Black Minimalists

Black Minimalists on YouTube

The Black Minimalists want to change that perspective. They are a community of individuals who identify as black and live minimalist lifestyles.

The website launched this year and is funded by the founding team members. The team is made up of four people: founder Yolanda Acree, and co-founders Farai Harreld, Kenya Cummings, and Anekia Nicole. Everything from food and travel to beauty and fashion is covered but more importantly, Black Minimalists welcome collaboration and support to spread the word and provide a safe space to do so.

You can find out more about them on their blog and donate to keep the community alive.

The World's Largest Mondrian

It’s in commemoration of the 100-year anniversary of the founding of De Stijl, a Dutch modernist movement. Piet Mondrian was a chief progenitor who inspired the likes of Maarten Baas, Joris Laarman and Piet Hein Eek, who are still influenced by the De Stijl today. The façade was created by Madje Vollaers and Pascal Zwart of studio VZ.

Mondrian’s style is overused both in concept and as the sole representation of modernism. I love it but in short visual bursts. Having his iconic work on such an important building looks wonderful but I can see how it would bore Dutch people after a few visits.

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What's The "Jamaica Coalition"?

Jamaica and Germany flag pins

Until recently, the biggest link between Jamaica and Germany was tennis player Dustin Brown but now there’s a new connection. But it has nothing to do with the Jamaican people.

What is the Jamaica coalition?

German Chancellor Angela Merkel opened talks on Friday to form a coalition with the other two political parties. This coalition would comprise of Merkel’s CDU (Christian Democratic Union of Germany), the FDP (Free Democrats Party), and the Green Party. Each party’s colours are black (CDU), yellow (FDP), and green (Green Party): the colours of the Jamaican flag. The coalition was first mentioned back in 2005. The FDP decided opposition was a preferred option after the elections that year. While Merkel talks it out, a Jamaica coalition is already underway in the state of Schleswig-Holstein. CDU leader Daniel Günther became Minister President alongside Free Democrats’ Wolfgang Kubicki and the Greens’ Monika Heinold.

What does this all mean for the future of Germany?

Merkel has voiced her optimism but “less fiscal room than expected” will be a stumbling block. Each party will want as much money as possible for their own policies, much like the nonsense between the Conservatives and the DUP in the UK. If a three-way coalition doesn’t work out, Merkel could negotiate a minority government or call another election. Either option could lose her credibility or perceived power and the former comes with a caveat. The SDP (Social Democrats) said they would reject the proposal but would reconsider if Merkel stepped down.

There’s a hint of irony in the Jamaican phrase “no problem” with difficult talks ahead for the future of Germany.

The classic one-liners of Mitch Hedberg

Mitch Hedberg, One Liner Stand Up Genius!!

One of my favourite Mitch Hedberg quotes is:

I did a radio interview. The DJs first question was “Who are you?” I had to think, “Is this guy really deep or did I drive to the wrong station?”

The outward reflection of his bad jokes were jokes in themselves. I’m still not over the hilarious simplicity of “dogs are forever in the push-up position”. It never gets old and neither does his delivery.

Mitch released three comedy albums before his death in 2005 and if you’re on Spotify you should check them out.

Awesome Queer Halloween Parties in Castro

Halloween in San Francisco Castro street 2014

Atlas Obscura wrote an article about Two Decades of San Francisco’s Wildest Queer Halloween Parties. Check out this excerpt from 1995:

“This annual Halloween party is a victim of success […] It simply got too big for its britches—although not all partygoers have bothered to wear them. Part of the event’s appeal has been its disdain for good taste and conventional modesty: The only dress code has been that imposed by the chilly night air.”

– San José Mercury News in 1995

The parties died out completely by 2007. Bars closed early, and the police were out in force to “keep the peace”. In an ironic twist, death had become them.

Below is a video of a 2014 party in Castro. Shout out to the zombie Michael Jackson and his friend.

Kintsugi: The Japanese Art of Repairing Pottery with Gold

kintsugi

The concept extends beyond pottery or objects and speaks to our humanity. We go through life feeling happiness and sorrow but dwell on the bad times more than the good. Metaphorical cracks form and we break from time to time. But do the pieces have to stay broken or can they be “glued” back together with a stronger more radiant bond?

The literal translation of kintsugi (or kintsukuroi meaning “golden repair”) is “golden joinery”. The art form involves repairing broken pottery with lacquer combined with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. A theory of its original derives from Japanese shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa who sent a broken Chinese tea bowl back to China for repairs in the 15th century. It came back with metal staples holding the pieces together. Japanese craftsmen sought improved ways of repair and kintsugi was later born. Lacquer repair had been an age-old tradition in Japan but the idea of adding luxuriant colours came from the brutal stapling.

Kintsugi is very much a Japanese tradition but it has found its way into Western art. The Smithsonian, the Metropolitan Museum of Art have held exhibitions for the golden repair. Rock bands “Hey Rosetta!”, “The Rural Alberta Advantage”, and “Death Cab for Cutie” have used kintsugi and its ideal for song titles and album inspiration. The cover for Cathy Rentzenbrink’s A Manual for Heartache also has a similar style, with a golden jigsaw outline on an eggshell green background, perhaps a more British variant on the concept. But its influence lies heavy in philosophy. It shares similarities with the Japanese philosophies of wabi-sabi and “no mind” (無心 mushin), which “encompasses the concepts of non-attachment, acceptance of change and fate as aspects of human life”.

Rather than disguise the “scars”, kintsugi treats the cracks as historical signposts, showing a followed path and a beautiful destination in shimmering gold.

Reading/watching list

Flickwerk The Aesthetics of Mended Japanese Ceramics — Christy, James; Holland, Henry; Bartlett, Charly Iten (2008)
EASTERN PHILOSOPHY – Kintsugi by School of Life [Video]
Perfect Imperfection (The Art of Healing) by Billie Bond, Dr Jeremy Spencer (2017)
Broken a pot? Copy the Japanese and fix it with gold

The Philosophy of Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop - The Meaning of Nothing | The Cinema Cartography

It’s not that I didn’t want to, I just never got round to it. I know it’s a classic and it’s still on my to watch list. But Open Culture has given me a new incentive.

Video essayist Lewis Bond looked at the philosophical musings of Cowboy Bebop in “The Meaning of Nothing”. Bond immediately opens the video dismissing the notion of a “hierarchy of art”. He promotes television for its helpful methods of storytelling “unattainable in film”. He then delves into the meaning behind the stories and why the protagonists distance themselves from the rest of the world.

Cowboy Bebop ended after only 26 episodes, but a live-action reboot is in the pipeline. With any luck, the futuristic existentialism will carry over but I doubt it. Remakes of Japanese works lose a lot in translation thanks to Western butchering.

While I make up for lost time, you can buy the complete Cowboy Bebop series on Blu-ray. That’s the best way to watch it.

(via Open Culture)

Semiotics: myths, #BlackLivesMatter & #AllLivesMatter

Intro to Semiotics Part 2: Sign, Myth and #AllLivesMatter

I’m still on my semiotics tip and discovered this interesting video about myths, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter and the loathsome #AllLivesMatter. I was wary of how both hashtags would be described but they went how I’d hoped in such a short video. I’ve not heard or read about either one described from a semiotic perspective and it’s good to know the arbitrariness carries such weight in #AllLivesMatter.

As Electric Didact says when quoting semiotician Roland Barthes, “myth freezes or immobilises intention.” This considers the notion that while Black Lives Matter is a movement, All Lives Matter isn’t.

Watch the video below and leave a comment with your thoughts on the semiotics angle.

Vulture's Oral History of "Batman: The Animated Series"

I have been obsessed with Batman since I was 3.

My dad bought me a double VHS set of Batman and Batman Returns as a present (which was questionable given the 15 certificates, but I was grateful). From there, I discovered the animated series. The portrayal of Gotham as a quintessential American city from the 20s was superb. The Art Deco style of illustration remains iconic, finding its way into the Superman animated series and refreshed in Batman Beyond. Abraham Riesman spoke to those involved in their genre-defining work for Vulture, including Bruce Timm, Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, and Arleen Sorkin.

The Caped Crusader has fallen down the reboot rabbit hole since the disastrous Batman and Robin with two new film series since 1997. Christopher Nolan apparently took notes from the animated series and Frank Miller’s Dark Knight novels, bringing the story’s darkness into a near-pitch black territory. Ben Affleck has yet to show similar promise. His further darkness borders on bleak despair, but enough about the quality of the movies…

Head over to Vulture to read the full article.

A Quick Lesson in Semiotics

Semiotics: the study of signs

Signs and symbols are all around us and their meanings carry much more than we think. Semiotics analyses sign processes and their relationship with each other and the world that uses them. It has a major influence on disciplines such as literature, graphic design, and communication. It is not the same as semiology, which is regarded as a subset of semiotics, introduced by Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure.

In the video below, Matt Dewey discusses a brief overview of semiotics and how it all started. The discipline started in Europe but there was a split from semiology as Charles Sanders Peirce became the man behind what we know today.