What Happened: Katy Perry, Balthus At The Met, Arcade Fire, "Chasing New Jersey"

by Alan Hanson

Katy Perry’s PRISM

This album is a nearly perfect pop album if you happen to be a Katy Perry fan. If not, I don’t know what to tell you. I like her. I like her enthusiasm. I like most of her songs, I like the way she looks and I like the sound of her voice. What else do you need in a pop star? Though I have a feeling this album is a bit of a “something for everybody” type recording, especially as it’s a bit too long, and fans of hers will have varying likes and dislikes (“Walking On Air” sucks! It sucks so hard!). It’s a deft mix of classic pop themes and production that’s simultaneously very Katy Perry and very 2013. The rest of this article will use songs from PRISM as a rating rubric.

PRISM Rating: Love Me


Balthus “Cats and Girls” Exhibit at The Met

Simply put, Balthus was a punk as fuck Polish-French artist who largely painted young girls lifting up their skirts, sweating, and lounging around with cats. Come to think of it, Balthus was probably a big influence on Terry Richardson and a couple billion Suicide Girls photo-shoots. The real gem of the exhibition, however, is called “Mitsou” — forty drawings made by Balthus when he was about 11, chronicling the friendship and eventual loss of his cat. The young, raw, and vibrant emotion portrayed in the forty tiny black and white drawings was wholeheartedly arresting. I locked eyes with another Met patron as we both welled up and felt the true power of art’s emotional connectivity, both between she and I, and us with Balthus from one hundred years ago. I left the museum, almost buckled passing Hoppers “Office in a Small City,” and then fought back tears as I watched the sun set in a crisp, autumnal Central Park. This was the exact moment I felt something substantial for New York City.

PRISM Rating: Dark Horse/This Moment

New Arcade Fire

The album is streaming now and though I angrily detested “Reflektor,” the single, “Afterlife,” iced my chill-bones, and I wonder what the German compound word for fame-erases-all-original-honesty-bred-from-unknown-struggle and through-evolution-a-new-type-beautiful-cognizance-is-bread is.

PRISM Rating: Ghost

Oh, a couple more shootings for fuck’s sake

You know that episode of The Simpsons when Homer gets his arm stuck in a vending machine and the fire department has to come to save him but they discover he was still holding the soda can and if he had just let go he could have pulled his arm free and also when they were “helping” him an entire lumberyard burned down? Well, that’s a ridiculously microscopic sized fraction of the idiocy with which this country is handling gun control as our citizens drop it like it’s lead-hot right in front of our stupid fucking gawking helpless faces.

PRISM Rating: The horrible breakdown during This Is How We Do

“Chasing New Jersey”

There’s a local channel called “My 9” which just wrapped up a two-hour block of mostly season 4 John Swartzwelder “Simpsons” episodes and is now playing “Chasing New Jersey.” “Chasing New Jersey” is in the exact same format as TMZ. Several diverse adults group around a “newsroom” and discuss the latest developments in front of reality TV cameras with an overseeing “editor” of sorts. But on “Chasing New Jersey,” they’re not chewing celebrity fat, they’re hashing out New Jersey politics and public affairs. It’s a third of the way into the episode and Bill Spadea is listening to a bunch of nobodies practice their non-regional accents and say absolutely nothing about Cory Booker when my cell phone buzzes. My dad is calling me and I’m struck with the idea that if I were to hear news about my father becoming ill that it would occur during a bizarro-world episode of TMZ because this is the perfect level of surreal boringness for said news to arrive in. I answer the phone at the last possible ring and he tells me he’s having unexplained chest problems and the latest tests are inconclusive while Bill Spadea video chats with a stripper who was Tweeting at Cory Booker.

PRISM Rating: Choose Your Battles

Alan Hanson is a Californian writer living in Harlem.