Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 6th Dimension


I was so excited to find one of my very favourite movies on cable last night. Buckaroo Banzai bombed when it came out...but I went to the theatre about ten times during it's few weeks of play. I was always fascinated by the write, W.D. Richter who wrote the script. He also wrote the movie Home For The Holidays starring Holly Hunter. He writes really good characters and with stories that have an offbeat twist, like Late For Dinner and another favourite movie of mine, Big Trouble In Little China. I think Richter's imagination was so massive for Buckaroo Banzai., who was a punk rocker, brain surgeon, particle physicist and samaurai! What's funny is that even when the movie came out...it seemed "dated" which was part of the appeal. It felt like you were watchign an old movie. There are some of the best most quotable lines in a movie found in Buckaroo Banzai. Jon Lithgow, Jeff Goldblum and Ellen Barkin are on fire on screen. It was so great to see all the wacky players again, black electroids, seashell space ships, pink fringe, thrusters, multi-dimensions and just some really cool ideas.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

X-ey Back



One of the best episodes of the X-Files, and I was a total X-Files freak...was with Peter Boyle. Boyle played a psychic that could foretell people's deaths. In a funny moment the script riffs on David Duchovny persona as a sex obsessed soul...


Clyde Bruckman: You know, there are worse ways to go, but I can't think of a more undignified way than autoerotic asphyxiation.
Mulder: Why are you telling me that?
Clyde Bruckman: Look, forget I mentioned it. It's none of my business.


"David Duchovny has entered a rehabilitation center for sex addiction, The Associated Press reported. Mr. Duchovny, who plays a sex-obsessed character on the Showtime show “Californication,” did so voluntarily, according to a statement on Thursday from his lawyer, Stanton Stein (to People magazine). The statement also quoted Mr. Duchovny as saying, "I have voluntarily entered a facility for the treatment of sex addiction. I ask for respect and privacy for my wife and children as we deal with this situation as a family.” Mr. Duchovny has been married to the actress Téa Leoni since 1997. They have two children. The second season of “Californication” begins on Sept. 28." NYTs: It's always interesting to me when The New York Times is qetting info from People magazine.

Get well soon, David Duchovny! The world needs funny performers like you!

Urban Inversion

The latest wrinkle in Toronto's city building cycle is how our vaunted diversity has been on the move
The Toronto Star
August 10, 2008
Murray Whyte
STAFF REPORTER
Six lanes of Lawrence Ave. stretch eastward from Victoria Park Ave., a broad, cracked ribbon of blacktop unfurling as far as the smog-smudged horizon. The sky is big here, unimposed-upon by the one-and-two-storey strip malls that line Lawrence almost as far as the eye can see. The sidewalks are all but abandoned, oddly incongruous-seeming as Lawrence Ave. rumbles with the thrum of traffic: Cars, trucks, buses.
At first glance, it seems a quiet cruise through a well-worn cliché. The suburbs: bland stretches of white-washed, non-human-scale sameness, made worse, in this case, by the ravages of age. After all, in the '50s, when the suburbs were born, new was the main attraction here: a tranquil refuge from the crumbling, over-stuffed, poverty-laced decrepitude most inner cities – including our own.
To a casual observer, the bloom here would seem long since off the rose. But look closer. Just past Victoria Park, a bright red sign heralds a space occupied by Royal Kerala Foods, in Hindi and English. Arabic lettering dominates the thin strips of signage running along the tops of the squat strip malls: Al Waleed Salon, Al-Quresh Foods, Samara Roasted Nuts. Signs advertising Halal meats – those prepared according to Islamic law – abound. As do Chinese groceries, Caribbean restaurants. There's a Tamil optician. On Markham Road, an array of Afghani options – bakeries, restaurants, a department store – sit across from a Vietnamese superstore.
So much for the sameness. On Lawrence E., a strip-mall cosmopolitanism isn't emerging, it's here: Every storefront is occupied in a dizzying array of difference.
A recent term would describe what's happening here in Scarborough, and in parallel along the broad commercial boulevards of Etobicoke, North York and beyond, as "demographic inversion." More simply put, these are the hallmarks of a city turning itself inside out.
Downtown, here as in many other cities, condos climb higher, Victorians get renovated and restored, real estate rockets ever-upward as the moneyed class recolonizes the core. Meanwhile the inner city of old has relocated to the fringes, as vibrantly multi-ethnic as ever.
A current exhibition at the Design Exchange, curated by Ian Chodikoff, explores the hope and potential for this new suburban reality in some detail (the title, Fringe Benefits, offers some clue as to the spin; it's hopeful, not ambivalent, without being boosterish).
But some find this a worrying circumstance, among them David Hulchanski, the director of the Centre for Urban and Community Studies at the Universiry of Toronto. Hulchanski released a much-discussed preliminary report in December, based on 2006 census data, that detailed the rapid growth of the income gap in Toronto. Hulchanski showed that, since 1970, while income had increased significantly in the central city, there were more impoverished areas of the city than ever before – much of it concentrated in those inner suburbs.
More to the point, the central city's role as a reception area for new immigrants was all but over. "Immigrants are confronting an increasingly expensive city," Hulchanski says. "And all they're left with are the parts of the city that nobody else wants."
Hulchanski himself called the results "startling," though allowed that a fuller picture will emerge later this month, when his team gets through the most salient data about income and ethnicity.
Not everyone shares his pessimism. Rafael Gomez is the director and founder of ThinkTank Toronto, a hip iteration of a community group in Scarborough. He grew up there, but left for London in 1999 to do his Ph.D. in economics (he's also a professor of economics at Glendon College at York University). He came back in 2004 to a complete surprise. "I just thought, `this is fantastic,' " Gomez said. "It was truly and authentically multicultural. And it was alive."
In eras past, the "parts of the city nobody else wants" were downtown, where now the threat of an ethnic enclave of whiteness seems to be the most feared consequence. Older neighbourhoods became a haven for layer after layer of immigrant groups, and spawned a diverse interaction, not to mention the broader community we now claim is the most diverse – by the numbers, anyway – in the world.
"The main thing is, we want to be where out families are, where our community is," says Mohammed Amin, an Afghani immigrant who operates the Afghan Market south of Lawrence on Markham Road. It's branded as a Hasty Market, with the sign written in both English and Dari. Inside, a selection of Afghani breads are on display, next to Kellogg's cereals and candy bars. Amin has just rented the next bay in the strip mall, and plans to expand, opening a halal butcher shop.
Writer Pico Iyer, in his book Global Soul, devoted a chapter to Toronto called "The Multiculture"; but the Toronto Iyer idealizes is more likely to be found in Scarborough than the Little Italy of St. Clair W., Greektown on the Danforth, or even Kensington Market, long the city's hub of immigrant reception. Hulchanski's data shows that, in the centre, Toronto's much-vaunted 50-plus per cent visible minority dwindles to 28 per cent in some areas in the core; it spikes to over 70 per cent in some suburbs, like those along Lawrence E.
Along Lawrence just east of Warden sits the Wexford Heights Plaza. It's a relic of its era: a long, low-slung box of conjoined storefronts with a couple of acres of battered asphalt parking pushing it back from the street.
The plaza is both a throwback and a leap forward. Peter Kiriakou's family owns it and an anchor business, the Wexford Restaurant, a diner serving eggs, sandwiches, and burgers (not to mention souvlaki). "Twenty, thirty years ago, you could come to Scarborough and see 30 or 40 Wexford Restaurants," Kiriakou says. "Not anymore."
At Wexford, the commercial mix reflects the shift. At one end, the Al Isra Islamic Superstore, a grand name for a small shop selling middle eastern textiles, clothing and houkas. At the opposite end, SKT Jewellers, a Muslim-focused business that moved in after a bank moved out. Across the street, Uncle Seth's African Caribbean Foods sits next to a hockey store, down the row from Frank's Smoke Shop.
Kiriakou's grandfather came to Canada in 1949, from Greece, and opened the restarant in 1958. He's the third generation to run it. "My parents, they catered to all the Smiths, the Joneses, the Johnsons," says Kiriakou, 44. "Those people are a fraction of the business now. You have to adapt."
Rafael Gomez, the ThinkTankToronto founder, himself grew up in Scarborough in the 1970s, the child of Spanish immigrants, not far from Wexford Plaza. He lived through his neighbourhood's worst moments.
"In the early 90s, a lot of stores around here were closing, infrastructure got creaky," says Gomez. "And then the recession hit, so it was really bottoming out."
Even then, though, in this desolate part of the city that nobody wanted, as Hulchanski would say, there were telltale signs of life. "You'd see a Halal meat store open in one of the vacant storefronts, or a falafel stand," Gomez recalls. "Things were starting to change, but you couldn't really see it." In 1999, he decamped for London and earned his Ph.D. "When I came back (six years later) I just thought `this is really interesting,'" says Gomez. "It wasn't a mono-ethnic community at all. It was so mixed – Somalis mixing with Lebanese mixing with older communities like Italians, mixing with the old Scots that were still around. There was this gap, this transition. And it opened the door for new groups to settle in. It was kind of incredible."
Gomez experienced what he thought impossible – a sudden rush of affection for Scarborough. With this unexpected swell of civic boosterism, He founded ThinkTank Toronto with the modest goal of producing a coffee table book portraying Scarborough's surprisingly rich, multi-ethnic strip malls.
But ThinkTank quickly morphed into a community-based support organization. 54East Studio, in Wexford Plaza, is Gomez's baby – a gallery/drop-in centre that holds concerts, art shows, and exhibitions that draw on the area's current vibrancy.
It's probably fair to say that the current state of Scarborough – "Canada's first suburb" is its somewhat dubious claim to fame in this urban-friendly era – is exactly what it was meant not to be. In the post war-era, suburbs all over North America were designed as an escape from the congestion and decay seen as plaguing central areas of cities all over North America.
There were overtones of race and class in this perceived need for refuge, even in Toronto the Good. The city south of Bloor St. and Danforth Ave. was left to The Other – waves of immigrants, most of them European at the time, who got the city no one else wanted.
They clustered in enclaves: Italians along St. Clair West and on College street, Greeks on the Danforth, the Portuguese in Kensington Market, just as Eastern European Jews, by this time established, were pulling up stakes and moving along their own immigrant corridor, north along Bathurst as far as Lawrence.
Other groups followed suit: Portuguese to Mississauga, Italians to Vaughan, the second generation wanting nothing to do with the city their families landed in by necessity, not choice. "Go to the Danforth, it's not Greek anymore," Kiriakou says. "Thirty years ago, no one in the suburbs in their right mind would set foot in Kensington Market. Now every yuppie in Toronto is there. So things change."
Gomez is sitting on a bench in Dorset Park, where ThinkTank Toronto is holding an outdoor movie night for the locals. Despite a few clouds and the flash of some faraway lightning, the night is forgivingly dry, after a week of rain.
Dorset Park, it should be noted, is in the centre of Hulchanksi's impoverished inner ring. But the families that flood the park this evening hardly appear to be suffering. It is a culture mosaic of storybook proportions: Indian women in Saris, Muslim women in head scarves, a mullet-headed hoser with four fold-out Toronto Maple Leaf chairs; Jamaican and Indian and Arab children taking turns on the slide; all of them waiting to see Back to the Future, an 80s blockbuster starring Michael J. Fox, on an inflatable screen.
"Look around. This is remarkable," says Gomez, as night falls on the park. The joyful squeals of children playing echo all around. "This is not the monoculture, whatever it was designed to be."
Gomez notes that places like Scarborough were designed to keep the organic chaos of the old central city at bay. But just like the old city, decay created the ultimate paradox: a suburb that develops organically, as the city once did. That now may embody the ultimate paradox: suburbs, like Scarborough, that have morphed into the most authentic urban places we now have.

Thanks to Halal Focus for reprinting this article.
The Toronto Star
WIRED Magazine, "Roads Gone Wild" article.

Traffic...Vancouver-Chicago

Thirty years ago, the mayor of Chicago was unseated by a snowstorm. A blizzard in January of 1979 dumped some 20 inches on the ground, causing, among other problems, a curtailment of transit service. The few available trains coming downtown from the northwest side filled up with middle-class white riders near the far end of the line, leaving no room for poorer people trying to board on inner-city platforms. African Americans and Hispanics blamed this on Mayor Michael Bilandic, and he lost the Democratic primary to Jane Byrne a few weeks later.

Today, this could never happen. Not because of climate change, or because the Chicago Transit Authority now runs flawlessly. It couldn't happen because the trains would fill up with minorities and immigrants on the outskirts of the city, and the passengers left stranded at the inner-city stations would be members of the affluent professional class.

In the past three decades, Chicago has undergone changes that are routinely described as gentrification, but are in fact more complicated and more profound than the process that term suggests. A better description would be "demographic inversion." Chicago is gradually coming to resemble a traditional European city--Vienna or Paris in the nineteenth century, or, for that matter, Paris today. The poor and the newcomers are living on the outskirts. The people who live near the center--some of them black or Hispanic but most of them white--are those who can afford to do so.

Developments like this rarely occur in one city at a time, and indeed demographic inversion is taking place, albeit more slowly than in Chicago, in metropolitan areas throughout the country. The national press has paid very little attention to it. While we have been focusing on Baghdad and Kabul, our own cities have been changing right in front of us.


From The New Republic.

If you want to see this sort of thing writ large, you can venture just across the Canadian border to Vancouver, a city roughly the size of Washington, D.C. What makes it unusual--indeed, at this point unique in all of North America--is that roughly 20 percent of its residents live within a couple of square miles of each other in the city's center. Downtown Vancouver is a forest of slender, green, condo skyscrapers, many of them with three-story townhouse units forming a kind of podium at the base. Each morning, there are nearly as many people commuting out of the center to jobs in the suburbs as there are commuting in. Two public elementary schools have opened in downtown Vancouver in the past few years. A large proportion of the city's 600,000 residents, especially those with money, want to live downtown.

No American city looks like Vancouver at the moment. But quite a few are moving in this direction. Demographic inversions of one sort or another are occurring in urban pockets scattered all across America, many of them in seemingly unlikely places. Charlotte, North Carolina, is in the midst of a downtown building boom dominated by new mixed-use high-rise buildings, with office space on the bottom and condos or rental units above. Even at a moment of economic weakness, the condos are still selling briskly.

We are not witnessing the abandonment of the suburbs or a movement of millions of people back to the city all at once. But we are living at a moment in which the massive outward migration of the affluent that characterized the second half of the twentieth century is coming to an end. For several decades now, cities in the United States have wished for a "24/7" downtown, a place where people live as well as work, and keep the streets busy, interesting, and safe at all times of day. This is what urbanist Jane Jacobs preached in the 1960s, and it has long since become the accepted goal of urban planners. Only when significant numbers of people lived downtown, planners believed, could central cities regain their historic role as magnets for culture and as a source of identity and pride for the metropolitan areas they served. Now that's starting to happen, fueled by the changing mores of the young and by gasoline prices fast approaching $5-per-gallon. In many of its urbanized regions, an America that seemed destined for everincreasing individualization and sprawl is experimenting with new versions of community and sociability.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Muslim Pop Song-A Heart Needs A Home


When I was studying comparative religion (does one ever stop such study?) I was introduced to the music of a Sufi Muslim, Richard Thompson. I used to think this ws one of the most inspiring songs. A few days ago, Mister Anchovy asked his visitors what they thought were some of the saddest songs. I started to remember that there was this old song, and it used to bring me to tears. I was very happy to find it on YouTube, and it still brings tears to me.

Below is an excerpt from an interview with Richard Thompson. The entire interview is very good. The interview was also published on The Huffington Post (a popular political blog)

Question: Yet, looking at you or your sometime bassist Danny Thompson (no relation), you don’t look like what many Westerners picture as Muslims. You look like guys you might have a beer with at the pub. Do you still describe yourself as a ‘liberal Muslim’?

Thompson: Sure. A lot of what is seen as Islam in the West comes from the loudest shouting voices, the neo-Islamic fundamentalists. The willingness to fight, that violent side, is a misinterpretation and a misapplication of the teachings of the Prophet. It ignores the heart of Islam: peace, generosity, compassion. Islam is about winning hearts and minds.

There is no compulsion in Islam at all. That’s a fact.

Question: Your songs aren’t exactly what people think of as ‘traditionally Muslim.’ “Don’t Tempt Me,” for example, is about a barfight. And you name weapons in it I’ve never heard of: “Lazy Susans,” “blockbusters” ...

Thompson: My songs are observations about life, of course, and not necessarily autobiographical. But overall, the important thing is to represent who you are. If something is fundamentally true, then whatever I am, I was always that. I recognize that in other teachings, too. This is who I am, this is who I’ve always been.

You have to embody that and be honest about who you are. I’m a rock and roll musician. Whatever else I am, I’m that too. And my religion makes me a better musician, better able to navigate these shark-infested waters a musician must navigate to survive.

...and about politics

Question: You put your Iraq song, “Dad’s Gonna Get Me,” up on the Huffington Post, so you know that they’re a politically-minded crowd. This interview will be published there, so do you have anything to say to them of a political nature before we conclude?

Thompson: Impeach now.

(laughs) Okay.

Thompson: If we start talking about politics this could go on for hours.

Question: Well, then I can’t resist at least one question. I’ve just written a magazine piece on the conflict between living a spiritually serene life and staying aware politically. What are your thoughts on that?

Thompson: I understand the problem. It’s very difficult to follow politics without feeling rage, resentment, and despair. But things are changing.

Question: You think? In what way?

Thompson: I see America headed toward something like a Socialist revolution. The big corporations, the banks, the other powerful interests who decide policy now – their policies are incredibly unpopular. Of course, they’re not going to give up without a fight. And as they drive the American middle class into poverty this huge, poor, dispossessed middle class is going to be really pissed off.

They’re going to demand a say. The American people have no say in their destiny. Everything is manipulated. That can only last for so long. The only opportunity for reform may come from a revolution, fifteen years or so down the road.

Question: If you look back at the 20th Century, it seems that every decade or so a political “theme song” came along to capture the spirit of the times. “Buddy Can You Spare a Dime.” “We Shall Overcome.” “Blowing in the Wind.” “Give Peace a Chance.” Then, thirty years ago or so, it stopped. Why?

Thompson: I think it’s coming. Incumbent politicians have managed to diffuse opposition, skillfully and effectively.

Question: I wonder, too, if the fragmentation of popular culture through cable TV and the Internet isn’t also a factor. It’s like there’s no zeitgeist anymore, no shared cultural space where everyone can meet and either fight it out or find common ground.

Thompson: That’s interesting. They’ve managed to defocus opposition somehow, we know that. But it’s just a matter of time before it changes. It’ll happen.

Question: Want to check your quotes for accuracy before this goes out?

Thompson: Nah. Publish and be damned.

Interview with "the voice", Linda Thompson and here...

13 Things About Hundertwasser


“If we do not honor our past

we lose our future.

If we destroy our roots

we cannot grow.”

Hundertwasser

2) Friedensreich Hundertwasser was born in Vienna in 1928 as Friedrich Stowasser. He initially gained acclaim for his paintings, but is currently more renowned for his unique architectural stylings. His revolutionary ecological stands with regard to architecture have earned him the nickname "Architecture-Healer." His works have been used for flags and stamps, coins and posters, schools and churches.
3) In his youth, Hundertwasser attended a Montessori school in Vienna, which influenced both his affinity for vibrant colors and respect of nature. He collected pebbles and pressed flowers as a child, demonstrating an interest in items that are precious and small at an early age, which later manifested itself in his collections of Venetian glass and Japanese fabrics.
4) Before he was twenty, all of his relatives on his mother’s side were killed in the Holocaust. He briefly attended the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts in 1948 and began producing his own works in the late 1940s.

5) Hundertwasser’s original, unruly, sometimes shocking artistic vision expressed itself in pictorial art, environmentalism, philosophy, and design of facades, postage stamps, flags, and clothing (among other areas). The common themes in his work are a rejection of the straight line, bright colours, organic forms, a reconciliation of humans with nature, and a strong individualism. He remains sui generis, although his architectural work is comparable to Antoni Gaudí in its biomorphic forms and use of tile. He was fascinated with spirals, and called straight lines “the devil’s tools”. He called his theory of art “transautomatism”, based on Surrealist automatism, but focusing on the experience of the viewer, rather than the artist.


The Maiden by Gustav Klimt, 1912. From here

Krumau an der Moldau by Egon Scheile, 1912.

Adele Bloch-Bauer (sold in 2006 for 136 million) We just saw this painting in an incredible design and art museum in New York City.
"A person in a rented apartment must be able to lean out of his window and scrape off the masonry within arm's reach. And he must be allowed to take a long brush and paint everything outside within arm's reach. So that it will be visible from afar to everyone in the street that someone lives there who is different from the imprisoned, enslaved, standardised man who lives next door." From his manifesto




Mosaic details from building in Switzerland.Photos from here

Grüne Zitadelle in Magdeburg von Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Berlin. Photo by Doris Antony.

12) Hundertwasserhaus is a low-income apartment block in Vienna, which features undulating floors ("an uneven floor is a melody to the feet"), a roof covered with earth and grass, and large trees growing from inside the rooms, with limbs extending from windows. He took no payment for the design of Hundertwasserhaus, declaring that it was worth it, to "prevent something ugly from going up in its place". Photo by Evgenia Kononova

13) “When man thinks he has to correct nature, it is an irreparable mistake every time. A community should not consider it an honour how much spontaneous vegetation it destroys; it should rather be a point of honour for every community to protect as much of its natural landscape as possible.The brook, the river, the swamp, the riverside wetlands as they are, the way God created them, must be sacred and inviolable to us. Correcting a stream only has evil effects, which are expensive in the end: the lowering of water tables, the destruction of forests, the transformation of large areas into steppes, no regeneration of the water, which runs off too fast. The river wetlands can no longer fulfill their sponge-like function: the absorption of excess water and slow feedback in dry spells, like a good piggy bank in times of emergency. The regulated brook becomes a sewer. Fish die, and there are no fish in the brook because they cannot swim through the regulated channel. Floods, with all their devastating consequences, all the more after regulation. Because too much water runs off too quickly, converging in great quantity without any chance of being absorbed by the earth and the vegetation. Only a stream with a high waterline flowing irregularly can produce pure water, regulate the water household and conserve the fish and animal populations to the benefit of man and his agriculture. Now, almost too late, this age-old adage is being recognised and the courses of rivers and streams, which had been straightened in concrete channels, are being destroyed in order to restore the previous irregular state. What irony! So why regulate a stream if you have to deregulate it afterwards?” Hundertwasser, May 1990




Mould Manifesto Against Rationalism In Architecture
More photos

Thursday Thirteen is a group oriented activity for bloggers to get to know each other. I think this is aproximately my 200th post for Thursday Thirteen..I kind of lost track except for the "Mister Linky" record. Visitors can click on the Mister Linky icon below and link their blog. Cheers and thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Yee Haw Enterprises, Knoxville


Out for dinner one night in Knoxville, visiting and researching locations of Cormac McCarthy novesl...a woman was in the restaurant and she had a t-shirt with a lovely scrolled text saying "Suttree". Suttree is one of the novels set in Knoxville so I approached her and asked her about the t-shirt. Her brother is a big fan of McCarthy's and named his band, Suttree. She owns and operates a printing and publishing company that we had visited that very morning. Downtown Knoxville feels very cosy, yes? She makes beautiful letter press posters and many other wonderful retro and handmde items. More at Yee Haw Industries.


The band Suttree has a MySpace and you can listen to more songs here and buy their albums.. They are based in Asheville, North Carolina. I've been listening to them for about a month and really love their music and sensibility.

Meet Glen Campbell


SPIN Magazine: Your mug shot was everywhere a couple of years ago. What do you think of the way celebrities are covered now?


Campbell: Some people don't like to forgive. That's not God's way. God don't lie and B.S. you. I tell you, I've been so happy since I married Kim. Well, maybe after I straightened her out a little. Ha ha! (click on yellow text and read the rest of the SPIN blurb)


The new album Meet Glen Campbell features cover songs of The Foo Fighters, Green Day, Tom Petty, The Velvet Underground and a beautiful version of "Hurt" by Nine Inch Nails.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Piercing Quiz




You Are an Eyebrow Piercing



You are unique, quirky, and more than a little eccentric.

You cultivate the weirder sides of your personality, and you don't mind sharing them.



Ever since you were a kid, you've had strong opinions. You've never been like everyone else, and you're okay with that.

And you've always been able to tell people exactly what you think - even when they don't want to hear it.



You love to create, dream, imagine, and communicate. You live in your own universe.

And unlike most people who live in their own little world, you're happy to invite anyone in!



Thanks, Wandering Coyote, that was fun.

New Stagg Swag

Believe it or not, we found homes for a lot of the SWAG we had,,,and we have updated the SWAG Gallery Page.

I am having trouble with scanner and camera...but have posted a couple new things if you click here. Thanks to the cool folks who ordered up some paintings, zines and picture frames...YOU ROCK!


Picture Frame "A" on left. Picture frame "B" on right of photo.

Picture frame "C" on left of photo. Picture frame "D" on right of photo.

Frame sizes are aprox. 10 1/2 inches by 12 inches. Each picture frame is $20.00 U.S. plus s&h.

If you would like to order a picture frame please e-mail:

staggman1@comcast.net

Low Brow, High Brow, Shitty Stuff and Guilty Pleasures?

Is there anything of interest in popular culture? Is all popular culture "low brow"? Do you have guilty pleasures such as watching Jerry Springer or COPS regularily? (I used to watch Jerry Springer. I had friends who went on his show, they were part of an improv group and created a storyline and faked it on his show)

I love Lewis Black and he has an awesome show on the Comedy Network called "The Root of All Evil". The premise of the show has two people debating issues in front of a live audience. Topics under debate include: "Red States vs. Blue States" and "NRA vs PETA" and "Ultimate fighting vs Bloggers" and "Donald Trump vs. Rosie O'Donnell".

I think Lewis Black is high brow!



HighBrow LowBrow by Larence Levine contends that early 19th-century America was characterized by no rigid cultural divisions between elite and mass culture. By the later part of the century, however, a clear line had been drawn; Shakespearean plays, classical music, and art of the old masters increasingly became the property of the elite only. The pendulum has swung back now, he observves, as there is a lessening of cultural divisions in contemporary America. A well-written contribution to the history of American culture. Without hestitation, this book is recommended highly to all academic American studies and popular culture collections as well as to large public libraries.

From Lowbrow to Nobrow

Peter Swirski

A groundbreaking book arguing that pop culture is the driving force in the development of culture.

From Lobrow to Nobrow demolishes the elite argument that popular fiction and culture are the underside of civilization. In this innovative book, Peter Swirski goes beyond demonstrating that "high-brow" has been transformed to "low-brow," showing that nobrow art is the interactive factor in the relationship between popular art and highbrow art.

Swirski begins with a series of groundbreaking questions about the nature of popular fiction, vindicating it as an artform that expresses and reflects the aesthetic and social values of its readers. He follows his insightful introduction to the socio-aesthetics of genre literature with a synthesis of the century long debate on the merits of popular fiction and a study of genre informed by analytic aesthetics and game theory.

Swirski then turns to three "nobrow" novels that have been largely ignored by critics. Examining the aesthetics of "artertainment" in Karel Capek's War with the Newts, Raymond Chandler's Playback, and Stanislaw Lem's Chain of Chance, crossover tours de force, From Lowbrow to Nobrow throws new light on the hazards and rewards of nobrow traffic between popular forms and highbrow aesthetics.


low·brow (lbrou)
n.
One having uncultivated tastes.
adj. also low·browed (-broud)
Uncultivated; vulgar.


Low culture is a derogatory term for some forms of popular culture. The term is often encountered in discourses on the nature of culture. Its opposite is high culture. It has been said by culture theorists that both high culture and low culture are subcultures.
Kitsch, slapstick, camp, escapist fiction, popular music and exploitation films are examples of low culture. It has often been stated that in postmodern times, the boundary between high culture and low culture has blurred. See the 1990s artwork of Jeff Koons for examples of appropriation of low art tropes.
Romanticism was one of the first movements to reappraise "low culture", when previously maligned medieval romances started to influence literature.

Lowbrow, or lowbrow art, describes an underground visual art movement that arose in the Los Angeles, California, area in the late 1970s. Lowbrow is a widespread populist art movement with origins in the underground comix world, punk music, hot-rod street culture, and other subcultures. It is also often known by the name pop surrealism. Lowbrow art often has a sense of humor - sometimes the humor is gleeful, sometimes impish, and sometimes it's a sarcastic comment.

I watch a lot of low brow shows and read a fair bit of low brow literature. I watch Oprah and Regis and Kelly. I read pulp murder mysteries. I watch Survivor. I watch a couple of soap operas. I listen to a lot of mainstream pop music. I love some of the most overplayed pop music in the world like Bruce Springsteen and U2. I love Chris Brown, Beyonce. I watch Snoop Dogg's reality show "Fatherhood". And Tori Spelling's reality tv show. I watch hockey and football. I used to collect comic books. I follow the WWE ocassionally.

All of the above are considered by souls classier than me to be among the very banal of mainstream culture. Some people might say these are the lowest forms of entertainment designed to attract the lowest denominator in the popular imagination..."working classes" "lower education classes" (of which I am both).

Is there any artistic merit in various genre's marketed and designed to appeal to the widest demographic possible? And since when did making things that appeal to lots of people become a "bad" thing?

I know this stuff isn't Francis Ford Coppola, Stanley Kubrick, Proust, Shakespeare or HBO or other "high brow" art forms. I love them though...is there any thing you like about popular culture that is considered "low brow" or industrial pap for the masses? I never feel guilty about these pleasures except when my friends tease me about my mainstream bad taste. heh heh.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

So, three questions. 1) Is there any artistic merit in various genre's marketed and designed to appeal to the widest demographic possible? 2) And since when did making things that appeal to lots of people become a "bad" thing: a wide demographic of consumption associated with "shallow" or lowbrow quality and content? 3) Do you have any guilty pleasures in work designed by a seemingly industrial production geared for the widest demographic of tastes?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Cooking Class

Welcome To Blogland...

A fellow participant in one of my online bookclubs has started a blog. It's called Tome of the Unknown Writer. Bill is a really interesting guy who is a published writer and avid reader. I am really looking forward to following his thoughts on his blog.

Mountain Stop






These pics are almost a year old. I took them on the way to Asheville N.C. last September about 5:30 in the morning when the bus stopped for a break. I've meant to post them for ages and just got around to it now. I had a coffee and it was one of those stops that is special, one because I was so tired and disoriented and because this is a fun thing: road side attractions. The third photo from the top has a sign in it that says "Look tarps 43 sizes".

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Book Club Question and My Response...

Candy:

You've got me curious. You've read a lot of books, watched a lot of movies, listened to a lot music, viewed a lot of television, and you seem, from what little I know intimately (that is personally) about you (and granted what I do know is based solely on thread posts), to like nearly everything. But it only makes sense that you'd not be too fond of at least a few examples from each genre. Is this true? If so, what are a few books, movies, etc. that have curdled your insides with their worthlessness?
Cyniclad.

Cyniclad, hmm. Weeelll. First I want to apologize at answering you with such a ridiculously long response. I don't blame you if you are not inclined to read the whole thing. But know, that I took your question to heart...and viewing and reading is something I take very seriously...and my philosophy around such. Maybe we should exchange e-mails as I have taken up so much space here at the forum. Sorry. (I think I've actually managed to post a longer comment than the redoubtable Ken, Peter or Bob G...my kindred souls in marathon forum posts! heh!)

Yes, I guess it does seem like I like everything, heh heh. I am actually a massive snob. I do not like totalitarian agricultural economy or name-calling or big-box stores. I think totalitarian agriculture is a desperate matrix for survival in lessening resources so I can see how it developed, but I don't like how it dominates the way we make a living or share resources. Name-calling either of an article, human activity, product or each other has reduced so many potentially interesting discussions and human relationships to petty brief chit chat. And big-box stores colonize land instead of offering residences above them and send profits to central offices and only a few personal pockets rather than the community they are supposed to serve. I am not crazy about politics either, especially politicians...although there have been some community leaders and civil servants I admire here and there. I blame totalitarian agriculture on our allowing a system that lets politicians think they are leaders, rather than civil servants.

I tend to be a person who is interested in nature and human activities. I just find life very fun and the things that humans do, for the most part, absolutely fascinating. I find things far more interesting to think about in general than my own personal taste.

I can't say I was always like that though. I went through a phase when I was an early punk that I rejected almost any thing that didn't come from or associate or was in tune with the punk aesthetic. Henry Rollins has discussed how fascist this trait for rejecting so much of popular culture in the punk movement was back in the day. I couldn't find his quote, sorry, because he says it much better than I can.

But there was a time when I rejected the music my parents listened to, I didn't like the Beatles or the Eagles Barbra Steisand, country-western, opera, or anything "over-produced" in music. Fortunately this phase didn't last that long. I had fallen into a nihilistic funk if you will. I was reading Nietzsche and existentialists. I was listening to Crass, The Swans, Sisters of Mercy, Joy Division, The Birthday Party, Bauhaus, Black Tape For A Blue Girl, Throbbing Gristle. I saw The Clash five times during this period and they are probably still my most nostaligic "favourite" band. I immersed my self in "art house" films. I thought Disney sucked.

I was a sprocket long before Mike Myers portrayed how hilarious we were back then. Or the Prince of Abyss.

I don't know exactly what happened, I kind of just bored myself out of it. It was intensely poetic time of my life, studying art and poetry, nightclubbing. And then I just realized...hey I find a lot of things really fun.

Fortunately, I was influenced by friends, who were musicians, housewives and a variety of sods and pisspots who taught me about music history and introduced me to a variety of movies. And forunatly, I was young and not stuck in a rut. I've sen many people get stuck in such a rut. There are all kinds of mindsets that are the death to insightful reading, viewing and criticism.

I still mostly, when alone listen to my goth and punk roots.

I have also always been what might be stereotyped as a "people person". I am really a lover of meeting people and one of my favourite past times is to hang out, shoot the shit and drink coffee. That has always been my lifestyle. I am really into hearing what people do, how they spend their time and what they are interested in. And I love big fat discussions.

I have a group of friends that share this past time with me. And each one of them is massively opinionated too. I have a friend Mister Anchovy who is kind of like, forum webmaster Rick Wallach separated at birth. In attitude. He mainly focuses his listening to folk music, say Bob Dylan and obscure accordion music: he is bewildered at the popularity and media machine of Amy Winehouse and Britney Spears. (but he is a "go-to" guy when it comes to folk traditions) It makes no sense how we became soul mates. Our friendship began over arguing about Eva Hesse and Di Chirico and Philip Guston etc etc. And music and movies. From our first studying art and music and such...we have always had massive discussions. My friends do not agree with me on just about everything. I have hardly any friends who like U2. And they are one of my favourite bands. and my friends don't always understand my rejection of totalitarian agriculture. Most of my friends think I am nuts...and well, I think so too, ha ha. But friends don't care if your socks don't match. And over the years we have learned how to have disagreements and long running discussions despite many of our differences. Friends don't care if your socks don't match. And... my friends and I being so opinionated...we joke that we are friends because no one else wants to hang out with us.

So...at one point I had a kind of personal moment when I realized hey, I like stuff why am I restricting my life to one kind of music. My friends music was important to me. Other people's interests are very important to me. As I studied painting I realized, it doesn't make sense for me to hang on to "favourite colours". There is no room in art for favouring colours over content. Is it true, form follows content?

I think walking into a movie theatre or an art gallery...is much more powerful when one tries to just learn.

And I do believe in life long learning. At the risk of sounding hopelessly Oprah in a hostile environment, heh heh I love aha moments. And I love transformative art...and surrender is part of that process: of viewing, making and discussing. In my opinion. In my personal experience.

To just open up and see where the narratives take one. Plus, I just plum find it fascinating to expose myself to an art show. I don't ever read movie or art or book reviews. Sometimes I will cut them out and save them to read later after I've seen for myself. Many critics now have kind of resorted to a Seinfeld mentality of criticism. Revealing a plot and dismissing particular shallow traits in their observations (can't date her she has "man hands" "eats peas with only one pea on a fork"). (I loved Seinfeld show, but not because they are cool, but because they were funny because they were all disturbed and not well-adjusted and of course they all had to land up in jail..where else?). The trend I see in criticism has lost the flavour of how does one feel about the characters, story, and turned into a more "rational" approach to studying and commenting on art, books. In my opinion, a critic actually needs to have as vast an imagination as the art and books they critique.

Now, Steve, you ask me to share movies or books I found "worthless". You know, that really defines the difference of approach I take. I am a people person. I really enjoy life and nature. I just don't see something people do as worthless. It seems so negative a way of approaching the vast history of objects and stories people share.

Nothing about human life or activity is worthless to me. It might be horrific (war and cruelty) it might be shallow or incomplete in it's intent...but worthless?

No I think it's possible to even find some value in a weak movie or story. I am also thinking there is a value in "bad art". I was turned on to the The Museum of Bad Art recently (thanks Wes). The existence of this museum makes perfect (and often funny and even touching) sense to me.

Part of the human condition is the urge to make or lay claim to something. To try to share something important...and as humans...we make mistakes. Those mistakes are as fascinating to me as the successes.


There are all kinds of books and movies I don't like. I read On Beauty with a book club last year. I thought it was a failure. For one the characters were all rather unlikable...but not in a purposeful manner. And I believe Zadie Smith made a huge oversight. She introduced a stolen painting in the novel...and totally didn't use such an excellent plot device. The stolen painting was wrapped up as an afterthought. I dod however like Francine Prose's novel Blue Angel more and I comare them because they had similar content and settings and themes.

I once read a book I really really hated. A friend had wanted me to read it so we could discuss it. I read it. And I said, I will never read another book by that author. Yuck! I didn't like the style of writing, I thought there were actual sentences that sounded phony.

See, I am suspicious of phony things and people.

Then... months (years?) later someone mentioned a book they thought I would enjoy. I love novels with adventure, action, intense styles and often taboo subject matter, interspecies relationships...it's not a "rule" but it's a preference for me. So they said, this book had animals, the ocean (I love ocean adventures!) and some other aspects I look for in novels. Yes, I was totally interested in this book.

Oh no. It was by the same author of Self the very same author I said I would never read again!

Steve, I am a Buddhist and there is a word we have called "lila" and it is when the universe plays a joke on you. It is often a sense of fun and testing for the practitioner. And really, I tend to not take "reality" or "realism" as seriously as some folks in North America and Europe. My meditation and study of both Hinduism and Buddhism has likely been a force on how I feel about reading and viewing.

What a lila!
It turned out that in fact, I LOVED The Life of Pi and even funnier...it went on to get several awards. Shows what I know about myself.

My likes and dislikes are not always the way I move through the world of reading and viewing.

I don't like Margeret Atwood. I've often said I would rather drink a glass of saliva than read another of her books. You know, and yet she is so immensely popular. I know it's me, and also I know she writes interesting things. I do happen to like her novel Surfacing. I thought it was really cool..now I also read that when I was a kid...and the subject matter stills interests me.

I used to not liek Julia Roberts. Although she is gorgeous on camera and has a lot of charisma...I used to not like her acting style. I wasn't a fn of the movie Pretty Woman. I prefered the dark anecdote, Whore by Ken Russell.

Then she blew me away in her role in My Best Friends Wedding. She really touched me with her portrayal. And although I am not a superdooper fan of Pretty Woman I have become a fan of Roberts.



I am not a fan of classical music. I find it depressing. I was introduced to classical music through movie soundtracks. I love 2001, Clockwork Orange, Indiana Jones, Star Wars (the movies as well as the soundtracks). So..I don't hate classical music, and over the years I've gotten way more familiar and enjoy much of it. But I don't generally choose to play it say, around the house, or for a party. It depresses me, like my actual metabolism heh heh.

I watched a movie the other day called In The Land of Women and it was okay. I was a little uninterested during the movie and that was sad. It had some humour...but it had the potential to be a lot deeper and funnier considering the interworkings of the characters, the subtle humour, and the heavy subject matter. And the untapped talents of the actors like Meg Ryan and Olympia Dukakis. I have never walked out of a movie, but I almost thought about not finishing this one. I love the actor Kristen Stewart (the daughter in Panic Room the teen hobo in Into The Wild) I think she is utterly compelling onscreen. I can't look away from her. And so far in her young career a awesome actor.

I am not crazy about chamber music or duelling string ensembles.

In The Edges-Grizzly Man

As visitors know, I am fan of Werner Herzog. I recently read a critical study on his movies and caught his documentary about making the soundtrack for Grizzly Man. Herzog did something different, he asked the musicians to wait until the film was finished and then to improvise over a two day period. Herzog says usually soundtracks are pre-written.

Richard Thompson is stunning. I had tears several times during the documentary just from the sounds he made. The soundtrack to There Will Be Blood reminded me of some of the feeling I had watching Grizzly Man. I think the process and collaboration in this film are incredible. Richard Thompson speaks of music "is in the edges" and cautions against overplaying the writing. The human voice must have been one of the first human instruments, and I agree with A Blog About Nowt, how discomforting it is to not have singing in mamny pieces. However so many instruments are extensions of the voice, especially guitar solos and accordion (where the object depends on breathing to make sound) and the horn family. I think this film In The Edges is a must see.

A Blog About Nowt recently posted about music with out lyrics. His post gave me thoughts about non-language communication...something Herzog has explored throughout his career. (The Enigma of Kasper Hauser as the most obvious)

The following video is a moment where Jim O'Rourke of Sonic Youth and Wilco tunes his piano with paperclips and screws. O'Rourke also plays guitar and accordiaon on the soundtrack.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Gaudy In Shakespeare

Wow, there have been almost no comments for weeks here, but to my delight, a movie review noting changes of usage between the word "gaudy" and an architects's popularity and lack of popularity, Catalan Art Nouveau's Gaudi, got a wee response! So I thought it might be fun to look at the word as it was used within decades of it's coinage...with that madcap dear Shakespeare...

Shakespeare uses the word "gaudy" 8 times in various plays. What fun it must have been to write with a newborn word! "Gaudy" was only five years older than Shakespeare (his baptism: 1564-1616)

gaudy: 1529, from M.E. gaud "deception, trick," also "ornamental bead, rosary" (c.1300), possibly from Anglo-Fr. gaudir "be merry, scoff," from L. gaudere "rejoice." Alternate (less likely) etymology is from M.E. gaudy-green "yellowish-green," originally "green dye" obtained from a plant formerly known as weld, from a Gmc. source (see weld (n.)), which became gaude in O.Fr. The Eng. term supposedly shifted sense from "weld-dye" to "bright."

I will be treble-sinew'd, hearted, breathed,
And fight maliciously: for when mine hours
Were nice and lucky, men did ransom lives
Of me for jests; but now I'll set my teeth,
And send to darkness all that stop me. Come,
Let's have one other gaudy night: call to me
All my sad captains; fill our bowls once more;
Let's mock the midnight bell.

Antony and Cleopatra, Antony character.

Yet here, Laertes? Aboard, aboard, for shame!
The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail,
And you are stay'd for. There- my blessing with thee!
And these few precepts in thy memory
Look thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportion'd thought his act.
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar:
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch'd, unfledg'd comrade. Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel; but being in,
Bear't that th' opposed may beware of thee.
Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice;
Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
For the apparel oft proclaims the man,
And they in France of the best rank and station
Are most select and generous, chief in that.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all- to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell. My blessing season this in thee!

Hamlet, Polonius, character.

The gaudy, blabbing and remorseful day
Is crept into the bosom of the sea;
And now loud-howling wolves arouse the jades
That drag the tragic melancholy night;
Who, with their drowsy, slow and flagging wings,
Clip dead men's graves and from their misty jaws
Breathe foul contagious darkness in the air.
Therefore bring forth the soldiers of our prize;
For, whilst our pinnace anchors in the Downs,
Here shall they make their ransom on the sand,
Or with their blood stain this discolour'd shore.
Master, this prisoner freely give I thee;
And thou that art his mate, make boot of this;
The other, Walter Whitmore, is thy share.

Henry VI, Part II. Captain character.

A time, methinks, too short
To make a world-without-end bargain in.
No, no, my lord, your grace is perjured much,
Full of dear guiltiness; and therefore this:
If for my love, as there is no such cause,
You will do aught, this shall you do for me:
Your oath I will not trust; but go with speed
To some forlorn and naked hermitage,
Remote from all the pleasures of the world;
There stay until the twelve celestial signs
Have brought about the annual reckoning.
If this austere insociable life
Change not your offer made in heat of blood;
If frosts and fasts, hard lodging and thin weeds
Nip not the gaudy blossoms of your love,
But that it bear this trial and last love;
Then, at the expiration of the year,
Come challenge me, challenge me by these deserts,
And, by this virgin palm now kissing thine
I will be thine; and till that instant shut
My woeful self up in a mourning house,
Raining the tears of lamentation
For the remembrance of my father's death.
If this thou do deny, let our hands part,
Neither entitled in the other's heart.

Love's Labour's Lost. Princess of France character.



So may the outward shows be least themselves:
The world is still deceived with ornament.
In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt,
But, being seasoned with a gracious voice,
Obscures the show of evil? In religion,
What damned error, but some sober brow
Will bless it and approve it with a text,
Hiding the grossness with fair ornament?
There is no vice so simple but assumes
Some mark of virtue on his outward parts:
How many cowards, whose hearts are all as false
As stairs of sand, wear yet upon their chins
The beards of Hercules and frowning Mars;
Who, inward search'd, have livers white as milk;
And these assume but valour's excrement
To render them redoubted! Look on beauty,
And you shall see 'tis purchased by the weight;
Which therein works a miracle in nature,
Making them lightest that wear most of it:
So are those crisped snaky golden locks
Which make such wanton gambols with the wind,
Upon supposed fairness, often known
To be the dowry of a second head,
The skull that bred them in the sepulchre.
Thus ornament is but the guiled shore
To a most dangerous sea; the beauteous scarf
Veiling an Indian beauty; in a word,
The seeming truth which cunning times put on
To entrap the wisest. Therefore, thou gaudy gold,
Hard food for Midas, I will none of thee;
Nor none of thee, thou pale and common drudge
'Tween man and man: but thou, thou meagre lead,
Which rather threatenest than dost promise aught,
Thy paleness moves me more than eloquence;
And here choose I; joy be the consequence!

Merchant of Venice. Bassanio chaaracter.



'Why hunt I then for colour or excuses?
All orators are dumb when beauty pleadeth;
Poor wretches have remorse in poor abuses;
Love thrives not in the heart that shadows dreadeth:
Affection is my captain, and he leadeth;
And when his gaudy banner is display'd,
The coward fights and will not be dismay'd.

Rape of Lucrece, Shakespeare.

From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty's rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heir might bear his memory:
But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed'st thy light'st flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel.
Thou that art now the world's fresh ornament
And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content
And, tender churl, makest waste in niggarding.
Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
To eat the world's due, by the grave and thee.

Sonnet 1, Shakespeare.

'And therefore would he put his bonnet on,
Under whose brim the gaudy sun would peep;
The wind would blow it off and, being gone,
Play with his locks: then would Adonis weep;
And straight, in pity of his tender years,
They both would strive who first should dry his tears.

Venus and Adonis. Shakespeare.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Leroi Moore and Phil Guy R.I.P.


LeRoi Moore, saxophonist and founding member of Dave Matthews Band, died on Tuesday from complications stemming from an ATV accident he suffered in June. One of the best concerts I ever saw was The Dave Matthews Band in Vancouver. The band is partly known for their incredible jam concerts comparable to the Grateful Dead for fan loyalty and enjoyment.

The Dave Matthews band formed in 1991 in Charlottesville, according to their website, when vocalist/guitarist Matthews tapped Moore and drummer Carter Beauford -- both accomplished jazz musicians in the local Charlottesville music scene -- to help record some songs Matthews had written. Since then, according to the RIAA, Dave Matthews Band has sold over 31 million units in the U.S., putting them in the Top 100 highest-selling music acts of all time.


Phil Guy died Wednesday morning at Saint James Hospital in Chicago Heights. He played backup for his brother Buddy and also fronted his own band, Phil Guy and the Chicago Machine. We saw Phil Guy just this past year one night for a fun evening at Kingston Mines. His brother Buddy Guy was also in the audience.

Buddy Guy has been on tour. He is flying home tonight to be with family members. (ABC)

This has been a rough couple weeks for loss of some incredible performers as can be found by posts on many blogs: I am sad when I think of Bernie Mac, Isaac Hayes, and Pervis Jackson.

Influence and Consilience-A Movie Review

"Everything comes from the great book of nature. Human attainments are an already printed book" Antoni Gaudi

Casa Mila designed by architect Gaudi, 1906.

'The word gaudy has been used as an insult for almost a century.The word usage came from an unusual renegade architect in Catalan'. Archictect Antoni Gaudi was an extremely pious religious figure, a fanatic Catholic who lived a life of voluntary simplicity and who had a commitment to building designs inspired by his countryside and nature. He is an extrodinarily contradictory figure and was co-opted by various groups in the 1960's who would have mortified him. Groups like hippies, the hallucenegetic experiements in drugs and counterculture and the Dadists and Surrealists. The convolution of gaudy and Gaudi has become an urban myth and yet there may be a logical connection to the usage of gaudy being negative with the architect.

Recently, during a small power outage, I noticed that we had a Criterion Collection dvd of Catalan architect Anonio Guadi by beautiful Japanese direct Hiroshi Teshigahara. (Woman of the Dunes) I was so surprised, I guess Stagg had picked it up without me noticing! The Criterion Collection is so amazing and basically it's not unusual to open up a dvd, set aside a couple of hours and feel like you just sat in on an awesome tutorial! This set comes with the 1984 film Tesigahara made on one of his re-visits to see Gaudi's work. He first went to visit Barcelona with his father who was a master of Ikebana (flower arrangements) a sculptor, and a member of Japan's avant garde movement.



The younger Teshigahara says he had only seen a photo of one of Gaudi's benches and that he went into a shock seeing his buildings the first time. A special delight in this dvd set is that the original film he shoots of his father's visit is included. This footage is before Hiroshi becomes a film maker! The filming was instrumental to him becoming a film maker. Comparing his 1959 footage to the 1984 shots is fascinating. Sofu Teshigahara is also filmed by his son visiting Salvador Dali. And another wonderful monet is Sofu constructing a driftwood and flower arangement right in front of Dali, with Dali and Gaia his wife, in fabulous dramatic black and white clothes. She is wearing these broad striped pants and they are thrilled with Teshigahara's impulsive creation.

Something of note, Picasso would have been a young boy walking the same streets that Gaudi was constructing fabulous buildings like this one:


The influence upon cubism by Gaudi's mosaic and organic designs is discussed in brief during some of the "extras' on this dvd set and an episode of Robert Hughes's BBC program Monito is included.

Woman With Guitar by George Braque, 1913.

Trailer for Teshigahar's Woman In The Dunes.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Buddy's Cd Available Now!


Mikedelic Brownage has a cd available. I love his music. If you go to his blog all you have to do is click on the pic of him pointing at you..and presto. Please check him out and don't forget to support your local sherrif!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

An Artist's Job


Our civilization doesn't have adequate images, and I think a civilization is doomed or is going to die out like dinosaurs if it does not develop an adequate language or adequate images. I see it as a very very dramatic situation. For example, we have found out that there are serious problems facing our civilization, like energy problems, or environmental problems, or nuclear power and all this, or over-population of the world. But generally it is not understood yet that a problem of the same magnitude is that we do not have adequate images, and that's what I'm working on-a new grammar of images. Werner Herzog, director of Stroszek, Aguirre, Grizzly Man and Rescue Dawn.


Clips from Les Blank's classic 1980 short, "Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe." The film documents Herzog fulfilling a bet he made with Errol Morris: if Morris would finish his brilliant first feature "Gates of Heaven," Herzog said he would eat his shoe. He uses this public stunt to say some very serious things about American pop culture, filmmakers becoming "clowns" to promote their work, and the culture of images (or lack thereof).

Friday, August 15, 2008

Even My Secret Identity Is Cool

One evening in D.C we went for wonderful french food (I must get the name of that place, yum!) and then wandered around the neighbourhood going into a book store and funky area of the city. This was a special visit for me, and maybe Stagg too...because this was the first time since we were together that he was meeting one of my family. He knows my daughter, but he knew her long before we were together. Oh wait. Stagg has met my step-mum: "Dr. D-J". One of the few well adjusted role models in my family. So...but still, n some ways, meeting my brother-in-law was a kind of "step" if you will. (I promised Stagg he wouldn't ever have to meet my parents because they are insane, with their even crazier spouses. And actually, there are worse crimes than being crazy. They aren't good people. I had to cut them out of my life years ago)

So we wandered to a bookstore my bro-in-law wanted to show us. Sheesh, can I use his name? I can't remember ha ha. I think I did already with his picture earlier this week. Greg pulls a book of the shelf and says "Hey, this is you and Stagg-people want to live like you two!" and passes us a book called The Rise of the Creative Class. Stagg immediately reached over and pulled off a book by Twyla Tharp called The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It and said, "No this is more like what we are, it's hard work."

We kind of had a moment of well, Greg meant as a compliment saying we are living the dream, and people are studying us. I thought it was funny both Stagg and I were like...sheesh can't us arists just be artists? Now lawyers and doctors want to be "cool" and bottle up creativity. As long as they start to buy fucking art, I don't care if there is a creative class or not. Share some of that green with the real creative class cowboys! Right now that "creative class" is not selling any fucking art! We totally shut down the idea of that book and notion. but I've been thinking about it since...

I thought of Mister Anchovy and several others and wondered if they had heard of this economic theory...and I could hear Stagg and Mister Anchovy laughing and laughing in my head...

An article with the professor who is penning the term Why Cities Without Gays and Rock Bands Are Losing The Economic Development Race is here, click on the yellow text...

Creative Professionals: "Knowledge workers" and expanding to include lawyers and physicians.
Super-Creative Core: This comprises about twelve percent of all U.S. jobs. This group is deemed to contain a huge range of occupations (e.g. architecture, education, computer programming) with arts, design, and media workers making a small subset.
Additional to these two main groups of creative people, the usually much smaller group of Bohemians are also included in the Creative class.


The social theories advanced by Florida have sparked much debate and discussion. Florida's work would propose that a new or emergent class, or demographic segment made up of knowledge workers, intellectuals and various types of artists is an ascendant economic force, representing either a major shift away from traditional agriculture- or industry-based economies, or a general restructuring into more complex economic hierarchies.
The theses developed by Florida in various publications were drawn from - among other sources - US Census Bureau demographic data, focusing upon economic trends and shifts apparent in (at first) major US cities, with later work expanding the focus internationally.
The nebulous creative class has been on the rise for at least four decades; with an economic shift towards technology, research and development, and the internet (and related fields) building within the overall postwar economies of many countries.
A number of specific cities and regions (California's Silicon Valley, Boston’s Route 128, The Triangle in North Carolina, Austin, Seattle, Bangalore, India, Dublin, Ireland and Sweden) have come to be identified with these economic trends; in Florida's publications, the same cities are also heavily associated with the "creative class."
From Wikipedia

A Place To Live A Place To Grow...No no...It's Queen Street West!

Special shout out and thanks to Anita who sent me the link to an article about one of the best neighbourhoods in the world!

If neighbourhoods are more than mere geographic designations – if they are characters, in the literary sense – then Queen West would be one of those mysterious shapeshifter types, possibly self-knowing, possibly mad, sexy, a little dangerous, a liar. A femme fatale. You wouldn't know if she was a protagonist or antagonist until the last page. And maybe not even then. From The Toronto Star written by Andrew Pyper author whose novel The Killing Circle is set in Queen West.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Terminal Uniqueness

The trend to reject "the mainstream" has become a mainstream activity heh heh!

In previous post, I highlight an interview with author Lander about his book Stuff White People Like. Lander says that "white people" (or it seems people in a particular income-upper middle class) have an obsession with being "authentic" or special. This concept is something I've been writing or thinking about with friends and family for years.

I was reminded of something I learned from therapy...that came from recovery communities (can be found in mental, emotional and substance recovery attitudes) and AA called "terminal uniqueness".

On one hand being an artist, an "original" or special...to question authority is a positive attitude...but it can also be a negative. Sometimes wanting to be unique or an individual is unhealthy. Humans are designed to be social animals and although I believe in questioning authority I also value the community feeling of enjoying similar interests with friends and family. Sometimes, exploring the nature of reality, and questioning or rejcting the mainstream simply because it's trendy to do so, can be hazardous and a sign of addiction or imbalance in our souls.

Here is an online definition I found of "terminal uniqueness", a trait associated with difficulty in recovery and in addiction behaviours:

A term used primarily within 12-step programs. The meaning differs by context. The most fundamental of the definitions is a person's belief that he is so unique that the usual rules do not apply to him. Those who use the term believe terminal uniqueness to be a form of pride or egotism. While this sounds at first glance like a person who believes himself to be better than others, it does not have to be.

It is commonly used for the person who believes that nobody in the world has ever had problems as bad, sins as unforgivable, or circumstances as unusually grotesque as his before. "You people couldn't possibly help me, I'm too messed up. You could never understand what I've been through. And I'm an all-around bad person." Through talking to other people who have been through similar things, he usually finds that he shares both shortcomings and circumstances with at least some of them.

It can also be used for the person who wanders into an AA meeting and says, "I'm not like any of you. I never lived on the streets. I never resorted to crime. I was never a crack whore. I never did injectable drugs. I have a job that makes good money." As in the first case, prolonged exposure to others in the group reveals similarities the person was not expecting.

Terminal uniqueness is said to hold a person back from making the progress she needs to make her life better. In an artificially elevated or degraded position, she believes that the advice others give him cannot possibly apply to her. The possibility of her death if she does not improve her life gives rise to the word terminal.

A related usage of the term has been a cause for concern for some people. This is the reference to someone who believes he is so special that, for instance, he can skip some of the 12 steps or arrogantly make up his own way of doing things.

While there are real instances in which people use this mindset to evade responsibility, there is potential for grave misuse of the term. An alcoholic who wants to learn to drink moderately rather than abstain, or an addict who wants to quit using some other method than the 12 steps, might unjustly come under fire as being terminally unique. People can use the concept of terminal uniqueness to browbeat someone into avoiding any semblance of individuality at all.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

This Post Is Dedicated To Every Whinging Blogger, Purist and Seinfeld Wannabes...You're Not Smarter Than The Rest Of us, You Are us!


We saw this blogger and new author interviewed a few times during our holiday. I thought he was hilarious. And of course, he is a Canadian, which just seemed to make sense he was talking about this kind of stuff with his friends at work, started a blog, then got a book deal. Lander said he was talking with a guy at work about the series The Wire and one of their co-workers said he didn't trust any white people who didn't watch The Wire. Which Stagg and I found very funny, and probably wise! Stagg didn't think an American might have such an open conversation begin at work...but I don't know...he thinks the United States is more segregated than Canada. One of the reasons I think the blog/book is brilliant is because it exposes the fact that there are all these people out there, trying to be "purists" or "authentic' and just how mainstream that desire is...people believe they are unique and their humour and irony and criticism is unique...when Hello...it's perhaps impossible to be unique and "special"., often using music and pop culture as a venue to show how "authentic" they are...a huge pet peeve of mine...

Here is an interview from The New Repulic:

The website Stuff White People Like has inspired a new bestselling book, along with misgivings that its satire is ultimately toothless and flattering to its target Yuppie audience. Over sushi and an expensive vegetarian sandwich at a Washington, D.C., Whole Foods, author Christian Lander discussed his message, Barack Obama, indie rock, and the white quest for authenticity.

The New Republic: Was there a particular message you wanted to get across with Stuff White People Like?

Christian Lander: Yeah, the message is that this generation isn't impressed by wealth anymore. It's not about a bigger house or a more expensive car. It's about more "authenticity." And there is a competitive aspect to this. There's a sense of superiority that comes with saying "I don't need an SUV" or "I don't need an 8,000 square foot home.

Still, the site strikes me as a being pretty cynical. You're pointing out that what you think makes you unique is actually shared by everyone else in your class and from your background.

White people are a group that loathes the mass media and the idea of mass culture, but are being forced to recognize they are a part of a mass culture. This [he points to the aisles of Whole Foods] is a mass culture. It's interesting to see that so many people for so long believed that this is uniqueness. But it's sold the same way as every other product out there. Matador Records makes money at the end of the day, just the same way that Universal does.

As you've pointed out elsewhere, Stuff White People Like has as much to do with class as to do with race.

Any person of color who likes stuff on this list has been accused of being white at some point in their life. And a lot of people think I'm racist for saying that. But when I grew up, people of color who liked this stuff were called "banana" or "Oreo" or "coconut." And fundamentally, all of them were generally of the same class.

Well, that brings up a question I wanted to ask you about Obama and "post-racialism." A New York Times article the other week suggested that the idea of a post-racial America might be exclusively a white perception, and that blacks in this country feel that an Obama victory wouldn't do that much to heal old wounds.

White people want overwhelmingly to believe that their class and their group--the upper-middle-class left--is color-blind. It's sort of interesting to see that desperation for post-race emerge out of this group.

Is this solely because of white guilt? Or is there a "coolness" factor at play here--with tolerance being a way to prove how hip you are?

There is a coolness factor to it. And there's some kind of idea of competition--that you can find a way to become authentic enough to buy your way out of whiteness. "Oh, you married an Asian girl and you adopted a kid from Africa. That cancels everything out. You taught in Japan, too? You're a person of the world. You're not actually white." There is this sense that through travel and marriage and adoption you can buy your way out of being white.

One theme you return to is that when white people try to be more "aware" of social issues or more "just," they often end up coming off self-righteous.

The white solution to problems reminds me of that South Park episode with the underpants gnomes: step one, collect underpants; step two, question mark; step three, profit. There's a missing step. Like with a "Save Darfur" t-shirt. It's fantastic to give some money to this cause. But what's going to happen? T-shirts embody it all: "I've given money and I'm telling you what I've done." The concept of anonymous charities is completely lost on this generation. It's like a tree-falls-in-the-forest thing: If a white person does something positive and doesn't tell you about it, does it happen? This comes from the competitive aspect of it.

Are you rebelling against the culture of our generation?

Yeah, but how can I do it? I indict myself on every post. Our generation is pretty selfish. We're all gifted. We're all special little children. And it's hard to break away from that. Where does all of our generation want to work? In all of these "look at me" professions, like media. High prestige, low-paying professions. And there is selfishness to that. We do honestly want to help, but we also want to be recognized as helping. And there's this weird thing about mass culture. I think that's why everyone latches onto indie music, for example. It's like: "I need to desperately feel like I'm not a part of this sinking ship. That I'm a part of this smaller lifeboat that's going to make it." And then this leads to a crisis of authenticity that has people like us fighting for hours over who liked Cut Copy first. Ultimately, as this search for authenticity becomes a real thing, it just becomes a circle-jerk. What can we do? What else can you do but become selfish in a situation like that?

One of my favorite posts is the one in which you dissect white folk's love for irony, as exemplified particularly in the phenomenon of the trucker hat. Are you afraid that your site will go the way of the trucker hat?

Oh, it will. And it should.

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The Truth Will Not Set You Free article from The New Republic about Darfur, and Darfur literature.