Friday, November 30, 2007

Meaty, Beaty, Big & Bouncy

When it was Lebewohl’s turn, he got up, noteless, and looked at the audience. “What am I gonna tell you?” he said. “My food will kill you.” Abe Lebewohl, Second Avenue Deli

This is an excerpt from Bill Buford's Heat, just re-posted by The New Yorker. The closest I have come to reconsidering meat-eating was reading this great writing. If I change my mind on being veg, I suppose the only way to go is by doing some slaughtering & butchering before eating. Being around some of America's greatest cooking didn't provoke a critical look at my eating the way that Buford's writing did.

When we made sausages at the butcher shop, people often ate the meat raw, straight from the bowl, which—I don’t know, call me old-fashioned—just seemed wrong. But it illustrated an attitude toward good meat: if you’re lucky enough to get it, don’t mess with it. Bill Buford

But how can I make my own kosher salami? And which way to the cardio ward? And won't I end up dead in Katz' with a pastrami sandwich stuck in my craw after this binge?

I become a vegetarian in 1979 (pescatarian by 1989) reviewing the evidence available to me at the time. Including IB Singer's statements on the matter. I picked the most progessive option available.

"When a human kills an animal for food, he is neglecting his own hunger for justice. Man prays for mercy, but is unwilling to extend it to others. Why should man then expect mercy from God? It's unfair to expect something that you are not willing to give. It is inconsistent. I can never accept inconsistency or injustice. Even if it comes from God. If there would come a voice from God saying, "I'm against vegetarianism!" I would say, "Well, I am for it!" This is how strongly I feel in this regard." IB Singer

Nowadays, the picture is more complex, since it is not just a case of factory farming vs. tofu eating. Eating fish can, in some cases, be contributing to eco-ragnarök more than a burger who you knew back when he had a face.

The year before I became a vegetarian I was a Camus-carrying existentialist/fatalist, but hey, at 17 I was more idealistic than at 16. Today? I suppose I am keeping faith with that idealist even if I am often a tired would be cannibal.

Certainly the appeal of having a rabbi of some sort to declare what is kosher and what is trayf is evident when faced with the moral/health dilemmas of the flexitarian/locavore. I am presently staying with a Pareto-vore Solution: 80% of the moral and health issues are solved by eating from 20% of the menu! Or something.

Patti Smith and Vincenzo Cerami on Pasolini at NYU

I was lucky enough to attend a round table discussion on Pasolini's work at NYU last night. Some incomplete notes with rough quotes... Link to festival here.

Vincenzo Cerami emphasized the creative process in his remarks. He was a powerful speaker and even with simultaneous english translation his vim came through.

Cerami on Pasolini's creative process: "Everything I have said until now is WRONG." Repeat.

"Pasolini used myth to tell his stories because using contemporary images would be too ugly" (He used the word "BRUTO" which of course sounds better to these anglophone ears.)

A story of the nearly blind comedian Toto being fed his lines by Cerami and seemingly mangling them when asked to repeat them... Cerami realized that he was being played by the comedian as Toto riffed & sought the right note for his improvisation. "Comedians don't like scripts, they like the setup and the idea." Also he noted Pasolini's choice of a comedian regarded as low-brow for his films, characterizing the archetype of the comedian as "a non-psychological, metaphysical character." cf. Laurel and Hardy appearing to have wives in one comedy and then dressing as wives in the next.

Patti Smith graciously and patiently listened to the others speak and then, in that voice familiar from her records spoke like the oracle. WOW.

"Pasolini gave me permission to use the whole palette of mediums to create" (music, poetry, photography). She compared him in this regard to Ginsberg among others.

She recounted her being raised in the austere confines of Jehovah's Witnesses* and wishing she could be a Catholic because "they had all the great art and ritual", but then "by the time I was 12 I was disillusioned and declared my existence and my independence" She got laughs of recognition over the 12 year old line and then linked this emancipation to the opening lines of Gloria on Horses "Jesus died for somebody's sins/but not mine". Flash to her post 1977 accident and her discovery of Pasolini's Gospel According to St. Matthew. She found his near documentary style to uncover "Jesus the revolutionary", scraping away the "man-made artifice" of the church and "reconsecrating Jesus as a friend" to her.

Smith then told a story of hearing Warhol say that he liked the "shit, literal shit" in Pasolini's Salo. And when asked what he thought of Pasolini's film said, "it's really funny."

Finally she recounted hearing of Robert Mapplethorpe's death and the synchronicity of randomly opening up a book of Pasolini's and reading "It isn't that the dead do not speak, it's that we have forgotten how to listen." and how that helped her cope with the loss of her friend and confidente because when she learned to be quiet, his voice started talking to her and did not stop.

Smith also reinforced this last statement on Pasolini's use of Maria Callas in Medea, that having her remain silent throughout the film left the viewer in a state of having experienced a powerful opera.

Pasolini's short film Ricotta was then screened and it was funny, profane and nailed it. (So to speak.)

*Patti's entrance immediately reminded me of Lester Bangs' essay "Stagger Lee Was a Woman". Bangs was also raised as a J.W.

Monday, November 26, 2007

If They Outlaw Comics Torrents, Then Only Outlaws will have...

Marvel & DC are trying to kill popular comics torrent-linkers, but before they have their own digital comics solution in place.

In short, the parallel with Napster is all in place, but what will be the iTunes type of solution?

I bought New Gods in pulp, in collected book set and then I downloaded the .cbrs. Same with Watchmen (well, I got the book as a gift, but still...). So, I bought 'em legally 2x. The scans are a great format.

Mini rant: The multigig 1960's Kurt Schaffenberger Lois Lanes? Well, I am still waiting for the trade paperback of those, man! (What, DC, too busy killing off Big Barda? Oh, that's another rant and not a pretty one. Suffice to say that Barda will outlive us all.)

Cbrs are the mp3s of online comics, and the scan-and-posting crowd is pretty meticulous about their craft. The reasonable solution is probably DRM free authorized downloads with ads. I don't know what the mainstream comics publishers clear, but a buck a comic is probably alot. Plus they can still publish the collected graphic novels, distribute in bookstores and clean up.

Marvel is doing Rhapsody style subscriptions, but they don't have the newest stuff available. DC is doing an artistically more experimental format actually setup for the computer screen, but, hey, where is Grant Morrison?

Interesting perspectives on this issue:
businessof content

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Gift Idea for $18.00

For only $18 you can restore the gift of sight to a blind person in the Himalayas. See here for more.

From the site:
The Himalayan Cataract Project is one of the world’s most financially efficient international health nonprofits—the organization was recently awarded a 4-star rating by Charity Navigator for "sound fiscal management."

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thank you D.J.s for your support!

I have been getting feedback from folks who visited the Square Foot show which just closed this weekend and it is good. Thanks!

My favorite was from an opera singing friend "I think I'm starting to get your work. (I don't know how that sounds, but I meant it in a positive way) I find a lot of humor in it - particularly the juxtaposition of drawing and text."

That says it all.

There is a learning curve to both making and viewing art--not the usual one, of "how do I draw this" but also understanding "can you hear me out there?!".

I think that both my sister Amy's painting (pics to come) and mine currently has a layer effect of text/marks working against a field of some kind. In her case, for this show, they were luminous abstractions with witty, idiosyncratic marks suggesting time being marked off or looped around somehow beneath the surface. In my case, it was cartoon over text over flat color. Do you "read" the drawing, the text or both as a dissonant rhythym?

As far as people asking me about specific meanings of the text in the new pieces, my new policy (as of today) is to ask THEM what THEY think first.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Have We Done Something Wrong???

"Ooh ooh ooh complete control, thats a laugh
On the last tour my mates couldnt get in
I'd open up the back door but theyd get run out again
At every hotel we was met by the law
Come for the party - come to make sure!
Ooh ooh ooh have we done something wrong?"

A Visit to the Cat Challenge Room

"The researchers enlisted 18 individuals with cat allergies and randomly assigned them to receive one week each of zafirlukast or placebo. Subjects volunteered to endure a one-hour stay in a specially designed "cat challenge room." This carpeted room, home to a couple of house cats, contained bedding that was shaken right before a study volunteer entered the habitat. "The room provides an extremely intense cat exposure, 10 to 100 times the level of allergens you would find in the home," says Wood. "

Thursday, November 15, 2007

ON THE CREATION MUSEUM or "horseshit, horseshit, horseshit"

"And this is, in sum, the Creation Museum. $27 million has purchased the very best monument to an enormous load of horseshit that you could possibly ever hope to see." link here
(via Daring Fireball).

Wait, one more quote, this is too awesome not to echo:

"Not for the Creation Museum that mamby-pamby weak sauce known as “Intelligent Design,” which tries to slip God by as some random designer, who just sort of got the ball rolling by accident. Screw that, pal: The Creation Museum’s God is hands on! "

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Seminal Influence of Kung Fu

In conversation, I realized that while I always give credit to the 1966 Batman for turning me onto art (albeit while also instilling some demented ideas about women, Miss Kitka), I haven't realized that Kung Fu was kind of the bookend to that TV influence.

Caine simultaneously had skinhead and grunge looks and attitude--even the dual presentation as a minimalist monk and a shaggy slacker is striking. He was like a one man Hawk and The Dove.

Strummer, Kiku, Square Foot Show, N+1=0

The Future is Unwritten: Strummer reverberates through my head after seeing this documentary.

Kiku: The Art of the Japanese Chrysannthemum at the NY Botanical Garden. O.C.D. has never yielded more sublime results. Plus, you know, Albert used to practice nascent REBT here, so it was also a pilgrimage for me.

Square Foot Show-Hey, not bad. I am in it, it is up until November 17th. I will do more paintings in this format.

N+1 = 0: I still love Indecision, the novel by Benjamin Kunkel, but the NYPL Live talk with Alex Gourevich was a bust. I am all for being skeptical of manipulative politics, but has this retard (Gourevich) ever read any Alan Moore Swamp Thing?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Steve Ditko is 80 Today

Steve Ditko is 80. (Thanks, Comics Journal for the reminder!)
Here is a J.J.J.J. Jolly Jonah Jameson Jpeg to celebrate the event.