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Win a Pair of VIP Skip-the-Line Tickets to Amadou & Mariam and Theophilus London at SummerStage

Screen shot 2012-08-01 at 10.43.58 AM.pngBlind Malian husband-wife singing duo Amadou & Mariam came out with a new album this April, Folila, and made sure not hold back in their production.  The LP, which offers their signature mix of West African, world and contemporary music, features everyone from Santigold, members of TV on the Radio, Jake Shears and Theophilus London, among others, and now you'll have the chance to see one of those collaborations at Central Park SummerStage.  We're giving away a VIP pair of Skip-the-Line tickets to see Amadou & Mariam alongside Theophilus London with Just a Band in the opening slot this Saturday, August 4th.  To enter, just follow these easy steps:

1) Tell us who would be your dream performer to duet with (even if you can't sing!) and why in the comments below
2) "Like" this blog post
3) "Like" Papermag on Facebook
4) Follow Papermag on Twitter

We'll pick a winner on Thursday, August 2 at 6pm EST.  Good luck!

Plastered's "Creative Dictator" on the Power of Immaturity and the Absurd, Beautiful and Glorious in China

dominic1.jpgCreative Dictator and Plastered founder Dominic Johnson-Hill's big break came during a chance appearance on one of China's most widely watched shows. In front of an audience of 50 million, he wore a self-designed t-shirt sporting a copy of an illegal advert in Beijing reading, "I will buy your second hand drugs" and listing his personal phone number. That first "immature" move in front of a massive audience instantly transformed him from backpacker with a new idea for a t-shirt business to successful "dictator" of one of the most creative shops in China. With its flagship shop in the traditional alleyways of Beijing's Nan Luo Gu Xiang, Dominic's Plastered designs now reach customers around the world with well-recognized riffs on design inspirations in China. And, most importantly, despite all of his success, he remains one of the most pleasantly immature creative dictators I've had the chance to meet.  I caught up with Dominic recently to learn more about his path with Plastered and "the absurd, beautiful and glorious" in today's China that inspires him and his team.

thermosdominic.png"Everyday design" in China has inspired Plastered since its start. When you first landed in China in '93 as a backpacker, what were some of the first pieces of everyday design that you were struck by? How has the everyday design you encounter now changed since you first arrived?

Beijing was a very different city in 1993 when I first arrived. As foreigners, we were very much segregated from society. We had to live in foreign housing and even had our own "foreigners" money. It was very hard to integrate. On first landing, I thought Beijing was a very grey, flat, ugly city. It was hard to see all its culture and history, having come from living in India. I was quite disappointed but didn't have enough money to leave, so I settled down. I moved in with a Chinese family and saw quickly that, in those days, there were just not many items or possessions in the average family home. The economy had only just been turned into a market economy so all of those desire-based objects were only just starting to make it into the homes. Most of the objects were very practical and, in terms of design, very simple. I was struck by the amount of images of Chinese leaders in the family homes. One of the types of objects that really grabbed me was the old thermoses. They were colorful and felt very retro. These thermoses were one of my very first successful designs when I started Plastered. Everyone in Beijing seemed to remember them with great fondness.

Now things have changed completely. Foreign-designed products flooded the market in the mid 90's and everyone wanted imported goods. As a result, Beijing was flooded with creative products from all over the world and everyday design in Beijing went crazy. In fact, it was all over the place and the Chinese design that came from this was really fun. It was like anything was possible.

Your T's highlight "the absurd, the beautiful, the glorious" in China. What comes to mind first when asked to name three things in China today that you'd describe as "absurd," "beautiful" or "glorious"?

Absurd? Well, there's plenty of that when you see how much wealth was suddenly generated over the last 20 years. Fake châteaux are one type of absurdity. My neighbor spent more on his ceiling decoration than his furniture. I've also recently grown very fond of dodgy Chinese adverts that sell products that simply can't be real: stretching machines, for example, that help you grow half a foot in a year and pills that make your breasts grow three sizes in a week. I got really inspired by this form of advertising.

Beautiful are the old Russian-style apartment blocks that were built in Beijing throughout the 60's and 70's. I've been photographing them for years. Their bright greens, pinks and blues... They're very practical looking but have become beautiful as each family makes their own space in that block.

Glorious is Chinese New Year. It's the one time of the year when millions of families get together after working so hard to make a living. They eat great food, let off fireworks and the whole city lights up with gun powder. The noise is deafening. I love how strong the family unit is in China. Family is everything. I have four daughters who were all born and raised here. They love Chinese New Year. It's truly glorious!

What were some "absurd", "beautiful" and "glorious" milestones you had in starting Plastered?

Absurd would be getting invited to [appear on] China's most watched chat show (kind of like Oprah), Lu Yu You Yue, and getting away with wearing a T-shirt that was a copy of an illegal advert you get around Beijing that reads "I will buy your second hand drugs." The shirt had my telephone number on it, too. During the interview she asked me whose telephone number it was and I told her it was mine. You can imagine the result a month later when the program aired around China with 50 million people watching. That phone still rings today and that's how I got my very first wholesale customers. Probably something I would not have gotten away with in the West.

Beautiful was seeing how we changed our neighborhood and inspired a new generation of young Chinese to get creative and open their own stores, to do something interesting with the old neighborhood where we started.

Glorious was winning British Entrepreneur of the year in China in 2008 and getting to be rude to Prince Andrew in front of 500 people. I've never been a fan of the royal family.

When you first started Plastered, what was the initial reaction from residents in Nan Luo Gu Xiang (NLGX)? How has NLGX evolved as Plastered has grown and evolved over the past six years?

The initial reaction was, "Why the hell are you taking these crap old things and putting them on T-shirts?" Nan Luo Gu Xiang was my home so I knew a lot of the people who lived there already. They all felt like they should tell me that I was insane. In the end, it was those very neighbors who helped me build the brand. I did the very first catwalk show in a Hu Tong (old alleyway) in Beijing right on Nan Luo Gu Xiang. The local government and residence committee all came along and helped out. That show was a turning point in Nan Luo Gu Xiang's modern history. After that show, I wrote a plan to hold the very first festival on the Hu Tong and then the area really started to develop. Plastered and Nan Luo Gu Xiang started to grow together. Now it's one of the most famous shopping destinations in Beijing. We even had Andrea Merkel there the other week. It's crazy how fast it happened but one thing we are very proud of is how it all started with creative businesses and not a long row of noisy bars.

What's a normal day like for you as "Creative Dictator" at Plastered?

I really focus on two parts of the business: the creative part and marketing. The rest I leave to my great Plastered team. I spend a lot of time with my in-house designer and the network of designers we have around China, who are part of our PLA-8 creative army. So my average day is really spent throwing ideas around and finding the right creative Chinese designers to help them come to life.  The creative industry is very small in China. It's not a society that particularly encourages individualism, so finding creative types can be hard.  However, this has changed a lot recently as the country develops.

You've said that you have many super powers, one being ADD. How does ADD work to your benefit as "Creative Dictator" of Plastered?

When I was growing up and going to school in England, my teachers thought I was hopeless. Looking back on my results and my behavior, I can't blame them.  I was dyslexic and had ADD. I didn't fit in with the mainstream styles of schooling. My teachers told me I had a list of problems, like being impulsive, a day dreamer, immature, easily frustrated.  I realized after leaving school and becoming an entrepreneur, starting a creative business, that outside of schooling, my "problems" were super powers.  I certainly would never have gotten Plastered off the ground if I hadn't been impulsive, easily frustrated and certainly immature. It was whilst day dreaming that the idea to start Plastered came to me.

What have been some of your favorite t-shirt designs to-date?

The first T, without a doubt, is my favorite. The whole idea for Plastered started from that t-shirt. I took Beijing's ugliest tourist T-shirt, one that has a terrible graphic and reads "I climbed The Great Wall" and I simply plastered a picture of a woman in a bikini on top. No one bought it but it was the pang that started everything.  Recently, collaborations with local tattoo artists have produced a beautiful piece incorporating revolutionary opera and elements of tattoo art.  Also, the classic icons we started using six years ago, like the old subway ticket, are also favorites. The subway ticket was one of those icons that really sold well at the start and helped shape the brand.  These days, we're reaching out to designers all over the place to create new ideas. Recently I just collaborated with Nick Bonner from Koryo Tours and worked with artists in North Korea. The results from these collaborations are stunning.

In Plastered's history, have there been any awesomely bad or blocked concepts for T's that never made it to stores?

One day I decided I wanted to make stain glass windows of Chinese leaders and icons -- the Jesus types of China. This was really well-received until I made one of a living Chinese leader Jiang Zemin. This didn't go down well at all. I never wanted to upset anyone so the design was pulled and the four others that were made ended up in an exhibition. I also did one of a McDonald's logo but changed its Chinese name (which is made up of three Chinese words) ever so slightly so it read in Chinese, "Buy Eat Shit."

You've also praised the power of immaturity in your work and creativity in general. How do you hire "immature" talent and how do you and your staff stay "immature" even after years of working for Plastered?

It wouldn't work if everyone in my office was immature. It's important as an owner of a business that you hire people who complement you. I'm without doubt the most immature and I make sure this resonates in all of our design and marketing.

Our customers love immaturity and who can blame them? It's about being silly, having fun, not taking yourself too seriously and being creative. Its important to hold onto your immaturity. As children, we are very creative, free thinking, but don't have the tools and skills to make our ideas come to life. The conundrum is that, as we get older, we lose that creativity but then have those tools and skills we needed when we were kids. So by keeping myself immature (unwittingly), I can be more creative.  Also through our marketing we have loads of fun and don't take ourselves too seriously -- there's nothing worse than when a company starts to believe its own propaganda.

dominicimage3.jpgOn a free day, where do you go in Beijing to find new inspiration for your T's?

I'm a flea market junkie and in China, with thousands of years of history, the markets are full of gems.  I've been collecting for the last 20 years here and this is where many of my ideas come from. I've collected about 100 mirrors with communist slogans and images, notable lamps and clocks. I took the images from the mirrors and made them into coasters. They're beautiful but probably not going to be a big seller as 90% of my customers are Chinese and they're not too familiar with coasters but I felt I had to make this idea come to life.

What's next for you and the Plastered team?

I'm not one to make big long-term plans -- I'm more likely to get inspired and impulsively create something new out of that.  We're growing quite nicely in China; I own 100% of the business and have decided to stick with this as I've got no plans to open hundreds of stores or take over the world. I'd rather build a small giant.  We're doing a lot of video content these days and made up a character called Xiao Zhang. We built ridiculous stories about how his life changes by simply putting on a Plastered t-shirt. It's kind of copying those absurd averts you get on Chinese TV: an actor, who has no breasts, says her life is terrible without big knockers so she takes these pills and a week later she's a double D and her life is great. These adverts really play on Chinese TV!  So I took that idea and applied it to my brand. We're on part four right now and we've got hundreds of thousands of hits. Other than that, it's just pushing new graphic design ideas all the time by working with our PLA-8 creative army...that's my passion -- ideas!

Leave us with some links. Who are some of your favorite "immature" designers or creators at the moment?

Shed Simove is hands-down my favorite immature creative entrepreneur designer and great friend. After I was given a packet of his sweets/candy, Clitoris Allsorts, I got in touch and we've been mates ever since.

Images courtesy of Plastered

Kickstarter Campaign to Watch: James Duke Mason's Noir Thriller Disappear Here


There are so many insanely creative Kickstarter campaigns that it can be hard to wade through all of them. This project, however, immediately caught our eye: Disappear Here, a noir thriller starring James Duke Mason (actor and son of The Go-Go's Belinda Carlisle and Sex, Lies & Videotape producer Morgan Mason) about a young actor who's on the verge of his big break when he has to confront issues of morality and identity and decide on what he's willing to give up and risk for Hollywood fame (we hear the plot also involves a sex tape).  Mason, who's openly gay and active in the LGBTQ community, says in the campaign video that the movie is "going to serve as a catalyst for making a difference for the openly gay actors in Hollywood and trying to shed some light on those issues...that have never been exposed in this way before."  Aside from plot, the campaign mentions that the producers and director Matthew Mishory plan to create an aesthetic that combines 1940s film noir with 1980s New Wave. (Sounds very Drive, no?)

They're seeking to raise $25,000 to develop the script and produce a trailer that can help raise additional funds to support the project.  The campaign ends on Thursday, August 30th so go check it out and watch their video!  (There's also some pretty sweet rewards.)

Win a Pair of Tickets to See M.I.A., Skrillex, Justice, Diplo, Peaches & More at L.A.'s HARD Summer Festival

Screen shot 2012-08-01 at 5.08.46 PM.pngCalling all the electro fans!  Our friends over at Samsung Galaxy SIII have partnered with us to give away a pair of tickets to attend L.A.'s HARD Summer Fest this weekend (Friday, August 3rd & Saturday, August 4th) where you can see performances by M.I.A., Santigold, Justice, Diplo, Skrillex, Chromeo, Peaches, Rye Rye, A-Trak, Miike Snow, Boys Noize, NERO, Ratatat, Deadmau5 and more.  Phew.  There's so many insane bands our eyes just glazed over a little (see the complete line-up HERE).  AND these tickets are currently selling for $130 big ones but they'll be yours for FREE.  This is a blitz of a contest (we're picking the winner tomorrow) so don't wait to enter!  All you have to do is the following:

1) Tell us what song always gets you onto the dancefloor and why in the comments below.
2) "Like" this blog post
3) "Like" Papermag on Facebook
4) Follow Papermag on Twitter

The fest takes place at L.A.'s Historic State Park (1245 N. Spring St.), rain or shine.  We'll pick a winner tomorrow (Thursday) at 4pm EST.  Good luck!  (And if you're the lucky winner, be sure to take a break from the energy-zapping heat at the fest by grabbing some Pinkberry at Samsung's pop-up booth!)

For more info, visit the HARD Summer Fest website.

Harper Beckham Has a Commissioned Damien Hirst Piece In Her Nursery + T-Shirt Necklaces in Today's Style Scraps


We mentioned last month that Swedish DJ Avicii made his modeling debut in a new campaign for Denim & Supply Ralph Lauren and now you can watch the accompanying video, which shows the EDM star DJing at a super fun-looking warehouse party in NYC.  The vid also features an exclusive remix of his song, "Silhouettes." [via Ralph Lauren

Libery X Nike Spikes (4).jpgNike x Liberty of London track spikes. [via Nike]

Screen shot 2012-08-03 at 12.39.08 PM.pngHere's Kate Moss in the F/W '12 Mango campaign shot by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin.  Her pose is very Tetris-piece, no? [via Mango]

Screen shot 2012-08-03 at 12.57.10 PM.pngIn your over-the-top eye roll of the day, apparently Victoria and David Beckham have a commissioned Damien Hirst piece hanging in one-year-old daughter Harper's nursery room, as told to British Esquire.  It's called "Daddy's Girl." [Fashionista via Contact]

Screen shot 2012-08-03 at 12.48.13 PM.pngTips for turning raggedy old t-shirts into cool necklaces from our friends over at Refinery29. [via Refinery29]

Screen shot 2012-08-03 at 12.50.40 PM.pngWuttup, studded socks! [via High Snobette]

Screen shot 2012-08-03 at 12.52.54 PM.pngWhoa.  We kinda can't handle (in a good way) this picture of model Ieva Laguna on the cover of L'Officiel Paris wearing a fur coat from Fendi (though we might get in trouble by PETA for saying it).  Bonus points for her super complicated hairdo that features a crown of braids, loose hair and a dread (we think?). [via Fashion Gone Rogue]

Screen shot 2012-08-03 at 1.05.40 PM.pngJustin Bieber made a punk-ass comment when he dissed Prince William for his balding hair. [via Telegraph]

Performance Artist Matthew Silver Keeps New Yorkers Staring

(from Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York)

Matthew Silver is easy to spot. In fact, it's hard not to gawk.

New Yorkers aren't strangers to sidewalk madness but even the most jaded city-dwellers stop and stare. And on this Tuesday evening, the 33-year-old New Jersey native has attracted a large crowd of onlookers at the front steps of Union Square.  Clad in just a bright blue women's Speedo swimsuit and sneakers, he wears a toy stethoscope around his neck and a black fanny pack around his slim waist. Nearby rests his black wire granny cart that he has dragged from Bushwick, surrounded by his collection of performance props: a plastic Christmas reindeer, a child's silver armor toy vest, and a white bicycle helmet littered with bright red stickers.

Though the crowd around him is mostly motionless, Silver is anything but. He alternates between falling on the ground, dancing and motioning towards onlookers, and shouting phrases like, "Clap because you're a human being and that counts; we're all in this together."

For some passersby, Silver's a regular part of the cityscape: the artist who routinely performs at places like Union Square, Washington Square Park, Astor Place and the L subway line. I have the chance to chat with him after he finishes performing and, as we do, his eyes crinkle and his enthusiasm is contagious.  Over the course of our conversation, he describes how he went from your typical New Jersey suburban teen to performing in Speedos on the streets and subway stations of New York.  Read on.

Let's start with some background basics.

I was born in New Jersey from, like, middle class suburban New Jersey. We always visited New York every once in a while; they would take us to see a play or something. I didn't really know what New York was, you know? Just that it was a crazy city. Then I went to Emerson College and I met this guy named Matt Levy (he does The Levys' Unique New York Tours) and he invited me to the Bushwick art scene -- he introduced me to Brooklyn.  I started doing the street stuff seven years ago but I never knew what performance art was.

So how'd you get into it then?

The initial reason was always to make people laugh. I've always liked that energy that you get when you make a whole lot of people laugh and then people like you because you're the funny guy.

I've always had a drive to do this -- to act wacky in front of people but it took me a while.  I guess high school was the first time [I performed]. I was always known as the goof ball in school.  [One time during] the intersession in gym class, a kid said, "I'll give you a dollar if you flex in front of those girls."   I started flexing in front of the girls and all of a sudden it became a show. I only got to do that once but it was the biggest moment of my life. It repeated over and over in my head.  The next time I [performed], I was 25 -- that was when I started to smoke pot.  I got high and I kind of laughed and thought it would be funny to put on a white dress. And I did that and just went up to people I didn't even know, went in their face, and they laughed. 

What's the public reaction been like?

A fair amount of people know me. This is what New York City's perfect for: it's still a small town. There's people that you'll see over and over again in the same spot but then there's like 10, 20 people that you've never seen before.  I think what they like [about my performance is] they think I'm crazy and then all of a sudden it gets very interactive and it feeds into their curiosity.

Has your artwork changed or evolved over the years?

Well the first time I did it, I was really nervous when I was interacting with people.  I felt stupid.   It's like the block that everybody deals with: how they're inhibited and can't be themselves because they feel everybody's judging, which is not true. That's all mental.

(photo by Caitlin Clark)

Is that block still there when you perform now?

Yeah, it's still there but I'm more open to it. I say, "Oh it's just this chemical reaction. Just perform. Nobody can read your mind."  

How does your work differ when you're in a gallery space? Do you change it at all?

It's more organized in thought. I actually come up with an outline to follow.

So you don't rehearse or plan it out in your head what you're going to do when you perform on the street.

I want to and I haven't found a way. When I first started I didn't even have a repertoire. I was just doing the physical stuff like hitting myself, saying hello to random people. It took me 33 years to get the courage to come close enough to people to form a crowd.

What kind of physical toll does this take? The hitting, the falling...

Well, I don't do The Worm anymore. That hurt my back. I don't do front flips anymore. I stay safer. I learned that less is more.

Photos and video courtesy of Matthew Silver

Charli XCX Talks Pre-Show Rituals, Not Thinking Onstage, and Her Craziest Show Experience To Date

Screen shot 2012-08-03 at 2.09.48 PM.pngOn stage, Charli XCX dances like a little girl throwing a tantrum -- and it's fantastic. The 19- year-old goth-pop princess tyrannically bounces from one point of the stage to the other -- as she did at The Bowery Ballroom this past weekend, aided by some massively tall platform sneakers  -- belting out (pitch-perfect, no less) big, bass-booming tracks like "Nuclear Seasons," the Gold Panda-sampling "You," and an enthralling cover of Echo and the Bunnymen's "The Killing Moon." By the time Charli closed with a rousing rendition of her most popular track to date, the sexy and romantic "You're The One," she had the crowd in the palm of her hand, even getting them to do some call and response ("When I say 'XC,' you say 'X,'" she would yell). Although she's painfully young, the Atlantic Records-signed artist is quickly proving to be something special -- she's already shared a stage with Coldplay, and will do so again for some select US dates this month. We spoke to the singer/songwriter about her live gig regiment, goals for the next year, and her wildest onstage experience yet.

What should people expect from your live performance?

I want people to feel a rush when they come and see my show. It's very energetic and emotional for me. I find it really exhilarating so I want the audience to feel that too.

Any pre-show or post-show rituals?

Pre-show, I usually just freak out and pace around and get all tense. Post-show, it's party time!

How do you keep energy onstage?

I don't know! I don't really think about anything onstage -- I just go with it and let everything happen. I want it to be difficult for me because then I feel like I can get more emotion out of myself. I push myself really hard.

What's your favorite song to perform?

Whatever the newest song is. At the moment, it's this song I did with Blood Diamonds for my HEARTBREAKS AND EARTHQUAKES mixtape. It's called "Grins." I feel like people can bounce to that.

What's been your craziest gig experience?

Probably when I played my first stadium show with Coldplay. It was just so overwhelming. I played first so the venue wasn't even full, but there were still probably 25,000 people there. It was insane! I couldn't believe it. I watched their show afterwards and cried four times just because I found it so amazing that 80,000 people were in the same space all singing the words to their songs. It was super freaky -- in a great way.

How would you like your show to be set up a year from now?

I want my show to turn into a big tornado on stage. I want everything to be up in the air and billowing around. I want the stage to self destruct. That's my plan. Get ready!

Photo by Zach Kelly

Scene Stealer: London club kid turned pop phenom Charli XCX is getting ready to cross the pond

Isaac From The Love Boat: Still Playing Bartender

Ted Lange - Headshot.jpg

For children of the '70s and '80s, TV was our memorable introduction to bar culture, illuminating fictional watering holes like Sam Malone's Cheers and of course the Regal Beagle, essentially a second home for Jack Tripper and his gold chain-wearing bud Larry in Three's Company. But it was on Aaron Spelling hit The Love Boat that we got to know charming Isaac Washington, the bartender known for his signature grin-and-point move and a mustache that would be coveted by today's handlebar-loving barkeeps.

 At last week's boozy Tales of the Cocktail convention in New Orleans, Ted Lange, the actor who played Isaac for the show's 10-year run, was the guest of honor at a campy dinner held at the Museé Conti Wax Museum by Disaronno, where several bow-tie clad bartenders slung cocktails with the Italian liqueur. Naturally, the evening's winning drink, crafted by Miami mixologist Julio Cabrera, was declared The Isaac.

We caught up with Lange, who stayed in town with his lovely art teacher wife, Mary, for the weekend to talk the changing face of cocktails, poker rituals and his penchant for writing historical plays.

Looks like you had a blast on every episode of The Love Boat, but any highlights?

Ben Vereen, he and I were actors together in New York. We've known each other for years. Third year of The Love Boat, I said, 'How come you haven't done our show?' He said, 'I'll do your show when you direct it.' They said if I could get Ben, who turned down the show four times -- I think it was his agent -- we could make it a black storyline. When I told Aaron Spelling I could get Ben they [were skeptical]. They didn't know I knew him and I got him and it was a great experience. He also did one of the musical shows. What a dancer that guy was. Another time, Jimmy Osmond wouldn't kiss a girl on the show [because of his religion] but Marie Osmond did a show in Italy and tongued the guy. He kept saying, 'Marie Osmond tongued me.' It was fun. And, I was in a Chinese restaurant with Lee Majors and there were pictures of supermodels above the urinals. One of them was Farrah Fawcett [who used to be married to Majors]. He came out and said, 'Who owns this place? That's my ex-wife over the urinal and I want her picture down. I'm coming back here tomorrow.'

At the Disaronno dinner earlier, you mentioned that back in the day you were a regular at Studio City bar The Residuals, where a check bearing even a paltry amount scored you a free drink. What was your pleasure during that time?

That was my vodka era. Stoli. As a matter of fact, Stoli got me a job with Lee Majors. He was doing Fall Guy. He went on a cruise with us. We were in Hong Kong and he was looking for a director. He had been out on the town drinking Stoli and said to me, 'You direct television, would you direct my show?' I'll never forget we were in front of a hotel. We had a couple of drinks and we were holding the wall up, standing in front of the hotel to make sure it didn't fall down. 'Feel like it's tipping?' 'Feels like it's tipping to me.'

On The Love Boat, what were those celeb guests usually ordering from you?

Those were all the drinks with fruit and flowers and umbrellas. A Mai Tai, an Acapulco Lounge special, blended drinks.

As you saw at the dinner, mixology has gotten far more complex and serious than The Love Boat days. What do you think about this new chapter for cocktailing?

What happens when I go out is, if I get recognized by a bartender, they want me to try their special drink. 'Aren't you the guy who?' 'Yeah.' 'Can you just taste this?' 'Yeah.' I think the drinking thing has evolved, and like anything else it's gone through a slump and come out. Like that Disaronno contest. I was fascinated they used it as a base and the different ways they could take it. I like flamboyance when they're making drinks.

At home do you experiment with cocktails?

I have a monthly poker game at home and I have a full bar. It's usually after I've lost, though, and I'm folding more than I'm playing, when I say, 'By the way guys, taste this. What do you think of this?' I like to give people options. Some guys like vodka or gin, some like bourbon or scotch. But now that I have a drink named after me, they're going to have to try it.

So this is a tradition that's been going on a long time?

Fifteen years. Certain games have evolved. Antonio Fargas, who played Huggy Bear on Starsky and Hutch, used to have a game where the maximum bet was twenty-five cents. Some years ago he moved to Vegas so now I have a voiceover poker game where all the guys are announcers, an actor game now where the guys are all actors and a straight game, because not everyone is in showbiz. A couple of young guys are from MIT. But they're not good to play with because they can count cards.

Do you cook, too?

I'm really good with leftovers. You're trying to match what you think taste wise would gel in a pot and I add pasta. I stay away from the creams and just go with the flavor of the leftover chicken or steak with olives, capers, green bell peppers, garlic or onions.

These days, much of your time is devoted to writing and directing historic plays--you've done twenty-four. Your next, the Civil War-era Lady Patriot, opens September 7 at the Hudson Backstage Theatre in Hollywood, with Lou Beatty, Jr. from Off Their Rockers. Have you long been a history buff?

No, it was an accident. I was writing some modern-day comedies and I was being compared to Neil Simon. The black Neil Simon, they called me.  My wife and I, she was my girlfriend at the time, I take her to Florence and we're visiting the statue of David. We're sitting in a little café. She says, 'You should write a play about Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel.' I say, 'No, Mary, they already have The Agony and the Ecstasy, I would want to do something different, something about Michelangelo carving the David. Wait just a minute. That's my story.' I wrote a conversation between Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci that night without having done any research. And then I did the research and the speech was on the money. There's always been a thing between young artists and old [artists]. So I wrote about a young guy coming after an older guy. They actually wanted da Vinci to carve the stone but he didn't want to do it because carving was peasant's work and frescoes were the true art form.

Do you ever go on cruises these days?

My wife gets seasick so I'm not going. I'd rather fly.

Watch A Very Introspective Kendrick Lamar In His New Music Video, "Swimming Pools (Drank)"


Compton-bred rapper Kendrick Lamar (whose recent set at Pitchfork even saw Lady Gaga climbing over a fence to watch it) has a new music video out today for his song "Swimming Pools (Drank)," a track from his forthcoming album, good kid, m.A.A.d city, out October 2nd via Interscope/Aftermath/Top Dawg. The video opens with a scene out of one of the most common recurring dreams: that falling one.  We watch the MC falling through a black void, never knowing where he lands before the clip cuts to a pretty girl and footage of glass bottles shattering.  The rest of the video features lots of alcohol, an introspective KL, and an introspective KL rapping about alcohol (and alcoholism). There's also a party scene that looks like it takes place in a photographer's darkroom.  Watch it above.

Going Solo for the Games: 5 Quiet Bars Where You Can Watch All the Olympics Action In Peace

Screen shot 2012-08-03 at 4.59.51 PM.pngEarlier this week, I tried to convince a friend that watching the Olympics is a group sport. He completely disagreed saying, "I don't want to talk to anyone while I'm watching. I'm that guy who stands up at the bar alone throwing up his arms when something exciting happens." Maybe it's because I don't have a television so I don't quite understand the experience of sitting alone, silently cheering on Ryan Lochte's giant, churning shoulders or quietly damning China's tremendous medal count. Maybe it's because if I am watching the Olympics it's probably from an anonymous hotel room while on the road and wishing I had someone to discuss the Russians' horrific choice of gymnastic leotards. Either way, maybe you need a half-empty bar from which to watch judo, the long jump or fencing sans any distractions from rowdy bar patrons. Here are five of our somewhat-serene favorites in NYC (no promises on the weekend).

1. At Williamsburg's Iona, a big beer menu and bare bones barbecue options should get you through an evening of white-knuckle table tennis trials. And if you feel so inclined to spend the commercial breaks socializing, you can step into the back yard for your own gripping match of ping pong.

2. A pretty, warmly-lit respite off the Graham stop, Ba'sik is staffed with alums from The Breslin, Painkiller and Lani Kai, who are low-key enough to know when to leave you to your below-breath mutterings on boxing and badminton. A Wisconsin-style hotdog and bourbon-rocks should set you up for a couple of hours of solo-surveillance.

3. Perhaps not best on weekends, but during school nights, Bar Great Harry is a pretty great catch for fans seeking a dark corner from which to spy the games. Free popcorn and a rotating list of mostly American beers will keep you stationed on a bar stool waiting for the next balance beam routine.

4. Off one of the sleepier streets in Alphabet City, Dorian Gray is a promising option when it comes to matching your party-of-one with an ardent appetite. Basic, but solid, the curry chips, Irish grilled cheese and shepherd's pie are perfect for an evening of handball and trampolining.

5. Ideally, you would hit d.b.a. Brooklyn for a solitary afternoon of Tchoup Shop (that'd be the New Orleans-style pop-up restaurant inside the bar) gumbo, chilled Abitas, and grilled boudin alongside a session of diving and synchronized swimming, but the Louisiana band might drown out the Olympic commentators. And you might actually meet people. And who would want to ruin a lonesome afternoon of Cajun food with company?

GIFs of the Week: Gabby Douglas, Gabby Douglas, Gabby Douglas

Welcome to our Friday GIF roundup, featuring a curated list of this week's most important, amusing and/or newsy GIFs and GIF sets by Mike Hayes of BuzzFeed and GIF HOUND.




OMG! A breast popped out during Olympics water polo! [Buzzfeed]


The New Zealand women's soccer goalie had the worst day ever today! [Buzzfeed]


McKayla Maroney's vault was perfect. [GIFHound]


So perfect, she actually made a judge's jaw drop. [Buzzfeed]


The Atlantic Wire put together a very well done GIF round-up of Gabby Douglas's gold medal night. See them all here.

tumblr_m86n3nJj1S1r1o8ppo2_r1_500.giftumblr_m86n3nJj1S1r1o8ppo1_r1_500.gifSpeaking of Gymnastics, the U.S. women's soccer team can barely cartwheel. [USWNTGIFS]

629343265.gifMichael Phelps. No. 20. [@BuzzfeedAndrew]


Olympic trampoline makes for mesmerizing GIFs. [SBNation]

One last Gabby Dogulas GIF. [GifHound]

Kreayshawn's Trippy New Album Cover + Kiernan Shipka's Closet

1. Check out the trippy, Daniel Johnston-y cover of Kreyashawn's new album, Somethin 'Bout Kreay. When coming up with a cover idea, she wanted "Something that, when people first see it, they'll say, 'Only Kreayshawn could think of a cover like that.'" 

Jimmy-Fallon-Greens-Set.jpg2. Jimmy Fallon is maybe hosting the Oscars and Lorne Michaels is maybe producing them! [via Vulture]

tv-on-the-radioitems.jpg3. TV on the Radio will headline the eighth annual Afropunk Festival.

4. At this Sunday's "50 Shades of Grey Brunch" at Park Slope's Babeland, attendees can "try out some of the scenes from the book" and "discuss ways to make your fantasies into reality." [via Gothamist]

5. Who wants to try to sneak into the not-open-to-the-public Metropolitan Museum of Art's "Employee Art Show" with us? [via NYT]

6. Twelve-year-old Mad Men star Kiernan Shipka gives a tour of her closet. We thought we would be creeped out but instead we were charmed. [via BuzzFeed]

cn_image_5.size.MUSTAFINA-BITCH-ALERT-GIF.gif7. Love Michelle Collins' Olympics commentary over at VF Daily. First off, the photo above. Secondly, about Gabby Douglas she writes: "The camera closes in on her adorable little squirrel face, a girl, only 16, about to accomplish what so few others have. Then, the announcer, Interrupty Jenkins, chimes in with this fridge magnet: "They say sometimes a crowded room can be the most lonely place in the world." Mmm. Really makes you think. About who this guy had to blow. To get a job. At NBC."

8. Dressage horses dancing to Dupstep. [via BuzzFeed

Tips for Today: Patti Smith in NYC + Avi Buffalo in L.A. + The Get Up With the Get Downs in Chicago + Paul Kerensa in London

New York

Screen shot 2012-08-02 at 3.31.54 PM.png Patti Smith reads from her collection of stories, Woolgathering, tonight at the Brooklyn Bridge Park as part of the "Books Beneath the Bridge" series. [Flavorpill]

Weeks before the debut of his movie, Sleepwalk With Me -- based on his critically-acclaimed show of the same name --  funny man Mike Birbiglia (who also had a cameo in Girls playing an employer who didn't take kindly to Hannah's date rape joke) will be sharing stories tonight at Union Hall. [Brooklyn Based]

Following their sold-out show at Terminal 5 and a jam-packed turn-out for Jamie xx's DJ set at MoMA PS1 (not to mention about a two year absence from NYC), The xx will bring their brooding, atmospheric rock to Staten Island's Snug Harbor Cultural Center tonight. [Oh My Rockness]

Los Angeles

Screen shot 2012-08-02 at 3.45.34 PM.pngAvi Buffalo -- the alt band helmed by Long Beach California guitarist Avi Zahner-Isenberg -- will play a few dreamy folk tunes tonight at Alex's Bar. [Oh My Rockness]

If you're looking for a wild time and a destructive show, go check out the Black Lips and King Tuff tonight at The Observatory. [zing]


Screen shot 2012-08-05 at 11.36.17 PM.pngChicago eight-member funk band The Get Up With the Get Downs perform tonight at The Empty Bottle with Black Bear Combo and The Cell Phones. [Oh My Rockness]

Renowned comic artist Matt Madden will discuss the fifty year relationship between comics and poetry tonight at "Verse, Stripped" at the Poetry Foundation. [Chicago Reader]


Screen shot 2012-08-02 at 4.25.25 PM.pngLaugh your Monday off tonight at comedian Paul Kerensa's one-off show at Lion and Unicorn Theatre. If you need a referral, we've got one: comedy genius Ricky Gervais says the dude's "fucking funny." [Time Out]

If you have the urge to go back in time and relive the one hit wonder, "Fireflies," Owl City will provide the music for you tonight at King's College Student Union. [Time Out]

The Morning Funnies: Ryan Lochte Pees in the Pool + NASA's "Mohawk Guy"

I'm looking at the man in the mirror... on two Olympic Russian synchronized swimmers' bathing suits! [via BuzzFeed]

us-swimmer-ryan-lochte-smiles-20110729-034018-273.jpgYou've all been wondering... yes, Ryan Lochte peed in the pool during the Olympics. "[I didn't] during the races, but I sure did in warm-up." [via Us]

257453.jpg"Mohawk Guy," a guy with a red and black mohawk working in the NASA control room during the Curiosity landing, is now a thing. [via Wtop]

tumblr_m8bcgy3jRT1qzk2apo1_500-1.jpgMarilyn Monroe and a monkey. [via Tsutpen]

tumblr_m89vpzoqgh1qba8gyo1_500.jpgEr. Mer. Gerd. [via It's Denise Yall]

AzYkdblCUAAeIEB.pngKanye West Tweeted this photo of Kim Kardashian's backside alongside the word: "MERCY." [via Twitter]

ostrichphotobomb.jpgHere's an ostrich photo-bombing some giraffes and another ostrich at the African Plains exhibit at the Bronx Zoo. [via Facebook]

Johnny Cash Money Machines were a short-lived venture that happened in 1985. [via Dangerous Minds]

Donald Trump and Bill O'Reilly's pathetic attempts at doing the wave at a recent Yankee's game. [via Only LOL Gifs]

partygirl.jpgParker Posey will appear as a "shot girl" on the season premiere of New Girl. [via Vulture]

tumblr_lihc8mGHW21qfaod7o1_400.jpgBill Cosby with one scoop of Bill Cosby. [via Hell Bent for Leather]

tumblr_lrasph4R1B1qgbvzco1_r1_500.gifI'm so... scared. [via Bbrainz]

Antony and the Johnsons' "Cut the World" Is Our Music Video of the Day


Bit of forewarning before you watch "Cut the World," a new music video from Antony and the Johnsons: it's a little gruesome.  We'll refrain from giving too much away but tell you that Willem Dafoe and Carice Van Houten from Game of Thrones star as boss and secretary in the video and end up having a little, uh, altercation.  Marina Abramović makes an appearance at the end, staring at Van Houten with a look that'll give you the shivers.

"Cut the World" is a previsouly unreleased track that appears on a double LP of the same name, featuring live symphonic performances of songs from A&TJ's four full-length records (Swanlights, The Crying Light, I Am a Bird Now, S/T).  It was also composed for Abramović's stage show, The Life and Death of Marina Abramović, which also starred Dafoe.

Choupette Lagerfeld's Editorial Debut + Natalie Portman's Wedding Dress Speculation in Today's Style Scraps

Screen shot 2012-08-06 at 12.23.10 PM.pngFashion designer John Bartlett is partnering with Farm Sanctuary -- a farm animal rescue and protection organization in North America -- on a capsule collection of t-shirts (above), which launches today on johnbartlettny.com.  The tees will run for $40 a pop and 10% of sale proceeds will go to Farm Sanctuary. [via John Bartlett]

Screen shot 2012-08-06 at 12.32.54 PM.pngWe're completely not surprised that Choupette Lagerfeld just had her first editorial shoot and profile, courtesy of i-D, because she's a natural -- just look at those baby blues! [via Fashionista; Photos via i-D]

Screen shot 2012-08-06 at 12.46.21 PM.pngNatalie Portman married Benjamin Millepied over the weekend in a private home in Big Sur, California and while photos of her dress have not been made public, Grazia (who says they got some "sneaky snaps" that they're not yet permitted to share) tells us the gown was "a classic white frock in a '50s stylee, full-skirted with a nipped in waist and a midi hemline... The sleeves are long and sheer and the design is fuss-free."  As for her hair and veil, Portman had "a waft of chiffon cascaded to her lower back from a floral headband worn over loose brunette waves."  Bets have already been placed that the gown was designed by Raf Simons for Dior (the actress is the face of the brand) considering that a number of looks from his couture collection seem to fit this description.  Stay tuned... [via Grazia]

Screen shot 2012-08-06 at 12.52.20 PM.pngHedi Slimane responded to criticism over the YSL name change in Vanity Fair. [via Fashionologie]

Screen shot 2012-08-06 at 1.00.35 PM.pngVictoria Beckham is launching an optical line this October. [via High Snobette]

Screen shot 2012-08-06 at 1.03.51 PM.pngWe're digging a cheeky Natalia Vodianova in Stella McCartney's Fall 2012 campaign, shot by Mert & Marcus. [via Fashion Gone Rogue]

Screen shot 2012-08-06 at 1.11.16 PM.pngBey-Jay nail art...as seen on Beyoncé. Update: These are not actually Beynocé's hands -- they belong to a superfan whose photo Beynocé posted to her Instagram. [via Styleite]

New 'Honey Boo Boo' Trailer Introduces You to Chubbs, Chickadee and Sugar Bear


Here's the new, extended trailer for the Honey Boo Boo show.

Here's our reaction after watching it.

A New Project Examines Whether Images Really Are a Universal Language

Screen shot 2012-08-06 at 3.48.46 PM.pngClick to enlarge image

Artist Taryn Simon and 'technologist' Aaron Schwartz have collaborated on a new project that questions the idea that images can form a universal language.  Called Image Atlas, the website allows users to type in a term or phrase and then see an index of top image results across local search engines throughout the world.  For example, if you type in the phrase "America," some of the top results in Iran are quite different from the ones in Israel (a ghoulish Lady Liberty compared to a beautiful cityscape at night) -- perhaps not surprisingly. The site illustrates that while there are similarities across nations when it comes to how we visualize ideas, many images remain tinged with cultural associations, opinions and stereotypes.  The site also exposes the limits of technology and search engines in particular.   In a Q&A over at The New Yorker, Simon describes what happened when she typed in the word "Jew" in the search box:
[I]n Germany it was all photos of Jude Law, because Jew in translation is "jude," and clearly "jude law" is getting more hits than "jew" within those borders right now.  As people mover farther away from verbal communication (Instagram, etc.), it's worth questioning if visual communication is subject to the same issues of translation and misinterpretation found in verbal communication.
The project was conceived during Rhizome's Seven on Seven Conference at the New Museum last spring and you can read the rest of The New Yorker Q&A HERE.

Shades that Glow in the Flash

I am addicted to sunglasses (I scarily own over 300 pairs) and just when I thought I had seen it all, comes a new company out of Portland called LOOK/SEE (which in the footwear industry is a term for a sample that is very rare). On the subject of unusually rare things, my pair of LOOK/SEE medium grey frames with neon yellow arms, glow like martian's eyes when photographed with a flash (a great look for disco nights - hello No.8). LOOK/SEE owner Kyle Yamaguchi, who started his career developing shoes for Nike, says: "I had one of the coolest jobs you could imagine. Now I've left that dream job to pursue a dream of my own." And if you want to create a flash for Billy Farrell's flashbulbs at the next party, the reflective LOOK/See sunglasses are definitely red-carpet ready. The retail for $110 here.

Here's a photo of LOOK/SEE model Michael K. Williams modeling a pair of reflective glasses (which, as you see, do not reflect in the sunlight):

141mkw166286.jpgAnd here's a video about the glasses:

Danny DeVito Backs Pussy Riot + Tavi Gevinson Lands a Movie Role = Eight Items Or Less

Screen shot 2012-08-06 at 6.09.10 PM.png1) Pussy Riot update: The husband of one of Pussy Riot's members penned a week-long journal for the Guardian. He says his wife and her bandmates are being sleep deprived, that the prosecution has paraded in some truly insane witnesses and there are barking dogs in the courtroom. This Reuters story says that the court refused to allow the defense call any witnesses on Friday. In on other P. Riot news, Danny Devito tweets his support. [DailySwarm]

bluey_adp.jpg2) An Inwood man held a proper funeral for his 1982 Honda Civic. "Bluey" had 170,000 miles and survived being flipped over during the Washington Heights Riots. R.I.P.  [Death+Taxes]

3) Here's a deeply weird episode of new webseries Belle &Bernice: Livin' in the City with Sue Galloway (30 Rock) and Neil Casey. Special guest appearance by 2012 Beautiful Person Mike O'Brien!

4) Here's the trailer for Zero Dark Thirty, a dramatization of the Navy Seal mission to kill Osama Bin Laden by Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal. It's out December 19th for all of your fun and festival holiday movie needs. [DailyWhat]

Screen shot 2012-08-06 at 7.06.34 PM.png5) Today would have been Andy Warhol's 84th birthday. NPR has a little story about fans leaving soup cans on his tombstone and a bagpipe player who visits every year. [NPR]

Screen shot 2012-08-06 at 7.15.05 PM.png6) Tavi Gevinson has landed a starring role in new Nicole Holofcener movie. Per the Hollywood Reporter: "She will play Chloe, an only child who never received much attention from her parents, forcing her to grow up faster than her peers." Will Catherine Keener play her mom? [THR]

7) Ah jeez, somebody put melted cheese and/or caramel, but probably old cheese, all over this phone on Wythe in Willimasburg. Like pay phones don't already make us a little bit sad!  [NYShitty]