marathonpacks

the soft compulsion of constant consumption training

2,790 notes &

tenaflyviper:

I would just like to draw attention to the fact that the poster for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) totally apes the poster for The Breakfast Club (1985).

I think that deserves some recognition.

(via nickminichino)

34 notes &

digitizingmillerhouseandgarden:

While the Miller House was completed in 1957, Alexander Girard continued to work on projects for the Millers well into the 1970s. In 1974, Mrs. Miller tasked Girard with designing cushions for their Tulip dining chairs. She requested that Girard’s designs for the cushions work with her large collection of dinnerware and he delivered the colorful results seen above.

For the eight cushions that sat in chairs around the table, Girard utilized the Miller family monograms for his designs. Composed of sans serif letters that appear out of an otherwise unruly checkered pattern, the monograms are for the following Miller family members:

JIM - Joseph Irwin Miller

XSM - Xenia Simons Miller

MIM - Margaret Irwin Miller

CGM - Catherine Gibbs Miller

EGM - Elizabeth Anne Garr Miller

HTHM - Hugh Thomas Miller II

WIM - Will Irwin Miller

LAM - Linda A. Miller (Former wife of son, Hugh Th. Miller)

The dining room side chairs featured cushions with multicolored allover check, the pattern for which we shared a few months back and can be partially seen in the bottom photo by Balthazar Korab.

While Girard executed the design, Mrs. Miller and her bridge group carried out the needlepoint work. In order to complete this task, Girard created patterns by affixing individual squares of colored construction paper to a grid shaped to the chair bottoms. The first eight images are digital scans of these patterns. Girard sent a handwritten note with the patterns that read “Suggest you look at these, in position, by placing them in the chair.” Along with the patterns, he also sent the color palate and samples of yarn to be used for the project.

Amy’s last post for her awesome job archiving the awesome Miller House is a good one!

18 notes &

In other words, only those ‘at the center’—i.e., those with power, whether economic, cultural, or social—get to decide when the rules of taste are to be suspended or changed. This may be less true for pop music than it is for, say, conceptual art, but if Bourdieu’s sociology has taught us anything, it’s that basic differences in status (whether economic, educational, sexual, or racial) ramify in every cultural field until they add up to mammoth structural inequalities. Pop fandom may be a relatively diverse field (pop criticism rather less so), but a book-length defense of Céline Dion would not be as effective coming from someone unlike Wilson (a middle-aged Midwestern widow, for instance). Thus, Sterne sensibly concludes, while ‘[w]e should refuse to cast good taste—and all the trappings of social class that come with it—as a moral achievement … the abandonment of good taste can also function as a moral ‘achievement,’ as a marker of class and age distinction, in the same way that good taste once did.’

This gets to the heart of what bugs me about Wilson’s self-congratulatory final chapter, in which he gets a bit misty-eyed about ‘democracy, that dangerous, paradoxical and mostly unattempted ideal’—as if his good-faith attempt to appreciate the career of a global pop star should be read as not just a broadminded act of criticism, but a contribution to a more just society. Wilson’s utopianism, however attractive, is ultimately unconvincing. Understanding the passionate fans of an artist you hate is indeed an interesting critical exercise, and maybe even an interesting ethical one; but it’s going too far to see it as political, i.e., as providing the basis for some kind of realizable, universalizable community.

Love, Factionally.” Evan Kindley’s detailed review* of Carl Wilson’s re-released Let’s Talk About Love is definitely worth a read.

*Here, of Jonathan Sterne’s contribution to the new volume.

127 notes &

mackro:

How Not To Sound Like A Fool When Talking About Mastering, Vinyl, CDs, etc.
Today, I posted a mini-rant on Facebook around the old, current and perpetual audio medium war. It was inspired by a posting by Oliver Wang on his great blog Soul Sides. Here is that entry. I agree with the entry, but the resulting comments from it on various Facebook threads exhibited that there are certain technical issues that are still misunderstood by many. I posted most of the following off the top of my head earlier today, and I was kinda blown away by the positive response. So here it is, with some slight changes and amendments to make it a little less sloppy
Mastering vinyl from digital sources doesn’t universally suck, nor does it suck at all. It’s the majority of people who have no clue and/or no care for what they’re doing while mastering modern vinyl that suck. The issues that make these vinyl issues suck may easily be a different issue than any digital source or the vinyl part altogether. It could be the player. It’s often cheap headphones or speakers.
CDs and MP3s are not the same thing — especially 128kbps encoded MP3s. If you equate the two in an argument about “digital” media sucking, you’re a goddamn fool.
Actually, any debate about the “sound quality” of a certain medium is doomed from the start. “Sound quality” is far too vague a term, yet it’s a phrase that’s all too easy to blurt out. If it’s ever brought up in an argument, either clarify the phrase, or end the argument.
High-end open reel-to-reel tape has a better frequency range than both vinyl and CD. If you want to brag about Massive Frequency Superiority, show off your 2-inch tape machine instead of your turntable or high-end CD/DVD player.
Vinyl does not have a wider frequency range than CD audio, for practical purposes. Vinyl can handle higher frequencies than 20kHz, but these are frequencies humans can’t hear. Vinyl does more poorly with low frequencies — circa 20Hz — than CD because of rumble. That’s not vinyl’s fault. That’s your turntable cartridge’s fault. More to the point, it’s the turntable owner who needs to get a more boomin’ cartridge. Either way, CD audio frequency ranges are pretty much the same as vinyl, but without any contact-media complications
Vinyl’s technical advantage over CDs is its resolution. (Think of frequency range as the range of the color palette, and resolution as how detailed and life-like the painting looks.) Vinyl does not quantize its sound reproduction, which CDs and digital sources do, by definition. However, vinyl is only superior in resolution if the mastering source has equal or higher resolution, such as high-end reel-to-reel tape. That said, that same sound source as uncompressed 16-bit or preferably 24-bit digital audio is barely audibly inferior to reel-to-reel to most people. If the digital source is a low-bit-rate MP3, that MP3 will almost certainly sound better than the vinyl mastered from it.
A vinyl release with minor flaws can easily sound inferior to a well-done CD.
A CD release with minor flaws can easily sound inferior to a well-done vinyl release.
In the case of the latter two, you may blame the artist, the mixer, the studio, the mastering engineer, the record label, whatever. But don’t blame the medium.
Replace “vinyl”, “turntable”, “cartridge”, and “rumble” above with "cassette", "cassette deck", "playback head", and "tape hiss" respectively, and you have all you need to know about cassettes vs. CD as well — more or less.
Most people like the packaging and feel of holding a vinyl release than a CD release or MP3 release, for reasons of rumination, visual art aesthetics, and ergonomics. This is a perfectly valid opinion to uphold. It is no more than an opinion. Yet, that opinion is holding major economic sway these days, whether you like it or not. And "sound quality" has zero to do with vinyl’s high media profile today — except for when you buy and complain about horribly mastered vinyl, in which case go to the first bulletpoint.

"don’t blame the medium"

mackro:

How Not To Sound Like A Fool When Talking About Mastering, Vinyl, CDs, etc.

Today, I posted a mini-rant on Facebook around the old, current and perpetual audio medium war. It was inspired by a posting by Oliver Wang on his great blog Soul Sides. Here is that entry. I agree with the entry, but the resulting comments from it on various Facebook threads exhibited that there are certain technical issues that are still misunderstood by many. I posted most of the following off the top of my head earlier today, and I was kinda blown away by the positive response. So here it is, with some slight changes and amendments to make it a little less sloppy

  • Mastering vinyl from digital sources doesn’t universally suck, nor does it suck at all. It’s the majority of people who have no clue and/or no care for what they’re doing while mastering modern vinyl that suck. The issues that make these vinyl issues suck may easily be a different issue than any digital source or the vinyl part altogether. It could be the player. It’s often cheap headphones or speakers.
  • CDs and MP3s are not the same thing — especially 128kbps encoded MP3s. If you equate the two in an argument about “digital” media sucking, you’re a goddamn fool.
  • Actually, any debate about the “sound quality” of a certain medium is doomed from the start. “Sound quality” is far too vague a term, yet it’s a phrase that’s all too easy to blurt out. If it’s ever brought up in an argument, either clarify the phrase, or end the argument.
  • High-end open reel-to-reel tape has a better frequency range than both vinyl and CD. If you want to brag about Massive Frequency Superiority, show off your 2-inch tape machine instead of your turntable or high-end CD/DVD player.
  • Vinyl does not have a wider frequency range than CD audio, for practical purposes. Vinyl can handle higher frequencies than 20kHz, but these are frequencies humans can’t hear. Vinyl does more poorly with low frequencies — circa 20Hz — than CD because of rumble. That’s not vinyl’s fault. That’s your turntable cartridge’s fault. More to the point, it’s the turntable owner who needs to get a more boomin’ cartridge. Either way, CD audio frequency ranges are pretty much the same as vinyl, but without any contact-media complications
  • Vinyl’s technical advantage over CDs is its resolution. (Think of frequency range as the range of the color palette, and resolution as how detailed and life-like the painting looks.) Vinyl does not quantize its sound reproduction, which CDs and digital sources do, by definition. However, vinyl is only superior in resolution if the mastering source has equal or higher resolution, such as high-end reel-to-reel tape. That said, that same sound source as uncompressed 16-bit or preferably 24-bit digital audio is barely audibly inferior to reel-to-reel to most people. If the digital source is a low-bit-rate MP3, that MP3 will almost certainly sound better than the vinyl mastered from it.
  • A vinyl release with minor flaws can easily sound inferior to a well-done CD.
  • A CD release with minor flaws can easily sound inferior to a well-done vinyl release.
  • In the case of the latter two, you may blame the artist, the mixer, the studio, the mastering engineer, the record label, whatever. But don’t blame the medium.
  • Replace “vinyl”, “turntable”, “cartridge”, and “rumble” above with "cassette", "cassette deck", "playback head", and "tape hiss" respectively, and you have all you need to know about cassettes vs. CD as well — more or less.
  • Most people like the packaging and feel of holding a vinyl release than a CD release or MP3 release, for reasons of rumination, visual art aesthetics, and ergonomics. This is a perfectly valid opinion to uphold. It is no more than an opinion. Yet, that opinion is holding major economic sway these days, whether you like it or not. And "sound quality" has zero to do with vinyl’s high media profile today — except for when you buy and complain about horribly mastered vinyl, in which case go to the first bulletpoint.

"don’t blame the medium"

732 notes

The Rules of the Game: A Fuller Thought on J. Hopper and Vampire Weekend

agrammar:

I do want you to think about the culture of our criticism, because I feel like it’s ever more beholden to a kind of blind posturing that wants to stop it from saying anything useful or true. Let’s go ahead and call this posturing The Game.

The Game is largely played by people who are white and/or middle-class, and much of it involves trying to outmaneuver one another about precisely that fact. At the heart of The Game is fear and loathing and boredom concerning the possibility of being bourgeois. Being bourgeois is The Game’s great sin, and it is often referred to using the code word “white.” If you can’t avoid this sin by virtue of being working-class or Ghanaian or something, your best bet is to deftly corner the market on wary “whiteness”-based critiques of anything that smacks of being bourgeois. The critique will try to present itself as an incisive dismantling of class/race/privilege, but at its heart it will just be “oh noes bourgeois.” The great paradox here, of course, is that The Game is itself an incredibly bourgeois pastime, but never mind that (…)

Jessica and Vampire Weekend aside, this bit is Still Very Relevant.

15 notes &

Teaching as Emotional Labor

davidcoopermoore:

I’m enjoying, though that isn’t the right word, Simon Head’s Mindless, which despite its stupid post-Gladwellian subtitle (“Why Smarter Machines Are Making Dumber Humans”) is mostly about the “working class-ization” of white collar and service work via Computer Business Systems (CBS’s), and the…

Lots of good food for thought here from David.

19 notes &

It is not an accident that across the space of a century, the interface between media ideas and food chemistry ideas moves from technological reproduction and preservation to synthesis and replacement. Where in the 19th century ideas about the preservative power of sound recording borrowed their language from canning and embalming, in the 20th century, ideas of artificial sound synthesis limn sound creation with food creation. In both fields, a processed world emerges.
Jonathan Sterne, in his #digitalkeywords draft for the word “analog.” The more I read about 21st century resistances to the ongoing effects of 20th century technologies, the more the trajectories of music and food align.

253 notes &

In 2005, an Ivy League university was considering the application of a young black man from South Central Los Angeles. The applicant had written a phenomenal essay about how he wanted to walk away from the gangs in his community and attend the esteemed institution. The admissions officers were impressed: a student who overcomes such hurdles is exactly what they like seeing. In an effort to learn more about him, the committee members Googled him. They found his MySpace profile. It was filled with gang symbolism, crass language, and references to gang activities. They recoiled.

I heard this story when a representative from the admissions office contacted me. The representative opened the conversation with a simple question: Why would a student lie to an admissions committee when the committee could easily find the truth online? I asked for context and learned about the candidate. Stunned by the question, my initial response was filled with nervous laughter. I had hung out with and interviewed teens from South Central. I was always struck by the challenges they faced, given the gang dynamics in their neighborhood. Awkwardly, I offered an alternative interpretation: perhaps this young man is simply including gang signals on his MySpace profile as a survival technique.

Trying to step into that young man’s shoes, I shared with the college admissions officer some of the dynamics that I had seen in Los Angeles. My hunch was that this teen was probably very conscious of the relationship between gangs and others in his hometown. Perhaps he felt as though he needed to position himself within the local context in a way that wouldn’t make him a target. If he was anything like other teens I had met, perhaps he imagined the audience of his MySpace profile to be his classmates, family, and community—not the college admissions committee. Without knowing the teen, my guess was that he was genuine in his college essay. At the same time, I also suspected that he would never dare talk about his desire to go to a prestigious institution in his neighborhood because doing so would cause him to be ostracized socially, if not physically attacked. As British sociologist Paul Willis argued in the 1980s, when youth attempt to change their socioeconomic standing, they often risk alienating their home community. This dynamic was often acutely present in the communities that I observed.

danah boyd, It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens

133 notes &

"Never cut to a closed door"

barthel:

Last week, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon had two bits become big hits online: Emma Stone winning a lip-sync battle, and Kevin Spacey singing a ragtime version of “Talk Dirty to Me.” These were great, but were also clearly very well-rehearsed; the funny part of Stone (and Fallon) lip-synching wasn’t that they were terrible, it was that Stone absolutelynailed the fast-rap part of Blues Traveler’s “Hook.” In his interview, Spacey talked about obsessively practicing for the ragtime bit. They worked because there were no fuckups.

This is a giant stylistic shift from the style of late-night shows that stretches roughly from Letterman through Stewart. These shows were characterized by their looseness and willingness to fuck up, and acknowledge the fuckups. That looseness felt revolutionary at the time, and was a legitimate break from the obsessive showmanship of what came before. But it’s gotten a little stale. When Conan O’Brien first went on the air in 1993, his self-deprecation was a savvy response to widespread doubts about his competence. Twenty years later, it feels like schtick, and not a little sad. Fans still love it (think Jon Stewart eating baconnaise) but it’s certainly long past its sell-by date.

In Tina Fey’s Bossypants, she summarizes a lesson she learned from Lorne Michaels as “Never cut to a closed door,” meaning that small technical fuckups make the audience lose confidence in the show, and become less willing to laugh. It was a lesson abundantly on display on30 Rock, where scenes were precisely paced and every apparent flaw turned out to be wholly deliberate. It helped make that show (relatively) successful, and it seems to be working well for Fallon, too.

There’s an argument to be made that Fallon represents a sensibility born out of the millennial generation, although he himself isn’t one. That’s a little true: certainly the web values trying too hard way more than not trying at all. And trying too hard seems to be legitimately more radical than its opposite at this point.

But instead of going with generations, it seems more useful to say that the sensibility originated in a particular time and place: SNL in the 00s. Fallon and Fey became the Weekend Update hosts in 1999, and Fey presided over an era of SNL in which the tone changed radically from individualistic to collective. The show relied less and less on individual cast members repeatedly playing the same characters and more on sketches where the cast got to play off one another. That’s very much on display with Fallon’s Tonight Show, too: the point is not Fallon doing wacky things or bringing in wacky characters but Fallon doing funny things with the guests, or with the band. It’s working for him, but more importantly, it’s working for the show as a whole.

One exceedingly minor contribution that others have probably already mentioned: does this represent a shift in late night promoland and/or celebrity PR machinery toward further insulating the star from doing anything off-book while allowing them to appear wacky and spontaneous? Maybe it’s not a radical shift, but you see faux-“viral”-looking aesthetics across the promotional landscape nowadays, in which heavily scripted bits are given the superficial veneer of amateurism (aka the KFC Double Down ads, in which the spokesperson’s arm is extended toward the camera to mimic self-videography).

Even though the Leno/Carson model of late night talk show is very, very different from the Letterman/Conan model, the thing that unites them is that there’s never a question about who’s in charge (no matter how self-deprecating Conan acts, he’s a total control freak). Seems like Fallon’s schtick is more aligned with fandom than hosting. More “OMG I get to perform with [celebrity]” than “so what brings you here tonight?” Which fits perfectly within a YouTube moment of DIY fan productions, but also plays right into the hands of agents/handlers/managers, etc.

Where Fallon fails in this mission (and why I can’t watch) is that he draws too much attention to himself during the parts he’s not good at: the interviews. The constant giggling, omnipresent affirmations (‘yeah!’ ‘totally!’), and cokehead excitability are an affective abundance of Fallon’s fandom performance that’s probably impossible for him to restrain (or he’d have done it by now), but are interminable to try and watch.

15 notes &

The challenge of communication is not to be true to our own interiority but to have mercy on others for never seeing ourselves as we do.

John Durham Peters, ‘Speaking Into the Air.’

This quote can make me cry if I let it.