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LING | New Territories

For those who don’t understand the language, it is a chance not only to listen to some good and interesting music, but also to appreciate something that is different from oneself. It calls into question the purpose of art and how we interact with it.

The Piano Guys in one of their YouTube videos in which they perform a song from Les Miserables.

GUEST ROOM | How Classical Music Became a Commodity

Guess who’s been topping the charts in the iTunes classical section — The Piano Guys. I can’t be the only one that picked up my phone and frantically googled when I found out that The Piano Guys would be playing Trump’s inauguration. I didn’t know who they were, but with millions of YouTube hits and the word “piano” in the name, I was intrigued. I watched the dramatic music video for “Beethoven’s 5 Secrets” — a mash-up of OneRepublic’s brief hit and Ludwig’s famed fifth symphony — and understood the appeal. Classical music, packaged for easy listening.

Kanye-West-SNL-Spoof

SWAN | A High Tech Minstrel Show

Kanye West’s comment about a “lack of male energy,” in both his childhood home and his current extended family, stood out to me, as I thought it might convey something about the formation of black, masculine identity at this point in the hip-hop era.

Virgil Abloh

LING | Virgil Abloh and the Design of Everyday Things

If you sit for long enough at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport you will see luggage carousels fill up with aluminum-ribbed suitcases, a parade of muted colors, subtly labeled Rimowa. There, the suitcase is so common it is easy to forget that it is a luxury brand, with prices starting at $495 for your basic starter luggage. Perhaps this speaks to the different definitions of luxury. In my mother’s country, using clothing for wealth signaling is less pervasive and luxury is harder to distinguish than in the Canada Goose-rife, Goyard bag-toting landscape that is Cornell. However, young or old, the obsession with the Rimowa luggage continues because of its practicality and quality.

YANG | The Apolitical Artist

Two weeks ago, during an appearance as musical guest on the season premiere of Saturday Night Live, Kanye West delivered an unplanned pro-Trump speech to the audience as the credits rolled. Now you’re probably rolling your eyes and thinking I’m either going to defend or bash Kanye on his speech and his twitter rants about the 13th Amendment. Well, I’m not going to do either of those things. There’s something else entirely that concerns me. This past Saturday, SNL cast member Pete Davidson discussed the incident during “Weekend Update.” Davidson urged Kanye to take his meds and said that while Kanye is a musical genius like “Joey Chestnut is a hot dog-eating genius,” he doesn’t want to “hear Joey Chestnut’s opinions about things that aren’t hot dog-related.”

Incidentally, the day before Davidson’s SNL appearance, Lady Gaga went on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and gave a defense of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford with regards to memory mechanisms and trauma, and her speech soon went viral on Twitter.