Austin, TX is home to a great deal of interesting street art, but there are a few murals that are deeply ingrained in the city’s story and culture. Like musician Daniel Johnston’s Jeremiah the Innocent Hi How Are You Frog (which can be found on a Guadalupe wall that now belongs to Thai How Are You restaurant and is instantly recognizable to Johnston’s fans,) Jo’s Coffee on South Congress features a similar mural with a sweet, simple message. It says in red, handwritten scrawl “i love you so much.” This is behind the mural that excites so much wonder and curiosity.

Pamela Moore wrote Chocolates for Breakfast, an eyebrow raising 1956 novel about lost teenage girls living privileged and depressing lives, when she was only 18. The book was a hit and put the female name Courtney on the map (Courtney Love counts herself among one of the girls named after protagonist Courtney Farrell,) but Pamela never had another hit and killed herself when she was only 27 years old. The popular book had several prints but lay dormant for years… Read more »

Vivian Maier’s secret dust of art and grit was part gunpowder. Lying dormant, it was nothing, but when it got kicked around it lit up the world. Her work also caused legal complications, dueling documentaries, a host of questions about Vivian’s intent and desires, and a lot of talk about her difficult personality. Her identity and her story got packaged as a mystery tale. As her photographs gained fame, Vivian herself garnered intrigue. The more we scrutinize Vivian, the longer we stare into ourselves.

The human experience is rife with darkness and horror. When most people encounter gross violence or monstrosities depicted in art, they may be shaken, sickened, intrigued and/or become desensitized to it, but a homocidal person may connect in a more sinister way not only to disturbing art, but to seemingly unrelated things. Art effects people, but it doesn’t cause people to kill people, or to commit crimes, and the artist isn’t to blame for actions people take after they encounter theart. That’s what I think, at least, but writer John Grisham once very publicly stated that he believed this wasn’t the case. He thought Oliver Stone, and practically everyone involved with the making and distribution of Natural Born Killers, should be help responsible for the deaths of people killed by “copycat” murderers. He argued that people can be “under the influence” of art to a degree where the artist should be held accountable. When art imitates life, and life imitates art right back, who’s really to blame?

Ariel is grand, but you don’t know the tale of the little mermaid until you’ve read Hans Christian Anderson’s version. His decadent and mournful twist on mermaid lore has shaped our imaginations for centuries, and shines a searing light on the pains of growing up, identity crises, and, of course, unrequited love, which can snap an indescribable place in the heart. Cloaking this particular hurt in a macabre mythological tale gets this feeling precisely right, especially if you throw in the problems of bisexuality in an especially unaccepting time.

Whiplash an intense emotional experience, a rollarcoaster built on drumbeats, sweat, blood, and screams. It gets into your nervous system. It’s a myth-building movie, not only building the myth of these characters hurtling themselves towards a perception of greatness by sacrificing key parts of their flesh, emotional-well being, and humanity, but also rebuilding the myth of Charlie Parker into something far more soul-gouging that it already was. I saw too movies yesterday. One was the horror film The Babadook, but Whiplash is the one that will probably give me nightmares.

When actress and socialite Marthe de Florian’s granddaughter fled to the South of France from Paris at the start of WWII, she left behind her grandmother’s picturesque, lavishly furnished apartment.

Although payments were maintained for decades, no one returned to the apartment until 2010, after the granddaughter’s death, when auctioneers came to take inventory of the estate. What they found was preserved physical snap shot of a particular time, its state only altered by spiderwebs and dust.