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The Digest of Arts, Culture and Ideas
Updated: 4 min 44 sec ago

Email Is Still The Best Thing On The Internet

August 14, 2014 - 5:15pm

Some pundits, and Silicon valley types with cloud software to sell, keep arguing that email is an antiquated, dying technology. But no: “You can’t kill email! It’s the cockroach of the Internet, and I mean that as a compliment. This resilience is a good thing.” Alexis Madrigal explains why.

The Web’s Original Sin: The Serpent Fesses Up (And Says It’s Not Too Late To Repent)

August 14, 2014 - 4:54pm

“I have come to believe that advertising is the original sin of the web. The fallen state of our Internet is a direct, if unintentional, consequence of choosing advertising as the default model to support online content and services.” Ethan Zuckerman, who wrote the code for the very first pop-up ad, points out some downsides of the ad-based business model and argues that there’s still time to come to Jesus work out a better system.

Is Weird Al So Popular Because He’s Reassuring?

August 14, 2014 - 3:45pm

Sasha Frere-Jones: “With his parodic versions of hit songs, this somehow ageless fifty-four-year-old has become popular not because he is immensely clever – though he can be – but because he embodies how many people feel when confronted with pop music: slightly too old and slightly too square. That feeling never goes away, and neither has Al, who has sold more than twelve million albums since 1979.”

Digitizing Warhol’s Films To Save Them

August 14, 2014 - 3:35pm

“For almost a decade beginning in the 1960s,” he used 16mm film “to record hundreds of reels, many of which are still little known even among scholars because of the fragility of the film and the scarcity of projectors to show them on.” Now MoMA and the Andy Warhol Museum are joining forces to fix that.

For Museums, “Deaccession” Ia A Dirty Word. Should It Be?

August 14, 2014 - 3:27pm

“The principle,” says the president of the AAMD, “is that works of art shouldn’t be considered liquid assets to be converted into cash. They’re records of human creativity that are held in the public trust.” On ther other hand (says the other side), “Once you’ve decided to sell a work of art, what you end up with is money. And money is fungible. And saying that that money has to be cordoned off and only used for art doesn’t address the realities of running any sort of museum.”

Amazon Vs. Hachette: What Would Orwell Really Think?

August 14, 2014 - 3:15pm

George Packer: “Amazon has its own corporate lexicon, its own uses of language. Warehouses are ‘fulfillment centers,’ algorithmic recommendations are ‘personalization.’ I won’t call it Orwellian, because that poor, much-abused term should be reserved for special occasions, like North Korea. But it’s a style conducive to cheerful deception, and Orwell would have seen straight through it.”

Shark Week Jumps It: Discovery Channel Lied To Scientists To Get Them To Appear

August 14, 2014 - 3:04pm

“[Jonathan] Davis was shocked to find that his interview aired during a 2013 Shark Week special called Voodoo Shark, which was about a mythical monster shark called ‘Rooken’ that lived in the Bayous of Louisiana. … His answers from unrelated questions were edited together to make it seem like he believed in its existence and was searching for it.” And his is not the only instance.

Artist Who Smashed Ai Weiwei Vase Pleads Guilty, Gets Probation

August 14, 2014 - 1:25pm

Máximo Caminero will spend 18 months on probation, do 100 hours of community service and reimburse the insurance company $10,000, but he’ll avoid further jail time for dropping one of Ai’s painted Han Dynasty urn in front of a photograph of Ai dropping a Han Dynasty urn.

The Great Art Collections That The Likes Of Us Don’t Get To See

August 14, 2014 - 7:30am

“Why do companies such as UBS bother with collecting expensive modern and contemporary art at all? What’s in it for them?” Alastair Sooke looks at the Swiss mega-banks’ art collection, among the biggest held by any business.

“Commando Squad”: Anthony Tommasini’s Fantasy Music Festival

August 14, 2014 - 4:06am

The “Commando Squad” was Virgil Thomson’s American version of Russia’s “Mighty Five”, and it included himself (of course), Roger Sessions, Walter Piston, Roy Harris and (commander) Aaron Copland. The New York Times chief music critic dreams up a musical festival focusing on their lesser-known works.

Benjamin Millepied Really Is Staying Involved With L.A. Dance Project

August 14, 2014 - 4:04am

When the news hit that Millepied was to be artistic director of the Paris Opera Ballet beginning this fall, observers were skeptical (despite his protestations) that he’d continue to pay attention to the company he had founded just in 2012. Now LADP has announced it will premiere a new Millepied work in October.

Philadelphia Extends, Expands Free Museum Passes For High School Students

August 14, 2014 - 3:48am

“Under the program, a dozen of the city’s biggest and most popular museums” of art, history and science “offered free admission and other programs geared toward young people. The only requirements: Live in the city, be 14 to 19, and sign up. They did. Big time.”

Why Watching Classical Music Through A Performer’s Google Glass Is A Waste Of Time

August 14, 2014 - 3:30am

“Seeing a musical or operatic performance from only one performer’s point of view actually destroys the experience. It confuses ordinary reality with the artificial reality that art creates. … If you see [an opera] though the eyes of one participant, the performance is revealed for what it actually is; a bunch of people in fancy dress shouting in a foreign language.”

Why It’s So Hard to Catch Your Own Typos

August 14, 2014 - 3:21am

“If we are our own harshest critics, why do we miss those annoying little details? The reason typos get through isn’t because we’re stupid or careless, it’s because what we’re doing is actually very smart.”

America Has The Most Ridiculous Mythical Creatures The World Has Ever Known

August 14, 2014 - 3:20am

“Hands down. Nowhere else has a mythology formed so beautifully in a perfect amalgam of too much whiskey, too little sleep, and perhaps some accidentally consumed magic mushrooms.”

Terry Gilliam Sued By Street Artists Over Forthcoming Film

August 14, 2014 - 3:07am

“Actors can chew scenery, but sometimes, the scenery chews back.” Two Argentines and a Canadian have filed a complaint in Federal court alleging that The Zero Theorem, starring Matt Damon and Christoph Waltz, “violates the copyright they hold on a large-scale mural titled Castillo on public display in Buenos Aires.”

Inside The Head Of A Moscow Shaman

August 14, 2014 - 2:54am

“All my ancestors were healers and performed rituals, even my surname Guslyak means ‘sorcerer’. Once a day my body convulses for 15-20 minutes. Reality changes in this condition and it takes special powers in order to return to normality. I still don’t understand everything.”

To Avoid “Blasphemy”, Sony Is Altering Seth Rogen’s Kim Jong Un Assassination Comedy

August 14, 2014 - 2:37am

“Sources say the studio is digitally altering thousands of buttons worn by characters in the film … because they depict the actual hardware worn by the North Korean military to honor the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, 31, and his late father, Kim Jong Il (showcasing military decorations would be considered blasphemous to the nuclear-armed nation).” North Korea has already described the movie as “an act of war.”

China’s Young Rival Kings-Of-All-Media

August 14, 2014 - 2:08am

“China’s culture-watchers have pitted Han Han and Guo Jingming against each other since they were teenagers. The two men, both now in their early thirties, make for a tempting juxtaposition, a sort of Mailer-Vidal rivalry” – except that Mailer and Vidal didn’t write million-selling Young Adult novels, record pop albums, and direct hit movies.

The Review That Moved Hemingway To Bitch-Slap The Critic’s Face And Challenge Him To A Fistfight

August 14, 2014 - 1:45am

The New Republic offers from its archives Max Eastman’s assessment of Death in the Afternoon – in which he suggested that Hemingway’s prose style was the equivalent “of wearing false hair on his chest.” (The new preface to the review recounts Papa H’s response.)