Monthly Archives: November 2010


Childhood home

I went to Colorado for Thanksgiving and stayed at my friends’ temporary residence. The home before home, the launch pad for their new lives in the West.

Adolescent home

Genevieve showed me the house where she grew up, in Denver, and then we drove up into the foothills to see where she spent her adolescence. The walk from the bus stop to her front door took an hour each way and she dreaded it. Genevieve would dial her mother collect from a payphone at the bottom of the hill, and when the automated voice instructed, “State your name,” she would chirp, “Pick me up!”

Don’t Think Twice

Future movie poster

The great cat experiment went down when my married friends Genevieve and Nirmal stayed with me for a few days. My large orange cat, Roly Poly, who has always flown solo, was introduced to Oyster, a small gray female cat. We didn’t know how they would interact, and there was much speculation over who would be the big cat and who would be the small cat, whether there would be blood, etc.

Roly Poly and Oyster

To everyone’s surprise, Roly Poly fell in love. Oyster was not interested.

Human Cannonball

The first human cannonball

“Hugo Zacchini (20 October 1898 – 20 October 1975, San Bernardino, California) was the first human cannonball. His father Ildebrando Zacchini invented the compressed-air cannon used to propel humans in circus acts. He was known for being a daredevil and a painter, and for being litigious. He was involved with a lawsuit that made it before the U.S. Supreme Court, Zacchini v. Scripps-Howard Broadcasting Co., which he ultimately won. Zacchini sued Scripps-Howard, the owner of an Ohio television station, when it filmed, and then broadcast on the evening news, Zacchini’s entire act of being shot out of a cannon at a county fair. The United States Supreme Court sided with Zacchini, ruling 5 to 4 that the publicity rights overrode the First Amendment rights in this case where the entire act was shown on television.” From the wikipedia entry.

Its hard to make predictions especially about the future

In three months I plan to shoot myself out of a cannon pointed towards the middle of America, landing somewhere in Chicago.

All You Can Eat Fish Fry

The results

It started off with trying to make cheese curds squeak. Etta fried them. The oil was hot. She fried Colombian chocolate.

Etta in the kitchen

The next thing I know I can’t remember a green vegetable.

Pornographer / Fashion Photographer

Spencer Tunick

Spencer Tunick: I show my work in galleries. My work is not for magazines.

Tanysha: That’s good. That’s a little bit of a safe spot for me. I don’t want all these little Hustler / Penthouse / Playboy magazines and all they do is cum all over women and shit.

Spencer Tunick: It’s true. You could be my spokesperson for what my work is not.

My friend Andi is in the film

Spencer Tunick: I think what’s important, the most important thing for an artist as far as if he wants to survive off his work is getting collectors to believe that the investment in your art, besides from their liking the piece for it’s aesthetic, will have some sort of value. What does that is getting written about in art magazines. And these are the magazines that are, this one right here, frieze, Flash Art, Art Forum. You know, hopefully one day. It’s a dream to open up a magazine like that and see your work in it.

-from the 2000 HBO documentary, Naked States, directed by Arlene Nelson

Speed. To be able to control it

Harry Hogge

I read a partial interview with Louis C.K. in the Television section of the newspaper this afternoon. NYT: “Do you have a joke you keep in your back pocket in case you need to win back the audience?”
Louis: “I don’t really worry about losing the audience. What’s that movie with Tom Cruise as a car race guy? “Days of Thunder.” Robert Duvall teaches him that when there’s a car crash, and you can’t see because of the smoke, you just go straight through. If you follow their insecurity and their anxiety around, then you’re chasing their problems, and nobody knows what’s going on.”

Being me, I skimmed the Days of Thunder script when I got home, looking for the lines that inspired Louis. Robert Duvall’s character, Harry Hogge, drops some gems, as does Nicole Kidman’s character, Dr. Claire Lewicki. Tom Cruise’s plays Cole Trickle, basically an idiot. Dr. Claire Lewicki: “Tell me what you love so much about racing.” Cole Trickle: “Speed. To be able to control it. To know that I can control something that’s out of control.” Dr. Claire Lewicki: “Control is an illusion, you infantile egomaniac. Nobody knows what’s gonna happen next: not on a freeway, not in an airplane, not inside our own bodies and certainly not on a racetrack with 40 other infantile egomaniacs.”

The final lap

I think Louis was talking about the climactic scene at the Daytona 500. Harry Hogge: “There’s a crash at turn three. Oil at the bottom of the track. Cars are sliding down from the top of the track. You’d better go high. Pick a line you can drive through. Go around those wrecks. You can drive through it. I know it in my heart.” Cole Trickle: “I’m through it, Harry! I’m out of here.”

Autumn, at this point / The Peak

Bill Cunningham on the street in NYC

“This is Bill Cunningham reporting from New York City and it’s the height of the autumn season. You feel it, it’s like electricity. Everywhere you go there’s an exuberance of fashionable people. The style of dress, of mixing and layering everything you can imagine. No designer conceived of this. Twenty years ago the fashion world said, “Do you own thing.” Well of course that was kind of their undoing, because people have finally realized they don’t need the designers! It’s kind of a riot. Women put it together themselves and so many of them look terrific. Autumn, at this point, the peak, the leaves in central park are in full bloom and color. It’s not just the clothes, it’s the gesture of wearing them. Snuggling up in a collar on these cold mornings when you go off to work. It’s all there. You couldn’t miss it. You want to define fashion for this decade, here it is, right here. It takes about ten years for the whole look to come into sharp focus with many women, and it hit with a vengeance this week. Even two guys here, wonderful. Look at the way they mixed it all up with the scarves and the jackets and the boots, everything you could think of. This woman here with a coat from Japanese designer Junya Watanabe, with flyaway tails. It’s army canvas. Then she’s teamed it with a fur vest and tights and platform boots. The way people put themselves together is the whole story. That’s what we see in this picture. Everything is just worn. Even the outerwear jackets, they’re heavier tweeds and wools but with big fluffy scarves. People look just wonderful! Young lovers on a beau bridge in their plaid shirts. Look at them, aren’t they terrific? I hope you get a taste of New York and I’m sure wherever you are, Connecticut or Illinois or Kentucky or Texas, it’s all happening there too. Just open your eyes and turn everything upside down and wear it!” Bill Cunningham, Fall Dressing, On The Street

-image taken from 2010 documentary, “Bill Cunningham New York,” directed by Richard Press

Push / Don’t Push

The Zhang family

West Newton Cinema was mostly empty for the matinee of Lixin Fan’s documentary about a family of Chinese migrants, Last Train Home, which is a shame. The film has only taken in around 200 thousand dollars in box office sales. The other shame is that the people behind me, two women, gabbed through the first five minutes. When dirty looks failed, I got up out of my seat and walked back to their aisle and asked them to stop talking. And they did. What followed was what I have been anticipating for three months, since the first preview. Twenty first century China: the country and the city, the elderly and the young, the old way and the new way, splitting off and separating and being tenuously rejoined by millions making exhausting locomotive journeys every New Year. I cried through most of the film, which is about the strongest recommendation that I can make. It reminded me of my family and my sister’s and my own path towards adulthood (obedience, rebellion, leaving home, coming back)… despite that I am an American, summed up perfectly in the film by an unnamed Chinese passenger as someone who makes 2000 a month and spends 2000 a month (as opposed to the Chinese worker, who makes 2000 and saves 1800 for his family.)

The Zhang’s grandma instructs the children to eat more bitter melon because it will prevent pimples, but also because they should taste the bitterness that gives way to sweetness.

The familys economic engine

You can go home again, at least for now. If only once a year, and you have the will.

Hey, Little One

Glen Campbell cover art

I made Etta a mix in her Chicago apartment while she was sleeping. And now its been uploaded to be shared with the public. The songs are taken from albums that have been heavy in my rotation. These are heady tunes for the cold weather and lack of sun. The clocks get set ahead this weekend. Its a song cycle for the darkening of the world that’s taking place, the locking of the ground, the shortening of the day. The first song, from which I pulled the title, is a live version of Glen Campbell’s Hey, Little One, that the early Grateful Dead played at the Danish Center in Los Angeles on the evening of March 12, 1966. There is a reggae cover, If I Don’t Work Out by the rocksteady artist Pat Kelly, original by The Zombies, and the original Police And Thieves by Junior Murvin, produced by Lee “Scratch” Perry, which was later covered by The Clash. Otis Taylor has two songs on the mix, that appear side by side on his new LP, Clovis People, Vol. 3 (the only Clovis People volume… get it?) Here they are separated by Dry Up Those Tears, the blind artist Bob Desper’s love song, and If The Sun Stops Shinin’, by Chubby Checker. My wonderful friend Austin Leonard Jones makes an appearance with a song from his debut album Superstitions that came out this week, What Fun It Is To Ride! followed appropriately by a bonus track from the Sounds of Silence LP, Blues Run The Game, by Simon And Garfunkel. The final song is another bonus track, this from Beach Boy Dennis Wilson’s solo LP, Pacific Ocean Blue… like an undertow that creeps up… Tug Of Love.

The amazing new album Superstitions by Austin Leonard Jones (purchase for $5!)
Blog entries on Bob Desper and Chubby Checker
Glen Campbell sings Hey, Little One
The Album Cover Art Gallery

Hey, Little One… mix by 3rdarm

The New Interpretation of Dreams

Backyard Garden by Yue Minjun

“The relationship between movies and dreams has always been — to borrow a term from psychoanalysis — overdetermined. From its first flickerings around the time Freud was working on “The Interpretation of Dreams,” cinema seemed to replicate the uncanny, image-making power of the mind, much as still photography had in the decades before. And over the course of the 20th century, cinema provided a vast, perpetually replenishing reservoir of raw material for the fantasies of millions of people. Freud believed that dreams were compounded out of the primal matter of the unconscious and the prosaic events of daily life. If he were writing now, he would have to acknowledge that they are also, for many of us, made out of movies. And movies, more often than not these days, are made out of other movies.” A thought from NY Times film critic A. O. Scott’s July review of Inception, This Time the Dream’s on Me, that’s been lodged in the back of my mind.

The other day I met Errol and Julia’s French bulldogs, Boris and Ivan. They are sweet.