The Brilliance!


We’re really internet and we’re really back. A website about things Benjamin , Chuck , Virgil , and various friends & guests think are interesting. Little-to-no specific focus, a bit odd, speling errors, and incredibly culturally relevant.

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Food notes from an amateur on: crudo, with love.

Reporting live from this lake house in a white linen shirt while drinking a gin tonic: an ode to Crudo. Funny, I can't do sushi. Had a relatively intense food-poisoning episode that landed me in the hospital - but! - crudo, which I only discovered a couple years ago - has me back hanging out with raw fish. I'm in love with it. Yes, I'm a "sophomoric" food guy at best, I still get KFC occasionally, but hey - "blending scenes" is my whole thing, no? Anyway... Crudo - which is Italian/Spanish for "raw" is an incredibly simple dish comprised of the main ingredient, perfectly sliced raw fish, olive (or other) oil, acid (usually lemon juice, etc), seasoning (usually salt), and any sort of creative additions (simpler the better tho), something light with crunch, etc. all served a touch below room temp if not a bit cooler. It's perfectly simple, incredibly fresh, incredibly delicious, incredibly beautiful looking, and, for me...incredibly addictive, ha. Seriously, like every evening while heading out for dinner my mind wanders to whatever local spot has it. My current go-to favorite is Nico Osteria in Chicago's Gold Coast. As per usual, sit that the bar which encircles the prep area - quite fun to watch. So yeah - if you were already hip to all this - sorry for wasting 3 minutes of you time...if not, give it an order next time you're at a proper Italian spot. It's so perfectly simple but infinitely nuanced in its variety...just like this site, ha.

*Stay tuned for my next post on the idiosyncrasies of the Caribbean jerk sauce at Buffalo Wild Wings.

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"But I'm trying give you a million dollars worth of game for $9.99"

The disclaimer is that I'm already quite biased. How many times have I referenced Jay-Z's albums as my "formal education" in lieu of going to college after high school? So of course, I really like the, really. And I've only given it a twice over – plus, I always like super early, knee-jerk reviews anyway. So if Jay-Z's Volume 2 hit when I was like 16...and it hit me so hard to eventually call all his albums my formal education...will this one do so for a current 16 year old?? Hmm. Good question. This is quite a mature offering, yeah? The talk of buying buildings in Dumbo before it was Dumbo or buying art that see's you an 8x return may not resonate with the "kids", no? Maybe it's too deep, maybe its not fun, maybe it seems impossible, maybe its over their heads, etc. Maybe not though?? Like...maybe this is what "kids" want? Maybe its a balance/contrast to the pill/lean rap? Maybe its that "juice cleanse" kids were looking for? Maybe its that flight you needed to take to see life from a different angle? Maybe? I'm 36 and grew up with Jay-Z, of course I love the album. But I have faith in the kids man, always will...specifically the under 21 set right now. They've seen a lot in the past 10-15 years. Housing crisis, student loans gone wrong, race and gender issues having a camera phone pointed at them in a way like never before, a super fucking weird political scene... Some might think its "funny" that I'd tap Jay-Z as a voice of reason in the midst of all that...but...I mean, listen to the album. Its like, "360 aspiration" – being a proper human AND "slamming Bentley doors" still!! Ha, my 2 cents. *I hope I'm never an "old head."

*Also, also! Jay bought Tidal for $56.2M. Sprint bought 33% of the company for $200M, plus an advertising budget. Yes, they've had leadership issues, etc...but come on, not a bad return for a service everyone made fun of...

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Specific Sundays: Benjamin's top 3 favorite hardwood flooring types.

This site is such an...interesting outlet. I hope you're not bored by this post...but if you are, my bad ha.

3rd place. Classic parquet, or "inlaid" parquet. Often found in the classic prewar buildings here in Chicago and NYC, etc. With one major caveat – it has to be stained super dark, even black, but not piano black, thats silly. In its natural, often yellowed color, it looks too complicated. I love it in super, super deep matte/satin walnut finish with all white walls, plaster crown-moulding, etc, etc.

2nd place. A new-comer to the scene: the long, wide, white-washed-oak "super wide" plank. I know, I know, its super tumblr, pinterest, instagram, etc - but come on - incredibly beautiful. And amazing what it does visually to a space. Its honestly the only trend I can think of that is quite modern but seems like it might be a future classic. With this one..."gallery" trimless/floating walls in, surprise, white...or maybe a venetian plaster finish on the walls in off-white.

1st place. Without question: chevron flooring. Its incredibly beautiful in effectively any finish, color, and even condition (I love the trashed ones in Paris apartments). Can do a super modern setup with it, overly regal/Versailles, Hamptons beach house vibe, condo, hotel room, etc. Thin, wide, average, etc, etc. Its almost always perfect. My personal preference is the photo at the link - natural and sanded perfectly flat. *And, be specific – not herringbone! And, yes, I know chevron is technically a "parquet" as well - but no one calls it that...

Honorable, and affordable, mention: Cork engineered flooring. In general I'm not into engineered hardwoods - so clicky and hollow sounding. BUT, I had cork at my last condo and loved it. Soft, sound-dampening, never hot, never cold. Does hide dirt a bit too well though.

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NEW INTERVIEW: Andrew Kuo aka Earl Boykins

The first interview of this "new era" of THE BRILLIANCE! is here and we think its pretty much perfect: Andrew Kuo, or @EarlBoykins as you may know him from Twitter/Instagram, was kind enough to answer some questions for us about his brilliantly funny Instagram, life as a traditional fine artist, NBA superfandom, Milhouse, and of course the internet. These perfectly random interviews have always been a super important component to THE BRILLIANCE! and honestly our favorite part of the a way, it was one of the motivations of why we started it. We weren't cool enough to ask any of these people to coffee and have them respond so instead we asked if we could interview them...and it worked, LOL. We have a bunch of other ones too if you're new to the site check the interview archives (or actually, even if you're an "OG" fan, check out the old ones...crazy that some of these people let us interview them back its the day.) To use Virgil's words: we consider it to be a bit of a cultural time capsule on the internet. Alife, Futura, A-Ron, Alex Calderwood, Jen Stark, Josh Keyes, Kazuki Kuraishi, Jake & Amir, Tom Sachs to name a few...and the list goes on. We're super honored to get to know these people through our simple Q&A's and hope you'll enjoy this latest one with Andrew Kuo! Good bye!1 Signed, Chuck & Benjamin

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Well balanced: Magazine B!!

Print isn't dead, it just went on vacation for a few years while the Internet found its footing. In 2017 it feels like there are far fewer magazine offerings overall but the ones that are still going or have gotten started in recent years really actually matter. One of my very favorite publications right now is B, or Magazine B - an incredibly focused magazine that features one single brand per issue, highlighting stories, sentiments, and the cultures behind & surrounding each one. Founded in 2012, the brands they've chosen to highlight are always on point and the range is pretty incredible: Intelligentsia, Lego, Porter, Diptyque, Rimowa, Helvetica, San Pellegrino, Rolex, Star Wars, Vans, Maison Margiela..(the newest issue on Apple Music!) name a few. This is starting to read like a summary of topics we've written about here on THE BRILLIANCE! over the years. What I love about B is that by focusing on a single brand, they're creating these print relics that are really worth holding onto, like these mini bibles for each one they focus on that are kind of designed to stand the test of time. I really love that. They do a great job keeping it an easy read too - it goes deep, but never too 'inside baseball'. Produced by Korean creative group JOH & COMPANY, they also receive no advertising profit or financial backing from any of the brands they feature, which is quite admirable. Truly a labor of love. Truly a sort of very-grown-up DIY fanzine. Head to their internet bookstore and support the new wave of print.

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Cars have too many color and trim options...thats why driverless cars we don't own will win.

Look out your window, look around next time you're in a parking lot, go to a dealership, etc. Try and find two identical cars...year, make model, color, trim, etc. Incredibly, exceedingly rare. Ever since Henry Ford allowed you to pick another color outside of black - people have been expressing themselves via their car with trim levels, color, etc - and its mind-bogglingly (to me at least) inefficient from a manufacturing standpoint. Think about the structures and design systems that need to be in place at a plant to allow that? 1,000s if not 10,000s of different configurations...even for like an $18k Jetta. It's nuts. For reference there are...5 iPhone color options, thats it.

So, lets say there were just...4-5 major car manufactures. And each one made just ONE (just one!) model of car - no options, period. And maybe the concept of "model" year went away. And they were designed for maximum manufacturing efficiency, passenger comfort, and fuel (electric!) efficiency. The cost savings to the manufacturers would be...bonkers. I don't have any actual numbers to reference, but I don't think it'd be out of range to see 70% reductions in the cost of manufacturing - maybe more. And! You could assume because they are purchasing orders-of-maginuted more of just one type of leather, one color of paint, etc, etc...that the quality of those parts/pieces would be as high if not even higher than that of an S Class Mercedes due to the scale of purchase... I truly believe we could have S Class level quality and comfort for the cost of a mid-level VW Jetta.

Who cares? This is where it gets lets say they're not selling those cars anymore, but are instead, due their new found cost efficiencies, its more profitable for them to sell us "cell phone plan" style to access their cars. $50 for 250 miles a month, $100 for 750 miles a month, etc, etc. Would you ever buy a car again? Would it matter to you if you could get "Ibis" white vs "Arctic Fleck" white on your new Audi S5...when for $100 a month you could be taken wherever you want in something as nice or nicer than an S Class? ... kinda sucks. I'm a car for real into them. But it just seems so obvious yeah? I suppose I'm looking forward to it. Funny thing, it'll happen slowly first...but eventually its going to feel like what Napster did to the music industry. Buckle up!

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Stay for it! An interview w/ David Rudnick & Ezra Miller about RL Grime, WebGL, and collaboration.

A few days back, I clicked a link that designer David Rudnick shared for a new project he'd done in collaboration with interactive designer Ezra Miller: A visualizer for RL Grime's new single 'Stay For It' (feat. Miguel). Before you read any further, you should click that same link, check it out and listen to the track. I'm fascinated by the way we experience music in 2017. The idea of a music video is of course decades old, but the pursuit to innovate on the concept continues today with more experimental ideas and exciting artists to work on them than ever before. To get a bit more insight on this, I asked David & Ezra to shed some light on their collaboration, talked with them about working with musicians, and got into some of the nerdy WebGL details. Enjoy. (Click 'Continue Reading' for the entire interview...)

THE BRILLIANCE!: The two of you collaborated on Evian Christ's Trance Party site last year - was that the first time you'd worked together? If not, when was? And if so, how were you paired together for that?
Ezra: We first worked together on that Trance Party V site ( as well as Evian’s homepage ( David had contacted me through Facebook and I was very keen to work with him considering I’ve been a fan of his and Josh’s work together for some time.
David: I'd been following Ezra's work for a while, since I saw a project of his called My Shards ( ), and I just felt that what he was doing was fantastic; so dynamic and very pure. My work can be very static, I loved the idea of working whose native language was working with generative or randomized elements, I felt like there was a lot of potential for how we could combine our respective practices.

TB!: You worked together on a similar project for RL Grime's track 'Reims' recently - how did that come about? Any more tracks in the pipeline that will get this treatment?
E: David brought my name up as someone who could be involved on the creative side of RL’s new album campaign and I was happy to take part. I think the first place I saw David’s work was by being a fan of RL’s music while I was in high school. The first visualizer for Reims was started while I was in London in March and finished in New York in late April, and went through many iterations of color and composition as it evolved into the final version.

Continue Reading...

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Elon Musk interviews, his optimism, and *actually* making a dent in the universe.

If you've been a reader of the brilliance for a minute - you know I used to often write about Steve Jobs and Jay-Z. They were, and continue to be, incredibly influential people to me. I joke that my formal education is listening to Jay-Z while I learned classic ASP and SQL in my parents basement in high school int eh late 90s, ha, it worked out well. Anyway, Elon is a rather obvious recent addition to those two characters. I was always familiar with his work, but it wasn't until about 2-3 years go that I started digging in heavy on the interviews, the book Ashlee Vance wrote about him (please, please, please read it!), and his general back story. Probably too much to say in this brief post... But man, he is truly the definition of following your convictions, no? And to proper extremes...going for broke (and going broke!) on unimaginably (honestly!) ambitious projects. His stated, and 2 of 3 pretty much accomplished, goals are to disrupt the auto industry, remove dependence on fossil fuels entirely, and make our species multi-planetary. And!! Doing it all with great taste! Thats not even considering Neuralink...

So, the only real point of this post is two things: (1) to highlight a few interviews worth watching and (2) this quote from Larry Page on craziness and luck:

"...I mean we just have a single proof point now that you can be really passionate about something that other people think is crazy and you can really succeed. And you look at it with Elon and you say, ‘Well, maybe it’s not luck. He’s done it twice. It can’t be luck totally.’ I think that means it should be repeatable in some sense. At least it’s repeatable by him. Maybe we should get him to do more things.”

Fantastic interviewer...perfectly broad.

Sam Altman/YC interview - The quote about fear in this one is quite good.

LOL on him crashing his uninsured McClaren F1.

*Steve Jobs always said he wanted to make a ding/dent in the universe. I love that, though he was prone to hyperbole a's funny, Elon is the only human we have right now that is doing so in a more literal, less hyperbolic (no orbital trajectory pun intended) way.

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Don't @ me: A social media soliloquy.

I've been thinking a lot about how and why we use different social platforms, why we're drawn to some more than others, and what we get out of each of them. For me, Twitter is king. I feel like it's the best of all the other platforms combined: I get basketball nerd shit, see an artist's new work, get the news literally as its happening, laugh at a @leyawn tweet, and so on. It covers everything efficiently. It's still all about the beauty of saying what u need 2 say in vry ltd amt of chrctrs. I love Instagram though, but it's such a one-way street. I don't learn on Instagram like I do on Twitter, or have a conversation. It's very 'show and tell', which is cool. But I don't find the experience as enriching as I find Twitter. What I do love though, actually maybe more than Twitter in some ways, is Instagram stories. A lot of artists, myself included, tend to treat Instagram like a 'best of' - posting the final, polished product. Stories is such a perfect companion for that. A chance to let your guard down, show behind-the-scenes, making-of, etc. I enjoy the 'visual stream of consciousness' vibe. You can overdo it, like, when you see 9,000 little dashes up top and think yeah I'm not looking at all of this...ha. But you are in control of your own feed after all, so to an extent, as with any platform, it is what you make of it. Facebook is the weird one to me. It's starting to feel its age. Crazy that something only 11 years old is 'old' but by internet standards, thats ancient. Facebook won't go away and amazingly doesn't feel like it's going away any time soon. I suppose that's what happens when you've amassed 1.2 billion+(!) users though. Snapchat's certainly the one right now that feels on the fringes. IG Stories put such a dent into their userbase. I rarely check it anymore. They've done little to make finding people easier and that's ultimately what faded it for me. Anyway, what I think about most is: 'what's next'? FB/IG/Twitter all have staying power and loyal users. Starting a new social platform right now sounds like the most intimidating task. What voids are left to fill? Don't need any new little social icons on restaurant menus or the sides of brand's shipping boxes, ha. Feel like we're all set for a little while, but of course there is always a "next". Don't @ me.

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Tom Sachs / Nike event. "An experience in physical strength building and manual dexterity." !!

Reporting live from a Boingo hotspot @ the Marine terminal at LGA...why is Delta flying out of here now?? Odd spot. Anyway, man - the Nike / Tom Sachs thing last night. Crazy / weird / incredible. Was texting some friends last night like, how do even explain that event? As with any of these events - there was a proper DJ setup (s/o Acyde and Tremaine), drinks, etc, etc, etc. The actual point of the whole thing though was the screening of "The Hero's Journey" a 40 minute film by Tom Sachs and Van Neistat...quite good, and then this crazy obstacle course explained as "An experience in physical strength building and manual dexterity." - it was no joke a series of about 9-10 physical and dexterity challenges you had to go through. After the film you were told: "You can choose the difficult path ahead or be a pussy and choose the easy path and walk around the party." Lol. If you choose the hard path - which I did - you were given a full branded Nike/Tom Sachs jump-suit which you needed to change into. So crazy and weird, loved it. The challenges started started off with a knotted rope climb to the ceiling of this warehouse (!) but included flying mini RC helicopters, trapeze swinging over a decent size pond of water, learning to tie a very specific knot, doing clap push-up until you broke form, jumping across polygonal "rocks" because the floor was lava, lifting progressively heavier weight while repeating his mantras aloud, and a ton of other quite random stuff...again, all of this was an actual Tom Sachs installation. And to trip you out the entire time - Tom himself was often standing next to you watching you. ?!?! Truly one of the more avant garde experiences I've had in my life...all taking place on Governors Island that Nike rented their own Ferry to shuttle you to. Crazy. Qwehlo!!! thank you for the invite and sorting me out man. ****All this and I'm not even a sneaker guy...ha.