Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Oprah’s Audience Loses It (Again)

I don’t know how to rectify my antipathy towards Oprah with my adoration for the woman. Her pseudo-spiritual, self-help, consumer-is-king unapologetic-ness wears on me. But she has done amazing things for the publishing industry, so she ain’t all bad.

Yesterday her favorite things schtick reached an apex. I can’t help but crack up at her audience’s reaction to the announcement that they would receive the biggest and best of Oprah’s Favorite Things.

Reminds me of Sarah Palin and Tina Fey’s impression of Palin; in my mind, I can’t separate Oprah’s real audience crying, hugging, and pentecostal zeal from the Saturday Night Live skit in which her audience member’s head explodes from excitement.

Filed under: comedy, consumerism, pop culture, television, , , , , , , , ,

Lives of the iPhone Workers

I think it’s easy for us, as privileged Americans, to believe that our gadgets appear from God. iPhone broken? Well, I needed to upgrade to a G4 anyway. Plop down the credit card; like magic, the new technology appears.

Joel Johnson provides a more sobering view of where our technology comes from. In Shenzhen, China, more than 420,000 (nearly half a million!) workers manufacture the parts that power our iPhones, laptops, and a whole slew of gadgets. One of the more particularly sobering facts is the knowledge that 11 suicides took place at the factory earlier this year. Nets surrounding the dormitory buildings have curbed the suicides.

The facilities seem run-down but clean. Conditions for the workers in the factory aren’t visible–I guess we’ll have to wait for Johnson’s article in Wired later this month.

Filed under: china, consumerism, technology, work, , , , , , , ,

My Kid’s Going as Robocop

It’s a relentless news cycle focused on all things Halloween. Longest lines ever at the costume shop! Horror movies with more guts and gore than ever before! And my favorite: best costumes for your dog. American excess and obliviousness at its best.

Still, it amuses me to run across one dad’s detailed account of making a robot costume for his son. And not just any robot, but a mini Robocop. Shot all over the city of Detroit with the assistance of cops, revolving doors, and futuristic locales.

Dad reports:

While we were talking, some Hollywood-type rushed over to take a picture of the kid with his camera phone. “I’m good friends with Peter Weller, the guy who played Robocop on the movie,” he said. “He’s gonna get a kick out of this.” The guy proceeded to e-mail the photo to Weller, so chances are the real Robocop has seen my little Robocop.

Who’s having more fun, father or son?

Filed under: consumerism, culture, family, humor, , , , , , ,

Look Up: Objects of Beauty, Stylized Graffiti, Social Commentary

Above, an ingenious street artist whose iconic image is an arrow pointing towards the sky, has hit Los Angeles with his  art. The video above is a nice introduction to his work and influences (growing up in apartment buildings, saving money to go to Paris at 19), while the video below (titled “Movie Star Arrow Mobiles“) is less a tutorial and more an art object itself.

The artist’s new self-described project includes images of 100 Hollywood celebrities, dangling from electrical wires throughout the famous city:

Above flew to Los Angeles for 12 days and hung his new revised “Movie star arrow mobiles” in the heart of Hollywood giving Los Angeles a large dose of exactly what it obsesses about; movies and the actors that make the city of Los Angeles so uniquely scandalous.

Happening upon one of his mobiles, created from wood and stenciled with one or two-word directives, is a thing of beauty. Catching the shadows of these spinning art objects or watching people’s faces as they engage with the eponymous work is just as intoxicating.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Filed under: art, consumerism, culture, , , , , , , , , ,

Sad But True: Libraries in Malls

Prisilla Gluckman reads to her four-year-old son Oscar Gluckman at Bookmarks, a Dallas Public Library Branch at NorthPark Center mall in Dallas.

I’m back from a whirlwind summer trip to the Midwest for a family wedding and a week in Ptown for a writing fellowship. Hope you’re enjoying the langourous days of summer. It’s hot as hell in Boston.

In the Sad But True Files: a Dallas public library moved into a shopping mall two years ago, and found that it circulates “as many items as branches eight times its size.” Seems as if the librarians have increased usage of the public library by locating it to a hub of commerce. An informal tally of U.S. public libraries in shopping malls puts the number at about two dozen branches.

Good or bad thing? Or both?

The cynic in me sees it as part of the trend toward devaluing literature and reading. Why draw a line between art and commerce? Oprah’s Book Club may be another study in ambivalence: How can it be bad for publishing and literature if Oprah sells all those books?

After all, who needs to make a separate stop at the library when you can pick up a jalapeno cheese pretzel and a sweater on sale at Abercrombie and Fitch at the same time?

Filed under: consumerism, libraries, literature, , , , , , ,

Publications

BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
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About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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