May 14, 2010

Guilty As Charged

Look at this Fucking Hipster Edition

What Does Hipster Mean to Meme?

via Buzzfeed

I appreciate the Sartre call-out (1:17); however, to her point(s), I just happened upon the latest installment of Nitsuh Abebe’s monthly column for Pitchfork, in which he addresses the concept of irony as the guiding tenet of indie (read: hipster) culture, citing LCD Soundsystem and Hipster Runoff (both of which I’ve written about in a similar context).

You can’t possibly navigate the Internet without being able to understand both arch, knowing irony and all-out earnestness– but no matter how good your ability to figure out which is which, you will eventually run into items where you have no earthly idea how serious the author is.

–Nitsuh Abebe, Why We Fight #3: A Brief History of Knowingness and Irony,
Pitchfork, May 7 2010

In Abebe’s inaugural essay, he draws parallels between Joanna Newsom and Lady Gaga; the former recently spoke about the latter in an interview with the Guardian. (I was less impressed with the extended analogy of musical evolution that marked his second effort, though I’d like to read the Calvino story he mentions.)


More to come soon…

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April 29, 2010

Images: Super Deluxx Edition

Henri Cartier-Bresson's portrait of Sartre is currently on view in his retrospective at MoMA

Henri Cartier-Bresson's portrait of Sartre is currently on view in his retrospective at MoMA

As with his entire body of work, Sartre’s theory of imagination refers to—and, naturally, affirms—his ontology, in which he explores Husserl’s tenet that “all consciousness is consciousness of something” in the context of the ‘detotalized totality’ of being-in-itself / being-for-itself dualism. Sartre postulates an admittedly underdeveloped notion of image consciousness in his early work The Imaginary (1940), though these writings are largely eclipsed by his later political [viz. Marxist] proclivities; nevertheless, his theory of imagination is a sufficient foundation of a phenomenological aesthetics.

Notably, Sartre implies that the imaginary (or ‘irreal’) has the same ontological import as the real: if the real is never beautiful, it is simply because beauty is, by definition, imaginary, where imagination is a permanent possibility of consciousness. A painting, photograph, film, song, performance, etc., necessarily transcends perception—i.e. consciousness of oil on canvas, ink on paper, a projection, an actor, etc.—as an object of image consciousness, which overflows with the meaning of the portrait (etc.): a particular arrangement of brushstrokes or sounds immediately presents itself to consciousness as an image or melody. The abstract, then, is that which escapes us in experience qua perception; colors transcend pigment to conjure mood or geometry.

Hence, Images (in no particular order):



































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March 19, 2010


or, What Hipster Means to Me

Hipster. Reject the label or embrace it, Sisyphus does not envy you though your path is clear: you like art (check), music (check), design (√), fashion (√), film (√), food (√) and biking around Brooklyn to jam with hipster friends or go to (i.e. be seen at) art happenings and step out for smokes (√√√√√). And you blog about it (√). There is no possibility that you have freely chosen to do these things: the hipster is a sheep, a cartoon, a robot, a target market—anything but a living, breathing human being. The hipster is Sartre’s waiter.*

[It would be too easy to populate this post with photos from LATFH, Vice, Cobrasnake, Last Night's Party,, etc. etc., so we're going with photos from Beijing's Ren Hang, via Neocha Edge. Are Chinese hipsters more or less authentic than their Western idols? Is Chinese anything more or less authentic than Western versions of the same? Meta-migraine...]

The New York Times recently ran a blurb on the (decline of the) hipster with a handful of decent and not-too-hateful comments. The piece cites Salon’s recent article on Hipsters+Food Stamps—which itself has elicited the usual anti-Trustafarian screeds and counterarguments in defense of food(ies), etc.—as the latest development in the ongoing culture war between “Young, Creative Urbanites” and regular people. Meanwhile, Adbusters is over it, which is probably for the best.

In any case, it’s worthy enough of an occasion to reflect on What Hipster Means to Me. (Ok so that’s probably an inappropriate, if pithy, exordium for what is intended to be a thoughtful, unironic and somewhat ambitious essay, but it was just too good to pass up.)

In other words, I’m not in denial about my hipster proclivities, so long as I might be granted the possibility of unironically self-identifying as a hipster. Similarly, Idolize Your Killers is (to borrow WordPress’s felicitous phrasing) “Just another hipster blog”—lest we forget that meta-commentary is the trademark of postmodernity and, by extension, hipsterdom and digital culture alike.

Yet “hipster” has been a pejorative term for nearly a decade now—a pigeonhole, a pariah, or worse: a Platonic “idea of Hipster.” This archetype finds infinite variations of empirical manifestations, though it is never fully realized; instead, an individual is reduced to his urban outfit, fixed-gear bike or love of Animal Collective, etc.

A brief overview on the case against hipsters: as the indie nation evolved alongside American Apparel*, so too did pent-up indignation at their smug, unleashed most memorably in Adbusters’ seminal July 2008 cover story “Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization.” Time Out is known to dabble in hipster-bashing; Paste did its part last year; Gawker and Gothamist hit the hipster hot button when they want to pander for pageviews. (I’m sure I’ve omitted many a rant; those are just the media that come to mind.) Conversely, the proto-hip tastemakers at Vice have somewhat validated the hipster with VBS’s ongoing alt-journalism efforts, which are now featured on the likes of CNN and Huffington Post.

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February 22, 2010

Thoughts On One Hundred

Reflections on blogging to mark the 100th post to Idolize Your Killers.

I need Adobe Caslon Italic...

I need Adobe Caslon Italic...

NB: It’s a long one. With lots of words—over a thousand of ’em. And no pictures.

You’ve been warned.

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February 15, 2010

Finite Regression

In the interest of staying fresh, I am testing out a faster, looser (though not quite Tumbl[ie]r) format, which will basically feature content as I encounter it. I’m still experimenting with essays and editorial voice, though I have yet to figure out how to present longer-form original content.

In the meantime, you can expect pleasant diversions such as this one:

It is only fitting that this first (duly) reblogged post is from

I was really into fractals in college (I know…) when I was making rave flyers (I know!) for a friend’s parties in Iowa (I know! I know! Shut up already!). Anyway, the thing that I really used to love doing with this fractal application that I had on my computer was zooming in to different parts of the familiar Mandelbrot set as far as I could…

Insanely Deep Fractal Zoom,

These posts may or may not be accompanied by superficially related mp3s (as yielded by a cursory search of the ol’ music library).

» Apparat – Fractales Pt. 1 (3:34) – 5.8MB mp3 @ 227kbps

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January 19, 2010

Like New

or, Shameless Self Promotion

So I’ve finally finished importing the first months’ worth of (mostly China-related) original posts from the makeshift blog that I set up on my old/new portfolio site, Who Are Who—old because it’s been my home on the web for some time now (and will be so for the foreseeable future); new because I was redesigning it from scratch at the time.

As I have mentioned before, I’ve left the old blog more or less intact, though I have seen fit to make minor revisions and omissions during the process of reformatting the text and images for the new (current) version of IYK.

Additionally, I’ve decided not to import the series of “Drawings” posts to Idolize Your Killers: these now constitute a ‘drawing log‘ (=glog?) on Who Are Who.


That said, I would also like to take this opportunity to announce that the aforementioned portfolio site, Who Are Who, is more or less finished—I still need to sort out some browser compatibility issues and I may continue to add content, but it’s entirely functional (and hopefully decent-looking) at this point, which is what counts.

Of course, that’s the easy part… now to actually create some artwork..

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January 15, 2010


This detailed account of my Thursday is intended as a window into the life of someone who is currently “between jobs” (i.e. jobless—which is why I have all the time in the world to spend on my blog).

It’s pretty stupid and boring.

Honestly though, I don’t really know why I’m doing this—especially without photos, which might somehow justify the tedious and grossly underdeveloped prose. (It reads like something I would’ve written for a 9th-grade English class.) The closest approximation of a rationalization I can come up with is that I’d like to have some really terrible, shameful writing on the record to spite the rest of the content on my blog.

It’s also littered with hip NYC namedroppings and a cast of ancillary characters who barely qualify as devices. There is no symbolism or allegorical value to speak of. I’ve done my best to minimize foreshadowing… but that’s asking a lot and I’m not that good of a writer.

At best, it’s an exercise, an uncharacteristically intimate portrait of contemporary bohemia, largely unembellished albeit esoteric to the point of being skewed. At worst, it may be remembered as the first symptom of an otherwise untold descent into madness.

We’ll see how long it says online before I decide to delete it. (I’m tracking stats now so I’ll know exactly how many people clickthrough and read it.)

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January 11, 2010

Deitch You Can't Scratch

Photo via Arrested Motion /

Over the weekend, the art world was abuzz with rumors that notorious New York art dealer & gallerist Jeffrey Deitch was in “discussion” with the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) concerning an open director position. Blogs and newspapers alike speculated as to the potential significance of the high-profile, highly unorthodox (and unprecedented?) appointment of a private dealer to full-fledged directorship.

The LA Times broke the news moments ago (tweets are piling in), though many insiders already suspected Deitch’s appointment to be a foregone conclusion by this morning.

I can’t pretend to know enough about the upper echelons of art dealership or museums to offer anything that might pass for profound insight, but I’ll certainly be following this story closely as it unfolds… especially concerning the fate of Soho institution Deitch Projects.*

*I have a semi-storied relationship with Deitch Projects: I worked on Jonah Freeman & Justin Lowe’s “Black Acid Co-Op” as an intern and I covered the Dash Snow Memorial for Hypebeast. More recently, my cropped jpg of Kehinde Wiley’s Michael Jackson is somehow ranked higher Arrested Motion’s original in Google Image search, and has been a weirdly steady source of web traffic in these early days of IYK. I guess a little web formatting can go a long way towards SEO.

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December 25, 2009


The flight was fine despite a three hour delay.

Due to fatigue (compounded by jetlag) + holiday festivities, the blog will be on a brief hiatus until next week.


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December 23, 2009

(Far From) Home

With any luck, I will be back in Brooklyn in 24 hours or so, enjoying a chicken parm sub from 3 Luigis… assuming I make it back before they close. (The Continental website has already posted an hour and half delay for my flight, so I’m expecting the worst.)

Beijing Capital International Airport Website

Beijing Capital International Airport Website—this is how I will always remember Beijing

Some brief thoughts (afforded by the inimitable medium of blogging) as I finish packing—

China by the numbers:
–43 blog posts
–6 drafted posts about China that may or may not see light of day
~250 cigarettes
~150 km (running)
~200 km (walking)
~3.5 websites designed/launched

Things I will miss: cheap food, cheap alcohol, cheap cigarettes, lower cost of living in general, D-22, Asian pears every morning, free lodging and meals, having a maid, 798 Art District, Gulou, the Bridge café, and not really having any responsibilities whatsoever.

Things I will not miss: the slight language barrier, slow Internet, blocked Internet, packed subways, an hour-long commute to work each way, spitting, and godawful Chinese taste as reflected in the ultra-gawdy aesthetic in everything from architecture to fashion.

Things I missed: friends, NFL regular season football, Sportscenter, Mad Men, Jersey Shore (?), Neon Indian/Glo-Fi/Chillwave, tacos, biking, cheese… you know, the little things.

Placeholder image; no time to come up with anything better for now...

Placeholder image; no time to come up with anything better for now...

As far as I go
As far as I know
I’ve always got
A place called home

Across all the seas
It’s fine by me
‘Cause I’ll never be
Far from home

–Tiga, “(Far From) Home”

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