Archive for July, 2010


combat art…


realism in the Corps…


On a glorious summer morning a few weeks ago two United States Marines — one an active-duty reservist, one recently retired — paced around a light-filled warehouse on the Marine Corps base here, talking shop. “Somebody who just knocks our socks off is Gerhard Richter,” said Michael D. Fay, a chief warrant officer before he left the corps last year. “We also love Basquiat.” Not your everyday exchange at Quantico perhaps. But one in keeping with the mission these men have dedicated themselves to for the last several years: the Marine Corps combat art program, for which both have worked as artists, recording the experiences of their fellow Marines.

The program is not the only one of its kind in the United States military, but many regard it as the one most deeply committed to its artistic mission. Like those in the other services, it began after the attack on Pearl Harbor and scaled back after Vietnam. Somewhat unusually, however, it has kept at least one artist in the reserves ready to deploy. And while most of the services have reactivated their art programs since the start of the Bush administration’s “global war on terror,” the Marine Corps’s has been the only one to cover most of the major conflicts.

Which helps explain why some of its supporters — most vocally Mr. Fay — are expressing concern about its future now that the program, which at its height in World War II had more than 70 artists, is down to just one full-time member, Sergeant Battles. “Now that I’m out, people have been asking me, ‘What’s the plan?’ ” said Mr. Fay, 56, a forceful personality who often calls the program “a red-headed stepchild,” partly because of the artists’ lack of formal status in the Marine hierarchy.

As a result, he argues, combat artists often have to lobby sympathetic commanders to be deployed and do their jobs. In the past the program came under the auspices of the Marine Corps Historical Center, reporting directly to the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, or “close to the flagpole,” as Mr. Fay put it. But in recent years the program, which currently has an annual budget of $20,000 to $25,000 for art supplies and travel, has been overseen largely by civilians at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Va., several more steps away.

Mr. Fay worries that this setup, along with the program’s diminished size, could lead to its falling off the top brass’s radar, a development that could threaten what he and other supporters see as an important part of the Marine Corps identity. “The Marine Corps is more like a tribe than some corporate organization,” Mr. Fay said. “And the combat art program, we’re like the shamans. We’re the ones who take this experience and try to articulate it.”

One thing that sets the Marine Corps program apart from those of other services is its focus on human subjects and experiences. A bigger difference, though, may be the program’s requirement that members be both Marines and full-fledged artists, not one or the other. (In the Vietnam War, however, it used civilian artists too.) When deployed, they carry the same 75 to 100 pounds of combat gear — including food and water, body armor, a Kevlar helmet, an M-16, a 9-millimeter pistol and ammunition — as their fellows, as well as art supplies. Also, said Joan Thomas, the art curator at the Marine Corps museum, they must be vetted by her and by artists who preceded them in the program.

These requirements impress even the program’s competitors. “The Marines are doing it the way it should be done,” said Gale Munro, the head curator of the Navy’s art collection. “They have really good artists, they’re chosen from within the ranks, they’re in it for the long term, so they can get a long perspective.”

And being in combat, Sergeant Battles and Mr. Fay agreed, can be a fantastic way to develop as an artist. “You’re balancing a tactical eye as a Marine with your artist’s visual eye,” Sergeant Battles said. On the one hand, he said: “you’re thinking ‘Is that a sniper? Is that an I.E.D.?’ ” But, Mr. Fay added, “you’re also sort of looking strategically” as an artist. “Yeah,” Sergeant Battles said, “You’re still looking at, ‘Wow, look at the way that light is bouncing off the body armor.’ ”

Company commanders don’t need to worry about protecting the artists, as they need to do, for example, with embedded journalists, and this has won support for the program throughout the rank and file. “The biggest worry a unit leader has is: ‘Oh, my God, who is this guy? How am I going to take care of him?’ ”said Col. Richard D. Camp, retired, vice president of museum operations for the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation. “But once they find out these guys are fully capable of taking care of themselves, all that is off the table.”

One skeptic turned supporter is Col. Robert Oltman, who met Mr. Fay in 2005 when the colonel was commanding Second Battalion, First Marine Regiment, part of an expeditionary unit that had been assigned to clear insurgents from Ubaydi in western Iraq. On the final day they were ambushed and lost six men, many of whom were “younger Marines, newly married, new fathers,” Colonel Oltman said. Some months later he visited the museum and was shocked to see Mr. Fay’s drawings of those same men on display.

Although he had first viewed the presence of a combat artist as an “administrative burden in trying to step off into combat,” he said, he began to realize its value. “We have somebody who was there who can tell the story,” he said, “so when their children grow up, there’s an archived history of what their father or loved one did.”

So why should the Marines have artists in addition to photographers? The Marines interviewed for this story mostly said that what counted was the added emotional resonance that artists can bring. And, of course, capturing a moment in a painting also serves one of art’s most ancient purposes. “It’s the pact we make with the warrior: You will live forever and we will remember you,” Ms. Blair said. “And to me the best way to do that is through art. We can’t give him his life, but we can give him that immortality.”

(NY TIMES  7.13.10)

read the entire article here

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the tall tale of Griffin Mill and the dark underbelly — the greatest collection of cameo’s ever…

“THE PLAYER” 1992 directed by Robert Altman

screening thursday 7.29.10 at LACMA — keep an eye out for scenes shot at the museum…




from ’68-76, artist Mike Stevens created a catalog of album covers from his fantasy career…


Dori Hadar, 29, and Frank Beylotte, 32, are friends from Washington D.C. who met at a Salvation Army store while mining for funk and soul gold. ”I went to a flea market, and there was a huge record collection there, at least 20 boxes,” Mr. Hadar said, recalling the morning of the discovery. ”I was going through that very happily when I came across this box full of strange hand-painted album covers. I realized they were fake and was about to put them back, but then I looked at them more closely.”

Pulling the records out of the sleeves, he was surprised to find that they were made not of vinyl but of cardboard. Each had been cut in the shape of a record, with grooves and a hand-lettered label painted on. Nearly all the albums were credited to an unknown black musician named Mingering Mike, and dated from 1968 to 1976.

The front covers were intricately painted to look like classic funk albums; on the spines were titles and fake catalog numbers; the backs had everything from liner notes to copyright information to original logos; the inner sleeve was often a shopping bag meticulously taped together to hold a record; and some actually opened to reveal beautiful gatefold sleeves. A few albums had even been covered in shrink-wrap and bore price stickers and labels with apocryphal promotional quotes.

What Mr. Hadar found was a cache of seemingly nonexistent music: soundtracks to imaginary films, instrumental albums, a benefit album for sickle cell anemia, a tribute to Bruce Lee, a triple-record work titled ”Life in Paris,” songs protesting the Vietnam War and promoting racial unity, and records of Christmas, Easter and American bicentennial music. He had discovered, perhaps, an outsider artist.

”There are quite a few folk art collectors that are salivating to get their hands on this collection,” said Brian DiGenti, the editor of Wax Poetics, a leading journal for record collectors. ”I think without a doubt that when all this settles down, this collection will be in a permanent gallery, and it will probably be one of the more important folk art collections there.”

As Mr. Hadar examined the albums, a crowd gathered. He knew what had to be done: he bought all 38, for roughly $2 apiece. Excited on returning home, he posted his findings on A fellow collector, Mr. Beylotte, responded, telling him that he had been to the same flea market and had seen similarly decorated seven-inch singles and eight-track tapes along with cassette tapes and reel-to-reel recordings. He believed there might be music to accompany the conceptual albums.

He and Mr. Hadar returned to buy the rest of the Mingering Mike stash, including photo albums and correspondence. Afterward they put a cassette tape in the stereo and heard their quarry’s music for the first time. It was mostly a cappella — a cross between doo-wop, field hollers, gospel, the soul and blues — accompanied by what sounded like sticks on a bucket keeping a beat. Though they lacked instruments, Mingering Mike and his collaborators — known as Joseph War and the Big D — seemed to have the arrangements in their heads and would mimic string glissandos, trumpet blasts and bass lines vocally. For words, Mingering Mike and the Big D talked and sang, mostly about how they wanted to become famous. ”We should be stars,” went the chorus of one song. ”Stars in the eyes of man.”

A few of the albums and labels were decorated with pictures of the Washington Monument, so Mr. Hadar and Mr. Beylotte figured that if Mingering Mike was still alive, he was probably in the Washington area. Fortunately Mr. Hadar happened to be an investigator for a law firm. (Mr. Beylotte works for the American Psychological Association.) On one of Mingering Mike’s earliest seven-inch singles they noticed that he had put down his actual name. And in a stack of his letters, they found street addresses.

Mr. Hadar said that he chose the address most likely to be current, and drove there. A cousin of Mingering Mike’s answered the door. Wary of a stranger, the cousin would tell Mr. Hadar only that Mingering Mike lived in southeast Washington.

Undeterred, Mr. Hadar sifted through court records and other public documents until he came across Mingering Mike’s last known address. He went there with Mr. Beylotte, finding a small apartment building in a rough neighborhood, he said. They knocked on the door, and a man answered. They recognized him instantly: he was a little older and a little heavier than in the pictures they had seen, but it was definitely Mingering Mike. When they told him they had found his album covers, they recalled, a broad smile spread across his face. ”My babies,” he said. He had never released a real album; he had only fantasized an entire career on cardboard.

Mingering Mike is a large, good-humored, round-faced man who did not want his real name published or his face to be photographed. The reason he gave for maintaining his anonymity was that he had two jobs and was worried that the attention would ”disrupt things at work.”

The name Mingering Mike came about, he explained, when he saw a street sign for ”merging traffic” and twisted the word in his head to create mingering. His music making began in his teenage years, he said, when he locked himself in the bathroom (for the good acoustics) and tried to come up with a song. Once a complete song finally tumbled out of his mouth a year later, he couldn’t stop. In the years that followed, he said, he wrote more than 4,000 songs on everything from legal pads to matchbooks to diaper boxes.

Eventually he gathered family members to help record the music. When asked what he used for percussion, he laughed and replied, ”You wouldn’t believe it.”

The music was not recorded with an overturned bucket after all, he said, but from either beating an Afro comb on a bed or hitting a telephone book with hands. Occasionally, he said, his cousin, the Big D, would roll up a piece of paper and blow through it to replicate the sound of a trumpet. But just writing and recording music wasn’t enough, Mingering Mike said, so he started making the album jackets so that ”if it all came together one day, I’d be ready.”

He said he would spend as long as a week making his album jackets. He originally put the cardboard records inside because the covers were too flimsy otherwise. And then he began adding fake promotional stickers, seven-inch singles to accompany the records, lyric sheets, gatefold sleeves, fan club information and nearly every other detail imaginable. ”I wanted everything to be my own stuff and my own ideas,” he said, ”and not copy from anybody else.”

Mingering Mike’s dream, he said, was to be known for his music, and for his songs to inspire people. Thus, he tackled subjects like the growing drug problem in the United States on the cover of ”The Drug War” and compulsory military service in his apocryphal reissue of an apocryphal soundtrack to the apocryphal film ”You Only Know What They Tell You.” A recurring theme, which appears on the album ”The Two Sides of Mingering Mike,” is the choices that one had to make during the Vietnam War era between military service and civilian life. The logo for his spurious Decision Records label depicts two hands, one reaching for a microphone and the other for a gun.

But outside of performing a few shows at St. Elizabeths, the historic mental hospital here, in an act with his brother, an amateur magician, he attempted to seek a wider audience for his music only once. He responded to an advertisement in the back of a magazine promising to set lyrics to music, but he soon realized it was just a scam.

Mingering Mike’s uncle and musical collaborator, known on the records as Joseph War, helped unravel at least one of the mysteries of Mingering Mike, as well as his logo for Decision Records. ”At that time it was the Vietnam War,” he said, ”and he was AWOL, so he couldn’t go out. He had to do it all on his own.” (Joseph War, who owns 10 to 15 of these album covers, added that Mingering Mike was later pardoned through President Jimmy Carter’s amnesty program.)

After more than a decade of making music, Mingering Mike realized that he needed to focus on paying rent, so music took a back seat as he worked as an administrative assistant, a building maintenance engineer and a security guard. When he fell behind on payments for his storage space, most of his possessions were auctioned off to the flea market, where Mr. Hadar and Mr. Beylotte found them.

What the pair discovered in the end was not just a conceptual funk star and an unusual folk artist, but a fellow digger. In addition to his homemade work, Mingering Mike had 4,000 actual albums and 2,000 seven-inch singles to his name, from the Temptations to Lalo Schifrin to Barbra Streisand. In the inside sleeve of one of his albums he had written on a piece of paper, ”Records are my 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. love,” before calling himself a ”recordholic.”

Before he left Mr. Hadar’s house, Mingering Mike did not ask what would become of his ”babies.” Mr. Hadar and Mr. Beylotte have said they would like to see the albums in a gallery and the music on CD. He asked instead if he could borrow a copy of the 1974 funk classic ”Breakin’ Bread,” by Fred Wesley & the New J. B.’s. ”That’s my favorite,” Mr. Hadar said of the album.

Mingering Mike smiled knowingly. ”We’re like brothers,” he said, ”brothers in music.”

(NY TIMES  2.2.04)

“Mingering Mike” 2007 (Princeton Architectural Press) written by Dori Hadar

check out Mike’s website for more…


DETROIT: part 1…


photographer and Sons Of Lee Marvin shoe-in, Jocko Weyland has been flipping motor city rocks this summer in search of diamonds in the rough…



photographs by JOCKO WEYLAND 2010


the films of WILLIAM KLEIN…



just what the doctor ordered — a little more freedom…

It was shot at the end of ’67 and the beginning of ’68, but the French government censored it for nine months, thinking it was about May ’68.  So it didn’t come out until ’69.  Anyway, it was completely foreign to the whole movie scene here in France.  I guess my posisiton is pretty marginal everywhere — then and now.

– William Klein 1988

“MR. FREEDOM” 1969 directed by William Klein

once impossible to find, now part of Criterion’s box set “The Delirious Fictions of William Klein” along with “Who Are You Polly Magoo?” and “The Model Couple”…

also see, the films of WILLIAM KLEIN — PART 1

(quote excerpted from a conversation with Johnathan Rosenbaum, “Cinema Outsider: The Films of William Klein”, Walker Art Center 1989)




unable of late to make music, Lounge Lizard and Sons of Lee Marvin member John Lurie has been painting — a selection of works “The Invention of Animals” is on view now in L.A…


“I Need to Know If There Is Life After Death I Need to Know Kind of Soon”


Tanja M. Laden:  How are you feeling these days?

John Lurie:  I’m OK. My nervous system sort of overreacts to being pushed, so then I get migraine aura, I get a lot of noise in my vision, I get a sensation in my head that goes along with that, I quiver. All kinds of stuff. I have no feeling in one or both legs, or my left arm; my left hand doesn’t work so well. I get a kind of roaring, buzzing sound in my ear. In the beginning, they told me I was a hypochondriac; I was having panic attacks. But I did all these tests and they all came back completely whacked-out.

TL:  Your painting and drawing has helped, though, right?

JL:  There was a long time when I was too sick to leave the house. And even in the house, I was really miserable all the time, because I was in pain. My nervous system was just lying to me all the time. So painting gave me something I could concentrate on that gave me relief. I would usually suffer afterward, when I stopped. To have something to do was good. But it wasn’t some kind of thing where I was dealing with a psychological problem, you know what I mean?

TL:  Do you ever wonder if it’s psychological?

JL:  No, I know absolutely 100% that it isn’t.

TL:  What are you doing, besides painting, to help ease these symptoms?

JL:  Well, I’m doing a million different therapies. I’m getting injected with ozone, and doing these Chinese herbs, which has helped me a lot. But is this whole interview going to be about my health? ‘Cause that could be a little embarrassing…

TL:  I was wondering if you ever thought about making a sculpture for yourself that’s not a traditional sculpture, more like found objects put together, like an assemblage.

JL:  Yeah, I used to do that. When I was young, when I first moved to New York, it was a different time, and you could find all this stuff on the street that was amazing. I used to collect it, bring it home, and make stuff out of it, all the time. But I’m cured of that now.

TL:  What happened to those pieces?

JL:  They’re all gone. You know, Jean-Michel used to sleep on my floor. Then I’d get pissed at him and throw his stuff away. I can’t tell you how many millions of dollars worth of artwork I must have thrown away in my life.

TL:  How long did Basquiat sleep on your floor?

JL:  He would stay there for three nights, and then he’d stay somewhere else. That went on for a couple of years.

TL:  Like a couch-surfing situation?

JL:  No, floor. Not the couch. There was no couch. He slept on the floor.

TL:  “The Invention of Animals”, is also the title of one of your paintings. Why did you choose this title over the others?

JL:  I don’t know. There was no big thing. I mean, the show in New York last fall was called “The Skeleton In My Closet Has Moved Back Out To The Garden”. I kind of like that title better.

TL:  Do you have any animals?

JL:  No. I used to. We were in New Orleans when I was a kid, and I used to go every day and hunt for snakes and stuff.

TL:  Are you spiritual?

JL:  Yeah, of course. Getting sick made me delve much further into that. I had a mystical experience when I was in my late teens, early 20s, and I spent years trying to recapture that.

TL:  What was that experience?

JL:  I don’t know how to explain that to you. I just had one of those things where I was aware of everything being connected in life. There was no difference between the molecules in the cement to the molecules in the air to the molecules in me; it was all of one piece.

TL:  Were you on acid?

JL:  No! But I spent years trying to recapture that. It was like I went to God’s house for a minute. And I spent years studying religion and mysticism and doing all different kinds of yoga and fasting for weeks on end, trying to recapture that. ‘Cause after I had that, nothing else made any sense, really. And then I slowly got back into the world, until I got so back into the world that I was like a heroin addict.

TL:  Which pieces in this exhibit have the most meaning to you personally?

JL:  “The Spirits Are Trying To Tell Me Something But It’s Really Fucking Vague” is somewhat autobiographical.

TL:  Do you hear music in your head?

JL:  Sure, but I try not to, now. I really have to block music out. It’s too painful for me. The sense of loss is unbelievable. I mean, my soul came through with music. Music was everything for me. I get musical ideas where I’m, like, OK, don’t go there. And actually, listening to music can be a real problem for me now, because it creates symptoms.

TL:  You said a few years ago, you said you were working on a memoir. How is that going?

JL:  When I first got sick, they told me I had a year to live, and I was writing my memoir really fast. There were really weird things happening with my nervous system and my heart and stuff, and it didn’t look like I was gonna make it, so I was writing really fast, and then I couldn’t write anymore.

TL:  A year?

JL:  Nobody actually told me I had a year to live. How it went was, I did a test where my blood pressure and pulse just acted completely bizarre. And the neurologist told me that I had this rare disease, and sent me to this website, and it was, like, well, your family has to help you now. You can’t do anything. You can’t move a chair. You can’t feel ashamed. People have to do everything for you now — and then it sent you to a more legitimate medical website where it said that 90% of patients die within a year.

TL:  Were you on a bunch of meds that made the symptoms worse?

JL:  No, because I didn’t have a diagnosis yet. I just had all these symptoms. I wasn’t going to start taking pills until I knew what was wrong. I mean, they’re mostly a bunch of arrogant idiots, these guys. I have a good GP in New York, but other than that, I don’t see anybody anymore. As far as the brain and neurology is concerned, they just know very, very little. And because they know so little, they want to pretend that they’re God, because their mother told them they were God when they finished medical school, and then they get pissed at the patient when they don’t know what it is.

TL:  Does the fact that you’re a creative person exacerbate or relieve your symptoms?

JL:  I am sure having the outlet helps me in some way. I know that when I got really sick and had to stop playing music that it was an unbearable loss. I never thought that painting could come out of my soul in the same way. But I think that it does at this point.

TL:  Have you ever wondered whether your condition is related to your creativity?

JL:  I wonder that too. When you look back through history, it’s like, they think van Gogh had temporal lobe epilepsy and Dostoyevsky had this… I did have one neurologist tell me, “I think you’re just wired different than everybody else.” Which is possible, you know. It is possible.


find the entire interview here

“John Lurie: The Invention of Animals” through 8.7 at Gallery Brown, L.A…




using three rolls of 35mm film simultaneously to capture an image…


The Battlefield Pinhole Camera

35mm f/150

check out the amazing step-by-step lesson by photographer Steven Monteau on how to make your own…





in pre-pre-pre-Z Boys Venice, there once existed “The Venice Celery District”…


1927 photographs from the California Historical Society



size matters…


the world’s tallest skyscrapers…


(click on image to enlarge)

lots more at Sky Scraper Page




the search for Edward Hopper’s iconic diner…


In 1941, Edward Hopper began what would become his most recognizable work, one that has become an emblem of New York City. “‘Nighthawks,’” Hopper said in an interview later, “was suggested by a restaurant on Greenwich Avenue where two streets meet.” The location was pinpointed by a Hopper expert, Gail Levin, as the “empty triangular lot” where Greenwich meets 11th Street and Seventh Avenue, otherwise known as Mulry Square. This has become accepted city folklore. Greenwich Village tour guides point to the lot, now owned by the MTA, and tell visitors that Hopper’s diner stood there. But did it?

Not long ago, one of the readers of my blog, Vanishing New York, sent in an old photo of the lot. There was no diner, only an Esso gas station and a White Tower burger joint that looked nothing like the moody, curved, wedge-shaped lunch counter in “Nighthawks.” An urban mystery had just revealed itself: If the diner wasn’t in the empty lot, then where was it?

Being an obsessive type, prone to delve, I began searching for Hopper’s diner with the help of two of my readers. Multiple streets converge at Mulry Square, creating a shattered-glass array of triangular corners. The buildings wedge themselves into these tight angles, bricks tapering to near points, each structure bearing a Hopperesque resemblance.

I snapped photos of every possibility and checked them against their ancestral images in the New York Public Library’s Digital Gallery. I made a trip to the city’s Municipal Archives, where I scanned the 1930s atlases of Manhattan known as “land books,” matched block and lot numbers to scratchy rolls of microfilm and scrolled through muddy 1940s tax photos. Slowly, I began ruling out suspects.

The empty lot at Mulry Square held a gas station from at least the ’30s through the ’70s, not a diner. I had to rule out the buildings on nearby corners of the square as well: West Village Florist was a newsstand. Fantasy World was a liquor store. Two Boots Pizza, with its lovely prow wrapped in rounded glass and chrome, was the Hanscom Bake Shop. And the pie-slice of a luncheonette that stood behind the lost Loew’s Sheridan cinema was too blocky, too brick-y to be the elegant diner in the painting.

So I expanded my search, looking at nearly every curvilinear corner where “two streets meet” off Greenwich Avenue. With each rejected candidate, my hopes of finding the “Nighthawks” diner fell.

After hours of hunting the archives, I was about to give up when I found a new clue in a 1950s land book. There in the map of Mulry Square, not in the empty northern lot, but on the southwest side, where Perry Street slants, the mapmaker has written in all caps a single revelatory word: DINER.

I went into a state of panicky thrill. Sometime between the late ’30s and the early ’50s, a new diner appeared near Mulry Square. This was it. I could smell the coffee brewing. After decoding the block and lot number, written in script so small it required a Sherlockian magnifying glass, after retrieving the microfilm spool and scrolling to the specified location, I discovered … nothing.

The tax photo showed only that old Esso station. I scrolled back and forth to be sure, but found no photo of the southwest corner, no photo of the diner in question. Did the tax photographers forget to take its picture? Did they mislabel the lot? It’s possible that I started muttering out loud to myself in the quiet of the Municipal Archives, because people began to stare.

Back home, I dug through my bookshelves and unearthed Gail Levin’s “Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography.” The book is autographed by the author — I had gone to hear Ms. Levin read in a bookshop that is now gone — and dated from a time when I was still new to the city and knew it largely, romantically, as a sprawling Hopper painting filled with golden, melancholy light. In the book, Ms. Levin reported that an interviewer wrote that the diner was “based partly on an all-night coffee stand Hopper saw on Greenwich Avenue … ‘only more so,’” and that Hopper himself said: “I simplified the scene a great deal and made the restaurant bigger. Unconsciously, probably, I was painting the loneliness of a large city.”

Partly. More so. Simplified. The hidden truth became clearer. The diner began to fade. And then I saw it — on every triangular corner, in the candy shop’s cornice and the newsstand’s advertisement for 5-cent cigars, in the bakery’s curved window and the liquor store’s ghostly wedge, in the dark bricks that loom in the background of every Village street.

Over the past years, I’ve watched bakeries, luncheonettes, cobbler shops and much more come tumbling down at an alarming rate, making space for condos and office towers. Now the discovery that the “Nighthawks” diner never existed, except as a collage inside Hopper’s imagination, feels like yet another terrible demolition, though no bricks have fallen.

It seems the longer you live in New York, the more you love a city that has vanished. For those of us well versed in the art of loving what is lost, it’s an easy leap to missing something that was never really there.

(NY TIMES  7.2.10)

check out Moss’ excellent blog Vanishing New York




“Invader” is the French artist who’s spent the last decade mounting mosaics of video game icons all around the world — using Rubik’s Cubes, he’s merged the mosaic concept with his mastery (swears he doesn’t cheat) of Hungarian Ernő Rubik’s 35 year old puzzle…

six colors to chose from ism...

more by Invader




Kubrick said of Alan Conway, “my films aren’t good enough for him, but I am..?  What an ingrate!”

kubrick and conway

the great, the ingrate, and Malkovich as the great ingrate…

Kubrick’s assistant for over 30 years, Anthony Frewin is the screenwriter of a film starring John Malkovich as the infamous impostor…


“Stanley Kubrick seems to be avoiding me and I can’t understand it. After all, I’m a very personal friend of Stanley’s. I’ve been to his house and we are very close.” So said the truculent voice on the other end of the phone. It belonged to Rupert (not his real name), a young fashion designer in Brighton. “I just can’t understand it. I really can’t!” He sounded achingly sincere and continued in a similar vein while I pondered what the differences were between a friend, a personal friend, and a very personal friend. “Please get him to call me. Please. He’s changed his number and won’t answer my letters!” Thus it all began in May 1991, and it’s a story that is still unravelling today. Every so often a little narrative twist or turn arrives and I wonder what more there can possibly be. But there’s always something.

May 1991: Stanley’s Vietnam film, Full Metal Jacket, was four years behind us and he was working on a Holocaust project that was subsequently abandoned (“Schindler’s List is a hard act to follow,” he said), as well as the film that would eventually be bequeathed to Steven Spielberg as AI: Artificial Intelligence. Kubrick further agonized over his updating and transformation of Arthur Schnitzler’s Traumnovelle, the basis of Eyes Wide Shut with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, his final picture. Later that afternoon I saw Stanley and relayed Rupert’s message. “Rupert? Brighton? Never heard of him.” I said he claimed they had met in a wine bar in Kensington and that he had been to the house. “He obviously met an idiot pretending to be me,” Stanley replied. And there we left it. Some chancer had bamboozled poor Rupert. End of story. Except it wasn’t. Ten days later the floodgates opened. Rupert had phoned Warner Bros., the company that financed and distributed Stanley’s films, at Pinewood Studios. They had relayed the message to me, as they were under strict instructions never to give out any of the numbers at Stanley’s estate in Hertfordshire from whence his production company was run. Now Warner Bros. was phoning almost every day with messages from “friends” of “Stanley Kubrick” who were trying to contact him. There was Mark from North London, who was in a rock group. He’d given up his day job as “Stanley” was going to get his group a contract with WEA Records and fly him out to the States. There was the actor, Grange, who had been promised a part in the next film. There was a Nigerian who was going to put on an all-black production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and “Stanley” was going to bankroll it. And there were others. Lots of others. What soon became apparent from most but not all of these “friends” was that they were gay, as, indeed, was the fake Stanley. Then I got a call from Keith Denny, who had been the costume designer on Full Metal Jacket. Two of his gay friends had met “Stanley” in a Soho restaurant. “Stanley” was so “entranced” by them he pledged to use them in his next film and take them to see Kiss of the Spider Woman at the theater the following evening — providing they turned up dressed in something “salacious.” They turned up, he didn’t. Keith said the two of them were upset when he pointed out they had been conned. “My God,” said Stanley, “he’s a serial impostor!” Then he added, with a frown, “And he’s gay?” Stanley was not homophobic, but he thought an impostor could at least pay him the courtesy of respecting his heterosexuality.

Anyway, who was the impostor? Stanley said it was time for me to do some sleuthing. And more and more calls were coming in. The impostor was playing Stanley full time, seven days a week. I phoned one of the “friends” who had visited “Stanley” at home and got the impostor’s address. It was on Canning Road in Wealdstone, a dingy suburb by Harrow in northwest London. From this I went to the electoral rolls and got a name: Alan Conway. He was our impostor. One morning a colleague’s car wouldn’t start at our offices. He called out the AA and the mechanic who arrived, upon finding that the estate was Stanley Kubrick’s, said, “I met him the other evening on the last train out of Euston. He just introduced himself to me. Said his brand-new BMW had been stolen. That’s why he was on the train. He got out at Harrow and Wealdstone.” Our man, all right. Further inquiries revealed that Conway, born in 1934, had a long criminal record that started with stealing money and clothing in 1951, and was followed by a spell in an approved school. Let’s take some of his record at random: There were arrests for burglary and false pretences and a term in Borstal, an arrest in Switzerland, another in Australia for which he got three months in prison prior to being deported, six months hard labor in Eire, stolen check books, fraud in Edinburgh, 18 months at Winchester Crown Court, four years for swindling in France handed down in absentia, and so on. And then there were the other offenses, the ones for gross indecency and importuning in lavatories, most of which took place on his doorstep in Harrow. And the county court judgments! Almost a daily occurrence. “I don’t even open them now, dear boy!” Conway supposedly boasted to one of his young men. Conway had married in 1971 and with his wife ran a travel agency business with several branches in the Harrow area. This subsequently went bust, and his wife disappeared. Conway told different people that she was dead, went off with a lesbian lover, had a sex change, was murdered, emigrated, killed in a car crash. Who knows? I also discovered that while Conway was his legal name, he had earlier been known as Conn (two aptly Nabokovian names) but he had actually been born Jabolowsky (Alan). His Jewish parents had fled Poland in the early ’30s and settled in Whitechapel in the East End, where he was born. Despite his birthplace, he had no problem telling people the high adventures he had escaping from the Nazis after Poland had been invaded. What else? He was an alcoholic, loved taking pills and was banned from driving for life.

What could we do? Stanley decided to get some legal advice from a barrister he knew in Lincoln’s Inn. He explained that Stanley could seek an injunction against Conway, but in order to do so he would have to establish in court that Conway was indeed doing what he claimed. To do that he had to get witnesses in court who had been conned by Conway. Well, of course, it was one thing being conned, but another to go into court and let the whole world know you had gone to bed with a man on the promise of a recording contract. As Stanley said, “That’s a non-starter. Even if we got an injunction, the barrister said you could never enforce it and this ‘exercise in futility’ would cost about £30,000.” So, we were stuck. Or were we? Let me return to Canning Road, Wealdstone for a moment. When my partner Charlene Page and I and our young son returned to London from Kent in 1973, we rented a cheap flat for about nine months on Canning Road. I became friendly with a girl, Eileen, who lived a couple of doors down and I remained in touch with her after we moved away. I had phoned Eileen right after getting Conway’s address. She explained that he lived in a maisonette block run by a housing association for ex-mental patients and others of a “fragile” disposition. Eileen recognized him from my description and over the ensuing years would provide us with regular reports on the comings and goings at Chez Conway: two black guys shouting Conway’s name and trying to kick the door down, a couple of thugs frog-marching Conway into a local bank, the police called for a disturbance, an ambulance called, Conway being chased down the road by a couple of rent boys. It never stopped. Stanley had an idea. If legal action was not open to him, how about calling in a journalist I knew, Martin Short, to write an article exposing Conway? Could the oxygen of publicity extinguish his activities? It was worth a try. I duly got in touch with Martin and handed over the thick file I had put together on Conway. Let’s see what he could come up with. The “friends” were still popping up on a regular basis. Stanley received a letter from an eloquent ex-public school boy who had worked unashamedly as a rent boy in Amsterdam. “Kubrick” had careened through the town running up bar bills, borrowing money and causing a gay bar to go bankrupt after he told the owners to say no to a brewery’s offer and accept his instead. The writer himself had lost everything after Conway promised to buy him a house if he returned to England to console him on the death of his son. To top this, a letter arrived from the Dutch film actress Renée Soutendijk in Amsterdam. Stanley was considering using her in his Holocaust project. She kept on getting reports of Stanley being in town and she was surprised that he hadn’t looked her up. I had to write back and explain the situation. Then we heard about the entertainer Joe Longthorne, who had met Conway backstage on a tour of south coast resorts. “Stanley” had said he would use him in his next film and get him into Vegas, make him a U.S. coast-to-coast sensation. Longthorne believed him, and Conway accompanied him on his tour, with the entertainer picking up the hotel and bar bills. Eventually Longthorne’s manager made a couple of calls and found out Conway wasn’t who he said he was. They threw him off a pier into the sea.

Jim Davidson told me he had bumped into Longthorne and his entourage at this time and met Conway. He saw through him right away, but Longthorne wasn’t listening. In May 1993 the serial “gay slayer,” Colin Ireland, murdered the second of his five victims just around the corner from Conway’s flat. The Old Bill were all over the place and paid a visit to a local minicab firm where my friend Eileen had a part-time job. The police questioned the drivers. Did they know anything? Could they help in any way? The drivers replied in unison that the weirdest character in the neighborhood was “that film director Stanley Kubrick.” He was bound to know something or be implicated in some way. The police’s eyes must have lit up. Famous film director! Gay slayings! That would get some headlines. But then Eileen pointed out who he really was. The police must have been mightily disappointed. Meanwhile, other events were happening that would result in his exposure. In July 1993 Frank Rich, then the drama critic of the New York Times, was having dinner at Joe Allen’s restaurant in Covent Garden with his wife and a couple of friends. At an adjoining table was a foursome consisting of the ubiquitous Conway as “Stanley” together with a Tory MP, Sir Fergus Montgomery, and two youths variously described as Clockwork Orange-style droogs or “rough trade.” Conway, who had been ear-wigging the other table, went over, somewhat sloshed, and said he had considered suing the New York Times for saying that he was a “recluse” and “creatively dormant.” The table was astounded to have finally met Kubrick and were eager to interview him. Conway left his home phone number and said to call him in a couple of days after he returned from Dublin. Then he scampered off. Later that evening doubts about “Kubrick” began to rise. The following day, via Warner Bros., Frank Rich called me up and I explained who he had really met. Rich wrote the evening up for a piece in The New York Times that was later reprinted in a national U.K. daily. So, the exposure had begun. Rich’s article was titled, “Stanley, I Presume?” Stanley thought a better title would have been, certainly from Conway’s point of view, “A Table Too Far.” Shortly after this, one of Conway’s young male friends shopped him to the police. Conway had signed a legal document (possibly a lease) in the name of Stanley Kubrick for the owners of a gay bar in Soho. This being a criminal offense, the Old Bill got into action, made some inquiries and turned over Conway’s flat. He was arrested and released on bail. Even in his alcohol-fuelled state Conway realized this could seriously clip his wings. So, being the ever resourceful confidence man, he checked himself into the psychiatric wing of a local hospital, knowing full well that once the Crown Prosecution Service got wind of this they would drop the case and leave him undisturbed to enjoy his “holiday” away from the pressures of being Stanley Kubrick and cruising the gay bars of Soho. News of the arrest leaked out and that, combined with the piece by Frank Rich and Martin Short’s article in Vanity Fair, meant the game was up. So much for what a local newspaper described as “Canning Road’s most colorful character.’”

Some journalists found their way to Conway’s door. Being one to take advantage of whatever situation presented itself, he told his story for a fee and explained how he was a “recovering” victim of a mental disorder (“It was uncanny. Kubrick just took me over. I really did believe I was him!”). He told another paper it was a result of alcoholic abuse. He even appeared on television a few times, once in a BBC program in 1997 that covertly filmed him blagging his way into the Groucho Club as “Stanley,” along with interviews with Julie Walters and Patricia Hayes, who had been introduced to him backstage in a London theater under the impression he was the real thing. He also said the impersonation had cost him dearly and that he had spent his life savings because “people thought I was Stanley and expected me to pay.” Another lie, but it was believed. After this, things went quiet. If Conway was still acting Stanley, he was doing it very sparingly. We heard rumors that he was now pretending to be John Schlesinger and meeting big names at Knightsbridge Alcoholics Anonymous. Conway died alone and penniless in his Wealdstone flat of cardiac thrombosis in December 1998.

(STOP SMILING  3.30.07)

find  the complete article here

“COLOR ME KUBRICK” 2005 directed by Brian W. Cook


happy July…


Harry Hanrahan, the man behind the 160 Greatest Arnold Schwarzenegger Quotes of All Time has created a new one – ‘The 100 Greatest Movie Insults of All Time “…

others from H. H. include The 100 Cheesiest Movie Lines of All Time, The 100 Greatest Quotes From “The Wire”, Star Wars: The Lightsaber Duels Tribute, Get Out of There! The Video


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