I regret to inform you that this cringe mural of Democratic women shopping is for real

I can't stop laughing at this mural

A mural of AOC, RBG, and a handful of other progressive icons went viral for all the wrong reasons, but the person who commissioned it had the best of intentions. Also in this week’s issue:

  • Biden’s inauguration now has an official seal and merch line

  • Everything you need to know about the Utah monolith (R.I.P.)

  • This is Giphy’s most-viewed gif of the year

Yours,


Biden’s inauguration now has an official seal and merch line

President-elect Biden’s inauguration is set for January 20, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol, and on Monday, he announced the formation of a Presidential Inaugural Committee, headed by Delaware State University President Tony Allen.

Biden’s inauguration will be the 59th inaugural, and the event now has a seal. The blue-and-gold seal has 100 stars total and it uses the typeface Decimal (Hoefler&Co.), which Biden also used in his transition and campaign branding. It’s a nice, clean logo that manages to look traditional yet modern.

The Inaugural Committee also opened up an online shop that sells a mix of Biden-Harris branded campaign items and inauguration memorabilia.

Biden’s chief of staff Ron Klain said last week that the inauguration was “going to definitely have to be changed” and suggested it might look like this summer’s virtual Democratic National Convention, with “scaled-down versions” of existing inauguration traditions.

“Obviously this is not going to be the same kind of inauguration we have had in the past,” Klain told ABC’s “This Week.” “They're going to try to have an inauguration that honors the importance and the symbolic meaning of the moment, but also does not result in the spread of disease. That's our goal.”


I regret to inform you that this cringe mural of Democratic women shopping is for real

A mural inside a Venice, California, boutique showing a group of Democratic women shopping together on Abbot-Kinney Boulevard was painted as an homage to the women, the boutique’s co-owner said.

The boutique, Nati, commissioned Los Angeles street artist Gustavo Zermeño Jr. to paint the mural depicting the women — Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts), Speaker Pelosi, Vice President-elect Harris, former first lady Michelle Obama, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York), and the late Justice Ginsburg — dressed in clothing modeled after tops, leggings, and dresses the boutique carries. RBG in a sheath dress is my favorite.

Online, the image has been called “the most cursed thing ever made” and posted to Instagram meme accounts. It seems absurdist, like a liberal parody of a Jon McNaughton or something, but Nati co-owner Ron Brawer said he considers the women heroes and thinks that they deserve to have fun shopping.

“Who in America today really would enjoy an experience on Abbot Kinney just shopping and having fun?" Brawer told LAist. "I felt those women really deserved it.”

I say put it in the National Portrait Gallery.


Beats by Dre’s new ad campaign focuses on social justice

“Flex That,” a new ad campaign by headphone brand Beats by Dre, stars tennis player Naomi Osaka and musicians Cordae and Flo Milli, who each make statements about social justice.

In one ad, Osaka is shown walking out to a tennis match with the phrase “Silence is Violence” written in beads in her hair. Cordae raps about leadership and change in his ad, while Flo Milli dances in front of a confederate statue in hers, ending with the tagline “flex that clapback.”

The campaign promotes Beats by Dre’s $50 wireless Beats Flex headphone line, and it’s from creative agency Virtue Worldwide, according to Adweek.

While it’s not unusual for brands to embrace social justice and racial equality in their ads anymore, it feels significant coming from a music industry-adjacent brand. So often, it’s sports brands like Nike or the NBA that promote messages like this, but in 2020, you had a lot of popular musicians speak out. Don’t forget, it was two black female music industry executives that started “Blackout Tuesday.” I imagine we’ll continue to see more brands, particularly youth-oriented ones, take stands against racial inequality in the future.


Kamala Harris gave a shoutout to this 14-year-old artist

A 14-year-old artist from San Jose, California, named Tyler Gordon got a call from the vice president-elect last week after he painted a portrait of her that went viral.

Gordon had posted a time-lapse video of him painting Harris on social media last week and asked his followers to retweet it and tag her to get her attention. The video was set to Mary J. Blige’s “Work That,” Harris’ rally walkout song, and it was eventually noticed by Harris. She called Gordon to thank him and tell him he had a gift.

Gordon told NBC’s Bay Area affiliate that he chose to paint Harris because she inspired him.

“She broke through tons of barriers and I broke through tons of barriers myself with my stutter, me being in a wheelchair for two years and me being deaf since I was six," he said. "I broke through tons of barriers and I feel like she represents that."

After getting the call, Gordon painted another portrait, of Biden, who he noted also has a stutter.


Everything you need to know about the Utah monolith (R.I.P.)

Since the last issue of this newsletter went out, a 10-foot metal monolith was discovered in southern Utah. It became a sensation before vanishing without a trace. Here’s everything we know about the monolith:

  • The monolith was discovered in a remote area of San Juan County by a Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter on November 18. Employees said they didn’t know where it came from.

  • Google Earth photos showed that the monolith had been installed sometime between August 2015 and October 2016.

  • After speculation that the monolith could be the work of the late minimalist sculptor John McCracken, the David Zeimer Gallery, which represents the estate McCracken, told the Art Newspaper that the monolith was “not a work by McCracken,” though they suspected it could be someone paying homage to him and some at the gallery still believe the work is a genuine McCracken.

  • The site of the monolith became an attraction, and the sculpture eventually was smeared with finger prints and damaged, with two rivets ripped off the top, according to Zak Podmore, a reporter for the Salt Lake Tribune.

  • The monolith was removed “by an unknown party” just 10 days after it was discovered, according to the Bureau of Land Management.

  • A copycat monolith appeared, this time in Romania, but it has also since vanished.

  • Photographer Ross Bernards wrote on Instagram that on Friday night he saw a group of four men push the monolith over, break it apart, and remove the pieces using wheelbarrows. One man was heard saying, “This is why you don’t leave trash in the desert,” and another said, “Leave no trace,” as they left. Bernards said he didn’t stop the men because he agreed with them after seeing the number of people the monolith was attracting. “We could literally see people trying to approach it from every direction to try and reach it, permanently altering the untouched landscape.”


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This is Giphy’s most-viewed gif of the year

Gif database Giphy announced today that its most-viewed gif of 2020 was this “Thank You” gif of a dog thanking frontline workers. It’s from Red and Howling, a cartoon pet account run by illustrator Amy Luwis, and the gif received more than 1.06 billion views.

The rest of Giphy’s top list includes plenty of gifs spreading thanks, love, and virtual hugs. No. 8 is a gif of a cute, smiling dumpster fire by Kawaii pop artist Truck Torrence.

“Amid all of the craziness this year, love and thoughtfulness dominated the Top 25 Most-Viewed GIFs of 2020,” Giphy said in a blog post. “People sending encouragement to loved ones they could not see in person.”