Thursday, April 28, 2011

glancing upwards

It is raining. It will rain all day today. It is my day off from work, of course. Tomorrow it will be sunny and beautiful all day long.  I will work tomorrow, accordingly.  It is what nature does to an insomniac. It gives them what they need the most.  It is part of god's salvo-plan for us.

Yesterday morning the doctor gave me a powerful prescription, something to help with sleep issues and stress.  It is a famous drug with a famously high abuse-potential.  Hearing the very name of the drug calms some people down. He did not give me very many of them but if I go back and tell him how well they worked then that will be the next step.  It always pays to be honest with your doctor. They are on your side.  They do not want you suffering and they do not want you to lose your job.  Most of all they want you to be insured against health risks.

Between the rain showers today I will walk on foot through the neighborhood in search of anybody selling raw opium at a good price.  A friend said that he can get some but it is expensive. I reminded him that I currently have a job and cost is of no concern to me.  I will keep my opium addiction a secret from my doctor and possibly even my friends.  I have been told that this is for the best.  That no matter how much you love opium and want to share it with those you love it is best to keep it a secret, especially at work.  It is a private activity.

Here is what the day will possibly look like tomorrow when glancing upwards from my front door:

Let me know where you might be and I will try find you there...


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Another nighttime nuisance

(photo by Sana Bindra)

I can not sleep.  It recurs again and again.  At the onset insomnia is exciting. It acts on the mind almost as a drug. Then it drags the body along with it.  My train of thought accelerates, rumbling through the darkness. It is thrilling at first.  It takes me with it in flight.  But then the excitement cycles from zenith to nadir and back again ever more quickly; sleep never comes. The accelerated thought gives way to a manic restlessness. I want only for the cessation of consciousness, but it can't happen while I am staring at it in my mind, troubling it, it troubling me.  All things become an open curse.  Vision is an affliction in the darkness, a malediction.  The fatigued mind births patterns, fractals of light missing, darkness spreading ever more quickly, and away. A psychedelia in reverse. No thought can be followed through to completion. I get trapped in unlit fragments.

Begging for all thought to cease is just another way of thinking. All things become continued introspection and further wakefulness. Prayer for sleep is merely the mind talking to itself, interacting with its memories of itself. Insomnia is self-conniving, self-convincing, selfish.  Insomnia is like having a roommate with a drug problem. 

Almost anybody can nap in the daytime, at night it is another thing. 
If only this dying were not so temporary, sleep.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wild World

I am going to meet an old friend for breakfast.  That is the easy way to describe her: an old friend.  We were in a relationship for a short time.  We started our friendship with substantial age differences. There was a Cat Stevens thing between us, the wild world.  The last-minute condescending advice as she leaves that says, I don't think you understand what it takes to make it, a smile is insufficient defense against the world, it is not the currency that you think it is... Long before she was gone I was part friend, part older brother, and only lastly lover.  But there was always an air of advice between us; a wind that only blew in one direction.  From my pinnacle of wisdom I would give her counsel on how to live, you see.  I had no idea that the wind was strong enough for her to set sail on.

So, I put on a Cat Stevens album this morning in preparation. To remind myself not to dispense advice. The first song on the album Tea For The Tillerman is "Where Do The Children Play." Hence the picture above, an unrelated photo, the child of some friends running joyous laps around our summer picnic. 

Of course her and I are both older than we were then. (I almost made the mistake of adding the word "much" to the last sentence.) We know different things now.  We have presumably learned from our mistakes and there is no need for silly advice any more.  Life is what has happened, is happening.  Or perhaps she will dispense some unexpected and useful worldly guidance. Who knows. What will I say, I wonder.  Perhaps we will talk exclusively about photography.  Her, the educated one now, giving instruction and dispensing technical wisdom on what to look for, what to see.

Probably none of this will materialize. We will sit and have breakfast and chat freely.  But for this morning I needed something to write about, right?

"I hope you have a lot of nice things to wear,  But then a lot of nice things turn bad out there"


Monday, April 25, 2011

Nomad on the N train

I have renounced my renouncing.  I saw the light.  

No.  Easter dinner was nice though.  We had lamb. Many years ago I was adopted by an all female family of Greek gypsies. They raised me like a wolf, on a diet of lamb, red wine and spanikopita.  It partially explains some of my erratic moonlit behavior.  We tried to call the oldest sister, Zoie, to have her say grace before we ate, over the phone. An ancient family tradition.  

They have been trying to get rid of me for years but it never worked out.  So here I am, a roamer no more.

Speaking of gypsies... I was on the subway coming home from Brooklyn a few weeks ago and, as there often is, there was a person playing music on the platform, busking.  As I approached I saw a young dark-haired, dark-eyed girl that played a haunting and plaintive gypsy melody on the accordion. So lost and so sweet. Her dark hair was pulled back and her head was covered with a blue silk bandana. Her worn silver earrings hung down and swung with the rhythm that she played.  The music filled the empty train tunnel as it drifted away and echoed from wall to wall.  You could barely see it in the air as it danced and spun down the dark tunnel. I stood there for a while, thinking that maybe I recognized the tune. I thought that perhaps I had. I wished the train away as it approached so that I could stand and listen a little longer.  Something I rarely do. I dropped a dollar in her open hat. I leaned in and listened for more. The rumbling, rattling train approached.  I felt like I nearly had the song as the train screeched to a final halt, its metal screams almost obscuring the tune and destroying the veil of its shadow.  I stepped backwards onto the train and stared at the pulsating squeezebox as the doors closed on me and the train pulled away into a passage of dimness.

I took that melody with me as I headed apart, its ink eyes seeing the world for me.

"Suffering is permanent, obscure and dark, and shares the nature of infinity." -Wordsworth

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Central Feast

I was raised as a Catholic. My father is Irish.  My mother was a Christian who embraced nearly all sects associated with Christianity.  I am a retired Christian now. I gave up most of my notions of salvation and divinity long ago, shortly after my teenage years.  I have accepted the substitute religion of art, though I believe to understand what that trade-off means, though perhaps only naively so.  My retirement from Christianity came after a long episode of inwardly shameful incidents and a slow but steady retreat from the church.  I regret none of it and those were the best years of my life up until then. I still harbor some vague concepts of divinity, but they are now inextricably bound up with the concepts of beauty in art.

Jesus did not rise from the dead, of course, nor is he the son of God as it is described in the central mythic text of Christianity.  He did not die for my sins though I understand the importance of the concept of religious sacrifice.  I have been to Burning Man, etc. It was not ever necessary for any divine creature to come to earth to pay penance to another divine being in this way.  That much seems self-explanatorily false, and with the benefit of history, also absurd. Atonement is a big part of the Judeo-Christian tradition and it serves as an important part of the romantic ceremonies found there. Christ's contribution to the romantic spirit as we now know it is inestimable. He virtually invented the poetic figure that we recognize and devote occasional esteem to through both celebrity and secular sainthood, and even saints. 

Many people that I discuss these things with, who assume themselves to be fully enlightened, attack religion with an almost primal ferocity.  They speak of the evils of the church and of the history of evil conducted by all religions at all times. Their line of reasoning and historical timeline always stops there. They never extend the conversation backwards and go beyond that point to consider the perfect paradise man had created for himself before religion. How murder and rape and every other manner of possible atrocity went not only unpunished but mainly unquestioned.  Free love, etc. They assume that because we have society and culture now that we no longer need religion. That it has served its nefarious purpose and now should not only be done away with but that the practitioners should probably have some sort of wickedness brought down upon them commensurate to the crimes of religion. They reserve no sense of humanity when it comes to punishing the religiously iniquitous, they are quite organized about it you see.

God is the most important concept man has ever created. Just ask Christopher Hitchens.

Another thing...  There has never been such a thing as a religious war.  I remember hearing this phrase in school and even then it struck me as highly improbable. All war is fought over land. There has never been a war that functioned in any other way.  A religious war, if it were possible, would happen in libraries and hardly anywhere else. A truly religious war would be a war almost exclusively of ideas.  Now some might argue that the land is holy and the resources there are gifts from God.  The crusades are a good example of this thinking.  The crusades, like all other wars, were fought over what was considered "holy" land.  It was an attempt to seize land.  The banner under which that land grab was waged means very little.  The political-religious leaders who sanctioned them were attempting to expand their empires.  Now, those who fought and died for them might very well have believed that they were dying for their religion. Even the emperors who initiated them might have believed this.  But that should surprise nobody and it changes nothing.  

There are components of war that do not directly involve land but the objective of all wars is to possess the resources of another group. Actual physical presence through invasion is a requirement for a war to occur. Otherwise is it just theft and does not meet the standard of war.  Ideological and economic occupation and indoctrination are vital components to war but if these occur without the transgressing of boundaries, borders, or political perimeters then all you have is what is known as cultural influence.  

The term "culture-war" is unnecessary and exaggerated.  It only describes the natural tension that develops between conservative and liberal values.  It greatly heightens the implications of that struggle and it reveals the desire of each side to eliminate the opponent, to banish them from the ideological holy grounds.  Americans seems to prefer the term "war" to describe any resistance to their most cherished notions. It is perhaps an extension and effect of the civil war that we seem to be perpetually engaged in, the endless divisions within, the constant pull of polarities.  Or perhaps the misuse of the term is only an indication of our detached ignorance of the actualities of war.  I wonder if the Lebanese now use the term "war" to describe social value conflicts.

I have angered many people throughout the years with these assertions.  I am supremely confident that trend will continue unabated.  I encourage anybody who wishes to respond to these last few paragraphs to really stop and consider their examples carefully.  There have only been a few instances that have made me pause and reflect for a moment and I have developed substantial rebuttals that might not seem obvious at the time and that have only strengthened my claim.  I'm certain that others have arrived at the same conclusion as myself though I have never researched it to find out. In fact, it would not surprise me if it is a commonly held belief by many historians. Though I arrived at the conclusion independently. I prefer to work my way through the concept without the help of others, especially the experts. You see, I'm afraid I might be dead wrong.  Hopefully the idea will find a way of rising on the third day and devouring chocolate bunnies and eggs alike.... I soon hope to invade a bottle of red wine and claim it for Christ's empire.  

Drinking is the only way to make any real progress in a religious argument.  

Penitent I, the moveable beast.



Saturday, April 23, 2011

lost from this world

(Wangechi Mutu)

Last night as I was drifting towards sleep I thought of something to write about today.  I told myself to make a note, that is what notes are for, to reach for one.  Another voice said that I should just wait and see if I can remember it, to test myself.  Another voice said be quiet... A final voice said nothing but fell by preference to darkness discernible, to darkness descending.

My friend at Selavy sent this link the other day. It is a great site for photographs.  Yes, it is French, so unless you read the language there is little to appreciate on that level. Yes, there are lots of nudes, though nothing even vaguely pornographic by my standards. But you should know that female nudity is a prevalent theme on the site.  I have looked through the entire site now and it is an interesting collection of places and times and people, much of it black and white, all of it of a time gone by, lost from this world, but still held in this way.

I awoke and thought of my life half gone, the lost moments, pictures never taken. The times, both good and bad and otherwise, that went mainly unrecorded.  Now gone except for some unwritten words.  

It will rain grey all day today.  

(Wangechi Mutu)


Friday, April 22, 2011

How To Spot A Masturbator

(unclear who the masturbator is in this picture)

Please click this: link

Damn it.  I had forgotten about this. I saw it last night. A friend had posted this link on Facebook and I came close to losing my mind in alternating bouts of joy and shame as I read it.  It is either nearly perfect comic genius or even funnier than that, it is real.  

I can't tell, and it would ruin it for me to find out, I think.

"There are people who claim they can identify a masturbator with one glance."

Brilliant.  A must read for all people everywhere.  Take special note of the picture of the author.  

It offers no sincere advice on how to stop masturbating, or even why you would really want to aside from Old Testament plagues of locusts, but rather it is a guide to recognizing them and their inward shame.  It even lapses into being an expose on those who specialize in spotting a self-abuser....

Absolutely amazing, twisted far beyond rationale. 

Just Kids

(stalker edition 2)

I forgot about Patti Smith.  I also have her book. The one that I am perhaps most interested in reading after the ones that I already have.  The rock books, I mean.  I mentioned them the other day.  Her book is entitled, "Just Kids" and it documents her time in the late 60's and 70's in New York as a struggling and emerging artist, her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, her development into one of the early punk icons in the music scene of the mid to late 70's.  My wife read it and would relay passages to me while we read in bed together.  She has always struck me as a good story-teller, through her music, but she's an equally good writer.  

An old friend responded to my post from yesterday about baseball and he took point with one of the things that I said, that sports are where excellence meets insignificance.  We had quite a good conversation on Facebook, something many people consider unlikely, if not impossible.  But it's true, I swear to it.  I asked to relay the entire conversation here but he said that he would rather wait and have me relay the upcoming conversation we're going to have about Pete Townshend and a comment I made recently about him having only written 5 or 6 songs.  What I've said is, of course, quite true.  And I will defend it with the same misguided verve and enthusiasm that I have all my other ridiculous errors.  

So, let me start by saying this: It was only 5 songs that he ever wrote, maybe 4, and he just kept re-writing them over and over again.  In fact, he kept recording the same album over and over again, but it simply got worse as time crept on and eventually past him. He kept re-composing the same old tired-assed show tunes, that is except for when he was blatantly stealing musical themes and lyrics from other artists. He sat somewhere between Ray Davies and Ozzy Osbourne in terms of content and tone. From The Who Sell-Out to Quadrophenia it was just one long bad acid trip, ever recurring, ever spiraling in on itself.

No, I'm half kidding.  But I figure that's a good starting point for the conversation.  I like to start at a disadvantage because it brings me immense personal joy to even make it back from that precipice to some middle ground. For me, that is victory.  Perverse and wrong? Perhaps. I'll let time be the judge.  Speaking of time, here is another prediction:  Pete Townshend will be remembered as the one that got away.

Ok, clearly I'm only causing myself problems here.  I will have multiple arguments to keep me busy for days.  I had avoided writing about music on this blog because it has caused me nothing but trouble.  Between boredom and trouble I guess I choose trouble. That line has caused me more problems than just about any other through the years. We'll see where it gets me this morning.  Maybe I'll have an extra coffee.

(stalker edition 1)


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Rodriguez, 13

It is the baseball season again.  The time is here to go to the parks and buy $12 beers and $6 hot dogs. I like baseball, though I wouldn't consider myself a genuine fan of the sport, or of any sport really.  I never have the foggiest idea of which teams are part of which division, or where they sit in those divisions in terms of wins and losses, which players are on their team, or even which team is from which city.  But I love going to and watching the games like almost nothing else.  My favorite structures are often constructed by Christians and sport's teams.  A baseball stadium is a sacred national structure. 

I have said before that sports are where excellence meets insignificance, and this is a partial truth. Ultimately who wins or loses matters very little, some would say not at all, though I'm uncertain if this significance can be truly measured.  It doesn't matter to me. I'll leave it at that.  But to witness athletes performing well, and in unison, is a fantastic thing. To witness the heartbreak of a child whose team is in trouble gives one all the necessary insight into the sometimes special significance of sports.

I question whether outsiders (and by outsiders I mean foreigners) can easily understand the subtleties of the game.  Not being a baseball fan has not kept me from appreciating the game along the way, even playing it as a child.  Playing the game helps one to understand it, something many Americans have done as they grew up.  Just going to a professional game without any frame of reference can be a difficult and trying experience, often requiring nearly perpetual intake of beer.

It is the heroic ethic come to life.  It is divided on the team level into locales or regions, some regions even having two teams (New York, Chicago and L.A.). But the sport itself is as national as it is possible to be and as such it is infused with as much national pride.  For all of the occasional meatheadedness of its fan base the game itself can be very intelligent. It requires a finesse and precision very few sports can lay claim to.  Older players can continue to play not because it requires an enormous amount of athleticism, though that doesn't hurt, but rather because the special skill set needed to excel at the game develops over time so that older players can be more valuable than younger players, an inversion of the usual sports message about life. 

The teams represent their regions and their nation in an entirely unique way.  Golf is one player against the rest of the world. Tennis is the same, though with an occasional partner doubling the number without changing the essential dynamic.  All the way up to American football where there is essentially a war machine fighting to move the line of battle into the opponents territory, with great effort committed by a great many people.

Baseball is a very modern arrangement. The individual player has a portion of the field that is their responsibility and they are separated from the other players by sometimes great distances, granting a semblance of individualism which requires an incredible unity of purpose to prevent from lapsing into team failure. When the inning is complete they surrender the field gracefully to the other team. It is won by skill rather than force and direct opposition, though it does become occasionally necessary to make contact with the other player when in possession of the ball and advancement to the next plate is not required by the presence of subsequent players achieving a base run.

I promised myself that I would try to avoid descriptions of the rules of the game, but it is difficult to do.  The rules of the game are a big part of what makes the game so unique.  For this same reason my European friends will criticize American's general lack of interest in soccer.  The rules seem arbitrary and the conflict between the two teams obscure and oftentimes difficult to detect. The various team playing styles in baseball are likewise difficult to perceive and understand without previous knowledge.

A quick aside, another major reason that Americans are turned off by soccer is the acceptance of feigned injuries in the sport.  The dramatics with which a player will appear injured to draw a foul, only to jump right back up to action the second after the whistle is blown, strikes the American mind as unacceptably corrupt.  If a basketball or football player were to lie down after physical contact with another player then they would be expected to be taken off of the field, usually to not return during that game as they are injured and no longer able to perform for their team.  It seems abhorrent that falsely dramatizing an injury is an integral part of how a team wins a game.  One need only watch Italy play to understand their singular role in the creation of opera.

(Also, there is the possibility of a tie in soccer, a perplexing situation which requires knowledge of the team's standings for the season, and where the game was played, whether at home or away, and certain intricacies of sports diplomacy that perhaps escape the American mind. A tie simply does not fit into the Manichean worldview of most Americans. There is only victory or defeat that will be renamed victory. Just like in war.)

So, baseball:

As I had said previously, a player can continue to play as they get older, and even show visible signs antithesis to athleticism (Pete Rose's waistline expansion being a perfect example).  But speed is an integral part of the game and there is only so much of it a player can lose before they become entirely ineffectual. Speed and accuracy,  these are the cornerstone qualities of the game, though an individual player must orchestrate several skills in direct unison with other players to achieve the desired "outs" to end the inning.  It is in this orchestration that the real poetry of baseball can be witnessed. A double play is one of the most exciting plays of the game. This is where the team on the field achieves two of the needed three "outs" to end the inning, and along with it the chance for the team at bat to score points.  

The opposite of this action would be a triple accomplished by the team at bat. Nothing in the game is more exciting than a triple.  It almost always requires at least one error by the team on the field, and it creates an expectancy of things to come like no other in the game.  Home runs are boring in comparison. Most fans do not even bother to watch the batter round the bases after a home run. It is immediately accepted and tallied in the mind of the fan and the batter/runner rounding the bases becomes merely a ceremonial function. It has the effect almost of a live commercial break when witnessed at the park.

Well, I'm out of time today.  I had hoped to attempt a summation of the game here but there is still far too much left unsaid.  Perhaps tomorrow I will give the literary operatic version of the game, distilling it down to only the easily understandable components, those that are recognizable through gesture across a great distance, accompanied by music, and song.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A problem with street-art, pt. 1

I have noticed more and more throughout the East Village that a street-artist has been tagging every possible inch of space.  His tag is evidenced below, on the right.  I had assumed that he was a young kid who had found a new way of expressing some irreverent sense of himself and was exploiting it to the full. Much as a pubescent girl will do when she discovers how to write her name in cursive. She will write it on every surface available to her, oftentimes experimenting with combining single or various boy's names, to perform the sort of magic in her mind that fuses the two together in some romantic notion.  It is a form of witchcraft, of course, but a seemingly harmless and ubiquitous one.

But as for our subject, and his tagging insistence, I couldn't help but wonder if he was an artist that believed himself to be promoting his work. There were a few problems with this though.  One was that he seems to insist on associating himself with other street artists who he seemed to have no genuine connection with, like Banksy:

This, in and of itself, represents no genuine problem for me.  But it is the other way that he defiles the neighborhood that perturbs me, and others.  He will take reasonably interesting street art and tag his name on it, blurring the distinctions between what he has done and what others have done, ostensibly for his gain.  The examples are many, but here is one that I happened to have photographed without even noticing his tag at the time.  It was not until later, when the level of his error become impossible not to notice that I realized what he had done this to this work.  I went back to verify, and sure enough, the blue that he used to sloppily augment the cat's eyes was a different color from the blue outline but the same as the color used for his tag, found on the upper right portion of the work.

There are other examples.  He tagged his name on the image of Joe Strummer's t-shirt on the wall painting on the corner of 7th St. and Ave. A, the one known as "The Future Is Unwritten."  To some this is sacrilege.  I wonder if he knows who Joe Strummer was.  I went to get a picture of that but it had been painted over.  Follow the link above for an article about it.

Respecting others' work is not a cornerstone of all street art.  In fact, many street artists take great pride in subverting the work of others, though many of them do so creatively to the face of advertising, as a way of re-asserting their identity in the space that is as much or more theirs than the advertisers. Billboards, street posters, store-fronts, etc.  To not only deface the work of other like-minded artists, but to attempt to steal credit from them, goes against the ethos of the form somewhat.  To fight against accepted norms is the role of certain artists, but to do so artlessly is unambiguously tiresome.

There is more...

There are parts of the neighborhood where you can not walk more than a few steps without seeing his tag.  The image below is about 10 feet from the lead image to this post.  Even though it makes no discernible sense to tag on an old wooden door, the entranceway to a private residence, he chose to do so. Perhaps in a fevered state of creativity, perhaps only in an ongoing publicity push.

For fun I pretended that I was a cop and assigned to this case. I began to devise ways that I would go about catching him.  I thought of writing entries online praising his work, suggesting connections and advancements that to him would seem plausible, offering to facilitate those advancements, having him get in touch with me, filming him perform his work, then turning it over to the judge.  This is the type stuff I dream about as I'm walking the dog, you see.

It then occurred to me that I didn't want to be a cop, or pursue street-artists, at all.  I support what they do, mostly.  It is this example and others like it that I took exception to.

As soon as I did the most perfunctory research on him I discovered that he had already been arrested. He had a showing at a local gallery and was arrested the night before the show, missing the show altogether, and presumably disappointing those there to see him, David Byrne among them.  This arrest, I'm certain, validates him even further in the minds of those who seek to believe that an artist must suffer to vandalize society, and what could be better to exemplify suffering than being arrested for your art as you are committing that very art.  Several New York artists have had a long-running dalliance with street artists, and it's no surprise.  It lends them a certain type of credibility: cred, it's called.

Warhol's condescending fascination with Basquiat being but one example among many.  If an artist is black, or gay, or even better: all of those things, and dead.  Well, voila!  There alone must exist urban sensitivity supreme.  It is a form of racism that is hardly ever questioned: to prefer one group over others using a set of indiscriminate criteria and as a replacement for genuine response and appreciation.  It is a way of saying that the art of one group, or individual, is superior to that of another based on their race, or sexual leanings, and it supersedes appreciation of the art itself.  It is the unseen and unquestioned triumph of racist leanings in our culture.

I like David Byrne and appreciate his music and art efforts.  I once went to see him perform here in New York as a gift for my birthday.  I was standing upstairs by the bar, listening to the opening act, whose name I believe was "Chocolate Genius."  An enthusiastic young "metro" kept trying to hush me as I chatted with my girlfriend there at the bar.  I responded that this was a bar, and as such it actually invites conversation, it does not demand the abortion of it.  His undying admiration for art revealed itself further in him imploring me to Be Quiet! while "Chocolate" was expressing himself.  I said, I could give a fuck less about Afro-Skittles, I came down here to DANCE!!!!!

I resist admiration or discrimination based on the self-conscious addressing of one's color, or ethnic heritage, or any other similar criteria.  Pain and joy are credible in art to the extent that they are expressed artistically.  It is no crime to use one's heritage as a basis for context but if that heritage serves as an exclusionary impediment to others' experiencing the art then questions must be asked.  It is NOT a black thing, and I very much do understand what that statement implies.  But telling me that I don't, or can't understand, invites me to go ahead and try.  If what I find there is racist gibberish then don't also ask me to be silent about it.

All that being said:

I had no idea who he was at the time of his arrest. Though I had been noticing his stylized name paintings almost every single step that I took in the neighborhood.

I went by the store front where he seems to operate from, to see what there was to see.  As I walked in there were a few of his pieces hanging from the walls. Things that were more interesting than his street tags.  I took a single picture.  A person watching the shop asked if anybody could take pictures. I heard a "No" from somewhere unseen. So I said, ok, looked around for a couple of minutes then walked outside.  Once outside I took a few pictures of where he works, out on the sidewalk. A young latino man followed me out and started yelling at me that I can't take any pictures.  I said that I'm in public and I'll take any pictures that I want to.  He seemed to want to get closer to me to either emphasize his point, or because he perhaps had difficulty with hearing.  He approached quickly but stopped just short of hugging distance.  He again asserted his version of the laws of private property.  I emphatically explained again that this was not private but rather public property, the sidewalk.  He again emphasized his version of property laws and augmented it with wild gesticulations.

Below is the store-front that he was presumably charged with protecting against photography. It should be noted that this is only a few feet from the renovated public bath-house that Eddie Adam's resided and worked at for the remainder of his life.

It was about this time that I realized that this bright young fellow might be unhinged.  I thought that a quick test might render a negative or positive result.  I asserted, I'm in public and I'll take a picture of any fucking thing I want to, and if you don't get the fuck out of my face you're going to end up in jail just like your hero, but only after a very serious ass-kicking.  Do I make myself clear?

He was not only able to understand this line of questioning.  He contributed to the experiment with his own line of questioning: Do you want me to stomp your ass right here and now?

I said, Well since you give me a choice, I suppose that "no" would be my answer.  But you still haven't answered my question...   I believe he called me a "nigga" as he walked back inside excitedly.  I decided that this signaled the end of our discourse, for now, and the thought of him accumulating other subjects that might disrupt the purity of our experiments occurred to me. In the interest of scientific inquiry I decided to return to the lab and collate the raw data.

I returned to this strange zone of private property later that night and decided to collect even more raw data. A slightly older latino man, one closer to my age, met me at the door of the shop, oddly, and we had a pleasant conversation.  We discussed street-art, tagging, graffiti, and the difficulties associated with performing an art that is seen by the law as illegal.  We also discussed the unique temperamental dispositions of artists, and the trouble that they will occasionally get themselves into when confronted with commerce and personal choices, like addiction. He explained that the subject of this piece was currently in jail, serving 30 days for tagging.  In a fevered state he had signed an admission of guilt and a promise to clean up his tags when he gets out of jail.  I expressed my interest to video this process as well as interview the artist himself, possibly while he was performing his retribution.  It was my belief, then as it is now, that there is a story to be told there.  A story of timely importance, considering the rise in interest of street-art.  I asked if it would be possible to shoot an interview with the artist.  We exchanged numbers and shook hands and smiled at one another. I confided that my earlier experiment in making contact might have been misunderstood, as the ways of science can seem perplexing and elusive from the outside.

As part of the milder conversation relayed above the man I spoke with also told me that other street-artists have been coming from all over the world, like London, to work with our local genius.  This explained the tag that is shown in the lead image, though it does not explain how or why the very well-known artist Banksy chose to misspell his name on this occasion, or why he would choose to tag with the same can of paint used by our hero, or in the exact same style.  These are questions meant to be pondered if they are to produce any meaning, or answers.

I thought that maybe I would also experiment with tagging his tags. Modifying them to say Lacroc , or perhaps Laroche, or maybe even Lecrack.  Lara Logan.  Lyndon Larouche.  Who knows.  It could be my contribution to this vibrant artistic statement. Larock you like a hurricane.... I could begin to go by the... Sq6rpion

But alas, I was already too late.



I take back almost everything I said about the book by Keith Richards. I decided yesterday morning that I really needed to finish it.  So I brought it out to the couch in the living room and convinced the dog to sleep up on the couch with me. Such is my threat to the world.  I've reached the "Goats Head Soup", "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll" and "Black and Blue" era so I appropriately put those albums on in order.  Ron Wood joins the band.  This was the birth of The Rolling Stones that I knew.  

Aside from the book, as for Keith and the way his fans have always talked about him...

His fans do not seem to have genuine admiration for him. That's why there are so many endless jokes, even cruel ones.  They are able to enact their rock and roll fantasies through him and because of that they secretly despise him, even want him dead, but it's always done through the facade of jest. Even his talents are denigrated because to consider that he can act the way that he acts, escape punishment, and still be talented is too much for many people to accept. They want to be him but they can't stand him being him.

In the Mick/Keith dynamic most would imagine themselves to be the "Keith."  I've had several friends throughout my life describe themselves this way, strangely. By doing so it assumes the Mickness of the other: an either visible or invisible falseness, an unneeded pompousness, the classic front-man criticisms, etc.  But what could be more pompous than assuming you share recognizable qualities with Keith Richards? If anything it reveals a homo-eroticism that most people would recognize as much more of a Mick quality. So aligning yourself in your imagination with Keith makes you much more like Mick just by doing so.  

Nobody struggles with Iggy Pop in this same way.  Some people also want to be Pop but they don't seem to struggle with him being Iggy Pop.  Sure, jokes are made, but they don't seem to have the same dark source. I'm not sure what the difference is, or even if there really is one, or if it is all just another product of my imagination.

I blame Keef, of course.  That's the interesting part of him, how he becomes an all-purpose blame doll, and always has been. People need somebody that they can blame for their behavior, or someone who makes their behavior seem acceptable in comparison. Once they've put you in that role it is very difficult for them to allow you to be anything else.  It is an endless circular trap.

The bio is an interesting report of a time, of many times.  It is unfortunate to see Keith with the unquenchable need to bash Mick, and everybody else he's ever had issue with. There are only two types of people in Keith's world, the fun and good ones, and then the ones that are like Mick.  It gets tedious, much like drugs and drinking buddies do.  But the book is a lot of fun, even if it is just the collected ruminations of a bitter, old, once dynamically flawful man. 


Tuesday, April 19, 2011



I need a photographic theme.  There is only so much poking fun of Star Wars and Selavy I can stomach.  I walk around taking snapshots but very little emerges. I shoot the same parts of New York endlessly on my way to work and back again.  Ground Dog Day.  I get duplicate pictures over and over with only occasional differences.  I need to find a theme and then go out shooting with that in mind.  But where am I going to find black and white springtime nudes frolicking in the fountains of NYC in slow motion?  Women, that is.  I know if I didn't qualify I'd have Selavy posting about the male proboscis again. I wonder how his bonerville series is developing...

No. I trust that everybody sees the good-natured jesting in yesterday's post.  I see all things as harmless and funny. But I have learned that my judgement is not always to be trusted in that regard.  I've had to be pulled back from the edge and reminded many times that cancer is not funny, nor is polio, AIDS, the holocaust, JonBenet Ramsey, and jungle fever.

I think I might be autistic.  


1. Difficulty in mixing with other children
2. Inappropriate laughing or giggling
3.  Little or no eye contact
4. Apparent insensitivity to pain
5. Prefers to be alone; aloof manner
6. Spins objects
7. Inappropriate attachment to objects
8. Noticeable physical overactivity or extreme under activity
9. Unresponsive to normal teaching methods
10. Insistence on sameness; resists changes in routine
11. No real fear of dangers
12. Sustained odd play
13. Echolalia (repeating words or phrases in place of normal language)
14. May not want cuddling or act cuddly
15. Not responsive to verbal cues; acts as if deaf
16. Difficulty in expressing needs; uses gestures or pointing instead of words.
17. Tantrums - displays extreme distress for no apparent reason
18. Uneven gross/fine motor skills (may not want to kick ball but stack blocks)

Sounds like most dj's I know.

I stopped writing for a minute and went and read my buddy's post from today.  It is for this reason, among others, that I read his site. His insight into the world and his knowledge of photography.  That is part of what I lack, historical perspective, knowledge of photography and photographers. 

I need to start reading again.  I have slowed even on the biography I was reading, which is appropriately Keith Richards'.  It is a sometimes fun read but it starts to come off as just another old millionaire rock star grinding his axe. Yes, it is amusing to hear him take down Mick Jagger but it takes some of the pleasure out of listening to The Stones. I had promised that I would stop reading rock-and-roll bio's but then a friend gave me Bill Graham's and another gave me Paul McCartney's and another lent me Keith Richards', a friend suggested and so I bought, Art Pepper's... 

Yes, this last one is jazz. But he lived his life in a very rock and roll way.  

As I said before, you must be very careful with what you read. It will make you want to live life that way. That's why I've stayed away from The Gospel.


Monday, April 18, 2011

The fuller pink moon

(Image provided by Johannes Kepler)

Just to be clear... The full moon was last night.  Even if you live in England on GMT.  It happens at the same time for everybody, pretty much. Though some of us live in different time zones and use different standards to recognize those various "times."  It has to do with the earth being spherical and rotating on its axis just as much as it has to do with the moon being round and going through various phases as it orbits the earth.  

My astronomer friend over at selavy tried to snarkily challenge me on this...  

Just a few days ago I wrote a post about how he was my science teacher and I used to ridicule him and question his facts.  Good thing.  If I had listened to him then we'd be celebrating a second full moon again tonight.  

Some people you just can't reach....

All fallacious astronomy aside, there's always next month, Princess...


Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Pink Moon

There is a full moon out tonight, the pink moon of April. I went outside to walk the dog and snapped this inner-city picture of it. 

There is an album by Nick Drake called "Pink Moon."  It was his last.  I am listening to it now.  I would not suggest it unless you are in the mood for nearly unending melancholy. 29 sparse minutes of it anyway.  It was his Madame Butterfly, sort of.  He was its Madame Puccini.  23 years old when he recorded it.  At 26 he was dead by his own hand, the sorrow from which there is no return, the eternal woe.

Apparently the significance of the name of the pink moon comes from a sprouting moss that is one of the earliest widespread flowers of spring.  That little tidbit of information is for all of you who live in cities and might not be aware of this very common rural knowledge....  No, I just discovered it myself.  But I figured I would save all of you the time spent in online research.

Today has been a slow day spent mostly in bed watching movies and ordering food, steak and vegetables.  That bed from which I came, the place to which I now return, armed with a pint of ice cream and dreams of tomorrow.


Love USA

There are many stories that I can not tell here.  Being married is preventative to some of my tale-telling ways.  Perhaps in time I will be able to relay some of those fables. But for now the wife has issued a clear decree of: No.  It is understandable, of course. I shudder to think how her site, if she wrote one, would read from time to time, with me as a subject.  I create absurd stories and situations with the least effort imaginable, sometimes none at all.  I oftentimes create the best tales as part of actively trying to prevent them from reaching the tale level.  Or perhaps it is only the way I see the situations that makes them absurd.  I can never be sure. Who really can?

The cook pictured above sure does "Love USA"... He saw me taking pictures so he came over to get in the shot, I think.  Or perhaps he wanted to see if I myself wanted a "Love USA" steak-and-cheese sandwich of my own.  I was out and taking pictures of graffiti/tags/street-art, trying to accumulate some images from which to work.  I am beginning to suspect that I will never get the interview that I was hoping for. Though this guy seemed willing to talk about, or sell, his art.

The day before yesterday was our 2nd anniversary, my wife's and mine.  This was more of our "secret" anniversary, as we snuck off to the courthouse and got married on tax day two years ago. Nobody knew we were were going to do it, save a few inside accomplices and the civil servants who facilitated it. Then we had a wedding ceremony nearly 6 months later, almost to the day.  We didn't even know we were going to elope a few days before it happened.  We hadn't spoken in months.  I had a girlfriend. We were trying to break up, once and for all.  It didn't work.  

We do one thing better than break up and that's get back together.  

So be it, we agreed.  

It is written....

Love US


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Inter-Galactic Fundamentalism

I began writing this post three times and then stopped what I was writing, deciding against each of the subjects.  They were all too inflammatory, in one way or another.  So, I decided that I would write about nothing, or close to nothing:  Hollywood films.

I watched "The Social Network" last night.  It was slightly more adult than an after-school special, but had the same tone.  The only thing that made it more interesting than an after-school masterpiece was the subject matter, Facebook. I've recently encountered some social problems on Facebook so it made for fun and informative viewing.  People who are partially dehydrated seem to hate Facebook and what it represents.  They fail to understand that nobody really wants to get to know them any better than on that level. They wrongfully assume that human interrelations were far preferable when people were forced to avoid them in real life.  They ruminate with artless surmising that they actually do have much more to say than can be conveyed in a single sentence. 

I'm amazed at the films that get nominated for Academy Awards. None of them seem very good. But I am supposed to keep quiet about that.  I already have far too much of a reputation for being a nay-sayer when it comes to these things.  It's no wonder that Jack Nicholson hasn't been to the award ceremony in the last few years.  He's trying to keep his prestige untainted by the new wave of cinema-of-uneventfulness.  Things don't-happen in film now with far less impact than when he was not-doing things.  Five difficult pieces, to watch.

I mean, "The King's Speech"... really?  I thought it was okay but it wasn't a film that deserved "best picture."  The "best" that can be said about it was that it was a watchable piece of reflective history. The climax was not only dialed in, but it was the triumph of what? A king had to speak to his subjects, to convince them to die for their country, and then did so with the help of a charming commoner? An Australian no less?  The way people were rolling over themselves about this film you might have thought that the king had actually enlisted to fight. What an absolute triumph of the eternal royal spirit.  Out of seeming necessity he befriended the only mortal man that was able to help him.... A victory for all of humanity.  Kingly catnip.

I really started noticing this trend of overtly flimsy filmmaking with "Juno" winning the best original screenplay a few years back.  If that's the best that the film industry has to offer then it's no wonder that what's her name (Legally Witherspoon) and the other (Sandra Bullock) have won best actress in the last few years.  

Don't Sarah Jessica Parker and Sandra Bullock's faces look like shaved knee caps? I did a search to verify how much I don't care for S. Bollocks and in most of her online images she just looks like a tired demon, a worn-out Barbizon gargoyle.  

Holy crap, I just looked back at the last 11 years of "winners" and here they are, in order: Julia Roberts, Halle Berry, Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron, Hilary Swank, Reese Witherspoon, Helen Mirren, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet, Sandra Bullock, Natalie Portman... The best actor category is no better: Russell Crowe, Denzel Washington, Adrien Brody, Sean Penn, Jamie Foxx, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Forest Whitaker, Daniel Day-Lewis, Sean Penn, Jeff Bridges, Colin Firth.

I was going to comment further on that lineup but it speaks for itself.  A smattering of good performances among them, but mostly just adequate roles, written and performed adequately.   Forest Whitaker should be neutered and Russell Crowe should be spayed.  Wait.  Maybe I got that backwards?  Which actor was born with male sexual organs?

So, Darren Annoyingofsky

"Black Swan"... Daronoffs (as his pals call him) shoots most of his films as if they are horror-suspense thrillers, but without the horror (he probably feels it's beneath him), and the suspense is always far too heavy-handed (nothing ever really shocks because every scene is shot as if it's a remake of an an entire Hitchcock film condensed down to music video length and style).  

"Requiem For A Dream" was actually a very straight-forward horror film that substituted drug-use for gratuitous hockey-masked murder.  It rendered the same effect, but with moralistic overtones that were, and long have been, cinema's version of fundamentalism.  All drug users suffer a similar fate: double-sided anal dildo sex for money, while revealing a sustained inner forlornness. There is no way to feel ambiguous about that film. The best one can do is to defend themselves from it by looking away and humming a battle hymn. This is not from the incapacity to look, but from disinterestedness in being a willing accomplice.  Or from the fear of getting a inconsolable lonely erection. 

The film exploits the subject that it pretends to explore more fully than almost any other I've seen.

There were rumors that Russell Crowe had to be gently escorted from the Soho hotel when he rented it on pay-per-view. Witnesses queried why he was wearing his Gladiator chains.

"The Wrestler" was pure horror, at least to me.  It was about an individual's inability to accept any other life other than the one they had chosen previously for themselves. Even though that life will most certainly bring about their demise.  If this doesn't scare the shit out of every person who saw it then I congratulate you on a life well lived and choices well made. They made a remake of it called "Crazy Heart" except the main character finds jesus, country music and AA at the end.  He is rewarded with massive publishing checks and a new pair of boots and blue-jeans for having done so.  Unsurprisingly, the lead actor won an Academy Award for being so cinematically penitent.  I mean... the victory in the film is that a sloppy drunk finally goes to AA... That's not a great film.  It's only an important part of driver improvement school.

"Black Swan" was just plain silly, again.  I only made it about an hour into the movie before I fell asleep under the dancing eye and doleful hand of uber-uncertainty-cinema.  I almost held on for another scene of Natalie Portman playing with herself (I knew there had to be another one coming) but the image of her running across the sand in one of those later still-born Star Wars films kept playing across the theater of my mind.  It's like hearing a girl fart when you first have her alone. It's difficult to ever really care about her after that.  

Does anybody remember Natalie's awkward run? It's a shot in one of the Star Wars films?  Suddenly they all need to make jedi-haste because there is some ripple in the force, so they take off running across the sand.  Her run is so exaggerated and false that it's pricelessly laughable. Anybody?  Wait, what am I talking about? I know guys that have probably just soiled themselves at the mere mention of it, Star Wars.

Star Wars.  Just seeing the two words together brings them galactic genital pleasures. STAR WARS...

Where were we?

Yes, American films of the last 10-20 years have been mostly awful, with only occasional glimmers of hope.  There have been some good films here and there and an isolated great one (though I can recall none off the top of my head) but the big Hollywood stuff is just boring.  All of that money and no ideas.  Once they started focusing their energies on doing biopics (Aviator, Ray, I Snort The Line) then the whole industry just became the big-screen Reader's Digest.  Is that reference too old?  Probably. Does Reader's Digest still exist?  Yep, I checked.

Well, you guys get the idea.  We're out of time. And this was the condensed version...