My week on the Internet, December 29, 2014 - January 4, 2015

Happy New Year!

The Cheap Airfare Loophole United Doesn't Want You to Know About - via Gothamist (This article is pretty much inconsequential - other than the fact that it's about, you know, huge, smarmy mega-conglomerates that want to rob consumers blind - Beyond that though, Gothomist has some really great writers working for them. Consider the following gem from that article: "The painted smiles and winking offers of an extra bag of pretzels are a sham: Airlines are not your friends. Recall that airline companies last year raked in nearly $32 billion in ancillary revenue by instating bullshit fees for stuff like checked bags, priority boarding and legroom that doesn't violate the Geneva Convention. This is a 1200 percent increase since 2007. With $32 billion in Popcorners you could build yourself an edible flotation device the size of Sri Lanka and drift anywhere you damn well please." Bravo, Lauren Evans. Bravo.

Susan Sontag on Aphorims and the Commodification of Wisdom - via Brain Pickings (Full disclosure, I absolutely love Susan Sontag. Despite that I may not always be 100% on board with what she says, more often than not, I do find myself searching for a ticket to her voyage of thought. In these small tidbits, assembled by Maria Popova, I found myself fully in support of a notion that I had been feeling bubbling upside me for a long while, but unable to articulate it as eloquently as Sontag. Part of this on my end may be that I'm still recovering from and still trying to purge a bad bout of academic bile. Many times in arts academia, both as an instructor and as a (perpetual) student, there is a feeling that much time is spent sparring with overly combative half-thoughts from peers in which judgement is then placed on the recipient if they failed to decipher accurately these half-assed notions of highly opinionated and self-referential aesthetic blah blah. My problem with that, I've realized, is very similar to what Sontag begins to lay out here - in that this kind of thinking, under the guise of knowledge, actually does not produce free-thinking or understanding - something that seems counter intuitive to an academic setting. Instead it produces group-think and narrowmindedness, a cycle that gets exemplified among a group of people who have no intention of believing anything other than their own opinions. Or as Sontag puts so well, "a wisdom of pessimism." A phrase that so accurately captures so much of what making art today can mean. Though "pessimism" may and can be so often interchangeable with "apathy." "Aphoristic thinking is impatient thinking: by its very brevity or concentratedness, it presupposes a superior standard . . . " Indeed. )

The Art World Circa 2015, As Explained By the Glory of Instagram - via New York Observer (Oh, snarky art world banter, how I love thee [as long as it's not referencing me, of course]. Nate Freeman wittingly and wittily comments on various NYC art world photos. A sample of my favorites below.)

So what's happening in the actual world, where people don't speak in inflated aphorisms about their own work? Oh, that's right, art is selling for a shitload of money. In February, Sotheby's gavelmeister Oliver Barker is pictured here as he gets ready to hammer this Richter for $17.4 million. What goes through your head when you successfully sell some swirly colors on a canvas for more money that your entire family has ever possessed?

Christie's had a hit with "If I Live I'll See You Tuesday," a special auction put together by Loic Gouzer that had the audacity to spotlight young painters like members of The Still House Collective. Some gasped, some yawned, and you couldn't really tell the difference because it's just mouths opening and closing.

It's not cold in New York in May, but there is some Frieze for a few days.

...it's Koons time. We're finally back from Basel, land of the $80 cocktail, to explore the permutations of modesty at "Jeff Koons: A Retrospective."

Abortion Politics: Baby Talk - via The Economist (Another wonderfully written article)

A NORTH CAROLINA law enacted in 2011 requires every woman seeking an abortion to submit, between four and 72 hours before the procedure, to an ultrasound of her developing foetus. The Woman’s Right to Know Act (which, in less Orwellian terms, might be called the North Carolina Right to Harangue Act) . . .

Nearly two dozen states have some form of ultrasound law, but North Carolina is one of only three requiring doctors to continue speaking even as women are plugging their ears or averting their gaze from the monitor. The scene would be comical if it weren’t nightmarish.

Scientists discover that trees yelp when they're running out of water - via Inhabitat (Because that's not horrifying.)

Over this past weekend, I also finally got a chance to see The Theory of Everything, which I thoroughly enjoyed even if I did feel it was more of a romance story than I had anticipated. Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking is astonishingly all engrossing with Felicity Jones seemingly that much more elegant in her performance, contrasted as possessing a quiet and unshakable strength with an unfailing faith both in her husband and in her own ability to be the muscle of the family that Stephen so tragically lacks.

This was also serendipitous as I saw the above animation this past week as well, though it came out originally in 2013. In it, the theory of black holes is discussed, along with the presumption that it was the singularity of a black hole - the unfathomably dense center of a black hole collapsed in upon itself - that gave way to the big bang, the obvious creation of our own universe. I had heard this theory floating around before, though this was the first time I had heard of it being spoken of as a factual event. And that's not to say that I'm discounting it - for one, I'm obviously not a physicist and for two, I've always been atrociously abysmal at mathematics, finding the untamed philosophy behind its implications much more fascinating than actually having to prove anything with facts or data.  Yet, for this specific instance, if the singularity/big-bang theory is correct, I find it enthralling for the implications of how the universe (and beyond) work/s. If each black hole collapses into a singularity, resulting in a big-bang of sorts, the existence of a multiverse is implied as a highly logical possibility. I find that extremely exciting.

I often think about how if this information was more in the public discourse, how it might influence opinion and policy. In that light, I find the ensuing religious wars surrounding our faith-based government ludicrous, and not in the realm of trying to disprove that a "God" of sorts exists - but in the fact that most people believe in a very small and puny god if they think that all of what science discovers is outside a godly possibility from an infinitely wise consciousness as interpreted by the finite human mind.

The best piece of writing I read today:

Found this gem via Gothamist

"The occasions in which it's acceptable to wear a leather mesh tank top are few. It's not that it should never be done—your nipples are people, too, and they deserve to see the world through the crisp filter of a mesh lens from time to time.

The issue, then, with the $700 Roberta's leather mesh tank top isn't that it's a leather mesh tank top—it's literally everything else. $700 is the price I would pay to watch George W. Bush engage in a twerk-off against all six members of Rammstein. But Leather Mesh Tank Top Sharia Law dictates that one must never pay more than 89 cents for a leather mesh tank top, no matter how masterfully painted the pizza slice pentagram that adorns it.

But the most truly wretched thing about the $700 LMTT isn't merely its existence—it's that it's sold out. This means one of two things: Either real people, with real feelings and desires and skin, are walking around out there dressed in the most obnoxious clothing item since the pantaloon, or we've all fallen victim to some terrible mind game. Did the LMTT ever exist at all, or, like Milk Girl, is it just baiting us?

Roberta's is a high-end pizza joint located in Bushwick, Brooklyn. It's known for its homemade mozzarella and not paying its interns."

By Lauren Evans in Food on Dec 20, 2013 3:25 PM