Passing Fancies ~ November 2019

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Reading: Just started Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, because I’ve never read it and I’m preparing for a trip to Savannah.

Audio: I recently watched a documentary about the Laurel Canyon sound of the mid-60s. It was a mediocre sort of film, but now I’m listening to various bands from that era and remembering how much I love The Byrds.

Video: Waiting for The Irishman to come to Netflix…

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The Art of Perfume Ads: D.S. & Durga Freetrapper

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“Freetrapper is our most modern masculine scent, but its origins are early America.”

Freetrapper is a fragrance from the NYC-based niche perfume house of D.S. & Durga, whose website goes on to explain,

“Beaver trappers were the cowboys of early America. Renegade mountaineers of the Jacksonian era who cut trails through the wild in search of beaver pelts — prized by hatters, doctors, and perfumers. Dark cedar, snake root, synthetic beaver castor, and wild bergamot.”

So far, so good. Frontiers…settlement…hunting…goods and trade. Earthy, animalic smells. I get it.

But there’s more to read, plus this ad that’s been appearing in my social media feeds lately:

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Sound, Sight, and Scent in yasiin bey: NEGUS

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yasiin bey (American, born 1973). Alämayyähu and yasiin, 2015. © The Third Line

I always try to keep an ear (and a nose) out for works of olfactory art that I can visit in New York. This time, the opportunity has come right to my workplace, in yasiin bey: Negus (November 15 through January 26 at the Brooklyn Museum.

From the Brooklyn Museum website:

“We present the U.S. debut of yasiin bey: Negus, a listening installation of yasiin bey’s latest studio recording, which will not be released in any digital or analog mediums. . . .The latest in a series of international presentations of Negus, the exhibition acknowledges the importance of hip-hop as a fundamental American art form by making the 8-track, 28-minute recording available without the distractions of technology. . . .In addition to Negus, the exhibition includes artworks by Ala Ebtekar, Julie Mehretu, and José Parlá created in collaboration with bey, as well as original music by celebrated pianist by Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou.

Negus is presented as an immersive sound installation that can only be experienced in person. The recording is unavailable for purchase via digital or physical platforms. Bey designed the multi-track recording as an installation to encourage people to be fully present while listening to it.”

In fact, the experience is even more immersive than visitors may initially realize…

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Perfumed Pages: Sylvia Plath

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Sylvia Plath on the Yorkshire Moors, September 1956, via Smith College

Earlier today I started noticing Sylvia Plath’s name appearing repeatedly in my Twitter feed. Then I realized that today’s Google Doodle is also a tribute to Plath. It’s the anniversary of her birthdate — October 27, 1932.

I started reading Plath’s writing when I was sixteen or seventeen and she remains one of my favorite poets. Today, then, seems like a fitting date to share a few lines from Plath’s journals, as published in The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath (2000).

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Upcoming Class at the Brooklyn Brainery: Scentennial (Two Iconic Perfumes of 1919)

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On Thursday, December 5 (6:30 PM) I’m leading a class at the Brooklyn Brainery called “Scentennial: Two Iconic Perfumes of 1919.” We’ll mark the year’s end by immersing ourselves in two fragrances released a century ago — and, as usual, I’ll be incorporating art and cultural history through a visual presentation.

For information and registration, please visit the Brainery website. I hope to see some of you there!