June 6 2023
Color cannot be divorced from light but the possibility that there might be value in the act of perceiving these two variables separately—or the idea of at least trying to—inspired Pierre Bonnard and the Nabis to find unseen worlds in oil paint. I wrote about the recent Bonnard show, which just closed. The French artist was chromatically bonkers and his goodness only intensifies. In a panel discussion from this year, painter Hayley Barker, art historian Joachim Pissarro, and critic Barry Schwabsky talk about Bonnard’s legacy. It’s worth your time.
Here is the new Busytown, our chattiest episode yet, ripe for flagging and reporting. Please wish Mina a happy birthday next time you see her at the aquarium.
This YouTube video entitled Why Nobody Lives in Venice has a vaguely eugenic whiff to it, as if urban collapse is no more than a wacky water cooler story. The comments make clear that this may be a framing issue, as most journalism plagued by miserabilism is. The first tell? There is no evidence this well-meaning YouTuber has walked through Venice or talked to the people who live there. I’d have to guess this was a pure web product. Contrast that with this blog post by Stacie Joy about a new respite center for asylum seekers in the East Village. It’s on my block, so I can corroborate some of what Joy reports. How likely is it that this story will be hoovered up into data porn by some YouTuber who makes it sound like this respite center is more of a threat to neighborhood peace than the cops who have been lingering outside it? Or the bars that spit out drunken NYU students night after night? I don’t mind them, in the final analysis, but they have woken me up dozens of times. I can’t say the same of a single asylum seeker.
Murat Erdem, self-described “man of the seventies,” is one of the stranger citizens on TikTok. I love his long stare and hyperslow winks. Please do not explain them to me, unless you actually frequent his shop in Turkey. In that case, tell me everything.
I’ve been thinking about this thread on pace crunch for weeks. What the OP discusses is the 21st century movie madness for cramming “action” into every frame, leading to, as she writes, “a situation in which a 3 hour long movie feels rushed.” This is connected to my longstanding beef with the ontology of “boredom” and slow music and how we explain existence. Assuming, from a position outside experience, that we can estimate the effect of an event on consciousness based on its level of visible activity, is madness, sophistry, or both. Who ever took a walk in Tompkins Square Park and said, “Damn, no orcs!”
If you read this interview with Hedi El-Kholti of Semiotext(e), you will get an idea of the delight I feel working with him. (Hedi could nominally be called my boss, at least in relation to my memoir.) Stop worrying about Bertelsmann and read more interviews with Hedi!
Matthew Schnipper’s latest installment of Deep Voices is connected to his baby daughter Coco and her love of the Crystal Forest. The dragon that “guards all the crystals” lives there. You know how it is. Schnipper’s playlist got me close enough to the forest—no complaints.
For pure pleasure, I recommend this Jason Farago piece on Hannah Gadsby’s Picasso show. I don’t have many fears about the health (or decline) of criticism (it will be fine) but I do worry about losing a loud and unbiddable voice that can yell the trash out of the room. Only criticism can irradiate Gadsby’s brand of confused cynicism, and it hurts when the tonic never arrives. (Gadsby also apparently doesn’t understand that there are, in fact, cultural institutions without ties to murderous billionaires. Lots!)
Farago’s piece is a cousin to Terry Eagleton’s “tribute” to the late Martin Amis. I love Amis and his clogged British brain and his sluicing words. Me, I woulda taken a different tack than Eagleton. But why leave the memories to the lovers? Amis had a big jingoistic limp and why not remember it now?
Seeing Riff Raff get all country rock (sounds like “Magic Man,” tbh) about his delicate and imperiled truck begs the question: how many white rappers actually stick to rap? Is that one thing that makes Eminem a hero to so many other rappers? Be a bit tricky to actually draw any useful boundaries between rap, rock, and country, even if you can see that guitars and fluid regional accents are the equivalent of tenure for fading rappers.
Anyway, rappers are cowards. I don’t see any of them dressing up as frogs and ringing huge ceremonial bells.