With the end of summer upon us, don't forget your bug spray this Labor Day. Sure this may not be in your forethought now, but come Tuesday morning when you walk into the office covered in a legion of lesions, you'll think differently. Nothing identifies a long debaucherous weekend more than a boatload of bug bites and bruises, coupled with a 3rd degree sunburn. So stop by the drugstore on your way out of town and stock up.
While you are there, you may notice the myriad of marvels on the market. Such as the OFF! Clip-On Mosquito Repellent, where the only thing you have to do is sacrifice your fashion sense by clipping a miniature bug-repelling fan to you hip. Sure it seems rather bulky and absurd, at first, but after a few beers you'll mistake it for pager without the perks of being a drug dealer calling yourself a doctor.
Next you have insect repelling clothing, which unlike mosquito netting are less whimsical and romantic. You would think that after contracting Malaria or Yellow fever you would be more open to dressing modestly, but when it's hot it's hot, especially at Myrtle Beach. While you've never fully adhering to the modesty codes upheld by radical religion, you can see how our ancestors, deriving from the hottest places on earth just wanted to prevent sunburns and bug bites by burqas. It finally all makes sense, where coupled with a canopy bed there will always be a layer of cloth between you and the world buzzing around you.
Now should you have forgotten to pick up some spray along the way, you can download several bug repelling iPhone and iPad apps. The app is similar to a dog whistle, however instead of attracting stray puppies, it omits such high frequency sounds that repels bugs. So when news reporter Kerry Sanders recently tested this ludicrous app, he proved anyone with a lick of common sense's theory that it doesn't work. An although product is a bust, there are close to a dozen apps available online ranging in price from free to a buck or two. So obviously someone is buying or downloading these app if so many exist. Which I guess brings us to the point, that should we be stranded on a dessert island this weekend and we're being eaten alive by bugs, most of us would download this app. Why.. well first of all who the hell is Kerry Sanders and second of all how the hell will you know if you never try?
Metaphorically speaking, Las Vegas and Grillz are one in of the same. Sure it's stretch, since one is a city and the other an accessory, but otherwise speaking both are a mirage masking reality. Las Vegas neutralizes the natural beauty the Mojave Dessert by covering cacti with casinos, while Grillz conceal one's natural beauty with a golden façade.
So while on Spring Break in Las Vegas what seems like eons ago, I was approached by a English man who said "You American women have such nice teeth. Can I lick you teeth?" My response was no, since the dude was annihilated and his approach was rather forward. But looking back, his sentiments have resonated with me, as I pride myself on oral hygiene.
Teeth have played a pivotal role in the history of mankind, still today they determine the quality and length of one's life. Thanks to evolution, humans stepped out of the dark ages and to stand in a world where malleable metals could be used the cap and preserve teeth. It is through the analysis of Neanderthal teeth, that we we were able to better understand our ancestors, their diet and length of maturation. And aside from utility, teeth are form of physical capital thus identifying a healthy diet and lifestyle. The Mayan Empire's inserted gems directly into one's teeth not as a marking of socio-economic statuses but for sheer decoration. And although this was thousands of years ago, the cultural modification of teeth is still popular today.
Grillz otherwise seen as teeth plated with precious metals and gems made their debut in the 1980s alongside Hip Hop. Although commonly associated with rappers and basketball icons, both women and men, as well as rich and poor partake in this fashion trend. One might presume Grillz are a social status indicator because they are expensive and made from luxury materials. However unlike a Rolex, Fronts are not often considered an investment even though they are made from stable commodities such as gold and diamonds. In fact, investing in one's own teeth via regular dental check-ups, braces, bleaching, and veneers may prove more lucrative in the long run.
The American Dental Association neither condones nor condems the use of Grillz or Fronts and although no formal study has been conducted, they felt the need to release as statement addressing the risks. Permanent and removable Grillz can scratch enamel, damage gum and tongue tissue, along with increase the risk for chipped teeth. Grillz are a magnet for collecting plaque, food, and other debree, which when compounded with metal can create infection, allegic reactions, and acidic compounds.
It is often said that your eyes and teeth are the first thing people notice about you. However if your Grillz smell of garlic, it is more likely you're breath preceded you. Halitosis is no joke, and millions battle this disorder daily. So why encourage your chances for cavities, root canals, loss of teeth, less make-out sessions. If you ever had the luxury of braces, headgear, and or a retainer (like me) you'll never forget the annoying nature of having extra stuff in your mouth. So do yourself as well as your kissing companion a favor, save some money and say fuck the fronts.
My mother and father met one summer while deep sea fishing. He drove the boat, while she caught the fish. Their love was consummated when my mother decided to keep the fish and my father had to beat it with a baseball bat. The fish's sacrifice was followed by bats of revelry and remorse amid a smokescreen of debauchery involving heavy drinking and skinny dipping, ending with bikini tops hanging from the mast. Obviously this wasn't your ordinary fish, but a trophy sized White Marlin that still hangs in my mother's garage today. It is by far one of my greatest possession.
Others may have a Big Mouth Billy Bass hanging in their garage. Why you may ask? First and foremost it is a novelty gift that nobody actually wants but somehow gets. Basically it is a plastic singing fish, who groves to the tune of Don't Worry Be Happy and Take Me Down To the River. In other words it solidifies the American stereotype of being loud and annoying, along with the American Dream to innovate ridiculous money making schemes. Which is why following Billy was Buck the Animated Trophy is a mounted fake deer who sings Sweet Home Alabama. Once again this object puts in concrete America's fascination with guns and further proliferates the National Rifle Association's right to bear arms. Sure it isn't a real deer, but to a child, what is the difference.
It's as if you can't go into a bar these days without seeing some taxidermy animal on the wall. It's like the Smithsonian or Natural History Museum meets Cheers. Now I'm not complaining but my only wish is that these animals could talk, like the one's in George Harrison's Got My Mind Set On You video. What would they tell? Would they take the voice of the hunter or the prey? Say the moment when they realized it was all over, taking their last breath? Or the moment they extinguished something's life, watching it's last breath? Would excitement, anxiety, dry mouth, beads of sweat, and adrenalin racing through their veins? Would they be nostalgic or nauseous? Well one thing is for certain, nobody ever felt that way about opening up a Big Mouth Billy Bass or Buck the Animated Trophy.
There is absolutely nothing in this world more relaxing than floating on an inner tube. With you head back, eye's closed, half in the water, bobbing with the waves, washing away your worries without a a care in the world.
In 1965 Sports Illustrated spotlighted Princess Panthip Chumbhot of Nagar Svarga Thialand, the supposed inventor of tubing. It is hard to believe nobody discovered bountiful bliss found in buoyant tubes prior to this. But it is safe to say that society has readily embraced tubing, where you can tube almost anywhere in the world, in any climate. Whether along a river, behind a boat, with a kite, down a slope; you can pretty much tube in your own tub. So with this proliferation of plastic, came an entire industry dedicated to floating.
So while straying from the traditional tire tube, came more illustrious designs such as inflatable doughnuts, mouse wheels, massive beach balls, floating ping pong tables, ride-able swans, whales, sharks, including claimable icebergs, trampolines, log cabins, monstrous islands, and canopy beds. It's like Disneyland on water, and who the hell would not want to partake in this? Well, excluding all those weary of the water. I would love to ride my blowup unicorn or dragon over to the a floating iceberg for a quick climb, followed by cocktails afloat a tropical island. Jesus would have loved nothing more than to take a break from walking on water. But perhaps something pops? Do you hunt down the hole or thrown in the towel and buy a new one?
Well...as they say, it is all fun and games until someone get's hurt, which is how the pool noodle came to be. It's perfect for swim lessons and life-guarding, but other than that, the pool noodle doesn't deliver much delight. Sure it's fun for squirting water and beating the shit out of someone with, but even that gets old. It's physically impossible to relax on a pool noodle, even with all the attachments. It's also certain a pool noodle will disintegrates the minute it hits the water. This is also aided by the compulsion for kids bite and hump the damn thing. Where if we're putting all out cards on the table, the pool is often first place for people discover themselves, whether humping a noodle or getting a tickle from of the pool's blower.
Our plastic footprint is far from our forethought, where most us fail to recognize NONE of these plastic pool products are recyclable. So naturally when the oceans rise and we're all out to sea, don't be alarmed by the irony when we're all surrounded with useless disintegrated and deflated pool toys. Now I'm not saying don't have fun and don't live life, but maybe laying on the actual beach instead so bad? Do I don't really need an inflatable island the size of the Pacific Garbage Patch?
Try walking mile in someone else's shoes, and you'll wind up thirsty. Would a beer opened with someone's filp flop quench that thirst? Well if the shoe fits wear it, I guess. Nothing seems more satifying than having someone's crusty dirt and disease-ridden flop, pop your top. Sure your buddy just got back from sleeping in a port-a-potty at Burning Man, and then marched across the five boroughs of New York City, through dog piss and rancid garbage just to open your beer. Yum!
Sure desperate times call for desperate measures, but is opening a beer so tricky? Heck, there are a gazillion people out their who can open a bottle with a million different things: lighter, counter tops, water bottles, carabiner/keys, and their teeth. Now obviously it is up to the individual as to whether they prefer cracking a tooth to getting E. Coli or Pneumonia from a flop. But why risk either, nobody can fill your shoes.
Ironically, Fantich & Young make several pairs of shoes, both women's stilettos and men's oxfords, where teeth comprise the sole. Now...don't got get off on the wrong foot, F&Y actual soul so the soles are made with faux teeth. Well is is most certain shoes have come a long way from our Neanderthal ancestors, where it almost seems as though we've gone full circle with form no longer follows function and falls somewhere under the vast umbrella of art and fashion. Apple even patented a shoe with a build in pedometer while the Reebok Pump could in fact make you jump higher. It seems that even Lady Gaga is over outrageous platform stiletto heels as high as slits. But one thing is for certain, sneakers and Timberlands will forever reign, even if you live on a shoestring budget, form follows function and allow fashion to meet comfort. So whether it is a Flavor or an Air Jordan put your feet up.
So stand on your own two feet and get your foot out your ass, or possibly someone else's ass and consider the consequences of mandals (man sandals) as well as flop opened beer.
With the recent loss of one of the world's brightest stars and comical geniuses Robin Williams, I can't help but reflect on how we as a culture celebrate life, grieve, and memorialize death. As a whole we're not that different from another, seemingly invincible while heartbreak-ingly vulnerable, where the world is our oyster and we imagine ourselves destined for great things, all the while terrified of the unknown and fearful of failure. With the outpouring of love and admiration, seemingly every news, media, and Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook feed is memorializing Williams. With this you can help but wonder whether or not he felt the love, and would it have changed things? Unfortunately we'll never know, and maybe that is why we grieve and memorialize this way?
So it is with the motivation of "laughter through tears" that I investigate the ways in which the world deals with death. Religion is often the first motivator; where Hindu's cremated their dead and set them to rest in the Ganges River, while both Muslim and Jewish corpses go through a religious ritual and are buried 24 hours following death, all the while liberal Christians vary on time, cremation, and embalming. Following my roommate's recent trip to Nepal, he broadened my perception of funerary ceremonies by introducing me to the sky burial/celestial burial which is practiced in Himalayan Buddhism. The corpses are offered to vultures so that the creatures may seek nourishment while abetting reincarnation and the furthering afterlife.
You can decide what to do with your body after death, such as donating organs or Cryonics, otherwise inevitably someone else will make this decision for you. Most human-beings are afraid of death, which is why funerary ceremonies and memorials are coping mechanisms. Several years ago there may not have been so many options, but today there is an advantageous funerary industry.
With the accouterments accompanying cremation the world is your oyster, where a coral reef can rise from your ashes via a biodegradable oceanic urn. Nevertheless if preservation is your path, an hourglass pendant with your loved one's ashes is a great reminder that time is ticking. But your best investment is to have your ashes compressed into a diamond. Now... if having trouble letting go, your lover's ashes can be kept in a lifelike figure, complete with their faux face as well as a Superman or bad-girl costume or why not have have them mummified for a mere $67,000. The options don't die, why not have your ashes launched either into the air via fireworks or into space via Celestis Memorial Spaceflights. Or if you're looking for something a little more artistic, you could donate your corpse to Mark Evaristti for his Ferrari Forever sculpture, or get a tattoo or portrait painted using their ashes as pigment? Now if you're dying for a more hipster approach, the best option is to have your ashes pressed into a vinyl record. Is vinyl dead? But perhaps the most disturbing and closest to home is LifeNaut, the digital reanimation of a your loved one. It's like FaceTime and Skype but not, so if their Facebook profile wasn't enough of a reminder, now you can have a digital conversation the dead.
Stereoscopic pertains to three-dimensional 3D vision or variations where devices are used to create the illusion of depth from a two-dimensional 2D image. You may remember these things from most suburban malls in the 90s, otherwise maybe you've heard of MC Etcher. There are a variety of ways to achieve 3D from drawing with depth, side-by-side viewing popular in the 1800s, then came color anaglyph systems, holograms, Pixar, and then 3D printing. It is in our human nature to seek pleasure, where playing tricks on our eyes and brain are fun, it is a challenge all the while entertaining to stare at a stereoscope.
The stereoscope is a one lens away from the telescope and similar to the binocular, it is quite logical to envision how its origin came about. However unlike the telescope and binocular, the stereoscope serves no function other than entertainment. Supposedly Louis XIV loved his stereoscope because it provided him with endless hours of entertainment and escape from the palace's wall. So coupled with the debauchery happening at Versailles, the stereoscope probably served the same purpose as today's video games today.
It is inherent for mankind to want to expand their mind visually, whether in Amazonian rainforest where indigenous cultures using DMT or a child watching cartoons. Whoever thought I'd have my mind blown standing at a mall kiosk in Chester Virginia, in-between The Limited Too, Gap, Claire's, and Cinnabon. Unfortunately there is a segment of the population who fail to see the hidden 3D, which may in fact be a good thing if you've ever experienced these wasted or have been wasted and have had these haunt your trip. My hope for the future is that there is 3D wall paper, and that rather than traveling to Versailles, you can just walk into my living room and voila.
The Japanese are an amazing culture where they have coined the term Chindogu which means an odd or distorted tool or the literal translation is un-useless. So conceptually speaking, the Japanese were trying to devise a word meaning extremely useless, however the prefix of un means not, so essentially un-useless is an oxymoron meaning not useless or otherwise useful. This could be interpreted as brilliant irony or a loss in translation? The motivation was to design objects that are more convenient yet paradoxical, so ridiculously pointless and the opposite of anything purposeful or useful. However they'er something we long for, bringing the gap between what we are what we could be, nevertheless they fail. So for something that is so impracticable and impossibly useless, the Japanese still valued it and designated a word to describe it. This reminds me of the Germans and their use of the word lebenskunst meaning life-art or carefree enjoyment of live as a work of art, and then Gesamtkunstwerk meaning a total work of art, syntheses of arts. As for the french Jacques Carelman he reinvented and reimagined the everyday. saying “Personally, I prefer to strip common objects of their normal use. It’s less dangerous, more honest and infinitely more fun! My objects, as opposed to objects worshipped by our consumer society, are perfectly useless. “
They've even developed a ten commandments a Chindogu, ranging from the object cannot exist in real life to its sole purpose being humor. From an artistic standpoint Chindogus are similar to the Dada Movement's Readymades, where Duchamp mounted a bicycle wheel to a stool, thus creating something that served no purpose as it was neither a functioning stool or a bike. So technically speaking, the Japanese Chindogus are in fact art and a reflection of our materialistic culture. The photos above display a tongue, a microphone shaped sponge, picture frames for corners, a skateboard with wheels in opposite direction,a glasses headband to use while laying down, glasses with funnels for eyedrops, a cigarette with no end, a cane with wheels, an arm holder, clothing protector for the bathtub, fake hand for chopping veggies, a toothbrush for your finger, fly swatter slippers with extended handle, solar flashlight, shared napkin/table cloth, and a faux ab maker. Obviously these objects are not the world's greatest inventions, but they are nonetheless brilliant.
Which brings me back to the entire premise of this blog, just because you think it doesn't mean it has to exist. I'm not saying don't make it, because if these objects ceased to exist, I would loose a lot of writing material and a lot of joy from my life. I'm just questioning our consumer tendancies and crziness. I want to make and buy all of these things like a connected shoes, two fans blowing at on another, stickers or fake tattoos that make it look like you're awake, a clock that grows thyme. So whatever you do don't listen to me, keep making and buying crap, never say never.
In an ideal world you'd see pictograms here, rather than actual letters and words. But don't worry this will be translated soon enough. Having grown up in the South, I remember a huge debate as to whether Ebonics would be taught in schools. Ebonics is language in and of itself that possesses particular grammar and phonology, where some would argue it is inherited via lineage and others consider it slang. Like Ebonics, maybe the same could be said for Emojis? As human beings we sometimes overlook various languages infiltrating our culture, everything from slang to body language helps shape our daily lives.
In the late 1990s with the infiltration of technology and cellular telephones, Shigetaka Kurita and NTT DoCoMo's i-mode mobile internet platform in Japan designed the world's first emojis. Emoji means picture + character where the tiny symbolic images represent electronic message. So rather than calling someone, you can send them tiny images and text to convey your thoughts. Although texting is not fully embraced by everyone, it is safe to say most of the world probably likes emojis. They are cute, funny, sweet, silly, and make most people smile. Historically speaking the ball got rolling in the 60's when Charlie Ball designed the first ever yellow smiley face with the tag line "Have a nice day!" which was then sold to Bernard and Murray Spain, where they would eventually profit over $500 million.
So it was in the stars for popular and material culture to embrace the emojis, where comedian Aziz Ansari recreated the lyrics of Kanye West and Jay-Z's song "N*ggas in Paris" via text, while Victoria Secret debuted emoji underwear. Herman Melville's classic Moby Dick has been translated into emoji where hopefully next up is this blog post. There are emojis representing almost anything you can think of; a toaster, smelly fish, Ferris wheel, fireworks, man on the moon, tents and tits, spaghetti noodles, two girls dancing, a smiley face barfing, and my favorite the illustrious middle finger. The New York recently published an article about the lack of a Hot Dog emoji, where in fact it's only a matter of time. Soon enough there will be more emojis than words, a Webster's Dictionary of emojis, emoji language classes, maybe we'll even embrace the fact of not speaking and begin to mime emojis?
100 Objects of Popular and Material Culture is an blog exploring the manifestations of human consumption and commodity-ization. The purpose of this experiment is to explore material and popular culture in contemporary society by using objects and concepts to prompt wider questions and reflections. So by emulating The British Museum's and Neil MacGregor's format of A History of the World in 100 Objects I plan to satirically analyze and reinterpreted 100 material culture objects over the course of 2014. Material Culture is the study of our culture's consumption of stuff; namely the manifestation of culture through material productions where people's perceptions of objects is socially and culturally dependent. With this, objects reflect conscious and unconscious beliefs on the the individuals who fabricated, purchased, or used them, and by extension the society where they live. So examining materiality, cultural truths and societal assumptions may be discovered. As anthropologist Arjun Appaduai states "in any society the individual is often caught between the cultural structure of commodity-ization and his own personal attempts to bring a value and order to the universe of things." Objects and commodities make up a much larger symbolic system consisting of want and need, socio-economic status, fashion, etc. Often times form follows function whether the commodity, market, and or consumer forever evolve around one-another. Philosopher Pierre Bourdieu's theories of capital flow full circle; where regardless if you are a minimalist or a hoarder the world is made up of things and everyone will leave their footprint on the earth. So by humorously analyzing marketed objects and concepts, hopefully this blog will provide further incite into ideas of over-consumption, a disposable society, consumerism vs. anti-consumers, planned obsolescence vs. sustainability, as well as the greater good of mankind and future generations.