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The Evolutionary Perspective
Category Archives: Zeitgeist Movement
Posted: March 24, 2020 at 5:29 am
The manner in which sneakers have come to rule the zeitgeist of Indian menis, simply put, uncanny.
In the last two decades, our affinity and love for the footwear have grown leaps and bounds. So much so, that pick any typical Indian millennial who has the spending, and you will see them in some basic pair of sneakers or the other.
Even our celebrities, actors and cricketers alike, are massive hypebeasts, and can often be seen wearing some zany pairor the other.
However, this was not always the case.
For a rather long time, we had no concept of sneakers or them actually being a fashionable piece of footwear. Long before our fascination with sneakers, we had the concept of sports shoes. They differed from the white canvas PT shoes in the sense that they had a chunkier silhouette and had more stylised, but ultimately functional design cues.
For a long time, sports shoes were considered to be the shoes of the lower-middle-class working man. Not to sound too reductive, but for a long time, sports shoes were not a part of the arsenal of a man in a respectable position.
You would never see a manager or a senior clerk in the '80s wear a pair of sports shoes to the office. Instead, sports shoes were always a part of a young clerical office worker or someone who has just started with his first job.
Or, as Bollywood would have it, sports shoes or sneakers at this juncture, would be the choice of footwear for the well to do, but ultimately unemployed youth. Take Anil Kapoors portrayal of Sunil Sharma from the 1985 film, Saaheb.
The transition between sneakers and sports shoes is murky at best. The same can be said for our fascination with sneakers, as in when exactly did we start thinking of sneakers, as not mere footwear, but a legitimate fashionable statement piece.
To answer that question, we turned to Rahul Anand, the founder of Sneaker Stars India, one of the most widely followed sneaker pages on Instagram.
Globally, sneaker culture started developing around the 80s with basketball and hip hop playing a major role. In India however, both those factors didn't make that big an impact for it to translate into developing a sneaker culture. However, over the past couple of years, the two big drivers for the movement have been the Indian film industry and to some extent cricketers and sporting personalities. That's what we have clearly seen through our page as well. Fans are very keen to know what sneakers their favourite stars and idols wear and then that becomes the seed to make a lasting interest in sneakers, he says.
So, where does Indias sneaker culture stand today? Well, although we have finally arrived onto the scene, we are still a long away from being labelled as thriving and kicking. Says Rahul, The sneakerhead community in India is a small one at the moment but steadily growing.
From the perspective of popular brands though, the sneaker culturehere is still at its nascent stages. That is the reason why, most notable athleisure brands, be it Adidas or Nike have very limited drops of collectable pairs.
This is where outlets like Anand Ahujas VegNonVeg come into play. For Indian sneakerheads, outlets like VegNonVeg are fulfilling a very important gap. Says Rachit Arora, a first-year Economics student from the University of Delhi, It is not always possible for me to get my cousins to send me a pair of sneakers. Unfortunately, for a long time, brands brought the really good stuff (collectable, special edition sneakers) to India very late, if ever. Although this is changing, we still don't get as many pieces as we would ideally like to have. Availability is also a major issue at times. Thanks to multi-brand outlets like VegNonVeg, we have easy access to these pairs.
Most celebrities can actually afford to buy these pieces, well before they show up in India. Sneaker makers too work closely with them, especially if they have been signed as their brand ambassadors. Celebrities would often be given special editions and one-off sneakers to build hype before a new drop is set to arrive.
Furthermore, most celebrities, even if they dont buy the sneakers that they are spotted wearing, have a very strong team of stylists and PR professionals who help their client to get their hands on some rare and zany pairs.
For the common sneakerhead, this rarity and issue with availability have led to two bizarre situations. First, there is the entire segment of counterfeit sneakers or first copy sneakers. We have come across knock offs quite often. Some are really good knock offs and you really need to look close to find the differences, says Rahul.
Interestingly, even celebrities have fallen for them. When we asked Rahul if he has ever seen celebrities wear knock offs, he said, Oh yes, we have seen quite a few, although, we wont be taking names.
The second situation that has come up, are sneaker trades, wherein people trade or sell off their sneakers at a markup. However, not all sneakers are tradeable. Sneaker trades work in case rare or "hyped" sneakers, the ones that are really difficult to get one's hands on. The other kind of sneakers that trade well are the ones that are not in production anymore, says Rahul.
Instagram/sneakertalkindia; Sneaker Talk India organise the DKX, Delhis largest sneakerhead meetup
Depending on the sneaker that is being dealt in, the markups can be exorbitant at times. as Rachit says, We as a community often have meetups, where we exchange sneakers or buy and sell them.
There have often been instances where a pair that would originally for about Rs 30,000-40,000 would resell for double or even triple the price. One guy who I often see in these meetups once bought a pair of Off White Vapormaxs for over Rs 1.25 lakhs, adds Rachit.
This begs the question when people dole out an amount as big as that for a pair of shoes, are they not afraid that they may end up taking a pair of counterfeits? Well, we have experts who inspect the pairs very closely to see if they are genuine or not before the transaction is made, says Rachit, who considers himself as well the guy who bought the Vapormaxs as quintessential Indian sneakerheads.
But how would one describe a sneakerhead today? We again turn to Rahul for answers. He says, It is hard to describe the average sneakerhead today because the segment is growing and evolving through various sections of society and people. For a while, Indian sneakerheads were looked at as people who would skateboard or dress a specific way or play ball etc. But now it has moved passed to encompass a larger audience. This could be attributed to the fashion trend that has evolved to be more functional and focuses on athleisure or street clothing which incorporate sneakers really well. But overall we are thrilled that it is reaching out to a wider audience!
Clearly, Indias sneaker revolution is just getting started. It will be rather interesting to see what is in store for us, and sneakers, and whether internationally-acclaimed brands will be able to capitalise on this rapidly expanding market. But one thing is certain - Indias fascination with sneakers is here to stay for long.
Photo: Instagram/sneakertalkindia (Main Image)
Posted: February 29, 2020 at 11:19 pm
The badge on the lapel of Lushs co-founder, Mark Constantine, does the talking for him today as his beauty retail empire is buffeted by one crisis after another.
A potential pandemic is closing half the bloody world, he explains, as his lapel badge reads: Fuck, fuck, fuckity fuck.
At the moment I have got no shops open in Hong Kong or Milan. Venice is shut, the 67-year-old adds. A couple of months ago half of bloody Spain was shut down [due to the Barcelona riots]. The fires in California and Australia provided another expletive, while the end of freedom of movement is the fuckity bit, he explains. I keep a neurosis top 10 but Ive got to the point where things that were number one or two a year ago are number nine.
This week Lush stepped up to the plate on the coronavirus, opening its doors for passersby to walk in and wash their hands for free with its soap as government advice flagged the role of basic hygiene in keeping viruses at bay. The simplest thing you can do to not get a virus is to regularly wash your hands, so were saying people can come in off the street and wash their hands for free.
The Poole-based retailer, best-known for its fragrant bars of soap and bath bombs, has run diverse campaigns with subjects ranging from the targeting of activists by undercover policemen to preventing the extinction of hen harriers (a subject close to the heart of bird fanatic Constantine).
But these days UK retailers are becoming an endangered species, with store closures rife and established chains struggling to absorb cost increases as sales move online. Rivals such as Boots, he suggests, are shortchanging customers with tired stores after owners banked profits and failed to invest in store refurbishments.
When I go into Boots Im pissed off, he says. I go to the new concept shop in Covent Garden and I think, well yes, that looks like you invested a bit of money into Boots. I want all my Boots shops to look like that.
Lush, which turns 25 this year, has 446 stores around the world and a turnover of 545m, although the business is twice that size once joint ventures and other overseas tie-ups are taken into account. In 2018 the company made an operating loss of 4m but remained in the black making a pre-tax profit of 23.4m thanks to its share of business partners profits. The company, which has more than 12,000 staff, will show a further decline in profits for the year to June 2019 when its accounts are published next month.
The sales disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak has added to costs stemming from Brexit. Defaulting to World Trade Organization tariffs would cost it 2.6m a year, and Lush has set up a new German plant which it hopes will alleviate some of the business upheaval. The economics of the business have also been affected by the decision to pay UK staff the independently verified living wage, which costs 10m a year more than the legal minimum wage, at a time when its annual business rates bill has also gone up by 1m.
Constantine appears perplexed that his ethical approach to capitalism is not bearing fruit. A perfect situation for me would be, make a profit, pay your tax, give plenty to charity, and make sure youre paying a proper living wage, he explains. So Im not really getting on very well with my perfect virtuous circle.
Lush is the biggest private-sector employer in the Dorset seaside town where it is based. It has 14 manufacturing sites as well as several offices including a trendy set-up reserved for digital-focused staff where hot-deskers can work in a leafy central atrium or overlooking yachts bobbing in the harbour.
Constantine has been an ethical retail crusader for decades and was part of the early success of The Body Shop. He met the late Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, when he was in his early 20s and became an important supplier to her business, concocting popular products such as peppermint foot cream and cocoa butter body lotion. A tenth of Lush is now owned by staff. The companys founders who include Constantines wife, Mo promise to sell shares to the trust with the ambition that employees will eventually own 35%.
He is confident profits will recover but downhearted that the retailers finances are strained at a time when Lushs business model is in tune with the zeitgeist. I feel very much like Ive been preparing for this moment all my life: where climate change becomes obvious, where excessive packaging is understood, where a sustainable supply is vital and regeneration is important, he explains. But my God, its chaos.
With department stores in the frontline of the retail downturn, Constantine sees scope to commandeer empty stores and turn them into giant soap emporia where shoppers can stock up on shower gel and moisturiser before getting their hair done or having a facial. All 23 Beales outlets including the prominent store in Poole are closing after the department store chain went bust, adding to the growing number of empty stores around the country.
Lush has invested in a 1,390 sq metre (15,000 sq ft) store in Liverpool that the businessman hopes will impress landlords. Perhaps they would like to pop round and have a look? he says. They would have to help me though because Ive spent all me bleedin money doing the big stuff.
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Cadbury set to launch vegan chocolate bar, as trend steals the show at ISM2020 – ConfectioneryNews.com
Posted: at 11:19 pm
The future is plant-based read the sign above the Katjes' booth at this years ProSweets/ISM conference in Cologne, perfectly illustrating the main trend at the sweets and snacks fair and also capturing the wider zeitgeist of a worldwide consumer movement in confectionery.
Irina Beule, insights & innovation manager at Innova Market Insights, told ConfectioneryNews it is describing the trend as the plant-based revolution.
Plant-based is already here, but now it is really taking off, consumers are preferring plant-based, but vegan is growing as fast, especially with younger consumers who want a more healthy lifestyle, but also with a lot of other generations, who want to do something good for the planet, she said.
Katjes, a German sugar confectionery firm, made its debut in 2019 in the chocolate category with the launch of Katjes Chocjes, a vegan chocolate bar in two flavours (Original and Hazelnut) made from oat milk instead of cows milk.
At ISM 2020, it launched four new vegan flavours and attracted thousands of visitors to its booth a clear indication that vegan chocolate is on the rise.
Alex Cramer, brand manager at Katjes, said the new category had been a great development for the company and that plant-based is the future and that chocolate also tastes good without cows milk theres lots of dairy alternatives and we have chosen oatmilk because it is the most sustainable alternative.
Commenting on the launch of its vegan chocolate, Katjes CEO Tobias Bachmuller said: With the expansion of our product line through the launch of Chocjes, we are strengthening our commitment to create great things. Obviously Katjes is an expert at vegetarian fruit jelly sweets. But with Chocjes, we are also catering to a growing consumer audience that is seeking out alternatives to cows milk.
The latest major brand to jump on the vegan bandwagon is Cadbury, announcing it is launching a new plant-based version of its Dairy Milk chocolate bar.
Although owner Mondelz International has not yet confirmed a launch date, ConfectioneryNews understands it has spent two years developing the bar.
We are very aware of the rise in consumer interest towards vegan products. We have a brilliant R&D team who are focused entirely on new products and innovation to enable us to offer more great-tasting choices to consumers. We only launch products when we have achieved the best taste and texture that consumers expect from Cadbury, and there are lots of exciting developments in the pipeline, a spokesperson said.
The ISM trade fair was held at beginning of February, a month after Veganuary, a global organisation encouraging people to adopt a vegan lifestyle in January and beyond. Organisers said this years response has been astounding and over 400,000 people signed-up, compared to 250,000 in 2019, far exceeding the groups 2020 target of 350,000.
In his Oscar-winning acceptance speech, A-list actor Joaquin Phoenix championed veganism and also highlighted the movement at The Golden Globes. February was also the month that Ben & Jerrys launched a trio of new vegan ice creams, while along came RAR from passionate challenger brand Froneri, who also introduced a brand new plant-based ice cream suitable for vegans.
Tiia Morsky, an ingredients research team leader at market analysts Campden BRI, told ConfectioneryNews: The rise in veganism and flexitarian diets requires products to be free from animal-based ingredients. The food industry is responding by seeking to develop or reformulate products with plant-based protein ingredients, but this is no easy task. Manufacturers can become confused about which plant-based proteins are available to them, which are most suitable for their product and how they will function during new product development.
Cocoa and chocolate supplier Barry Callebaut also chose ISM2020 to launch its new 'Plant Craft' range that spans chocolate, cocoa, nut products, fillings and decorations to cater for dairy-free and vegan trends.
The Invisible Man, A Horror Movie For The #MeToo Era, Appears At Just The Right Time Post Weinstein Verdict Box Office Preview – Deadline
Posted: at 11:19 pm
Its not as if Universal and Blumhouse anticipated the opening of its gaslight thriller The Invisible Man to coincide with the guilty verdict handed down this week to movie mogul Harvey Weinstein in his sexual misconduct trial. But the Leigh Whannell directed and written feature arrives in cinemas at a moment when the #MeToo movement again occupies center stage.
Tracking has been seeing this R-rated thriller starring Elisabeth Moss in the mid-$20 million range for quite some time, but coming away from the ravenous response of Mondays Hollywood premiere, its clear that Universal and Blumhouse have another socially conscious genre film on their hands that could hit a nerve and send this film into Get Outbox office territory. That Jordan Peele Oscar-winning blockbuster opened to $33.37M. Interestingly enough, Invisible Manis opening in the same final February weekend spot asGet Outdid three years ago.
Moss plays a woman in an abusive relationship with a wealthy optics engineer who is the best in his field. She flees from him in the middle of the night. Weeks later she learns that he took his own life. But is he really dead? Quite simply, his presence haunts her like a ghost, tormenting her and those around her but no one believes her. Off 32 reviews to date, Invisible Man has already clocked 90% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, which is plenty to encourage average moviegoers outside the genre faithful to head to the cinema.Get Outfinaled its RT score at 98% certified fresh.
Previews for Invisible Man start Thursday at 7 PM. Well be watching with bated breath to see whether the film, which cost a net $7M off Australian tax credits, overperforms as its truly one of those old fashioned word of mouth movies. Dont be shocked if Moss is in the Best Actress conversation during awards season later this year: Deadline Pete Hammond writes in his review that Invisible Man is more than most films in the horror genre. This one feels comfortably in line with something Hitchcock would have loved, a film that also has something in common with terrifying thrillers like Julia Roberts Sleeping With the Enemy,a movie I thought about while watching it. ButThe Invisible Manmarches to its own beat in the end, and a lot of the success belongs with Moss, who nails this role of a woman under siege, both mentally and physically, with such skill I do not think it is too early to say this is first Oscar-worthy performance of 2020.
Universal shot Get Outout of cannon as the secret movie at Sundance back in 2017, creating immediate buzz that carried it for more than a year into the Oscars with four noms, including Best Picture and a win for Peele in Original Screenplay. The marketing campaign here for Invisible Man has been mostly standard for a genre film, though with a longer lead promo time going back to December with TV spots hitting broad audiences during NBA Christmas games, not to mention the pregame slot of the Super Bowl as well as The Masked Singerthat followed the game. Spots forInvisible Manalso aired during the Grammys, and hit TV series like The Walking Dead, This Is UsandModern Familyas well as the finale of the highest-rated telenovela on Spanish-language television, El Seor De Los Cielos.Currently, the movie is tracking well with males over 25 and females under 25 as well as African American and Hispanic audiences.
While genre movies are traditionally frontloaded with their highest grosses on a Friday during their opening weekends (thats including previews), you know if one is hitting the zeitgeist when Saturdays numbers exceed Friday. That will be a big sign if Invisible Manis being discovered by the masses; i.e., Get Outsaw a 17% spike on its first Saturday from Friday, while Universal/BlumhousesSplitrose 13% over the same period on its way to a fantastic $40M stateside start.
WhileInvisible Manstands alone as the only major studio wide release this weekend, opening today in 1,200 locations is Funimations animeMy Hero Academia: Heroes Rising.The movie already made $15M in Japan back in December and will follow a varying daily theater count pattern much like Funimations niche hit last year Dragon Ball Super: Brolywhich opened to an eye-raising first day of $7M at 1,250 locations, on its way to a $20.2M five-day total and overall domestic of $30.7M. My Hero Academia: Two Heroesdebuted at 513 theaters in 2018, and ultimately made $5.75M.
After making a shocking amount of dough with close to $2.9M through yesterday, WarnerMedias truTVs Impractical Jokers: The Movie will expand from 357 to 1,800 locations. The question on many rival distribution executives minds is how much more meat is left for this comedy, or did all the fans already come out last weekend?
Deadlines Dino Ramos will have more on this weekends specialty releases which include Searchlights alternative Peter Pan take Wendyfrom two-time Oscar-nominated filmmaker Benh Zeitlin, Sony Pictures Classics Michael Winterbottom-directed comedy Greedin NY and LA, John TurturrosBig Lebowskispinoff The Jesus Rollsfrom Screen Media, and Roadside Attractions BMX champ movieThe Ride.
Robert Reich: Its Not Bernie But The So-Called Moderates That Democrats Should Be Freaking Out About – PolitiZoom
Posted: at 11:19 pm
The polls close in South Carolina at 7:00 p.m. local time, approximately a half hour from the time of this writing. If Bernie Sanders does as well as he is projected to do by some people, then it may be time to readjust the lenses that we view politics through. A disclaimer and an announcement: the disclaimer is that I am not a Bernie Bro advocating for Sanders. As stated many times, I will vote for whomever gets the Democratic nomination and do anything that I can do to get the person elected. Announcement: back in 2016, I wasnt a Bernie Bro either. But I sensed the populist temper of the times which did not take any psychic gift with Sanders pulling 47% support away from the front runner, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump on the GOP ticket. At that time, I said that it might be a better way to go to nominate Bernie as opposed to Hillary, because he represented the zeitgeist of the era and she represented the establishment. No argument about Hillarys credentials being superior, none whatsoever. But it wasnt about credentials then and it may not be about credentials now in 2020. Listen to what Robert Reich has to say about where we are.Common Dreams:
Something very big happened, [in 2016] and it wasnt because of Sanderss magnetism or Trumps likeability. It was a rebellion against the establishment. Clinton and Bush had all the advantages funders, political advisors, name recognition but neither could credibly convince voters they werent part of the system.
A direct line connected four decades of stagnant wages, the financial crisis of 2008, the bailout of Wall Street, the rise of the Tea Party and the Occupy movement, and the emergence of Sanders and Trump in 2016. The people I spoke with no longer felt they had a fair chance to make it. National polls told much the same story. According to the Pew Research Center, the percentage of Americans who felt most people could get ahead through hard work dropped by 13 points between 2000 and 2015. In 2006, 59 percent of Americans thought government corruption was widespread; by 2013, 79 percent did.
There is much truth here. Hillary Clinton was hated. It blew my mind how much. Now in all fairness, she was the victim of a 25 year right-wing propaganda machine that was flooding the airwaves with documentaries on everything from the landing strip she and Bill had in Arkansas, which brought in the drugs they were dealing, to wild-eyed stories of colleagues and staffers she allegedly had murdered (Vince Foster, Seth Rich) to my favorite, which was that she was a shape shifting reptilian alien. This was seriously how nuts it got back in 2016 and this is what the denizens of YouTube were watching.
On the other side of the coin, we had Donald Trump, himself all pomp and circumstance, all form, no substance, and while it is sickening to say, it is true: he was the perfect counterpart to Clinton, with her baggage and her famed non-connectability in addition to her propaganda. That is why the 2016 election descended into a level of fantasy and farce never before seen and hopefully, never to be duplicated again. Trumps bombast and lies worked because they were bouncing off of the crazy facade of who Hillary was depicted as being and next to him, she played out as establishment and weak, while his sheer idiocy was seen as a breath of fresh air. Theirs was a symbiotic relationship, no question. But for Clintons shortcomings, Trump would never have been able to pull off what he did, and what he pulled off is the most colossal con in American politics to date.
Trumps pose as an anti-establishment populist was one of the biggest cons in American political history. Since elected hes given the denizens of C-suites and the Street everything theyve wanted and hasnt markedly improved the lives of his working-class supporters, even if his politically-incorrect, damn-the-torpedos politics continues to make them feelas ifhes taking on the system.
The frustrations today are larger than they were four years ago. Even though corporate profits and executive pay have soared, the typical workers pay has barely risen, jobs are less secure, and health care less affordable.
The best way for Democrats to defeat Trumps fake anti-establishment populism is with the real thing, coupled with an agenda of systemic reform. This is what Bernie Sanders offers. For the same reason, he has the best chance of generating energy and enthusiasm to flip at least three senate seats to the Democratic Party (the minimum needed to recapture the Senate, using the vice president as tie-breaker).
Hell need a coalition of young voters, people of color, and the working class. He seems on his way. So far in the primaries he leads among white voters, has a massive edge among Latinos, dominates with both women and men, and has done best among both college and non-college graduates. And hes narrowing Bidens edge with older voters and African Americans.
The socialism moniker doesnt seem to have bruised him,although it hasnt been tested outside a Democratic primary or caucus. Perhaps voters wont care, just as they many dont care about Trumps chronic lies.
Maybe thats the case. Something allows Trump to get away with these whopping lies. My speculation during the 2016 election was that it was made possible by the fact that Hillary Clinton was the most lied-about politician in history and they were both perceived as con artists tragic but true. Bernie will be indeed be touted as a socialist if he ends up staying the front runner. I guess well see how the socialism moniker ends up defining the race.
One thing is certain: Biden is finished if he doesnt do well in South Carolina and both Buttigieg and Warren are going to have to do well to stay in the game. South Carolina is pivotal. If Sanders takes South Carolina it may all be over except for the shouting. It may do us well as Democrats to reappraise our position regarding Sanders as a candidate, because whatever his shortcomings, he is a vastly superior alternative to Donald Trump. We cannot take another four years.
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Its About Time: Nicolas Ghesquire and Andrew Bolton Reveal Details of the Metropolitan Museum of Arts Costume Institute Spring Exhibition – Vogue
Posted: at 11:19 pm
As Nicolas Ghesquire took to the podium at this mornings press conference for the 2020 spring exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Arts Costume Institute, his backdrop was the enormous clock that overlooks the Seine from the Muse dOrsay. Louis Vuittons artistic director of womens collections is acting as cochair of this years Met gala, celebrating the show About Time: Fashion and Duration, and as the minute hand of the clock behind him crept forward, he explained why that theme feels particularly appropriate. He said: It got me thinking about fashions intimate link to the notion of time, not just because fashion is the perfect mirror of the moment but because it plays such a significant role in shaping our future. At Louis Vuitton, fashion and time have been in constant dialogue for over 150 years. And the rapport between those two elements remains fundamental to my work. I have always looked to marry silhouettes, techniques, memories, and impressions from the past with the latest technology to create fashion for today that speaks to the future.
The man calibrating every last detail of the About Time show is Andrew Bolton, the Wendy Yu Curator in Charge at the Costume Institute. Bolton replaced Ghesquire in front of the dOrsay clock to disassemble the mechanics of thought behind the exhibition that will open with the Met gala on May 4. He said: Fashion teaches us to tell time differently. It shows us that there is more to time than what you can count on the fingers of your hands or on the hands of your clock.
This exhibitions starting point, he expanded, is that this year is the 150th anniversary of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a temporal landmark being celebrated across the museum. The anniversary led to a consideration of the nature of longevity in fashionan art form whose ever-shifting, ephemeral nature makes it an extremely accurate cultural timepieceas seen through the watch face of the institutes collection. Bolton observed: We wanted to rethink our collection through a concept that reflected the fashion zeitgeist, one that we felt was very timely and topical In recent years, time has dominated discussions within the fashion community. These talks are centered around the accelerated production, circulation, and consumption of fashion in the digitally synchronized world, the 21st century. Unquestionably companies have benefited from this sped-up, around-the-clock temporality of digital capitalism, but designers have often been creatively constrained by its 24/7, continuous functioning. So we thought it might be an opportune moment to explore the temporal character of fashion from a historical perspective.
Bolton explained that the exhibition, which he is designing in collaboration with Es Devlin, will itself be a clock. This clock will be constructed of two sets of 60 pieces of fashion that act as markers of moments spanning 1870 to now. It will also have two functions: The first will tell time in a chronologically linear order, and the second will be a kind of time-travel chronometer that allows the visitor to hop across moments in time between 1870 and now when fashions helix circularity (what comes around goes around) has resulted in intersections (or interruptions) in the fabric of our perception of the present through clothing. Like any precision timepiece, the complications of its movement will result in a conveniently readable face.
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Posted: at 11:19 pm
Duke alumni made a splash at Sundance this year many of the films in competition were acted, directed and produced by Duke graduates now working in the industry. Duke has one of the largest networks of alumni in the arts and entertainment industries in Los Angeles and New York, one that rivals even the University of Southern Californias. With so many graduates out in Hollywood, many have found success as actors or producers and have even worked on projects that have gone on to win awards.
This year, producers Clarence Hammond (Trinity 08) and Niel Creque Williams (Trinity 06), actress Angela Zhou (Trinity 14) and documentary director known for Ask Dr. Ruth, Ryan White (Trinity '04), each pemiered their projects at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, many having worked alongside major names in Hollywood. Hammond, a producer at Will Smiths production company, Overbrook Entertainment, is no stranger to Sundance. He was a producer on Minhal Baigs film Hala, which was quickly picked up by Apple after the 2019 festival.
Hammonds most recent film, Charm City Kings, is a poignant coming of age story that follows a boy who wants to join a dirt bike gang that rules the streets of Baltimore. It stars Meek Mill and Jahi Di'Allo Winston, and Moonlight director Barry Jenkins is among the credited writers. Charm City Kings was awarded the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Outstanding Ensemble at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.
Zhou, an actress and member of the Screen Actors Guild of America, is featured in the Emerald Fennell-directed, Margot Robbie-produced and Focus Features-distributed film Promising Young Woman, the story of a womans trauma and revenge against the men that sexually assaulted her best friend. Among the New Zealanders co-stars are Carey Mulligan, Laverne Cox, Bo Burnham and Alison Brie. The Chronicle interviewed Hammond and Zhou about Sundance, their Duke experiences and their respective projects.
Interview with Clarence Hammond (Trinity 08)
The Chronicle: You mentioned this project took six years to bring to life. What was the story like initially and what did the team want it to be?
Clarence Hammond: We always loved the idea of centering it around a young boy whos trying to grow up even though he's so young, so small, so mousey, we were drawn to that type of story, about a boy who needs to become a man. With that in mind, we needed to consider, "What's the journey?" Coming of age stories are always about collateral damage. You try to rail against everything you've known, lie to your mom and sneak out, but many of those actions have big life changing consequences.
TC: There were four writers involved in creating the story for Charm City Kings. Could you describe the initial stages of developing the script and at what stage each writer came on board?
CH: Once we figured out the story, we went to writers Kirk Sullivan and Chris Boyd. Their sample added a great youthful, fun voice to the children they wrote. After two or three drafts of their version, almost randomly, I was linked up with Barry [Jenkins] this is before Moonlight became what it is now. What I love about Barry's voice is that he added lyricism and sensitivity to the story. Sherman [Payne]s part was to take the foundation that Kirk, Chris and Barry built. Hes the one who decided how to build the world and paint its walls. He added a lot of commercial and group dynamics while holding on to the sensitivity that Barry brought to the story.
TC: Often production companies are unwilling to invest in stories from underrepresented voices in the industry, but things have been rapidly changing with inclusion in Hollywood. Where have you personally begun to notice a change in this mindset?
CH: There are many angles to it. As my generation grew up in the industry, we came in as a diverse assistant body, and in the decades since, we've become coordinators, executives, writers, directors and producers. Now, people are more inclined to tell the stories of their own experiences. As we come into these positions, the content we create is reflective of our diversity. We are also fortunately at a time where diversity is becoming more commercial of profitable films like Black Panther, for example, are starting to have such a following and success that will lead to a more diverse box office landscape in the years to come.
TC: What would you say is the importance of festivals like Sundance for independent filmmakers and producers?
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CH: Sundance has a pretty discerning power. There's the pressure of it, the excitement of it; it's almost like "the beginning of the school year" for the industry it gets the conversation started and sets the tone for what's to come. For us, it was great that we were already attached to Sony Pictures Classics, so being at Sundance this year meant beginning to promote the film's release. We needed to make sure Charm City Kings first appearance to the world was as successful as possible, and it couldn't have been better; there were people laughing, crying and jumping at the premiere.
TC: Is there anything you could say about your Duke experience that helped you arrive at this moment of premiering films at major festivals?
CH: My Duke experience helped teach me the value of understanding differing perspectives. My Political Science major, English minor and certificate in film gave me three drastically different experiences and allowed me to develop three different work approaches; Duke really taught me that and helped me broaden my horizons. For students at Duke now, it is important to cultivate your tastes and try to consume as much content as possible whether that be a podcast, play, documentary at Full Frame or screening at Duke, whatever you can do to soak up as much content will help you in telling your own stories.
Interview with Angela Zhou (Trinity 14)
The Chronicle: What stood out to you about the script for Promising Young Woman and why did you decide to pursue this project?
Angela Zhou: One big thing that stood out was that [Emerald Fennell] could mix your classic cute romantic-comedy moments with more dark humor and serious elements. Reading the script was like a roller coaster, you could go up at one moment, and then right back down to where it felt like the worst was happening. Just when you think nothings going to go right, [the script] gives you this crazy victorious feeling. I dont think Ive ever read a script thats given me such a sense of victory before.
TC: Without spoling too much, Promising Young Woman deals with themes of trauma and sexual assault. Could you speak to the timeliness of this film and its relevance to the Me Too movement?
AZ: The film is definitely timely, especially with the Me Too movement, and that was another part of what drew me to the script. There has been a lot of talk about Me Too, but no movies have broken through to discuss it until now. Its such a tough topic, because you want to tackle the situation with the right amount of nuance. The characters in the movie are all multidimensional, and the movie recognizes the shades of grey the issue [of sexual assault] is never black and white. When you see an amazing script thats one thing, but [Promising Young Woman] was not only new and fresh but in the zeitgeist of the moment.
TC: What was it like working with Emerald Fennell and a team that has been working to make womens voices heard in the industry?
AZ: Emerald is great in the sense that shes also an actor, so she knows exactly how to give direction in a way that an actor can actually understand and process. I think its an exciting time in the industry, especially with women like Emerald Fennell and Phoebe Waller-Bridge leading the way. They are my complete idols because they get to make their own narratives and do whatever they want and nobody stops them. They get to write, act, direct and produce, so it really is their own individual voices coming through in a way that is entirely unapologetic.
TC: Is there anything about your Duke experience that helped you reach this point in your career?
AZ: I dont think I ever couldve had a career in this business if I hadnt gone to Duke. I came from New Zealand, and when I fell in love with performance and storytelling, I didnt know how to translate that into a career. But, through the connections at Duke, my internships allowed me an idea of what the industry is and who the different players are. I am really grateful to all of the Duke alumni who took the time to meet with me and give me advice. Thats what really gave me my entryway into the industry.
Charm City Kings comes out in select theaters April 10 and nationwide April 17. Promising Young Woman hits theaters April 17.
Posted: at 11:18 pm
Great teams have great benches. So strong was the musical squad assembled for Kobe Bryants send-off at Los Angeless Staples Center on Monday, that even Hall of Famer Jennifer Lopez didnt rate any playing time. All the megastar got was a couple of call-and-response notes in the massed sing-along to Beyoncs XO, claimed by that singer to be Bryants all-time favorite song. Beyonc called the tune, not JayLo.
Lopez didnt even get the musical equivalent of a few layups during the warm-up. She had to sit and watch otherinferior!talents hog the limelight and pad their stats. JayLos agony must have been akin to that of the young Bryant when he was forced to come off the bench in his first two seasons with Lakers, the years just prior to the construction of Staples Center, the cathedral in which his hardwood heroicsincluding Mondays posthumous oneswere recorded and have now been enshrined. Jerseys and Jumbotron are the relics and icons of our Age.
At least JayLo had someone to hold on to while riding the bench. Her grip around boyfriend Alex Rodriguezs arm tightened noticeably during Christina Aguileras rendition of Franz Schuberts Ave Maria at the close of the ceremony. JayLo clung fervently to those infamous bi- and triceps as if they were steroid-enhanced rosary beads.
As for Aguilera, she stood saintly still during her performance even while her voice shimmied and shook. Aguileras funerary showboating ran up the score on bespectacled and beleaguered Franzand JayLo, too.
Had there been a scorers table, Aguilera might have tried to jump onto it as Bryant had done near that very spot a decade earlier after Game 7 of the NBA Finals when he won his fifth championship at Staples Center. Atop his spontaneous plinth, the demi-god extended his arms with basketball in one hand like Herculess club, as if to gather within his mighty wingspan all the confetti and adoration raining down on him.
All Aguilera could do after her star turn was beam and bask. Emcee Jimmy Kimmel then mounted the podium to remind her to stand down, making a lame joke about her singing in Italian. Mr. Kimmel take note: half-Latina Aguilera sang Schuberts wedding warhorse fully in Latin, as its always done. Because Aguilera didnt vacate the stage expeditiously, she alone got a double ovation. However odd at a memorial service, ovations at Hollywood ceremonies, whether Oscars or obsequies, come with the territory in Tinseltown.
Perhaps Lopezs antics at the recent Super Bowl in Miami had disqualified her from ascending the altar and lifting a hymn to the departed. On that Sabbath Day earlier in the month, she got vertical and twirled on a strippers pole doubling as the antenna of the Empire State Building. Hers were the motions of a slo-mo sex-copter enacted while Bryants ongoing period of mourning was still in effect. There were three songstresses Monday morning: besides Beyonc and Aguilera, Alicia Keyes appeared at the event. All had appeared in variable states of provocative undress on previous Super Sundays. But these vocal and dance athletes have been on the bench for a string of state and civic rituals. It was their time to score some points.
Beyonc opened the observances with XO and the suitably heavenly Halo. But over the ensuing two hours it was to be classical music, a confirmation of the prematurely departed Laker stars own classic status.
Before Aguileras Ave Maria, an even bigger hit had been heard: Beethovens Moonlight Sonata. It was fitting that the piece should be called on, and not just because of its somber C-sharp minor ruminations. Beethoven, too, was given a huge public funeral, estimated at some 20,000 people, about the number of people who gathered in and around Staples Center, thus a much larger percentage of Viennas population in 1827 than Bryants rites tallied in LA in 2020.
Like incense, an unsettling synchronicity hung in the air of Staples as Bryant was sainted. One expected the Zeitgeist to appear on the Jumbotron, or at least see an ad for Hegels Drive-Thru-World-of-Spirits on Hollywood Boulevard. 2020 marks the 250th year since Beethovens birth, and no one could have expected that the most famous piano piece this side of Fr Elise would reach its biggest ever global audience thanks to the untimely death of a basketball star.
According to another of the speakers, Bryants best friend and one-time agent (now the General Manager of the Lakers), Rob Pelinka, Bryant was always dreaming up romantic gestures for his wife, Vanessa, who stoically, touchingly delivered the mornings first address. Pelinka related how Bryant once found himself in a hotel suite with a piano and seized the opportunity to learn the opening bars of Beethovens sonata by ear so that he could play them for his spouse.
Pelinka then introduced the performer Alicia Keyeslike Beyonc and Aguilera, a Grammy winnerand the piece she was about to play as the Moonlit Sonata. Pelinkas unwitting grammatical transformation of the nickname was strangely appropriate, as if that musical moon were a klieg light on the movie set that is LA. At least visibility was good.
The sobriquet Moonlight for this sonata goes back to an 1823 story by the Beethoven admirer, poet and music critic, Ludwig Rellstab. Here is the scene he sets to Beethovens piano celebrated piece: A lake reposes in the faint shimmer of the moon; the waves lap softly on the dark shore; gloomy wooded mountains rise up and cut off the holy region from the world; swans glide like spirits through the water with whispering rustles, and an Aeolian harp mysteriously sounds laments of yearning lonely love down from those ruins. The passages portent now extends to a mountainside in southern California. (In Staples the harp would have to wait until Aguileras Ave Maria.) Keyes Romantic surges and shifts were more dramatic than even the impetuous Beethoven might have countenanced.
She played the piece on a piano that was purplelike the face of the new moon before a solar eclipse. Keyes was clad in matching color, her singing voice silent for these musical reflections: contemplation not cantillation was called for at this juncture in the mournful rites. An all-black string quartet made sure the sonata became a safe space by adding a shimmering halo of musical and moral support for Keyess Beethovenian encounter. Ludwig Vans production design was deemed insufficient on its own. (Aguileras string quartet was made up exclusively of white players with that heavenly harp thrown in just in case the conjuring of the pearly gates wasnt clear enough already. Separate but equal obtained among the Staples fiddlers.)
Purple piano and purple planets had aligned. A coast away from the Staples solemnities, Harvey Weinstein got done on two out of three chargesat 66%, a damn sight better than the abysmal free-throw percentage of Bryants former Lakers teammate and the last of Mondays eulogists, Shaquille ONeal. Weinstein could never soar through the air and thrill crowds, make people love him even for one magical moment.
In drop-stepping away from rape charges back in 2003, Bryants defense team had followed the tried-and-true game plan of slut-shaming the accuser and leaking her identity to the press. The nineteen-year-old woman subsequently refused to testify in court and the Colorado prosecutors dropped the charges just before trial, even though the case had looked strong. There had been blood on her undergarments and on his shirt; the woman had bruises on her neck and tears in her vaginal wall. Bryant had admitted that he had not received explicit consent from her. She later brought a civil case against him and received an undisclosed settlement. Though he publicly apologized, Bryant maintained that he had believed the sex consensual.
In the aftermath of the rape charges, Bryant shed the skin of his previous brand (Kobe Bryant) for that of Black Mambathe lethal, phallic snake that strikes in the movie, Kill Bill: Vol. 2 by Quentin Tarantino, the filmmaker whose work helped make Harvey Weinstein into a Hollywood mogul of power and prestige. The first installment of Kill Bill came out in 2003, the year of Bryants alleged assault.
With charges pending MacDonald and Coca Cola cut ties with him, Nike did not. Bryants Mamba shoe deal with that company brought him some sixteen million dollars annually.
Even for all his moves, Bryant could not completely shake the past. In 2018, after the advent of the #MeToo movement that Weinsteins depredations had ushered in, Bryant was dropped from a film festival jury. Aside from that lone referees whistle, Hollywood embraced Bryant, even as it turned on Weinstein.
In basketball, as in life and death, there are winners and losers. Weinstein received the first installment of his earthly judgement the same day Bryant was being sanctified in Staples and his constellation spread across the firmament, Beethovens music rising up towards the darkened vault from which shone the gold and purple stars 8 and 24.
Beethoven did not connect his famous sonata with moonlight. He called the piece Sonata quasi una fantasiasonata in the manner of a fantasy. The phrase bespoke freedom from constraining rules, yet the composers admirers heard a profound unity across the works three movements. One can also hear dark urges in this music. Beneath its uncanny calm lurks danger, even violence, however hard the maudlin string quartet of Keyess rendition worked to diffuse the threat.
Likewise, in Bryants life, work, and death one can trace intersecting lines, tragic vectors. Bryant was a self-styled Romantic of the hopeless variety. Dear Basketball, the short-animated film that Bryant wrote, won an Oscar in 2019, the retired star taking full advantage of his Hollywood homecourt advantage. The movie was shown again at Mondays ceremony. To his own voice-over a cartoon version of Bryant is artfully portrayed accomplishing one of his greatest athletic feats. He flies through the air, spins, and completes a reverse dunk. Its a rapturous, godlike act, the very embodiment of imagination and skill, desire and gratificationof fantasy and fulfillment. Icarus without wings, Bryant seems to defy gravity, launched as if to fly on forever. But after attaining his seemingly impossible goal of putting the rock in the hole he crashes back to earth.
Bryants legacy escapes those forces. For that to happen he had to have teammates who would sing his praisesin, on, and off court.
Posted: February 10, 2020 at 2:43 am
Los Angeles City Hall was packed with hundreds of climate change activists and several celebrities Friday morning. Though their backgrounds were diverse speakers ranged from indigenous community leaders to actors Jane Fonda and Joaquin Phoenix they all shared a unifying message: Our house is on fire and the climate crisis must be confronted.
The participants congregated for the citys first Fire Drill Friday, an ongoing environmental activism movement that was spearheaded by Fonda and Greenpeace last year. Fonda, a lifelong activist who supported the Civil Rights Movement and opposed the Vietnam and Iraq wars, has dedicated much of the last few months to the movement; she moved to Washington D.C. and started protesting outside the Capitol every Friday to urge elected officials to address the planets ongoing climate crisis.
Though filming duties for Netflixs Grace and Frankie required Fonda to move back to Los Angeles, she brought Fire Drill Fridays with her, and the movement has continued to grow. The Los Angeles-based Fire Drill Fridays will only occur the first Friday of each month due to Fondas work schedule, but once Grace and Frankie filming wraps up, Fonda plans on touring the nation with Greenpeace and hosting local events, with the end goal being to make the 2020 presidential election more climate-focused.
Many news headlines regarding Fire Drill Fridays have focused on the arrests of its high-profile activists. The typical Fire Drill Friday event includes a variety of speakers, which leads to acts of nonviolent civil disobedience, usually for crowding or obstructing. Fonda was arrested five times during the Fire Drill Friday events in Washington D.C. (one of those arrests prevented her from accepting a British Academy Britannia Award in-person) and stressed that civil disobedience was a powerful political tool, particularly when used by celebrities with a strong public platform.
Every week you have the opportunity to put yourself on the line, Fonda said in an interview. Civil disobedience is not a first resort, but its a step up. Youve petitioned, marched, pleaded, and begged, and you havent been heard, so you take the next step. To align your body with your values is very empowering, and this offers that opportunity.
Civil disobedience is not a requisite of Fire Drill Friday events. Though Fonda still speaks during each gathering, she noted that she cannot participate in civil disobedience for three months due a court agreement stemming from her D.C. arrests.
Joaquin Phoenix participates in the Fire Drill Friday climate change rally.
A Greenpeace spokesperson said that several dozen participants gathered at Maverick Natural Resources (a company that operates a large number of oil and gas wells in Southern California and the Central Valley) in an act of civil disobedience Friday afternoon. No arrests were made, per the spokesperson.
While the mainstream media and the cultural zeitgeist have begun paying more mind to climate-related issues in recent years, Fondas Fire Drill Fridays has enjoyed particularly rapid growth thanks to its high-profile participants. Celebrity activism is a key component, and the latest events other participating Hollywood workers included Joaquin Phoenix, Amber Valletta, Bonnie Wright, Brooklyn Decker, June Diane Raphael, and Norman Lear, though most of their speeches were intentionally brief and served to hype up the events primary speakers, who were all environmental activists or community organizers.
Fonda also led the movements teach-in events, where shed join prominent activists and climate change experts to discuss climates impact on subjects ranging from jobs, agriculture and the military, with the talks broadcast via Facebook Live.
While courting well-known individuals such as Phoenix who was arrested during a Fire Drill Friday event in Washington D.C. last month helps raise awareness about the movement, Fire Drill Fridays celebrity elements are primarily intended to provide a platform for more overlooked demographics to stress the importance of climate activism, according to Greenpeace executive director Annie Leonard.
The high-profile celebrities draw the spotlight, but understand that the real voices needing to be amplified arent theirs, Leonard said in an interview. The celebrities have the role of introducing the speakers, drawing the cameras, elevating the issue, and growing the audience. They create an incredible spotlight that we use to prioritize the voices that are marginalized in national conversations, such as women, youth, and indigenous people who often live at the forefront of climate change.
Fonda noted that the movement has expanded far more quickly than she anticipated. Fonda reached out to Leonard to discuss climate activism last September and the duo found that they were influenced by the same activists, namely Greta Thunberg hence the movements oft-repeated warning that our house is on fire and author Naomi Kleins On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal. The work of anti-apartheid activist Randall Robinson, who also practiced civil disobedience with well-known influencers, was another key influence and inspired the duo to get additional celebrities involved with their environmental movement. Other celebrities who have participated in prior Fire Drill Friday events include Martin Sheen, Ted Danson, Susan Sarandon, and Sam Waterston.
Fire Drill Fridays was created during a fraught period for environmental politics in America. President Donald Trump and many prominent Republican politicians reject the scientific consensus on climate change. Though Democrats have been more open to climate-oriented legislation, several Democrats rejected the Green New Deal, a much-discussed package of environmental legislation that the Fire Drill Fridays movement strongly supports. Fonda said that she met with senators to discuss how Fire Drill Fridays could promote environmental legislation last year. They told Fonda to build an army.
Were growing in numbers and want more people to be comfortable being out and demanding, Fonda said in an interview. We always focus on the science and the demands are: No new fossil fuel expansions, phasing out existing fossil fuels over 30 years, and supporting a Green New Deal.
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Break on Through: Radical Psychiatry and the American Counterculture, by Lucas Richert – Times Higher Education (THE)
Posted: at 2:43 am
Wandering with my young son last summer through our favourite Ithacan village, we were delighted to come across a large sailing boat docked in the port with a crew of latter-day Merry Pranksters. Listening to the Clean Beach Pirates (a group of environmentally minded volunteers collecting plastic waste from beaches around the Greek islands) talking enthusiastically to my eight-year-old about the evils of pollution in the Ionian Sea, Imarvelled at this Ship of Fools that seemed to have sailed in from another era. By which Idont mean the Renaissance but rather the 1970s, an era whose radical spirit Lucas Richert attempts to capture through the story of antipsychiatry.
There is a history to strange medicines, and Richerts conscientious account of mental health and the American counterculture effectively links the likes of the Beach Pirates to an earlier generation of intrepid travellers. The roll call of key players is familiar enough: Eric Berne, Claude Steiner, Carl Rogers, Fritz Perls, Werner Erhard, Paul Lowinger and so on, most of whom are summarily glossed in passing. Stringing the narrative together around the usual suspects, Richert sets to with a degree of diligence. But although his writing style is congenial enough, he seems not to know quite where to place the book, leaving it more or less adrift between two options: a journalistic essay on the vicissitudes of the American mind reflected through the prism of the antipsychiatry movement and a more serious-minded Foucauldian analysis of psychiatric knowledge in 1970s America.
The chapters tend to fall between these two stools, starting in essayistic mode with a blizzard of insubstantial references to Vietnam and war-induced mental disturbances, developments in industrial and organisational psychology, mechanisation, environmentalism, the womens movement, patient activism, pornography and punk rock. The current academic fad for interdisciplinary research clearly has a lot to answer for, and one wonders how firm a grasp the author has on his cultural references when citing country singer Merle Haggard and the Sex Pistols in the same sentence, placing both under the improbable heading of angst-ridden working-class sentiment.
The allusions to Michel Foucault suggest a more ambitious genealogy of mental medicine. Instead, we are presented with a fast-paced montage of radicalism in psychiatry that fails to cohere. A chapter on the use of intoxicants, with an inexplicable amount of detail about cannabis, seems to have wandered in from another research project. Meanwhile, the perceived challenge to Freudianism and psychodynamic psychiatry is mapped along various axes: the third version of the American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (1980) and the biomedical turn; alternative therapies and cults of unreason (ranging from Esalen, Scientology and the human potential movement to clairvoyance and telepathy); the moral panic about psychoactive substances during the Nixon administration; and LSD-fuelled spiritual transcendence associated with the likes of Timothy Leary and R.D. Laing. There may well be a place for a cultural history of the internecine squabbles, sectarianism and fragmentation within radical psychiatry and the patients rights movement. But a series of descriptive snapshots organised around reform and revolt misses the intricacy that Richert means to convey. The Ship of Fools, finally, slips through the authors hands and glides beyond the zeitgeist of the 1970s, a symbol of great disquiet in another age of anxiety.
Steven Groarke is professor of social thought at the University of Roehampton and a psychoanalyst.
Break on Through: Radical Psychiatry and the American Counterculture By Lucas RichertMIT Press, 224pp, 22.00ISBN 9780262042826Published 8 October 2019
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