American Sabor: Latinos in US Popular Music is a currently traveling Smithsonian exhibition exploring the wide range of Latino artists and influences which have shaped American pop music genres since WWII, from Alice Bag to Flaco Jimenez to Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass to Joan Baez. The website is rich with maps, interviews, videos, and music samples.
Are small theaters punching a ticket to oblivion? Radical changes in the traditional structure of the lab processing and exhibition sides of the film industry have been filling the lives of small theater operators with uncertainty and worry for the last few years. Will filmstock be the next Kodachrome? (And what will that mean for the future of film preservation?) [more inside]
Autistic and Seeking a Place in the World. Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Amy Harmon spent a year observing a young man with autism named Justin Canha, who took part in a new kind of “transition to adulthood” program for special education students at Montclair High School in NJ. The experimental program was intended to ready him for an independent life as an adult and integrate him into the community. [more inside]
Varieties of irreligious experience - modern believers "may not accept the idea of God as an actually existing entity, so arguments for atheism will not disturb them"
Quincy Jones sat in the Tenafly, New Jersey den of 16-year-old vocal student Lesley Gore, playing demo after demo, looking for the right song to cut for her first record. Out of over 200 tapes, Jones and Gore had moved only one to the "maybe" pile, and so that song, It's My Party, was recorded on March 30, 1963 in a Manhattan studio. After the session Mercury president Irving Green warned Gore not to get her hopes up, but Gore gratefully told him that it had been a great experience anyway, and it was okay if he didn't want to release it. However, later that evening Jones learned that Phil Spector had just recorded "It's My Party" for The Crystals, so Jones rushed back to the studio to press 100 test copies of the single and immediately mailed them to key radio stations across the country. [more inside]
"Driving Jersey represents and reflects the most misunderstood and misrepresented place and people in all of America." In this series of calmly paced, short documentaries featuring profiles, atmosphere, landscape, and interviews, filmmakers Steve Rogers and Ryan Bott travel 21 counties to capture some of the true character and cultural nuance of the Garden State. [more inside]
Let's Get Critical is "a new Longform.org partner site dedicated to surfacing the best cultural criticism on the web."
"I finally said, you know what, I'm going to tell my story. The first American injured in the Iraq war is a gay Marine. He wanted to give his life to this country." ~Eric Alva, 40, former Marine and veteran of Operation Iraqi FreedomTell: An Intimate History of Gay Men in the Military [more inside]
Categories as fundamental as fact and fiction, news and entertainment, gender and sexuality, have eroded away. In literature and architecture, in cuisine, in music, in fashion and furnishings, everywhere, everything—it’s fusion and mix. Barack Obama emerged as a literal embodiment of this age. To educated people, especially younger people with generally progressive views, other candidates suddenly looked parochial by comparison—or simply outdated. In his ethnicity and biography and in his personality and politics, Obama, the conciliator, was above all a combiner. Because he was from virtually everywhere—Kenya, Indonesia, Honolulu, Harvard, Chicago’s South Side—he was also from nowhere. The pastiche of his persona made him “his own man” in a new sense of the term.On the Politics of Pastiche and Depthless Intensities: The Case of Barack Obama
"Certainly, Uncle Sam, disowned by Pakistanis, has found innumerable devoted nephews in India. Indian and Pakistani perceptions of America now wildly diverge: A 2005 Pew poll conducted in 16 countries found the United States in the highest regard among Indians (71 percent having a favorable opinion) and nearly the lowest among Pakistanis (23 percent)." Why do India and Pakistan see America in such opposite ways?
Yuja Wang (official site / wikipedia) is a 24-year old, Chinese virtuoso classical pianist who became an overnight sensation in 2007 when she filled in after piano legend Martha Argerich, cancelled a performance with the Boston symphony. Since then, Ms. Wang has become a superstar in her own right, hailed by critics for her precise, passionate performances and lightning-fast technique. But after a recent appearance on-stage in a short red dress and high heels led to a critic's complaint about her outfit, others are now weighing in on whether it is appropriate for a female classical musician to wear revealing clothing. [more inside]
"It was clear to me then that Bill Stowe was a 'dumb jock,' which does not mean stupid; it means ignorant, narrow, misguided by the values of Jock Culture, an important and often overlooked strand of American life. These days, I'm not so sure he wasn't right; the world may well be divided into Jocks and Pukes." What Jock Culture Does To Pukes Like You
If your website is full of assholes, it's your fault. from Anil Dash. [more inside]
GQ Gaffe in naming Boston Worst Dressed City: GQ Magazine in its "The 40 Worst-Dressed Cities in America" described Boston as suffering "from a kind of Style Down Syndrome" (since redacted). In a constructive response, Dr. Brian Skotko responds, "Mock my pants, not my sister." [more inside]
"A culture that does not possess this common store of image and allegory will be a perilously thin one. To seek restlessly to update it or make it “relevant” is to miss the point, like yearning for a hip-hop Shakespeare." -Christopher Hitchens stands up for the King James Bible
The New Republic examines what they're calling "America's Next Great Civil Rights Struggle" and asks, "What will it take for America to accept transgender people for who they really are?" [more inside]
Chi-Com Comeback? July 1st is the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party (Official English website). Since 1979, China has been on a course of economic reform, first initiated by Deng Xiaoping, who climbed from disgrace during the Cultural Revolution to lead China away from a communist economy. Now, however, with the anniversary of the Party coming up, at least in Chongqing, the fastest growing city on the planet which 32 million people call home, the East may once again be Red. [more inside]
Dutch state secretary for culture Halbe Zijlstra published a letter stating that €200 million would be cut from the arts and culture budget, starting as early as 1 January 2013. [more inside]
The Beer Archaeologist. "Biomolecular archaeologist" Dr. Patrick McGovern has unearthed millennia-old alcohol recipes and ancient medicinals, "by analyzing residues in ancient pottery. Now he's working with brewer Sam Calagione, (of Discovery Channel's Brew Masters, (autoplaying video)) whose pub Dogfish Head serves up beers based on recipes that are thousands of years old." (Via) [more inside]
Part 3 of the Everything is a Remix video series has been released, by New York filmmaker Kirby Ferguson. Previously on MeFi. See the entire series on Vimeo: Parts One, Two and Three. (YouTube versions and transcripts inside.) Official Site. [more inside]
Scene and heard: Electro champeta | Champeta.net | I came across this dream collection of picós pictures on Africolombia's blog. Picós are these huge, powerful, customized, hand painted, highly fetishized sound systems from the Colombian Carribean Coast (Barranquilla, Cartagena, Palenque de San Basilio...). | Sound Systems, World Beat, and Diasporan Identity in Cartagena, Colombia [pdf] | Techno Tribal guarachero | Bonus cool link: Brazilian Dual Mix Dance Free Step. [more inside]
Going Straight: My Ex-Gay Friend Also: Living the Good Lie: Therapists Who Help People Stay in the Closet. (Both links NYT, via)
"Over the past few decades, 160 million women have vanished from East and South Asia — or, to be more accurate, they were never born at all. Throughout the region, the practice of sex selection — prenatal sex screening followed by selective termination of pregnancies — has yielded a generation packed with boys. From a normal level of 105 boys to 100 girls, the ratio has shifted to 120, 150, and, in some cases, nearly 200 boys born for every 100 girls. In some countries, like South Korea, ratios spiked and are now returning to normal. But sex selection is on the rise in Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East." American journalist Mara Hvistendahl's new book: "Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men," examines and tries to predict the actual and potential effects of unequal sex ratios on men, women and the social economies of the affected regions, including the recent spike in sex trafficking and bride-buying across Asia. More. [more inside]
Larry Gonick is a veteran American cartoonist best known for his delightful comic-book guides to science and history, many of which have previews online. Chief among them is his long-running Cartoon History of the Universe (later The Cartoon History of the Modern World), a sprawling multi-volume opus documenting everything from the Big Bang to the Bush administration. Published over the course of three decades, it takes a truly global view -- its time-traveling Professor thoroughly explores not only familiar topics like Rome and World War II but the oft-neglected stories of Asia and Africa, blending caricature and myth with careful scholarship (cited by fun illustrated bibliographies) and tackling even the most obscure events with intelligence and wit. This savvy satire carried over to Gonick's Zinn-by-way-of-Pogo chronicle The Cartoon History of the United States, along with a bevy of Cartoon Guides to other topics, including Genetics, Computer Science, Chemistry, Physics, Statistics, The Environment, and (yes!) Sex. Gonick has also maintained a few sideprojects, such as a webcomic look at Chinese invention, assorted math comics (previously), the Muse magazine mainstay Kokopelli & Co. (featuring the shenanigans of his "New Muses"), and more. See also these lengthy interview snippets, linked previously. Want more? Amazon links to the complete oeuvre inside! [more inside]
HUH. Magazine is a media platform with the latest, most relevant news from the worlds of art, fashion, design, music and film. Recent features include: Harvest by Haroshi: Skate and Destroy, artworks created with old worn, or snapped, skateboard decks | Disassembly, capturing relics of our past in a unique, dismantled and exposed form | Murakami at Versailles, knee-deep in controversy since its inception | and Darren's Great Big Camera, a short documentary about a camera that shoots on 14" x 36" negatives and measures 6ft. in length.
The Borneo Blog - fascinating photographic journey from the late 1960s of life and culture in Kapit, Sarawak, Malaysia* via Mefi Projects. [slightly NSFW - some topless locals]
Wikipedia And The Death Of The Expert - "McLuhan prefigured the Internet era in a number of surprising ways. As he said in a March 1969 Playboy interview: 'The computer thus holds out the promise of a technologically engendered state of universal understanding and unity, a state of absorption in the Logos that could knit mankind into one family and create a perpetuity of harmony and peace' ... Wikipedia, along with other crowd-sourced resources, is wreaking a certain amount of McLuhanesque havoc on conventional notions of 'authority', 'authorship', and even 'knowledge' ... Knowledge is growing more broadly and immediately participatory and collaborative by the moment."
An exhaustive guide to the sneakers worn by Jerry Seinfeld over the course of Seinfeld's 9-year run. [more inside]
Have you always longed for a comprehensive list of the shit Kiwis are really into? No, neither have we. Here it is anyway. Kiwianarama
The AV Club feature Gateways to Geekery is all about the best places to start on some of pop culture's most complex and nuanced artists and genres, including Randy Newman, The Who, Monty Python, steampunk, Sherlock Holmes and 90 others. [more inside]
Stunning photographs of the cattle farmers of Sudan | African ceremonies | Faces of Africa | video: African Ceremonies | Thirty years ago American-born Carol Beckwith and Australian Angela Fisher met in Kenya and began a relationship with the African continent that would profoundly alter and shape their lives. Their journeys would take them over 270,000 miles, through remote corners of 40 countries, and to more than 150 African cultures. | About the photographers (opens with sound to the video) [all links slightly nsfw in a NatGeo kind of way] [more inside]
The Miscreants of Taliwood is probably one of the best documentaries I have ever seen. And it defies all types of film making (in a good way). The subject? The Talibanization of a certain part of Pakistan and the assault on art, entertainment, and humanity. But it’s not quite a documentary. It is a surreal trip through the fiction and the nonfiction of Peshawar, NWFP and FATA. It is fake, it is real, it is unbelievable. Basically, it is Pakistan. [more inside]
Born in the border city of Tijuana, Nortec is an audio and visual style that digitally alters the local music and images to make something unique. The sound of Nortec takes the acoustic sounds of norteño (sample) and banda (sample), cut up and re-arranged into something new, with influences from electronic music broadcast by San Diego radio stations. Before too long, the Nortec sound would leak back north, and create divergent paths. More sounds and stories below the break. [more inside]
Avoid the News: Towards A Healthy News Diet. (large-ish PDF) Go without news. Cut it out completely. Go cold turkey. Make news as inaccessible as possible . . . . After a while, you will realize that despite your personal news blackout, you have not missed – and you’re not going to miss – any important facts. If some bit of information is truly important to your profession, your company, your family or your community, you will hear it in time – from your friends, your mother-in-law or whomever you talk to or see. When you are with your friends, ask them if anything important is happening in the world. The question is a great conversation starter. Most of the time, the answer will be: “not really.”
Peeps Show V: This year's winning diorama depicts the dramatic rescue of 33 mine workers in Copiapo, Chile | Vote for your favorite | Marshmallow Peep Art | Peeps Show IV |Peeps Show III | Peeps Show II | the first Peep Show | Peepshi (Peep sushi) | Peepsicles | Peep Modernist - The Best Peep Art Creations. [more inside]
For their 43rd anniversary issue, New York Magazine chose "to explore, across time, one of the things that has most defined New York life for centuries and has become a unit of measurement for our successes and failures: The Apartment: A History of Vertical Living" / Sardine Life: What a century and a half of piled-up housing reveals about us. [more inside]
Fareed Zakaria: Are America's Best Days Behind Us? - "We have an Electoral College that no one understands and a Senate that doesn't work, with rules and traditions that allow a single Senator to obstruct democracy without even explaining why. We have a crazy-quilt patchwork of towns, municipalities and states with overlapping authority, bureaucracies and resulting waste. We have a political system geared toward ceaseless fundraising and pandering to the interests of the present with no ability to plan, invest or build for the future. And if one mentions any of this, why, one is being unpatriotic, because we have the perfect system of government, handed down to us by demigods who walked the earth in the late 18th century and who serve as models for us today and forever. America's founders would have been profoundly annoyed by this kind of unreflective ancestor worship." [for/against]
"The march toward gender-specific clothes was neither linear nor rapid. Pink and blue arrived, along with other pastels, as colors for babies in the mid-19th century, yet the two colors were not promoted as gender signifiers until just before World War I—and even then, it took time for popular culture to sort things out."
Have you ever gotten lost in the Myst-inspired architecture of Anthology Film Archives’ website, or struggled awkwardly with the Chinese puzzle box-construction of BAMcinematek’s calendars? Have you ever circled the block at Lincoln Plaza in search of the secret entrance to the fabled Walter Reade Theater? (Hint: look behind the waterfall.) Have you found yourself asking time and again, “What the fuck is Union Docs?”The brainchild of critic Paul Brunick, Alt Screen is a new site billed as "a comprehensive digital resource covering film exhibitions and related special events in the New York City area." The contributing editors include blogger Jim Emerson, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky [previously] and Nathan Lee (apparently coming out of retirement).
Cultural differences (via) is a video created by National Geographic which documents the culture shock (no not that kind) experienced by Sudanese immigrants to the United States. Though in a country with such strife, this may come as no surprise. [more inside]
In his project A More Perfect Union, artist R. Luke Dubois aggregated language used in the profiles of 19 million single Americans on 21 dating sites. He then organized the data to create "dozens of insanely detailed city and state maps which tell a wonderfully rich story about who we are, or at least, who we claim to be." A Video about the project. (R. Luke Dubois, previously on MeFi.)
This is an advice column by an L.A. party girl who likes to talk shit on the internet. E.g. She’ll take your questions about the point of Serious Relationships. And give you advice about your sexual identity. Or tell you about a little something called Prince Charming Disease. There’s some advice about managing your existential crisis too. Even replies to fifteen year old girls on tumblr about their teenage flirting. There is also tons of fun sized advice. In her own summary: “What I [write] may be unfiltered, but it’s still cooked up from the same basic ingredients as the rest of pop culture.” It’s “Shady advice from a raging bitch who has no business answering any of these questions.” It’s Dear Coke Talk. [more inside]