What is the cultural value of pop-up “Instagram Museums”?

As you can see, this piece is about what if it rained fruit, or something.

You’ve definitely heard of, possibly been to, and almost certainly seen a shared Instagram image from one of them: Museum of Ice Cream. 29 Rooms. Candytopia.

Amanda Hess of NYT visited them all, and wonders if they are less a new wave of artistic expression and more symptoms of existential despair:

The central disappointment of these spaces is not that they are so narcissistic, but rather that they seem to have such a low view of the people who visit them. Observing a work of art or climbing a mountain actually invites us to create meaning in our lives. But in these spaces, the idea of “interacting” with the world is made so slickly transactional that our role is hugely diminished. Stalking through the colorful hallways of New York’s “experiences,” I felt like a shell of a person. It was as if I was witnessing the total erosion of meaning itself. And when I posted a selfie from the Rosé Mansion saying as much, all of my friends liked it.

I visited one such place recently and had a similarly underwhelming experience; I captured some “cool” images, found most of the “exhibits” pretty shallow or only gesturing at depth, but found at least 10% of the experience thought-provoking. But then I thought, “Look at all these people enjoying this place and interacting with art, even if it’s mostly bad art. Isn’t that better than a bunch of people not interacting with no art at all?” Hence the question.

What’s the real cultural or experiential value of these pop-up museums? Or are they pure fluff?

If these places cater to a type of person who might rarely go to a ‘real’ museum or art exhibition, is there value in luring them in through photo-ops to experience at least some version of visual art, even if it’s less imbued with meaning and substance, as a form of art appreciation training wheels… maybe?

Who are we to judge?

How would your life be different if you were 30% more attractive?

Come on, clearly the right side of this chart with the upward-bound line should be the side with acne. This must have been done by one of those *sexy* chart-makers.

Of course, of COURSE I clicked on this Atlantic article about a study that says teens with acne do better in school. How could you not want science to tell you it was all worth it?

Mialon and Nesson found that having acne in high school was associated with a higher overall GPA—as well as a greater likelihood of earning an A in math, science, history and social studies, and English—and a higher chance of earning a bachelor’s degree. The academic differences between teens with skin problems and those without them weren’t dramatic, but they were statistically significant. For example, acne increases a student’s chances of getting an A in science by 1.8 percentage points.

Now that that’s settled, it did make me think back to my high school self. And college. And early professional self. And current self…

But no, the point was, I started to wonder what might have changed if I had been acne-free (or taller, stronger, thinner, etc). Which is a much more interesting, less scientific, line of inquiry.

How do you think you would have turned out differently if you’d been, say 30% more attractive throughout your life?

Do you think that you’d rather have that life, or do you like what you went through, and where you ended up, just the way you are?

How should we treat morally challenging art?

See the Top Ten Quotes that Prove You Worship the Wrong Classic Movie Characters!

In The New York Times, Wesley Morris asks the difficult question, in a long but well-reasoned essay: are we too concerned with the moral correctness of art (and creator) to fully engage with its quality or worth as art?

The real-world and social-media combat we’ve been in for the past two years over what kind of country this is — who gets to live in it and bemoan (or endorse!) how it’s being run — have now shown up in our beefs over culture, not so much over the actual works themselves but over the laws governing that culture and the discussion around it, which artists can make what art, who can speak. We’re talking less about whether a work is good art but simply whether it’s good — good for us, good for the culture, good for the world.

I tend to come down about two thirds toward correctness, personally. There is so much art out there, it’s totally fine to go through life ignoring the works of people who’ve done terrible things, or art that fails in its attempt to condemn the terrible things it depicts. I doubt I’ll watch another Woody Allen movie in this life. I am the rare person who thinks Wolf of Wall Street and Goodfellas are not that great, because despite being expertly made, they spend too much time glamorizing terrible people to be effective condemnations of the monsters whose eventual downfall they depict (as evidence, look at how their worst, biggest fans react to and hold up those works as aspirational).

What acclaimed works of art do you object to morally?

Do we owe these works attention despite, or because of, the moral reactions they provoke?

Or is a better world of art on the other side of engaging with fewer “problematic” works?

How do subsidized lunches hurt cities?

If you help us build the tools that destroy democracies, the least we can do is buy you a sandwich.

What was once a simple perk is suddenly a political statement, at least as framed by city supervisors in this piece on banning corporate free lunch policies.

“These tech companies have decided to leave their suburban campuses because their employees want to be in the city, and yet the irony is, they come to the city and are creating isolated, walled-off campuses,” said Aaron Peskin, a city supervisor who is co-sponsoring the bill with Ahsha Safaí. “This is not against these folks, it’s for them. It’s to integrate them into the community.”

“We gave huge tax breaks to revitalize neighborhoods,” Mr. Peskin said. “But instead, they’re all walled into their tech palaces.”

City lawmakers should definitely think of creative ways to ensure economic prosperity radiates outward from the biggest companies in town. Employees, rightfully, wonder if they’re at the losing end here.

How real is the threat of corporate subsidized lunches to the city?

What impact might this sort of policy actually have on local restaurants?

What unintended consequences might make this backfire?

Who should pay to fight urban homelessness?

Opposing taxes to help the homeless the same year you become the world’s richest human: not a great look.

This Ringer examination of the rise and fall of Seattle’s proposed “Head Tax” (a.k.a. “Amazon Tax”) mirrors something currently being proposed in San Francisco, in which large companies pay an additional per-employee tax to fund programs addressing the very problems created by their massive success — knock-on effects of income inequality and population surge, such as homelessness, traffic/transit congestion, displacement, etc.

No one wants to punish success, but as a resident of one of these cities, it’s getting dire. And at the end of the day, someone will have to pay a bit more to set up solutions to these problems.

Obviously these are intertwined; tax businesses more, wages might go down. Leave cities to solve these problems without raising taxes on anyone, that money comes out of other services. So: what’s the best pocket to pick here?

Who should pay more to battle homelessness – individuals, cities, or businesses?