Tag Archives: Life of a Craphead

Tea With Chris: New Job

Tea With Chris is a roundup of recommended links, posted every Friday. Here are a few of our favourite things from the Internet this week:

Chris: Thought Catalog is the worst website and the best punching bag: “Can You Believe I Was Born in 1992?”

It’s not like superhero comics are generally progressive where gender and sexuality are concerned, but the stiffly written attempts at “sexy” that Laura Hudson decimates here look even more awful than usual.

Via Jami Attenberg, an outer-borough enigma: “It is possible there is some larger lesson for ailing newspaper sales in the sudden good fortune of The Suffolk Times and The Riverhead News-Review, two modest Long Island weeklies that saw an unprecedented sales spike last week as mysterious buyers swooped in to buy every copy they could.

Or more likely, newspaper officials guess, the lesson is very local: Either someone really, really wanted people to be able to read that week’s newspaper, or someone really, really did not.

The papers, which originally printed a combined 8,620 copies for newsstand sales, had to print 5,500 more to keep up with the demand, which seemed to come almost entirely from two customers buying up every available copy at $1.50 each from 7-Eleven stores and bagel shops from Calverton to Shelter Island…”

New Tune-Yards song! I was at this Pop Montreal show (and the one she played in Toronto a few days later), but the packed Ukranian Federation was hot enough to melt stamps off hands, so it’s nice to hear the track in a state of repose.

Margaux: I haven’t looked into the programming for Nuit Blanche yet, but I know a few of my favourite Toronto artists have projects happening. Ulysses Castellanos is doing something with fellow artists Malgorzata Nowacka and Margaret Krawecka called Hansel and Gretel at 99 Sudburry St. And the always hilarious and dead-on Life of Craphead (Amy C Lam and Jon McCurley) is doing something across from the Xbox store.

This seems important. Movie brains. (thanks to Matt Smif)

Whippersnapper Gallery, an interesting Toronto art space for young artists (under 30),  is currently accepting “project proposals” for exhibitions in their street level project gallery, as well as project proposals for a special summer series of curated public installations.

I turned on the Canadian radio at lunch and Don McKellar was hosting the Q program. Happy day.

It’s Toronto’s (unofficial) mayor’s birthday today – happy birthday Maggie MacDonald! Let’s listen to her song “New Job” (just like the old one) or watch her sing “El Dorado”.

Maggie MacDonald. Photo by Peter Mohideen

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Filed under carl wilson, chris randle, linkblogging, margaux williamson

Tea With Chris: Marinetti as MC

Tea With Chris is a roundup of recommended links, posted every Friday. Here are a few of our favourite things from the Internet this week:

Chris: Thanks to everyone who attended our 100,000th Word party on Wednesday! We’re going to post transcripts of each conversation soon. Meanwhile, my tea is all-video today. Tyler Coates makes some excellent expressions in this:

“I’m the cat whisperer. I’m here to whisper some fuckin’ secrets to your cats.” Featuring Lizzy Caplan, crush object for at least one-third of B2TW.

I was in L.A. pop-conferencing when it took place during Toronto’s Rhubarb Festival, so I’m very happy that Steph Davidson put the Life of a Craphead performance Please Copy Us Forever on Vimeo.

Carl: A couple of years ago I was pleasantly startled to discover in the pages of The New Yorker a poem that included lines like, “That elk is such a dick. He’s a space tree” and “I translate the Bible into velociraptor” and referenced Buju Banton. This week there’s an interview with the poet, Michael Robbins, in Bomb, the home of great interviews, in which he says this:

“There’s much in my poetry that’s offensive to certain sensibilities, and people are wedded to their offence. Their offence is part of them. So they feel affronted. And, of course, that’s part of what the poetry is designed to illicit. Questions like, What is at stake in our offence? Why do we have such a very unskeptical view of our own offence? And why is it that we’re so willing to rely on our offence and our taste as barometers of . . . anything? Except something about ourselves –because it doesn’t necessarily tell us anything about the world.”

That’s a nice lead-in to this essay by Bethlehem Shoals about the controversial Los Angeles teen shock-rap collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (Odd Future for short), whom Shoals compares not just to Jackass and Dennis Cooper but to Marinetti and Mayakovsky. All of which is valid – I’d also compare them to Harmony Korine, LeRoi Jones and Takashi Miike – but while that may make them artists, it doesn’t make any of the aforementioned not misogynistic at the same time. It seems a little rich after 40 years of feminist cultural criticism to think that one descriptions contradicts – and excuses – the other. (A commenter, Chloe S., wrote yesterday that you could as easily trace Odd Future’s fantasies to the date-rape problem in California skater culture.) But likewise dismissing the stuff because it’s misogynistic fails as both aesthetic and political critique, as Mike Barthel recently pointed out, linking to a 1997 essay by Ann Powers (who was recently catcalled for her attitude to Odd Future at SXSW) that remains a rare primer on thinking about what she calls “violator art.”

Meanwhile to address another kind of offence, here’s Nitsuh Abebe on what he calls “The Robert Palmer Problem” – which you could also call the Elvis or Pat Boone problem – of whether redoing a song from one culture in another context (e.g. R&B into white pop, in the days when they were quite segregated) is properly described as “watering down” or if something more complex is happening. When I put it that way, of course, it’s predictable which one he chooses, but the essay is much richer than that either/or. And part of what occasions it is the new House of Balloons mixtape by Toronto-based “mystery” buzzband The Weeknd, who have some kind of association with Drake (who this weekend’s Junos make an MC-turned-emcee) and seem to involve one Abel Tesfaye on vocals & Jeremy Rose as musician-producer, perhaps with some involvement by Drake producer Noah ’40’ Shebib, though none of that is certain. At first I was a bit wary of the cocktail of trendy sounds The Weeknd seems to swizzle up, but then I heard a couple of songs that couldn’t be reduced to that, like these:

And if you’re in Toronto, may I recommend a weekend activity? Go to the Revue Cinema at 1 p.m. on Saturday and see The Legend of Pale Male, a documentary about a red-tailed hawk’s love affair with midtown Manhattan over several decades. It’s an urban-nature film that manages to be beautiful, amateurish, personal, political, funny and tear-jerking, often simultaneously, with a heroic cameo role played by Mary Tyler Moore. I saw the first screening last weekend and this one’s the last, sponsored by the High Park Nature Centre, our own hawk-watching home base. Love is all around, no need to waste it: C’est la poésie.

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Filed under carl wilson, chris randle, linkblogging, margaux williamson

Art things I thought about this year, that I can remember today, in order of remembrance.

by Margaux Williamson

1. The best movie I saw that I didn’t write about this year – Rocky

I had never seen any of the Rocky movies. It was recommended to me after a conversation about sports movies with my friend Lucas Rebick. I was surprised at how unfake the aesthetic was. It looked like Philedelphia in 1976.. and kind of like Toronto in 2010. I was surprised at how much I related to it. I related to Rocky and to all of the women he talks to.

“Hey Rocky” the loan shark’s driver hollers out of a car window. “Yeah?” Rocky asks. The loan shark’s driver – “You should take your girl to the zoo. I hear retarded people like the zoo.” Rocky flinches, “Fuck you, man!” Rocky shouts back,  “She ain’t retarded, she’s just shy.”

2. The other best movie I saw this year and didn’t write about – My Man Godfrey


My friend Gracie has a favourite romantic comedy from every decade. My Man Godfrey is her tops for the 30′s (1936).  Carole Lombard plays a rich socialite who falls in love with her butler. It was pretty interesting to see how rich people were portrayed as such silly and thoughtlessly cruel individuals (as in every situation, the beautiful, charming ones escape total condemnation). Rich people have enjoyed a much better and enduring reputation since all the communists were kicked out of Hollywood. It reminded me of how quickly things can change and how very long they can stay the same.

My favourite part came when the family needed to talk about money – the matriarch of the rich family looked horrified and cried  “Money is dreadful! We can’t talk about money, it upsets Carlo!” (Carlo is the artist that they support). At this point Carlo turns away, towards the fire, upset and shuddering like an angel. Luckily, the cheese sandwiches come in just as things are about to get awk-ward.

3. Thick of It

I really couldn’t get enough of this British TV show from 2005 about the inner workings of the modern British Government. Sample text (if I am remembering correctly) – “Terry, do you know why they call him the Fucker?”

“Is it .. is it.. because he’s.. a bit of a fucker?”

4. Work of Art: America’s Next Great Artist and what people wrote about it.

This new reality TV show premiered in the summer. Contestants, from across the U.S., compete in an art competition with a jury of professional critics and artists. It was just like any other reality TV show. It was strange. And people wrote about it.

Art Fag City covered it like white on rice, Lynn Crosbie had some good points for the artists and Jerry Saltz (an art critic who was a judge on the show) wrote an article for each episode after first participating in and then watching the episodes. Jerry Saltz’s articles were, hands down, the best art to come out of the show. The articles were written to an audience that included the show’s participants, viewers and art-insiders. He wrote about the art, judging the art and judging himself judging the art. It was strange and good.

Some art-insider critiques of the show sounded an awful lot like a reversal of the old art-outsider stereotype – “my kid could paint that”. The  equivalent turns out to be –  “my friend down the street from me, in Brooklyn, could paint that a lot better”. Sucks to be on the outside.

Though there didn’t feel like there was too much at stake (America’s next great artist-wise),  the beginning of some hilariously awkward public conversations (involving critics, artists and audience) about what art is felt stupid-smart, meaningful and full of potential.

The only “unreality” part was at the end when there were only three contestants left. One would get the bank and the others nothing. Maybe it’s just my world, but every artist I know would have been more than happy to split a hundred thousand dollars 3 ways and then gone about their business. But I guess reality TV without winners or losers is just the NFB.

5. Websites about videos

I know about these two websites, Ryeberg Curated Video and 2 Pause: Freezing Music Video Culture, because I contributed to them. But they’re both really interesting and I’m sure there’s a lot more of these websites out there – websites that are figuring out how to talk about or organize the massive amounts of videos out there. Ryeberg has contributors write short essays on Youtube videos and 2 Pause collects interesting music videos and puts them into categories like these: Lo/No Budget (that is where I am and this nice one from Antony and Boy George), Netherclips, Stop Motion, Electric Cinema (I didn’t watch them all but found this nice one from Foals and Chris Sweeney) and French Wave. I would like to see the categories that everyone has for their videos.

6. Artists Using and Sharing

I really liked that Erykah Badu made this video by borrowing the idea from Matt and Kim. She credits them in the beginning of the video. The structure of her video is identical, but the feel and meaning are completely different and more to my interests. The borrowing and added art reminds me of this article about Jeff Wall from a while ago.

Olaf Breuning’s work (consisting of performance based art video) has always looked really interesting but I assumed that he, like a lot of artists, didn’t put all of his work on-line. I only just saw one of his videos recently when Jon Davies screened it at the Cinecycle. It was great. Then I went home, looked him up and discovered that all of his videos are available on his website. Thank you Jon Davies for reminding me of Olaf Breuning and thank you Olaf Breuning for sharing. SO much better that way.

7. Moral/ art lessons from popular music videos

LCD Soundsystem and Spike Jonze reminds us that drunk people, whom are often beautiful and fun, can also be really fucking annoying.  The video, featuring the band being abused by people dressed as pandas, is as good as Spike Jonze’s videos always are. And Lady Gaga and Beyoncé remind you again that it’s a bad idea to disrespect the people who serve your food. And Kanye West, who likes a lot of the same things I like ( naked ladies, revolution, ballet, Beyoncé, Takashi Murakami) reminds us to take paintings seriously.

8. Luc Tuyman’s painting Turtle

I really loved this painting this year,  from 2007.

I also really love this painting from Brad Phillips.

9. A brief LIFE OF A CRAPHEAD performance I saw at Double Double Land

The performances from Toronto’s LIFE OF A CRAPHEAD (Amy C. Lam and Jon McCurley)  feel so good on your brain. They go right to the part  that understands but doesn’t share with the other parts of your brain – the parts that could explain what is happening. But then those parts start understanding something else and then, somehow, every part of your brain is being massaged by a fire in-the-know and then it is over. It can feel like good drugs, but really, it’s more like spinach.

10. SUM: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman

David Eagleman, a neuroscientist, wrote this strange book comprised of brief scenarios of the afterlife. More about life than after.

11. Missing Objects

Is it too late for a really, really long Arrested Developement movie?

Also, I would like an audio book of Jack Hitt’s articles. I would buy two. While we wait, we can read his Mighty White of You: Racial preferences color America’s oldest skulls and bones and listen to his Act 5, the 52 minute long audio documentary about a group of prisoners at the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center who are rehearsing and staging a production of Hamlet. It’s great.

12. Golden Gate Park in San Francisco

Nice work William Hammond Hall and John McLaren.

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