Andrew Hultkrans

  • Whit Stillman, Metropolitan, 1990, Super 16, color, sound, 98 minutes.
    film August 07, 2015

    WASP Nest

    A CONFESSION: I am a lapsed preppy. Using the term feels false, though—an affectation—as I was not a prep school/Ivy League legacy, which was the defining characteristic of true preppies in my day. My parents were not blue bloods but middle-class people from sleepy states (Minnesota, Vermont) who met in New York in the early 1960s. We were not wealthy and lived on the “border” of the Upper East Side and Spanish Harlem, but it was important to my mother that I attend “the best schools.” And so I did, starting with a private boys’ school in Manhattan (coat and tie from kindergarten on), leaving

  • Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon, Best of Enemies, 2015, color, sound, 87 minutes. Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley Jr. Photo: Archie Lieberman, LOOK Magazine.
    film July 29, 2015

    Tales from the Crypto

    POLITICAL PARTY TIME in America has rarely been more riotous than during the 1968 presidential nominating conventions. The stakes—Vietnam, civil rights, the sexual revolution, the counterculture v. the as yet unnamed “silent majority”—were high. The country was as polarized as at any time since the Civil War. Television was more central to the process than ever; Richard Nixon’s chilling, divisive TV ads, created by Gene Jones and later mimicked by the Pavlovian test film in Alan Pakula’s The Parallax View (1974), signaled a new era of televisual propaganda in political campaigns. Among the big

  • Paul Holdengräber and Thomas Struth talking at the New York Public Library. (Photo: Jori Klein)
    diary December 22, 2014

    Struth Be Told

    LIKE KRAFTWERK, those other celebrated sons of 1970s Düsseldorf, Thomas Struth embodies remote, dispassionate stillness. From his rigorously symmetrical street scenes, often devoid of people or motion, to his striking, clinical family portraits, Struth’s photography seems to capture architecture and bodies suspended in solid air, as if his subjects were frozen in the invisible aspic of the negative space surrounding them. All photographs are “stills,” of course, but Struth’s are stiller than most. Often large-scale and taken from great distances, his pictures efface the artist’s subjectivity—his

  • Kim Gordon at “The Return of Schizo-Culture” at MoMA PS1. (All photos: Charles Roussel)
    diary November 20, 2014

    Empire State of Mind

    “MEDIOCRITY IS THE NEW BLACK, PEOPLE!” Bemoaning New York’s postmillennial makeover as a “luxury vitrine for the rest of the world,” as Semiotext(e) founder Sylvère Lotringer put it earlier in the day, Penny Arcade exhorted the young, attractive crowd of art-world punters to reboot themselves into an earlier, more oppositional iteration of the city’s arts community. The occasion for the packed VW Dome at MoMA PS1 last Sunday afternoon was “The Return of Schizo-Culture,” a six-hour, multiparticipant, multimedia event that attempted to evoke the spirit of the Schizo-Culture conference, an anarchic

  • Nickolas Rossi,  Heaven Adores You, 2014, digital video, color, sound, 96 minutes. Elliott Smith.
    film July 29, 2014

    Coming Up Roses

    “BEHIND THE EYES of the Oregon girls it was raining again in Portland,” Nelson Algren wrote in his 1956 novel A Walk on the Wild Side. “Somehow it was always raining behind the eyes of Oregon girls.” And so it always seemed to be for Elliott Smith, an extraordinarily gifted, peerlessly poignant songwriter and favorite son of Portland, who died in 2003 at age thirty-four of two knife wounds to the chest, an apparent suicide. As if to confirm Algren’s emotional weather report, the bleak refrain of the last song on Smith’s final studio album, released posthumously, was, “Shine on me, baby, cause

  • Danny Garcia, Looking for Johnny, 2014, color, sound, 90 minutes.
    film May 12, 2014

    Born To Lose

    “BEST REVERSE Keith Richards I’ve ever seen.” This is how Television’s Richard Lloyd, who knows something about the subject, describes the inverse trajectories of junk and (in)fame lived out by doomed New York Dolls/Heartbreakers guitarist Johnny Thunders in Danny Garcia’s comprehensive new documentary Looking for Johnny (2014), the story of how a Richards manqué from Queens grew up to consume exponentially more heroin (with exponentially less money) than the smacked-out Stone while midwifing glam, punk, and hair metal simply by being himself.

    While there are a million junkies in the naked city,

  • Left: Dealer Jeffrey Deitch with Charlie Ahearn. Right: LAII and Lee Quiñones. (All photos: Liz Ligon)
    diary February 10, 2014

    Main Street

    GROWING UP in New York City during the 1970s and ’80s, I assumed that subway cars would always be psychedelic—rolling metal loaves with multihued fluorescent frosting, brightening grim tunnels and el tracks with every color of the spectrum. This, as we all know, was not to be. As a 1982 painting by legendary graffiti writer Lady Pink foresaw, a combination of citizen hostility, law-enforcement crackdowns, and new easy-wipe surfaces ensured that the jagged, letter-based “wildstyle” pieces and ambitious, often topical murals were all but extinct on the MTA by 1990. Pink’s The Death of Graffiti is

  • Jack White, Daphne Brooks, and Dean Blackwood. (All photos: Jori Klein/New York Public Library)
    diary November 27, 2013

    Paramount Importance

    IT’S AN OLD AMERICAN STORY, perhaps the story, at least in terms of our popular music heritage: Black-owned record label (Black Swan) is bought by white-owned record label (Paramount), which records and markets black music to black people (“race records”); such music (blues, ragtime, gospel, early jazz) eventually falls out of favor with black people and is taken up decades later by white people (1960s folk revival), with whom it eventually falls out of favor, and finally is taken up again (last Tuesday) nearly a century after the black label’s founding (in Harlem) at the New York Public Library

  • Greg Camalier, Muscle Shoals, 2013, color, sound, 111 minutes.
    film September 23, 2013

    Hall of FAME

    “THE RIVER THAT SINGS” was the name given to the stretch of the Tennessee River running through Muscle Shoals, Alabama, by its original Native American residents, who believed that a spectral young woman lived in the river and sang songs to them. A small town in the northwest corner of the state, Muscle Shoals is today world-renowned for its “big sound,” having been an improbable recording Mecca for R&B, rock, country, and pop artists from the early 1960s to the present. The town acquired this reputation through the tireless efforts of one man, the stern, indomitable Rick Hall—a “tough

  • Left: Artist Elizabeth Peyton and dealer Gavin Brown. (Photo: Frank Expósito) Right: Grand Wizard Theodore. (Photo: Boo_hooray)
    diary July 22, 2013

    For the Record

    LIKE SUN RA, George Clinton, and Lee “Scratch” Perry, hip-hop originator and DJ Afrika Bambaataa is a “brother from another planet” whose retrofuturist aesthetics conflate Garveyite motherland-yearning and outer-space science fiction. Despite his background as a prominent member of the Warriors-era Bronx gang the Black Spades, his 1980s stage outfits were “ancient alien” avant la lettre—Ming the Merciless robes and custom Viking helmets accessorized with wraparound New Wave shades and Egyptian ankhs. He was the most musically polyglot of the holy trinity of Bronx block-party DJs (Kool Herc,

  • Drew DeNicola, Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me, 2013, color, sound, 110 minutes. Andy Hummel, Alex Chilton, and Jody Stephens.
    film July 03, 2013

    Star Crossed

    IT CAME FROM MEMPHIS… but it wasn’t blues, rockabilly, or soul. It was, in some ways, a second coming of the Beatles, though without sales or notoriety. It was a 1972 album called #1 Record by a band dubbed Big Star, names at first hopeful and then—as cocksure fantasy slid into disappointing reality—bitterly ironic. It became a locus of tragedy and the cornerstone of a cult (built up by rock critics and musicians), and it remains, along with two further LPs (barely) released under the band’s name, some of the best, most timeless music made in the 1970s.

    Big Star was born in 1971 when the trio of

  • Tom Bean and Luke Poling, Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself, 2013, digital video, color, sound, 87 minutes. George Plimpton.
    film May 26, 2013

    Curious George

    DESPITE OUTWARD TRAPPINGS OF SUCCESS, George Plimpton’s life was a fugue of failure, beginning, as we learn in the affectionate new documentary Plimpton!, with his inability to obtain any varsity letters at—or to even graduate from—Exeter, the elite New Hampshire prep school. As a scion of a prominent WASP family in an era when that still mattered, he nevertheless managed to matriculate to Harvard and complete graduate studies at Cambridge. None of this made any positive impression on his father, a New York lawyer and supreme exemplar of the Protestant ethic, who constantly sent the young George