I bought this at the Burlesque garage sale this weekend. I brought my mom and she said, “Maybe you should give that to your sister Krissy so she can put it up in her classroom!” and I said, “Or maybe I could not, and keep it for myself,” which I did.
Anyway I’m very excited because I got a creative internship at Zeus Jones.
I have wanted to go into advertising for years, and I was really hoping I could find an opportunity to “get my foot in the door” as they say. I’ve been doing journalism all through college, but now that I’ve graduated I have been wanting to try out something different. (Not that I haven’t loved journalism and felt ridiculously lucky to be able to earn money writing and meeting new people all through college.) I had a lot of fun at my Zeus Jones interview and I’m glad that I found a position where I don’t have to start with one niche but I get to try everything.
That means I’m quitting the Minnesota Daily, which is a bummer because working there is a dream job that is unfortunately not sustainable for real-life, growned-up adults. For my last story I wrote a profile of MPLS.TV and I spent the whole afternoon hanging out with them over at MTN studio. I know, I know, so many acronyms without vowels!
Anyway, aside from the daily brag (Do you ever feel like this social media culture is turning everyone into big braggers? I feel like it’s expected that you always write what cool thing you’re doing, and suddenly you’re promoting yourself all the time, myself included), today I was thinking about what Pete Yorn would have to do to be cool. Not just kinda hot and in Spin magazine, but rock star cool. Maybe I’ll write a longer post about it later. But ponder it on this windy Sunday.
in the journey to make something creative everyday, sometimes things don’t turn out how you want. this shirt took so many steps:
-drawing the design
-turning it into a screen
-screen printing it onto a t-shirt
-cutting out all the holes
i got the idea because my friend john sand is styling vita.mn’s poolside fashion show and we were talking about crazy t-shirts he could wear. he wanted to cut something up, and i wanted to screen print something. i thought that a fisherman holding a cut-up net on a shirt would be cool, so today i set out to make the prototype. clearly there were limits to how much i know about cutting little boys’ hanes t-shirts, but luckily they are about $1.50, so not much was wasted. plus, who knows, maybe i’ll wear it sometime. i should probably go w/ a shirtless greek fisherman while i’m at it.
I can’t wait till people start getting off kids’ cases about saying “like.”
That word has several functions:
-To denote approximation (She had like fourteen different shades of red nail polish.)
-To introduce an example, or a list (I brought lots of food to the slumber party, like Cheetos and Pop Tarts)
-To compare two things or introduce a simile (It was just like her ADD had up and disappeared!) (Teachers would probably tell you to say “as if” instead)
-A hedge (a hedge is something like “um,” or “well,” something people use when they feel intimidated in a conversation) ( Like she’s such a like hoe.) (Admittedly, this function gives all the other ones a bad name, because it brings up associations of the cast of “The Hills”)
In about 30 years, it’s not going to seem unsophisticated to say “like” in these instances (except maybe the fourth), because with time it will become semantically cemented and lose its stigma of suntanned, birdbrained California youth.
Anyway, that’s an excerpt from my language blog, (Guide to English) which I just updated. It’s a plea to quit mocking “bad” grammar without understanding some basic principles of sociolinguistics.
More gay art. It’s a dad and son, so it’s like a reverse Oedipal complex. I named it “The Dwayne Complex” because I was at Target once looking at Barbies with my mom and she picked up a cowboy Ken variation named Dwayne and said, “Becky, isn’t Dwayne the ultimate gay cowboy name?” I thought this was funny because her dad’s name was Wayne, but I trust her authority here.
I have recently gotten better at Photoshopping my drawings so that they don’t look like terrible scans. If I had a better screen I could put this on a T-shirt, but the ones I have like thick lines and lose detail fast.
making some gay art with a couple of my gay advisors (queerers) to make sure i don’t overlook any accidentally offensive connotations. i actually didn’t ask them about this because they’re not around right now.
anyway, i went to toys r us with my niece this morning and bought these glitter pens. i distorted the result a lot on illustrator to show what happens when you combine kids art supplies with expensive software. i feel like real graphic designers look down on sloppy attacks with the bloat and pucker tools, but i kind of liked it, 30%.
I made this tonight. I took astronomy this semester and they would always say, “You only experience a small fraction of the types of light in the universe,” but that seemed imprecise to me, because you experience them all, just in different ways.
Plus, I wanted to try making an informative graphic.
I had fun making the infrared creature.
I had a hard time figuring out how to represent cancer (also, gamma rays are used to treat cancer, I learned from Wikipedia) but after Google imaging it for awhile (and seeing lots of open wounds and proud bald people) I saw a little kid wearing a shirt that said “fuck cancer” and decided to go with that. It also has the cancer treating connotation, because in gamma ray treatment, the rays come around and fuck up the cancer.
Anyway, I think students would have an easier time remembering the order of the light spectrum if they thought of it this way.
Earlier, I talked about a genre of music that is defined by its joyfully sociopathic content. I mostly talked about how Sleigh Bells related this to modern kung-fu feminism, but here’s another installment, and it’s a damn good song at that. It comes from British Columbia’s Shimmering Stars, a group so new their MySpace only has 5,226 views. You can feel so indie for liking them.
"Walking down the street/ and I wanna kill everyone I see/ how come I don’t like anyone that I meet?/ Despite my antipathy I have wanted to be someone better/ In my heart is a violence/ I cannot dispel/ I’ve lost my mind."
They kind of sound like vintage California doo-wop, which makes it extra funny, cuz it’s the type of music your mom would have put on while she drank her Arnold Palmer while dusting off her wedding china. It’s about murder, mom.
I told my friend Conrad (DJ Picnic Basket) to make a mix called “George Dub Step” to introduce kiddies to dub step, which is sort of like techno made in the loch ness monster’s personal swampy rave club. So he did it! I made the artwork. George Bush is biting a Facebook “like” sign.
Me and my friend John are going to make some art about the word “gay.” I like “gay” because it’s a superword. It means so many things.
One of the most culturally prominent manifestations of feminism in the new millennium was “the violent hot chick.” Basically, once we rolled out of the ’90s, we traded in our Ani DiFrancos for our Kill Bills. Whether this is better or worse is probably a question best left to focus groups and cultural studies classes, but as someone who likes kung-fu a lot better than bad poetry, I’m in the better camp.
I’ve been thinking about what this all means recently because I have been immensely enjoying the album “Treats” by Sleigh Bells, and their music has brought up the question of what pop culture’s version of feminism is right now.
Recently, Hipster Runoff decided that bands like Best Coast and Las Robertas should be called Blisswave. This new genre will lump together female-led garage rock bands while acknowledging both men’s sexual fantasies of girls in bands and also everyone’s nagging feeling that we just don’t like bands with girl singers as much as we should.
All fair enough, but this concerned me, because I worried that Sleigh Bells would get lumped into Blisswave, and I think they represent something bigger. To examine what it is, you should get a sense of their music.
"Treats" is characterized by these elements:
The fiber has a lot of the same elements as M.I.A. - they were produced by the same people after all. But while M.I.A. references war, she usually does so in a semi-political way, trying to slap her Western listeners into understanding how prominent war is for the lives of so many people around the world. Sleigh Bells simply likes violence with a more pathological vigor.
Considering this pathology, their character development throughout the album becomes clearer. The high vocals and the sweet choruses make it all the more surprising when they start talking about sad sacking people. It’s like watching a kid pull a pin out of a My Little Pony to reveal it’s a grenade. Like your typical Dexter, sociopaths know how to use sexuality as their greatest weapon of surprise.
I think Sleigh Bells are part of a new musical genre that is basically the manifestation of the hot violent girl in music. Let’s call it murdercore, killwave and gungaze. So what is the hot violent girl? Or better yet, why is the hot violent girl? What societal need does she answer?
I am 1/3 of a cultural studies major, but I still don’t think I’m anywhere near an expert on feminism. Nonetheless, here is my best guess. Feminism in the ’80s and ’90s caused a rejection of femininity, believing its signifiers to be superficial. Lipstick, high heels, Juicy Couture - not on our Lilith Fair sponsor list, thank you. Rejecting gender signifiers may be a highly evolved state for humanity or it might be blindly ideological, but either way, it’s just not going to cut it for my generation, which has been marketed to out our ears since we first flipped to “Power Rangers.” (I wanted to say “Sesame Street,” but that’s public TV …) Class and gender signifiers are our second language. I can eliminate thousands of presumptions about you just by learning what brand of cell phone you talk on and whether or not you wear high heels or Vans. It’s not that we feel entitled to decorate ourselves in whatever we want to, it’s that we have to because it’s part of our semiotic code.
But our generation still cares about feminism. There’s a lot of anger out there, and women want to be powerful. The hot violent girl is a fantasy on the most Freudian of levels. She’s a fantasy of power for women, and a sexual fantasy for men. This is sort of a have-it-all deal for my generation. You can still be a feminist while baiting men on, although it would have pissed off feminists of yore. We can be all the contradictions we want, cuz we have iPods and Pads and we’re too busy multi-tasking to straighten it out. I could quote Whitman right now to show that despite identifying with hypocritical consumeristic kids I’m still super cerebral and educated, but instead I’ll just point out that I could. I’m not judging though, like I said, kung-fu > bad poetry.
I’m sure other people have talked about this in far more detail and depth than I have, but I just want to say Sleigh Bells’ “Treats” should be best new music.
Lots of my friends have cool blogs or websites. Here is a list of them, because i don’t have a static “blogroll” on Tumblr.
justbrad.com is my friend Brad Ogbonna’s photo website. i met him in 7th grade science class, where we bonded over making really perverted jokes about dogs, if i recall. now he lives in new york and interns for Spin. Here’s his photo of The Kitty Cat Klub, which is my friends’ version of The Bronx on “Buffy.”
Drunken Suitcaseis my friend Ian Power’s writing blog. Ian is a gifted genius, and I got to be his editor for a whole year. He wrote a lot about peeing his pants and befriending girls for their friendship bracelet skills, and got all that in the newspaper. Here is an excerpt about leaving the womb:
Up until then, I had been totally content in this little split level studio and it was affordable because of rent control and the neighborhood was pretty good. It gave me space to kick out the jams but the food was sub-par and sort of processed tasting: not much texture to it. Like all prenatal babies, I was under the impression that I was living somewhere in Europe in a kind of post-apocalyptic nudist colony. But something about my brothers screaming and all those doctors talking, and Tom Verlaine’s singing suddenly snapped me out of my euphoria and this tiny switch just flipped on in my mind and I realized where I was. I immediately started dry heaving and then I looked for the bathroom to sort of wash up but there was no time. I located the fire exit and decided to get the hell out of dodge.
Kaybee Babyis my sister Jenny’s blog about her family. I’m trying to pick semi-public blogs, but I can’t help but mention it because I love it so much, especially excerpts like this:
She now tells me little tidbits of stories she wants to tell me. I was giving her a bath the other day and she told me a story about, “Daddy and Kaylee had a fire. There were bugs at the fire. Don’t get too close - it’s hot.” I had no idea what she was saying so I asked Eric. Turns out the other night when I worked until 1 am, they had a little bonfire in the backyard and talked all the bugs and about staying away from fire.
"A brief history of knowingness and irony" was the tagline of Pitchfork’s latest cultural essay, another throw-away for the canon of Failed Chuck Klostermans. (Everyone seems to think they have “deep insight” into miniscule low-culture phenomena, but it turns out most people just have first person rants that cannot rival the actual analytical skills of our North Dakota-bred, coke-snorting, metal-loving savant.) The essay attempts to explore a dichotomy between “knowingness” and irony, one that I’ve never heard of in all my time being part of Pitchfork’s target demographic of suburban-bred city kids who listen to chillwave while writing cultural studies essays. But putting aside the fact that the author made up a word, he went on to discuss irony mainly by talking about LCD Soundsystem, Hipster Runoff and St. Vincent. Ok, he’s got the idea of using pop culture tropes to talk about a societal phenomenon down, but I’m more concerned with what he didn’t talk about - race.
Here I enter into territory that makes me uncomfortable. I’m a white person, and the world probably has enough white people out there deciding how race should be talked about (see “Family Guy,” “South Park” and all republican media), but I can’t help but feel that the subject of irony takes out a big signifying finger and points it right at white people. For example, some of the best Internet memes out there are about white people ironically making fun of whiteness, or at least the cultural traits that characterize it: yuppiness, conservatism, moralism. First, there’s Stuff White People Like. It characterizes white people stereotypes by listing things they like - “picking their own fruit, Bansky, hating people who wear Ed Hardy.” Then there is Unhappy Hipsters, which shows rich people in modern homes suffering from existential ennui over their needless purchases. This is funny shit, mostly because it’s so right, and white people love making fun of themselves.
But why is that? Well first, let’s ward off the academics here and actually define irony. We’re not talking about the principal theme of Greek tragedies, the measure of fate and consequence or something terribly complicated that your professor wrote his dissertation on. This is a hipster definition that basically means insincerity, or rhetorical posturing that’s all in good fun. The author of the Pitchfork essay gets this, and assumes readers know too. His main subject material, after all, is how Pitchfork readers interpret the lyrics of their music. Are they really identifying? Or are they understanding that half of them are just tongue-in-cheek and liking them from a distance? But irony isn’t just about refusing to emote. It’s about power positions, about how seriously you take yourself not just as an individual but as part of a demographic. (I’m going to use the neutral marketing term here.) In the case of white people, it has become about how seriously you can take yourself as a demographic before other demographics start to think you are a snotty, vanilla Hitler revivalist pumping America’s already fat veins with a prudey Puritan substructure.
But let’s get back to music. White people have presented many challenges to post-rock and roll music. Before rock and roll came around, all dominant music in Western society was dictated by white people and high culture definitions. Chamber ensembles, crooners, etc. But then Chuck Berry hit the stage and old crackers smoking pipes got scared of the sinfulness of it all, and it was just so cool that white people started wanting to copy it. Horrifying convention was sexy and TV made it more marketable than ever. It became apparent on radiowaves that it was the subculture that could make the best music, the people from the school of hard-knocks, who go through bad shit and are oppressed and have the ability shake up the majority. Music never looked back from this epiphany. (I’m not saying it was all Chuck Berry, just using him as the most prominent example.) But the problem since then was how the most dominant demographic in America, white people, could inhabit this rock and roll position. How could white people prove they were oppressed, were shunned by society? Thus, punk rock emerged. Doing lots of drugs and celebrating violence was a good way to separate yourself from your WASP-y grandparents, to gain disapproval and thus credibility. Hippies were equally frightening with their free love and acid, and then hair metal bands used gender bending to accomplish the same task. Finally, Eminem did it by being a minority in the rap world. But once the 2000s rolled around, it became clear that there are increasingly fewer ways for white people to reinvent rock and roll. Increased political correctness and racial awareness made it painfully obvious that white people were born into power positions and they should spend their whole lives sensitive to this fact.
Thus, acceptance rolled around. OK, so white people aren’t that rock and roll, and guess what, a lot of resentment toward them exists. Thus, white person humor in the new millennium became increasingly tongue-in-cheek, self-deprecating and yes, ironic. “Oh yes, we do have $800 grills on our blonde wood porches, but god-dammit if we don’t make fun of ourselves for it!” There you have your unhappy hipster parents with their kids named after the Latin word for their favorite variety of northern forest tree who spend their weekends canning their own honey to get back to nature.
But what about the new generation, the Pitchfork hipsters? Here, I’m getting myself into a pickle because I’m making a couple implicit assumptions, namely that most people who read Pitchfork are white, and that most people who practice irony are white. I certainly believe that there are ironic indie music lovers of all ethnicities, but that does not mean that this form of irony and its indie music equivalent are not products of the cognitive dissonance between white self-deprecation and white privilege.
This is where you get your satirical songwriters, your woeful poets who know they’ll never be rock and roll and instead fully admit to their own superficiality. If there is one difference between today’s white hipsters and yesterday’s, it’s that this process has evolved to become not just an admission of superficiality, but a celebration of it. That’s what LCD Soundsystem is - drunk girls are like this; drunk boys are like this and damn is that a fact we can dance to! Then there is MGMT, who make this into anthemic poetry. “The models will have children/ get a divorce/ find some more models/ everything must run its course.” But that’s good music, no? Like most white people, I’m criticizing a cultural phenomenon, but only affectionately, because I am also criticizing myself. And because criticizing yourself is slightly hypocritical, all of my rhetoric must be only half-serious, because I can’t argue that I’m coming from a standpoint that has any authority over truth. Thus, it’s ironic, because it’s easy, it’s likeable, like a one-night stand, no commitment is necessary.
To recap, when you are in a power position, you cannot cheer on your own power position without being painfully un-rock and roll. Instead, you must gain rock and roll salvation by proving that you are self-aware about the gaucheness of your power position. You do this by using irony, which has taken on two forms in indie music and indie music-approved culture. You can be self-deprecating to the point where you celebrate your own impotence (this is actually best embodied by one Tina Fey on “30 Rock”) or you can be gleefully superficial in an implicitly critical way (MGMT). I might have headed into the danger zone of writing too much for the internet generation, so if you’re still reading, cheers for you, cheers for me. Now get back to your nostalgic discussion about “Ghostwriter” and the “grown-up” mac’n’cheese on your stove.
i was in one of those moods of not wanting to do anything in particular, so i decided to play with colors, and also with shapes. i’m not much of an abstract artist, but i am an abstract person, so it was only a matter of time i guess.
once in high school i was given a writing prompt about whether i like lyrics or instruments better in music. i wrote something about how when i listen to music i like the colors the best, wondering if the part of my brain that was supposed to understand music was sort of like a bank that had a skittles machine where it was supposed to have an ATM. you still like banking because you can insert your card and get a handful of candy, but it’s not how the process is supposed to work. pitch, tune, meter, not there. happy trippy funtime? oh yeah. i later found out this is called “associative synesthesia,” where your brain automatically translates between senses, making you experience sight for sound, or for some extreme people, shapes for taste. people like kanye west and jonsi have it, and lots of the time it makes you better at music and not worse like me. people with actual pitch can correlate one note with one color. my synesthesia does make me better at spelling though, because many letters in my alphabet are correlated with a color. i’ve written about this before, but i like to explain it because lots of people with synesthesia don’t know they have it or won’t admit it because people think they’re making it up to be interesting. here’s an example though: in spanish, the preterite tense of “ar” verbs (hablar, etc.) adds a “b” + ending to form the conjugation. so “yo hablo” becomes “yo hablaba.” i always think of this as “the red tense” because “b” has always been red. some scientists think everyone processes information this way, but most people have evolved a mental process that strips this aspect of processing out before it reaches consciousness.
here’s a link to where i wrote about this before, and a picture of my alphabet
We went to Java Train and sadly they sat us in their crappy basement. That’s what you get for making reservations. I made my mom a Munny doll. She requested a “lolita goth” or a skull, which are her favorite artistic motifs. As you can see, my niece Kaylee ended up being totally jealous, so now I’m going to make her one too. It was fun.
my niece had a bad-ass hat on. That’s my sister, Jenny.
i got hyper from coffee and sugary rolls, but luckily i had a child there to chase and terrorize.
why you should always read the wikipedia entry for everything
Mark Zuckerberg before becoming a major entrepreneur was part bad-ass part ass-hole.
I was researching for my social media linguistics paper and came across this:
(p.s. Wikipedia is the silent D.N.A. of everything produced by anyone under 30)
Mark Zuckerberg invented Facemash on October 28, 2003, while attending Harvard as a sophomore. The site represented a Harvard University version of Hot or Not, according to the Harvard Crimson. That night, Zuckerberg was blogging about a girl who had dumped him and trying to think of something to do to get her off his mind:
"I’m a little intoxicated, not gonna lie. So what if it’s not even 10 p.m. and it’s a Tuesday night? What? The Kirkland [dorm] facebook is open on my desktop and some of these people have pretty horrendous facebook pics. I almost want to put some of these faces next to pictures of farm animals and have people vote on which is more attractive."—9:48 pm
"Yea, it’s on. I’m not exactly sure how the farm animals are going to fit into this whole thing (you can’t really ever be sure with farm animals…), but I like the idea of comparing two people together."—11:09 pm
"Let the hacking begin."—12:58 am
After he stole the idea from friends he promised to collaborate with on a site called harvardconnect.com:
The three complained to the Harvard Crimson and the newspaper began an investigation. Zuckerberg used his site, TheFacebook.com, to look up members of the site who identified themselves as members of the Crimson. Then he examined a log of failed logins to see if any of the Crimson members had ever entered an incorrect password into TheFacebook.com. In the cases in which they had entered failed logins, Mark tried to use them to access the Crimson members’ Harvard email accounts. He successfully accessed two of them. The three later filed a lawsuit against Zuckerberg, later settling.
i said to my friend conrad, “make a playlist called “george dub step” and i’ll make some art.”
but then this homework came up and i was like what’s really urgent right now is that i make this art for this playlist that doesn’t exist yet. so i did.
also, facebook has swallowed wikipedia. if it swallows the collaborative center of all human knowledge, what will it swallow next? it erased my interests so i decided to type “human” and see what happens. now this …
I haven’t been very artsy lately. I did make a sad space bear though, just for this post.
You can read our A&E blog for my pictures of art around town this weekend.
I’m spending a lot of time working on a research paper about how English is changing on the Internet. Here’s an excerpt, for the brave:
The third category is expedience, which is defined as using non-standard English in order to use both time and space efficiently. In a sense, the emotional inflection markers are also a type of expedient communication, standing in for precise word choice. Internet use is oftentimes part of an individual’s multi-tasking routine, and when they communicate via social media they are often engaged in several other tasks, such as consuming media (music, television), reading the news or checking their work email. When social media communication gets down to the chat level, the pressure to move at a pace similar to actual conversation can often cause individuals to use shortcuts to speed up their participation. Finally, the rise of “microblogging,” or using a small space to transmit a message, has made space a matter of economy, forcing individuals to reduce their letter and word count in a message. This most commonly occurs with Twitter and Facebook. Many techniques have been invented to accomplish expedient writing online, the first of which is clipped spelling. This includes deletion of “g’s” on a present participle, apostrophe deletion in contractions and possessives, and deletion of non-phonetic letters in a word. For example, the Internet has generated the word “prolly,” which is essentially a clipped form of “probably.” Other methods are acronomy and abbreviation. Many phrases become acronyms online, like BRB for “be right back.” One of the most common methods is number/letter substitution for the spelling of a word, such as “u” for “you” or “2” for “to.”
Anyway, apparently Animal Collective’s Avey Tare has a sideproject with the singer from múm. As you would expect from Avey Tare, it’s weird. The múm voices remind me of those crazy weed people in “The Little Mermaid.” This song is pretty good. The first part is the song backward, because they’re artsy like that.