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  • 08/30/15--05:01: The Sunday Funnies

  • A dude annoys his girlfriend with every IKEA pun he can think of. Run away, Donna. [FYeahDementia]

    Proof that the Pirates are the only baseball team that matters. [Mlkshk]

    tumblr_ntss2jWy9U1qf2uqro1_1280.jpgC1. [FYouNoFMe]

    tumblr_nsox2ewlBy1swzcd1o1_500.jpgIt's the ultimate. [AfernoonSnoozeButton]

    Amy Schumer and Jennifer Lawrence dance on a piano to "Uptown Girl" at Billy Joel's Chicago concert.
     tumblr_nktydvoVwy1qima83o1_500.jpgGo slide down the nearest wall and sob for this girl. [FYouNoFMe]

    Vine star Logan Paul does the splits all over New York City and people are like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. [TastefullyOffensive]

    15LPN.jpg John? [Mlkshk]

    Miley Cyrus interviews people undercover about what they think of Miley Cyrus.

    Just remember: If they really want to see you, they'll make time to haunt you. [Gloryandhate]
    1 dog, 1 stuffed gorilla: The ultimate love story. [TastefullyOffensive]
     tumblr_nh9yvfScfl1tvxw43o1_500.jpgInstead of a wedding DJ! [BeAfraidOfJesus]
     15LT7.jpg Scheduling dentist appointments, living. [Mlkshk]

    Jeffrey the cat gets too turnt and faceplants into a wall, pretends like it's NBD. [TastefullyOffensive]

    Sunday nights. [PizzzaTime]

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    During a head-exploding performance on the Video Music Awards tonight, VMAs host Miley Cyrus announced that her new album, "Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz," is free and on Soundcloud. Listen above, y'all. RIP Pablow the blow fish.

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    🎶1 good girl is worth 1000 b*tches 🎶

    A photo posted by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on

    Nothing like a little genuine celebrity philanthropy to warm the cockles of your cold, Monday-dreading heart -- especially when it involves Kim, Kanye and a pair of Yeezys. As if that surprise presidency announcement wasn't enough. 

    Matt Neal, a 26 year-old suffering from a condition that causes kidney failure, was offering up his pair of limited edition Yeezys in exchange for a new kidney -- and apparently the Wests were so moved by these extreme circumstances that they offered to give Neal another pair, for freezys (ugh). 

    Granted, there is a pretty clear law against trading organs for money or things, but many people are now willing to donate theirs for free -- which is totally legal. To all the haters, looks like celebrity status does mean something good.

    photo via Matt Neal / Facebook


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    BFA_13099_1624884.jpg[Photo by Owen Kolasinski/]

    Gone are the days that you looked to MTV to watch music videos, we have YouTube for that. Carson Daly isn't there anymore to debut new artists or introduce us to things that made headlines.

    But finally last night, MTV seemed cool again. They turned their famous, "I want my MTV" on its head and asked, what do fans want from MTV? -- and then they gave it to us in two and a half jam-packed hours of controversy, nostalgia, and performances that were a modern iteration of the network's heyday.

    We have been watching across social media as Miley Cyrus, the host of this year's awards, prepared for the big night. We knew that Pharrell, the Weeknd, and Nicki Minaj were going to perform, but what we didn't know is that this year the producers and wizards behind the VMAs really had their modern thinking caps on.

    Jeremy Scott (one of PAPER's Current Cover Boys) designed the Moon Man and the red carpet, feuds would be fueled and disbanded between Cyrus, Minaj, and Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber would fly, a hip artist like Jen Stark would make trippy graphics, Snoop would bake pot edibles, and last but not least, Kanye West would announce his Presidential candidacy for 2020. Everything about it seemed young and on point as opposed to a bunch of old people trying to pander to young people. They didn't make announcements about the hashtags that you should use for the show, cause young people already knew them. They mixed in iconic footage from years past to remind us who watched those moments live, back in the day -- the heritage of the brand.  Even the sponsorships made sense. Pepsi seemed cool for helping to put a stage in the hip part of Downtown LA.

    Every moment of the show had you on the edge of your seat or gunning to read the tweets and wanting more. I am not sure what this means for the music video industry, but I can tell you that MTV finally has the pop culture joystick back in their hands and they are firing with all cylinders. MTV was changing culture with these VMAs, they were bringing something new to the social conversation as opposed to filling their most important night with bad mashups of bands that seemed like they bought their way onto the bill. The fans came first this year, and this was like an MTV LSD funhouse of familiar faces.

    While you can see all these musicians and artists everyday online, and you don't have to wait for a video to premiere, it was fun to watch as the world saw the madness unfold all at once. I guess I once again want my MTV.

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    When I think of Alexander Wang, I think of jumping in a bouncy castle at one of his legendary after-parties, hobnobbing with A-listers in his front row and seeing some of the strongest, most modern clothes in New York on his runway. A native of San Francisco, Wang ditched Parsons in 2004 to launch his eponymous brand, inspired by his love of nightlife. Flash forward to last July: after two-and-a-half years as Balenciaga's creative director, Wang announced that he would part ways with the legendary fashion house later this year, intending to refocus on the growth of his own brand. (Despite repeated grilling, he was tight-lipped about the separation.) Meeting him for breakfast at the Tribeca Grand Hotel, I asked the 31-year-old designer about his new outlook, his take on luxury and his tips on a really epic party.

    So how did you dress as a kid -- all black?

    Alexander Wang:
    I went through many different phases as a kid. I was a raver. I was hip-hop. I grew up in the Bay Area, where you go to the mall in high school. And I went to boarding school for a while, where my look was a weird hybrid of preppy meets grunge: layered polo shirts with lots of ripped jeans.

    You talk about the energy in New York being the heart of your brand. And of course your Fashion Week after-parties are huge.

    Alexander Wang: I am 31 now. I'm still in love with what the city has to offer. Sometimes, if there's a weird rave in Brooklyn that Kanye is bringing me to, I want to go have an experience. Our first big after-party was in this really sweaty warehouse that had no electricity in midtown in the dead of summer. We had all these people that were coming in dresses and makeup and everything was melting, and we were just dancing and having a good time. This is what a fashion party should be like. I want to really have fun with the people that I work with and get lost a little and not feel like I'm always under examination.

    You have such amazing castings. You were one of the first designers to cast models of all ages.

    Alexander Wang:
    For our spring '09 show we had Emma Balfour. That was really exciting, because that was the season I was nominated for the CFDA Vogue fund, and I had always loved models.

    Alexander Wang, breaking gay stereotypes: loving models! So do you think celebrities will always be an important part of fashion?

    Alexander Wang: To say I don't care about it isn't true, because celebrities have become the new media. Some of them are friends, some are people that I'm meeting for the first time. At one show we had Lauren Hutton and Nicki Minaj, which is such a weird combo, and it's fascinating to see them together and see how they interact.

    I remember one year when it was like Die Antwoord next to Nicki Minaj, Lauren Hutton and then Rihanna. You were just like, What is going on?

    Alexander Wang: What reality is this?

    What is luxury to you?

    Alexander Wang:
    Having time, and having choices.

    Do you think luxury has changed from what our parents considered luxury?

    Alexander Wang:
    When it comes to objects and possessions, my feeling is that luxury used to be more ostentatious. Luxury today seems to be more personal, more subtle.

    Is it possible to be cool and luxurious? Or are those things mutually exclusive?

    Alexander Wang: For sure it's possible to be both luxurious and cool. Even in the same object, that is possible. Usually it is a combination of different things and sensibilities that create a lifestyle. At some moments you want to treat yourself to something really extravagant, and then you have lunch at a bodega or go to a dive bar. It's those oppositions and the choices you make that ultimately make for the most interesting lifestyle.

    How does it feel now that your brand is turning 10 this year?

    Alexander Wang:
    It's kind of unbelievable. My style and designs have evolved since 2005, but at the same time there is a core sensibility that has remained consistent. I have always liked the idea of mixing the refined with the imperfect -- creating items that are not precious. I love it when an outfit looks as if it has been thrown together quickly, even if in reality it took a lot of time. I am equally attracted to the opposite, like when someone is just a bit too overdressed for the occasion. There is a realness to an outfit that is "off," and I find that realness very attractive.

    So how are you celebrating the anniversary?

    Alexander Wang: We recently completed part one of the 10-year celebration: a call-out to fans via social media to bring back their favorite 10 items from the past decade. The 10-piece capsule, resulting from the most popular votes, will be in Alexander Wang stores in September. Part two is a partnership with the charity DoSomething, which supports youth volunteering and social change. We teamed up with Steven Klein and Pascal Dangin to work on a portrait series of about 40 celebrities wearing co-branded hoodies or T-shirts styled in their own personal ways. Proceeds from the sale of the hoodies and T-shirts will support DoSomething. And part three will be a big party after my show in September!

    Well it wouldn't be Alexander Wang without an outrageous shindig! Thanks for the heads-up; I'll go ahead and start working on my outfit now.


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    At this point you should know that Kanye West is unfuckwithable -- and if you didn't, please just refer to Exhibit A, aka last night's Video Vanguard acceptance speech that basically obliterated every ideal MTV's owners aka Viacom stands for.

    With his epic 13+ minute speech last night at the VMAs, he proved (once again) that he is one of the most powerful artist advocates in the universe -- prominent enough to turn the acceptance of an award symbolizing the success he's brought to MTV into a complete subversion of every materialistic thing that mass television stands for: awards, ratings, white success, anti-drug rhetoric. 

    By definition, the Video Vanguard Award is MTV's Lifetime Achievement Award, given to artists who've made a "profound effect on MTV culture" -- which Kanye has undoubtedly done and will continue to do. He will continually bring eyeballs and ratings to MTV's programming, simply by virtue of existing as his true self. And it was this true self that propelled Kanye to give us his cut-through-the-bullshit elevator speech, the kind of speech no other artist would dare to touch -- especially as MTV's golden Moon Man symbolizing decades of work was lying ignored on the ground beside him. It was an especially rousing gesture considering that this is the network that basically launched his mainstream career and those of many of his peers. And that's precisely why it was so thrilling when he called them out onstage last night.

    Time and time again, Kanye has made it very clear that he is here to defend the artist, something he probably felt was mad ironic given the fact that there he was, accepting an award that represented his ability to jump over the fucking "chopping block" and trounce the relative "losers" -- aka his fellow artists. It probably irked him to no end that a ratings-driven machine that scripts beefs and paints him as an unbridled asshole still expects him to play nice at their award ceremony.

    Too bad they forgot that Kanye is his own man, someone who doesn't follow a pre-determined script that lets a host low-key disrespect the love of his life on national television. In one of the boldest of "fuck yous" he possibly could've pulled, he thanked Taylor Swift for her graciousness in presenting him his award before exposing the ratings-thirst behind the choice to have her do so (not to mention all the ratings MTV got from constantly re-running footage of 'Ye's infamous 2009 "Imma let you finish" outburst). 

    The fact that Kanye is also the (black) embodiment of the antithesis to MTV consumerism is doubly extraordinary -- a fact he himself brings up continually. He purposely disrupts the system in an attempt to fight the MTV machine that, as his childhood friend Rhymefest hinted at, "aggressively mirrors a society that is hell-bent on (de)magnetizing Black artists from the community and ultimately making them disposable." It's the bleak reality of the industry today, and one Kanye has been very vocal about. Thank Yeezus that MTV didn't (or maybe did) realize he'd take the opportunity to tear 'em a new one.

    Either way, Kanye will forever be the man of the mic drop. And we all better be listening.

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    Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 12.33.12 PM.png[Photo via]

    In the years since covered its first runway show in 1999 (Versus Versace, in case you're wondering), it's become the one-stop shop for fashion addicts of all magnitudes. Editors and stylists used it to request looks for shoots. Shopaholics and bloggers logged on to get a front-row view of the latest designs from the biggest names in fashion. Other sites tried to match's blanket coverage but none were ever a serious contender. Today is the last day of as we've come to know and love it, with editor Nicole Phelps posting a goodbye letter on the site inviting fans to migrate to where's archives and future runway coverage will live while the address becomes an e-commerce site.

    We'd like thank the site for all the memories and for the full scale democratization of fashion -- thanks to them, the style-starved teen in Iowa had a front row at Marc Jacobs, Balenciaga and Givenchy. They say the only constant in fashion in change but this is one change that we'll find hard to get used to.

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    Confirming what everyone might have expected going into the ceremony, Kanye West was by far the best part of this year's VMAs. His near-sitcom-length acceptance speech was great for many reasons (not least of which was its clear, raw honesty in front of millions of people), but its craziest moment was almost certainly Kanye's off-handed declaration that he would run for president in 2020. As much as this clearly is not going to happen (there's too much other stuff Kanye would rather be doing), it's really not so implausible as other news outlets might have you believe, particularly given the history of celebrities in politics.

    The obvious examples here are American celebrities who have made political careers out of their natural charisma, for both good and (largely) ill. Donald Trump's presidential bid is currently making life hell for both the Republican party and the country at large, but don't forget that, before he cooked up an answer, Ronald Reagan was a movie star.

    The list of non-presidential aspirants is even bigger. Wrestler and Predator star Jesse "The Body" Ventura was governor of Minnesota. Arnold Schwarznegger ran California before going back to making Terminator sequels, and the state isn't that much more of a mess than it was when he started. Former SNL cast member Al Franken has been one of the better senators in recent memory. And those are just some of the more famous examples of recent people who have held political office. Here are some more:

    • Fred Thompson, the dude from Law & Order, who was a senator for a while and briefly ran for president
    • Clay Aiken (he lost, though)
    • Wyclef Jean (he also lost)
    • Sonny Bono (he won!)
    Basically, American government is littered with former actors, athletes, singers, and so on -- helped, in many cases, by the fact that they start out with high name recognition and are generally naturally personable, factors which make it much easier to win elections (rather than, like, having good policy platforms).

    Other countries, even ones with less powerful celebrity culture, have also elevated people from entertainment and sports backgrounds into positions of political power. There's a long history of soccer (sorry, football) players-turned politicians in Europe. Manny Pacquiao was one of last year's most absent members of the Philippine congress. An entire state of India has a history of being governed by Bollywood stars.

    So... why, exactly, is a Kanye run seen as more ludicrous than all of the others, in a country where he may not be universally beloved, but certainly has a serious fan base and ideas about the world that are relatively easy to understand if you try for more than one second to understand then? Hmm... it's almost like we only allow certain types of people to present themselves as "serious" political figures even when they act like total clowns, while ignoring others who speak truth to power. (But that's none of our business.)

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    A photo posted by Chance The Rapper (@chancetherapper) on

    Even though Chicago sweetheart Chance The Rapper made it pretty clear beforehand that he wouldn't be in attendance at MTV's Video Music Awards, I guess he was watching the broadcast -- seeing as how he called out host Miley Cyrus for her dreads and use of the Antebellum-era word "mammy" during a skit with Snoop Dogg. Check out what context Chance felt was missing from the conversation below.

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    The new track from iLoveMakonnen features production from 18-year-old Danny Wolf and is an all-around good time. Shouts to Danny Wolf and, as Makonnen raps, "Shouts out to myself, too." Check it out, via Complex.

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    With much fanfare, the VMAs came careening back onto your airwaves (or computer screens) last night, hosted by none other than our summer cover star, Miley Cyrus. The show had a lot of good, a lot of bad, a lot of ugly and awkward but it never failed to be entertaining. Not surprisingly, the night's big winner was Taylor Swift, who took home awards for Video of the Year and Best Collaboration and Best Pop Video and Best Female Video for "Bad Blood" and "Blank Space," respectively, and Nicki Minaj nabbed Best Hip-Hop video for "Anaconda," Fetty Wap was named Artist to Watch for "Trap Queen," Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars scored the Best Male Video award with "Uptown Funk" and Big Sean got Video With a Social Message for his track with Kanye and John Legend, "One Man Can Change the World." And, of course, #YeezyFor2020. But while there was a lot to dissect onstage, there was just as much happening on the red carpet. Below, we rate all the fun n' fugly fashion at the VMAs.

    Miley Cyrus

    "Miley looked like Blonde Ambition-era Madonna beamed down to Planet Earth from Xanadu in the best way possible. (Although I probably would've ditched the unnecessary dreads.)"-- Abby

    "Is it 1905? Like, you can show some skin and take risks Miley."-- Elizabeth

    Nicki Minaj

    "Nicki looks like a Cleopatra goddess. I don't love the belly button peeking out but she makes it work."-- Abby

    "This is sex fire on a stick. It makes me want to pray with Pastor Lydia."--Elizabeth

    Taylor Swift

    "Props to Taylor for going 'peak Taylor' with a crop top look. She's feelin' herself."-- Abby

    "I thought this was appropriate millennial sparkle fug. Taylor always mixes it up for the VMAs, which is technically an awards show for 12-year-olds, so, like, what? She's going to go full Ellie Saab-floor-length-snooze-gown?"--Elizabeth

    Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West

    "Kim's Balmain dress is very Private Benjamin-chic and I like that they're doing a quasi-matching couples' outfit with the tan-on-tan-on-sand-on-sand palette. That said, I miss the days when Kanye used to show up to awards shows looking like this."-- Abby

    "Sometimes people need to grow up and start thinking about sleeve lengths and pockets. Kim K loves a front pocket on a red carpet right now and I support her, as women's clothing is bullshit when it comes to pockets.POCKET JUSTICE.--Elizabeth

    Justin Bieber

    "We said it first: Justin's rocking the Kate Gosselin haircut, against better judgment. The rest of the look is totally fine though -- exactly what a young man going to the VMAs should be wearing. In other words, he looks like Miguel."-- Abby

    "It's very Lincoln Hawk-chic/Malibu-chainsaw-artist/Harley-lover-raising-two-tween-daughters-on-his-own-but-getting-back-into-dating-but-not-looking-for-hookups and I like that. It's a good look for Bieber."-- -- Elizabeth

    Kylie Jenner

    "Kylie's dress reminds me of those rope courses you have to climb in "team building" exercises that "companies" do on "corporate retreats." She looks pretty otherwise but I think the hair and makeup slightly ages her -- she's 18 and should own it!"-- Abby

    "I liked this ropey little thing and generally feel that long-sleeved shift dresses + a heavy bang = slam-dunk '60s sultriness, but I agree that it's a little much in this case."-- Elizabeth

    Cara Delevingne

    "This is a pretty demure look for Cara -- especially considering the freakshow that is the VMAs. It's very pretty though and her hair's never looked better."-- Abby

    "Cara does a 'fuck-yourself-to-the-darkest-depths-of-the-universe' scowl like no other. It's art. It's beauty. I thought this dress was fine."-- Elizabeth

    Gigi Hadid

    "Gigi's so pretty but this dress and the spray tan makes her look like a Palm Springs divorcée whose kids are in college and is taking some time to enjoy her alimony and live her life, you know? She drinks Chardonnay over ice every day with lunch and has a hairstylist named Fausto, formerly Freddie Schwartz from Thousand Oaks, who comes to her house and gives her blow-outs before she hits Palm Canyon Drive for a night out with her girlfriends."-- Abby

    "Yeah, I agree that maybe Gigi is too young to pull off the parched sun-goddess, Benson & Hedges 100s-grandeur that this look could have been. This is really Lana's game and Lana's game only."-- Elizabeth

    Helen Lasichanh and Pharrell Williams

    "I miss the hat."-- Abby

    "Cute and fun."-- Elizabeth

    Jeremy Scott

    "Jeremy looks like a Ken doll circus ringmaster -- in other words, he looks amazing."-- Abby

    "Agreed. When in doubt, just don't wear a shirt under a tux. It gives the slightest whisper of Chippendales and makes people think of Patrick Swayze, who is someone people should be thinking about once or twice a week anyway."-- Elizabeth

    Hailee Steinfeld

    "I love this -- Hailee looks very sophisticated but still cool and fun."-- Abby

    "Agreed. She looks very intergalactic, twenty-something SoHo Art Gallery owner who is not just using her family's money to add to the problem. She actually cares about giving platforms to artists whose voices matter and it's not always just about this pedigreed, blue-chip bullshit. Also, that clutch is a dream."-- Elizabeth

    Rita Ora

    "I'm getting sick of all these feather skirts and cut-outs. Rita's body looks amazing but I'm ready to see her in something new."-- Abby

    "I feel that everyone's general look should be "boobs Ostrich," so I really loved this."-- Elizabeth

    Britney Spears

    "Two's a trend! (See Nicki Minaj's gold, sparkly, sheer and navel-baring dress.) But the expression she has on her face is exactly how I imagine it must feel like to wear that dress and those shoes."-- Abby

    "I wanted this dress to be long, but that's it. She looked awesome and everyone thought about her naked. Good job to all. -- Elizabeth"

    Kris Jenner

    "Kris looks great although that extra silk on those sleeves is crusin' for a bruisin' from the Kim K. book of 'no more pilgrim adams family outfits.'"-- Abby

    "Kris will serve all-black and a shattered bang until the end of time. It works. She works it. She's worth it. "-- Elizabeth


    "It seems like whatever's peeking out underneath those fringe-y scarf things is OK but I'm really not vibing with this look otherwise. Not her best although the hair and makeup looks fantastic."-- Abby

    "I like that MTV went with a checkered carpet in bold colors this year."-- Elizabeth

    Emily Ratajkowski

    "Emily's stance is very 'I'm out here' but her face says, 'Fuck my stylist who made me wear this terrible look.' She reminds me of a nineteenth century saloon girl who got teleported into a late-80s party at the Trump Tower."-- Abby

    "I like that the step-and-repeat backdrops were made to look like giant TVs. I like the big nobs and buttons!"-- Elizabeth

    FKA twigs

    "twigs is giving me young Helena Bonham Carter vibes and it's fabulous."-- Abby

    "Agreed, Twigs is serving full-on avant-sex-dungeon-dominatrix, which is exactly how you should dress at an awards show mostly watched by children."-- Elizabeth

    Rebel Wilson

    "I almost dislike this outfit as much as her 'stripper police' bit."-- Abby

    "Same. I like those pink bits but I'm not sure about the collar/top half."-- Elizabeth

    Z LaLa

    "I don't know who Z LaLa is but she should do a duet with Kayvon Zand."-- Abby

    "Best dressed of the night. You should always look like a partially deflated mylar balloon and give off a vibe that screams 'hell.' Loved this."-- Elizabeth

    Baddie Winkle

    "Baddie Winkle stole the whole damn carpet -- love the dress that looks like Oblina from '90s Nickelodeon show Aaahh!!! Real Monsters."-- Abby

    "Cutest shoes of the night."-- Elizabeth

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    Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 2.09.35 PM.pngGoodnight Mommy
    A deliciously macabre film skillfully directed by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala about twin 9 year-olds (Elias & Lukas Schwarz) spending an idyllic summer playing in the woods by their stark, modern house. When their mother (Susanne Wuest) comes home from the hospital with her head bandaged they become convinced she is not their mother and dangerously plot against this interloper. A mix of The Other-meets-Eyes Without A Face meets-The Reflecting Skin, it's beautiful to look at but deeply unsettling. You'll also never look at Crazy Glue the same again.

    Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 2.10.01 PM.pngDrunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story Of The National Lampoon
    I remember the infamous cover of The National Lampoon magazine well. A sweet-looking dog with a gun to its head with the headline: "If you don't buy this magazine we'll kill this dog."  In this fascinating and frequently hilarious documentary by Douglas Tirola we see the inception of the mag by two brash, educated, upstarts -- Doug Kenney and Henry Beard, who created an irreverent, riotously funny, comedy magazine and rounded up some incredibly twisted minds like the volatile but darkly comic Michael O'Donoghue to contribute. The drugs, sex, and rock and roll lifestyle burned out Doug Kenny for a while, who disappeared but sheepishly returned and in that period started their successful movie enterprises like Animal House.  The movie is playfully cinematic in featuring some of their more outrageous articles, and honestly tells the story of the magazine's off-the-cliff downfall. It's hard to imagine in today's easy-to-outrage mindset a periodical lasting a week with a fake ad showing a car floating in the water with the tag line: "If Ted Kennedy drove a Volkswagen he'd be President today."

    Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 2.10.57 PM.pngThe New Girlfriend
    Director Francois Ozon's latest is loosely based on a Ruth Rendell short story and stars Anais Demoustier as Claire, still deeply wounded by the death of her best friend Laura (Isild Le Besco). She has promised to always watch over Laura's husband David (Romain Duris) and their child but when she makes a surprise visit to their house one day she is shocked by the revelation that David enjoys cross-dressing. Soon that initial surprise turns to a sinfully enjoyable secret she shares with him that she cherishes and keeps from her own husband. Leave it to Francois Ozon to throw a grenade into the idea of gender transformation and have his story play out as a perverse provocation with a surprisingly tender punch line.

    Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 2.11.21 PM.pngThe Green Inferno
    Horror maestro Eli Roth's (Hostel) loving, witty, enjoyably bloodthirsty tribute to the grindhouse Italian cannibal films of the 1980s. Justine (a terrific Lorenza Izzo) plays a New York college student who joins up with an eco-activist group and travels to Peru to prevent construction crews from tearing down the rain forest. Unfortunately, their plane crashes and they are captured by a ferocious tribe of cannibals. Roth understands the genre intrinsically but brings a post-modern spin and keeps the roller-coaster ride of a film on track and roaring fun. A sequence involving a bag of pot and a roasting victim is inspired lunacy.
    Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 2.11.45 PM.pngSteve Jobs: The Man In The Machine
    Director Alex Gibney's (Going Clear) reason for tackling a documentary about Apple co-founder and messianic CEO Steve Jobs was his fascination with the wild outpouring of grief around the world when Jobs died. Were people mourning the man or the Apple computers, iPhones and iPads we've come not to be able to live without? The movie charts Jobs' meteoric rise (with some bumps along the way) to create the personal computer, but also the duality of the man. A lover of Bob Dylan and Japanese Zen meditation he was also ruthless in his personal and professional life. He used counterculture ads to promote his computers making it seem that Apple was a mindset when in actuality he was using the imagery to make money. But he definitely was a visionary and pioneer, and complicated character. And our symbiotic relationship with the innovations he created has colored the planet for better or worse. This excellent documentary will definitely make you "think different."
    Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 2.12.43 PM.pngHellions
    Ava (the lovely Chloe Rose) is a slightly rebellious 17 year-old who finds out from her doctor that she is several weeks pregnant. It's on Halloween night and she is alone in a remote farmhouse waiting for her boyfriend to pick her up for a party when demonic little creatures show up at the door demanding more than candy. They want her baby. "Blood for baby" they chant as they surround the house. After that, things get pretty surreal much like director Bruce McDonald's last film Pontypool, which I liked in similar ways. The visual composition of this creepy treat -- particularly the filtered, hallucinatory, shift halfway through -- adds a nice sense of disorientation and dread. And Robert Patrick is fun as a cop who comes to her rescue. The third act of this fetal fright film is a bit of a letdown, but the mood and weirdness still create a nice sense of nightmare logic. According to the credits, no animals or demons were harmed during the making of the film.

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    Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 3.06.26 PM.png
    As if you didn't know Miley smoked weed, now she has a brand new video for "Dooo It" just confirming that glitter goo, pot and candy raves are what she's primarily made of.

    The production's pretty signature Wayne Coyne basement-psych, just danced up a bit for Miley's young fans, and you'll have to keep an eye out for the acid-house interlude where all you'll be able to focus on is her, uh, "glitter bukkake" look.

    Main takeaway though? Guess she ain't no (happy) hippie. Watch the emulsive explosion below.

    [h/t Mashable]

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    Fall is here. The kids are back to school, Drake is back with Serena, you are back in pants, and, finally, the art world is back from its sleepy summer hiatus. From galleries filled with rubble and cake art you can eat to Internet flea markets and so much more, here are all the must-see art shows and events happening this fall.


    Photographic Gumball Machine (1973)

    Charles Swedlund at Higher Pictures
    980 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10075
    September 2 - October 3

    For his first solo show in New York, Charles Swedlund has taken photography far beyond the conventional 3x5 format. With photo-based objects (like pictures that make sounds when you press them) and interactive games and toys (like a gumball machine that dispenses tradable wooden photographs) participation is mandatory.

    DIACHELSEA.pngLa Monte Young performance at Dream House at Dia:Chelsea
    535 W 22nd Street  New York, NY 10011
    September 3 & 5

    Enter a dream world of sound, light and performance at the Dream House, an installation created by iconic minimalist sound artist La Monte Young and artists Marian Zazeela and Jung Hee Choi. Young, who studied with John Cage and worked with Yoko Ono, will give two rare performances inside the space among the light and sculpture installations. It's sure to be a trip.

    CLEARING.jpgEduardo Paolozzi at CLEARING Gallery
    396 Johnson Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, 11206
    September 3 - November 1

    Scottish sculptor, collage artist and an overall master of juxtaposition, Sir Eduardo Paolozzi's diverse work is coming to Brooklyn. With bright color-contrasted mosaics mashed with pop culture characters, the knighted artist was a innovative voice in the '60s art world and will be a intriguing break from the contemporary programming of most Bushwick galleries.

    KimberlyKlark.jpgUmpawaug's Bloom at Kimberly Klark
    788 Woodward Avenue, Queens, NY 11385
    September 5 - 22

    It's hard to tell exactly what the group show featuring Ashley Carter, Phil Cote, Ray Johnson, and Erin Jane Nelson at the artist-run space in Queens is about, but with a strange press release mentioning a cross breed of flowers by Edward Steichen with a "'personal appearance' of the flowers themselves," it's worth sniffing out.

    Half.jpgGardar Eide Einarsson at Half Gallery
    September 8 - October 10
    43 E 78th St, New York, NY 10075

    Painting over images of protests from the '60s and '70s taken from law enforcement manuals on how to suppress and contain riots, Einarsson's redacted paintings are a look into the tension between violence and control in contemporary America. In conjunction with his show at TEAM gallery running in tandem, which will also show sculptures and printmaking, Half Gallery's townhouse layout gives a focused perspective on the project's unique paintings. 

    Louis B James.jpgMartin Roth's untitled (debris) at Louis B James
    143b Orchard St, NY NY 10002
    September 9 - October 18

    Louis B James Gallery is no stranger to transforming their LES space for the sake of an immersive art installation, but with Martin Roth's newest work bringing in actual rubble and debris from a conflict in Syria, the gallery is likely to become unrecognizable. Sounds dark, but we also hear there will be parakeets there amongst the destruction, showing life in the strangest of places.

    JaneLombard.jpgTappei Kaneuji's Deep Fried Ghost at Jane Lombard Gallery
    518 West 19th Street, New York, NY 10011
    September 10 - October 17

    Japanese artist Tappei Kaneuji's vibrant sculptures, bizarrely pieced together from plastic toys, are a surrealist Manga nightmare we can't help but want to explore.

    TEAM.jpgGardar Eide Einarsson's FREEDOM, MOTHERFUCKER. DO YOU SPEAK IT? at Team Gallery
    47 Wooster Street, New York, NY 10013
    September 10 - October 24

    In tandem with Half Gallery's showing of Einarsson's politically-charged work, TEAM will display sculptures, prints and paintings that focus around the Norwegian artist's relationship with violence in contemporary America, all with a biting humor to help the medicine go down.

    Skarstedt.jpgJustin Aiden at Skarstedt
    550 West 21st Street, New York, NY 10011
    September 10 - October 24

    If you haven't gotten a chance to see Justin Aiden's abstract sculptures in person, the artist's first solo show with Skarstedt gallery is going to get heads turning. The colorful shapes made from painted canvas stretched over foam give a satisfying geometric focus with an unexpected texture and sheen, so alluring you'll have to hold off urges to sneak a poke at the artwork.   

    PaulKasmin.jpgFRANK STELLA: Shape as Form at Paul Kasmin
    293 10th Ave, New York, NY 10001
    September 10 - October 10

    See a new side of the beloved icon's artwork before Frank Stella's retrospective hits the Whitney Museum in October with a number of works exploring the transition and middleground between sculpture and painting.

    piercingbrightness-poster.jpgART SEEN Presents PIERCING BRIGHTNESS at Nitehawk Cinema
    136 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249
    September 10, 7:30pm

    Teenage sci-fi UFO art film. Wine and food delivered right to your comfortable movie theater seat. An engaging Q&A with artist and director of the film, Shezad Dawood, without you ever having to move. There are no reasons why you shouldn't go to all of Nitehawk's art films, especially Piercing Brightness.

    PioneerWorks.jpgShezad Dawood's It was a time that was a time at Pioneer Works
    159 Pioneer Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231
    September 11 - November 1

    Take your art film experience into the real world with Dawood's first solo exhibition at Dustin Yellin's sprawling arts center in Red Hook. Neon sculptures and textile pieces will fill the space, while the film, a collaborative project featuring many Brooklyn artists and youth from the Red Hook Initiative, all exploring the possibility of living in a post-apocalyptic community, will be on display.

    RedBullloweherrema.pngJonah Freeman, Justin Lowe, and Jennifer Herrema at Redbull Studios
    220 w 18th Street 10011, New York, NY
    September 11 - December 6

    Get lost in an immersive installation at Red Bull Studios, where Freeman, Lowe and Herrema explore the history of youth subcultures in an interactive and encapsulating form. A labyrinth of objects, a faux-ethnographic sci-fi short film and a sound installation in collaboration with a number of famous musicians including Kurt Vile, Devandra Banhart and Hot Chip -- it's all about an in-person experience.

    69_The Air Is An Absence Held Web.jpgThe Air Is An Absence Held at Ray Smith Studio
    261 Bond Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217
    September 12 - 20

    Sometimes all you need is a minimalist flyer, an ambiguous title and a giant art space run by the Brooklyn icon painter/sculptor Ray Smith to get us intrigued about a show.  Take risks, see art. Who needs pictures?

    Internet fair2.gifThe Internet Yami Ichi at the Knockdown Center
    52-19 Flushing Ave, Maspeth, NY 11378
    September 12, 12- 8pm

    Stop looking at the Internet and go see it for yourself! The first-ever Internet Yami Ichi from Japan is taking over the Knockdown Center in Queens for a web-inspired flea market, where artists like Corey Arcangel, Daniel Johnston, New Hive and more will show and sell "Internet-ish" objects IRL. From the lo-fi early meme GIFs alone, this one day, FREE fair is worth going offline for.

    Stadium2.jpgEdward Cabral at Stadium 2
    86 Delancey St, New York, NY 10002
    September 12

    Have your cake and eat it, too. But really, this artist is making art cakes for the grand reopening of Stadium Gallery, now located in the Lower East Side, and you will be able to eat them there, because sometimes artists understand what the people want.

    BKMuseumtable.jpg"Shared Dining" at Brooklyn Museum
    200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, New York 11238
    On view until September 13

    Inspired by artist Judy Chicago's permanent installation The Dinner Party, which shows dinner place settings of iconic feminists throughout history, the Brooklyn Museum has commissioned ten women from a high-security correctional facility to create their own place settings with nothing but the materials available to them inside the prison. On the closing night of the exhibition author Wally Lamb and two formerly incarcerated women will discus the importance of creative programs in prisons.

    BookFair.jpgPrinted Matter Book Fair at MOMA PS1
    22-25 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, NY
    September 18 - 20

    Art catalogs, small press books, zines, antiquated vintage copies, monographs  and every other type of art book you can image will be at Printed Matter's 10th annual art book fair at MOMA PS1. Free to the public, and with over 370 book sellers, you'll want to set aside the whole day (or weekend) for some genuine perusing.

    HOWL.jpgScooter La Forge's How to Create a Monsterpiece at Howl! Happening
    6 E 1st St, New York, NY 10003
    September 19 - December 6

    The iconic designer behind many of Madonna's most influential costumes, Scooter La Forge brings his eye for the excessive to a series of new paintings and sculptures, combining ephemera, gifts from strangers, and mixed-media for a pop-infused collection of psychedelic artworks.

    Jewish Museum.jpgBecoming Jewish: Warhol's Liz and Marilyn at The Jewish Museum
    1109 5th Ave, New York, NY 10128
    September 25 - February 7

    Explore the mystery and culture behind Andy Warhol's iconic Jewish muses in a collection of artwork, letters, photographs and objects surrounding their celebrity, including Warhol's own famous works.

    sisters-follies-2-update.jpgBasil Twist at Abrons Art Center
    466 Grand Street, New York, NY 10002
    October 1- 31

    In celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Abrons' Playhouse and of Halloween in general, master puppeteer Basil Twist joins forces with downtown legends Joey Aria and Julie Atlas Muz for a ghostly musical about the sisters who created the playhouse in 1915. It's a haunted Follies-esque spectacle in a digital age, with art direction that takes experimental theater to a new, mind-altering state.

    JimShaw.pngJim Shaw: The End Is Near at The New Museum
    235 Bowery, New York, NY 10002
    October 7 - January 10, 2016

    From pop-up theater sets to airbrush drawings to thrift store paintings, the legendary artist Jim Shaw has been clashing cartoons with conspiracy imagery, religion with pop culture, and all types of media for over 30 years. In his three floor retrospective, Shaw's imagery takes over real life like a Roger Rabbit movie, putting reality in flux.

    TheKitchen.jpegSergei Tcherepnin  at The Kitchen
    512 West 19th Street New York, NY 10011
    October 15-17, 8pm

    Set to the paintings by Lisa Dodd and inspired by the mysterious life of a praying mantis, Sergei Tcherepnin's newest ballet is composed in light and music as well as movement, bringing a didactic performance to the legendary experimental theater.

    TheWhitney.jpgRachel Rose at The Whitney Museum
    99 Gansevoort Street, New York, NY 10014
    October 30 - February 7

    After winning the 2015 Frieze Prize it's no wonder that the 29-year-old video artist Rachel Rose is already infiltrating the Whitney Museum. In her first major solo show in the US, Rose will be presenting a series of films and sound environments that play off the architecture of the space.

    BKMuseumConeyIsland.jpgConey Island: Visions of an American Dreamland at The Brooklyn Museum
    200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, New York 11238
    November 20 - March 13, 2016

    Traverse the cultural imagery and diverse history of the iconic Coney Island, with ephemera, photographs and works from Joseph Stella, Diane Arbus, Walker Evans, Swoon and more collected from 1861 to 2008. It will be a welcomed nostalgic look into summer as the winter begins to roll in. 

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    When u wearing ur Instagram comments 👅 Fall the fuck back haters 😂 #VMAs

    A photo posted by Amber Rose (@amberrose) on

    Feminist icon Amber Rose and friend/rumored reality series co-star Blac Chyna took to the VMA red carpet last night in outfits that can literally be called statement pieces.

    Oft-maligned and defined by their male partners rather than the strong female figures they are, both women wore skin-tight numbers adorned with the derogatory names they've been called online, ranging from "gold digger" to "hoe."

    Hand-painted by Brittany Deshields and Iris Barbee Bonner of These Pink Lips, the outfit furthers Rose's previous work as an anti-slut shaming advocate and founder of her very own SlutWalk event. And alongside a pair of friends who also wore garb that bore the slur "faggot," Rose and Chyna proved that the awards show red carpet is still one of the best places to make a statement. You go ladies.


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    craven 1.jpgFor four decades, acclaimed horror director Wes Craven always managed to force us to confront something inside of ourselves. Whether it was the way we let our unconscious dictate our waking life with his Nightmare on Elm Street series or pop culture's infiltration of reality with each Scream entry, Craven, who passed away last night at age 76, wanted more than to scare us with gore and suspense; he sought self-reflection, even in slasher flicks.

    Consider Craven's directorial debut, The Last House on the Left. A trailblazing installment in the the rape revenge genre, the movie toyed with the idea of the peace-loving '70s and lambasted the privilege of dedicated hippie-dom. But Craven wasn't just shining a light on how we are still prone to abject horrors despite a commitment to kumbaya-ing through life (Left deals with abduction, group sodomy and preying on the naïve). He was also exploring the idea that the will to vengeance exists in all of us, and that we're not tethered to the identities we try to inhabit. In the face of barbarity, even the most granola people will avenge their daughter's rape, torture and murder in the most gruesome way possible.

    Craven also asked us to look directly inside the machine of movie-making. In 1994's New Nightmare, he reunited his Elm Street stars to play themselves looking back on the film series they carried together -- only to discover that dream-dwelling monster Freddy Krueger existed off the silver screen. Having Krueger emerge from the nightmare landscape directly addressed the effects of sexual assault and unbelievable strength it takes to overcome and survive. The 2010 remake blatantly underlines that Kreuger was a pedophile in the way so many retelling of classic horror films bolster the source material's subtle motive narratives. But simply having Freddy only come for you in your dreams, still marred by his attack when you awake, is already powerfully symbolic of both the societal denial of sexual abuse and the way wounds are still present, even when the trauma seems impossible to see or comprehend -- an idea that was only further explored when Craven invited Freddy into the real world.

    But this kind of exploration was what was important to Craven's greatest hits. Scream's Sidney Prescott was the ideal horror Final Girl, pure and ready to defend against the forces of evil, until she acquiesced to losing her virginity -- right as the film's villain, Ghostface, really ramped up his victim count. Underage drinking and premarital sex has always been slasher-bait, but by allowing Sidney to shirk the commandments of the chaste Final Girl, he gave a necessary agency to a character who, under the old narrative logic, should have been doomed the second she broke the rules. And that's why Craven was so important. He wanted to us to see structures as flimsy, and better when they are dismantled.

    That's why Scream and all its sequels spend so much satirizing the genre. Craven wanted us to look away from everything we have been told we're supposed to think, both in how stories are told and how we follow our own belief systems. His work dares us to question our understanding of reality, and it will continue to make us do as long as horror continues to thrive.

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    Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 6.04.10 PM.png
    Fuck latex and PVC, because the hottest skin-tight synthetic is now just plain, old shopping bag plastic.

    That's right, apparently teens in Taiwan are all about wearing nothing but transparent bags that, uh, leave not a whole lot to the imagination. And the store-du-jour? 7-Eleven, of course.

    Granted see-thru plastic has been a relatively "relevant" look for a while, with everything from clear raincoats to platforms popping up for the past few years -- though this is kind of taking it to the extreme. Never underestimate an enterprising teen on Instagram, I guess.

    And while it may be cheap and chic, we'd personally be a little weary of tears. Better start double-bagging.

    Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 6.04.14 PM.png
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    Twisted Pizza700.jpgPhoto from Twisted Pizza and Ice Cream on 293 Commercial St.

    The proper timeline is as essential for a night's success as a good outfit, hydration or breath mints. In Provincetown the right schedule can ensure you're having as much fun as a tourist while being as educated as a native. And, like many nights out the world over, the perfect ending usually involves pizza.

    7:00 - Dinner
    The best way to prepare for a long, boozy night is rich, calorie-heavy comfort food, and Bayside Betsy's is a Provincetown synonym for uncomplicated home cooking. The menu feels like it came from your favorite suburban diner yet feels perfectly in place in Ptown. Meaty lobster rolls, tender prime rib, or Pasta Betsy (pasta tossed with artichoke hearts, asparagus, tomatoes, shallots and more) are tried-and-true classics. Don't worry about starting your night sober, their drinks are an indulgence of their own. If you've ever had a desire to have an electric blue drink (to match the décor), than check out their cocktail lounge, Mixers, which caters to the restaurant patrons as well. It's the place to get a drink inspired by the natural landscape without containing any natural coloring.

    Bayside Betsy's, 177 Commercial Street, Provincetown, MA 02657, 508-487-6566

    9:00 - Drinks
    Once fortified, grab a well-crafted cocktail at the Shipwreck Lounge, where couches, fire-pits and a cozy courtyard create an environment conducive to conversation and meeting new friends. The pictures you take here won't be the ones you quickly delete or regret posting the next day -- there's sophistication to the place that feels a bit like you're hanging out in the lobby of a harborside boutique hotel. Order one of their specialty martinis to jump into your night or ease into it with a local wine. 

    Shipwreck Lounge, 10 Carver St, Provincetown, MA 02657

    10pm - Dancing
    Everyone's a perfect dancer after 2 to 4 cocktails so flaunt (or feign) your confidence at The Crown and Anchor, an all-in-one campus of fun in Ptown: it includes a performance area, hotel, restaurant, and three bars. Best of all, the bars don't have covers. Start at the Video Bar, which, at night, often projects music videos on their giant screen like Destiny Child's "Bootylicious," Rihanna clips like "Pon de Replay" or "Diamonds," George Michael's "Freedom '90," and other slumber-party approved hits. After you've had your fill of videos, migrate outside where you can get some fresh air and take a breather by the deck and pool area. Get back into the action by entering their more dance-friendly bar, Paramount, which is connected to the pool area as well. Expect club hits, platforms for dancing, a rowdier crowd, and a general lack of inhibitions.

    The Crown and Anchor, 247 Commercial Street, Provincetown, MA 02657

    1am - Nourishment
    Keep the night going, and prevent a morning hangover with a perfectly greasy slice (or three) at NYC Twisted Pizza and Ice Cream, which stays open until 2am. If you haven't made a new friend yet, there's no better way to bond than a late night pizza. Whether you trust someone who orders a Hawaiian slice is up to you.

    NYC Twisted Pizza and Ice Cream, 293 Commercial St, Provincetown, MA 02657

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    1R9A1518.700.jpgPhoto of a Storm Trooper walking through Provincetown

    Major film festivals, like Toronto, Sundance and Tribeca, started with mission and community-driven ideals -- bringing new films to a local audience, or encouraging independent films -- and while the heart of those missions may still ring true, they can be overshadowed by media and celebrity attention. The Provincetown International Film Festival, even after 17 years seems to somehow be able to both genuinely serve and be supported by the community while attracting big ticket films and guests. The 2015 festival, which drew their biggest audience yet, took place this past June, and the new Patricia Clarkson and Ben Kingsley film, Learning to Drive, took the top Audience Award.

    The success of the festival can be attributed, in no small part, to the dedicated staff leading the organization including their long-standing Artistic Director, Connie White.  We had the chance to chat with White and get a brief run-down about how the festival got started, what we may have missed and what's to come.

    How did the festival come about? Did it start with a mission or guiding principle?

    In 1999 a group met to envision a film festival weekend on what was then the "shoulder season" of a resort town. While most of the local businesses such as inns, restaurants, shops, are open and fully staffed by Memorial Day weekend, the crowds didn't really return en masse until July 4th.  A number of local movers and shakers were encouraging locals to plan event weekends during June and September, while the crowds were less overwhelming, yet most businesses were 100% up and running.  I was one of a few people brought in to consult on this "start up" and, well, the rest is history.

    How would you describe the festival's relationship with the town itself?

    It's pretty great! The town and businesses appreciate the art-savvy crowd who come in droves for the festival and they in turn support the festival contributing in-kind or discounted housing for the filmmakers, restaurants provide meals, the ferries and airlines provide vouchers -- and the town itself, through tourism funds and other granting opportunities, also offers financial support. There is a tremendous amount of support across the board. It wasn't always as plentiful as it is now, but after 17 years of hosting a great event, I think we all recognize that mid-June has become a destination week now due in a large part to the festival so everyone really seems to be on board and wants it to survive and thrive.

    Is there a quintessential Provincetown movie? If someone were to prepare for a trip by picking out a movie, which one should they watch?

    We opened the festival in 1999 with Run Lola Run and I still see that as setting the standard for artistry and vision for the festival selections. And, of course, anything by John Waters -- it's hard to pick, Polyester or Female Trouble? A highlight for me was showing Serial Mom a few years back at the local Drive-In with Kathleen Turner in person.

    What were some of the highlights from this past year?

    Everyone pretty much says "the films, the films, the films." The 2015 festival happened to be a year where there were some strong submissions that were very specific to Provincetown -- such as Packed In A Trunk,Outermost Radio and Clam Bake... But in addition we had packed, enthusiastic screenings of Grandma, Tab Hunter Confidential and Larry Kramer attended our screening of Larry Kramer in Love and Anger.  A real highlight! Plus tributes to filmmaker Bobcat Goldthwait and actor Jennifer Coolidge.

    The festival has been a great champion of independent film. What are some of the most notable premieres or directors that have come out of PIFF?

    We are really fortunate to have filmmakers John Waters and Christine Vachon on our advisory board right from the early years, and they have encouraged a lot of their friends and colleagues to attend over the years, which has brought us amazing directors attending like Gus Van Sant, Todd Haynes, Jim Jarmusch, Mary Harron, Darren Aronofsky, and Quentin Tarantino, who have been crowned with our annual signature "Filmmaker on the Edge" Award. And, actors Tilda Swinton, Jane Lynch, Gael Garcia Bernal and Parker Posey are just a few of the exciting actors who have attended and received our "Excellence in Acting Award."

    What's next for the festival?

    Year 18 is next!  We keep doing what we do -- "Filmmaking on the Edge" is our motto -- and we all intuitively know what that means, but to clarify a bit -- we continue to program films and bring filmmakers who push the boundaries, take chances, are adventurous, what we call "the edge" and we are all out here on the Edge of the Continent. Provincetown is really out there geographically and creatively and we celebrate all of that!

    The 2016 Festival will run from June 16 - 19 in venues across Provincetown.
    More information on the Provincetown International Film Festival, Film Society and some of the film mentioned above can be found at:

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    If you're doing a story on someone you can't photograph -- say, because she's serving a 35-year sentence in a military prison -- your best bet might be contacting artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg. As we put together our September issue's feature on whistle-blower Chelsea Manning, we recalled Dewey-Hagborg's 2012-2013 project Stranger Visions, a series of 3D-printed portraits created using DNA harvested from cigarette butts, spat-out gum and other street detritus. Next thing we knew, a FedEx package containing cheek swabs and hair trimmings was making its way from Fort Leavenworth to the Chicago-based artist, who then extracted, processed and interpreted Manning's DNA; the result is the uncanny portrait, or "forensic DNA phenotype," above. Of course, another challenge was that Manning, who announced her true gender identification after she was sentenced, as Bradley Manning, in 2013, is virtually invisible: a black-and-white photo from 2010 and an illustration on her Twitter account are our only references. We came to Dewey-Hagborg with this dilemma and were thrilled to learn that she could control the gender parameter in her DNA-generating portraits, either by inputting it manually or leaving it out altogether. (The version we chose represents the second option; you can see the first below.)

    Once we'd closed the issue, we Skyped Dewey-Hagborg to learn more about her process and the surprising parallels between Manning's work and her own.

    Generally, how much control do you have over the data that goes into these portraits?
    A tremendous amount. It's a very artistic practice. It's much like if you were generating a police sketch by hand -- it's that level of control, in the sense that you can parameterize gender along a spectrum. There's a continuous variable, so you can set it to more male, less male, "neutral," more female, less female.... But it's important to remember that this kind of model -- called a morphable model -- is based off of 3D scans of people's actual faces, so the model is a generalization from the original faces that were input. Depending on whose faces those are, different kinds of stereotypes of what gender looks like become embodied by that model. So there's only one way of looking female in the model, and that's one of the limitations. It's one of the things that I've been trying to highlight in my critique: that things like gender and race become problematic because they rely on very simplistic kinds of stereotypes.

    How much of this software is your own design, and how much are you inheriting technology that has these restrictions?
    Basically, I took a morphable model that had already been developed by an academic research unit and started exploring it and sort of hacking into it. Then I added this front end that takes in various kinds of DNA data and creates a phenotypical profile from that, and that's fed into the parameters of the 3D morphable model. One of the major problems is that the model I worked with was developed in Basel, Switzerland, and that's a very, very white place. It was really challenging to try to change the model so that it could actually represent people who weren't white. I basically ended up taking their model as a framework and then retraining it with different kinds of images. I think that those kinds of biases are always built into these data sets. 

    Walk me through the choices you made while creating this portrait.
    I got the FedEx envelope, and I wasn't sure what I was going to find when I opened it up, and so it was particularly exciting to see the plastic bag with her return address label on it. Inside the bag was a bundle of hair clippings and cheek swabs. I did a DNA extraction on the samples and quantified the DNA I extracted. Then I started going through a series of polymerase chain reaction experiments where basically I'll amplify a small section of DNA and look at a specific trait that's associated with that section. Normally I would be looking at a gene that's on the Y chromosome to determine if the person basically is male or female, and in this case I decided to skip that step. And then I looked at the genes for eye color and ancestry and tendency to be overweight or not... Each of those is basically an independent experiment: you have these little tubes and you put in the DNA and you put in these things called primers that are kind of like bookends that mark which part of the genome you want to amplify and examine. I'll run it in a machine and take the product of that and run it through gel electrophoresis, which will allow me to see if the amplification was successful. Each of those reactions gets FedExed to a company that will take that product and generate a sequence file from it. And then I take those sequences and bring them into bioinformatics programs and align them with known reference sequences, from the Human Genome Project, for example. I'll take the output of that and feed it into the front end that I developed for the morphable model. All of the variations -- what are called SNPS, or single nucleotide polymorphisms -- get entered as data into the front-end program, and the front-end program will generate a version of a face based on that information. Then there's this process of generating and choosing: I'll generate lots of different faces -- different versions of this identity -- and I'll go through and decide which one I think is the most compelling.



    So what were your criteria for finding the most compelling picture of Chelsea?
    Obviously, since I already know what she looks like, that does very much influence my choice. Normally, if I was just working on a stranger's DNA, I would simply be looking for a face that I thought was interesting, but in this case I definitely was leaning more toward ones that I thought looked the most similar to Chelsea -- but not necessarily looking like her in the photos that you see blasted across the Internet. It's my interpretation, or my guesswork, of how she would want to be represented.

    Because we're only talking about one widely circulated photograph of Chelsea, and one approved illustration -- that's all we've got. Were you looking at photos of Bradley and using your imagine as to what Chelsea might look like?
    Yeah, exactly. Because the two pictures of Chelsea are highly dominated by hair, and as you know the portraits I generate don't have hair, so there was a lot left to the imagination. I just tried to put myself in her shoes and try to imagine which of the faces would be the most representational of her identity.

    A rendering with the gender manually input as female

    We also tried a round where you input the gender as female. What were your thoughts on the two versions?
    I think it's interesting to see them side-by-side. That would be a fascinating exhibit -- to see any person's face parameterized along that spectrum, because it really does call attention to this stereotyping of gender and this continuous variable of it, and how subjective these kinds of judgments are. It also raises the question: What is a female face? Do we need to change someone's face to make them look more stereotypically female to consider them female? I would say no. I think that the more neutral face makes a stronger statement.

    What parallels do you see between Chelsea's work and yours?
    I think of a lot my projects as "exploits," in the hacker sense of the word: taking a vulnerability and calling attention to it. I've been thinking about whistle-blowing a lot because one of the real capacities of art, in terms of challenging oppression, is a power of revealing or truth-telling, in the sense of the Greek cynic: someone who would speak truth to power. In my own work, I see that as twofold. One is the exploit of showing this vulnerability that we are shedding DNA all the time and it's increasingly easy to take that and find out all kinds of things about us. And I would say that Chelsea also does this: she shows us the vulnerability of information. I also think in terms of what is actually revealed. For me, in Stranger Visions, it's taking something that was behind the scenes at the laboratory and making it as public as possible, to try to get it into public consciousness and get a dialogue going about it. I would never have the hubris to say that [my work] was remotely as significant as Chelsea's, but I think the parallel would be what the artwork shows. I think often what visual art does is it shows rather than tells that something is possible. In the case of whistle-blowing and releasing documents, there's the stage of sifting through all those documents and deciding what gets done with it; in the case of phenotyping, this was something I wanted people to have a visceral experience of. I wanted them to look it in the face -- to have that face-to-face encounter with a stranger who could be them.

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