Archive for November, 2010




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

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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.





Oscope takes aim at John Cazale…


John Cazale appeared in exactly five motion pictures before he died of cancer at 42. But the five films he made were among the best films of Hollywood’s richest decade. If you could only appear in five movies, you could do a lot worse than The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, The Conversation, Dog Day Afternoon, and The Deer Hunter. His entire filmography was nominated for the Academy Award.

But Cazale himself never was. He tended to play the quiet role, the supporting character, the guy on the edge of the frame, while the showy roles were the ones that got the awards. But perhaps the most cogent argument put forth by the new documentary I Knew It Was You: Rediscovering John Cazale is that, in his quiet skill and sometimes scary intensity, Cazale elevated the actors around him, putting them on alert to do their best work. The stats certainly back it up: his co-stars in those five films received a collective total of 14 acting nominations. Cazale was, in the truest sense, a brilliant “supporting actor.”

Several of Cazale’s co-stars show up to pay tribute: Robert DeNiro, Richard Dreyfuss, John Savage, Carol Kane, Gene Hackman, and, most extensively, his good friend Al Pacino and his lover Meryl Streep. Playwright Israel Horovitz and directors Francis Ford Coppola and Sidney Lumet discuss the experience of working with him; contemporary film historian Mark Harris (if you haven’t read his wonderful book Pictures at a Revolution, then you’re reading the wrong thing right now) adds invaluable insight. And then there are the contemporary actors who idolize him, who pinpoint him as influence, supporting actors of weight and intensity like Steve Buscemi, Sam Rockwell, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, who form a kind of “Cult of Cazale.”

The joy of the film comes from the joy that these friends, collaborators, and admirers glean from his work. When Lumet describes Cazale’s greatness in the scene in The Godfather where Michael arrives in Vegas and dismisses Fredo’s impromptu party, or when Dreyfuss describes how Cazale plays the aftershock of Don Vito’s shooting, their passion and respect for the work is palpable. When several of the actors pinpoint tiny, peripheral moments in his Deer Hunter performance (“He does this thing…” they all begin), they all convey a sense of possibilities being opened up, of truly understanding the full breadth of great acting.

the article continues

(DVD TALK  11.8.10)

“I KNEW IT WAS YOU” 2009 directed by Richard Shepard




a contribution to Nick Rombes’ REQUIEM // 102 project



from “Los Caprichos” by Francisco Goya…


THE FRAME (14:28:02)


ANGLE DOWN from the ceiling.  CENTERED.  Bug’s eye view.  Summer.  Two YOUNG LOVERS dream — transcendent — REQUIEM yet to come…

A single piece of a camera move — a move that has BLACKNESS wiping through the scene — the dark just a step ahead of the young lovers — the frame in question, a frozen moment of blackness hovering there — as much a part of the equation as the lovers themselves — in danger of being overcome by their own darkness…

boom down and push in…

This particular frame made curious — not so much by what’s missing as by what’s replaced it — a full third of the frame lost to nothing — obscured, negated by the back side, dark side, of a light — a frame INTERRUPTED — incomplete — unfinished…


Two dope fiends face up into  a LIGHT we see only as blackness — ascending to a kind of false heaven — escaping into the VACUUM — void, interrupting — like a landing strip for anything we might carry in — movie screen in negative to project your dreams on — an infinity of dope space…

A way out — an escape — a hole — a DOPE HATCH — a swath of black tar — a black band — black armband (signifies death, loss, mourning) — a token of remembrance — accompanied by a moment of SILENCE — remembering a loss — a requiem — a lost friend — a flushed dream…


Plastered but UNPAINTED — not stripped bare — just uncooked — RAW — unfinished — limbo — somewhere between a beginning and an end…  Summertime again — hard edges, sharp angles and jagged plasterwork like a network of veins — a circulatory system with a big BLACK HEART — murky, pallid, dark, sombre — all light artificial — the hard lines linked together like a network of veins, vessels, arteries…


Occupy only 7 percent of the frame — as if by afterthought — our heros — THROWAWAYS — snuck in before the pain — the only organic matter in a frame filled with hard lines — shoes on — punched out — two zeros — almost fused — so close, but not connected — nothing and nothing is nothing — EYES CLOSED — adrift — in their minds — the vacuum filled by potential — hope before truth sets in — bodies sailing, terrified of being alone…


Cradles them — the only surface there with any forgiveness, comfort, softness — modern — matches the lamp — a summer couch (the couch changes with the seasons) — couch as SPACE SHIP — their raft — dope is rocket fuel — the couch swallows them as the rising tide swallows Goya’s dog…



When I first saw the image from minute 14, my favorite painting came to mind…


French Navy shipwreck — a makeshift raft riding heavy swells — 15 survivors, broken men without hope — 13 days lost at sea — starving, dehydrated, loosing their minds — a ship APPROACHES from the distance…

The event fascinated the young artist, and before he began work on the final painting, he undertook extensive research and produced many preparatory sketches. He interviewed two of the survivors, and constructed a detailed scale model of the raft. His efforts took him to morgues and hospitals where he could view, first-hand, the colour and texture of the flesh of the dying and dead. As the artist had anticipated, the painting proved highly controversial at its first appearance in the Paris Salon, attracting passionate praise and condemnation in equal measure.


1819 – “EL PERRO”

And then I thought of Goya’s dog…


Painted directly on a wall — untitled — not for the public to see.

A DOG — adrift in flood water — LOOKS UP — solitary, lost,  neglected — flood slowly growing to devour…

A depiction of man’s futile struggle against malevolent forces; the black sloping mass which envelopes the dog is imagined to be quicksand, earth or some other material in which the dog has become buried.  Having struggled unsuccessfully to free itself, it can now do nothing but look skywards hoping for a divine intervention that will never come.




“REQUIEM // 102″


102 minutes, 102 frames…


October 27 2010 marks the 10th anniversary of the release of Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream. To mark that and to extend the super-charged, experimental aspects of the film, REQUIEM // 102 examines/explores/riffs on/detours from/responds to/aggravates/supplements one frame from each minute of the film. 102 minutes = 102 frames. Inspired by the creative constraints that have produced projects such as Longshot! Magazine and 50 Posts about Cyborgs, the project aims to push the boundaries of the medium and experiment with new ways of thinking and writing about film. You do not need to be a fan of the film to participate. This is an archaeological survey of the film, not an ode to it. There are no editorial constraints on the approach you take to your assigned frame, except that it be compelling.

Each contributor is assigned one frame from the film. Each frame will be taken from a separate minute from the film. For instance, frame #52 will correspond to minute #52. Contributors will write something “about” the frame in somewhere between 200 and 2,000 words, or create a visual response (i.e., a poster, an image, a graph, etc.). The length of the contribution is not as important as its power. How contributors decide to respond to the frame is entirely up to them. The project launched November 1, beginning with a frame from minute #1.

(REQUIEM // 102)

for more information and an archive of REQUIEM//102 posts

“REQUIEM FOR A DREAM” 200 directed by Darren Aronofsky

coming tomorrow — MINUTE 14




“a genealogy of ideas…”


This year, artist Jean-Michel Basquiat would have turned 50 years old. And in half-century celebration, there are events all over the world: In Paris, you can see more than 100 of his works at the Museum of Modern Art through January 2011, as well as a special exhibition at Galerie Pascal Lansberg. In other cities, you can catch Tamra Davis’ new documentary, The Radiant Child, centered on an interview the director shot with Basquiat 20 years ago. And in New York, a Basquiat exhibition was on display for much of the fall at the Robert Miller Gallery, in Chelsea.

But in Los Angeles, there resides a much more personal collection. At LeadApron, a gallery on Melrose Place, gallerist Jonathan Brown has an unusual collection of ephemera: 112 pieces belonging to Basquiat, including self-portraits and even the signature bow tie he wore in his hair, all from the last year of his life.

Brown acquired this collection about five years ago from an old friend, Kelle Inman, Basquiat’s last girlfriend. “Kelle had a real mothering instinct; she wanted to care for you,” Brown says. “I think that may have been some of her connection to Jean-Michel, because she spent the last year of his life with him. She nursed him, cared for him, and tried to help him get off drugs.”

Inman and Basquiat met when she was working as a waitress at Nell’s; two days later, she was living with him. “She didn’t really know who he was,” says The Radiant Child director Tamra Davis, who knew Inman during the relationship.

“My sense is she wasn’t starstruck, per se—more than he was someone in need,” adds Brown, of their relationship. All of the objects in the collection, given to her by Basquiat, belonged to Ms. Inman (who passed away in July). “Some of it has his handwriting on it; and some of it doesn’t, so it was difficult to authenticate outside of Kelle’s word­—though everybody knew she was with him. There were pictures of them together; notes written to her, so there was no reason for her to manufacture anything,” he says.

“It’s as if you’re working with a penumbra of an idea of someone’s life—this is just filling it in,” Brown says. “There are photos he took in New Orleans that he used as references for his artwork. He wrote on them, ‘4×5, one reg’—meaning he meant to blow them up and use them as source material. These are Basquiat’s curatorial picks—his edited life.… This is a trail—a genealogy of ideas.”

(VANITY FAIR  11.17.10)




thirty-five years of middle fingers…


I wasn’t expecting to be blown away by  Destroy All Movies!!! It’s a 566-page A-Z reference of over 1,100 movies with punks in them. It’s exhaustive, covering excellent movies with punks as main characters, awful movies where pseudo-punks have minor roles as buffoonish thugs, straight-to-video drek, 16mm documentary gems, and “movies that barely exist.” I was sure I would get tired of reading it after a few pages. The opposite happened — I got hooked and couldn’t stop.

Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly, the editors of this mind-bending reference of cinematic trash culture, are obsessives to be sure (read Carlson’s blog post — WHY?), but not the kind who exhaust you with eye-glazing otaku trivia that doesn’t matter to anyone but other obsessives. Instead, their reviews are accessible, insightful, entertaining, and funny in a way that doesn’t ruin their usefulness.

Notable punk movies — such as Liquid Sky, Suburbia, Repo Man, Desperately Seeking Susan, Ladies and Gentlemen: The Fabulous Stains, and Rock ‘N’ Roll High School — are given special consideration, with much longer reviews, essays, and interviews with their directors and stars. I especially enjoyed reading the interviews with Rock ‘N’ Roll High School’s P.J. Soles, and Mary Woronov. Other good interviews include: Richard Hell, John Doe, Exene Cervenka, Alex Cox, and Ian MacKaye. The reviews of the minor movies are worth reading too, either for the humor value or the solid advice.

As usual, Fantagraphics’ in-house designer Jacob Covey produced a drop dead gorgeous book that enhances the experience. With a cool flexibound cover and a tub of Jamie-Reid-pink and Photoshop’s halftone filter, his treatment feels appropriately retro and timeless at the same time. As Richard Hell says in his introduction, “This is one of those gems of immaculate editorial conception, perfectly executed, that will probably not stay in print for long … if you don’t buy it now you will regret it when it’s more expensive.”

(BOINGBOING  11.9.10)

don’t miss the 2-Day Book Tour Meltown @ Cinefamily this weekend..!!!




holograms are big in Japan…


The internet is such a big place that sometimes I stumble onto huge trends that I’ve never even heard of before. Case in point: Hatsune Miku. She’s a Japanese pop diva who’s just started to play massive stadium concerts to sold out crowds. Her hair is blue, she dresses like Sailor Moon, and she’ll only appear in concerts via a 3D ‘hologram’. Oh, and did I forget to mention that she’s completely fictional? Created by Crypton Future Media, Hatsune Miku is a virtual singing avatar that you can purchase for your PC and program to play any song you create. She and her virtual colleagues have gone on limited tours in Japan and virtual avatar song writing is a growing trend all over the world. Surprising? Perhaps, but the thing that really blows me away is that I actually like her songs. Check out Hatsune Miku’s performance of Stargazer in the video below. Not bad for JPop.

Watching Miku sing live is pretty amazing. The 3D ‘hologram’ isn’t that impressive, it looks to be a modern version of the pepper’s ghost illusion we’ve seen before, but the crowd reaction is intense. I’ve been to concerts where the band’s fan base was considerably less enthusiastic. How must it feel to be a musician and see this virtual character getting way more love than you? Hatsune Miku and her ‘friends’ may only have played a few tours, but there’s little doubt that these guys are rock stars.

In order to create a character that sounds believably human, Crypton uses a real person’s voice as the basis for the avatar’s distinct singing style. The adaptation of someone’s singing voice into a character that a user can program to sing anything has lead to controversy. Real musicians have been loathe to step forward and submit their voices for fear that they’ll be replaced by a virtual copy of themselves. Instead of professional singers, Crypton has hired cartoon voice actors to provide the basis for their avatars. Miku is reportedly created from the voice of Saki Fujita.

The technology for Crypton’s Hatsune Miku program comes from Yamaha’s Vocaloid software which provides the means to create a realistic synthesized singing voice. You can hear samples of the raw Vocaloid synthesizer (which hasn’t been styled to fit any particular character like Hatsune Miku) on its website here. Miku and other avatars retail for ¥15,750 (~$193) and allow users to compose music and connect it to vocals note by note. You can share the songs you create via sites like Piapro (JP). Writing music for virtual avatars has become so popular that Crypton has established a music label, KarenT, and you can see many of the associated music videos for these songs on their YouTube channel.

It’s hard to quantify how large of an impact Vocaloid software is having on popular music. Yamaha doesn’t directly market the software itself, instead relying on licensed developers like Crypton (in Japan) and Zero-G (in the UK) to sell various products based on the technology. There are many sites like Piapro where users can share their work, and many simply skip forums and go straight to YouTube. There are various blogs and sites dedicated to discussing the Vocaloid phenomenon (I recommend you start with Vocaloidism), and there are karoake and music-composing video games featuring some of the most popular avatars.

It seems clear that virtual characters like Hatsune Miku are on the upward swing of their popularity. Crypton’s avatars have played several live concerts in the past year. Miku’s first ’solo’ performance took place on March 9th, and was titled Miku no Hi Kanshasai 39’s Giving Day – this is where the Stargazer performance was recorded. DVD and Blu-ray copies of the performance are set to be released globally, and there have been screenings of the concert in San Francisco and New York. The tour coincides with the release of the Hatsune Miku Project Diva video game from Sega.

Having just been introduced to the Vocaloid scene, I’m sort of in awe. Not by the quality of music – some of it is good, but mostly it’s pretty generic mainstream stuff. No, I’m impressed by the possibilities created by such virtual avatars. YouTube is already full of videos where users mix and match songs to various pieces of art, and remixing/sampling is a global music phenomenon. Now, these secondary source musicians have a whole other tool in their belt. They can have high quality virtual characters sing whatever they want. Modern technology is merging producers and consumers of art into a new being – the prosumer. Avatars like Hatsune Miku are accelerating that process, allowing us to generate more quality content on our own, and share that content with anyone via the web. In the future we will all be a part of this exchange of creative prosumerism. Ask not for whom the 3D hologram pop star sings – it sings for thee.


the Hatsune phenom continues




humor is reason gone mad” — G.M.


“quote me as saying I was mis-quoted”…


My first contact with Groucho Marx was about 25 years ago when he wrote to me and said he’d like very much to be on a television show that I was running. We were delighted to start negotiations and at one point we thought everything was sewed up. But then mysteriously he backed out. Now, in those days when movie stars were petrified of live television, since they’d have to remember whole speeches instead of 30-second bits, stage stars were only too eager to get a huge exposure over a national network, and you could hire them for a few hundred dollars. Groucho evidently didn’t know this and I heard from our business manager why Groucho would not be with us. The fee he required was enormous. He wrote a regretful note. He said: “Like Sam Goldwyn I believe in art but my agent – a coarse type – believes only in money. Who am I to argue with such a baboon?” Well, shortly after that I was in Hollywood and he invited me to lunch, and ever afterwards, whenever we were out on the coast, we saw him and enjoyed him as the freewheeling anarchist he was, in life just as much as he was in the movies. The great pleasure in him came from his fussy respect for the English language. Now, that at first hearing may sound very perverse. But whatever his style was like when he started out in Vaudeville, he had the luck to fall in with the great American humourist, SJ Perleman, who wrote one or two of the early Marx Brothers movies. I dare say nobody alive has a quicker ear for the oddities and the literal absurdities of the English language, and this gift passed over to Groucho and he made it his own.


“if you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong”…

The most memorable example I can think of happened when we were lunching with him at the most luxurious of Jewish country clubs in Los Angeles. When the menus were passed round I couldn’t help raising an eyebrow at what then seemed like outrageous prices and Groucho said: “Fear not, my friend, it’s only money. The initiation fee at this club is $10,000 and for that you don’t even get a dill pickle.” When the meal was almost over and the waiter came to take the dessert order he stumbled several times over who was having what. Finally he said: “Four eclairs and four – no, no – four eclairs and two coffees, I think.” And Groucho whipped in with: “Four eclairs and two coffees ago, our forefathers brought forth on this continent a nation dedica… Skip the rhetoric and bring the dessert.” And on the way out Groucho lined up to pay his bill behind a fat and fussy lady who was fiddling around in her bag for change. The young cashier gave patient sigh and Groucho, his cigar raking the air like an artillery barrage, said: “Shoot her when you see the whites of her eyes.” And the large lady turned round in outrage but then she broke into a delighted gasp: “Oh,” she said, “would you be Groucho Marx?” In a flash Groucho rasped out: “What do you mean would I be Groucho Marx? I am Groucho Marx. “Who would you be if you weren’t yourself? Marilyn Monroe no doubt. Well pay your bill, lady, you’ll never make it!”

(BBC NEWS  3.29.04)

got quotes?  Groucho’s got a million of ‘em…




an interview with the ’80s Detroit power trio starring Mick Collins of The Dirtbombs…

by JAY

SUPERDOPE #3 captures a bit of the (un)popular rise of the great garage punk bands of the 1990s, with the piece de resistance being this interview with The Gories. Though I had no idea at the time, the band would soon break up, and gave few other interviews during their career. I simply mailed them a list of dopey questions and let them record their answers on a cassette tape; as it turns out, it was my favorite interview I “did” outside of the Don Howland one that made it into issue #6.the interview continues — download SUPERDOPE #3





the weekly broadcast (’73-’82) that brought rock and roll to television…


“Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert” is a television music variety show that ran during the 1970s and early 1980s, created and produced by Don Kirshner and syndicated to television stations. Kirshner had been executive producer and creative consultant on ABC’s “In Concert” series which debuted with two shows in November and December 1972 in the 11:30 p.m. time slot usually held by The Dick Cavett Show. The programs, taped at the Hofstra Playhouse at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. Their rating more than doubled the average rating of The Cavett Show and even topped NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in some markets.

“In Concert” became a bi-weekly series in January 1973. “Right now, we have more artists than we know what to do with,” Kirshner’s music director Wally Gold told the Washington Post late in 1972. “We pay them scale to appear, which is way below what they usually get for a concert, but they know that the publicity is well worth it. So everyone wants to be on. We’re getting hundreds of calls. At first, we had to beg the artists to appear. Now they’re begging us.” In September 1973, Kirshner left In Concert — he received producing credits for three more shows—to launch his own syndicated “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert.” The premier, on September 27, 1973, featured The Rolling Stones, taped in London, in their first appearance on American TV in more than four years. The show was hosted by Kirshner up till the last season. His on-air delivery was described as flat by viewers; Paul Shaffer would often lampoon him in a convincing impersonation on Saturday Night Live. In its final season, the show was hosted by Kirshner’s son and daughter. The show was noted for featuring musical acts performing live, which was unique since most television appearances during the era showed performers lip-synching to prerecorded music.





early shades of a lifelong obsession…


Before making beloved classics like Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby and Repulsion, Roman Polanski cut his teeth on a series of short films shot in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, produced mostly at the renowned Łódź Film School in Poland. From the playful filmmaking exercises Murder and Teeth Smile (1957), through the metaphorical Break Up the Dance (1957) and Mammals (1962) to his award-winning graduation film Two Men and A Wardrobe (1958), these films reveal Polanski’s surreal and dark style, his masterful storytelling ability, and the restless search for the truth about human nature — however crooked and evil it would turn out to be. A key ingredient to the genius of these shorts is their unpredictable music scores, often written by Polish jazz pioneer Krzysztof Komeda.



Roman Polanski: Shorts — with Live Music by Sza/Za screening tomorrow night in 35mm,  8pm @ the Cinefamily




the original home cinema in Los Angeles…


There was never before a phenomenon quite like the Z Channel. There hasn’t been one since. Yet at its height, under the guidance of one particularly brilliant but tragic man, Z made a radical and abiding difference in the way we see movies.


Grab my hand and jump back in time with me to a day in late October 1986. It’s a warm Saturday afternoon. I’m sitting in a sunlit kitchen, laughing and chatting with my friends Deri and Jerry. They’ve been married six months. I’ve got a clear plastic cube about the size of a human skull in my hand, and I’m marveling happily at baby pictures of the two of them, mounted all around its translucent sides. Deri was already tall and beautiful by age six—her elegant posture, her merry, curious way of eyeing a person, and above all, her life-marking sweetness, were there from the get-go, indelibly present in every high-school and college snapshopt that followed. “I have a crush on Deri,” I tell Jerry lightheartedly. He replies with mock gravity: “I can relate.” Deri laughs—no stranger to people having (or announcing) crushes on her, and no less lightly at home with Jerry’s dry, often subtle, darkness-tinged humor. He makes her laugh a lot. She in turn powerfully and consistently lifts his spirits. In the four-and-a-half years that I’ve known and worked closely with him, I’ve never seen him so much at ease, so comfortable in his own skin. The only evidence that he’s ever been truly happy prior to this moment in his life is actually in my hand—a little snapshot of Jerry at five, identifiably himself (pale sharp eyes, bowed forehead, expressive grin) yet so open, so radiant and all-welcoming that Deri has given the image a side to itself in the Plexiglas cube. I ponder it, tickled, and show Jerry what I’m smiling at.

A year and a half later, Deri would be dead—shot from behind by Jerry, of all people, at the sink in this very kitchen, of all places, in a blind rage that apparently followed a late-Saturday-afternoon quarrel. Jerry then climbed into bed fully clothed, boots and all, drew up the covers, and turned the pistol on himself. This ghastly double tragedy scarred hundreds of souls, mine included—and for many years, the shame of Deri Rudolph’s murder understandably obliterated what had been, up until its final hour, the noble achievement of Jerry Harvey’s public life. He had, by his sheer passion for movies, led a revolution in how they are perceived and received by the mass public.

Filmmaker Xan Cassavetes went a long way toward redressing this imbalance with her 2004 documentary, Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession, which I co-produced and appear in, as one of several dozen witnesses to the Z legacy, and Jerry’s life. Inescapably, that film swims deep into the mystery of the murder-suicide, a befogged, arctic darkness in which no echo sounds. Jerry’s killing himself makes perfect sense—it was a tragic but sane, even honorable, response to a desperate and shameful act. Deri’s murder makes no sense, this side of madness. What I hold to, now, when I think back to the Z days, is the life of what we did there. And that happy autumn of 1986 is right where my mind flies—the bright, abundant bull’s-eye of our adventure. Not only were Jerry and Deri utterly unclouded by any tragedies ahead, but he was at the height of his powers and freedom as the programming chief of a local (strictly Los Angeles–based) TV service that had become legendary under his leadership.

the article continues with a gallery of Z Magazine covers that will take you back to where you were when…

(FRESH JIVE  11.1.10)

“Z CHANNEL: A MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION” 2004 directed by Xan Cassavetes




the little gun that could…


The compact automatic rifle that Stalin’s engineers unveiled in 1947 didn’t look like much of a gun. The result of a secret design contest, its components were simple, inelegant, workmanlike. Its ammunition lacked the stopping power of other rifle cartridges. Its barrel was too short to achieve the range of standard infantry rifles. When the Pentagon finally got its hands on a few of the weapons in the 1950s, officials scoffed. But from this unheralded beginning, the Soviet Union’s modest little gun—dubbed the Avtomat Kalashnikova-47—would become one of the most recognizable artifacts of the 20th century.

The AK-47 and its variants can be seen as a lot of things—amoral massacre machines, pop-culture icons, the most plentiful and influential weaponry of the past half century. But the gun can also be viewed as one of the most disruptive technologies ever. Quickly transcending the purposes and borders of the highly centralized state that created it, the AK-47 gives individuals and small groups a lethality that previously belonged only to rigidly organized and well-financed militaries. What it may have lacked in precision and power it has made up for in ease of use, cost, reliability, and readily available parts and ammunition. It has helped ensure that even the poor, the small-statured, the dim-witted, the illiterate, and the untrained are able to acquire weapons and keep them functioning.

The AK-47’s rise was enabled by a government-led manufacturing push. Throughout the 1950s, the Kremlin shared its new rifles with like-minded states and ordered its Warsaw Pact vassals to produce them. By the 1960s, factories were churning out AK-47s in the planned economies of the Eastern bloc, where the communist governments distributed and stockpiled the rifles by the tens of millions—whether anyone wanted them or not. That oversupply, combined with poor security and rampant corruption, meant that by the 1970s and ’80s, the guns were available to fighters for almost any cause. After the Warsaw Pact unraveled and the Soviet Union collapsed, many successor governments lost custody of their surplus arsenals, providing an almost boundless new supply.

Today, the AK is almost everywhere, and it has fundamentally rewritten the rules of modern warfare, giving bands of moderately skilled fighters with few other resources the power to take on, and defeat, some of the best-resourced armies in the world. Stalin’s rifle became, and remains, the everyman gun, a success—and scourge—that is sure to last well into the 21st century. Soviet satellites, allies, and rivals have all built weapons based on the Kalashnikov platform, producing scores of local AK variants that still flood the market today.

the article continues with some excellent interactive graphics…

(WIRED  11.1.10)




the visionary minds at Macro-Sea making it real in Detroit…


Skating has become thoroughly embedded into the American story, and every suburb has a skatepark or bowl where soccer moms can safely take their fine young shredders to and comfortably converse over finger sandwiches and decaf soy lattes.  We say NO!

renderings by Cecilia Ramos…

We are more interested in the kid with a curb, a ledge, a flight of stairs, and an overactive imagination.  We love it when skaters creatively interact with their built environment and turn detritus into functional sculptural skate objects.

Our mission became clear: to repurpose an American urban landscape, one filled with great blurry beauty and thrilling potential, to create a skate park, and for this we turned to one of the greatest American cities: Detroit. Macro-Sea is collaborating with Power House productions, and a multitude of local Detroit skaters and artists to create a full-blown found object skate park.

click on images to enlarge…

(MACROSEA  11.4.10)

other projects from Macro-Sea:  DUMPSTER POOLS and GLASSPHEMY




dispatch: the end of the world as we know it


Back in August I predicted that newspapers in their current form will be irrelevant in Australia in 2022. That received significant international attention including from The AustralianThe GuardianEditor & Publisher (which called me the ‘Wizard of Aussie’) and many others.

Part of the point I wanted to make was that this date is different for every country. As such I have created a Newspaper Extinction Timeline that maps out the wide diversity in how quickly we can expect newspapers to remain significant around the world. First out is USA in 2017, followed by UK and Iceland in 2019 and Canada and Norway in 2020. In many countries newspapers will survive the year 2040.

The Australian has again covered this in a story title Deadline for newspapers as digital publications rise. There may be some more coverage in coming days.

(ROSS DAWSON BLOG  10.31.10)





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