Does the film “violate socialist values”? Well, it’s been screened several times in the past few weeks, but wider circulation “is proving challenging in a country where gender identity remains a sensitive topic. Chinese law allows individuals to change their gender on personal identification cards, but only if they have undergone sex reassignment surgery, and this is illegal for people under 20.”
It means the same thing it did before, only more so: “With a cast far more racially mixed than the European-descended men who penned the Constitution, the play’s power is that promises of equality made in the 1700s should never be forsaken. The American dream, the play suggests, belongs to all, not to the resentful and narrow vernaculars reverberating through red and blue state battles.”
In Philadelphia, with years of input and discussion, artists are building new monuments. “As a result of the years-long project, a public art project titled Monument Lab,’ will take over the city of Philadelphia this fall. Twenty artists of various ages, races, gender identities and artistic backgrounds will erect monuments in 10 public spaces spread throughout the city.”
You’d think that some folks in the suburbs near Chicago had, somehow, never met a lesbian couple: “More than 2,000 people have seen the outdoor show, which closes Sunday, since previews began July 12. Rice received about two dozen phone calls, letters and emails complaining mostly about the relationship between courtier Touchstone (a role typically played by a man) and shepherdess Audrey (a role typically played by a woman).”
This is about the artist himself, but also about much more than his life: “The story of Farhad — a smart, lanky boy — is more than an unexpected bright light in grim circumstances. It shines a light on forgotten asylum-seekers and suggests the untold potential lost among migrants stranded along the Balkan route to Western Europe.”
A statement this morning reads “Each year, THE KENNEDY CENTER HONORS the careers and achievements of artists who have helped shape cultural life in the United States with a weekend that includes celebrations and events. The award recipients are recognized for their lifetime contributions in the arts and the positive change that they have made all over the world. The President and First Lady have decided not to participate in this year’s activities to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction”
Kal Penn: “It became clear that the government became inoperative under this particular presidency. A lot of the work and the agencies have been frozen. There’s a big waste of taxpayer dollars. We had hope, but the president made comments that quite literally were in support of the domestic terrorists. It’s one thing to say you want to serve the programs you were appointed to serve, regardless of politics, but after a certain point . . . we just don’t want our names attached to this in any way.”
For Santiago Ramón y Cajal the brain was a beautiful, inconceivably complex, and self-regulating ecosystem, and he set out to write the field guide to its flora and fauna: “Like the entomologist in pursuit of brightly colored butterflies, my attention hunted, in the flower garden of the gray matter, cells with delicate and elegant forms, the mysterious butterflies of the soul, the beating of whose wings may someday—who knows?—clarify the secret of mental life.”
“In the wake of the controversy over removing American monuments to the Cult of the Lost Cause of the Confederacy, Memento Park is not a bad model for us to consider following now — although certainly there are others. The dispute, which exploded into bloodshed, death and grinding national shame in recent days, demands hard thought. Decisions need to be made. Unlike sculpture, civic monuments are less the product of an individual artist than they are collaborations of entire societies. Civic monuments solicit a collective moral response. They invite an audience to affirm and applaud what it sees.”
“AMC has come out guns blazing, even going so far as to include a solid alchemy burn in its press release trashing the company’s plan. As AMC points out, MoviePass — which buys tickets directly from the exhibitors, then redistributes them to its subscribers by way of a MoviePass-specific debit card — will lose money on every customer who sees more than one movie a month. So what’s MoviePass’s angle here? Is this a strange form of cinematic philanthropy? Or do they have a plan?”
I think the problem is that, since the Second World War, we have confused “daring” with “breaking rules for the sake of doing so.” Beethoven was a great rules-bender, rather than rule-breaker. Even his most outrageous pieces, like the late quartets, are still within classical forms. He doesn’t smash [the guidelines set down by his predecessors]. For me, that creates interesting tension.
“Scholars have not always been the most objective students of populism, partly because their own interests are at stake, scholarship and expertise being so often numbered among the chief targets of populist abuse. Accordingly, scholars find populism to be too prone to ignorance, anti-intellectualism, and demagogy, and too vulnerable to capture by racial and ethnic and tribal bigotries, to serve as an authentic engine of positive social change.”
“On a broader level, there is no one-to-one correspondence between the art of a culture and the psychology of the society that produced it. Furthermore, noting word frequency in published writing does not have a one-to-one correspondence with spoken language in everyday life. Further furthermore, without any contextual information about how these words are used, we just have semantic fragments floating in history’s void, free of any of the things that turn them into actual language.”
The Majority, a new show at London’s National Theatre by the performer and playwright Rob Drummond, is inspired by a wave of recent electoral upsets, from the Scottish independence referendum in 2014 to the Brexit vote last year. Throughout the show, Drummond asks a series of timely questions to which the audience votes “yes” or “no” on in real time, with the results immediately revealed, as he demonstrates how easily the shape of a question can alter its answer.
Inspired by the venerable Viennese Vegetable Orchestra, Dale Stuckenbruck created the Long Island Vegetable Orchestra. They make snake gourds into saxophones, butternut squash into horns, broccoli into flutes, and long orange root vegetables into, yes, “carronets.” “Over the years, [the LIVO] has performed at schools, galleries, libraries and at an environmental conference in Geneva. It even appeared in a film.” (includes video)
“We allow our great cultural institutions to fall into disrepair and disrepute because, as we strip them of their reverential traditions and their arduous canon, we also strip them of our reasons to cherish them. We call them before the tribunal of public opinion to justify their very existence, as if we can no longer see through the smog to the heights of Parnassus, lonelier than ever because we have forgotten that it is even there. We attempt to chain the Muses to the machinery of our modern malaise, as if we do not remember that they exist to show us the way to transcend that malaise, to find our way home again, by way of that steep and difficult climb, to the bosom of art and learning.”
“Mr. Guidall is the undisputed king of audiobooks: more than 1,300 so far, with a stack of new prospects beside his bed awaiting his attention. … He’s a bit disdainful of some of his competition in the audiobook world. ‘They’re just reading out loud,’ he said. ‘They don’t have an emotional underpinning. There’s a rhythm to speech in terms of what’s implied. If it’s raining in the book, there’s got to be something about the voice that evokes the rain.'”
“Ignoring your hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in your words and actions,” the letter states. “We took a patriotic oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Supremacy, discrimination, and vitriol are not American values. Your values are not American values. We must be better than this. We are better than this. If this is not clear to you, then we call on you to resign your office, too.”
“The alt-right’s Tiki-torch, khaki-pants parade on Friday night has birthed many a ‘Hitler luau’ joke.” Yet, explains Rebecca Onion, white supremacist groups in the US, especially the two incarnations of the Ku Klux Klan, have a long history of deliberately making their physical appearance silly and using that silliness to help them get away with mayhem and murder.
In a much-discussed Twitter thread, Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo reminds us that online news consumers, including Millennials, prefer their news in print (otherwise, why would so many sites resort to autoplay?) and explains why media company after media company is ignoring that preference (and laying off countless journalists in the process).
The Pulitzer-winning playwright (Between Riverside and Crazy, The MF with the Hat, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot) began his career as an actor, and old colleagues still want to work with him. But until this summer, he hadn’t been onstage since 2004, and in the meantime he’d let stress affect his health in other ways and backed out of several acting jobs he’d already accepted. As the time approached for the revival of Mamet’s American Buffalo he’s now co-starring in, his body brought things to a crisis.
Gilbert Vahé began work at Giverny when the restoration of the gardens first began in 1977, and (except for a five-year temporary retirement that ended this January) he’s been there ever since, “work[ing] to maintain the original aesthetic – a certain profile of color and light – that corresponds to Monet’s vision.”
“If this year’s Academy Award nominees for best score are any indication, new blood is beginning to course. Justin Hurwitz, who won the Oscar, is only 32 – and La La Land was his third score for a feature film. Mica Levi, 30, was nominated for her second feature, Jackie. Moonlight composer Nicholas Britell, 36, scored his first major film in 2015. But it’s not just the relative youth and wetness-behind-the-ears that are noteworthy. These composers, and several others, are shaking up the sound of Hollywood. Film scores are starting to have personality again.”
“On Thursday, the International Criminal Court ruled that former rebel Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi, the man convicted of ordering the attack on the ancient landmarks in Timbuktu, was required to pay ‘individual, collective and symbolic’ reparations of up to $3.2 million (2.7 million euros). Al-Mahdi was jailed last September for nine years by the Hague-based court after he pleaded guilty to ‘intentionally’ directing attacks on nine historic Timbuktu mausoleums and its Sidi Yahia mosque.” He is the first person to be convicted of cultural war crimes by the ICC.