Randy Kennedy at the Times has a great piece about the cross-country travels of curators from the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art–Alice Walton’s Bentonville, Arkansas institution–as they prepare for a 100-artist group show in September. (Kennedy terms it “a show that will inevitably be seen as a kind of heartland response to the Whitney Biennial,” referring to next month’s contemporary art bonanza in New York, which includes artists like Laura Owens, Jacolby Satterwhite, and the late David Foster Wallace, and is not sponsored by Walmart millions).
At first glance the Crystal Bridges “biennial” might sound like a project to uncover the next Thomas Kinkade; after all, the mission’s mission statement is to invite visitors to “celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of nature.” But as Kennedy relays, it’s a bit edgier: Cocaine-addled artists! Las Vegas creatives whose work is like “Henry Moore meets a piñata”! That said, as ARTNews notes, “84 percent of the one million visitors who visited Crystal Bridges from the November 2011 opening through August of this year came from Arkansas and nearby states….The exhibition program has been designed for this demographic: this spring, for example, “American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell.” Those folks not be ready for the kind of art made by the aforementioned Satterwhite, for instance, a gay African-American multimedia artist spotted at last year’s Miami Basel wearing sci-fi-inspired costumes much like this one. But hey, maybe Arkansas is more open-minded than one would assume.
And for anyone appalled at the thought of Walmart money propping up arts and culture, keep in mind that our “respectable” cultural institutions also have to kowtow to corporations in order to pull off mega-shows at the Whitney, the Tate Modern, and elsewhere.
If the romantic comedies of yesteryear and songs of James Blunt have taught us anything, it’s that our soulmate could be walking down the street or sitting across from us at the Starbucks across from our Starbucks, and every moment is an opportunity to fall in love. For those who wish to pursue these chance encounters on a hunch or out of some quiet desperation, there are Craigslist Missed Connections. Dorothy Gambrell at Psychology Today has put together an infographic that’s been circulating this week, showing, based on a sample size of the 100 most recent "Missed Connections" by state, where they are most likely to occur. Those around the age of 20 hang around ice-cream shops; 40, adult bookstores (the future, y’all). Illinois, New York and Massachusetts offer no surprises: missed connections are most likely to happen on public transit—the subway or the train. "Supermarket," "bar" and above all, "Walmart" are also popular options.
Ultimately though, I feel like this map brings up a lot more questions than it answers. Although seeing a lot of states with "Walmart" as a top location makes sense as Walmart is a big part of the everyday experience for a lot of people, it still is kind of mindblowing to see that many states where it’s the top-ranked "Missed Connections" site. Does Walmart know something we don’t? Is Walmart covertly working on some kind of plan to steer the love lives of unsuspecting Americans, subliminally creating a deeper level of brand loyalty?
And Georgia, when you say "The Car," do you mean you looked over and saw someone driving and found them attractive? Shouldn’t you be driving though? And does that mean now, as a state, Georgians who wish to attract alluring strangers must all proceed with caution when driving and be sure to cut it with the lip-syncing along to Steve Winwood or the nose-picking at stoplights, lest your soulmate leer over and see it? And fitness is important, but are people really going to gyms between 2 and 4 a.m.? And perhaps most importantly, Indiana, what the hell does "At Home" mean? Are you looking into people’s windows? Because that’s gross and a huge violation, don’t do that. Are you courting the person delivering your pizza? Are you just imagining human contact after being cooped up indoors for so long? Either way, Indiana, you should probably consider some hobbies. I would say, "go home, Indiana, you are drunk," but you basically need to do the opposite of that.
Never come between a bat-toting Bangladeshi and his World Cup football. Even though the Bangladeshis themselves are not particularly good at football—they’re ranked 157th by FIFA and didn’t qualify for the Finals currently underway in South Africa—the tiny Asian nation’s zealous fanatics still manage to put certifiably football-crazed countries to shame in terms of passion (read: destruction and rioting) whenever the cup rolls around. And it’s affecting those Made-in-Bangladesh garments sold at the likes of H&M and Walmart.
See, you can pay the lowest wages on the whole of planet Earth and put people to work in subhuman conditions making those dandy H&M tees. You can even cleverly avoid paying taxes on the whole thing and make a website touting your humanitarian work, but you can’t, under any circumstances, fuck with a man’s football watching. Every South American girlfriend/wife/populist president know this basic rule.
This week, students shut down the country’s top University of Engineering and Technology in Dhaka after riots broke out when foolhardy school authorities refused to shift classes so students could watch the Cup. Earlier in the tournament, hundreds of Argentina supporters bearing iron rods destroyed power stations to avenge a pre game outage that disrupted the Nigeria-Argentina match. The country’s 150 million fanatics are split between fervent allegiance to Brazil or Argentina.
To avoid further violence and take the pressure off the country’s feeble electric grid, the government this week shuttered 5,000 factories and pleaded with residents not to use appliances other than televisions during World Cup matches so match broadcasts can proceed uninterrupted. The government’s strategy seems to have worked for now, but if Argentina and Brazil advance to the Championship game on July 11th, you can pretty much forget about copping that new Jimmy Choo for H&M for a while. Here’s to hoping that happens!