Site of the week: a new kind of star gazing with Awesome People Hanging Out Together
Imagine a world where Pablo Picasso and Le Corbusier are modernist buddies, Patti Smith and William S. Burroughs lead the junky lifestyle in sepia living rooms, and great comics like Louis CK and Aubrey Plaza crack jokes together. Or, if you can’t imagine, the wildly day dream-friendly and self-explanatory tumblr blog, Awesome People Hanging Out Together lets you see it via photographs drawn from the depths of the Internet and various archives. Started by a 21-year old with a penchant for aesthetics, photography, and awesome people caught being awesome together in November 2010, the site now has over 100,000 followers.
With such a basic concept, one might think the blog would be repetitive, but there are many levels at work with each photo. For one, you get to ogle at celebrities in mostly casual settings but without the loud tabloid captions. More interesting, though, are the dynamics at work when straight-up celebs meet cultural, political, or religious figures—like provocateur Russell Brand with spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. The situations are equally captivating — there’s something surreal about seeing Dean Martin and John Wayne cook spaghetti together, or Meryl Streep show Hilary Clinton something on her iPhone. Other images on the site capture kindred spirits, those who made great contributions to the same field but who you never pictured together — Bill Nye the Science Guy with the Mythbusters, for example. Thinking about each pair as colleagues or rivals, wondering if one felt star-struck by the other, etc. adds a lot to what otherwise would just be an endless feed of poached photos.
Although scrolling through all the odd couples or, conversely those modern pairs who make too much sense together, the old-school classic stars are the most interesting. The site lets you envision a different era—you get to see its cultural signifiers that might have clashed in history books now hug in a black and white photo, like the visually boggling Mother Teresa and Princess Di combo, or the why-were-they-in-the-same-room coupling of Louis Armstrong and Niels Bohr. You learn about talks you never knew people gave, benefit show collaborations and the stolen backstage moments produced, friendships that simply look sparkling, attractive, and alive despite the initial shock of the pairing.
Travel through cultural history with these wonderful snapshots of celebrities running the range from literary big wigs to brash iconoclasts with Awesome People Hanging Out Together.
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