October 1st in Arts & Culture

Certainly, every writer’s dream is to have a room of one’s own unimpeded by the daunting tasks of everyday life. But these are rough times, and who can afford to put themselves in an aesthetically pleasing solitude for a more than an hour? Well, now, maybe you. The Paris Review has announced today that they’ve partnered up with Standard, East Village to find a new Writer-in-Residence. The lucky recipient of their endowment must be a writer with a book under contract, and will receive a room at the hotel for three weeks of uninterrupted work. Check out the application and details

Last week we listened to Sleigh Bell’s remix of Phoenix’s “Trying to Be Cool,” but when not tweaking and shaking other’s tracks, the Brooklyn duo have been gearing up to release their new album Bitter Rivals. “Even though our music is bombastic and tough and abrasive, this record is super positive,” singer Alexis Krauss tells Rolling Stone. Head over there now to stream the whole album in its entirety before it drops on October 8th via Mom + Pop.

So far this fall, we’ve taken at look at both the best in film events, retrospectives, and premieres happening around New York City as given our essential alternate fall film guide, but as today marks the beginning of a new month and the true start to autumn, plenty of new features will soon be rolling into theaters near you. For a comprehensive list on what to see, check out The Dissolve’s 2013 Fall Movie Preview
This past week, the Coen Brothers’ highly-anticipated new feature Inside Llewyn Davis premiered at NYFF at rave reviews. Based on the memoir The Maymor of MacDougal Street by Dave Van Ronk, the film reunites Drive‘s Irene and Standard (Carey Mulligan and Oscar Isaac) as Llewyn and Jean to tell the story of the titular character, a song-songwriter making his way through the 1960s folk scene in New York City. Justin Timberlake, Adam Driver, John Goodman, and Garrett Hedlund round out the cast. So in anticipation for the film, check out Inside Llewyn Davis’ press conference held at Lincoln Center with Joel and Ethan Coen, Oscar Isaac, and John Goodman, hosted by Kent Jones. 

What Your Email Sign-Off Says About You

Here’s the hard truth: some of you are just wretched at writing emails. I don’t care if you can’t be bothered to capitalize, but can we at least get the right number of periods, and in the right places? And maybe some cleaner paragraph breaks? Oh, and just so you know, here are the assumptions people make about you based on your go-to sign-offs.

“All best” — All your best? No one’s that generous. Try spreading your best around a little more.
Cheers” — You’ve spent at least a couple weeks in Britain, or at college.
“[just your name]” — Thanks, by the time I get down toward the end of the email I’ve usually forgotten who it’s from. This is a real time-saver!
“xoxoxoxo” — CUT IT OUT, MOM.
“Love” — We haven’t seen each other in several years.
“[generic iPhone auto-signature]” — I see you don’t know how to turn that off.
“[supposedly clever customized iPhone auto-signature]” — I see you think it’s 2008.
“Thanks” — You know I didn’t do anything, right? It looks kind of like you’re thanking yourself for writing an email? OK then.
“Word” — You are me in eighth grade.
“Ciao” — You are drunk.
“Talk to you soon” — We will avoid each other at an upcoming party.
“Take care” — I’m dying, aren’t I.

This Sketch Will Make You Rethink Love At First Sight

Now thirty episodes deep into their unparalleled sketch comedy podcast, with some 40,000 followers in the know, comedy troupe Left Handed Radio are going strong, as kaleidoscopic and hilarious and surreal as ever (with no shortage of bottomlessly goofy voices). But today they’ve given us a rare treat—a video take on “I Noticed You,” one of their finest efforts to date.

Starring core LHR members Matt Little and Anna Rubanova, the scene begins with an almost painfully familiar setup—a guy and girl catching each other’s eye from across a generic party. True to form, however, this crew subverts all your expectations, and what was at first indistinguishable from a beer commercial or outtake from Girls becomes something far more absurd, and finally transcendent. Afterward, you’re likely to be a lot more skeptical about the whole ‘soul mate’ thing. 

Get a bonus dose of Left Handed Radio with their anniversary show below—it’s a doozy.  

Born Rivals No. 2: Kat George

Miles Klee is a little-known novelist. Recently, he decided his best career move would be to start a feud with another writer. This is his ongoing attempt to find (and destroy) the perfect rival.

Today’s combatant—who has written for Thought Catalog,  xoJane, and Jezebel—bullied her way into the ring by needling Klee on Twitter about the first installment of this series. Given how quickly she got under his skin, he had no choice but to challenge Kat George to a formal duel, for which she was in a very foul mood indeed. 
Kat George, you strike me as a promising foe not least because of your supercilious accent, which would seem to originate somewhere in the Commonwealth of Nations. Just where are you from, and why should anybody care? Also, how many people have you glassed in pub brawls? 
I’m from Australia, and I’ve glassed everyone in pub brawls. Which I guess is why you should care. I am actually wielding a broken bottle right now.
Your hereditary criminality aside, it’s pretty galling that you would dare to wash up on our shores and fancy yourself the equal of our homegrown Brooklyn sex columnists. Don’t you have a lot more twentysomething memoirists to vanquish before you attempt to take on a somewhat-acclaimed novelist such as myself?
Well, unlike you I’m not looking to assert some kind of intellectual superiority through literary infighting. I’m really only as good as my peers, so the better everyone else does, the better we all get to be in the end. The only thing I’ll be vanquishing is STDs and unwanted pregnancies.
If you wanted to sound like a demented vigilante who goes around kicking women in the uterus, well done. Still, that’s pretty mellow talk for the person who complained about the lack of bloodletting in the previous interview—and my editor said this one had to be "meatier." How meaty are you, Kat, and how meaty can you get? Or is meatiness not your métier.
It’s not my fault this country has a problem with abortion. I’m actually helping women with my Street Fighter style of fetus killing. As for meat, I do enjoy a good sausage sizzle on the odd occasion, but I suppose I don’t really know enough personal dirt on you to strike with some real venom. Maybe that’s because you’re not really on my radar. Or any radar, really.
I’ll make a note of your poor research skills—a must-have quality for any detestable writer. Of course, how much work is really involved when your main topic is personal anatomy? Your major offering to date, released this summer, is Pink Bits, a skimpy ebook of essays and stories about what it’s like to have a vagina. Where did you come up with such an original idea? And would you say it was narcissism—or just plain cynicism—that made you think people would pay $2.99 to read about your genitals?
I think this has more to do with you thinking you’re worth researching as opposed to my research skills. I went to law school (yeah, I threw that in there) so my research skills are excellent (where research is warranted). But it also seems as though YOU have not done research either. My main topic is not personal anatomy. I write a lot of personal essays, yes, but across a wide range of topics as well as cultural stuff (I don’t want to say criticism at the risk of sounding like, I dunno, you), genitalia being, obviously, the most popular, and yet the topic I visit least. Which goes to your final two questions–my vagina is what the people want.
For now. Do you worry what will happen to your career once you’re no longer quite so fuckable? Given the crippling debt you ran up learning how to be the lawyer you’re not, I mean.
Well where I come from the government subsidises our education so…And as for my future, did you not read my response to your last stupid questions or were you too busy daydreaming about my vagina? I write about a lot of things. I am working on a book that’s not about pussy and I have a web series. Which I believe is something you don’t have.
Oh, you must mean The Big Gulp, which as I understand it centers on Bushwick hipsters boning. Finally, young white people will have the top-tier entertainment about outer-borough blowjobs that is so sorely missing in our cultural landscape. Did you feel even a single stab of remorse for taking people’s hard-earned money to make this navel-gazing project a reality?
Well, I don’t really know how to rebut this at all because it seems like you don’t even know what the show is about? So I’ll take this opportunity to plug it instead—The Big Gulp is a comedy starring some really amazing NY comedic talents, and yes, while it does centre around a girl and her friends and the act of swallowing (hint: not water), it’s not intended to be navel-gazing at all. And you’ll be pleased to know there’s only one hipster character in the whole show!
Kat George, it’s been a great displeasure spending my lunch hour bickering with you. All I can say in closing is that if you ever want a Green Card, you need to start using the goddamn American spellings. Any parting words?
Go fuck yourself. Oh wait that was really mean.

Who Are You Not Voting For Tomorrow?

New York’s primary day is tomorrow, pitting dozens of disgraced politicians against even more scandal-scarred incumbents and naïve upstarts bound to do something illegal their first week in office. There’s genuinely no one to root for here. So really the only question is: which one of these idiots will you be casting your vote against?

First up, you can go ahead and not vote for Eliot Spitzer for comptroller. Do you want to entrust your money to a guy who spent thousands of dollars on sex? No you do not. I mean, sex is free. We need someone with better business sense. On the Democratic mayoral primary side, we recommend not voting for Anthony Weiner, because he’s a pretty lackluster sexter, nor Christine Quinn, who is probably an exemplary sexter, but a lady mayor? This isn’t Europe, for god’s sake.
Don’t limit yourself to not voting for people who are actually on the ballot, either: for all the positions where I feel I can’t make an informed decision, I’m going to write in things like “anybody but Mitt Romney” or “for the love of god please just not my downstairs neighbor who complains that I walk too loudly.” After all, why should the field of candidates dictate your choice in this most sacred exercise of personal freedom? Now get out there and don’t make a difference.
Photo via The Pie Shops

A Love Letter To Young Helen Mirren

Dear Young Helen Mirren,

I have to tell you, I don’t really go in for those “see how celebrities looked when they were younger” slideshows: what kind of a person is it who finds these photo collections meaningful, anyway? But this morning I was feeling foggy, willing to click on anything. That’s when I saw you—Helen Mirren, aged 25—and my heart tripped over itself. I knew at once from the look on your face that this was no accident. How else can it be said? We had a connection.  

Look, I know this is crazy, and happening really fast. I’m scared too. But it would be so wrong to deny the chemistry between us, so wrong I doubt I could live with myself if I did, so I won’t: Young Helen Mirren, we were meant to be together. I don’t care that we’re both already married, I don’t care that I’m usually not one for blondes, and I don’t care that you’re the photographic representation of a person who is now 43 years older and has no idea who I am in any case. Love isn’t always simple.  

Yes, Young Helen Mirren, I said it: Love. Come away with me to a little beachy paradise between Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and we’ll forget the rest of the world exists, just listen to the crash of blue waves and the cry of tropical birds and the mingled beat of our hearts as we roll and kiss in the sand. At night we’ll go into town and eat the best ceviche and dance like we’ll never have to stop. People will wonder at my profound luck, to have found you, and I will have to wonder myself.  

Yours forever in inconsistent chronology,  


Image via 

Born Rivals No. 1: Joe Bernardi

Miles Klee is a little-known novelist. Recently, he decided his best career move would be to start a feud with another writer. This is his ongoing attempt to find (and destroy) the perfect rival.

When Klee first announced these intentions, the swiftest reply was from Joe Bernardi, who has written for Paste Magazine and Vice’s Motherboard.tv, among others, and claimed he was “born to play” the role of literary nemesis. He turned out to be, at the very least, quite annoying.
Joe Bernardi, thank you for blundering into this opportunity for self-promotion. Before we get started, I feel I should tell our audience that you declined to be interviewed last night because you were a “fully-grown man who is getting a ZZ Top tattoo.” Would you say ZZ Top is your main influence?
There’s something ineffable about ZZ Top that makes them completely unable to influence a medium like literature or journalism. It’s something worth celebrating, but not something I’m going to try and cram into a story. The way I live, though, has been strongly—probably too strongly—influenced by the bearded, sharp-dressed genius of Gibbons and Co.
Way to get “ineffable” into the first answer. Speaking of sartorial concerns, it may interest you to know that I have such low hopes for this conversation that I didn’t put clothes on for it. Nor am I entirely sober. I have not phrased this as a question, but you may respond.
Nothing is more boring than hearing about another man’s alcohol intake but, if you’re insisting on taking us there, my roommate just lost his job at a local restaurant and a minute ago I paid him below market value for a beer so I’d have something to do during this thing. That I lead a life that requires me to sometimes put clothes on before 7PM on a weeknight is fine by me.
Glad you could screw your unemployed friend out of a couple bucks. Joe, I think we could classify much of what you write as criticism. Do enjoy explaining popular entertainments in a condescending tone, or is it that you just don’t know what else to do?
I’ve been writing a lot of criticism these days because the field of internet-friendly Klee-style mini-features bores me, but what good writer doesn’t like being condescending? Getting on a stage and acting like it’s a level playing field is the one of the most condescending things you can do.
Well put—and yes, making a living from your words is not for everyone. I couldn’t help but notice that your website’s URL is ihatetourists.com. Are you, sir, not a tourist in the heavenly realm of serious thought? A trespasser on the plane of true art? Interloper at the wedding of Cool and Awesome, stuffing your face with so much ill-gotten cake?
I don’t know from true art, but I’m posted up in the realm of serious thought, brother, and it’s the barely-clothed likes of you who come and go as they please. If the time I’ve spent reading and writing in this most erudite of zones has taught me two things, it’s these: “Cool” and “Awesome” don’t mean anything, and free cake is free cake.
Erudite zones? This isn’t your music blog, dude. I have to warn you that becoming my rival is bound to be a lifetime commitment, with lots of important anniversaries and crying jags. When I have finally ground your spirit into dust, what will you write in your suicide note?
Crying jags? This isn’t your music blog, dude. If I ever take myself out of the game, the only message I’ll leave will be an ice-cold 24-ounce can of Budweiser with a note taped to it that says “whoever finds this can drink it if Miles Klee dies without writing a second novel.”
Joe, I want to thank you for being the first subject of this series, and for being the first to draw blood. I just hope the next interview goes better.
I’m going to go yell at my neighbors for backing their truck up into my house. It’s going to be springtime in Paris compared to this.

Afternoon Coffee Break: Today’s Required Reading

Whenever the 3 o’clock hour rolls around and you’re slumping down at your desk tiptoeing towards an existential crisis, it’s often best reward yourself with a brief respite and a strong cup of coffee. But while you’re taking a moment to lift your head from the mass of work it’s been buried under, spend a moment catching up on some particularly interesting writing and news floating around the internet that you’ve been too busy to peruse through. Take a look at what we’ve been engrossed with this morning. 

  • Ranked: Rainer Werner Fassbinder Films From Worst To Best: "The five films included in Criterion’s essential new Eclipse set feel like spending a week with a repertory theater company. It would be unfair to judge Fassbinder’s entire filmography as a body of work, but equally wrong to examine a particular film without taking all of the rest of them into account." [ Film.com ] + while you’re there, check out our essay on one of his best melodramas, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant.
  • 9 Images From ‘Playboy’s’ Golden Age: "Hugh Hefner’s Playboy, which Taschen has recently repackaged into a more affordable six-volume set, provides a visual glimpse into the Golden Age of Playboy, when the magazine was at the vanguard of high and lowbrow culture, the changing times, and it challenged the establishment in ways that might seem silly today, but were considered quite subversive in the twenty years following the Second World War." [ Flavorwire ]
  • Get excited. "Nine Inch Nails are streaming their new album Hesitation Marks on iTunes a week before the scheduled release." [ Rolling Stone ]
  • Open Letter: Kate Bornstein to Chelsea Manning: "According to the Leavenworth prisoners’ handbook, Manning will not have Internet access, so we will physically mail this to her (there’s a whole procedure to follow if we want it to get to her, and we have to use her "Bradley" name and prison number, once it’s assigned), so if anyone wants to also send the physical letter, please do." [ Out ]
  • Keynote: Shadow Of A Doubt: "Released in 1943, Shadow Of A Doubt was Hitchcock’s sixth film after his move from England to the United States. With some occasional backtracking, Hitchcock called it his favorite of his films, and the one “our friends, the plausibles and logicians, cannot complain about.” [ The Dissolve ]
  • Liz Cohen’s Conceptual Car Takes Top Prize at Real-Life Lowrider Fest: "Artist Liz Cohen spent more than eight years crafting her “Trabantimino,” a hybrid vehicle that is part East German compact workhorse Trabant, part Chevy El Camino, and that transforms via hydraulics. An exploration of DIY culture and the playful mixing of identities, the project has been shown — to well-deserved acclaim — at Lower East Side gallery Salon 94 and at the inaugural edition of Frieze New York (2012)." [ Art Info ]
  • Tchaikovsky’s sexuality ‘downplayed’ in biopic under Russia’s anti-gay law: "The film’s screenwriter, Yuri Arabov, denied Tchaikovsky had been gay and said his script had been revised to portray the composer as "a person without a family who has been stuck with the opinion that he supposedly loves men" and who suffers over these "rumours", he told the newspaper Izvestiya." [ Guardian ]
  • Coen, Denis, Desplechin, Jonze Set for NYFF: Opening Act: "New York Film Festival season is starting a little early this year with the announcement of Film Society’s new series NYFF: Opening Act, which will run the week leading up to the 51st edition of the festival." [ FilmLinc ]
  • The Bruce High Quality Foundation University Returns this Fall: "The Bruce High Quality Foundation University—a one-room schoolhouse located just above a bodega—returns this September. The BHQFU is like grad school, but it’s mostly free, with classes offered on nights and weekends." [ Art F City ]
  • Musk’s New Hologram Project Invites ‘Iron Man’ Comparisons: "Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk—who is often compared to Stark by the tech press—is apparently creating the real-life equivalent of that fictional hologram system. “We figured out how to design rocket parts just w hand movements through the air (seriously),” he Tweeted August 23. “Now need a high frame rate holograph generator.” [ Slashdot ]
  • Nowhere to Go But Everywhere: "Paul Rogers has made “an illustrated scroll” in which he illustrates a line from every page of On the Road." [ The Paris Review ]

Eulogy For The Subway Shark

The saddest thing about the New York subway on the Internet yesterday was not, as you may choose to believe, this insipid conceptual missed connection ad on Craigslist. In fact, it wasn’t even the dumb comments about that thing by readers who took it literally. The saddest thing, let’s admit, was the discovery in the wee hours of the morning of a dead little shark on the Queens-bound N train.

The unexplained corpse of the adorable shark, who deserved a dignified death at sea and not in the foul fluorescence of a subway car, was instantly the butt of jokes about Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week,” the quickest route to the Coney Island Aquarium, etc. And the MTA, when confronted with photos of the shark posed with a cigarette, can of Red Bull, and MetroCard, said they had “better things to do” than figure out who was responsible. We can only hope the guy gets a skin disease normally found only in sharks.
Really, people of New York—are you so cold as to turn this into a Weekend at Bernie’s gag? That shark had parents, and probably a whole big shark family, and could have been due back for some big, delicious, home-killed meal when he suddenly expired. I don’t seem to recall everyone laughing when that dolphin died in the Gowanus Canal, do you? Oh, that’s different, you’ll say. That was a mammal, an intelligent mammal. Is that so? Then what was he doing in Brooklyn?
It didn’t have to be like this for the Subway Shark. In another universe, he’s still wriggling about in the sands of Breezy Point. Or cruising around the enormous saltwater fishtank of a successful cocaine dealer. Or was prepared with arugula and mango salsa at an overpriced restaurant, and thoroughly enjoyed by the beautiful couple out celebrating their 14th anniversary—the shark anniversary.
Godspeed, you cunning bottom-feeder. As a martyr for your species, you will no doubt ascend to Shark Heaven, where the water is endlessly clear and blue, the seals fat and slow. A place where, if you feel like it, you can stop moving every once in a while—though I have a feeling you’ll want to do some exploring. Up in Shark Heaven, there are no obnoxious surfers, and no one’s even heard of Roy Schieder. Even the blood smells better there. Enjoy, buddy. You’ve earned it.