Thursday, April 23, 2009

Facebook: unintentionally censoring your socially networked life

Recent discussion of The Hipster Grifter (via The Observer & Vice) brought up the painfully significant and recent problem of employee privacy and the internet. With such social networking sites as Facebook, Myspace, Friendster, Twitter and the popularity of online blogs we begin to wonder (or should, at least) if what we post will get us fired. Now the Hipster Grifter is an extreme case- I’m offering full leniency with employers in the case of wanted felons, molesters, heavy handed liars and convicts but what about our freedom from discrimination? Truly there is a gray area that even I’m not sure where to draw the line.

In the recent case of Carlie Christine for example, I’m a little torn. This is a cheer leading coach who posed nude for Playboy and was fired for “being a bad role model,” but guess who brought it up with the school? The parents of the girls who didn’t make the team, big surprise.
Here’s my question, how was she a bad role model to the girls who were NOT chosen to follow her? Clearly the talentless, uncoordinated or fat simply wanted vindication and their parents who had lost their chance at vicarious victory delivered the axe. It should be noted that Christine never actually encouraged any of the girls to pose nude or engage in similar behavior but on the other hand, it probably wasn’t the wisest thing to do when working for a high school. Do I believe you can be a centerfold and have a regular job where you motivate others to do their best? Absolutely. Would I necessarily want my teenage daughter doing flips and jumps for a bunch of horny jocks while being led by a Playboy model, well- honestly, probably not.
Remember, she chose to take these pictures with Playboy, the grand poobah of sexually explicit magazines. This choice makes me give her a little less credit in terms of what is fair game. Though I wouldn’t want her fired, the inner conflict in me says if I were a parent- I’d want to know.

One area I am a little less torn about is social sites meant to connect with friends. “Friends” being the operative word. Being an avid member of such communities makes me feel personally attacked when I hear of employers discriminating against people for certain pictures or statuses they find online.

There have been several recent cases in which people have been fired for their Facebook actions, here are just a few that have been making the news lately:

In one case, someone called in sick, and got fired because his status actually read that he was still drunk from the night before with plenty of sloppy pictures to prove it. Now this is a complete lack of judgement and a misuse of trust. Maybe he should have kept that one to himself.

A cheerleader for the New England Patriots was fired because she had photos on Facebook of her drawing on a friend who had passed out on the couch. Things like, “I’m a Jew” and swastikas were all over him. She says she only added to an already marked victim so what she really wrote, we’ll never know for sure.
Now, is this wrong? Yes. Sucks for him? Of course. Do we know she’s a racist? Not necessarily, we don’t know what she added and if she did write the anti-Semitic material on him, and anyway this is her friend, remember? How many of us make non-PC jokes with our friends? But the Patriot owners are members of the Anti-Defamation League so she was fired.

In another case, an intern was fired from their company after calling their job “boring”. Seriously though, maybe it was? What if the company hadn’t set up a challenging and interesting internship. Maybe the intern had another calling in life and just how many people find their job exciting every single minute of every single day? This just seems like a case of hurt pride. As long as he/she is not on company time making these proclamations, it does not seem fair to penalize them for an opinion without say, a warning or what would be even better, a solution.

I recently saw a Postsecret postcard that had a boss who found out their employee was complaining about them on their blog and was going to fire them. Now depending on the types of insults and information divulged, this could go either way with me but again, if its not done on company time and if the employee has merit and works well while on the clock, do employers really have the right to do this?

If free speech exists as a right in this country, why don’t the employers of this country recognize it too? When I began working for a very notable and very expensive jewelry manufacturer, they gave me a security agreement, I signed it, I won’t be going against it, even now. It doesn’t hurt me and in fact, I think it makes sense but to get fired for being honest about the emotional effect a job has on you seems less than fair. What’s worse and possibly the most frustrating is that people are not engaging in activities unheard of, we may be technologically advanced but when it comes to nudity, debauchery and hedonism, we’re the same as we always were but now more of us tote our cameras everywhere.
What’s probably even more disturbing about all of this is that sometimes images will end up online without our consent. It is so unfathomably easy to find yourself a victim of an online attack by another person. How many times have you found a less than flattering picture of yourself tagged and viewed before you yourself had seen it? While there are varying degrees of this from “Wow, I don’t remember that picture being taken, I look great!” to “Shit. Untag untag untag”, it’s easy to find yourself in someone else’s album, joke or “motivational poster”.

You won’t find naked pictures of me online or anything about me engaging in illegal activity, why? Simply put, these are not part of my day to day. In fact, when a job is boring, I’ll typically keep it to myself- why? Because I figure that reading about someone being bored is just as boring as living through it and my inner writer won’t allow that. These days especially, I find myself at home reading more than I’d probably like to admit it but that does not mean I don’t think this is an incredible problem with the use of Internet as a form of screening. In this case it’s not just a matter of personal choice but of the misuse of community resources.
Ideally, employers as well as employees should be able to feel confident in who they work with, employers should be understanding in knowing the limitations of human emotion while employees remain reasonably prudent with their public identities and ensuring that the professional entities with which they associate are unmarred by their personal activities (save for, perhaps “whistle blowing”).
If the examples given show anything, it is that since human curiosity will probably never be stopped from probing into the lives of our coworkers, we should at least consider our resulting actions on an objective, case to case basis. Ideally, of course. Instead it seems that these days, when life happens and your friend has a camera, all these ideas fly out the window which leaves us to question in our day to day lives, how connected should we really be?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Restaurant Review: Locanda Vini & Olii

I was recently asked to write about one of the most impressive meals I had ever had and though many a wonderful meal has followed it, few can top the over all impression I received from Locanda Vini & Olii.

Locanda Vini & Olii
29 Gates Ave
Brooklyn NY 11238

On countless occasions I have been disappointed by the overpriced, bare pasta dishes of Little Italy so I was apprehensive about getting my hopes high for yet another Italian restaurant in New York but when I heard this former pharmacy retained its apothecary decor and was minutes from my “up and coming” but “not nearly there” neighborhood, I had to give it a chance. To be honest I didn’t even get to study the decor in the foyer like in most restaurants because the owner welcomed my dinner party immediately (but not for lack of patrons), apparently I had been missing something and I was about to find out what.

As we sat in the middle of dark, rich wooded shelves laden with medicine bottles we were handed simple menus with well chosen yet unpretentious wines and the meal commenced. In retrospect, commenced is the correct word because once we started, we could not stop!
The Small Bites for Two, paired with prosecco filled our mouths with rich, earthy flavors with just the correct amount of variation. I salivate over the foie gras every time I think about it. The Smoked Prosciutto was mingled with the savory sweetness of apples and had a hint of mint that was simply genius and the Grilled Free Range Piedmontese Beef melted in my mouth. We topped off the meal with their Daily Assortment of Fresh Fruit which was just the amount of finishing flavor we needed to satiate ourselves. So much time has passed since that incredible meal that I regretfully admit that I can’t even recall the rest of what we ate, just that it was all delicious and left me feverishly delightful.

In the end, though the portions were somewhat dainty, it was the best Tuscan meal I had had since I left Florence and both I and my date were pleasantly full and unhindered to reel over the meal we had just experienced. It’s worth the trek but look it up on a map before you go if you’re not accustomed to the area!

Note about Pricing: Overall price for our meal was approx $130 + tip for two but we went all out and kept indulging and also had wine. You could easily spend less, especially since everything was delicious but being a combination of starving and frugal probably won't benefit you.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Pizzilla, the worst awesome story ever.

Photo by Crystal A. Suh, figure by Susie Suh

A few years ago, I came up with a story for my sister while we were bored and sitting around the table. I drew the corresponding pictures to this story on a napkin. I wish I had saved it. I did however remember to it down soon after.
This is it:

We go to the pizza store and get the anchovies and we go “Yuuuum!” and the peoples go “ewwww,” but we say “yyuumm” and “chomp!” And they go “ewwwww,” and then we say “noooo” and then they say “yyeeaaahh” but then we say “noooooo” and then we see Godzilla and then he says “rarrrr!” So then we say “whooaa!” and then he goes “yeeeaahhh!” And then we go “rarrrrrrrr” and then he goes “noooooo!”And then we go “YEEAAAHHH!” and then we eat godzilla and then they go “YEEAHHH” and then we go “YUM!” and then we eat the peoples.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The New Old

This isn't the post I promised but considering I'm the only one that knows about this blog, I didn't think anyone (I) would mind. I'd rather keep this active than let it stagnate trying to find an old review.

Featured today is another old work because of two reasons, 1. The subject of new works created from old, sourced pieces came up in recent conversation and 2. I suck and am lazy- wanna fight?
It's a cento* I wrote (perhaps comprised is a better word?) that was featured in the NY Ghost in June of '07. Though I started out simply compiling quotes that attracted me, I found a startling continuity within the chosen passages on the subjects of psychosis, masc vs. fem thought and duality within the self. Incidentally, most of the male authors I used are among my favorite writers but the women have the last say. That wasn't intentional.

*** *** *** *** *** ** ** ** * *** ** *** *** * * **** * * ****

poetry, a cento is a work wholly composed of verses or passages taken from other authors; only disposed in a new form or order. The term comes from the Latin cento, a cloak made of patches; and that from the Greek κεντονιον. The Roman soldiers used these centos, or old stuffs patched over each other, to guard themselves from the strokes of their enemies.


** *** *** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** * **** * * **** * *** * *** *** ** * * * *

THE BEAUTY of the pneumatic rifle was that it could be fired with the muzzle inside the van without deafening everyone around it-there was no need to stick the muzzle out the window where the public could see it.1 Or, I could just sit in the bushes and pump the hand pump until the plumbing was superpressurized to 110psi. This way, when someone goes to flush a toilet, the toilet tank will explode. At 150 psi, if someone turns on the shower, the water pressure will blow off the shower head, strip the threads, blam, the shower head turns into a mortar shell.2
“You want all those retards in watchamacallit, Nebraska, staring at your Texas dick video on MTV openmouthed, blasting the ass, not realizing that it’s all a joke, getting cunt-tickled and fucked thinking that after you shot your girlfriend in the head and the slimiest red hot sexy ass Nazi guy she was partying with that you meant it? Huh? You didn’t dick for stuffing mean it, Leon. You liked the girl you shot in the head, a tasty blonde fuck. The girl you shot in the head was a flower to you, Leon. Your image, Leon. I’m just helping you shape your image, okay?”3
Tyler Durden is a separate personality I’ve created, and now he’s threatening to take over my real life.4 He talks so fast that even his friends have a hard time understanding him. It’s like listening to a foreigner and deciphering only shit, motherfucker, bitch, and the single phrase You can’t kill the Rooster... Asked how he came up with that name, he says only, “Certain motherfuckers think they can fuck with my shit, but you can’t kill the Rooster. You might can fuck him up sometimes, but bitch, nobody kills the motherfucking Rooster. You know what I’m saying?”5 When words fail him, the Rooster has been known to communicate with his fists, which, though quick and solid, are no larger than a couple of tangerines.”6 The first night we fought was a Sunday night, and Tyler hadn’t shaved all weekend so my knuckles burned raw from his weekend beard. Lying on our backs in the parking lot, staring up at the one star that came through the streetlights, I asked Tyler what he’d been fighting.7
“You are aware of only one unrest; Oh never learn to know the other! Two souls, alas are dwelling in my breast, And one is striving to forsake its brother.8 Why should I always be torn from the desire of my heart? Yet you had sworn you would be my companion, always beside me; That you swore by the stars, or by the light of your eyes. 9”
This would go on for hours.10 Barking and barking. Barking and barking.11 “Stop. Please,”12 I tended to lose patience with some of the longer dream sequences, but for the most part13 You can be as strong as you wish to be.14
“Bitch, I’m here to tell you that it’s going to be all right. We’ll get through this shit, motherfucker, just you wait.15 You weren’t really fighting me,” Tyler says. “You said so yourself. You were fighting everything you hate in your life.”16
“You exhaust me with your foolishness and reward my efforts with nothing but pain, do you understand me?17 I am becoming aware of just how lost inside my life you really are18 ”
“Hey, man, I’ve been a fan of yours like forever,” I hear him say. “Forever, man.” 19
I got the point. He needed to work here, but he didn’t have to like it. He had sealed his heart when he’d left home. His real life was in an unlivable land across oceans. He was a ghost. Hanging on.20 I wanted to tell (her) him that if only something were wrong with my body it would be fine, I would rather have anything wrong with my body than something wrong with my head, but the idea seemed so involved and wearisome that I didn’t say anything.21
I am not choosing between men.22

1. Hannibal- Thomas Harris (449)
2. Fight Club- Chuck Palahniuk (69)
3. Bolded Profanity- Why Are We in Vietnam- Norman Mailer (8,9,13,33,123)
The Informers- Bret Easton Ellis (157)
4. Fight Club- Chuck Palahniuk (173)
5. Me Talk Pretty One Day- David Sedaris (61)
6. Me Talk Pretty One Day- David Sedaris (65)
7. Fight Club- Chuck Palahniuk (53)
8. Faust- Goethe (11.1110-1112 p145)
9. The Art of Love- Ovid (The Loves- lines xvi)
10. Fight Club- Chuck Palahniuk (59)
11. Fight Club- Chuck Palahniuk (165)
12. Fight Club- Chuck Palahniuk (165)
13. Me Talk Pretty One Day- David Sedaris (92)
14. Hannibal- Thomas Harris (464)
15. Me Talk Pretty One Day- David Sedaris (68)
16. Fight Club- Chuck Palahniuk (167)
17. Me Talk Pretty One Day- David Sedaris (173)
18. The Informers- Bret Easton Ellis (125)
19. The Informers- Bret Easton Ellis (125)
20. Jasmine- Bharati Mukherjee (153)
21. The BellJar- Sylvia Plath (149)
22. Jasmine- Bharati Mukherjee (240)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Whitney, Finally Taking My Advice (like everyone should).

Back in the spring of 2007, the Whitney held an exhibit entitled, "The Legacy of F. Holland Day." It was to be something of an homage to him and to the genre of self-portraiture in general.

It was weak. Totally weak.

<--This is a picture of him looking for the actual exhibit he never got from the Whitney, you know- the good one you would expect for a world renowned icon of photographic history. Incidentally, I wrote a review* of the aforementioned exhibit and in it, I expressed my love of the Other thing I happened to see there, which was Alexander Calder's Circus. Now, almost two years later, they are having a special exhibit: Alexander Calder: The Paris Years, 1926-1933, it's up until February 15th.
Can I get a "Hell, Yes!"?

For those that don't know, these are the sculptures that usually reside at the Whitney. These are what stirred my love for this man:

Cirque Calder 1/2

If you liked that, it goes on in Video #2,

Cirque Calder 2/2

Now, I'm not going to say that they are having this expanded exhibit because of me but feel free to thank me anyway.
Next time I'll post another example of how the Guggenheim finally followed my advice, you'll be a believer ;).

*And now, here is the review I wrote for my class/ Prof. Editha Mesina. It's important to note here that they didn't bother to get any outside pieces, only put together what they already had.
Also, I know it's long but frankly, I don't know why you're reading this blog in the first place. If that's not a good enough reason, referenced are many noteworthy photographers who are good to know about, just because.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The recent collection of self portraits at the Whitney Museum was, in general- disappointing. Despite the fact it showcased fifteen artists, it seemed incomplete in its lack of theme and dismally small space which was more like an amputated limb than a featured exhibit. While I am sure that the curator’s intention was compiling the photographs under the general theme of “Self-Portraiture” with the pretense of displaying the variety in it and it’s possible relation to F. Holland Day- I believe that with the clout of the Whitney, it is necessary to live up to such a grand undertaking by doing “too-much” rather than “too-little” because too little is always lacking. Self-Portraiture is too large a theme and so diversely explored that displaying so few pieces is simply a mockery of the form. Would it have killed them to bring in other pieces from outside their collection? In an exhibit such as this, where so much of the gallery is over taken by paintings ( and sculpture,) Size Does Matter.
This is not to say there were not some thought-provoking and interesting pieces present, but this I credit more to the artists than any particular choice of the Museum since some of the pieces were hit or miss with varying degrees of conceptual ism. Lucas Samara’s Skull Milky Way, for example was both aesthetically pleasing, nontraditional and inventive because of it’s use of (literally) inner-self portraiture. Why he used pins- I don’t know but it makes you feel tingly and prickly if you stare at it for too long.

Goldin’s Nan & Brian seemed atypical of her usual pieces because she was not a victim, and it portrays the two in bed bathed in beautiful light. Additionally, her dominance of him in the photograph is different from the “suffering” aspect of Holland Day’s work and considering she had so many others more similar to this mentality, I felt it was a strange choice that was probably made because the Whitney happened to have a Goldin lying around.

Lyle Ashton Harris made my day with his sumptuous and decadent Billie #21 and Hammond’s Tabula Rosa brought up all sorts of mental stimulants with her nudity which was covered with drawn figures of Asian and non-Asian cartoons. It stirred questions- Tabula Rosa versus filling the body, Buddhism, Spirituality, Swimming?, Crashing Dominoes and sensual Chrysanthemums.

While intrigued with the original audacity of F. Holland Day’s works of sacrilege, I felt that seeing the piece was more of a novelty than the experience I was promised. Perhaps it was because of it’s fame and my previous experiences with the work in books and slides but I didn’t feel that way about The David so I think it was because of it’s underwhelming placement and display choices. It also astounded me that with such a mundane display that his work was the namesake of the exhibit. I felt the same with Francesca Woodman’s small print that seemed like the wall paper she was under because it was so close to the larger collection of dark Adrian Piper prints. This was personally disappointing considering the many beautiful Woodman images that were not included.

Chris Burden’s book, whose theme seems a credit to his name, sounded interesting but I felt I could have seen more from it to fully grasp the tense mentality that only electrocution can bring. Charles Ray’s piece was notably my least favorite as the quality seemed too poor and simplistic which might have been mitigated had I known his real purpose of tying himself to a tree. It just wasn't my taste but I did wonder if it was based on some deeper, more interesting meaning that was simply not communicated to me at the gallery and for that I am disappointed. (Later research would indicate that one of the explanations of this piece is relinquishing will yet maintaining power within art, for me the explanation seemed like, "attempting shock factor".)

Additionally, it reminded me of Collier Schorr’s photograph of a young man in a tree and when I kept thinking of it, I liked it less and less- but that might just be a personal thing.

Was the point here really to show the legacy of F. Holland Day? Are we to assume that just because some of the artists were tortured souls, or they dressed up that they should be in the same exhibit? Carefully choosing outside pieces could have made this exhibit more cohesive or at least more engaging and I’m sure there are other religiously based self-portraits that could have been added as well. Religion, with all of its implications, artwork and myths could have provided the link that the show needed. Not that it had to be the one link but it could have made an interesting exhibit!
While some of the pieces were thought-provoking and/ or aesthetically pleasing, I didn’t feel as though they should have been together, or at least not together in the fashion that they were, which was: arbitrarily in the room the size of a Manhattan closet. Other artists that were not mentioned were also sprinkled in to create a very random experience. Overall, I’m glad I went to see the work but I felt unsatisfied in the end.
In Conclusion:

Dear Editha,

Calder’s Circus= AWESOME.

Photography and the Self: The Legacy of F. Holland Day= Not so much.


10 Reasons Why You Should Eat Your Cat

as inspired by The Economist, January 2009
based on my cat, Byron.

Reason #1: He’s an asshole.

Reason #2: He likes fish and ultimately that’s bad for greenhouse gases.
He’s ruining the planet.

Reason #3: If he could, he’d probably eat pig every day.
Pig farts are disastrous to the Ozone layer.
He’s totally ruining the planet.

Reason #4: YOU won’t be eating fish OR pig by eating him.

Reason #5: You can make your own clothes.
Don’t support sweatshop labor!

Reason #6: Why else have you been fattening him up with cat food?

Reason #7: It would be funny and terrible. Terribly funny!

Reason #8: If you scalp him, you’ll have an amazing hat with pointy kitty ears.

Reason #9: He’s plotting to kill you, you’ve gotta nip this in the bud.

Reason #10: Imagine all the wonderful hipster art you can create with cat bones.