Category Archives: Arts & Culture

Alec Baldwin, James Baldwin, and Apocalyptic Exceptionalism

By Matt Seybold

Ratings for Saturday Night Live steadily declined for four consecutive seasons, starting in 2011, as Lorne Michaels struggled uncharacteristically to cultivate a new crop of stars. In the fall of 2015, the overhauled cast began to rally around Kate McKinnon, particularly her portrayal of Hillary Clinton. SNL’s current season is on pace to be its highest-rated since, perhaps not coincidentally, the election of Barack Obama. Among the most viral videos the revitalized show has generated is “Hillary Actually,” which aired during the final episode of 2016. Parodying a famous scene from the romantic comedy Love Actually, the sketch features McKinnon, as Clinton, using cue cards to coyly communicate with members of the Electoral College. McKinnon ventriloquizes efforts to persuade electors to abandon President-Elect Trump and, as one of the cards reads, “just vote for literally anyone else.” One could interpret the scene as mocking increasingly desperate and delusional public figures who couldn’t seem to come to terms with the reality of Trump’s impending presidency. But it isn’t satire exactly. The cue cards, though witty, actually make a cogent and compelling argument for faithless electors, complete with bullet points like “2. He’s already provoked the Chinese,” “6. He knew Russia was involved in hacking the election,” “11. His Vice President believes in conversion therapy,” “12. More than a dozen women have accused him of sexual assault,” and “15. He doesn’t know how the government works.” Continue reading

The Creative Independent on the Art of the Interview

By Edith Young

The Creative Independent launched in October of 2016, publishing its first original interview with poet Eileen Myles on day one, followed by artist Björk on day two. Out of the gate running, TCI stated its goal: to become a “resource of emotional and practical guidance for creative people.” The publication, embracing the archival nature of the internet, aspires to assemble an oral history of contemporary creative processes and practices. A spring chicken in the world of digital publishing platforms, TCI is technically a Kickstarter project, and an extension of their mission to support and champion the arts, though the site seems to operate as its own ecosystem within the crowdfunding corporation. Continue reading

Museum Curators and their Public

By Steve Light

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) recently re-opened after a closure of over three years for expansion and renovation. Most of the opening exhibitions consist of artworks loaned by the Doris and Donald Fisher Collection on the basis of an arrangement and agreement which resulted in the Fishers funding the museum’s expansion. I haven’t been to SFMOMA in many years. I don’t visit the Bay Area often, but when I do it is the most sparkling and invigorating artists in the region whose work I want to see, and their work tends not to be in the MOMAs and MOCAs of the world, although they certainly ought to be. Continue reading

Old Songs for the New Resistance

By Bruce Bauman

A soundtrack of 60s rock political anthems urging an uprising against the establishment, for the new generation of what Lou Reed called “all you protest kids.” I sure hope Inaugural weekend was not the end, but the beginning of a new activist movement against the coming Trumpian Reign of Terror. His cabinet appointees might not be guillotining heads, but if they repeal Obamcare, roll back Medicaid, undo Roe v. Wade, make the EPA the Business Protection Agency, and allow the planet to overheat to a boil, many thousands of lives will be at stake. Everything the Viet Nam anti-war protesters, Civil Rights activists, Feminists, and your basic new leftist fought for — and so many things that are now taken for granted — is going to be (hell, is already) under attack. I purposely omitted Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.” That was the Big O’s song and I’m not playing it again until Trump is gone. New songs need to be written; but, for what it’s worth, these are ten of my existing faves. PLAY ‘EM LOUD as you take to the streets. Continue reading

Another Chance to Understand: John Baldessari at the Marian Goodman Gallery

By Sam Sackeroff

How do you solve a problem like the avant-garde? That is a question that John Baldessari has been asking in one form or another for more than five decades. Since July 24th 1970, when, in an inspired moment of getting-over-it, Baldessari and his students at the University of California at San Diego burned the last-gasp gestural paintings that he had made between 1953 and 1966, he has been exploring different ways of pushing the most compelling elements of advanced visual art out of the ever-narrowing confines of academic modernism and into the rich and unpredictable space of actual looking. Continue reading

Tomorrow Belongs to Those Who Can Hear It Coming, Is Seu Jorge Listening?

By Matthew Stevens

On a windy night in December, Brazilian singer-songwriter and actor Seu Jorge played the last of three sold-out shows at The Theatre at Ace Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. Jorge was re-adorned in the pale blue tracksuit and red cap get-up made infamous by the card-carrying members of Team Zissou in Wes Anderson’s 2004 film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and perched on a chair among oh-so bijou stage dressing (coils of hemp rope, gas lanterns, a dainty ships wheel, and other such flotsam and jetsam). Despite the forced incongruity of his robust presence dressed and decked in these clichéd twee trappings, Jorge was persistently affable as he wound his way through a collection of tales and gags culled from his on-set experience of the filming of Life Aquatic, along with the acoustic, Portuguese-language David Bowie covers that were a significant component of the film’s sharp-edged, posh-stoner atmosphere. The show, billed as “The Life Aquatic / A Tribute to David Bowie,” was, as its title suggests, clumsy and mawkish in conception, and was saved from complete triviality by the sheer friendliness of Jorge’s performance. Continue reading