I just got back from their concert in Propect Park (Brooklyn) with a few friends. I’ve seen the band a few times before but this time was somewhat if not incredibly underwhelming. Some quick observations:
1. The place was packed with exactly my demographic and scarily so. I’ve never seen so many mid-30s folks on their way to 40 in my life packed on blankets drinking beer and having one last concert before they will no longer be admitted.
2. The band members of Yo La Tengo, who I generally love, should actually be shot for doing a really stupid (and apparenty new) song that went some thing like this (and I kid you not): “They’re talkin’ ’bout nuclear war / nuclear war / nuclear war / Those motherfuckers, got their finger on the button, are talkin’ nuclear war / they’re gonna blow your ass / blow your ass / nuclear war / nuclear war.” Extremely naive at best, but really and truly unethical if you ask me — singing a song, with or without irony, about our large fears writ large. It was like anti-art — misanthropist and grotesque. It shadowed the rest of the night. It was a pathetic display of something that, as my friend said, maybe plays in Hoboken, but it doesn’t work in New York.
2a. For some reason, they decided to sing this song in a fake African-American folk tune. So not only was it unethical but it was racist. As penance, a friend said, they should be forced to play the song at the Apollo.
3. On my way out I passed two cops that looked extremely chagrined at having to guard a bunch of middle class white kids from nuclear war.
4. Most of their songs are quite beautiful, filled with the light and verve of other great bands like Velvet Underground, Wire, Sonic Youth, and Neil Young’s Crazy Horse. Gifted in music does not equal gifted in thought.
Did I post something like this before? If I did, please excuse the drama of repitition. But as I become increasingly fascinated by my daughter’s illustrated books, I’m struck by how nearly every book revolves around animals placed in some sort of character. There’s the old standbys like Mickey and Donald, but then there’s Maisy, and there are eight million others out there. It’s strange that we can read our kids books that highlight the beauty of a cow, with its nice black spots, it’s cute tail and fine featured face – and then serve it all up on a plate for din-din that night. What happened? Where did the disconnect occur between what we should our children and what we feed them?
Of course I’m speaking as a vegetarian. But, historically, I’m really trying to parse out how we ingratiate ourselves to our children with animal-this and animal-that (e.g. books, pajamas, wall paper, toys, stuffed animals, posters, movies, video games) and then allow mass slaughters to happen to those same animals (e.g. the cute pigs, cows, roosters, hens, chicks, mice). How did we get this far?
Oy vey. This is quite a list of Yiddish words! Danken G-t!
Yiddishkeit (page four)
I just completed Steve Krug’s Dont Make Me Think. The book explains in simple language how to design Web sites that people actually use (and maybe like).
Some might consider it an “old” book (released in 2000) with regard to Web usability but I’d argue that 85% of what Mr. Krug says is pretty delightful. One chapter (5) states Krug’s Third Law of Usability: “Get rid of half the words on each page, then get rid of half of what’s left.” Nice. The reality is that it’s a tall order but one that is worth considering.
Chatper 3 is called Billboard Design 101: Designing pages for scanning, not reading. Also nice.
It all makes me wonder if the Web, crafted originally for the sharing of text, is not wholeheartedly a visual-only medium. And if all of these Web logs out there are really small attempts to make the Web user-friendly for text. It does make me wonder what, for instance, MSN is up to. Crowded, extremely difficult to find anything on the page except by random clicking, MSN is a powerful portal that denies everything Mr. Krug argues for — crowded, no negative space, few images, navigation all over the place.
Went to see the brand-spanking new MoMA (the original one, in NYC) outpost in Queens today. As you probably know, the original MoMA in Manhattan is going through a $860 million renovation. Yes, that is the number apparently. I liked the steel cage renovated look of the new museum, stuck out in the middle of a subway line and a number of low rise manufactories.
The architects very carefully constructed a space that would provide maximal space for the paintings and installations on view. However, the artsworks from the 80s and 90s left me cold, except for a very nice Polke. While the 2 Mark Rothkos and the same-size early and late Willem De Koonings were beautiful facing each other with longing abandon, the room of clocks by Andrea Zittel et. al. was remote — it reminded me of something that once would have stood at PS1 — a few blocks away — but no longer.
In any case, not far from where Ms. Zittel lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is Pierogi Gallery (full disclosure: I have some works in the flat files there), which currently features about 10 artists whose work jumped off the walls. From the intensely pop Bic-pen doodle-drawings of Dawn Clements, a friend, to this incredibly beautiful landscape by an artist I had not seen to another small landscape made of small cuttings from postage stamps, the show is a stopper in a summer of artshow oddities.
It’s great to see Bust Magazine (*see below – and note that articles are not online) cover the work (and death) of artists Margaret Kilgallen. I LOVE this woman’s work and first saw her painting installations at the Drawing Center a few years back. Filled with old-fashioned rhyme and little reason, she would show a collection of flatly painted, railroad-style images and text that together added up to a sad blog-like image world. Her work was the best thing going at the Whitney Biennial this year (shared with a few, and very few, others).
A fascinating, if completely unlikable, character on Sex and the City is played by noneother than Cynthia Nixon. Well, finally, someone is paying attention to her, and she’s on the cover of the Summer 2002 Bust Magazine. Ms. Nixon looks awfully cool in the article, with way more charm than she is maybe allowed to have in SatC.
Also in this issue is a piece by Melissa Auf Der Maur (formerly? of Smashing Pumpkins) on Rufus Wainwright, whose mom is Kate McGarrigle. I love Melissa, think that Rufus is a doofus, and Kate is slightly past her prime. But it is cool to see a mother and son hanging out.
Bust has gone through a number of interesting design changes — I’ve only seen it every so often but this issue looks quite pretty. There’s a little too much reliance on big headlines and full-bleed photographs but the content, and the music reviews, are STRONG. I remember (vaguely) when Bust was on newsprint, all smudgy and stuff.
After many, many years of using MANOVERBOARD.com as a site featuring “artists and writers of extreme vision,” I’m glad to announce that MANOVERBOARD.com is the new (yes, corporate) destination. You can still find The Site at MANOVERBOARD, but it’s at the .net address, where it makes more sense.
The Site has not been redesigned or re-branded but it will be. In the meantime, I encourage to look around at the brand new old MANOVERBOARD. It only took 4 months to overhaul, but at least I can truly say the clients came first.
Gee, my very first .com business — and only 3.5 years late!
For many reasons, this holiday actually seems quite real this year. While I’m not able to fly a flag (we live in an apartment), I do feel differently about the liberties (large and small) that exist in this country. My grandmother, who came here in 1914 and recently passed away, witnessed the first World War, the swinging 20s, the Depression, radio, the second World War, Hiroshima and nuclear mayhem, television, JFK and MLK’s murders, yippies, Julian Schnabel, the PC, the Internet, and the birth of two great-grandchildren.
What do I have to show for all that? The fact that I am sitting here typing words on a computer instead of growing potatoes in radiation-filled Zhitomir, Ukraine. The enormity of this good fortune, thanks to her and to those who helped her here, is overwhelming.
This is a fascinating little piece of software coming out of Google Labs. If you enter a few items that are similar in kind, and hit the Large Set or Small Set button, Google actually looks at other items within the category or “set” that you defined.
Pretty amazing. It could easily be used to study your name on the Net, your business competitors, or, presumably, mathematical symbols that are subsets of large sets. It makes me think twice, nay three times, about the SAT board’s decision to require essay questions in 5 years hence. If Google can do analogies this well, why do we need to be able to do them?
Oh yes, because they make us logical. Hmm, good answer. Take a look: