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  • Streamy Awards 2019: The Complete Winners List December 14, 2019
    The 9th annual Streamy Awards – honoring the best from YouTube and online video – were held Friday night in Beverly Hills. Tana Mongeau was named Creator of the Year by fans while “Good Mythical Morning” won Show of the Year. David Dobrik picked up multiple Streamys, including Best Director and Ensemble Cast (“Vlog Squad”). […]
    Stuart Oldham
  • ‘The Blacklist’ Bosses on Delivering the ‘Really Intense Family Drama That We’ve Been Promising for Seven Years’ December 14, 2019
    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Katarina Rostova,” the midseason seventh season finale of “The Blacklist.” Since “The Blacklist” began it has been building towards a confrontation between Agent Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) and her biological mother, Katarina Rostova (Laila Robbins). That promised confrontation was front-and-center in […]
    Danielle Turchiano
  • Here’s Who’s Raising Money in Hollywood for Pete Buttigieg December 14, 2019
    The Pete Buttigieg campaign released its top bundlers on Friday evening, as it continues to open up its fundraising process to media scrutiny. Buttigieg released the names of 157 members of his “investors circle,” each of whom has raised at least $25,000 for his campaign. Buttigieg is now the most prolific fundraiser in Hollywood, with […]
  • Rain Phoenix Joins Pete Yorn for ‘Relator,’ Originally Sung With Scarlett Johansson (Watch) December 14, 2019
    Ten years before “Señorita,” another famous twosome recorded a romantic duet together: Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson, who joined forces on “Relator.” It was the first single from an entire album of collaborations, 2009’s “Break Up,” which was inspired by the songs of Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot, but fans hardly ever got to hear […] […]
    Shirley Halperin
  • Film Review: ‘Chez Jolie Coiffure’ December 14, 2019
    Shortly before the credits roll on “Chez Jolie Coiffure,” a customer in the eponymous hair salon asks her stylist, Sabine, if she has any plans to go home this year. Out of context, this sounds like the kind of standard, empty small talk one often makes while having one’s hair cut: what good movies you’ve […]
  • ‘Reef Break’ Canceled After One Season at ABC December 14, 2019
    “Reef Break” will not be back for a second season at ABC. The series debuted back in June on the broadcaster and aired 13 episodes, with the finale airing on Sept. 13. It starred Poppy Montgomery as Cat Chambers, Ray Stevenson as Jake Elliot, Desmond Chiam as Wyatt Cole, Melissa Bonne as Ana Dumont and […]
    Joseph Otterson
  • Jeff Shell: Who Is the NBCUniversal Heir Apparent? December 14, 2019
    Analytical, decisive, loyal, fair, empowering. Those are just a few of the choice words industry insiders who have worked with incoming NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell — set to succeed current chief exec Steve Burke, as Variety exclusively reported — use to describe the longtime media exec.  On Universal’s North Hollywood lot, many insiders who work […] […]
  • Who Votes for the Golden Globes? A Hollywood Foreign Press Association Explainer December 14, 2019
    Each year, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association hands out Golden Globe Awards to the top movies and TV shows of the year. While the Oscars are voted on by thousands of members of the motion picture industry, those who vote on the Golden Globes awards are much less well known. Here’s a FAQ on just […]
    Pat Saperstein
  • How Costumes Convey the Story in ‘The Irishman,’ ‘Dolemite’ and ‘Downton Abbey’ December 14, 2019
    A screenplay’s words are one thing. The director’s visual choices in framing scenes are another. Ruth E. Carter, who won an Oscar earlier this year for her “Black Panther” costume design, “You can’t tell the story in a movie without a costume. A good costume supports the performance and the script. You just go along […]
  • The 10 Best Netflix Movies of 2019 December 14, 2019
    This time last year, Netflix estimated that it would release 90 original movies in 2019. At the time, the number seemed outrageous: That’s more than four times the number Warner Bros. made in the same 12-month period — and more than any human would ever care to watch. Guess what: Turns out that 90 was a […]
    Peter Debruge

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  • Satellite evades 'day of reckoning' to discover puzzling weather phenomenon on Jupiter December 14, 2019
    At first glance, these newly released images by NASA may look like lava churning in the heart of a volcano, but they reveal otherworldly storm systems whirling in a way that surprised scientists. The swirls in the photos are cyclones around Jupiter's south pole, captured by NASA's Juno spacecraft on Nov. 3, 2019. Juno has...
  • Snowfall causes chaos on highways and byways throughout America December 14, 2019
    Temperatures have fallen, snow has accumulated, ice has stuck and drivers have crashed. As a result, hundreds of drivers from the Northwest to the mid-Atlantic have found themselves, and their vehicles, in places other than their lanes. The wintry weather is a part of a persistent stormy pattern that could bring more trouble in the...
  • The 2019 US tornado season included an 'extraordinary' occurrence December 13, 2019
    A pair of unforgettable tornadoes bookended the 2019 U.S. tornado season, which is effectively over; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has no reports of tornadoes so far in December. The U.S. tornado season typically runs from March through November or sometimes into early December, although tornadoes can occur at any time.   The yea […]
  • Heavy, gusty storms to rattle Florida, Georgia into Friday night December 13, 2019
    While an outbreak of severe weather is not anticipated, storms capable of producing strong gusts and flash flooding will pester parts of the southeastern United States into Friday night. The thunderstorms are part of a large and strengthening storm that is producing an expanding swath of heavy rain in the eastern third of the nation....
  • Wintry storm to unleash snow, ice and rain as it marches across 2,000-mile stretch of US December 13, 2019
    AccuWeather meteorologists have been monitoring for a parade of storms to sweep across the country throughout the middle of the month, and the next one in line threatens to deliver a dose of wintry weather to more than 100 million Americans over a three- to four-day period. A cross-country storm is set to bring enough...
  • Threat of damaging winds will return to parts of northern Europe this weekend December 13, 2019
    Some of the same European countries battered by strong winds earlier this week will be bracing for more this weekend, while other regions will get their first dose. A storm will sit over Scotland on Saturday and send some pulses of gusty winds from southern Ireland and France to the Baltic States into Monday. “Overall,...
  • Most active early flu season since 2003 already 'wreaking havoc' in US December 13, 2019
    The 2019-2020 flu season follows two straight unusually bad flu seasons. Unfortunately, two key indicators show this year could be more of the same.  First, "This season is off to an early start, earlier than any season this decade," Dr. Bryan Lewis, professor at the University of Virginia, who works in a research partnership with...
  • Ferocious storm toppled a famous shoreline landmark earlier this month December 13, 2019
    Photographers and crowds looking for the perfect shot will have to find a new icon to admire after a storm destroyed this beloved sea stack.
  • Forecasters monitoring potential for major winter storm that could impact Colorado to Maine December 12, 2019
    As the holiday shipping and travel season ramps up, millions of Americans could be dealt an unwanted offering from Old Man Winter. Forecasters say a cross-country storm system could follow multiple paths in the coming days, and depending on which way it unfolds, several major cities could be hit by accumulating and travel-disrupting snow. Typically...
  • Stormy weather to slam Eastern Mediterranean through the weekend December 12, 2019
    Two storms will travel across the eastern Mediterranean Sea, spreading flooding rainfall and snow from Greece and Turkey to Iraq. Wet weather first stretched from southern Greece to Syria on Thursday evening and is expected to spread inland across the Middle East into Friday. Parts of Syria, Iraq and even western Iran will end up...

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  • The Strange Death of Social-Democratic England
    Far-reaching though the effects of this moment in the Brexit story will be, the 2019 general election may change the landscape of British politics and the fabric of its society in even more profound and decisive ways. With renewed calls for a referendum on independence for Scotland, the specter of “the breakup of Britain” that has long haunted the UK may materialize at last—just at the moment when English nationalists are celebrating their Brexit victory. A fourth successive defeat for the Labour Party and an outright win for a Conservative Party has sharpened dividing lines, squeezed the liberal center, and broken consensus into polarity. At stake after this election, then, is the future of what has made Britain a reasonably civilized country since 1945: social democracy.
  • Integration and Its Discontents: Germany’s Bold Experiment
    Since Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government decided in 2015 to temporarily open its border to asylum-seekers and admit close to one million people at the height of what became known as “Europe’s refugee crisis,” Germany has engaged in a series of impassioned and sometimes ferocious arguments over immigration. Foremost among these has been the return of an old “integration debate”—about whether people from non-European countries can successfully become part of German society—even though no one can agree on what exactly German society is. “The question is not who we are, but who we can become,” the late British social theorist Stuart Hall argued, but Germany is poised uneasily in that polarity.
  • Cathexis
    When we say the world is haunted we mean untranslated                                     as yet.
  • Meaning and Mayhem
    A frequent part of mafia rituals is the kiss. After a Youth of Honor has been baptized, he makes the rounds of the other associates, kissing each twice on the cheeks, except for the capo società (the highest-ranking associate), whom he kisses three times. Kissing the cheeks of the other associates symbolizes the relationship among equals that from that point forward the Youth of Honor will have with the other members of the clan. The kiss, then, becomes the seal on the oath of eternal loyalty to the new family he is now joining. According to mafia grammar, however, there are different types of kisses, each with a different meaning.
  • Blood and Brexit
    If I dream, it invariably takes the form of being hunted by men with guns—in a house, in a forest, on a street. Sometimes these dreams end with me being shot, sometimes with me stabbing someone. I only ever stab someone, even though, growing up, we had a gun, illegally, in the house—a double-barreled shotgun that my father kept beneath his bed and that we’d use occasionally for shooting rabbits. In my dreams I never see the face of the man I’m stabbing. I’ve had these dreams all my adult life. Maybe they’re common among people like me, maybe they’re not. By “people like me” I mean people who grew up in Ulster, who from our earliest moments were wary, were used to watching everything for some sign, however small, that things were not quite right.
  • Is Another Dose of Peronism the Cure for Macri Economics?
    It is easy to wax apocalyptic about Argentina. The country may indeed be a very “unfinished utopia,” as the political commentator Ignacio Zuleta once called it, but it’s hardly on the brink of collapse—as much as alarmism is a national neurosis in Argentina. Let’s assume the new president, Alberto Fernández, with Cristina Fernández de Kirchner as his vice-president, successfully renegotiates the IMF loan. The four major trade union federations—which are Peronist, after all—as well the social movements led by people like the activist Juan Grabois will surely give Fernández some months’ grace, perhaps even a year. This will be very good news, but what will he do for them, and what will happen after?
  • What Were Dinosaurs For?
    As I was reading some recent books on dinosaurs, I kept wondering, “What were dinosaurs for?” It’s a ridiculous question, and I wondered why I was wondering it. After all, dinosaurs were “for” exactly what we are “for,” what every organism has been “for” since life began. Every species that has ever lived is a successful experiment in the enterprise of living, and every species is closely kinned at the genetic level with all other species. This is harder to grasp than it seems, partly because the logic of that Satanic preposition—“for”—is so insidious, so woven through the problem of time. Teleology is the moralizing of chronology, and nowadays science tries to keep watch for even the slightest trace of it, any suggestion that evolution has a direction tending to culminate in us or in what we like to call intelligence or in any other presumably desirable end point.
  • The Art of Crossing Borders
    Three exhibitions—one recent, two current—have foregrounded art that addresses perhaps the most pressing moral concern of our times: migration. A risk of pointedly political art is a lack of complexity, and this is an underlying issue with the ICA exhibition. Visitors will ultimately find themselves uplifted—or consoled, depending on your perspective. The scale and rhythm of these two exhibitions are decidedly different: the ICA’s is larger, more doggedly accessible, more pyrotechnic and emotionally affecting, but perhaps less nuanced; the Harvard Art Museums exhibition, smaller and more subtle. In both cases, though, the ensemble unsettles and stirs in equal measure, providing a catalyst for vital conversations in which we are compelled to engage.
  • Trump and the Meaning of Impeachment: My Testimony Before Congress
    I will begin by stating my conclusions: The framers provided for impeachment of the president because they wanted the president, unlike the king, to be controlled by law, and because they feared that a president might abuse the power of his office to gain personal advantage, corrupt the electoral process, and keep himself in office. “High crimes and misdemeanors” are abuses of power and public trust connected to the office of the presidency. On the basis of the testimony presented to the House Intelligence Committee, President Trump has committed impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors by corruptly abusing the office of the presidency.
  • Portraits: Umberto Eco, Saul Steinberg, and Aldo Buzzi
    Umberto Eco was one of the people I spent the most time with but knew the least. He deserves a lifetime record for never talking about himself, not even in his novels. Not until the very end. Essentially, I think he deprived himself of a pleasure. I mean, who doesn’t like to talk about themselves, and sometimes even whine a little? By not confiding in others, others were not inclined to confide in him. I would never have talked to him about something that saddened me or about a love story that was causing me heartache. He would’ve tried to cheer me up, of course, but probably by telling me a joke. It was easier to understand his mind than his soul. Eco was interested in the mind; he lived for his mind. For him, souls were stupid.
  • The Drums of Cyberwar
    In mid-October, a cybersecurity researcher in the Netherlands demonstrated, online, as a warning, the easy availability of the Internet protocol address and open, unsecured access points of the industrial control system of a wastewater treatment plant not far from my home in Vermont. Industrial control systems may sound inconsequential, but as the investigative journalist Andy Greenberg illustrates persuasively in Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin’s Most Dangerous Hackers, they have become the preferred target of malicious actors aiming to undermine civil society. A wastewater plant, for example, removes contaminants from the water supply; if its controls were to be compromised, public health would be, too.
  • Making Shakespeare Sing
    Giuseppe Verdi’s last two operas, the Shakespearean diptych of Otello and Falstaff, together constitute my favorite case study in what happens when a play is made to stand up and sing. Both the source material and the musical adaptations are works of singular beauty and power. To study these operas alongside their sources is to see what is gained and what is lost, what remains intact and what is transformed, when a complex human drama is adapted from speech into song. Otello is an exceedingly rare breed, practically a unicorn: a masterpiece based on a masterpiece. And Falstaff achieves something rarer still: it is a love letter to Shakespeare that expands on Shakespeare’s work.
  • The Gun Violence Epidemic Plaguing Arab-Israeli Society
    The problem of gun violence in Israel’s Arab communities has become a national emergency. Even before the recent general election, a poll conducted among Arab Israelis found that their most important issue, far above every other, was the gun violence plaguing Arab society. “This is our number one emergency issue,” said Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List of Arab parties in the Knesset. This murder wave, Arab leaders say, would neither exist nor persist if the victims were Jewish. According to Odeh, in instances of shootings in Arab municipalities, the police opened cases just 5 percent of the time. As a result, Arab citizens have developed such a cynical view of the Israeli authorities that they’ve come to believe the state is perfectly comfortable with the current situation—which another Arab Knesset member has called “a civil war.”
  • The Framers’ Answers to Three Myths About Impeachment
    Congress is not a “co-equal” branch of government with the presidency. It is by far the superior branch. James Madison made that clear for all time with his lapidary sentence in Federalist No. 51: “In republican government, the legislative authority, necessarily, predominates.” Necessarily. Discussion over. Congress can, by impeachment and conviction, simply remove members of the other two branches, including its highest members (the president, the chief justice). Neither of those other two can do the same to Congress. Among the many things that show President Trump knows nothing about the Constitution was his October 6, 2019 tweet that said Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi should be “immediately Impeached.” Congress impeaches. Its members cannot be impeached.
  • The Lebanese Street Asks: ‘Which Is Stronger, Sect or Hunger?’
    “Sectarian leaders have been keeping voters captive,” Karim Emile Bitar, a political scientist and professor at Lebanon’s renowned Saint Joseph University, told me, when we met for dinner in Beirut in mid-November. “If you are pessimistic you can say that sectarianism will be back with a vengeance. That this [series of protests] is a mirage rather than a miracle,” he said. And if you’re optimistic? “You could argue that we are witnessing the emergence of a post-sectarian Lebanon, and that citizenship has finally prevailed over narrow communal affiliations.” 
  • No More Nice Dems
    The likes of Joe Biden and Barack Obama and Chuck Schumer seem actually averse to defeating Republicans. Unlike their opponents, they don’t appear to think that the job of Team Blue is to take on the other side as forcefully as possible. On the contrary: to this day, they apparently believe that Democrats should, whenever possible, bolster the GOP’s standing as a good-faith party with goals and principles as valid as their own. Their core mission is to practice a ceremonial innocence about the unshakable virtue of American conservatism—and to do so even as the worst, full of passionate intensity, are cleaning their clocks.
  • The Art of Losing
    In 1970 Robert Lowell was a visiting fellow at All Souls College, Oxford, and Elizabeth Hardwick was at home in New York with their thirteen-year-old daughter, Harriet. Hardwick felt overwhelmed trying to manage the family’s affairs. “Cal,” she wrote to Lowell, “I can’t cope. I have gotten so that I simply cannot bear it. Each day’s mail and effort grows greater and greater.” Seeing the chance to simplify “a life that has become too weighty, detailed, heavy—for me,” Hardwick undertook to sell Lowell’s papers.
  • A Message from Your Candidate
    Friends, what we are proving together in this campaign is that running for president doesn’t need to involve sucking up to deep pockets and taking under-the-table selfies with fat-cat donors. It can involve nothing more than simple email bludgeoning of people holding down two/three jobs, folks on fixed incomes—people like yourself, Purdence, whose average contribution is actually below some of the most frugal donations we’ve received—and yet we’re just so grateful for your generosity.
  • Michael Jang’s American Portraits
    For most of the twentieth century, the day-to-day lives of Asian Americans were barely depicted in mainstream art and media. While European immigrant groups like Italian Americans assimilated to become white—shaping their own representation along the way—and black Americans fought for civil rights and the control of their own narrative, Asian-American stories were left largely untold. Or perhaps they were simply unheard. I had never seen a really great photo of a family like mine until I saw the ones made by Michael Jang. Jang’s recent “rediscovery” has a lot to do with his talent, but it also has to do with a more hospitable cultural moment.
  • It Was Mary and Paul
    To the Editors: In my otherwise enthusiastic review of Christopher de Hamel’s Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts, I queried his interpretation of the upper register of the calendar illustrations in the Hours of Jeanne de Navarre. A kindly colleague has drawn my attention to the “Exposition” that accompanies the closely related calendar in the Belleville Breviary, in the French Bibliothèque Nationale.
  • No Second Thoughts
    To the Editors: I am very grateful to Nick Laird for his generous review of my anthology, The Penguin Book of the Prose Poem. There is, however, one mistake in his roll call of missing American poets.
  • ‘This Sense of Somebody-ness’
    We think about race in America in glimpses. Multiple lenses are needed to illuminate the long histories of injustice, oppression, and cruelty in this country. Colson Whitehead’s latest novel The Nickel Boys takes place in the Jim Crow era but has definite resonance now. Its particular look back is like a jazz riff on contemporary inequity. It’s a tale well told about our society’s lack of concern for those who are poor, those lacking caring guardians, those lacking adequate education.
  • Who Are Turkey’s Proxy Fighters in Syria?
    When US President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal from Syria of the US forces that had been working with the Kurdish-led SDF, Turkey sought to capitalize on the Kurds’ loss of American protection by beginning a military operation in northeastern Syria. After the Turkish-led invasion began, its Turkish-backed militias rapidly gained notoriety after their members were filmed in a series of videos that showed them chanting extremist slogans and carrying out field executions. One US official labeled them “thugs and bandits.” The latest Turkish operation compelled the SDF’s leadership to invite Syrian regime forces into large swaths of northeastern Syria. Thus these fighters, who present themselves as revolutionaries fighting the regime, helped Assad regain a foothold of vast territory without firing a single bullet. But who exactly are the roughly 35,000 Syrian men fighting on Turkey’s behalf in Syria?
  • How China’s Rise Has Forced Hong Kong’s Decline
    Journalists expecting to cover Tiananmen II flew in for the most promising global story of the year, its allure bolstered by the protesters’ ability to speak English and the easily digestible narrative of David vs. Goliath, democracy vs. authoritarianism, right vs. might. Beijing, though, will spin recent events as another staging post in its policy of “strategic patience”: that despite protesters’ having launched Molotov cocktails and set up petrol-bomb production lines, China hasn’t sent in the People’s Liberation Army. But these arguments obscure a bleaker fact: while the activists have made their mistakes, the Hong Kong protests are mostly an epic failure of China’s soft power—and we are witnessing Hong Kong’s descent from leading international city to collateral damage in Beijing’s rise to a strident superpower.
  • What the ‘Danish Lawrence’ Learned in Libya
    Holmboe has long weighed on my mind in my own travels across Libya over the past decade, at times even retracing his journey. It was only on a trip this summer, though, that I finally packed Desert Encounter in my bag, dipping into its pages during languid afternoons in Tripoli and at night on the front lines during lulls in the fighting between militia groups. A blend of travelogue, spiritual musing, social critique, and journalistic exposé, Desert Encounter eschews the operatic prose and Homeric pretensions of Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Holmboe’s account of his Libyan adventure made him one of the few Western witnesses to the savagery of the Italian colonial regime’s counter-insurgency campaign, and it became a bestseller in the United States and in Europe. Reviewing the book in November 1936, George Orwell wrote: “Mussolini’s large body of English worshippers would do well to have a look at it.”
  • An Unfinished Revolution
    When Henry Louis Gates Jr. set out to produce a documentary series on Reconstruction for PBS, he wisely invited Eric Foner to serve as his senior scholarly adviser. Together they assembled many of the very best historians working in the field to guide viewers through four superb hours on the history and significance of Reconstruction. With Gates narrating, the documentary takes us from the origins of Reconstruction as slavery was destroyed during the Civil War all the way to the early twentieth century, with the repudiation—both popular and scholarly—of Reconstruction.
  • The Heroines of America’s Black Press
    The African-American press of the nineteenth century was a lively, dynamic, insistently visible force for change. Crucial to many of these publications was the exceptional work of black women. These journalists were of the black elite and the working class, the free-born and the formerly enslaved. They were a mix of wives and mothers and widows, and women who never married at all. They were civic workers and religious leaders and educators—and many of them were active clubwomen. Together with the leading women thinkers, leaders, and activists of the race, they offered black women powerful tools to advocate for themselves—and gave us language, ideas, and strategies for political engagement that we are still influenced by today. And yet, their names are largely forgotten.
  • Beauty in Ingenuity: The Art of Science
    The complex, sometimes conflictual, relationship of man and machine is a constant thread in “The Art of Innovation,” at London's Science Museum. Recalling how the mechanical telling of time itself became contested during the Industrial Revolution, as the historian E.P. Thompson described in a famous 1967 Past & Present article, “Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism,” here is a handsome double-dialled clock from a Macclesfield mill, dating from 1810. In the catalog, the curators tell us that while the lower dial showed the actual time, the upper dial was connected to the silk mill’s waterwheel: if the waterwheel ran slowly, or stopped, "mill time" was slowed or suspended, and the workers would have to make up the lost production time, "ruled by the pace of their machines." Paradoxically, machines could also make men and women feel free as never before.
  • The Rise and Fall of Evo Morales
    The end of Morales’s historic presidency has the quality of one of those inkblot tests in which everyone sees what they want to see. The global left, from British Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn to an assortment of foreign intellectuals, immediately denounced what had happened as a military coup, linking it in the public mind to the old, familiar scenes of tanks rolling into South American capitals. Those who have long hated Evo declared it a blow against the evils of socialist dictatorship. But if I learned anything in my time in the country, it is this: nothing is simple in Bolivia, and such was the case with the turbulent political career of Evo Morales.
  • Women’s Business
    “You go home now and attend to your work, the loom and the spindle, and tell the waiting-women to get on with theirs,” says Hector to his wife, Andromache, in the Iliad. “War is men’s business.” The eight-year-long conflict in Syria gives the lie to that age-old view. The twin burdens of responsibility for children and for family “honor” may still fall disproportionately on women, but their role has not been limited to keeping the home fires burning and preparing sons for battle. In Syria, women are journalists, filmmakers, and fighters.
  • Band of Outsiders
    There are two stories, one might say, being told at the American Folk Art Museum’s current show “Memory Palaces: Inside the Collection of Audrey B. Heckler.” The first and more clear-cut is that the exhibition gives us a chance to see what must be one of the most discerning and wide-ranging collections of self-taught, or outsider, art in this country. There are top-notch works here by artists of varying degrees of recognition, many of whom were active in the middle and later years of the last century. The second and somewhat buried story in “Memory Palaces” revolves around the nature of the artists we are seeing. They come from notably different places, both geographically and in the kind of work they make.
  • A Tale of Two Churches
    It is an enduring fact of American life that church worship remains deeply segregated. It was something that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addressed, just days before he was assassinated in 1968. As recently as 2012, a survey found that eight in ten American congregants still worship at a place where a single racial group makes up at least 80 percent of the congregation. But in 2016, a very unusual experiment began in North Carolina. Pastor Jay and Pastor Derrick announced that their two churches, one white, the other black, would be merging. Could their model for The Refuge be one that heals our nation, I asked Pastor Derrick. “It doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything,” he said. “But it means that we have to embrace and accept and walk in love. That’s what a healed America looks like.” 
  • American Slavery and ‘the Relentless Unforeseen’
    A fixture and force in Western culture, time out of mind, slavery, and more specifically racial slavery, had been essential to the European settlement of the New World ever since the Portuguese pioneered the plantation system with enslaved African labor in the sixteenth century. Apart from sporadic protests, the spread of slavery went virtually unchallenged by European and British settlers let alone their governments; periodic slave revolts and insurrectionary plots did not appreciably slow the rise of the plantation complex that at its height stretched from Brazil to the Caribbean to British North America. Yet few things if any in modern history were more unexpected than the eradication of human bondage in the Atlantic world. 
  • The Secret Feminist History of Shakespeare and Company
    “Certain people are meant to be midwives—not mothers of invention. Sylvia was one,” wrote Noël Riley Fitch, author of Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation (1983), in the most recent introduction to a collection of Beach’s letters. Yet to characterize Beach as merely a “midwife” and to remember her primarily for bringing into being the work of Great Men is to misrepresent her and the everyday work of her shop. Revisiting the story behind Shakespeare and Company’s creation reveals that its roots lie in early twentieth-century feminist activism and, in particular, Beach’s own deep-rooted conviction that women had a right to an intellectual life. 
  • ‘I Just Look, and Paint’
    Vija Celmins has been an admired artist for more than fifty years, and for most of that time critics have struggled to explain the elusive poignancy and staying power of her work. In an art world that rewards noisy assertion and the avid annexation of wall space, her work is thoughtful, modest in scale, mostly black-and-white. And while much contemporary art prides itself on being difficult, even opaque, Celmins’s paintings and drawings of night skies and oceans are eye-pleasing and generous in a way that keeps them broadly appealing, even as they contend with weighty questions about the mechanics and consequences of representation. All this makes her work hard to encompass in the current language of art. Looking at her pairings of apparently identical rocks, the word that floats to mind is not “simulacrum” but “sublime.”
  • The Medium Is the Mistake
    James Poniewozik is the chief television critic of The New York Times, and his new book, Audience of One, tells a double story: the rise of Donald Trump and the rise of television. Poniewozik wants to show us that TV has everything to do with the formation of Trump’s character—his manners, his place in the commercial culture, his ability to track and manipulate popular sentiment and opinion. It seems a reasonable hypothesis. How good is the evidence?
  • ‘Not Waiting for Inspiration’: An Interview with Tommy Pico
    Joseph Osmundson: Are you mourning the potential loss of the world order, or is there something like possibility rising from the ashes of everything we’ve known? Tommy Pico: Absolutely, yes. There was an expectation for the kinds of things that we would be able to afford at our age, the kinds of lives that we would be living. What other generations had on lock is not as easy anymore. I’m also letting go of a romantic idea of a future: children and relationships. There is still a future to be made, but I have to live it to know what it looks like.
  • The Ceaseless Innovation of Duane Michals
    Months before he turns eighty-eight, the photographer Duane Michals is in the full throes of a remarkable old-age efflorescence. Evidence to that effect fairly leaps off the brightly colored walls of his fascinating new exhibition, “Illusions of the Photographer,” at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York. Michals has long been renowned for three great innovations: his hauntingly atmospheric, teasingly Surrealistic, almost cinematic sequences of pictorial narratives; his use of handwritten texts on small-scale black-and-white silver gelatin prints; and his celebratory normalization of homoerotic male beauty, years before Robert Mapplethorpe’s freak-show fetishism and Bruce Weber’s consumer-culture beefcake. Yet, unlike artists who hit upon a commercially lucrative formula and then crank out endless fungible reiterations, Michals is something of a superannuated Huck Finn, an incorrigibly subversive and inimitably American scamp always lighting out for new creative territories.
  • Query
    To the Editors: For a biography of the educator Isabelle Palms Buckley (1900–1986), founder in the early 1930s of the Buckley School in Los Angeles, I would be glad and grateful to hear from any of her former students, teachers, employees, neighbors, friends, or anyone with reminiscences, or with whom she corresponded.
  • Violence & the Inuit
    To the Editors: In “The Highest Suicide Rate in the World” Helen Epstein concluded that “traditional Inuit society was remarkably peaceful and free of discord among them.” This is a mischaracterization of Inuit ethnography.
  • Megalo-MoMA
    Among the plethora of disturbingly disproportionate, super-tall, super-thin condominium towers that have spiked the New York City skyline since the turn of the millennium and that graphically symbolize America’s concomitant surge in income inequality, the most recently completed of them marks the spot of the Museum of Modern Art, which inaugurated its latest building project in October, two weeks before its ninetieth anniversary.
  • Against Economics
    Mainstream economists nowadays might not be particularly good at predicting financial crashes, facilitating general prosperity, or coming up with models for preventing climate change, but when it comes to establishing themselves in positions of intellectual authority, unaffected by such failings, their success is unparalleled. One would have to look at the history of religions to find anything like it. To this day, economics continues to be taught not as a story of arguments—not, like any other social science, as a welter of often warring theoretical perspectives—but rather as something more like physics, the gradual realization of universal, unimpeachable mathematical truths.

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