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Volume 453

Modern art, high fashion, and… gravy. This week’s coolsh*t is offering you only the very pinnacle of cultural refinement. All that, plus the triumphant return of the coolsh*t podcast.

Secure the Baguette.

Some celebrity endorsements just make sense. Think Gary Lineker and Walkers crisps, George Clooney and Nespresso, Phillip Schofield and Lost Mary vapes -pairings that shall conceptually remain inextricably bound together for all eternity. But sometimes you’re not so lucky and end up with Ozzy Osbourne inexplicably shilling for ‘I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter’ while charging his tits off on I can Absolutely Believe it is Cocaine. Warburtons x Samuel L. Jackson is probably somewhere in between.

You may be wondering why a Hollywood megastar would be advertising a British bread company. Presumably, he did it for the dough.

But say what you will about the slightly unexpected pairing, it’s hard to deny that the ad itself was executed to perfection. Great writing, flawless production, and Mace Windu booting doors clean off their hinges while cosplaying as an aging baker from Bolton. What’s not to like? Get that man a crumpet.

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Gravy Training.

Next time someone claims Britain has no culture, show them this.

Sure, the Greeks gave the world democracy, philosophy, theatre, sport, astronomy, mathematics, medicine and souvlaki, but all of that pales into insignificance when compared with… gravy wrestling: a sport combining the two quintessentially British pastimes of eating roast dinners and committing grievous bodily harm. In that order. Grandma gets a bit lairy after a leg of lamb and some sauvignon.

Combatants gathered from all corners of the globe (mainly the North West of England) to take part in the 15th annual World Gravy Wrestling Championships at the Rose ‘N’ Bowl Pub in Rossendale to raise money for the East Lancashire Hospice. Dozens of competitors battled it out in two-minute bouts watched by hundreds of spectators, but in the end there could be only one winner… Mr. Ravin Gravy. I assume that’s not on his birth certificate.

I for one feel immensely proud to add gravy wrestling to our national cultural offering. It’ll sit snugly amongst Morris dancing, binge drinking and emotional repression.

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Hard Wear.

There’s nothing like a fashion week to make you feel utterly detached from this whole human project thing. Perhaps it’s the decadence, perhaps it’s the palpable conceitedness of a privileged few supposed epistemic superiors, or perhaps its envy – but there’s just something about these events that makes Ted Kaczynski’s manifesto suddenly become an awful lot more readable. And Milan Fashion Week might just be the final boss of them all.

But the honour of belonging to this class of well-dressed elites is no longer reserved solely for homo sapiens, as BOSS enlisted Sophia the Robot to walk the runway in their Fall/Winter 2023 “Techtopia” show.

Interesting? Maybe. But is this really the best use of a humanoid robot that speaks 18 languages? That’s roughly 18 more than some of her fellow models. This feels like the type of automaton enslavement that we’ll come to rue in the future. That might sound melodramatic, but according to her makers, Hanson Robotics, Sophia is capable of experiencing emotions. Gulp. Hope one of those emotions is forgiveness.

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Modern Arse.

I don’t want to sound like a prude, but squeezing between two naked bodies to enter an art exhibition just feels a bit icky. They don’t make you analyse Botticelli’s bridging of the gap between the medieval gothic style and an emerging humanist realism when you want to enter a brothel. And nor should they. We’re not savages. Clothes are what separate us from the beasts. That and thumbs, I suppose. But even frogs have thumbs. And I’ve never seen a frog in a smoking jacket, so clothes it is.

Yet despite the obvious hygiene issues – both physical and moral – visitors to the new Marina Abramović exhibition must pass betwixt two nude models to enter. At the Royal Academy, no less. Civilisation is crumbling. This is what happens when we allow John Fetterman to wear a hoodie in the senate. We’re returning to a Hobbesian state of nature. Life shall once again be solitary, nasty, brutish and short. Much like Mark Wahlberg. Stay prayed up.

Edit: After writing this I’ve since discovered that anyone who feels uncomfortable is able to enter through the backdoor, but frankly that sounds even more ghastly.

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It’s easy to take hearing for granted. Especially when you live next to some rather fruity foxes and are constantly subjected to the cacophony of their crepuscular copulation. But with our world growing ever noisier, there has been a movement towards appreciating the simple yet sensorially-stimulating sounds of everyday life. Like the cracking of a can, the squelch of wellies in a muddy field, or the gentle rattling of a jiggled sack filled with a badger’s vertebrae.

Our newfound preoccupation with ASMR provided the foundational insight for Specsavers’ new campaign, which aims to promote the brand’s hearing services. The film takes a pleasingly stripped-back approach, eschewing a cheesy voiceover in favour of a focus solely on the evocative sounds of our relentlessly unexceptional existence. And the result is something genuinely rather soothing. If you can hear it.

But it’s the billboard campaign that’s perhaps more impressive. To even attempt to execute a sound-based idea in print by spelling noises out phonetically is a pretty bold strategy. Although they lost me with the billboard celebrating “the sound of an absolute classic on someone’s else’s headphones”. That’s enough to make your inner Ted Kaczynski once again swell up from deep within on the Central line in the morning.

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Grant Theft Arto.

Yes, this is the second modern art story in this week’s coolsh*t. But we felt like we needed to offset the gravy wrestling-induced lowering of the tone by doubling down on some refinement. And this time we don’t even have any cocks, bollocks or lady bits to talk about. Like we said, refinement.

The mountain got the best of Mohammed this week, as Danish artist Jens Haaning was forced to return the £38,000 paid to him by The Kunsten Museum in Aalborg for his work ‘Take the Money and Run’. On the face of it, that sounds incredibly unfair, but in defence of the gallery, Jens did hand in two completely blank canvasses. Or tabula rasas, if you want to get all Lockean. I’m aware that means slate, not canvas. Don’t care. I don’t know the Latin word for canvas. I’m not sure there even is one. Yet there are 8 different words for grape. Curious.

Don’t execute the artist just yet; the plots thickens. The gallery still chose to display the work (or lack thereof), thus surely validating it, and only demanded the money back afterwards. Plus who is to say what is and isn’t art? If a banana Sellotaped to a wall can be art, then why not a blank canvas intended to lampoon the very institutional holy cow to which it belongs? So, in short, we demand that they give this man his kroner back. And throw in some Stegt flæsk as an apology.

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