10.31.2006

Halloween Playlist

Currently listening to...

1. Baby Eagles, Something We Lose
2. Devastations, Sexmayhem
3. Micah P. Hinson, The Leading Guy
4. The Postmarks, via Ministry, Every Day is Halloween
5. CSS (Cansei de Ser Sexy), Spank Rock Remix, Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death From Above
6. Favourite Sons, Hang On Girl
7. Tanya Donelly, KeepingYou, Live, BBC
8. White Whale, The Admiral
9. Favourite Sons, Tall Grass
10. The Be Good Tanyas, Nobody Cares For Me
11. Bright Eyes, via Elliot Smith, The Biggest Lie
12. Micah P. Hinson, Jackeyed
13. Evangelicals, The Halloween Song

Winona LaDuke Vs. Terry Bear Tusk and Coal Interests


"LAME DEER, Mont. - Voters on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation will decide on Nov. 7 whether to allow coal bed methane extraction and coal extraction within the reservation exterior boundaries.

...Winona LaDuke, Ojibwe director of the White Earth Land Recovery Project on the White Earth Reservation, held a press conference and met with people on the reservation.

''I feel like a community should not have to trade an ecosystem for an economy,'' she said.

Cultural preservation is paramount to any consideration of coal development, according to Phillip Whiteman Jr.

''I'm upset because our ancestors fought and fought and died so we could be able to have a homeland,'' he said.

[full story: Indian Country Today]

[Photo by Philip Whiteman Jr. -- Caption:"Members of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe held an Arrow Worship ceremony in 1989 to prevent ARCO from digging exploratory wells for coal bed methane extraction and coal mining operations on the Montana reservation."]

Ed Tells Tanenhaus to Give Liesl The Good Lit

Ed has more advice for Tanenhaus, the editor in chief of The New York Times Book Review:

"If you have even a shred of editorial instinct, I urge you to have Liesl cover substantial fiction."

"...there is one person among your roster of contributors who does know fiction and who actually loves books (Imagine that! Someone who actually loves LOVES loves books on your payroll! You know, like some of us upstart litbloggers and podcasters!). And frankly Sam, she’s your only shot at the NYTBR having any kind of journalistic credibility in the future.

I’m talking about Liesl Schillinger! This week, she wrote a fantastic review of Kate Atkinson’s One Good Turn that somehow escaped the dull, clause-happy house style you cling to like a barnacle to a scow or an attorney to boilerplate.

And yet you keep her in the background, often assigning her a book from Glamour instead of, say, the new Richard Ford book — which you assigned to that assclown Tony Scott, a man who doesn’t understand that he’s a film critic, not a book critic."

[Return of the Reluctant]

Sullied Bench


"Once upon a time, there was separation of powers. Once upon a time, judges were nominated based on merit. But that was before King George came to town."
by kos

"At least two dozen federal judges appointed by President Bush since 2001 made political contributions to key Republicans or to the president himself while under consideration for their judgeships, government records show. A four-month investigation of Bush-appointed judges by the Center for Investigative Reporting reveals that six appellate court judges and 18 district court judges contributed a total of more than $44,000 to politicians who were influential in their appointments..."
"The status quo, however, is disturbing to some observers. Ethics concerns have been thrown into sharp relief in Washington, with a string of corruption scandals staining the Republican Party in particular. And the future shape of the nation's courts may hinge on the midterm elections, depending on which party controls Congress afterward. There are currently 49 vacancies on the federal bench -- and with a justice potentially retiring from the highest court, there is the possibility President Bush will nominate another Supreme Court Justice before leaving office."
["Money trails lead to Bush judges" By Will Evans]

10.27.2006

Kipp Interviews Rosenbaum




Jeremiah Kipp: "Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man is one of those great American films that was largely rejected or ignored here in the States."

Jonathan Rosenbaum: "I think that had something to do with its extremely negative treatment of certain aspects of America, including racism, genocide and capitalism, which gives the film an incredible edge. The main discovery I made about the film, which I feel is the most important aspect of it, is that it is the only western that I can think of involving Native Americans and made by a white person who thinks of Native Americans as being members of the audience. Jarmusch even addresses specific things to them. I think that gives it a whole different quality from what you find in any other western."

(...)

Jonathan Rosenbaum: "My next book is a collection of my pieces on Orson Welles, which is coming out in spring 2007 and is called Discovering Orson Welles. The last piece is about his Don Quixote and in some ways it’s the most complicated of his unseen works because it is the one he worked on the longest."

[read the rest of "To Understand Movies You Have to Understand the World": An Interview with Film Critic Jonathan Rosenbaum]

Words of the Day: Flarf, Oulipo, Text Scrambler


















Introducing a "newsy, flarfy, Oulipian experiments" blog of note, 3by3by3.

All the Powers of Richard



Richard Powers is discussed in a five part roundtable, by Ed, in Scott's Friday Column, and in a Powell's Books interview. Here's the first chapter of his latest book, The Echo Maker .

Nostalgia For Ministry




The Postmarks - Every Day Is Halloween

[via You Ain't No Picasso]

10.26.2006

If You're Stuck Inside a Vending Machine




Stream the new Pernice Brothers album, Live a Little.






[via Chrome Waves]

10.25.2006

Artist's Spasmodic Dysphonia Cured By Rhyme











Dilbert creator Scott Adams hacks his brain to restore his speech.

[via Boing Boing, full article on the Dilbert Blog]

10.24.2006

Portions Too Small, Seeking Better Restraints


Wired's compilation of six-word "masterpieces" caters shamelessly to the short attention span, and annoys at length. Listy obsessives, dust off your sitzfleisch and muzzle the buzzing bites. Chins to the ones who still write epically. Tip hats to the tag line, buzzword, slogan, name-generating addict on wordlab, but linguistic conservationalists are not always the most interesting story tellers. I'd prefer it if Wired were to call the list something more accurate, such as -- Very Quick Mutterings, Really Bored Ghostwriters, or "Story" Broadly Interpreted.

These "auteurs" as Wired tags them, write like starch-loaded mouse potatoes, eager to put a period to the void. Writing restraints are fun for graduate school seminar sons and daughters, but must we be subjected to them as if they are distinctive, solar, and sustaining, simply because they've been penned by someones with real bindings lining genre shelves? Most of these writers have far more to say than what would fill up one Chip Kidd spine, or add another layer to a logo slingers font fuck. I'd hesitate to brand the designers responses to lightweight Oulipo a "gallery". It's yet another display of the banal photo bank aesthetic.

Why don't we pay more attention to those who really stretch themselves linguistically, like Writings for the Oulipo, by Ian Monk.


Derik Badman says,
"Writings for the Oulipo contains 15 short works, starting off with “Homage to Perec” a series of six univocalisms, that is texts written using only one vowel (one for each and “y”). The first part is a translation of Perec’s “What a Man!”. The “E” univocalism is an short essay called “Perec’s Letterless Texts” which discusses three of Perec’s text (the aforementioned, “What a Man”, the novella Les Revenentes (translated by Monk as The Exeter Text) and La Disparition (known in English as A Void) using only “e” words. It’s a great example of a constrained non-fiction work. An even better example is Monk’s essay on Gilbert Adair’s translation of Perec’s La Disparation. Not only does he insightfully discuss different problems with the translation, where Adair seems to have added much embellishment to the text, but Monk ends it by revealing that the essay itself was written without any ‘e’s (just like Perec’s novel).

Another stand-out text is one entitled “Twin Towers”. The words are formatted into two columns per page. The first column mostly lists objects in a building, while the second column lists types of people in the building (though it really isn’t that demarcated, I generalize). Over the course of four pages, the two columns get shorter and shorter (wider top margin), and on that forth page the second column is displaced, tilted at an angle on the page. An obvious piece about September 11th, it is actually the best such piece I’ve read. Something about the mundane listing of objects and people combined with the visual layout makes for a powerful short prose work."

That's the kind of mundane into powerful I'd like to experience when reading.

Google Aplomb, Linking Up Republicans

--AZ-Sen: Jon Kyl
--AZ-01: Rick Renzi
--AZ-05: J.D. Hayworth
--CA-04: John Doolittle
--CA-11: Richard Pombo
--CA-50: Brian Bilbray
--CO-04: Marilyn Musgrave
--CO-05: Doug Lamborn
--CO-07: Rick O'Donnell
--CT-04: Christopher Shays
--FL-13: Vernon Buchanan
--FL-16: Joe Negron
--FL-22: Clay Shaw
--ID-01: Bill Sali
--IL-06: Peter Roskam
--IL-10: Mark Kirk
--IL-14: Dennis Hastert
--IN-02: Chris Chocola
--IN-08: John Hostettler
--IA-01: Mike Whalen
--KS-02: Jim Ryun
--KY-03: Anne Northup
--KY-04: Geoff Davis
--MD-Sen: Michael Steele
--MN-01: Gil Gutknecht
--MN-06: Michele Bachmann
--MO-Sen: Jim Talent
--MT-Sen: Conrad Burns
--NV-03: Jon Porter
--NH-02: Charlie Bass
--NJ-07: Mike Ferguson
--NM-01: Heather Wilson
--NY-03: Peter King
--NY-20: John Sweeney
--NY-26: Tom Reynolds
--NY-29: Randy Kuhl
--NC-08: Robin Hayes
--NC-11: Charles Taylor
--OH-01: Steve Chabot
--OH-02: Jean Schmidt
--OH-15: Deborah Pryce
--OH-18: Joy Padgett
--PA-04: Melissa Hart
--PA-07: Curt Weldon
--PA-08: Mike Fitzpatrick
--PA-10: Don Sherwood
--RI-Sen: Lincoln Chafee
--TN-Sen: Bob Corker
--VA-Sen: George Allen
--VA-10: Frank Wolf
--WA-Sen: Mike McGavick
--WA-08: Dave Reichert

Fiction Readers More Empathic















I Feel For You

"According to a study in the Journal of Research in Personality, people who read fiction tend to be more empathetic and score higher on tests of social understanding and awareness."

"...The more authors of fiction that a participant recognised, the higher they tended to score on measures of social awareness and tests of empathy."

[via The Syntax of Things]

Truest of the Leo Trio


Read Ed's review of The Departed.

"The great surprise is that Leo actually acts in this one. Whether this is because Scorsese has, after three films, finally figured out how to manage Leo or because Scorsese cast Bostonians Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg in an effort to get Leo to up his game is anyone’s guess. But Leo achieves a vulnerability here that recalls the Leo of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and The Basketball Diaries that I suspect we won’t be seeing again in some years..."

[Return of the Reluctant]

Favorite Sons, Listen Like Iggy, Listen Like Lou


Favorite Sons, Tall Grass
Favorite Sons, Hang On Girl









[via Chrome Waves, and Vice Records MP3 Blog]

Emilio Morenatti, 37, Kidnapped in Gaza


AP Photographer kidnapped


Open letter to the kidnappers of Emilio Morenatti:

The journalists are there to tell your story to the world. They are there to expose the cruelty and difficulty of your awful situation, reporting on daily life in Gaza. Kidnapping journalists only weakens your cause. Please release Emilio Morenatti!

10.19.2006

Finding a Home for Old Shorts


Wholpin #2 is the latest issue of Wholphin, a DVD magazine, featuring rare shorts, previously unseen films, student work by well known directors, unusual foreign television shows, hidden and unreleased gems that were considered missing, foreign documentaries, animations and cinematic hybrids.

"When Brent Hoff, curator of Wholphin, was checking into a hotel for a film festival, the concierge thrust a business card into his hand, "Remember me next time you're casting a film."

Apart from the facts that the aspiring actor had no idea who Hoff was or whether this gesture had the chance to have any meaningful repercussions, the situation gave Hoff pause. He describes, "At first I was amused. I mean, in what world does this work? You want to get cast in a film, so you spend the day handing out cards to all the people who check in? It's hilarious." So, after pondering it for a while, Hoff decided to give the man what he wants. "I want to live in a world where this kind of hopeless gesture pays off every once in a while."

[Read more in the SF 360 Feature by By Sean Uyehara]

Botero Makes Torture Massive

Fernando Botero is usually associated with bubbly innocuous figures, popular with art lovers all over the world. He's been using the same style to directly attack the issue of torture. His even handed way of rendering the human form, in all its solidity, makes this new series feel tremendously heavy, drawing attention to the universal experience of people who are made to suffer.

Robert Ayers, of Art News, interviewed Botero about his exhibition, which opened for the first time in the US yesterday at Marlborough Gallery on 57th Street, in New York.
















"What happened in Abu Ghraib was a tremendous shock to the whole world. I believe that I have special responsibilities as an artist, and I wanted to say something about it. The artist has the ability to make invisible things visible.

Like everyone else, I was very shocked to know that the Americans were doing the same things that Saddam Hussein had done. Especially now that we know that it wasn’t just a few rotten apples.

(...)

The fact that I’ve done painting with pleasant subject matter doesn’t make it impossible for me to do work on a subject that touched me very much. Fortunately, I’m a figurative artist, and I can speak directly."

[Read the rest of the Fernando Botero interview, over at Art Info News]
[image: "Abu Ghraib 44" (triptych) (2005)]

10.18.2006

Marco Bellochio Festival, and Luigi Lo Cascio


"NEW ITALIAN CINEMA Our weeklong feast of the best Italian films returns to San Francisco November 12-19 at Landmark’s Embarcadero Center Cinemas. Now in its tenth year, New Italian Cinema's collection of features and shorts is a celebration of the rich cinematic and cultural tradition of Italy. The festival begins with THE WEDDING DIRECTOR the newest film from the great Marco Bellocchio, who will be here in attendance. The Film Society, along with the Italian Cultural Institute, will present two more Bellocchio films, GOOD MORNING, NIGHT and FISTS IN THE POCKET, followed by seven features and seven shorts from the emerging class of Italian directors. New Italian Cinema closes with THREE DAYS OF ANARCHY, directed by Vito Zagarrio, a tale of love and war in Sicily during World War II. Tickets go on sale to members of the Film Society and Italian Cultural Institute on Monday, October 23 and to the general public on October 30."

[San Francisco Film Society News]

Ooh, "Good Morning, Night" features two of my favorite actors from Best of Youth (La Meglio Gioventu), Maya Sansa and Luigi Lo Cascio on November 13th (a very special day)!

Xikrin Tribal Stands up to Big Business



About 200 members of Brazilian tribes seeking compensation from the mining company CVRD temporarily halted the production of iron ore north of Sao Paulo today. The Xikrin were some of the first people to use biological pest control.

Xikrin are also known as Mebegnokre, Kayapó, and Put Karot, although the tribes people have experienced multiple divisions and conflicts since early contact, and may call themselves by differing names, including phrases which mean "real people."

Various related tribes have fallen prey to violent genocide and slavery to rubber plantation owners, although the Xikrin seem to be thriving now, and are currently experiencing a population boom. They live among the Amazonian Rainforest's southern tributaries, near the breeding grounds of the rare harpy eagle, a bird who trains Xikrin Tribal shamans during times of transition.

A sustainable business agency called the Amazon Coop used to help the tribes of Para with protecting the rain forest, encouraging biodiversity, cultivating unique medicinal herbs, negotiating with businesses, and supplying earth friendly ingredients to companies such as the Body Shop.

The Amazon Coop no longer has a website, which must be due to losses of funding since it was founded in 1998.

de Chirico Surprises Guston in Santa Monica



9/9 - 11/25 SMMOA Philip Guston and Giorgio de Chirico

"...It takes as its point of departure Guston’s initial exposure to de Chirico’s work as a teenager in Los Angeles, when he visited the famed modern art collection of Louise and Walter Arensberg. As Guston later explained to the filmmaker Michael Blackwood, the artist whose work made the deepest impression on him during this visit was Giorgio de Chirico, whose paintings were hung in a prominent position in the Arensbergs’ living room, alongside major works by Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Henri Rousseau: “I was mostly struck by de Chirico. They hit me very hard. In fact it was seeing these paintings by de Chirico…it’s what made me resolve to be, want to be a painter. I felt as if I had come home.”

(...)

"At the end of their careers, Guston and de Chirico simultaneously embraced the idea of complete creative freedom. Flying in the face of received critical opinion, their canvases of the 1960s and 1970s sought to reinvigorate painting. Enigma Variations will feature several of de Chirico’s “New Metaphysical” works from this period—which will be on view for the first time in the United States. Although de Chirico’s late works had been much maligned by the critics, Guston remained an outspoken champion, always inspired and delighted by de Chirico’s “capacity to surprise.”

[SMMOA]

Add Your Own Favorites to Ed's and Tito's Lists...


Ed's and Tito's Musical Moments in Cinema.

10.13.2006

Committee to Protect Journalists Requests Investigation



A human rights advocate and truth-telling journalist, "a long-time critic of Putin," (cpj) Anna Politkovskaya has been apparently killed by the state. "Russia is unquestionably a dangerous place for journalists — less so than only Iraq and Algeria, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Thirteen of them have been killed since Mr. Putin came to power in 2000, a little more than two a year on average." (nyt)

"...Ms. Politkovskaya's killing was the third mob-style assassination of prominence in the last month alone." (nyt)

The Committee to Protect Journalists asks Putin to take responsibility for the killing.

The latest NYT headlines are, "In a Risky Place to Gather News, a Very Familiar Story" and "Slain Reporter’s Last Story Bares Chechen Torture"

"She was threatened, jailed, forced into exile, and poisoned during her career, CPJ research shows." (cpj)

"Her final article, a column under the headline “We Declare You a Terrorist,” presented allegations of the use of torture to exact confessions and manufacture good news from the war." (nyt)

The Guardian UK headline focuses on the unresponsiveness of Europe to the murder, "West's muted response speaks volumes"

"Mr Tuomioja's [The foreign minister of Finland's] public anger contrasted sharply with the German government's reaction. It initially declined to make any comment at all, although the issue was raised during Mr Putin's visit to Dresden today.

Angela Merkel's conservative government is busy designing a new Ostpolitik or "east politics"modeleded on former West German chancellor Willy Brandt's opening to the Communist bloc. As a prime German export market and energy supplier, and a key interlocutor on Iran and North Korea, post-Soviet Russia is now too important to offend and too big to ignore." (guk)

The Telegraph.co.uk headline reads, "Putin faces 'murderer' taunt as journalist is buried"

"I did not know Anna personally but when I heard of the murder I got very scared," said Alexander Glushenko, a nuclear physicist who recently wrote a book about his experiences of containing the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. "I may be wrong, but I have a feeling that now anyone who writes the truth can be killed." (tcuk)

For a realistic (yet fictional) account of what it's like for a person of conscience to live with the threat of being poisoned or murdered by the state in Russia, read the Shostakovich passages of William T. Vollmann's Europe Central.

Other stories of journalists being murdered, and a journalist currently being detained (and most likely tortured) by the US, can be found on the Committee to Protect Journalists website.

[Committee to Protect Journalists, New York Times, Guardian UK, Telegraph.co.uk]
[via Activate, World News Filtered by Flavorpill 17]

10.11.2006

Making Love and Television by Toussaint, Reviewed






Making Love, and Television by Jean Phillipe Toussaint capture moments of nauseating ambiguity, chilled ecstasy, and technology as a jarring and inescapable interruption to the normal circadian rhythms of sleep, cities, and sex. His novellas remind me of the short science fiction of Ray Bradbury, because of their succinct stabs at depicting worlds meant to exist only in fantasy, but that in reality, feel so close to home. I don’t consider Toussaint’s work to be genre fiction, but he writes for a more popular audience than most writers I prefer to read, and he is indeed popular in both France, and Japan.


Both of these stories are about endings [3], the lengthy process of ending an addiction, a dependency, a love, a habit, and the long horizon of life forever without “X”, “…the rich future that one can imagine one’s torture enjoying,” [1] and the agonizing or delicious path of the “truly gifted procrastinator.” [2]

“Supposedly, at least, he [the protagonist] is a man of the written word, an academic who has taken a sabbatical year in Berlin in order to write a study of Titian. Yet even the initial letters of his subject’s name, Tiziano Vecellio, inscribe the name of his nemesis, writ large. Staring into his own computer screen (yet another simulacrum of TV), he realizes that after several months of work on his project, he has written only two words, “When Musset.” [2]

The anti-hero of Television decides to quit once he’s witnessed the final stage of the Tour de France (a theatre of heroes and non-procrastinators), “…and then I stood up and turned off the set. I can clearly picture myself at that moment, the very simple gesture I made, my arm fluidly extending as it had a thousand times before, my finger on the button, the picture imploding and disappearing from the screen. It was over. I never watched television again.” [3a]

On thinking over a more difficult resolution, the stalled ending of his love for Marie (MoMA), the anti-hero of Making Love asks himself, “…how many times had we made love together for the last time? I don’t know, lots of times. Lots…” [3b]

The idea of the gaze (the vapid gaze, the feminist idea of the gaze, the art critical gaze, vision vs. blindness) is a subset of Toussaint's theme of addictions. The protagonist in both is attuned to his habitual vice of gazing, staring blindly as the endless stream of pictures rolls past in Television [1] , and, thinking about his girlfriend, and the potential effect of his hidden bottle of hydrochloric acid, “…Marie wondered, with perhaps justified uneasiness, whether that acid might end up in my own eyes, aimed at my own gaze.” [3]

He also refers to the anti-hero’s blindness (the injured, ignorant type which chooses not to see things clearly) vs. his rejection of blindness (the man guided by a sense of his own aesthetics, who sees more clearly) in a passage pointing out the ineffective emotion-sacking emptiness of television vis a vis cinema, “As a matter of principle and pleasure, I never watched movies on television, for instance (just as I don’t read books in Braille.)”

As he works towards quitting his addiction, the protagonist is caught up in a period of overindulgence, reaching the final limits of his maximum greed, and in doing so, he notes that the world around him continues to become more and more consumed by Television, "I'd noticed, the space set aside for the TV schedule in newspapers had been steadily growing, slowly and insidiously, imperceptibly and relentlessly." [3c]

In Toussaint’s stories, technology is an interruption, or an impotent aid. Toussaint uses the Fax as a bleak fortune teller in two scenes, both in Making Love, “…moaning in each other’s arms, we went on making love in the half-light of that hotel room, when suddenly I heard a faint click behind me, while at the same time, the room was invaded by a bluish aquarium glow, silent and disturbing. Without the slightest outside intervention, and in a silence all the more startling in that nothing had either preceded or followed that faint click, the television in the room had turned itself on. No program had begun, no music or intelligible sound was coming from the set, and the screen showed only the static and snowy image of a message in English on a blue background accompanied by a constant and almost imperceptible electronic hiss. YOU HAVE A FAX. PLEASE CONTACT THE CENTRAL DESK." [4]

Later, the ailing academic reacts against the chilliness of technology, and against his own fever induced chills, by sending a fax to his girlfriend, this time, one he has calligraphed himself using ink, and a brush. [5]

Toussaint’s narrators wish to find places to simply exist without interruption, and connect to the world, where living movements become palpable, whether high above Tokyo in a skyscraper during an earthquake, in a university swimming pool, sunbathing naked in Germany, or in the womb. He takes us away from the computer screen and the television where his characters can examine the tactile nature of the real world in its expansiveness. The academic’s pregnant partner Delon calls him while he’s on his leave, “When she was swimming, she told me, the baby was swimming in parallel, she could feel the baby’s body moving in her stomach, the baby must have realized that she was in the water as well, and began to swim in her stomach. She fell silent, and I imagined them both swimming in the still Mediterranean waters, deep blue and clear, one above the other, one inside the other, two angels, the big, slow, relaxed one smoothly extending her arms and legs in the limpid water, smiling, happy, laughing her laugh that never stopped when it started up in the water, gradually robbing her of all her strength and at the same time making her want to pee in the water, forcing her to throw back her head and paddle desperately to keep from sinking to the bottom, laughing her wonderful laugh that I so loved in the water, and the other, the little one, not yet born, not even my baby yet, tiny and warm, curled up in the amniotic fluid, suspended in her mother’s warm belly as she carefreely swam this way and that in the water." [6]

Again, addressing the tactile and the tactless, an anxious, needy, coupling begins with a disconnect between the two lovers, in Making Love, one needing to connect intellectually, the other tangibly, “In the distress that had driven her into my arms, it was the warmth of my body she was seeking, not the versatility of my dialectics, she didn’t give a fuck about my words…" [9]

The narratives also volley blocked beginnings, transitions gone astray, and transitional objects of strays. [7] The academic with writer’s block, the forgetful caretaker who kills his neighbors houseplants, the frustrated preparations for a museum opening, an attempted getaway dampened by fever and clogged sinuses, the jetlagged couple dying for a nap, all are examples of the uncomfortable itchiness of the present moment. These small disappointments set off the minute seconds of decompression come to fruition, “I turned off my computer, whose continuous faint electric hum seemed to give way to a sudden sigh of relief, as if the machine were gently decompressing. I stood at my desk for a moment and looked out the window." [8]

In Making Love, and Television, particularly during the sensual passages -- Delon diving for urchins [6a] ; the history of Marie's nickname [6b] ; the sound of one friend's voice; or the bits where Toussaint portrays his characters keen observations of others the way a writer would, are simply and cleanly translated by Linda Cloverdale (ML) and Jordan Stump (T) . They both invoke the spirit of slow unfolding, "at the almost stationary speed with which time passes when you pay attention to it." [6c]

Toussaint's stories are the opposite of television, a continuous stream of small shocks, which keeps us in a paralytic state of numbed alertness, [8a] rather they are a continuous stream of material force, believable, probable, surprising, and touching, clarity, which moves us gently, persuasively, through states of emotive awareness. There's a harmony too between these two books when read one after another, the kind of echoing and relating that I look for when I discover a new writer. It's clear they were written by the same man, even though they were translated by two different translators, and that's somehow comforting. His voice (and the voice of his translators) is like the quiet and convincing voice of Bernard in Making Love, "he always spoke in a low tone, calmly, as if in a permanent muffled whisper, which made whatever he said extraordinarily persuasive, if you could hear it." [8b]

The cinematic dissolve at the end of Making Love, and the last few words of Television, "simply savoring that little moment of eternity: silence and darkness regained." [10] also seem to be written to refer to each other. The anti hero turns off the television, and another, more bizarre attachment, comes to an end as well.

[1] Television, P.66
[2] Television, Afterward, p.168, Warren Motte, 2004
[3a] Television, P.1

[3b] Making Love, P.8
[3c] Television, P.36
[3] Making Love, p.5
[4] Making Love, p.20
[5] Making Love, p.92
[6] Television, p.59-60
[6a] Television, p.60
[6b] Making Love, p.34

[6c] Making Love, p.52
[7] The television in Television, and the bottle of hydrochloric acid in Making Love
[8] Television p.30
[8a] Television p.11
[8b] Making Love, p.88
[9] Making Love p.55-56
[10] Television, p.164

[Jean-Philippe Toussaint, Linda Cloverdale, Jordan Stump]

Jackson Pollack Game


Play it.

[via Triple Diesel]

Holly Coulis, Literary Painter, Ghost Whisperer



Painter Paparazzi visited Holly Coulis, in her studio, a Brooklyn artist who has shown at LFL gallery with Dana Schutz (though she's not represented by Zach).

Her new work is looking magnifique, traditional figurative portraits in fake-looking indoor and outdoor settings, often with animals, or illustrating narrative. It feels both theatrical and literary, in that it poses stories, complete with characters, backdrops, scenery, props, and staging. These figures have x-shaped tape marks on the floor where they should stand.

Reviewers have likened the characters of her peers, like Ridley Howard to those of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Like Coulis' stand-ins, they are richy types, with riding gear, motor boats, fields of poppies, spoiled pets, and grand pianos. But, they seem like pawns in someone else's gambling spree.

I wonder about the audience for paintings like this. Is she trying to paint for extremely wealthy collectors, who will relate well to her subjects? I think there may be more than just a J. Crew catalog in paint here, more richness than just luxury, but I'm not sure.

I find beauty in her voyeurism, pure aesthetically pleasing beauty, and sympathy with simple curves of the body, the wings of collar bones, and how they land below the neck, the absence of a stiff joint at the elbow, the humility of a high-waisted pant. Some of Coulis' earlier work emits a sense of peaceful coexistence with nature and survival among animals, because of the animals, for animals, or by exploitation, particularly in her painting of a fur-collared woman (The Russians) with bears, no idiot grizzly man in those heels. Does the Russian simply love bears, or are the bears puppets in her hands? Is she in hiding? Did she steal that coat? Is it wiretapped?

I want to see Coulis paint blood spilled by Napoleon, but I can't find the Napoleon paintings on line. Things are far from risky with the riding boots boys, though the curves of their torsos seem to suggest a fondness for horse sweat. The fact that a still image invokes ghosts of the oral tradition, or the written mystery, creepy and nostalgic at the same time, speaks volumes about their ability to chatter and ramble freely. Some of her recent work has the feel of an Henri Rousseau, an impossibly calm encounter between woman and beast, a great brush of hip against flank.

Roberta Smith gave her show with Dana at LFL a fine, but somewhat disinterested review, suggesting that each of them could learn from the other, "Ms. Schutz could do with a bit of Ms. Coulis's refinement, while Ms. Coulis might benefit from some of Ms. Schutz's robustness." She gives up a few sentences to Holly's gorgeous skill with laying out a scene in cinemascope, "It makes existential sense that the figures tend to be dwarfed by their surroundings, which are gorgeously appointed and lovingly rendered with careful attention to sky, water, wallpaper and carpet."

Later, Roberta slammed her solo show, calling the work "large overly amateurish, and intimations of history." Ouch. She did bring up Alex Katz, who also came to mind when I was thinking of flatly painted pretty scenes of rich people. But, Katz's boundless flatness is so much more than that, and so is Coulis'. It's more than just a pair of new shoes and a garden of dresses, it's a liberated poodle. It's more than an escape, it's a vacation. Seriously, I don't know if I can take this work seriously or not. I think I like it. I like that it reminds me of the women of Almadovar, decked out in hazardous patterns. I'm curious though, curious about how the work holds up in person. She's a gifted painter, a silent weaver of tapestries, and well studied, illuminating even, and clearly dedicated. What more do I want? I want to know where the corpses are buried, and where the servants live, and who paid for decked-out-man and his hunting napkin.

[quotes: Roberta Smith, New York Times, Archives]
[image: Painter Paparazzi]

10.10.2006

Kiran Desai Wins Man Booker Prize for Fiction


A Grove Press author has won the Man Booker Prize for "The Inheritance of Loss". "Desai is the first woman to win the Man Booker since 2000 when Margaret Atwood scooped the prize with The Blind Assassin."

“Briskly paced and sumptuously written, the novel ponders questions of nationhood, modernity, and class, in ways both moving and revelatory.” —New Yorker


The other shortlisted titles were:
Kate Grenville, The Secret River, Canongate
M.J. Hyland, Carry Me Down, Canongate
Hisham Matar, In the Country of Men, Viking
Edward St Aubyn, Mother’s Milk, Picador
Sarah Waters, The Night Watch, Virago

[Booker Prize Website]

10.09.2006

Dispatch from Chris the Camera Man












I just had an incredible theater-going experience - "Lulu" performed by the Silent Theatre company at the Victoria Theater in SF. A friend recommended it and I loved it so much I saw it the next night, too! I met a fellow I'd noticed there the night before... who it turns out has seen the show eleven times!!

Anywho, it's playing next Thursday through Sunday at the Victoria (on Mission), and I think you'd reallllly like it! It's German expressionist cinema done live on stage by a troupe that gets what they're doing. I've been gushing about this show since 9:15PM, when it let out. If you've ever seen Pandora's Box with Louise Brooks as Lulu, you'll adore this.

Thurs - Sat at 8pm, Sun at 7pm
More Performances Added! Extended thru October 29, 2006

Victoria Theatre
2961 16th Street
San Francisco, CA

[Chris]

10.06.2006

Latest Shows I Wouldn't Mind Seeing List...


A friend of mine just sent me this list of upcoming shows in San Francisco. I'm posting it here to share with you all. It's a mighty fine list. The Bobby Bare Jr. show at the Rickshaw Stop is only $10. I might try to go to that one.

10/6, 7, 8 – Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival – Golden Gate Park
10/7, 8 – School of Rock tribute to Queen – 12 Galaxies
10/9 – The Knitters – The Independent
10/9, 10, 11, 12 – Pogues - The Fillmore
10/11 – Bobby Bare Jr - Rickshaw Stop
10/13 – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – The Warfield
10/18 – Black Angels – The Independent
10/19 – The Decemberists - The Warfield
10/19, 20, 21 – Yo La Tengo - The Fillmore
10/23 – Veruca Salt – Café Du Nord
10/24, 25 – Lucinda Williams - The Fillmore
10/27 – Kristin Hersh - Swedish American Hall
10/30 – Pere Ubu - Bottom of the Hill
11/2 – Brazilian Girls - The Warfield
11/4 – Joan Jett – The Fillmore
11/7 – Sierra Leon’s Refugee All Stars – The Fillmore
11/8 – New York Dolls – The Independent
11/10 – Exene Cervenka and the Original Sinners – Bottom of the Hill
11/15 – Frank Black with Kentucky Prophet – The Fillmore
11/16 – Split Lip Rayfield – Great American Music Hall
11/26 – Cat Power – The Fillmore
11/29, 30 – Ozomatli – The Fillmore
12/2 – Wall of Voodoo w/ The Handsome Family – Slims
12/8, 9 – Los Lobos & Calexico – The Fillmore

[from - Charles Gee]
[press photo - Bobby Bare Jr.]

10.05.2006

Art-house Lovers Mourn Loss of Lim and the Film Poll


Ed rants against yet another layoff at the Village Voice, film editor Dennis Lim.

Anthony Kaufman is also pissed. "As Lim leaves the Voice's pages, so, too, do the auteurs he's championed over the years, from Guy Maddin to Spike Jonze, Jia Zhang-Ke to David Lynch, Tsai Ming-liang to Hou Hsiao-hsien. Art-house lovers, we're at the end of an era. Independent distributors IFC Films, Zeitgeist, ThinkFilm, Roadside, Palm, Kock Lorber, Kino, and First Run, if you think you had a friend at alternative weeklies across this country, you can think again. Film critics can also say goodbye to the Voice's annual film poll -- a yearly rite of passage for many critics, both aspiring and established -- which I can't imagine will be renewed under the new management.

...for those who want a truly alternative newsweekly, throw in the towel, accept the end, the Voice is dead."

[Anthony Kaufman's Blog via Ed]

Review of Eric Gaffney live at Café Du Nord


CD Release Party for Eric Gaffney
The guy who started Sebadoh
"Uncharted Waters"
October 4th, 2006

Listening to Sir Eric Gaffney playing guitar was like being in a room with Chuck Prophet, Billy Zoom, Frank Black, D. Boon, Jimmy Hendrix, Paul Weller, Steven Stills, Mark Mothersbaugh, Kurt Cobain, Thurston Moore, John Fahey, Billy Bragg, David Bowie, Roger Daltrey and Richard Buckner all at once, but better. Rumor has it that he was originally set to play with Mike Watt, but Watt had to go to Europe. Instead he turned up with Richard Marshall (Alice Donut, Heavy Hindenberg), and Jesse Parsons (Tuff School), who backed him solidly as "Fields of Gaffney."

The low turnout for the CD release party was disheartening. I know there are numerous dedicated fans of Gaffney’s songwriting, melodious finger picking, pretty voice, and unique ability to change rhythms and tunings in the middle of a song, here in what he referred to as "deafeningly dark" SF. The way Eric employs spacey pedal effects, sudden, cleanly rendered starts and stops, alternate tunings, harmonics and downright weird changes seem to come from a place of not-too-serious, playful improvisation, with a twisted humor and wry sarcastic, yet somehow sincere, or at least knowing, charm, backed by years of hubris tempered by humbling experiences. Gaffney was playing minor grungy chords in lo-fi before grunge ever hit in Seattle. He rides the melodic punk turning into masterful feedback herding, roots of Sonic Youthiness like new shoes on wet pavement. Oh, and his flamboyant Judie Garlandish hair-shaking stage presence mocks anyone who takes it all too seriously. By the way, he said it was his last show in SF. I’m not sure if that means it was his last show with this band, or his last show in the area for a while, or if he’s just saying so, so we’ll really have to beg. I think what he really means is that this is his last show with his bandmates in their current incarnation, "Fields of Gaffney."

Gaffney played like the place was packed, even though the floor was sparsely populated. There were only a few dozen attendees, and we managed to snag the side stage bar stools without reservations, which never happens at Café du Nord.

I made the mistake of requesting (during the special requests part of the show) a song off of Sebadoh’s "Harmacy", later learning that he had already left Sebadoh by the time "Harmacy" was born. "Following 1993's Sebadoh - Bubble and Scrape, however, Gaffney left the band. His replacement, Bob Fay, appeared on the band's most acclaimed and consistent effort, 1994's Sebadoh - Bakesale, which saw the emergence of the songwriting talents of multi-instrumentalist Jason Loewenstein, and the follow-up Sebadoh - Harmacy in 1996."

My brother literally bought the very first ever sold Eric Gaffney CD at the show. It’s fucking amazing. The Sebadoh III CD he touted is good too.

Eric played a Troggs b-side and a Daniel Johnston piece. He had opened for Daniel Johnston during Noise Pop in 2002. I think I wet myself when he pulled another surprise cover out of his velvety pocket, "Love Locket" by the Ramones. Into the handbag went my earplugs. I finally had the opportunity to pogo dance in the front row (well, let’s call it a front row, really it was a wide open space), and (as I was doing so) the band vociferously noted a "sweet Proustian memory odor" wafting up when I approached the stage. It must have been my new perfume from Spain, Aqua di Parma "Iris".

I’m trying to get a set list of all the songs Eric played last night.

The show scored five loaves of rye from Sister Rye (5/5), profoundly perfect tunes, unexpected cover tunes, inspired dancing by myself, short/tight songs, not too crowded, and with good audience/artist banter between sets.

Sebadoh With Eric Gaffney

* Sebadoh - The Freed Man (1989)
* Sebadoh - Weed Forestin' (1990)
* Sebadoh - The Freed Weed (1990)
* Sebadoh - III (1992)
* Sebadoh - Rocking the Forest (1992)
* Sebadoh - Sebadoh vs. Helmet (1990)
* Sebadoh - Smash Your Head on the Punk Rock (1992)
* Sebadoh - Bubble and Scrape (1993)

Sebadoh Without Eric Gaffney

* Sebadoh - Bakesale (1994)
* Sebadoh - Local Band Feel (Live) (1995)
* Sebadoh - Harmacy (1996)
* Sebadoh - The Sebadoh (1999)

[quote and discography from Last.fm Music Wiki]

10.04.2006

Cezanne, a Literary Painter


Wood on Cezanne

"I suspect that what all these writers revered in Cézanne was, first, the intensity with which he looked at the world, seeking to penetrate its deep essences while at the same time giving the most acute account of its visible surface layers. Witnesses reported that he would look for hours at his subject - whether apples or a sitter like his gardener or his wife - before committing himself to a few strokes of the brush. Humans had to remain absolutely still; apples were better than flowers, which faded, hence the many sublime still lifes with apples on tables. The dried, equitable colours of the south of France, whose plane trees and sparse firs and ochre rocks look the same for so many months a year, allowed him to return again and again to an unchanging, ancient landscape, and work away at different iterations of the same theme. Best of all was Mont Sainte-Victoire, which rises massive behind Aix and the surrounding countryside; he would paint this rock repeatedly, trying to credit a variety of perspectives.

Behind this determination to see something new, to see something which no one else had painted, was Flaubert's example as much as Courbet's or Pissarro's. It was Flaubert who, like Cézanne, was both a realist and a formalist - a realist because he looked very hard at the visual world, and a formalist because he looked very hard at his own representation of that world. It was Flaubert, greatly admired by Cézanne, who told Maupassant that "there is a part of everything which is unexplored, because we are accustomed to using our eyes only in association with the memory of what people before us have thought of the thing we are looking at. Even the smallest thing has something in it which is unknown. We must find it."

[James Wood, Guardian UK]
[via Conversational Reading]

Cézanne in Britain
National Gallery, London WC2
Oct 4 - Jan 7

10.03.2006

O California Tidal Wretch Biennial


















I’ve just returned from the California Biennial in Newport Beach, at the Orange County Museum of Art.

Driving on I-5 through scorched earth and a chilly rain in Gorman, the smell of ashes from numerous central valley fires drowned out some of the usual gasses emanating from the periphery of the interstate. Wet ashes gave Marge the car a nice protective coating, insuring her against further surface damage from rays and polluted winds. Being in close proximity to cows and their detritus, a three hour fiery sunset, combined with wide swaths of storm turbulence (in pale shades of neutral grey – offsetting the periwinkles, persimmons and lazulis), topped by a rainbow ribbon (heavy on the green), set the scene for meditating on what I’d absorbed at the Biennial -- the resurgence of color (dress you up in my love), scatology (gestural abstraction), and expressivity (emoticons, obituaries, war field dreams, nightmares, and realisms) in art, tempered by Beuysian alchemical experiments (rectangular surfaces made of diesel and ash). An installation of videos depicting imagined feral children donning, for one, coyote headed pelts (also a la Beuys), presented using fake ethnographic reportage, and leaping like gazelles, reminded me to go find my own feral child who I had abandoned (along with her diminutive tweenage friends) in the museum lobby, telling her to (knowing we might miss the entire Sonic Youth performance – which we did) "Sit there on the red couch. I’m going to look at the art."

Highlights were the first wall of procession paintings, and the waltz of military figures and vetaran’s parade floats by my beloved copain Martin McMurray, the better than Koons metallic sculptures of Joel Morrison, the urban ecology salt mine pipe dream collages of Leslie Shows, the prescient crystal-lit glacial ships in her harbors of Marie Jager, the bleeding photosynthesis of fellow Bay Area artist Binh Danh’s leafs and war casualties in vein/vain, and the effed-up topo maps lovingly rendered by Lordy Rodriguez in ink (some of which looked felt-tipped).

The OCMA website chose to break the show down into six types of artists/art/methods of artmaking,

"Extreme Objectmakers: artists who make exquisitely-rendered works that mutate traditional forms and media to create new hybrids. (Andy Alexander, Jane Callister, Christian Maychack, Joel Morrison, Sterling Ruby)

Social Interactions: works that engage viewers to interact in particular social spaces, constructed or identified by the artists, that call attention to popular culture and everyday life. (Kianga Ford, Kate Pocrass, Mario Ybarra Jr.)

Urban Ecologies: art that responds to the natural and built environment, including urban, suburban, and entropic landscapes. (Christopher Ballantyne, Bull.Miletic, Shannon Ebner, Leslie Shows, Amir Zaki)

Historical Consciousness: archiving and adapting images and text from the flow of history and contemporary political events. (Walead Beshty, Binh Danh, Sergio De La Torre/Vicki Funari, Martin McMurray, Lordy Rodriguez, Speculative Archive, Hank Willis Thomas)

Impulsive Surrealism: the resurgent interest in work that draws upon unconscious desire, dream like imagination and absurd humor as a strategy. (Scoli Acosta, Brian Fahlstrom, Pearl C. Hsiung, Marie Jager, Shana Lutker, My Barbarian, Nicolau Vergueiro)

Refracted Identities: artists who use themselves as both subject and object to construct personal, social and/or multiple identities. (Ala Ebtekar, Arturo Ernesto Romo, Tim Sullivan, Goody-B. Wiseman)"

The Catalog is full of additional work not on display at the main OCMA site, and some not-too-bloated catalog copy. Catalog copy writers make some far reaching assumptions about Bay Area figurative artists and their connections to one another, but overall the tone of the essays is consistent with the history-hinges-on-grit-and-stenography approach to art listings. Monitor chicken scratch and free ranging heartbeats using the Gerhard Richter scale, only if you’ve imbibed grains of ocean salts in Laguna first. In other words, use the catalog as a jumping-off point for fact checking.

[Catalog image: Pearl C. Hsiung, Tidal Wretch, 2005; enamel on canvas; Max Wigram Gallery, London]
[OCB Curators: Elizabeth Armstrong, Karen Moss, Rita Gonzalez]

Sister Rye and the New Faces of Journalism

















My interview with Zak Smith is being discussed by the National Book Critics Circle board of directors, in regards to the new face of journalism.

[Critical Mass]
[illustration by Charles Gee]