The Spellout

Art, Culture & Unavoidable Spite

Category: Internets

A Reminder: Light Your Naked Photos Well

'Exotic Sexual Artistry' 04

America loves pornography. It is the indelible tan line on the national character. If pornography were in the running for the Republican nomination, everybody would pretend to denigrate it until pornography won the White House. (Luckily, it opted not to enter the race, in favor of keeping its commentator gig and its home in Alaska.) And thanks to the interwebs, our love affair with pornography has only intensified: We can download the smut as as quickly as Vivid can make it, and we don’t need to justify ourselves to anyone; we only need tell the Mrs. David Duchovny that we’re “researching a role.”

It’s only natural, given our penchant for them, that we would aspire to make dirty pictures of ourselves. And in the past year, the fad has really caught fire: In less than eight months we’ve had Anthony Weiner, we’ve had Scarlett Johansson, and now we have Is Anyone Up?, easily the most disgusting spectacle to stream through the tubes since HuffPo mounted AOL. I don’t want to panic you, but I fear we’re moving towards some sort of amateur porn singularity, in which new iPhones come preloaded (not what I meant) with nude photos of you.

As it is now a foregone conclusion that your naked photos will find their way into the world, the least you can do is control the quality of those pictures. I have a few suggestions on that order:

Keep the phone out of the shot, if possible. Use the five-second self timer (there’s one in Vignette for Android; not sure what you’d use in iPhone), or point the lens directly at yourself using that bathroom mirror to look at the screen. There’s nothing wrong with having the phone in the shot, but you’ll get a more natural facial expression if you’re looking directly into the lens.

Don’t write stuff on your body. We are not a billboard.

Don’t trust to bathroom light. It makes your skin look yellow.

A quarter-turn to the lens, shoot from high, angle your arms slightly to hide your love handles. Um, yeah. Obviously I’d want to … I mean, you would want to do that.

Notes from thee Beta Test


It may sound quaint to your young ears, little miss emo-tronica, but back in the 1980s groups of us would gather together at someone’s house with the express purpose of playing music for each other. If someone got a hold of something coveted or rare—a PiL import LP, a hard-to-find Ultravox seven-inch—we’d all want to hear it, and then we’d try to compliment or top it with something from our own collections: a Selecter EP, maybe, or a Nina Hagen song taped off the radio. There was no Facebook back then, so these summits were arranged by telephone. Land lines.

Yeah, it pretty much sucked. I have friends who miss the days before social media and MP3s, but honestly, they can have them. I like being able to find any song I can think of without hitting up three different record stores (though nothing beats the feeling of perusing an indie record store), and I like being able to corral all my friends together in the middle of a workday via Facebook (though I’ve got my privacy settings cranked up to 11). And when those elements produce a hybrid such as, I feel something akin to love.

Turntable, currently in beta testing, is a music-sharing service that closely emulates that teenage experience of playing music for your friends. Your avatar sits behind one of five “turntables” and takes turns playing songs from a playlist you assemble yourself from the site’s own music reserves. If they don’t have a song or artist in their inventory, you can upload it yourself within seconds. Other “DJs” and listeners can comment on your songs, yoink them for their own playlists with a click (other buttons lead to iTunes, Spotify and LastFM), and even rate them by clicking on “awesome” or “lame” buttons. Within two hours of jumping from one of Turntable’s “rooms” to the next, one is exposed to voluminous amount of previously unheard music—and the playlists are curated by live humans, who make intuitive leaps that automated music services the likes of Pandora never could.

I’ve been messing with Turntable for a solid week now, long enough to revel in its benefits and curse its shortcomings. In keeping with the spirit of the service, I’ve broken them down into “Awesome” and “Lame” categories.

AWESOME. You’ll discover more new music in a day than any other music service, live or automated, can show you in a week. And it’s fun to show off what you know; every “awesome” vote is like a scout badge.

LAME. It’s in beta, so you can expect all the problems that come with beta testing–your friends can’t get in, functionality is limited, and it’ll crash your browser and glitch at unexpected moments. Your playlist can get large and unwieldy and it cannot be organized or quickly searched; it would be nice to be able to save multiple playlists. The avatars are just plain dumb-looking (though I like the Deadmau5 and Daft Punk outfits available to superusers). And if you get in front of a room full of music snobs and drop something they don’t love they’ll call bullshit on your selection and break you down to nothing, just like they did in high school. Those lousy hipster fucks.

I hope you’ll be able to play with yourself before too long. I’m a bit worried about what will happen when the doors are thrown open to Facebook’s 600 million users; right now the service seems to be struggling under the weight of a few hundred thousand. And I’m not the only one who’s looked at this thing and frankly wondered if it’s legal. (The Wall Street Journal’s Peter Kafka has a terrific perspective on the question of Turntable’s twilight legality.) But I can say this for certain: If you get in the doors this week and you manage to track me down—I’m DJ beatnik sidearm—I’ll give your music an “awesome” vote, and I’ll probably mean it. In this wonderful new context, even the tired most old songs sound new again. brings the stimulus


Via Lifehacker and half the people I know on this planet:, a daily “guide to free booze,” promises to hook you up with free (or at worst, ridiculously cheap) drinks in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Honolulu and Miami. True, much of its content is supplied by the bars and restaurants themselves, but now’s not the time to split hairs. Free drinks!

The New York Times has a profile of site founders Seva Granik and Jason Fried, who may get cabinet-level positions in the Obama adminsitration off of this burst of publicity. They’re doing holy work, no doubt about it. I need them to bring their magic to Seattle, where free drinks are difficult to come by. I can’t even promise you a free drink right now, and you’re one of my very best friends.

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