Cate Le Bon’s been awfully busy since we last saw her in 2014: in 2016 she released her fourth (and excellent) LP, Crab Day; she produced Tim Presley’s (also excellent) LP, The Wink; and last Friday she put out a follow up to Crab Day, the companion EP Rock Pool. Fittingly, on her current tour with Tim Presley, Le Bon is pulling a double shift, contributing guitar and vocals in Presley’s backing band before playing her own headlining set. I’ll talk more about Presley’s set when we post it shortly, but the music on The Wink is so informed by Le Bon’s production that the night felt less like two co-headlining sets and more like a conjoined, ongoing collaboration between the two musicians. Later on in Le Bon’s set, Presley joined in on guitar for “What’s Not Mine,” a cover of Presley’s White Fence tune “Chairs in the Dark,” and “Are You With Me Now?” While Le Bon and Presley were obviously the focus of the evening, it would be criminal not to mention their crack shot backing band featuring JT, Stephen Black, and Daniel Ward. This set showcases mostly songs from the off-kilter Crab Day, two new ones from Rock Pool (“Aside From Growing Old” and “I Just Wanna Be Good”), plus a few older tracks like “No God,” “Greta,” “Sisters,” and the fan-favorite “Are You With Me Now?” The Le Bon/Presley tour soldiers on for a few more dates (here) and if you have the chance I highly recommend you not miss out on this one.
I recorded this set from our usual location in the venue slightly to the left of soundboard in the balcony area, with a board feed from Bowery FOH Kenny. As usual for the venue, the sound is excellent. Enjoy!
01. Crab Day
02. Love is Not Love
04. No God
05. Aside From Growing Old
06. I’m a Dirty Attic
07. I Was Born on the Wrong Day
08. How Do You Know?
09. I Can’t Help You
10. I Just Wanna Be Good
13. We Might Revolve
14. What’s Not Mine
15. [encore break]
16. Chairs in the Dark [White Fence]
17. Are You With Me Now?
The Doctor is a 900(ish) year old alien with two hearts, at least 12 different faces and the ability to travel through all of time and space. So why is it so hard to imagine the Doctor as a woman?
Peter Capaldi’s decision to leave Doctor Who at the end of the upcoming season has started speculation about options for his replacement. This is a sport of high stakes for fans – the grief of losing the current lead mixed with the excitement of a new face and new identity.
Doctor Who is now over 50 years old, and over that time television conventions have certainly changed. When the first Time Lord was cast in 1963, the audience and BBC felt an elder statesman and “mad scientist”-type was best to lead the franchise. The Doctor was played by William Hartnell, a proper, older, white Englishman – a grandfather, even – and audiences and the Beeb happily relied on this casting to draw in their desired audience.
Hartnell feel ill soon after he had established the character and the role of “The Doctor” for Doctor Who. Rather than cancel or merely replace him, the show’s creators worked with the science fiction narrative to write in the character’s “renewal,” later to be known as the Time Lord’s process of “regeneration”.
Since Hartnell, Doctor Who has covered 12 regenerations and featured 13 (male) Doctors – not counting the other “Doctor” castings in audiobooks, comics, offshoots and parodies. Favourites include the incomparable Tom Baker, the undeniable David Tennant, the hipster cool of Matt Smith and the recently deceased, but eternally wonderful John Hurt as “The War Doctor” for the program’s fiftieth anniversary special in 2013.
During at least the last couple of “regeneration” rounds, questions of casting and diversity have been asked. Why has the lead still be taken by a white man? What about actors of colour? What about, shock, a woman? They got away with it once – Joanna Lumley appeared as part of a joke sequence of swift regenerations for a Comic Relief special – but never as part of the show proper. As British television scholar Lorna Jowett beautifully put it;
Doctor Who should push the boundaries of representation in the casting of its title character because it can. It’s a major science fiction series with a protagonist who is an alien. The Doctor need not be bound by social conventions.
Jowett’s point gets to the heart, beauty, and genius of Doctor Who as a television story. It’s repeatable in almost any way the producers of the day choose. Adaptable and barely bound by timey whimey wibbly wobbly rules – except when it comes to the last (gendered) frontier.
Sorry fellow nerds – I’m straying from one sci fi galaxy here into another – but you know what I’m saying.
Vanity Fair has been one of the first major outlets to raise the issue again, while reports in the iconic British masthead Radio Times have so far tended to avoid recasting talk, instead focusing on the more pressing business of promoting Capaldi’s upcoming (final) series which is still yet to air. The Guardian has also launched a pro-woman Doctor campaign, suggesting actors like the Olivier Award winner Noma Dumezweni as exciting possibilities.
Strong female leads are now on the rise across television (thankfully), and reports like Screen Australia’s “Gender Matters” and subsequent initiatives to help address gender in balance are positive steps. Research from The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media also suggests that “Gender balance in casting produces sound financial returns”, and at times, even increased earnings for films that are gender diverse when compared to those that aren’t. So there is some hope that a Doctor Who-like television program lead by an excellent woman could work, and work well. However – are we able to accept the direct replacement of a male actor with a female one?
If reactions to the 2015 Ghostbusters reboot are anything to go by, it seems that any incumbent actor will be in for an uphill battle regardless of how talented she is. Suggestions that the recasting “killed the childhoods” of many angry viewers or was “reverse sexism” were loud, and sadly, got pretty ugly at times.
While all of the cast members received criticism (much of it even before the film was released), the abuse directed at Leslie Jones was downright shameful. It was disappointing that she moved away from the spotlight for a while, but also completely understandable. No one should be subjected to that.
So – a message to (Queen) Helen Mirren, (Should Be President) Meryl Streep, (Dame) Sarah Millican, (Lady) Miranda Hart, (Glorious) Meera Syal… and any others who might get a knock on the door or have an agent make a call – don’t let the trolls scare you. Same goes for you, incoming Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall. Take a chance, explore all of time and space – and hand the sonic screwdriver over to a woman, hey?
Liz Giuffre does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.
“To sin by silence, when we should protest makes cowards out of men.”
“Knowing what I do, there would be no future peace for me if I kept silent,” biologist Rachel Carson wrote to her most beloved friend as she was about to catalyze the modern environmental movement with the 1962 publication of Silent Spring.
My recent immersion in Carson’s world and her breathtaking correspondence with Dorothy Freeman led me down a curious path that circled back to our present moment with astonishing pertinence. In a letter to Freeman penned exactly ninety days before the release of Silent Spring, as Carson was coming to terms with the irreversible bravery of breaking her silence about the destruction of nature and the government’s attendant heedlessness, she shared a quotation that had bolstered her courage to speak out:
To sin by silence, when we should protest makes cowards out of men.
The words reached across time to strike me with their extraordinary relevance today, and I set out to find their source. Literature being the original internet, as I’ve long believed, Carson’s letter became a de facto “hyperlink” to another text — the words she cited, though frequently misattributed to Abraham Lincoln, turned out to be the opening lines of a piercing poem titled “Protest” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (November 5, 1850–October 30, 1919), from her 1914 book Poems of Problems (public domain | public library), written at the peak of the Women’s Suffrage movement.
A mighty and mobilizing anthem against silence, the poem stands as an anthem for our own time. So I asked my friend and fellow poetry-lover Amanda Palmer to record a reading of this timeless, timely masterpiece as an installment in our ongoing collaboration on poetry readings. (Previously: “Humanity i love you” by E.E. Cummings, and “Possibilities” and “Life While-You-Wait” by Polish Nobel laureate Wisława Szymborska.)
Amanda herself was so moved by the words that she invited her friend Jherek Bischoff — the brilliant composer and multi-instrumentalist with whom she collaborated on their David Bowie tribute — to set the words to music. The piece that buoys the poem is titled “Closer To Closure,” from Jherek’s entrancing album Cistern. Please enjoy:
To sin by silence, when we should protest,
Makes cowards out of men. The human race
Has climbed on protest. Had no voice been raised
Against injustice, ignorance, and lust,
The inquisition yet would serve the law,
And guillotines decide our least disputes.
The few who dare, must speak and speak again
To right the wrongs of many. Speech, thank God,
No vested power in this great day and land
Can gag or throttle. Press and voice may cry
Loud disapproval of existing ills;
May criticise oppression and condemn
The lawlessness of wealth-protecting laws
That let the children and childbearers toil
To purchase ease for idle millionaires.
Therefore I do protest against the boast
Of independence in this mighty land.
Call no chain strong, which holds one rusted link.
Call no land free, that holds one fettered slave.
Until the manacled slim wrists of babes
Are loosed to toss in childish sport and glee,
Until the mother bears no burden, save
The precious one beneath her heart, until
God’s soil is rescued from the clutch of greed
And given back to labor, let no man
Call this the land of freedom.
I’d be remiss not to mention that Amanda’s music, like my own work, is supported by donations. At a time when a ruthless administration seems intent on defunding the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, supporting artists with our own patronage is a critical force of resistance and protest. So please join me in supporting Amanda on Patreon and supporting Jherek by buying his enchanting records.
donating = loving
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When this comic first ran, I received numerous complaints. Nobody complained that I was objectifying women. Rather, they (men and women both) took issue with the specific characters I chose. I got a lot of “Kaylee, not Inara?” and some “Boomer, not Six?”
I always answered that one with “That isn’t Boomer, it’s Athena,” which solved nothing, but made me smile.
Eponym (noun): A person after whom a discovery, invention, place, etc., is named or thought to be named; a name or noun formed after a person. An eponym, almost by definition, has some kind of story behind it — some reason it came to be named after a specific person. In this double-feature episode, Helen Zaltzman of The Allusionist speaks with Roman Mars about his fixation with eponyms.
Take “silhouette,” for instance. Étienne de Silhouette was a politician and the French finance minister presiding over a period of austerity in the mid-1700s. At the time, elaborate portraiture was in fashion, but outline drawings were also becoming popular in part because they were fast, easy and cheap. So a portrait made “a la Silhouette” (showing just a persons outline in black against a field of white) was a bit of a slight — it described profiles that were inexpensive to create.
Or consider “bowdlerization,” named after the English editor Thomas Bowdler. In 1818, he released series of reworked Shakespearean plays designed to be more suitable for women and children. Stripped of naughty scenes and foul language, phrases like “out, out damned spot” became “out, crimson spot.” His eponym now applies to anything edited for vulgar or objectionable content in a similar fashion, and generally has negative connotations (see also: censorship).
The Ballad of Bic and Biro
A lot of designed objects in our everyday environment are eponyms, too, like the “bic” and the “biro” (British words for a ballpoint pen). László Bíró didn’t actually invent the ballpoint (patented in 1888 by John J. Loud), but he was instrumental in perfecting it.
Born in Budapest in 1899, László Bíró had been a medical student, a stage hypnotist, an insurance salesman, and a race car driver before eventually became a journalist. In the 1930s, he created the pen that would become an everyday item as well as a household name.
Working in the print room, Bíró’s traditional fountain pens would melt and leak due to heat. As the story goes: he saw the way cylindrical printing presses rolled the ink onto the page, and figured there should be a way to miniaturize the process — except a pen roller would have to roll in all directions, not just forward and back. Supposedly, he was puzzling over the problem when he witnessed a group of kids playing with marbles in the street. One marble rolled through a puddle and drew out a line of water in its wake, which gave him the idea to use a ball in the point of the pen.
Bíró’s prototype pens had some issues initially. The ink had to be viscous enough not to leak but not so thick as to clog or jam. So Bíró teamed up with Henry Martin, who worked in the aeronautics industry. To make the pens, you need very fine ball bearings, and the aviation industry makes the best ball bearings. Together during WWII they started manufacturing these ballpoint pens and demonstrating them to potential investors. They also gave some pens to the Royal Air Force (for use in flight to jot down coordinates and such at high altitudes).
Soon, however, another player entered the fray — Marcel Bich, the creator of what would become known as the bic pen. His company licensed the technology from Bíró, but the two companies ended up at odds, variously suing each other over claimed infringements. Still, the Bic Crystal began to take off and still today accounts for a huge percentage of ballpoint pens on the market — there’s even one in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Of course, few people stop to think about the people behind these eponyms — if an eponymous product is successful, the creator’s involvement (and even identity) can end up subsumed by the invention. Bics and biros are well known but more famous than their makers.
Name That Disease
There is an ongoing debate in the medical community surrounding eponyms and their usage in reference to medical conditions. Some industry professionals appreciate the connection to history they evoke while others want to see more scientific precision in medical language. But, as with patients, each individual case is also a bit different.
A disease named after a person can be tricky to memorize while also lacking descriptive power — a surname generally says nothing about the condition it denotes. A classic example is Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The name means little to anyone who does not happen to be familiar with the work of German neurologists Hans Gerhard Creutzfeldt and Alfons Maria Jakob. The eponym is also not easy to spell.
In this case, the other option is to go with a scientific term: spongiform encephalitis, the latter word tied to Latin and Ancient Greek words and suffixes for things like brains and inflammation. While still a mouthful, this alternative gives a bit more information at the outset.
From the perspective of a patient, both the eponym and the scientific name can be hard to understand, though sometimes the former is more familiar (and thus more comprehensible) than the latter. Trisomy 21 is a genetic disorder more commonly known by its eponym: Down’s Syndrome. The well-known Heimlich Maneuver is a method for clearing upper airway obstructions for choking victims. Moving away from these eponyms would force the public to relearn something already known.
Aside from descriptive deficits and memorization difficulties, though, there are other arguments against medical eponyms. Discovering and categorizing diseases, for instance, is often a long-term pursuit by numerous parties, not a single person — correspondingly, naming something after one person can oversimplify history. And naming a condition after all parties involved can wind up creating even more complex names, like Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome.
In this case, even the long eponym fails to tell the full story. Indeed, there is documentation about the syndrome dating as far back as the Greek physician Hippocrates in the 5th century BCE. Mayer, Rokitansky, Küster and Hauser all made significant contributions to modern understandings of the condition, but their work spanned generations: Mayer described the syndrome in a paper in 1829, decades before Küster was born and nearly a century before Hauser, who was the one to name the disease Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster Syndrome (someone else added Hauser to the end).
And then there are conditions named after people who no one wants to honor, like Reiter’s Syndrome, referring to joint pain tied to a form of systemic inflammation. It is named after Hans Reiter, a famous Nazi war criminal who did terrible experiments on inmates at Buchenwald. Reiter discovered the eponymous syndrome in 1916 while treating a soldier during the First World War (prior to his Nazi affiliations). American rheumatologist Ephraim Engleman coined the eponym in the early 1940s but later joined the campaign to replace it in light of Reiter’s war crimes. People trying not to evoke Reiter call the condition “reactive arthritis.” While the usage of the eponymous term has decreased, it is still being used in medical schools and in journals and its usage continues to be debated.
Still, as seen in the case of bics and biros, eponyms can be a window into fascinating individuals and objects, and not just the darkest chapters of history. Whether or not using eponyms continues to be common practice in medical communities remains to be seen, but there are good cases to be made on both sides of the ongoing debate.
It’s a wintry, widgety, wonderful week on the Flickrverse and amongst the millions of photos uploaded a few emerging tags reigned supreme last week. For #TopTagTuesday we’re digging in and highlighting some of the most beautiful photos of the trends.
All of the following tags have one thing in common – the subjects are made more beautiful by shooting in black and white. The BNW tag is trending because of the photographs in the winter, urban, metallic, and Macro Monday themes that were made more dramatic by removing the color.
The German word for ice was trending because of the particularly beautiful and snowy scenery. Weather throughout the week was wrought with ice, fog, and snow that left some beautiful scenes for Flickr photographers to capture.
URBEX Urban Exploration groups blew up this week with gorgeous and abandoned spaces. Broken windows, staircases, and vacant ballrooms galore!
METAL / CONTRAPTION / MACROMONDAY
The Macro Monday Group’s theme this week was ‘Contraption’ and many of the submissions also tagged metal or mechanical terms to go along with it. While Explore can be dominated with MacroMonday themed shots Sunday through Tuesday, these tags all go together. Check out the group for more high-quality shots of metallic contraptions.
Like Cross Lands, the artist’s 2006 show at the same gallery, Chasing Firefly comprises long-exposure photographs taken after dark. This time, Allee embarked on a kind of homecoming, circling back to sites in New York and the Berkshires where he had spent time as a boy. Included is a picture of the exact spot where he first learned how to swim.
Allee, now a father himself, steps back into his own childhood, bringing with him all the wisdom and experience that comes with age. While nostalgia runs through Allee’s sleepy scenes, he’s never sentimental. There’s wonder and delight in the darkness, but there’s also real anxiety.
People sit ready to watch fireworks, though none yet illuminate the sky. These aren’t the moments in which things happen; they’re the instants right before. The sun will rise eventually, but until then, everything remains uncertain. Anticipation grows to become either excitement or fear, depending on the picture and the person looking at it.
Ultimately, Chasing Fireflies, as its name would suggest, is not about darkness as much as it is about light. We come for the mystery and suspicion of nightfall, but we stay for the things that guide us home: the neon lights, the car headlights, and the moonlight brushed across the time-worn landscape.
When I think of the most talented people in lettering my list includes Louise Fili, Jessica Hische, Erik Marinovich, Gemma O’Brien, and of course the incredible Dana Tanamachi. It’s been a joy to watch her work grow and evolve on Instagram as she handles immense murals, covers for books and magazines, and so much more. Very recently she completed a stunning triptych for the Instagram HQ which speaks to the growth of the platform over the years.
“This triptych was created by hand-cutting adhesive stencils, meticulously placing them on the birch boards, then painting a gradient on top of everything, and finally peeling off the stencils to reveal the beautiful woodgrain below.”
This first design illustrates IG’s infancy—strengthening/connecting roots, giving voices, and cultivating simplicity. The flowers shown here are a mix of the earliest spring flowers and oak leaves/acorns. The latter of which are tiny things that have the potential to create entire forests.
This middle design illustrates IG’s adolescence—connecting voices, creating empathy (the stems intersect like two clasped hands), and bringing communities and cultures together. The flowers shown all bloom in midsummer.
This final design radiates from the center (expanding, growing, exploring) using a variety of wildflowers, symbolizing the the beauty and wild-ness a future full of possibilities holds.
Again and Again, Stéphane Duroy’s solo exhibition at Le Bal in Paris, arrives at the right time in history. Having won several World Press Photo awards in the late 1980s and early ’90s, Duroy has become an integral voice in documentary photography, defined by books like Distress (2011) and L’Europe de Silence (1979–89). His artistic development culminates in Unknown (2007–17), an ongoing attempt to exhaust the documentary, artistic, and political possibilities of his work. Seeing Again and Again, the first comprehensive exhibition to present Duroy’s work, is like being taken by the hand on an impressionistic journey through the decline of Europe and the United States.
Duroy was born in 1948 in Tunisia, then a French colony, and his life coincides with the major moments of postwar European history. He took up photography in the late 1960s as a means to document national and international upheavals. But Duroy has shied away from exhibitions, instead preferring to share his vision in books that focus on political change in the ’70s in Great Britain, Germany, Eastern Europe, and the United States. Inspired by the writings of Bertolt Brecht, Franz Kafka, and William Faulkner, Duroy’s theme is how “big” history—from World War I to the Holocaust to the end of Communism—is reflected in the daily lives of common people. The title of the exhibition, Again and Again, as well as the character of his work, underscores his historical fatalism. Duroy witnesses the societies of Thatcherite Great Britain, post-communist Eastern Europe, as well as contemporary America, in particular the downtrodden victims of capitalism’s excess, yesterday and today.
The first part of the exhibition contains Duroy’s earlier work on the waning of Europe. The gallery walls are covered in demure gray wallpaper with a Second Empire pattern, a motif that returns in pictures such as one showing a chandelier in an abandoned hall in Portugal. One of his most striking pictures shows the falling of the Berlin wall. That epochal event is typically represented by images in which the wall is demolished by a jubilant crowd. Duroy, who has spent extensive periods of time in Berlin, managed the capture the wall while it was falling and suspended in midair; strangely, there are no people in sight. “In 1979, West Berlin became the link between cause and effect, the place where decisions were made about the major tendencies which have created the European tragedy and called our cherished values into question,” Duroy said last year. “Then from 1984 onward, the United States, splendid symbol of hope and great ready-made dream which nobody believes in, closed the circle.”
Duroy is a historical pessimist, but this pessimism drives him forward. The forces of history inevitably lead to the trampling of humanity, but Duroy tries to restore this humanity in his latest, ongoing project Unknown, to which the exhibition’s second part is dedicated. Unknown is a Tentative d’épuisement d’un livre, or, in the official translation that reduces the philosophical feel of the original French, “The endless reworking of a book.” (I would have suggested, “Attempt at the exhausting of a book.”) Unknown, begun in 2007, is an impressive twenty-two-foot foldout catalog and an exhibition in of itself. Le Bal presents twenty-nine different versions: Over the last decade, Duroy has reworked Unknown, adding, removing, or manipulating its pages to constantly create new forms and juxtapositions.
Duroy no longer describes himself as a documentary photographer, but there is an undeniably documentary impulse at work; while he adds newspaper clippings, paint, and text, his own images remain the groundwork of Unknown. This manic—indeed, exhausting—search for a form that fits our age of economic displacement finds its culmination in his pictures of life in Butte, Montana, a former mining community. One of Duroy’s pictures features a house reminiscent of any of Walker Evans’s images of small houses and barns in decline, except that the house Duroy photographed is on wheels and is being driven to another, perhaps better place. In Duroy’s universe, there is no stability, only, as he says, a “closed theater” of struggles between power and failure, hope and duplicity.
Wilco Versteeg is a PhD candidate at Université Paris Diderot.
Stéphane Duroy: Again and Again is on view at Le Bal, Paris, through April 9, 2017.