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.

Courtesy of Cardi B

SWAN | Cardi B’s Realness

Yesterday, Cardi B made news when it was discovered that the artist has been charged with assault over a violent incident that occurred in a strip club in Queens and involved members of her entourage and two women who have allegedly had illicit affairs with Cardi B’s husband, Offset. According to a New York Times article about the matter, Cardi B supposedly “showed up at the Angels Strip Club on Aug.15 and confronted the sisters” when “her bodyguards and other members of her entourage attacked the bartenders with bottles and chairs, causing serious injury.”

Some qualifications and disclaimers are certainly due. As a white man, I recognize the limitations inherent in the true scope and relevance of any public, non-peer-reviewed discourse I might offer on the lives of black, female hip-hop artists. Nevertheless, as a student of musicology and cultural studies, these are topics that interest me, and I feel as though engaging in the attempt at discourse brings me closer to some sense of empathy towards the way other people experience the world. So, I turn to Cardi B.

In Cardi B’s defense, it is important to note that the details of this altercation at the strip club in August are merely alleged; none of us were there, of course, and so we don’t really know what went down.

LING | New York Fashion Week and Political Intents

At the recent New York Fashion Week, staff at Pyer Moss’ Spring-Summer 2019 show wore t-shirts emblazoned with the phrase, “If you didn’t know about Pyer Moss before, we forgive you.” This statement, rooted in bravado, was also prophetic, as the five year-old fashion house went on to put on what was arguably the most important show of the season. Founder and designer Kerby Jean-Raymond brought NYFW crowds to Weeksville Heritage Center in Brooklyn, the previous site of one of the first African-American communities in the United States where a 40-person gospel choir sang in models who strode past 19th-century wooden framed houses, creating what Vogue reporter Chioma Nnadi called a “tableau [that] was like something out of a Kerry James Marshall painting”. In an interview with Vogue, Jean-Raymond said that he wanted to use the show to “explore what Black American leisure” looked like in the face of structural racism, where simple existence is systemically deemed threat. The result was a collection that featured beautifully structured suits, silks printed with images from visual artist Derrick Adams and vibrantly patterned athleisure from the Pyer Moss x Reeboks collaboration. Kerby Jean-Raymond is no stranger to the fashion show as medium and embraces experimentation with social commentary and art, having featured a short film on police brutality and a Raphael Saadiq-directed gospel choir in previous Pyer Moss shows.

drgonprince

GUEST ROOM | Cel Shading, Framerates and The Dragon Prince

You may have first seen Cel Shading in 2013 with the premiere of RWBY, an “American Anime” aimed at both American and Japanese anime fans. Characters are 3D models, like a lot of modern animation, but they look a little different from their Disney-Pixar cousins. In stills, they could fool you into thinking they’re two-dimensional drawings or frames from some traditionally-drawn anime. The character’s skin looks flat and their eyes are large and cartoony. Cel Shading is a technique long used by video games, from the classic Katamari Damacy to the more recent The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but in recent years, animation studios have used it to bring the anime style into the modern era.

Simon (Nick Robinson) and Abby (Alexandra Dripp) in Love, Simon.

YANG | Creating the New Normal

I’m not the type of person who watches one movie after another on long-haul flights, and usually spend the better part of the sixteen hours sleeping. The trip back from Hong Kong before the beginning of this semester ended up being one rare exception, however, because there was a crying baby in the seat next to me. I had no choice but to cycle through all the MCU movies they had (thank God), and afterwards, set my eye on a movie I had deliberately avoided seeing in the spring — Love, Simon. Despite putting the movie’s soundtrack on repeat the moment it came out, and despite promising every one of my friends who went to opening weekend and raved about it afterwards that I would go see it, I never did after watching the trailer. You would think that as someone who loves rom-coms and never shuts up about representation, the premise itself is enough to make me want to go.

SWAN | Karaoke Dreamin’

Philip Roth’s American Pastoral is a favorite novel of mine. For one, Philip Roth, like Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen, was from New Jersey, and he manages to artistically encapsulate the working-class, Newarkian fervor that seems to extend down to and characterize so much of our state – north, south and central. American Pastoral is about European immigrants and their successive American generations, calling to mind my not-so-distant ancestors who ventured to New York and New Jersey from places like Italy and Scotland. They, like the Levovs, were in pursuit of something like the American pastoral, that Waspy utopia of spacious, suburban homes and Ivy League educations. Of course, as the novel contends, it is easy to shoot for the dream, miss and be cast away to the American berserk.

Courtesy of Netflix

YANDAVA | An Ode to the Teen Movie

I watched To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before last week — twice, actually, because as much as I like to scorn cliché and make fun of it, I really am a hopeless sap when it comes down to it, and also because it was so damn cute and sweet and wholesome. Much of this sweetness and wholesomeness results from the fact that the film makes copious use of the tropes we’re familiar with in high school rom-coms. Even the characters are in on this; the film’s protagonist, Lara Jean Covey, is obsessed with romance novels, and her shock is apparent when she finds out her fake boyfriend Peter Kavinsky has never heard of Sixteen Candles. Similarly, much of the film’s fashion takes inspiration from the ‘90s, what with its plaid skirts and slip dresses, combat boots, chokers and leather jackets. However, the movie manages to be referential in such an earnest, wholehearted and honest way that it’s hard not to like it. Good, old-fashioned sorts of teen movies like this seemed to have been waning in popularity for the better part of this past decade.