For millennials, who came of age amidst the global financial crisis of 2008 only to graduate into today’s period of immense political and social turmoil, comfort and stability may seem like the ultimate luxuries. And they’re willing to pay good money for clothes that make them feel secure.
The Roman emperor Nero is the archetypal example of a despot who sees himself as a master of verse; his example was followed by no less than (among others) Mussolini, Stalin, Mao, Kim Il Sung, Pol Pot (he loved the French Symbolists), Osama Bin Laden, and Saddam Hussein. And these rulers tended to stick closely to classical forms. Benjamin Ramm explores the link between ruthlessness and versification.
“The resurgent white supremacist movement has been appropriating medieval (or medieval-flavored) motifs in the public eye this year, taking up the ‘Deus Vult’ slogan (or ‘God wills it,’ purported to have been chanted by medieval Crusaders) and the so-called Celtic Cross. … Should historians take responsibility for the abuse and exploitation of the past by amateurs, or even by those within their own ranks? Is scholarship doomed to be complicit in the violence done in its name?”
News of Matilda, a glossy period piece about a Polish ballerina who had an affair with Nicholas II before he was crowned (or married), was met by Russian orthodox extremists with protests, calls for a ban and even arson attacks. (Nicholas was canonized in 2000 as a martyr for the faith.) “However, most Russians – and certainly those at the screening in Moscow on Tuesday – take little or no offense.”
“In general, I learned, you should stay away from parties for rich people, because their purpose is donations and having a good time is secondary. Never go to a networking event. Poetry readings are either the best or the worst things. You can skip any book party because they only happen once, they end too soon, and there’s no narrative to them, especially if you’re not there.”
The art world is a soft target for satire, not least because the art world’s appetite for satire of itself is limitless. Artists are constantly sending up tradition and the scene through their art, only to see the cycle repeat itself as their own work becomes staid and canonical. It’s unreasonable to expect any satire of the art world to be fresh, since knowingness is the first requirement to get in the door. The Square won the Palme d’Or at Cannes this spring not because it lashes the art world in a new way, but because Ruben Östlund delivers his lashings so exquisitely.
By the age of fifty, Mark Twain had achieved something he had dreamed of and worked for his entire life: he was rich. Raised in genteel poverty in small towns in Missouri (when Missouri was still the West), Twain as a grown man, had rubbed elbows with the greatest business tycoons of the time. And now, as head of his own publishing firm, making money for other authors, he felt like a great philanthropist. He could see himself as one of the true benefactors of the age. And it was an age he had named when he chose the title of one of his own best sellers: The Gilded Age.
“Prior to my book I had, at least in some small measure, learned how to generate ideas by myself. But there was always the instant feedback of the audience to tell me where I’d misstepped, and I’ve never created a show without a co-creator, because it’s how I (and my co-creators) like to work. So the book was a new animal.”
“Their near absence in literature and film is explained away by various fancies: they’re sterile, an aberration, or – most galling of all – they don’t even exist. Their omission from popular culture does one thing very effectively: It prevents us, and men especially, from being confronted by hairy, ugly, uncontrollable women.”
“Such private concerts were common in the 1750s … They started in France when musicians began to host events to show off their work – and their new status. The practice expanded to Austria, Germany, England, and Italy. It was also the way friends and families simply spent time together – as any Jane Austen book illustrates – before the onset of radios, televisions, and iPhones.” Now the Festival Verdi in Parma is trying out the practice anew.
“With some 60 million monthly users—90% of whom are Millennials and Gen Z—spending more than 15 billion minutes per month reading content on Wattpad, the Canadian-based storytelling platform is a goldmine of information about what’s most popular with young readers around the world. What’s unique about Wattpad is that fanfic is treated like any other genre, living alongside other forms of fiction. This makes it more fluid for readers of an original fiction to discover a new fanfic, or inspire a fanfiction writer to start a new story and bring their audience along with them.”
“The much travelled Henry Moore sculpture of a draped woman, affectionately known as ‘Old Flo’, is back on public display in east London having survived vandalism, the demolition of her original setting, a custody battle in the courts and attempts by a council to raise cash by auctioning her off. However, the statue is now sited on private land – though still accessible to the public – among the towers of Canary Wharf, and not as originally intended by the artist to bring a little joy into the heart of a council estate.”
“Studies show that, in general, people who feel good, do good – and likewise, people who do good, feel better. The rich are no exception. Giving to charity activates parts of the brain related to reward and pleasure. Yes, the rich do have some distinctive reasons for giving to charity, such as the desire not to ‘morally corrupt’ their heirs. But like others, they also give to strengthen their identity – and probably, to relieve their guilt.”
Dominique Morisseau (Pipeline, Skeleton Crew) is seeing her work produced by the Detroit Public Theater, which is filling a gap in a city whose professional theater consists largely of touring Broadway shows. Company co-founder Courtney Burkett says that DPT “could not have existed 10 years ago. Now that the city’s stabilizing and even thriving in so many ways, our artists are also thriving and getting the attention they always deserved.”
She’s been working with composer Jeff Richmond (her husband), lyricist Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde: The Musical), and director/choreographer Casey Nicholaw (Spamalot, The Book of Mormon), and the result begins its D.C. tryout next week, with the Broadway opening planned for next spring. Peter Marks looks in on a rehearsal.
“Among video game developers, it’s called ‘crunch’: a sudden spike in work hours, as many as 20 a day, that can last for days or weeks on end. During this time, they sleep at work, limit bathroom breaks and cut out anything that pulls their attention away from their screens, including family and even food. Crunch makes the industry roll – but it’s taking a serious toll on its workers.”
After the notoriously publicity-shy author died in 2010, it was reported that, over all the years since his last published work (a 1965 short story), he never stopped writing. Indeed, a 2013 documentary alleged that Salinger had left detailed instructions about publishing some of those writings posthumously. Asked about this by a reporter, son Matthew Salinger replied, “Yeah, what came of those?” So the reporter checked in with the documentarian.
Says Howard Scott, who produced the original recording, “If Glenn knew Sony Classical was going to release those outtakes, which he rejected – he did not like what he had done in those performances – he would probably come down and shoot anybody who allowed them to be released.” (Sony included this quote in the coffee-table book accompanying the new release.) Gould’s longtime friend Tim Page isn’t convinced.
The news broke yesterday that the fledgling company, announced with fanfare earlier this year with an emphasis on diversity of backgrounds and body types – had fired nearly two dozen dancers and had seen yet more resignations, including of its marquee star. Jennifer Stahl and Amy Brandt talk to ANB’s executive director as well as current and former dancers – and piece together a tale of changed management, a changed vision, and a hush-hush impending merger with another company.
“Just six weeks after billionaire Barry Diller scrapped plans to build a 2.7-acre floating park on the Hudson River, Governor Andrew Cuomo has swooped in and saved the project. The governor said in a statement Wednesday that he’s brokered a compromise between the Hudson River Park Trust, which was overseeing the $250 million project, and the City Club of New York, its main opposition, which was reportedly bankrolled by Diller’s fellow billionaire Douglas Durst.
“A group of academics at the University of Cambridge is considering how to implement a call from undergraduates to ‘decolonise’ its English literature syllabus by taking in more black and minority ethnic writers, and bringing post-colonial thought to its existing curriculum. The debate is being followed closely by other universities.”
“Roland Scahill, 42, confessed to a scheme that took place between October 2014 and August 2015, in which Mr. Scahill told associates that he had secured the rights to the life story of Kathleen Battle, the opera singer, and was going to produce a one-woman play called The Kathleen Battle Project with Lupita Nyong’o as its star.”