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Refresh: The Antidote to Art World Illiteracy

The REFRESH poster designed & drawn by artist Aurora Andrews

Leon Neyfakh is best known as a reporter for the New York Observer, and his beat is everything from Brooklyn’s indie music scene to uptown art world intrigue. What many people may not know that he’s much bigger online … ok, not much bigger but definitely cooler than an Observer byline would suggest.

For those who live in Tumblr-land, Neyfakh’s tumblelog Leon Crawl is full of quips, interesting links, and observations about what he’s reading/listening to/watching. And if you know that, then you probably know that he’s also the organizer of a great new reading literary series, Refresh, which welcomes the internet famous to spill their guts about whatever netizens vomit out of their mouths or via their fingers.

When I attended Refresh 3 last month at Happy Ending in Manhattan’s Chinatown it felt like a who’s who of the internet famous, infamous, and their fans and hangers on’ers. I ran into Twitter friends, Tumblr mates, and blogging buddies. I even felt the pressure to fit and immediately tweeted … and got retweeted (it was a room full of fellow net geeks) … my snarky contribution to the evening:

If someone detonated a bomb at Happy Ending now, @Tumblr & New York hipsterdom would be crippled for years to come.

The reading included everyone’s favorite over sharer Emily Gould, the wit of the anonymous music blogger of Pitchfork Reviews Reviews, the geniuses (or is it idiots) of Das Racist, and others.

Now it’s time to hit refresh for installment number four. The posters for the event are designed by the talented Aurora Andrews but there’s another art somebody in the mix, Lena Dunham of Downtown Delusional Divas … I can only imagine what her contribution will be.

I asked Neyfakh what’s the big fuckin’ deal with Refresh and why we should care:

If there’s one motivating idea behind the series it’s that there’s nothing better than hearing a short, funny thing read out loud to you. it’s not much of an insight, but it turns out that having five gifted, charismatic people who have little to do with each other go up and do that is pretty much guaranteed to be fun and surprising.

In terms of how I pick readers, the idea is basically to take people who have some presence online — even if it’s just a personal blog — and give people who like them — even if it’s just their friends/acquaintances — the chance to see them up close, in a little room, doing a thing they don’t usually do. The last time Refresh happened one of the readers was Pitchfork Reviews Reviews, and I think he was sort of the ideal person for it because a lot of the people who were inclined to come to Refresh were regular readers of his site, and they were aware of him but they’d never seen him read out loud, or met him, etc. the effect was sort of, ‘Look, there he is. That’s the guy from my computer.’ Also Alex Carnevale, the editor of This Recording, read at the first one, back in April, and I think the same thing was going on there. I think people — especially those who spend a lot of time looking at the internet — like that feeling.

This installation of Refresh will include:

  • Peter Stevenson and Jim Windolf, the minds behind @crankykaplan and @wise_kaplan, the Twitter tributes to former NY Observer editor Peter Kaplan;
  • Lena Dunham, who is a filmmaker (her new movie is called Tiny Furniture) and one of the creators/actors/writers in/of the Delusional Downtown Divas;
  • Caroline Bankoff of Interview Magazine;
  • Abraham Riesman is a television producer at NY1 News who produces their weekly interview series on prominent New Yorkers, One on 1 with Budd Mishkin; and
  • Richard Lawson of Fucker … opps, I mean, Gawker.

Judging by Neyfakh’s funny-as-hell post earlier this year titled “The Bullshit Artists,” which allowed art world insiders to dig their own turd-filled grave of verb diarrhea, this may just be the antidote to the fact that Neyfakh seems to think the art world is retarded. It’s his way of saying: Read more … so at least your bullshit makes some sense!

Refresh 4 will take place on Friday, September 17 at 8pm. The event is free but binge drinking is encouraged.

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