Entries from December 2009 ↓

Biggest Losers: A Year In Mug Shots.


Here’s a clue: Everybody on this list of 2009’s thirty most memeorable mug shots probably has a sole New Year’s resolution: To stay out of jail in 2010.

Everyone except, maybe, Nicole “I’m-Takin’-All-Of-You-Wit’-Me” Marty, 24, above, who sat in the clink after hitting a utility pole with her car.

She, and Lexington, KY’s Henry Earl, 60, below. As of December 2009, Earl has been arrested 1,011 times for alcohol-related offenses. (That’s a YouTube retrospective of his police photos, below.)

If you see either one of ’em, run!


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[via buzzfeed.com]

Black is Beautiful.


I didn’t know the name or work of Nollywood actor Genevieve Nnaji, above, before today’s rebroadcast of Oprah‘s “Meet the Most Famous People in the World” episode. But I’ll be looking for the 30-year-old’s films in 2010. Consider that my New Year’s resolution.

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Computerized Racist Cold Shoulder.

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In this great clip, above, now cresting the web, two store employees join across “racial lines” to show that Hewlett-Packard needs to go back to the drawing board. That is, they better if they want their machines to work on a predominantly Black planet.

If Looks Could Kill.


In this Dutch teaser poster, above, for director Atom Egoyan’s upcoming erotic thriller, Chloe, actor Amanda Seyfried plays the titular femme fatale. Indeed, the eyes have it.

[via impawards.com]

The Sweetest Sound: John Rutter’s Cambridge Singers Breathe New Life Into Christmas’s Traditional Carols.

la-ghirlandata-1873La Ghirlandata (1873) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

John RutterAs a composer and arranger of Christmas carols, London-born John Rutter, right, works within what is arguably one of the most beloved, and oldest, forms of Western music, with a template laid down during the European Middle Ages.

It’s to his credit, then, that, whether re-interpreting long-cherished classics, or creating new ones, his works all shine with a lively and audacious sparkle. As sung by his much-beloved Cambridge Singers, favorites such as “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” or “Deck the Halls” unfold as though they were spirited, new, open-sea sailing anthems. Meanwhile, his own signature works are burnished with the passionate soulfulness of deeply reflected Christian faith and tradition.

I discovered Rutter’s portfolio when I came upon his own masterpiece, “What Sweeter Music,” wafting from a Volvo commercial, of all places. It is, without question, one of the most profoundly gorgeous pieces of hymnody I have ever heard.

John Rutter is the guest on the last edition, this year, of my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, airing this Christmas afternoon, Friday, December 25th, at 2 pm ET. Today’s is a special, holiday edition of the broadcast that we’ve aired once a year for about seven years now.

On this show, John will talk about, among other topics, his upbringing; spirituality in music; why he started his own label, Collegium; and the reasons that writing a carol is harder than writing a symphony, all between selections from his 2002 release, The John Rutter Christmas Album.

You can hear this thoughtful artist’s ideas by tuning in at 2 pm ET. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

So That’s Where All My Lost Colored Pencils Ended Up.


Artist Jennifer Maestre makes profound, polychromatic, biomorphic sculptures from colored pencils, like Aurora, above. As she explains on her web site, to fashion her art,

I take hundreds of pencils, cut them into 1-inch sections, drill a hole in each section (to turn them into beads), sharpen them all and sew them together.

The resulting shapes

were originally inspired by the form and function of the sea urchin. The spines of the urchin, so dangerous yet beautiful, serve as an explicit warning against contact. The alluring texture of the spines draws the touch in spite of the possible consequences. The tension unveiled, we feel push and pull, desire and repulsion. The sections of pencils present aspects of sharp and smooth for two very different textural and aesthetic experiences.

No salt water required.

[via dornob.com]

C’Mon, People: Who Said the Left Doesn’t Know How To Par-Tay?


Grab a red cup and join, l-r, above, Josef Stalin, Fidel Castro, Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong, and Karl Marx in The Communist Party t-shirt by designer Tom Burns…’cause a proletariat party don’t…stop! Only $10 in various sizes. By Threadless.

How Art Happens: Conversations with Frank Gehry Brightly Illuminates the Master’s Creative Process.

dscn4515_1Infinity and beyond: Experience Music Project, Frank Gehry, architect
Photo by Victor Gin

nationalmedalofartsThat Toronto-born Frank Gehry is the world’s most famous living architect, many would argue, is without question. It is best demonstrated, they’d say, by the instant recognizability of his style. Anywhere one sees it passionately realized—for example, in the flamelike arcs of Seattle’s Experience Music Project, above—one knows that only a single person could be responsible for that building.

Others would urge that his having been awarded not only the Pritzker Prize—”architecture’s Nobel,” as it is often regarded—or the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal but also the U.S. Congress’s National Medal of Arts, above, puts him in a singular class. Still others would note that he and his work were examined in a film by an Academy Award-winning director: Sketches of Frank Gehry, by the late Sydney Pollack, one of his his last films and only documentary.

simpson_frank_gehry_concert_hall_41I’d say, however, there’s really only one truly objective proof of Gehry’s renown: He’s the only architect alive to be featured on The Simpsons. In a 2005 episode, right, he’s hired to design a concert hall so that Springfield’s citizens will appear more sophisticated to their neighboring Shelbyville.

Of course, that it’s ultimately closed and turned into a prison isn’t the point. It’s that Gehry’s work has so much mindshare the Simpsons‘ writers felt him suitably big enough to both feature and lampoon on a mainstream animated series. An architect.

gehry-pic_1125075iThat episode aired, however, right around the time that, in real life, Gehry, right, had begun a new project with L.A.-based cultural writer Barbara Isenberg. She’d interviewed him numerous times over a twenty-year period, and Gehry, then 75, had just approached her with, literally, a once-in-a-lifetime offer. “He asked me if I would help him organize his memories through an oral history,” the journalist, below, says on her web site.

barbara_isenbergI was immediately drawn to the idea, having enjoyed our many earlier interviews, and what began as an oral history soon evolved into the conversations I’ve edited here. Since December 2004, Gehry and I have met regularly at his Los Angeles office and Santa Monica home, over restaurant breakfasts and conference room lunches. We’ve talked about the family he was born into and the families he created, who he wanted to be and who he became, what architects do generally and what he does specifically, always coming back to the family, cultural and geographic forces that have shaped his aesthetic.

Barbara Isenberg talks about Conversations with Frank Gehry, the book she authored, based on those interviews, during my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, December 18, at 2 pm ET.

You can hear her ideas—and Gehry’s—by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

Building “Peg”: Steely Dan On the Creation of Their Classic Aja.


Exactly twice, I’ve bought DVDs after seeing clips cut out of them on YouTube. One was Kraftwerk’s live, 2005 Minimum-Maximum DVD, which I then wrote about on Media Assassin.

The other is from the 2000 documentary Steely Dan: Aja, from the Eagle Rock Entertainment Classic Albums DVD series on the making of legendary discs.

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When Google Said That They Wanted All the World’s Knowledge Online, This Wasn’t What I Had In Mind.


With their Google Books service, the world’s dominant search engine is making the contents of everything from Arts & Crafts Homes and the Revival to Texas Monthly to VIBE available through anyone’s computer.

But this is the motherlode, friends: Weekly World News, the self-proclaimed “world’s only reliable news source since 1979.” (Google’s archives go back to 1980.)

Can you believe it? That’s the January 2, 1990 cover, above, courtesy of Media Assassin, complete with nutty Xmas messages and puerile racism. “Baboon boy”? It get’s no worse, people. It gets no better.