Wandering Eye: Move the Baltimore Book Festival, Beach House at the center of hoax, and more

The Baltimore Book Festival belongs in the Inner Harbor the way the Catholic mass belongs in Hammerjacks or the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra belongs in M&T Bank Stadium. So says the architect Klaus Philipsen on his blog, where he rants delightfully about the folly of a one-size-(and-style)-fits-all public space where every event is run by the same people operating from the same point of view. Some excerpts: "Place the Book Festival where the foot traffic is already sky-high and your metric for people coming by your booths will rocket up. How about Times Square?" "Instead of where culture is, put the Book Fair where the sponsors are, brilliant!" Book Fest in Mount Vernon was always an imperfect thing—a bit tight for the crowds, parking restricted. But it had the advantage of a beautiful old square and monument, shady trees, marble, and the feeling of something different. On Rash Field? It's just another thing that is happening. "At the Inner Harbor," Philipsen says, "the Book Festival can never gather the necessary critical mass to create a presence on its own, It never gets the chance to create a real space because it is nothing but an afterthought to the ever louder and more vulgar hustle and bustle of the Inner Harbor." (Edward Ericson Jr.)

 

The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation has announced a new grant opportunity for artists and art collectives whose work addresses "racial justice through the lens of mass incarceration." The two-year Artist as Activist fellowship will give up to $100,000 over the course of those two years to "creative professionals who are committed to moving the dial on mass incarceration, and by extension racial justice, to seek a robust set of resources to advance their work." The press release cites some statistics on incarceration in the U.S.—that the rate has risen staggeringly over the past 30 years and that African-Americans and Hispanics make up more than half of those in jail—and acknowledges the complexity of the issues themselves, as well as the difficulties of making art that advocates for change. "We believe that at their best," they write, "art and artists are disruptive. The very nature of being a compelling artist is to generate new thinking and inspire new ways of being, whether through fostering empathy or by proposing radical alternatives to our current systems." (Rebekah Kirkman)

 

Several prominent music sites were the victim of an apparent hoax that involves Baltimore's very own Beach House. Gawker breaks it down: An email went around touting a new podcast from Flaming Lips frontman and artist Wayne Coyne, in which he allegedly interviews the band and the duo premieres a new song called 'Helicopter Dream (I'm Awake).' Sites such as Spin, Consequence of Sound, and Fact all wrote about this as if it were real. This, despite poor audio quality and the fact the purported Alex Scally says the song '10:37' on "Depression Cherry" is so named because "when he first pours a cup of his morning coffee and Dr. Pepper—'PDPP' he calls it—it's usually 10:37 in the morning," according to Gawker's Jordan Sargent. Of the song, Sargent writes: "If the chorus of this fake Beach House song went 'This sooooong / is faaaaaake' it would somehow sound less obviously fake than the song we actually hear." How did reputable sites fall for this? Music publicists send out announcements in mass emails, Sargent writes, and this "makes genuine scoops especially valuable, and also rewards websites for being the first ones to publish a morsel of news." (Brandon Weigel)

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