For this month: The Egyptian revolution, alternative rock’s rise and fall in the 1990s, a nostalgic look back to adventure gaming’s golden era and Marc Jacobs up close.
Letter from Cairo, On the Square
The New Yorker
Cairo?s recent democratic uprising rightfully received heavy news coverage from practically everyone, be it the Sunday talk shows, CNN or the New York Times. Nevertheless, to my surprise, for weeks an extended written chronology from the ground had been missing.
Leave it to The New Yorker to fill the void. Reporter Wendell Steavenson camped out in a hotel adjacent to Tahir Square, conducting interviews and reports both inside and around the historic area with everyone from low level military officers to anti-Mubarak protesters. Even with a 7000 plus word count (Steavenson reported for a full two week period leading up to Mubarak’s resignation) it?s a fast read given that much of the piece focuses on action (e.g. skirmishes, clashes with police) from within the square.
My teenage years were immersed in 90s alternative rock, yet the quality of Steven Hyden’s ten part chronicle of the rise and fall of the musical genre rises above any nostalgia trip. The writing is excellent, and the story’s narrative of rising corporate influence in the face of falling musicianship is universal; by now we?ve seen a similar story apply to many other music genres like adult contemporary rock and dance. My favorite entry was released this month, focusing on 1998?s popular rap/rock bands like Limp Bizkit and Korn; alternative rock?s best days were long behind it. Hyden’s vitriol for 98 – he likens Korn?s live sound to low flying 747s and chainsaws – really comes out in this entry with often hilarious results.
Gamers under 25 have little recollection of PC adventure classics like Kings Quest and Monkey Island, the fast-twitch Call of Duty and Madden series having taken their place. It?s a shame: in contrast to today’s largely mindless gaming sphere dominated by first person shooters and sports simulators, the mid 80s to 90s was a treasure trove of creativity, even if in more recent years the adventure genre?s innovation lagged. Richard Moss takes a look back, charting the rise of powerhouse game companies like Sierra and LucasArts, along with missteps made in the 90s CD-ROM era.
At Marc Jacobs, the Show Before the Show
The New York Times
Twice a year the fashion world stops to obsess over Marc Jacobs? New York runway shows. He?s unquestionably the most noteworthy designer in America, if not the world. The influences Jacobs? collections pull from in turn set trends in countless other labels and shoppers everywhere. To ensure its presence is felt, the label spares no expense – millions are spent on the perfect lighting, setting and soundtrack – all for a show that rarely lasts more than ten minutes.
The Times takes a closer look on how it all comes together and it?s an illuminating read, even for those uninterested in fashion. One highlight details the intricate coordination of the runway walk itself; with the intricate pacing and timing, the author likens a coordinator?s work to that of an air traffic controller.