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Parisian hospital break room graffiti…


Concealed within several of Paris’ hospitals, strange paintings give testimony to one of France’s most singular subcultures. In The Obscene Image, photographer Gilles Tondini has documented these frenzied frescos, created by medical interns who use hospital break rooms to let off steam and maintain sanity as they work to save lives. The break rooms—known as salles de garde—the interns ignore the rules of decorum observed throughout the rest of the hospital, and create a new order—in the name of maintaining traditions, and, of course, to relieve stress.

Graphic, sexually charged, saturated with color and lewd references, these little known images manifest all the frustrations, stresses, highs, and lows that medical professionals anywhere must deal with in their quests to keep people healthy. The manic murals provide visually compelling insight into how the medical professionals of 12 hospitals around metro Paris struggle to keep their minds healthy and their connection to their peers alive. Along with all of its sexual content, the imagery in The Obscene Image draws from cultures high and low, ancient and modern. Nothing, from the Bible’s Last Judgment and chivalric tales to comic book heroes and villains, is too sacred to be farced.


“L’IMAGE OBSCENE” 2010 by Gilles Tondini

big balls…

a history…


1644: The Gottorp Globe the world’s first modern planetarium, is completed in Germany. The hollow sphere, ten feet in diameter, is turned by water power; it has a map of the constellations on the interior and a map of the world on the outside. In 17­14, it is given as a gift to Peter the Great but is destroyed by fire in 1747. The reconstructed globe, stolen by the Germans in World War II and recovered by US troops, now resides at the St. Petersburg Kunstkammer.

1850: Baron Haussmann and engineer Eugène Belgrand design the modern Paris sewer system.The sewers are regularly cleaned using large wooden spheres just smaller than the system’s tubular tunnels. The buildup of water pressure behind the balls forces them through the tunnel network until they emerge somewhere downstream pushing a mass of filthy sludge.

1922: Meteorologist Lewis Fry Richardson, creator of the first dynamic model for weather prediction, proposes the creation of a “forecast factory” that would employ some 64,000 human computers sitting in tiers around the circumference of a giant globe. Each calculator would be responsible for solving differential equations related to the weather in his quadrant of the earth. From a pedestal in the center of the factory, a conductor would orchestrate this symphony of equations by shining a beam of light on areas of the globe where calculation was moving too fast or falling behind.

1930s: Workers from the United Fruit Company, clearing land in the Diquis Valley of Costa Rica, begin unearthing large numbers of almost perfectly round stone spheres. The largest of these apparently man-made balls is over six feet in diameter and weighs over sixteen tons. No one is sure exactly when or how they were made, or by whom, or for what reason, but according to University of Kansas archaeologist John Hoopes, “the balls were most likely made by reducing round boulders to a spherical shape through a combination of controlled fracture, pecking, and grinding.” Today, virtually all of the spheres have been taken from their original locations. Many are now prized lawn ornaments across Costa Rica.

1934: William Beebe and Otis Barton descend more than half a mile beneath the surface of the ocean in the Bathysphere, a 4.75-foot steel ball fitted with three-inch—thick quartz windows. Their depth record stands for fourteen years.

1939: The centerpiece of the New York World’s Fair is a 700-foot triangular spire called the Trylon and the 180-foot tall Perisphere, a giant ball housing a model of a Utopian garden city of the future called “Democracity.” It is described in the official guide book as a “symbol of a perfectly integrated, futuristic metropolis pulsating with life and rhythm and music.”

1960: NASA launches Echo 1, America’s first communications satellite. The 100-foot mylar “satalloon” is coated in shiny, radio-reflective aluminum that allows it to passively bounce radio and television signals across the Atlantic.

1984: After a dispute with the Austrian government over the construction of his spherical house, Austrian artist Edwin Lipburger declares his property an independent nation and renames it the Republic of Kugelmugel. Lipburger is sentenced to jail for his refusal to pay taxes and insistence on printing his own stamps. However, a pardon from the Austrian president saves him from serving time.

1999: The Sudbury Neutrino Observatory begins operation more than a mile underground in an Ontario mine. The forty-foot sphere is filled with 1,000 tons of heavy water. Its purpose is to detect solar neutrinos.

the complete history here



the latest detail…


Evi Quaid called from a pay phone in Vancouver to say that she and her husband, Randy, the actor, had tried to drive to Siberia, but they “couldn’t figure out how to get there.” She said, “We’re running for our lives.” She wanted me to meet them the next day in Vancouver’s Chinatown—which couldn’t be arranged any other way, as the Quaids don’t use cell phones anymore, because, Evi said, “they’re tracking us.”

“They” were “the Hollywood Star Whackers” the couple had been talking about in television interviews ever since they arrived in Canada in October, seeking asylum. The “Whackers,” they said, were the same people who may have “killed” David Carradine and Heath Ledger, possibly set up Robert Blake, and could now be targeting Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan. “Are either of you mentally unstable, schizophrenic, or on drugs?,” Andrea Canning asked on Good Morning America. “Do you think we are?” demanded Evi. “No!” said Randy.

I found the Quaids sitting in their car outside a Chinese tearoom on a block glowing with red and yellow neon lights. Nobody was around. It was night. Their car, a black Prius, was crammed with stuff—clothes, coats, shoes, papers, a pillow, blankets, and an excitable Australian cattle dog named Doji, who was hoarse from barking while he was in the pound when his owners were being detained by Canadian immigration. The car smelled of fast food and dog pee and Randy’s cigars. I asked the Quaids if they were living in their car. “Only on nights when we’re too terrified to leave our stuff or don’t feel secure,” Evi said. “We used to have a Mercedes. This whole ordeal has forced us to become incredibly green.”  “Priuses are deceptively roomy,” drawled Randy, who’s originally from Houston. “We’re tall people, and the legroom is important.”

Randy Quaid, who is 60, was nominated for an Oscar for The Last Detail (1973), won a Golden Globe for his performance as Lyndon Johnson in LBJ: The Early Years (1987), and has appeared in more than 70 other films, including Independence Day (1996) and Brokeback Mountain (2005). He has worked with countless legends of the film industry (Jack Nicholson, Marlon Brando, Milos Forman, Hal Ashby), meanwhile earning a reputation as a great actor. He is probably best known, however, for his over-the-top role as “Cousin Eddie,” Chevy Chase’s schlemiel cousin-in-law in the Vacation comedies—something which irks him. When I came upon him, Quaid—who is six feet four with a pudding face and large, flat green eyes—was wearing Buddy Holly glasses, a blue shirt, an Armani blazer, and a purple tie; he looked slimmer than in years past and surprisingly stylish for a man on the run. “I call it ‘the Failure-to-Appear Diet,’ ” he said, joking about his and his wife’s not showing up for a string of court dates in Santa Barbara.

The Quaids were arrested in September of 2009 for defrauding an innkeeper, conspiracy, and burglary after skipping out on a $10,000 bill at Santa Barbara’s San Ysidro Ranch hotel; in September of 2010 they were arrested again, for residential burglary and entering a noncommercial building without consent, after squatting in a house in Montecito, California, which they had formerly owned. There was a warrant out for Evi’s arrest on the second set of charges. (The first case was resolved, with the charges against Randy dropped and Evi getting three years probation and 240 hours of community service after they settled their hotel bill.) Evi had also been charged with resisting arrest at the Montecito house. “They hog-tied me!” she told me.

Evi, 47, a former Hollywood “It girl” who once modeled nude for Helmut Newton and put up a show in a gallery in L.A. consisting of giant photographs of her pierced vagina, was dressed in a black YSL blazer, vest, pants, and combat boots—fugitive chic. She was wearing a bejeweled Prada belt that looked expensive. She was verging on emaciated, tense and jittery. “We haven’t eaten at a table in a restaurant like this in 18 months,” Randy said as we settled into a corner of the brightly lit tearoom, which was otherwise empty. Both Quaids were glancing nervously around. “They’re hunting us,” Evi said. “It’s really happening. They’ve got us in a spiral. ‘Don’t let up on ’em. Drive ’em off the road. Starve ’em to death.’ ” She was slapping her hands together for emphasis. “ ‘Pull their money out of their bank accounts.’”

“I guess I’m worth more to ’em dead than alive,” Randy said mildly.

the article continues



a site specific work by Dan Havel and Dean Ruck


The duo has done this kind of thing before; in 1995, they took over an old house slated for demolition. The project, O House, was created out of a West End bungalow. Inside it, Havel and Ruck constructed a central circular room with a dirt floor. They drilled holes in the house to allow light to enter the space. The holes created a camera-obscura effect in which exterior images were projected in reverse on the room’s cylindrical interior. It was, by all accounts, an amazing piece. But the audience was considerably smaller and art-world-centered; the site had nothing like the broad visibility of the Montrose location. When Havel and Ruck planned Inversion, they kept in mind that most viewers would be traveling at around 30 miles an hour.

The Houston Art League site was a great opportunity, but, says Havel, “There were budget issues — we didn’t have any budget.” Fortunately, Ruck had tools, nail guns, ladders and an ever-popular Sawzall. They decided the house itself would provide the building materials. Starting at the back of the bungalow farther from the street, they cut a two-foot hole in the wall and began to build a framework inside the space. Stripping the wood siding from the houses’ exteriors, they used it to build out the tunnel, nailing the cannibalized lumber in place horizontally and layering it like shingles. Slowly, Havel and Ruck expanded the tunnel’s diameter as they built their way through the house. They worked evenings after their day jobs and on weekends. No one really noticed what was going on until one Sunday morning three weeks later, when the pair reached the opposite side of the bungalows.

What had started as a two-foot tunnel had reached a height of 12 feet and a width of around 35 feet. When they hit the end wall, they broke out the Sawzall and cut a huge opening in the side facing Montrose Boulevard. That was when, as Havel and Ruck put it, “progress slowed considerably.” People started slamming on their brakes, making U-turns and coming over to ask them what was going on. The enthusiasm of complete strangers was great, but the artists were still in the process of building — that is, balancing on ladders, wielding scrap lumber and shooting nail guns. They had to put up construction “caution” tape to maintain a modicum of safety. It didn’t keep people away, though. One guy even ran home to bring the artists a lamp he thought would be a great addition to the tunnel.

Inversion was an epic effort. Havel and Ruck estimate that together they logged around 400 hours on the project. At a talk about the work, the artists were asked to what extent the process felt like manual labor, and to what extent it felt like making art. Ruck’s explanation: “I’m not able to separate the two. The work is the art in some respects; that’s what I enjoy about it. The Sawzall is my favorite tool.”

(HOUSTON PRESS  6.23.05)


another dispatch from the end of the world as we know it


Two Nashville filmmakers have been traveling the country shooting an elegy to Kodachrome film, which went out of production last year and will cease being developed in December.

This week, their journey brought them to Rochester, where the color film got its start around 1935. “It’s an American icon,” Davis Watson said of Kodachrome. “It’s incredibly gorgeous and it’s very necessary for us to just come up and touch this place … to see where this thing really got off the ground.”

After learning that Dwayne’s Photo in Kansas — the world’s last Kodachrome processor — planned to stop developing the film, Watson and Jake Smith started shooting a documentary of the film’s era, along with a series of vignettes and experimental narratives, all on Kodachrome.

Smith and Watson were in New York City earlier in the week shooting a short film that showed the band The Last Royals trying to navigate the city with a carpet wrapped in a two-by-four with a drum suspended from the middle. On Tuesday, they were at the George Eastman House, watching early films shot with Kodachrome, with the help of Ed Stratmann, the museum’s associate curator of motion pictures.

Smith and Watson are using the website Kickstarter to raise money for their Kodachrome project and have received pledges of about $9,000 toward their $12,500 goal. Every Kickstarter project must be fully funded before its time expires or no money will change hands so Watson and Smith are hoping for more pledges by their deadline, which is today.

As the clock winds down on Kodachrome, Davis said they plan to “shoot, shoot, shoot before it’s too late.” He encourages others to do the same. “You have six weeks to enjoy one of the most beautiful color palettes that has ever been offered to photographers and cinematographers.”


check the website for more info…

celebrate the end at the American Cinematheque 12.9.10…


three projects…


Bernard Tschumi Architects design buildings, bridges, and plazas that blur the boundaries between art, society, symbol, and function. They are responsible for some of the most staggeringly original and unforgettable — and sometimes controversial — edifices and public projects, both built and imagined, in the modern world. From the 1983 high-profile urban sculptural experiment of Paris’ Parc de la Villette, to the more recent Blue residential tower watching over New York’s Lower East Side, Tschumi’s progressive vision of fractured, expressive architecture embraces new materials, vibrant color, and the element of surprise.

(FLAVORPILL  11.25.10)


BLUE Residental Tower: New York, 2004-2007

This residential mid-rise in New York’s Lower East Side presented a major design challenge: how to create an original architectural statement while simultaneously responding to the constraints of the New York City zoning code and to the developer’s commercial requirements? BLUE did not start with a theory or a formal gesture, but took the character of the site as its source, parlaying intricate zoning into angulated form, and form into a pixelated envelope that both projects an architectural statement and blends into the sky, simultaneously respecting and embracing the dynamism of the neighborhood.

Acropolis Museum: Athens, 2001-2009

The challenges of designing the new Acropolis Museum began with the responsibility of housing the most dramatic sculptures of Greek antiquity. The building’s polemical location added further layers of responsibility to the design. Located at the foot of the Acropolis, the site confronted us with sensitive archeological excavations, the presence of the contemporary city and its street grid, and the Parthenon itself, one of the most influential buildings in Western civilization. Combined with a hot climate in an earthquake region, these conditions moved us to design a simple and precise museum with the mathematical and conceptual clarity of ancient Greece.

Rouen Concert Hall and Exhibition Complex: Rouen, 1998-2001

Initiated as a civic tool capable of fostering both the economic expansion and cultural development of the Rouen district in the 21st century, this concert hall and exhibition center are well-located near the entry to Rouen, less than an hour-and-a-half by car from Paris. As seen from National Route 138, the 8,000-seat concert hall, open public space, and new 70,000-square-foot exhibition hall provide a strong contemporary image, a spark of cultural and economic rebirth placed on 70 acres of a site structured by dramatic lighting and a grid of plantings.



the one who stops the flow of rivers…


Ever since the 19th century when the first dinosaur fossils were identified by scientists, stories and rumors suggested that the extinction of the dinosaurs was not as complete as it seemed, and that at least one species of these great reptiles survived, living in the swamps of central Africa.

The tales told of a creature living in the swamps and rivers. The animal was called ‘Jago-Nini’ which meant ‘giant diver.’ Although the actual creature had never been seen by Western eyes, explorers were told that it “Comes out of the water and devours people.” Footprints were examined by western scientists which were “about the size of a good frying pan in circumference and three claws instead o’five.”

Many tribes were familiar with this elusive animal so the creature goes by a variety of different names including ‘dingonek,’ ‘Ol-umaina,’ and ‘chipekwe.’ Dispite great efforts, explorers never saw direct evidence of the creatures existence for themselves, only hearing the tales from the natives.

One exception was when, in 1932, British cryptozoologist Ivan Sanderson was traveling in Africa and came across large hippo-like tracks in a region with no hippos. He was told by the natives that they were made by a creature named the ‘mgbulu-eM’bembe.’ Later Sanderson saw something in the water that seemed too large to be a hippo, but it disappeared before he could investigate further.

Perhaps the best known reports about this kind of creature came out of the Congo after the turn of the century. Captain Freiheer von Stein zu Lausnitz, a German explorer, heard stories about an animal that was “brownish gray with a smooth skin, its size approximately that of an elephant, at least that of a hippopotamus.” The creature had a long flexible neck and enjoyed a vegetarian diet. The natives called it mok’ele-mbembe.

As more and more of Africa was charted and explored, the dinosaur tales faded away. However, in 1980, Dr. Roy Mackal, a biologist at the University of Chicago, and James Powell, a herpetologist, decided to go and take another look at the source of the mok’ele-mbembe tales. As with earlier explorers they failed to see the creature themselves. However, they did interview several people who had, and also heard about a creature with a long neck and tail that was killed along Lake Tele in 1959.

According to the story, anyone who ate of the creature’s meat died. Witnesses said mok’ele-mbembe was about thirty feet long. Of that, ten was head and neck, the rest body and tail. Mackal and Powell suspected that the creature was a small relative of the Apatosaurus, but gathered no proof. A second expedition the next year added nothing but some strange footprints.

Shortly after Mackal’s second expedition a group from California, led by Herman and Kia Regusters, reported seeing and photographing a large creature in the Lake Tele area. While the descriptions matched those heard since von Stein, the photos turned out to be inconclusive.

James Powell, an American explorer, visited the area and showed pictures of various known animals to the inhabitants which they correctly identified. When shown a picture of a sauropod dinosaur they identified it as Mokele M’Bembe, the large animal living in the nearby swamps and river systems.

Other creatures fitting the description of the Mokele M’Bembe type of animal have been sighted in Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganiyka, Lake Albert, and Lake Tele. Both the indigenous African population and the foreign settlers have seen what seems to be some sort of relic from the primeval past. The eyewitnesses have carefully described animals that are nothing like the known animals of Africa, but very similar to dinosaurs known to have lived in the past. Whatever is lurking in the jungles is most likely to be shy and wary of humans and is said to shun any contact with our species, making further proof very difficult to come by.

The idea of a living breathing saurian relic from prehistory surviving and thriving in modern times may seem more than improbable at first sight, but it must be noted that the Congo Basin in Africa has remained largely unchanged and undisturbed both in geography and climate since the days of the dinosaurs. Reports of sightings continue to this day.



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