Category Archives: pop culture

I Am Officially Assuming This Is Art

I found this, as the watermark might suggest to the more clever of you in the audience, on “There, I Fixed It,” the only site in the Cheezburger empire known to routinely amuse and amaze me with its feats of sheer humanity. The site exists to showcase kludges: those haphazard, impromptu, and often ill-advised solutions to problems.

Thing is, I’m not convinced this is a kludge.

I mean, for one, only one of those locks are attached to a non-bike, as near I can tell.

They’re also all the same silver-to-black gradient.

So’s the bike.

Man, that many u-bolts would cost a fortune.

Nope, this is definitely art. You want my guess, it’s an installation piece commenting on us as both a paranoid society, one that needs to lock, relock, and triple lock even the most minor possessions to feel safe. Sadly enough, we’re also a society where someone somewhere would steal that bike if it wasn’t locked down, because, well, that’s what some people do. It just feeds back into point one as a nasty loop, which this does a pretty good job of reflecting upon. It’s a farce of minor theft and disproportionate paranoia (those u-bolts had to cost more than that bike. There’s what, over three dozen of them there? At a bargain-basement $10 a piece that’s still $360!) My best guess on the gradated color scheme is the visual texture it adds to the piece, the silver highlights draw our attention to the individuality of the u-bolts, letting the full seething mass of it strike us without the complexity of hue, and with merging into a giant hairball of metal as it would in true monotone.

So, c’mon, whatcha think gang? Poll after the jump.


Now This Is Viral Marketing

_9147652So, while the gigagntic vinyl sign that greeted me in the alley where I park for the dayjob (click image at right to see larger) pleased and enchanted me, it’s apparently old hat for citizens in larger US cities.

After hearing it was for a reality show, I poked around and found the news release from our local channel 13 news, which did verify it. I also found a similar article from New York three years ago. And you know what?

I still love it. The entire package is beautiful. The font is atrociously generic, the printing cheap. It’s the sort of huge-ass sign an enraged spouse might actually have made. It completely lacks branding. It’s more mysterious than anything Trent Reznor did for his Year Zero marketing (and at two stories tall, quite a bit harder to overlook.)

So, even though I’ve ruined it for you and you’re in on just what a commercial stunt it is really is, go ahead, feel free to relish in the actual creativeness of it. And, it’s still pretty awesome to think of some angry chick actually doing it…

Edited: Corrected Typo, Added Image (D’0h)

The Fashion World Starts To Acknowledge Real Women

Lizzie Miller, as Pictured in Glamour

Lizzie Miller, as Pictured in Glamour

So, this isn’t quite the hot news it was earlier this week, but I hadn’t yet had time to comment on it. Apparently in this month’s Glamour, on page 194, the picture over here appeared supporting an article about being comfortable in your skin. And, apparently, it was a knockout success, garnering positive responses from women all over, as well as positive responses from photo and fashion bloggers. OK, it also received a lot of dudes saying “and with all the money she made frm this she can go to the gyym and actually be sexy,” but screw them. I’ll be the first to admit Ms. Miller here isn’t my sort, but that definitely isn’t to imply she’s not obsiously attractive. And, while I probably buy into the illusion of sexy too much for my own mental health, I know enough to say that this is a very positive thing to be doing. I’m siding with women everywhere, give us more honesty like this in fashion and glamor photography.

Check out Glamour’s article here.

Check out their blog post about the response to the image here.

An Unfortunate Hate

Artists, as a lot, are known for accepting quite a bit, and justifying quite a deal of nonsense. Marcel Duchamp, Jackson Pollock, Piero Manzoni, Andres Serrano, Joel-Peter Witkin– you dig around in art long at all and you’ll find plenty of questionable, weird, misunderstood, or inflammatory works that many artists will bend over backwards to not only justify, but to revere.


Andy Warhol, "Che"

And then there’s Andy Warhol, the one man who everyone seems to find it OK to hate. And, worse, it seems that the reason there’s so much hate for Warhol doesn;t usually come down to some of the morally questionable things he did in life–no no. People hate Warhol because of how often his style is imitated.

It’s a strange disconnect. Warhol, known for his Campbell’s soup cans, and probably more despised for his multi-color screen prints of celebrities, is almost without a doubt the representative face of the pop art movement. But, it’s not for his actual works (his iconic work of Che is just that— iconic, and still popular fodder for t-shirts among the very people who like to scoff at the work of Warhol today), but for the fact that they’re such a simple, striking visual style that is copied almost without end and almost always without purpose.

Is it fair to hate someone because of the drivel their work inspired? I don’t think so. Not even if you weren’t particularly fond of the original work. Warhol’s work may now seem strikingly obvious and bombastically simple, but it’s worth noting it still wasn’t done before Andy stopped to do it. Whether or not you like it, his pop art had a way of embracing the ephemerallity of media that gives it merit. Imposters and advertising groups like to ride the coat-tails of the instantly recognizable visual style, but none of them seem to understand the almost black humor involved in Warhol’s originals.

Looked at another way, hating Warhol for the hollowness of modern ‘pop art’ would be like hating Tolkien for the loads of derivative troll-and-elf fantasy that we’re subjected to. I pikc this particular example because I am, personally, as unthrilled by Tolkien’s classic works as many people are with Warhol’s works, to illustrate that the difference between artistic merit and enjoyment is one worth noting.

And all you artists out there deriding Warhol for his artistic works, shame on you. I expect better. If you must hate Warhol, he’s got plenty of questionable actions in his biography to work from. But his art, whether you like it or not, is an interesting and worthwhile addition to the history of art. To provide a point of contrast, if nothing else.

Inauguration Day

It’s the end of the day in which the United States swore in it’s first black president (”How can they say he’s our first black president?”, my parents say, “He’s only half-black!”). I stand with many of my countrymen excited and happy, there will be celebration whisky later, I can forsee that. But it’s not because of Obama’s hope, I remain cautiously optimistic about that, but for the departure of the Bush administration, who have spent the past many years of my life fostering an America of jingoism, associating free speech with being unpatriotic, and trying to shoehorn a secular nation into one of religious mores and dogmas. Good riddance.

That’s all my long-preamble to the following, from the artist Saul Williams, and I think of everything I’ve heard and read today, these two passages will stick with me the most:

We have overcome.

Except those of us now in Gaza. Except those of us whom police kill. Except those of us who are suspects. Except those of us whom the church hate. Except those of us damned to taste good. Except those of us held by fate. We are meeting in the capitol. Word is, freedom will not wait.


…This is no time to cry! This is no time at all! Here is the moment of the overlooked and the unforeseeable. We are the elected officials of the people: poets and artists. We are the declarative statement of the inarticulate, the irreparably damaged goods of the bad meaning good. We are the government! We are the government! We are the government!