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The Birth of Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down

from InsideHook

What Was It About Siskel and Ebert?

The podcast “Gene and Roger” delves into the sometimes-contentious relationship that catapulted two Chicago film critics to legendary status

BY MICHAEL STAHL

In the PG-rated 1993 film Cop and a Half, Burt Reynolds portrays a curmudgeonly police officer who’s seen it all … almost. Despite his protest, Reynolds’s no-nonsense detective is tasked with babysitting an eight-year-old boy while on the job. He has to show him the ropes so that the kid, who’d witnessed a mafia hit, will finger the offender. The boy’s biggest dream in life is to become a cop, and he seizes the opportunity when it presents itself by blackmailing the police force into a ride-along. Hijinks ensue, and the kid’s meddlesome ways torture Reynolds’s character. He wants to catch the bad guys; the boy just wants to have fun. 

It’s David vs. Goliath, directed by “The Fonz” himself: Henry Winkler. In spite of earning more than $26 million in profit for its producers and spawning a 2017 spinoff starring Lou Diamond Phillips, Cop and a Half  holds a pitiful score of 14 percent on Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer

Critics hated it. With one shocking exception.

Roger Ebert, already a legendary film critic who’d won a Pulitzer Prize, said upon its release that Cop and a Half  was “amusing” and that it “moves.” He also praised the performances of Reynolds and Norman D. Golden II, as the titular “Half.” 

“Somewhat to my surprise, I liked it,” he said, concluding his onscreen TV review. 

Ebert then turned away from his lens and faced his broadcast partner, Gene Siskel, a highly respected film critic in his own right, to hear his remarks. 

“Wowee,” the fellow Midwesterner Siskel began, gobsmacked by Ebert’s upbeat take. Through syncopated crosstalk, Siskel panned the performances, insisting there was no chemistry between Reynolds and Golden II, who he said seemed to be “looking for his lines.” 

“Gee, I thought it was dumb,” Siskel added about the movie as a whole. “Not colorful whatsoever.”

Barbed disagreements like this one — though it was hardly contained to a single exchange — helped keep Siskel and Ebert on the air, together, for the better part of a quarter century. Beginning in 1975, Gene Siskel, a Chicago Tribune reviewer, teamed up with Roger Ebert, critic at the Chicago Sun-Times, for a series of television programs that pitted the local newspaper rivals against each other, thereby providing audiences with distinctive, nuanced but uniformly astute observations on feature films. It was Goliath vs. Goliath, and the legacy of these programs, as well as the personalities of the cohosts, is the subject of a compelling new audio documentary series, Gene and Roger

[ click to continue reading at InsideHook ]

Posted on August 22, 2021 by Editor

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Chuck Close Gone

from The New York Times

Chuck Close, Artist of Outsized Reality, Dies at 81

He found success with his large-scale Photorealist portraits, becoming one of the leading artists of his generation. 

By Ken Johnson and Robin Pogrebin

Chuck Close’s “Big Self-Portrait,” painted in 1968, was the first of his colossal Photorealist portraits and remains one of his best known. Credit…Chuck Close, via Pace Gallery

Chuck Close, who rose to prominence in the 1970s and ’80s with colossal Photorealist portraits of himself, family members and fellow artists, died on Thursday in a hospital in Oceanside, N.Y. He was 81.

At the end of the 1960s, a period when formalist abstraction and Pop Art dominated the contemporary scene, Mr. Close began using an airbrush and diluted black paint to create highly detailed nine-foot-tall grisaille paintings based on mug-shot-like photographs of himself and his friends.

His first, and still one of his best known, is a self-portrait in which he stares impassively back at the camera through plastic black-rimmed glasses. He has messy, stringy hair, his face is unshaved, and a cigarette with smoke rising from it juts from the corner of his mouth — a rebel with a new artistic cause.

[ click to continue reading at NYT ]

Posted on August 19, 2021 by Editor

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Invincible Stonehenge

from artnet

Scientists Have Conducted Tests That Reveal Stonehenge Is Made From a Nearly Indestructible Ancient Material

A rare core sample, removed years ago, contains a form of quartz that doesn’t erode or crumble.

by Sarah Cascone

The full moon sets behind Stonehenge on April 27, 2021 in Amesbury, England. Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images.
The full moon sets behind Stonehenge on April 27, 2021 in Amesbury, England. Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images.

A long lost piece of England’s Stonehenge monument is helping experts understand the mysterious prehistoric structure. Analysis of a core sample taken from one of the site’s massive slabs suggests that the stone’s geochemical composition may have made it uniquely well-equipped to stand the test of time.

Made from 99.7 percent quartz crystals, the stones are practically indestructible, according to a new study published in the journal Plos One.

“Now we’ve got a good idea why this stuff’s still standing there,” study co-author David Nash, a professor of physical geography at the University of Brighton, told Business Insider. “The stone is incredibly durable—it’s really resistant to erosion and weathering.”

[ click to continue reading at artnet ]

Posted on August 16, 2021 by Editor

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The Adolescents of NFT

from The New York Times

Teens Cash In on the NFT Art Boom

Forget mowing lawns and bagging groceries. Some Gen Z kids are finding other ways to make money this summer.


By Steven Kurutz

NFT art, “his name is victor,” by FEWOCiOUS (whose legal name is indeed Victor Langlois).
NFT art, “his name is victor,” by FEWOCiOUS (whose legal name is indeed Victor Langlois).Credit…FEWOCiOUS, via Christie’s

Last fall, Randi Hipper decided to, as she put it recently, “go in-depth with the crypto space.” After hearing about NFTs on Twitter and other social media platforms, Ms. Hipper, then a 17-year-old senior at Xaverian High School in Brooklyn, began releasing her own digital artworks — cartoonish and self-referential pieces showing her cruising in a car with a Bitcoin license plate or riding the Coney Island Wonder Wheel.

Ms. Hipper comes up with the concepts and collaborates with digital artists, including a teenage boy in India who goes by Ajay Toons, offering the works for sale through the NFT marketplace Atomic Hub. An NFT, or a nonfungible token, is a digital file created using blockchain computer code. It is bought using cryptocurrency such as Ether or Wax, and exists as a unique file unable to be duplicated, often just to be admired digitally.

“Right now, I’m trying to do one drop a week,” said Ms. Hipper, who now goes by Miss Teen Crypto and has since turned 18. “I try not to overload my feed, my collectors.”

[ click to continue reading at NYT ]

Posted on August 15, 2021 by Editor

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Stuck In The Middle

from Deadline

Quentin Tarantino’s Tribute To Late EMI Music Exec Pat Lucas; She Took Chance On Him & OK’d Use Of ‘Reservoir Dogs’ Tune That Launched His Career

By Mike Fleming Jr

Pat Lucas, the former EMI Music executive who was a longtime friend to filmmakers she licensed songs to for their films, has died after a long battle with cancer. She passed away last Monday.

While I wait to get more details from her distraught family, Quentin Tarantino asked to memorialize Lucas and express his forever gratitude to her taking a chance on an unproven filmmaker and granting rights to the Stealers Wheel song “Stuck in the Middle with You for use in his directorial debut Reservoir Dogs. Tarantino suggests you cannot hear that song even now and not think of Michael Madsen dancing around a kidnapped police officer trussed to a chair, as Madsen dances around him in menacing fashion, cutting off his ear and planning to set him aflame. It was a shocking, career-launching moment for the filmmaker, who still sounds a bit surprised that fortune smiled on him when Daly said yes. After all, this was way before Pulp Fiction, when all Daly had to judge by was his script and the knowledge that Gerry Rafferty’s hit song might be indelibly linked to a brutal torture scene.

[ click to continue reading at Deadline ]

Posted on August 13, 2021 by Editor

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Agre’s Prophecy

from Washington Post via MSN

He predicted the dark side of the Internet 30 years ago. Why did no one listen?

by Reed Albergotti

In 1994 — before most Americans had an email address or Internet access or even a personal computer — Philip Agre foresaw that computers would one day facilitate the mass collection of data on everything in society.

That process would change and simplify human behavior, wrote the then-UCLA humanities professor. And because that data would be collected not by a single, powerful “big brother” government but by lots of entities for lots of different purposes, he predicted that people would willingly part with massive amounts of information about their most personal fears and desires.

“Genuinely worrisome developments can seem ‘not so bad’ simply for lacking the overt horrors of Orwell’s dystopia,” wrote Agre, who has a doctorate in computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in an academic paper.

Nearly 30 years later, Agre’s paper seems eerily prescient, a startling vision of a future that has come to pass in the form of a data industrial complex that knows no borders and few laws. Data collected by disparate ad networks and mobile apps for myriad purposes is being used to sway elections or, in at least one case, to out a gay priest. But Agre didn’t stop there. He foresaw the authoritarian misuse of facial recognition technology, he predicted our inability to resist well-crafted disinformation and he foretold that artificial intelligence would be put to dark uses if not subjected to moral and philosophical inquiry.

[ click to continue reading at MSN ]

Posted on August 12, 2021 by Editor

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Evan Sherman Rocks

from Tablet

How Jazz Healed a City

A young musician fought back against COVID lockdowns by taking music into the streets of Manhattan and saved us all

BY EMILY BENEDEK

Last year, a few weeks before COVID-19 descended over the land, I bought tickets to the late show at New York’s temple of jazz, the Village Vanguard. I’d heard that the drummer, Evan Sherman, was a musician to watch. Though only 26, he’d already toured with such jazz greats as Roy Hargrove, Wynton Marsalis, Cyrus Chestnut, and Jimmy Heath. As a mere 19-year-old, he’d played a weeklong gig with the legendary bassist Ron Carter, a member of Miles Davis’ Second Great Quintet.

That Saturday night at the Vanguard, Sherman was once again playing with Carter, along with Emmet Cohen, a celebrated young pianist. Carter’s sophisticated harmony and solo quips pushed his bandmates in unexpected directions. Cohen, a charismatic virtuoso, responded by reaching deep into his own musical vocabulary. And Sherman, with the swagger of a young Gene Krupa, hair falling over his eyes, steered the trio with a strong cymbal beat, detailing the story with military licks, Afro-Latin grooves, and bass-drum bombs.

[ click to continue reading at Tablet ]

Posted on August 11, 2021 by Editor

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The Etherian Channeler

from artnet

The Late Artist and Psychic Paulina Peavy Communed With a UFO to Create Her Work. A New Show Revives Her Otherworldly Legacy

“The Etherian Channeler” at Beyond Baroque in Venice Beach reintroduces the West Coast to this singular artist.

by Katie White

Paulina Peavy, Ghazi Khan (circa 1950s). Courtesy of Beyond Baroque and the Paulina Peavy Estate.
Paulina Peavy, Ghazi Khan (circa 1950s). Courtesy of Beyond Baroque and the Paulina Peavy estate.

Many artists throughout history have claimed some sort of otherworldly inspiration (the muses, for instance). But the visionary American artist Paulina Peavy (1901–1999) may be one of the only to attribute her talents to communications with a U.F.O.—specifically one named Lacamo. 

During Peavy’s lifetime, she enjoyed many early successes, including showing with Los Angeles’s Stendahl Gallery, studying with Hans Hoffman, and exhibiting work at the opening of the San Francisco Museum of Art—all before falling into art world obscurity.

The new exhibition “Paulina Peavy: An Etherian Channeler,” on view at the Beyond Baroque art center in Venice Beach, is hoping to reintroduce Peavy as a powerful and one-of-a-kind creative force in the nascent southern California art scene of a century ago. 

[ click to continue reading at artnet ]

Posted on August 10, 2021 by Editor

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Lithium Landscapes

from BBC

How your phone battery creates striking alien landscapes

By Richard Fisher and Javier Hirschfeld

A wider view of Chile's brine pools. It can take more than a year to maximise the lithium concentration by this evaporation method (Credit: Ivan Alvarado/Reuters)
A wider view of Chile’s brine pools. It can take more than a year to maximise the lithium concentration by this evaporation method (Credit: Ivan Alvarado/Reuters)

Beneath the screen that you are reading this on, there could be the distilled essence of a salt plain.

Millions of years ago, volcanoes deposited minerals over vast tracts of South America. Later, water leached through the rock to form massive lakes. Cycles of evaporation and deposition followed, leaving vast plains of salt behind – infused with one of the world’s most sought-after minerals: lithium.

With the rapid rise in battery usage in electronic devices and electric cars, the demand for lithium and other constituent materials is accelerating. As BBC Future has previously reported, it is enabling mining companies to look in new places, such as the deep ocean or in previously exploited mines, and has prompted scientists to seek alternative battery technology. But our focus today is how lithium is changing the fortunes – and specifically, the landscapes – of those countries that have it in abundance.

In Bolivia and Chile, the high tonnage of lithium embedded in the salt plains has given rise to massive facilities. From the air, the evaporation pools associated with the mineral’s extraction dot the landscape like colours in a painter’s palette. In this edition of our photography series Anthropo-Scene, we explore these places, whose striking features have inspired various artistswriters and architects.

[ click to continue reading at BBC ]

Posted on August 9, 2021 by Editor

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Spelling Infidelity Explained

from Nautilus

What Misspellings Reveal About Cultural Evolution

BY HELENA MITON

Illustration by VectorMine / Shutterstock

Something about me must remind people of a blind 17th-century poet. My last name, Miton, is French, yet people outside of France invariably misspell it as “Milton”—as in the famed English author, John Milton, of the epic poem Paradise Lost.

It is not uncommon for people to misspell an unfamiliar name—yet 99 times out of 100 people misspell mine as “Milton.” That is the name that shows up on everything from my university gym card to emails from colleagues.

It might seem trivial, yet this misspelling actually illustrates a key feature of how cultural practices emerge and stabilize.

When studying culture, one of the key questions scientists ask is about continuity: Why do people do the same things, in roughly similar ways, over long periods of time? Consider how traditional food recipes, say tamales, have maintained a stable core definition over generations—corn-based dough cooked in corn husks.

[ click to continue reading at Nautilus ]

Posted on August 6, 2021 by Editor

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Musical Vocabularies

from InsideHook

The Musicians With the Biggest (And Smallest) Vocabularies

A new study determined which artists use the most unique words in their songs

BY BONNIE STIERNBERG

We all know that when it comes to song lyrics, some artists are more verbose than others. Some like to keep it simple, while others use a slew of SAT words to paint a vivid picture and get their point across. Some artists even go as far as making up their own words (“MMMBop,” anyone?). But which artists have really gone above and beyond when it comes to their catalog’s lexicon?

As Digg points out, word search tool Wordtips sought to answer that question by combing through the lyrics of Spotify’s “most listened-to singers” as well as the artists named on Rolling Stone‘s “100 Greatest Singers of All Time” list to determine which ones used the most unique words per 1,000 words. (They excluded songs on which the singers did not have writing credits.)

They pored through 17,667 songs performed by 156 artists and found that Patti Smith has the best vocabulary of them all, with 217 unique words per 1,000 words in her lyrics. (That shouldn’t be too surprising to anyone familiar with Smith’s work.) Joni Mitchell and Björk came in second and third place, with 199 and 197 unique words per 1,000 words respectively, while Jim Morrison and Billie Eilish round out the top five.

[ click to continue reading at InsideHook ]

Posted on August 5, 2021 by Editor

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River Dave Burned Out

from AP

Fire destroys cabin of New Hampshire man forced out of woods

By KATHY McCORMACK

Jodie Gedeon via AP

CANTERBURY, N.H. (AP) — For almost three decades, 81-year-old David Lidstone has lived in the woods of New Hampshire along the Merrimack River in a small cabin adorned with solar panels. He has grown his own food, cut his own firewood, and tended to his pets and chickens.

But his off-the-grid existence has been challenged in court by a property owner who says he’s been squatting for all those years. And to make Lidstone’s matters worse, his cabin was burned to the ground Wednesday afternoon in a blaze that is being investigated by local authorities.

Lidstone, or “River Dave” as he’s known by boaters and kayakers, was jailed July 15 on a civil contempt sanction. He was told he’d be released if he agreed to leave the cabin, but he has stayed put.

“You came with your guns, you arrested me, brought me in here, you’ve got all my possessions. You keep ’em,” Lidstone told a judge in a court appearance Wednesday morning. “I’ll sit here with your uniform on until I rot, sir.”

[ click to continue reading at AP ]

Posted on August 4, 2021 by Editor

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Playing To The Gallery Gone

from UnHerd

How artists lost their courage

Keeping silent is the price of a successful career

BY JESS DE WAHLS

In 2013, Grayson Perry became the first crossdresser to give the BBC’s annual Reith Lectures. I loved them. Wearing his usual colourful attire, Perry explained why he titled his series “Playing to the gallery”, rather than “Sucking up to an academic elite”.

Art, he warned, is in its final throes, largely thanks to its obsession with cliches. He went on to describe a group of children who were asked what they thought artists did. One child responded: “They notice things.”

Much has changed in the art world, as well as the world at large, since those lectures were recorded. Perry’s crossdressing is no longer seen as unusual. It would not raise a single eyebrow amidst all the gender identities, “preferred pronouns” and codes of conduct that have rapidly taken hold of Britain’s institutions.

[ click to continue reading at UnHerd ]

Posted on August 3, 2021 by Editor

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Burn J.D. Burn

from Yahoo! News

Woman with only known recording of J.D. Salinger’s voice to have tape burned

by Brendan Morrow

J.D. Salinger
J.D. Salinger Holly Ramer / ASSOCIATED PRESS

The potentially last chance to hear J.D. Salinger’s voice on tape is set to go up in smoke, according to the woman who recorded him.

Betty Eppes is in possession of the “only known recording” of author J.D. Salinger’s voice, but she is promising to never release it and has even updated her will to say it will “be placed, along with her body, in the crematorium,” Bloomberg reports.

Eppes was a reporter for the Baton Rouge Advocate in 1980 when she managed to land an interview with the famously reclusive Catcher in the Rye author, who at that point hadn’t given one in nearly three decades. But as Bloomberg explains, Eppes described herself to him as a novelist, not a journalist, and she didn’t tell him she would be taping their conversation using a recorder she had hidden in her sleeve.

[ click to continue reading at Yahoo! ]

Posted on July 31, 2021 by Editor

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Nuggetopia

from The Wall Street Journal

We Live in a Golden Age of Dinosaur Chicken Nuggets

The ‘fun nugget’ boomlet taught makers to use fewer spikes, leave room for breading; now, perfecting Baby Yoda’s ears

By Ellen Byron

If Mark Tolbert could redesign his company’s Tyrannosaurus rex chicken nugget, he would make the neck slightly slimmer and the head a bit bigger.

“The head slopes down a little too much,” says Mr. Tolbert, a senior manager of the innovation center at Perdue Farms in Salisbury, Md. “But put some ketchup on it and you can’t see it.”

Mr. Tolbert speaks wistfully of the Triceratops, which consistently ranks as one of the most popular dinosaurs but so far eludes nugget-makers. “We’d never be able to make a chicken nugget with three horns coming out of its head,” Mr. Tolbert says. “That’s a three-dimensional shape.”

Major food companies can see a dinosaur-nugget boomlet. Parents buy them to motivate picky youngsters to clean their plates. Young adults eat them to spark childhood nostalgia.

And rising sales during the pandemic have prompted companies to consider what other nugget shapes might catch on—beyond the Tyrannosaurus rex, Stegosaurus and Brontosaurus.

[ click to continue reading at WSJ ]

Posted on July 30, 2021 by Editor

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Ron Popeil Gone

from NBC News

Infomercial king Ron Popeil dies at 86

Ronco’s Showtime Rotisserie & BBQ, and Popeil’s late-night infomercials pitching it, helped inscribe the phrase “set it and forget it” into the American lexicon.

Ron Popeil, the inventor and infomercial icon whose kitchen and direct-to-consumer products generated billions of dollars in U.S. sales, died Wednesday in Los Angeles. He was 86.

Popeil “lived his life to the fullest and passed in the loving arms of his family,” a statement from his spokesperson said.

No cause of death was provided.

Popeil first appeared on television in 1959 in an infomercial for the Chop-o-Matic, and his company, Ronco, founded by his father, eventually went on to produce products including Hair in a Can and Pocket Fisherman.

[ click to continue reading at NBC News ]

Posted on July 28, 2021 by Editor

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Bourdain and a Boner

from Vanity Fair

Bourdain, My Camera, and Me

The photographer behind one of the most indelible images taken of the late chef remembers their friendship—and the way it evolved over time.

BY MELANIE DUNEA

The bone kept sliding out of my hand. I had picked it up at Ottomanelli & Sons on Bleecker Street, overloaded and teetering at the counter, balancing my cameras, my tripod bag, while I explained to the guy what I needed.

“The biggest you’ve got,” I said.

He wrapped it up in paper and I was on my way.

The moment I walked out of the butcher shop I realized how slippery and wide the bone was. I could have splurged for a taxi, or asked for an assistant to meet me, but I was still in the business of proving myself to the world by trying to do it all myself. Besides, I was so close, not far at all to the photo studio in the West Village, and look, all I had to do was place a thumb under the masking tape on the butcher paper and I could hold it all together.

This day, I knew I had to be early. Tony Bourdain might have been known as a badass and truth speaker but he was always early. I was shooting for My Last Supper, my first solo book. Tony’s would be one of 50 images in a project meant to mark a moment in history. All around me, chefs were coming out of the kitchen and becoming hot-shit celebs. I would ask each of them the same six questions and then photograph them. I had imposed no rules upon myself for this project, no must-dos. This was a relief from executing clients’ and art directors’ visions. I only wanted to push myself creatively. My wish was that each photograph reflected who the chef was at the moment they stood in front of me.

[ click to continue reading at VF ]

Posted on July 27, 2021 by Editor

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Celebrating Sublime

from San Jose Mercury News

‘Sublime’ at 25: Remembering Bradley Nowell and the SoCal band’s massive hit album

The album sold over 18 million copies worldwide and spawned hit singles including “What I Got,” “Santeria” and “Wrong Way.”

By KELLI SKYE FADROSKI

Long Beach band Sublime released its third album, a self-titled effort, that featured hits like “Wrong Way,” “Santaria” and “What I Got,” on July 30, 1996 through MCA. (Image courtesy of Sublime)
Long Beach band Sublime released its third album, a self-titled effort, that featured hits like “Wrong Way,” “Santaria” and “What I Got,” on July 30, 1996 through MCA. (Image courtesy of Sublime)


On July 30, 1996, Sublime released its self-titled mainstream debut on MCA Records.

Although the Long Beach band had already put out two independent albums prior to this one, “Sublime” was different. It went on to sell over 18 million copies worldwide, spawning several singles including “What I Got,” “Santeria,” “Wrong Way” and “Doin’ Time.” The album was popular on both radio and MTV, thanks to an eclectic sound that intertwined elements of punk, ska, reggae, funk and hip-hop, as well as samples from artists like Bob Marley, George Gershwin, The Specials and The Who.

“I vividly remember sitting with my co-workers at the radio station [KFMA 102.1/FM] in Tuscon, Arizona when we first heard ‘What I Got,’ and we were like, ‘Wow, this is going to be huge,’” former KROQ DJ Ted Stryker said during a recent phone interview. “What did we know? We were a bunch of young idiots, but it was obvious that this band was going to be something great. That band, that album cover, these songs … they are stronger than ever and they still, 25 years later, feel so fresh. It sounds like summer. It sounds like we should be going to the beach. I don’t know if at the time they knew how timeless these songs were going to be.”

For the band and those close to it, Sublime’s breakthrough success also came at a time of great tragedy. Two months before the album was released, 28-year-old vocalist-guitarist Bradley Nowell died of a drug overdose while on tour in San Francisco, leaving behind the band, his wife Troy Dendekker and their 11-month old son, Jakob.

[ click to continue reading at SJ Merc ]

Posted on July 26, 2021 by Editor

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The Maestro of San Francisco

from SF Gate

The curious life of the Bay Area’s 84-year-old bodybuilding rhinestone cowboy artist

by Michelle Robertson

Stills of Maestro Gaxiola from the Criterion Collection. 
Stills of Maestro Gaxiola from the Criterion Collection. Courtesy of the Criterion Collection

In his 84 years, Gerald “The Maestro” Gaxiola has been an artist, a bodybuilder, a philosopher, a writer, a singer/songwriter, a leather worker, a salesman and an aircraft mechanic. 

Above all, he is a Bay Area legend. Gaxiola has lived in Albany for decades, where he became a visible figure thanks to his handmade rhinestone cowboy outfits and “Maestro Day,” a short-lived celebration of art, life and cowboys. 

Gaxiola has not held a day job for nearly five decades. He’s painted an estimated 11,000 works of art, but refuses to sell them. He lives, indubitably, the artist’s life. 

[ click to continue reading at SF Gate ]

Posted on July 25, 2021 by Editor

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Interior People

Posted on July 24, 2021 by Editor

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LouvreHub

from The Observer

The Louvre Is Cracking Down on Pornhub for Turning Classic Art Into Explicit Content

By Helen Holmes

‘Venus of Urbino’ by Tiziano Vecellio at the Gallerie degli Uffizi. Roberto Serra – Iguana Press/Getty Images

Pornhub, one of the most highly visited adult websites in the United States, is reportedly facing legal action from the Louvre museum in Paris and the Uffizi in Florence after debuting a new interactive website and app, “Show Me the Nudes,” that features porn actors re-envisioning classic works of art as jumping off points for sexually explicit content. Pornography is famously difficult to describe, but it could certainly be argued that a clear continuum exists between unclothed Titian muses and 21st century graphic imagery. However, the aforementioned museums are initiating legal action against Pornhub for rights infringements and pushing for the website to take down the content.

“No one has granted authorizations for the operation or use of the art” a spokesperson for the Uffizi told The Daily Beast. “In Italy, the cultural heritage code provides that in order to use images of a museum, compressed works for commercial purposes, it is necessary to have the permission, which regulates the methods and sets the relative fee to be paid. All this obviously if the museum grants the authorization which, for example, would hardly have been issued in this case.” Some of the works featured on the Pornhub website from the Uffizi Gallery include Bacchus by Caravaggio, Spring by Botticelli and Angelica hides from Ruggiero by Giovanni Bilivert.

[ click to continue reading at Observer ]

Posted on July 23, 2021 by Editor

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The Genius of Earl

from PASTE

It Still Stings: My Name Is Earl‘s Incomplete Journey Towards Forgiveness

By Kristen Reid

It Still Stings: <i>My Name Is Earl</i>'s Incomplete Journey Towards Forgiveness

When My Name is Earl was canceled by NBC in 2009 after its fourth season, fans were heartbroken that our final glimpse into Earl Hickey’s life was a simple title card promising “to be continued…” After four years of watching Earl transform his life—and so many others’—it felt like a punch in the gut to see his story end this way.

Starring Jason Lee, My Name is Earl was a show about asking forgiveness and doing what’s right to make up for your past mistakes, no matter how long it’s been. Lee played Hickey, a two-bit criminal with no ambition, no drive, and no motivation to do anything except troll around the fictional Camden County in his El Camino with his equally burned-out brother, leaving a wake of destruction and pissed-off people in their path. But all of this changed when Earl had a particularly brutal wake-up call in the form of a little old lady running him over. Earl, never one to see a win in any way, shape, or form, had just scratched a lotto ticket revealing a $100,000 jackpot. What started as an innocent celebratory dance in the middle of the street led to an extended hospital stay, and while recovering, Earl discovered exactly how he was going to turn his life around.

[ click to continue reading at PASTE ]

Posted on July 22, 2021 by Editor

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Vidiots Lives in Eagle Rock!

from The LA Times

Beloved video store Vidiots is set to reopen. How Rian Johnson and others are helping

By MARK OLSEN

A man and a woman walk under an Eagle Rock street sign and near a building with a blank marquee.
Vidiots, the long-running L.A. video store, is reopening in Eagle Rock with a restored movie theater. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

When Vidiots, the long-running video store in Santa Monica that had become a cultural cornerstone for the city, closed in 2017, it seemed the end of an era.

Now, on a corner in northeast Los Angeles, Vidiots is on the verge of a new beginning.

Construction is underway at the Eagle Theatre in Eagle Rock for it to become a combination 250-seat movie theater and video store, home to Vidiots’ collection of more than 50,000 titles on DVD, Blu-ray and VHS along with new programming. The project is expected to be completed and the new Vidiots is anticipated to open its doors in spring 2022.

“Even before the pandemic and lockdowns, I think that it is abundantly clear that the need for human interaction around the arts and particularly around film is really paramount to our culture and our sense of health and well-being,” said Maggie Mackay, executive director of the nonprofit Vidiots Foundation.

[ click to continue reading at LAT ]

Posted on July 19, 2021 by Editor

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Casino Twitch

from WIRED

Twitch Streamers Rake in Millions With a Shady Crypto Gambling Boom

The company says it is “closely monitoring gambling content,” but legal experts told WIRED that some promotions may be illegal.

by CECILIA D’ANASTASIO

Illustration of slot machine screens with cryptocurrency symbol
One attorney who specializes in online gambling law says he has recently been fielding lots of questions from US-based Twitch streamers about crypto gambling sites. ILLUSTRATION: SAM WHITNEY; GETTY IMAGES

TYLER NIKNAM WAS getting out of Texas. Niknam, 30, is a top streamer on Twitch, where he’s better known as Trainwrecks to his 1.5 million followers. For hours on end, Niknam was hitting the slots on Stake.com, an online cryptocurrency casino and his most prominent Twitch sponsor, to live audiences of 25,000. He’d been winning big, sometimes as much as $400,000 in crypto in one fell swoop, and he never seemed to go broke. The problem? It wasn’t allowed.

If you visit Stake on a US-based browser, a message will quickly pop up on the site: “Due to our gaming license, we cannot accept players from the United States.” Though Stake doesn’t possess a gambling license in any state, Niknam and other US gamblers easily circumvent this by using VPNs. Promoting gambling sites that cannot operate in the US and making money by referring US residents to them may constitute promoting illegal gambling, legal experts told WIRED.

“Canada needs to happen asap,” Niknam wrote in a private Discord DM to Felix “xQc” Lengyel, 25, Twitch’s number two streamer. Lengyel briefly streamed slots but stopped in June. “You cannot show you’re on Stake at all.” A few days later, Niknam arrived in Canada, where he settled into a routine—gambling in a mostly empty apartment, sometimes more than a dozen hours a day. (Niknam and Lengyel did not respond to WIRED’s requests for comment.)

[ click to continue reading at WIRED ]

Posted on July 13, 2021 by Editor

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NFT Boom

from The Observer

NFTs Generated $2.5 Billion in Sales in the First Half of 2021, New Reports Indicate

By Helen Holmes

A truck parked outside of Christie’s displays a CryptoPunk NFT on May 11, 2021 in New York City. Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

According to new marketplace data, NFTs have generated $2.5 billion in sales in 2021 so far, with monetary interest surging significantly in the second quarter. According to NonFungible.com, buyers of NFTs have clocked in at 10,000 to 20,000 per week since March, and despite the dominance of NFTs on the high-end art market, the most popular NFTs by the numbers are either collectibles or sports-affiliated. A chart from NonFungible.com indicates that in the first six months of 2021, 124,188 NFTs that could be classified as art were sold on the Ethereum blockchain, as opposed to 299,684 sports NFTs and 367,129 collectible NFTs. This data represents a sharp heel turn from reports that emerged in April which indicated that NFT sales were significantly slowing.

According to Reuters, June in particular has been a banner month for NFT sales. $150 million in sales were generated on the OpenSea NFT marketplace in that time; overall, reports indicate that the transaction volume of NFTs has multiplied by more than 25 since December of 2020. Sales overall were indisputably galvanized by the astonishing coup Christie’s pulled off in March when it sold an NFT made by the longtime net artist Beeple for $69.3 million, a sum which sent auction houses scrambling to assemble sales rosters which highlighted the non-fungible tokens.

[ click to continue reading at Observer ]

Posted on July 7, 2021 by Editor

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More Neanderthal Art

from artnet

Scientists Say an Intricately Carved 51,000-Year-Old Deer Bone Is the Earliest Example of Neanderthals’ Artistic Abilities

The bone was unearthed at the mouth of the Unicorn Cave in Germany.

by Caroline Goldstein

A 51,000-year-old deer bone with symbolic carvings. Photo: V. Minkus / Courtesy of Lower Saxony Office for Heritage.
A 51,000-year-old deer bone with symbolic carvings. Photo: V. Minkus / Courtesy of Lower Saxony Office for Heritage.

A 51,000-year-old carved bone fragment may be one of the earliest works of art, researchers announced in a paper published this week in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

The work, made from a knuckle bone belonging to a hoofed animal (likely a deer), was unearthed at the entrance to the Unicorn Cave in West Herz by a team of German researchers in 2019.

The carved bone is decorated with 10 angled lines in a chevron pattern that are clearly intentional, and not just random or naturally occurring indentations.

Relying on multiple types of testing, including radiocarbon dating, scientists deduced that the bone had to have been carved by Neanderthals, and not modern homo sapiens, who did not come to the area until at least 1,000 years later.

[ click to continue reading at artnet ]

Posted on July 6, 2021 by Editor

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Spoilage Alert

from The Atlantic

The Internet Is Rotting

Too much has been lost already. The glue that holds humanity’s knowledge together is coming undone.

By Jonathan Zittrain

Computer with screen glitching out
Getty / Valerie Chiang

Sixty years ago the futurist Arthur C. Clarke observed that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. The internet—how we both communicate with one another and together preserve the intellectual products of human civilization—fits Clarke’s observation well. In Steve Jobs’s words, “it just works,” as readily as clicking, tapping, or speaking. And every bit as much aligned with the vicissitudes of magic, when the internet doesn’t work, the reasons are typically so arcane that explanations for it are about as useful as trying to pick apart a failed spell.

Underpinning our vast and simple-seeming digital networks are technologies that, if they hadn’t already been invented, probably wouldn’t unfold the same way again. They are artifacts of a very particular circumstance, and it’s unlikely that in an alternate timeline they would have been designed the same way.

The internet’s distinct architecture arose from a distinct constraint and a distinct freedom: First, its academically minded designers didn’t have or expect to raise massive amounts of capital to build the network; and second, they didn’t want or expect to make money from their invention.

The internet’s framers thus had no money to simply roll out a uniform centralized network the way that, for example, FedEx metabolized a capital outlay of tens of millions of dollars to deploy liveried planes, trucks, people, and drop-off boxes, creating a single point-to-point delivery system. Instead, they settled on the equivalent of rules for how to bolt existing networks together.

[ click to continue reading at The Atlantic ]

Posted on July 3, 2021 by Editor

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Hollywood Blockchain

from The Observer

The Hidden Value Hollywood Hopes to Unlock With NFTs

By Brandon Katz

Marvel Fox NFT
Hollywood hopes to unlock the hidden value in NFTs. Pixabay

We live in an increasingly interconnected digital world that has altered the very ways in which we communicate, work, shop, consume entertainment, and live. This digital overhaul has even made standard currency an anachronism in its own time as crypto value such as bitcoin surges in usage, popularity, and widespread acceptance (Kansas City Chiefs tight end Sean Culkin become the NFL’s first player to convert his entire salary to bitcoin in April). As the economy evolves in conjunction with cryptocurrency, it serves as a catalyst of change from within for the surrounding industry.

NFTs, or nonfungible tokens that are impossible to fake and represent unique one-of-a-kind value, have become the latest creation yielded by an ever-fluid online economy. Their surge is perhaps best punctuated by recent blockbuster art sales, including a $69 million purchase of 5,000 all-digital works by Wisconsin-based artist Beeple. The jaw-dropping, eye-opening transaction immediately elevated the decreasingly niche crypto asset to mainstream relevance.

[ click to continue reading at Observer ]

Posted on July 1, 2021 by Editor

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NFTs for Good

from Foreign Policy

Are NFTs Always Bad?

The digital assets known as “nonfungible tokens” could help artists make money from their work.

By Diana Seave Greenwald

A Sotheby's NFT sale.
Mad Dog Jones’s “Visor” goes on view as part of “Natively Digital: A Curated NFT Sale” at Sotheby’s in London on June 4. TRISTAN FEWINGS/GETTY IMAGES FOR SOTHEBY’S

What are nonfungible tokens (NFTs), and when did they come into existence?

The key to understanding nonfungible tokens is the definition of the term “fungible.” A good or asset is fungible when it is interchangeable with a good or asset of the same type; it is not unique. Currency—from dollar bills to bitcoins—is fungible. Therefore, nonfungible goods are those that are unique. An original work of art is a clear example of a nonfungible good. NFTs in their current form represent a collision of these two forms: currency, specifically cryptocurrency, and art. According to an article tracing the history of NFTs, they emerged in their current form around 2014, although there are competing timelines and origin stories that would trace their emergence to 2012. Of course, the current mania for them is much more recent—emerging pretty much within the last year.

The final key component that allows both cryptocurrency and NFTs to function is a technology that records who owns what: the blockchain. This digital ledger is a decentralized system that, because it is distributed across users and not subject to centralized control, indelibly records transactions. This permanence of digital record-keeping is critical to understanding the interaction between the art market and NFTs.

[ click to continue reading at FP ]

Posted on June 28, 2021 by Editor

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Dragon Man

from BBC News

Scientists hail stunning ‘Dragon Man’ discovery

By Pallab Ghosh

Dragon Man Skull
IMAGE COPYRIGHT KAI GENG The Dragon Man’s skull is huge, with a brain size about the same as the average for our species

Chinese researchers have unveiled an ancient skull that could belong to a completely new species of human.

The team has claimed it is our closest evolutionary relative among known species of ancient human, such as Neanderthals and Homo erectus.

Nicknamed “Dragon Man”, the specimen represents a human group that lived in East Asia at least 146,000 years ago.

It was found at Harbin, north-east China, in 1933, but only came to the attention of scientists more recently.

An analysis of the skull has been published in the journal The Innovation.

“In terms of fossils in the last million years, this is one of the most important yet discovered,” he told BBC News.

“What you have here is a separate branch of humanity that is not on its way to becoming Homo sapiens (our species), but represents a long-separate lineage which evolved in the region for several hundred thousand years and eventually went extinct.”

[ click to continue reading at BBC ]

Posted on June 27, 2021 by Editor

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Rest In Peace, Madman

from UnHerd

John McAfee: America’s last real wild man

The creator of the first commercial anti-virus software was one of a kind

BY BEN SIXSMITH

John McAfee describes as himself as a lover of women, adventure and mystery.

John McAfee, who died yesterday, was one of the oddest men of our times.

You might have thought Elon Musk was the most eccentric man in tech, with his fondness for memes, crypto-currencies and flamethrowers. Elon Musk was Joe Average compared to McAfee. The creator of the first commercial anti-virus software was one of a kind.

Did he have his neighbour in Belize killed for poisoning his dogs? A court ordered him to pay $25m over Gregory Faull’s apparent wrongful death. How many drugs was he on? He seems to have turned himself into a walking, talking laboratory. Was there any substance to his many tweets about having sex with whales? (“Whale fucking. No joke. Each year, on Feb 1st, in the Molokai Channel, a few men compete in the world’s only whale fucking contest…I competed once. Almost got my ribs crushed.)

Given all this madness, it seems anticlimactic that McAfee was set to be extradited to the US on charges of tax evasion. Then again, that was the charge that brought down Al Capone.

Officially, McAfee is reported to have committed suicide. Understandably, rumours are flying. McAfee himself had said, “Know that if I hang myself, a la Epstein, it will be no fault of mine.” His wife said before his death that the US government was “determined to have John die in prison to make an example of him for speaking out against the corruption within their government agencies.”

[ click to continue reading at UnHerd ]

Posted on June 26, 2021 by Editor

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Artificial Rembrandt

from NYT via DNYUZ

Rembrandt’s Damaged Masterpiece Is Whole Again, With A.I.’s Help

Rembrandt’s Damaged Masterpiece Is Whole Again, With A.I.’s Help

AMSTERDAM — Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch” has been a national icon in the Netherlands ever since it was painted in 1642, but even that didn’t protect it.

In 1715, the monumental canvas was cut down on all four sides to fit onto a wall between two doors in Amsterdam’s Town Hall. The snipped pieces were lost. Since the 19th century, the trimmed painting has been housed in the Rijksmuseum, where it is displayed as the museum’s centerpiece, at the focal point of its Gallery of Honor.

Now, from Wednesday — for the first time in more than three centuries — it will be possible for the public to see the painting “nearly as it was intended,” said the museum’s director, Taco Dibbits.

Using new high-tech methods, including scanning technologies and artificial intelligence, the museum has reconstructed those severed parts and hung them next to the original, to give an idea of “The Night Watch” as Rembrandt intended it.

The cutdown painting is about 15 feet wide by 13 feet high. About two feet from the left of the canvas was shaved off, and another nine inches from the top. Lesser damage was done to the bottom, which lost about five inches, and the right side, which lost three.

Temporarily restoring these parts will give visitors a glimpse of what had been lost: three figures on the left-hand side (two men and a boy) and, more important, a feel for Rembrandt’s meticulous construction in the work’s composition. With the missing pieces, the original dynamism of the masterpiece is stirred back to life.

[ click to continue reading at DNYUZ ]

Posted on June 24, 2021 by Editor

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Ministry of Psychology

from Psychology Today

The Universal Fundamentals of Al Jourgensen

A musician finds connection in creativity.

by Michael Friedman Ph.D.

In 1969, the late Jim Morrison of the Doors had a prophecy—the birth of electronic music. He imagined that “some brilliant kid will come along … a lone artist with lots of tapes … a keyboard with the complexity and richness of a whole orchestra.” What was critical about Morrison’s prophecy was his excitement about this new possibility. He did not seem afraid of electronics, but rather open to what humans could do with machines to amplify the creative and emotional experience of music.

One of those brilliant kids who came along was Al Jourgensen of the industrial band Ministry. Industrial music is an aggressive fusion of electronic music and rock that employs harsh and provocative sounds created by any number of machines—from synthesizers to tools found in factories. Anything goes—nothing is off-limits. And Jourgensen has embraced Morrison’s enthusiasm for the possibility that machines can bring to creativity over the past four decades, propelling Ministry to be considered one of the greatest industrial bands of all time.

But in talking with Jourgensen for the Hardcore Humanism Podcast, the art is only an extension of his deeper philosophy on human nature—what he describes as the “universal fundamental.” The universal fundamental is that all beings throughout the universe are connected to one another. And the way we stay connected and communicate is by perpetually engaging in a creative and dynamic process by which we take in the information the world gives us, interpret it in our own unique way, and send it back out into the world. Jourgensen’s embrace of the range of sounds that make up industrial music in general and Ministry’s music, in particular, is his way of staying connected to the “universal fundamental.”

At the core of Jourgensen’s approach to the world and his art is open-mindedness. Like Morrison, Jorgensen did not fear but rather reveled in the new opportunities provided by industrial music. Intricate to this perspective is that all sounds are fair game for music—not just the ones made by traditional instruments. If we want to be truly aware of and connected to human experience and the world around us, we need to listen to and utilize all available sounds in art.

“Basically, since the 19th century, we’ve been living in an industrial age. All of a sudden, there’s been all these new noises that had never been heard before on this planet. You know, cotton gin, steam presses, printing presses, all these large machineries that make these audible sounds that have never been heard,” Jourgensen told me. “We’re familiar with these sounds. It took a long time to get used to these, and nobody thought of them as music … but now you can go on online anywhere and get plugins or apps of pretty much every sound that’s ever been made.”

[ click to continue reading at PT ]

Posted on June 22, 2021 by Editor

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