2009 - %3, August

Shepard Fairey: You Darn Kids Stop Tagging My Wall!

| Thu Aug. 13, 2009 1:03 PM EDT

Here's another entry in the bulging Shepard Fairey as Walking Pop-Culture Contradiction file: The designer of the IOHP*, who got his start tagging and stickering public places, has declared war on graffiti on his home turf. The Eastsider reports:

A few days ago workers sandblasted the brick exterior of his Echo Park studio, gallery and ad agency - called Studio Number One - and applied a shiny layer of anti-graffiti coating to the walls. Frequent tagging and graffiti had apparently taken a toll on the Sunset Boulevard building and Fairey, who rose to fame by employing the same hit-and-run tactics of graffiti artists and taggers.

"When graff seeped into the raw brick it was very difficult to clean," said Fairey, creator of the Obama "Hope" poster, in an email forwarded by one of his employees. "The building is historic and I love and want to protect the brick. The city was never any help with removal. Graffiti is par for the course."

Fair enough—there's a difference between bombing an abandoned building and a cool old building. But perhaps Fairey could have worked out an arrangement that made his studio a site for street art while also protecting it? Teflon-coating the wall probably won't stop the "graff." As one Eastsider commenter notes, "This place just got a huge bullseye on it."

 * = Iconic Obama Hope Poster

Update: In which I get an email from Nice Shepard Fairey and other critics get an email from Crazy Angry Shepard Fairey.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Diamond Shaped Phones Are a Girl's Best Friend?

| Wed Aug. 12, 2009 8:20 PM EDT

While everything from laptops to Scrabble is getting dipped in Pepto Bismol and glitter to attract the ladies, Sony Ericsson has one-upped the rest of the gendered marketing world with the soon to be released Jalou phone.

Rather than slap some pink on it and call it a day, Sony Ericsson "explored art, architecture and furniture trends whilst delving deep into the couture and fashion world" to determine just what the ladies would be looking for in a cell phone in 2010. Evidently plaid is out but, "structured forms, intricate corners, hidden depths" are in. Um...sure.

The phone is shaped like a facet-cut diamond, and "depth" refers to a "variety of different shine and matt [sic] finishes," not tech specs. The key pad also features diamond shaped keys—since concern about conflict diamonds was so last year.

The Jalou isn't targeted to every woman. Rather, it is the lifestyle choice for the young, urban, and single with disposable income: "Share the good life. Chat on the treadmill, text in the taxi, snap and share photos from the club: Jalou™ lets you share your life in style."

How does the Jalou offer help to do this?

"The two inch screen’s clever design means that at the touch of a button the screen becomes a mirror, offering a discreet way to make sure you look as good as your mobile phone. It is also the first Sony Ericsson to feature Walk Mate step counter, to help you stay in shape wherever you go. It also has an exclusive fashion interface which automatically updates with zodiac signs and special events throughout the year."

Vanity, body image, and horoscopes aren't the only stereotypes Sony Ericcson made sure cover. Catfights will also be all the rage in 2010. Jalou is derived from the french, jalouse meaning jealousy.

Strangely the phone does not actually come in pink direct from Ericcson, but in the semi-precious colors Deep Amethyst, Aquamarine Blue, and Onyx Black. You'll have to splurge for the Dolce & Gabanna edition, which comes in "sparkling rose" complete with 24-gold karat plating, to really fulfill your gendered fashion needs—just forget about that pesky wage gap.

Jezebel Takes On Self's Self-Hating Photoshop Policies

| Tue Aug. 11, 2009 8:38 PM EDT

For their latest cover—sell line: Slim Down *Your* Way—the editors of Self basically created a new (and of course, much thinner) body for Kelly Clarkson. (That was their way.) Called to the carpet by Jezebel (and for god's sake, Entertainment Tonight), the Self editors then issued the most disgusting, enraging explanation possible, namely that covers shouldn't reflect reality, but "inspire women to want to be their best." At which point, Jezebel issued a seriously awesome and funny takedown. Read it.

 

Music Monday: Youssou N'dour's Bittersweet Ride

| Mon Aug. 10, 2009 7:00 AM EDT | Scheduled to publish Mon Aug. 10, 2009 7:00 AM EDT

For three decades, the voice of Youssou N'dour, Africa's most famous pop star, has cut through the clutter of politics. Since 1982, N'dour has put out hit records, taking a secular tack as a descendent of Senegal's griot caste of Sufi storytellers. What he loves about his homeland, he says, is that on Fridays, "we go to the mosque, and then we go to the club." Recently, N'dour's appreciation for such ironies has made him the continent's most controversial musical figure—and an award-winning sensation in the West. 

Shortly after 9/11, N'dour finished recording Egypt, his first religiously themed album, but delayed its release out of concern that Westerers would associate him with terrorism. When the record finally hit the stands in 2005, it sent shock waves through Senegal's conservative Muslim communities, inciting harsh criticism for setting religous subjects to music—something many Muslims consider profane. But the record earned N'dour a long-awaited Grammy and resounding praise throughout Europe. 

Music Monday: Gavin Castleton Would Undie 4 U

| Mon Aug. 10, 2009 3:03 AM EDT

Gavin Castleton
Home
Five One Inc.

You’ve heard this story before: Boy meets Girl. Boy and Girl fall in love. They hit a rough patch, work it out, and love overcomes, happily ever after. Now, try out this twist: Boy meets Girl. They fall in love. Things get rough. And then zombies show up. That's the idea behind this epic 14-song album on micro-label Five One Inc. After parting ways with his longtime girlfriend, Providence, R.I.-based Castleton wanted to chronicle the breakup's effect on his life. Home is a lush, musically diverse endeavor, recorded on a shoestring but so rich in its production it's hard to believe it's not coming from major-label resources.

The songs cover a wide variety of styles and emotions, but together craft a twisted Joss Whedon-like musical storyline. It's an album that demands to be listened to as a whole, not merely as a collection of disjointed songs. I prefer the second half (the zombies show up six songs in as a metaphor for the buried baggage that is slowly tearing the couple's love affair to shreds.) That’s not to say the first half of the record doesn’t have its stellar moments; the groove that emerges four minutes and twenty seconds into “Stampete” is irresistible. Some lyrical moments were lost on me, relationship details that left me scratching my head. I let those slide in anticipation of the zombie ordeal. I caught myself holding my breath the first time I listened to “Unparallel Rabbits,” so caught up was I in the tale unfolding through my headphones.

Day Without A Right-Wing Wack Job

| Fri Aug. 7, 2009 2:00 PM EDT

When I used to complain to my mother about my older brother's verbal taunts, she usually told me to just ignore it; it was my strident reaction that made him want to mess with me. I now tell my son the same when his little sister deliberately pushes his buttons. But we (somewhat rational) journalists are pathologically unable to grasp that simple truism and ignore the taunts of the bullies that populate right-wing cable and radio.

Truth is, our whole culture is addicted to meaningless controversy, and by god, it drives Web traffic like nothing doing. So when Obama is attacked by crazies who insist he lacks a birth certificate, when Glenn Beck jokes about poisoning Nancy Pelosi, when Fox lights up with claims that the Democrats want to euthanize the elderly, when Rush and others equate the president to Hitler, the journobloggers are all over it. Anytime I'm drawn to comment on this stuff, though, I have to admit some level of ambivalence. I still remember being annoyed years ago when one of Bill O'Reilly's antigay tirades about San Francisco made A-1 in the San Francisco Chronicle. Didn't the editors get it? To steal from the first Terminator movie: That's what he does. It's all he does. O'Reilly baits people, and they respond, and then he sells more books. Even 2 Live Crew, a feeble act that made millions in the 1990s off an obscene-lyrics controversy, understood that game. (Of course, fanning the O'Reilly flame probably sells more newspapers, too. And god knows, they need all the sales they can get. Evidence here.)

Advertise on MotherJones.com

John Hughes, RIP

| Thu Aug. 6, 2009 6:11 PM EDT

It is a sad day for lovers of 80's cinema (and really, who isn't?) John Hughes, the filmmmaker behind such classics as Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Pretty in Pink, died of a heart attack today, at age 59.

Of course, Hughes worked his magic well past the Brat Pack age, on hits such as Beethoven and Curly Sue. But as a child of the 80's, I and millions of others will always remember him as an icon of an era—as indelible as neon colors, New Kids on the Block, and scrunchies.

So RIP, John Hughes. Samantha Baker's parents may have forgotten her birthday, but we'll never forget you.

Creationist Museum Tax Fraud

| Thu Aug. 6, 2009 3:03 PM EDT

A Pensacola judge has green lighted the government seizure of Pensacola's Dinosaur Adventure Land, a creationist theme park whose owners, Kent and Jo Hovind, owe $430,400 in federal taxes. The Hovinds' excuse for not paying was that they were employed by God and thus could claim zero income and property.

According to the Pensacola News Journal, the government will sell off the Hovinds' property to pay the debt. Not sure exactly what those properties are, but the park's website offers a few clues:

Learn about dinosaurs, principles of science, and even how to make a paper airplane that can fly over 300 feet! Handle our real, live creatures and take the Leap of Faith swing. Enjoyable and educational for all ages, it is specifically targeted for kids under a million years of age!

Be prepared to be challenged to think and to follow the Lord in the way God the Creator has planned for you. If you do not know your Creator, we will be overjoyed to introduce you to Him.

Our funny and experienced guides will lead your family or group on the tour, declaring the works of the Lord and the words of the Lord.

DAL is not an amusement park, for “amuse” means “to not think,” and we want people to think. Rather, it is an amazement park.

So I wonder what's to become of all the park's statues and critters? And what's the going rate for a Leap of Faith swing these days, anyway?

Jefferson vs. Jefferson

| Thu Aug. 6, 2009 1:14 PM EDT

Yesterday, former Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson was convicted by a Virginia federal judge for 11 criminal counts including bribery, racketeering, money laundering, and wire fraud. (He was acquitted on five counts including obstruction of justice and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.)

In commemoration of the judge's decision, let's take a moment to note the top five similarities between William Jefferson and American founding father Thomas Jefferson.

 

Thomas Jefferson: Was the man behind the Louisiana Purchase.

William Jefferson: Was the man behind many Louisiana purchases.

 

Thomas Jefferson: Stored food in dumbwaiters.

William Jefferson: Stored food and cash in a freezer.

 

Thomas Jefferson: Supported the virtues of the yeoman farmer.

William Jefferson: Grew up on a yeoman farm

 

Thomas Jefferson: Developed strong relationships with France.

William Jefferson: Developed strong relationships in Africa which led to his personal ventures in Nigeria, Ghana and Equatorial Guinea.

 

Thomas Jefferson: Supported the will of the people after the French Revolution.

William Jefferson: Supported by the will of the people through his brilliant political machine.

10 Signs That the Recession IS Over

| Wed Aug. 5, 2009 2:49 PM EDT

Most people seem to think we've hit rock bottom, but signs of recovery are slamming me every day from all angles of media, pop culture, and word of mouth. Let's go David Letterman style with a list, starting at the bottom and working our way up.

Top 10 Signs That the Recession Really Is Over

10. Daniel Gross wrote a column titled "The Recession Is Over! (Technically.)" on Slate.

9. The housing market is making a comeback.

8. 'Cause Bloomberg said so.

7. There has only been one comment on the latest post at StuffUnemployedPeopleLike.

6. Goldman bankers have already returned to their lavish lifestyles.

5. I'm not getting friend requests on LinkedIn about 700 times a day from people I know who are hopelessly out of work. (I hate, hate, hate that useless site! No, I will not be your "LinkedIn" friend!)

4. This week's New York Times Magazine cover story had nothing to do with economics!

3. Being unemployed is no longer chic. And that "Now I have time to find myself" BS has become terribly cliche.

2. TIME overzealously ran a story 5 months ago called "Six Signs The Recession Is Ending," meaning they couldn't think of 10 signs. And now this list speaks for itself.

1. I was invited to a party celebrating the ultimate in douchebaggery: PocketChangeNYC's Fashion Meets Finance soirees are back on. The objective of these gatherings: To mate the men of finance with the women of fashion. Hand me my barfbag, now! Maybe I don't want the recession to end so soon after all...