“When German break-dancer Vartan Bassil came up with the idea for Red Bull Flying Bach, he hoped to bring together those who sneer at pop culture and those who snore at high culture. And he hoped to impress the other parents in the room.”
The term first appeared in the mid-16th century, and it acquired its current meaning (a young girl interested in what are seen as “boyish” pursuits) by the 1590s. Elizabeth King follows the (stereo-) type through the age of slavery and emancipation and the Victorian era to late 20th-century feminism – and she considers whether the tomboy figure has outlived its usefulness.
Ben Mathis-Lilley: “His project of mainstreaming white nationalism is one that Simon & Schuster should be embarrassed to lend its reputation to.”
Amanda Katz: “The book was acquired by S&S’s conservative imprint Threshold Editions, which has published plenty of other authors and books that lefty readers might find offensive to their values. Yiannopoulos has a big audience. Why shouldn’t they put out his book?”
“Opened in 1929 for the New York Central Railroad, the Buffalo Central Terminal was every bit as grand and opulent as Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal, Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station and Washington DC’s Union Station.” (In fact, its architect is the same one who designed Grand Central.) One group is trying not only to restore it, but to get Amtrak to move in again.
“For PFC Frank Loesser and PFC José Limón, their contributions to the war effort took the form of a series of musicals, created for the soldiers to produce and perform themselves. The aim was to boost morale among troops stationed in places where the USO couldn’t go.” Now some of those plays are being revived. (audio)
“Rumi is often described as the best-selling poet in the United States. He is typically referred to as a mystic, a saint, a Sufi, an enlightened man. Curiously, however, although he was a lifelong scholar of the Koran and Islam, he is less frequently described as a Muslim.” Why is this, and when did it start? Rozina Ali has some answers.
Moonlight is the first gay-themed film since Brokeback Mountain to have a real shot at a Best Picture Oscar – even Carol, with Todd Haynes behind the camera and Cate Blanchett in front of it, didn’t get a Best Picture nomination. And those films are all notably reticent about sex. Yet there are other places – other film industries – that aren’t so reticent.
Kat Richter, responding to Pennsylvania Ballet’s firing of principal Sara Michelle Murawski because she’s too tall, reminds us that “ballet is, in fact, an ethnic dance form. As such, it embodies the social, cultural and aesthetic values of the time and place in which it developed (16th-century France)” – so height and skin color are far from the only factors in which it discriminates.
They’ve been called the world’s largest nation without a state: roughly 30 million or more souls in the mountains where modern-day Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran meet. And of course there’s not yet any official museum to document the Kurds’ long history. Architect Daniel Libeskind and journalist Gwynne Roberts are working with the regional government of Iraqi Kurdistan to develop just such an institution – an even more challenging task than you’d think. (audio)
Raúl Ruiz “is the exile director: a Latin American who made most of his movies in English, French, or Portuguese – and whose aesthetic inhabits an absolute alien territory. His films are drifting, fantastical, introspective, melancholy, erudite, raucous – sometimes telling no story at all, sometimes telling too many. He made so many films, and they so consistently refuse to obey whatever formal rules we’ve come to expect from cinema, that they tend to develop into a blurry whole in your mind.”
“The calls to revise the canon of art history have grown louder in the last few years, but the research, curation, and collection of art from regions that have long been overlooked or ignored is a slow process. Egyptian modern art appears to be the latest to undergo this process of rediscovery and integration into the larger history of art.” (includes audio podcast)
“The Red Detachment of Women, which was adapted from a 1961 film of the same name, was based on the true experience of an all-female Special Company of the Red Army during the Chinese Civil War. They survived a brutal attack on Hainan Island while their male counterparts did not, and were honored by Mao himself.”
“In the United States, we believe that worthy people lift themselves up by their bootstraps. This is our idea of freedom. What it means in practice is that every individual is supposed to understand finance so well that they can effectively manage their own retirement funds. And every individual is expected to understand their health risks well enough to make their own decisions about insurance. To take away the power of individuals to control their own destiny is viewed as anti-American by so much of this country. You are your own master. Children are indoctrinated into this cultural logic early, even as their parents restrict their mobility and limit their access to social situations. But when it comes to information, they are taught that they are the sole proprietors of knowledge. All they have to do is ‘do the research’ for themselves and they will know better than anyone what is real.”
“The main schism in today’s free speech debates pits liberals, advocating unbridled speech as a tool of freedom, against radicals, who unmask unbridled speech as a tool of class privilege. But that rift tells only one story. In almost all democracies today (the United States being the sole and oft-criticised exception), mainline liberal doctrines overwhelmingly require limits on provocative speech.”
A new study commissioned ahead today’s announcement by UMG, entitled “Global Insight: The Appeal of High-Res Audio (Studio Quality Sound)” presents a variety of data supporting a growing market for hi-res audio. The findings claimed that 85 percent of U.S. consumers say audio quality is “very important” to them; 48 percent of U.S. consumers are willing to pay more for better audio quality; and perhaps most significantly that “71 percent of existing music streaming subscribers are interested in the option of studio quality sound.”
“Across popular entertainment lately, science fiction, theoretical physics, and spirituality have blended to offer not escapism but wait-there’s-more-ism, offering a tantalizing hint that our perception of reality is too narrow – and that with a little bit of effort, we can see extraordinary things.”
“According to the tale, as the silent black-and-white image of a moving locomotive filled a movie screen in Paris, the people in the cinema thought it was going to drive right into them. They panicked, and bolted for the back of the theater.” In fact, that’s probably the movie business’s first-ever urban legend. Eric Grundhauser walks us through the evidence. (includes video)
Well, the BBC tried it, and the resulting tweetstorm was pretty strong – and so was the counterbacklash. (In fact, this isn’t the first time ISIS humor has been tried, although the first practitioners were themselves Syrian.) (includes video)
12 Plays of Xmas: 9. The Town Fop by Aphra Behn
‘Art is our chief means of breaking bread with the dead.’ WH Auden speaks true – one of the pleasures of this little project has been sitting down with the past. Sometimes, however, … read more
AJBlog: Performance Monkey Published 2017-01-05
DBQ Having Fun In Paris
As the Rifftides staff continues recovering from the holidays and auditions a few dozen incoming albums, let’s follow a lead sent by frequent commenter Terence Smith. Mr. Smith writes from his sanctuary in … read more
AJBlog: RiffTides Published 2017-01-05
Many experts believe the biggest disruption in our lifetime is about to take place. Automation – robots and artificial intelligence – is going to eliminate a significant number of current jobs, say experts:
A recent study found 50% of occupations today will be gone by 2020, and a 2013 Oxford study forecasted that 47% of jobs will be automated by 2034. A Ball State study found that only 13% of manufacturing job losses were due to trade, the rest from automation. A McKinsey study suggests 45% of knowledge work activity can be automated.
94% of the new job creation since 2005 is in the gig economy. These aren’t stable jobs with benefits on a career path. And if you are driving for Uber, your employer’s plan is to automate your job. Amazon has 270k employees, but most are soon-to-be-automated ops and fulfillment. Facebook has 15k employees and a $330B market cap, and Snapchat in August had double their market cap per employee to $48M per employee. The economic impact of tech was raising productivity, but productivity and wages have been stagnant in recent years.
This will lead to profound changes in how our economy works and how our culture organizes itself. If most people won’t be able to get jobs in the traditional sense, one of the primary organizing principles of humankind – that our ability to survive, our success in life, is determined by the need to earn a living, by the jobs we’re able to get – will change.
As tech leader Ross Mayfield suggests in this LinkedIn piece, the automation of jobs could cause a backlash against technology and the people who create it as wealth becomes even more concentrated in the hands of a few. The original Luddites, hs reminds us, were not just people who had opted out of technology, but actively opposed and tried to destroy it.
The post-jobs world will be a transformation on the order of the industrial revolution, he says.
And artists? It’s at times of profound change in our culture that artists have the most to say. They comment on, critique, draw attention to, and interpret how the world changes in such times. So how will artists anticipate what could be one of the most profound changes in human history?