Tag Archives: a/b

Red Carpet Fashion


Do the guys matter at all?
“They wear tuxedos. I’m sure they’re all wearing Tom Ford tuxedos but they’re just tuxedos,” [said Jennifer Wright, the author of upcoming book, It Ended Badly: The 13 Worst Break-Ups in History.]


Male attire, by contrast, is typically treated as a footnote. This bias is partly the result of the tuxedo’s intentional deference to the finery of the fairer sex. But it is also reflective of commentators’ ignorance of what defines a good tuxedo.

Art as Weapons

Exhibit A

In the 1950s and 1960s, the CIA supported abstract expressionist art.

“Regarding Abstract Expressionism, I’d love to be able to say that the CIA invented it just to see what happens in New York and downtown SoHo tomorrow!” [former CIA case officer Donald Jameson] joked. “But I think that what we did really was to recognise the difference. It was recognized that Abstract Expressionism was the kind of art that made Socialist Realism look even more stylised and more rigid and confined than it was. And that relationship was exploited in some of the exhibitions.

“In a way our understanding was helped because Moscow in those days was very vicious in its denunciation of any kind of non-conformity to its own very rigid patterns. And so one could quite adequately and accurately reason that anything they criticised that much and that heavy-handedly was worth support one way or another.”

Essentially, the CIA secretly funded traveling art shows, such as 1958’s “The New American Painting”, in order to highlight the freedom of expression in the Western world compared to enforced conformity of the communist block. No artists were paid for work, and artists that were exhibited, along with the American people and congress were specifically kept in the dark. As Tom Braden, head of the International Organisations Division of the CIA at the time said, “It was very difficult to get Congress to go along with some of the things we wanted to do – send art abroad, send symphonies abroad, publish magazines abroad. That’s one of the reasons it had to be done covertly. It had to be a secret. In order to encourage openness we had to be secret.”

Exhibit B

During the Spanish Civil War, Spanish Anarchists used surreal prison cells for torture.

The cells, built in 1938 and reportedly hidden from foreign journalists who visited the makeshift jails on Vallmajor and Saragossa streets, were as inspired by ideas of geometric abstraction and surrealism as they were by avant garde art theories on the psychological properties of colours.

Beds were placed at a 20 degree angle, making them near-impossible to sleep on, and the floors of the 6ft by 3ft cells was scattered with bricks and other geometric blocks to prevent prisoners from walking backwards and forwards, according to the account of [French anarchist Alphonse] Laurencic’s [Franco military trial in 1939].

The only option left to prisoners was staring at the walls, which were curved and covered with mind-altering patterns of cubes, squares, straight lines and spirals which utilised tricks of colour, perspective and scale to cause mental confusion and distress.

Lighting effects gave the impression that the dizzying patterns on the wall were moving.

A stone bench was similarly designed to send a prisoner sliding to the floor when he or she sat down, Mr Milicua said. Some cells were painted with tar so that they would warm up in the sun and produce asphyxiating heat.

Laurencic told the military court that he had been commissioned to build the cells by an anarchist leader who had heard of similar ones used elsewhere in the republican zone during the civil war, possibly in Valencia.

Mr Milicua has claimed that Laurencic preferred to use the colour green because, according to his theory of the psychological effects of various colours, it produced melancholy and sadness in prisoners.

This reminds me of how in The Men Who Stare at Goats &endash; the book, not the slapstick movie &endash; the ideas of psychology, mind-body connections, neuro linguistic programming, and the other ideas introduced to the military through the 1st Earth Battalion, ended up as Barney songs played painfully loud for days straight.

The Sovereign is Never Seen

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Adam Harvey played with different makeup patterns to defeat facial detection software. Called CV Dazzle – named after the dazzle camouflage of World War I – it basically asymmetric white and black eye black that is intended to confuse the location of the eyes in relation to the mouth.

While interesting, it isn’t a complete privacy system. Even wearing CV Dazzle, the wearer’s image is still stored. I recall seeing online a hoodie that had high intensity IR LEDs sewn around the opening in an attempt to blind cameras, which I would think either works extremely well, or extremely poorly (i.e. providing more light to the wearer’s face, and thus a sharper image) depending on the orientation of the LEDs. Because of this, it seems like going with an old fashioned mask is better solution, unless you’re afraid of being arrested on a trumped up and dubious
anti-mask law, in which case perhaps CV Dazzle isn’t such a bad idea in order circumvent mass surveillance.

Ahh Hipsters


“For many of us, and certainly for many of our artists, the vinyl is the true version of the release,” said Matador’s Patrick Amory. “The size and presence of the artwork, the division into sides, the better sound quality, above all the involvement and work the listener has to put in, all make it the format of choice for people who really care about music.”


Children of the 80s, too, are affectionately revisiting the format on which they first discovered music. “What you grew up with just sounds right,” says 22-year-old Brad Barry, a student at the University of Texas who hosts a weekly cassette-only radio show called C60 Radio. Meanwhile, people who sport cassette-themed Urban Outfitters’ T-shirts or iPhone cases are just using it as a retro prop in the never-ending 80s revival.


“I enjoy the aesthetics of VHS,” said Josh Schafer, the founder of the horror magazine Lunchmeat. “I like putting it in the VCR and rewinding and pausing and fast-forwarding. It’s an experience nobody gets to do anymore because they consider VHS dead.”

“I was not around during the main VHS boom, but I’ve never liked DVDs,” said [Louis Justin, the 21-year-old owner of the one-man company Massacre Video, in Michigan], who has a VHS tape tattooed on his arm. “When I was younger and I went to the record store, my parents would push me to get the CD, but I wanted the cassette. I’m an analog nerd.”

Real musicians release on 8-track.

Dennis the Menace

Dennis the Menace is 60 years old. Both of them. By a twist of fate, two men on opposite sides of the Atlantic both had an idea for a young boy named Dennis and his dog getting in trouble with adults.

I had no idea that there was a British Dennis the Menace until I read the BBC article.

Just looking at the characters, you get two very different impressions of the them. The American smiling while riding his dog Ruff. He looks happy. Sure, he’s “Dennis the Menace,” but you get the (correct) impression that while he may cause more than his fair share of problems, it’s because he’s too naive, ambitious, clumsy for his ideas. He doesn’t want to cause problems, they’re just unfortunate and unforeseen (to him) side effects.

The British Dennis is also smiling, as is his dog Gnasher, but it’s unsettling. He looks like the kind of kid that would torture rats with hacksaw, and pull the wings of flies, before he feeds them to his dog in preparation for a fight. It’s not just this picture, it’s almost all of them. Of course, there’s no episode where the British Dennis mortally wounds a stray cat with an M80, but even watching an episode of the recent cartoon, left me with the impression that Dennis would eventually graduate to yob, and then later to full fledged football hooligan.