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Posts Tagged ‘Kanye West’

Opulence of Twaddle, Penury of Sense, and Other News

February 19, 2014 | by

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Bierce in 1892, barely containing his rage. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

 

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What We’re Loving (The Love Edition)

February 14, 2014 | by

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Photo: Seyed Mostafa Zamani, via Flickr

“As usual, the love plot is the least convincing aspect of the book,” said my friend, handing me a crumbling, loved-to-death copy of Barbara Pym’s last novel, A Few Green Leaves. It is not clear to me which part my friend found unconvincing—the growing attraction between the meek, widowed rector Tom and the awkward anthropologist Emma, or the obstacles to their match. (E.g.: Tom’s dreary sister, a visit from Emma’s old flame Graham, or the Oxfordshire village full of aging gossips who have nothing better to do than monitor the hand-delivery of casseroles to local bachelors.) At any rate, I bought the whole thing, and I believed that Emma did, too. As Pym’s narrator observes, “Even the most cynical and sophisticated woman is not, at times, altogether out of sympathy with the ideas of the romantic novelist.” —Lorin Stein

The weather yesterday was awful; this incessant wintry-mix business has got to stop. It has me thinking about Russian poems set during the siege of Leningrad, and last night my brain produced one of the most incredible jump shots since 2001: A Space Odyssey—from Boris Pasternak to Guns N’ Roses. The former has a poem that begins “February. Get ink and weep! / To write and write of February / like bursting into sobs, with thundering / slush burning in black spring.” Naturally, that led to “So never mind the darkness / We still can find a way / ’Cause nothin’ lasts forever / Even cold November rain.” The latter seems somehow right today—it’s a song, after all, about the vagaries of love. In fact, the classic Guns N’ Roses catalogue is brimming with Valentine’s Day–appropriate songs: charged lyrics for lovers (“Said, woman, take it slow / And it’ll work itself out fine / All we need is just a little patience”) and the lovelorn (“To think the one you love / could hurt you now / Is a little hard to believe / But everybody darlin’ sometimes / Bites the hand that feeds”). —Nicole Rudick

Some advice: Run, do not walk, to your love’s home. Take her by the hand and recite this Restoration-era poem about premature ejaculation: “The Imperfect Enjoyment,” by John Wilmot, the Earl of Rochester, a legendary libertine who slept his way around the Royal Court and succumbed, at age thirty-three, to venereal disease. Here, in words as lewd and depraved as anything uttered in 2014, he recounts one of his less inspiring performances. Making love, he can’t quite contain himself, and “In liquid raptures I dissolve all o’er, / Melt into sperm, and spend at every pore.” His lady unsatisfied, he finds himself unable to get it up again, and lambasts his errant penis. “Worst part of me, and henceforth hated most, / Through all the town a common fucking-post.” If that doesn’t make her swoon, gents, nothing will. —Dan Piepenbring

When Dan asked us to recommend love-themed staff picks, I was all set to talk about one of my favorite films, the 1945 Powell-Pressburger classic I Know Where I’m Going! Then I saw it described by Vanity Fair as “a cult among poetic bluestockings” and my enthusiasm dimmed somewhat. But it deserves whatever following it has—incidentally, Pauline Kael and Martin Scorsese are in the cult, too—and I can’t think of a more romantic movie than this tale of a willful young woman stranded in the Scottish Hebrides. (When I describe it like that, I can see why the poetic bluestockings are so excited, but don’t let that put you off!) —Sadie Stein Read More »

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What We’re Loving: Saintly Comics, High Relief

January 11, 2013 | by

In 1974, David Esterly was pursuing a career as an academic when he encountered a limewood carving by the seventeenth-century master Grinling Gibbons. He gave up English literature, devoted himself to the art of high-relief carving, and in the process became not merely the foremost Gribbons expert, but a master carver himself. The Lost Carving: A Journey to the Heart of Making details Esterly’s restoration of a Gribbons drop at Hampton Court, but it is more than this. “I was apprenticed to a phantom, and lived among mysteries,” he writes of that time, and the memoir is indeed as much about engagement with the past, and the preservation of ancient arts, as it is one man’s journey. If you are in New York, through January 18, you can see Esterly’s intricate and beautiful work on display at W. M. Brady and Co. —Sadie Stein

No matter how hard you try, you can’t help but stare at a train wreck, and Stephen Rodrick’s behind-the-scenes New York Times Magazine profile of Paul Schrader’s film The Canyons fills the guilty-pleasure, sweet-tooth fix quite nicely. A director desperate for a hit; a screenwriter (Bret Easton Ellis) more concerned with waging social-media jihads than actually writing; a porn star (James Deen) with a sensitive side; a budget that wouldn’t cover Kanye West’s ego; and, of course, Hollywood’s favorite child-star-turned-TMZ-punchline Lindsay Lohan: while this equation might not add up to a box office hit, it’s a fascinating look at the absurdity of Hollywood filmmaking. To see what’s become of the film so far, check out the trailer. —Justin Alvarez

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The Tyranny of Footnotes

February 21, 2012 | by

Although V. S. Naipaul is my favorite living writer, I resisted reading Patrick French’s critically acclaimed biography of Sir Vidia, published in 2008, until last month. The reviews alone presented a deeply unflattering picture: Naipaul as misogynist, racist, skinflint, serial adulterer, and Hindu nationalist. (And to think the biography was authorized!)

But I had read nearly all of Naipaul’s work and some of it, including his best novel, A Bend in the River (from whose opening line, “The world is what it is,” French takes his title), many times. So when I happened across the biography at my local library, I picked it up thinking it was as close to a new work of Naipaul’s as I was likely to see.

It’s a masterful effort, a nimble admixture of critical appreciation and salacious gossip. But there were no real surprises in the text; the reviews had limned the most revealing and unsettling episodes of Naipaul’s life.

There was, however, a surprise buried in French’s acknowledgments. Among the hundred-odd names, sandwiched between Derek Walcott (Naipaul’s fellow Trinidadian and rival of sorts) and Andrew Wylie (Naipaul’s agent), was one Kanye West.

Kanye West?

Now it’s true that the rapper-producer’s father is a former Black Panther, and Naipaul wrote an essay “Michael X and the Black Power Killings in Trinidad.” And West’s late mother was an English professor. Was it possible that Naipaul and West shared a connection beyond their inflated egos?

I e-mailed French. Read More »

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A Week in Culture: Amanda Hesser, Food Writer

December 8, 2010 | by

Photograph by Sarah Shatz.

DAY ONE

11:00 A.M. Paris Reviewers: You may want to sit down for this, or drink a few stockpiled Four Lokos. I am about to rock your world with a schizophrenic, middlebrow, totally aimless, and mostly pointless cultural hodgepodge. And the jittery attention span of youth is no excuse—I’m well over thirty.

An early morning of kitchen prep, latte guzzling, and e-mail scouring (Techcrunch is my daily must-read e-mail; I’m too busy for other newsletters, though I dearly miss VSL). Then six of us begin our weekly photo shoot for food52. A former food52 editor taught us oldsters the terms “douche-b” and “d-bag.” In her honor, I play for everyone Kanye West’s new song “Runaway,” whose chorus is “Let’s have a toast for the douchebags. Let’s have a toast for the assholes. Let’s have a toast for the scumbags. Everyone of them that I know.”

1:30 P.M. Eat the fruits of our morning labor: two kinds of latkes and a brief break to watch “Don Draper Says What?” He says “What?” and looks handsome in at least forty-three different ways. Back to work, girls!

8:30 P.M. My husband, Tad, and I heap some leftovers—roasted salmon, more latkes, and arugula salad from Fishkill Farms—onto our dinner plates, then sit on the bedroom floor (reminder: must get TV tables!) and veg in front of It’s Complicated. The Nancy Meyers movie is particularly enjoyable because we’re not in the aging-boomer demographic it aims for, and thus are freed up to appreciate the calculated shrewdness—and lifestyle porn (the spas and island kitchens!)—of the seventy-five-million-dollar mom-com.

1:00 A.M. Culture mulching in my new Internet-y lifestyle happens late at night. As I dig myself out of the daily e-mail blizzard, I flip back and forth between Twitter and NYTimes.com. NYTimes is like my wise parents; Twitter, my smartest pals. From Twitter, I link through to Kottke.org to read about extraterrestrial life. Guiltily, I creep on over to the Washington Post to catch up on Jane Black and Brent Cunningham’s op-ed on the food culture wars. This is the topic foodniks have long been avoiding; I love stories that call out the elephant in the room.

New Yorker writer Susan Orlean wrote a cookbook review for food52’s Tournament of Cookbooks. It ran today and was such a gem in structure and tone, I read it once more, just for fun.

Late, late: Realized that I fell so far behind on the Wikileaks hullabaloo that I have no idea where to begin: Analysis? Original breaking story? Instead, look at photos of Brad Pitt’s leather pants on HuffPo. He really should not wear leather pants.

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