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The Evolutionary Perspective
Daily Archives: January 21, 2022
Posted: January 21, 2022 at 11:58 pm
Last Updated on March 26, 2021 by Carla Jonas
Beauty may only be skin deep, but the impact of sartorial statement goes beyond the surface. Its easy to turn your nose up at fashion and dismiss it as something trivial and superficial. But, in actuality, the fashion industry contributes to society andleaves a footprint on the planet.
This is a reductive reaction, and one that is founded more in ignorance than reality. Just like how some people write-off sports as silly games with no meaningful impact on the world, fashion falls victim to the same attitude.
However, like sports, there is so much more than fun and frivolity to fashion. Fashion is personal. And the personal, as second-wave feminists convincingly argued, is political.
Fashion is more than amped up dress up for adults. Its a reflection of who we are and what we believe. Thefashion industry contributes to society by allowing us to express ourselves, our creativity and our beliefs to the world.
Think this is a lofty claim? Then you dont know fashion. Read on to find out just howfashion industry contributes to society and change in general.
We already pointed out that fashion reflects ideological shifts in our society: the suffragette movement saw skirts getting shorter and clothing in general became less cumbersome.
What is Zeitgeist? Its the defining mood or spirit of a specific era in history as displayed by the beliefs an ideas of that time. So, how does this relate to fashion?
In the 1970s, free love was seen in free-flowing clothing and hair. The disgruntled youth of the 90s expressed themselves with grunge style. Pick any era, and you can see how the fashion reflects prominent schools of thought.
But fashion does more than reflect: it can change society. It can act as an impetus to affect the dynamics of the world as a force that makes things move or occur more swiftly.
After all, whether or not you choose to use fashion as an art form, one would be hard-pressed to deny that fashion is a form of self-expression. And self-expression is a kind of art.
Even your decision to slip into sweatpants and your favorite worn-out oversized tee is a form of self-expression: Youre saying that comfort is your kingdom and that you are shedding the shackles of more high-maintenance style, if only for the night.
Your decision to not keep up with trends speaks toward your beliefs, just like not voting speaks to your political beliefs. You cant get away from what your style says about you, and because it can say so much, it can be a driving force of change, not just a reflection of it.
Take, for example, the death of the white wedding. While many brides still wear white wedding dresses, it is by no means a necessity. In a desire to freely express sexual liberation, many women decided to wear different colored and more seductively styled wedding dresses.
Designers have also made it their mission to use their labels to express their beliefs, in hopes they can affect change in the world through style. Some designers use only sustainable sourced materials to make their clothing: clothing that is meant to reflect the diversity of the world.
Other designers create chic, sexy dresses to promote fearless and unapologetic femininity. And others create style that promotes and reflects a more conservative world-view.
Fashion is not a baseless and frivolous part of our society. It is one of the most obvious and tangible means to track and affect societal change.
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Posted: at 11:58 pm
And Just Like That was the most-watched series debut ever released on HBO Max. It was almost predictable that this hotly anticipated follow-up to the iconic series Sex and the City would attract a large audience.
But what was perhaps even more predictable, especially given todays increasingly incendiary internet, was a series-related scandal amplified by social media.
First, Pelotons stock price went on a bumpy ride downwards due its role in a pivotal plot point in this Sex and the City reboot. The popular home exercise bike was depicted as being involved in the death of series stalwart John James Mr. Big Preston, played by Chris Noth.
Then there was a Ryan Reynolds-driven online video response to the plot twist. He produced an ad entitled Hes Alive! This cheeky piece of crisis communications featured Mr. Big living his best life and still embracing his inner Lothario. The ad featured the actor with a romantic partner in front of a fireplace with a Peloton in view.
And finally, multiple sexual assault allegations were then levelled against Noth. This led to the pulling of Reynolds ad and the removal of Noths scenes from the season finale, airing in early February 2022. And just like that, Noth was gone from the show.
These developments unfolded quickly. They show how social media can fuel important social movements following acts of reprehensible behaviour like those alleged against Noth. They also speak to societys long overdue reckoning with issues like sexual assault and harassment in concert with movements like #MeToo.
Social media has an unparalleled ability to amplify messages given todays prevalence of digital media. One of the best examples is #MeToo, which obviously is closely tied to the Noth scandal.
Contrary to popular conception, this movement wasnt new when it went mainstream in 2017. Tarana Burke started #MeToo in 2006. That was well before it became a Hollywood-driven hashtag.
It went explosively viral more than a decade later, fuelled by posts from high-profile actresses like Alyssa Milano, Jennifer Lawrence and Uma Thurman.
As many as 19 million people responded to a tweet from Milano suggesting women share their stories, and the hashtag was born. This iconic hashtag was followed and shared, tweeted and retweeted, by an incredible number of allies. Many people bravely shared their harrowing experiences with sexual assault and harassment. Others posted in solidarity, using the hashtag, not just on Twitter but on Instagram and Facebook. A movement had begun.
But how do social media movement hashtags like #MeToo actually become viral?
The #MeToo movement is indicative of broader changes in how we communicate. Social movements are now inextricably linked to their associated hashtag. Think of #ArabSpring, #BlackLivesMatter and #OccupyWallStreet. It is nearly impossible to think about sexual assault and harassment in 2022 without #MeToo.
Hashtags amplify messages regardless of the underlying content. Tweets with hashtags earn twice as much engagement as those without. Similarly, tweets with one or more hashtags are 55 per cent more likely to be retweeted.
By distilling a complex movement down to its core, hashtags emphasize its essential elements. They also make them more shareable for social channels. Longer content can be ignored given the limits on how much information a person can consume in todays hyper-competitive attention economy.
Hashtags not only quicken a messages speed, but also broaden its geographical reach.
We communicate most frequently and intensely with those who directly surround us. This tendency to communicate with those close by was so ingrained in our distant past that sending someone who lived far away a handwritten letter was once considered a revolutionary means of communication.
But social media communication especially for business is often locally focused. Even politicians also routinely use social platforms to communicate with constituents.
But the advent of hashtag activism has allowed key social movements to transcend their local origins and become international.
This might be best demonstrated by #BlackLivesMatters global reach in the aftermath of the tragic killing of George Floyd. After this horrific incident, daily use of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag surpassed one million posts. That was similar to #MeToos explosion a few years earlier as it became a global rallying cry for women. Hashtag activism can create a viral local response, but also propel it to the furthest reaches of the globe.
Like other massively successful hashtags, #MeToo derives its power from being concise and memorable. It communicates a much deeper message than the hashtag itself.
It also embraces the zeitgeist. The fight for equality across gender, race and income lines has become increasingly prevalent. These issues continue to be shared via social media. Like the most powerful hashtags, #MeToo moves seamlessly between online and offline spaces, reinforcing one another.
Its difficult to predict the characteristics that guarantee an online social movement will gain traction in the physical world and have staying power. But social medias unparalleled powers of amplification across time and space will undoubtedly contribute to the next global social movement.
Posted: at 11:58 pm
A recent Netflix release smashed historic streaming records including most hours viewed in a week. At first glance, Im sure many would assume Im talking about the latest superhero flick far from it. Well, I guess that depends on how you define superheroes. Filmmaker Adam McKays climate change satire Dont Look Up tells the story of two heroic scientists trying to warn the world of impending doom.
Dont worry, this isnt my take on the film, (which I thought was great, albeit depressing and somewhat guilt-inducing after the credits roll and you remember this isnt a laughing matter at all). The most important take-away to me is: We need more climate films fast. The film smashed streaming records because people are evidently yearning for stories like this one. Stories that let them know theyre not the only one feeling this way. Stories that help them process this existential threat in any way shape or form, even if its through seemingly inappropriate laughter. Sure, the star-studded cast didnt hurt. But I think it says a lot about our collective psyche right now that were all so drawn to this story.
With a threat as scary and overwhelming as climate change, we need ways to process that fear, grief, anger, and oftentimes, feelings of powerlessness. Storytelling is a great way to do that. Millions tuned in to watch the films lead actors Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio scream with righteous indignation at news cameras asking people to wake up because we all wish we could do the same. We also need new visions of the future that show that climate change is solvable and that we still have time to right the ship.
Popular movies also give us an avenue to talk about real-world issues with our peers. Not only is talking about climate change an important coping mechanism, but climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe says talking about it is the most important thing we can do. After all, if no one is talking about it, its hardly likely that our elected officials will feel the pressure to act.
Hollywood stories, for better or worse, also educate people and can help shape public opinion. Certainly, the U.S. military knows the influence movies have on the public. They have a long history of working with Hollywood on their portrayal in war movies not just for recruiting but also for appealing to the U.S. taxpayers who foot the bills, according to the Los Angeles Times.
And while McKay set out to make a film to help raise awareness about the climate crisis, other Hollywood filmmakers dont need to share his good intentions. They can be solely interested in box office results and come to the same conclusion that we need more climate movies. I doubt theyll overlook the massive demand for climate films that Dont Look Up revealed.
Hollywood on climate to date
Climate documentaries have been coming out steadily long before and after An Inconvenient Truth. But if you look at Hollywood films to date, climate change is a pretty rare theme. When it is featured, its usually through one of a handful of tropes, and rarely the kind we really need.
Theres the obvious climate disaster movies like The Day After Tomorrow. In my view, we probably dont need any more of these given we dont need to look far to see the realities of the climate crisis already devastating our communities. Recently, over 1,000 homes burned down near Boulder, Colorado due to the tragic Marshall Fire.
Often, climate or sustainability themes are weaved into a movie through the motive of the villain. The antagonist cares about water, energy or overpopulation like in Quantum of Solace, The Dark Knight Rises, and Avengers: Infinity War. This is not a particularly helpful trope for obvious reasons.
Another is the dystopian future. What will the world look like when it is flooded, barren, too hot or covered in trash? Look no further than Waterworld, Blade Runner 2049, Dune, Reminiscence, or one of my all-time favorites, WALL-E.
Another is the heroic lawyer fighting against the shady corporate interests polluting our communities like Erin Brockovich and Dark Waters.
But perhaps what could be most impactful are the stories that we havent yet heard. Where is the Star Trek-like future where humanity has figured out how to solve the climate problem? With a challenge as great and complex as climate change, we could be telling countless heroic tales of humanity engaging in the crucial work of solving the crisis transforming the wasteful, polluting, industrial society ripe with inequality into a more sustainable equitable society what environmental activist and Buddhist scholar Joanna Macy has called The Great Turning.
In addition, over the past three decades of the climate fight, there have been countless real-world heroes whose stories deserve to be told. Hard-fought battles won and lost in the courtroom, in the halls of Congress, in the streets, on the lands and waters of people around the world defending the Earth from those that would do it harm.
I hope that Hollywood sees an opportunity here to help us craft better narratives of saving the world that can actually help us do so. In order to help us achieve a more positive future, we need to be able to envision it, and filmmakers can help with this.
Not just Hollywood, but all creatives and artists. When we look at times of change in the past, take the civil rights movement, or the movement to end the war in Vietnam when musicians, poets, visual artists, writers and creatives of all kinds helped contribute to shifting the zeitgeist. This is what we need now.
To the filmmakers, artists, storytellers and creatives reading this, its clear that the public wants and needs more stories, more art, more avenues to process emotions and galvanize solutions for the biggest crisis of our time the climate crisis. And you all have a unique platform and set of tools to help us.
Andreas Karelasis author of the book Climate Courage: How Tackling Climate Change Can Build Community, Transform the Economy, and Bridge the Political Divide in America published by Beacon Press. He is also the founder and executive director ofRE-volv, a nonprofit climate justice organization that helps fellow nonprofits across the country go solar. Follow him on Twitter:@AndreasKarelas
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Cecily Strong and Leigh Silverman Find Connection Amid Isolation in The Search for Signs – TheaterMania.com
Posted: at 11:58 pm
"I assume if you get into a box of wine, it may lead to a number of wonderful things happening in your life," said Cecily Strong. According to the actor, it certainly has for her.
Strong never could have predicted it at the time, but diving into an enormous vat of boxed wine while impersonating Fox News host Jeanine Pirro on Saturday Night Live led Strong to the Shed, where she is making her New York stage debut in the play The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe.
Jane Wagner's one-woman show, a series of monologues examining American society, premiered on Broadway in 1985. The "Me Decade" embraced Lily Tomlin's performance, in which she played 12 different characters. After winning the Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, and Tony Award for Best Actress, Tomlin starred in a film adaptation of the play in 1991. She reprised the role in a 2000 Broadway revival, but the show has not been seen onstage in New York since.
"Who would ever want to open themselves up to be compared to Lily Tomlin?" Strong said, admitting she immediately said yes to starring in the show, even though she thought the idea was "insane."
She said yes to Leigh Silverman, the Obie award-winning and Tony-nominated director who, after seeing Strong swim and sing her way through that box of wine, offered the role. Drawn to the play's exploration of human connection, Silverman had revisited the script during the pandemic and suggested the Shed's creative team mount the show to reopen its off-Broadway performance space at Hudson Yards.
"The end of Search is all about how interconnected we all are," Silverman said. "And we're all feeling so isolated. To work on a show that's about connection, and about the mystery of connection, and that appreciates and celebrates the audience for being there sitting in the dark with a group of strangers laughing and crying about the same things I said to [the Shed's creative team], 'I just can't imagine a play that will speak to this time more than then this play.'"
Silverman was familiar with the show's 12 different characters, which were reduced to 10 for the production starring Strong. Search is framed by the character of Trudy, a homeless woman who claims to have connections with extraterrestrials. Her "space chums," as she calls them, are on their way to visit her as they explore the universe.
Along with Trudy, Strong switches rapidly between nine other characters, including the appropriately named teen performance artist Agnus Angst; a soul-searching professional named Chrissy; sex workers Brandi and Tina; and Lyn, Edie and Marge, a trio of friends finding their way through the Second Wave feminist movement.
It's a bittersweet and inspirational 90 minutes as the characters fall in and out of love, survive personal and professional disappointments, and experience births and deaths. When Search first opened, the play undoubtedly captured the zeitgeist of its time, but Silverman's concerns about its relevance more than 30 years later quickly dissipated a cause of both relief and frustration for the director, who assembled an entirely female design team for the show.
"I feel like it could be written today. It's the same struggle," Silverman said. "Lyn's story, and the story I think of many of the people in our show looking for meaning, looking for signs, looking to understand themselves better, looking back on choices that we've made all of these things resonate for today. Although I was concerned about it the thing that I have felt and that I think Cecily feels and that many people have felt, is that it is as it feels as prescient and as relevant today."
Strong is no stranger to feminist performance. One of her most talked-about acts during the most recent season of Saturday Night Live was Goober the Clown. The skit aired as the Supreme Court heard arguments on a restrictive abortion ban in Texas, and Strong as Goober spoke freely about having had an abortion at age 23. "It's a rough subject so we're going to do fun clown stuff to make it more palatable!" she told "Weekend Update" host Colin Jost, while spinning her bow tie and squirting him with water.
It was Strong's courage and ability to embrace both pain and humor that attracted Silverman, who had thought finding the right performer for Search would be impossible. She had to find someone who possessed the courage to step into the shoes Tomlin had worn while refraining from imitating her. She also had to find someone who loves theater and understands the importance of the piece. Silverman said Strong was that person.
"I feel so lucky that she is able to hold both all of the intense challenge of the piece and also want to own it as her own simultaneously while honoring it, and that's such a special thing," Silverman said, adding that she did not watch Saturday Night Live frequently and had known very little about Strong other than she had a theater background but now was "retroactively full of fandom."
Silverman and Strong grew close quickly during the one month of preparation for the play. Along with rehearsals and tech, the two Zoomed frequently with Wagner and Tomlin as they developed the show. But as rehearsals began, so did the news of the Omicron variant. Determined to continue, the show's team has been tested daily at the Shed while abiding by Covid safety protocols.
"It's so intense, and [Cecily] is like living inside of a plastic bag," Silverman said. "Nobody's allowed to talk to her backstage except for me and one other person. She's very carefully contained. It's not what anybody wants, it's not how anyone would choose to work but we all know the sacrifice for the payoff, which is being able to perform that show every single night."
But several people working on the show tested positive just before previews began, and the sense of responsibility weighed heavily on Silverman and Strong.
"Our tech room just kept getting smaller and smaller," Silverman said. "We talked about it, and we really felt like, 'A year ago at this time, we were home. We were not working, and all we wanted to do was work.' It was up to us to stand in some kind of defiance of this moment."
"I kind of broke down in my dressing room," Strong recalled. "And Leigh said, 'The Shed is behind you. They want us to do this. If there are two people in the crowd, we're doing this show for them. And they've gotten over their anxiety to show up and we've gotten over our anxiety to show up and we're sharing this together.'"
That combination of anxiety and joy was cathartic for both Strong and the audience as the show began performances.
"Once people laugh, they're open to crying," Strong said. "I think you have to laugh through tough things. That's how you start the way to emote, going through that catharsis."
That release was especially poignant for Strong, whose younger cousin passed at the beginning of January 2020, a deep loss that was followed immediately by the pandemic. Search opened on January 11, the same day that her cousin died of cancer.
"His sister came that night to the show. It was so beautiful," Strong said. "It felt like, 'You're with me and I'm supposed to be here doing this,' It was part of the magic of and part of the sadness and the heaviness of life. As my uncle said, 'We're adding a little joy to this day as well.'"
The final moments of Search speak of the inevitable connection between human beings and celebrates the audience in the theater an especially emotional moment for Strong as she speaks to an audience during the Omicron surge.
"That's more proof that that's how important connection is to human beings and we haven't gotten to have it," she said. "Then it even goes one step further to say, 'And we're having it right now in this room together.' It's so wonderful and beautiful to be a part of that. I don't know how I would have gotten through this time without it. I feel so lucky to share it.
"I got a text from a friend who saw the show and he said, 'You get to the end of the show and it's that moment of, Oh, this is why there's theater.' Because this feeling, this magic, doesn't happen anywhere else in the world."
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Katherina Olschbaur uses Aesthetic Ambiguity to Reinterpret the Mythic Tale of Venus and Adonis in Live Flesh at Nicodim Gallery -…
Posted: at 11:58 pm
Installation view of Live Flesh at Nicodim Gallery. Courtesy of the artist and Nicodim Gallery, Los Angeles. Photography by Lee Tyler Thompson.
Katherina Olschbaur: Live Flesh
Nicodim Gallery, Los Angeles
December 16, 2021 through February 4, 2022
By LITA BARRIE,January 2022
Katherina Olschbaurs electrifying paintings in Live Flesh riff off Titians classical paintings of Venus and Adonis. The Venetian Renaissance painter was so obsessed with this mythical tale from Ovids Metamorphoses that he made thirty versions to explore posie because he considered them to be the visual equivalents of poetry. For Olschbaur, this myth of unrequited love is viewed from multiple perspectives. In her hands, the myth becomes a vehicle for re-interpretation, and she focuses on contradictions using the tension between opposites to create a push/pull movement that makes her paintings come alive.
Olschbaur creates aesthetic ambiguity by playing with contradictions that recognize the Other in ourselves in order to transition past identity politics. In her paintings, everything contains its opposite, because there is no singular way of viewing anything. A singular viewpoint is an outdated male dominated perspective on life - and art. Olschbaur also goes beyond the concept of difference because everything in her paintings is diffused. The fragmented bodies are in the process of dissolution, merging into one another instead of being set apart from their surroundings, because nothing is ever just one thing in Olschbaurs paintings.
Young Hermaphrodite (2021) is the embodiment of sexual confidence that comes from having access to both male and female powers - with a penis and a feminine face.
Katherina Olschbaur, Young Hermaphrodite, 2021, oil on canvas.Courtesy of the artist and Nicodim Gallery, Los Angeles. Photography by Lee Tyler Thompson.
The paintings body flesh is alive with pulsing energy that oscillates between passion and violence, paradise and horror, sorrow and pain. Olschbaurs figures are surrounded by shadowy, atmospheric expanses of dazzling colors; this creates a diffuse aura around figurative elements which dissolve into abstract backgrounds with subtle color gradations and tonalities. There is no clear separation between figuration and abstraction, and the viewer is left to to use their imagination to make sense of these visual puzzles.
In After Venus and Adonis (Live Flesh) (2021), Olschbaur portrays Adonis as a transgender figure with effeminate qualities who is passive, while Venus is both robustly feminine and masculine as the stronger, muscular aggressor, disrupting the traditional gender hierarchy from art history. Venus neon combination of hot pink hair, dazzling skin tones and bright yellow buttocks proclaims her passion, while Adonis metallic skin tones subtly convey his coolness. Yet, Venus takes command of the chase by holding Adonis back, even though he wants to retreat. Venus looks directly at the viewer - unlike Titians Venus who gazed longingly at Adonis - because as long as she is present in the moment, this neverending story is unresolved. Olschbaur plays with these multiple gazes so that we can see things through different pairs of eyes simultaneously: Venus is no longer a passive object for male consumption; instead, she owns her own sexual power, either by feasting her eyes on Adonis as the prey for her carnal desire or by looking directly out of the canvas at the viewer with a defiant fuck you attitude.
Even the animals are observers, but Olschbaur paints her own eyes into them, so they look directly out of the paintings at the viewer. The background angels - which are often surprisingly erotic in art history - are turned into trans figures who may be guides or projections, and they even appear with avatars which are created digitally for our imagination. In Angels and Avatars (2021), they are depicted as transfigurations and imaginative transformations which can be experienced in a very intimate or erotic way.
Katherina Olschbaur, Angels and Avatars, 2021, oil on canvas.Courtesy of the artist and Nicodim Gallery, Los Angeles. Photography by Lee Tyler Thompson.
The Austrian born, Los Angeles-based artist studied painting and experimental animation, in Vienna at the University of Applied Arts. When I spoke with Olschbaur, she explained that the sense of time in her work is inspired by film. She calls her paintings closed envelopes of time which we can play back and repeat, emphasizing that painting is never a still medium, because we go back to it again and it changes. Her use of light and shadow is also cinematic, as central figures emanate their own light from within, while less important characters fade into the shadows. Olschbaurs adventurous approach to painting techniques also draws on her deep understanding of art history - from Renaissance and Baroque painters, to German neo-expressionist bad boys, to pioneer feminist painters like Miriam Cahn and Maria Lassnig whose artistic vocabularies resurface and recede in her paintings. At the same time, Olschbaur adds a humorous twist by throwing in a surprise element from her life or her attraction to glam things, which include updo hairstyles from 1960s girl groups like the Ronettes to historic Viennese costumes which reveal a queer sensibility. In her studio, she surrounds herself with source images - from books she opens, to photos she takes, to her copious drawings - because she is attracted to different things simultaneously and loves to obfuscate what is autobiographic and what is mythic.
Before she begins a painting, Olschbaur experiments with numerous drawings, as she strives for a conversation between line elements and different spaces to create precision through impression. Then, once she moves to canvas, her sensuous use of color is heightened by building layers of paint using brushes with different widths or bits of wood and plastic, and these different textural qualities create a feeling of fluidity. After Olschbaur achieves smoothness, she improvises further by adding dry strokes with the leftover colors on her palette, in order to play with weight and weightlessness. Olschbaur removes and adds paint at different speeds and with varying pressures to create a rhythmic quality, orchestrated much like a musical composition.
Katherina Olschbaur, Picnic of Two Suns, 2021, oil on canvas.Courtesy of the artist and Nicodim Gallery, Los Angeles. Photography by Lee Tyler Thompson.
The centerpiece of this exhibition, Picnic of Two Suns (2021), is painted in radiant colors of destruction, and references Miriam Cahns horrifically beautiful paintings of bombs, because the second sun in this work is an atomic bomb. The main figure is transgender and looks at us reflectively in a powerful reminder of human destructiveness which can loom in the background of the most euphoric, paradisal scene. As an Austrian, Olschbaur is acutely aware of a dark, fascist undercurrent which is part of her national history, but as a transplant, she can also embrace the openness of L.A., and experience having more than one cultural identity.
The aesthetic ambiguity of Olschbaurs paintings captures the zeitgeist of the 2020s because there are no fixed meanings anymore - only unanswerable questions which lead to further questions. She also combines multiple subjective perspectives to allow us to see many possibilities simultaneously. Olschbaur is part of a generation of highly skilled millennial artists ( including Christina Quarles and Ilana Savdie) who have abandoned the aesthetic of the explicit to make ambiguity the aesthetic of our time.WM
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Posted: at 11:58 pm
By David Isaac, JNS
Last week, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapidwarnedthat the new year will see increasing allegations that Israel is an apartheid state, with foes of the Jewish state targeting Israels involvement in sporting and cultural events.
The concern from the foreign ministry is that you have three or four different legal proceedings in which allegations of apartheid have been made and that at least one of them may end up endorsing these allegations, explained Yuval Shany, professor of international law at Hebrew University and research fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute.
He said Israel faces charges of apartheid at the UNs Commission of Inquiry (which has an open-ended mandate to look into allegations of Israeli discrimination), at the Geneva-based UN Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and at the International Criminal Court.
All of these tracks are aimed essentially at obtaining a legal, or quasi-legal, finding that Israeli practices amount to systemic discrimination or a form of apartheid in international law, he said.
Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, told JNS that the Commission of Inquiry is the primary threat. The commission was established by the Human Rights Council following Israels 11-day conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip last May.
Neuer said it has become standard practice for the UN to investigate Israel for alleged war crimes after each round of fighting, but this time the commission is unprecedented in its scope. It will investigate so-called systematic discrimination mass discrimination within Israel and the territories, he said. Its quite clear that its going to accuse Israel of apartheid. This inquiry has no end, meaning it doesnt last six months or a year. It will be reporting twice every year.
Neuer said the new mandate in which the commission is authorized to continuously investigate Israel is inspired by the zeitgeist in America where accusations of systemic discrimination have become the fashionable trend. He sees the focus on racism as a modern form of anti-Semitism, noting that Jews have been attacked throughout history as being opposed to whatever society identified as the highest virtue.
Today, in 2022, anti-racism is the highest virtue, and so its not accidental that Israel is accused of being intrinsically racist, he said.
Shany, who noted that the apartheid charge has been leveled at Israel for some time, wouldnt speculate as to why its gaining momentum now. He agreed that its possible that the political temper in the United States is a contributing factor but said its probably a combination of many reasons.
She said the two reports that will be produced by the Commission of Inquiry and the Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination are designed to push the new ICC prosecutor,Karim Khan, to prioritize the investigation against Israel started by his predecessor, Fatou Bensouda, explained Pnina Sharvit Baruch, a senior research associate at the Institute for National Security Studies. Khan is more pragmatic than Bensouda, she noted, and based on his own comments, Im not sure he would like to put our case at the top of his priorities, she said.
Of course, more generally, its part of the campaign against Israel to try to get more countries, organizations and companies to boycott Israel, to divest from Israel under the whole idea of the BDS movement, she said.
She doesnt see a way to stop these UN bodies from condemning Israel, noting that the United Nations has appointed South African Navi Pillay, known for her hostile views to Israel, as head of the Commission of Inquiry.
Apartheid had been considered going too far, and now theres an attempt it might succeed, too to put it within legitimate criticism against Israel. I think thats very bad for Israel.
As for Lapids belief that sports and cultural events would be the first target, Shany agreed that Lapid was right in pointing out that this is going to put wind in the sails of the BDS movement and basically render cultural, educational, sports relations with Israeli counterparts as politically unacceptable in the eyes of increasing segments of the population.
Neuer went further. He said in the United States, during the recent Gaza conflict, legislators like Bronx-Queens Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez condemned Israel, tweeting that Apartheid states arent democracies.
During that time, Jews in America were being attacked on the streets in Los Angeles, in New York and elsewhere, and that was in connection with the war that was happening in Israel, said Neuer. Accusing the Jewish state of being an evil apartheid state is a means to delegitimize and demonize and even physically attack Jews. I think this cannot be underestimated. Exclusions from certain international bodies would be only the tip of the iceberg.
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Posted: at 11:58 pm
Legend has it the name Monolord refers to a friend of the band with the same moniker who lost hearing in his left ear, and later said it didnt matter if the band recorded anything in stereo, because he could not hear it anyway. Its a funny, though slightly tragic, bit of backstory, but that handle is befitting in yet another, perhaps even more profound, way. Doom and stoner metal are arguably the torch-bearing subgenres for hard rock guitar players, and if any band seems to hold the keys to the castle at this moment, its Monolord.
The reason is simple: Thomas V Jgers guitar riffsthe raison dtre of Monolords songcraftare relentlessly catchy and infused with immense groove and swagger. When asked how he vets potential riffs for Monolord songs, Jger, who is also the bands singer and main songwriter, offers this: The core of it is some kind of hook that makes it stand out just a little bitthats what Im looking for. Its really hard to pinpoint exactly what it is. We still want real heavy records, but at the same time you need hooks, you need something that people will remember.
MONOLORD - The Weary (Official Music Video)
Hooks may be more commonly associated with pop than metal songwriting, but Monolords latest magnum opus, Your Time to Shine, is rife with them. From the opening salvo of The Weary, Jgers guitar playing conjures majestic tones, conveying the zeitgeist of our time with equal parts bombast and melancholy. His playing on songs like To Each Their Own and Your Time to Shine, fueled by indelible grooves that ebb and flow (the band foregoes click tracks), carries an emotional heft that soundtracks the ruined world, as Consequence so aptly described it. And his layered approach to recording guitars infuses the bands heavy backbone with a sublime melodic sensibility.
While Monolord is an indisputable riff-rock juggernaut, only one of the five cuts on Your Time to Shine, The Siren of Yersinia, has a bonafide guitar solo on it. You could probably arrange the songs so theres a guitar solo on every track, but thats not really what were looking for, explains Jger, who ascribes to a less-is-more ethos. Of course, there are lead guitar parts here and there, in every song, but theyre mostly written, not improvised. Its like another melody. Such embellishments function as additional riffs or motifs within the jigsaw puzzle of Monolords sound, in service to the melodic framework of songs rather than as obligatory showcases of technical prowess. And when that one solo does finally appear in the albums final track, its better, says Jger, "because there are not any other solos on the record.
TIDBIT: The bands new album clocks in at 39 minutes and features five songsonly one with a guitar solo, but all packed with a plethora of licks, melodies, and melodic fills.
Monolord formed in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 2013, out of Marulk, a boogie-rock band that included Jger and drummer and mixing engineer Esben Willems. They needed an outlet to indulge their heavier affinities, and so, after hooking up with bassist Mika Hkki, they transformed. Their 2014 debut, Empress Rising, is an exercise in musical restraint, showcasing the trios ability to riff on and develop a single motif. Vnir followed in 2015, followed by Rust (2017) and No Comfort(2019)each one further cementing Monolord as a major name in the doom genre. Aside from his guitar playing, Jgers ghostly, Ozzy-esque vocals (think Planet Caravan by Black Sabbath) add yet another distinctive melodic element to the bands bone-crushing, heavy-yet-droning riffs.
Jger says that when the band began, songwriting was more like loose ideas just thrown all over the place. Now, however, he has his own home studio, so its like doing pre-production. Except I dont play drums. I program those most of the time, so that when Mika and Esben hear the song, they can get the vibe. I try to make [a demo] as complete as possible. His studio consists of an old PC running Windows XP with Pro Tools 8 and a Digidesign 002 interface. Its a really old setup, he admits, but I just love having a room crammed with stuff where I can turn around, pick up a cowbell, and just start playing and recording.
The Monolords, from left to right: drummer Esben Willems, guitarist and frontman Thomas V Jger, and bassist Mika Hkki.
Photo by Chad Kelco
Jger has been doing the bulk of his songwriting lately not on a cowbell but on an acoustic guitar tuned to standard, which adds another twist to Monolords sound, since he and Hkki tune down to B-standard on their electrics. If I play an E on the acoustic guitar, that [position] is B on the electric guitar thats down-tuned, he explains. Sometimes I switch it, so the chord starts in the E [5th] position on the down-tuned guitar, but in The Weary, for example, the verse is in B, simply because I wrote it in E on the acoustic guitar. Mostly his actual writing process is pretty straightforward. I sit on my couch, take a cup of coffee, I have my notebook, and I just start to check ideas. Then, if I get the vibe, [with] more than one riff, I go upstairs, turn on the computer and record a demo.
Because Monolord is only a three-piece, Jger admits its hard to recreate his layered recording approach while playing live. It works as long as theres not a third guitar harmony, he explains. So, with the bass and just one guitar, it doesnt feel like we need a second guitar for most of the parts with the harmonies. I dont know if it has something to do with tuning down. If we have a chord progression, and theres a lead guitar over that enhancing stuff, its hard to do both. So, on some songs I go with the chords, and some songs I go with a lead. Its just what suits the songs best. He adds that during some solos, Hkki will play chords live, instead of just single-string notes.
Lately, Jger has been experimenting with his guitar tone by going with less distortion and adjusting his EQ settings. I cut a lot of bass on my guitar sound these days, he says. I didnt do that from the beginning, because we wanted this massive wall. But now I try to get as close to Malcolm Young as I can. So when you strike an E chord, you feel the bass response and the mid response, but not too brightyou get this low-mid and high-mid kind of swoosh or whoosh. Its a good crunchy darker version of Malcolm Youngs rhythm guitar sound. The first thing I check when I turn on the amps onstage is the clean sound, and then I can do some adjustments, and when that sounds great, the fuzz sounds great, too.
Speaking of fuzz, Jger relies primarily on a Hiero Effects Phatoum Fuzz/Churchburner, a Boss FZ-2 Hyper Fuzz clone built by a guy in Russia. For leads, he uses the Laney Black Country Customs Tony Iommi Signature TI-Boost. I run that together with a [dunn effects Death Knob] HM-2 EQ Blender that you can blend into the signal, he explains. I read that David Gilmour used the Boss HM-2 for leads at some point in his career. So, I took out my old HM-2 and tried it, and I immediately knew what he was talking about. You get this tone that just cuts through everything. Its got all these mids and aggressive highs, but its a bit too noisy, and I got a lot of feedback because I wanted to push it to the max. I tried the low-gain TI-Boost together with the [dunn effects Death Knob] HM-2 Blender EQ and I can get really creamy mids, but it doesnt feedback as bad as the HM-2.
Jgers fleet of Orange amps give him plenty of juice for Monolords sweet-and-heavy sound. He plugs in with one of his Goya V-type guitars or a Gibson SG-1.
Photo by Josefine Larsson
Aside from the obvious aforementioned influences, Jger says hes most inspired by guitarists who are also great songwriters. Most of the time Im listening to old 70s rock, like MC5, with Wayne Kramer and Fred Smiththey are amazing, he says. And also Nicke Andersson of Entombed and the Hellacopters, among other bandshes been an inspiration. Surprisingly, American singer/songwriter Elliott Smith is also among his favorites. Hes not really this awesome guitar player, but if you like low-key singer/songwriter stuff, his record Either/Or is amazing. Its not really a guitar record at all. Its just low-key strumming and good chord progressions.
Jger says hes truly inspired by guitarists that can play more than one instrument and create a lot of good music. And he cites Cathedrals Garry Gaz Jennings as another influence. When he starts to play guitar, I can hear its him right away. And if you can hear that from someone, I think you have done a rather good job being this guitarist that doesnt sound like everybody else. No matter what setting, you can still hear that sound.
When it comes to the matter of spearheading a musical movement, Jger offers the following assessment: Even though its called doom, the foundation is rock n roll. Of course we want to make heavy songs, but not ridiculously heavy. We also need some clarity and some tone. So, Im not sure if I call our music doom. Its more doom-rock.
Other signatures of Monolords songs are length and tempo, hence the five-song track list on the 39-minute Your Time to Shine. And Monolords tempos are usually, in classical terms, lentissimo, which presents particular performance-related challenges. When you write shorter songs, you can bang out the chords and you are done, explains Jger. But when youre playing slower, you have to be more precise, because its not as forgiving as playing punk rock or death metal or whatever. Of course, youve got to be tight when playing death metal, too, but being a bit late or a bit early is not as visible as if youre playing slow. Ill Be Damned was really hard to keep down because we all wanted to play faster. It feels good to play a bit faster sometimes.
Monolord perform a set at the Freak Valley Festival in Netphen, Germany, with Thomas V Jger plying his blend of clean and fuzzy tones, and using wide-ranging dynamics, on his Greco V-type.
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Music Review: Eric Nathan ‘Missing Words’ (Based on Ben Schott’s ‘Schottenfreude) with Neave Trio, International Contemporary Ensemble – Blogcritics
Posted: at 11:58 pm
Back in 2013, author Ben Schott published Schottenfreude: German Words for the Human Condition, a dictionary of German words hed concocted to describe situations and states of mind for which English has no word. We English speakers had already borrowed many such composite German words for that purpose: zeitgeist, blitzkrieg, bildungsroman, wunderkind, and of course schadenfreude are a few; Schott took the idea and ran with it, over the top.
Over the past several years, composer Eric Nathan has taken Schotts creative fun into a new realm with Missing Words, six sets of instrumental music based on some of Schotts neologisms. This month, New Focus Recordings releases the world premiere recording of the full series, including performances by the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), the Neave Trio, Boston Musica Viva and others. Its a two-CD trip through the inventive mind of a composer whos part translator of the human condition, part trickster.
How to translate an individual portmanteau word (to use a French import for a moment) into music? Nathan often solves this problem by telling a story, of sorts, in sound. One of my favorite of Schotts creations is Dreiecksumgleichung (literally triangle-reorganization), denoting when two friends youve introduced form a new friendship that excludes you. Performed by ICE, Nathans musical interpretation has a third instrument intrude into a happy collaboration between two others, finally driving one of the original pair into the wilderness. He then extends the concept with a second trio of instruments, a second exclusion, and a union of the two outcasts.
Many of the linkages are suggestively programmatic in this way, as when the tongue-twisting Kraftfahrzeugsinnenausstattungsneugeruchsgenuss (Automobile-Interior-Furnishing-Aroma-Pleasure), denoting new car smell, begins and ends with the American Brass Quintet simulating the sound of a car starting, revving and accelerating, with honking horns in between. Its one example of how Nathan marshals the timbre and attack qualities of particular ensembles to convey descriptive messages. Ever resourceful, he also evokes the aggravating noise of the city with violin, cello and piano in one of the movements performed by the Neave Trio. And an onomatopoeic piece performed by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project illustrates kicking through piles of autumn leaves by means of horn-bassoon kicks setting off brief flights of skittering strings, representing leaf-scatter.
Other word-music connections are more abstract. To illustrate Schubladenbrief ((Desk-)Drawer-Letter) the letter you write, but never send the score directs cellist Parry Karp and pianist Christopher Karp through a web of frenzied activity and awkward gesturing, suggesting a letter-writers feverish state of mind. Straumanver (Ostrich-Maneuver) the short-term defense strategy of simply denying reality slinks by with angst (another borrowing from German) and solemnity and ends with a glacially paced, clearly ironic reference to a patriotic song.
The same duo creates a haunting sound picture in Rollschleppe (Escalator-Schlep) to suggest the exhausting trudge up a stationary escalator. The Karps four-movement sequence boasts extraordinarily compelling playing over a wide range of musical developments, atmospheres, and techniques.
It adds a dimension and its just plain fun to refer to the explanatory liner notes explaining each piece as you listen. They inform us, for example, that in Dielennystagmus (Hallway-Nystagmus), denoting repeatedly catching and avoiding peoples gazes when, say, approaching them down a long corridor, Nathan calls for the musicians to cue one another through interrupted eye contact. The results are predictably halting and rather eerie.
But what gives the project its real heft is deep immersion in one composers sensibility through different configurations of instruments. This makes Missing Words a supremely engaging multi-course meal full of dense flights of musical invention. The versatile and adventurous Neave Trio opens the fifth set with Ludwigssyndrom (Ludwigs-Syndrome), discovering an indecipherable note in your own handwriting. In this and the other movements of Missing Words V, and in the seven short pieces comprising Missing Words VI performed by the chamber ensemble Hub New Music, Nathan takes inspiration from Beethoven his themes and his process confirming Nathans engagement with the classical tradition through an avant-garde lens while translating (Schotts word) the writers arch humor and observational precision.
Missing Words is a feast for adventurous listeners and, I think, the friendliest sort of challenge for the avant-averse. It will be released on January 21, 2022.
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Posted: at 11:55 pm
The law defines dietary supplements in part as products taken by mouth that contain a "dietary ingredient." Dietary ingredients include vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and herbs or botanicals, as well as other substances that can be used to supplement the diet.
Dietary supplements come in many forms, including tablets, capsules, powders, energy bars, and liquids. These products are available in stores throughout the United States, as well as on the Internet. They are labeled as dietary supplements and include among others
People use dietary supplements for a wide assortment of reasons. Some seek to compensate for diets, medical conditions, or eating habits that limit the intake of essential vitamins and nutrients. Other people look to them to boost energy or to get a good night's sleep. Postmenopausal women consider using them to counter a sudden drop in estrogen levels.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests that you consult with a health care professional before using any dietary supplement. Many supplements contain ingredients that have strong biological effects, and such products may not be safe in all people.
If you have certain health conditions and take these products, you may be putting yourself at risk. Your health care professional can discuss with you whether it is safe for you to take a particular product and whether the product is appropriate for your needs. Here is some general advice:
You should know the following if you are considering using a dietary supplement.
Many dietary supplements have clean safety histories. For example, millions of Americans responsibly consume multi-vitamins and experience no ill effects.
Some dietary supplements have been shown to be beneficial for certain health conditions. For example, the use of folic acid supplements by women of childbearing age who may become pregnant reduces the risk of some birth defects.
Another example is the crystalline form of vitamin B12, which is beneficial in people over age 50 who often have a reduced ability to absorb naturally occurring vitamin B12. But further study is needed for some other dietary supplements.
Some supplements have had to be recalled because of proven or potential harmful effects. Reasons for these recalls include
In addition, unscrupulous manufacturers have tried to sell bogus products that should not be on the market at all.
Before taking a dietary supplement, make sure that the supplement is safe for you and appropriate for the intended purpose.
Adverse effects with dietary supplements should be reported to FDA as soon as possible. If you experience such an adverse effect, contact or see your health care professional immediately. Both of you are then encouraged to report this problem to FDA. For information on how to do this, go to https://www.fda.gov/food/dietary-supplements/how-report-problem-dietary-supplements.
Adverse effects can also be reported to the product's manufacturer or distributor through the address or phone number listed on the product's label. Dietary supplement firms are required to forward reports they receive about serious adverse effects to FDA within 15 days.
For a general, nonserious complaint or concern about dietary supplements, contact your local FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator.
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Posted: at 11:55 pm
A vast majority of COVID-19 patients experience fatigue, extreme tiredness and symptoms that persist beyond the active phase of the disease. This condition is called post-COVID syndrome. The mechanisms by which the virus causes prolonged illness are still unclear. The aim of this review is to gather information regarding post-COVID syndrome so as to highlight its etiological basis and the nutritional regimes and supplements that can mitigate, alleviate or relieve the associated chronic fatigue, gastrointestinal disorders and continuing inflammatory reactions. Naturally-occurring food supplements, such as acetyl L-carnitine, hydroxytyrosol and vitamins B, C and D hold significant promise in the management of post-COVID syndrome. In this pilot observational study, we evaluated the effect of a food supplement containing hydroxytyrosol, acetyl L-carnitine and vitamins B, C and D in improving perceived fatigue in patients who recovered from COVID-19 but had post-COVID syndrome characterized by chronic fatigue. The results suggest that the food supplement could proceed to clinical trials of its efficacy in aiding the recovery of patients with long COVID.
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