weekend links: Vine videos, Art Basel, Ben Lerner

Art Basel
Art Basel

Untitled photographs by Yto Barrada at Art Basel.

World AIDS Day took place on December 1. Although it has come to be a treatable, manageable disease, HIV affects millions of people around the world. Decades of attention have helped get us to where we are, but there is still work to be done. The first step is erasing the stigma. This essay looks at Eazy-E, one of few famous rappers to contract the disease, and considers what can be done to help get the message out in the hip-hop community. [Noisey]

Vine videos have become a staple of pop culture, and the Black community has been particularly adept at using this new medium, which everyone from record labels to TV shows to politicians then capitalize on. Of course, white folks stealing from Black culture is nothing new, but that doesn't make it right. [Fader]

Art Basel is happening this week. Although the party has by and large jumped the shark at this point, it's still a place to look to if you want an idea of what's trending in the art world. So if you're interested, here are five artists worth keeping an eye out for. [Wall Street Journal]

Ben Lerner evokes strong feelings in the literary world, but love him or loathe him, he's leaving an imprint. The MacArthur "Genius" grant he received earlier this year adds to his already significant stature. Here's a rundown on who he is, what he's doing, and why it's important. [Electric Literature]

One of the most obvious but little-discussed aspects of literature is that the people making it almost always come from a certain milieu. They have money. They have college degrees. They speak with a certain diction, and their stories reflect this privilege. There are political ramifications to this, which this essay explores. On a side note, when people ask why we don't charge more for fields, it's because an explicit goal of ours is to broaden the appeal of the arts to those who come from less privileged backgrounds. Art should not—cannot—be simply for the rich. [Lit Hub]

Here in Austin, the nonprofit Black Fret is looking to help ease the financial burdens that plague our city's bands and artists. Despite being the "Live Music Capital of the World," 20 percent of our musicians live under the federal poverty line. Black Fret bestows grants to artists in exchange for "unique," exclusive concerts, which members pay $1,500 per year for admission to. There are obviously real problems to creating music that panders to the wealthy, but at least the cause is good. The second annual Black Ball, where the grant award winners will be announced, takes place tonight at the Paramount Theatre. Congratulations to all the nominees, and may the most deserving artists win. [Austin Way]

Suicide frontman Alan Vega and Big Star mastermind Alex Chilton teamed up in 1994 to create Cubist Blues, one of the most unlikely, fascinating collaborations in the history of rock and/or roll. Light in the Attic has reissued this little-known gem, which hits shelves today. To commemorate, here's an interview with Vega, who, at 77 years old, still looks as lively and unpredictable as ever. [Brooklyn Magazine]

And, in this week's weird news, Kobe Bryant announced his retirement via a poem. His performance received generally positive reviews. Maybe he'll go from slam dunking to slam poetry? Sorry—I'll let myself out. [The New York Times]

—Sean Redmond

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