The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘cats’

Woman Power

October 3, 2016 | by

The Austrian painter Maria Lassnig moved to New York in 1968, leaving behind a thriving career to explore what she called “the land of strong women.” She lived in the city virtually unknown for twelve years, keeping a low profile and producing a protean body of paintings, drawings, watercolors, silkscreens, and animations. “Woman Power: Maria Lassnig in New York 1968–1980,” at Petzel Gallery through October 29, exhibits her work from this period. Lassnig, who died in 2014, is remembered for her self-portraiture and “body-awareness paintings”: her effort to translate physical sensations to the canvas. “The only true reality is my feelings,” she said, “played out within the confines of my body.”

Maria Lassnig, Woman Power, 1979, oil on canvas, 71.65" x 49.61". © Maria Lassnig Foundation / The Essl Collection, Klosterneuburg / Vienna.

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Saving Chester Himes’s Cat

July 29, 2016 | by

Chester Himes with his cat, Griot.

Chester Himes and John Alfred Williams met in 1961 and soon began a long and occasionally tempestuous correspondence about their personal lives and the difficulty of finding a fair reception as African American writers in the publishing world. By the late sixties, Himes had moved to Spain, where he wrote Williams frequently about the privations of life abroad. In the letters below, they discuss Himes’s beloved cat, Griot. These excerpts come from Dear Chester, Dear John, a 2008 collection of the pair’s correspondence. Himes died in 1984; Williams passed away last summer, at eighty-nine. 
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Steer Clear of the Hotel Know-It-All, and Other News

July 26, 2016 | by

It’s this easy!

  • I’m tired all the time, which is why I’m so popular. Reviewing Anna Katharina Schaffner’s new Exhaustion: A History, Hannah Rosefield unpacks the durable notion of exhaustion as a status symbol: “Many critics, even as they call for a cure, frame exhaustion as a mark of distinction. This idea dates back at least to Aristotle. ‘Why is it that all men who have become outstanding in philosophy, statesmanship, poetry or the arts are melancholic?’ he wonders in Problemata … The associations of exhaustion with prestige have crystallized in the form of burnout. First used in the 1970s to describe exhaustion suffered by workers in the social sector, burnout was characterized by increased cynicism and apathy, and a decreased sense of personal accomplishment. Since then, its application has widened to include all worn down, overburdened workers, especially in Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands, where burnout is a subject of regular media debate. Burnout, caused by workplace conditions rather than by a worker’s mental and physical composition, is depression’s more palatable, more prestigious cousin.”
  • I’d long assumed that one could never enter one’s average house cat in a pageant. Only the purebreds could know the thrill of the blue ribbon, I thought. The calicos and tabbies of this earth were doomed to the mundane. But I was wrong, as Omar Mouallem taught me: “I got over the stench of piss at the Edmonton Cat Show pretty quickly. It’s not so much my nostrils that adjusted but my eyes, to rows and rows of beautiful creatures. Plump British shorthairs smiled in their sleep and regal sphynxes owned their ugly … [The International Cat Association] has been showing and awarding titles to non-purebred domestic cats—even the maligned black ones—since its 1973 beginnings. It’s a stark contrast to the practices of the 110-year-old Cat Fanciers’ Association, which for decades didn’t even bother hosting the category. The association now emphasizes it like TICA, and in the last three years finally started giving non-purebred cats Grand Championship titles equal to pedigrees. The hope is that it will curb the cat fancy world’s declining entries and revenues.”
  • Today in old advice that’s still good advice: If you, an aspiring artist, want to take the road to success, don’t stop off at the Hotel Know It All, the Mutual Admiration Society, or the Always Right Club. Tunnel through Lack of Preparation Mountain and for God’s sake watch your step around the Holes of Illiteracy and Conceit. A 1913 allegorical map called the Road to Success “turns the figurative journey towards artistic triumph into a cartographic depiction of an actual climb towards victory … Taking shortcuts won’t get you anywhere except to the bottom of the River of Failure, which threatens to sweep away anyone who’s not up to the challenge of putting in hard work. And don’t just blow hot air, or you’ll end up in the clouds.”
  • Here’s the time-tested way to gin up your crummy sci-fi flick: pretend it’s a western. In Star Trek Beyond, writes Richard Brody, “the words Republic and Federation are intoned like mantras to position the mission in quasi-American terms; the name Yorktown links the space combat of Star Trek Beyond to the existential, the primordial, and the revolutionary—the fight to retain independence in the face of a force that would snap it back in, engulf it in a dictatorial order, and milk it as a mere source of sustenance … The self-celebration of a legacy property’s sequel has rarely been framed in such starkly civic terms: the link between the historical continuity of the American federation and the personal continuity of family is the cultural continuity of Star Trek and pop music—and, for that matter, of classic Hollywood. Buy a ticket, keep America safe and free.”

Leap Year

February 29, 2016 | by

Another leap year in another time.

Before Sadie was a baby name or even a dog name, hearing it would elicit one of two responses: singing (either “Sexy Sadie” or “Sadie Sadie, married lady”) or references to Sadie Hawkins. Since for most of my childhood I had pretensions to neither man-hungry spinsterhood, sexiness, nor marriage, I found all of these references obscurely humiliating. Sadie Hawkins Day—which falls on February 29 and only on February 29—was the worst one. All those desperate old maids chasing after unwilling mediocre men once every four years struck me as deeply troubling, not unlike Ginnifer Goodwin’s character in He’s Just Not That Into You, which is not to be confused with the equally execrable Leap Year. Why did they want them so much? Why were the guys so reluctant? Why was this one day considered so unnatural? Read More »

Cat Fight

February 10, 2016 | by

From “Professor Welton’s Boxing Cats.”

Once, some years ago, I went with a good friend to see that Russian cat circus. It was my friend’s birthday, and seeing said cat circus was a long and dearly held dream of hers. If memory serves, the cat circus took place at a college of criminal justice, but why would that be true? Read More »

The Cats in Our Lives

February 9, 2016 | by

An illustration by James Mason from The Cats in Our Lives.

Over the weekend, Turner Classic Movies ran the 1954 A Star Is Born as part of its Month of Oscars: the single greatest page of the TV-watching calendar. Anyway, by the end—between the tragic irony of Judy Garland starring in a film about addiction and the vulnerable dignity James Mason brought to his role—I was, maybe not surprisingly, in tears. And I thought, in turn, not just of James Mason the matinee idol, but of James Mason the cat fancier. Read More »