With April Fool’s Day just around the corner, it’s as good a time as any to remember that we all need a startling jolt every now and then. With that in mind, Ben Kaplan looks at the history of hoaxes.
Pranks in the entertainment world have a long and storied history, but the biggest and best was probably Orson Welles’ aliens attack radio drama, War of the Worlds. “He was pissed off that people believed everything they heard on the radio and said, ‘If they’ll believe everything, I’m going to give them something unbelievable to believe,’ ” says Andrew Burashko, artistic director of Toronto’s Art of Time Ensemble, currently resurrecting a theatrical account of Welles’ 1938 hoax heard around the world.
According to Burashko, Welles was the entertainment world’s original prank provocateur, a tradition that spans from Andy Kaufman to Joaquin Phoenix, who all follow a time-honoured method of keeping audiences on their toes.
Since we’re seeing so much of everyday people in the documentaries of Morgan Spurlock, memoirs by James Frey and reality-TV shows such as American Idol andThe Real Housewives franchise, it makes sense that the art world plays with reality — all the better if it can send a message like Welles did.“
Performance and reality are merging — you see this a lot in modern fiction — and that’s always been interesting, but I think it’s real fruitful right now,” adds McKellar, who is also at work on a new fall sitcom for CBC. “People today are hyper-aware of the conventions of media, and it’s fun to play with them where you can.”
No one can call James Franco unambitious. From attending six schools to continuing to film movies and TV, to working sporadically as a performance-artist, to teaching one course on film and collaborating on another class on himself (yes, himself), Franco is a man of many, many parts.
Breadth of talent is certainly impressive, but doing a million things is not the same as doing a million things well. This is like calling someone who knows just a few words in many languages “multilingual.” And for this, there are no better examples than James Franco’s careers.
It all started with the Green Goblin’s return to UCLA.
Porn As Performance Art?: Sasha Grey Releases “Neu Sex,” Her First Book of Art Photography
Courtesy of the artist and VICE Books
NEW YORK—Pornography has long been an au courant subject for contemporary art — see John Currin, Marilyn Minter, or Richard Prince — but it’s rare to find a working porn star who’s making art. (Ron Jeremy’s media empire isn’t exactly the Warhol Factory.) Enter Sasha Grey, the 23-year old adult film actress who has, like an open-minded and highly flexible comet, streaked across the mainstream media radar over these past few years. Suddenly there Grey was, in American Apparel ads. In Steven Soderbergh movies. On “Entourage,” dating Vince. And, as of today, promoting the release of her first book of art photography, “Neu Sex,” published by VICE Books.
Last night Grey was joined by friend and occasional collaboratorBrandon Stosuy for a standing-room only conversation at Housing Works Café. Dressed rather demurely, Grey shared her love for Cindy Sherman and Nan Goldin, and explained how she’s been able to recast her career in pornographic films as performance art.
California orange crate labels are viewed as quaint kitchen decor today, but there was a time when the colorful logos were cutting-edge innovations in national marketing.
Packinghouses often created three different labels: one for high-grade fruit, one for mid-grade and one for the bottom of the barrel — citrus that was small, poorly textured or off-color. The fruit in this last category didn’t necessarily taste bad, but it looked bad. Growers sometimes chose scruffy dogs or ugly old ladies to represent these grades. One Villa Park brand, “Camouflage,” carried the slogan: “The Quality is Inside.” Another brand, “Mutt,” proclaimed: “Not much for looks, but ripe, sweet & juicy.”
Something strange has happened in evangelical churches over the past generation. Not in every congregation, but in the main, sermons devoted to the grim prospect of hell have become rare, and even talk of heaven is muted.
Many have noted this development without making much impact. Along comes Rob Bell, founding pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan. His “Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived” is now ranked No. 8 on Amazon.com, and it has been generating controversy since before its release earlier this week.
“There are a growing number of us,” Mr. Bell writes on the first page—”millions”—”who have become acutely aware that Jesus’s story has been hijacked by a number of other stories, stories Jesus isn’t interested in telling. . . . A staggering number of people have been taught that a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell.” Presumably this disquiet accounts for the reticence of many evangelicals when it comes to the afterlife.
Damon Johnson “The Beautiful Chaos: A Style Installation” at Gallery Bar, through March 24, culturally-stimulating soirée March 23, 7-10 p.m., 120 Orchard Street, gallerybarnyc.com
Last week Gallery Bar, the Lower East Side hangout and art venue that is part-owned by Miami collector scion Darren Rubell, was shut down in a dramatic police raid after alleged underage-drinking and overcrowding violations. Now, however, the bar is back in business, and will be hosting a closing party tonight for “The Beautiful Chaos: A Style Installation,” a show of comic-book-inspired collages and installations by Damon Johnson (the step-son of art PR guru Nadine Johnson). Working in a self-proclaimed “urban surrealist” style, Johnson has done murals at the U.S. Open and at the Montauk Surf Lodge, and appeared in a Half Gallery show curated by Jesus author James Frey.
In Brooklyn, Cannabis Plants Once Grew As High As Christmas Trees
Photo: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images
Ben Gocker, a librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library, recently uncovered an intriguing chapter in the borough’s not-too-distant past. In the early fifties, Cannabis sativa plants apparently grew tall enough to hang ornaments on for the holidays. They grew in empty lots from Avenue X to the banks of the Newton Creek as well as around the Gowanus Canal. Of course, the fifties was a more innocent time. Many residents didn’t realize what was growing in their own backyards. In their attempt to wipe out the native green, officials warned residents, “If you spot these leaves in your back yard, growing in a tall, erect stalk, you have a budding marijuana crop on tap and the Sanitation Department would like to know about it.” In the summer of 1951, sanitation workers dug up and incinerated 41,000 pounds of marijuana from 274 lots around New York.
This just in: star graphic designer Rodrigo Corral has been appointed creative director of Farrar, Straus and Giroux (FSG), according to a statement issued today by president and publisherJonathan Galassi. Corral is no stranger to FSG, having worked in the company’s art department from 1996 to 2000 after graduating from the School of Visual Arts. He begins in his new post early next month and will continue to run Rodrigo Corral Design, the nine-year-old studio behind such memorable book covers as those for James FreyA Million Little Pieces, a shelf of Chuck Palahniuk novels, Debbie Millman‘s smashing How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer, and Jay-Z‘s recent memoir-cum-lyrical codex, Decoded, for which Corral dispensed with the glamour shot and featured one of Andy Warhol‘s Rorschach paintings.
Four hundred years since the King’s Printer published the first edition in 1611, the King James Version Bible continues to reign supreme. Not only is it by far the bestselling translation of all time, with more than 5 billion copies sold, it is the very icon of Bibleness, the Book of books, the premier image of the printed and bound Word. Indeed, many assume it’s the only Bible. “I’ve never read the Bible,” people tell me. “I just can’t stand all those thees and thous,” despite the fact that no modern translations have them. And whether anyone ever seriously said, “If it was good enough for St. Paul, it’s good enough for me,” many think so. No wonder those behind the evangelical New International Version and the Catholic New American Bible translations decided to launch their highly publicized major revisions this year: They’re hoping to catch a draft off the seeming timelessness of the King of Bibles.
The King James Bible’s 400th may well be its biggest birthday ever, but also its most poignant. For its end draws nigh. Sure, it’ll hang around for a while, mostly in hotels and old folks homes. But it’s not long for this world, at least in any form we’d recognize from the bookish years of its youth.
photo by Curtis Buchanan – From left: Al Moran and Aaron Bondaroff.
Downtown is a state of mind for the art impresarios Aaron Bondaroff and Al Moran, whether they’re selling Statue of Liberty figurines by Kembra Pfahler at a pop-up shop in Athens, Greece, or recreating the Ludlow Street watering hole Max Fish at a bar in Miami (bar staff included). After descending upon Los Angeles last year with a one-night-only Halloween Neckface show that drew 5,000 people, this weekend the two introduced the new L.A. home of their OHWOW gallery. Opening Saturday in a 4,000-square-foot, ivy-covered former Laundromat on La Cienega Boulevard in West Hollywood, OHWOW presented “Noblesse Oblige,” the first L.A. exhibition from Scott Campbell, who is as well known for the work he’s inked into the flesh of Marc Jacobs, Terry Richardson and others as he is for the intricate 3-D pieces he cuts into sheets of United States currency. “Noblesse Oblige” — an ironic battle cry for Campbell’s backwoods Louisiana kin and a phrase he has tattooed on his neck — also finds the artist working with neon, etching onto 24-karat gold plates, and drawing on the insides of ostrich eggs. We caught up with Bondaroff and Moran in the Rafael de Cardenas-designed space to discuss the bigger picture.
Early band benefactor, sound system designer, supplier of psychedelic substances, and co-designer of good ol’ Stealie (at right), the Grateful Dead wrote “Alice D. Millionaire,” when 1967 newspaper headlines screamed the “LSD Millionaire” had been busted in his East Bay lab. Born Augustus Owsley Stanley III, grandson of a Kentucky senator and known to all as Bear, “The Artisan of Acid” died last Sunday in Queensland, Australia. He’d been living as a naturalized citizen there since 1996 as part of an effort to escape the ill effects of global warming on the Northern Hemisphere.
Career Highs: Monterey Purple, White Lightening, Blue Cheer were just some of what the underground chemist served up to the world’s biggest rock stars. Jimi Hendrix was said to have taken the Owsley Purple on the night of his fiery appearance at Monterey Pop; Brian Jones and Pete Townshend also famously turned on that weekend. Present at the Acid Tests in late 1965 and early 1966, Bear was forever aligned with the Grateful Dead. Not only did he and his friend Bob Thomas design their lightening bolt skull logo, he was the architect of their sound system, a musician-friendly, superior set-up that revolutionized rock music.
The list could go on and on, but these are the poems that seem to me to have left the deepest mark on US literature – and me
For whatever reason, I woke up today with a list of the 10 greatest American poems in my head that had been accumulating through the night. Every list is subjective, and of course the use of “greatest” even more so – but these are not just “favorite” poems. I’ve been thinking about American poetry – and teaching it to university students – for nearly 40 years, and these are the 10 poems that, in my own reading life, have seemed the most durable; poems that shifted the course of poetry in the United States, as well as poems that I look forward to teaching every year because they represent something indelible. The list could go on and on, of course. I deeply regret leaving off Roethke’s “The Lost Son”, Adrienne Rich’s “Diving into the Wreck” and “The Asphodel, that Greeny Flower” by William Carlos Williams. But I guess I just sneaked them onto the list, didn’t I?
Whitman reinvents American poetry in this peerless self-performance, finding cadences that seem utterly his own yet somehow keyed to the energy and rhythms of a young nation waking to its own voice and vision. He calls to every poet after him, such as Ezra Pound, who notes in “A Pact” that Whitman “broke the new wood.”
Stevens’s sumptuous, glittering language takes blank verse and reinvents it. This poem raises to a sublime level what Stevens once called a war “between the mind and sky.” The poem celebrates the “blessed rage for order” at the heart of all creative work.
A perfect poem, and one of Dickinson’s most compressed and chilling attempts to come to terms with mortality. Once read, it stays in the head forever, in part because of the ballad stanza, so weirdly fresh in her capable hands.
This surprising late poem concentrates Frost’s lifetime of thinking and working as a poet. “Drink and be whole beyond confusion,” he says at the end, mapping out the inner life of any reader. It is blank verse cast in Frost’s trademark craggy voice, and it might be considered a local response to Eliot’s more cosmopolitan “The Waste Land.”
Apparently James Frey has a tiny man in his head, like some kind of internalized boss, who barks, “You haven’t enraged anyone lately!” and starts cracking the whip whenever things slow down. This week, we learned that Frey will deliver a book he discussed in an interview with the Rumpus back in 2008, “The Final Testament of the Holy Bible,” which will depict the return of Jesus Christ as a drunk who consorts with hookers and canoodles with other men. The book will be published in a limited edition by an art gallery and self-published by Frey “online,” which presumably means in e-book format. This event will take place on April 22, Good Friday.
I know! Shocking, right? Frey says that he expects to “get blasted” for this. The press has happily joined him in rubbing its hands together over the prospect, deploying words like “controversial” and “firestorm” in stories that Frey promptly posts to his website. “I tried to write a radical book. I’m releasing it in a radical way,” Frey told the New York Post. So it’s possible his Christ might be a skateboarder, too.
New Bible Draws Critics Of Gender-Neutral Language
by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
In the old translation of the world’s most popular Bible, John the Evangelist declares: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar.” Make that “brother or sister” in a new translation that includes more gender-neutral language and is drawing criticism from some conservatives who argue the changes can alter the theological message.
The 2011 translation of the New International Version Bible, or NIV, does not change pronouns referring to God, who remains “He” and “the Father.” But it does aim to avoid using “he” or “him” as the default reference to an unspecified person.
The NIV Bible is used by many of the largest Protestant faiths. The translation comes from an independent group of biblical scholars that has been meeting yearly since 1965 to discuss advances in biblical scholarship and changes in English usage.
Before the new translation even hit stores, it drew opposition from the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, an organization that believes women should submit to their husbands in the home and only men can hold some leadership roles in the church.
Kapow! Mixed Martial Artists to Rally in Midtown for Legialization
By David Freedlander
March 16, 2011 | 9:54 a.m.
Over 1,000 fans of Mixed Martial Arts are expected to rally today in front of Radio City to call on lawmakers to legalize the sport in New York State.
A study commissioned by Ultimate Fighting Championship, an MMA sports association and production company, found that regulating the sport would generate $23 million in economic activity.
Proponents of keeping the sport illegal say that it borders on the barbaric because the aim is to disable or maim your opponent. MMA is outlawed in only a handful of states other than New York, including Connecticut, Vermont and West Virginia.
Now the bad boy of American letters, James Frey, has jumped on the bandwagon with the announcement that his next book will be published by an art gallery. Just 10,000 copies will be printed on paper, with an additional collectors’ edition of 1,000 signed volumes.
Frey’s original manuscript will be printed on canvas and displayed by the publisher, the Gagosian gallery in New York, alongside new artworks by several top American artists to illustrate it. They include Richard Prince, Ed Ruscha, Richard Phillips and Terry Richardson.