Archive for January, 2009

Charles Wesley Cooper III (1977-2009)

blog-charlie1A close member of the STOP SMILING family has passed away: Charlie Cooper, a Louisiana native and one half of the group Telefon Tel Aviv, relocated to our hometown of Chicago in 2001 and remained a fixture in the lives of our staff; we stand with the Westbank of New Orleans, remembering the music and the continued reach of our friend Charlie, who passed at 31.

| |

Knock It Off Already

blog_billySlate makes two art-and-culture-related requests this week: First, Paris Review editor Nathaniel Rich, who interviewed his grandfather, Frank Rich Sr., in the STOP SMILING DC Issue, asks film critics to cease with the facile comparison of two Robert Altman classics — Nashville and Short Cuts — simply because they both have huge casts, interweaving story lines and take place in a single American city (an extended version of the SS interview with Altman that appeared in the Auteur Issue is available online here); the second plea comes from Slate’s Ron Rosenbaum, who implores that the world recognize how actually awful Billy Joel is — Rosenbaum’s piece is a delight to read in tandem with a short work on the McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: “What I Would Be Thinking About if I Were Billy Joel Driving Toward a Holiday Party Where I Knew There was Going to be a Piano”. -SS

| |

Coercive Interrotron Techniques

blog-bush1On the New York Times site, filmmaker and part-time NYT columnist Errol Morris hosts a roundtable discussion with Associated Press and Reuters photographers to examine the Bush presidency in pictures — it’s a startling batch of images, a must-see; Morris appeared on the cover of our Documentary Issue in 2006 and recalled, during a lengthy conversation (an excerpt of which is available here), instances in which he’s conducted interviews long enough to provoke hallucinations.

| |

Former World Leaders Fill the Days

blog-chiracMy kingdom for a horse (or poodle). This Daily Mail headline tells the story: “Former French president Jacques Chirac hospitalized after mauling by his clinically depressed poodle”; meanwhile, former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice has signed a deal with the William Morris Agency in liberal Hollywood; the Washington Times reports on a still-anonymous donor to Bill Clinton’s presidential library; and the first photograph of Fidel Castro since November 2008 has emerged. Smile!

| |

Talkin’ ’bout My Generation

blog_youthFor many of us whose adult lives began around the dawn of the Bush era, yesterday’s inauguration of Barack Obama was a triumph — this week’s Newsweek cover story notes that the disparity between older and younger voters in 2008 was greater than at any time since exit polling began in 1972, that Obama won 66 percent of the youth vote (12 points more than Kerry won in 2004), that the younger cohort is more diverse than the general population, more female, more secular, less socially conservative, and that 20 percent are children of immigrants; however, a column in that same magazine reminds us youngsters that, with all our optimism and passion, the elderly still demand a gigantic chunk of the national budget, and we will largely be stuck paying for it; meanwhile, the National Endowment for the Arts, the chairman of which, Dana Gioia, was interviewed the in the STOP SMILING DC Issue, reports that literary reading in the US increased in 2008 across virtually all demographics, but in none more than the 18-24 age group, whose brains, it had been previously thought, had been turned to mush by video games and the Internet. -SS.

| |

Whose Line Is It, Anyway?

blog_phoneMeet Reina Hardesty. She loves to send text messages — on average, she’ll fire off 484 texts a day, totaling a staggering 14,528 a month, according to the New York Post; perhaps Reina is BFFs with Katia Verber, the eccentric Russian billionaire dubbed “The Paris Hilton of Russia” by Marie Claire, who sports a $7,000 luxury titanium Vertu cell phone; earlier this month, President Obama told CNBC he’s “still clinging” to his BlackBerry (ie BarackBerry); and, the AP reports, “the black box recorders recovered from the US Airways jetliner that splashed down in the Hudson River captured thumping sounds, the sudden loss of engine power and the pilot’s calm ‘Mayday’ call, evidence that seems to back up the crew’s account of hitting a flock of birds shortly after takeoff.” (AP)

| |

Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009)

wyethThe private and introspective Pennsylvanian known around the world for his portrait Christina’s World, and whom the Philadelphia Inquirer hailed as “the most famous and successful artist in a remarkable family that produced five painters in three generations,” passed away in his sleep at age 91; for more information on the remarkable Wyeth family, visit the website for the Brandywine River Museum. “I do an awful lot of thinking and dreaming about things in the past and the future — the timelessness of the rocks and the hills — all the people who have existed there,” Wyeth once said. “I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure in the landscape — the loneliness of it — the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn’t show… I think anything like that — which is contemplative, silent, shows a person alone — people always feel is sad. Is it because we’ve lost the art of being alone?”

| |

A Final Batch of Bushisms

blog-bushFollowing George W Bush’s final press conference — which prompted the New York Times to run a front-page recast of the Hard Day’s Night album cover in order to illustrate the range of Bush’s hangdog expressions — Jacob Weisberg of Slate is presenting his readers with one final batch of Bushisms while 43 is still on the clock: and it’s a greatest hits. And click here for Slate’s Farewell to Bush coverage.

| |

From Gaza City to Germany, so many things to see…

blog_aljazeeraTired of that same old Western news coverage of the Mideast conflict in which Israeli officials freely speak their perspectives to reporters while Palestinian voices remain absent due to Israel’s barring foreign journalists from entering Gaza? Today’s New York Times directs readers to an outlet that is able to present the Arab side of the imbroglio from the streets of Gaza because its reporters were already there — Al Jazeera, almost completely unavailable through television networks in the US, is aggressively marketing its online English newscasts in an attempt to reach Western audiences, going so far as to make their video content available on Creative Commons; meanwhile, Slate hosts a series from one of the first reporters ever allowed into what was, until 2007, the largest unopened Holocaust archive in the world. -SS

| |

The Week in Piracy

blog-piratesThis week the body of a Somali pirate with $153,000 in cash in his pocket washed onshore, the AP reported, after a boat carrying five pirates who received a reported $3 million ransom for releasing a Saudi oil tanker capsized; for more background on the escalation of pirate episodes, in November 2008 the BBC published a roundup of opinions from newspaper editors as they called “for collective action to deal with the increasing attacks on shipping by Somali pirates.” Said Jordanian journalist Basem Sakjiha: “It is difficult to believe that this is happening in the age of satellites, which makes it possible to see footage of an ant walking.”

| |

« Previous entries