Category Archives: Pop Culture

For the Show

I know, I know. You’re tired of reading about Balloon Boy. I just wanted to take a moment and ask: Remember when you were that trusting? Someone older and supposedly wiser told you to do something and you went along with it because you yet hadn’t accumulated years of experiences, good and bad, to give you insight as to when to follow directions and when to say, “Are you kidding me?”

I remember. It was when a freckle-faced girl named Alice told me that I should eat the “blue Hawaiian ice” from the toilet in our pre-school bathroom. This was back in the days when you had to go to the potty with a buddy. While mine was a year older, she wasn’t much of a buddy– inasmuch as she nearly poisoned me with toilet freshener. Luckily, a teacher was suspicious about how long we were in there and saved me from an early death before I took that first bite.

It’s been a few years since I’ve taught theater to young kids, but I’ll never forget the discussions we had about the difference between make-believe and lying and between a show and real life. Some parents had clearly put deep-seeded fear into their children about the dangers of deception. Other kids found story-making and trickery to be second nature. I wonder what will become of Balloon Boy. Will he decide that he likes the limelight and continue to do things “for the show”? Or will he realize that he was manipulated by his own parents and never be able to trust anyone again? The trust of a child is so freely given and so easily lost.

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Filed under General, Generation Overwhelmed, Pop Culture

Tiny Knitted Things

Talk about 180 degrees from my enraged post on Sunday! These tiny items are more adorable than beautiful, but the human imagination involved in making them is very much so. They’re Tiny Knitted Things, designed and made by Anna Hrachovec, a knitter who lives in New York.

My favorites are the bats; since moving to Austin, I’ve become quite fond of stuffed toy bats.


Ahhh! Kawaii!!!

Beauty in a Wicked World is a weekly column by Jennifer Gandin Le. It appears on Wednesdays.

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Filed under Art, Beauty in a Wicked World, Pop Culture, Random

Hundreds of Lions – Erin McKeown

mckeown9/9/09, huh? It’s an exciting day! It marks the last set of repeating, single-digit dates that we’ll see for almost a century (until January 1, 2101), and the Remastered Beatles catalog, Beatles Rock Band, and the new Apple iPod are all being released today.

But my favorite celebration today is my third wedding anniversary with the extraordinary Christopher Gandin Le. Suicide prevention expert, exquisite photographer (still and motion pictures), beloved friend, and the best damn husband and partner I could ever desire.

For our anniversary, he gave me the gift of music from one of my favorite artists: Erin McKeown. Since I first heard Distillation 9 years ago, I have loved this woman’s music, and have had a total crush on her as well. She’s excruciatingly talented across a wide variety of instruments and musical styles, her lyrics are poetic, her style is fantastic (check those Fluevogs!), and her live show is always fabulous. Oh, and she’s only 31; she’s been making great music since she was in college.

Her newest album, Hundreds of Lions, comes out this October on Righteous Babe records, and to raise funds for this self-financed album, she launched a very cool endeavor this summer.

Photo Credit: Nancy Palmieri

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Filed under Art, Beauty in a Wicked World, Career/Life, Music, Pop Culture, Writing

Street Art: Noticing Where You Live

lauren1I’ve been thinking about how people actively connect to place. Not everyone is active in this process; many let it happen to them; many do not notice. But my cousin Lauren is always in an active phase. She strolls through cities with her point-n-shoot in her pocket­–looking for street art. I even had the privilege of her showing me around NYC, the city I lived in, and indoctrinating me into who painted what, who pasted up what, how, why. It is a knowledge she has cultivated. And done best in her own hometown of Chicago for the past three years. For example, her photo to the right is a “tip toe heart in hands paste-up, chicago.”

“It’s the reason walking these streets I’ve walked for 25 years stays interesting. My eyes are always darting around. Down alleys and around corners.”

She likes observing how a community represents itself in its own space. Now she sees every city she goes to in the context of street art. It’s like being a cyclist who notices the detailed cracks or fissures of any road. It’s a lens–perhaps a way of claiming place. Even Chicago Public Radio has discovered her flickr site and showcased her photos. 



Below is a story straight from Lauren’s email to me: (three of her photos here are #1 choke and goons paste ups, chicago, #2 miss van ice cream girl, toulousse, #3 C215 stencil on the pompidou, paris)

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Filed under Environment, Orienting, Pop Culture

(500) Days of Summer: A Love Letter to a Not-Love-Story

500-days-of-summerDear Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber, Marc Webb, Eric Steelberg, the producers, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, and everyone else involved in making the movie (500) Days of Summer,

I’ve been subconsciously writing this letter for four months, since I first saw your movie at SXSW. I wrote on this site about my screening experience, but looking back, my post seems flippant and doesn’t indicate the depth to which your story delighted me. My husband wasn’t with me at the SXSW screening, which was unfortunate, because as soon as the credits rolled, I knew he would see himself on that screen. (As will many, many men my age.) Last night, I took him to see the movie at another screening in town.

I loved the movie again, maybe even more this time. You have created a masterful film that captures countless desperately honest moments. It was a visceral pleasure to watch. And I want to articulate some of the reasons why it has touched me so significantly.

I’ll cut here so I can spill lots of spoilers below. (Crucial Minutiae readers, if you’re going to see this movie, bookmark this post and come back once you’ve seen it. I don’t want to ruin your viewing experience.)

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Filed under Beauty in a Wicked World, Gender, Movies, Music, Pop Culture, Random, Relationships, Writing

Celebrate Loving Day TODAY in NYC!

loving_day_invite_nyc_2009There’s a free party happening on the East River in Manhattan today from 3pm-7pm, and it celebrates the anniversary of Loving v. Virginia (1967), the Supreme Court decision that legalized interracial marriage in the U.S.

DJ Dhundee and DJ Tyler Askew will be spinning, there’s free BBQ all day long, and there’s free beer for the 1st hour. It’s at Solar 1, on the East River Waterfront at East 23rd St, NYC.

Go soak up some of the beautiful day in the company of beautiful, happy people and families!

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Filed under Health, Music, Politics, Pop Culture, Race, Random, Relationships, Writing

Ellen DeGeneres' Common Cement

For those who haven’t seen it, here’s Ellen DeGeneres’s commencement speech at Tulane. It’s about 10 minutes long, but worth watching every second, especially when you get to the end. I don’t watch her TV show, and it’s been ages since I read her writing, so I had almost forgotten how sharp and hilarious she is.

Enjoy, and happy Friday!

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Filed under Career/Life, Education, In The News, Pop Culture