what’s good

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A day late and a dollar short, deep in the summer’s inevitable introspections, I had a realization: I’ve allowed my tastes to be not just directed but shaped by others’ opinions. I think in following others’ lead, I lost some of my own sensibilities. While aesthetics, zeitgeists, shift through time I’d experienced more than that. I was looking at different kinds of artists, diving into different kinds of music, criticizing different sorts of things. One hundred thousand adages can tell you things like “Be Yourself” but it takes a preoccupation with trends to feel the need to remind yourself. With that in mind, I’m dissecting some trends and in the process, calling bull on myself where necessary.

As an aside: My friends are interesting and my age is of the inter webs, which I took for granted earlier but feel the need to declare now. The highlighted trends that will be relevant to the discussion, because it is likely common ground and visible, are from the world wide web.

1. Rap/Hip-Hop, depending on what definition you prefer: I do love the music, appreciate the style, the whole nine yards. I’m into it. But let’s be real here, Kitty Pryde is not a high-quality rapper. Whatever arguments you can make for Kitty Pryde, or Lil B, or whoever Twitter’s #rapperoftheweek is, I’ve made them. I’ve listened to them being made, paid attention and if not agreed, at least acknowledged. The fact that, at this stage of her career, she’s anything more than a very minor blip on the radar screen proves the point that it’s a trend. Lil B, whose enthusiasm and general goodwill I am fond of, or Kitty Pride, whose style I despise but cadence/flow I begrudgingly enjoy (look at me still justifying myself), gain a fan base and that’s great. Power to them. I’m not here to take away anything from their accomplishments. But I am here to say that 1. it’s a trend, and 2. this type of music industry doesn’t produce high-quality artists. When every sound can be sold, there’s not value to being good. There’s only value in being different. Which is fine if different and new is all you want, but I’d rather 100 Frank Ocean and early The Weeknds then 1,000 Kreayshawns and Lil Bs. While we’re at it, I like soulful music and I love old-school country. While Taylor Swift makes my ears bleed, sign me up forever for Johnny Cash and Justin Townes Earles and Willy Nelson and the soulful stuff.

2. Internet art: The accessibility of the internet is its greatest asset. But so-called internet art is lazy. By internet art, I mean the images and symbols and compositions that occur so frequently on the interweb. Cosmic cats? Graphic photo-collages? Pixel art? That lacks originality and artistry. If that’s what you want to surround yourself with, by all means, do. But I’m not going to pretend it’s anything other than simplifications, visual representations of pop cultures endless echo chamber. Theorize all you like about what internet art says about our generation- I’m sure it’ll be wonderfully interesting and full of all the usual bull. But don’t call it inspired- that it is not.

As an oblique sort of proof, an emphasis on the medium and method as an intrinsic end is required to justify its artistic value. That necessity on explanation shows that it’s a flattened sort of art, an easy, an unsustainable art. Quirky, funny, clever, accessible, current, yes. Da Vinci didn’t need medium and method to prove his point, and neither did Dali or Miro. Means to an end, but not the end in itself. This emphasis on the medium and method are characteristic of modern art, and even contemporary art. I have a theory that art became sterile and too oblique around the time medium and method became the primary movers of the art world. Jackson Pollack, one of the first to emphasize method, was revolutionary, but method was again a means to an end, not an intrinsic end. Besides the “if you’re not first, you’re last” idea, it’s important to recognize that Pollack’s work, and other  revolutionary artists’, struck people and resonated. That being said, I’ll never give up iheartcatgifs.tumblr.com. GIFs are, for now, manipulable enough to be a whole different story. I’m not a fan of so-called “internet art,” though I might have fooled you a year ago.

3. * cRaZy SyMbOls *:

It’s not always bad but it’s not always good, and it’s always indicative. For me, trendy frivolity is nothing to be proud of. If it looks good, roll with it, but if your diamonds and snowflakes and capitals are a desperate internet plea for quote-unquote relevancy, just, no.

The bottom line is this: You Don’t Need Anyone To Tell You What’s Good. You Know.

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As always, and especially now, laissez les bon temps rouler,

the girl

think pink, etc.

pink peonies

I guess it’s a sign of growing up that I’m coming back around to things I once rejected out of hand, or something like that. One of those things is the color pink. I haven’t been a big fan of pink on its own in a long while. I read it as garish, simultaneously bodily and plasticine. But I’m reevaluating it, and while my favorite color will ever be orange, pink is making a comeback.

And now for something completely different: I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a song by Pink Martini, that jazzy band from Portland with the great album covers. However, their youtube page is s-l-a-c-k-i-n-g, and this is the best video I could find. Most of their other songs are better than this one, but this video’s set in Italy mostly. Then again, I’d also be remiss if I didn’t include Ariel Pink, whose vibes I’m especially digging on:

The weird home-video qualities of this vid remind me of Beck, which I’m okay with, and somehow it also reminds me of “Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades.” Back to the show.

I’d go so far as to say that I see a renaissance of a feminine aesthetic, modern and a little brutal, and pink has all the dynamism and vibrancy to spearhead the movement. First, a small collection of pinked images, culled from voyages across the interwebs. Second, an investigation of some artists whose vibes are vibing with mine these days. Let’s get to it:

Printed pencils? Sign me up twice. My latin teacher in high school had them made for her classes every year around exam time. My favorites said ERRARE EST HUMANEM, to err is human, but either Magistra McQuaid intentionally had them done this way as a latin joke- the best and nerdiest kind- or it was perfectly, ironically true. The correct translation of “to err is human” is “err are est humanum.”

Pretty pink polly want a cracker?

Though I usually try to avoid inane-Tumblr-photoblog-ness, I like all the vibes going on here. When my hair starts going grey, it’s also going to start going pastel I think. Pink and purple pastels seems to carry that undertone in hair, and artfully pink hair? I’m into it. There are also so many pink accessories I’m not even going to get into it. But the look is  goooooood.

In case you were wondering. This image is part of Benefit’s advertising campaign. The cosmetics company is actually owned by Louis Vuitton.

The Princess of all Princesses, Grace Kelly playing photographer at a swimming competition at Palm Beach, Monte Carlo in 1972.

An image ripped straight from Pinterest. This is, according to the inter webs, a textile designed by Leah Bartholomew and Beci Orpin. I’m having a bit of trouble finding their site, as I’d love to have this print, but alas. Everything online is simultaneously accessible and buried.

Though obliquely related, here’s a thing:

J Dilla. RIP. 

Here’s a place that looks amazing. Senegal’s Lake Retba, or as the French refer to it Lac Rose, is pinker than any milkshake. Experts say the lake gives off its pink hue due to cyanobacteria, a harmless halophilic bacteria found in the water. Lake Retba has a high salt content, much like that of the Dead Sea, allowing people to float effortlessly in the massive pink water. I hope it’s real, because I really want to go there.

Though I’m pretty sure this isn’t real, she’s still beautiful and perfect and melancholy in all the best ways. Here’s to the girl/woman of all years.

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As promised, below are a few artists doing daring and beautiful things featuring pink:

Melancholie, Sarah Illenberger

Sarah Illenberger, a beautiful, cool German artist, does fantastic things with food. Though not all of her work features edibles, the ones that do are particularly appealing.

This pop-up paper cut installation of hers, titled Ambpur, is really strange and beautiful.

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The fantastic Mr. Gray Malin‘s work often has a faintly pink feel, though it’s not overtly feminine or brutal. I think that the “pinkness” is more an element of the manmade/natural boundary he works with. His aerial photographs of the worlds beaches are graphic, eye-catching, quirky and oh-so-sunny in an almost apocalyptic way. Maybe that’s just me. Images of people from really high in the air always seems to be accompanied by catastrophe in the movies.

Sagaponack Main Beach, Bridge Hampton

Lisbon, Portugal

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50-year-old Korean artist Do-Ho Suh is one of my all-time favorites. I was fortunate enough to see his phenomenal Floor, at the Ackland Art Museum a few years ago. His work is always intricate, always astonishing, always requires an active interaction between piece and viewer. I’m a sucker for installation art, and his is usually pristine. Here’s a fascinating clip from PBS’ fantastic series Art21, featuring him.

This piece of his, 2007’s Cause and Effect, is a huge installation of acrylic and stainless steel:

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Here’s one via the anonymous depths of Tumblr. If you know from whence it came, holler:

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signing off, combining my favorite, orange, with a great version of pink:

laissez les bon temps rouler,

the girl

a summertime feeling

aloha

Running headfirst into the deep middle of summer, I’m feeling a little swamped in this casual bedlam and controlled abandon. My to-do and to-don’t lists are both miles long; they’re not getting any shorter and tomorrow is still coming on strong, but I think there’s still time for a brief detour. With that spirit, I’m diving into a couple songs that I just can’t get enough of. Get ready for the short sonic vacation, boat departing now:

A slinky, shimmering cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me To The End Of Love,” by Girl Crisis. Girl Crisis is the kind of supergroup you’d dream about if you dreamt of Brooklyn’s female musicians banding together and recording haunting tracks in that dewy Super 8mm film. Their version of this song loses some of Cohen’s charm in favor of seduction:

Every few months, the band releases another cover track. And though the women involved have changed slightly since the first videos in 2008, the aesthetic is cohesive. If you like this one, scoot through the other tracks on their YouTube account. I liked most of them, but like the tracks better individually more than back-to-back.

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“Bashful” by Kwes. The only original song on the list, unintentionally.

Their EP came out late April of this year, and I’m pretty fond of it so far. Kwes is a producer and musician from London, and it’s no surprise that he’s worked with Ghostpoet, as they’re tonally similar. Kwes is a synesthete, which is that fantastic thing where senses are linked differently than they are in other people. For Kwes, who has color synesthesia, particular notes correspond to specific colors in his brain. How loverly.

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The fantastic Seu Jorge’s cover of Bowie’s “Changes,” filmed for Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, just never loses it’s perfection:

Every performance of his I’ve ever heard has this trademark gorgeous treatment and delicacy.

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For those late nights:

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Finally, Nina Simone’s rendition of “House of the Rising Sun” :

And on and on.

Laissez les bon temps rouler,

the girl

oh yes, let’s!

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Y’all know how I feel about lists:

1. Speak french
2. Play cards late into the night
3. Stomp around to our too-loud music
4. Do things we’re too young and too old for
5. Marathon movies, and books
6. Lay in the sun
7. Go to the zoo
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A short list of what’s left on the docket for this late summer and early fall. Oh yes, let’s do it!


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laissez les bon temps rouler,
the girl