Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the Internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘Net are doing, too. Today we’ve got a history of Pee-wee Herman, Lucius and their embrace of the band uniform, an insightful look at the future of R&B, and a first person account of Train Jam, a cross-country “game jam” that takes place on a train traveling from Chicago to San Francisco.
Netflix’s upcoming Pee-wee movie, Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, has the world rapturously recalling the glory days of Pee-wee’s pre-arrest days, when Tim Burton directed him and his show raised us from children to adults who live on the internet. It’s almost as if the nostalgia of those good Pee-wee properties is acting as tunnel vision, blocking all of the bad from our view. No way!
As a reminder of the reality of the life of Pee-wee, here’s a little breakdown from Wired.
As even the most casual Pee-wee aficionadoknows, Reubens’ was arrested in a Florida theater for indecent exposure in 1991. He’d eventually plead no contest—and a film an anti-drug ad as part of his deal—but by then, CBS had already refused to air the final four episodes ofPlayhouse (before his arrest, Reubens opted not to go ahead with a sixth season, effectively ending the show). Just a few months after the incident, Reubens served as a surprise guest at the MTV Video Music Awards, where he opened the show by asking, “Heard any good jokes lately?” It would be one of Pee-wee’s last public appearances for more than 15 years.
In 2016, the hardest way to look cool is to look like you’re not trying to be cool at all, and because of that, bands have all but tossed aside the concept of a uniform. (R.I.P.) Lucius, an up-and-coming Brooklyn band you may or may not (but should) have heard of, rejects that idea, as its two singers, Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe, prove on a daily basis. The two women dress alike on and off stage, and it’s made their life a little easier, even if some people don’t quite “get” it. Read more at Pitchfork.
Though Wolfe and Laessig wanted a strong visual presence from the start of the band, wearing identical outfits came as a revelation. “There was a good while at the beginning of our musical partnership where we were uncomfortable onstage, and the moment we started dressing alike, there was a moment of relief,” Wolfe says. “It’s like a uniform. We’re an automatic unit the moment we get dressed.”
This one’s for the diehard gamers, or just those of us curious about the ways fandom manifests, but KillScreen has an essay by Jason Imms, who participated in this year’s Train Jam. What is Train Jam? According to Imms, it’s “an annual game jam that occurs on the Amtrak train from Chicago to San Francisco.” It’s a damn intriguing piece, and not without heart: when Imms speaks with Adriel Wallick, the event’s organizer, you realize how important these things are for the people who plan and attend them.
“There are times where I’ll look back at photos, or videos people have [made] about Train Jam, and my eyes just start watering. I just feel so many emotions!” Wallick is heavily invested in Train Jam, both emotionally and financially. She sinks a huge amount of time into creating the event, locking down sponsorships, managing ticketing, and trying to teach an aging organization like Amtrak just what the heck she’s trying to achieve. It’s this effort that makes her “misty-eyed” when thinking about it, especially when seeing people carry on the relationships they establish in the carriages on social media, or anywhere else.
Lastly, over at Noisey, Kyle Kramer takes stock while at SXSW. Having just seen the performance of up-and-coming songwriter and R&B artist Bibi Bourelly, he wonders what the future of R&B holds. While doing so, he dismantles the notion that R&B is so different from what it’s always been, and posits that what’s really happening is that the weirder parts of the genre are creeping into pop music.
The period’s real contribution, driven especially by The Weeknd and Drake and cemented by Beyoncé’s self-titled 2013 album, was one of pushing more texture and digital distortion into pop music. Alongside a social media-driven shift toward transparency and candor—or at least the impression of it—among celebrities, we ended up at the messier, more relaxed place where we are now, with Kanye West updating his album in real time and Rihanna’s relatively pop-unfriendly album crowning her as the coolest pop star in the world.