t tell. He was impressively adequate. He has a great voice for karaoke, able to float mistily over a general ecosystem of notes. I congratulated him on his performance afterward.
“It was sort of uncomfortable to sing,” he said.
“Yeah, it’s pretty…offensive.”
“Well, it was a different time, the ‘80s.”
“Yeah, women were just bitches then.”
“Now they can have it all.”
“There’s so much more feminism now.”
It took only three songs for the room to gather the peculiar odor of a private karaoke room—some viscous admixture of earth and boiled human. It was into this unctuous atmosphere that Mac Rogers performed “It Was a Good Day,” singing every line with inappropriate effort, as if bewildered he could briefly inhabit the experience of a black man in 1993. He knew practically every word of the song, in order. He barely looked at the teleprompter. He could’ve rapped it in earnest. Instead, he played it for laughs. How absurd, to live as Mac Rogers and rap about having dead friends in South Central Los Angeles. It had its effect; laughter worked its way through the crowd. Some even considered his performance an apparent enhancement of the Ice Cube original. But “It Was a Good Day” isn’t funny. It’s fun, yes, and its deliberate expression of fun is edged by dread and sadness. Even the groove has a haunted ease about it.
At the time Rogers’ performance wasn’t racist exactly. It existed more in the universe of songs like Lorde’s “Royals,” where the disembodied images of black art are scrutinized and made ridiculous by anxious white people. Then, at the start of the third verse, I heard Rogers pronounce the n-word to near-completion as it discolored across the teleprompter. Presumably he knew the song and therefore had an awareness of the word’s frequency therein. No one reacted. Rogers completed the song unfazed. There was an unconscious velocity to it; it felt easier to doubt it.
The other song I had expected to see waver in this direction was Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “N—— in Paris.” In fact, before New York Magazine’s Lindsey Weber sailed through it without incident, I overheard Buzzfeed Music editor Matthew Perpetua threatening to attack the song himself in order to demonstrate something inalienable to us. He had been visibly and audibly aggrieved when, at the start of the showcase, Charlie Todd (as a friend put it, “THE IMPROV EVERYWHERE GUY”) selected Pavement’s “Cut Your Hair,” and he found room in his displeasure to criticize Todd’s performance. (Disclosure: Perpetua and I have disagreed publicly before. Also once, in a cab, he explained U2 to me, which I find difficult to forgive.) When finally called upon, Perpetua was supremely thankful to sing the interminable “All My Friends,” which, rendered as karaoke, enhanced the song’s leaden and eternal qualities.
Some of it was fun, though, if still mildly uninvolving. Ayesha Harris performed “Crazy in Love” incredibly, complete with limited attempts at choreography, her boyfriend acting as Jay-Z. Oddly, though, no one seemed drawn entirely out of their comfort zones, one of the ostensible purposes of karaoke. Which leaves me mostly bewildered at the function of the exhibit. Is karaoke art? If so is the art not preserved and exhibited nightly almost everywhere? And aren’t the expansive yet curiously incomplete books of countless karaoke bars far more demonstrative of its relative art than a mere sixteen songs all inclined toward indie rock and irony? Not to spend too much time assembling a theory about anything as mercurial and ephemeral as karaoke, but part of what’s shared among people singing karaoke is memory. There are memories lived and relived while inhabiting a song you love, and there are nerves reanimated in the people watching who haven’t heard or even thought about the song in years. What in this exhibit accounts for that? Can it be contained, frozen in time and witnessed? Or is it too fluid, only transpiring invisibly among a group of friends?
i love men! i love them, i love the way they always have really nice toilet paper, i love the way all the men i know are forever wearing gray clothes (i too am forever wearing gray clothes), i love them! i love their beards and their clean-shaven faces, i love their sweaters and their insecurities…
Seeking laughs with a surprisingly conservative sitcom
A little while ago here on tumblr dot net, I got into a little disagreement with parapluiesdoux about the idea of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I thought that the idea of a cop comedy set in modern-day Brooklyn was in poor taste. She rightly pointed out that I hadn’t even seen the show. So I watched all of it, and can now honestly say COPS ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS. DON’T LET ANDY SAMBERG OR THE VARIOUS CHARMS OF TERRY CREWS TRICK YOU INTO THINKING COPS ARE YOUR FRIENDS.
I get what you’re saying, but the people screaming about the thing you refuse to name are only screaming BECAUSE THESE THINGS KEEP HAPPENING TO THEM AND PEOPLE WHO LOOK LIKE THEM. Like, literally almost daily, and the perpetrators and offensive ideas are continually excused.
It may be more productive to engage with the successful aspects of a cultural product while critiquing the offensive ones (and there are people doing that), but I’ll be damned if I’m gonna tell people constantly being shit on that they should respond in a different way. That sounds a lot like tone-policing and I don’t go in for that. How are people ever supposed to grok that certain images and ideas are extremely damaging and hurtful if no one ever gets angry and says so? I mean, if the response to this is despair-inducing for you, imagine how the people negatively portrayed in instances like this constantly feel?
So yeah, we can talk about how people should respond to critiques of misogyny wrapped in misogyny and racist stereotyping, but I don’t think we should neglect to take seriously people whose initial response to a repulsive cultural product is outrage, anger, and a refusal to address things the product does well. The person who created the product didn’t consider the POV of the people they clearly offended so I don’t think the creator is necessarily owed the benefit of the doubt. ESPECIALLY if that creator has a history of “problematic” behavior. Intent is not an excuse.
Also? Many people being angry about the same thing =/= a knee-jerk pile-on, necessarily. It could be a sign that the product is just bad. Or it could be a sign that many people, more than in the past, have platforms that allow them to acknowledge and point out crap treatment. The more voices discussing shitty and minimizing behavior in more places the better.
Right and that’s why I said “mention the obvious issues but also look for other angles.” The economy of online content often requires one to comment on things that everyone else is commenting on because Traffic, and wouldn’t it be nice to also offer up another take while (as I said in the original post) at the same time noting existing critiques? Like, if I were to write about The Thing I Don’t Want To Discuss—if I were, say, in a job where it was required of me, which it is for a lot of the people who are ripping and reading fourth-hand outrage at this point—I would probably link to a bunch of the Twitter feeds that I spent my train ride perusing so that people could, as you note, see how they feel. But! I would also note my own reaction, which hit different nerves because I am a 38-year-old white lady.
Also please do not accuse me of “tone-policing,” because one, I’m definitely only making my own decisions here and trying to bring the overall discourse up by myself, and two, the trend of turning phrases into awkward-slash-accusatory gerunds drives me up the fucking wall. Sorry if that’s verb policing or whatever, but I’m an editor at heart.
Lily Allen, Woody Allen and GG Allin walk into a bar…
Nov. 11, 2013 - Last Saturday night, Andrew Kru *Cough*, “founder” of the Young Manhattanite Blerg* put out an IPO for YM. According to an anonymous source, Krucoff allegedly broke protocol when he proceeded to go out and buy toilet paper, where he then handed the keys off to the first unlucky schmuck to offer him a bag of wooden nickels.
Krucoff was not approached for comment, but according to our source YM is under new MGMT. Things are not expected to change drastically for the better (infrequent glogging, #Grow Up, #Give UP), however, YM will now be observing Pacific Standard Time.
The facts as stated still need to be verified. Andrew may have run off with Banksy.
Join the New York City Urban Debate League and assist middle school and high school students with their public speaking skills. Volunteers will judge a district debate competition. Participants are elementary, middle school and high students from several area schools. No previous debate experience necessary! Volunteers will undergo a brief training before the start of the project. As a judge, you will be asked to listen to debaters, take notes, offer encouragement, and determine a winner. Students eagerly anticipate and welcome judge feedback because they know it helps them become better debaters. Please arrive early to enjoy breakfast from 8:30 am to 9:00 am. Lunch will also be provided for the session.
In the inaugural episode of Cool School, Tyler and Mikala discuss the rampant sexuality of improv comedy before going under the covers with comedian Halle Kiefer (one of Brooklyn’s funniest!) about American Horror Story: Coven and our national obsession with witches. Then they check in with mutual best friend and muse Christina Boucher, who supplies a questionably adequate Bill Nighy impression.
Can’t throw a rock in this town without hitting a Citibike or podcast, but I recommend this.
While it might be a man’s world, these seven women are making their mark on the film industry:
1. Diablo Cody: Coming from an unconventional background — a blogger/stripper — she proves you don’t need pedigree to make it in Hollywood; you only need raw talent.
2. Sofia Coppola: Any list of influential female filmmakers would be incomplete without the inclusion of Sofia Coppola. She’s the film geek most women want to be: a little odd, very talented, and all kinds of cool.
3. Lake Bell: Having already commenced writing her second feature, a film she calls “an unromantic romance,” Bell is on her way to cementing her status as indie auteur, and next big actor/director, showing others the transition is possible for female actors, too.
4. Catherine Hardwicke: Love it or hate it, the Twilight series is one of the most successful film franchises of all time. Hardwicke walks the line between blockbuster and indie, and there are many aspiring filmmakers who would love to emulate her success.
5. Sarah Polley: Her varied work is both personal yet universal, providing a role model for those who are looking to transcend genre and make great films.
6. Lena Dunham: She might not be universally loved, but there is no denying Lena Dunham has taken Hollywood by storm, inspiring a generation of young women in the process.In 10 years’ time, there will be more than one filmmaker who cites Dunham as an early influence.
7. Kathryn Bigelow: She may come from a different generation, but that doesn’t make Bigelow any less inspirational to women trying to break into film. She has broken down so many walls, that without her many (including those on this list) may not have gotten where they are now.
“Bridget Everett and the Tender Moments — Pound It Downtown cabaret sensation Bridget Everett has been hustling on the scene for years, and you can catch her very often onstage at Joe’s Pub. While you won’t experience the manic insanity of her live show (which she peppers with partial nudity, sprays of Chardonnay, and playful assaults on audience members), Pound It gets to the core of Everett’s sensibility: a mixture of hard-hitting rock ‘n’ roll and an absurdly sexual comedic sense. While it could have easily turned into a one-off novelty record (and with song titles like “Titties,” “Just the Tip,” and “Pussy Power,” it wouldn’t be surprising), Everett and her backing bad (which includes Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz) turn out a collection of bangers and ragers with an enthusiastic fervor, and hopefully it’s only the first in a extensive catalogue. —Tyler Coates, Deputy Editor”—Staff Picks: Flavorwire’s Favorite Cultural Things This Week – Flavorwire (via bridgeteverett)