Andrew Hultkrans

  • diary July 29, 2011

    Culture Wars

    WHEN SUN TZU WROTE The Art of War in the sixth century BC, he probably wasn’t thinking of artists, let alone Toby Heys and Lisi Raskin, the two artists who delivered presentations on the weaponization of culture on Tuesday night at Art in General. He was, however, advising his readers to exhaust every strategy short of physical combat to defeat their enemies, and that, Heys and Raskin showed, is the aspect of war for which art and culture have been conscripted to play a part, particularly since the dawn of communications technology and electronic media. Sponsored by Triple Canopy, this (literally)

  • film May 03, 2011

    Love Is the Drug

    TRIBECA (THE NEIGHBORHOOD) has evolved so dramatically over the past fifty years—from nameless industrial district to second SoHo to celebrity nesting zone—that it was fitting, if entirely coincidental, that I chose to attend two documentaries about radical transformation in the tenth year of Tribeca (the film festival).

    The first, Limelight, directed by Billy Corben, tells the tale of the rise and fall of New York’s club scene—retroactively embodied by ur–club kid/amateur murderer Michael Alig—through a pocket biography of Peter Gatien, the undisputed king of 1980s–90s Manhattan nightlife as

  • diary April 06, 2011

    No Hard Failings

    WHEN BOB DYLAN wrote “There’s no success like failure” in 1965, little did he know that his Beat generation mentors (the original slackers) would be thoroughly out-slothed by subsequent cohorts, primarily my own (Generation X), to the point where a bunch of talented youth from Triple Canopy can hang an event on failure, be successful, and look good, if appropriately maudit, while doing so. Indeed, these busy Y-sters have distilled and perfected the deception of cloaking themselves in the distressed sartorial aesthetic of their predecessors while being, in truth, fiendishly ambitious and competent.

  • diary February 03, 2011

    Lie to Power

    UPON ENTERING the New York Public Library’s South Court Auditorium on Friday for “Art / Truth / Lies: The Perils and Pleasures of Deception,” a panel on art hoaxes and “parafictions,” I was passed a survey that (I assume) was handed to every attendee of every event at the Franco-American liaison dangereuse known as the Walls & Bridges festival. Sponsored and curated by the Villa Gillet, a “unique cultural institute interested in thought in all its expressions” whose very existence points up the cultural chasm between France and America, the festival seeks to mingle writers, artists, theorists,

  • film January 13, 2011

    Born to Raise Hell

    NEAR THE BEGINNING of this amiable, humanizing documentary, an enthusiastic Motörhead fan tells the filmmakers, “If they drop an atomic bomb, the only things left will be cockroaches and Lemmy!” A justifiable assumption, to be sure, about this seemingly indestructible lion of prog, metal, punk, and, above all, rock ’n’ roll: Born Ian Fraser Kilmister in England on Christmas Eve, 1945, Lemmy has subsisted on Jack Daniel’s, Marlboro Reds, and the three S’s (speed, strippers, and slot machines) for most of his adult life. He’s one of the few celebrities walking today—Iggy Pop and Keith Richards

  • diary November 02, 2010

    Dead Again

    ENTERING THE WHITNEY last Thursday night to catch the debut of Shadow, a video collaboration between artist Slater Bradley and cinematographer Ed Lachman, I was feeling underdressed. The lobby and the second floor (where the video was screening) were populated by the kind of well-heeled young aristocrats that one usually finds at, well, a charity gala for the Whitney. (Characteristically, the real socialites seemed to be huddled around the bar and potato chips downstairs.) Unfortunately, I had missed the plethora of models surrounding Patrick Dempsey at the actual Versace-sponsored Gala three

  • film October 12, 2010

    Carey On

    SOMETHING LIKE THE CRISPIN GLOVER of his era, the eccentric, explosive character actor Timothy Carey lent his genuinely off-kilter presence to films as varied as the swampsploitation C-movie Poor White Trash (1957), Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing (1956) and Paths of Glory (1957), and John Cassavetes’s Minnie and Moskowitz (1971) and The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976). Along the way, he sprayed beer in Brando’s face in The Wild One (1953) (Brando, as director of One-Eyed Jacks [1961], later paid Carey back by stabbing him with a pen), was attacked by Elia Kazan on the set of East of Eden (

  • diary September 29, 2010

    Talking about My Generation

    AS AN ACTUAL ALUMNUS of the highschool class of 1984, I approached last Monday night’s twenty-fifth-anniversary screening of John Hughes’s The Breakfast Club at Lincoln Center with the wrenching mixture of anticipation and trepidation peculiar to high school reunions. Now that the 1980s have equaled (if not surpassed) the pop-cultural longevity that the ’60s and ’70s once enjoyed with generations too young to have experienced them firsthand, this Hughes tribute seemed a bit behind the curve, even by the standards of nostalgia. But you only get to be twenty-five once, and since four of the five

  • film June 30, 2010

    Sound Judgment

    LITERALLY AND FIGURATIVELY GNOMIC, the reclusive music producer Phil Spector had been out of the public eye for decades when he was arrested in 2003 for the murder of B-movie actress Lana Clarkson. Photographed in court sporting a mammoth Brillo pad of an Afro that threatened to topple his tiny frame, Spector seemed to be another in a long line of LA has-beens—O. J. Simpson and Robert Blake come to mind—who capped their careers with alleged execution-style killings. During his first trial, which ended in a hung jury in 2007, Spector appeared as emotionally distanced from the proceedings as

  • film April 07, 2010

    Banksy Job

    BORN OUT OF THE NEW YORK graffiti scene of the 1970s and ’80s, street art has come a long way since Revs and Cost were wheat-pasting their block-letter foolscap names in every nook and cranny of the city. Like its sibling rap music, it has gone massive. No one was more responsible for this mainstreaming than an elusive, anonymous Bristol native who goes by the tag Banksy, with a close second going to the ubiquitous Shepard Fairey, he of the Obama “HOPE” poster. Both are featured in Exit Through the Gift Shop, a documentary about street artists that Banksy took over from its original auteur (and

  • diary April 03, 2010

    Prickly Père

    New York

    DAVID THOMAS IS A “DIFFICULT ARTIST” in every sense of the term. Greil Marcus called him a “crank prophet.” In his band Pere Ubu’s early days, he called himself Crocus Behemoth. I call him batshit crazy. But there’s nothing wrong with that, particularly when you’ve consistently created some of the most challenging and influential music of the past three decades. Tall, stout, tightly wound, given to Tourettic outbursts, Thomas embodies the insecure male id inflated to mammoth proportions, so it’s surprising that it took him so long to assume the character from which his band took its name, the

  • film March 13, 2010

    Reality Bytes

    A PAINTER WHO ENROLLED in the Whitney Program before migrating to Columbia Film School, Kathryn Bigelow is something of an anomaly in Planet Hollywood. Combining an affinity for the frenetic rhythms of the thriller with a taste for subversive genre-bending that recalls her “high art” beginnings, Bigelow is a consummate technician whose balletic action sequences remind us how cinematically pure the language of violence can be. Her latest film, Strange Days (1995), is a tech-noir set in a Los Angeles on the brink of the millennium, where conflicting visions of rapture and revolution divide the

  • film March 13, 2010

    Nordic Track

    AS A PERSON OF SWEDISH DESCENT and somewhat dark sensibilities, I was piqued by the idea of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a Swedish adaptation of the first novel in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, a posthumous publishing smash that spread the reputation of Nordic noir around the globe. As someone who rarely, if ever, reads contemporary mysteries, I had managed to avoid said publishing smash and hoped to get a taste of the Larsson phenomenon through the film, which has already won a smorgasbord of Swedish awards and was Europe’s top-grossing movie of 2009. I can’t say whether it is

  • The Thing

    HALF MACGUFFIN, HALF HOLY GRAIL, the “impossible object” driving Jonathan Lethem’s novel Chronic City (Doubleday, 2009) is a vase of transcendent attractiveness called a chaldron. Some readers may take the word to be the author’s coinage, but it dates back to at least sixteenth-century England (an early spelling of cauldron) and denotes an inexact measure of volume, generally of coal. For an elusive object that appears as different things at different times and whose meaning shifts depending on who’s looking at it, the name is well chosen, carrying metaphoric weight that implies specificity but

  • diary December 15, 2009

    Velvet Goldmine

    New York

    WELL, THIS WAS A SURPRISE. As soon as I heard that the Velvet Underground (actually, a subset—there’s no true VU without deceased rhythm guitarist Sterling Morrison) would be closing the 2009 season of “Live from the NYPL,” I immediately (and excitedly) assumed they’d be playing. So, apparently, did the rest of the SRO house. As program director Paul Holdengraber noted in his introductory remarks last Tuesday, the event sold out in three minutes and twenty seconds. Keyed to the recent Rizzoli coffee-table book The Velvet Underground: New York Art, edited by Johan Kugelberg, which collects a

  • film December 09, 2009

    Parent Trap

    IT’S ODD, AND SLIGHTLY UNSETTLING, when a great director assumes the style of another great director, but that’s what seems to have happened in Werner Herzog’s My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done, a surreal psychodrama loosely based on the bizarre matricide committed by talented student actor and basketball player Mark Yavorsky in 1979 San Diego. Written by Herzog and longtime associate Herbert Golder, a classics professor at Boston University, the film was executive-produced by David Lynch—and it shows.

    Renamed Brad McCullum for the movie, the Yavorsky character is played with bewildered intensity

  • diary October 21, 2009

    Tony Crowd

    New York

    AS FAR AS POLITICAL CORRECTNESS GOES, the art world has come a long way since the 1980s. How else can one explain downtown gallery space Participant Inc.’s hiring of über-offensive Andy Kaufman/Bob Zmuda character Tony Clifton for a cocktail party/benefit feting their new programs director, Stephen Hepworth? This was like booking Andrew Dice Clay for a Planned Parenthood mixer or Paul Mooney for Farm Aid. Nevertheless, as I entered the gallery and noted the combo of offerings on display—the tail end of a My Barbarian show, previews of an exhibition inspired by the life and work of performance

  • diary October 12, 2009

    Due Process

    New York

    LEGEND HAS IT that a young L. Ron Hubbard once bragged to his friends that he was going to start a religion and make a million dollars. We all know how that went. Less known is a far smaller rogue offshoot of Scientology that exerted disproportionate influence on late-1960s and early-’70s bohemian culture in London, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and other epicenters of radical chic: the Process Church of the Final Judgment, or, simply, the Process.

    Formed in 1963 in London by two disenchanted Scientologists—Mary Ann MacLean, a former call girl from Glasgow, and Robert DeGrimston, a

  • film September 28, 2009

    Chelsea Lately

    LONG A STUBBORN TOTEM of downbeat bohemia in the face of Manhattan’s gentrification, the Chelsea Hotel was wrenched into the corporate present in 2007, when members of the hotel’s board forced out the seemingly eternal manager/owner Stanley Bard in favor of BD Hotels, a boutique hotel firm that threatened to turn it into the Chambers, the Mercer, or something worse. (The board has since fired BD, with various scuffles and changeovers in management tracked on the Hotel Chelsea Blog.) Producer Jen Gatien was living in the Chelsea at the time of the initial ouster and was determined to document

  • diary August 11, 2009

    Rhys’s Pieces

    New York

    NEVER HAVE I RUN INTO as many friends and acquaintances at a New York event as I did last Saturday at the band shell abutting Lincoln Center, where Rhys Chatham’s orchestra of two hundred electric guitars, fifteen basses, and one hi-hat graced a perfect summer evening with oscillating ambient bliss. Maybe I knew so many people there because my friends are cheap and the concert was free, part of the institution’s long-running “Out of Doors” series. Perhaps it was because I know my share of rock critics, and many—including Michael Azerrad, Will Hermes, and former Blender editor Rob Tannenbaum—were