No one throws a guilt trip quite like Banksy. Case in point: The street artist just released a two-minute video that shows him sneaking into Gaza to embellish the area’s bombed-out ruins. The video satirizes travel ads in typical heavy-handed Banksy style. It also features three new pieces: a man knelt in grief, children using an Israeli guard tower as an amusement-park ride, and a kitten with an enormous pink bow. “A local man came up and said 'Please — what does this mean?''” Banksy writes in the kitten's caption. “I explained I wanted to highlight the destruction in Gaza by posting photos on my website —but on the internet people only look at pictures of kittens.” He isn't subtle, but he gets his point across.
Thirty years ago this fall, The Cosby Show debuted on NBC, and its star was catapulted into the comedic stratosphere. The timing is prime, then, for the release of a sprawling biography. Written by former Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker, Cosby: His Life and Times documents the man’s rise from the Philadelphia projects, while also detailing the creation of his family sitcom and the murder of his son Ennis in 1997.
The book is notable, however, for its complete avoidance of sexual abuse allegations that have dogged Cosby for more than a decade. In a statement to Buzzfeed's Kate Aurthur, Whitaker says, "I didn’t want to print allegations that I couldn’t confirm independently." Regardless, their absence is glaring. Consider the following timeline an appendix to the book.
How do you celebrate turning 40? By inking a book deal to publish your life story, of course. People reports that Drew Barrymore will release a collection of autobiographical essays, via Dutton. The book's described as "humorous, emotional, and welcoming" — so, a lot like Amy Poehler and Tina Fey's recent memoirs, we're guessing. Barrymore previously chronicled her famously tumultuous childhood in 1991's Little Girl Lost, but says her new book will include more stories from that time in her life, like "living on her own at 14 (and how laundry may have saved her life), getting stuck in a gas station overhang on a cross-country road trip, saying goodbye to her father in a way only he could have understood, and many more adventures and lessons that have led to the most important thing in her life, which is motherhood."
Last year Barrymore also published Find It in Everything, a collection of personal photography. There's no expected release date or title for her new book yet, but we're seriously hoping it digs up a lot of old Hollywood dirt.
As part of an exhibition about music producers, artist Xavier Veilhan (kind of) unmasked Daft Punk in the form of a birch plywood sculpture. "The funny thing is I didn't even ask them," Veilhan told Vice's Creators Project. "I proposed to introduce them as producers, not as musicians. ... They proposed to me: 'Okay, we should make the sculpture the non-existing image of us. So if somebody wants to see how we are like in real [life] they'll have to look at the sculpture.'" They still have sunglasses on in the piece, so it's like saying Dick Grayson is obviously Robin sans eye mask. But, hey, still a coup.
In an interview with the New York Times today, Elisabeth Moss revealed her favorite way to spend an evening: Dramatically expelling saline liquid from her lacrimal glands while being surrounded by hundreds of strangers who have paid for the experience. "I’m never happier than when I’m crying onstage," the actress gushed. "It’s super weird, and it’s what I love to do. Isn’t that strange?" The answer is yes.
There’s a great song on the first Sonic Youth album called “Shaking Hell.” The opening minute and a half — steely, ominous, unsteadily motoric — sounds like a piece of factory equipment malfunctioning in the moments before somebody loses a limb. Then, very suddenly, the machinery jams, the tempo slows to a crawl, and we hear the voice of the bass player, Kim Gordon, at once nervous and bracingly warriorlike: “She’s finally discovered she’s a …. He told her so!”
For more than 20 years, Nelson George, the filmmaker, former Village Voice columnist, and music-cultural critic, has been dealing less with churning out think pieces on R&B divas or swagged-out rappers and concentrating more on fiction, ranging from semi-autobiographical to romance to crime noir. His latest, the recently released The Lost Treasures of R&B (Akashic Books), is the newest volume to feature D Hunter, a tormented, HIV-positive bodyguard-investigator who comes back to live in a Brooklyn he hardly recognizes and tries to solve a few mysteries, mainly the whereabouts of a rare 45 featuring Otis Redding and Diana Ross on vocals. Now 57, the born-and-based Brooklynite talked to Vulture about his new book and the fun he had bringing his love for soul and fiction together.
Jaid Black, the “queen of steam,” isn’t feeling well, so she’s dispatched Christian, a muscular, handsome 40-something, to greet me at the front door of her West Hollywood home. It’s tempting to refer to Christian as a manservant, because a beefcake butler whose modeling bio boasts of a knack for finding G-spots would fit tidily into this story (and he does ask if we need anything), but in fact, he’s an aspiring actor and personal trainer to A-list talent agent Kevin Huvane. He’s also a friend of Black’s who’s willing to fetch the chocolate-caramel creamer for her coffee.
We've officially got a trend: After Harper Lee and Dr. Seuss, Arthur Conan Doyle is the third author this month whose lost work has been rediscovered and reintroduced to the world. In Doyle's case, the forgotten work is a short Sherlock Holmes story from 1904, written as part of a fund-raising campaign for a new bridge in the Scottish town of Selkirk. "Sherlock Holmes: Discovering the Border Burghs and, By Deduction, the Brig Bazaar" was published in a one-off book called The Book o' the Brig, a copy of which was recently found by historian Walter Elliot. (He'd had it for 50 years but forgot about it.) And since Sherlock Holmes is in the public domain, we've published the very meta tale below.
In 2006, Sheila Heti started writing a novel about failing to write a play. The play, commissioned by a feminist theater company, was abandoned after five years of workshops. The novel, meanwhile, became How Should a Person Be? — an experimental, semi-autobiographical rumination on friendship and art that was published in Canada in 2010. The book was released in the U.S. two years later, where it found an enthusiastic audience among fans of writers like Chris Kraus. In fact, Kraus herself compared Heti to Mary McCarthy, whose work offered “an explosive and thrilling rejoinder to the serious, male coming-of-age saga," writing that How Should a Person Be? "exuberantly appropriates the same, otherwise tired genre to encompass female experience."
In a funny-awkward meeting that takes place near the beginning Verité, a pair of Norwegian publishers tell Jo Darum, our heroine, that she has a captivating authorial voice but the wrong kind of material. This is half right; she’s actually a dreadful writer, as we know because we’ve already heard her reading to her 8-year-old son from the YA fantasy novel she’s been working on since high school. (It’s about a “simple farm dwarf” out to save the world by, among other things, traversing the Fiery Lake of Boog.) Still, something about Dragonscape has impressed the Norwegians enough to scoop it off the slush pile and offer Jo an opportunity. They won’t publish it; they’re silly, not crazy. But if she will write a memoir that’s sufficiently dark and involves “interesting choices,” they’ll publish that instead.
Celebrated novelist Haruki Murakami is a master of the heartbreaking and the surreal. So who better to start an online advice column? In January, the Japanese author began soliciting and responding to reader-submitted questions. Murakami's website is in Japanese, but we translated some of the best back-and-forths. It's weird — and weirdly charming — stuff.
I don’t mean to suggest that you’re unpatriotic if you aren’t moved by Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s sensational new hip-hop biomusical at the Public. But in order to dislike it you’d pretty much have to dislike the American experiment. The conflict between independence and interdependence is not just the show’s subject but also its method: It brings the complexity of forming a union from disparate constituencies right to your ears. It may confuse your ears, too: Few are the theatergoers who will be familiar with all of Miranda’s touchstones. I caught the verbal references to Rodgers and Hammerstein, Gilbert and Sullivan, Sondheim, West Side Story, and 1776, but other people had to point out to me the frequent hat-tips to hip-hop: Biggie Smalls, the Fugees, “Blame It (On the Alcohol).” And I’m sure that historians in the audience (the show was “inspired by” Ron Chernow’s 800-page Hamilton biography) will catch references that the rest of us fail to notice. (“The world turned upside down,” a repeated phrase in a number about the Battle of Yorktown, is the name of the ballad supposedly played by Redcoat musicians upon Cornwallis’s surrender there, in 1781.) But for all its complexity — its multi-strand plotting and exploding rhyme-grenades — Hamilton is neither a challenge nor a chore. It’s just great.
In the late 1960s, Robert Christgau helped invent rock criticism. Ever since, he's been among the country's best and most influential arts journalists. In his memoir, Going Into the City: Portrait of a Critic as a Young Man, Christgau, a native New Yorker, traces both his own (and pop's) intellectual and emotional development and paints a loving portrait of the city he loves. It's a deeply smart, charmingly gregarious read. This excerpt finds Christgau reflecting on some pivotal moments for himself and the music he loves: the deaths of John Lennon, Bob Marley, and Lester Bangs.
From his early days as a struggling actor, through his drug-addled years working for Andy Warhol at Interview and Tina Brown at Vanity Fair, and on to a mind-bending journey to the top of Kilimanjaro, Kevin Sessums has led an intensely colorful life — and just barely lived to write about it. His memoir, I Left It on the Mountain, is full of glitzy, debauched yarns, including the one excerpted here, about a very strange night with Courtney Love and Jessica Lange at the 1995 Vanity Fair Oscar party.
Beginning in March, Björk will have a retrospective at New York's Museum of Modern Art. Titled "Björk," the exhibition will honor the artist's two-decade, eight-album-long career. "Björk" opens March 8 and runs through June 7. She released this clip to tease one of the centerpieces, Black Lake, a sound and video installation complete with dazzling visuals, Björk's beautiful voice, and some nearly NSFW goo.
From a distance, photographer Felix R. Cid's new exhibit, "X," showing this month at A+E Studios, resembles a pixelated computer screen or what you'd imagine a landfill to look like from the vantage point of space. Up close, the photos seem like aerial shots taken of a mass gathering of people. And that's the point: The photos are, in fact, large clusters of people captured at various electronic music festivals in 12 different countries — including Portugal, France, Switzerland, and more — who represent what Cid describes as a "physical example of a completely globalized planet."
To create "X," Cid used the detailed photos of individual festival attendees to then arrange a collagelike materialization of a space and time that he says never actually existed in the way he's now warped it. The result is a mind game intended to "provoke tension between what we're capable to perceive with our eye and what we think we know."
A+E Studios, 160 West Broadway, through March 2.
Richard Price has gone through a lot of life changes over the last ten years and come out pretty much the same. He got divorced, sold his family’s art-filled Gramercy Park townhouse —and then, in 2008, married the writer Lorraine Adams at a ceremony in his new home, a five-story Harlem brownstone restored to its Victorian bones and stocked with photos by Weegee, the seedy street-life touchstone of his later fiction. After publishing his last and maybe most ambitious literary procedural, Lush Life, a thin-sliced vivisection of the Lower East Side, he decided to focus even more intensely on his novels, and less on the increasingly tedious, decreasingly lucrative sideline of screenwriting. Yet his adaptation of the novel Child 44 will hit theaters in April, and he’s writing a script for Scott Rudin from his latest novel, The Whites. So much for change.
The overall consensus on Fifty Shades of Grey when it first appeared on bookshelves was that it wasn’t a great book. A sexy book? Sure. But not great. Sexiness alone, however (along with some pervasive nationwide BDSM curiosity), was enough to place it in a top-selling slot for what seemed like forever — and more important, perhaps, get author E.L. James a movie deal. Now we're left with this question: Could the movie possibly be better than the book? Well, yeah. Movies often aren’t deemed “better” than the beloved books they adapt, but with director Sam Taylor-Johnson at the helm and really nowhere to go but up, we assumed that the film would improve quite a bit on the pages. Turns out we were correct. Here’s exactly how.
Jonathan Franzen has always been a guy with a lot of dislikes, particularly when it comes to the internet, technology, and Jennifer Weiner. In a new Q&A with Butler University's journal Booth, Franzen's still got it.