Mentions | Spring 2024 ​

CAMERON BAYS, VERONICA CHANG, MARK CHIUSANO, JORDAN CUTLER-TIETJEN, NATAN LAST, SEAN MICHAELS, CLYDE NICHOLS, ALEXIS ONG, ANNIE LYALL SLAUGHTER, LYRA WALSH FUCHS

OneHallyu |

SOCIAL MEDIA

Founded in 2013, this forum soon became the English-language fandom space for all things Hallyu, the wave of Korean entertainment that rose to global popularity in the ’90s. Posts were filled with keyboard-spamming glee, now-defunct image links, unfettered tears, mistranslated gossip about your K-pop “bias” (or favorite idol), and polls about celebrity couples (e.g., “Do you think they had already made sex?”). When the site peaked in 2018 with over 50,000 members online at once, the servers repeatedly crashed, steering fans towards more secure, increasingly corporate pastures. The forum did migrate to a new server in 2019, but it was already too late. Numbers dwindled to a fraction of the site’s heyday; then, the site shut down at the end of last year. RIP to the best place for determining whether your bias had work done.

V.C.

The Melt Goes on Forever: The Art & Times of David Hammons |

DOCUMENTARY

The most notable absence in this 101-minute documentary is the artist himself. “If you’re quiet or don’t have anything to say,” he once explained, “they say it all for you.” Through archival footage and talking-head interviews with eminent art world figures, directors Judd Tully and Harold Crooks try to do just that. But despite their best attempts to capture the ever-slippery Hammons, they can’t quite pin him down. In the final interview, gallerist Sukanya Rajaratnam recalls Hammons’s reaction to a generous offer on a glass replica of the snowballs he peddled outside Cooper Union in his 1983 performance “Bliz-aard Ball Sale.” After he insisted on meeting Rajaratnam on a Manhattan street corner, he presented her with a bowl of water and said, “Tell the client that the snowball has melted.”

C.N.

Eileen |

FILM

For Ottessa Moshfegh, writing is like shitting: “My new shit becomes the shit I eat. I learn by digesting my own delusions.” So it’s perhaps not a surprise that her titular protagonist’s obsession with using laxatives to unleash the mysterious turbulence inside of her is cut from William Oldroyd’s film adaptation, though its script was written by Moshfegh and her husband. Instead, the movie is a less-interesting study of noirish light, Hitchcockian orchestral swells, the repressive damage inflicted on us by our parents, and whether the two leads (Thomasin McKenzie and Anne Hathaway) can sustain their mid-century accents (they can’t).

L.W.F.

The Commitments |

NOVEL

Those who aren’t willing to part with a minor fortune in Ticketmaster fees can get all the concert they need in this 165-page 1987 banger, the story of a bunch of Dublin lads who put together a soul band. Sound is Roddy Doyle’s subject here. There’s a horn player named Joey “The Lips” Fagan; everyone has a crush on a backup singer; the band may be in trouble by the end of the book, but we’ve gotten an entertaining if appropriately questionable taxonomy of soul, as interpreted by a bunch of appropriators: soul is sex, revolution, the politics of the people, parents (counterintuitively), the people’s music, dignity, and also, Guinness. Maybe that last one’s only true on the northside of Dublin.

M.C.

Not So Deep as a Well |

ALBUM

On this 2014 collection, the Montreal musician Myriam Gendron adapts poetry by Dorothy Parker into songs as dry and sad as driftwood. It’s perhaps counterintuitive that one of our most powerful interpreters of quiet American folk music is a Quebecois woman who has opened for pummeling post-rock collective Godspeed You! Black Emperor. But life can surprise you: bluegrass icon Gillian Welch got her start playing bass in a goth band.

S.M.

Elsewhere |

SHORT STORIES

Yan Ge’s protagonists, for all their cursory resemblance to Murakami’s solitary gray men, know how to eat. Stewed pig feet, sauteed livers, sweet chili fish, breast milk, funeral banquets, frozen pizza, a candy bar hidden behind a gas meter. Yan folds sentimentality, ritual, and banality into an offbeat chronicle of lonely people trying to sustain themselves in strange new roles and tongues, learning how to feed themselves through layers of dysfunction and dyspepsia. These private crises are so tightly wound and neurotic they resemble a sort of existential stress-eating. What would Murakami do, go for a run? No thanks.

A.O.

New York Society Library |

CLUB

A patron of this 270-year-old bastion of literature, scholarship, and erudition nestled snugly on 79th and Madison, Elizabeth Hardwick once said, “Even though it charges a fee for membership privileges, it is not merely a ‘club’ but a democratic institution.” Today, the most compelling rebuttal to Hardwick’s assertion arises not from the historic site’s 270-dollar annual membership dues, but from its draconian rules. Any writer who dares nibble a dry almond will incur the wrath of its stickler staff. As a white-haired art conservator recently confessed to me, “I eat my tomato sandwiches in the women’s bathroom on the second floor.”

A.L.S.

“Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” |

RENDITION

Following in the footsteps of jam band grandads the Grateful Dead and Phish, Connecticut ensemble Goose draws out late-aughts indie rock into improvisations lasting upwards of thirty minutes. Like most jam bands, Goose has albums, but (mostly) eschews promoting them in favor of endless touring. (“Endless” is not an exaggeration. Dead & Co.’s drummer insisted that the legacy group’s “Final Tour” last summer was “not final anything.”) This Rupert Holmes cover, a regular set-list feature, doesn’t appear on any studio albums, but it encapsulates the band’s unaffected silliness: it’s the kind of group that plays the Newport Folk Festival and invites Animal from the Muppets onstage. 

C.B.

Don’t Tell Comedy |

YOUTUBE

A touring comedy club that’s hosted pop-up shows in a bike shop, a furniture store, and a parking lot, this video series showcases ten-minute sets from up-and-comers — they’re longer than the over-too-soon amuse-bouche of a tight five, but without the commitment of a half-hour special. Behind the Page Six-style thumbnails (“MY PASTOR IS IN JAIL”) grins an elder-millennial cast of post-pandemic jokers, at once mining Covid-era isolation and reveling in the chance to be in a bike shop with a non-virtual audience. “Over the last couple years,” says comic Raanan Hershberg in one clip, “I’ve been watching porn on my phone, using reading glasses.” 

N.L.

Theater Camp |

NOTES ON

A send-up of a 2006 documentary about Stagedoor Manor, a musical theater sleepaway camp in Western New York that has incubated the likes of Mandy Moore, Beanie Feldstein, and Lea Michele. Both the doc and the mockumentary brim with young talent; both are surprisingly funny and unsurprisingly gay. But neither compares to Camp, a 2003 feature that also parodies Stagedoor and, with a clumsier, more violent hand, better captures the high melodrama of pubescent theater. Parents wire their daughter’s jaw shut to ensure she stays skinny; a teenage, frizzy-haired Anna Kendrick poisons two different campers in a bid for stardom; somehow, Stephen Sondheim cameos.

J.C.-T.