Friday, November 22, 2019

Kjaerholm's PK80 Leather Benches at the MoMA


Whenever we go to the MoMA, in addition to the abstract art, we're drawn to the benches. Not only to take a rest upon, but, for years, we've been trying to determine if the benches are upholstered in leather. And it turns out that they are! 

Here's what is posted on Modern Design Interior about the leather benches:

Poul Kjaerholm PK80 Bench: a modernist masterpiece™ by Stardust.com™. The distinctive minimalist PK80 Bench was designed by Poul Kjaerholm (Danish spelling is Poul Kj√¶rholm) in 1957 and is produced by Fritz Hansen in Denmark. In typically Scandinavian fashion, Poul Kjaerholm opted for steel as his primary furniture construction material but combined it with wood and leather to give it an understated luxurious elegance. 

Poul Kjaerholm's PK80 is a sculpture by itself, but with an understated, subtle quality that makes it ideally suited for accompanying art. PK80 was specified by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York where it is used as a museum bench. Claude Monet's Water Lilies (1914-26) and Jackson Pollock's One: Number 31 (1951), look absolutely stunning when observed from the equally iconic PK80 bench.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Does Good Writing Equal Poor Speaking?

Caroline Wright's speaking writing

Vladimir Nabokov shared in the foreword to Strong Opinions: "I think like a genius, I write like a distinguished author, and I speak like a child." 

Thus, Nabokov considered himself a good writer but a poor speaker. So much so, that his lectures and interviews were pre-written. Nabokov shared:

"Throughout my academic ascent in America from lean lecturer to Full Professor, I have never delivered to my audience one scrap of information not prepared in typescript beforehand and not held under my eyes on the bright-lit lectern."

"The interviewer's questions have to be sent to me in writing, answered by me in writing, and reproduced verbatim. Such are the three absolute conditions."

We suspect that Nabokov is not an anomaly in this regard. What about you? As your writing improved, did you seen a decline in your speaking ability? 

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Public Art: George Condo's "Constellation of Voices" & Carmen Herrera: Estructuras Monumentales

 George Condo's  "Constellation of Voices" @ Lincoln Center Plaza

Before daylight savings time kicks in this weekend, we used the daylight to view some public art. 

Our first stop was Lincoln Center Plaza to see George Condo's  "Constellation of Voices", which is exhibited on the terrace of the Metropolitan Opera's facade. If you're intrigued by the sculpture's color, it has a 24-karat-gold-leaf surface.

Untitled Estructura, 1966/2018

Then we hopped back on the Downtown A to Chambers to see the Carmen Herrera: Estructuras Monumentales exhibit in the City Hall Park. The exhibit is Herrera's, who is 104-years-old, first large scale exhibition of her outdoor aluminum sculptures.

Amarillo Tres, 1971/2018
Estructura Verde, 1966/2018
Angulo Rojo, 2017
Carmen Herrera: Estructuras Monumentales  ends November 8th.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Red Increases Attractiveness, But Can It Increase Book Sales




Recent research showed that individuals are perceived as more attractive when presented with the color red.

Elliot and Niesta (2008) found that men consistently rated women as higher in attractiveness when a border of red framed their photographs or when they were presented with a red shirt compared to other colors. This red effect was also found for women perceiving men (Elliot et al., 2010; Roberts, Owen, & Havlicek, 2010). 

Red color, for example, represents a sexual signal that might have evolved from our biological heritage. This reasoning is supported by research showing that nonhuman female primates exhibit red coloration for example as indicator of fertility (Elliot & Niesta, 2008). [...] Thus, it is most likely that the meaning of the color red also has a biological background [...] Nonetheless, societal learning seems to have turned the originally pure sexual meaning of red color into a more romantic association: red equals love. 

Bearing in mind that people are likely to associate (i.e., learn to associate) wearing red with being attractive, we now propose that the color red can heighten individuals’ self-attractiveness. 

Judging oneself as more attractive, when the desire for a sexual intimacy is increased (through the color red), seems to be an efficient strategy to attract potential partners.

In sum, given that the meaning of red has such genuine biological roots and is bolstered through societal learning, we argue that wearing red affects individuals’ self-attractiveness judgments, because the color shapes their look and they are inclined to base inferences on their appearance (Bem, 1967). Accordingly, the color red should be influential when inferring one’s sexual receptivity and self-status. We assume that those two variables mediate the effect of color on self-attractiveness, as was found regarding the perception of others (Elliot & Maier, 2012; 2014). 

Thus, based on the results of this study, red increases one's self-attractiveness and attractiveness, but can a red book cover increase sales? Interestingly, red enhances men’s attraction to young, but not menopausal women. And we know a red bearded New York based author who gets complemented consistently on his barbe rouge.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Introvert = [Good] Writer?


When Boris Kachka interviewed Bari Weiss at the Lambs Club during the launch party for her first book, he told her that, "[...] she seemed unusually extroverted for a writer [...]", Weiss agreed and shared that she would love to be an agent, because she loves "[...] making matches with people." Whereas an introvert generally wants to avoid people.

Jenn Granneman related on the blog Introvert, Dear that John Green, The Fault in Our Stars author, opined: “Writing is something you do alone. It’s a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don’t want to make eye contact while doing it.”

Although, Granneman admits that not all writers are introverts (e.g., Hemingway), she lists three reasons why introverts make great writers:

1. Good writing is good thinking. And who thinks more than introverts?
2. We’re comfortable with solitude.
3. We’re keen observers of people, places, and details.




Sunday, September 8, 2019

A Summer Pastime: Viewing Public Art in NYC

Ryan Sullivan | High Line Art

Sadly, summer is ending along with one of our favorite summer pastimes, which is viewing public (abstract) art. To name a few, we were fortunate to view Ryan Sullivan's paintings exhibited on the High Line.


Joseph La Piana Tension Sculpture C, 2019

Joseph La Piana's Tension Sculpture(s) on Park Avenue. 

Mark Manders: Tilted Head 

And Mark Manders' Tilted Head in Central Park.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Does Fiction Reveal Writers?


Do you agree with Naipaul? We say that "never" and "totally" are hyperbolic, but we generally agree with Naipaul. And Naipaul's quote is interesting in light of Henry Miller's and Vladimir Nabokov's oeuvres. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Best Books About Writers


This excerpt from Katy Waldman's New Yorker review of Andrew Martin's Early Work confirmed one of my concerns about white people who listen to hardcore rap:

"Yeah, I'm pretty into monotonous drug rap right now," she said. "I mean, like everybody. I guess it's the usual racist thing, where white people like it because it takes their worst suspicions about minorities and confirms them in lurid and entertaining ways?"

However, while reading the novel, I found the references to writing, novelists, poets, books, and publishing intriguing, which reminded me that the best books and films about writers/artists are the ones that depicts the writers writing. (Interestingly, Early Work's narrator opined that Balthus' perverted paintings of girls and cats are "wonderful".)


Unlike Olivier Assayas' Something in the Air (2012) and Personal Shopper (2016), I was disappointed with Non-Fiction (2018) [French: Doubles vies] because, although the dialogue about writing and publishing was extremely interesting, the writer wasn't shown honing his craft - not one time.

For the record, our top three books and films about writers/artists are:

Books
The Tenants Bernard Malamud
Transparent Things Vladimir Nabokov
Look at the Harlequins Vladimir Nabokov

Films
The Tenants (2005)
Something in the Air (2012) 
Personal Shopper (2016)



Saturday, July 27, 2019

Writer's Block = Lazy Writer?


I've written a number of books, and I've never suffered from writer's block - thank God. 

But I don't know if I would subscribe to Tom Clancy's notion, in Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018), that writer's block is synonymous with laziness (i.e., the antithesis of grit).

Tom Clancy: "I don't subscribe to the notion of writer's block."
Female Admirer: "You never experience it?"
Tom Clancy: "Writer's block is a term invented by the writing community to justify their laziness. My success is nothing more than that I have the determination and stamina [i.e., grit] to sit and get the work done."





Friday, July 26, 2019


Universe Size Comparison (3D)

I am one person out of (over) 7,000,000,000 people on the planet Earth.

Earth is one out of eight planets that are orbiting the the Sun.

The Sun is one star out of 300,000,000,000 stars in the Milky Way galaxy.

The Milky Way is one galaxy out of (over) 200,000,000,000 galaxies. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

National Museum of African American History: GOOD TIMES


We recently visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture in D.C..  Although a bustling and entertaining city, we had no intention on returning to D.C. any time soon;so, we perused the entire library in one visit! Overall, it was an enlightening experience, but three exhibits stood out:

1. The New York Conspiracy, 1741 where enslaved Africans and poor whites conspired to torch New York City, execute affluent whites, and appoint a new king and governor. The interracial rebels set firer to the governor's mansion and around NYC . Ultimately, a number revolters were accused of conspiracy and were harshly punished. 

2. Jimmie Walker's hat, Good Times, 1974-1979

April 4 by Sam Gilliam
3. And the abstract art in the Visual Art & The American Experience room

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Review: Apple News+ | For Voracious Magazine Readers


We're avid readers of The New YorkerNew York MagazineVanity Fair and the Arts section of The New York Times, but unless we can find an Instagram deal, the subscriptions can be cost prohibitive for most New York City based writers. 

That's why we signed up for Apple's News+ where we get subscriptions to the The New YorkerNew York Magazine, and Vanity Fair for less than $10 per month. And since subscribing, we've started reading The Hollywood Reporter for intriguing news about the film, television and streaming industries and Adweek for inside news about the advertising industry. 

Admittedly, it took us some time to get used to reading avidly on an iPhone, and we still have to get The New York Times via a relative's (free) student account, but if you're a voracious magazine reader, News+ may be a good investment. 


Sunday, May 26, 2019

Was Shakespeare a Woman?



In her June 2019 Atlantic essay, Elizabeth Winkler asked "Was Shakespeare a Woman?" I won't get into the reasons that Winkler gave for Emilia Bassano possibly being the real Shakespeare, but I'm going to share her reasons for why Shakespeare possibly wasn't Shakespeare.

Their doubt is rooted in an empirical conundrum. Shakespeare’s life is remarkably well documented, by the standards of the period—yet no records from his lifetime identify him unequivocally as a writer. The more than 70 documents that exist show him as an actor, a shareholder in a theater company, a moneylender, and a property investor. They show that he dodged taxes, was fined for hoarding grain during a shortage, pursued petty lawsuits, and was subject to a restraining order. The profile is remarkably coherent, adding up to a mercenary impresario of the Renaissance entertainment industry. What’s missing is any sign that he wrote.

No such void exists for other major writers of the period, as a meticulous scholar named Diana Price has demonstrated. Many left fewer documents than Shakespeare did, but among them are manuscripts, letters, and payment records proving that writing was their profession.

A wealthy man when he retired to Stratford, he was meticulous about bequeathing his properties and possessions (his silver, his second-best bed). Yet he left behind not a single book, though the plays draw on hundreds of texts, including some—in Italian and French—that hadn’t yet been translated into English. Nor did he leave any musical instruments, though the plays use at least 300 musical terms and refer to 26 instruments. He remembered three actor-owners in his company, but no one in the literary profession. Strangest of all, he made no mention of manuscripts or writing. 










Sunday, April 28, 2019

[Asian] Students for Fair Admissions Misdirected Beef


Per The Harvard GazetteAfrican-Americans constitute 15.5 percent of the Harvard class of 2022, Asian-Americans 22.7 percent, Latinos 12.2 percent, Native Americans 2 percent, and Native Hawaiians 0.4 percent with whites constituting almost a whopping 50 percent. 
However, NBC news posted (Feb. 14, 2019) from the Associated Press article "Affirmative action lawsuit against Harvard in judge's hands":
A federal judge will now decide whether Harvard University intentionally discriminates against Asian-American applicants, an allegation made in a 2014 lawsuit brought by Students for Fair Admissions [i.e., Asian students who were rejected by Harvard] who built their case around a Duke University professor's analysis of Harvard admissions records that concluded that the Harvard's personal rating, which scores applicants on traits including "courage" and "likability", works against Asian-Americans while favoring [B]lack and Hispanic students. 
How could those Asians and that Duke professor blame African-American and Latino students for their rejection letters when Whites are the most accepted demographic? Whites should have been the number one suspects. 
Maybe their views have changed since the news of the college cheating scandal broke where David K. Li reported for NBC News (March 13, 2019) that:
[Mark] Riddell, a 2004 Harvard graduate and a four-year tennis letter winner, is a key figure in the massive college-admissions probe dubbed Operation Varsity Blues. The federal probe announced Tuesday ensnared dozens of parents who allegedly paid millions of dollars to falsify college applications and get their children into elite universities.
Riddell took SAT and ACT exams for students between 2012 and this past February, according to a criminal complaint. He was paid $10,000 per test, prosecutors said.
Olivia Jade & Lori Loughlin 
The most famous famous suspects in the college cheating scandal are actress Lori Loughlin and her influencer daughter Olivia Jade. According to the Vanity Fair article "'Operation Varsity Blues' Is the One Scam to Rule Them All" (MARCH 12, 2019), Loughlin and her husband paid $500,000 for Olivia to get into the University of Southern California. Shamelessly, Olivia shared with her influencees, "I don't really care about school."
Olivia Jade "I don't really care about school."
Thus, this is further evidence that the Students for Fair Admissions (i.e., Asian students who were rejected by elite schools.) have misdirected their beef that should be directed at privileged whites and not with underprivileged African-Americans and Latinos students. 

Saturday, April 13, 2019

The Plight of Nelson Algren: Is Someone Secretly Stopping Your Book Sales?



Jonathan Dee related in his New Yorker piece, "Nelson Algren’s Street Cred: [...] Algren became one of the most celebrated novelists of his era. Why did he disappear into obscurity?", that Ernest Hemingway referred to Algren as the “beat Dostoyevsky”.

Algren, a "proletarian naturalist poet" and novelist, had "fanboys" who included Terry Southern, Russell Banks, Cormac McCarthy, and Thomas Pynchon who, of Algren, said, “is behind a great deal of what I do”.


Dee shared that Colin Asher wrote in Never a Lovely So Real: The Life and Work of Nelson Algren that Algren's:

[...] first novel, “Somebody in Boots” (originally titled “Native Son”: his good friend Richard Wright’s book of that name hadn’t been written yet), sold a meagre seven hundred and sixty copies, failing to earn back its two-hundred-dollar advance. Many first novels tank in this way, and many first novelists are despondent as a result, but twenty-six-year-old Algren—in what would be a harbinger of how he handled perceived failures later in life—took the blow particularly hard, and tried at least once to commit suicide. 

His friends feared for his sanity. Invited to New York to address the first-ever American Writers’ Congress, Algren stood shaking at the lectern, mumbling the same sentences over and over, which gradually became audible: “My book was a failure. Please buy my book.” [...]

[...] Algren’s late-career slide into irrelevance, Asher says, was no impartial operation of fashion or taste but the result of an orchestrated plot by Hoover’s F.B.I. to silence him, at the peak of the McCarthy era. What’s more, the plot itself, in Asher’s telling, was the direct result of a gratuitous insult Algren inserted into “The Man with the Golden Arm”—mockingly employing the surnames of two known turncoats who had identified, sometimes for money, many former friends and colleagues as members of the Communist Party. 

Incensed, the two men sought revenge by naming Algren to the F.B.I. and to the House Un-American Activities Committee, prompting an investigation that turned Algren into a pariah and sabotaged his career. 

But “they operated in secret,” Asher writes, “so Algren blamed himself when his life began falling apart. He presumed the paranoia and depression that began to cripple him in the nineteen-fifties were the result of personal weakness, and decided his books were not being published because no one wanted to read them.”