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The Rolling Stones

One of my favourite ever quotes is Keith Richards describing Mick Jagger as “a mixture of James Brown and Maria Callas” (said while talking to NPR’s Terri Gross in 2010), and it’s a phrase that stuck with me after venturing into the Stones exhibition that’s come to NYC from their hometown of London. Exhibitionism doesn’t just center on the iconic frontman, to be sure, but it does bring together many of the complements he embodies and imbues in the band – the flamboyance and the artistry, the masculine and the feminine, the low brow swirled in with the high.
It’s no wonder they made up a new word for this display: from the moment they ditched the dogtooth suits, the Stones have always been showboats and nothing less than this kind of spectacle would have done. I missed seeing Exhibitionism in London when I was there briefly this past Summer, where it must have had such great resonance, given their roots. But thanks to a re-creation of the apartment Mick, Keith and Brian Jones shared in Chelsea in the early ’60s, I could at least feel like I was there. 
And smell like it too! The one-roomed apartment, where many of the early songs were written, is one of my favourite parts of the exhibit. Recreated by text and anecdote only, as no pictures of it existed, it made me think of the defunct CBGBs bathroom that the Met recreated for its Punk: From Chaos to Couture exhibition. Instead of graffiti-strewn walls and blocked toilets, these rooms had the stench of copious cigarette butts and old broken egg shells that wafted in from the kitchen. At least, it seemed real enough to want to turn my nose away and focus more on the record-player in the next room with Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry LPs next to it. 

“Mediocrity is the enemy” – the Stones.

Other favourite parts include the miniature models of the band’s various set designs, from Voodoo Lounge to Bridges to Babylon – tours that never came close to my home country South Africa, and Keith’s little mini-diaries in which he kept detailed notes of rehearsals and sessions (never expected him to be so meticulous). Hearing Martin Scorsese commenting on the films made about the Stones, before talking about his own, Shine A Light, is another highlight.
My jaw dropped at the sight of all the incredible fashion brought together in one room – from a rhinestone-covered flicking-tongued vest to all the custom Heidi Slimane pieces. Then it dropped even further at seeing the guitars in one room. The Les Pauls! The Fender Stratocasters! The detail and personality within their bodies – art to be studied up close, albeit behind very expensive glass walls, as voices of the band play overhead, telling stories of the instruments. 
“That’s the fun of it,” reads a quote from Keith on one of the walls. “Trying to find the sound you’re hearing in your head until it matches that or you get as close to it as possible.” Over 5 decades of the Stones doing that has yielded this experience right here. And if you’re in New York, you wouldn’t want to miss it!
Exhibitionism is on at Industria until March 2017, and then moves to Sydney.

 

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* The Rolling Stones have confirmed they will be playing four shows as part of the band’s 50th anniversary celebrations – London’s O2 Arena on November 25 and 29 & New Jersey’s Prudential Center on December 13 and 15.

* New York Comic Con wrapped up this weekend with a sneak peek at some of the new TV shows cropping up – from 666 Park Ave to The Following, starring Kevin Bacon. The event looks set to keep going from strength to strength.

* The hotly anticipated new season of The Walking Dead kicked off on Sunday, and we finally get to start seeing more of Michonne.

* Ben Affleck’s Argo may be gaining critical acclaim but Liam Neeson’s Taken 2 has won the box office for a second weekend.

* Denzel Washington’s latest film, Flight, closed the 50th anniversary of the New York Film Festival, opening with it talk of possible awards to follow.

 

* Can it truly be? Billboard is reporting The Rolling Stones will be playing shows in New York and London in November. The band, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, hasn’t toured together since the Bigger Bang series ended in 2007. Meanwhile, a film chronicling the band’s life is on its way.

* Charlize Theron is set to produce a film about war journalist Marie Colvin who was killed in Syria earlier this year. No word yet on whether Charlize will star in the movie too.

* Bastion of punk culture, CBGB is lobbying on behalf of Amnesty International for the imprisoned members of Pussy Riot, the punk band that has been jailed after protesting Russian President Vladimir Putin. CBGB is also selling t-shirts to help raise funds to support the women.

* Ryan Gosling is preparing to make his directorial debut, behind the lens of a movie touted as a modern-day fairytale called How to Catch a Monster, starring Christina Hendricks.

* Yesterday would have been Michael Jackson’s 54th birthday, and to honour this, Clark Atlanta university has added a new MBA course looking into the late pop icon’s career, taught by a former entertainment lawyer, whose clients have included Jamie Foxx and DMX.

Pic: rollingstone.com