It’s Not Really Porn Until There’s Modern Furniture in It, and Other News

A still from We Don’t Embroider Cushions Here.

 

  • Last week it came to light that the Eames lounge chair, that sleek mainstay of midcentury design, is for sale at select Costco locations. I was all set to force my way, stark raving mad, through doorbusters-style hordes of Eames fanatics. Then I saw the price tag: $3,900—apparently a handsome discount, but still too dear for me. So I had to settle instead for We Don’t Embroider Cushions Here, a photo book featuring a different, but equally iconic, chaise longue, the venerable Le Corbusier LC4. But this book, compiled by Augustine and Josephine Rockebrune, doesn’t just have pictures of furniture. That would be boring. Instead, as Claire Voon explains, it features stills from adult films in which people are fucking on the LC4: “Designed in 1928 and now attributed to Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret, and Charlotte Perriand, the LC4 champions relaxation, with a frame capable of reclining at any angle. This, perhaps, is what may make it a popular prop for sex, along with the fact that you can customize an order in buttery full-grain leather, seductive pony or cow skin, or luscious beige canvas upholstery … [the book] is over 200 pages of twenty-first-century nude or scantily clad women kneeling on the chaise in black pleather stilettos, chained and roped to it, or bent over its innovative, chromed tubular steel frame. At times, no one’s on the chair at all; it is but a humble emblem of refinement lurking in a corner amidst the wild, hold-no-bars action unfolding around its approximately $4,000 frame. But set in this context—where it’s difficult to ignore for its bold, undulating form—it embodies the power dynamics between men and women, and it stands as an enduring reminder of Le Corbusier’s privilege and gendered dismissal of a mind stirring with as much creativity as his own.”
  • While we’re looking at porn, here’s Frederick McKindra on his desire for white guys—which may or may not be, he writes, a viable form of protest against whiteness. Porn bears him out on this: “I just went and sulked by looking at Rogan Hardy videos on HarlemHooksup.net. Hardy is the undisputed King of Race-Baiting Black Bottoms; when his white tops call him ‘nigger,’ he just grins through his glazed lips. Videos like these shored up what I knew: that my own sexual desire for white men was born of a drive to destabilize power. I hoped my willing submission as a black man would challenge what white lovers thought they knew about me, and undermine the assumptions they had about black men’s innate aggression. Processing what it meant to abdicate to power, to survive it, to transfigure it, was useful to me. I’ve never had a relationship with a white person, friendship or otherwise, innocent of this dynamic. I feel affirmed, sometimes haughty, at how adroitly I look at whiteness. The complaints from white guys in my life—that I shouldn’t racialize things all the time, that they never look at themselves this way—only compounds my glee.”

  • J. D. Daniels went on a two-thousand mile road trip to Lebanon, Kansas, the center of the contiguous forty-eight states. On his way, he stopped in Concordia, Kansas, named after Boston Corbett, the guy who killed John Wilkes Booth: “It seems Corbett’s personality was not well structured. He had, for example, been so concerned as a young man about the management of his sexual urges that he’d cut off his testicles with a pair of silver sewing scissors. And the national attention focused on him in the wake of killing Booth drove him madder still. Corbett moved to Concordia and dug a hole, and he lived in that hole until he died … the ancient Egyptians were correct: There is another world beneath this one, a spirit world called the Duat, where Amon-Ra’s sun chariot rides unseen while we face the dark of night. The truth of that world is this: When Booth killed Lincoln, Booth became shadow president of the United States. When Corbett killed Booth, the man who had killed the man who had been the president, Corbett became the president. President Booth kills the Lincoln-father, Corbett kills the Booth-father, and then Corbett crawls into a dirt hole in Concordia. Until 1894, the year it is assumed Corbett died, the president of the United States lived like a rabbit in a hole in the center of the country.”
  • Amy Waldman considers the broader meaning of Trump Tower in New York’s crowded canyons of high-rises: “Like many megalomaniacs, he saw himself as an artist, with real estate as his medium. The power was nothing, he said in a 60 Minutes profile in 1985. It was the ‘creative process’ he loved … Trump didn’t make Manhattan safe for the wealthy—they were already there—but he made it hospitable for the crass: the kleptocrats and oligarchs and criminals who eventually found their way to Trump Tower and buildings like it. From the start, Trump sold his Tower as a residence for a new generation of Astors and Whitneys. The reality, as the Voice’s Wayne Barrett wrote, was that Trump Tower’s first residents were as likely to be Medicaid cheats and mobsters. He anticipated so much of what Manhattan would become: the ostentation and phallic reach, concentrated along 57th Street; the leveraging of public money for private gain; the barely occupied pieds-à-terre and tax havens for wealthy foreigners.”
  • This is supposed to be a literary website and I’ve blown the whole roundup talking about porn, wealth, and assassins, so here’s Jon Michaud on Samuel Beckett’s Watt to calm you down: “The product of a brilliant mind reckoning with the brutal caprices of fascism, the novel now feels like much more than a curious entry in the Beckett canon. At its core, it’s an investigation into the fallibility of reason, an attempt to reckon with obscured truths and alternative facts … Beckett’s stylistic extravagance has a purpose: it illustrates the desperate lengths people can be pushed to by powers that behave arbitrarily, indifferent to human suffering. Watt is helplessly, pedantically logical—a kind of dimwitted Mr. Spock. To the contemporary reader he displays more than a few autistic traits, including a love of routine and repetition, and difficulty relating to others on an emotional level. His sanity is also in question. We are told early in the novel that Watt hears voices, ‘singing, crying, stating, murmuring things unintelligible in his ear.’ ”

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