Thursday, April 21, 2016

Prince 1958- 2016

If you were a kid growing up in the ’80s—maybe let’s say you’re gay too—this is what you first learned about sex: It will kill you. You don’t have sex yet; you don’t even really know what it is, but you know that it is lethal. That somehow it leads to the men with the skeletal bodies and the blotchy marks on their skin that you see on the television, the men who don’t look at the camera and are alone.   

From this certainty, a whole way of being unfolds. The body, especially the naked body, is gross. Penises are gross; tits are gross; lips are kinda gross too. Ewwwww. Clothing becomes a kind of hallowed armor (except lingerie, which is also gross) and should never be removed, especially in the locker room. Whatever curiosity you have about what adults do behind closed doors, or on the cable stations your parents don’t subscribe to, is squashed by the notion that sex=death. You stop asking questions. You leave doors closed.
But then, one day on the radio, a song blows those doors open. You don’t know who sings it. Or even how many people are singing it, or whether they are boys or girls, or white or black. But the guitar hooks and squeals and pops like nothing else, and a lyric worms its way into your brain and stays there for the next 30 years:
Yeah, everybody’s got a bomb
We could all die any day
But before I’ll let that happen,
I’ll dance my life away
Later, you’ll learn that the singer is a wholly improbable creature—made of sinew and lace and leather and hair—and that he has a lot of friends, including his band, The Revolution. You’ll learn more explicit lyrics to songs like “Darling Nikki” and “Head.” But “1999” will always be what turns you inside out, even when it is played ad nauseam at bars in the year 1999. On one side of your childhood, there is Reagan and AIDS and nuclear war and the yelling Christians. And on the other side, there is Prince. Richard Kim. The 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

“Transitional Object (PsychoBarn),” by the British artist Cornelia Parker, installed in the roof garden at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Credit Caitlin Ochs for The New York Times
Charles Addams

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Monday, April 11, 2016

Stuff you missed in History

Interview: Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso-

 Dr. Kali Nicole Gross joins Tracy to discuss a murder that took place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1887. The details of the investigation and trial offer insight into the culture of the the post-Reconstruction era, particularly in regards to race. Full episode here.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Elvis Presley- Blue Moon

The Rise and Fall of an All-American Catchphrase: 'Free, White, and 21'

“Free, white, and 21” appeared in dozens of movies in the ’30s and ’40s, a proud assertion that positioned white privilege as the ultimate argument-stopper. The current state of contention over the existence and shape of white privilege weaves back into the story of this catchphrase: its rise, its heyday, and how it disappeared. White America learned the same lesson as the society woman saying “free, white and 21” to the fugitive: you can’t be sure to whom you are speaking. Every time a movie character uttered this phrase so casually, they were giving black America a glimpse into the real character of American democracy. Decades before it came to a head, they inadvertently fed the civil rights struggle. The solution to this problem would be quintessentially Hollywood, and thus quintessentially American—a combination of censorship and propaganda that would erase “free, white, and 21” from films, from public life, and nearly even from national memory. Full article here.


The White Captive

Indian Girl, The Dawn of Christianity

"In this full-length nude, the artist took the opportunity to create a pendant for the "Indian Girl". While in the earlier sculpture he wished "to show the influence of Christianity upon the savage," in "The White Captive" he explored "the influence of the savage upon Christianity." Thus from the beginning "The White Captive" was, in the sculptor's mind, the personification of Christianity. "The White Captive" portrays a youthful female figure who has been abducted from her sleep and held captive by savage Indians. Hands bound, and stripped of a nightgown hanging from a tree trunk, she turns her head away from the terror, and clenches her left first, in defiance of imminent harm. Palmer was particularly commended for his use of a "thoroughly American" subject that makes a conscious allusion to the endless skirmishes between the Native Americans and the white pioneers.  "The White Captive" was exhibited by itself at the William Schaus gallery in New York City, from November 1859 to January 1860.
" Dawn of Christianity would symbolize the first impression of civilization upon the native of this country." He selected a young Native American woman to hold in her hands the props that unlock the symbolic intent of the sculpture: in her left hand, wild bird feathers have been forgotten in favor of the elevated crucifix in her right hand. The fleshy figure is semi-nude, dressed below the waist in a deerskin with a wampum border secured by a girdle."

Thursday, April 7, 2016


Monday, April 4, 2016

Cher- Half Breed

"A few weeks ago, No Doubt’s “Looking Hot” video (featuring Gwen Stefani as a white Indian bound and writhing for the delectation of hunky hostiles) revived a centuries-old tradition of captive fantasy art just in time for Native American History Month. There was John Vanderlyn’s 1804 “Murder of Jane McCrea,” John Mix Stanley’s 1845 “Osage Scalp Dance,” Erastus Dow Palmer’s full frontal “The White Captive” (1857-8, allegedly inspired by Olive Oatman), and this priceless lesser known piece, “The White Captive,” by Astley D.M. Cooper:
A California artist with a drinking problem and a penchant for painting semi-clad ladies, Cooper was an erratic talent (but you have to hand it to him for this 4 x 8 foot piece of sheer high concept brilliance). Though it was painted in 1902, his captivity scenario is positively postmodern: the natives look like they could be Indians from a whole different continent, and the chubby little devils—wearing angel wings and carrying spears, tomahawks, and bows and arrows–merrily menace a blissed out androgyne who’s about to get roasted and float to heaven.
This painting always struck me as a little late in the day for captivity fantasy art. But No Doubt has extended the timeline by over a century. After hearing from outraged viewers (and receiving an open letter from UCLA ‘s American Indian Studies Center), Interscope pulled the video and the band issued a formal apology (as did Victoria’s Secret for dressing this model in leopard skin panties and a floor length Indian headdress):
 One particularly offensive aspect of the No Doubt video, the AISC letter noted, is that one in three Native American women is raped (primarily by non-Indians). Perhaps as penance for singing “Do You think I’m Looking Hot?” in redface during Native American history month, Stefani should read Louise Erdrich’s The Roundhouse, a novel about the rape of an Ojibwe woman, which just won the National Book Award. It was written, said Erdrich, to honor “the  grace and endurance of native women.”"- Margaret

No Doubt - Looking Hot from Adrian Young Jr. on Vimeo.

Thai Sylvania Light Bulbs

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Asylum Lace

Autobiographical lace made by Adelaide Hall, a patient in a mental asylum in Washington around 1916.
Lunatic Fringe article here.

Saturday, April 2, 2016


A 15th century illustrated herbal from Northern Italy with three styles of illustration: one group of illustrations following medieval conventions, sometimes with fantastic elements such as human faces, on recto pages through most of the manuscript; another, rougher but more generally somewhat more naturalistic group in ink outline, on verso pages or added alongside earlier color illustrations; and a third group of naturalistic color illustrations of plants including roots, leaves, flowers and fruit on verso pages. Approximately a quarter of the illustrations are accompanied by notes on medicinal properties and preparations of the plants, written in the same ink as the ink outline illustrations, mostly in Italian (the Italian usage suggests the text was written in the Veneto), but occasionally in Latin or a mix of both languages; the notes are written around and sometimes over the illustrations. - From the website of the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Michael Jones McKean

 Diviner, 2012.

Ben Cove