Thursday, December 28, 2006

Frank Stella and James Brown, Super-Villains of Cool

As they say on Wikipedia, "this is a stub of an article". I am posting in hopes of expanding my ideas.

Frequently he dwells on the nature of the sound of which he is forever in pursuit: "Hard. Flat. Flat." James Brown

"My early stripe paintings... (had)...a weighted flatness, a dimensionally coherent presence to the new surface of painting, the cotton duck field..." Frank Stella

I saw Frank Stella's recent show in Chelsea shortly before James Brown died on xmas. The 2 are linked in my head in some Marvel Super-Villain Team Up way. (This is more Dr. Doom and Namor than World's Finest, if you know what I mean.)

Both are in favor of fast cars. Repetition. Flat, hard and still rhythmic.

Both favor stringent, eccentric use of instruments.

Lethem quotes Robert Palmer that "The rhythmic elements became the song....Brown and his musicians began to treat every instrument and voice in the group as if it were a drum..." There is a level of bravado in both... at the Stella show I was reminded of the Nick Nolte painter in Scorcese's New York Stories entry, at breakfast. A younger, handsome artist dude looking painter (who has just slept with the assistant that Nolte's character is infatuated with) is greeting by the disheveled master, sloppily grinning and slathering paint onto his work, putting the kid into his place -- utterly irrelevant to the painter.

The fucked up whirlygig, part sculpture of Stella and the grunts, hollers of James Brown don't need our sympathy, our fanboy enthusiasms. They are inscrutable, wacked out and somehow authentic architectures.

Next up: "Philip Guston and Jonathan Richman: Jewboy Geniuses on The Prowl"

Free Vista laptop corrupts absolutely

Comment on Scoble's site:
I vote for disclosure, use and return. A loaner is ethical, accepting an
expensive gift is not.

If your goal as a blogger to to establish journalistic credibility, some
kind of professional behavior is part of the package. What is expected of
Pogue and Mossberg? If any blogger is going to get Pogue-level respect
she/he ought to aspire to his standards.


Friday, December 22, 2006

Still a good mission statement

From Say Anything (1989)

"I don't want to sell anything, buy anything or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought or processed, or repair anything sold, bought or processed--you know--as a career. I don't want to do that. My father's in the Army. He wants me to join, but I can't work for that corporation. what I've been doing lately is kickboxing, which is a new sport, but I think it's got a good future."--Lloyd

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Guston at McKee II

Finally got to the show (which is now extended through Jan 10th). A well selected group of Guston drawings, 1950's-1980's. Woody Allen called poems "movies for intellectuals", that's what the later, gruff cartoony ones feel like to me. There's a pencil doodle called "WHAT I LIKE TO EAT" (no pic on the McKee site, though they have a good amount available) which has roughly drawn bottle of bourbon, bowl of spaghetti, loaf of bread with a knife, bowl of cherries. Each is not only drawn, but is tagged with the name of the object.

Why is this so liberating to see pictured? Why do I get the feeling of an artist willing to picture, image, even play with the crud and the sacred on the same shameless level? Ginsberg's Kedusha of "holy, holy, holy" comes to mind, so too Albert Ellis' profane and sympathetic voice.

Go see this show if you can!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Kirby, Kurtzman, Picasso, Velasquez

Just saw both the comics exhibit at the Jewish Museum and the Spanish masters show at the Guggenheim. The large original art from Silver Surfer #7 was a fuckin' knockout. (I can't find a good pic online at the moment.)

The gold standard for the rest of the day was: "Is this as rocking as Kirby?"

Kurtzman's war comics are still ALIVE.

Fanboy peeves: credit on a Basil Wolverton Mad cover was misattributed to Kurtzman even tho' Wolverton's signature was on his work. Also, I don't give a shit about so-called "curatorial vision" if the inkers on Kirby aren't credited. Who are these academic assholes? Mike Royer Kirby IS different from Joe Sinnott Kirby and just in case anyone's wondering why Reed Richards' head looks so different from his body, they oughtta know.

Still, I loved being in the same room with so much NEAT STUFF.

OK, next up, Velasquez and co. Admittedly, Picasso was a kickass cartooonist, but the cool part of this show was seeing how traditional Pablo was when stacked up against the masters. Plus, seeing a lame Caravaggio-imitating early Velasquez gives us mere mortals a sliver of hope. (Much like seeing early Joe Kubert imitating Milton Caniff in the 40's at the Comics show, next to his fluid 1960's Hawkman work, where he really has become JOE KUBERT.)

Of course, the still life elements in the foreground are pure fucking genius, better than anything, so we still have to Surrender to Diego.

Seeing Picasso's Sabartes portrait lined up with grand Velasquez portrait and utterly human Goya portrait was exciting.

Velasquez: I still think he's just the classic goods. Passages of his portraits are just so elegantly simple and just sing. And then the one courtier portrait in the show is as direct and human as a Goya.

File under: Big, Fat, Reasons to be Cheerful.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Notes 6 months after Kaddish ended

Rough note cobbled together from email, but spontaneously generated at the 6 month post-kaddish point:

Part of the wisdom of being there to answer others' kaddish is to continue feeling, even when the feeling in question is painful. I have skipped out on services more and more, but when I think of what the mourner's kaddish means, included in services 3x a day, I feel a bit shamed at my truancy. Without ritual, it is too easy to indulge in going numb.

(I have my studio thankfully.)

I am thinking of the numbness of having lost someone and how saying "amen" to the kaddish means something different once one has gone thru the experience of mourning. It may be a gesture of communal solidarity (again, I feel the guilt pangs of the truant), but it also is a stab in the heart.

And so the ritual gives you an experience 3x daily but that is preferable to numbing out. Maybe. I don't know.

Or maybe, like Jules Feiffer said of the word "Shazam", it just failed to mean anything. (He wrote a memoir of his 1940's comic book reading which was the first and maybe best until Jonathan Lethem's Fortress of Solitude.)

Comment on the end of the newsriver

(to Dave Winer)


Just a note about the NYT river. It will be missed, and I am sorry that only a middling number of smartphone geeks used it (or enthused about it to you). It was not clear to me that it required upkeep of any kind. I would have considered paying a donation to keep it going much more than for Times Select because it actually stripped away gunk and presented the NYT content in a more usable way. I even used it on the desktop, b/c it was more like flipping thru an old fashioned newspaper (and also like a blog in the "new entries first" mode).

I don't know if there will be a groundswell of emails following this one, leading to your reinstating it (the likely suspects are probably still camped out in front of 1 Infinite Loop on a hunger strike to bring back the Newton).

But I liked the NYT river and found that it did change the way I thought about the news online format. And I stumbled on alot more interesting stuff than I ever do on the regular site.

Friday, December 15, 2006

input quote

(I would attribute this but I just snagged the quote and no source.)

"Lowering the INPUTS is inversely proportionate to the OUTPUTS. Go figure. What do you want to do for a living: read email, or build, create and blow some minds? You arent going to change the world in your Inbox. Period."

Monday, December 11, 2006

Escape Artist or Chickenshit Coward?

Here is a character-building shame attacking confession. I was scheduled for a brain scan MRI today since the cancer is in my family history.

I showed up on time. Checked in, filled out every form they gave me. My biggest concern was having all my cards demagnetized at that point.

"Take the elevator behind you & see Donovan" I was told. Of course I expected to see the pop folk singer, dressed like Dylan's younger brother circa 1966, an acoustic guitar slung over his shoulder saying something like "The continent of Atlantis was an island which lay before the great flood ...".

Instead it was a Marvin Hagler -on-a-good-day-look-alike who gave me instructions on putting all my stuff away and then how to lie down in the tunnel like contraption.

He gave me earplugs and the machine began to whir. I was immobile, going into a tunnel. The tunnel contained me like a coffin. I couldn't breathe. I hadn't prepared in any way for this.

The fucking thing was too claustrophobic for words. I freaked out & bailed!

I told Donovan I needed a minute to collect myself. Did he smirk or was he understanding? A sphinx.

Well, I could have talked myself into the project, but I was unstrapped as quickly as I had been readied. The technicians seemed used to this everyday aborted mission. Another brain scan pussy.

I am more disturbed by my own unmanly cowardice than I am by the prospect of a tumor for which they don't have any decent treatment anyway. I called the doctor's office & left a message...well, a confession. They will probably play it around the office for laughs. Hopefully at the office holiday party if it makes the Top Ten. Oh well.

I'd never make it a day at Guantanamo.

For an excellent Mister Miracle by Jack Kirby in CBR format click here. (The whole series archive site is here.) His vision of infernal machinery is great.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Rant on Rebuilding my Studio

I want to be like Hokusai, who changed his name & moved to a fresh new studio & took up a new artistic identity at the same time. Instead I would buy cats (if I weren't so allergic) so that the police could find something living in my apt. among the newspaper clippings when I die here.

I am engaged in a project I call "rebuilding my studio". Once I named it, the physical difficulties all seemed to make sense. I am supposedly purging my supplies, reference material, decoration and equipment. Each category of CRAP has its own box with a LARGE BLACK MARKERED description so I can wrap my head around it. Like "DRAWING MATERIALS" "BIKE STUFF".

Considering that after 8 years of living here, I can't find the kind of erasers I use in a shelf containing boxes of bicycle supplies that I fantasized using, mixed with a kind ofpaint I used for a project 5 years ago this is probably a good idea.

Most of what I need I can fit into a decent sized backpack. What IS all this STUFF?

Anyway the "desired outcome" is "A functional studio workspace I enjoy working in with adequate and clear storage for supplies I need, archive completed work, accessible storage for related and front burner work-in-progress." (My mission statement on this motherfucker.)

This is all a delusion. At some point I will just get fed up with interior decorating my soul and just flail out and make new stuff again until I find myself backed up against the wall of all the old crap (some of which is the stuff I have been making) and, gasping for air, begin to repeat the whole activity again.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Big Sissy of GTD/REBT

Commment on this thread at 43 Folders:

The wise side of old cultures and religions grasped this fundamental weakness clearly. It is a modern conceit that we can get completely "squeaky clean". Even the GTD "pron" is a symptom of the power of our lesser selves. How seductive the search for the "Perfect Apostrophe" really is I know quite well.

I am reminded of Robin Williams' great turn as the giant headed Man on The Moon who disdained his headless body which was running amok on the Moon's surface. Alas!

But I iron-butt back on the bench, Nixon-like in my determination to make sense of it all with label maker and index cards in hand! We are Sisyphii of GTD! (I combine mine with REBT for REBTGTDlicious self-help.)

Friday, December 08, 2006

"Jokes make things worth doing"

iMissed Woz at B&N last week and iRegretted it. Fortunately I got iWoz as a present and tore through it. It is written in a "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" kind of prose, but transmits the Dial-A-Joke essence of the man and his values quite well.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Guston at McKee I

I am going to rush to see the Guston drawing show at McKee which runs through December 22, 2006. You should too.

I will probably blog my reactions to another encounter with the master. I am anticipating both the pre and post cartoony stuff equally this time. The schism in the Guston persona is another stimulant. I wish he had changed his name back to Goldstein when he showed the later figurative work for the first time.

The parallel with the other Philip, Roth, is an interesting one since there is also a stylistic tendency to elegance and restraint conflicting with the need to splay out the aging salami of our raw existence. Another apparent dichotomy that teeters and feeds the work in both cases.

Minsky on Love

A friend sent me a link to a Boston Globe interview (not a permalink) with Marvin Minsky about his new book The Emotion Machine.

The money paragraph from the interview:

"Q What, in your view, is love?

A There's short-term infatuation, where someone gets strongly attracted
to someone else, and that's probably very often a turning-off of
certain things rather than something extra: It's a mental state where
you remove your criticism. So to say someone is beautiful is not
necessarily positive, it may be something happening so you can't see
anything wrong with this person."

This is great stuff!

The #2 pencil fills in "hold" on "criticize the living shit out of this
woman before she can reject you" and presto, more Minskys come into this world!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Get Off The Internet!

(email to a friend)

Glad you like the blog. Posting by email helps, but I still need to find a way to use the computer & then SHUT IT OFF. I tend to get stuck using it, this behavior is truly a destructive time/life waster.

(end of email)

Paradoxically posting this. I don't see Luddite solutions working, but learning to switch activities/modes is a big challenge. Also, the web is a Low Frustration Tolerance enabler.

Brice Marden Doesn't Suck

(An open letter of my first impressions of the MOMA retrospective which runs through Jan 15, 2007.)

Dear Brice,

The show is good. The jazzy rhythm and the calligraphic marks and the studious evolution and the focussed craft of it is good. No car crashes or stinky feet or women's asses. OK, so that's what I usually look for in a serious painter.

But there are other painters to do that stuff (the noble subjects of art, much akin to the historical motifs of the 19th c.) But the best of the Mardens at MOMA, and the flow of the works is even inspirational.

Did I mention the Cold Mountain series and how exciting it was to see your breakouts reenacted in the MOMA galleries?

OK, Marden, I'm putting my queer shoulder to the wheel. So to speak. I mean, I am straight and there really isn't a "wheel" exactly here in my studio, but there is work to be done, and this show made me feel hungry again. I mean it maaaaaan.

Yasher Koach!

P.S. Interview with Brice Marden here

Friday, December 01, 2006

Fuck the new MOMA

I enjoyed the Brice Marden show very much. But the guards in that imitation Apple Store were out of control. They stand around talking at top volume, running across the room to rudely yell at me not to take photos (no flash) while lots of nubile eurotrash are documenting the entire show with their cameraphones. Of course I had my Shures glued to my head, asswipes, I don't wanna hear you and the tourists babbling, I want to LOOK at PAINTING.

Upon entry I was practically assaulted over the "no backpack" rule, even though I had detached the straps and was carrying it like a suitcase. Of course, after I checked my bag I was bashed by oversize pocketbooks swung by militant Women Of A Certain Age. What's with the epaulets, anyhow? (Thanks, Grosse Point Blank.)

Basically, the guards and the women both had military signs on their "uniforms" (lots of buttons, badges). What assholes... Albert Barr would have you all removed from the premises. Well, I would like to think so. The old MOMA, with its dowdy cafeteria was a place to experience art. The new one is a creepy shopping mall that has the virtue of really getting the old David Smith mojo going. (I will post a link to his manifesti soon as I can find it. It is in Smith On Smith).

But I got to see Brice and really, it was a good show and I am resilent and enough of an asshole myself that I could enjoy myself despite these petty inconveniences. So long as I can go home and bitch about this nonsense here on my Blogista.

Open Source Humans (link via Paul)

Some logical fallacy is being committed here. It's appealing, but there
must be some room for MUCK and The Grey Area.

Is M$ "Innovative"?

"Is the gym teacher who watched over you in detention hall a nice guy to
his family?" just as relevant a question. But the "debate" is on and so I post:

Microsoft gets off its ass only when it needs to. Look at Explorer. It
grew like a hyper teenager on a growth spurt when Netscape had the
dominant browser. As soon as it hit 57% or whatever of the market it
stagnated & now needs to be killed.

So who cares about Microsoft's "innovation"? It appears to be a necessary
evil for the company, but not an imperative the way even Yahoo! keeps
incrementally improving their products (nevermind Google and Apple).