A Poem by Michael D. Snediker

The Golden Bowl / Felix Gonzalez-Torres

 

There was no other
consideration except

I wanted to make
art work that could

disappear that never
existed and it was a

metaphor for when
Ross was dying it

was a metaphor that
I would abandon

Meow Meow

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Anenon, "Tongue"


Music, here it is. May it meet with your approval.

New York City, December 12, 2017

★★ The first of the rain had passed, and the morning was damp and, for the moment, mild. Pigeons fluffed up and pressed close to the wall as the day darkened toward the next rain. Puffy coats were out against where the day was going. The ground got dry and then wet again. Bright, glossy leaves lay with their curl still intact.

Back On My Bullshit* (*Extremely Pleasant Dvořák Symphonies)

By Anoniem (Foto in Antonín Dvořák museum) – PD old, Public Domain, Link

When I writing this column over a year ago, I began with my favorite symphony of all time, Antonín Dvořák’s From The New World. I have tried my best during that time not to write about Dvořák too often, though I couldn’t help but laugh when a handful of his Slavonic Dances showed up on my Spotify Top Songs of 2017 playlist (sandwiched between Liability and New Rules lmao). This past week, I saw the Chicago Symphony Orchestra perform his Symphony No. 5, and I realized there wasn’t a chance in hell I wouldn’t write about it.

You see, Dvořák’s Symphony No. 5 (Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, 1993) is exceedingly pleasant. Written almost twenty years before From The New World, there are hints of the same triumphant spirit and intrinsically joyful melodies in this earlier work. At the time, this symphony was considered the composer’s first (his first four were not published until after he died) which would have made From The New World his unofficial fifth. I mean, that doesn’t matter. It’s just an interesting fact! The ninth is still better but this one is wonderful nonetheless.

The Peculiar Sadness of Animated Alcoholics

Screenshot: Netflix

In 2015, writer Jenny Jaffe coined the term “sadcom” to refer to an emerging genre of television show. Less dire than black comedies but far bleaker than the unmixed type, these shows—among them titles like “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and “Louie”—know that humor cuts deeper and hits harder when it’s undergirded by sadness. So they center on anti-heroes, men (they are nearly always men) who see the world for exactly what it is: fucked-up, out of our control, and ultimately pointless. The universe is a joke and our petty selves are the punchline. The best we can do is know that, and try to get some laughs out of it when and where we can.

Sadcoms are rarely cited in the emerging canon of the Golden Age of Television, but they share a certain aesthetic with modern hour-long prestige drama: a messy emotional realism that, when it tips too far, conflates smart with sad, and complicated with interesting. There’s a palpable disdain for sentiment, that old-fashioned notion that viewers might want to watch shows about people they can easily like, or relate to.

But where prestige drama is Serious Television for Serious Adults, sadcoms are Shows For Adults Who Like, Don’t Take Themselves That Seriously, God, which is perhaps why some of the most prominent shows in the genre are cartoons.

Needs

August Artier, "Hina"


This is something to listen to. I hope it pleases you.

New York City, December 11, 2017

★★★ A crunching and sloshing sound filled the schoolyard as little feet made their way over wet and broken ice. A stroller skidded through it without its wheels turning. The wonderment was gone, save for the flash of a curtain of meltwater coming off a scaffold in the sun, lovely from the other side of the street. The cold was still strong enough to work its way into the office and, slowly, right on through a dense sweater.

Dilbert: A Reckoning

Without irony: I deeply love Dilbert.

From ages 8 to 12, the funny pages were both my primary hobby and major career aspiration, and Dilbert was a top-tier favorite, thanks to my dad’s own sizable collection. The strip debuted in the early nineties as a revolutionary new catharsis right when my dad’s own career switched from blue-collar to white. It may sound implausible that a 10-year-old would enjoy the byzantine dysfunctions of a group of pudgy, poorly drawn engineers—the funny pages are rarely for kids. Even the kid-only universe of Peanuts is, in adult retrospect, mostly about the psychological cruelties of childhood. By contrast, Dilbert had characters like a talking rat named Ratbert and a talking dinosaur named Bob, who administered atomic wedgies around the office.

Dilbert did not take breaks on Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day or Christmas, when the rest of the comics can briefly rest from the nyucks for a heart-warming hug as a cartoon family. There is no setting in Dilbert where this can happen. There is the bare office, and Dilbert’s empty bachelor pad with Dogbert (glasses-wearing talking dog with business acumen). That’s about it.