Archive for ‘the arts’

May 5, 2011

The photography of Ernest Collins: “Nude Untitled”

Ernest Collins, all rights reserved.

May 3, 2011

Cedric Buchet photographs David Beckham for 10 Magazine

Take a look at some of the photos here from the 10th anniversary issue of 10 Magazine shot last year by Cedric Buchet. Then you can fully appreciate how well Mr. Beckham cleans up, so to speak, when he showed up at the Royal Wedding, looking better than any man in public in recent memory.

Guys, take note. You can look like this around the house and in your garage, but your woman, and the world, might actually appreciate you in a great suit, a properly tied tie and a great haircut every now and then!

April 24, 2011

From “Sunset Boulevard” to Madison Avenue: You’ve come a long way, baby

How do you resurrect a decade long moribund singing and/or acting career?

You don’t.

You simply move on.

That business called show, has come a long way since the fictional Norma Desmond shuttered herself in a Sunset Boulevard mansion, with only a supremely faithful butler and a pet monkey to comfort the pain of the irrelevance imposed onto a once glorious star by the vagaries of the ever changing buying public.

Yes, much has changed in the 61 years since the release of the Billy Wilder classic film, starring Gloria Swanson as the mad woman and William Holden as her reluctant boy toy: Your star turn doesn’t have to end pathetically and tragically as Norma’s did when she looks into the camera and emotes “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.”

These days, you don’t have to cage yourself in on Sunset Boulevard if you’re willing to hawk yourself on Madison Avenue. No, your star turn can end pathetically, tragically–and here, is the kicker–and lucratively when you pack on the pounds and  look into the camera for your Jenny Craig commercial.

Or, in the case which fascinates me most at the moment, look into the camera for Gucci and Gillette–with your children in tow.

If you’re Jennifer Lopez, you move on by becoming a judge on American Idol and a brand ambassador, as it is now tres chic to call paid female celebrities whose career was headed into the “Sunset Boulevard” years but for the power of Madison Avenue.

This of course will bring a smile to the faces of those of you familiar with Alexis de Tocqueville’s masterwork Democracy In America.

The entirely democratic desire to go beyond your sphere often leads men in democracies to want to enhance a very coarse profession by a Greek or Latin name. The lower an occupation and the more removed from knowledge, the more pompous and erudite is the name. This is how our tightrope walkers have transformed themselves into acrobats and funambulists.

I don’t now about you, but I was completely taken aback by the  Gucci ad campaign featuring Jennifer Lopez and her children. Haven’t we, you might rightly ask, become culturally committed to condemning Kate plus 8 moms and Octomoms and Charlie Sheen babymoms for dragging their children into the limelight for a buck or two? Isn’t the argument–and hasn’t it been up till now–that what matters most is what’s best for the children?

Well, it turns out, Jennifer and the good folks at Gucci were one step ahead of us. Neither party was willing to leave the ads to speak for themselves as a purely commercial transaction between Ms. Lopez and the launch of the Gucci children’s collection. No, that would have been a bit crass. What made it a bit less crass, classy almost, was the declaration by both parties that the  partnership was– get this– an act of resounding charity.

In order to make the ads go down smoothly, Gucci loudly agreed to make charitable donations to UNICEF and to the Maribel Foundation, which was founded by  Ms. Lopez and her sister. Watch the video here from the Gucci website promoting the acts of charity, if you want to see how even more  surreal and twisted the fashion industry can be than the drunken ravings of John Galliano.

You gotta love the current celebrity fascination with drafting African children into their money laundering schemes. Could it be that they  think Africans are so dumb that they won’t notice they’re mere pawns in  s(l)ick  self serving marketing campaigns that appeal to liberal white guilt?

Just asking because the same clebs, Oprah chief among them, find it much easier to justify vanity projects in Africa than  real hard work on the 3rd world conditions here in the US, including prison reform for black men who somehow get life imprisonment for minor drug dealings when the overwhelming drug consumer is affluent and white. The criminal justice system since the Reagan administration is the  Holocaust of the black community but apparently among  fashionable people of any color, that’s an unfashionable truth. African babies can at least be shopped for as if they were Ralph Lauren paint shades. And what’s more fun than duty free shopping?

And just when I though I had been a good boy by biting  my tongue on the whole matter since October, yesterday out comes Ms. Lopez’s new “Mr. DeMille moment” for Gillette.

You should be particularly struck here by the only rationalization that could trump charity: religion.

“With Venus, Reveal the goddess in you!” may actually be rather pagan religiosity, but religiosity nonetheless. And who could argue with you about using your children to resurrect  your career when you invoke religion just around Easter?

See how all of this works? And you thought the scene in Sunset Boulevard where Norma Desmond stages an elaborate funeral for the monkey was the height of absurdity.

You were wrong. The height of absurdity is Jennifer Lopez pitching you a drugstore product that intimates that you too can have her legs, her beauty, her sexiness, her commercial appeal (not to mention her trainer, her makeup artist, hairdresser, stylist, nanny, etc) all while you truck your kids from ballet to soccer in your minivan after work, wearing Lulu Lemon ( on a good day) and thinking how the hell to convince your kids you are more than a personal assistant, let alone a goddess.

Now that’s some monkey on your back, isn’t it?

Tom Kolovos is the Editor In Chief of aControlledSubstance.

April 17, 2011

Ashleigh McIvor and the 2012 Acura Commercial

“It works with people. It works with cars. Aggression in its most elegant form.”

This is a brilliant post-feminist car commercial. When did you ever think you would see that?

You’ve seen plenty of commercials implicating  women’s sexual desire with  a man’s desire to “drive.” You’ve seen all the models at car shows used as bright shiny objects to bring the boys “into the showroom.”  You’ve even seen the grounbreaking ads with Martina Navratilova and Subaru.

What you probably haven’t seen is a car ad pitched to men that shows a good deal of respect for women. Especially one that acknowledges that aggression and femininity are not mutually exclusive; that  power and beauty–and the desire for them- is as unproblematically inherent to women as it is to men.

I call it a post feminist commercial because a purely feminist commercial would  feature Ashleigh McIvor , the member of the Canadian national ski cross team and  the first gold medal winner of women’s ski cross at the 2010 Winter Olympics, solely on the slopes, equating her aggression with her style of skiing and not her style in an evening gown. That said–and given the times we live in where world class male athletes like David Beckham and Rafael Nadal unproblematically trade on their sexuality and good looks for Emporio Armani, for instance— this is still a very smart and thoughtful ad.

April 11, 2011

Calculating Geometry

Op Art inspires me. Let me count the ways.

Josef Albers, Homage to the Square, 1951.

Raf Simon’s 5th anniversary collection Spring 2011 for Jil Sander.

March 24, 2011

I, Andy

It may just be me. But when I read the  New York Times profile of Andy Cohen–the Bravo executive who is responsible for the misogynist trash television phenomenon “Housewives” franchise–I couldn’t help but think to myself that, despite the fact the article was essentially a puff piece, Mr. Cohen came off as embarrassingly gay Charlie Sheen-like.

This brings me to Anderson Cooper, who is thankfully both gay and not an embarrassment.

March 23, 2011

There’s an App for That, Maggie!

If Elizabeth Taylor, at the peak of her beauty, couldn’t cure Paul Newman of his homosexuality in “Cat On a Hot Tin Roof,” how exactly do the makers of the new iPhone app plan on curing it?

All this mendacity……

Come to think of it, she couldn’t cure Montgomery Clift or Rock Hudson in real life either.

Good luck with the app guys.

Godspeed on your journey, Miss Taylor. We will always be grateful to you for “Maggie” and “Martha” and for your tireless work for human rights.

Related Post There’s an App for That, Jolene?

March 10, 2011

The Dance Photography of Lois Greenfield

Sham Mosher


Ashley Roland, Daniel Ezralow, Flipper Hope, and Jack Gallagher for Raymond Weil Watches

“I’ve spent the last 25 years of my photographic career investigating movement and its expressive potential. My inspiration has always been photography’s ability to stop time and reveal what the naked eye cannot see. My interest in photography is not to capture an image I see or even have in my mind, but to explore the potential of moments I can only begin to imagine. What intrigues me is making images that confound and confuse the viewer, but that the viewer knows, or suspects, really happened. I want my images to defy logic, or as Salvador Dali wrote, I strive to “systematize confusion and discredit reality.” I can’t depict the moments before or after the camera’s click, but I invite the viewer’s consideration of that question.”  Lois Greenfield

Related Post: Hubbard Street Dance Chicago March 17-20

March 4, 2011

Ancient Family (or My Big Fat Greek Yiayia)

If you are Greek and claim that these Kraft  commercials for Athenos humus–which are pure genius–are offensive, then you are crazier than your yiayia.

My dears, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” was not a comedy. It was a documentary.

Let’s just say that “Modern Family” isn’t exactly hip among the hip replacement crowd  in the Greek/Greek American community.

Not only did my paternal grandmother in Greece behave exactly this way but there are many, many Greek grandmothers in this country right now who behave even worse.

Just ask their children. Go ahead. ASK US!

March 4, 2011

Twyla Tharp brings her creative rebellion to Hubbard Street Dance Company with world premiere

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Artistic Director Glenn Edgerton has announced the return of choreographic legend Twyla Tharp to launch the company’s 2011-12 season.  Hubbard Street has commissioned Tharp to create a new work for the company, which will debut during the company’s Fall Series engagement at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park, October 13-16, 2011.

“I had the great pleasure of working with Twyla back in the eighties as a dancer,” recalls Edgerton.  “Recently I reunited with her in the capacity of director and choreographer and it has been a fascinating reunion – she is fascinating.  Twyla had such a significant history with Hubbard Street and I felt it was important that our current dancers experience her with the motivation of looking forward.

I approached her with the idea of a project that would represent her rebellious nature, which in the sixties and the onset of her career is what brought her choreography to prominence. Consequently, we are embarking on a new creation by Twyla that demonstrates her wonderful sense of creative rebellion.”

“When Glenn and I met we discussed many ideas,” notes Tharp. “When he asked me for a new work, I thought to myself, ‘Great, I’ve always enjoyed the vitality of Hubbard Street dancers and I have a long-term relationship with the company.’ I look forward to working with the new dancers and creating, what I believe, will be a very special dance – one that will challenge me as well as them.”

Hubbard Street’s audiences last saw Tharp’s work performed in 1995 with the World Premiere of I Remember Clifford.  Other works once produced by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago were Fait Accompli in 1995, Nine Sinatra Songs in 1992, The Golden Section and Baker’s Dozen in 1991 and 2007, The Fugue and Sue’s Leg.

Tharp will be honored with  a Spotlight Award, presented to her by Hubbard Street Founder Lou Conte, for her creative vision and unique role in American choreography and her history with the company.

The Spotlight Awards will be given at Hubbard Street’s annual Spotlight Ball on Thursday, June 2, 2011, at Hilton Chicago, 720 S. Michigan Avenue.

In the meantime you should check out the Spring Series which will feature two never-before-seen works from preeminent Israeli choreographers Ohad Naharin and Sharon Eyal from Tel Aviv’s Batsheva Dance Company.

For more information about HSDC’s 2011-12 season and subscriptions packages, call the Hubbard Street Ticket Office at 312-850-9744 or visit