Tuesday, December 12, 2017

How To Beat Writer’s Block

How To Beat Writer’s Block

In 1920, a sixteen-year-old Graham Greene decided that, after “104 weeks of monotony, humiliation, and mental pain,” he could no longer remain at Berkhamsted, the prep school where he was enrolled. He fled, leaving behind a note of resignation for his parents—his father was the school’s headmaster—, and was discovered on the heath soon after. The escape proved so troubling to his family that it led to a six-month stint in psychotherapy. It was a fortuitous turn in Greene’s life. He got a break from the school he dreaded and acquired a habit that would prove crucial to his life as a writer: Greene began keeping a dream journal, to help him channel his mental distress in a more productive direction.

Graham Greene kept a dream journal to help ward off writer’s block.
Photograph by Rene Saint Paul / RDA / Everett

For anyone familiar with Greene’s prolific output, it’s hard to believe that he could ever suffer from writer’s block. But, in his fifties, that’s precisely what happened—he faced a creative “blockage,” as he called it, that prevented him from seeing the development of a story or even, at times, its start. The dream journal proved to be his savior. Dream journaling was a very special type of writing, Greene believed. No one but you sees your dreams. No one can sue you for libel for writing them down. No one can fact-check you or object to a fanciful turn of events. In the foreword to “A World of My Own,” a selection of dream-journal entries that Greene selected, Yvonne Cloetta, Greene’s mistress of many years, quotes Greene telling a friend, “If one can remember an entire dream, the result is a sense of entertainment sufficiently marked to give one the illusion of being catapulted into a different world . . . . One finds oneself remote from one’s conscious preoccupations.” In that freedom from conscious anxiety, Greene found the freedom to do what he otherwise couldn’t: write.

Writer’s block has probably existed since the invention of writing, but the term itself was first introduced into the academic literature in the nineteen-forties, by a psychiatrist named Edmund Bergler. For two decades, Bergler studied writers who suffered from “neurotic inhibitions of productivity,” in an attempt to determine why they were unable to create—and what, if anything, could be done about it. After conducting multiple interviews and spending years with writers suffering from creative problems, he discarded some of the theories that were popular at the time. Blocked writers didn’t “drain themselves dry” by exhausting their supply of inspiration. Nor did they suffer from a lack of external motivation (the “landlord” theory, according to which writing stops the moment the rent is paid). They didn’t lack talent, they weren’t “plain lazy,” and they weren’t simply bored. So what were they?

Bergler was trained in the Freudian school of psychoanalysis, and that background informed his approach to the problem. In a 1950 paper called “Does Writer’s Block Exist?,” published in American Imago, a journal founded by Freud in 1939, Bergler argued that a writer is like a psychoanalyst. He “unconsciously tries to solve his inner problems via the sublimatory medium of writing.” A blocked writer is actually blocked psychologically—and the way to “unblock” that writer is through therapy. Solve the personal psychological problem and you remove the blockage. This line of thinking is fine, as far as it goes, but it’s frustratingly vague and full of assumptions. How do you know that writers are using their writing as a means of sublimation? How do you know that all problems stem from a blocked psyche? And what is a blocked psyche, anyway?

As it turns out, though, Bergler’s thinking wasn’t far off the mark. In the nineteen-seventies and eighties, the Yale University psychologists Jerome Singer and Michael Barrios tried to gain a more empirically grounded understanding of what it meant to be creatively blocked. They recruited a diverse group of writers—fiction and non-fiction, poetry and prose, print, stage, and screen—some of whom were blocked and some of whom were fine. The blocked writers had to fit a set of pre-determined criteria: they had to present objective proof of their lack of writing progress (affirming, for example, that they had made no progress on their main project) and attest to a subjective feeling of being unable to write. The symptoms had to have lasted for at least three months.

Barrios and Singer followed the writers’ progress for a month, interviewing them and asking them to complete close to sixty different psychological tests. They found, unsurprisingly, that blocked writers were unhappy. Symptoms of depression and anxiety, including increased self-criticism and reduced excitement and pride at work, were elevated in the blocked group; symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, such as repetition, self-doubt, procrastination, and perfectionism, also appeared, as did feelings of helplessness and “aversion to solitude”—a major problem, since writing usually requires time alone.

Not all unhappy writers were created equal, however. They fell, Barrios and Singer discovered, into four general types. In one group, anxiety and stress dominated; to them, the main impediment to writing was a deep emotional distress that sapped the joy out of writing. In another group, unhappiness expressed itself interpersonally, through anger and irritation at others. A third group was apathetic and disengaged, while a fourth tended to be angry, hostile, and disappointed—their emotions were strongly negative, as opposed to merely sad. These differences would turn out to be consequential. Different kinds of unhappy writers, Barrios and Singer discovered, are blocked differently.

There are some experiences that almost all blocked writers have in common. Almost all of them experience flagging motivation; they feel less ambitious and find less joy in writing. They’re also less creative. Barrios and Singer found that blocked individuals showed “low levels of positive and constructive mental imagery”: they were less able to form pictures in their minds, and the pictures they did form were less vivid. They were less likely to daydream in constructive fashion—or to dream, period.

The surprise was that these motivational and creative shortfalls expressed themselves differently for the different kinds of unhappy writers. The first, more anxious group felt unmotivated because of excessive self-criticism—nothing they produced was good enough—even though their imaginative capacity remained relatively unimpaired. (That’s not to say that their imaginations were unaffected: although they could still generate images, they tended to ruminate, replaying scenes over and over, unable to move on to something new.) The second, more socially hostile group was unmotivated because they didn’t want their work compared to the work of others. (Not everyone was afraid of criticism; some writers said that they didn’t want to be “object[s] of envy.”) Although their daydreaming capacity was largely intact, they tended to use it to imagine future interactions with others. The third, apathetic group seemed the most creatively blocked. They couldn’t daydream; they lacked originality; and they felt that the “rules” they were subjected to were too constrictive. Their motivation was also all but nonexistent. Finally, the fourth, angry and disappointed group tended to look for external motivation; they were driven by the need for attention and extrinsic reward. They were, Barrios and Singer found, more narcissistic—and that narcissism shaped their work as writers. They didn’t want to share their mental imagery, preferring that it stay private.

In one sense, Barrios and Singer’s findings echoed Bergler’s theories. They discovered that many symptoms of writer’s block are the kinds of problems psychiatrists think about. Unhappy writers, it seemed, were unhappy in their own ways, and would require therapies tailored to address their specific emotional issues. Barrios and Singer weren’t psychiatrists, however—they were psychologists. They decided to continue their work by studying the aspect of writer’s block that could be measured experimentally: the vividness and directionality of mental imagery.

The duo proposed a simple intervention: exercises in directed mental imagery. While some of the blocked writers met in groups to discuss their difficulties, Barrios and Singer asked others to participate in a systematic protocol designed to walk them through the production of colorful mental images. These writers would sit in a dim, quiet room and contemplate a series of ten prompts asking them to produce and then describe dream-like creations. They might, for example, “visualize” a piece of music, or a specific setting in nature. Afterward, they would visualize something from their current projects, and then generate a “dreamlike experience” based on that project. The intervention lasted two weeks.

It proved relatively successful. Writers who’d participated in the intervention improved their ability to get writing done and found themselves more motivated and self-confident. The exercise didn’t cure writer’s block across the board, but it did seem to demonstrate to the creatively stymied that they were still capable of creativity. (Greene’s dream diaries did much the same for him.) In multiple cases, the exercises led, over time, to the alleviation of writer’s block—even in the absence of therapy. Bergler, it seems, was partly right: emotional blockages did exist. But he was wrong to assume that, in order to move past them creatively, writers needed to address their emotional lives. In fact, the process could go the other way. Addressing the creative elements alone appeared to translate into an alleviation of the emotional symptoms that were thought to have caused the block in the first place, decreasing anxiety and increasing self-confidence and motivation. Therapy didn’t unblock creativity; creative training worked as a form of therapy.

It may be that learning to do creative work of any kind—not just direct imagery exercises—may help combat writer’s block. Scott Barry Kaufman, a psychologist who is the scientific director of the Imagination Institute at the University of Pennsylvania and a co-author of “Wired to Create,” says, “When one feels writer’s block, it’s good to just keep putting things down on paper—ideas, knowledge, etc.” In 2009, Kaufman co-edited a volume called “The Psychology of Creative Writing”; during that process, he became convinced that allowing for error—and realizing how nonlinear a process creativity can be—was an essential step for overcoming blocks in writing. “I think one must trust the writing process. Understand that creativity requires nonlinearity and unique associative combinations,” he says. “Creative people do a lot of trial and error and rarely know where they are going exactly until they get there.”

That, in the end, seems to be the main message of research into writer’s block: It’s useful to escape from external and internal judgment—by writing, for instance, in a dream diary, which you know will never be read—even if it’s only for a brief period. Such escapes allow writers to find comfort in the face of uncertainty; they give writers’ minds the freedom to imagine, even if the things they imagine seem ludicrous, unimportant, and unrelated to any writing project. Greene once had the following dream:

I was working one day for a poetry competition and had written one line—‘Beauty makes crime noble’—when I was interrupted by a criticism flung at me from behind by T.S. Eliot. ‘What does that mean? How can crime be noble?’ He had, I noticed, grown a moustache.
In real life, having your poetry criticized by T.S. Eliot could cause you to doubt your poetic gifts. But imagining it in a dream has the opposite effect. That dream could become the source for a story. And, at a minimum, it serves as a reminder that, no matter how blocked you may be, you still have the capacity to imagine something new—no matter how small and silly it may seem. — Maria Konnikova | The New Yorker

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Who Runs The Girls? V.I.P. Nightlife Secret Revealed

Girls rarely pay to be in V.I.P. nightclubs, but neither are they typically paid to be there, accepting instead gifts and perks like free drinks and even housing — no small thing for fashion’s underpaid work force. Clubs and promoters will pay to fly girls from New York to Miami, or from Prague to Cannes. Most girls don’t see promoters as exploitative, but as friends, something the promoters foster by treating them to lunch or games of bowling.
As anthropologists remind us, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Gifts are given with expectations of reciprocity. Friendships mask what would otherwise look ugly: the exchange of women’s bodies for money.
The promoters are handsomely paid, upward of $1,000 per night for those who regularly recruit high-fashion models. Girls also give the promoters access to powerful men, whom they often see as potential investors in their entrepreneurial dreams, which range from opening their own nightclubs to brokering business deals.
This is a system of trafficking in women. It is, of course, consensual, and a far cry from anything like sexual slavery. But, in an anthropological sense, it is not so different from the tribal kinship systems studied by Claude Lévi-Strauss, in which men exchanged women in order to forge alliances with other men, while women were cut out from the value that their own circulation generated.
Consider a contemporary example: Greek life on college campuses, where women circulate among fraternity parties. The best frat houses are those with the best-looking girls at their parties. In exchange, the girls get free beer. This system is not without risks. In a five-year study, the sociologists Elizabeth A. Armstrong and Laura T. Hamilton found that working-class women who joined the frat scene faced greater risks of sexual assault and academic derailment. The more popular they were at frat parties, the worse their financial and professional futures looked.
Why do women consent to their own exploitation? Flattered egos, of course, play a role. When I interviewed a 21-year-old fashion merchandising student, she explained: “I love the whole aura in New York. I love the vibes. I love like, the exclusivity.” She was keenly aware of her value to her male friends in the night-life scene: “But I always wonder, if I wasn’t, you know, skinny, if I wasn’t attractive, would they really be friends with me? Probably not.”

Beneath the glamour is an unbalanced economy in which girls generate far greater profit for men than their free drinks are worth. A successful nightclub in New York City might make $15 million to $20 million a year.
In 2013, I spent a weekend in the Hamptons at a nine-bedroom mansion shared by a few Manhattan businessmen who aimed to host at least 20 models each weekend during the summer season. They called it “model camp.” That weekend, I attended a nightclub, a pool party and a house party hosted by the chief executive of a private equity firm. One of the men explained to me that girls were “currency,” assuring him a steady stream of invitations to exclusive parties and visits from important businesspeople.
I did meet some exceptional women who joined the party in search of opportunities, such as a 24-year-old model who was looking for an internship in finance through the connections she made in nightclubs. “If you have a head on your shoulders,” she told me, “it’s a great way to meet people who work a lot and have money.” Similarly, a 28-year-old marketing professional with an Ivy League education loved having the “most interesting, amazing conversations in the world” with politicians and venture capitalists at V.I.P. dinners. But while girls can certainly meet important people at these events, they are generally in a weaker position to leverage these connections.
The unequal ability of one person to capitalize on another is a classic case of exploitation. Imagine that the Hamptons businessmen hold meetings with the private equity C.E.O., in part because I softened their introduction. In two years, perhaps their investment fund will be cranking out profits, while I’ll be turning 36, and no longer welcome at the party. What may seem like an agreeable quid pro quo looks different in the long run, when women age out of the system without any returns on the time they invested. What’s really troubling is that no one even sees it as a lost investment, in part because it feels so good.
When it comes to women, popular culture confuses pleasure and power. Sure, girls may run the world, but men run the girls. And the girls don’t seem to mind all that much. — Ashley Mears | New York Times

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Xu Xiaodong — MMA Fighter On Mission To Expose China's "Fake" Martial Artists

M.M.A. Fighter’s Pummeling of Tai Chi Master Rattles China

BEIJING — For weeks, the mixed martial arts fighter Xu Xiaodong had been taunting masters of the traditional Chinese martial arts, dismissing them as overly commercialized frauds, and challenging them to put up or shut up.

After one of them — Wei Lei, a practitioner of the “thunder style” of tai chi — accepted the challenge, Mr. Xu flattened him in about 10 seconds.
Mr. Xu may have proved his point, but he was unprepared for the ensuing outrage.
When video of the drubbing went viral, many Chinese were deeply offended by what they saw as an insult to a cornerstone of traditional Chinese culture.
The state-run Chinese Wushu Association posted a statement on its website saying the fight “violates the morals of martial arts.” The Chinese Boxing Association issued similar criticism.
An article by Xinhua, the state news agency, called Mr. Xu a “crazy guy,” saying that the fight had caused people to question whether Chinese martial arts were of any use and even to ask, “What exactly are traditional Chinese martial arts?”
The reaction has been so furious that Mr. Xu has gone into hiding.
“I’ve lost everything, my career and everything,” he said in a message circulating online. “I think many people misunderstand me. I’m fighting fraudulence, but now I’ve become the target.”
Many people around the world assumed that this debate had long been settled. Mixed martial arts fighters have for years held exhibition fights against practitioners of traditional martial arts — kung fu, karate and judo among them. The old ways, for all their balletic grace, lost decisively.
Known broadly as wushu, traditional Chinese martial arts include such disparate disciplines as qigong, categorized as an “internal” practice that is mostly spiritual, and kung fu, an “external” art that is practiced by the monks of the Shaolin Temple and was popularized around the world by Bruce Lee. There are hundreds of styles of wushu in China, and many overlap.
Tai chi, while a martial art, is viewed by many today as a spiritual breathing and balance exercise enjoyed by people of all ages, usually performed in slow motion in a quiet park instead of a fight ring.
Mixed martial arts, or M.M.A., is a “no-holds-barred” fighting style developed over the last century from fighting styles around the world. It began to gain popularity in the United States in the 1980s. While it is violent, it does have rules — including no biting, spitting or gouging.

Wei Lei, the tai chi master, faced off against Xu Xiaodong, the mixed martial arts fighter, in Chengdu. Video by Fighting Arts

The fight between Mr. Xu and Mr. Wei was brutal. As Mr. Wei circled slowly, arms outstretched in a calm tai chi defense, Mr. Xu lunged, jabbed him to the floor, then used a “ground and pound” technique to subdue him. It was all over in about 10 seconds.
Mr. Xu did not respond to a request for an interview sent to his personal Weibo account a few days after the fight on April 27. Shortly afterward, his account was taken down as the authorities rushed to try to tamp down the controversy.
A woman reached by telephone at the Battle Club in southeast Beijing, where Mr. Xu works, said he was not giving interviews. She declined to give her name.
On Wednesday morning, the door of the Battle Club, in the dingy basement of a high-rise, was locked. Photographs of Mr. Xu and other M.M.A. fighters decorated the walls of the stairwell.
An electrician lingering by a cigarette shop at the top of the stairs said he practiced wushu and had come to check out the club after hearing about the controversy. He said that Mr. Xu had been right to pose his challenge, even though it had infuriated people.
“No one can avoid fighting,’’ said the man, who gave only his surname, Lian, and a social media username, Ruyi.
He said defenders of the traditional martial arts were incensed that Mr. Xu had dared to say that they staged impressive performances but were ineffective fighters and that, by doing so, he had threatened their livelihoods.
Yet Mr. Xu’s ultra-aggressive assault on his tai chi rival had missed an important point, Mr. Lian added.
“The key difference between what Mr. Xu does and martial arts is that martial arts isn’t a competitive sport,’’ he said. “It’s not about really hurting. It’s about giving your opponent ‘face.’ And Mr. Xu’s style is about beating your opponent to near death.” — Didi Kirsten Tatlow & Karoline Kan | New York Times

Monday, August 28, 2017

Return Of The Max — Nike's Air Max 1 OG "Red"

Nike Air Max 1 OG Red (2017)

Nike Air Max 1 OG Retro
Colorway: White/University Red-Neutral Grey-Black
Style: 908375-100
Release Date: 09.21.17


In 1987, the Air Max 1 changed the world of footwear forever. Designed by Tinker Hatfield, the icon made the invisible, visible with the arrival of visible Air Max cushioning. Through the years as the debut Air Max captured the hearts of many, the design was upgraded and slightly altered to elevate comfort while meeting the needs of everyday casual wear.

As the changes and upgrades continued, Air Max connoisseurs across the globe began to yearn for the “golden era” shape that took over the late ‘90s and early 2000s. As it became time to decide how to celebrate the Air Max 1’s 30th anniversary in fitting fashion, the Nike Sportswear Footwear design team was determined to get back to that silhouette that everyone loved.

After plenty of internal back and forth conversation, and with insight from the sneaker community, the team decided on the 2004 “Urawa” Air Max 1 as the perfect reference for the shape and silhouette. It was clear the 2004 release had the ideal stance, toe shape and heel bump. These three elements would be the focus for the design team, as the entire project became an exercise of millimeters to ensure each was at their best.

Keeping the originator in mind, the team was meticulous about the details and include several nods to the debut 1987 Air Max. From the toe box mesh to the three-piece tongue and flat laces, the Air Max 1 recraft includes several details not seen since the release of the Air Max that started it all three decades ago.

Now completed and prepared for the world, the entire recraft project proved to be a challenging and rewarding journey fueled by one thing; the voice of the people.


Friday, July 28, 2017

Miami Dolphins Ranked NFL's Third Best Offensive Arsenal by ESPN

NFL's best (and worst) arsenals: 32-1 offensive weapons ranking

Tier VIII: The final frontier

It has almost become parody, but there's a staggering amount of potential among the Dolphins' collection of skill-position talent. There's not a more exciting trio of young receivers in the game than Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills, each of whom are 25 or younger. Parker might loom as the most devastating of the three, and if he takes a leap forward in his third season, it's hard to figure out how anyone is going to cover these guys.
Jay Ajayi | #23 | 6' 0" 220 lbs | RB | Miami Dolphins [Nickname: J-Train]

Miami got lucky at running back, where it sensed some weakness and tried to sign C.J. Anderson to a hefty offer sheet in March 2016 before bringing Arian Foster in over the summer. The Broncos matched Anderson's offer and Foster retired, turning the job over to Jay Ajayi, who announced his arrival with back-to-back 200-yard games against the Steelers and Bills before putting up a third 200-yard game against Buffalo in December. Ajayi was a little more dependent upon big plays than you might like, but there's still a starting back here with plenty of upside.
If coach Adam Gase can get something out of Julius Thomas, who scored 24 touchdowns in two years for him in Denver, this offense could be unstoppable. They're not all going to break out unless the Dolphins get to play with two footballs, but there's so much talent to go around that Miami won't have to depend on any one player to have a big season. — Bill Barnwell | ESPN

Thursday, July 13, 2017

XXL Freshman Class 2017

The 2017 XXL Freshman Class has had the internet talking for nearly a month now thanks to this year’s class showing out in their freestyles and opening up about their respective movements in interviews.

With this year’s roster marking the 10th anniversary of our Freshman franchise, fans have been more vocal than ever about who did and didn’t make the list. This year’s XXL Freshman—A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, PnB Rock, Kyle, Ugly God, Aminé, Kamaiyah, Madeintyo, Kap G, Playboi Carti and the 10th Spot Winner XXXTentacion, all bring something different to hip-hop culture at the moment and definitely aren’t shy about showing off their skills in the XXL Freshman cyphers.

Check out the full five-minute Freshman cypher below directed by Travis Satten and produced by Team Satten Productions.

— Kyle, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie & Aminé —

After Kyle, Aminé and A Boogie’s cypher dropped on Monday (July 10), next up is Playboi Carti, Madeintyo, Ugly God and XXXTentacion. These four performers vibe off each other’s energy to create one insane match-up.

With producer Sonny Digital on the ones and twos, Playboi attacks the beat first. Hopping around in a Supreme varsity jacket and backpack, while exuding the same confidence with which he delivered his hit single “Magnolia,” Carti keeps things light and fun. “Ben Baller, no Johnny Dang/All my niggas blood gang/All my niggas gangbang/Aye, what? Ya, aye,” spits Carti.

After Carti, Madeintyo takes over and does his signature dance while rhyming about his jewels. “Tokyo, Tokyo that cool thang/Probably take her out to Blue Flame, uh/Yeah diamonds when I walk/Diamonds when I walk/Diamonds when I talk/Yeah,” Tyo rhymes at the end of his verse. Ugly God picks up right where Tyo leaves off by spitting those same bars as an ad-lib for the beginning of his own verse.

Ugly then dives into his own hilarious verse, bringing his snarky, childish attitude to the mic. “Look at my wrist, goddamn/Look at my bitch, goddamn/Look at my dick, goddamn/Talk shit and get hit, goddamn/Pull up on your block/Nigga you a bitch/I might fuck yo’ bitch/I might hit a lick,” spits Ugly through his own laughter.

Playboi Carti, Madeintyo, Ugly God & XXXTentacion

Finally, XXX adds an unexpected dose of drama to the cypher by having Sonny cut the music to deliver his eerie verse a cappella. “And if the world ever has an apocalypse I will kill all of you fuckers/Feel with be plentiful, death will bountiful/I will spare none of you peasants,” raps X while bending down on one knee directly in front of the camera.

Last, but definitely not least, was PnB, Kap G and Kamaiyah. Each came with some solid rhyme schemes, a few quotables at least, serving as a fitting into this year’s edition of XXL Freshman cyphers.

Check all three of them for yourself below, and in case you missed them, watch the individual freestyles here: A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, PnB Rock, Playboi Carti, Ugly God, Madeintyo, Kyle, Kamaiyah, Kap G, Aminé and XXXTentacion. — XXL

Friday, July 7, 2017

HBO's The Defiant Ones: Jimmy Iovine & Dr. Dre Documentary

The Defiant Ones is a four-part documentary series that tells the stories of Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre -- one the son of a Brooklyn longshoreman, the other straight out of Compton - -- and their improbable partnership and surprising leading roles in a series of transformative events in contemporary culture.

— Premieres July 9th, 2017 at 9pm via HBO —

The Defiant Ones

Set amid many of the defining events of the past four decades, The Defiant Ones tells the stories of Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre -- one the son of a Brooklyn longshoreman, the other straight out of Compton -- and their improbable partnership and surprising leading roles in a series of transformative events in contemporary culture. From director Allen Hughes (Menace II Society) this revealing, compelling and often-gritty story takes place in recording studios, in humble homes and massive mansions, in criminal courts and in the highest corridors of corporate power.
Partners in Crime — Dr. Dre & Jimmy Iovine
Hughes shows how decades of defiance and determination helped Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre build a few empires, make a series of American dreams come true and transform two American street kids from different tough neighborhoods into a global force to be reckoned with. This epic look at America shows how you can consistently defy conventional wisdom and even logic, and still win big.

Allen Hughes of The Hughes Bros. fame
The four-part documentary event is told with the help of many of the most notable artists and figures of our time, reflecting Hughes' unfettered access to Iovine, Dre and the remarkable cast of figures who have been a part of their success story. In addition to extensive interviews with Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, who speak frankly about their highs and lows, the show includes interviews with such music icons as Bono, David Geffen, Eminem, Nas, Ice Cube, Gwen Stefani, Jon Landau, Tom Petty, Trent Reznor, Snoop Dogg, Bruce Springsteen and will.i.am. The series also features never-before-seen footage from a multitude of recording and writing sessions with Eazy-E, JJ Fad, Stevie Nicks, N.W.A., Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and U2, among others.

The Defiant Ones is a Silverback 5150 Pictures Production in association with Alcon Television Group; executive producers, Allen Hughes, Doug Pray, Andrew Kosove, Broderick Johnson, Laura Lancaster, Jerry Longarzo, Michael Lombardo and Gene Kirkwood; written by Allen Hughes, Lasse Jarvi, Doug Pray; edited by Lasse Jarvi, Doug Pray; music composed by Atticus Ross, Leopold Ross, Claudia Sarne; producers, Sarah Anthony, Steven Williams, Fritzi Horstman; directed by Allen Hughes. — The Defiant Ones | HBO

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Legend Of Steve Jobs' Classic Mock Turtleneck

Steve Jobs’s Mock Turtleneck Gets a Second Life

The techno-savvy monk is still dead, but his uniform lives on.

Photographer: Ted Cavanaugh for Bloomberg Pursuits, Stylist: Chloe Daley

Of the many technological and ­artistic triumphs of the fashion designer Issey Miyake—from his patented pleating to his soulful sculptural forms—his most famous piece of work will end up being the black mock turtleneck indelibly associated with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
The model was retired from production in 2011, after Jobs’s death, but in July, Issey Miyake Inc.—the innovative craftsman’s eponymous clothing brand—is releasing a $270 garment called the Semi-Dull T. It’s 60 percent polyester, 40 percent cotton, and guaranteed to inspire déjà vu.
Don’t call it a comeback. The company is at pains to state that the turtleneck, designed by Miyake protégé Yusuke Takahashi with a trimmer silhouette and higher shoulders than the original, isn’t a reissue. And even if the garment were a straight-up imitation, its importance as a cultural artifact is more about the inimitable way Jobs wore it.
Jobs speaks during an Apple event in 2010. Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
For Jobs, this way of dressing was a kind of consolation prize after ­employees at Apple Inc. resisted his attempts to create a company uniform. In the early 1980s he’d visited Tokyo to tour the headquarters of Sony Corp., which had 30,000 employees in Japan. And all of them—from co-founder Akio Morita to each factory worker, sales rep, and ­secretary—wore the same thing: a traditional blue-and-white work jacket.

In the telling of Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson, Morita explained to Jobs that Sony had imposed a uniform since its founding in 1946. The workers of a nation ­humiliated in war were too broke to dress themselves, and corporations began supplying them with clothes to keep them looking professional and create a bond with their colleagues. In 1981, for Sony’s 35th anniversary, Morita had commissioned Miyake, already a fashion star after showing innovative collections in Paris, to design a jacket. Miyake returned with a futuristic taupe nylon model with no lapels and sleeves that unzipped to convert it into a vest.

Jobs loved it and commissioned Miyake to design a vest for Apple, which he then unsuccessfully pitched to a crowd in Cupertino, Calif. “Oh, man, did I get booed off the stage,” Jobs told Isaacson. “Everybody hated the idea.” Americans, with their cult of individuality, tend not to go in for explicit uniformity, conforming instead to dress codes that aren’t even written yet.
This left Jobs to ­contrive a uniform for himself, and he drew his daily ­wardrobe from a closet stocked with Levis 501s, New Balance 991s, and stacks of black mock turtlenecks—about 100 in total—supplied by Miyake.

Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs in Steve Jobs  Photographer: Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

How Jobs came to settle on this particular item of clothing isn’t recorded, but it had long been a totem of progressive high-culture types—San Francisco beatniks, Left Bank chanteuses, and Samuel Beckett flinching at the lens of Richard Avedon.
In the analysis of costume historian Anne Hollander, the existentialist black turtleneck indicates “the kind of freedom from sartorial convention demanded by deep thought,” and it’s tempting to read Jobs’s as the descendant of that symbol. His turtleneck was an extension of his aesthetic aspirations: severe but serene, ascetic but cushy. The garment, as Jobs wore it, was the vestment of a secular monk.
The shirt put an especially cerebral spin on the emerging West Coast ­business-casual look, implying that the Apple chief had evolved past such relics as neckties—an ­anti-establishment gesture that set a template for ­hoodie-clad Mark Zuckerbergs and every other startup kid disrupting a traditional dress code. In its minimalism and simplicity, the black turtleneck gave a flatscreen shimmer to Jobs’s ­self-presentation, with the clean lines of a blank slate and no old-fashioned buttons.
Jobs was hardly the first to celebrate freedom from choice by selecting a rigidly regular look as a sort of mask and armor. But his style, despite its pretense of normcore anonymity, was and remains uniquely distinctive. Among American businessmen, only John Pierpont Morgan—the immortal model for the top-hatted, full-­mustachioed Mr. Monopoly—is a comparable fashion icon. The co-identity of man and garment is so intense, it forces you to wonder whether the new Miyake sweater will, despite its inherent virtues, find an audience. The original ranks as a trademark on par with Andy Warhol’s silver wig, and you may need to stick your neck out to make it your own. — Troy Patterson | Bloomberg BusinessWeek
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