Snark hater and Gawker Least Important Writer, 2012 David Denby is stepping down after 16 years as a New Yorker film critic, Indiewire reports. According to the magazine, Denby will "give up his fortnightly reviewing in early 2015 but will continue as a staff writer, contributing longer critic-at-large pieces."
"I have always liked Coldplay," the composer Nico Muhly writes, reviewing the band's new album with a delightful barrage of epigrammatic affection, expertise, and cruelty: "It unfolds perfectly, like a row house: there is no other place for the toilet to go, so obviously it goes there, at the top of the stairs."
We can and will stipulate first of all that Tao Lin is an overbearing self-publicist with a literary career attached, and that he is given to extremely irritating poses. This, however, tells us nothing about whether or not Tao Lin, as a novelist, has any artistic merit; there have been, historically, plenty of serious and important writers among the ranks of overbearing self-publicists, and plenty of frivolous and unimportant ones. If famewhoring ruined Truman Capote, it is probably an equal and opposite truth that a lack of famewhoring prevented some meritorious writer of the same era from ever coming to the public's notice enough for him or her to be ruined. So although publicity has been generally understood to be the defining feature of Tao Lin, we will set it aside.
The Times has sent critic Dwight Garner on a literary tour of New York in order to answer novelist Gary Shteyngart's immortal question, Can New Yorkers still throw a good party with only a bottle of shampoo? The answer appears to be "maybe," if you are in Brooklyn and allowed to smoke and are also in a coffee shop.
Season three of Louis C.K.'s show Louie hit the air on Thursday night while riding the crest of a tremendous wave of momentum. C.K.'s profile has bubbled up in the last year with huge sales of his comedy album and his tour, which sold $4.5 million in two days. As with many things in C.K.'s world, it's not just the product but the process that's important: he sold his comedy special exclusively on his website and did the same with his tour tickets. By cutting out Ticketmaster, C.K. not only made more by directly selling his tickets for less; he also flouted tradition for the benefit of all.
There are two kinds of murder-mystery archetypes—one where everyone is a suspect and one that explores the world in which such an act could take place. The Killing, which finished its two-season slog to completion Sunday night, failed for many reasons. But its inability to figure out to which archetype it belonged was the seed of all its problems.
Season five of Mad Men ended just as it began: with a question. "When is everything going to get back to normal?" Roger asks Don in the third episode. The presumptive answer was that order, as they knew it, would never be restored—that the characters would instead have to adapt to a new normal as everything changed around them. Season five's thematic through-line was that adaptation. As each character attempted to move forward, they had to find a way to either avoid obsolescence or capitalize on the changing landscape.
There's a doozy of an essay by the 27-or-so-years-old Alexandra Molotkow in this weekend's New York Times Magazine. "Why the Old-School Music Snob Is the Least Cool Kid on Twitter" argues, in a meandering, ultimately unpersuasive manner, that listening to obscure music was once cool, but snobbery has been replaced by populism. While there is a fair argument to make about the Internet democratizing not just access to independent music, but mass media to those who might otherwise have ignored it were they not confronted by page after tweet after Spotify Facebook update of it, Molotkow does not go there.
On her 12th studio album, MDNA (out this week), Madonna sometimes talks about her life with Guy Ritchie ("Would you have married me if I were poor?"). But her self-fixation, the album's real theme, is generally career-focused. You hear it in the way the way that certain songs echo her past work — "I'm a Sinner" breaks with a guitar solo a la "Ray of Light" and sports the plastic psychedelia of "Beautiful Stranger," while the chord progression of "Beautiful Killer" is similar to that of "Die Another Day." There are overt references, too – "Like a Virgin," "Into the Groove" and "Lucky Star" are name checked. The album opens with, "Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended thee and I detest all my sins..." which she previously said in Like a Prayer's "Act of Contrition."
Long story short, British artist Damien Hirst has been doing these "spot paintings" for a while—they are, literally, paintings of spots; also, technically they are "done" by his assistants—and now he's retrieved them all from collectors and distributed them among 11 Gagosian Galleries in eight countries, and is offering a free art to anyone who goes and sees every single spot painting. In all eight countries. So this is officially a "thing," because it is [whatever word adequately communicates an aggravated eye roll], and since we have nothing of value to say about it really, we will defer to Sister Wendy's spiritual successor Hennessy Youngman, who previously taught us so much about poststructuralism and relational aesthetics on his wonderful show Art Thoughtz.