the best thing to ever exist in the history of collaborations

anonymous asked:

Your platitudes about defying harassment are great and all but none of you comic pros are listening to the real complaint that kicked all this up in the first place. The work is BAD. Characters with long histories are being awkwardly changed to fit a political agenda instead of servicing a good story. Marvel doesn't feel like Marvel so fans are fleeing. Sales are down. What are you going to do about it?

First off, they’re not “platitudes.” Either you believe other people should be treated with respect and be free to exist online without being stalked or fearful for their safety or you don’t. It’s cut and dry. Condoning that, whatever your end goals may be, camps you out with people who are disrespectful at the top end and downright criminal at the bottom. Decide if this is the hill you really want to die on with the “allies” you have on your side.

Okay, on to your other point-

The comic industry is going through upheaval, absolutely. If we have to be honest though, so is all of media. Piracy is slamming into instant access entertainment and that’s splintering our attention more than ever before. New comics (dozens every week) aren’t just competing with each other, they’re competing with streaming movies/TV, video games, craft beers, and newly accessible deep archives of the best (and worst) comics from the start of publishing through to now. That doesn’t even count foreign content like manga, also available for deep dives and also fighting for your dollar. I don’t think it’s fair to just say sales are low because the work is bad and not acknowledge that almost every media is going through similar rocky times. People are reassessing where their entertainment dollars go across the board and things are shaking up - period.

The single issue format does seem to be taking a beating as of late, it’s true. Corporate decisions made in the past in terms of format, distribution, sales outlets, and pricing seem to be coming to a head and I have no idea how that will shake out, especially in a world that’s understandably distracted with natural disasters and a political divide as bad as it’s ever been.

Marvel of the 70′s wasn’t Marvel of the 60′s.

Marvel of the 80′s wasn’t Marvel of the 70′s.

Marvel of the 90′s wasn’t Marvel of the 80′s.

You get the idea. We can’t trap this stuff in amber. The Marvel Universe is a dynamic creative sandbox that reflects the time we live in while also carrying decades of continuity on its back. It’s wonderful and ridiculous, and can’t be fully encompassed in one character, one series, or one time. The stories that inspired me color my work in the same way the stories that inspired you color your perception of what’s happening now. 

There are people reading Marvel Comics right now who are being inspired by these current stories. Whatever you may think of it, this is their Marvel. If that goes down a road where sales can’t sustain it and things need to change, then I expect that’s what you’ll see. It’s happened before. Implosions and new initiatives. Experiments. The best parts get carried forward, the bad bits become footnotes and the creative journey continues.

I don’t run Marvel. If I did it would reflect my creative ideas more intensely, but it would also need to incorporate other people, other ideas, and the twists and turns the world throws at it. Compromise and collaboration is how this stuff gets done. It’s how the world actually functions. Acknowledge that not every title needs to fit your personal sensibilities in order to be “worthy.” Variety is an important part of the search for quality. 

As one writer working with a team of skilled and passionate people, all I can promise is that I’ll write stories that I as a reader would enjoy. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Marvel fan who loves incorporating continuity while also moving stories forward with new ideas. That’s my jam.

I don’t know of a single creator who sets out to tell a bad story or wreck a character they’re tasked with working on. There are comics I read that I do not enjoy and would absolutely have done differently, but my first instinct isn’t to assume the people involved are on a mission to destroy it. I move on and look to other titles for my fix. I check back in every so often to see if things have improved.

Back in the day, I collected Amazing Spider-Man from issue #231 through to #363. I loved reading Spidey stories. He was (and generally is) my favorite Marvel character. I have so many memories of those stories and key moments are indelibly burned into my brain. Even still, by the time the book hit #350+, I wasn’t feeling it any more. The book had changed. I’d changed. I eked out collecting for another year and then realized I’d missed a couple months and wasn’t worried about it at all. It was time to walk away.

Many years later, I was reading about Dan Slott’s Big Time story arc starting with Amazing Spider-Man #648 and thought “What the heck. I’ll give it a try.” Just like that, I was back into reading Spidey. I’ve been enjoying it ever since. This stuff is cyclical. I could spin my life away obsessing over why the books weren’t “good” in that long gap, but I’d rather read comics I enjoy. I don’t want you to leave or stop collecting, but I do think it’s important to allow that to happen if necessary. Find other books that tick your tock.

I don’t know Marvel’s deepest/darkest future plans, but I do know that Marvel Legacy is an attempt to ratify the past and present. To keep what works from the past while moving things into the future. Will it work? I don’t know. Keep reading and we’ll find out together. 

I hope you stick around and boost up titles you feel hit the mark while letting other titles succeed or fail with the readerships they cultivate, even if they’re not the same as you.

Ivory Icon V Marvel of Millennium

So I’ve been meaning to get on Tumblr for a while, and the main reason I think I put it off was that I wanted a really solid first post. A statement of intent. Something deep, something on the problems in superhero comics, and where we need to go for a viable future.

So naturally, I figured I’d talk about why I think Tom Strong is better than Supreme.

Most of you probably don’t need the background, but for completion’s sake: Supreme is the 20+ issue Alan Moore run on Superman the world always wanted. Taking an existing 90s Superman pastiche by Rob Liefeld and sweeping everything that had already been established off the table on the first page of his first issue (a condition for taking on the character as he was, in Moore’s own words, “Not very good” – a request that didn’t disqualify him, because when Alan Moore wants to write your comic, you let him write the comic), it’s a tribute to all the weird fun that had been essentially discarded from the actual Superman books since John Byrne’s revamp in 1986. Rebuilding Supreme’s world from the ground up with Joe Bennett, Keith Giffen, Rich Veitch, and later Chris Sprouse, Moore filtered in a new origin, tone, and context for the character, along with analogues for Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Supergirl, Jimmy Olsen, Krypto, Perry White, Superboy, Batman and Robin, the Justice Society and Justice League, the Legion of Superheroes, Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Bizarro, Metallo, Mxyzptlk, the Fortress of Solitude, Kryptonite, and Kandor. It’s basically Alan Moore doing Silver Age Superman fanfiction, and just as you’d expect from that description, it’s an absolute blast.

Tom Strong’s a little more obscure, which is a shame, since it was clearly built as an evolution on the same formula Moore applied to Supreme. A sort of Doc Savage meets Tarzan born on the island paradise of Attabar Teru to a pair of scientists at the turn of the 20th century, Strong was reared in a gravity chamber to become a physical and mental superman, and raised by the island natives after his parents untimely death (he ends up bringing electricity to the island as an adult – while Moore clearly tries to dance around the ‘white savior’ problems of the 20s and 30s pulp stories he’s homaging, he doesn’t fully succeed). Journeying out into the world at large to fight crime with brains, brawn and an extended lifespan courtesy of Attabar Teru’s mysterious Goloka Root (he’s nearing his 100th birthday by the series’ opening without looking a day over 50), Tom ends up building a family with his wife Dhalua, including daughter Tesla, robot butler Pnuman, and talking gorilla Solomon. With Supreme collaborator Chris Sprouse handling the pencils (with additional artists like Dave Gibbons, Gary Frank, Kyle Baker and Jerry Ordway backing him up), it essentially ends up being Moore’s final word on superhero comics before giving up on the subgenre altogether, and it’s phenomenal.

They’re both justifiably considered some of the best superhero comics of all time, and both are huge personal favorites. That I say Tom Strong is better is in no way a put-down; Supreme was one the first comics I ever read, and along with one of Moore’s other Superman stories, The Jungle Line, was a huge formative influence on my taste in superheroes. But I think in the end Strong comes out ahead, and while I could argue that it’s because of the more consistently gorgeous artwork, or that since it’s a few years later Moore had refined his craft a bit further, it really comes down to something far more fundamental.

Supreme is the best celebration of superhero comics’ past that I’ve ever read. But while Tom Strong’s roots reach even further into history, it’s also one of the best basic models I’ve ever seen for how to take superhero comics into the future.

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anonymous asked:

I know it isn't your top turn relationship priority, but what did you think of the abe/mary scenes? part of me was happy that mary's getting the "real" marriage that she wants, but part of me feels like we missed a step in their development, considering he was still asking anna "what about /us/?" back in 3x04(?). objectively, i know that they have time constraints, but what are your opinions? you always have such insightful analyses. thanks!

Thank you, I’m glad you like my analyses, and it’s funny you should ask about this! Let me refer to the notes I was frantically scribbling longhand all through the ep, where I scrawled…


…I adored that line. Just as I adored Mary saving him later in the ep.

You’re right that this relationship isn’t my top priority (if only because literally nothing else comes close to the one that is), and it’s no secret that I’ve had a lot of frustrations over the years with Abe. But I adore Mary, and I’m actually very supportive of their marriage working out. Yes, there were points in season 3 that seemed to be backsliding toward Abe/Anna – which frustrated me at the time – but now, with the benefit of hindsight, I think I understand why that happened. I think that backsliding was ultimately in service of a larger point: that Abe and Mary’s relationship is succeeding for the same reasons that Abe and Anna’s failed.

It doesn’t look like Abe and Mary are suited in the beginning, right? Season 1 pushes that ~star-crossed forbidden romance~ angle hard, and Mary, while not unsympathetic even back then, is cast in the role of the uptight wife who’s an impediment to Abe’s work as well as to his and Anna’s ~love.~ Mary does not share Abe’s political sympathies, as Anna does; she does not share Abe’s history, his childhood, his circle of friends; they’ve been married a couple years or so by that point, yet there’s a sense that Abe and Mary … still don’t really know one another very well. Abe sees Mary as an obstacle, Mary sees Abe as wayward, and the spywork and Anna affair has them at odds…

…until Ensign Baker is shot. And suddenly, both Abe and the audience realize that Mary is (as Abraham himself says) much more than the lovely rose Thomas described. She is, in fact, every bit as cunning and ruthless as Abraham, when she needs to be – which can make her a helluva asset to him, or a helluva impediment, depending on whether their goals at any given moment align.

Fortunately, with each season, their goals have aligned more and more – partly because Abe learns to value Mary more, but largely because Mary slowly comes to accept that she’ll never succeed in stopping Abe, so she might as well help his dumb ass any way she can. Teamwork brings out the best in Abe and Mary’s relationship. I seldom like Abe more than when he’s listening to Mary’s ideas and we see the two of them collaborating and supporting one another. There’s some lovely Abe/Mary content in … 3.01, I think? Where she’s, y’know, stuffing pistols up her petticoats for him to cover up Eastin’s murder (which was her idea), and then they tumble into bed together all playful and sweet. Watching that, I remember thinking: “Thank GOD! Abe has FINALLY realized how well they work together! He’s FINALLY learned to appreciate his wife!”

…And then the Hewlett situation happens. And the long-cooling embers of Abe/Anna flare up for one last, miserable hurrah.

Because at the same time that Abe and Mary have been learning how well suited they are – both cunning, both stubborn, and both increasingly willing to engage in whatever violence or deceit they need to in order to achieve their goals and protect the things they love – Anna has been undergoing a parallel transformation. Hers, however, is a softening. She who started out the series so angry and so confident in the rebel cause has discovered compassion and admiration for someone she never expected, and as a result, she now finds herself drawing lines she can no longer cross. And what we see when Abe comes back from prison – which renders him more bitter and ruthless than ever before – is suddenly, his ruthlessness frightens Anna even as her affection for Hewlett baffles him.

Contrast Anna’s behavior during the Abe–Hewlett conflict with Mary’s. Because Mary and Edmund, they were friends, right? They seemed to respect one another? To get along? In season 2, she calls him a darling man, a good man, and prays for his safety and his soul. She even helps save him the first time from Abe! But once that conflict is in the open…? She loses all sympathy for Hewlett. She refuses to help Anna broker a peace. She knows that Abe intends to betray Hewlett, and her response to Anna is basically: What, you don’t want Abe killing this guy to protect his family? That sounds like a YOU problem, hon. For Anna, trying to protect both men is an absolute crisis. For Mary, it’s no dilemma whatsoever. Abe is her cause.

In terms of priorities, personalities, cunning, aggressiveness toward obstacles, stubbornness in pursuit of sometimes selfish goals, and willingness to cross moral lines for the sake of what they hold dear, Abe and Mary understand one another in a way that Abe and Anna simply cannot anymore. The reason we get that backsliding in early season 3, though, is that Abe has not yet fully realized or accepted this yet. I think he’s extremely jealous of Anna’s affections, and I think he’s absolutely furious with her for protecting Hewlett because he simply cannot for the life of him understand why the HELL she is doing this. For him and Mary, pragmatism demands that Hewlett be dealt with, and that’s as simple as that. The abstract moral dilemma Anna is grappling with simply does not exist.

In short: the reason Abe’s feelings for Anna flare up again in early season 3 is so that they can be definitively doused. A last violent, ugly show of resistance to change before Abe can accept that it’s time to move on.

Fortunately, we’ve seen no further backsliding in season 4. Abe and Anna have healed their friendship, but Mary is Abe’s partner in life and love, and I think he knows it. God knows Mary deserves better than anyone can give her, and I have to agree that we haven’t seen as much obvious devotion or development of feelings on Abe’s side of the equation as we have on Mary’s. I think it’s clear he respects and cares for Mary, but he’s often focused on the cause. However, given that it was only a couple seasons ago that he was telling her he didn’t love her the way she loved him, I think it’s wonderful how much progress the two of them have made. 


On June 13th 1831 James Clerk Maxwell was born in Edinburgh.

James Clerk Maxwell was no ordinary child, considering what he achieved! He attended school in the city and was nicknamed ‘daftie’ by his classmates, due to his home-made clothing and rustic accent. Despite the teasing, he excelled at the school, producing a scientific paper at the age of just 14, he later studied at the Universities of Edinburgh and Cambridge. 

He graduated with a degree in mathematics from Trinity College, Cambridge and soon after started his career as a Professor of Physics in Marischal College, Aberdeen. He then switched to King’s College, London and then at Cambridge as the first ever Professor of Experimental Physics.

Ask physicists to rank their heroes, and Maxwell is in the top three, standing a shade below Newton and Einstein. But when it comes to being celebrated by the public, somehow Maxwell got left behind. Einstein’s image is well known and Newton’s pilgrims regularly flock to his tomb at Westminster. But few of us would recognise Maxwell’s face.

His theories on the composition of the rings of Saturn was so far ahead of it’s time that they were only confirmed to be correct in the 1980s when the Voyager space expeditions allowed closer examination of Saturn. He also predicted the existence of radio waves. Maxwell gave us the first colour photograph in a collaboration with Thomas Sutton, and of course being a Scot he knew the best thing to capture different colours would be a piece of tartan! 

It has been said that Maxwell was one of the most likeable men in the annals of science. How can you not like a man who sends a heartfelt letter of condolence on the death of a friend’s dog? A man who patiently nursed his dying father, and later his wife, and who regularly gave up his time to volunteer at the new “Working Men’s Colleges” for tradesmen? It seems that everyone who knew him thought of him as kind and generous, albeit a little eccentric. He was “one of the best men who ever lived”, according to his childhood friend and biographer, Lewis Campbell.

It seems a sin that a man held in such high esteem in the scientific world hardly gets a mention in our history books, even in death he is very understated, his grave is a simple affair in Parton Kirk, Galloway, granted, there is now a statue of Maxwell Clerk in George Street but it is relatively new affair, and I wonder how many actually know about him as they pass him on the way in and out of St Andrews Square.

FIC: The light that shrivels a mountain, chapter 1

Pairing: eventually a slow burn Sara Ryder/Harry Carlyle story
Summary They will need new terms for everything now, a whole new vocabulary for their existence. Sara Ryder and Harry Carlyle try to get their bearings in a new galaxy as they find themselves closer to each other than they ever expected.

Read at AO3
or under the cut

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Top 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2017

And here’s my list of the most anticipated films of 2017! There are loads of really exciting films coming out this year, and while my most anticipated film is a no-brainer I hope you find the rest of the list interesting. 

Honourable mentions: The Handmaiden, Okja, Mute, Beauty and the Beast, Manchester by the Sea, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Moonlight, Wonder Woman, Kong: Skull Island, Baby Driver, Split, The Book of Henry and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

n.b. I’m in the UK, so several of the films I include here have already has a release in the US. We’re always playing catch-up!

1. Star Wars Episode VIII

Director: Rian Johnson

Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher

Plot: Having taken her first steps into a larger world, Rey continues her epic journey with Finn, Poe and Luke Skywalker in the next chapter of the saga.

Why be excited? I could just write ‘because it’s Star Wars’, but since I believe in putting effort into these things I’ll try to be somewhat more articulate. I really adored The Force Awakens, and it filled me with a sense of wonder and joy I hadn’t experienced in the cinema for a long, long time. I loved the new characters it introduced (particularly Rey, Kylo and Finn) even more than the stalwarts of old, so the promise of seeing their stories continued in the next episode is thrilling in the extreme. I also happen to be a huge admirer of Rian Johnson’s work (I particularly love The Brothers Bloom), so I’m incredibly excited to see Rian’s “weird thing” (imo, the weirder the better!)

2. Silence

Director: Martin Scorsese

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Liam Neeson, Adam Driver, Issey Ogata, Tadanobu Asano

Plot: The young Portuguese Jesuit Sebastião Rodrigues is sent to Japan to succor the local Church and investigate reports that his mentor, a Jesuit priest in Japan named Ferreira, based on Cristóvão Ferreira, has committed apostasy.

Why be excited? I’ve long admired Scorsese and shamelessly stan his editor Thelma Schoonmaker, so am thrilled to see them collaborating on a film that tackles such an obscure and fascinating period of history. The cast is top flight, and the magnificent trailer does a fantastic job of evoking the tension of the scenario. Silence is also Scorsese’s passion project (he’s been trying to get it made since the 1980s), and suffice to say I happen to find passion positively infectious. 

3. La La Land

Director: Damien Chazelle

Cast: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, J.K. Simmons

Plot: The story of Mia, an aspiring actress, and Sebastian, a dedicated jazz musician, struggling to make ends meet while pursuing their dreams in a city known for destroying hopes and breaking hearts.

Why be excited? Whiplash hit me like a ton of bricks when I caught it on blu-ray last year, and it easily has one of the best endings of any film I’ve ever scene. The quality of Chazelle’s previous offering alone would have been enough to get me hyped for this, but it’s also a musical that honours the golden age of Hollywood. That, combined with the stellar reviews, makes this unmissable for me.

4. Mother

Director: Darren Aronofsky

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Michelle Pfeiffer, Domhnall Gleeson, Ed Harris, Brian Gleeson

Plot: Mother concerns a couple whose relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence

Why be excited? This will be Aronofsky’s first film since the batshit crazy biblical film that is Noah, and I’m fascinated to find out what the hell Mother even is (seriously - we know much more about Episode VIII than we know about this). All I know is that I will follow Aronofsky’s career for as long as he continues to make movies.

5. The Shape of Water

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Cast: Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Doug Jones

Plot:  A Cold War-era fairytale about a mute woman who falls for an amphibious man.

Why be excited? Much like Mother, we know very little about The Shape of Water. I’m very excited for this film for the same reason that I’m excited for Mother - I love del Toro’s work, from The Devil’s Backbone right through to Crimson Peak. Del Toro is fantastic at melding fantasy with real-world struggles (see: The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth), so I’m extremely intrigued to see him returning to a theme that he’s handled with aplomb before. The delightfully surreal synopsis only compounds my excitement.

The list is continued below the cut!

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For someone so angelic-looking, many of Murphy’s parts involve him inflicting physical or psychological brutality on his co-stars.

A great new photoshoot + interview in The Sunday Times. He talks about Heath Ledger, Philip Seymour Hoffman, family life and competitive dieting on the set of Heart of the Sea (he lost a stone for his role!)

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The other day, I thought I’d celebrate my birthday by typing up my headcanons for a super self-indulgent e/R AU, and then I got super caught up in it and wound up almost writing the whole fic instead.

So here is Part One of the PUBLIC RADIO AU that literally nobody was asking for, in which Enjolras is a determined radio reporter, Bahorel has a wildly successful travel show, and Grantaire is the undisputed master of the uncomfortable metaphor.

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Neuroscience's New Consciousness Theory Is Spiritual

by Bobby Azarian

It appears that we are approaching a unique time in the history of man and science where empirical measures and deductive reasoning can actually inform us spiritually. Integrated Information Theory (IIT)–put forth by neuroscientists Giulio Tononi and Christof Koch–is a new framework that describes a way to experimentally measure the extent to which a system is conscious.

As such, it has the potential to answer questions that once seemed impossible, like “which is more conscious, a bat or a beetle?” Furthermore, the theory posits that any system that processes and integrates information, be it organic or inorganic, experiences the world subjectively to some degree. Plants, smartphones, the Internet–even protons–are all examples of such systems. The result is a cosmos composed of a sentient fabric. But before getting into the bizarreness of all that, let’s talk a little about how we got to this point.

The decline and demise of the mystical

As more of the natural world is described objectively and empirically, belief in the existence of anything that defies current scientific explanation is fading at a faster rate than ever before. The majority of college-educated individuals no longer accept the supernatural and magical accounts of physical processes given by religious holy books. Nor do they believe in the actuality of mystical realms beyond life that offer eternal bliss or infinite punishment for the “souls” of righteous or evil men.

This is because modern science has achieved impeccable performance when it comes to explaining phenomena previously thought to be unexplainable. In this day and age, we have complete scientific descriptions of virtually everything. We understand what gives rise to vacuous black holes and their spacetime geometries. We know how new species of life can evolve and the statistical rules that govern such processes. We even have a pretty good understanding of the exact moment in which the universe, and thus of all reality, came into existence! But no serious and informed scientist will tell you that at present we fully understand the thing each of us knows best. That is, our own consciousness.

One of science’s last greatest mysteries

Although we’ve come along way since the time of Descartes, who postulated that consciousness was actually some immaterial spirit not subject to physical law, we still don’t have a complete and satisfactory account of the science underlying experience. We simply don’t know how to quantify it. And if we can’t do that, how do we know whether those non-human life forms that are unable to communicate with us are also conscious? Does it feel like anything to be a cat? Most will probably agree that it does, but how about a ladybug? If so, how can we know which life forms are more conscious than others? Do animals that show impressively intelligent behavior and elaborate memory, like dolphins or crows, experience the world in a unified conscious fashion as we do? These questions are almost impossible to answer without a way to measure consciousness. Fortunately, a neuroscientific theory that has been gaining popular acceptance aims to do just that.

Integrated Information Theory to the Rescue

Integrated Information Theory (IIT), which has become quite a hot topic in contemporary neuroscience, claims to provide a precise way to measure consciousness and express the phenomenon in purely mathematical terms. The theory was put forth by psychiatrist and neuroscientist Giulio Tononi, and has attracted some highly regarded names in the science community. One such name is Christof Koch, Chief Scientific Officer at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, who now champions the idea along with Tononi. Koch may be best-known for bringing consciousness research into the mainstream of neuroscience through his long-term collaboration with the late DNA co-discoverer Francis Crick. Now Tononi and Koch are actively researching the theory along with an increasing number of scientists, some from outside the field of neuroscience like esteemed physicist and popular author Max Tegmark, who is joining the ranks of those who believe they’ve figured out how to reduce one of science’s greatest secrets to numbers. Bits of information to be exact.

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Salome MC, Iran’s First Female Rapper, on Breaking New Ground and Keeping Home in Her Heart

To see more of Salome’s photos from her travels, check out @salomemcee on Instagram. For more music stories, head to Instagram @music.

Salome MC (@salomemcee) was living in Iran and leading a double life. During the day she went to school and had a part-time job. But after hours, she would retreat into her artistic cocoon where she wrote rhymes and rapped. Doing anything outwardly creative in the country is considered risky – the government bristles at the provocative and dangerous. Salome was therefore confined to the shadows, forced to share her work with a small group of collaborators and fans.

“For a long time I really didn’t tell a lot of people,” says the 31-year-old emcee about her music. “I had this whole life with my rapper friends.”

At the time, Iran’s hip-hop scene was non-existent, restricted to Salome and her crew. Today, they’re considered pioneers – the first ever Iranian rappers. But they never set out to make history or change the musical landscape of their country. They were, simply put, just fans of a genre, looking to express their art in new and exciting ways.

“We wanted to see how Persian language worked on [hip-hop],” says Salome. “But we weren’t really thinking it was going to be that [popular] though. We were just people who liked doing it and put it online. Then it really took off. I think people, young people especially, were really thirsty for it. Obviously there was a lot of music in Iran – pop music, traditional music, folk music – but the language we had in hip-hop was a little bit more raw and urban and I think the youth really wanted that.”

Salome first heard rap in 1995. The song was by a Turkish immigrant group from Germany. Soon after, she expanded into the American rap scene, listening to Tupac, Notorious B.I.G. and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, among others. By then, she was already attempting to write rhymes on her own.

A common misconception about Middle Eastern rappers is that they have to rap about geopolitical conflict in their region. Salome opts for something more, though, choosing instead to focus on issues that are less defined by borders than by species and customs. A lot of that comes from her upbringing. The daughter of two journalists, Salome moved around a lot as a kid, making her feel less attached to lands than particular individuals and cultures.

“I try to show that in each country everywhere, people have the same concerns, the same life. I address that a lot,” she says. “Because I traveled a lot, it’s so easy once you get out of that box to see that. People think they are so different – they have this completely different culture, religion and language. It’s easy to demonize them.”

That’s why Salome brings a bit of history with her wherever she goes. Though she currently lives in Japan – she moved there in 2010 on a scholarship – she always makes time for her favorite tea (lemon balm herb) and some kefir cheese (“It’s so good for health”), all the while plotting her next creative project. In addition to her work as a rapper, she is also a video artist, making her own music videos and additional experimental projects.

But the music is what drives her – and as a pioneer and early adopter of hip-hop in her home country, she wants to get her songs out to the people who need them. For Salome carries the additional charge of being known as Iran’s first female emcee, a title she initially avoided: it was nothing more than a label, and didn’t speak to the quality of her work nor the types of things she was interested in. However, she eventually changed her tune.

“For a long time I resisted it, but then I embraced it,” she says. “Right now, no one is really writing down what’s happening. I didn’t want that story to go away because people forget so easily, so I kind of started to use [the label] too.”

But being the first doesn’t always mean being the best. Things move fast. New generations come in and take up the ground broken by previous ones. And while Salome may have much more to accomplish as an artist, she knows how far she’s come and how much she’s already achieved.

“It’s funny because Iranian hip-hop is so young, it’s like 10, 12, 15 years old tops. But already we are the old-school ones.”

– Instagram @music

lead me to the edge of night (’til the dawn, the end of time)

I started writing this for Day 4 of Bellarke Week, the prompt being “songs that you associate with them,” but I couldn’t finish it in time due to work. So, because this is also a prompt fill for @melika-elena (“you’re lying on the floor of the movie theater crying and i’m the employee who has to tell you another movie starts in five minutes so you have to leave and i’m really sorry but im also confused as to why a documentary on lightbugs affected you so much”), I’m submitting this for Day 7 a.k.a free day instead.

Some notes: The song is Hearts Like Ours by The Naked and Famous. Ettore Majorana is a real historical figure, and the title of the “documentary” that Clarke and Bellamy watch is actually a book about his life and disappearance, written by João Magueijo.

Happy premiere day, fam!

lead me to the edge of night (‘til the dawn, the end of time)

“There are several categories of scientists in the world; those of second or third rank do their best but never get very far. Then there is the first rank, those who make important discoveries, fundamental to scientific progress. But then there are the geniuses, like Galilei and Newton… [Ettore] Majorana was one of these.”

- Enrico Fermi, Rome 1938

Clarke is no stranger to different kinds of light. She’s an artist, okay, she’s got this. She knows that Monet broke his own heart trying to capture the shifting soul of light on canvas and, yeah, she can think about nothing but soleil levant when Finn confesses to two-timing her and Raven, the late afternoon tangling red-gold nets into his messy brown hair. She’s squinting at him as apologies stutter from his lips and she’s wondering how come a sunrise painting reminds her of this sunset, perhaps it’s all that blue and the hazy melancholy of Monet’s brushstrokes, and why is she pondering French impressionism as her first love crashes and burns, exactly?

She knows that writers are light-sick, too. Goethe asked for mehr Licht with his dying breath. Siken uses light as a metaphor for everything from war to romance to forgiveness, and, yeah, the night she kisses Lexa in a darkened room at some sketchy party on the other side of town, there’s this little sliver of starlight falling through the other girl’s long lashes and Clarke thinks about Siken’s eponymous Fryderyck, eyes shine like wedding rings, dangerous thing, everyone secretly wants to collaborate with the enemy, to construct a truer version of the self.

Clarke also knows the light of atomic bombs. They watch the Trinity test footage in history class and, as blinding black-and-white heat explodes over New Mexico, she murmurs the Oppenheimer quote and then explains it to her seatmate, who rolls his eyes and snarks “I know who Oppenheimer is” and, yeah, Bellamy’s a real charmer, all right, even if he does happen to be one of her closest friends.

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An interview I did for some dude who only ended up cutting 95% of what I said... Questions are bolded My words are not

Gonna be honest just took my first ADDERALL PILL cuz I’m working on a long form video at the moment and I never tried it so these answers are probably gonna be really weird!
When I initially asked you ‘Who is FrankJavCee’ you replied: ‘Some asshole on the internet.’ That seems, sort of, self-deprecating, don’t you think?     To be honest, I don’t really like myself that much. It’s really human to be self deprecating, as much as an audience wants to see someone succeed I find on the internet people want to see someone fail most of all. Espeically with the amount of FAIL-MONTAGES and CRINGE COMPILATIONS that exist. I try to stay humble to the best of my abilities, like I find my videos aren’t as well produced as others or even as creative and funny as others, but I try my best to not let my ego get the best of me. I’m just a college drop out unemployed student loan debt 24 year old man child making music while still living with my parents.
On your bandcamp thing, it says, you want to be a ‘GRAMMY AWARD WINNING MUSIC PRODUCER.’ Is that sincere?     The Grammy awards have always been to me the subjective truth in the industry. Like if you have a lil gold statue then I have made it as a musician or an audio engineer. The older I get however the more I see that award shows and all those superficial things don’t really matter, what matters most is the music I leave behind when I’ve been long gone, if people still listen I’ll be happy. If I ever get a lil gold statue for making pretty tunes I’ll be happy too. We have to set goals to strive for and musically that’s one of them.

What’s it like being a music artist in East Los Angeles, California? I’ve never been to California, I imagine it’s quite nice though, right? I mean, I’m probably being ignorant about that, but California looks nice on the TV shows my mum watches, you know?     California is a beautiful mysterious place. I read up on a lot of history cuz I like looking at the roots of the trees of life. It was once called Bear Country cuz a lot of bears lived here, then settlers killed them and pushed them away. I live in EAST LA, which is where all the Hispanic people live. South LA is where all the black people live and WEST LA is where all the white people live. In America I notice things are separated primarily by class and race, so I grew up in a working class mexican neighborhood. That sorta stuff doesn’t really affect my art that much, because I rarely go outside. I spend most of my time inside on the internet, and I find the internet my real home. Although living in LA has helped me meet so many cool artists, becuz a lot of people and artists live here. The misconception about Los Angeles is there’s only one type of people here, and it’s seen as glamourous superficial and hollywood aesthetic, but it’s actually a giant vast desert city comprised of a bunch of villages that one day said hey lets connect. The irony is a lot of films are shot here in many locations so people from the outside world get only a one dimensional view of what the city is… I do want to venture into it more and find local artists to film around with cuz there’s so much more than what the mainstream media tells you about this place. Like my neighborhood was in that one Seth Rogan “GREEN HORNET” film and they said it was COMPTON or whatever, and I was like… “NO IT’S NOT THAT’S EL SERENO!”      To answer your question about the music artist… it’s really weird, cuz I haven’t found any artists like myself near me. I have connected with other YouTubers, but no real weird niche music stuff around here, maybe I gotta look harder, like I said, my neighborhood is the internet.
I was writing an article about Yung Lean last year, and knew nothing about Cloud Rap at the time. I later found your video ‘HOW TO CLOUD RAP’ which turned out to be pretty funny, actually. I mean, what are your genuine thoughts on Cloud Rap? Is it even called Cloud Rap, or is it Trillwave, I don’t know.     I actually really like the sounds, it sounds really nice. I’m all into aesthetic and the way music makes you feel. Lyrically I like how something will tell a story. I actually made a video making fun of Yung Lean back in 2014, I used to like his music, til his fans started hating on my for making fun of him and then it got kinda weird cuz I was just having a giggle m8. It’s funny cuz that Yung Lean video was my first time rapping about something, I tried to make a message that glamorizing depression and suicide wasn’t cool because words do affect people, especially young people trying to find their way in the world. I do fuck heavy with the whole TEAM SESH aesthethic and Xavier Wulf and Bones and their music is really great. I’ve also been a huge fan of LIL B cuz he just makes me feel good about myself, like his message and how real to himself he is. I also really like cloud sounding vibes, I started this project with my girlfriend Marion called Cecilia where we released on CLOUD RAP track which is on my SPOTIFY and that stuff is good. Also music is whatever you wanna call it, I can call Cloud Rap, FOGHAZE and people will probably be like… “I GET IT!”

I know you’ve done similar videos. ‘How to make Trap Music’ was a good one. What’s your ‘process’ like when you’re making these videos?     Honestly there is never one way. FOr that video in particular I wrote the song first then kinda ran several takes of me explaining the track to people. Sometimes I write a full script, like my newest video I’m working on or my HISTORY OF NOISE MUSIC and then edit things for it. THere’s really no one way to get started, the process is magic it’s literally different everytime… the hardest part is knowing when it’s done. I find when I can watch something and say to myself legitimately… I want to watch/listen again more than 3 times I have something magical on my hands. I’ve been really interested in collaborating and working with other people more recently. Working with a team is something I’ve always wanted to do, and understanding how other people work helps me as well. In fact I’ve had few internet collabs and a few in real life collabs I’m really happy about. It’s all about going out into the universe and saying YES to things that feel right!

From your videos, I get the impression that you’re sort of a ‘music critic’ using non-traditional methods. Would you agree with that? I mean, what are your thoughts on the contemporary music scenes right now? You seem kind of cynical at times.     When I was younger I was really optimistic. Then I went to college and learned more about how society worked and it shifted my perspective loads. Then I signed a music contract to be a top-line writer in the industry and that changed my perspective on the music industry. My first video that everyone comes to me about HOW TO VAPORWAVE was made when I was angry at everyone. I was pissed off at the world, I had been making music most of my life and at that point no one really cared or really listened to me, so I needed to vent my frustrations in a creative way, little did I know that video would blow up and cause weird ripples in music culture. I still don’t know if my persona on the internet is an act or really how I feel sometimes, becuz internet artists are still a relatively new phenomena in culture. I do a lot of internet research especially with musicians who blow up and become great headliners and DJs who perfect a particular style or sound that everyone emulates. I found that me personally as an artist could never really acchieve the same thing with music alone, because I had one thing most successful musicians have in the modern age, “TALENT, LOOKS, MAJOR FUNDING” I’m still understanding what it takes to go viral but I don’t want to go viral in the music scene anymore, becuz it appears like a flash in a pan I want to grow my audience with me. I’m only cynical if the viewer perceives me as such. I’m just a lonely dude reading what I write down.

Do you agree that your videos are cynical? Obviously, that’s part of the humour, right? But I think that humour taps in to a serious disappointment regarding current music trends. You didn’t hold back when it came to criticising ‘Trap Music’ for example.     I actually believe I was born in the trap. I actually live in government housing with my parents, and they wanted me to go to college and get an education and leave and become something great. But I literally just failed them by dropping all my classes and coming home and saying to them, I’m gonna be a YouTube musician! So a lot of my cynicism comes actually from my self loathing and teenage angst that would later turn into adult anxiety. YouTube is literally just my cardboard box that lets me get up and shout out all my crazy ideas to the world. Also I don’t think I’m funny at all, just kinda pathetic to be honest with you.

Tell me a funny story – it can be about music, or just from your life in general. My editor loves these. I’ll get told off if you don’t give me a ‘narrative’ to work everything in to, you know?
    I was in Marching Band in high school we only had a few kids and we’d play pep rallies every Friday for the football team in the high school courtyard. I played Alto Sax and everyone loved playing this old song that was passed down for generations in the school marching band, but by the time I was a junior in high school the band was like 10 people so I’d normally solo it. We called it techno, and it was basically a marching band EDM song, where I’d play the TETRIS melody while the bass drums would hit a 4 on the floor rhythm. I never messed up cuz I learned how to play that and other video game songs by heart. So one day while at the pep rally there was an exceptionally large amount of kids watching us, and we were getting close to my solo. I never messed up… and I mean NEVER!But this was like 2009 and I was an emo kid and had this weird ripped up black sweater I’d wear everyday and my sleeve got stuck in one of the valves and made my saxophone squeak and make horrible dying noises instead of beautiful music. So I instantly stopped and screamed out to the audience, “I’M SORRY!!!” as loud as I could…Everything was silent, not a single laugh, not a single word.. the audience just looked back at me in dissappointment then my band director went up to me and said, “DON’T YOU EVER DO THAT AGAIN!”


Kat Von D talks about the lip and nail collection of our grunge girl dreams.

Kat Von D is lending an artistic hand to the world of nail polish by partnering with Formula X. Each of the five new polish shades in the limited-edition collection matches a color from her Studded Kiss line (think Piaf, L.U.V., Tijuana, Vampira, and NaYeon). The Sephora Glossy linked up with Kat to get insights on the collection, her design process, and why she’s Formula X’s #1 fan. JESSICA VELEZ


“The collaboration happened during one of our beauty development meetings. This may sound silly, but I was gazing at one of my favorite Studded Kiss Lipsticks in the shade Vampira and said, ‘Damn! This lipstick would make the best nail polish shade!’ And the rest is history!”


“The reason I so badly wanted to collaborate with Formula X more than any other nail polish company is because I’ve been a fan of the line since it first launched a few years back. Some of my top fave polishes are Obsessed, Gray Matter, and Alchemy. It has the most durable formula ever, and this is coming from someone who bangs the hell out of her nails all day long! The treatments actually work—this is the only reason I’ve ever gotten my nails to look as healthy as they’ve ever been, no joke. I’m addicted to Formula X’s The System. If it weren’t for that, I would have the worst, most haggard nails that ever existed.”


“After meeting with Formula X and going over concepts, they agreed to let me have a black cap, which makes this uber-goth very happy. And after sketching out ideas, I came up with a few hand-drawn options for the team to choose from. Since Formula X already has its amazing formula down, I felt it was important to contribute the best way I know how, by putting my spin on their ‘X’ logo.”


“Well, as many of my followers on Instagram already know, I truly struggle when it comes to the nail game. I am always so envious of those who are able to have these long, cat-like nails. But unfortunately, I am cursed with weather-beaten artist hands, and my nails are usually the first to get beaten up—whether it’s from drawing, painting, playing my guitar, or gardening. I have never managed to have a set of beautifully manicured, long natural nails because of this! So, to me, a perfect manicure would be a slightly pointed almond shape that’s double the length of my natural stubby nails—ha! For now, I guess I’ll stick to my short nails and live vicariously through all the lovely nail posts on Instagram.”


“Although I tend to wear black almost every day, I do enjoy the hell out of some glitter. So one thing I love doing when it comes to my nails is choosing color combinations based off of an opaque shade, and then finding its glittery sister. For example, if I’m going to wear black nails, I’ll usually go with “Dark Matter” for a majority of my nails, and then leave my ring fingers open, and then go with “NaYeon,” a rich black with heavy gunmetal sparkle, for an extra pop.”

“I’ve always been a fan of anything monochromatic. So, matching your nails to your lips is just as fun as being able to match your lips to your hair—especially when you have neon orange hair like I do now.”

“I love it when girls have long, sharp stiletto nails with a black shiny lacquer on top and a candy apple red underside! I had the luck of owning that look one day for a photo shoot last year and was heartbroken when I had to remove my acrylics afterwards!”


Tim Seeley Talks about Grayson (And Bertinelli)

Dick Grayson has been spent nearly 75 years as part of Batman’s life but this week he gets a new series where he’s on his own and uses his own name, Grayson. DC Comics is having a bit of fun with the promotion of the book and released the following ad last week.

One person who does know Dick is Tim Seeley who is co-writing, with Tom King, the book which debuts tomorrow. I chatted with Seeley about the character and the book which includes the new 52 debut of Helena Bertinelli.

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13 Things I Have Learned Since Being in the Presence of Taylor Swift

As it is known by my iTunes billing company and the majority of my Twitter followers, I am one of the most avid Taylor Swift fans in the world.

I know every superfan says that about everything they love, but, like, how am I supposed to even be considered a superfan if I don’t denote myself as the greatest fan to ever exist?

No matter what my status in the audience, it is March 13, 2014, and it is my One Year Anniversary since meeting Taylor Swift. We only had a 30-second window that included hugs, compliments, and everything you can assume, but it was something I had waited my entire childhood to do. Taylor was the first person to give meaning to my feelings and inspire me to write and communicate them, which is one of the most powerful gifts I have received in life. She also carried me through most of my middle school fashion choices and has really continued to be a very refreshingly feministic role model for me as I’ve aged through the world of princesses and pirate ships (bonus points if you get that reference). Today, I stand before you as someone who wears red lipstick and writes blog posts about my existential crises because I was raised under the idea that genuine feeling is the backbone of harmony, and I have Taylor to thank for that confidence.

Since our meeting and my experience at the Red Tour a year ago, I’ve gone through a curly hair to straight hair transformation, and, to celebrate, I thought I’d give a little chunk of that wisdom to all of you.

1. Never be ashamed to love. This idea has always been somewhat hidden behind my already-enthusiastic exterior, but I’ve learned in the last year that one of the worst things you can do is hold yourself back from expressing appreciation towards something. As long as you can stay healthy in regards to that affection, by all means, adore everything you possibly can.

2. Know your limits. As a follow-up, I think it’s absolutely vital to be aware of your boundaries and the boundaries of others. Definitely push the envelope when it feels right, but don’t spend your life playing the lottery to keep things exciting. Let your situations have their own coming of age, and don’t force yourself into maturing into someone who can deal with everything immediately.

3. Tell your story. If someone asks you a question, do not hesitate being completely honest in your answer. Live like you mean it, because you’re probably a fictional character in some alternate universe, and the world really is waiting on you to deliver the best dialogue lines in history. But also, as a human being, your memories and your personal struggles are the most dependably beautiful things to invest in.

4. Let the world affect you. Never think you are immune to feeling. Allow yourself to be inspired and hurt and helped, because your growth depends on it. And also, you’re going to need something to tell people at dinner parties when you’re 28 and can’t believe you’re actually attending dinner parties.

5. Assert your independence. This is kind of like knowing your limits, except it’s a lot more empowering. Take your understanding of the world and employ it like you sign its paychecks. Be able to distinguish yourself in any situation, and know that your perception is the most complex and compassionate part of you, and you get the privilege of rediscovering it every single day.

6. Collaborate. As the story goes, you have to take your individual talents and serve them on a silver platter to something considered “the greater good.” I think the great and good things in the world all come from a blended little mix of empathy, synergy, and effort. You should try the best you can to put yourself into a team where creativity is the bullseye.

7. Do what you want. I think you should follow instructions, and I think you really should get started on that 6-step algebra problem (when you’re done reading this), but I also think you should be able to visualize and seek opportunity in the hemispheres of your world that don’t always get as much attention as they should. In the words of Tom Haverford (literally the best character on Parks & Recreation), TREAT YO SELF.

8. Talk. Communicate with people and allow them to confide in you in a way that makes you both completely susceptible to respect and value. Then use those traits to feel at the highest voltage of electric connection. Knowing others and being curious about their lives is everything. Dwell in your world, and know your species.

9. Be brave. Take on challenges like they’re another blanket to cover you at night. Leap into things like your survival depends on it, because, in retrospect, it really does.

10. Sing along in the car. I don’t care who you are. If you know the lyrics and the atmosphere is right, sing the song. This is how bonds are formed. THIS IS HOW MEMORIES ARE MADE. (The same goes for dancing to the Electric Slide at wedding receptions and the Cupid Shuffle at Homecoming.)

11. Take pictures. Stop being afraid to smile because you have braces or because your hair doesn’t look right that day. It will 20 years from now, and you’re going to want to blow the dust off your yearbooks and photo albums when someone asks you what it was like being on the debate team in high school. If you live being propelled by passion and fascination, the candid pictures from a random Tuesday and your wedding day will both be nothing short of unforgettable.

12. Stay grounded. I mean, really plant yourself as the most well-rounded seed you can find. Give yourself the greatest foundation possible, and build up from there. Don’t strive for too much, but don’t stay settled in one spot. Reach, but don’t pull a muscle.

13. Don’t worry if you aren’t there yet. Don’t be concerned if you haven’t met all of these life lessons, because half of them could potentially be wrong, and the ones that are right will introduce themselves to you in due time. That sounds like such a guidance counselor thing to say, but just keep in mind that the fluctuating journey from foreign territory to home is happening all around you, and you’re never too far away from a dream.

What was the first year at Kickstarter like?

The first first-year: 2001 — 2002

This is when Perry had the idea for Kickstarter. He was living in New Orleans, wanted to throw a Kruder & Dorfmeister concert during JazzFest, but didn’t have the means to pull it together. This led him to imagine a system where he could propose something like a concert to the public, people could use their credit cards to pledge to it if they liked the idea, and if enough people did the thing would happen.

You can read about this period in Perry’s own words here and here.

My first first-year: 2005 — 2006

Perry and I met in the fall of 2005. I was a regular at a restaurant in Brooklyn where he waited tables. Perry had continued to work on the idea for Kickstarter, and eventually he told me about it. We started discussing it over beers and ping-pong.

The idea got steadily more real for me as we shared it with our friends — many of whom were artists we hoped would one day use Kickstarter, and whose feedback we incessantly solicited.

One day we walked to Staples in Soho and bought a whiteboard. That was a moment. Perry used that whiteboard to sketch this early design.

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What sticks out from my first year is the discrepancy between our enthusiasm for the idea and everyone else’s. We were constantly talking to people about Kickstarter and getting blank faces in return.

In retrospect this was valuable. Trying to explain something that doesn’t exist yet is a good way to learn what’s interesting about it. It made us understand the “why” of what we were trying to do. The fact that our creative friends got it but the business people we spoke with were baffled by it was a strong sign to us that this was something worth doing.

Charles’ first first-year: 2007 — 2008

Before Kickstarter, Perry had been an artist, day trader, recording engineer, gallerist, and pre-school teacher. I was a rock critic and writer. Ends up these are not the best qualifications to start a website.

In 2007 Perry was introduced to Charles, and things began to take better shape. Charles was a designer. He and Perry worked closely to interpret the ideas into wireframes and sketches. We actually detailed the entire design history of Kickstarter (with lots of early screenshots!) in this post. An example of a design circa 2007:

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From 2007 to 2009 momentum was building. Full credit goes to Perry and Charles, who sat in Perry’s apartment in BedStuy everyday talking, sketching, and debating without pay (I still had a day job as a writer). There were many very challenging times. Perry bore the brunt of them but he refused to give up.

Kickstarter’s first public year: 2009 — 2010

On April 28, 2009 at 4:30pm Kickstarter went live. The first project was by Perry. The second was by me, Perry, and our friend Claudia. Our Moms were very excited.

Before launching, we gave about 50 of our friends invites to start projects, and five invites to give to their friends, and so on. To date this is still the most marketing we’ve ever done. By our second day people we had never met were launching projects. On our third day Drawing for dollars became the first successfully funded project, at $35.

The team was very small. Perry, me, Charles, Lance Ivy, Andy Baio, and a part-time developer in Texas. Charles was in Chicago, Lance in Walla Walla, and Andy in Portland. Only Perry and I were in NYC. In June everyone came to New York for a visit. There’s an awkward photo somewhere of us standing in front of the New York Public Library by Bryant Park.

In October 2009 we made our first full-time NYC hires: Cassie Marketos to join me on CS, and Fred Benenson to join us for data and engineering. In December 2009 we got our first office, a floor of an old tenement building on the Lower East Side. Perry found it on Craigslist. I remember spending New Year’s Day putting together office chairs. This was our home until just a few weeks ago.

All of us were completely new at this. For Perry this was the culmination of nine years of dogged persistence and thinking. For me it was the culmination of a life spent celebrating art and culture. For Charles it was the culmination of years of working on a variety of creative projects. It was — and still is! — very exciting.

Kickstarter is the kind of thing that seems as natural as air — the structure of the system, how it works and feels, the fact that it exists at all. But it isn’t. It is the product of years of thinking, collaborating, building, and ultimately guessing by a handful of people. It’s been copied so many times now that the original thought doesn’t seem very original. It very much was.

The fact that Kickstarter has become what it is is remarkable. I see all of the site’s success through the lens of these years. It’s been a privilege to be a part of it.


Your childhood is a lie.

I want to get that out of the way before we go any further so we’re clear that I’m not going to sugar coat shit. Bill Cosby is likely an arrogant, philandering, rapist who administered pills to vulnerable women. Hulk Hogan is an admitted racist who prefers his niggers to be tall and rich, brother. And Meek Mill isn’t the Drake fan we all thought he was. Pop culture seems to be building to an inevitable boiling point. And while – Lord knows – I didn’t want to add to the seemingly endless think pieces, I couldn’t not say something… 

Let’s begin with a series of questions. If you come across a wad of $100 bills - $10,000 in total – laying in the gutter, would you pick it up? Assuming that answer is hell fucking yes, would you begin an exhaustive search to find its original owner? If your answer is yes, then good for you. You’re probably lying, but whatever. If you’re keeping the money, let’s talk about what you’re going to do with your come up. Pay some bills, please. Put at least 1/3 of the money to work for you. And of course, treat yourself. Buy something that you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. That’s important. But if while balling out at the Leica store or Louboutin, you discover that the money originally belonged to a rapist, or a racist or someone whose creative process differs from yours, do you put that new camera down and light the remaining hundreds up in flames? Or do you keep your new camera and create something in line with a vision you do support? 

Learn to separate the artist from the art because the messenger is not the message.

I’m an 80’s baby. I watched The Cosby Show religiously, learning a little more about my culture and myself in each episode. It widened what I believed to be possible. I was a Cosby Kid.

When the allegations against the Cos first broke (the second time), I was all, “man they’re trying to smear my guy.” As the number of women grew, I tuned it out. I didn’t want to deal with what it might mean for my childhood if this was really happening. Then Beverly Johnson penned her essay and I cried. How could he do that to Bev, equally as important to my identity as a black child in this country? Then I hated him. I wanted nothing to do with him. I was all fuck Bill Cosby, his sweaters, pudding pops and everybody who loves him. Until I was on a red-eye and I caught the episode of A Different World where Freddie discovered a part of the Underground Railroad in the Hillman laundry room. Although I’d been taught about Harriet Tubman and our origins in this country, that episode was the first time the Underground Railroad felt tangible to me. I was 9 years old and Bill Cosby, Executive Producer and co-creator of the series helped do that. I cried again. I had been lied to.

The lie we were told was that Bill Cosby mattered as much as, if not more, than what Bill Cosby created. The purpose of art is that it might reach you, connect with you and inspire you. If the art makes you feel any different about the artist, it is a bonus but not a requirement.

But lets keep it all the way funky. Separating the art from the artist will now and forever be a difficult thing to do. This is coming from someone who’s deleted entire catalogs off my iTunes because of personal beefs. But the more comfortable I became with myself, so came the separation. ‘Know Yourself. ’As I accepted my own level of ‘ain’t shit-ness’, I realized that my connection and interpretation of art said more about me than the person that created it. That episode of A Different World is mine. The Cosby Show is mine. And no one, not even Bill ‘here take this’ Cosby has the right to snatch that back from me. 

Once an artist puts something out into the world, it belongs to the people. And what the people do with it, how we allow it to inspire us, is now out of the creators control. Of course there are the curators, there to preserve the original piece. But the freedom to interpret that art and incorporate it into our own, is ours.

So, speaking of curators, let’s talk about Drake.

Friday night I argued with a Hip Hop legend over where to place Drake within the landscape of rap history. I am a huge Drake fan. I don’t hide that. I’ve connected to his music since Comeback Season and the current speculation about possible ghostwriters or collaborators doesn’t change that. He’s an important artist and one of the best. Still. My friend felt differently. “That’s just not how it’s done,” was at the crux of his informed and popular opinion. “There are certain rules to the genre and culture of rap music,” he said. “And now I look at son (Drake) differently.”

You know what? Good. Existing standards matter in that they give everyone a clear starting point. But existing standards should not be everyone’s end goal.

If we all only followed the rules of what something is ‘supposed to be,’ it’d be impossible for you to read this right now because Tumblr wouldn’t exist because the internet wouldn’t exist because computers wouldn’t exist because the engineering capabilities wouldn’t exist because education wouldn’t exist…Let’s cut to a cave man knocking a sharp rock out of a cave kid’s hand because writing on the cave walls just “isn’t what we do.”

“We need a board,” Jay Z famously said. Years later he declared, “there are no rules.” Life, and the art it inspires, will (and should) continue to evolve because without that evolution we are nothing. My rap legend friend then asked, “what if you don’t like the direction we’re evolving?” My answer was, “what if you do?”

If you’d told me in 2001 that one day my phone would replace my computer, my camera, my palm pilot and my watch, I would’ve told you I didn’t want that. I liked each one of those things. I respected all of them and wanted to keep them. But these days, I love my iPhone. Its existence has simplified my life. Thank God someone challenged how we look at cellphones. Our greatest innovations have all come from someone saying, “No, that’s how you do it. But I’m going to do it this way.”

This is where the cultural purists are getting ready to cock back and come for me. You’ll be alright. But know that I am writing in the spirit of what’s good for the culture that birthed me. I share Steve Job’s belief that pushing back pushes us forward. What our pioneers did was important but even they don’t get to confine what we do next. And it’s important that we empower ourselves to stand up and say, “this is how I am going to do it.” That’s the only way we survive.

Someone told me last night, “This generation is weird. They root for the drug addict, instead of the drug dealer,” as if we should’ve ever been rooting for the person poisoning the public in the first place. Again, whatever. But here’s why that is, technology transferred power back to the people. You know why Drake has the public’s benefit of the doubt? Yes, hits. But also, we watched Drake build his movement from the ground up. From MySpace to Young Money to the top of the charts, that’s inspiring. And inspiration is more addictive than someone just trying to get you hooked on what they’re selling. But this isn’t actually about Drake. It’s not even about Meek. It’s more about Flex and his insistence of keeping a tight hold on something that belongs to all of us. It has to be about the music.  And if the music’s found, connected and inspired you, isn’t that what matters? Are you any less happy to hear the song because it’s creative process went against pre-existing rules? Or are we more focused on the artist and the egos of the curators than the art itself? In 2015, there are many old guards still blocking the gates to pastures that have no fences.

Should there be no atonement for personal sins? Of course not. Pay for what you did. Whatever that is. I’m not giving back what came from it because I, the fan, didn’t do shit.

Let’s go back to the original lie, that the artist is as important as the art. Fuck that. The communal spirit between art and childhood is the belief that we can do anything. @DulceRuby tweeted, “Remember who you were before they told you who to be.” You can still do anything. I can keep The Cosby Show; and you can fondly remember old wrestling matches, and Drake can keep making hits because it’s not about them. It’s about what they create and how we use it to inspire us to create something that pushes us forward.


Label Profile:
Orchid Tapes
Brooklyn, NY

Orchid Tapes is the child of Warren Hildebrand. This Brooklyn based label has come out with some of the most profound records in the past four years and has graced our ears with bands such as Happy Trendy, Coma Cinema, and Foxes In Fiction. These are only a few musicians in the unique and astounding roster this label has to offer. Anything I say now will not explain thoroughly enough how great and dynamic a label like Orchid Tapes is. All I shall end this brief intro with is that, the modest, Warren Hildebrand has created something prolific and, though may remain small, will have a worldly impact on the independent music scene.

Where does the name Orchid Tapes come from, first and foremost. 

Warren Hildebrand: There’s a Deerhunter song on their second album called ‘Tape Hiss Orchid’. I kind of pulled the idea for the name from there when I was first putting the idea for the label together in 2009. I really loved the idea of a label called “Orchid Tapes” because it reflected on both the aesthetic/visual-centric aspect ideas that I had for the label and the patience that listening to cassette tapes requires. It’s also something that I think looks good as a pair of words together on paper.

What aesthetic do you like to center yourself around?

WH: In a visual sense, I like to think that our aesthetic is both simplistic and focused on the images we use for the label and releases. I want things to be pretty fluid. I don’t want to have to restrict ourselves to anything too concrete or lock ourselves into one particular look. But, we want the images and art that we use for each release to be as important as the music itself. We want to go for something that allows for an equal amount of collaboration and input from Brian, I, and the artists that we work with; everyone we release chooses or makes their own artwork and frequently includes their own photography with each physical release.

I want to start sending disposable cameras to each musician we are about to do a release for, and include those pictures with the tapes or records we’re sending out. When it comes to what I think is our musical aesthetic, it’s definitely a lot more scattered and less centered on one particular sound. I kind of wanted to make a point right from the start not to pigeonhole ourselves into one particular style or genre, or become know as “that ____ label”; especially in this day in age, when trends change and shift so quickly. I think the only real thing that we try to keep in mind when looking for music to release is, is to look for things that we feel are genuine and made from the heart or even just things we just really enjoy listening to and connect with. Thankfully we have a lot of really close friends who constantly make amazing music in this vein. We’re lucky enough to get to release really beautiful music all the time.

Running a label is kind of a selfish pursuit for me in that regard. It’s an extension of what I think is really good music that I wanna’ share with as many people as possible. Because the music I like and the music my friends make is changing all the time, I think the music that we put out is always going to be that way too.

To drift off from the topic of aesthetic now and go back to the history of Orchid Tapes, how did the idea come about?

WH: I was living alone in my old apartment in Toronto and was wrapping up the recording of my first Foxes in Fiction album. I was trying to figure out the best way to put it onto a physical medium. I was really inspired by all the little cassette labels that were popping up on different blogs around that time. It seemed like a really cheap and easy way to get music out into the world beyond just the proliferation of mp3s. I released little one-off tapes for my music in the past, but at that point it was a lot more exciting to try and create an actual label, to have an 'official’ name behind the release.

I didn’t really know too many musicians through the Internet or in Toronto at the time. It just seems like a really nice way to get to meet more musicians and also to help out musicians that I already knew and to get their music onto something tangible. Thankfully, it worked out really amazing, I was able to meet some of the most important people in my life because of that decision.

I was also a student at an arts university in Toronto at the time, the idea of having an ongoing project where I could combine music and visual art into objects that could mean something special to someone was really appealing to me.

Who are some key people that have helped the label grow and expand aside from you?

WH: The second half of Orchid Tapes, Brian Vu, has done a huge amount of work to further Orchid Tapes over the past year and a half. He’s key in a lot of the decision-making that goes into figuring out what to release. He coded and designed our entire website, did the re-design for the Logo that we started using in mid-2012, and a lot of other photo/graphic/design-centric stuff that goes into making Orchid Tapes a functional machine. I wouldn’t be anywhere right now if it weren’t for the contributions and encouragement that he brings into the project.

A lot of the core people that make up the Orchid Tapes roster have done countless things to make Orchid Tapes a positive and successful Label. People like Mat Cothran, Dylan Khotin-Foote, Rachel Levy and Sam Ray have been nothing but supportive, loving, and encouraging in as many ways as they can. It’s people like them that really make this feel like we’re one big family, this feels especially true whenever we get together for our showcases or little tours. Of course there are all the supporters that we have. We’re really lucky, in that we have a pretty dedicated group of people that give their attention to pretty much every release that we put out and I probably would have given up the label long ago if these people from all across the world didn’t exist. It’s something we’ll never ever be able to take for granted, it’s been our lifeblood.

How did you come about meeting/getting the first few bands on Orchid Tapes?

WH: It was originally all through MySpace, when that site was still a functional music/social platform. That’s how I first met Mat, Dylan and Rachel, we were all making and releasing music at the same time and talking with each other. Kinda’ seemed natural based on whatever commonalities ran through the things we were doing. It felt good meeting a group of other sad weirdos that recorded music from home that I felt like I genuinely connected with, even through something as seemingly alienating as the Internet.

What has been the main focus up to this point for you at Orchid Tapes?

WH: Mostly to just continue on the path that we seem to be on and be a good label that releases quality music, haha. It sounds simple but, that’s really it. Not to say that we are an influential or big label or anything but, in 2010, I never really thought we’d be anywhere close to where we are right now. I think I’m really happy with how the label is right now. I really like the idea of always keeping our downloads free and keeping the physical runs limited. I like how special and euphoric our showcases always feel. I want that to stay the same for as long as possible.

In the interest of preserving my own relationship with music and the way that I write and record as Foxes in Fiction, I don’t really think that I’d ever want Orchid Tapes to turn into anything too huge. I like that it’s a passion project and that it helps to compliment my love for music and for making music. I definitely want to do things right and as professionally as possible, but I want to always be able to make decisions for Orchid Tapes based on emotion and how I feel about the music itself, not based on what I think would ever sell well or would be a good business move for the label.

Where do you want Orchid Tapes to end? And do you want it to end with just you and Brian?

WH: Hmm, it’s not really something I think about too much or really want to. It very much feels like a practice of being present and living the moment. But, I’d like to think we’ll know how to make the right decisions about the label at whatever points in the future. We both have our own things going on in our lives with music and art, respectively, but I’d like to think we’ll keep Orchid Tapes as an ongoing project for as long as possible. I’ve had some of the best collective experiences in my life because of Orchid Tapes. Everything about it makes me feel like I’m doing something good and worthwhile with my life that genuinely means something to even just a few people. As long as I continue to feel that way and feel as though the musicians that we work with do too, I’ll always want to put the time and effort in to giving it life.

Conducted and Transcribed by Nicholas Hodges