When you only have one night in Miami – and you’re there for work – you still want to make the most of it. And with the Paris Marathon just around the corner, I found that, in actual fact, the best way for me to do a lot was to run around. Literally.
As a fan of street and spray-can art, going to Wynwood Walls has been on my bucket-list for some time now. So as soon as I got to the hotel, with a podcast of an interview with Kevin James – the reason for my trip to Miami – loaded on my iPhone, I ran the 3 miles to the walls, and then spent another 2 and a half running from section to section, trying to soak it all in. There’s not really a natural path to follow to see it all, so I just weaved in between the streets, whenever I saw something that grabbed my attention, I’d follow it and go look at it up close. Google Art has this incredible street art programme where you can use Street View to look at pieces of art from all over the world, which is great for preservation too, but there’s nothing like seeing the tall, towering pieces in person.
There were a few I really wanted to see, the rest, outside the walls, occupying the surrounding area, I just wanted to stumble upon in whatever way I was meant to find them. Faith47, one of South Africa’s finest artists, most certainly as women go, has a few pieces up. One is from 2013, titled Multum in Parvo, that was actually the first piece I found, after taking a wrong turn – although I think in this context there was no such thing. It’s incredibly moving to see, and there is something about the scale of seeing an image like this on such a large canvass that really just shifts a whole lot of emotions inside.
She also has a smaller piece inside the Wynwood Walls complex, and this other beautiful piece I wish I had taken a better picture of. A collaboration with Alexis Dias titled Eros, it’s a magnificent meditation on sensuality, and if you look at the snake, it comes apart beneath the woman’s body. The detail, as always, it what makes it so striking.
Swoon is another one of my favourites, who first started out by placing her life-sized portraits of friends and family around NYC, and I also took in the Lady Pink piece – a treat given she is the only woman considered capable of competing with the guys back in the day when she used to paint subway trains in the early 80s.
Stumbled upon this familar face, and found out it was Nicholai Khan, who painted Madiba’s face for his Be Your Own Icon series. Unfortunately the part where Nelson Mandela’s hands are resting on his face has been tagged over.
Other familiar faces, or at least tags…
Dal East x2
And found a few new names to keep a look out for in the future…
like Miss Van
Mr D 1987
I tried not to feel overwhelmed, but it still happened. The fear that you won’t see everything has to be accepted. You aren’t. It just makes for the perfect reason to return to Miami. That, and the glorious weather.
Entertainment news, in the US particularly, tries too hard to be entertaining. It almost entirely relies on gossip and name-dragging and, now with useful technology at our fingertips, screen-grabs of celebrities’ faces so we can read made-up stories about things they surely were thinking while attending an awards ceremony. It would be funny if it wasn’t what passed for actual news.
More and more it seems, vindictiveness is playing into this too. With the Internet as a tool, tweets or mistakes or gushes are blown up and out of proportion to levels meant to elicit some kind of rage or outrage or scandalous response. Never mind that it’s a thing of the past to actually read a tweet or link before commenting or re-tweeting. It’s all a race to get involved, and add to what’s “trending.”
Last week, a friend of mine who interviews movie-stars for an Australian TV show had a snippet of his interview with Cate Blanchett go viral. It was a fun and silly interview, no doubt in line with the format of the show that he works for. But snippets were taken totally out of context – it was an interview he was doing with Cate for the very serious business of talking about Cinderella, and she seemed to be going along with his light-hearted approach for most of the time. He was strung up for all to see on the worldwideweb, while “news” stories played into the narrative that likes to get pushed out about how uptight Cate can be, but in this instance it was warranted. I don’t have to defend his questions or approach to still feel uncomfortable by these attacks.
It’s like the Internet has become an open field to throw eggs at someone as they pass by. In a column for the Washington Post, Caitlin Dewey quotes Jon Ronson, who’s written a book about online shaming, and talks about how we’re trying “to define each other by the worst tweet we ever wrote.” It’s not just tweets though. It extends to anything that can be screenshot, grabbed or GIF’ed it seems.
It all happened to get closer to home this week, with South African Trevor Noah becoming the target. It was to be expected, though, with a job the size of the one he landed, and even he pre-empted the scrutiny, telling the NY Times, “we live in a world where some still say Beyonce can’t sing, so why should I be exempt?”
A few Conservative Americans dug through his 8000 tweets to find the most offensive ones, some in 2010 and 2011, to label him anti-Semitic and sexist. Again, you don’t have to make excuses for his stupid jokes to be fed up with this up-and-down-and-up-and-down hamster wheel of what constitutes a news cycle now. But the level to which the response, mostly in tweets, stooped didn’t need to be put on a public platform, hashed over and over again.
It feeds into this greater cycle where there seems to be a constant need to all day, every day, find the next viral video, and then all the news outlets must talk about it for fear of being left out. There is so much music, so many great films – short films, long films – artwork, theatre and stage shows, TV series, all these incredible things being created all the time. Are they not enough? These are the things that should constitute entertainment news. These are the things we could be talking about, carving out snippets of time to take them in.
I know we’re pushed for time, all the time, but surely bite-sized content doesn’t have to mean consuming repeated and hacked-up bits and peaces of stuff that isn’t really entertainment news. Or even news, really. If you want all that, you know where to go. Me, I’ll be over here, carrying on with the business of finding out just what Jay Z’s new streaming service actually means for the way we consume music nowadays, and which movies I should catch up on now that British actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje has been added to the Suicide Squad cast.
Oh, and the statement from Comedy Central, who finally gave in and responded to the Trevor criticism:
“Like many comedians, Trevor Noah pushes boundaries; he is provocative and spares no one, himself included. To judge him or his comedy based on a handful of jokes is unfair. Trevor is a talented comedian with a bright future at Comedy Central.”
Two years ago, I jumped into a cab with Trevor Noah, on a hot and oh-so-sweaty NYC night, to grab a quick interview with him as he dashed from one show at the Culture Project to another at the Comedy Cellar. It was but one of the adventures I’ve covered of his, as he’s made his way through stand-up shows, late-night TV appearances on Leno and Letterman and then becoming a contributor to The Daily Show.
Today, the next adventure has been announced. On Friday, news came that Trevor Noah had made a shortlist of possible candidates to take over from Jon Stewart when he leaves Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. Jon, who has been a fan of Noah’s for a while now, is set to leave any time between July and the end of this year. Today it’s been confirmed Noah will indeed take over the reigns. He’ll be third person to host, since the show premiered in 1996.
The New York Times reports Jon saying, “I’m thrilled for the show and for Trevor. He’s a tremendous comic and talent that we’ve loved working with,” adding in the statement that he “may rejoin as a correspondent just to be a part of it!!!”
Trevor, meanwhile, is on tour in Dubai, but he tweeted out his response:
No-one can replace Jon Stewart. But together with the amazing team at The Daily Show, we will continue to make this the best damn news show!
In taking over what The Daily Beast calls the hottest job in America, Trevor’s job will be to helm 160 shows a year, with 20 or so minutes of fresh material every night of the week. It’s not known yet exactly when Trevor will take over, and the news is somewhat unexpected, if very welcome by South Africans. He had only been on the show three times. But it seems that’s all it took. Comedy Central told the NY Times it drew up “a shortlist of possible successors and Trevor checked off every box on that list and then some.” No doubt Americans will have their opinions on the matter – does he have the experience or the profile? But as Comedy Central president Michele Ganeless says, “You don’t hope to find the next Jon Stewart – there is no next Jon Stewart.” They were looking for someone who brings something exciting and new and different, and they found him.
About an hour and a bit outside of New York City lies Beacon, a cosy spot within the Hudson Valley that’s home to the Dia Art Museum. It’s a place I’ve been wanting to visit ever since moving to NYC, but as it goes with life, sometimes many months, or years, have to pass before a wish is granted. But I do believe you discover something at the time you are meant to. This past weekend, I was meant to discover Beacon in what’s become one of my favourite ways to see art – by running to it.
To be certain, we didn’t run to Beacon from NYC (now that would be a marathon!) but with my BlackRosesNYC running mates, we drove up there to take in a few miles, brunch and see Dia. Those of us training for marathons – Paris and Boston – took part in a metric marathon, where 26.2 kilometres becomes 16 miles, complete with a very long bridge, some very steep hills and one very dodgy-looking motel. Aside from the motel (which we ran by because my pace partner and I took a wrong turn), the views were beautiful. Also, in spite of the snow, which is stubbornly still falling even as we enter April.
Once we’d eaten the calories burned (and possibly more) at The Hop, we went to Dia. It’s part of a constellation of sites and the galleries at the Beacon site are lit almost entirely by natural light, dictating the museum’s opening hours. That makes the building itself a sight worth taking in all of its own. The former Nabisco box printing factory harks back to Beacon’s role as an industrial city in a bygone era. The smell of concrete and feel of the iron and wood inside just add to the whole experience of being there.
When you only have a short amount of time to explore, it’s best to take in the highlights – Richard Serra’s massive yet intricate shapes, Louise Bourgeois’s giant metal spider, Sol LeWitt’s highly detailed and captivating scribbles of geometric proportions on the walls, Dan Flavin’s light installation of fluorescent slabs. It’s invigorating and stimulating after miles and miles of thoughts turning over and over in one’s mind.
Walking out of the museum at the winter closing time of 4pm, one of my friends summed it up perfectly: “The run was great, the food was great, but the art, man, the art was the best.” Although, the quote of the day has to go to the person who took the last pic above, when she told us she looked at our group and had wondered if it was “National Running Pant Day or something.”
It seems no official word has been made about this, as is the usual case with things of this nature. I imagine we’ll only hear about it when it is officially made known in some kind of press release leading up to the end of Stewart’s tenure, which is set to be anytime between July and the end of this year. But it’s still great buzz for Noah, who’s been steadily making his name known over here in the US.
He joined The Daily Show late last year, and has only been on a few times, which is in keeping with his job description there as a contributor to the show. American TV viewers have watched the late night landscape change over the past few months, as it will continue to do, with Jay Leno, David Letterman, Craig Ferguson, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon and Stewart moving on, or in the case of Colbert and Fallon, up. British actor, producer and one-half of the force behind Gavin & Stacy, James Corden just made his solid debut this week, taking over from Ferguson.
Now, as a South African, I may be biased, but I think having Noah take over would be an inspired move. During each of the numerous stand-up shows that he’s been performing here over the past couple of years, he has been finding that sweet spot between his unique experience of being born and raised a South African with a black mother and a white father, and the universal “oh-yes” moments that surpass borders and genres, names and labels. I would hope that if he were to be in the role, he may offer a perspective that would take up the lead that Stewart set, by opening Comedy Central viewer’s eyes to issues beyond the borders of America’s immediate concerns. As we’ve seen from stories that have made headlines recently, the issue of race is one that America needs to confront, and comedy is a good way to start. Really, it’s a conversation we all could have a little more often.
So, here’s hoping the news is true. We are cautious to note, as in the Variety report, that nothing is confirmed or guaranteed at this stage. But the fact that he’s being written about it in this way is a good step forward for Noah’s profile here in the US of A, nonetheless.