Culture Mavenry in the Year That Was

Culture Mavenry in the Year That Was

Why you should care

Because you want to be cultured, right?

The swaggiest beats are coming out of Atlanta. New York’s been taken over by a yarn bomber. L.A.’s art scene is hot thanks to one gallery owner. Korean-American food is rising because of an upstart bro in his twenties. Hollywood has a new comedian to worship.

These are the highlights of 2016’s year in culture. (Of course, there were many more great stories to come out of the world of books, Hollywood, music and food … but you can explore on your own.) Scratch the surface below — you deserve a break from the Christmas fighting and 24/7 political news coverage.

Crochet Queen: London Kaye

It’s 10 a.m. in Brooklyn as London Kaye slips into a REDValentino shirt. Just shy of her 28th birthday, the bright-eyed artist giggles when asked about the garment’s provenance. “It’s a London Kaye original,” she sings. “They just sent them over.” The new capsule collection from the couture label isn’t cut from beaded chiffon, lace or organza — it’s hand-knitted yarn, designed by Kaye herself.

Boy, can artist Derek Fordjour remember the first time he met Michelle Papillion. They were in a room full of big names and up-and-comers at the estate of a very important Black artist. Papillion stood up in her purple pants and great shoes and proclaimed: “I run a gallery in the hood.” Since then, Papillion’s gallery has shifted quarters, but not too far, and today you can find it below a neon sign — PAPILLION, it spells, in flamingo-pink capitals — in Leimert Park, Los Angeles.

Dirty South: Atlanta’s Premier Producer

It’s no mistake that Steven “SauceLordRich” Bolden was born on May 3. Sharing a birthday with musical icons James Brown and Damon Dash is, the prolific producer believes, more than a casual connection — it’s a sign of his musical destiny. He also told us to “never trust a man in music,” although he assured us he’s an exception because he’s not in music — he is music.

The Korean-American Anthony Bourdain

Deuki Hong’s parents hate his food. It’s too heavy. It’s too salty. Once he cooked them a special dinner for their wedding anniversary. They tossed the food after a bite. Hong’s parents are in the minority, however. At 26, Hong heads up his own kitchen at Baekjeong NYC, the It Scene of Manhattan’s Koreatown. By day, the casually dressed foodies swan in, plunking down 30 bucks for an entrée. At night, the big-name chefs — Anthony Bourdain, David Chang — take over and turn the place into an after-hours club that serves just the right kind of food. Hong has recently published his first cookbook, perhaps of many.

Don’t Call Him the Next Aziz Ansari

As Ravi Patel reviews the lines at the top of his curriculum vitae — actor, producer, writer, snack-bar entrepreneur — he sums them up in an unlikely, unassuming fashion: “I’m at the cusp of an existential crisis.” We could say the same of Hollywood these days. It’s been a banner year for conversations in Tinseltown about actors like Patel: Asian-Americans, long underrepresented in both cinema and television, often mocked, and now seeing a rise in prominence in media thanks to comedians like Mindy Kaling and this year’s Netflix star Aziz Ansari.

The Man Behind the Next Game of Thrones

From the shrieks and the crowds, you might expect to be at a boy band concert. There’s a sense that everyone here will later regale friends and coworkers, boasting, “I was there.” When? When Amish Tripathi took the stage at the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival to speak of God, good and evil, the many incarnations of ancient tales and the future of this nation of 1.3 billion people. Only in India could a writer who began with a tome on good and evil and ended up writing an action tale of the gods be a best-selling prophet; his sagas now reach some 3 million readers.

OZYWildcard

Square pegs. Round holes.

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