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In the News 06.18.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 06.18.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@merhanson
In the News 06.18.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
Photo by Amy Neusinger
In the News 06.18.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@laura.craffey

Why You Can’t Really Trust Negative Online Reviews

The Great Wall of China has more than 9,000 Google reviews, with an average of 4.2 stars. Not bad for one of the most astonishing achievements in human history.

But you can’t please everyone.

“Not very tall. Or big. Just sayin. I kinda liked it. Sort of,” wrote one ambivalent visitor of the structure, which stretches thousands of miles. Another complained, “I don’t see the hype in this place it’s really run down and old … why wouldn’t you update something like this? No USB plug ins or outlets anywhere.” Someone else announced that he’s “Not a wall guy. Laaaaaaaaammme.”

Even Shakespeare can’t escape the wrath of consumer scorn. One reviewer on Amazon awarded Hamlet just two stars: “Whoever said Shakespeare was a genius lied. Unless genius is just code word for boring, then they’re spot on. Watch the movie version so you only waste two hours versus 20.”

It’s no wonder why we live and buy by online reviews: The Washington Post recently reported that a third of American adults use a computer or phone to buy something at least once a week — “about as often as we take out the trash.” Last December, 75 percent of Americans said they would do “most of their holiday shopping on Amazon,” according to CNBC’s “All-America Economic Survey.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

Ed Ruscha Still Has Plenty More to Say About America

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One afternoon last spring, I rode shotgun with the artist Ed Ruscha as he guided his silver-gray Tesla along the streets of Culver City, California, where he works out of a 9,000-square-foot former prop warehouse.

The overcast sky was gauzy, like one of his gunpowder drawings from the 1960s. As a driver, Ruscha is calm, collected, and—it’s unavoidable—cool. With electric-blue eyes scanning the road and big-knuckled hands on the wheel, he radiated imperturbability. A breeze riffled his silver hair. When he ran over a recently reconfigured curb it hardly fazed him.

It might be a good idea to tackle this issue at the start: How cool is Ed Ruscha anyway? “Cool,” after all, is the adjective that has attached itself most tenaciously to the artist and his work, which, over a 60-year arc, has encompassed painting, drawing, book-making, photography, a multitude of printing techniques, even a couple of short movies, one of which, Premium, from 1971, showed the fashion model Léon Bing in a bed covered with a giant salad.

Ruscha—pronounced “rew-shay,” to quote the business card he once passed around—has been a Pop-art wunderkind, thanks to his eye-grabbing, early 60s word paintings, such as Oof and Boss, along with his iconic depictions of filling stations and the Hollywood sign. He has been a wily conceptualist as well, known for his poker-faced photo books, like Twentysix Gasoline Stations and Thirtyfour Parking Lots in Los Angeles. He is a godfather of both of those art movements, arguably the two most important in the last half-century, which is no small thing. He may be the only artist who can claim that.

Ruscha has also been considered a minimalist, a surrealist, and a neo-Dadaist, sometimes all at once. “You could hang any one of three or four labels on him,” said Irving Blum, the director of L.A.’s legendary Ferus Gallery, which brought Ruscha to prominence in the early 1960s alongside such artists as Robert Irwin, Ed Moses, Billy Al Bengston, and Ed Kienholz. “But he’s very much his own man.”

Read the rest of this article at: Vanity Fair

Tuscany Tote in Midnight

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A Company Built On A Bluff

It was sunny in Williamsburg on the last Wednesday in May, which also happened to be the second day of a new era at Vice Media. Visitors were still required to sign in on a tablet that featured an image of a woman’s red lips opened wide to reveal a tab of acid, but the TV screens in the lobby promoted a forthcoming seminar on “How to Be an Ally.” On the company’s sprawling roof-deck overlooking the East River, Nancy Dubuc, the former head of A&E who had started as Vice’s CEO the day before, sat in a lounge chair with Dominique Delport, a French advertising executive recently hired as the company’s chief revenue officer. They were chatting amiably about whatever it is two people brought in to change a troubled company’s fortunes talk about.

Missing from the scene was Shane Smith, Vice’s co-founder, who shocked his employees and the media world in March by announcing that he was stepping aside as the company’s longtime CEO. Smith’s beard and Canadian drawl had become an avatar of the company, both on-camera, in Vice documentaries about drug gangs and warlords, and in front of corporate audiences, where he persistently declared the inevitability of his company’s global domination and landed deals with an aggressive sales pitch: Pay Vice to join its youth revolution or get left behind.

Read the rest of this article at: New York Magazine

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The Death Of A Once Great City

New York has been my home for more than forty years, from the year after the city’s supposed nadir in 1975, when it nearly went bankrupt. I have seen all the periods of boom and bust since, almost all of them related to the “paper economy” of finance and real estate speculation that took over the city long before it did the rest of the nation. But I have never seen what is going on now: the systematic, wholesale transformation of New York into a reserve of the obscenely wealthy and the barely here—a place increasingly devoid of the idiosyncrasy, the complexity, the opportunity, and the roiling excitement that make a city great.

As New York enters the third decade of the twenty-first century, it is in imminent danger of becoming something it has never been before: unremarkable. It is approaching a state where it is no longer a significant cultural entity but the world’s largest gated community, with a few cupcake shops here and there. For the first time in its history, New York is, well, boring.

This is not some new phenomenon but a cancer that’s been metastasizing on the city for decades now. And what’s happening to New York now—what’s already happened to most of Manhattan, its core—is happening in every affluent American city. San Francisco is overrun by tech conjurers who are rapidly annihilating its remarkable diversity; they swarm in and out of the metropolis in specially chartered buses to work in Silicon Valley, using the city itself as a gigantic bed-and-breakfast. Boston, which used to be a city of a thousand nooks and crannies, back-alley restaurants and shops, dive bars and ice cream parlors hidden under its elevated, is now one long, monotonous wall of modern skyscraper. In Washington, an army of cranes has transformed the city in recent years, smoothing out all that was real and organic into a town of mausoleums for the Trump crowd to revel in.

By trying to improve our cities, we have only succeeded in making them empty simulacra of what was. To bring this about we have signed on to political scams and mindless development schemes that are so exclusive they are more destructive than all they were supposed to improve. The urban crisis of affluence exemplifies our wider crisis: we now live in an America where we believe that we no longer have any ability to control the systems we live under.

Read the rest of this article at: Harpers Magazine

The Lifespan Of A Lie

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It was late in the evening of August 16th, 1971, and twenty-two-year-old Douglas Korpi, a slim, short-statured Berkeley graduate with a mop of pale, shaggy hair, was locked in a dark closet in the basement of the Stanford psychology department, naked beneath a thin white smock bearing the number 8612, screaming his head off.

“I mean, Jesus Christ, I’m burning up inside!” he yelled, kicking furiously at the door. “Don’t you know? I want to get out! This is all fucked up inside! I can’t stand another night! I just can’t take it anymore!”

It was a defining moment in what has become perhaps the best-known psychology study of all time. Whether you learned about Philip Zimbardo’s famous “Stanford Prison Experiment” in an introductory psych class or just absorbed it from the cultural ether, you’ve probably heard the basic story.

Zimbardo, a young Stanford psychology professor, built a mock jail in the basement of Jordan Hall and stocked it with nine “prisoners,” and nine “guards,” all male, college-age respondents to a newspaper ad who were assigned their roles at random and paid a generous daily wage to participate. The senior prison “staff” consisted of Zimbardo himself and a handful of his students.

The study was supposed to last for two weeks, but after Zimbardo’s girlfriend stopped by six days in and witnessed the conditions in the “Stanford County Jail,” she convinced him to shut it down. Since then, the tale of guards run amok and terrified prisoners breaking down one by one has become world-famous, a cultural touchstone that’s been the subject of books, documentaries, and feature films — even an episode of Veronica Mars.

The SPE is often used to teach the lesson that our behavior is profoundly affected by the social roles and situations in which we find ourselves. But its deeper, more disturbing implication is that we all have a wellspring of potential sadism lurking within us, waiting to be tapped by circumstance. It has been invoked to explain the massacre at My Lai during the Vietnam War, the Armenian genocide, and the horrors of the Holocaust. And the ultimate symbol of the agony that man helplessly inflicts on his brother is Korpi’s famous breakdown, set off after only 36 hours by the cruelty of his peers.

There’s just one problem: Korpi’s breakdown was a sham.

“Anybody who is a clinician would know that I was faking,” he told me last summer, in the first extensive interview he has granted in years. “If you listen to the tape, it’s not subtle. I’m not that good at acting. I mean, I think I do a fairly good job, but I’m more hysterical than psychotic.”

Now a forensic psychologist himself, Korpi told me his dramatic performance in the SPE was indeed inspired by fear, but not of abusive guards. Instead, he was worried about failing to get into grad school.

Read the rest of this article at: Medium

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.

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