Topping the fiction chart was John Grisham’s Camino Island, followed by The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Grisham had three books among the top 20 selling fiction books in the year, withThe Rooster Bar landing at #16 and The Whistler at #18.
Paper has played “an essential role in the development of mankind”. And yet, for decades, civilisation has been trying to develop beyond paper, promoting a paper-free world that will run seamlessly, immaterially on pixels and screens alone. How did paper get here? Where does it go next? For that matter, why is paper – which does its job perfectly well – compelled to keep innovating?
“Skyscrapers tell a different story. They are the pyramids of our civilization, permanent monuments of our existence. They show who is in charge and what they think about themselves. Salesforce Tower is breaking a San Francisco height record that stood for nearly half a century.”
“Sure, New York City is home to lots of dance troupes, but if you’re a dance fan these two groups may not even be on your radar. Don’t be a snob. The Brooklynettes and the Knicks City Dancers perform intricate choreography during the breaks between quarters of pro-basketball games, in arenas with 360-degree views. And they are not messing around.”
“If Macbeth continues to obsess us, it is because it seems both modern and timeless. We see all around us today the corrosive folly of overweening ambition and the insecurity that breeds tyranny. But Macbeth can never be reduced to a set of moralistic, crime-does-not-pay platitudes. It … has a language that eats into the soul.”
Following up on his contribution to CityLab‘s “Your Entire City Is an Instagram Playground Now” (last entry), Kriston Capps goes on a tweetstorm: “[In] the IMA’s rebrand as Newfields – an experience park – … the IMA’s board and director turned their backs on the museum, its curators, its collections, its accumulated knowledge, its history, and its legacy.”
“Vets at the Penn Vet Working Dog Centre in Philadelphia are to train canines to sniff out illegally trafficked antiquities, in partnership with the city’s Penn Museum and the non-profit organisation Red Arch Cultural Heritage Law & Policy Research.”
Don’t do this, cities. Or maybe do do this, if you’re a marketer. But wow, what a tool of gentrification Instagram has become. For instance, in a Northeast D.C. neighborhood that is experiencing rapid gentrification: “The murals are fine ones; the splashes of color are nice. But most are very clearly Instagram bait in the service of developers.”
Anthony Tommasini: “Even though it was done under studio conditions, Callas, Giuseppe di Stefano (as the idealistic Mario) and Tito Gobbi (as the villainous police chief Scarpia) are thrillingly alive and subtle for the towering maestro Victor de Sabata and the forces of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan. It’s hard to think of a recording of any opera that nails a work so stunningly, that seems so definitive.”
The piece, by artist Carolina Falkholdt, had been commissioned, but it didn’t last long. “The painting appeared on the wall of a building on Broome Street, between Forsyth and Eldridge Streets, on Christmas Eve. By Wednesday afternoon, it was being painted over, and by Thursday it had completely disappeared.” (Read much more about the mural’s background and planned focus in this Hyperallergic piece.)
Playwright Ayad Akhtar: “I am not hopeful about where we are as a nation — as a species (if I can be so presumptuous). I’m not hopeful, because I am increasingly of the mind that even my hope is being monetized. That which is most enduring, most noble, most human about me — my urge for something brighter, more vivid, more loving, more alive — all of this is being used against me.”
Year-end lists go against this year’s tide: “For many Americans, 2017 has amounted to a permanent kind of jet lag: bodily schedules misaligned with social ones. There is so much happening, always. There is so much to know, unceasingly. There is so much that won’t be known. Which is also to say that there is so much that won’t be paid attention to. If one of the functions of the American media is to give order to the world’s messiness, to help people make determinations about what—and who—deserves their attention and care, 2017 was the year in which that ordering function lost some of its stability.”
There’s still a little time, and even after the new year, there’s still a pretty big reward: “The stolen paintings are valued at more than $500 million, and the museum has long offered a reward for information that will lead authorities to recover all of the paintings in good condition. The reward was $5 million until May, when it was temporarily doubled. But that $10 million reward – and like Cinderella’s coach – reverts to a $5 million pumpkin on January 1.”
The artist John Wullbrandt and his partner had spent 15 years planning for fire at their California ranch near Carpinteria. When it came, they saved their house and their animals. But his studio? No. “It was burned into oblivion. Wullbrandt knew the studio and shipping containers had wood floors, but he was certain there was metal beneath them. That was not the case. The fire blew underneath and ignited everything inside, turning decades worth of paintings into ash.”
Husband Stephen Humphrey said Grafton had been struggling to find an idea for “Z’’ while undergoing treatment and losing weight. “Nothing’s been written,” he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “There is no Z.” He added with a laugh, “Nobody in this family will ever use the letter Z again.”
“David Bakula, who oversees Nielsen’s industry insights operations, said the changes in digital habits mean the CD is representing a larger share of the declining album sales market. He believes that writing the obituary for the CD is premature as labels look to bolster album sales however they can, while older listeners stick to their usual buying habits.”