Friend me.

“Friend Me,” which is not to say, “be my friend.” It’s something entirely different, something thin, nearly empty but for the wisps of longing which drift into the void via the screen of your phone or computer. Entirely deletable, yet likely the most used phrase being uttered these days, we can’t deny the way “friend me” rings as a sort of Orwellian (of course) simplification of language for people completely dependant upon the little Big Brother in their palms, to whom they’ve offered every piece of themselves.

In wanting to explore the private yet simultaneously public culture of teenagers and young adults, Chicago artist Kathy Halper, mother of two teens, logged on to Facebook, and her exploration yielded a sort of archeological map of modern language and the sensibility and humor of today’s youth. By using appropriated Facebook photos for starting points, the artist creates embroidered drawings of humans partying, talking about sex, and being young and dumb online. Halper then randomly pairs the embroidered drawings with captions from similar social networking sites, and what emerges are these delicate and hand-stitched snapshots, absolute encapsulations of a piece of our culture.

We’re intrigued by the idea that these spontaneously taken photos likely mean nothing to the people in them any longer, just transient images that will eventually disappear; yet embroidering such transience  – setting it down in cloth – gives a historical weight and permanence to the fleeting moment.

From top to bottom:

Danceaholics – 19.5″ x 19″; FU – 18″ x 18″; Karaoke – 19.5″ x 19″; all embroidery on linen.

See more Halper embroideries in the grippinglyauthentic! gallery.

Walk like a New Yorker.

Anything happen while we were away?

(Please enjoy this drawing by Chicago artist/curmudgeon pundit-in-the-making Russ White, recently commissioned to make art for the Village Voice due to the excellence you’re currently feasting your eyes upon.)

Walk like an Egyptian.

“…the citizen who thinks he sees that the commonwealth’s political clothes are worn out, and yet holds his peace and does not agitate for a new suit, is disloyal; he is a traitor.”

– Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable.”

– John F. Kennedy

“…every citizen of the republic ought to consider himself an unofficial policeman, and keep unsalaried watch and ward over the laws and their execution.”

– Mark Twain, Traveling With a Reformer

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

This changes everything. Again

Done the right way.

We received an intriguing email the other day warning us about a hoax for the new iPhone 4CF, which is free of conflict minerals. Upon further investigation we were led to a website that brilliantly and flawlessly spoofed Apple’s site, introducing a “new” iPhone 4. As it turns out, this email didn’t come from Apple, but from the creators of the hoax itself. The fake site presented information on conflict minerals and instructions for exchanging your phone for a new “better world,” as well as encouragement to make a citizens arrest of heads of  mining companies “that have been implicated in pillaging the resources of the Congo and fueling the conflict in the Congo over the past 14 years.”

We linked the photo of the nonexistent phone to the website – it was top-drawer activism and someone clearly put a great deal of work into it – but just two days later the site disappeared. (Luckily, had the foresight to take screen shots of all the pages before the site went dark.) The iPhone 4CF and subsequent website is yet another gem from The Yes Men, who have now posted links to more information on Twitter. Along with their hijacking of the Chevron “We Agree” campaign, which has received more media attention than Chevron’s actual campaign, The Yes Men are very busy indeed. These guys deserve a Nobel Peace Prize for their tirelessbreathtaking and hilarious work in all areas of activism. Recently we encountered a man sitting on a street corner shouting “If you want peace, fight for justice,” which could easily be a tenant of The Yes Men, and… We Agree.

Are we suggesting that you give up your iPhone or any of the other gadgets that contain conflict minerals? No. We are, after all, users of this technology ourselves – at least until we figure out how to transmit our weblog directly to your minds. We are simply passing on information that isn’t exactly at the forefront of everyone’s attention. As Nicholas D. Kristof says in his Op-Ed piece : “It’s not that American tech companies are responsible for the slaughter, or that eliminating conflict minerals from Americans’ phones will immediately end the war. Even the Enough Project, an anti-genocide organization that has been a leading force in the current campaign, estimates that only one-fifth of the world’s tantalum comes from Congo.” But awareness is a step toward solution. There simply has to be a better way. We should all know where the products that are a part of our everyday lives come from, what the impact is, and what it means to our future and our past.

Until you’re Kabluey in the face.

Not long before Christmas in 2005 we turned on our pink Hello Kitty TV and popped in the freshly pressed first issue of Wholphin, a DVD quarterly magazine of rare and mostly unseen films mentioned here before. We were enchanted by much of what we saw, and among the gems on issue one is a film we found particularly bizarre in the best way. We watched with open mouths and big eyes, and  laughed – maybe from discomfort at first – at just how strange it was.

A man is overtaken by the urge to not only wear his mother-in-law’s vintage red jump suit, but compelled – once in this horribly ill-fitting monstrosity – to give himself over to a dance the likes of which you’ve never seen before, leaving him a spastic gibberish-spitting blank-eyed ball of confusion and, well, rapture. He doesn’t know why The Delicious makes him happy, but it does, and he can’t help but let his bliss overtake him and his “normal” life.

Scott Prendergast, the writer/director/star of  The Delicious, commits so completely to what he’s doing in front of the camera that you can’t help but experience some measure of the same confounding joy his character feels in the jumpsuit. As soon as it ended – our mouths still open – we knew that Prendergast was someone to keep our eyes on.

After seeing a few more short films by Prendergast, two years later his first feature was released, in which he starred alongside Lisa Kudrow, Teri Garr and Chris Parnell. The film, Kabluey, showcased some of the trademark strange we came to know and love from Prendergast’s earlier work, and introduced us to even more idiosyncratic behavior, inspiring the question finally: who the hell is this guy?

He agreed to shed a little light on the mystery for us…

grippinglyauthentic: So, since we first saw you on Wholphin with The Delicious, let’s start there. Before anything else, though, we want to say that you were absolutely and magnetically odd in the film. Even after multiple viewings, the film still pops.

Scott Prendergast: Hey thank you!

ga: We couldn’t take our eyes off how absolute the obsession with the red jumpsuit appeared in your eyes, nor could we deny a certain vacancy in your eyes as well, nearly Zen in how consumed you were with this one thing. It made us wonder what in your life is equal to The Delicious? Is there something which compels you – perhaps beyond reason at times – the way the jumpsuit and dance compelled the character? What exactly do you know about obsession, and how personal is that knowledge?

(See part 2 of The Delicious here.)
SP: Hmm… Well, that’s a good question. I have been obsessed with a number of things throughout my life. And some of those obsessions have taken on a similar manic tone: I see something – I can’t resist it – I can’t stop thinking about it – I obsess over it. Here is a short list:

Of those items – I’d say only the Muppets drove me to distraction. When I was a kid I was so obsessed with the Muppets that I would get in trouble at school for making lists of Muppets instead of paying attention in class. In fact when “The Art of the Muppets” exhibit came to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, the woman in charge of the exhibit called me and said, “Hi, I heard about you – this weird kid obsessed with the Muppets – would you like to work here and do demonstrations?” It was one of the greatest things that had ever happened to me.

As a kid, it seemed to me that the Muppets were speaking TO ME. That there was a greater mystery at work in my life and if I paid attention I would someday find myself working with Jim Henson – or somehow involved with the Muppets. I used to play daily games where I would imagine that the world was offering up clues and that if I could decipher them, they would lead me to NYC and to the Muppets. It was a mystery only I saw and there was a massive pressure to figure it out.

I sometimes planned to run away (from Portland) to NYC to find the Muppets. When I was in college in NYC I used to go by the Henson Associates brownstone on the upper east side and lie, “Hi, I’m here for the internship?” – which sadly never led anywhere. Although one day I did in fact run into Jim Henson – face to face bump. Unfortunately I was so star-struck I couldn’t say anything, and then two weeks later he DIED!

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To Nancy from Sue.

We found this note tucked inside a collection of Somerset Maugham stories while we waited in the “family room” of a hospital earlier in the year, and thought it was fairly charming. The note is written on a nearly transparent and yellowed piece of paper about four inches long, with a deep crease where it was folded in half. On the outside of the note is simply the name “Nancy.” Just how long has this message been waiting to be discovered, and how did Miss Freeman’s Maugham volume end up in the hospital?

Don’t forget about the hat and the intoxication.