When you live in Minnesota, trying to understand the magnitude of Prince’s accomplishment is kind of like trying to talk about the sun when you’re standing on it. Here’s a story that helped me get my mind around the extent of Prince’s musical celebrity.
When Michael Jackson agreed to play a set of wildly-anticipated comeback shows at London’s O2 Arena in 2009—the shows he was rehearsing for at the time of his death—he initially agreed to only ten performances. His advisors pointed to the insatiable demand for tickets, and asked if he’d play more shows for his fans’ sake. Nope, said Jackson—ten shows was it. Then there was the matter of Jackson’s finances: he’d fallen so deeply into debt that he was risking bankruptcy and the loss of his publishing catalog—but money didn’t motivate him either. Jackson stood firm: ten shows.
Finally, his advisors played their trump card. They pointed out that Prince—the artist with whom Jackson had “an intensely competitive fascination,” writes biographer Randall Sullivan—had been the first artist to play the O2, and Prince had played 21 times. That did it: Jackson added shows.
The man born Prince Rogers Nelson in Minneapolis in 1958 is one of the few musicians to have entered that vaunted realm of larger-than-life celebrity—like Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson, and now Beyoncé, he’s not just famous, he’s mythic. Among artists of his generation, Prince may have the greatest natural genius for music: he’s written dozens of hits for himself and other artists, he’s a guitar god and a virtuoso on multiple instruments, he can sing across an epic vocal range, and he’s legendary for his live performances. Not only did he create his own career with protean force, he spawned an entire scene in Minneapolis, and demonstrated a Midas touch writing for artists ranging from the Bangles to Sheila E to Sinéad O’Connor.
We’re naming Prince our Local Current Artist of the Month for July in honor of the 30th anniversary of the Purple Rain movie and soundtrack—the biggest album ever to come out of Minnesota.
From a 1960 letter, Flannery O’Connor on Ayn Rand. (via)
David Foster Wallace’s annotated copy of Ulysses.
NO “TELEPHONES”. TALK TO EACH OTHER. FACE TO FACE ONLY. WRITE A LETTER. SEND A TELEGRAM TO YOUR MOM. PRETEND IT’S 1860. LIVE.
NO ‘WRITING’… TALK TO EACH OTHER. THROW A ROCK AT YOUR MOM. PRETEND IT’S 10,000 BCE. LIVE.
URGGA. ROU GRAAURH. RUH.
<SMACKS HANDS ON WALL WITH PAINT.>
NO ‘HIGHER BRAIN FUNCTIONS’ …USE YOUR REPTILIAN BRAIN
EAT YOUR MOM’S CORPSE SHE DIED TO PROVIDE YOU WITH SUSTENANCE
PRETEND YOU HAVE JUST AROSE FROM THE SEA
NO “MULTICELLULAR TRAITS”….. USE YOUR SYMBIOTIC MITOCHONDRIA
REPRODUCE ASEXUALLY, YOU’RE YOUR OWN PARENT
PRETEND IT’S 2BYA
NO “LIFE.” USE FUNDAMENTAL PHYSICAL FORCES TO FORM SPHERICAL OBJECTS REVOLVING AROUND ONE ANOTHER IN SPACE.
FUSE HYDROGEN INTO HELIUM USING GRAVITATIONAL PRESSURE TO PRODUCE HEAT AND LIGHT.
PRETEND IT’S 4.5BYA.
STABILIZE INTO EQUILIBRIA
The Glavendrup stone ship and the runestone which forms the end of it. Dating from after 900, the Glavendrup stone ship and runestone is located on the island of Funen, Denmark.
The runestone ends in a curse to discourage any tempering with the stone, and is accompanied by a series of standing stones laid out in the shape of a ship. Thought to reflect a belief that the deceased had to make a voyage in the afterlife, this practice goes back to the Iron Age.
Here is a translation of the runestone (DR 209) via the Scandinavian Runic-text Database:
"Ragnhildr placed this stone in memory of Alli the Pale, priest of the sanctuary, honourable þegn of the retinue.
Ragnhildr placed this stone in memory of Alli, priest of the Sølve, honourable þegn of the sanctuary-retinue.
Alli’s sons made this monument in memory of their father, and his wife in memory of her husband. And Sóti carved these runes in memory of his lord. Þórr hallow these runes.
A warlock be he who damages(?) this stone or drags it (to stand) in memory of another.”
Photos taken by Kåre Thor Olsen.
It’s almost the end of National Poetry Month. Grant Snider of Incidental Comics illustrates the day jobs of 12 famous poets.
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On the Road to Nowhere: Abandoned Bridges
Bridges to nowhere are international monuments of failure. Whether the highways meant to connect to them never got built, funding dried out, contracts got canceled, or they were hit by a disaster and left to ruin, these bridges are an overpass to nothing. Some like the isolated Viaduct Petrobras in the Brazilian jungle have found new life as destinations for bungee jumpers and rappellers, but most just wait idly for a purpose that may never arrive. In Germany there are so many of these bridges to nowhere due to a stunted Autobahn plan that they have their own term — “Soda-Brücke” — a pun roughly meaning “just there.”
When you see his photos, you can understand why Christopher Herwig spent 12 years traveling through the former Soviet Union, taking pictures of Soviet-era bus stops.
Dostoevsky, Joyce, Kafka, and Wharton have all cemented spots in the quarterfinals. But which lucky books will go on to the semis? Your chance to choose! Submit your votes here.
Numen/ For Use - For Use used thick transparent sticky tape to create an interactive installation. By stretching, sticking and wrapping thick layers of tape around grounded pillars, beams, trees or whatever standing objects exist in the chosen space Numen/ For Use create a web of tendon tunnels and spaces that can be accessed and crawled through, strong enough to carry human weight. From afar the installation appears like an interwoven structure of bending elastic pipes.
Even though Chaucer wrote about it a long time ago, sex continues to be a popular aspect of relationships.
“These were the strokes we praised, weren’t they,/ the butterfly and the crawl, the lullabies/ we crooned on the first warm day of summer/ in honor of the non-swimmers Crane and Berryman,/ in honor of Orpheus, whose butchered head/ is forever singing above the choppy waves.” —Edward Hirsch, “The Swimmers” (Special Orders, 2008)