best when viewed in low light


Day to day

Day Symbols of the Maya Year

F_ck! Speaking of remixing

The relevance of actors

Gender remixing

November 19, 2009
It’s All a Blur to Them

“I’VE heard that in Australia, men are wearing tights,” Chuong Pham said. Tights for men, he acknowledged, may be extreme. But Mr. Pham, 28, an engineer in Manhattan, thought nothing of combining stalk-slim jeans with a sweatshirt pinched from his mom and sexily sheared à la “Flashdance.” Raking his fingers through a sheaf of hair that tumbled in waves past his collarbone, Mr. Pham said: “There is a whole transition of men getting into women’s wear. It used to be that the people who did it were just the edgier ones. Now it’s much more common.”

Common enough that Mr. Pham and his forward-thinking cohort — urban Americans, mostly in their 20s — are revising standard notions of gender-appropriate dressing, tweaking codes, upending conventions and making hash of ancient norms.

“My generation is more outside the box than the generation before me,” said Brandon Dailey, 26, a hairstylist in Manhattan. “Our minds are more open to different things, and that sometimes means mixing it up in what we wear.” He may never put on a skirt, he allowed, but sees nothing amiss in working “a long drapey shirt with really tight pants.”

Audrey Reynolds, an acquaintance, was engaging in a bit of gender play herself. Ms. Reynolds, 25, who wore a slouchy biker jacket and beat-up clog boots, insisted: “Every line should be unisex. A good piece of clothing is a good piece of clothing no matter who was meant to wear it in the first place.”

At one time, such artfully calibrated ambiguity might have been the expression of a renegade mind. Today it seems scarcely more subversive than wearing black, just the latest countercultural gesture to be tugged into the mainstream. The look is androgynous, for sure — but with a difference.

During the 1970s, arguably the last time sartorial gender blending was as pervasive in the culture, it grew in part from the kind of feminist thinking that suggested girls play with Lego sets and boys play with dolls. “Now we have something new,” said Diane Ehrensaft, a psychologist in Oakland, who writes about gender. That something is not necessarily about one’s politics or sexual orientation or, she added pointedly, “about one’s core identity as a male or female.”

What Dr. Ehrensaft has dubbed “gender fluidity” remains in her view a form of rebellion. It suggests, she said, that “younger people no longer accept the standard boxes. They won’t be bound by boys having to wear this or girls wearing that. I think there is a peer culture in which that kind of gender blurring is not only acceptable but cool.”

Women have been incorporating trousers, biker jackets and combat boots into their wardrobes since Amelia Earhart swapped her pearls for a flight suit. But increasingly, it is men who are making unabashed forays into mom’s closet, some for fashion’s sake, others for fit. A few may be taking their style cues from Pete Wentz, the emo rocker who demonstrates on YouTube how to slick on eyeliner; or Adam Lambert, the “American Idol” runner-up, who has made sooty eyes and blue-black nails his fashion insignia. Others fall back on Johnny Depp.

“I came here with an idea,” Dyllan White said as he inspected his reflection at Mudhoney, a unisex hair salon in the East Village. Mr. White, 22, who is studying art therapy, wanted “something up and back, something ‘Cry-Baby,’ ” he said. He settled on a modified pompadour that recalled Mr. Depp in the 1990 John Waters movie of that name. “I feel fine about it, like a guy,” he said of his haircut. “It’s universal. It’s awesome.”

To Sharon Graubard, a senior executive with Stylesight, a trend forecasting firm in New York, Mr. White’s thinking points to a sea change. “In the streets I see young couples dressing almost alike, wearing slicked hair, peacoats, straight jeans or those longer T-shirts that are almost like a dress,” she said. Such a willful melding of men’s and women’s garb represents, she said, “a kind of evening of the playing field.”

Mingling men’s and women’s clothing, others argue, is like waving a flag of neutrality. “It’s a way of breaking down sexualized relationships, of getting people to relax,” said Piper Marshall, 24, who is an assistant art curator at the Swiss Institute in Manhattan. “I work with lots of male artists,” she added. “It’s important to find a common ground.”

Humberto Leon, an owner of Opening Ceremony, the vanguard boutique in Lower Manhattan, is one of a growing number of merchants catering to that mind-set. Lately Mr. Leon has been mingling men’s and women’s clothing with marked success. Even angora cat-print cardigans, part of a unisex line designed by Chloë Sevigny, “flew out of the store,” he said, snapped up by men and women alike.

So entrenched are the latest forms of gender blending that mainstream purveyors of hip, including Urban Outfitters and American Apparel, are offering clothing and jewelry meant to be worn by either sex. American Apparel has no fewer than 724 unisex items — hoodies, cardigans, blazers and bow ties, among them — on its Web site, simply because, as Marsha Brady, the company’s creative director, put it, “that’s the way people wear clothes.”

At a jazz club in downtown Manhattan last week, Bettina Chin and Michelle Wang drove home the point, wearing severely tailored evening ensembles that perfectly echoed each other. “I like a mannish look at night,” Ms. Chin explained as she flicked back her cuffs.

Some marketers have been quick to interpret that sort of ambiguity. Fall advertisements for Burberry show a succession of lanky, pallid men and women wearing what seem to be interchangeable coats. A model for Rolex is tricked out in an Earhart-inspired leather jacket, aviator cap and goggles.

Gender neutrality has gained traction on the runways as well. Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons and Yohji Yamamoto jettisoned gender codes long ago. More recently, designers as influential as Rick Owens and Alexander Wang have made their mark with draped T-shirts and, in Mr. Owens’s case, dresses and high-heeled shoes for men. In London, Christopher Kane lent his spring 2010 collection some swagger by inviting the model Jenny Shimizu, a standard-bearer of female androgyny, to saunter down his runway wearing a man-tailored suit.

“Today the more successful designers are the ones that try to bridge the gap between the sexes rather than drive a wedge between them,” said Karlo Steel, a partner in Atelier, a progressive men’s store in downtown Manhattan that also draws a female clientele. “Right now fashion’s pendulum seems to be swinging in that direction.”

Skeptics argue nonetheless that gender blending is bound to remain a marginal trend.

“It’s something you need to be young to do well,” said Harold Koda, the curator in charge of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “To carry it off, you need the physique of an adolescent boy. As long as the young are the primary audience, it’s not going be economically sustained.”

Still, gender-neutral dressing has made sufficiently formidable inroads that some suggest it has a robust future.

“Obviously androgyny may not play in Peoria,” said Dr. Ehrensaft, the psychologist. “But norms are shifting.” In her clinical practice, working mostly with teenagers and elementary school children, Dr. Ehrensaft said she routinely witnesses “a kind of gender fashion parade.”

“Kids, even little kids, are experimenting across gender lines. Boys are wearing My Little Pony T-shirts, just because they like them. Sometimes they like to dress in the girls’ section because the shirts are cooler.”

Adults have long dictated the way young people dress, Dr. Ehrensaft said. “But now the young are giving us a different dictation.”



Planetary plunder

Now that water has been discovered on the moon, we'll have another planetary body to pillage of its' natural resources, just like we do our own.

Is this really cause for celebration?


Prince, I feel for you

I've been dancing to this song since I was old enough to stand... just about.

[subtitles! awesome...]

But I had no idea that Prince did a version...

[By the by... WOW]

Killing TV

"Strategists must today work amid fragmentation, divergence, and opposition in the market: to optimize across nascent and long-standing business models; across new and traditional release windows; with old and new content programmers; and with both IP and traditional supply chains. This is the beginning of the end of television as we know it and the future will only favor those who prepare today."

[Excerpt from study on the future of television, published by IBM March 27, 2006; reprinted in Media Work 2007]

Interestingly, the opposite tendencies are also evident in the way that people are using networked and social technologies... audiences are coalescing around the virtual water cooler daily.

Personally, I watch all TV on the internet, and as many episodes back to back as are available. Example: I watched the entire first season of True Blood over three days in June. A year late, but I didn't have to wait week to week. And now, during the lull between seasons 2 and 3, I am not anxiously anticipating the next installment, I am absorbing other media and will eventually forget about that show.

[On the topic of True Blood... though the initial advertising was genius, the rest of the related materials sucks...because it breaks the 4th wall. Stop doing that! Shit, we KNOW it plays on HBO. Get over yourselves.]

The future is: continuous programming, timeless scheduling, varied duration, rich narrative universes populated by characters, institutions and users...all in the same world.

The future is not:
a comic book version to go with everything (collectors will collect anything, but story-crazed audience members want MORE, not repetition),

a website to register, watch clips, and take surveys (you can already find out anything you want to know about me that advertisers are interested in, why make me register?)

prize-motivated participation (prizes are nice, but what keeps me engaged in a story is CONSTANT INTERACTION, not (again) something I'll register for and forget about before I find out someone else has won that trip to Vegas)

in-world merch brought to you by HBO/NBC/whatever (note to authors: that KILLS the experience)

Pride & Prejudice: Redux

My buddy Blowuprobot has done an updated and much more accessible version of the P&P character map for our pleasure:

[wikipedia's version]

BUP claims not to have read P&P, but I don't think that 1) impacts the ability to arrange information in a graphically superior way, 2) is really necessary given how entirely our postmodern conception of romance is based on this book.

Recently, I watched the 6 hour BBC version (starring an absolutely hypnotic Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy) and was really amazed by how manipulated I felt by the end.

Don't get me wrong, manipulated is good when it comes to story. I'd use that interchangeably with "engaged" or "effective" in most cases and intend it as an entirely positive comment.

But I came away with a little something extra. A sense that my sometimes wonderful and sometimes disastrous romances just don't measure up. And even though I get that's the point with a fairy tale, which P&P is, Austen's narrative has become so well ingrained in popular discourses about romantic love that I couldn't help but feel disappointed.

Having read everything Austen has ever written, I feel fairly confident in saying that her characters, while convincing, are intended to be representational. Just like Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, with a dash more attitude, perhaps. The fact that we in the modern and post-modern ages feel like we can relate to these characters is, I think, the result of how much Austen's fairy tales have become accepted as dramatic interpretations of real life. That's a bit circular, I know.

My point here is really about how effective stories are at forming our conception of ourselves, of becoming embedded in the cultural discourse and thereby becoming accepted as true. What I personally take away from all this is that, as a storyteller/media maker/mythologist, it is my duty to tell stories that are that exemplary. Rather than describing in detail how our neuroses and insecurities can overwhelm our better judgment - BUT! with the right application of patience, love, and a little obsessiveness we can be cured! - I'd really like to see stories of self-actualization. Not heroes and heroines that come from other planets, or from the gods, but from the population and the application of timeless wisdom about how to make the most of what you've got.

Falling in love may, as a particular friend of mine has argued, take a healthy dose of fantasy, but staying in love and building lifelong relationships (always the part AFTER the book ends) is what takes work and an admirable character. Wouldn't it be great if there were stories about how people actually do this? Or, is that not dramatic enough?


Misc media

Back to the old sponsorship model at Fox

Get used to change media organizations, cause it's going to keep coming!

Entertainment messaging has always been about propaganda, but it's usually protesting censorship, not enforcing it.

User-ruled content and platforms is the future of Twitter, and everything else. [Note to media orgs mentioned above.]

If Yahoo and AOL think they're going to be content creators, they're missing the whole idea. You're entering the wrong business model.

Best fatalistic journalism related headline ever! "The news is broken," says the news.

Happy accident

Universal mind control

War on

A narrated photo essay from one journalist's embedded journey with Marines in Afghanistan.

Beautiful. Frightening. Just scratching the surface.


If we're lucky, we can discard the paper part of a magazine completely

Personally, I think magazines that are excited about digital readers are missing the point, but it is interesting to note that they are actually planning for a future without paper.

There's always a trade-off, though. And I have some questions...

Is the magazine reading demographic likely to have the first generation, full-color, networked readers?
What generation WILL they have?
How many years out should magazines be planning their content now?
Should they be filming beauty videos and street interviews about the "latest fashions" for fall 2012?
How will the formula evolve? Will the entire magazine become a 100-word fluff piece?
Will magazines like Harper's or The Atlantic or Foreign Affairs even exist in a digital format? Will they survive.. what with their 3000 word, in-depth articles?
How will magazines with an existing web presence integrate with a digital version? Will a single output bring more eyeballs that a cross-media strategy?

Perhaps even more relevant to the digital magazine question is: Is it still a magazine?

html riddles

Here are the instructions given on the opening page:

So. Glad you could make it. Let's go over some rules, shall we?

1. This isn't a puzzle, per se. It's actually a series of puzzles. Some will be obvious right away, some will be not so obvious... Most of the levels' challenge really relies on what kind of thinker you are. Do not get discouraged; these are supposed to be challenging.

2. No spoilers. If you've beaten a level, and you're talking to someone who hasn't, don't go and tell them how to beat it. It's no fun for the people who haven't beaten it yet to be told the answer. In that same vein, it's against the rules to go looking for spoilers. It's much more satisfying to get the answers yourself.

3. Most of the time, the answer will replace the part of the URL just before the .html. You are going to want to put .html after every answer, or else you may not get the page you're looking for.

4. Sometimes you will need outside knowledge to beat a level... I try to keep things untechnical, but in a game like this, some situations are unavoidable. It is recommended that in another tab/window, you keep open your favorite search engine, so you can go find the knowledge you need.

5. No spoilers. Seriously.

6. Try having fun at this. All the levels are fair. If you find the answer, it will be quite obvious that you got the answer. Guessing wildly really doesn't help at all.

7. If you're ready to start, then go ahead. Don't get frustrated... Sometimes the answers are just waiting in the dark.

Magical financing, or, Goldman Sachs fucks us all in the taxes


San Precario

Somos precarios y precarias, atipicos, temporales, moviles, flexibles
Somos la gente que esta en la cuerda floja, en equilibrio inestable
Somos al gente deslocalizada y reconvertida



50 years in space

Despite your colonialist attitude, NatGeo, I love you.

50 years of exploration

Too much media news

Convergence finally occurs to publishers... Tribue365 is a decade late to the party, but at least she showed.

GE out, Comcast in, and charging for Hulu. [Pooh.]

A virtual stand destroys the point of magazines, but since it's Target, it'll probably still sell a shitload.

Talking dirty in rural areas will get you (cut) off... If the FCC can't handle broadband regulation, imagine what it would take to revamp the common carrier rules for telecoms. AT&T, you are so screwed. Gimme a call on my Android if you want to complain...

Who could have imagined that Joseph Schumpeter would have experienced such a resurgence? As the media faces an identity crisis, "creative destruction" at least looks promising. It's creativity right?

Elinor, economics goddess

To think I cam *this close* to taking her class! ...but didn't :(

On a planet with limited resources, access, and rules of ownership, determining the economically feasibly allocation - based on our collective good or not - of common pool resources (e.g. fresh water, air) is the most relevant consideration for economists today.

Here's to being the first! Here's to being a woman! Here's to rocking the world!

According to a few folks who did take her class, she also has a sense of humor!
[We CAN have it all!]


Phoebe colliding

My namesake moon has been smashing into shit and getting all up in astronomers' faces.

[No accident there.]


Fantasy Island come true

Not one for old adages, but evidently Mark Burnett is: if it ain't broke... make it a reality tv fantasy job competition show!

The (in)famous Fantasy Island is being revived (again), and this time it has a point.

[I don't understand.]

[What's there to understand?]

[Why does this show need to exist?]

[You're asking a question that has no answer.]

In case you missed it, old episodes of FI are on Hulu now. Maybe it will remind us why this is an IP that so desperately needs to be [destroyed] resurrected.

Glossy = extremely excited!

I applaud the experimentation if not the idea.

The San Francisco Chronicle is going to use glossy paper now, so the ads look good.

[How about writing content people want to read?]

Next stop, color!

[Oh, wait.]

Yay! Facebook is awesomely tragic.

Facebook is measuring my happiness (yours too) by tracking the use of words like "yay", "awesome" and other high school expressions of pleasure.

Contradictions only from now on.

Measure this, Gross National Happiness Index (makes me want to puke)!

Too bad the Bhutanese government's already got!

[isn't this oxymoronic?]


like Colbert says

damn good programming


Or else?

Really Obama, of all the leaders to be setting ultimatums...

Tsk, tsk. I thought you had more perspective, and more respect.


Les FPS expliqués aux enfants #2 - NoFrag

Times Square spectaculars

[image credit to laughingsquid]

The media that already clog your cognitive arteries are planning a coordinated attack.

[An encyclopedic catalog of existing Times Sq ads]

White space highway

When the FCC passed legislation opening up the "white space" spectrum abandoned by the transition from broadcast to digital TV, they converted a 2-lane wi-fi highway into 8.

Who and what communications innovation will be first to dominate the lanes?

Where inspiration strikes

and others...

Inspiration strikes



Brad Neely, Dear Reader

Is Iraq ironic?

"People who don't find jobs could become thieves and looters."

Despite the billions it is preparing to commit, this is just a small project for the Chinese company - a pump-primer to build relations with the Iraqi government.

It is actually based on an old deal (a 23-year, $3bn (£1.84bn) deal to exploit the small al-Ahdab field) first signed with the government of Saddam Hussein in the late 1990s, but which never went any further.


Kanye opens the curtain

At first you started off real cool, singing meaningless pop songs about love and suffering, just like everybody else. Then you thought you'd make a statement, espousing female empowerment and putting your foot down against men who weren't making a contribution to a shared life. And really, I would have been with you all the way, except...

Except you espouse a philosophy that perpetuates a double standard. That men have to earn money to be valuable (in the case of "Bills, bills, bills") or that they'll only mean they love you when they've purchased you with a wedding ring (as in "Put a ring on it").

This is dangerous messaging in the public discourse. Though I totally agree that women should be proud to earn their own money, and should demand of men an equal contribution in the household, as well as expecting and receiving the same commitment and faithfulness they're willing to put in, the moment that you equate that singularly with providing cash or goods, the moment you disregard the statistical FACT that a great number of women do NOT earn money in the marketplace, and do NOT make an equal cash contribution to a union - married or not. And when you assume an arrangement that the men have to pay to be valued, you also - conversely and perversely - defend the women who don't, which simply prevents their non-market work from becoming more valuable.

By destroying the moment for Taylor Swift, Kanye pulled the curtain back on the whole MTV mask: the mask that says we're making meaningful music and authentic art. By promoting Beyonce's work as having more value than Swift's, he came crashing back down into the stage, proving that it's all just a show of most popular (which, at this point, is as much a phenomenon of marketing, distribution and access as it is about reaching the hearts and minds of the audience).

Even worse, Kanye apologized. To Swift, to the audience. I'm all for Kanye getting tore up and getting "real" on TV - in fact, given his track record of insightful public comments, I'd actually encourage it. What I don't want is for someone with his ego and his insight apologizing for having a say. It ruins his image, it undermines the value and accuracy of his statements, and it hands the power back to the marketing machine from which they've all sprung.

If you're going to tell everyone to fuck off, mean it. Never apologize.



I wanted media! and that's what I got

Pardon the references...

Time Warner's letting go of AOL and buying better properties, maybe. "We must have networks."

Good luck Leo! In internet terms, AOL isn't just antique, it's irrelevant. And we don't want to use our (grand)mother's internet. On the other hand, those not in the know think that AOL IS the internet! So you've got that going for you.

Hulu, you f@*#ing traitors! It's over. Pay-to-play is a deal-breaker.

Talk about convergence: my nano now shoots video. This is the best thing to happen to user-gen since the internet. Pretty soon you'll see MYtv on youtube - homemade videos of my favorite songs, playlists, memory-connecting like crazy. Welcome back, Steve!

Don't be threatened by the new model, Disney. If you make good movies for kids, we'll all be stuck buying them... unless, of course, you want to make digital streaming easier, smoother, and cheaper than owning. Come to think of it, why do you care about that?

Come up with a NEW story idea, why don't you?! Moving DC Comics into films is just a rehash. And you can pillage stories from anywhere TW.

Broadband is "essential" for new jobs. Well, I could have told you that!

Shit. If you can smoke pot, do coke, write about it, and then become President of the US, what could I possibly put on facebook that will matter "when I grow up"?! Hypocrisy is, possibly, one of the things we'd avoid.

If there's a survey, it must be true: more people are watching tv on the internet.

Truer words... "If operators can make their networks as accessible or nearly as accessible to developers as the iPhone, they will be able to offer their own versions of applications stores."

Fighting for freedom but not getting it. Soldiers get screwed by official policy (again)?

Disney, your ass is getting fat. Or maybe that's just the acquisition of Wideload. Or maybe the acquisition of Wideload is going to make you realize that you aren't the svelte traditional multimedia hub you once were. Or, maybe you'll fit right into those genes.


Augmented-virtual-reality-world game

This will be my new game addiction, no doubt.



An advertising work of inspiration

It may just be desperation, but experimenting with advertising formats is an as-yet unexplored narrative territory.

Plus, desperation leads some to do truly awe-inspiring things. Biting your own arm off, for one.

Tapping into the music

One of the interesting things about the music business since the emergence of the internet is the proliferation of underground artists (and, sometimes, their adoption by the mainstream) through social networking.

Ever watchful for the new revenue stream, the giants - in this case, Time Warner - have partnered with software to facilitate their entrance into (and, no doubt, subsequent control of) this phenomenon.

Bets on whether or not it'll work?


The rockin game I've been waiting for since kids been playing stars on Guitar Hero.


Free and slow to all

The government's stance on net neutrality issues is ironic, considering states' reliance on toll roads, FCC auctions of broadcast frequencies and limited access to 3G networks nationwide.

The Obama administrations support of net neutrality, however, is a shift in attitude that just might open access enough to encourage communication which will drive innovation and the exchange of ideas that the internet-age philosophers prophesied in the early days of the web.

Why are we so afraid of open and unbiased communications?

It's expensive. And it's not profitable in a short-term, privately held balance sheet kind of way.

But if we had a nickel for every new idea that arises from a free exchange, well, we'd probably be able to afford the infrastructure improvements that a non-tiered internet system will require. And then we'd really be rich.

Severed Ways reviewed in the NYT

This is blatant and enthusiastic propaganda. But seriously, what do you do when someone you know does something so phenomenal that Manohla Dargis says something really good about it?!

You break open the Cristal, motherf@#ker!


Phenemenon watching

California's on fire, and we're watching from a web cam.

Time Lapse Test: The Station Fire from Eric Spiegelman on Vimeo.

Supercalafradulistic merger

Disney eats Marvel. A good thing?

Off with your lights!

An example of the positive changes brought about by being broke: going green by necessity, not by choice.

Some cities look to cut their annual budgets by eliminating street lights. And with good reason, some people object.

Motions sensors could solve this problem instantaneously.

News gets a virtual cue



merci M Duchamp


Attention pleas

It was only a matter of time before advertisers figured out that mass messaging through indistinguishably distributed media wasn't necessarily the best way to reach people. Fortunately, technology forced them to acknowledge this long before they'd figured out how to do that in a personal and engaging way.

But there's some light at the end of this tunnel (even without much effort on their part).

It's all about attention. And studies have shown that users who select their own programming are paying more attention to the content - even the advertising.

Now, go forth and convince us to consume!


Blood fucking

Vampire mythology is universal, ever-changing, and as all-encompassing in today's culture as any pert blond pop star could ever wish to be.

Twilight charges up its' fans for the next film in the four-part saga, HBO hauls in Sunday night ratings by the bagful, and wanna-be edgy networks offer copy-cat shows to the masses; the vampire obsession consumes us.

Is it simply the sex, immortality and everlasting beauty that compels us?

Are they the icons of our time?


Unholy rage secures Eve's boundaries

The debate in the virtual world world has been all about where the boundaries lie. Between the real world and the ... narrative world.

For EVE, there's never been a question. There is no crossing over.

To enforce that, Unholy Rage has been "unleashed" upon the non-believers.

Before the master cleanse

In the past...