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Quote of Note | Octave Uzanne

theendofbooks
An illustration by A. Robida that accompanied Octave Uzanne’s 1894 essay.

“Reading, as we practice it today, soon brings on great weariness; for not only does it require of the brain a sustained attention which consumes a large proportion of the cerebral phosphates, but it also forces our bodies into various fatiguing attitudes.”

-French bibliophile and writer Octave Uzanne (1851-1931) in “The End of Books,” an essay that appeared in a 1894 issue of Scribner’s Magazine

Watch This: A Gatsby ‘Old Sport’ Megamix

And now for something completely different: Baz Luhrmann‘s 21st century take on The Great Gatsby, recently released on DVD, gets a “supercut.” Editors at Tribeca Film scouted the latest cinematic adaptation of the classic F. Scott Fitzgerald novel to find all of the utterances of the “old sport” that peppers Gatsby’s speech, turned up at least 43 (for the record, we counted 45 in the book), and strung them together into this mesmerizing video. “After a while, the ‘old sports’ start to tell their own twisted tale of lost love, delusion, and desperation—or something,” say the editors. “Enjoy! Just don’t turn this into a drinking game.” Bottoms up, old sport.

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In Which John Hodgman Deftly Compares Corn on the Cob, Typewriters, and 3D Printers

We first discovered the genius that is John Hodgman in late 2005, when we spent Christmas reading aloud to our family (and anyone else who would list) the lists of “hobo facts” and wacky state mottoes (e.g., Nebraska: “Birthplace of Unicameral Government!”) in The Areas of My Expertise. That inspired volume, the first in his since triumphantly completed trilogy of Complete World Knowledge, would go on to catalyze Hodgman’s transformation from a literary agent-turned-magazine writer to global renown as an author of fake trivia books, The Daily Show‘s resident deranged millionaire, judge, and most recently, star of his own Netflix special. In addition to the highly enertaining Judge John Hodgman Pocast, he adjudicates disputes (in 100 words or less) in a wee column of The New York Times Magazine, and his latest is a doozy:

Sophia writes: My father eats corn horizontally. I eat it in a circular motion. I believe that his way of eating is inefficient. Could you please issue an injunction stating that the proper way to eat corn is in a circular motion?
Your father eats corn that way because, as I do, he remembers what a typewriter is. It’s hard for us to see a roller-food and not proceed left to right before returning to the next line. Sometimes I even hear a bell ring. You dismantle your corn like a 3-D printer in reverse: vertical stack by vertical stack. Your argument from efficiency is specious, so I find in your father’s favor: I would rather look like Hemingway while eating than like some kind of mechanized chipmunk any day.

At Morgan Library, Toilets Steal the Show


Among the Morgan’s 250,000 works is a 1630 Rembrandt etching, “Self-Portrait in a Cap.”

There’s always plenty to see at New York’s Morgan Library & Museum, which unveiled its stunning Renzo Piano-designed expansion in 2006, and the place is a magnet for school groups who take in Mr. Morgan‘s majestic library and visit the latest exhibitions. So what leaves a lasting impression with the youngsters—Charles McKim‘s Italian Renaissance-style palazzo? The illuminated manuscripts? A Rembrandt self-portrait? Try the high-tech toilets. Time Out New York recently flushed out the secret from Nicole Haroutunian, a museum educator at the Morgan:

We spend 90 minutes looking at one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, at 1,000-year-old books decorated with gold, at a secret staircase; yet often what most impresses the students who visit is the automatic toilets in the bathroom. The kids usually come piling out saying, “Even the bathrooms are so fancy! The toilet flushes on its own!” They also always think that the water fountains are made of gold.

What’s the Opposite of Kickstarter?

Nope, not communism–it’s Kickstopper, a “website that raises funding to crush people’s dreams, at the exact moment when they need to be crushed.” The team from YouTube’s Universal Comedy channel imagines the anti-crowdfunding force with the help of a trio of floundering creative entrepreneurs: a guy who once yearned to make a semi-autobiographical film about his failed college romance (“set in the Jazz Age” and featuring “a wide variety of fedoras”), a young woman who looked to Kickstarter to make her glassblowing dreams come true, and an inventor of a killer smartphone accessory.

Quote of Note | Alanna Heiss on FOOD

“Early on a call went out to the entire team to help spread the concrete on the new floor of the restaurant. But the amount Gordon Matta-Clark had ordered was significantly more than was needed, and the concrete truck wouldn’t stop pouring. A great metal chute ran from the truck through our open window. The river of concrete kept flowing–what was in the truck had to come out of the truck. Concrete began to rise over our ankles, well above the level where we thought the floor should be. We shoveled. We tried to make piles we could break up later. We pushed cement high into the corners of the room, we tried to pile it up onto the walls, but it flowed back down onto the rising floor. Outside, the truck driver smoked his cigar and looked bored.”

-Alanna Heiss, curator and former director of PS1 Contemporary Art Center and a director of Art International Radio, shares a memory of the legendary Soho restaurant FOOD in the Frieze New York 2013 catalogue. As part of Frieze Projects, the fair is presenting a special tribute to FOOD in the form of a temporary restaurant where each day a different artist is invited to cook.

Quote of Note | Lena Dunham

“I’m just so fascinated with what the approach to theme will be–is it about a punk attitude? Is it about the specific time period referred to as punk? I think there are a lot of mysteries to be unveiled. And we can use it as an excuse to spit inside the museum…just inside a cistern of some sort, any old Greek cisterns we might find.”

-The delightful Lena Dunham on her expectations for last night’s punk-themed Met Gala. She attended with Erdem Moralioglu, who designed her dress, complete with upper back-bearing “tattoo window.” The two had a transatlantic fitting via iPad. Added Dunham, “My dog ate a safety pin during the fitting, which is punk.”

Let’s Play #ArchitectBandNames!

Crank up the LEED Zeppelin, design fans, because Twitter is abuzz with a most delightful hashtag: #ArchitectBandNames. Who wouldn’t want to listen to Edward Durell Stone Temple Pilots or jam out to Jeanne Gang Gang Dance? Enjoy some of our favorites from across the twitterverse:


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Quote of Note | David Tang

“The Riedel stemless wine goblet is foul to look at and fouler to drink wine from. Calling it a ‘goblet’ is an insult to me as a good Catholic altar-boy who is used to gleaming silver grails at Mass. If you are so antsy about wine glasses having stems, you should get some old ones without stems–especially those with a square crystal base. The idea that you should worry endlessly about glasses of red wine being knocked over is typically one of those irritating middle-class anxieties best consigned to oblivion. If a glass of red wine is knocked over, then it’s knocked over. We will just have to clean it up. Blotches on tablecloths and carpets are the marks of stylish nonchalance and confidence.”

-Sir David Tang, responding to a reader question concerning Riedel wine tumblers, in his most recent “Agony Uncle” column for the Financial Times

Watch This: Liz Magic Laser’s Armory Show Focus Group

Over the years, the Armory Show has shifted its expectations of the year’s commissioned artist from creating a few fresh works to showcase in the catalogue and as benefit editions to “helping to create the visual identity of the fair.” (Fortunately, wildly talented graphic designer Reed Seifer has been there to do the heavy lifting.) And so the selection of performance-inclined Liz Magic Laser as this year’s Armory Show poster artist was cause for eyebrow raising, even before the press release that promised she would “activate the fair’s heritage as a site of innovation and discovery,” a phrase that evoked a portrait of the artist as a young gumshoe, raising an oversized magnifying glass to her eye. Laser went the inside baseball route (hey, it worked for Argo) and hit a home run. Embracing the sleek corporate efficiency of the megafair, she embarked on an market research odyssey, staging a series of focus groups composed of collectors, curators, art pros, and journalists, to help her strategize what she would create for the fair, from limited-edition works to tote bags. Watch and enjoy:

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