Up West

Knightsbridge car harrods

Posted in London, Photography | Tagged ,

Karl dearest

If you ever think your life lacks purpose, bear in mind that, somewhere out there, someone has the job of being Karl Lagerfeld’s favourite male model. Irina Aleksander’s glimpse of the caviar set, relayed in quiet but lethal prose,  has the makings of a very funny film. But who would play Karl?

[HT: Hannah Rothschild]

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Detroit, ’42

detroit night

From a photographic essay about life in the city in the 1940s. (The shots of race riots are less uplifting.) [HT: Jennifer Selway]

Posted in History, Photography | Tagged

A social media health warning

Multi-tasking is the enemy. I should pin this article above my desk, but of course, I’m too busy to print it up. And who prints articles when you can just tweet them and pick up some much-needed retweets along the way?

Each time we dispatch an email in one way or another, we feel a sense of accomplishment, and our brain gets a dollop of reward hormones telling us we accomplished something. Each time we check a Twitter feed or Facebook update, we encounter something novel and feel more connected socially (in a kind of weird, impersonal cyber way) and get another dollop of reward hormones. But remember, it is the dumb, novelty-seeking portion of the brain driving the limbic system that induces this feeling of pleasure, not the planning, scheduling, higher-level thought centres in the prefrontal cortex.

Posted in Science, Social Media | Tagged , , ,

Dog cartoon of the week

And quite possibly the year… From The New York Times.


dog carton - analyst nyt

Posted in Comedy, Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

The making of Mad Men

“TV writing is for people who hate being alone more than they hate writing.” Matthew Weiner discusses his craft in one of those epic Q&As in The Paris Review:

INTERVIEWER: Do you read any of the commentary on Mad Men?

WEINER: I stay off the Internet.

INTERVIEWER: Now you do.

WEINER:  Yeah, I couldn’t take it. It’s like being on trial for a crime you didn’t commit and having to listen to the testimony with a gag in your mouth. I did learn, though, that what I intended something to mean is not always what it means. That’s okay. It’s actually kind of amazing.

[Via Longreads]

Posted in Literature, TV | Tagged , ,


Taraf de Haïdouks, 25 years old and still a force of nature. A song from the gypsy band’s new album, “Of Lovers, Gamblers & Parachute Skirts”.

Posted in Music | Tagged

On not being Charlie

A dissent by  Jeremy Warner in the LRB:

A lot of things the magazine has run are very funny but not much of it is harmless fun. French culture understands the power of the sign. Paris built much of its (dwindling) reputation as an intellectual centre on a prolific study of ‘discourse’: during the heyday of structuralism and its long, creative decay, language and representation were teeming sites of intellectual labour, so it isn’t as if cartoonists reach for their pencils like angels reaching for their harps.

And there’s more than freedom of expression at stake if you decide to depict Muslim women at prayer with their buttocks exposed; or ridicule the Prophet; or commend the Dutch cartoonist Gregorius Nekschot, collaborator of Theo van Gogh, for his drawings, which run from Islamophobic sexual insults to crass generic defamation (an idle Arab on a cushion announcing that ‘the Koran doesn’t say we have to do anything to draw 30 years of unemployment and social benefits’). Don’t we worry that somewhere in all this, the racial stereotype is looming, even if it’s operating behind the shield of secularism, an honourable Republican tradition?

Posted in Journalism | Tagged , , ,

Before Tracey Emin

debby harry

Debbie Harry in her New York apartment, 1970s. Photo by Chris Stein. [Via PunkAndStuff]

Posted in Music, Photography | Tagged , , ,

Screening history

Can we trust film directors to tell the truth about the past?  If “Belle” and “The Imitation Game” are any guide, the answer has to be no.  And now along comes “Selma”. In The New York Review of Books Elizabeth Drew addresses an alarming trend:

Some embellishments are harmless, especially when there’s no history to contradict… In “The Queen”, it doesn’t matter that it’s most unlikely, and certainly unknowable, that Elizabeth II, who had underestimated the degree of her subjects’ grief over the death of Princess Diana, upon seeing a beautiful stag about to be shot by hunters, shed a tear because it put her in mind (a stag?) of the tragic young woman. That’s acceptable “artistic licence,” since it doesn’t change the story.

But then there are elaborations that do change the story and mislead in serious ways. Both the play and the movie “Frost/Nixon” base the plot on a historical falsehood: Nixon agonizingly utters a confession he didn’t make; in fact it turns what he actually said on its head by leaving out some crucial words More recently, as Christian Caryl has pointed out, in “The Imitation Game” so many liberties are taken with what the figure Alan Turing was like, and so many historical facts are distorted, as to present a real question of the movie’s legitimacy.

[…] A film critic for The Washington Post argued that we should simply get used to the idea that films pretending to represent history are going to contain falsities—and that we can then discuss why the director made these choices. But how are we to know? Is every kid who’s misled by “Selma” going to take a seminar on it? Our history belongs to all of us, and major events shouldn’t be the playthings of moviemakers to boost their box-office earnings.

Drew’s earlier article on Frost/Nixon is worth reading too.

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