When you spend 60 years making pictures every day, you get pretty damn good at it. Take Irving Penn, the son of Russian Jews from Plainfield, New Jersey, who started as a department store art director and ended up one of the preeminent photographers of the 20th century. Penn collaborated with Vogue for more than half a century, but his oeuvre goes way beyond fashion.
A current exhibition on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is the fullest retrospective of Penn’s work to date. The show spans the photographer’s early 1940s fashion shots to his singular, sparsely designed celebrity portraits and later studio work with indigenous peoples in New Guinea, Peru, and Africa. Also included are Penn’s lesser-known commercial images made for companies like L’Oréal. His still lifes of discarded cigarette butts and deli trash gleaned from the sidewalks of 1970s New York are a triumph of modernist cool.
Penn, who was 92 when he died in 2009, was also the first studio photographer to consistently employ the use of a plain white backdrop as a device for emphasizing the physical and emotional presence of his subjects..
View more photos at TIMELINE.
Practically everyone has seen the iconic images of the Easter Island heads. What you may not have known is that those Easter Island heads actually have hidden buried bodies. Archaeologists have uncovered the bodies associated with the heads and found interesting discoveries that further our knowledge of the Easter Island civilization and how they created the monoliths.
The Easter Island heads are known as Moai by the Rapa Nui people who carved the figures in the tropical South Pacific directly west of Chile. The Moai monoliths, carved from stone found on the island, are between 1,100 and 1,500 CE. A bit of an aside, but CE refers to the “Common Era” and sometimes replaces the use of AD in historical and archaeological communities.
As with many things on Earth, time took its toll on the statues and buried them in sediment and rocks, hiding and preserving the torsos of the Easter Island heads. However, a team of archaeologists at UCLA developed the Easter Island Statue Project to better study and preserve the artifacts. Through this work, the team excavated several of the heads to reveal the underlying torso and body.
In total, the team documented and studied almost 1,000 statues on the small Pacific Island. The project spanned nine years whereby the team determined to the best of their ability the meaning, function, and history of each individual statue.
After approvals, the archaeologists excavated two of the Easter Island heads to reveal their torso and truncated waist. The heads had been covered by successive mass transport deposits on the island that buried the statues lower half. These events enveloped the statues and gradually buried them to their heads as the islands naturally weathered and eroded through the centuries.
Easter island is situated within the Nazca Plate and is a volcanic hot spot, similar to the Hawaiian Island chain. This hot spot produced the Sala y Gomez ridge which spans East of Easter Island as the Pacific Ocean opened through the East Pacific Rise.
Easter Island was formed by successive Pliocene and Holocene volcanic flows consisting of basalt and andesite. In addition, volcanic tuffs were deposited in the volcanic crater, which is the primary stone used for carving the monolithic Moai statues. Most of the statues are located along the Rano Raraku volcanic cone, which acted as the quarry that supplied the Rapa Nui the monolithic stones which were used for carving.
Read more at Forbes.
Originally, this compact apartment in Taipei, Taiwan, had been carved up into an inefficient two-bedroom layout that left little room for relaxation. Designer Annby Lin of local firm A Lentil Design reconfigured the space for a more effective flow—taking down walls and adding a small sleeping loft to replace the second bedroom. The result is an airy small apartment beloved by its owners and their shelf-jumping cat.
Check it out at Curbed.
In May 8, 2013, Alan Eustace, then the 56-year-old senior vice president of knowledge at Google, jumped from an airplane 18,000 feet above the desert in Coolidge, Arizona. Anyone watching would have witnessed an odd sight: Eustace was wearing a bulky white space suit—the kind NASA astronauts wear. He looked like a free-falling Michelin Man.
Through his giant space helmet and oxygen mask, Eustace could see the ground stretched out for miles. But the view wasn’t his main concern. He hadn’t quite worked out how to control the space suit, which, unlike a typical skydiving suit, weighed about 265 pounds and was pumped full of pressurized air. Eustace, an experienced skydiver, knew how to shift his body to change direction or to stop himself from spinning—a problem that, if uncorrected, can lead to blackout, then death. But when he started to rotate—slowly at first, then faster and faster—his attempts to steady himself just made things worse. He felt like he was bouncing around inside a concrete box.
Twelve minutes and what felt like an eternity later, he heard the sound of an approaching helicopter. Oh good, he thought, relaxing. I’m nowhere near dead.
Which was fortunate, because this was only a practice round. What Eustace was gearing up for was something much more dangerous: a jump from seven and a half times the altitude, the highest ever attempted. A skydive from the edge of space.
Read more at The Atlantic.
When someone uses grammar incorrectly do you make an assumption about his or her intelligence or education? Like it or not, words, spelling, and punctuation are powerful and can leave a lasting impression on others. But even the most educated people often unknowingly make common writing and speaking flubs. Check out this long list of ubiquitous grammar mistakes. Guarantee: You’ll either learn something new or find a few of your biggest pet peeves here. (And likely, you’ll find fault with my own use of the English language. I welcome your thoughts, critiques, and insults in the comments.)
1. First-come, first-serve
It should actually be “served.” Without the d, the phrase above suggests that the first individual who arrives will be the one who serves everyone, which is not the idiom’s intent.
2. I could care less
Think about this one for a minute. The way it’s written above suggests you possess care which still could be allocated to the situation in question. “I couldn’t care less” is correct because it communicates that “I have no more care to give.”
This is not a word. It’s simply “regardless,” as in “Regardless of what you think about grammar, you’ll look silly if you use it incorrectly.”
4. “I” as the last word in a sentence.
This mistake is remarkably common, yet a correct example would be “Karlee talked with Brandon and me.” The trick to getting this one straight is to take the other person’s name out of the sentence and see if your personal pronoun choice still sounds right. “Karlee talked with I” is awkward and incorrect.
5. “Me” as the first word in a sentence.
I hear people saying things such as “Me and Brandon met at Starbucks this morning” all the time, even though it’s always wrong. “Brandon and I met at Starbucks this morning” is correct.
Read more at Inc.
Before my first trip to Kenya, I’d done a little reading, but nothing could have really prepared me for what I was about to experience. When our tiny 12-seater touched down on the dirt runway in Amboseli National Park, roughly 140 miles south of Nairobi, I was giddy with excitement. Zebra calves were leaping in the air, and two giraffe heads peeked out nervously from behind an acacia tree. In fact, the plane was forced to circle the airstrip three times before landing, due to wandering animals.
I was immediately thrown into the wild. Not that I would’ve had it any other way — on the dusty drive over to Ol Donyo Lodge, I scanned the landscape like I was seeing Earth for the first time: flat, dry, streaked with gold and green, and above it all, hidden behind a cloud, Mount Kilimanjaro, the continent’s tallest peak. Within a few hours of settling in, I watched as monkeys, impala, elephants and giraffe all paraded by, less than 200 feet from my bed.
“Most people here are first-time guests,” said Jackson Lemunge, my guide on the first day, “And those who are repeat guests are back for a reason. They want to see the same thing.”
In Swahili, safari literally means “journey,” and for most of us, a place like Kenya is about as far from home as you can get. The element of surprise is a cornerstone of the whole experience. Still, there are a few items of business you’ll want to get under your belt. Unless otherwise noted, this list references the safari experience in general, so the following guidelines will help you with any trip, whether you’re traveling in Kenya, Botswana or South Africa.
Figure out your visa situation
Tourist visas are required for American travelers entering Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, but not for Botswana or South Africa. In most cases, they can be purchased online and printed out ahead of time. It’s best to be prepared — I was able to buy my visa in-person at Jomo Kenyaata International Airport when I arrived in Nairobi, but I had to pay the $50 fee in cash. Credit cards weren’t accepted, and the ATM in the arrivals hall wasn’t very reliable.
Read more at Mic.
With the year more than half way through, we at Book Marks thought we’d take a look back at the titles that garnered the strongest reviews since January 1st. Whether your poison is historical fiction, family memoir, short stories, investigative journalism, graphic non fiction, biography, or sci-fi, this list has something for you.
1.Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders – Best Overall
(28 Rave, 11 Positive, 3 Mixed)
“…a luminous feat of generosity and humanism … the war here is a crucible for a heroic American identity: fearful but unflagging; hopeful even in tragedy; staggering, however tentatively, toward a better world … events sometimes conspire to make a work of art, like a novel set in the past, supremely timely. In describing Lincoln’s call to action, Saunders provides an appeal for his limbo denizens — for citizens everywhere — to step up and join the cause.”
–Colson Whitehead (The New York Times Book Review)
Read more at LitHub.
Tom Petty and REO Speedwagon boomed off the grandstand seats. Players were illuminated by twinkling white Christmas lights hanging from the rafters above the open-air setup. The hubbub was punctuated by the rhythmic smacking of heavy plastic discs against each other and the intermittent eruption of cheers. I stood, stunned into silence, marveling at this unfettered display of youthful vigor. When did shuffleboard — that bastion of geriatric time-killing — become cool?
Florida is home to all manner of kitschy roadside attractions, but the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club — which bills itself as the “world’s largest shuffleboard club” — is no Gatorland. I certainly wasn’t expecting a party. But when I arrived this spring, I was greeted by a tailgate gone tropical, with hundreds of people — natural hair and teeth intact — digging through beer coolers and crowding around dozens of smooth green courts.
I grew up with the occasional afternoon shuffle on the sun-bleached concrete courts near my grandparents’ condo. In my mind, shuffleboard was a retiree affair, a low-stakes game that required little brainpower and even less physical might. I decided to check out the Friday Night Shuffle in a fit of boredom, figuring I would shoot the shit with some salty old-timers, drink a beer, and call it a night. But that Friday was just the beginning.
A few weeks later, I was back in St. Pete interviewing dedicated league players and board members about the history and evolution of the club, trying to figure out if the scene I’d witnessed at the Friday Night Shuffle was a fluke or something like a renaissance. The St. Pete crew is committed — among its members are Florida’s youngest pro player (he’s 31), a computer programmer who makes shot-motion analysis videos for fun, and a decorated Hall of Famer who refused to give her age (“let’s just say it’s over 60”) and now coaches the next generation of competitive players. The club is hugely important to the sport — in addition to being the oldest and largest in the world, it’s where the modern rules of the game were standardized. This is, after all, the shuffleboard capital of the planet. But it’s not where it all started.
Read more at The Ringer.
Kathryn Hahn is carrying heels in her purse. The heels would look better with her outfit: a vintage electric yellow dress with a tiered skirt and puffy sleeves. But after a morning appearance on The Today Show with Kathie Lee and Hoda—where the hosts declined to say the name of Hahn’s new Amazon show—Hahn has changed into flats. The heels have already done their job as part of Hahn’s two-day New York City promotional roller coaster.
Hahn’s new TV show is called I Love Dick. It’s loosely based on Chris Kraus’ 1997 epistolary novel of the same name; Hahn plays Kraus. It’s a sexy show, for sure: On the surface, it centers on Kraus’ obsession with a colleague of her husband’s, and how that obsession impacts her work and her marriage. But the “Dick” in the title is the name of a central character in the show, the object of Kraus/Hahn’s obsession. And neither the book nor the show, adapted by Amazon vet Jill Soloway, are as interested in sex as they are in female artists—while combating the idea that there’s a prescribed set of rules for what a female artist can be.
Dick is Hahn and Soloway’s third collaboration. Soloway created a role for Hahn in her critically acclaimed Transparent (Rabbi Raquel, who enters into a doomed relationship with Josh Pfefferman) after casting her as the lead in her 2013 film Afternoon Delight. In Delight she played a stay-at-home mom, Rachel, who brings a stripper home to nanny her son. (Suffice to say things go awry.) While they’ve worked together multiple times, Hahn rejects the idea that she’s a muse, of sorts, to Soloway: “Muse implies a sort of pedestal, and we’re more in the muck together,” she says. In developing what would become Dick, the pair took a series of walks around Los Angeles’ Silver Lake neighborhood, discussing various books authored by women before landing on Dick.
Soloway expanded the narrative to show a range of female artists and perspectives, but it’s easy to assume that I Love Dick is solely about Kraus’ fervent lust for the titular Dick, played by Kevin Bacon. Kraus and her husband Sylvere (Griffin Dunne) find themselves inexplicably drawn to Dick; he becomes the focus of Kraus’ new project. Late in the show’s first season, Sylvere asks Dick why he doesn’t like being Kraus’s muse. “It’s humiliating,” Dick replies. He’s annoyed at being used for the sake of art in the same way that male artists have been using women for decades. “I think [there’s] a quote in episode five, which I love, that there are 500 times more female nudes than female artists in art history books,” says Hahn, energized by the fact that she and Soloway have crafted a narrative show that puts a man in that position. “Just like, uh huh…so good. In a nutshell, [women have] been the they forever and ever, the that, and it feels really good to be the the.”
Read more at Elle.
Ivanka Trump’s office: clean, white, quiet. A zone of punctual start times and promptly offered water bottles, and a conference table at which she conducts meetings. A short, winding walk away from her father’s Oval Office downstairs.
She does not necessarily appreciate daily schedules. Neither does her father. When Ivanka needs to see the president, she stops by. When he needs to see her, he calls. When he wants her opinion, he asks for it and she gives it, but without expectation that it will be followed.
She sees her role as not to persuade, but to inform and support: That much is clear to White House staffers and friends who have observed the first daughter’s early months in the White House. Anyone who has invested in her the ability to change her father clearly doesn’t understand the dynamic that has always governed their relationship and also the dynamic of a president and his staff. After all, she works for him.
“The people are different. The decisions are different and the office is different,” Ivanka, an assistant to the president, said in a recent extended interview in her office, one of the few she’s granted. “But he is the same person and I am the same person. And we interact in the same way as we always have.”
One morning last week, she was one of the senior staff who convened around a long table in the White House’s Situation Room. On the agenda was solidifying her father’s remarks at the upcoming G-20, a global economic summit, particularly in a session relating to the economic empowerment of women.
“She’s been the advocate to put these things on the president’s agenda,” said a senior White House official who was in the meeting.
Ivanka argued that the administration’s message should focus on the barriers facing women: access to capital, access to markets — issues that were her personal interests before she maneuvered them onto her father’s official platform.
Read more at The Washington Post.
Terry Gross is one of the greatest interviewers we’ve ever seen. Marc Maron has called her “the most effective and beautiful interviewer of people on the planet.” She’s been inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame, and was awarded the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama last year. Empathetic yet incisive, patient yet methodical, deeply personal yet wholly universal, Gross is also unnervingly prolific: She’s been doing interviews five days a week for three decades now.
This week marks 30 years since WHYY first took Fresh Air With Terry Gross national in the form we know today: a daily, hour-long interview show featuring an array of artists and newsmakers. The show now reaches over 6 million people weekly via public radio stations across the country, and many more as a podcast. (Fresh Air is said to be NPR’s most downloaded podcast, and Apple has listed the show as the top-downloaded podcast on its platform for two years in a row.)
To commemorate the occasion, I asked Gross for a list of her personal favorite interviews. She responded:
When I started in radio, I envied one of my co-workers who had a whole box of tapes of her show. I thought, someday, if I’m lucky, I’ll have a whole box my own! Now Fresh Air has an archive of thousands and thousands of interviews covering 30 years … I’d be so damn smart if I was capable of remembering everything I’ve learned from them. Now, when I’m asked to choose my favorite interviews, I can’t, it’s just too overwhelming. I’m grateful to our producers for choosing some of theirs.
And so, here are the Fresh Air team’s favorite Terry Gross interviews, as selected by executive producer Danny Miller (who started as an intern in 1978); director Roberta Shorrock; producers Amy Salit, Phyllis Myers, Ann Marie Baldonado, Lauren Krenzel, and Sam Briger; engineer Audrey Bentham; and associate producers Therese Madden, Heidi Saman, Mooj Zadie; and associate web producer Molly Seavy-Nesper. I’ve rounded out their picks with some context about each episode.
Read more at Vulture.