Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Closing tabs

A long-overdue post to close some tabs. I am finally running again this weekend, very slowly, though lungs are still impaired. In work as opposed to lung capacity, though the two may be loosely aligned, I am at the point of the semester where I am barely functioning at 60% capacity - teaching Heart of Midlothian and associated criticism tomorrow just overwhelmed me with a desire to write JEDEDIAH CLEISHBOTHAM on all forms of social media, and I must also, alarmingly, write a lecture on Endgame and Adorno for Tuesday evening!

A wonderful personal assistant from my friend Jill's company Lambent Services helped me clean up my work office so that I have lots of room for NEW PROJECTS (about which more anon at some more leisurely moment probably about a month from now). This service is highly recommended - that office has always been a chaotic and neglected enclave, to the point of functionality being impaired, and I am going to make sure to have regular tune-ups to keep it in good nick.

Liz had an extra ticket to this for Thursday: Black Mountain Songs. Enjoyable, interesting, thought-provoking: I had some pangs of guilt that though I am a dedicated teacher with considerable meta-interest in teaching, I have never (yet) been involved in a really utopian teaching scheme. I wouldn't rule it out, only in reality such things probably happen mostly in summers and I am not sure I would survive year-round teaching! Deep Springs has always interested me as a possibility: now I think they either have gone or about to go co-ed, it might be an actual opportunity?

Other bits of interest:

On founding your own country. (Via I.H.D.)

Helen DeWitt's personal library.

Lottje Sodderland on recovery from a stroke.

The Tingle Alley bear report.

Himalayan marmots! (Via B.) Also, an eagle's view of London.

Slight obsession with this historic food site, especially the ices... (Original link possibly via Teri D.?)

Last but not least, pygmy marmoset loves being brushed with a toothbrush and a short history of the black pug.

I must log the light reading or it will be forever lost in the dim mists of history. It has mostly been a very large number of werewolf-vampire-type novels that I think I will not log individually - Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels novels, which I thought were really very good (I should not have then read the first couple of the Edge series, they are not so much suited to my taste); Stephen King, Revival (suffered for me in comparison to The Shining and sequel, which I read last year, but certainly worth the time); two crime novels by the Israeli writer D. A. Mishani, The Missing File and A Possibility of Violence, both very much the kind of thing I enjoy reading; a reread of a favorite novel of mine by Diana Wynne Jones, Deep Secret, now happily available for Kindle (this caused me to think I should write a long essay or a short book about her); Heather Abel's fascinating and troubling Gut Instincts, an excellent Kindle Single about celiac and mysterious gut woes (could be paired with Leslie Jamison's Morgellon's essay and Sarah Manguso on illness for an interesting trio); Dorothy Hughes' The Expendable Man; then Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson novels en masse (still finishing the last few of these - it is mighty soothing to have such a good flow of high-quality light reading).

Also I remembered during grumpy desperate non-exercising binge of book acquisition that I very much wanted to read my longtime digital correspondent Robert Hudson's second novel, and finally got around to obtaining a copy: it is called The Dazzle, and I enjoyed it hugely. Recommended in particular to readers of Peter Dickinson and good interwar period pastiche, but really it's just very appealing (good use of epistolary format!): I am going to pass it on to my mother now, in confidence that she will enjoy it as much as I did.

hyperallergic: (via Art That Was Always Meant to Be Hidden) The…


(via Art That Was Always Meant to Be Hidden)

The portraits in Oliver Jeffers Dipped Paintings series exist as wholes only in the memories of those who witnessed their submersion. Last night, after gathering at a rendez-vous point and walking to an undisclosed location, small groups descended into a Manhattan basement and watched as Jeffers lowered portraits into vats filled with vibrant, opaque paint.


November 23, 2014

November 23, 2014

I like sweets, but I tend not to like the taste of sweets.  Instead, I like to look at sweets.  For reasons I am not totally clear on, the visual aspects of certain foods, I greatly admire, but I have no urge to eat them.  Instead I like the image of food much better than eating that food.  If you wonder what my favorite film is, I with all honesty would have to say a Burger King commercial, where they show in detail, a sandwich about to be eaten.  I can’t even remember the actor/model who is about to bite into the sandwich.  Or if it is taking place on a real or imagined location.  My only focus is on the sandwich itself.  I’m the commercial wants that effect, but also, I have no memory where that sandwich came from.  Burger King, McDonald’s, In N’ Out - all of them are the same to me.  I can’t imagine I would go to a fast-food place to eat anything, and I have no urge to see these foods in real time.  No, I prefer the photograph or even painting of food than the real thing.

If you’re on Facebook or Instagram, one can’t avoid the pictures of people’s meals before eating it.  I would like to say these images are spiritual, but they’re more about consuming than anything else.  Or is it even that?  Wouldn’t it be better to show an empty plate, which in turn, strongly suggests that the eater really loved that meal?  So why are photographs of food or a meal before it is eaten?  On one level, I can see it as a journal for the eater - he or she can look at the picture and be reminded that they had that meal at so and so place and time, but what does it mean to the viewer?  

The best sweets are the one’s that look the most complicated to make.  We admire the skills and how that plate of food is made.   The portion has to be just right (usually in America, at the very least, there’s a lot of food on that plate) and the setting should be seductive as well.  As a viewer it doesn’t make me hungry, but I guess a touch of jealousy does come into the picture.  Not only are these images pornography of sorts, but it also a statement that “I’m living better than you, because look at this food I’m about to eat.” In essence not that far off from a model/actress in a porn film being interviewed about her sexual habits before being fucked by the photographer.   There is something creepy about seeing a young girl being used in such a fashion in front of a camera, and I feel the same way at looking at someone’s image of their meal.  I too want to have sex with that girl in the film, in that same exact situation, but I can’t. The same as when I look at a picture of someone’s decadent desert, I can’t eat it due to health issues.  It is almost like the photographer is going out of his or her’s way to show off that they can eat this dish of food, while you sit there and fantasize about it.

I’m a fan of Wayne Thiebaud’s paintings of various sweets.  On one level, it does make me desire to reach out and taste the painting or drawing.  On the other hand, there is something so cold about how the food is displayed in such a fashion.  It is almost like the ice creams and cakes are stand-in’s for a photograph of the Nazis in Nuremberg.  One is totally seduced in the image of a series of soldiers lined up so perfectly and so many.   Why they are there, and who they are - doesn’t make much sense, except in the visual experience of having such perfect sense of order in front of your eyes.   Food photography, from the viewpoint of a professional photographer, artist, or even more seductive, by an amateur image maker with Instagram, exposes the need for a moment or two of perfection.  I don’t think Thiebaud’s paintings are about fascism or even order, but that is how I view his work.  They’re beautiful to me.

Ironically enough I also admire the images of his daughter Twinka, who posed many times in the nude for various fine art photographers.  Like the images of beautiful food, I too have a visual need to look at her. I don’t need to know her, and even though I feel erotic feelings for her, I surely don’t need to penetrate her. In any fashion or form.  Nevertheless the eros that melts off her skin onto the viewer’s gaze is such a wonder.   On a different level looking at her images, I feel that there is a landscape that is not logical or restricted, with respect to the images of food.   There is a specific logic when you see a painting or a photo of a desert.  You can taste it if you have the imagination to do so.  I don’t think it serves any purpose beyond that the food is there, and perhaps it is used to mark a specific time in one’s life as well as for its location.  In a nutshell, Twinka gives me layers of meaning, that is hard for me to penetrate (no pun intended) -yet, I’m drawn to her beauty and the way she exposes her sensual body.   Food is also sensual, so I guess at the end of the day, we should just accept that for some, a plate of food is bliss, as well as a photograph of Twinka Thiebaud.

“American Beat writer Jack Kerouac leans closer to a radio…

American Beat writer Jack Kerouac leans closer to a radio to hear himself on a broadcast, 1959.”

Photograph: John Cohen/Getty Images /via the guardian

coeursfideles: Jean-Pierre Léaud arriving at Cannes


Jean-Pierre Léaud arriving at Cannes

biblioklept: Interior — William Rothenstein 1891


Interior — William Rothenstein 1891

El Lissitzky

62703848_129184747254Abstract shapes in black and red collide in empty space.

LATF Hipster (31)

fixieFixie-riding hipster, c. 1900.

José Clemente Orozco

20-OrozcoHis murals transform, and transform you, as you stroll past them.

Un chant d’amour (Jean Genet, 1950)

Un chant d’amour (Jean Genet, 1950)

November 22, 2014

November 22, 2014

November 22 stays in my mind of course because of “that death,” but also there was another death that day in Dallas, Texas - The death of J.D. Tippit.  He was a police officer with the Dallas Police Department.  His initials were believed to stand for Jefferson Davis, but alas, the truth is the J.D. Didn’t stand for anything in particular.    He married his high school sweetheart, they had children and he shortly worked for Sears, Roebuck and Company in the installation department, but then was laid off.  J.D. and his family moved to Lone Star, Texas where he attempted to farm and raise cattle.  The farming world didn’t pay off so he resolved to go to Dallas and became a police officer.  His salary at the time of his death amounted to $490 a month.   He also had two part-time jobs: worked at Austin’s Barbecue restaurant on Friday and Saturday nights and at the Stevens Park Theater on Sundays as security.  The theater mostly attracted a sizable Hispanic crowd, so he studied Spanish from a language book that he got from the local library.  He was willing to learn the language so he could understand what the customers were saying to ward off any problems.  On November 22, he left early, leaving his wife before breakfast, who besides being a full-time housewife and mother, had a job babysitting neighborhood’s children at their home.

He did his patrol in his assigned area Oak Cliff, which was quiet that morning.  Most of the police action was in downtown Dallas, due to the President and his wife coming to the city.  After his morning patrol, Tippit went back home to have lunch with his wife.  She made him a sandwich and fried potatos on the side.  He usually has an hour lunch, but wanted to get back to duty in case there was any trouble due to the President’s visit.  He admired Kennedy and both he and his wife voted for him. J.D. wished he could see the President, but at the some time he was relieved to be working at his regular assigned area.  For a cop, there is usually that tension when someone important visits the city, and there could be trouble due to crowd control or “one nut might try something.” So he ate his lunch quickly and went back to his patrol.

One of J.D.’S nieces went to the corner of Harwood and Main in front of Titche-Goettinger’s department store to get a glimpse of the President and his wife.   She saw Jackie and President Kennedy as they drove by, and she commented that “it was like I could have reached out and touched them.  We were standing right on the corner.  They looked like gods and goddesses.  It was almost unreal.” Seven minutes later President Kennedy was dead.

An eyewitness, by the name of Howard Brennan, said he saw the gunman and gave the police a description. “White male, approximately thirty; slender build; height five feet, ten inches; weight 165 pounds…” Police Dispatcher Murray Jackson realizing that he was draining Oak Cliff of available officers ordered Tippit to move into the central Oak Cliff area.  “You will be at large for any emergency that comes in,” said Jackson.  It was an inside joke between Jackson and J.D; sometime in the early 1960s he needed assistance to arrest several ‘unruly teenagers’ who didn’t want to be arrested.  Tippet was the first to respond, and since then he always joked with Jackson that he had to “come to save his life.” J.D. acknowledged Jackson’s joke/request with a very dry “10-4.” That would be Tippet’s last radio transmission.

About two miles away from the Texas School Book Depository, on a residential street in Oak Cliff, J.D. saw a nervous looking man walking down the sidewalk.  What was common practice than with the police was to pull over and chat with the person through the passenger window.  A police officer wouldn’t necessary leave the car.   The figure in question walked up to the passenger window to talk to Tippit.   For whatever reason, J.D. decided to get out of the car to talk to the suspect, and in doing so, either by habit or training he rested his hand on the butt of his gun in the holster.  Once he was out of the car, the suspect immediately shot him three times in the chest, and then when he was on the ground, shot him directly through Tippit’s right temple which killed him instantly.

Later that night, Attorney General Robert Kennedy called Marie Tippit (J.D.’S wife) and told her they were “extremely sorry and wanted to offer their deepest sympathy in this time of grief.” Marie told him on the phone “to express my concern to Mrs. Kennedy and tell her I certainly know how she feels.” Kennedy then mentioned that if his brother didn’t come to Dallas, her husband would still be alive.  Marie told him “But, you know, they were both doing their jobs.  They got killed doing their jobs.  He was being the president, and J.D. was being the policeman he was supposed to be.” A few days later Marie got a letter from Mrs. Kennedy: “I feel like we were somewhat responsible for your husband’s death because of the fact that he was killed by the same person.” In that same letter she wrote “I hope you’re not bitter toward us because of what happened, and if there is anything I can ever do, well let me know.” Marie didn’t know how to answer that.  Her husband’s best friend wrote a note letting Mrs. Kennedy know that Marie received the letter, and that both Marie and her late husband loved the President.  He then wrote (on behalf of Marie)., “There’s no bitterness, we just have a very lonesome feeling.  We love you and always have loved the president. If you want to do something for me, well send me a portrait of your family.  Just a picture from everyday life.” Not long afterwards, Mrs. Kennedy sent a photograph of the Kennedy family at Hyannis Port, framed in a beautiful gold leaf.

The inscription below the photograph read: “For Mrs. J.D. Tippit - with my deepest sympathy - and the knowledge that you and I now share another bond - reminding our children all their lives what brave men their fathers were - With all my wishes for your happiness, Jacqueline Kennedy. ”

lodallanora: Cy Twombly at home in Rome, by Horst P.Horst for…


Cy Twombly at home in Rome, by Horst P.Horst for Vogue (1966)

fyblackwomenart: Vibes by PenheadDesign


Vibes by PenheadDesign

Hasbrow (8)

1465573036_054f9c8004_oSix Million Dollar who?

The High Wire (4)

the-high-wire'You don’t dare tell a soul a thing.'

November 21, 2014

November 21, 2014

“Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” I “must not fear daylight just because it almost always illuminates a miserable world.” Mere hours before my appearance tonight at the Skylight Bookstore, I feel nervous and uneasy.  On the other hand, I must put that aside, and concentrate on what I’m going to do tonight.   The main focus tonight is my book of poems, and I’m presuming that I’m going to have to read some of the work from that book.  Events like this, are both a celebration, but it is also a stop in time, where one reflects on what they did - and on top of that, sharing those views with an audience in front of you.  To calm myself, I project what will happen later tonight.  The event is at 7:30 PM, but I imagine it will really start at 7:45 PM. I will see people I know and I haven’t seen for awhile.  What they don’t know is that I’m totally lost in my thoughts.   The sense of failure or being embarrassed in front of an audience is a deep and bottomless fear.  The imagination can draw up the worst images from the dregs from your worst nightmares.   Of course, there are those, who wish that I will fail tonight, so they can just use me as a subject matter for their dinner engagement.

On the other hand, perhaps I’m thinking too much.   Especially about myself.   What is the worst thing that can happen tonight?  Surely Skylight Books will exist no matter how well I do or not do tonight.  The audience who will see me is seeing a free event (unless they buy the book).  A lot of my friends will be there, and I imagine they want to see me succeed.   So it’s a win-win.  Unless I really mess up.   The problem is that I will be in front of an audience that will be listening to me in great detail.  Not only that, but more likely will be focusing on my clothing as well as my nervousness.   Some may even be turned-off by my arrogance, not knowing that I’m that way, due to my crippling shyness.  Often when someone reads from their work or from a book, the audience tends to drift off, thinking that what they will eat for dinner later that night, or maybe my appearance reminds them of an old boyfriend, and so forth.  I may lose half my audience through their daydreaming.  Therefore I speak to a full crowd, but maybe only 30% are paying attention to what I’m saying or reading.   So I should really concentrate on that 30% - or should I think about trying to get the 70% back to my work and reading?   Can I even do that?

Voltaire, a man who I greatly admire by the way, commented “the more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.” The thing is, I want to hide this fact from my audience tonight. It is taking place in a bookstore, and not just any bookstore, but one of the best bookstores in Los Angeles.  So many smart people are here.  Surely they will be aware of the fact that something is up.  Clearly they will look behind the curtain, and notice that I’m a total fraud.   How can I hide this fact?  Or should I be totally honest with my audience.

Ruth Bernstein will be asking me questions.  I haven’t the foggiest idea what she will ask me.  I just have to presume that it will be about my book.  But then again, what happens if she asks me a personal question?  Should I give her an honest answer?  And the bigger question is: Am I honest?  Is honesty good? “I honestly can’t characterize my style in words.  It seems that whatever comes to me naturally, I write.” It seems “life obliges me to do something, so I write.” It is really out of my hands.  I think I’ll be OK tonight, and if I just think of The Hawk (Coleman Hawkins) playing “September Song” and just go with the flow.   At my age, I have always gone forward, and never look back.  The fear I have is being trapped in front of the car lights, and forcing myself to see my life passing me by like a bad montage in a b-Hollywood film.  I just have to remember “I don’t know where I am going, but I am on my way. ”

dynamicafrica: AFRICAN ARTIST: Getahun Assefa Balcha. Getahun…


AFRICAN ARTIST: Getahun Assefa Balcha.

Getahun Balcha is an Ethiopian multifaceted artist whose paintings in this series entitled “Azmari of Arada" contain an almost ethereal-like spiritual essence of the buzzing Addis Abba scene for which it is named after.

Radium Age: Context (16)

signal from Mars"A Signal from Mars"

Unbored Games Event!

From left: Catherine Newman (contributor), Heather Kasunick and Chris Piascik (illustrators), Tony Leone (designer and art director), Joshua Glenn (co-author). Not pictured: Elizabeth Foy Larsen (co-author), Mister Reusch (illustrator), other contributors.Come see the author & team on Sunday at Newtonville Books!

firstdraftsofhistory: Article: Neon Revision: 17 May 2001


Article: Neon

Revision: 17 May 2001

MUDD UP BOOK CLUBB: Jo Walton’s My Real Children

The Mudd Up Book Clubb rides again. I’m trying to fit in 2 more meetups before 2015 arrives, so to that end:
On Sunday November 30th, we will meet in Manhattan to discuss Jo Walton’s My Real Children. Published earlier this year, it’s an incredibly moving novel about an elderly woman with dementia who remembers two distinct lives, which the book traces out as intertwined narratives.
There’s an understated cumulative power at work here, within an elegant structure. Aging/dementia, sexuality, parenting, also gelato, and a glowing background of divergent geopolitical realities… it’s all really real.

Walton is a prolific Welsh-Canadian sci-fi/fantasy writer, and writing of Samuel Delany in her regular column for Tor, she could easily be describing herself (although apart from the alternative history structure My Real Children doesn’t quite have sci-fi elements): “You know how life and real history are always more complex and fractal than fiction can manage? Delany manages it. He does the thing where his science fictional innovations have second- and third-order consequences, where they interlock and give you worldviews. Other people do it, but he does it all the way down.”

November 20, 2014

November 20, 2014

“Aw!  Don’t embawass me!” My partner-in-crime Lenny the Lion would say that, and the children would go wild.   From an early age, I was fascinated with obtaining the skills of being a ventriloquist.   Ventriloquy is a work of stagecraft where one can make their voice come from a specific direction or place.  I originally started out with a cardboard box and pretend that there was someone in the box.  He would say to me (and me doing the voice of course) “let me out of the box!” I was really skilled in ventriloquism, but I lacked the talent to make a narrative or tell a joke.   So over-and-over again, I tried to work out a bit where a man or this voice is trapped in a cardboard box.  At the time, I myself felt that I was stuck in a box.  I wasn’t proficient in any sort of work, and school was something I did as a pastime - mostly throwing my voice in girl’s lockers in the hallway.  It didn’t win me any dates, but it did get me attention that I craved for.

I read up on the history of ventriloquism, and originally it was a religious practice in ancient Greece.  They called it gastromancy, which at the time they thought the sounds coming from the stomach were voices from the “unliving.” The ventriloquist would communicate with the voices in his stomach, and sometimes it was used to predict the future, as well as talking to the dead.   In the 18th century, Ventriloquism became entertainment.  The most famous ventriloquist of the period was Joseph Askins, who did dialogues “between himself and his invisible familiar, Little Tommy.” Over the centuries, the years, the decades, the usual act is between the ventriloquist and his or her’s dummy.  The dummy is being a human being.  What I did, and what was original at the time, was to have an animal as a dummy.  So I was the first one to make an animal character who can speak.  My invention, Lenny the Lion, became not only my pet, but after a while my best friend.  As I got more famous, and started to do more shows throughout the U.K., I started to have full conversations with Lenny in the dressing room as a practice to warm up my voice.  Over time, I found myself in deep and very serious conversations with Lenny.

Since he was a beast, he had some interesting insight into the human psyche.  Over time, Lenny had a deep understanding of me, and I would like to think, that I too, had a profound effect on Lenny.  It’s obvious that our relationship will not disappear with time.  In fact, time will make our bond stronger.  When I sleep at night, I usually put Lenny on top of a chair facing me.  One time, I was awake when I heard his voice - it was nighttime, and the room was very dark.  But usually from the bathroom night light I can make out Lenny - even though he’s in a shadow.  But I had the feeling that night that there was someone else in the room.  It didn’t scare me, because it seems Lenny was going to take care of the situation.  But what I thought I saw was a man dressed in a coat, scarf, and hat.  The thing is I couldn’t make out his face or his voice.  It seemed like it wasn’t coming from his body.  It took me awhile, but I then realized that Lenny was throwing his voice into this figure.  At first, I thought the figure was a dummy, but I sense this ‘person’ was moving around.  I sense life in this blank human being.   He was sitting on a rocking chair by the entrance of my bedroom, and suddenly he got up from the chair.  He came upon me and put his face close to mine.  What I saw was a face with no facial features.  It was flat, and there was no sign that he had eyes, mouth or nose.  I sort of saw his ears, but even that, I’m not sure.

The next morning, I woke up looking at Lenny, and he didn’t seem to be move from his spot, and there was no trace of the “Blank” man.   I asked Lenny if someone was here last night, but he told me he slept soundly throughout the night.   I felt Lenny was lying to me, and this of course, caused a certain amount of heartache for me.  From then on, I knew I could never trust my partner-in-crime.   I did question him more about it, but he told me that I must have had an awaken dream, and I just imagined all of this.  Yet, despite the fact that sounds practical, I got the feeling that he wasn’t telling me the truth.

My stage costume on the last tour was designed by Emilio Pucci.  I usually work in drab theaters, so I felt a bit of color and glamour would be good for the act.  The change of my costume seemed to perturb Lenny, and he would make cutting remarks to me when we were alone.  We never brought up sex in our conversations, but all of sudden Lenny was calling me a sissy-boy.   Him, a lion, calling me a sissy?  That was a new one for me.   Nevertheless our tour together is an endless one, and somehow I’m going to have to learn to work with Lenny, or not letting him bother me.   What disturbs me the most is the wonderful intimacy that we have together, and now it has been shot to pieces, because of the appearance of this “blank’ man.  Chemistry is extremely important for a relationship.  One should not take these matters lightly.

atelierentomologica: Pierre Huyghe, Untitled (Liegender…


Pierre Huyghe, Untitled (Liegender Frauenakt), 2012. Concrete, beehive and bees.

fyblackwomenart: Artist: ndigoart


Artist: ndigoart

The Unconquerable (21)


Hasbrow (7)

dirty faceGI Joes have been in the shit.

Christmas in Yiwu I heard my first Christmas music of the year…

Christmas in Yiwu

I heard my first Christmas music of the year in District 1. It was the 1st of August, 27ºC outside and All I Want For Christmas was drifting out of a market stall dedicated to selling Santa hats. Neighbouring booths were were filled with artificial Christmas trees, baubles and Christmas stockings. More than half of the world’s Christmas decorations come from here.

Dan Williams on Yiwu, “home to Yiwu Market, a vast permanent trade fair for small commodity manufacturers. Here buyers can browse through endless booths, negotiate prices and place bulk wholesale orders for all kinda of products, all under one roof.”

November 19, 2014

November 19, 2014

I served as an assistant to the photographer Louise Dahl-Wolfe, and I don’t think I ever held a conversation with her beyond her telling me to get a certain hat from the wardrobe department or to bring her coffee or water.  When she is shooting in a studio, there is a certain amount of calm that she demands on the set.  They say when you work with someone, that is when you know them best.  But in this case, I think that is not true.   Louise was always a mystery to me, and when I see the finished project by her, she still remains a figure that comes and goes in my life.   When I’m not doing anything on the set, she expects me to be quiet.  I pretty much stand behind her, handling the extra film and delivering the drinks. I just have to read her body language, because verbally she doesn’t talk to me.   She is usually looking in the lens of her camera, and Louise would dart out her hand towards my direction, meaning I should hand over the film to her.   My other responsibility is to deliver the models for the shoot.  I would have to pick them up, and then drive them to the studio, which was located on West 34th Street. 

I have always been fascinated with fashion photography, not because of the clothes or even the models, but more in the juxtaposition of these figures in the landscape.  It doesn’t have to be a real world, but one that ‘hints’ that there maybe another dimension out there - somewhere.   Even if the shoot is a real and iconic location, it is still transformed into something else.   It’s magic, and working with Louise I still don’t know how she does it.  I think because I see an image for what it is, but she sees it as an entrance way to a better world or where one can pinpoint their desires.  On one level, it exists to sell the merchandise, but I truly do believe that it is more than that. 

The one person I remember picking up for a shoot was the actor Clifton Webb.  I had to go to his hotel, the Algonquin, and I waited for him at the bar.   He came upon me, and he was in a bad mood.  I felt I knew him, because I’m a fan of his work.  I imagined him being prissy, and I wasn’t disappointed in the ‘real’ Clifton.  He got in the back seat of the car, and didn’t say a word.  When I brought him up to the third floor of the studio, he immediately sat down and waited for Louise to provide him with some direction.   The thing is Louise told me what she wanted Clifton to do, and then I would tell him.   I always hated to be the middle person when two people were working together.   Sometimes she would have me instruct the models, after telling me in great detail what needs to be done.   Communication is a tricky thing, because the way one reads information from the other, can be totally subjective.   Louise would often get mad at me, because she felt I didn’t relay the correct comments to the model or at this specific case, to Clifton. 

The thing is with Louise and her work, I feel what she conveys in her photographs is nothing specific, but more of a mood.  Her use of color is revolutionary and this is something only Louise can do - so I’m hopeless in that situation where I try to convey her ideas and skills into something concrete.  As you can gather, I didn’t last long in this occupation.   I never do.  Everything I touch, or do, has the desperation of failure attached to it.  When I see Louise’s photographs, it reminds me of a world that I very much wanted to be part of - but alas, I can’t. My other big attraction at that time was watching the Dick Cavett Show.  He always had great guests on, and to me it was always the best of Manhattan.  Of course filtered through Hollywood, but still, it was an indication of sophistication - and again, just my mere moments of touching such a world - but never grasping it to hold forever.   Oh damn…

gelopanda: Saluting a Santero.


Saluting a Santero.

thecultureengine: Beyond the Wall: Art and artifacts from the…


Beyond the Wall: Art and artifacts from the GDR, Taschen


Nim Chimpsky

nim chimpsky thumbThe first non-human HiLo Hero!

TOSH BERMAN at Skylight Books for “THE PLUM IN MR. BLUM’S PUDDING” November 21, 2014

TOSH BERMAN reads and discusses his book of poetry THE PLUM IN MR BLUM'S PUDDING, with special guest RUTH BERNSTEIN

The Plum in Mr Blum's Pudding (Penny Ante Editions)
“My hours of leisure I spent in reading the best authors, ancient and modern, being always provided with a good number of books; and when I was ashore, in observing the manners and dispositions of the people, as well as learning their language; wherein I had a great facility, by the strength of my memory.”

- Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels

The Plum in Mr. Blum’s Pudding is Los Angeles native Tosh Berman’s first printed collection of poetry. In 1989, Berman left the United States behind, moving to Japan after learning his wife's (artist Lun*na Menoh) mother was ill in Kitakyushu. The Plum in Mr. Blum’s Pudding was penned while both rapt and lost by this transition. Gracefully toiling between the quirky and earnest, these poems describe the liminal space of the foreigner caught between the strange and the familiar. The result is surreal and unclassifiable, a book of love poems overshadowed by isolation and underscored with curiosity and lust.

Originally published in 1990 by “Cole Swift & Sons” (Japan) as a small hardcover edition of two hundred copies, this new edition acts to preserve this work and features an introduction by art critic and curator Kristine McKenna and an afterword by Ruth Bernstein.

Tosh Berman is a publisher and writer. His press, TamTam Books, has published works by Boris Vian, Guy Debord, Serge Gainsbourg, Jacques Mesrine, artist Lun*na Menoh, and Ron Mael & Russell Mael (Sparks). He is the author of Sparks-tastic: 21 Nights with Sparks in London. As the son of artist Wallace Berman, Tosh has delivered talks and various essays toward furthering his late father’s artistic legacy including his influential folio series, Semina (1955–1964). He resides in Los Angeles.
Ruth Bernstein lives in Highland Park where she writes postcards and collects books.
Event date: 
Friday, November 21, 2014 - 7:30pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los AngelesCA 90027

lowpolybot’s vanGogh van gogh via berfrois

lowpolybot's vanGogh

van gogh via berfrois







November 18, 2014

November 18, 2014

“Art is the expression of an enormous preference.”  The key reason why I like art.  For me personally, art is pretty much anything that I’m interested in.  I see a pretty girl walking down the street, and I think to myself “wow that’s a great piece of art.” But now that we live in the “art of advertisement, after the American manner, has introduced into all our life such a lavish use of superlatives, that no standard of value whatever is intact.” So in a nutshell, it is getting harder and harder to express myself in such a world that we all live together in.  There is a woman that I live with, and I want to tell her that “I love her,” but that phrase seems meaningless.  Holidays are even worse, because any true sentiment is always tied to a bigger event that is happening outside one’s life.  When you give a present on Christmas, it is no longer a present from love, but more likely a collective manner due to a holiday everyone has to acknowledge.  I often wish to break free of the restrictions that I’m placed in, but alas, to fall so apart from society or my culture would give me freedom, but also alienation.   On the other hand, I feel so distant.  There is no win-win, only lose-lose.

Art is the only place where I can go to, and feel I’m interacting with a set of values that are my choice or choices.  For me, beauty is totally subjective, I even find ugly as being beautiful.   So what I’m looking for is something that will give meaning to my life.  And I think whatever that “meaning” is - it is usually expressed as a work of art.   I have been writing poetry not to express a moment, but to dig deeper into ‘that’ moment.   I’m a scientist, who is tearing into the different layers, and it is like I take each layer with my fingers and take it up to a light to examine it.  The French philosopher Jacques Maritain wrote that “the more the poet grows, the deeper the level of creative intuition descends into the density of his soul.  Where formerly he could be moved to song, he can do nothing now, he must dig deeper.” So for me, writing poetry is very much like taking a shovel and digging into a hole, or at the very least, my consciousness.

The other day I went to the Bruce Conner show at the Kohn Gallery, and was totally frozen in time, while sitting in the main huge gallery, watching his “Crossroads,” which is a film that uses footage of the Operation Crossroads underwater nuclear test at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific.   The film technically lasts for 36 minutes, but I couldn’t tell you if I was there for three minutes or the whole film time.  Everything stopped.  There is a beginning and an ending, but I couldn’t really tell where the beginning starts and the end ‘ends.' All I know I was transformed watching the super slow-motion of the bomb going off, and just getting lost in the textures of the atomic cloud.  Beyond that beauty is horror.  So like everything else in life, horror and beauty walk down the sunny side of the street, holding hands, and skipping down the street together.  It could have been my imagination, or I was asleep at the wheel, but “once upon a time the world was sweeter than we knew.  Everything was ours; how happy we were then, but then once upon a time never comes again.” So it is best to live for the moment, and then reflect on it with a shovel and dig deep.

(via Pictures: Something to write (4)) Gone writing

(via Pictures: Something to write (4))
Gone writing

smithsonianlibraries: “not compatible with iOS devices” from…


"not compatible with iOS devices"

from Animal mechanism: a treatise on terrestrial and aerial locomotion (1874)

centuriespast: ROMANESQUE SCULPTOR, EnglishConsole figurec….


Console figure
c. 1150
Church of St Mary and St David, Kilpeck

Don Cherry

BrownRice-AmericaHe could adapt to and enliven nearly any musical situation.

Margaret Atwood

Atwood Handmaid's TaleHer thought-provoking speculative fiction is also terrific literature.

Drowned out

Conservative blogger Glenn Reynolds is mad mad mad mad mad about .. well, I’ll let him tell it:

After years of effort, the European Space Agency’s lander Philae landed on a comet 300 million miles away. At first, people were excited. Then some women noticed that one of the space scientists, Matt Taylor, was wearing a shirt, made for him by a female “close pal,” featuring comic-book depictions of semi-naked women.  And suddenly, the triumph of the comet landing was drowned out by shouts of feminist outrage about … what people were wearing.

Drowned out!

Let’s sit with that a minute.  I just searched for “Philae” on Twitter and you know how many tweets I had to scroll through before I found one that mentioned Matt Taylor and his shirt?  32.  That sounds about right — I’d say 3% of the coverage I saw of the comet landing had to do with Matt Taylor’s shirt, and 97% had to do with the fact that we awesomely landed a robot on a comet.

But for Reynolds, the 3% drowns out the 97%.  3% is too much.  1% is too much!  Any little speck of feminist content is like the pea under the mattress for these guys. They can’t rest because the 3% is digging into them, it keeps them up all night, the feminism is still there, I can feel it, make it stop make it stop!

Home from Austin

I just got back from YALSA’s YA Literature Symposium. Although this photo is from a few weeks ago and today I’m wearing a different hoodie, me and the cat are in a similar position as I type this.


Here are a few things I saw while wandering Austin:



IMG_4282 IMG_4288

I really enjoyed being part of the “YA Realness: what makes ‘contemporary realism’ feel true to readers?” panel with Matt de la PeñaCoe Booth, Jo Knowles, and Sara Zarr.


(photo by Kim Johnson Dare, found via Facebook.)

We didn’t have a moderator, just asked questions of each other, and I liked operating that way; it felt more like we were having the kind of conversation that usually happens outside of official conference sessions, in the hallway or a restaurant or the hotel lobby late at night.

I had many of those latter kinds of conversations too, and I was often reminded of a post I wrote a few years back, “Shapeshifting,” about how the role someone has when you first meet them — how they’re described, or describe themselves, when you’re introduced — is almost certainly not either a. the only role they occupy or b. the one they’ll be in when you meet them again.

Here are before/after pictures of my table at the Book Blitz, an event during which authors are set up at tables with big stacks of their books. Attendees get a small number of tickets that they then ‘spend’ to acquire copies of said books (generously donated by our publishers).

IMG_4289 IMG_4290

It was pretty chaotic but in a lovely way. Kudos to the folks responsible for merchandising the books. That curving stack of copies of Bad Houses was merely one among many examples of niftily displayed titles.

Since you’re reading this post I bet you will also find the handouts from GenreQueer: Exploding the Closet and Who gets to tell our stories? Authentic portrayals of Trans* Youth in YA Fiction relevant to your interests.

And a few books I’m reading either directly or indirectly because of the symposium: The Devil’s Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea, Swati Avasthi‘s Chasing ShadowsS. Bear Bergman‘s The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You, & Kekla Magoon‘s How It Went Down.








theparisreview: “You have to communicate sensation, the belief…


“You have to communicate sensation, the belief in what life is, what it’s about, and you do it through learning how to handle a pen.”

Shelby Foote was born on this day in 1916. Read the historian and novelist on the tools of the trade.

lostandfoundinprague: My favourite photo from Velvet…


My favourite photo from Velvet Revolution, take 2: day & night, Wenceslas Square…

Revolution started 25 ago - 17.11.1989

lostandfoundinprague: They say: November is the best month to…


They say: November is the best month to watch noir films…Noirvember and so…When I think about noir Prague I always think about one of the first scenes from Vavra’s "Krakatit" based on Čapek’s novel. Exhausted Prokop is going along the boulevards near the Vltava River, under Vysehrad hill. Prague does not play a larger role in this film and “Krakatit” is not pure noir, I know. But it’s hard to recall more atmospheric Prague scene, just perfect for foggy, nostalgic November. 

btw watch noir movies all year long! 

November 17, 2014

November 17, 2014

Some years back I was approached by the filmmaker Russ Meyer to help him with a script that was written for him by the now-famous architect Rem Koolhaas.  His script is called “Hollywood Tower” and it is about a group of rich Arabs  who buy up the rights to a Hollywood archive, with plans to build a giant computer, which they can choose any dead (or live) star and put them back on the screen.  The second level of the narrative is about the Nixon administration who focuses on getting out-of-work actors, including Lassie, get jobs in the movies - and the last is about Russ Meyer shooting a porn film.   Meyer thought it was too large of a project, especially the first and second segments.  He felt that it should only focus on the part of him making a porn film.  I convinced Russ that he should forget the part with the Nixon administration, and focus on both the first layer of the film and the part of him making porn.  I convinced him that we could use the narrative about movie stars replacing the porn stars in his erotic romp.  He loved that idea.  Of course we didn’t have the rights, and as far as I know there is no giant computer that can use stars who were in specific films and put them into the new Russ project.

Nevertheless he suggested using specific stars, but we can’t (of course) mention their names.  I did research and I came up with two possibilities, or use both in the film: Frank Fay and Peter Cook.   I also wanted to add Rem’s point-of-view as well.  I find architecture sexy, and there is something very seductive about Mr. Koohaas’s approach to his favorite subject matter.  I even began to think that perhaps Prada can provide production money for this film.  I remember reading a quote from him which he stated that “a building has at least two lives - the one imagined by its maker and the life it lives afterward - and they are never the same.” Which I think is the basis for his first part of the Russ Meyer film.   To re-cycle a building as something else, why not also make stars into porn actors?

But really, it is not the actual footage of the stars, or the film itself that is in question, but the subject matter of memory and what is true and false.   Last night I had a dream of my deceased father, where I acknowledge in a sense that he died.  The truth is (my truth mind you) is that I never accepted his death.  I just feel he left and went out to get a newspaper and didn’t come back.   In other words, I’m still waiting by the window to hopefully take a view of him walking back home. It won’t happen of course, and I intellectually know that, but emotionally I don’t accept his death.   So putting a ‘dead’ star in Russ’s film is sort of like denying death.  Architecture is the same.  When I walk around Downtown Los Angeles, and look at old buildings like the Bradbury, Mayan, Brockman, and the Biltmore Hotel, I think I’m seeing death, even though the buildings are in use, to me they’re dead.

Peter Cook, the great British humorist, and Frank Fay, the vaudeville comedian, were both, even when they were alive, sort of death-in-waiting.   One can sense that their life is really an act of an instinct, where eventually it will burn down, and then out.  So I thought it would be interesting to “cast” these two in the Meyer film.  Frank Fay is of interest, because he was married to Barbara Stanwyck, and it has been reported that their lives together were the inspiration for “A Star is Born.   The wife’s career went up, while at the same time the husband’s goes into sharp decline.   The film didn’t happen, because I think the subject matter of the script was too bleak for Russ, but nevertheless it was the only time that I really dealt with the subject of death in my work and life.  Meanwhile, before I go to sleep at night, I still look out the window hoping to get a glance of my father coming back home to me.

(via Pictures)

(via Pictures)

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