Sites to See

The Way We Are

( Photographer Irina Werning has discovered the secret of time travel: It doesn’t exist. Got it? We can all relax now; there’s no way you’re going to return to high school and “do it right this time.” Werning proves her findings with her “Back to the Future” photo series, which pairs vintage snapshots of children with Werning’s photos of the adults those kids grew up to be—using the same backdrops, the same lighting, the same facial expressions, and similar clothes. (Not the same clothes, of course: see my above comment about time travel being impossible.) The resulting images are thoroughly charming, and they grant their subjects an air of naïvete and innocence they’d probably believe they’d never feel again—because time travel is impossible, time marches on, etc. Anyway, this marks the first time it’s ever been cute to see adults dressed as babies.

A Man Called Daniel Flintstone

( You and I may perceive Walt Disney World’s “Hall of Presidents” as a creepy simulacrum, but comedy writer Scott Gairdner looks beyond that: He sees it as a creepy, poorly researched, alternate-universe simulacrum. Using little but a shaky amateur video of the attraction, a loop of “Hail to the Chief” and (presumably) a dog-eared paperback of baby names from the late 1960s, Gairdner has recast Disney’s America with such beloved presidents as “Bruce K. Tedesco,” “Lipton Quick” and “Jonathan T. President.” It is perhaps telling of the nation’s current mindset that better than half the comments this video has received on YouTube are by people who think this is the real deal—that some dimwitted Disney employee really believes that Martin Van Buren is “Lukas Krokus,” Gerald Ford is “Charlie Angel” and Franklin Pierce is “Gepetto Corrigan”—and the other half laments how badly the nation has slid since the halcyon days of the Sweeney Patch presidency. Now there was a man—a real Leo Smoot for our times.

So We Beat On

( I’ve read The Great Gatsby, but I don’t remember it that well. It’s about community activism, isn’t it? Anyway, the book has been on my mind lately because Baz Luhrmann is reportedly making a new film of the Fitzgerald novel featuring the two greatest special effects available to modern cinema: stereoscopic 3-D and Carey Mulligan. Now, I feel like I should re-read the book before the movie comes out, but that disembodied-face cover scares me and I’ll be goddamed if I shell out good money for Cliff’s Notes as long as Wikipedia exists. Instead, I’ve been playing the “Gatsby” game for the Nintendo Entertainment System. This 8-bit masterpiece of American programming has got it all: flappers, hobos, ghostly soldiers and what I’m told is the second-best ending in the Nintendo oeuvre, next to “Duck Tales.” I thank programmers Charlie Hoey and Pete Smith, who have reminded me that the next time I’m tempted to criticize the way someone plays a side-scrolling platformer that these other five-thumbed saps haven’t had the advantages I’ve had. Fun fact: Fitzgerald was the first person ever to say “pwned,” reportedly when he dismissed Harold Ober.



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