T LOunge for April 12th, 2021

Posted on April 12, 2021

The Blue Cup Café – Kiev, Ukraine



Looking over today’s LOunge, it occurs to us that today would be a very good day to simply embrace and expect the surreal. Taking that further, it’s a day to BE a little surreal if you wanna. Why? Because today is MONDAY and if you take the day on its own terms, it’s going to be a slog for you. Better to define the terms yourself as soon as your feet hit the floor. Responsibility? Clear-eyed realism? Not today, Monday. Not today.

Anyway, what’s new with y’all? We did almost nothing of value over the weekend. For the past nine or ten months, we’ve used our weekends as productive time; getting home improvement projects done, working on long-term or freelance writing projects, general housekeeping and working out. But with our second jab coming this week, our whole “Let’s tackle this lockdown with gusto” thing has completely evaporated. We want OUT. We’ve been more antsy these past few weeks than we have been all year. And the funny thing is, we have very little planned and will remain fairly cautious for a while. But just the thought of having options again on the weekends seems to have drained us of any motivation to make the most of our few remaining quarantine weekends. And y’know? We’re okay with that. Our housekeeping is probably going to be abhorrent this summer.


How Lil Nas X Is Reclaiming Queerness to Proclaim His Own Blessedness
Rev. Jacqui Lewis explores the Black liberation theology roots of Lil Nas X’s Montero (Call Me By Your Name) video.

What Lil Nas X offers in response to this alienation is art painted directly from the liberation theologian’s palette: He reclaims the symbols others used to condemn him to proclaim his own blessedness. Indeed, what’s immediately striking is Lil Nas X’s theological sophistication. While some of the more suggestive scenes in the video drawing critics’ ire are somewhat blunt—you don’t need to strain to grasp the metaphor of sliding down a pole to the devil—others are rather subtle. The Greek emblazoned on the tree, for example, translates roughly to, “Therefore, after nature was divided into two, each yearned for the other half.” It’s a nod to Plato’s Symposium—which describes the first humans as androgynous before we were split by the gods, instilling in us a longing to find the other part of ourselves for wholeness—an arrestingly nuanced allusion to gender’s historic fluidity.


Why Meghan Markle Isn’t Coming To Prince Philip’s Funeral
When news broke yesterday that Prince Philip had died at the age of 99, one question flashed across royal fans’ minds: Will Meghan and Harry attend? The couple lives in Montecito, Santa Barbara, California, and it’s a 10-plus-hour plane ride from Los Angeles to London. Harry will attend the funeral, but Meghan will not, Buckingham Palace confirmed.
“The Duke of Sussex is planning to attend. The Duchess of Sussex has been advised by her physician not to travel. So the duke will be attending.”


How Quarantine Broke The Fitness Industrial Complex
Lockdown broke the cult of fitness, ushering in a new moment of being gentle with ourselves.

When studios and gyms around the country abruptly closed during the early days of lockdown, fitness became a solitary pursuit. The industry hurried to virtualize, modifying its offerings so that people could take “no days off” at home. The dumbbell market alone is on track to increase by $272 million by 2024, thanks to hoards of committed fitness enthusiasts stocking their basements, garages, bedrooms, even their small condo living rooms with equipment, causing a months-long shortage. ICON Fitness, which owns Nordictrack, Proform, and iFit, reported a 600 percent increase in sales, attributed to purchases made for at-home workouts. By May 2020, the stock price of Peloton had nearly doubled and the company’s revenue had increased by 66 percent. (The company’s most recent quarterly earnings report showed a 128 percent increase in revenue, compared to the same quarter last year, to more than $1 billion.)


What’s Inside the Recently Uncovered Private Letters of Queen Victoria?
The unearthed correspondence of Empress Augusta Victoria—including notes from her godmother—might shed light on previously private royal history.

Approximately 1,000 letters written to the Empress were found. “One of the boxes–last locked in 1886–was slightly broken,” says Wittwer. Experts found letters dating from 1883 to 1886, including from Augusta Victoria’s predecessor, Kaiserin Augusta.
The second box, which has yet to be opened, bears a label describing the contents as letters about her sons. Also unopened is a sheaf of letters from Augusta Victoria’s great-aunt and godmother, Queen Victoria of England, found in the leather case. “Queen Victoria is included,” says Wittwer with an air of mystery. “As far as we can see as of yet, the senders were mainly relatives and leading staff.”


Yayoi Kusama’s Cosmic Nature Opens at the New York Botanical Garden
This must-see exhibition is a unique collaboration between the Japanese artist and the NYBG.

Set amidst the gardens, the exhibition is the first to deeply explore Kusama’s relationship to nature. It’s a setting that feels especially appropriate as the Japanese artist grew up sketching in her family’s plant nursery in Matsumoto. There is a monumental Dancing Pumpkin, which combines two of Kusama’s most popular motifs, tentacles and pumpkins, her first-ever obliteration greenhouse, where guests are invited to cover the room with stickers and fake flowers, a new outdoor infinity mirror room, Illusion Inside the Heart (set to open later this summer), and a new version of her landmark 1966 Narcissus Garden. The mix of old and new work is interspersed with seasonal garden displays by NYBG’s horticulturalists that celebrate biodiversity and includes Japanese plants from Kusama’s childhood.


How the Horse Girls All Grew Up
An obsession usually attributed to young girls has found its footing among adults—and it isn’t going anywhere.

Say somebody is a “horse girl” and a number of images may rear up in the mind’s eye. Perhaps it’s Jackie Kennedy: elegant, straight-backed, and regal, astride her beautiful bay Sardar. Or, conversely, maybe it’s an introverted dreamer in junior high, with a binder full of equine doodles, a treasured Breyer model horse, and a long, wet braid. Or it could be Elizabeth Taylor, tiny and determined, harnessing the might of her horse Pi as she tears through the Grand National at the climax of National Velvet.
No matter the image, there’s a common thread that connects these young women. They subvert society’s expectations of what a young girl ought to do, with athleticism and style to burn. Whether you think of her as a rich girl, an athlete, a royal, or a dork, you may be missing the point; that horse girl is mighty. And these days, she’s all grown up.


Leslie Jordan Is Here for a Good Time—And a Long Time
It’s been a long journey—longer than just the 2,000 or so miles from Chattanooga to Los Angeles—to get to where Jordan is now, however. Across his four-decade career as an entertainer, Jordan has flexed his comedic chops on the likes of Will & Grace and Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, become an accomplished playwright, and appeared as everything from a psychic medium to a serial killer across multiple seasons of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story. Despite all this, nothing could have prepared him for his latest role, possibly his biggest yet: a viral Instagram sensation. With over 5.7 million followers and counting, his daily missives during the first lockdowns last summer saw Jordan become a reliable source of light relief from the horrors unfolding on the news, keeping his legions of followers (Rihanna and Michelle Pfeiffer among them) entertained by strumming the ukelele, moaning at the top of his lungs to his mom downstairs, or simply saying hello to his “fellow hunker-downers.”


13 Films That Prove Carey Mulligan Is One of the Best Actors of Her Generation
If Carey Mulligan reaches the Oscar podium on April 25 with her by turns thrilling and devastating lead performance in Emerald Fennell’s subversive feature debut Promising Young Woman, her win would cement her status as one of the most consistently brilliant actors in the industry today. Over the past 16 years, the 35-year-old Londoner has worked with quiet precision, bringing depth, complexity and intelligence to every part she takes on. While she’s still best known for playing strong-willed heroines in lyrical period dramas, it’s her contemporary roles—from a messy lounge singer in Shame (2011) to this recent transformation—that are a true testament to her talent.


Meet the Black Cowgirl Behind the Literacy Program That Combines Reading and Horseback Riding
Saddle Up and Read was created and founded by Gooch in 2017 as a direct way to help raise literacy rates for children in North Carolina. Gooch grew up on the farm, tending to her family’s horses and participating in trail rides every weekend as a kid. A voracious reader, Gooch eventually coordinated local events where she could read to children at the Wendell Community Public Library. She told the kids all about her family’s horse farm and her long history of riding horses and learning about them through the years. This inevitably led to kids asking to see photos of her horses she talked about, and she saw quickly how much kids responded to the subject. It inspired her to incorporate both reading and horses as a therapeutic approach for children to increase their literacy skills.


“You Can’t Fight Fire, You Have to Work With It”—In Australia, These Women Are Harnessing Indigenous Knowledge to Protect Their Land
Indigenous communities in Australia have dealt with wildfires for millennia using natural technology, namely fire itself. Through “cultural burning,” they intentionally set fire to dried-up brush, vegetation, and dead leaves, a process that regenerates the soil, supports a balanced ecosystem, and clears the scrub that would otherwise catch fire and fuel an unstoppable blaze. In parts of Australia where cultural burning is still carried out, the Black Summer fires actually bypassed the area or died completely. By lighting these small, slow, cooler fires—timed with the seasons and varying life cycles of plants in mind—these communities (and others around the world) have protected themselves from catastrophic fires and preserved their culture.


New BBC Show ‘All That Glitters’ Is Like ‘Bake Off’ For Jewellery
Canadian comedian Katherine Ryan is leaning forward on Zoom so I can count her ear piercings. Nine to date, each one shimmering with a mismatched slender Maria Tash gold hoop. “I do also have a belly button piercing but there’s no ring in it”, she smiles, “It was mandatory for my generation.” Ryan is a self-confessed “glitter” girl and jewel fan, who makes fashion and jewellery a key part of her glamorous stage routine. In her new role as presenter of BBC Two’s talent show All That Glitters, which airs from 13 April, she presides over a Birmingham workshop, watching how jewellery is created in a bid to find a new bright new jewellery star.
The show is a first for the industry but follows a tried and tested format: this is the Great British Bake Off, but using precious metals and diamonds as ingredients. The judges on the show are two of Britain’s best-known contemporary jewellers, Solange Azagury-Partridge and Shaun Leane, who decide which of the eight contestants challenged to design and create a bestseller and bespoke piece deserves to be jeweller of the week, and who should be sent home.


A Clash of Wills Keeps a Leonardo Masterpiece Hidden
The Louvre inspected the “Salvator Mundi” and certified it as the work of Leonardo da Vinci. But it kept those findings secret after a squabble with the painting’s owners.

Had the Louvre concluded that the painting was not actually the work of Leonardo, as a vocal handful of scholars had insisted? Had the buyer — reported to be Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, though he had never acknowledged it — declined to include it in the show for fear of public scrutiny? The tantalizing notion that the brash Saudi prince might have gambled a fortune on a fraud had already inspired a cottage industry of books, documentaries, art world gossip columns, and even a proposed Broadway musical.



[Photo Credit: archello.com]

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