Monday, August 31, 2009

Across America.

Oh, how I long to do this, just me and a camera, like Stephen Shore. Photo (Craters of the Moon) via NYTimes.


Captain's log.



Deadstock, a steal.
When I first met J in college, he was probably the best painter at my school, and he definitely thought so. He was wearing these shoes, a large sheepskin coat (it was winter), and carrying a canvas bag. I couldn't tell if his shoes were so ugly that they were cool or if he was just so cloistered from coolness that he didn't have any style. I decided the latter. I also didn't understand why he didn't have a CD player, only a record player in his tiny studio--on which he played Piazzolla for me--and why he borrowed books from the library instead of buying them at the U-store like everybody else. I guess I thought he was poor. He was not. This was 1998, you understand. Very few people were into LPs. Or the above ugly shoes. It turns out that he was just supercool.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kubrick's Lolita

I just rewatched Kubrick's Lolita (1962), which I first saw in college, when writing my thesis on Nabokov. I can't believe at the time that I thought Adrian Lyne's new version was superior to it. In fact, Lyne steals quite a few ideas from Kubrick's version (driving in the mist after the loss of Lolita, certain visual obfuscations of Quilty's face, etc.). I think what I could not forgive was a) that Sue Lyon had blonde hair, b) the opening shot of Lolita's toenails being painted (a personal issue with nailpainting, just can't stand it), and c) that famous shot of Lolita in the backyard when Humbert first meets her, in which Kubrick dolled her up in a flowery bikini and ridiculously huge straw hat. Lolita's eroticism and sexuality ought to be unwitting and effortless, springing from the nature of being a girl, a nymphet, and thus, all those labored trappings--the bikini, the hat, the sunglasses, and the supine sexual position Kubrick put her in--in that shot completely miss the point.

But God. There are so many winners in Kubrick's version that I simply overlooked. Shelley Winters is simply perfect as Charlotte Haze. The scene where she locks herself in the master bedroom and starts wailing in anger at her late husband's ashes--then, stops herself and begs for forgiveness while hugging the urn--is hysterical. Peter Sellers is utter brilliance (a little slow and encumbered in the murder scene, but fantastic everywhere else); the choice to have him play the school psychiatrist (a woman from the school in the novel, I'm almost certain) who inquires as to why Lo shows no interest in sexual matters works terrifically well. And Peter Mason, who I still see first and foremost as the villain in "North by Northwest," does a competent turn as Humbert Humbert; that pretentious accent of his holds up quite well, since Humbert is of ambiguous European descent.

And Sue Lyon! Why had I given her no credit? Perhaps because of the overly perfect blonde hair (very JonBenet Ramsey) and the ethical limitations of early 60s cinema, which would not permit much eroticism to be shown between Lo and Humbert. I particularly love the scene in the car when Humbert realizes that she's feverish, and before fully disappearing into the backseat, she lies back, puts her arms up, pulls the ends of her sleeves over her hands, and makes them face each other like animals, before dropping them down and out of view. That is Lo's insouciance and childlikeness at what would otherwise be a crucial, serious, and life-changing moment for anyone else; though she knows her nightmarish journey with Humbert is about to end and she is going to make her escape, she also has to be aware, at some level, that she is escaping to little better with Quilty. Of course, that is her tragedy, the tragedy Humbert makes of her life, and one she can only manage by living at life's surfaces.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

"Bare ruined choirs."

Opens Friday at St. Cecilia Convent in Brooklyn.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Happy Ending (read: it's a farce!)

Martin Kippenberger's "The Happy End of Franz Kafka's Amerika" (orig 1994) materializes in furniture form and arrangement the mass interviewing of prospective employees described in Kafka's posthumously published novel. Photo via New York Times.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Killing me softly...

An Interview with Peter Schjeldahl.

Here, via Guernica, 2006.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Immortal Beloved.

Beethoven's first of three letters to her, an excerpt:

"July 6, in the morning
My angel, my all, my very self - Only a few words today and at that with pencil (with yours) - Not till tomorrow will my lodgings be definitely determined upon - what a useless waste of time - Why this deep sorrow when necessity speaks - can our love endure except through sacrifices, through not demanding everything from one another; can you change the fact that you are not wholly mine, I not wholly thine - Oh God, look out into the beauties of nature and comfort your heart with that which must be - Love demands everything and that very justly - thus it is to me with you, and to you with me. But you forget so easily that I must live for me and for you; if we were wholly united you would feel the pain of it as little as I...."

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Something to bite whilst writin'.

So shoot me, it's from UO. But it has such a pleasurable viscerality to it, innit? Don't you just want to sink your teeth into it? And if you punched somebody while wearing it, they'd feel it, wouldn't they? Yes, I think they would.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Slow, fat sheep brain.

Writing all day, thinking in the shower, on the treadmill, while cooking eggplant. The piece I'm working on now fortuitously intersects with a certain online vintage addiction of mine (ahem) in that it deals with our culture's and hence my relationship to the material, mass-market object. But the funny thing is, of course, that recognizing and dissecting that fetishistic, ultimately hollow relationship does not seem to make even the tiniest dent in my obsession, which, I suppose, only goes to show once again how impotent the rational mind is when trying to confront and control its own psyche.

Ah. Hence, that sheep up there. Baaa.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009




Funnily, this Ford truck is down the street from Emmet Gowin's house. Cf. the truck in the kiddie pool photograph, "Elijah and Donna Jo, Danville, Virginia, 1968."

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Lenka + Michael

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Gestures & exposures.

Three Studies for Hands, dates unknown, Rodin.

Iris, Messenger of the Gods, circa 1890, Rodin.


Ideas for Light Aerodynamic Structures

Chinese kite frames, Smithsonian.


Suddenly, a bounty...

Noguchi among lamps.

"Globular," 1928, brass. Me in "Globular."

"Grey Sun," 1967, marble.

Much good work and some great opportunities have fallen into my lap.

And on top of everything, a trip to the Noguchi museum this weekend...

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009


My brief thoughts on the Bacon retrospective at the Met: Decidedly less overwrought and ruthless in person, perhaps in part because the grandiosity of Bacon's choices for ground color provides such immediate visual gratification.

As for that white grid/box trope, I couldn't help thinking that it referenced Giacometti's metal boxes and how they create a spatial theater for drama with the aid of literal gravity. For Bacon, it is deep color hues that serve as that gravity--but a metaphorical one, both emotional and intellectual in disposition. Hugh Honour and John Fleming speak of Bacon's "real" subject as "obsessional guilt." As his paintings attest, Bacon certainly could not temper his inner life with any degree of reason or rationality. What a price to pay with your life, forget about art.

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What Could Have Been

Vladimir Tatlin, Project for the Monument to the Third International, 1919-20.

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Friday, August 07, 2009

More Polidori

Nothing evokes death as crisply as the haunting starkness of an abandoned agrarian landscape and economy.


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Michael Perrone.

I could look at these all day long.


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The Dress.

This is the dolman-sleeved black satin wiggle dress with V-panel and pleats to end all dresses.

This dress creates and participates in its own sartorial territory. One might see this dress as the direct visual analogy to the binaries of being and non-being, alpha versus omega, art versus reality. How can it be so simple and yet so alluringly complex? How is it that so many superfluous oblique seams and angles could disappear into--or alternatively, depending on one's denomination, amount to--the net effect of seamless oneness?

I cannot answer these questions. And I do not attempt to try.

Directions for wearing: The garment should be worn with proper warning or attention to the above contradictions. And advisedly, with a large necklace, preferably of gold or silver tone, that hangs at least to the abdominal area.

Occasions for wearing: Sweaty, unventilated art openings; ambiguous late dinners with exes; KGB readings; religious holiday parties of a religion the wearer does not observe.

Thanks, Genevieve!

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Gn'R 4-Ever.

He had to cover something up.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Starr Space.

It looks like a light saber to me.

J and I were at Starr Space on Starr Street this weekend. Map it? You can't. At least, Google can't, because we ended up getting off the Queensboro bridge around P.S. 1, on 28th Street, in the dead of night, and the print-out I had said, Make slight right toward 21st Street, and then, Turn left onto 21st Street. (Wait, does that even make sense in theory?)

J: This is 28th Street.
Me: We are seven streets off.
J: What?
Me: These directions are WRONG.

We turned around and went the other way for a little while, until we realized that seven streets back from 28th Street is not, as you might conjecture, 21st Street, but the bridge. The bridge that we had just come off of? Yes, that bridge. Incidentally, the first time over, we had driven on the very edge of the bridge--like, maybe, where the cops drive when about to apprehend some goon or talk someone out of jumping--which was scary and strange, because every other car was on the inside, where there were actual lanes. We were right above the water, separate from God and traffic and everything. Very strange. And there was maybe one other car very ahead of us in this alterna-lane, which did not exactly inspire confidence, although it certainly was more reassuring than if NO other car were in our alterna-lane.

Anyway, we drove to the end of the bridge and then turned around AGAIN to head back toward Queens.

J: Do you like bridges?
Me: I don't have any particular feelings about bridges.
J: Good, because we are going to be on this bridge ALL NIGHT.

We were.

No, actually, we were on that bridge OR in gas stations all night, asking people for directions, which led us nowhere. Or else, back to the bridge.

Finally, I found a young-ish, fattish, dishevelled guy in line at a convenience store, and he had.... an iPhone! With a map. And he showed me the way with some rapid and emphatic arm gestures. I flagged J, who by now was somewhere off buying vitamin water.

Back in the car.

J: Do you want some water with vitamins in it?

When we finally found the place, it was hot and steamy inside, and in one corner, a very intent young man was stomping his feet and tossing his head and contorting this way and that with great fervor. People were dancing. It was 11 o'clock. A stranger behind a little wooden window handed me a plastic cup of white wine.

Young Denise Levertov.


Saturday, August 01, 2009

To Home.

The new atomic lamp.

And teak Danish bench.

Played guitar first thing this morning.

To Market.

Congratulations, my darlings.

Photo by Joshua Guthals.