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Jul. 15 2010 — 3:08 pm | 50 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Unusual Travel Destinations: Le Palais Idéal in Hauterives, France

A couple weeks ago I had the chance to escape New York City for a trip to France to see some friends.  We spent some days in Paris enjoying the city’s food and sites and even a few of the more unknown attractions, such as the underground catacombs–not the ones mobbed by tourists. We also had the chance to travel to the French Alps, to charming towns near Grenoble. Along the way we stopped to see one of the most unusual buildings ever constructed, a prime example of  naive, or outsider art. The site is Le Palais Idéal, built by Ferdinand Cheval in the town of Hauterives. At first glance it appears to be a confusing mish-mosh of architectural styles from all regions of the earth. And that is exactly what Le Palais Idéal, intentionally.

Cheval was in every way the perfect subject to create his work of outsider art. He had not stepped anywhere near the famous art academies; he had no contact with famous artists when he began his building his visionary structure. He was simply a local postal worker in Hauterives, who had only gone to school until the age of 13 before starting work at a bakery. Each day he would deliver the mail to the residents in the town and the surrounding area, walking long distances on his route. As he walked, he would glance at the magazines and postcards he was delivering to the residents. Inside the magazines he saw images of foreign, exotic locales that he kept in his mind. He saw early Indian buildings decorated with Hindu gods and goddesses. he saw the monuments in Washington, D.C., the primitive buildings of Polynesian peoples.

These images remained in his head until one day on his route when Cheval stumbled upon an unusual rock that caught his eye. He began collecting these unusual rocks, finding more of them at the same location. These rocks serve as the first building elements of Le Palais Idéal. With them Cheval decided he would spend his nights working by oil lamp and creating what in his mind was the perfect architectural style, a combination of all he had seen in the magazines and postcards he delivered. This project, which soon incorporated cement, lime and mortar took Cheval 33 years and all the work occurred without his neighbors noticing. Cheval completed Le Palais Idéal in 1912, adn not long after he began work on his tomb, an equally elaborate but smaller structure in the same town that took 8 years for Cheval to complete. He died in 1924, shortly after completing his grave.

In the final stages of Le Palais Idéal’s construction, Cheval began to garner the interest of big profile artists of the period. Picasso, then the biggest artist in all of Europe, was inspired by the palace, along with Andre Breton, the father of Surrealism and

Postman Cheval’s Ideal Palace

Jul. 9 2010 — 12:19 pm | 23 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment

‘Titanic’ to be Released in 3-D in 2012

James Cameron, he of the filmic hitmakers, is taking another shot with his now second biggest grossing movie ever: ‘Titanic.’ Can the teen girls who gushed and screeched over the doomed love of Leo and Kate muster the energy once again? Or will the movie find a new audience? This time in 3-D. Yes, 3-D. So that boat slowly plunging into the icy Atlantic seas will have even more pop and wow. The grandeur of the interior of the ship will be terrifying and cavernous. And that famous “king of the world scene” will seem so defined and glorious that viewers will be just short of smelling the salty ocean air.

Cameron plans to release the 3-D version of ‘Titanic’ on the 100th anniversary of the tragedy, which took plane on April 10, 1912.

Cameron had previously criticized the 3-D process. he was quoted in the film business blog, Deadline Hollywood, “Now, you’ve got people quickly converting movies from 2D to 3D, which is not what we did. They’re expecting the same result, when in fact they will probably work against the adoption of 3D because they’ll be putting out an inferior product.”

Titanic Rises in 3-D

Jul. 5 2010 — 12:56 pm | 68 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment

Chess Legend Bobby Fischer’s Body Exhumed

image by Bara Kristinsdottir via The New York Times

Chess champion Bobby Fischer died in 2008. But his grave in Iceland was exhumed this past weekend in an attempt to answer claims by Marilyn Young that Fischer is the father of her 9-year-old Filipino daughter named Jinky Young. The exhumation is part of an ongoing battle over Fischer’s estate, which is valued at $2 million. Miyoko Watai, the head of the Japanese Chess Association, also claims that Fischer married her in 2004. From The New York Times:

Marilyn Young filed her claim in Iceland last November. Among the documents she provided were pictures of her, Fischer and Jinky, and postcards to Jinky signed “Daddy” that she said were from Fischer. She has also produced records showing that Fischer gave her money in 2006 and 2007 for Jinky, according to RUV, a public broadcaster.”

Bobby Fischer Is Exhumed – Gambit Blog – NYTimes.com.

Jul. 2 2010 — 11:39 am | 32 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment

How to Buy a Justin Bieber CD as a Grown Human Being

So the teen pop sensation, Justin Bieber is headed to Portland, Oregon on July 14 and writer Ryan White has a dilemma on his hands. He must listen to Justin Bieber’s music prior to the show for an article he has to write about the baby-faced singer. The problem: how does an adult human being–someone who pays taxes, does not text message as if it was the only form of communication, and remembers cassette tapes or even records–go about buying Justin Bieber’s music? He posited this question to his readers, and it is a question that has plagued many an adult over the ages. How does one navigate the difficult waters where self respect meets the consumption of total pop marketing fever?

The answer, as provided by a reader: “Make a long, weird list of random items on brightly colored paper (items could include a button, a picture of Portlandia, Beau Breedlove’s autograph, etc.). Cross off most of the listed items. At the bottom of the list have “A JUSTIN BIEBER CD (OMG – SERIOUSLY).” Grab the CD, tell the clerk that ‘you are just killing the scavenger hunt competition, and don’t be surprised when about twenty other people come in here looking for this piece of a crap’. Leave, happily.”

via How do you Buy a Justin Bieber CD?.

Jun. 18 2010 — 10:01 am | 95 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

British Scammer Mutilated Stolen Shakespeare Folio

Police believe that in 1998 Raymond Scott stole a first edition folio of Shakespeare’s works from an exhibition case at Durham University in England. Scott apparently kept the foilio, worth between 3 million and 15 million pounds, for ten years before walking into the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC to have it authenticated, claiming he was a wealthy heir to a millionaire building contractor and he had found the book in a friend’s home in Cuba.

At some point during those ten years, Scott defaced the 400-year-old book by removing the covers, the frontispiece and the back page to disguise the book, which obviously did not work.

Authorities began an investigation as soon as he brought the book public again, leading to his arrest. Scott’s trial is now underway in England and he has so far plead not guilty to the charges of theft, handling stolen goods, and removing criminal property

BBC News – County Durham man ‘mutilated’ stolen Shakespeare folio.

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    About Me

    I am a Brooklyn-based writer and editor covering arts and culture. I was an editor at Art & Antiques magazine, an editor at Picador USA, and an editor for a magazine about coffee and tea. On the best of days, I get to write about art, or work on fiction. My writing can be found on the Huffington Post, The Rumpus, and in Art & Antiques, Art in America, Tin House, Willamette Week, San Francisco magazine, Food Network Magazine, and Fresh Cup magazine. I also write about and promote the arts for Columbia University in New York.

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    An essay on the painter Robert Vickrey for The Rumpus.