Vox asks what's cool these days

When I think of the word “cool“, I think of Miles Davis. But I don’t know many people with even a microgram of that coolness today. Vox examined the idea of coolness and whether it means the same thing now as it did in the 20th century:

In America, we have had 30 Under 30 lists, award shows, and an industry of so-called tastemakers for the same reason: to tell us who or what is objectively important and worthy of our attention and money, hierarchizing the tastes of full-grown adults. But now the “status-symbolic power” of cool that used to facilitate snobbery — as Carl Wilson, the author of Let’s Talk About Love: Why Other People Have Bad Taste, calls it — is in dwindling supply because of the internet’s democratization of ideas. The great American cool is nearly dead, slipping out of the grasp of Gen Z, who seem too busy being themselves to care.

[…] Where Gen X and millennials were rolled into one category — the NPR tote bag and/or band T-shirt-wearing “hipster” — Gen Z has identified infinite, disparate, and chaotic combinations of tastes and consumer choices, mining from a limitless array of niche subcultures and milieus. Their eclecticism is more far-reaching and complicated than ’90s or 2000s young people, even more omnivorous, so it’s harder for corporate executives to market a one-size-fits-all youth culture to, or for so-called cool hunters to narc on them. As Naomi Klein writes in her seminal work, No Logo, cool hunters were a new industry, born in the ’90s, that promised “to cool the companies from the outside in.” “The major corporate cool consultancies — Sputnik, The L Report, Bureau de Style — were all founded between 1994 and 1996, just in time to present themselves as the brands’ personal cool shoppers,” she writes. “The idea was simple: they would search out pockets of cutting-edge lifestyle, capture them on videotape and return to clients like Reebok, Absolut Vodka, and Levi’s with such bold pronouncements as ‘Monks are cool.’”

What’s cool now, won’t be in the future unless people bring it back to be cool again. It’s all subjective but we all knew that already. The important thing is whether you think that ‘thing’ is cool and whether you actually enjoy it for what it is and what it gives you rather than its appeal to fairweather individuals. But I like to think the coolness of Miles Davis is eternal. It is to me anyway.

Related to coolness: Cool word oddities and miscellany, the cool doodles of Lei Melendres, and Los Angeles’ super cool new tourism logo

Loungefly's Star Wars Boba Fett Cosplay Mini Backpack

Loungefly's Star Wars Boba Fett Cosplay Mini Backpack

Be the coolest person in your galaxy with this official Boba Fett backpack. It comes with a stitched Boba Fett helmet design on the front, a Metal Mandalorian crest icon on the zip, and matching interior. What’s more, it’s vegan-friendly and measures around 9 inches wide and 11 inches tall.

Order it from Geekcore and Get Ready Comics

(h/t Star Wars Clube Portugal)

Los Angeles' new tourism logo looks super cool

Apparently, locals are divided over the new logo but I like it and Rob Beschizza made a good point about its implied “specific synth baseline”.

The logo was designed by House Industries and Studio Number One, which was founded by artist Shepard Fairey.

“When you say ‘Los Angeles’ it doesn’t necessarily mean just a city,” Fairey said. “It’s a whole mindset, a vibe, a culture. And as an Angeleno, it was exciting to me to take on the creative challenge of designing a mark representing all the things that Los Angeles means to people.”

Quote from CBS

Very 80s, much synthwave, wow!

(via Boing Boing)

Cool word oddities and miscellany

I love interesting words and facts about them. Jeff Miller has 20 pages dedicated to them and they’re a joy to read if you’re an etymology fan. Here are a few of my favourites:

  • The Hungarian words újjáépítéséről (“about its reconstruction”) and újjáválaszthatóságáról (“about his/her re-electability”) have seven accent marks. Also in Hungarian alelölülő means “deputy chairperson” (lit.: “deputy fore-sitter”), although this is a made-up word that is not in use.
  • The name MUAMMAR KHADAFI has 32 variants according to the Library of Congress.
  • TWERK was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2015. Research by the OED has found the term was first used in 1820 as a noun spelled twirk, meaning “a twisting jerking movement” or “twitch.” It then emerged as a verb by 1848 and the modern spelling was adopted by 1901.
  • An entire book that does not use the letter e, a novel titled Gadsby, was published in 1939.

Read the other 20 pages from here.

Artsy explored the objects that defined 80s youth culture

I was born in November 1989 so I missed all but a month of the 80s and everything about its culture so this was cool to read from Artsy:

At the moment, our pop culture finds itself at peak ’80s nostalgia, as news outlets rush to publish their own guides to the decade’s easter eggs hidden in the third season of Stranger Things (2016–present). Those who came of age in the 1980s are now in their mid-forties, so perhaps it just makes sense that the kids who grew up are now showrunners, casting viewers in the nostalgic glow of their own youth.

One could also argue that ’80s nostalgia is on the rise due to some meritocracy of the decades—the eighties were just a cooler, quirkier, and kitschier time to be alive. My own recollections of the time are a murky haze of fleeting passions, both joyous and totally embarrassing. There are, for instance, the Garbage Pail Kids cards, which hit young male culture hard in 1985—pimply teens sneakily trading Boozin’ Bruce for Adam Bomb or Smelly Sally. I’ll never fully wash off the trauma of the humanoid animals residing in Zoobilee Zoo (1986–87). I’ll never live down listening to the Christian hair-metal albums by Stryper that my mom gently forced on me as an antidote to the more “satanic” alternatives. I’ll never forget the uncomfortable prominence of David Bowie’s codpiece in Labyrinth (1986).

More on the 80’s: Catch some retro 80s and 90s vibes with Retrogeist, Fumi Ishino’s ‘Index of Fillers’ chronicling Japanese culture in the 80s and 90s, and what if Game of Thrones was aired in the 80s?

Tom Karangelov skating on 16mm film

Filmmaker Matt Payne shot footage of Tom Karangelov skating on 16mm film and it looks really cool. Then again, everything looks good on 16mm. Matt also did an interview with Jenkem about the film and his techniques

How much did u guys spend on 16mm film to make this?
Not that much! Tom lands everything first try!

Just kidding, it was expensive and when we rolled on a trick we really had to make it count.

But we made this project on the side over a couple of years and got some deals with Kodak / Pro8mm so it didn’t hurt my wallet all at once. And I may or may not have used it as a tax write-off and sold some b-roll.

How do we know you didn’t just film this all on iPhone and use a 16mm filter or app?
I might have. The apps are that good. What if I told you this was all a marketing rouse to unveil the newest Kodak filter for iPhone 12 Pro Max? [laughs]

How much money would it cost to make a ~10 minute skate video on film?
I would say probably $2500 – $3000 on the cheap side. Maybe upwards of $5000 if you do it proper with good transfers and real cinema cameras.

(via Jenkem)

How to make a Hey Arnold! skateboard

Making A Hey Arnold Skateboard!

North West Decks tried his hand at making a Hey Arnold! skateboard using some cool-looking decals. Before watching, I assume the decals were complete with the outlines and the colour but they were separate, meaning you need a steady hand and an eye for detail. The result is the coolest thing this side of 1998.

Follow North West Decks on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Room Rodeo: a Chicago student’s film about Black cowboys

Bill Pickett

I watched Concrete Cowboy a few weeks ago and while I liked it and found it interesting, I felt like it was missing something. It’s by no means the first movie about Black cowboys (see: The Black Cowboy, Harlem Rides the Range, and Black Rodeo) it’s the most high-profile, mixing Hollywood actors with IRL cowboys.

But next week, there’ll be a new film putting its hat into the ring so to speak and it’s called Room Rodeo.

The film is about Jamil, a Chicago boy trying to prove he is a descendant of Bill Pickett, a Black cowboy, rodeo, actor, and ProRodeo Hall of Famer. It stars D’Andre Davis as Jamil, and mixes drama with documentary interviews and footage of Black cowboys and historians.

His dad stands him up. He acts out. Now Jamil is on punishment in his room. He’s also finally reached the fifth grade and has a history project due.

If only his dad would tell him about his great grandpa, rodeo star Billie P – like he promised. But just when Jamil’s dad calls and things begin to look up, the cool kid from class calls with a humiliating declaration: Black cowboys aren’t real. Now, Jamil must drum up the courage to embark on a quest to discover the truth on his own – all from the comfort of his room. With some help from a dubious heirloom, Jamil puts aside whispers of doubt to venture into a fantasy dreamscape where he claims authorship of his own story.

Room Rodeo will be screened online for 24 hours as part of the creator’s thesis requirements, starting on 12th May at 7 pm. A virtual Q&A session will follow on 13th May, also at 7pm.

Etta Loves's Keith Haring collection

radiant baby

I came across this via Feedly as I have a Keith Haring Google Alert set up.

Etta Loves is an e-commerce site that makes baby sensory products such as muslins and playmats. They’ve recently collaborated with Keith Haring to create a line of products that bear Haring’s iconic prints. I love his work because it stimulates my mind so I can’t imagine how cool it’d be for a baby. All those colours and shapes!

The stunning patterns ensure that babies are stimulated and mesmerised, giving parents a precious moment of calm and, with Keith Haring, their first art gallery experience.

Check out the collection on the Etta Loves website.

The internet art of Mazaccio & Drowilal

Skɪz(ə)m exhibition view (copyright Martin Polak, 2020)

Mazaccio & Drowilal are a French art duo that make artworks from found internet images.

Whether it’s IRL still lifes of desktop icons, dogs staring wistfully into sunsets, or celebrity snapshots defaced with paint and tape, the duo’s subject matter is universally familiar to anyone who’s found themselves in a thumb scroll wormhole, and that’s exactly the point.

Quote from It’s Nice That

It’s all trés cool, trés French, and trés internet. That sentence didn’t make any sense. But the art does to me and that’s all that matters.

Internet-related: Internet Archaeology: a gallery of early internet images

The cool doodles of Lei Melendres

Lei Melendres is a freelance illustrator and professional doodle artist from Manila, Philippines. I’ve been a huge fan of his work for a while and I own a silicon ring with one of his designs on it.

I love doodles and Melendres’ work is so imaginative and expansive, with or without colour. He gets a lot of out the space he’s given on his canvasses and I love that too.

Follow him on Instagram and grab one of his colouring books on Amazon.

Related: The Posca pen wizardry of Oskunk, the wonderful art of Upendo, and the plantlife illustrations of Jim Spendlove.

The $5 milkshake from Pulp Fiction

Of all the things I remember from Pulp Fiction, the $5 shake that Mia Wallace ordered isn’t one of them. But you can’t spell insignificant without significant and Binging with Babish tried to recreate it.

The issue was getting the total cost of the ingredients up to $5 and making it taste that way and in true Babish style, he pushed the boat out with multiple variations of increasing costs.

The final attempt was decadence beyond the realms of human decency but, hey, it sounded like it tasted good. I wonder how Babish would do with an expensive Boston Cooler.

Stream the video below.

Binging with Babish: $5 Shake from Pulp Fiction

Related: Homer Simpson’s Moon Waffles, the safety of milk, and how to make MooMoo Milk.

The Boston cooler: a quick history of a tasty Detroit beverage

I love ginger ale. I especially love the American variants (as they weren’t hit by the sugar tax like the UK). So when I found out about the Boston cooler, I had to investigate.

The first thing that surprised me was the fact it’s not from Boston at all. The soda shake comes from Detroit, Michigan and its history is quite complex. But one thing is clear – an authentic Boston cooler is made with vanilla ice cream and Vernors ginger ale. And it has to be Vernors.

The soda drink started in 1866 but different forms of ginger ale until they copyrighted the term for their own ice-cream bar in 1967. Until then, different people had their own types of Boston cooler and some still swear by different brands of ginger ale.

Essentially, the Boston cooler is a type of ice cream float (or a coke float or spider to some) and if a jerk made you one, that would be a good thing.

Why is it called a “Boston” cooler?

The name is based on a street rather than the city. The drink’s inventor is said to be a man called Fred Sanders who named the beverage after a street in a neighbourhood known as Boston Edison.

How a UK version would taste

Import costs are high for US products, especially food and drink. But we have plenty of ginger ale brands to make our own variant here in the UK.

Schweppes Canada Dry

For me, this is the easiest choice and common in the UK and US. Canada Dry is the brand of ginger ale I always buy from the supermarket and I think it’d work well for a quick and easy Boston cooler.

Fentimans

This is slightly more upmarket but still affordable.

Britvic

I know Britvic for its orange juice but they also do ginger ale.

Belvoir

Pronounced “beever” to own the French, Belvoir makes a style of ginger ale, blending a “fresh ginger root infusion with botanical extracts” and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Fever-Tree

Ginger ale from the sponsors of Queen’s Club Championships would add a touch of class to a jug of Boston cooler. A true transatlantic union.

London Essence Co.

Marketed as a “delicate ginger ale”, the company use sugar from the stevia plant as a healthier sweet option. There’s even some “liquorice notes coupled with distilled aniseed and fennel essences”.

Peter Spanton

This brand has an array of unusual soda drinks, including Salted Paloma, Cadamom, and even Chocolate. But it’s ginger ale is a dry variant which would work well with a soft and creamy vanilla ice cream.

Franklin & Sons

Started 20 years after Vernors, Franklin & Sons Ltd offer some great soft drink flavours and award-winning ginger ale uses British spring water and natural British sugar. Hurrah!

Any supermarket brand

If all else fails, go for a bottle from Asda or Tesco. Waitrose has one too if you fancy pushing the boat out.

What about the vanilla ice cream?

Much like your choice of ginger ale, the vanilla ice cream you choose for your Boston cooler is important. But there isn’t a specific brand you need, which is good if you’re vegan or lactose intolerant, for example.

Dairy

  • Sainsbury’s Madagascan Vanilla
  • Tillamook’s Old-Fashioned
  • Jeni’s Honey Vanilla Bean
  • Edy’s
  • Häagen-Dazs
  • Breyer’s
  • Waitrose 1 Madagascan
  • Green & Black’s Organic (with Real Bourbon Vanilla)
  • Or you could make your own.

And if you have the cash and the means to do so, you could probably make some vanilla ice cream using donkey milk or moose milk. But that’s your call and your money.

Non-dairy (V = Vegan, VG = Vegetarian)

  • Swedish Glace (V)
  • Alpro Vanilla (V)
  • Northern Bloc (V/VG)
  • Booja Booja (V)
  • Yorica (V)
  • Jude’s (V)
  • Morrisons V Taste Free From Soya (V)
  • Or you could make your own. (V)

Feeling delightful devilish? Use ginger beer

This is totally off-script but hear me out. Ginger beer packs a punch and would be the perfect complement to something soothing like vanilla ice cream. What better way to represent Detroit than a fiery Boston cooler variant of its famous drink?

I recommend Crabbies or Old Jamaica, with a splash of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey (if you’re old enough to drink in your country and you drink aware).

How would you make your Boston cooler? Let me know in the comments.