Briefings: Digital Film, Sea Slugs, CGI Tupac, The Italian Mob, and Stuttering

Most of the time we agree with Dylan: You better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone, for the times they are a-changin’. But even as we embrace new technology all the time, there seems to be a broad cultural clinginess to nostalgia. Clinging to the old way like an abalone clings to the ocean floor. Read on for more about the way things were, the way they are, and where the two meet.

It’s a big and complicated world. We’re at tips [at] if you think there’s something we should know about.

1. What to Think On | A War of The Formats

As viewers, we like to think the director is the one in control, seeing his vision through from beginning to end. It’s partially true: Nobody stands in Michael Bay’s sightline. But if movie studios have their way–which, as the producers and distributors of films, they may–directors will be compelled to only shoot digitally rather than on 35mm film. “By 2013, film will slip to niche status, shown in only a third of theaters,” according to an article in the LA Weekly. What it boils down to is a battle between aesthetics and tradition versus the bottom line, with a variety of parties along the economic chain standing to gain and lose on either side.

2. What to Do | Chase The Snail

The first time we ate abalone we remember thinking, There’s must be a mistake here because this doesn’t taste like food. Then we saw it listed in the appetizer section of a trendy Chinese restaurant in New York for more than $100. Apparently, like lobster, the bottom-loping sea snail has worked its way up in the rankings of desirable seafood, and because of the arcane rules governing their capture–in California, all SCUBA gear and tools except an abalone iron are prohibited–lots of people out west go diving for them. We like how primitive it is: just a man and his abalone iron. But be careful. At least 50 people have died hunting abalone in the past 20 years.

3. What to Relive | Tupac in 3D, Sort Of

Cottage industries often pop up after a famous person’s death. Everyone who ever had a conversation with David Foster Wallace has been looking for a piece of the action since he passed away in 2008. But live performances appear to be unique: At Coachella this past weekend, an application of CGI allowed Tupac to take the stage with Snoop Dogg and Dre. The technology was apparently not groundbreaking–Pac’s likeness was basically an image reflected on a screen, expertly–but it raises all kinds of questions. What are the royalties for a posthumous live performance? Why are we so nostalgic? And is there a DIY kit I can get my hands on?

4. What to Consider | The Neapolitan Mob

In the U.S. we assume Naples is all pizza and desserts; the reality is a bit more grim. A long read in Vanity Fair explores the fabric of the Camorra, the extensive network of crime clans–and the code of silence they recommend–that govern the city. The amount of violence is fairly remarkable: the Secondigliano district of Naples has one of the highest murder rates in Western Europe. As the author explains by way of former Camorra boss Paolo Di Lauro, just how bad things get depends on the temperament of the man in charge.

5. What to Read | The Paralysis of Stuttering

1 percent of the world’s adults stutter, 80 percent of them are men, and left-handed people are over-represented, according to an article in the New York Review of Books. It’s an affliction most of us fortunately never have to deal with, except for the occasional tongue tying, which is a good thing because it’s still not all that well understood. Treatments, thankfully, have improved. “The second-century Greek physician Galen judged that stammerers’ tongues were too cold and wet,” the article says. “So did Francis Bacon, who suggested a draught of hot wine to thaw ‘the Refrigeration of the tongue, whereby it is less apt to move.’” Speech therapy first, drinks after.