Hello all! I’ve been an unproductive marshmallow these past two months, but my head is screwed back on and I’m ready to write again. September and October were solid for only a second, the evenings of hangouts and randomness crawling into a locked time capsule. I won’t remember what I did on October 17th nor on September 22nd—but emotions, tingling and sticky, are still lurking in my body like an after-party crew. However, November is the stitched up month where grades mend, relationships end, and a Microsoft Word canvas becomes my lifeline again. Here’s what I loved this month:
It’s a goddamn shame I can’t draw, paint, compose, etc., but at least I can study the ineffable greatness of others.
- Prism by Marilyn Minter, 2009
It’s incredible how my face transforms from a pathetic 4 to a solid 8 in 40 minutes. I copy, paste, and delete features with eyeliner and concealer, wiping off the edits each midnight until sunlight begs for makeup again. This monotony of false beauty, of making a painter’s canvas out of a human face, is exactly what this pseudo-glamorous print is satirizing. Minter is critiquing our modern society, one of Sephora overpricing that elevates fashion/beauty photography over the reality of wrinkles and oily skin. However, Minter has taken “excessive” to an exponential level, slapping on Forever 21 jewels and watered down glitter to “subvert the glamour of desire.” Based in New York City, this American artist shoots up close, sensual images that drip with shimmering lust and feminist irony. I adore her work because it’s so piercing and uncomfortable, like an R rated film you watch with your parents. This particular work lives at the over-air conditioned Harn Museum in Gainesville.
- Frida on Bench by Nickolas Muray, 1939
Frida Kahlo is the most badass bitch I’ve ever studied in art history. She once said “Make love, take a nap, make love again.”—how sexual and explosive that is! Despite her injuries, jackass husband, and barriers as a Mexican female, she rocked the cannon of western art with a proud unibrow and painted corset. Muray was a Hungarian photographer, engraver, and fencer, but most importantly, he was Frida’s longtime lover of 10 years. Their relationship spanned multiple wives, extraneous lovers, and Diego Rivera’s piggish behavior—although Frida refused to marry Nickolas. Diego was her invisible skeleton, an authority hidden in a hamper but always controlling her spirit…while he was fucking a few lovers on the side, of course. This portrait captivates me because of its brilliant, almost garish colors and Frida’s commanding expression—she wrecked Muray, she controls the viewer, and she owns me. It’s dynamite power through lip stick and pain, golden earrings and blush. Learn more about the Harn’s Frida Kahlo exhibit here.
- Evening Explosion by Chris Bigalke, 2006
I first encountered this graphic designer on my rolling (and frankly, uninteresting) Instagram feed. Amongst slutty midriffs, staged happiness, and existential quotes, a carton of milk—with a stereo speaker cut in the middle—shattered the monotony. It was a concert poster for Wilco, a folksy Chicago band that’s obsessed with Woody Guthrie, created by Bigalke for their Brussels premier. Something about the pulp orange hue and playful pop art vibes grabbed my attention. However, my favorite work—more of an apocalyptic sketch or cartoon—features a grainy, unreal landscape of rusted cars and lavender scars on once-green trees—and an explosion, of course. This casual violence, a mere drive-by film to the 1970s children in the Chevy, is as unsettling as the static sky. A sliver of a moon observes the quiet chaos, the poisoned meadow, and American icons. Also, this cut-and-paste method, full of overbaked colors and oddities, is so attractive for a colorphiliac like me.
This month, I ditched the concert hall for the gritty streets of the East Coast and the electronic-alternative hub of Tame Impala and Gallant. Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov are still my Number One Russian Lovers, but their beards and quarter notes were ousted by Jimmy Eat World and Alex Turner…
- The Middle by Jimmy Eat World, 2001
Whiny lyrics of simplicity and angst serenaded these days of blackening eye bags and downturned lips. Just when the stress escalated, this sly number slipped into my headphones, a lyrical Band-Aid on the pettiness of college. My temples pounded with its high-pitched scream, draining conversations of accusations, and tears that refused to flow. I can’t cry. I can’t be untrue to my craft. But I can splinter my vocal cords with horrible singing. On repeat, this blasted:
“Live right now, yeah, just be yourself.
It doesn’t matter if it’s good enough for someone else.
It just takes some time,
Little girl, you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine”
Resting my chin on a nightstand and doused in a cheap yellow glare, I whispered “Everything, everything will be alright” as two o’clock laughed at my drama.
- ‘Cause I’m A Man by Tame Impala, 2012
This song smells like cigar smoke and feels like fifteen mosquito bites on barely-shaven legs. Tame Impala, an Australian rock band, shook my balcony with psychedelic synth that almost dispersed the early November humidity. Electronic music without the commercialization and alternative words without the 90s angst creates Tame’s pure, uncluttered sound. Listening to Kevin Parker (lead singer) is like plucking a bass string in your body, the reverberations coating organs in acoustic molasses. This track reminds me of drooping eyelids and half-clothed arguments, especially
“Cause I’m a man, woman
Don’t always think before I do
Cause I’m a man, woman
That’s the only answer I’ve got for you”
This lilting track is on Currents (2015), a RIDICULOUSLY talented album comprised of sexual gorillas and blurry lyrics.
- Stuck on the Puzzle, Alex Turner, 2011
I’m a sucker for Sheffield accents and sexy faces hidden under overly-gelled hair. Alex Turner (30), the brooding brown eyes of Arctic Monkeys and The Last Shadow Puppets, croons his nasal beauty for the soundtrack of Submarine (2010). There’s nothing unattractive about his leather pants, transformation Tuesday features, and piecing of poetic words. His lyrics are hypnotizing, immaculate even. Turner sang these ditties for Submarine, a British “coming of age film” about teenage infatuation and heartbreak. Suck It And See will always be my Number One pleasure, but this track grabs 2nd place with “Something in your magnetism must have pissed them off…” I fantasize that my inborn **electricity** pisses people off, but that daydream is a competitive, insecure lie. Read this detailed NME interview with Alex Turner here.
- Weight In Gold by Gallant, 2016
Before Spotify and chums with impeccable music taste, days were bland CDs of car exhausts, door creaks, and snippets of other people’s words. I would’ve never vibed to this song or thousands of others, their little-known artists but killer beats escaping my blank mind completely. Christopher Gallant released his first EP in 2014, dropping Ology this May in a hailstorm of synthesizer, The Weeknd feels, and Red Bull commercials. The classy intro and glitzy lyrics belong in a black tie, sequence-dress party, especially the opening line:
“Black dust in orbit
Cascades down like a parachute
Bricks on my shoulders
This gravity hurts when you know the truth”
Slow motion words. High powered talent. Courtesy of my obsession, Spotify Premium.
Thanks to a creative lad, the idea of editing time–of threading a song through digital seconds—has fascinated me this past month. He double-clicks history–cuts seconds and pastes animations–all the while imbibing recorded time with a sense of immediacy and reality. Our friendship began at a random intersection of mutual friends, category 4 hurricanes, and drunken tree climbing…. just another reason why college is i~n~s~a~n~e.
- The Stutterer (2016) by Ben Cleary
I think The New Yorker is an overrated publication concerned more with political correctness than high-quality writing. However, I stumbled upon this 13-minute jewel on Facebook, clicking on the link because of the cute boy cover photo. And that November morning, one of crinkled sheets and unsocked feet, changed instantly. As the title implies, this Oscar-winning short centers around a young Brit afflicted by stuttering, shyness, and an obsession with Facebook Messenger. His cheekbones are faultless and his day job is the hipster’s dream, but his inability to speak pervades (and dictates) the entire plot. The lack of dialogue—with an abundance of outside noise–mirrors his silent mouth but explosive thoughts. It’s barely 13 minutes but the emotions inside that brick loft—that father’s garden–and glowing Facebook tab lasted much longer.
- Simply Clean 8: The Feels by Tribalist
I never thought polished cars could be so goddamn sensual. But under the influence of slow motion, captured twilight, and handplucked playlists, engines became powerhouses and wheels were cyclical gods. Jahi, a filmmaker beast of long legs and navy TOMS, recorded his experience of Simply Clean 8 (a car show in Daytona, FL). Orchestrating each second with deliberate edits and organic music, he captured the essence of Simply Clean cars. Jahi recently started Tribalist, his creative agency labeled as “a growing organism” of videography, writing, and eventual world domination. A newfangled—and better—version of Vice, Tribalist is the product of a restless college guy and his inability to squander time. Jahi wrote, “We’re here to tell stories. We’re here to inform and convince. We are Tribalist.” So here’s to those electric friends, the ones with the eventual 20th floor, glass wall office, the mad ones with the impossible idea and talent of the future.
- The Less I Know The Better by Tame Impala
ALL HAIL TAME IMPALA. This music video is heart-pounding-salivating-tongue excellence, a sexual recess of gorillas and synthesizer. The level of artistic creation—and musical genius—within the electronic beats was staggering. Although the intro was unexpected, oral sex is an effective way to glue eyes and sensation to a static screen. Psychedelic drawings mixed with implied bestiality sliced with twisted sculptures of a sexy hue: I loved it. The trippy minutes delivered a confusing love triangle and modern art gallery (and porno?) to me, pushing the boundaries of The Grand Acceptable. The song was perfect for the “retro high school” vibe and androgynous protagonist (a variation of Cara Delavigne). Find Canada, the filmmakers with an affinity for lollipop colors and succulent asses, on Vimeo.