The reception of Little Island, both as rendering and as reality, is a textbook case of the process described by sociologist Hillary Angelo in her new book, How Green Became Good. The narrative of the greening of cities, as she describes it, has always been dominated by spectacular urban projects like Central Park. Whatever their time period, “they are constructed as universally beneficial investments in the public good,” Angelo writes. It’s only more recently that the displacement of Seneca Village, a 200-person community of African American property owners, has become part of the common narrative of what it took to build Central Park.

“Not only do such projects involve huge investments of time and resources that could have been spent elsewhere, they reflect completely naturalized assumptions about the ‘good’ of nature … which are presumed to be universal in spite of the constraints on users and uses,” Angelo tweeted the weekend after Little Island opened.

Since the creation of nuclear weapons, human extinction has no longer been a distant prospect like the dying sun that troubled earlier physicists. Nuclear missiles that are capable of destroying our species have made this threat imminent and anthropogenic. In this precarious post-nuclear context, writers and thinkers such as Isaac Asimov and Stephen Hawking have hinted that, if we care about safeguarding humanity, there might be a rush to settle Mars. If humanity eventually becomes “interstellar”, we may be living during the very first infinitesimal of civilisation’s entire history. The peaks and preponderances of what could be achieved may lie in that future.

But in the immediate term, we urgently need to confront extreme risks such as the climate crisis, emerging viruses and the possibility of engineered pathogens. Not only would this improve the lives of the living, but it would also safeguard the lives of everyone who might come after them. Currently it’s only astronauts or billionaires such as Musk and Bezos who are able to fleetingly exit the Earth’s atmosphere. It’s true that Earth will one day become uninhabitable as our sun ages, and that the wider universe will remain potentially capable of supporting complex life for aeons beyond this.

Since the 1970s, DC creators who added a new character to the mythos have been entitled to payments from film, TV and merchandising, an idea spearheaded by then-publisher Jenette Kahn. Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy, for example, drew upon the work of dozens of creators who received some form of compensation, sources say. Len Wein, the late Wolverine co-creator, said he received more money for creating Lucius Fox, the Batman character played by Morgan Freeman in Nolan’s films, than for creating the iconic X-Men hero portrayed by Hugh Jackman in nine movies.

For years, the job of determining payments on something like The Dark Knight fell to Paul Levitz, who served as DC’s president and publisher from 2002 to 2009. One payment category was money owed for creating a character. Other categories were murkier, such as comic storylines Nolan borrowed from, like the classic storyline The Long Halloween by writer Jeff Loeb and artist Tim Sale. Then there were categories even less easy to define.

“Christian Bale liked looking at Tim Sale’s work before he would go out and strike a pose,” says Levitz. “I’m not sure how you value that. But when you have a movie that is as successful as Batman Begins or Dark Knight, it says that there’s something there. And you should say thank you in some fashion.”

Conventional wisdom within the comic book industry is to go to Marvel and DC to build your personal brand, then leave, bringing that audience over to publishers that allow you to retain character rights.

According to the Whitney’s Director Adam Weinberg, Hammons quipped in reference to his Day’s End‘s structure: “a great tailor makes the fewest cuts.” Enigmatic! But, wouldn’t the recreation of at least the western half-moon of Matta-Clark’s intervention have done wonders to draw a viewer’s eye upward rather than towards the yellow rubber floaties mysteriously lining the pylons, which are strangely absent in the official Whitney photos documentation? I would call it one of the ugliest and most disappointing public art pieces I’ve ever seen if Anthony Goicolea’s fake rocks covered in pigeon poop, honoring the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting and other anti-LGBTQ+ violence, weren’t right nearby.

  • The market for NFTs in the second quarter of 2021 is reputedly $2.4 billion. Writing for Artnews, Shanti Escalante-De Mattei writes:

Meanwhile, the NFT marketplace OpenSea is now valued at $1.5 billion, after Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz led another round of funding for the company, raising $100 million. This past June alone OpenSea saw $160 million worth of sales. 

What’s keeping NFTs afloat? It’s not necessarily art. NFTs are now finding a fast growing utility as “keys” for unique access to experiences and also in gameplay, something experts long predicted would be the ultimate value of non-fungible tokens. Bored Ape Yacht Club uses NFTs as a membership card for their digital “Yacht Club” which mainly consists of access to a Discord server, Telegram chat group, and a digital graffiti wall called “THE BATHROOM.” Bored Ape has had $70 million in sales since its launch in May. 

For Reed, “Hamilton” represented the triumph of a multiculturalism far removed from the revolution his own work had envisioned. If “Mumbo Jumbo” celebrated the icons of aesthetically victimized civilizations, “Hamilton” used the representation of America’s racial victims to aestheticize its icons. Reed’s view was bolstered last year when new research concluded that Hamilton had kept enslaved servants until his death; emboldened, Reed is broadening his critique. This September, he and Carla Blank will publish “Bigotry on Broadway,” a critical anthology, and in December his play “The Slave Who Loved Caviar,” a tale of art-world vampirism inspired by Andy Warhol’s relationship with Jean-Michel Basquiat, is slated for an Off Off Broadway début.

4. When “the billionaire main character, who lives in a modern and minimalist decorated home — who is also afraid of commitment — somehow falls head over heels for the other main character.”

Clergy and other faith leaders will be perhaps most interested in PRRI’s finding that religiously unaffiliated Americans, or “nones” in religion demography parlance, have lost ground, making up just 23% of the country. The complex group — which includes atheists, agnostics and some people who say they pray daily but don’t claim a specific faith tradition — peaked at 25.5% of the population in 2018.

White Christians, meanwhile, have expanded their share of the population, particularly white mainline Protestants. That group sits at 16.4%, an increase from 13% in 2016, whereas white evangelicals — who PRRI delineated from white mainliners using a methodology researchers said is commonly utilized by major pollsters — now represent about 14.5% of the population, down from a peak of 23% in 2006. White Catholics now hover around 11.7%, up from a 2018 low of 10.9%.

In March 1934, Harrison experienced some kind of collapse. The medical records are scant. In later years, Harrison mentioned having had a “nervous breakdown,” though he also told people he’d had a stroke. In one document, a doctor described him having “a lesion on his brain.” Whatever led to his illness, he was convalescing in a luxury sanitarium that June when Clark died suddenly of a heart attack. Within days, Harrison’s sister Gladys petitioned the court to have him declared incompetent, and she was subsequently appointed the guardian of his estate, which totaled well more than $200,000, or nearly $4.5 million today. By then, Gladys was married to a car salesman named Charles Crooks, a name I almost didn’t believe the first time I saw it.

Clark, mindful of his lover’s fragile health, had established a $100,000 trust for Harrison, and yet the Crookses claimed this was insufficient. Gladys wasted no time “economizing.” She moved her brother to a cheaper sanitarium where a patient had hanged herself with a stocking, then deemed that institution too expensive and brought him back to his estate in the Palisades. She replaced his longtime staff and installed a rotating squad of male nurses. Harrison would later claim he’d been medicated against his will, “held in complete physical restraint,” and recorded with Dictaphones to be sure he wasn’t conspiring to escape. The court required Gladys to submit expense reports, and the itemized details are often unsettling. One of her first purchases was barbed wire. The Crookses also installed a burglar alarm. More than once they repaired the front gate. Were they trying to keep people out—or keep someone in?

On May 20, for example, the Chicago Tribune reported that rank-and-file cops in the Chicago Police Department “issued a no-confidence vote against police Superintendent David Brown and Mayor Lori Lightfoot during a meeting held by the city’s largest police union.” The story was written by Jeremy Gorner, a beat reporter focused on covering the Chicago Police Department. The Chicago Tribune story received a total of 870 engagements on Facebook. A similar story was reported by the local Chicago CBS affiliate. It received 70 engagements on Facebook. 

Two days later, The Daily Wire published an article with the headline “‘Slap In The Face’: Chicago Cops Vote ‘No-Confidence’ In Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Police Chief David Brown.” The piece contains no original reporting and is just a mashup of the Chicago Tribune and Chicago CBS stories. Further, the headline is misleading. It suggests that the no-confidence vote was a “slap in the face.” When actually, the “slap in the face” is a quote from the police union president and refers to the decision to cancel the “annual St. Jude Memorial March for fallen officers due to the pandemic.” The Daily Wire article received 359,419 engagements on Facebook. 

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Required Reading is published every Saturday, and it is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.

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Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.