Monthly Archives: October 2008

Sarah Palin’s clothes

From the Phlog:

Image courtesy of the Allen Eyestone/AP via the New York Times

Sarah Palin’s sparkling, new high-end $150,000 wardrobe, purchased recently on a “campaign accessories” shopping spree, is the currently topic du jour for nearly every blog, newspaper, TV news show, etc. etc. Maybe your grandmother called to tell you about it? Maybe you saw a plane fly overhead and write it in the sky this morning? Maybe your dog barked it out to you in Morse code?

The most hilarious reaction to Palin’s expensive make-over I’ve seen so far comes from an unlikely source: The New York Times. This morning, they published a slideshow comparing Palin’s new look to her old one, and the Times Fashion & Style staff managed to slip some underhanded insults in. First, next to a photo of Palin smiling in Florida in a sorta Jackie O-style, cornflower blue blazer, they write: “…looking at the before-and-after photos, it was not readily apparent what Ms. Palin got from her shopping spree at Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.” Oooooh. Zing! You spent $150,000 on clothes, and the Times’ eagle-eyed fashion staff doesn’t think you look any different than you did before.

Elsewhere in the slideshow, the Times staff admits to being confused as to “what message her clothes were intended to broadcast,” which sounds like something Heidi Klum would say to a Project Runway contestant, shortly before dismissing them with her “You’re fired” line: Auf Wiedersehen! “Most of her bracelet sleeve jackets are so generic-looking,” the Times caption yawns, before delivering a final jab at politicians in general: “..they could have come from any of the favored designers of Washington politicians.” Oof. Only a (gasp!) politician would wear this clothing. At least she’s donating at the clothes in the end? Perhaps some budding young politician will stumble upon them at a Goodwill store in a small town somewhere?

The Times article indicates that Palin’s new image presents new worries for the Republican party: “Such an image is unhelpful at this late stage of the general election, Republicans said, especially when many families are experiencing economic pain, and when the image applies to a candidate, like Ms. Palin, who has run for office in part on her appeal as an outdoors enthusiast and former small-town mayor who scorns pretensions.”

It always seems silly to me when candidates put so much time and effort into presenting a certain image of themselves, because it has a tendency to backfire in a way just like this. Politicians are not sitcom characters; we shouldn’t expect them to fit neatly into one specific, stereotypical “image”: Joe the Plumber, Joe Six-Pack, the Hockey Mom, etc. The whole situation with Joe the Plumber is one big, fat example of that – McCain paraded him around as the shining example of a hard-working, simple American guy, who’ll be deeply and tragically wounded by Obama’s tax plans, and then, of course, the media fact-checked and quickly determined that the story is not as it seems.

Sarah Palin’s wardrobe will have no effect on whether I vote for McCain or Obama. Neither will Barack Obama’s, or anyone else’s.

I am just a lady, with a simple, lady mind.

From the Phlog:

Ladies: in case you’ve ever watched those ridiculously annoying tampon commercials, and wondered WTF was up with the obnoxiously happy women with their periods salsa dancing and kickboxing, and what is that blue liquid they always use, Sarah Haskins can commiserate. Haskins, a former improv actress who went to Harvard (so that makes her kinda, sorta affiliated with Boston), writes for a show called infoMania, on the Al Gore-helmed indie media company Current TV, and she’s got a regular segment called Target:Women. In said segment, Haskins observes, with intelligent, hilarious deadpan, the many misguided attempts various companies make in female-targeted advertising.

Take, for example, commercials for cleaning products. “Everyone you live with is an idiot,” Haskins says, as images of spilled drinks, muddy paw prints, and attempts to use a blender gone awry flash across the background. “Look at the bright side: if your husband doesn’t know how to use a blender, you can comfort yourself with knowing that cleaning products will always be your special friend.”

Then, on advertisements for birth control pills, as images of happy women with less-frequent periods prance behind her, Haskins says: “Birth control is sold as period control. Why? I don’t know. I am just a lady, with a simple, lady mind… Fewer periods, yay! Now we don’t have to leave the tribe and go sit in that hut for a week.”

These videos are like Seinfeld’s whole “what’s the deal with” shtick, but smarter and by a woman, and they had me snort-laughing and joy-crying. Be warned: Haskins has made a bunch of these videos (other topics: yogurt, pasta, laxatives, Disney princesses, wedding shows, Sarah Palin), so it’s easy to lose a few hours watching them.

I learned about Haskins via Gawker media’s smart, lady-friendly blog Jezebel, who posted an interview with Haskins on their site today, and she elaborates on topics such as Gossip Girl, the proper past tense for “smite,” and why ad companies seem to always get women wrong:

SARAH HASKINS: I think they’re trying to toe a very fine line between seeming “with it” in terms of modern female roles and responsibilities while trying to do the tricky dance of selling us products that are related to much more traditional things: cleaning, cooking for your family, being a wifey… Hard to do both and not seem insane or ridiculous.”

Read the full interview here.

Watch Target:Women videos here.

The kids really ARE alright

Photo by the wonderful Robert Doisneau.

From the Phlog:

Nickelodeon – and, more importantly, Nick News with Linda Ellerbee, who made me think that Clinton guy seemed pretty cool when I was 10 years old (okay, it was also party because of his MTV appearance) – has ended it’s annual “Kids Pick the President” mock election. According to their website: “Over 2 million votes were cast by kids like YOU and Barack Obama is the winner of the 2008 Kids Pick the President Election!” Well, hey! That sentence is blatantly lacking a comma, but whatevs – these kids LOVE Obama!

I headed over to the Nickelodeon message boards to find out why. Here’s what the Nick kids had to say:

tornado164: u c,mccain votes for bush 90% of the time! & he votes for girls to not have the same rights as boys! & that would not be good! GO BARACK OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

JKROFL: I think McCain is a very nice man and should be repected. But are we even ready for him? I mean he aims to higher taxes , and if hes elected gas prices will go up up up $$$$.Plus , not only is he not that great , weve got his vice pres Sen. Palin to worry about! I mean half the time she doesnt even seem like she knows whats going on and if McCain somehow may pass away in the next few years we will have her for president!
Vote Obama for change. He aims to cut taxes for the middle class and bring back our economy.

It’s much better when you read the actual boards, of course, every comment is punctuated by some type of blinking, colorful, animated gif-face. Of course, there are some naysayers on the boards, like 88426:

“obama said he will lower gas prices in 10 years and he will only be in office for 4 years but if he gets elected again he only has 4 more years. 4+4=8. do the math, he’s a lier! OBAMA STINKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

So, is this any indication of anything? I’d say a lot of what the kids on the Nick site have to say is probably strongly influenced by parents or other adults who figure prominently in their lives. (This is not meant to disparage kids – I think it’s great that there’s a place online where kids can go learn and weigh in about this stuff, and clearly they’re taking advantage of that.) Hopefully, though, these two million kid votes reflect two million potential adult votes – or more.

Video: Shepard Fairey in Cambridge

Photo by ICA
Boston.  Check out more of their photos from the event here.

When friends from the ICA phoned on Monday to alert me to the fact that Shepard Fairey was going to be wheatpasting in Harvard Square like, right then, the boss handed me a camera, and I dashed over there. Fairey’s got an exhibit going up at the ICA in February, and – let’s face it – a press release just can’t be the right way to spread the word for the former Andre the Giant posse-founding, Providence skater kid turned Obama-poster-designing street art luminary. He’s gotta spread the word, street-style! So, rather than battle the frozen, ice-covered disaster that is Boston in February, he got the ball rolling on that this week. (Keep an eye out: word is that he’ll been in town till Thursday, so watch for his artwork, coming soon to a blank wall near you.)

Along with Phoenix art critic Greg Cook and a few others, I was fortunate enough to hang with Fairey for the afternoon, while he pasted up two murals in Harvard Square – unfortunately I had to jet before he bolted over the Wall in Central Square, where friends told me he was careful not to disrupt the awesome, ongoing artwork happening there. Below, you’ll find interviews, and video footage of Fairey and his crew art-ifying the formerly plain, old red wall outside the Tannery, and a boarded up store across of the Harvard Square T-stop. (We have to note that the Tannery is directly across from Urban Outfitters, which carries Fairey’s Obey clothing line. Which means that fans could have watched him slap up artwork, DIY-style, and then walked across the street and bought his clothing. Is he living the dream? Or would the 19-year-old broke artist version of himself be groaning in disbelief?)

Semi-fame seems to be heading nowhere near the artist’s head, however. He chatted and handed stickers to anyone who approached him. He even gave a piece of his art (posters he was using for a wheatpasting collage) to an oblivious woman, who walked up to him and asked “Where can I get one of those posters?” then asked someone who that guy was as she walked away. (This was slightly annoying – I had had a friend salvage an unused Fairey piece, which was crumpled and discarded in a trash can, moments earlier). We won’t dwell, though.

Click here to see a video I shot of Fairey and crew hard at work (artwork) in Harvard Square.

“Paint Pens in Purses” #2

From the Phlog:

Don’t try to say the name of the show three times fast, just go see it. I was lucky enough to loiter around LAB – the city-hip clothing store/experimental art space/purveyor of weird Japanese toys/record seller and occasional DJ party spot – on Friday night, while store owner Kim Harris, “Paint Pens in Purses” founder Shayna Shenanigans, and other artists hung prints and photographs on the store’s walls, and created a large, trippy, animal-filled mural on LAB’s front windows, before the eyes of anyone passing by on Brighton Avenue. (Transforming windows into canvases, thus taking advantage of the instant audience: Allston’s heavy sidewalk traffic, is the LAB crew’s thing – check out photos and time-lapse video of past works here and here.) Shenanigans and friends were at LAB till the wee morning hours, prepping the space for the opening of the second installment of PPP, the “all-female urban art series” – the first was at Via Matta in August. From the looks of the packed reception party Saturday night, it was worth it. Here’s hoping there’ll be a third, fourth, etc. installments. Look here or here, for more information about the show. Below, you’ll find photos of PPP coming together.

Banksy news round-up

From the Phlog:

(Photo by Robert Stolarik for the New York Times.)

News about the famed, mysterious, prolific, trend-setting, point-making, globe-trotting street artist Banksy has been abundant in the past few months. In July, the Mail on Sunday published an annoyingly smug article, outing the artist as Robin Gunningham, “perhaps all too predictably, a former public schoolboy brought up in [the] middle-class suburbia” of Bristol, in the United Kingdom. (A middle-class public school kid created street art?! How dare he?) Their verdict relied mainly on this photo, of a man believed to be Banksy painting in Jamaica four years ago, and on interviews with friends of Robin Gunningham – none of whom actually came out and said the guy is Banksy. “Naturally, Banksy denied the picture was of him. Indeed, as we discovered, Banksy and those close to him tend to deny everything,” the Mail complains. (Ha! Banksy: 1, Mail on Sunday: …sort of also 1)

Unfazed by this attempt at cramping his style, Banksy went to New Orleans in August, around the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and planted a dozen or so pieces of artwork on the streets. The Times-Picayune and put together an excellent video of these works, and local reactions to them, watch it here. Unfortunately, one of Banksy’s pieces has already been painted over entirely – apparently not all New Orleaners were psyched on a world-famous street artists coming to town.

Then, rumors swirled around New York City, after a very Banksy-like mural of a rat in a “I ♥ NY” t-shirt surfaced at Grand and Wooster Streets. “Has the elusive British graffiti artist Banksy struck New York again?” the Times wondered. (Maybe they should have consulted Vermin or Pest Control. According to Artnet News. “a controversial new organization, a group named Vermin, was established to authenticate Banksy’s Street Art works for the art market — without the artist’s approval — in competition with Pest Control, the authentication body headed by Holly Cushing and operating with Bansky’s okay.” (Emphasis not mine.) Two groups are needed to authenticate his work? And one without his permission? It’s no wonder Banksy flees from England so often. They can’t seem to cut the guy a break.)

So! Today, the Phoenix‘s beloved music editor Michael Brodeur alerted me to the fact that, indeed, Banksy has struck New York again, and not just with the rat mural. The Times reports today:

“On Wednesday a Banksy piece was unveiled at 89 Seventh Avenue South (near Bleecker Street) in Greenwich Village.

This one is not a mural but an installation: a mock pet supply shop, filled with animatronic creatures like a rhesus monkey and would-be creatures like fish sticks swimming in a tank. The Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill, as the green awning reads, is Banksy’s first official exhibition in New York, his representatives say, and it will be open to the public daily through Oct. 31.”

Wooster Collective says: “A clear departure form last year’s behemoth show in Los Angeles, Banksy’s first ever show in New York City (the others have been fakes) is being held in a tiny storefront that’s less than 300 square feet and can’t hold more than 20 people at any one time.

One of our favorite things about what Banksy has done is that the entire show is completely visible to the public both day and night through the store front windows. And unless you’re a hard core Banksy fan, or until someone like us tells you, it’s absolutely impossible to know that the work has been done by Banksy. There are no paintings or graffiti in the entire space.”

The Times, Gothamist, and Wooster Collective all have a bevy of photos from the installation posted on their respective sites but, Wooster Collective warns: “still images don’t do the place justice!”

I say: time for a road trip to New York City?

“Where Fish Sticks Swim Free and Chicken Nuggets Self-Dip” [NYT]
“Banksy’s Village Pet Store and Grill” [Gothamist]
“The “Village Pet Store And Charcoal Grill” Opens in New York City [Wooster Collective]

Dodos and other news.

FOLKY, NOT FOLKSY: Sarah Palin couldn’t compete with the Dodos last Thursday.

Even though the Dodos’ show a week ago Thursday at the Museum of Fine Arts sold out, the San Franciscan duo were aware of a conflicting engagement. “Welcome to the 2008 Vice-Presidential Debates,” singer Meric Long joked with ironic solemnity.

The timing was all the two events had in common. Whereas Sarah Palin spewed folksy, confused verbiage, the Dodos (signed to Les Savy Fav’s Frenchkiss Records last December) played endearingly folk-y music — acoustic guitars and percussion, peppered with avant-garde elements — for a stuffed Remis Auditorium. And unlike their flightless namesakes, they often seemed on the verge of flying off, that due in part to Logan Kroeber’s frenzied drumming (augmented by a clattering tambourine strapped firmly to his shoe). Long sat hunched over his guitar, as though channeling the energy to keep up with Kroeber, alternating between quick strums and even quicker fingerpicking. Percussionist Joe Haener, who’s accompanying the band on tour, hopped in to give a metal trash can a whack or plunk an enormous xylophone.

Read more here.

PS – The answers. Sarah Vowell voiced the character Violet in The Incredibles. Juana Molina voiced Elastigirl for the Argentinian dub of the film.

PPS – Age Rings’ new singles, “Rock and Roll is Dead,” and “Caught Up in the Sound” are officially out! Largehearted boy has already caught wind of them. Check the songs out here, and come see their single release show with Hooray for Earth, Viva Viva, DJ Die Young, and Baltimoroder this Saturday at Great Scott!