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Chatting with the Folks Behind the Museum of the Moving Image's Awesome New Music Video Exhibition

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ec264ccbbe99be3e8e2ec86dcd2e6df5.jpgWax: "California" (1995). Directed by Spike Jonze. Part of the exhibition "Spectacle: The Music Video" on view at Museum of the Moving Image.

Raise your hand if the video for "I Wanna Dance with Somebody," "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang,"  TLC's "Waterfalls," -- or, for that matter, any other music video on heavy rotation on MTV in the '80s and '90s -- is seared into your brain, taking up space where a retention for basic algebra or four years of high school Spanish should probably live. The music video, a huge part of youth culture for the MTV Generation (or just about anyone born between 1970 and 1995), is celebrated as art in the new show "Spectacle: The Music Video" at the Museum of the Moving Image, on display now through June 16th. The show features 300 videos by directors including Michel Gondry, Floria Sigismondi, and Spike Jonze, set pieces and artifacts from videos, and other installations that capture the emergence of music videos as an art form. In conjunction with the exhibition, Chris Milk, who's directed videos for artists including Kanye West, Arcade Fire, Beck and Gnarls Barkley, will speak about his work at Vevo and Sonos' Director's Studio series at the museum's Fox Amphitheater. Tickets are free, available first-come, first-served, and the talk begins at 7 p.m.

Below, we speak with the show's co-curators Jonathan Wells and Meg Grey Wells of Flux Creative about the show and the videos they loved as teenagers.

What made you feel like now was the right time to do a music video exhibition?

Jonathan Wells: Both Meg and I are children of the MTV generation. We were teenagers when MTV launched and we've always loved music videos and, professionally, have championed the filmmakers who've gotten their starts in music videos. After so many people left videos for dead when MTV started playing reality programming, there's now been a major music video resurgence in large part thanks to the Internet. Videos are the ideal, bite-sized bit of content for the Internet and mobile devices. We saw the amazing story of Psy's "Gangnam Style" video last year, which is the most-viewed YouTube clip of all time with something like 1.5 billion views.

But this show is not a historical show wherein we say, "This is what music videos were," but more like, "Where did the music video come from?" It didn't begin and end with MTV and videos can be traced back to the 1920s. We're looking at all of music videos' different themes and what's happening with music videos now.

Radiohead's "House of Cards," directed by James Frost.  

Do you think the Internet has changed how music videos are made? And what goes into them?

Meg Grey Wells
: I think the Internet has created a new age for the how the medium is perceived. "Gangnam Style," for example: That video didn't become popular because of the strength of the singer or the strength of the song. If you look historically at MTV, that was the whole purpose of videos. Instead, Psy was using the art form to put himself out there. That video went viral because he used humor toward himself to propel it. And everybody responded to it. As a result of virality, you see a huge surge of remix videos. How many "Call Me Maybe" videos did you see last summer? Or more recently, the "Harlem Shake"? It's a little bit unstoppable, what people are doing with the medium.
 
And then there's the ever-changing, ever evolving technology of the interactive music video and how that can be used to create video. You can see this in James Frost's video for Radiohead's "House of Cards." He shot Thom Yorke not with a camera but a laser, and you can manipulate that code online. Then there's the Wilderness video for "We Used to Wait" by Arcade Fire, where you can enter in your address and see your house on Google Street View in the video. These are things meant to be experienced on your computer. [Ed note: You can read about Aaron Koblin of Google Creative Lab's Data Arts Team, who worked on both of these videos, in our May 2012 tech feature on Digital Renegades.

You mentioned videos going all the way back to the '20s. What are some examples you have from back then or other early videos?

JW: There was a video by Bessie Smith from the '20s that is one of the earliest musical shorts in existence. We also have some Betty Boop musical shorts. That's fascinating because one of them composites live action and animation together. That's more of a contemporary technique and it's remarkable that it was in existence then. And then, obviously, there's the iconic Bob Dylan video for "Subterranean Homesick Blues" from D.A. Pennebaker's Don't Look Back. And then we have The Beatles who were extremely influential in everything from straight documentation of a performance, to [clips that showed them] sort of clowning around or that had a more experimental feel.

The title credits to A Hard Days Night, directed by Richard Lester.

MGW: Even with [the movie] A Hard Days Night, there's no linear story, but it has the essence of what we now know as a 'music video.' It's very artsy and it jumps from one scene to the other and they break out in song. It's very creative.

JW: Also in the '60s there was also a version of a jukebox called the Scopitone. Basically, inside the jukebox there was a 16 millimeter film projection and you could choose a song and it would play a short film for that song. Then you have pioneers like David Bowie and Devo who were very influential in making early videos in the '70s and early '80s, and then moving into MTV, you start to get stuff like Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" video by Stephen R. Johnson, which is one of the most awarded videos of all time. We actually have one of Stephen's MTV Video Music Awards Moon Men on display in this show.

It seems like New York itself shaped videos and MTV early on. Do you have anything that's New York-centric in the show?


JW: New York was of course very instrumental in launching hip-hop. There was a seminal show in New York that's still on today called Video Music Box and also Yo! MTV Raps, and our show highlights how important these programs were in spreading hip-hop around the U.S., and how it influenced music and fashion. Some of "Spectacle" is a chronological timeline, but the rest of the show looks at choreography and cinematography, controversy and re-mixing in videos.



A-ha's "Take On Me," directed by Steve Barron.

What else is included in "Spectacle" that we can look forward to?

JW: The exhibition really focuses on things that have transcended time, like Aha's "Take On Me" for instance. You look at that video, which was made without any fancy digital tools, and it's still amazing today. We have the original drawings in the show that have never been seen by the public before this. We have no doubt that people might see the show and say, "Why wasn't my favorite video included?" so there's actually a Vevo lounge where people can pull up their favorite video. There's no way you can have a show where you can include every video that's ever been made and means something to someone. It's not that those videos aren't worthy -- we still appreciate them -- but we're just trying to showcase the artistry behind these [particular] videos that make them an art form.

You mentioned being part of the MTV generation. What are some of the videos that you remember loving as teenagers?

MGW: I was a huge Prince fan and [love] the video for "When Doves Cry." Oh my god, I loved it. I thought Prince was the greatest thing since sliced bread. When I was 13, I actually dyed some of my clothes purple to be like Prince. Michael Jackson was another one; I was just enamored with the "Billy Jean" video.

JW: There was this video by The Art of Noise called "Close (To the Edit)" with a little girl and these guys with chainsaws hacking up a piano, and that just stuck with me. It really was a piece of video art.

65e3ea811e81464a9f2a98dd154f8ebc.jpgInstallation view of the exhibition "Spectacle: The Music Video," at Museum of the Moving Image, featuring set pieces from The White Stripes' Alex and Martin-directed video for "7 Nation Army" as well as the band's Michel Gondry-directed video for "Fell in Love with a Girl." Credit: Eric Harvey Brown / Museum of the Moving Image.
 92e1e7f8e4bac97a43a7509682a65742.jpgA life-sized recreation of "Milky the Milk Carton," featured in Blur's Hammer & Tongs-directed video for "Coffee and TV." Credit: Eric Harvey Brown / Museum of the Moving Image

OKGopaintsuits.pngOK Go paint suits and paint guns used in the James Frost-directed video for "This Too Shall Pass." Credit: Eric Harvey Brown / Museum of the Moving Image.

aac1cd35de6fd5731020c2c5b845ba11.jpgRecreated environment for Steriogram video "Walkie Talkie Man," directed by Michel Gondry, featuring production design by Lauri Faggioni, featured in the exhibition "Spectacle: The Music Video" at Museum of the Moving Image . Credit: Eric Harvey Brown / Museum of the Moving Image.

8f988dc39843d1deeee42f8df83af17f.jpgMichael Patterson, one of the animation directors of A-ha's "Take On Me" video in the exhibition "Spectacle: The Music Video" at Museum of the Moving Image. Credit: Eric Harvey Brown / Museum of the Moving Image.

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Video still from David Bowie's "Ashes to Ashes," featured in the exhibition "Spectacle: The Music Video" at Museum of the Moving Image
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Carl Goodman, MMI Executive Director, and co-curators Jonathan Wells and  "Spectacle: The Music Video." Credit: Eric Harvey Brown / Museum of the Moving Image.

10 Etsy Finds: Mythical Pet Rocks and Ron Swanson Embroidery

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These "pet rock" necklaces come in stones like amethyst, turquoise, pyrite and more. With each stone symbolizing a different mythical healing power, they'd make great gifts. 



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Pretty, all natural soap and cute packaging? Sold!



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Indie Canadian fashion glossie Worn Fashion Journal focuses on the history, construction and culture surrounding fashion and clothing instead of mainstream trends and designers.
 


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A stern glance from a Ron Swanson embroidered patch? We need this. Not to mention patches of Buffy Summers, Enid Coleslaw and Grumpy cat, to name a few!



Screen shot 2013-04-18 at 4.26.57 PM.pngAwww, look at the lil' kitty readin' a book! A precious tote for holding all your toteables.



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Oh, bitch pleeeease... *eye roll*


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LANVIN? More like, IN VAIN. In fashion, narcissism is always in.



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This dainty collar, which comes in several different colors, is so simple and pretty.



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Keep your trendy electronics safe in style! This bird- and floral-printed leather iPad case does just the charm.



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Send the person you really care about this cute but unconventional birthday card "bag" that comes complete with a small card and golden unicorn. 'Cause who doesn't want a unicorn?



Who Are the Villagers? And Other Questions about Twitter Music

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After Twitter's public acquisition of music start-up We Are Hunted, a protracted roll-out during which celebrities like Ryan Seacrest tweeted their enthusiasm for the new music service and, finally, Twitter Music's launch this morning, a certain amount of mystery still surrounds the new app/site.

What we do know is that the site is integrated with popular music players that have less popular recommendation services than Twitter -- players like Spotify, iTunes, and Rdio. With its algorithm-derived playlists, Twitter Music somewhat resembles Pandora, a site that has quietly been able to maintain its popularity despite the rise of new streaming services. The continued appeal of radio-style continuous programming has influenced such companies as Vevo, which just launched a 24-hour music-centric channel manned by human programmers.

Twitter Music, on the other hand, offers five distinct algorithm-derived channels. "Popular" features mainly Top 40 acts, apparently favoring more distinct personalities than Spotify's most-played list (compare Twitter's number one, Psy, to Spotify's, Imagine Dragons). "Me" gathers artists the user already follows on Twitter. "#NowPlaying" presents music tweeted by people the user follows on Twitter.

More compelling are the middle two playlists. "Suggested" consists, for me, entirely of artists one might recognize from music blogs, many of which I follow on Twitter. "Emerging" (described as "Hidden talent found in the Tweets") is totally baffling -- the algorithm must ascertain that the artists it recommends are just popular enough to be worth hearing but also unfamiliar. I had heard of three of the top ten, including the Virgins, whose seven-year existence means they deserve the "emerging" tag about as much as fun. deserved a "Best New Artist" Grammy. The number one emerging band, Villagers, is a folksy Irish group who just released their second album on Domino.

It's easy to imagine how record labels and publicists might scramble to game the algorithm. At least some programming seems to be based on the prominence of an artist's Twitter account and, though musicians' offstage personalities have always been integral to the reception of their work, a fundamental distinction remains. I can appreciate an indie rocker's sense of humor on Twitter while bemoaning its absence in his music; conversely, I've unfollowed rappers whose  bon mots I enjoy hearing on their records but who use Twitter to relentlessly self-promote. The #NowPlaying channel hints at how the algorithms might account for non-tweeting musicians. As more Twitter users begin to tweet their soundtracks, perhaps the different channels will adapt. (Still, they'll remain reliant on Spotify's and Rdio's respective repertoires.) Until then, it might be best to use Twitter for Twitter, and get your music elsewhere.

Filmmaker David Schlussel On His Tribeca Film Fest Debut

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Setup, Punch Teaser

In the thirty second teaser for short film Setup, Punch, we see a nervous young man (played by Elijah Wood) stare at an engagement ring, splash water on his face, and join his date (Alia Shawkat) at a table inside a stand-up comedy club. And, just before the clip ends, Wood's character takes the stage to perform a stand-up routine of his own. It's a cryptic teaser that, like the title of the film itself (which refers to a term found in both comedy and boxing), is clearly setting the audience up for a larger punchline (given the ring, it's a good guess that a marriage proposal will factor in somewhere). Though we'll all have to wait for the punch until the film premieres tonight at the Tribeca Film Festival, in the meantime, we talked to its director, David Schlussel, whose previous film work includes making music videos for Madonna and Mandy Moore. Below, he tells about the film, recalls his own foray into stand-up (the film, he tells us, is even based on a real-life experience of his own), and shares how he cast Elijah Wood and Alia Shawkat in his debut short.

What details can you share about the film?

It's about a guy who tries to [intersect] his real life with his stand-up life and he does something very different onstage and has to deal with the repercussions of that choice.

Tell me about your film. How did you get Alia Shawkat and Elijah Wood to sign on?

I used to do stand-up comedy and the [film's plot] was something that happened to me to when I was onstage and I always wanted to make it into a film. My wife is a make-up artist and she's been grooming Elijah for years and years and we realized that Elijah and I both have an affinity for stand-up comedy. After I wrote the short film, I asked Elijah, "Would you read it?" and after he read it, he called me and said, "God it's great!" and there was this awkward moment when I had to bridge that friendship [gap] and say, "Would you ever think about playing the character?" He said, "Yeah I'd love to!" and I was thrilled.

Then we were trying to find the right girl. We went back-and-forth and couldn't really find the right girl and then someone mentioned Alia and I was like, "Oh my god she's perfect." And my wife had drawn a picture of the characters awhile ago and when we looked back, [the drawings] look like Elijah and Alia. We tried to get her but apparently she was in New York doing this cool art show [when we were shooting]. I made a very passionate plea to her manager and I called Elijah and asked him to call her. So he called and we heard from her team that she was in. That was such a life lesson -- if you're really passionate and you just go for it, good things come from it.

You mentioned that the film is based on your own experiences as a stand-up comedian. How did you get started doing comedy?

I've always been a stand-up junkie. I was always that guy who, no matter what someone was talking about, said, "Oh there's this comic who does a good joke about that." I moved to L.A. and was trying to write and direct. I took a UCLA class called 'Performing Stand-Up Comedy' taught by an older comedian that's kind of well-known in stand-up circles. I thought, "Oh this will really help my writing." And I thought, "I'll find someone like Larry David did with Jerry Seinfeld. I'll find someone who's really funny and then I'll write jokes for them and it will be wonderful." So the first day, the teacher talked about stand-up and then he said, "Oh by the way, next class you're going to have to get up on stage for five minutes and perform."  I walked up to him and was like, "No, no, no. I want to find someone to write for, I don't want to be onstage." And he said, "Well if you're in this class next week, you're going to be going on stage."

I wrote two jokes and I told the first one -- it flat lined. Not a laugh. But the second one got laughs and it was like the craziest drug I've ever experienced. And I thought, "I want more of that." I started to perform in different clubs in L.A. but I've never really found my voice as a comic, which is the key to it all.

What stand-up comedians do you most admire?

Louis CK is great. Richard Pryor is a genius at telling a story. He will take so long to set up a joke and be comfortable being onstage for that long without getting a joke and he would allow the energy to die and talk and talk and then he'd hit a punchline and [there'd be an] explosion.  John Mulaney is also a very funny storyteller, kind of in the vein of Pryor. He's been killing it lately. Godfrey, who was in our film, is so well-versed in comedy and knows how to play it so well. Mitch Hedberg was amazing -- I still listen to his stuff a lot. He would just hone every word to perfection to make a one line joke.

Amanda Seyfried As Regina George?

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Amanda-Seyfried.jpg1.  Amanda Seyfried told Allure that if the Mean Girls musical happens, "I desperately want to be Regina." We told ourselves that if this musical doesn't happen, we're going to fall into a deep, deep depression. [via EW]
 

sf-moma-delicious.jpg2.  As someone who's been to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art many, many times in my life, I'm excited to see that the Blue Bottle Coffee Shop in the Museum -- which makes delicious treats inspired by the artwork -- published a book teaching the rest of us how to do it. [via GalleristNY]


98f74263.jpg3.  Brian Eno is creating soothing light and sound installations for hospitals in England now. [via Pitchfork]



4.  Abbi Jacobson, one of our most recent crop Beautiful People, created a children's coloring book that's being published by Chronicle Books. The promo clip is very, very cute.


tumblr_mledmv1WWw1rqxd5ko1_1280.jpeg5.  Digging this blog discarded image|discarding images, which is full of intriguing Medieval illustrations. This 14th century Liège featuring a dog on a fiddle is still just about as internet-y as you can get. 




Who Knew So Many Politicians Made Awkward Rap References?

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Here's a supercut of politicians making awkward references to rap music. Joe Lieberman's reference to "Slap a Hoe" at 0:46 is the best/most awkward.  [via HuffPo]



Here's a video of a sloth spooning a cat while Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" plays in the background. Have a soothing, sensual Friday, everyone. [via Hyper Vocal]



Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle starring Turtle from Entourage. "Oh...ye-uh!" [via Official Comedy]

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'Cool American' Doritos exist in Iceland. [via Laughing Squid]

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This makes us real...uncomfortable. [via I'm With Kanye]

tumblr_mld0hl78Xy1qhrw7bo1_250.gifRave Dad, rave on. [via Pleated Jeans]

Screen shot 2013-04-18 at 7.02.33 PM.pngIn case you haven't already read that batshit crazy email a sorority girl sent her sisters, here it is, in full.

tumblr_mlgrj111Ju1qbg26yo1_500.jpgtumblr_mlgrj111Ju1qbg26yo2_500.jpgDope emoji wallpaper. [Creator's Project via Rat's Off!]

Screen shot 2013-04-19 at 10.21.55 AM.pngHey New York, pop it like it's hot (er, chilled?): Brangelina's rosé is now available in stores! (And we hear it's good!) [Thanks Jared!]



Artist and Internet all-star Hennessy Youngman has a new mix, "CVS Bangers," that he says is "THE AUDIOSCAPE FOR WHEN YOU'RE BUYING TAMPONS OR A 12 PACK OF CONDOMS, A SAMPLING OF THOSE MAGIC TUNES THAT PLAY WHEN YOU'RE CONTEMPLATING HOW RIDICULOUS YOU WOULD LOOK CARRYING 24 ROLLS OF TIOLET [SIC] PAPER ON THE TRAIN, THOSE BITTERSWEET TUNES OF YESTERYEAR THAT SKIP THROUGH YOUR MIND AS YOU READ THE NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION ON THE BACK OF A BOX OF FROZEN PIZZA AND OPT FOR A PINT OF ICE CREAM INSTEAD, THOSE SPECIAL DITTIES THAT ACCOMPANY YOUR SMASHING THE BAR CODE OF A CAN OF RED BULL AGAINST THE SCANNER OF BROKEN SELF-CHECKOUT MACHINE. CVS BANGERS IS COMMERCE ITSELF, AND COMMERCE, MY FACELESS INTERNET FRIENDS, IS BEAUTIFUL." Ok, we'll be listening to this when we pick up a pack of Zyrtec and some Twizzlers. Thanksbye. [via 100 Years of Lolitude]



OMG these bloopers of Philly news anchors making fun of Ryan Lochte and laughing hysterically after interviewing the athlete about his forthcoming reality TV show is the best. [Thanks Max!]

tumblr_ml38exgo9l1qf5do9o1_400.gifTa-da! It's Friday. [via F Yeah Dementia]

"Le Freak" by Chic Is Our Oldie But Goodie Video Of the Week

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Yes, Daft Punk hooked-up with Nile Rodgers. But, who is Nile Rodgers? In the video for DPs new single, "Get Lucky," he's the dude without a helmet on the far right. More importantly, Rodgers was a session player in the 70s who -- along with Bernard Edwards -- started a group called Chic and played a key roll in the rise of dance, funk, pop and disco music. Their songs topped the charts, and today's oldie-but-goodie, "Le Freak," is Atlantic Records' only triple platinum-selling single. As a producer, Rodgers worked with Sister Sledge, Diana Ross, David Bowie, Madonna, Duran Duran, Grace Jones etc. Rodgers also released an auto-biography in 2011, which you can pick up HERE.

The Band, Biggie LPs Reissued for Record Store Day (Tomorrow)

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The third Saturday of April is, of course, Record Store Day: a major event for the last of the independently-owned record stores, seeing the release of hundreds of limited edition records by a wide range of artists. The annual event has even been credited with the recent resurgence of vinyl -- a format that had almost disappeared, but has jumped 128% since 2007. According to Billboard, last year's vinyl sales reached 4.6 million units. Some of the day's exclusive releases include: a mono 12" of "Hey Joe" by Jimi Hendrix, Mumford & Sons' Live from Bull Moose, The Band's The Last Waltz triple-LP and Notorious B.I.G's Ready to Die on white vinyl. And please, buy some music that you love and don't just go and flip it on eBay.

No Stress!

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(Photo of Tennis from Facebook)

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In this weekly column, MC/DJ Hesta Prynn pairs pop culture stories with an original playlist.

How do you write a fun pop culture music column when the world is falling apart? I spent the greater part of today asking myself this question. We all love music in part because it helps channel the feelings that we don't have the words to identify. We superimpose ourselves on to our favorite songwriters and, after we've listened on repeat, somehow we feel better. When you're overwhelmed with emotion and there's a shootout being Twittered in real time you need tools to help yourself keep it together. For this week's Five 'n' Five I paired some of the best stress-management strategies with songs from some of my current favorite acts.

1. Dancing: "Closer (The Knocks Remix)," Tegan & Sara

Dancing relieves stress, promotes heart health and prevents dementia (according to the AARP website). Also, duh, it's fun. "Closer" is the new "Dancing on My Own." In their remix, The Knocks added an edge that flirts with "Heads will Roll" territory. Play, sing at top of lungs, dance ass off, repeat.

2. Retail Therapy: "Petition," Tennis

I know I'm not the only one who remembers Mayor Giuliani encouraging us to go shopping in the wake of 9/11. Retail therapy has been proven to improve one's mood (according to both Time and years of my own scientific research) as well as increase self-esteem and a feeling of mastery. I love this Tennis song about "a man of many means" and plan to listen on repeat whilst spending during this time of heightened anxiety.

3. Sex: "Second Hand News," Fleetwood Mac

WebMD cites Scottish researchers who put people in stressful situations like "speaking in public and doing math out loud." The participants who were having regular sex were able to maintain healthier blood pressures than those who weren't. "When times go bad, when times get rough/ Won't you lay me down in the tall grass and let me do my stuff?" -- obvs a reference to being asked to do math on the spot.

4. Yoga: "Overdrawn," White Sea

Yoga calms the mind and increases alpha brain waves that reduce anxiety and depression, according to HuffPo. I love this upbeat yet gentle song by White Sea and I love that it was used in the abortion scene in Season 1 of Girls. It's a great song to enjoy while breathing through the pain. Namasté.

5. Exercise: "Forever," HAIM

Errybody knows that exercise has countless health benefits and is the greatest stress-reducer of all time (besides alcohol). If we have anything in common you too will love listening to this track while running on the treadmill for minutes at a time.

Screen Legend Karen Black Chats About Her Multi-Layered Career

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Screen shot 2013-04-19 at 3.29.09 PM.pngWhen I first started taking movies seriously in the 1970s, Karen Black personified everything glamorous and exciting about Hollywood at that time. It was the era of "Easy Riders and Raging Bulls" -- a hip, young generation of directors like Martin Scorsese, Robert Altman, Francis Ford Coppola, and Bob Rafelson were busy dancing on the grave of the old studio system and creating what has come to be known as 'independent cinema.' And, indeed, it was the groundbreaking film that started it all, Easy Rider, that made Black a star. With her exotic, offbeat beauty and intensely-felt, intelligent acting style, she stole every scene she was in -- from Jack Nicholson no less -- and went on stealing scenes in a string of seminal '70s films all the way through today.

Black is currently the subject of a Nitehawk Cinema retrospective, which features six of her classic outings: Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, Burnt Offerings, The Day of the Locust, Family Plot (Alfred Hitchcock's final film) and the campy cult classic, Airport 1975. And though she has been in the news lately for her battle with cancer and efforts to raise money for treatment via the crowd-funding site GoFundMe, Black agreed to record answers to a few questions from one of her biggest fans.

As the current NYC retrospective demonstrates, you were at the heart of what many consider to be the Golden Age of American movies -- the 1970s. Did it feel like you were making history at the time?

No, not at all. We were just doing our thing. I happen to have an acting style that is very spontaneous and very un-self-conscious, and it went with the movies of the '70s. It was a great time, it was a very beautiful time. There was a way of loving freedom -- or loving spontaneity. Even in Airport 1975, I had the freedom to stick my tongue out when I was trying to pull somebody into the hole in the plane. It seemed to work, you know.

You've worked with virtually every major director of the past five decades. Which one was your favorite to work with? Who gave you the hardest time?

It's impossible to say my favorite director, because they have all these different qualities that are extremely wonderful. I would say that I like a director who is open more than a director who has already decided on certain things. And so I think that directors that hold to that have been my favorites. Of course I just love love love Robert Altman. He was extremely free, and he made sure that you were free because you didn't know where the camera was. In Nashville we improvised everything. I improvised what I said about Julie Christie: "Movie star? She can't even comb her hair!" And then the whole crew and cast were breaking up laughing.

W5XTD00Z.jpgKaren Black in Five Easy Pieces

Are you a fan of Kembra Pfahler and her band The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black?

I like everyone to do their thing. If she wants to have a band where everyone is naked and painted, I'm glad for her. I do think that it would have been a courtesy to ask me if she could make herself look like me as much as possible and then pose on the front of her album with her legs spread. I kept thinking, "If my mother ever sees that, she's going to scream and faint." Or maybe faint and then wake up and scream.

Did any one performer inspire you when you were starting out?

This may seem like a strange answer, but Jennifer Jones in Portrait of Jennie. When I was a little girl, six or seven or eight, I saw Portrait of Jennie on television. And until that time, I didn't know what acting was. I didn't know actors felt as much sadness when they're acting as they might feel in life. I had no idea. And then here I am sitting in front of my TV, at home, and Jennifer Jones turns towards the camera. Tears fill her eyes. I was sort of stunned. I thought, "Well, if tears fill her eyes, then she really is going to cry. She really does mean it. So this is what acting is."

Which one of your films would you place in a time capsule under the heading "The Portable Karen Black"?

I believe you're asking what movie do I believe represents me best, but what I've been trying to do in my life is character work. What I'm hoping to have accomplished is different characters. I would like people to be amazed that I can play Rayette in Five Easy Pieces, and Joanne in Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean. I would like that to be what I leave behind. The Portable Karen Blacks because I'd like to be known as someone who does a great variation rather completely.

Watch Chloe Sevigny Gripe About L.A. In New MOCAtv Film

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Coinciding with the opening this weekend of a major Urs Fischer survey exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, Imitation of Christ designer and actress Tara Subkoff has linked up with filmmaker Tatiana Von Furstenburg and Chloë Sevigny to produce a short film for MOCAtv. Touching on the ennui that can accompany life in a sprawling, car-centric city like L.A., the short features Sevigny as Grey, a married woman who, despite living in a beautiful, sun-drenched home, is heard complaining to an unknown friend over the telephone about her angst and dissatisfaction toward her new life out west. While birds chirp in the background, Grey grumbles about how she misses New York and that "there's nothing even remotely good about" L.A. The city is "like the world's most giant waiting room," as she puts it.

Sevigny's listlessness (she spends the duration of the film lounging around her house in a nightgown-style romper) and sense of confinement contrasts with her expansive surroundings, which, Subkoff told us via email, stems from the director's own feelings of being "split between the expansiveness and beauty of L.A..." and the sense of frequently being "alone with one's thoughts." Splitting time between New York and Los Angeles, Subkoff said she's "always confused as to where makes more sense as a homebase" and that many lines in the film are taken directly from conversations she and Sevigny have had "while spending time in L.A. together and having to be there for work." But, ultimately, the film ends with a major plot twist when Sevigny's unknown phone companion is revealed (we won't give it away) and suddenly the situation doesn't seem as hopeless as all that. As Subkoff put it, the film is really about "the concept that wherever you are, it's ideal to appreciate the moment [you're] in and not compare it something else."

Watch the clip above. 

Tomorrow's Your Last Chance to See Jemima Kirke's Painting of a Pregnant Lady

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jemima-kirke-the-hole.jpgGirls actress Jemima Kirke is not shy about loving pregnancy. A few months back she did some nudies with her second pregnant belly for VICE and now, she's created a whole series of paintings centered on her pregnant friend. One such piece, "Beata" (2009-11, above), is on display at The Hole gallery on the Bowery until tomorrow and we're kinda curious to see it. Though call us crazy (or broke) because we were a little surprised by the painting's $8,000 price tag -- we're pretty sure that Jessa could never afford this piece (although that probably wouldn't stop her from buying it). [via ArtInfo]

The Best, Worst and Weirdest of the Week

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Screen shot 2013-04-19 at 6.03.26 PM.pngBest Use of Celebrity Selfies: Amanda Bynes' Twitter followers have been sending her fan art made using her recent selfies. We're crossing our fingers that this is all a part of a larger satire  Bynes is working on. -- Emma Orlow

Best Web Design: I love this page put together for WIRED's 20th anniversary that has little tiles that expand into boxes when clicked, showing brief analyses of the past two decades' varying technological developments. -- Jonah Wolf

phoenix-r-kelly.jpgMusical Festival Surprise Duet to End All Music Festival Surprise Duets (Yeah, I Said It): R. Kelly's and Thomas Mars, who performed a funny mash-up of "Ignition" and "1901" during Phoenix's set at Coachella this past weekend. Your move this weekend, Daft Punk. -- Abby Schreiber

Weirdest Advice of the Week:
Martha Stewart's. She says she's worried about her grandchildren's safety while they play in her giant garden and that we should all de-thorn our roses. This is not a metaphor. -- E.O.



Best Guitar Playing: This 1985 Richard Thompson concert I recently found on YouTube. -- J.W.

The Worst/Most WTF News Out of the Modeling Industry: Apparently some modeling scouts are searching for models outside of anorexia clinics. This has gone too far! -- E.O.

Best 'Man Wearing Heels' Moment of the Week: The first time New York Magazine art critic Jerry Saltz tried on a pair of heels and learned that hard way that sometimes fashion means pain. -- E.O.

Most Spot-On Description of Canadian Tuxedo-era Justin Timberlake: Moby's description, in which he said that JT resembled a Times Square hooker c. 1980 but also an Eastern European cocaine dealer." -- A.S.



Kim and Kris Are Finally Divorced

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Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries are now officially divorced and Kris got no money. [via Dlisted]


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Justin Bieber channeled Spring Breakers on his Instagram. Oh god, Justin Bieber. [via Dlisted]


141320382_custom-836c8cc838b31a09728f2b3f7ca4825f8768a474-s3.jpgThe Digital Public Library of America -- "intended to provide free open access to materials from libraries, museums, universities and archives across the country" -- will be live at noon on Thursday. [via NPR]
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Here's the video for Miguel's "How Many Drinks?" remix. [via Pitchfork]


81A-T2gCgL._SL1500_-300x454.jpgWith a slogan like "Seeking love. Finding overalls," we already have a good feeling about The Man Repeller's new book. That said, the door for fashion bloggers and book deals has just flung right open. [via Fashionista]

The Seven Most Showbiz First Ladies of All Time

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Carla Bruni Sarkozy, the former world-class supermodel, sometime pop star and ex-First Lady of France, released a new album, Little French Songs, last week. In honor of Ms. Sarkozy and her showbiz connections, we present several First Ladies past and present who, either for their careers or their style, would fit right at home on a Hollywood red carpet.


Margaret Trudeau.jpgMargaret Trudeau
First Lady of Canada. 1968-1979 and 1980-1984
Margaret Trudeau is not only one of our favorite first ladies, she's also one of our favorite glamor pusses of all time. Mrs. T. was totally gorgeous and so was her husband, Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau -- they get our vote for the Chicest Canadians Ever. (Sorry Celine Dion!) Margaret often popped up in places like Studio 54, dancing with the glitterati and allegedly doing cocaine with the Rolling Stones. And those pants! Oh those pants.



Peng Liyuan
First Lady of China, March 2013-present
Like Carla Bruni, China's current First Lady was a star before she became the number one lady in the land. She was one of China's most popular contemporary folk singers, best known for her appearances on Chinese television during the New Year's celebrations (check out the clip of above). The mainstream media has flipped their collective wigs over the stylish ensembles Mrs. Peng has sported during public appearances. We, however, prefer her more picturesque stage looks.


Screen shot 2013-04-22 at 1.58.19 PM.pngChantal Biya
First Lady of Cameroon, 1994-present
Mrs. Biya has a larger-than-life look that would seem more at home on RuPaul's Drag Race than the international diplomatic events where her flashy outfits and wild, red coiffure are real head-turners. She really doesn't have any show-business roots but we, for one, are members of her unofficial fan club.

Imelda Marcos.jpgImelda Marcos
First Lady of the Philippines 1965-1986
Sadly, it's often the douche-bag wives of douche-bag dictators that catch our eye with their style pizzazz, and Mrs. Ferdinand Marcos is just such a gal. Imelda first gained attention as a beauty queen and is known for her singing voice (which we're including as her "showbiz" connection here), but she's most famous for her Marie Antoinette-style extravagance. After the Marcoses were booted from the Malcanang Palace in Manila, 2,700 pairs of Imelda's shoes, which came to symbolize the greed and corruption of the Marcos reign, were famously found in her closets. She was also a big, big disco fan and supposedly had a mirror ball installed in her New York apartment.


Screen shot 2013-04-22 at 2.04.16 PM.pngAngelica Rivera Hurtado
First Lady of Mexico December 2012- present
Angelica, the wife of Mexico's President, Enrique Pena Nieto, was previously a full-blown telenovela star and singer. Since marrying Pena Nieto in 2010, she has retired from showbiz to dedicate herself to supporting her hubby and raising her three children from a previous marriage. You can take the girl out of the soap opera but can you take the soap opera out of the girl?


grace_kelly_mickeyfirstladies.jpgPrincess Grace of Monaco, First Lady of Monaco 1956-1982
When it comes to first ladies, none can match the glamor and beauty of the late Princess Grace of Monaco. She was born to a rich society family in Philadelphia and was a world famous Academy-Award-winning actress by the time she married Prince Rainier of Monaco. Tragically, she died in a car crash in 1982 at the age of 52.


Dewi_mickey.jpgDewi Sukarno
First Lady of Indonesia, 1962-1967
Glamour girl Dewi was a 19-year-old "nightclub hostess" in Tokyo when she met the 59-year-old dictator of Indonesia, Sukarno (yes, his name is just one word. Like Cher.). Some people say she was actually a hooker but who knows if it's true. What is definitely true is that the Japanese teenager moved to Jakarta where she eventually married Sukarno (as his third wife) and attracted attention for her beauty and jet-set style. Sukarno was deposed in 1967 and since then, Dewi has moved around the world and can still be seen making appearances on Japanese television.

10 Etsy Finds: Rotary Phone Pouch and Game of Thrones Coloring Books

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1. Rotary Phone Pouch

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A cute little purse with a retro vibe. 


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We're too old for colori-OH MY GOD, a Game of Thrones coloring book?! We take it back, we take it all back. Team Art's unique coloring books include themes like boy bands, dogs and, uh, Jon Hamm? Sold!


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From the line's geometric collection, this minimalist and elegant necklace features unglazed porcelain and sterling silver and gold chains.


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Julia Pott's cute animal illustrations come in temporary tat form. Yay!


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Who knew seaweed could look so pretty? 



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A little Salvador Dali action for your everyday button-up.


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A rich berry color with a hint of rose geranium oil from eco-friendly, new-age indie brand Fat & The Moon.


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Cool color-blocked leather straps with antique gold closures to help you complete that "arm candy" look all the Cool Kids are doing these days.


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Love this adorable zine that features drawings by Sandi Falconer and Caitlin Murphy of their favorite snacks. 


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This simple but beautiful pointed ring is made out of polished brass metal and is handmade to order.

Outtakes from "Look Up New York," Highlighting the Beauty of NYC's Buildings

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A lot of New York City tourists spend their days stopping in front of beautiful buildings around New York, and a lot of NYC locals spend their days cursing sightseers under their breath while they exasperatedly weave around them on the sidewalk. Town Residential is trying to mend our jaded ways through Look Up New York, which helps remind us that many of those structures we pass daily are in fact worth noticing, even if they aren't landmarks. Town sent architectural photographer Bob Estremera around the city to photograph the beautiful little details of buildings that aren't historical sites or big tourist traps. For 90 days, they'll highlight one new building along with some fun facts like notable tenants and events in the building's history. We were lucky enough to get our hands on some of Estremera's favorite photos which weren't able to be included in the main gallery. Check 'em out below and if you feel like visiting in person, we've included the addresses for your gawking convenience.


Delmonico's- 56 Beaver St.jpgDelmonico's, 56 Beaver Street (at the corner of Beaver and S. William Street). Fun fact: Delmonico's was one of Abraham Lincoln's favorite restaurants in New York.

39-47 W 19th St detail 2.jpg39-47 West 19th Street btw. 5th and 6th Avenue

82 Perry St. detail.jpg82 Perry Street btw. West 4th and Bleeker

210 5th Ave detail.jpg210 5th Avenue btw. 25th and 26th Street

213 W 58th St detail.jpg213 West 58th Street btw. 7th Avenue and Broadway

373 Bleeker St detail.jpg373 Bleeker Street (at the corner of Bleeker and Summit)

Christopher St detail 2.jpg91 Christopher Street (at the corner of Christopher and Bleeker)



Future's Invited to Ciara's "Body Party"

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Ciara's single "Body Party" strips out the frenetic Miami bass drumbeats from Ghost Town DJs' 1996 single "My Boo," retaining the floating jazz chords -- the same progression as "Just the Two of Us" -- and adding goofy AutoTuned "oohs" from Ciara's boyfriend Future. The new video re-imagines the couple's courtship: poolside at a lavish house party, with Future telling Ci, "You know you gon' be mine, right?" Soon enough Ciara is on her back with her legs in the air "doing this little dance" for Future in the master bedroom, though the overall mood is more tender than raunchy.

Nadia G. Mock-Raps About "Hipster Brunch" and It's Pretty Embarrassing

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1.  Here's Cooking Channel personality Nadia G. being really embarrassing while mock-rapping about "Brooklyn hipster brunch." Oh god, Nadia G. [via Eater]

2013_04_siferris-thumb-914x528-786216.jpg2.  The Staten Island Ferris Wheel might have Google Glass technology. According to AdAge, the Glass technology would "offer riders an augmented-reality experience. Carts will feature touch-screen glass to add to the multimedia experience, which could incorporate brand messaging." In other words, Ferris Wheel TV? [via Gothamist]


tumblr_mf344gw56G1qh01r8o1_400.gif3.  Oxygen and Tumblr are teaming up to make GIFs air on live TV next to the scheduled programming. In other words, your SFW Bad Girls Club GIFs may appear in the bottom corner of the screen. [via Mashable]


library-3-articleLarge.jpg4.  The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas currently hosts an exhibit that mimics the decisions George W. made during his presidency. There will be an "interactive theater" where exhibit-goers will "be presented with the stark choices that confronted the nation's 43rd president: invade Iraq or leave Saddam Hussein in power? Deploy federal troops after Hurricane Katrina or rely on local forces? Bail out Wall Street or let the banks fail?"


slide_238896_1229624_free.jpg5.  Today is the birthday of Lee Miller, Man Ray's famed muse. [via Huffpo]



6.  Something creepy/amazing to end your day with: "My Knitted Boyfriend." [via OMG Blog]

Chatting With Broadway Hunk Billy Magnussen

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Billy-Magnussen-in-New-Play-Vanya-and-Sonia-and-Masha-and-Spike-02-512x342.jpgOk, we'll admit it: one of our favorite aspects of Christopher Durang's utterly entertaining new Broadway comedy Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike -- a hysterical, modern send-up to Chekov -- was seeing one of our most beloved former soap stars Billy Magnussen strip down to his skivvies. Magnussen, a star of the erstwhile CBS soap As the World Turns, plays Spike, the much younger airhead/aspiring actor/lover of the famous actress Masha (played by Sigourney Weaver). After seeing the play -- which centers around Masha's trip home to the country to visit her brother and sister Sonia (Kristine Nielsen) and Vanya (David Hyde Pierce), and which features Magnussen dropping trou in one memorable scene -- we called up Magnussen for a chat about keeping his Magic-Mike-esque body in shape for the role, As the World Turns' demise, and, for good measure, we threw in a question or two about Chekov.   

Can we get some tips on how you keep up your very admirable physique?  
I do the eight meals a day thing -- I even eat during the show. And I don't eat carbs. On Sunday, I have a cheat day and I eat half a pizza and bagels, all in one day. I go to the gym twice a day for this play. It is hard to be in that good of shape. I am not meant to be in this good of shape. I have to bust my ass. When I am not doing this type of play, I eat what I want. 

What did you think of the role of Spike when you first read it? 
My first thought was that he's a fun character -- I didn't read him as dumb. I read him as innocent. He is just kind of experiencing life and enjoying himself. He isn't malicious or anything, he is just curious about life. And then he meets these weird people who sort of get crazy. 

Do you have a favorite Chekov play? 
Grease. That is my favorite Chekov play. [Laughs.] No...I don't know how to put this nicely... 

I get it. Chekov's not for everyone. I don't love Shakespeare and I feel bad about that. 
Oh! I love Shakespeare. My dream role is Iago in Othello. And I could nail Hamlet -- he has blonde hair, blue eyes, he's my age. It would be great. I am serious.  

What's it like backstage at VSMS with all those veteran actors? 
Backstage is chaos. Everything is very tight -- there's not a lot of room but it's great and I love everyone. It's been about a year that I have been doing this show with these people and it's like a family. 

Had you seen a lot of Sigourney Weaver's movies before this show?  
I'd never seen Alien until I started doing this show. And I watched Frasier after I met David. I watched all eleven seasons and I would say, "David, I have been falling asleep to your show every night." I don't know if that was a compliment.  

If you had a night off, what would you see on Broadway right now?  
I would go see Matilda. I heard it's good and I'm going to be on their softball team. Our show doesn't get their own softball team.  

How did you audition for this? Did you have to do the crazy dance moves that you do on stage? 
I had to try out like five times. My last audition was in L.A. and I went to meet all the producers and it was kind of chaos in the room. I was doing the scene and there was a piano in the room and I can't play piano, but I tried. I was just banging around on it. I can play guitar. I play in my band, Reserved for Rondee.  

We here at Paper were big As The World Turns fans. Are you sad that it was cancelled?  
I was sad when As the World Turns ended, but I'm not that sad about [soap operas] going off the air. I appreciated it and I think they're a very cool thing, but times change. 

Now that we think about it, you were making out with older women on ATWT too! 
I just did the same thing on Boardwalk Empire -- I made out with Gretchen Mol. The majority of my career has been taking off my clothes and making out with older women.