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DR. YOSHIRO NAKAMATS…

11/01/2011

an interview with the Edison of Japan…

by CHIC THOMPSON

Dr. Yoshiro NakaMats holds the record for inventions, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, with over 3,200 to his credit—three times that of his closest rival, Thomas Edison. Dr. NakaMats’s inventions include the floppy disk, the CD, the DVD, the digital watch, Cinemascope, and the taxicab meter.

All of these accomplishments inspired me to consider interviewing Dr. NakaMats. However, when I realized that he came up with almost all these brainstorms while swimming underwater, I knew I had to personally meet this man and share our creative secrets.

The NakaMats method of invention involves diving underwater without an oxygen tank or snorkel and staying below the surface for as long as possible until an idea bubbles up. Upon resurfacing, he then writes down the idea on a dripping-wet Plexiglas tablet. When asked if all that underwater breathing was dangerous to his health, he said yes, but that dying was not part of his research.

NakaMats, doesn’t mind being called eccentric. He is a graduate of the University of Tokyo and completed a doctorate program in engineering. Now seventy-eight years old, NakaMats refers to himself as a middle-aged man, thanks to his theory of longevity, which emphasizes equal attention to five basic elements: spirituality, food and drink, muscle training, sleep, and sex.

His most creative time is between midnight and 4 a.m., and then he gets four hours’ sleep. NakaMats believes that if you sleep more than six hours in any twenty-four-hour period, your brainpower decreases. He eats only one meal a day—at dinner—with a maximum of seven hundred calories. He also photographs every dish he eats to recall the stimulating ones.

NakaMats doesn’t drink or smoke, and does daily weight lifting and swimming. He is a big advocate of the twenty-minute power nap in the special Cerebrex chair that he, of course, invented.

He has appeared on American TV shows, such as Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous and Late Night with David Letterman, and has been given the distinctly American honor of throwing out the first pitch at a major league baseball game (in Pittsburgh).

NakaMats’s inventive career started at five years old, when he came up with the idea for a landing stabilizer for his model airplane. A few years later he saw his mother struggling to pour kerosene out of a big container, so he devised an automatic pump. His mother was a schoolteacher and encouraged her son to build models of his inventions and then helped him apply for patents.

His biggest success came in 1950 when, as a student at the University of Tokyo, he manufactured the floppy disk. After six of Japan’s leading corporations turned down his request to have them produce the floppy disk, he granted the sales license for the disk to IBM, which now holds the patents for sixteen of his inventions.

While studying or working on his inventions NakaMats usually listened to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony on 78 rpm records.  He kept getting distracted by the hissing sounds from dust and popping sounds from scratches on the records. So he realized he must create a higher quality recording device and the CD was born.

NakaMats’s latest project is a revolutionary house that is energy self-sufficient and has themed rooms that either relax or stimulate his mind. In his home, NakaMats uses three areas to spark his creativity. First, there is a “static room” with a rock garden and running water to provide a serene background for free thinking. Second, there is a “dynamic room” with special audiovisual equipment to play music to refine his ideas. Finally, he spends hours underwater each day in his pool jotting brainstorms down on his Plexiglas writing pad.

Dr. NakaMats’s new home is filled with three hundred of his inventions and dominated by a home-theater system with a two-hundred-inch (508cm) screen. The home also features white NakaMats floor tiles with special energy-regulating properties to keep the room’s heating and cooling to a minimum.

Dr. NakaMats is also an idea promoter. He can be seen on Japanese television demonstrating his “Bouncing Shoes” to improve athletic performance or his “Perfect Putter” that is almost guaranteed to hit that little white golf ball into the hole.

There’s a “techie” adage in Asia that the nail that stands up in Asia gets hammered down, while the nail that stands up in Silicon Valley drives a Ferrari and has stock options. Having developed a complete ideation process of freedom, expression, creation, and action, Dr. NakaMats is a nail that keeps standing taller with each new invention.

Now here is my interview with Dr. NakaMats, in which he describes his unique theories of creativity and freedom.

NakaMats:  In my country, the drive to succeed—and the competition—is unbelievably intense. From early on, Japanese children are under enormous pressure to learn. I was fortunate that my parents encouraged my natural curiosity, along with my academic learning from the very beginning. They gave me the freedom to create and invent—which I’ve been doing for as long as I can remember.

Chic:  What are the teaching methods used to prepare Japanese children for the strong competition they face? And how does this affect creativity?

NakaMats:  One method is memorization. We teach our kids to memorize until the age of twenty, for we have discovered that the human brain needs memorization up to that point. Then young people can begin free-associating, putting everything together. That’s how geniuses are formed. If a child doesn’t learn how to memorize effectively, he doesn’t reach his full potential.

Chic:  So you feel that creativity comes from a balance of regimentation and freedom?

NakaMats:  Yes, and freedom is most important of all. Genius lies in developing complete and perfect freedom within a human being. Only then can a person come up with the best ideas.

Chic:  We have a difficult time in this country because we don’t allow ourselves that kind of freedom. We have what we call the Protestant work ethic that says, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” To me, trying too hard stifles creativity.

NakaMats:  That’s unfortunate. It’s crucial to be able to find the time and the freedom to develop your best ideas.

Chic:  Then tell me about your routine to spark creativity. I’ve heard that you come up with ideas underwater!

NakaMats:  Yes, that’s part of a three-step process. When developing ideas, the first rule is you have to be calm. So I’ve created what I call my “static” room. It’s a place of peace and quiet. In this room, I only have natural things: a rock garden, natural running water, plants, a five-ton boulder from Kyoto. The walls are white. I can look out on the Tokyo skyline, but in the room there is no metal or concrete—only natural things like water, rock and wood.

Chic:  So you go into your “static” room to meditate?

NakaMats:  No, just the opposite! I go into the room to free-associate. It’s what you must do before meditating, before focusing on one thing. I just throw out ideas—I let my mind wander where it will.

Chic:  I call that naïve incubation.

NakaMats:  Yes, it’s my time to let my mind be free. Then I go into my “dynamic” room, which is just the opposite of my “static” room. The “dynamic” room is dark, with black-and-white-striped walls, leather furniture, and special audio and video equipment. I’ve created speakers with frequencies between 12,000 and 40,000 hertz—which, you can imagine, are quite powerful. I start out listening to jazz, then change to what you call “easy listening,” and always end with Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. For me, Beethoven’s Fifth is good music for conclusions.

Chic:  And finally you go to your swimming pool . . .

NakaMats:  Exactly—the final stage. I have a special way of holding my breath and swimming underwater—that’s when I come up with my best ideas. I’ve created a Plexiglas writing pad so that I can stay underwater and record these ideas.

Chic:  That seems to fit very well with the strategy I teach in my creativity workshops: Discover and use your “idea-friendly times.”

NakaMats:  Yes, but in doing this, you must prepare your body. You can only eat the best foods. You cannot drink alcohol.

Chic:  I’ve heard that you’ve come up with your own “brain food.”

NakaMats:  Yes, these are snacks I’ve invented, which I eat during the day. I’ve marketed them as Yummy Nutri Brain Food. They are very helpful to the brain’s thinking process. They are a special mixture of dried shrimp, seaweed, cheese, yogurt, eel, eggs, beef, and chicken livers—all fortified with vitamins.

Chic:  How many people—technicians, researchers, and assistants—do you employ to help with your inventions?

NakaMats:  In all, I have 110 employees.

Chic:  And what exactly do they do?

NakaMats:  They work with my ideas, make prototypes, and give other assistance with details.

Chic:  Do you come up with ideas at night?

NakaMats:  I come up with ideas anytime! I only sleep four hours a night.

Chic:  That’s interesting—that’s very similar to Thomas Edison. Do you take naps as he did?

NakaMats:  Yes. Twice a day I take twenty-minute naps in a special chair I’ve designed—the Cerebrex chair. It improves memory, math skills, and creativity, and it can lower blood pressure, improve eyesight, and cure other ailments.

Chic:  How does the Cerebrex work?

NakaMats:  Special sound frequencies pulse from footrest to headrest, stimulating blood circulation and increasing synaptic activity in the brain. Twenty minutes in my chair refreshes the brain as much as eight hours of sleep.

Chic:  So, like Edison, you’re awake most of the time. Do you agree with Edison’s claim that ideas are 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration?

NakaMats:  No, now it’s just the opposite! Now it’s 1 percent perspiration and 99 percent “ikispiration.” Now, more than ever, we have to have ikispiration. This means I encourage myself to go through my three elements of creation: suji—the theory of knowledge; pika—inspiration; and iki—practicality, feasibility, and marketability. In order to be successful, you must go through all three stages and make sure that your ideas stand up to all of them, which is ikispiration. Also, these days, the computer saves time and cuts out the 99 percent perspiration.

Chic:  Do you find that most research-and-development firms take themselves through your three stages?

NakaMats:  Most are very thorough with suji, or theory, but don’t concentrate on the iki, marketability. Hardest of all, of course, is pika, the creative inspiration. Researchers often have trouble with pika because they’re too focused on one particular element. A genius must be a well-rounded person, familiar with many things—art, music, science, sports. He or she can’t be restricted to only one field of expertise.

Chic:  Well, you certainly appear to practice what you preach. You know so much about music, about art, about sports.

NakaMats:  That’s what genius is, when you’re able to discuss, and to be good at, many things. As much as I enjoy hearing about the things you [Chic] have invented during your chemistry career, about your teaching, about your video programs, I’m most fascinated by the fact that a person who can be a chemist and a teacher and a speaker can also be a cartoonist. And at such a young age!

Chic:  Well, people do kid me about looking young, but I could say the same thing about you.

NakaMats:  That comes from eating the right foods and participating in the right athletics. Certain activities I believe aren’t good for creativity. To be creative, you must have perfect freedom. I don’t believe sports like jogging, tennis, and golf are conducive to the brain waves for creativity. Swimming is the perfect sport for freedom.

Chic:  Hmm. I know a lot of people who feel they come up with their ideas when they go out jogging. Maybe, for Americans, because we don’t allow ourselves to have perfect freedom at work, we can get part of the way there by jogging or golfing—that’s the only time we give ourselves permission to be free enough to come up with new ideas.

NakaMats:  Maybe so, but they won’t be your best ideas—you’re not at your peak creative performance if you have to use athletics or techniques to get your ideas. It’s only when you have perfect freedom that your best ideas come out.

Chic:  I’m very impressed by your openness to discuss and to spend so many hours with me. So many people who have one or two good ideas don’t share them with anyone. They’re afraid that people are going to steal them.

NakaMats:  My rationale is very simple: We need to open up the world. We need to share and interact. I always tell young inventors to forget about the money and create ideas out of love for benefiting mankind. Love is the mother of invention. And, by inventions, I don’t just mean visible inventions. There are invisible inventions, too.

Chic:  Invisible inventions???

NakaMats:  An invisible invention is something you can’t see but you can use. It’s a new way of teaching something, a new way to spark creativity in others. Invisible inventions are just as powerful and far-reaching—if not more so—than visible inventions.

Chic:  How empowering it is to consider a great classroom teacher as an invisible inventor!

Thank you, Dr. NakaMats, for such a wonderful afternoon. My brain is alive with invisible ideas and I hope that my sharing this interview will generate the love for mankind that I hear in your voice.

(WHATAGREATIDEA.COM)

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“BACK TO THE FUTURE: THE RIDE”

10/31/2011

a look back at what could still be the future of the theatrical experience…

by M. TURNER

Back To The Future: The Ride was a simulator ride based on the popular movie series of the same name. It opened May 2, 1991, at Universal Studios Florida, and currently operates at Universal Studios theme parks in Orlando, Hollywood, and Osaka. It is different from other simulators where the screen acts as a window; in BTTF: The Ride, ride patrons sit in a ride vehicle beneath a huge IMAX Dome screen.

The ride opens with a set-up video featuring characters from the film trilogy. Somehow, due to an error made by one of Doctor Emmett Brown’s (played by Christopher Lloyd) time-travel crews, Biff Tannen (played by Thomas F. Wilson) stows away and finds himself at Doc’s Institute of Future Technology, where he tries to locate Doc’s ‘Flying DeLorean,’ as well as cause plenty of mayhem for the Institute’s crew, as well as Doc.

Biff complicates matters even further, when just as you and your party are getting ready to take Doc’s 8-passenger DeLorean on a journey across the space-time continuum, Biff locks Doc in his lab, and steals the original DeLorean time machine, causing Doc to plot on the horrible time ramifications that Biff can have. It is then that Doc devises a plot that the park’s visitors can help him on. Doc assigns the crew of the 8-passenger DeLorean to chase Biff across time. If the 8-passenger DeLorean gets close enough to Biff, they can ‘bump’ him back to the present time by reaching 88mph. Using his remote control, Doc and the DeLorean’s party follows Biff into the future, back to the ice age, and even into the heart of an active volcano that existed in the primeval Hill Valley.

The “waiting rooms” feature prop-replicas from the movies including hoverboards, photos of Doc and Marty, notes from Edison to Doc, and the like. The actual ride features video from both Doc and Tannen who tell the passengers what is going on throughout their adventure.

Outside the ride, the De Lorean from all three films and Doc’s locomotive from the third film are on display. Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale had nothing to do with the ride, though the writer of the ride’s set-up video handed them a script and asked if “he got Doc right”. The two responded with a “yes”. The two have also said “it’s a great ride”. The ride film was directed by Douglas Trumbull, the director of another Universal Studios feature, The Last Starfighter. The ride’s score was composed by Alan Silvestri, the same composer who scored the Back to the Future Trilogy.

The ride is a motion simulator with the cars held in place under a 70-foot IMAX Dome screen. Each car is mounted on four pistons (at the corners), allowing it to rise, fall and tilt, following the motion on the screen. The cars rise eight feet (2 and a half meters) above the floor when “flying”. Other than that, the actual range of motion is about two feet. The motion and the visual input from the screen images combine to make the riders feel as if they are in a high-speed pursuit, as they chase Biff through 2015, prehistoric times, and even the beginning of Earth, before finally tracking him back to the present.

(GIVEN EYES TO SEE  2006)

the rides at Universal Studios Florida and Hollywood closed and were replaced by The Simpsons Ride… the ride at Universal Studios Japan is still open…

click here for an amazing archive of images and more relating to the ride…

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CARDINALS!!!

10/28/2011

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MOSFILM…

10/25/2011

the YouTube online Russian film archive… 

by MIKE HALE

For Eisenstein, you can go to Netflix and stream “Battleship Potemkin” or “Ivan the Terrible.” For Dovzhenko, you can stream “Earth” at Netflix or “Arsenal” at Amazon. For Pudovkin, “Mother” is at Amazon.

But what if you’re looking for a more recent, if less familiar, brand of Russian cinema? Like, say, Vitali Moskalenko’s 2002 Volga river-boat comedy, “The Chinese Tea-Set.” Or Emil Loteanu’s 1979 adaptation of the Chekhov novella “The Shooting Party” (original title “My Tender and Affectionate Beast”).

For those, you’ll need to go to the YouTube channel of Mosfilm, the Russian film studio and production company. Over the last month 50 or so films from the company’s library, with English subtitles, have been posted.

Determining exactly how many films are available, or what they are, takes a little work for a non-Russian-speaker, since the site is entirely in Cyrillic. With the help of your browser’s translation function and a little cross-referencing on the Internet Movie Database, it’s possible to identify what you’re looking at.

There are some older, more familiar titles in the mix, like Andrei Tarkovsky’s “Andrei Rublev” (1966) and “Solaris” (1972) and Mikhail Kalatozov’s 1957 film “The Cranes Are Flying.” Perhaps the most noteworthy director represented is Kurosawa, whose Siberian adventure “Dersu Uzala” was a Soviet-Japanese co-production.

Other films, while little known in America, have opened here and won praise, like Mr. Loteanu’s “Shooting Party,” which Vincent Canby of The New York Times called “a fascinating, almost intoxicating experience.”

But American viewers will probably be most interested in what they consider oddities, like Eldar Ryazanov’s “Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath!,” a cult comedy in Russia, or “easterns” like “White Sun of the Desert.”

Five films will be added to the channel each week, according to Agence France-Presse, which quoted Karen Shakhnazarov, the company’s director, “The aim is to give users the possibility to legally watch high-quality video material and prevent the illegal use of our films.”

(NY TIMES  5.2.11)

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the LAX hallway mosaic…

10/23/2011

appreciating the endurance of a public work…

in the time capsule that is LAX Terminal 3, the mosaic was created in 1965 for TWA to entertain as people made the 400-foot trek to the exit door…  the hall was featured in John Boorman’s noir masterpiece “Point Blank” and 30 years later in Tarantino’s “Jackie Brown”

“The key image in Point Blank is massive Lee Marvin striding down the old LAX corridors like a robot on overdrive…”  (Glenn Erickson)

“Point Blank” 1967 directed by John Boorman

“Jackie Brown” 1997 directed by Quentin Tarantino

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JOHNNY ECK…

10/21/2011

the eighteen-inch Renaissance man…

by ELIZABETH J. ANDERSON

The twin sons of Baltimore couple Amelia and John Eckhardt, Robert and John Jr., were born on August 27, 1911. Twenty minutes after the delivery of Robert, John Jr. appeared, to the horror of his parents and his midwife, who is said to have cried, “A broken doll!” It wasn’t a clean break though – rather than appearing “snapped off at the waist” as he would later claim, little Johnny was left with withered, useless legs that never grew even as the rest of him did. Clothed as he always was in a neat tuxedo jacket, however, Johnny appeared to be a perfect half-man.

Robert was charged with looking after his brother, who was handicapped in name only – Johnny taught himself to walk on his hands at the age when most children learn to walk on their feet. Both twins were bright boys who excelled in school, and John aspired to be a preacher. At the age of thirteen, however, Johnny’s career as the “King of Freaks” was already taking shape. The twins were spotted by a magician while attending a local carnival, who convinced them to join the sideshow, with Johnny working as a freak and Robert as his manager.

John loved everything about showbusiness. In the circus, he did acrobatics with his extraordinarily strong arms, trained animals, juggled, and played the front end of the magician’s “sawed in half” illusion. When not performing as a circus freak, he and Robert conducted their own Baltimore-based orchestra. Johnny also drew and painted, and drove a custom-built race car, the “Johnny Eck Special”.

Johnny Eck’s most memorable appearance is in the movie Freaks, but he also had uncredited roles in three Tarzan movies. After these Hollywood appearances, the Eckhardt brothers went into semi-retirement in Baltimore, running a kiddie train ride in a local park. John also made a living with his paintings.

The event that turned Johnny from a beloved local celebrity into a sullen old recluse was a robbery at the family home, which he and Robert inhabited, in 1987. Old and enfeebled, Johnny was unable to defend himself as a gang of thieves physically restrained him and walked off with his valuables. It was this incident that is said to have inspired his famous quote, “If I want to see freaks, I can just look out the window,” indicating that the once-congenial King of Freaks had finally lost faith in his fellow man. On January 5, 1991, after almost four years of living in total seclusion, Johnny suffered a heart attack and died. Robert followed him in 1995, aged 83.

The Eckhardt twins may be gone, but they are not forgotten, especially in their hometown of Baltimore. Jeffrey Pratt Gordon, the owner of their home on North Milton Avenue, has retained many of their possessions, including the miniature train Johnny drove, and has put together an amazing website, The Johnny Eck Museum with the intent of sharing the twins’ incredible story with the world.

(WWW.PHREEQUE.COM)

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Brando’s mail…

10/19/2011

from LETTERS OF NOTE

 

(LETTERS OF NOTE)

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PLEISTOCENE PARK…

10/17/2011

woolly mammoths and the restoration of an Ice-Age ecosystem…

by STEFAN LOVGREN 

During the last ice age northeastern Siberia remained a grassy refuge for scores of animals, including bison and woolly mammoths. Then, about 10,000 years ago, this vast ecosystem disappeared as the Ice Age ended.

Now, though, the Ice Age landscape is on its way back, with a little help from the Russian scientists who have established “Pleistocene Park.”

The scientists hope to uncover what killed off the woolly mammoth and other Ice Age animals. To do so, they’re restoring the prehistoric ecosystem once found in what is now the remote Sakha region of eastern Russia.

The land is slowly being turned into willow savanna, as it was 10,000 years ago. Dozens of wild horses are already grazing in the refuge, and there are plans to import bison and musk oxen.

Most spectacularly, the wildlife park may one day become home to a genetic hybrid of the extinct woolly mammoth and the modern-day elephant. But the park probably will not see its most majestic potential inhabitant for several decades, if ever.

Japanese scientists, working with Russians, have for years been searching for mammoth carcasses to use for reviving woolly mammoths, which would then be introduced into Pleistocene Park.

The plan: to extract sperm DNA from frozen mammoth remains and inject it into a female elephant’s eggs to produce a hybrid offspring. By repeating the procedure over generations, scientists would eventually create an animal that is mostly mammoth.

One problem, however, has been finding mammoth DNA that is sufficiently well preserved in ice to still be viable. The DNA in mammoth fossils that have been found has been unusable, damaged by time and climate changes.

Also, many mammoth experts scoff at the idea, calling it scientifically impossible and even morally irresponsible.

“DNA preserved in ancient tissues is fragmented into thousands of tiny pieces nowhere near sufficiently preserved to drive the development of a baby mammoth,” said Adrian Lister, a paleontologist at University College London in England.

Great Mystery

Sergey Zimov, who is not involved in the mammoth-recreation effort, initiated the project to restore the Pleistocene ecosystem in 1989. He hopes to test the theory that hunting, not climate change, wiped out the animals that once thrived in northern Siberia.

“I want to show how many animals can exist if nobody hinders them to live,” said Zimov, who directs the Northeast Science Station in Cherskiy, about 93 miles (150 kilometers) south of the Arctic Sea in the Russian republic of Sakha (also known as Yakutiya).

In the area of Sakha where the park is located, temperatures fluctuate between highs of about 85 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) in the summer and lows of -58 degrees Fahrenheit (-50 degrees Celsius) in the winter.

During the driest periods of the Pleistocene, which lasted from about 1.8 million to 10,000 years ago, the vegetation was mainly low grass.

During warmer periods the land turned into meadows and steppes, ideal grazing grounds for woolly mammoths, rhinoceroses, bison, horses, elk, and yaks. Among the predators were cave lions and wolves.

When this vast ecosystem disappeared 10,000 years ago, the land turned into mossy tundra. The only plant eaters to survive were reindeer that grazed on lichens and moose that fed on willows.

The cause of the extinctions of large animals such as woolly mammoths has been a topic of great debate. Many scientists argue that the sudden shift to a warmer and moister climate proved catastrophic to the steppe vegetation and the animals that thrived on it.

“I’m completely on the side of natural, environmental causes of extinction,” said Andrei Sher, a well-known paleontologist at Moscow’s A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution.

Skilled Hunters?

Zimov, however, believes that humans, using increasingly efficient hunting practices, killed off the woolly mammoths and the other large animals.

But could a small population of hunters kill millions of animals?

“Imagine a picture in which someone from the neighboring tribe teaches you to make new … weapons” such as spears, Zimov said.

“Now you kill the first animal. Will you carefully prepare and consume all the meat, surrounded as you are by clouds of mosquitoes? Or will you just cut out the tongue, knowing that there are millions more [animals]?

“Over time, people probably understood that they should take care of the animals, but by then it was too late,” he added.

By reintroducing the Pleistocene animals, Zimov says scientists may be able to determine what role the animals played in maintaining their own habitat. Researchers may also better understand the forces that vanquished the Ice Age ecosystem.

While much of the Siberian tundra is now covered with moss, the 160 square kilometers (62 square miles) designated for the park is an even split of meadow, larch forest, and willow shrubland.

“All plants that were there in the Pleistocene epoch are preserved there today,” Zimov said.

The park will eventually be cordoned off, though it will remain open to adventurous tourists who can get to such a remote location, which is accessible only by helicopter.

So far, only 20 square kilometers (about 8 square miles) have been fenced off. Within the park hardy Yakutian horses, the closest descendants of the Pleistocene horse, roam alongside reindeer and moose. Plans to import of Canadian bison, however, are on hold due to fears of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease.

Zimov says he hopes to increase the density of plant eaters sufficiently to influence the vegetation and soil in the park and stabilize its grasslands. Once herbivore populations have been established, the plan is to acclimatize Siberian tigers, predators whose modern survival is threatened by poaching.

(NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC NEWS  5.17.05)

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r.i.p. the movie camera: 1888-2011…

10/15/2011

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

by MATT ZOLLER SEITZ 

We might as well call it: Cinema as we knew it is dead.

An article at the moviemaking technology website Creative Cow reports that the three major manufacturers of motion picture film cameras — Aaton, ARRI and Panavision — have all ceased production of new cameras within the last year, and will only make digital movie cameras from now on.  As the article’s author, Debra Kaufman, poignantly puts it, “Someone, somewhere in the world is now holding the last film camera ever to roll off the line.”

What this means is that, even though purists may continue to shoot movies on film, film itself will may become increasingly hard to come by, use, develop and preserve. It also means that the film camera — invented in 1888 by Louis Augustin Le Prince — will become to cinema what typewriters are to literature. Anybody who still uses a Smith-Corona or IBM Selectric typewriter knows what that means: if your beloved machine breaks, you can’t just take it to the local repair shop, you have to track down some old hermit in another town who advertises on Craigslist and stockpiles spare parts in his basement.

As Aaton founder Jean-Pierre Beauviala told Kaufman: “Almost nobody is buying new film cameras. Why buy a new one when there are so many used cameras around the world? We wouldn’t survive in the film industry if we were not designing a digital camera.” Bill Russell, ARRI’s vice president of cameras, added that: “The demand for film cameras on a global basis has all but disappeared.”

Theaters, movies, moviegoing and other core components of what we once called “cinema” persist, and may endure.  But they’re not quite what they were in the analog cinema era. They’re something new, or something else — the next generation of technologies and rituals that had changed shockingly little between 1895 and the early aughts. We knew this day would come. Calling oneself a “film director” or “film editor” or “film buff” or a “film critic” has over the last decade started to seem a faintly nostalgic affectation; decades hence it may start to seem fanciful. It’s a vestigial word that increasingly refers to something that does not actually exist — rather like referring to the mass media as “the press.”

In May 1999 — a year that saw several major releases, including “Toy Story 2,″ projected digitally for paying customers — editor and sound designer Walter Murch wrote a piece for the New York Times headlined, “A Digital Cinema of the Mind? Could Be.” In it, Murch pointed out that only two major aspects of the analog filmmaking process had survived into the late ’90s, the recording of images on sprocketed celluloid film and their projection onto big screens by casting a beam of light through the images. Murch predicted that once digital projection became widespread, it would “trigger the final capitulation of the two last holdouts of film’s 19th-century, analog-mechanical legacy. Projection, at the end of the line, is one; the other is the original photography that begins the whole process. The movie industry is currently a digital sandwich between slices of analog bread.”

Near the end of 1999, my former New York Press colleague Godfrey Cheshire published a two-part article titled “Death of Film/Decay of Cinema“, which in hindsight seems eerily prescient. He predicted just about everything that would happen within the next decade-plus, including the replacement of old-fashioned film print projection by digital systems, the replacement of film cameras by digital cameras, and the near-total takeover of traditional cinematic language by techniques that had once been the province of television.

“Camera, projector, celluloid,” Cheshire wrote, “the basic technology hasn’t changed in over a century. Sure, as a form of expression, film underwent a radical alteration with the addition of sound, but that and other developments – color, widescreen, stereo, etc.–were simply embellishments to a technical paradigm that has held true since photographic likenesses began to move, and that everyone in the world has thought of as “the movies” – until this summer. [...] For the time being, most movies will still be shot on film, primarily because audiences are used to the look, but everything else about the process will be, in effect, television  – from the transmission by satellite to the projection, which for all intents and purposes is simply a glorified version of a home video projection system.”

Although I’ve become more of a surly classicist with age, I was an early defender of movies shot on video, and I really don’t see the point of doing a Grandpa Cinema routine, waving a cane and hollering that the movies somehow “equal” film. That’s  silly. Cinema is not just a medium. It is alanguage. Its essence — storytelling with shots and cuts, with or without sound — will survive the death of the physical material, celluloid, that many believed was inseparably linked to it. The physical essence of analog cinema won’t survive the death of film (except at museums and repertory houses that insist on showing 16mm and 35mm prints).

But digital cinema will become so adept at mimicking the look of film that within a couple of decades, even cinematographers may not be able to tell the difference. The painterly colors, supple gray scale, hard sharpness and enticing flicker of motion picture film were always important (if mostly unacknowledged) parts of cinema’s mass appeal. The makers of digital moviemaking equipment got hip to that in the late ’90s, and channeled their research and development money accordingly; it’s surely no coincidence that celluloid-chauvinist moviegoers and moviemakers stopped resisting the digital transition once they realized that the new, electronically-created movies could be made to look somewhat like the analog kind, with dense images, a flickery frame rate, and starkly defined planes of depth.

But let’s not kid ourselves: Now that analog filmmaking is dead, an ineffable beauty has died with it. Let’s raise two toasts, then — one to the glorious past, and one to the future, whatever it may hold.

(SALON.COM  10.13.11)

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THE PORTLAND RADIO AUTHORITY…

10/13/2011

support web radio

 by COREY DEITZ

The Portland Radio Authority, also known as PRA, is a non-commercial, listener-supported and web-based radio station based in Portland, Oregon. It touts itself as a “free form community media source”.

PRA was founded in 2003 a Pirate Radio station which at the time was broadcast on low-power locally and across the web.

PRA went Internet-only in 2006 after pressure from local media through the FCC.

PRA has a roster of deejays (over 50) who produce weekly two hour shows that cover a wide variety of music styles and programming.

For more information on PRA or to listen to it’s Internet stream, visit www.praradio.org.

(ABOUT.COM)

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IN-N-OUT BURGER…

10/11/2011

the super duper secret menu…

by JERRY

In-N-Out Burger has a secret unpublished menu for insiders who are in-the-know. Next time you’re at In-N-Out order a bag of these off-the-menu specials. While it’s not on the printed menu, there are buttons on the cash register for these items. You can pretty much order anything you want, as long as they have the ingredients (e.g., putting onions in a milkshake). While the “secret” menu is listed on the In-N-Out corporate site, it is far from complete.

“3-by-3″ = three meat patties and three slices of cheese.

“4-by-4″ = four meat patties and four slices of cheese.

“2-by-4″ = two meat patties and four slices of cheese.

*Note: You may get a burger with the exact number of meat patties or cheese slices you want (up to 4×4). Just tell the In-N-Out Burger cashier how many meat patties and how much cheese you want and that is what you’ll get! For instance, if you want 4 pieces of meat and 3 pieces of cheese tell them you want a “4-by-3.”  the number stands for MxC with a 7×3 being 7 patties and 3 pieces of cheese.

“Double Meat” = like a Double Double without cheese.

“3 by Meat” = three meat patties and no cheese.

“Animal Style” = the meat is cooked and fried with mustard and then pickles are added, extra spread and grilled onions are added.

“Animal Style Fries” = fries with cheese, spread, grilled onions and pickles (if you ask for them).

“Protein Style” = for all you low-carbohydrate dieters, this is a burger with no bun (wrapped in lettuce).

“Flying Dutchman” = two meat patties, two slices of melted cheese and nothing else – not even a bun!

Fries “Well-Done” = extra crispy fries . . . even better than the regular!

Fries “Light” = opposite of fries well-done, more raw than most people like ‘em

“Grilled Cheese” = no meat, just melted cheese, tomato, lettuce and spread on a bun.

“Veggie Burger” = burger without the patty or cheese. Sometimes we call this the “Wish Burger.”

“Neapolitan” Shake = strawberry, vanilla and chocolate mixed together.

The friendly employees of In-N-Out Burger will take your special order without question, if you use the right terminology. The printed receipt will have your special request typed on it just as you ordered it.

(JERRY’S THOUGHTS, MUSINGS AND RANTS  2.6.09)

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KEREPAKUPAI MERÚ vs TUGELA FALLS…

10/09/2011

two giants in the world of falling water…

from the WORLD WATERFALL DATABASE

KEREPAKUPAI MERÚ, Venezuela

The falls are known as Kerepakupai Merú or Parekupa Vena in the language of the indigenous Pemon, and are more commonly known as Salto Angel or Angel Falls, is the tallest free-falling waterfall on earth. The Río Gauja flows from the sandstone plateau-mountain Auyan Tepui, the largest of many Tepuis in Canaima National Park in the southeastern part of Venezuela. As the river nears the edge of the mountain, it sinks into channels in the bedrock and disappears underground completely, emerging 50 feet below the top of the cliff and plunging a sheer 2,648 feet to the floor of the canyon below. The river flows all year long, but during the dry months it is severely reduced in volume and isn’t anywhere near as impressive.

HISTORY AND NAMES

Kerepakupai Merú, or Parekupa-vena are the proper names given to Angel Falls by the indigenous Pemon Indians. The name Angel Falls, as the world knows it, was bestowed upon the falls after James Angel, a bush pilot who crash-landed his plane on the mountain above the falls in November of 1933 while conducting aerial prospecting surveys in the area. The falls were, however, first seen by a non-native in 1912 when Venezuelan explorer Ernesto Sanchez la Cruz stumbled upon the fall. His name is not often attached with the waterfalls because he did not seek to publicize his find.
In 1949 an American Journalist named Ruth Robertson conducted an expedition to the waterfall, taking along surveyors with hopes to record the height of the waterfall. National Geographic is often credited with leading the expedition, but they appear to have had very little to do with it. The survey team measured the falls as dropping 3,212 feet.

OUR THOUGHTS

While Kerepakupai Merú is most certainly one of the greatest waterfalls on the planet, we grow more and more skeptical that it is either the tallest on earth or as tall as is claimed. The survey team which measured the waterfall in 1949 took their measurements from the shores of the Rio Churun, almost a mile away from the base of the waterfall. The elevation difference from the top of the Tepui to the Rio Churun is, conveniently, just over 3,300 feet and there is more than 500 feet of loss in elevation from the base of the waterfall to the point where the Rio Gauja flows into the Rio Churun. Secondly, we are of the opinion that Kerepakupai Merú should only be considered the 2,648 foot plunge, as the river below the falls – aside from a 100 foot fall 1/4 mile downstream from the base of the main drop – is more or less flat. This would make South Africa’s Tugela Falls the tallest on earth.
To further heighten the engima, we’ve seen botanical sources that claim surveyed height figures of 2,937 feet total, with a clear leap of 2,421 feet. The height controversy aside, this is clearly a giant.

TUGELA FALLS, South Africa

The infant Tugela River makes a series of 5 consecutive leaps down the amphitheater wall in the high Drakensberg Mountains. The initial horsetail is on the order of 597 feet (182m), followed shortly afterward by a leap of 1350 feet (411m). The three subsequent falls, which over the years haven’t consistently been included in the overall height given for the falls, occur in rapid succession and comprise the balance of the 3,110 feet (948m) of elevation loss.

SEASONAL DISCHARGE

This waterfall occurs along a stream that is known to vary greatly in volume and as a result may not flow consistently year round or may dry out completely during certain periods.

HISTORY AND NAMES

Tugela is a phonetic spelling of the word “Thukela”, meaning “sudden” or “startling”. Indeed, this gentle stream makes a very abrupt leap off of a massive escarpment.

OUR THOUGHTS

We’ve seen Tugela Falls variously listed between 1,800 feet (549m) and 3,110 feet (948m) depending on the source. Other height claims are 2,014 feet (614m), and 2,853 feet (870m). It is our theory that the two lower figures only refer to the first two drops. Photographs clearly show that the 3rd tier follows the 2nd tier just as closely as the 2nd tier follows the 1st tier. The three tiers together most likely account for the 2853 feet (870m) height figure. Since the 4th and 5th tiers are still more or less continuous, with no lengthy interstitial stretch of river between, we feel that the height figure of 3110′ (948m) is wholly credible. At any height, this is a very tall waterfall.
The only drawback to Tugela Falls is the flow. Most of the water that collects on the relatively flat surface of Mont Aux Sources flows either west or north. There is a rather small portion that slopes east, and this accounts for several very tall, but meager waterfalls, Tugela being the largest in terms of flow. It really only flows well after periods of rain. When it flows however, it is most impressive.

LOCATION AND DIRECTIONS

There are two trails to the falls. The trail to the top of Mont Aux Sources leaves the parking area for “The Sentinel”. The trail is about 4 miles (6.4km) to Tugela Falls, gaining perhaps 1,700 feet (518m) in elevation. A cursory glance might suggest that isn’t TOO hard, but the elevation at the parking area is about 8,300 feet, and the lip of Tugela Falls is close to 10000′ (3048m) above sea level. The air is a bit more thin here.
The second means of access follows the Tugela River upstream through the Tugela Gorge. This trail is 4.3 miles (7km) in length, but the gradient is much more level, gaining perhaps a thousand feet in elevation. The trailhead is roughly 5,200 feet (1585m) above sea level.

(WORLD WATERFALL DATABASE)

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“INSIGHT”

10/07/2011

casting is 90% of the work…

from WIKIPEDIA

Insight was an Emmy-winning syndicated television series produced by Paulist Productions that aired 250 episodes from 1960 to 1983. The series presented half-hour dramas illuminating the contemporary search for meaning, freedom, and love. Insight was an anthology series, using an eclectic set of story telling forms including comedy, melodrama, and fantasy to explore moral dilemmas.

The series was created by Roman Catholic priest Ellwood E. “Bud” Kieser, the founder of Paulist Productions. A member of the Paulist Fathers, an evangelistic Catholic order of priests, he worked in the entertainment community in Hollywood as a priest-producer and occasional host, using television as a vehicle of spiritual enrichment.

Insight was nominated for the Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Religious Programming in 1972 and 1973 and won the category from 1981 to 1984. The anthology format and the religious nature of the program attracted a wide variety of actors (including Ed AsnerJack AlbertsonBeau BridgesPatty DukeWesley EureBob HastingsCicely TysonJack KlugmanRobert LansingWalter Matthau,Deborah WintersBob NewhartJohn Ritter, and Martin Sheen), directors (such as Marc DanielsArthur HillerNorman LloydDelbert MannTed PostJay Sandrich, and Jack Shea), and writers (Rod SerlingJohn T. DuganLan O’Kun, and Michael Crichton) to work on the series.

In the United States the series was typically shown on Sunday mornings or late night. Often stations aired Insight in order to meet theFederal Communications Commission‘s public interest standard for broadcast television.

(WIKIPEDIA)

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“TOM SWIFT AND HIS ELECTRIC RIFLE”

10/05/2011

sixty years before the making of the TASER (Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle) gun…

by JP KARENKO

Tom Swift finishes inventing something major in this book, the Electric Rifle.  Introduced in a previous episode, (The Caves of Ice) the device is now more-or-less complete. It still needs some work, as the stun/kill/disintegrate adjustment is too indiscriminate. Also, due to the extreme destructive power at the terminal distance, safety issues regarding accidental discharge or mis-adjustment need to be addressed.

The rifle resembles an oversized (but lightweight) heavy-game firearm in appearance, except for “dials, levers, gears and wheels” on the shoulder stock. It throws a (plasma?) “bullet” that can be adjusted to “discharge” at a given range with a force varying from “stun” to “disintegrate.” The WSoD part (Willing Suspension of Disbelief) of this invention, is the ability of this charge to travel thru walls and intervening barriers without loss of energy, “find” a target that cannot be seen and selectively dump its’ energy on that target only. A lion, carrying off a tribesman is killed in its tracks, while the injured native (clamped in the lion’s jaws) is unharmed. The rifle is charged by a small dynamo and contains a storage device for this charge in a cylinder contained in the butt-stock. This is presumed to be a capacitor or battery, although no details are given. No “magazine capacity” is quoted, but Tom never seems to have to reload. Also, there is no annoying recoil, noise or smoke produced when it is fired.

The secret of the Electric Rifle seems to have been lost to modern man. The idea of a variable strength, select-range weapon that is “safe” until it reaches the intended target, is still beyond the technology of 2005. Self-seeking missiles and timed ranging small-arms projectiles are reality, today, but not in the clean, simple and environmentally friendly package that Tom has invented. Have no fear, though. We will some day develop this weapon. A glimpse into the Hollywood time machine confirms this.

(THE COMPLETE TOM SWIFT  6.10.05)

“Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle” 1911 by Victor Appleton

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“FIFTH WARD JAM”

10/03/2011

new project by Dan Havel and Dean Ruck

by LISA GRAY

One night in December, house movers plopped the beat-up bungalow onto the empty double lot at 3705 Lyons.

They didn’t appear to have done a good job. The little pink house sat both backward and crooked on the bedraggled lot. The front door only sorta-kinda faced the back fence.

But the neighbors didn’t complain. The Fifth Ward is full of weird empty houses on weedy lots.

Then, early this summer, a couple of white guys showed up. First they pried off the portico that once sheltered the house’s front door. Then they started generally smashing the place up, gutting the interior walls that held it up and replacing them with a thicket of wooden supports nailed at bizarre angles.

One day, Sherman Miller, who lives across the intersection, ambled over and asked the guys what they were doing. They said something about making the house into art. So he asked if they had any work for him.

He thought they were crazy. But they paid in cash.

Inversion‘s cousin

Six years ago, the white guys – Dan Havel and Dean Ruck – smashed up a couple of other bungalows, and in the process, created Inversion, one of the most astounding of pieces of art that Houston had ever seen. A giant horizontal vortex, made from the bungalows’ own wood siding, seemed to rip through the houses – a sight that literally stopped traffic on Montrose Boulevard.

It was public art that the public loved. People who never set foot in galleries asked their neighbors whether they’d seen it. Parents snapped photos of their kids crawling into the funnel’s mouth; dog owners snapped photos of their mutts peeking out the little hole at its tail. Pranksters stuck Realtors’ signs out front. Inversion appeared on Christmas cards, newspapers, magazines and the TV news. And naturally, it was a Web sensation.

But it was easy, too, to read meaning into the spectacle. Montrose, like other neighborhoods, was gentrifying fast. Its bungalows and other old houses were disappearing; townhouses and highrises seemed to appear overnight, out of nowhere. The time-space continuum seemed in flux. The past was being sucked into the future. A vortex was ripping through.

You were free to decide whether that vortex was good or bad. Obviously, the Art League of Houston – which had commissioned Havel and Ruck – thought it was great: The Art League was about to replace its cramped pair of bungalows with a brand-new building, one with galleries designed to be galleries and classrooms designed to be classrooms. Inversion was intended as a way to send the old, not-quite-right houses off in style, a temporary way to connect to the public, an artful way to make way for the new art space.

It worked almost too well. After the better part of the year, when the Art League finally demolished the work that was always supposed to be temporary, some Houstonians were sad or angry; they’d wanted Inversion to last. The Art League responded by naming its new coffee shop Inversion. And now, embedded in the reflective window facing the parking lot, there’s a big photographic image of Inversion The longer you look at it, the stranger it seems: a permanent picture of a temporary artwork; a shiny, glassed-in window celebrating a rough wooden hole; an unchanging snapshot of something all about change.

Wooden chaos

Fifth Ward Jam, as Havel and Ruck call the piece they recently finished, isn’t at all a copy of Inversion. Jam is made from one bungalow instead of two, and it has multiple vortexes, not just one. In front of all the wooden chaos, there’s an area that could serve as a stage. But anyone who remembers Inversion will immediately recognize Jam as its kin.

The main difference, really, is the site: The Fifth Ward is wildly different from arty, gentrifying Montrose. In the past decades, change has crept in, here and there – a new-ish apartment complex sits directly across Lyons Avenue from Jam – but the neighborhood remains much the same: mostly African American, mostly poor. Weedy lots and vacant houses are problems here; gentrification and whirlwind change are not.

Ruck and Havel scrounged much of the stuff they nailed onto the house. They reused much of the house’s own pink siding. Other inch-thick bits of flotsam and jetsam came from the city’s ReUse Warehouse, which recycles building material that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

But the big stuff they needed to create Jam – the money, house and real estate – came from official sources: the Houston Arts Alliance and the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corp. “Dean and I were asked to ‘revitalize the neighborhood,’” Havel said, staggering back and rolling his eyes: That’s a lot to ask from a piece of art.

But on that recent Monday evening, before Jam’s official debut on Oct. 1, the artwork was at least enlivening that stretch of Lyons. Cars slowed down so drivers could get an eyeful; bicyclists stopped; drivers asked questions. Recently, Havel said, a Metro driver stopped his bus to take a photo.

But will people leave the street to come hang out there? Jam is supposed to last about two years before time and termites take their toll. In that time, will its newly, lightly landscaped lot function as a little park, as the Arts Alliance and CRC hope? Now that they’ve built it, will people come?

Havel likes imagining Jam’s stage taken over by politicians or preachers. He likes the idea of kids investigating Jam, trying to find out where its vortexes lead. And he likes the idea that people might hang out at the park’s round white concrete picnic tables, the kind that grandmas have in their backyards.

But most of all, he likes the idea that Jam might be taken over by a new generation of Fifth Ward musicians: rappers or anyone else who could use a free stage. He loves the Fifth Ward’s rich music history – loves knowing that Lyons Avenue, in the ’40s and ’50s, had a legendary music scene. Peacock Records recorded R&B and gospel greats there; among them, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Texas Johnny Brown, Big Mama Thornton, and the Mighty Clouds of Joy. The record company’s sister club, The Bronze Peacock, hosted acts like T-Bone Walker and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. Havel is thrilled that the Jam’s opening celebration included a scheduled performance by Texas Johnny Brown, once Peacock Records’ house guitarist.

Inversion’s vortex seemed to whip Montrose out of its past and into a future that was arriving all too fast. Jam’s gentler vortices connect Fifth Ward’s past to its present – and its future.

“Do you still think we’re crazy?” Ruck asked Miller.

“No,” Miller said. Then he paused a couple of seconds to think. “Well,” he corrected himself, “maybe half crazy.”

(HOUSTON CHRONICLE  9.30.11)

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“THE THIRD AND THE SEVENTH”

10/01/2011

interview with director Alex Roman…

by JUSTIN CONE

Some philosophies of aesthetics enumerate seven primary art forms derived from Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s “Lectures on the Aesthetics” and the writings of film theorist Ricciotto Canudo: architecture, sculpture, painting, dance, music, poetry, and cinema.

The order is disputed, and architecture is sometimes shuffled to the third position, as it was by aspiring filmmaker Alex Roman for the title of his breathtaking work in progress, The Third & The Seventh, an artful combination of photorealistic architectural renderings and stylish CG cinematography.

In Roman’s able hands, the combination is undeniably poetic. His reverence for light borders on transcendent, and his attention to detail is inspiring. We caught up with Alex for a little background information.

Justin Cone: Tell us a little about yourself. Who are you? Where are you from? What do you currently do?

Alex Roman: I was born in 1979, in Alacant (Alicante), a city in Spain. I would first like to say that my real name is Jorge Seva, but I use “Alex Roman” as an artistic alias for publishing independent work. After being trained in traditional painting at a few academies, I discovered this other world called CG. After school, I made the move to Madrid and began working at a visual effects company. That stint did not last too long due to the lack of demand for visual effects in the Spanish market at the time. It was then that I switched into the VIZ (architectural visualization) business. I have been working for several companies since. After that, I took a sabbatical year for to work on an “already-built work” visualization series, which will be stitched together into a short animated piece.

JC: Were you formally trained in architecture?

AR: Nope, never. But I was very interested in architecture since I was a child. Maybe it’s not too late.

JC: Can you tell us a little about the TheThird & The Seventh film?

AR: Well, after working in VIZ for years, I realized that there was a huge aesthetic difference between most clients’ commercial demands and photography of already-built structures. The lack of respect for the architecture itself in some “pure” commercial illustration was very frustrating to me. (Well, this is just my opinion, of course.) Then, I decided to start a personal journey: to experiment with a more cinematographic and/or photographic oriented point of view of some of my favorites architects’ masterpieces. Hence, the “The Third & The Seventh” project…

JC: After thumbing through a book of Frank Lloyd Wright’s sketches once, I chatted with an architect friend of mine about the art of architectural rendering. He told me that sometimes architects intentionally leave sketches vague or messy. It not only creates wiggle room when it comes to client negotiations, it leaves room for the imagination to paint in details. How would you respond to that idea?

AR: Well, there are of course several purposes behind computer graphics benefits. That “messy” representation style is very useful at a birth-idea/growing-process stages. Also, there are of course many architects that use CG as a sketching oriented tool… why not?

JC: Your sensitivity to light is amazing. How would you describe the interplay between light and architecture?

AR: Thanks! I think architecture is sculpting with light most of the time. There’s neither volume nor colors and materials without light and shadow. Like Kahn said once: “In the old buildings, the columns were an expression of light. Light, no light, light, no light, light, you see…”

JC: The level of realism in the The Third & The Seventh is stunning. Your render times must be incredible. What software and hardware do you use? How long is an average render?

AR: I use 3DS Max and Vray for rendering, Photoshop for texture work, AfterEffects for compositing and color grading and Adobe Premiere for edit it all. My desktop PC (i7 920) it’s now the only hardware i have. Every frame rendertime may vary from 20 sec to 1:30 hr (720p) It all depends on how complex the scene is. However, i invested a lot of time in scene optimization for rendering. I think it’s the key for a flexible workflow.

JC: How can we see the full The Third & The Seventh film?

AR: I’m finishing the latest shots, fighting with the music—the hardest stage for me—and editing at the moment. We will see it complete around the end of the summer of 2009. I really hope so!

(MOTIONGRAPHER  8.16.09)

“THE THIRD AND THE SEVENTH” 2009 directed by Alex Roman

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the SLAPSTICK…

09/29/2011

percussion adds more funny…

from MUSIC @ VIRGINIA TECH

A percussion instrument that creates a loud clapping or slapping sound, often called a whip. This instrument has been used in the theatre for hundreds of years and can be traced back as far as the theatre performances of Plautus in the 3rd century BCE.

Through the years, the slapstick has been used extensively to add extra comic effect for sight gags in theatre, vaudeville, and in cartoons. It is seen occasionally in classical music, such as the 6th Symphony of Gustav Mahler and is used as the sound of whips in a number of light classical and more contemporary compositions.

The slapstick is a simple instrument that consists of two flat pieces of wood, hinged at one end, which, when struck together produce a slapping sound.

The sound of the slapstick is a sharp crack, slap or whipping sound that can be performed loud our soft. The size of the slapstick (and strength and composition of material to some degree) provides the quality of the sound. A larger instrument can produce a louder and slightly lower pitched crack.

The slapstick has no way of altering or adjusting accurate pitches, so there is no range, nor is there any specific pitch or set of pitches associated with the instrument. It is used solely for rhythmic reinforcement and effect.

(MUSIC @ VIRGINIA TECH)

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“MAIDSTONE”

09/27/2011

Norman Mailer’s “guerrilla raid on the nature of reality”…

by GERALD HOWARD

In this era of instant cultural gratification, it is rare to have to wait 36 years to watch a film. But that’s how long it took for me to see “Maidstone,” Norman Mailer’s legendary exercise in improvisatory semifictional cinéma vérité. It finally arrived at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center this past July like a video transmission from the faraway Planet ’60s — a civilization in the throes of a crackup. I had been itching to see it ever since reading Mailer’s extraordinary essay on its creation, “A Course in Film-Making,” in New American Review in 1971, by which point the film had come and gone. For reasons its creator could hardly have anticipated, this lurid, ludicrous, lunatic spectacle was worth the wait.

At one level, “Maidstone” is a Norman Mailer version of a Rat Pack movie, albeit in the manner of Artaud. Filmed over five booze-, drug- and sex-soaked days in July 1968 in several Hamptons locations, it was a “guerrilla raid on the nature of reality,” as Mailer described it. Such forays were his speciality in those years, when he dominated a hopped-up, stressed-out American culture like a hipster-intellectual king of all media. No mere scribbler, he was a mega-celebrity and an oracle in an age that adored fame. Not since Hemingway had a novelist so stood astride the culture. Richard Poirier, in his 1971 study, “The Performing Self,” captures Mailer’s style precisely: “furiously self-consultive, so even narcissistic, and later so eager for publicity, love and historical dimension.”

Mailer had already made two smaller films in a similarly ad hoc style: “Wild 90,” a profanity-laced sub-“Sopranos” exercise that Pauline Kael called “the worst movie that I’ve ever stayed to see all the way through,” and “Beyond the Law,” an exploration of the psychodynamics of cops and criminals. Both films were unscripted experiments in le style Warhol that cost little and were screened at the tiny venues where underground movies were shown.

“Maidstone” represented a quantum leap in ambition, size, logistical complexity and expense. The huge cast and crew included scene makers, hipsters, hangers-on, socialites, amphetamine-thin actress/models, black militants, the publisher Barney Rosset, the boxing champ Jose Torres, the Warhol superstar Ultra Violet, Mailer’s wife at the time — Beverly Bentley — two of his ex-wives, and a sprinkling of professional actors, including Hervé Villechaize and, most crucially, a smolderingly intense Rip Torn. This ménage made its way to the bucolic East End of Long Island, where five separate camera crews (one led by the documentarian D.A. Pennebaker of “Don’t Look Back” fame) began shooting on several estates.

“Maidstone” had no scripted dialogue, but it did have a framing scenario that put Mailer and his outsize ego front and center. The conceit was that Mailer was to incarnate a high-art film director of the Buñuel/Fellini sort named Norman T. Kingsley (Mailer’s middle name), who was planning an improbable run for the presidency. Surrounding him was a circle of advisers termed the Cash Box, headed by Torn as Kingsley’s half-brother and confidante. Meanwhile, men in expensive suits and horn-rimmed glasses assess Kingsley’s threat level to the military-industrial complex and consider having him assassinated. This overreaching exercise in self-valorization can be understood only in the context of Mailer’s career, in which his running for existential president has been a recurring motif, and the assassination of Robert Kennedy on June 5. The distinction between psychological breakdowns and breakthroughs having been erased, “Maidstone” was in perfect sync with such contemporary phenomena as art world “happenings,” the Living Theater and the Doors’ sex-and-murder freakout, “The End.”

In the panel discussion that preceded the screening in July, Mailer characterized the role of film director as “equivalent to being a general in a war in which no blood was shed.” But back in 1968, Mailer’s troops were in a constant state of mutiny, and a fair amount of blood was shed. The scenario slipped away as things devolved into a saturnalia, “a psychic pigout” in the words of one participant, and a dangerous one. Mailer strides about shirtless and self-important, declaiming in his weirdly variable accent. His bullyragging, mock-seductive treatment of the nakedly needy actresses “auditioning” made my skin crawl. “You’re not a dyke, are you?” he sneers at one, making Kate Millett’s and Germaine Greer’s future case. The equally squirm-inducing interchanges between the black activists and the white women reek of radical chic and Eldridge Cleaver-ism. One blonde proclaims, “If I meet a Negro I’ll have a Negro habit,” and the camera pruriently lingers on Ultra Violet making love with a black man and briefly on an outdoor session of interracial oral sex.

A bright thread of violence wound through the shooting, giving “Maidstone” its ominous air and notorious climax. At one point, Rosset emerged from his house to find a drunken Villechaize drowning in the pool. An exasperated actor grabbed Mailer around the head and got a shot to the mouth and a broken jaw for his trouble. Everyone was convinced that persons unknown were packing real guns.

Much of this and more unfolded on the screen like some long-delayed acid flashback to a bad trip I had never taken. Then came the last three minutes, which guarantee “Maidstone” a kind of immortality. The filming proper was supposed to have ended one very late night in a so-called “Assassination Ball,” where Mailer/Kingsley, in top hat and tails, delivered a vainglorious speech to the assembled cast, though disappointingly to many, no attempt on his life was staged. The next day the cast went to rustic Gardiners Island to decompress and use up some leftover film. Pennebaker’s camera captures them strolling about the fields and then focuses on Rip Torn, who removes a hammer from a backpack, strides over to Mailer and hits him on the head twice, announcing: “You are supposed to die, Mr. Kingsley. You must die, not Mailer. I don’t want to kill Mailer, but I must kill Kingsley in the picture.” Shocked, Mailer wrestles him to the ground, and they roll down the hill in an ugly tussle, Mailer biting Torn’s ear as Mailer’s wife and children scream. Finally separated, the two bloodied men walk at a wary distance from each other, Mailer hurling curses, Torn explaining calmly: “When — when is an assassination ever planned? It’s done, it’s done.” The sequence ends with Torn calling Mailer “a fraud” and pointing a finger at the camera, taunting, “Hoo hoo!”

In the film “Performance” (1970), the reclusive rock star played by Mick Jagger declares: “The only performance that makes it, that really makes it, that makes it all the way, is the one that achieves madness.” Rip Torn took Mailer’s premises more seriously than Mailer himself did and acted them out, in the process both stealing Mailer’s film and making it for him. Over the next two years, as Mailer struggled to edit his 45 hours of footage into something workable, he was forced to accede to Torn’s logic and made his attack the centerpiece and culmination of the film.

“Maidstone” was screened for two weeks in September 1971 at the Whitney Museum, selling out its entire run. In his New York Times review, Vincent Canby cites the final scene as “complex and dense and very much in keeping with what a major author is required to give his public in this era of Total Revelation.” Mailer’s company then rented a commercial movie theater on Third Avenue, but the public stayed away in droves. “Maidstone” went on to become an essential part of the Mailer legend, in good part as a result of never being seen.

As I watched the film, the thought struck me that “Maidstone” functions for the intelligentsia of the ’60s in much the same way that “Gimme Shelter,” Albert and David Maysles’s documentary about the Altamont festival, does for the counterculture. Mailer’s essay ends with the oft-quoted sentence “We are a Faustian age determined to meet the Lord or the Devil before we are done, and the ineluctable ore of the authentic is the only key to the lock.” Both Mailer and Mick Jagger had loudly proclaimed their sympathy for the Devil, fancying themselves masters of the revels, but they were undone by the irrational forces they had unleashed.

In our diminished age, “Maidstone” provokes renewed amazement that artists ever really did such things, as well as nostalgia for the vivid presence of literary action heroes like Mailer. And if I ever see Rip Torn, I’m determined to shake his hand — checking first, however, that the other one does not hold a hammer.

(NY TIMES  8.26.07)

Gerald Howard is an editor at Doubleday Broadway

“MAIDSTONE” 1970 directed by Norman Mailer

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“ESSENTIAL KILLING”

09/23/2011

an interview with director Jerzy Skolimowski…

by ALEX GODFREY

A couple of years ago, 72-year-old Polish film director Jerzy Skolimowski’s car skidded off a forest road and he found himself “alone in nature”, surrounded by animals. He realised the same thing could happen to a van carrying dangerous prisoners, and that’s pretty much the premise of Essential Killing, a beautiful, bonkers, man versus nature slugfest starring Vincent Gallo as a man of implicitly Middle Eastern origins who is tortured for exploding some American soldiers before escaping into the forest.

Out there in the snow, all morality hurls itself through an open window as he attempts to survive, battling anything and anyone that gets in his way, eating ants and stealing fish while being chased by dogs and crushed by trees.

The precise origins of Gallo’s character are never determined, but his name is ‘Mohammad’. The casting decision furrowed a few brows, but everyone’s favourite sperm-selling Italian-American plays his role expertly, which is high praise when he’s given no dialogue whatsoever to work with.

I met the director (who co-wrote Roman Polanski’s Knife In The Water and acted in David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises) in London to talk about Gallo, politics and waterboarding.

Vice: When it was announced that you’d chosen Vincent Gallo to play a Middle Eastern fundamentalist, were you surprised that people said it was provocative casting?
Jerzy Skolimowski: Well it was kind of extravagant casting. Wouldn’t you say?

Vice: Yes. But when you’re watching the film he looks right. You don’t question it. Was he excited about playing the part?
Jerzy Skolimowski: Yes, he wanted to play it very much. When I approached him he got very enthusiastic, and he was even saying that he’s so used to the cold weather because he’s from Buffalo where it’s always cold. He said he was willing to run barefoot in the snow. Which in practice wasn’t that easy.

Vice: Did you always have him in mind for the character?
Jerzy Skolimowski: No, that was pure accident. I met him in Cannes in 2009 after a screening of Francis Ford Coppola’s Tetro, and I liked him in the film. I saw him walking in front of me and I observed certain animalistic movements of his body, and I thought that would be good for the part. And I was walking behind him for a while wondering whether to approach him or not, and then just instinctively I tapped his shoulder and I said, “Hi Vincent, I’ve got an idea for a film you might be interested in,” and I gave him five pages of treatment. And he called me literally two hours later and he said, “This is phenomenal, I want to be in it, I MUST be in it! I’m physical, this is the ideal part for me!” So I said, “OK, grow a beard, grow your hair,” and six months later we were shooting the film.

Vice: Did you talk to him about the political aspect to the character?
Jerzy Skolimowski: I told him that I’m not interested in politics and that I was going to treat the situation at the start of the story as ambiguously as possible. I don’t point out where we are, which war it is, which year it is, it could be many different places. We know on one side there’s a well-equipped American army, and on the other side there are some guys in turbans. It could be anywhere: Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan.

Vice: Did he talk about his own politics?
Jerzy Skolimowski: No… you know, we were not on very friendly terms. Let me explain something. Vincent is a method actor. So he accumulates all the negative things to play that character. So he was actually antagonising everybody just to feel like that character. This is the method.

Vice: What was he doing?
Jerzy Skolimowski: Making scenes about every little detail. He wanted to have berries for breakfast, and we were in a remote place in Poland where the nearest civilised shop was hundreds of miles away. So we said: “We cannot get you berries for breakfast, we can have it maybe tomorrow or the day after.” We got him berries the next day and he didn’t want them any more. So the crew ate the berries. But he was looking for reasons to explode, to be angry, he wanted to be, he needed to be angry. And he was! But, look. What really counts is the final result on the screen, and he’s just sensational, he’s phenomenal! So whatever price we had to pay, him as well, it doesn’t count.

Vice: Did you clash with him? Did he go too far?
Jerzy Skolimowski: Yeah, we had difficult times. Let me give you an example – the scene where he kills the logger, this giant guy, I brought him aside and said, “Look, you jump on his back, you roll down and you struggle,” and he looked at the guy and said to me, “Err, it has to be a body double, not me.” I wanted to have it in one shot, because I wanted to show his face, not cut to a double’s body and then desperately cut to a glimpse of his face. You have to see the real fight. So I said, “Listen, it’s not such a dangerous thing, you’re a physical man, you said that you could do anything, and jumping on the guy and rolling down, it’s nothing that would harm you.” And he said, “Would you do it?” I said “Sure.” I jumped on the guy, I rolled down with him, I got up, the crew was silent. I got the snow out of my clothes and the crew started to applaud. So he didn’t have any choice. But things like this happened every day, many times a day.

Vice: Was it harder than you expected, being out there in the cold?
Jerzy Skolimowski: It was. The cold temperature really got to us. It was -35ºC, night shooting, night after night after night, most of the film was shot at night.

Vice: Where were you staying?
Jerzy Skolimowski: We shot for 40 days in three countries. In Norway, because I had to have snow, in Poland, and in Israel. So it was a lot of travelling, it was probably the most difficult film I ever shot.

Vice: How did Gallo deal with the weather?
Jerzy Skolimowski: Well the scenes where he’s barefoot – he was brave, doing this, but at the same time, he was demanding so much care. Immediately after I said “Cut” each time, there was an army of people running towards him with everything, blankets, hot tea, this and that. And if anybody was a split second late he was immediately angry, shouting, “How do you treat me! I am the star of the picture!” Things like this.

Vice: How heavily did you research the film, in terms of people surviving in the wild?
Jerzy Skolimowski: No research at all. It’s pure fantasy. I didn’t study anything about the political situation either. Let me give you an example: Everybody knows what waterboarding is and that the US military applied it. But no one knows how it looks. There are no witnesses. So I had to make my own waterboarding torture how I imagine it. How to get the water drops into the nose. I said, “Ok, the guy has to lie down, there has to be some kind of apparatus, maybe very primitive.” I didn’t need to research anything, because this is not a documentary, it’s not even realistic. It’s a brutal, modern fairy tale. A poem.

(VICE  3.11)

“ESSENTIAL KILLING” 2011 directed by Jerzy Skolimowski

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JIM TULLY…

09/21/2011

BEFORE THE BEATS: PART 2

forgotten hard-boiled hobo writer rediscovered…

by THOMAS GLADYSZ 

In the 1920s and 1930s, Jim Tully was something of a household name. His writing — his singular brand of rough and tumble realism — was both popular and critically acclaimed. In his heyday, Tully’s books appeared on bestseller lists, were adapted for the stage, made into movies, and got both good and bad reviews in major publications across the country. One of his controversial books was even banned, and a large part of its first edition destroyed.

Despite his past celebrity, few today have heard of Jim Tully. In the years following WWII, his reputation waned — but not because he was considered out-of-date. If anything, Tully was ahead of his time.

Some consider Tully a precursor to the “hard-boiled” school. In the twenties, Tully wasn’t writing about the glitz and glamor of the Jazz Age. Rather, his sometimes muscular prose concerned petty criminals, addicts, hobos and other misfits of society. Charles Willeford, one of the leading post WWII hard-boiled crime fiction writers, has praised Tully and written of his influence.

Over the last year and a half, the Kent State University Press in Kent, Ohio (Tully’s one-time home) has begun reissuing this forgotten writer’s long-out-of-print books. So far, they’ve released Circus Parade (with a foreword by the late comix artist Harvey Pekar), Shanty Irish (with a foreword by film director John Sayles), The Bruiser (with a foreword by critic Gerald Early), and Tully’s breakthrough work and what’s likely his best remembered book, Beggars of Life (with an introduction by series editors Paul Bauer and Mark Dawidziak). Two more titles will follow in 2012.

Next year will see the release of Bauer and Dawidziak’s biography, Jim Tully: American Writer, Irish Rover, Hollywood Brawler. That book will include a foreword by documentary film maker Ken Burns, who has called it a “wonderful, hugely important biography.” All together, these forewords by so many celebrated contemporary figures suggest this little remembered author has a still strong following, at least among the cognoscenti.

Born near St. Marys, Ohio in 1886, Tully experienced an impoverished childhood. After the death of his mother in 1892, Tully’s Irish immigrant ditch-digger father sent the boy to an orphanage in Cincinnati. He remained there for six years until the misery became more than he could bear. Tully ran away though he was only a teenager.

Thereafter, what education this wild boy of the road received largely came in hobo camps, railroad yards, and public libraries scattered across the country. Tully is known to have stolen books by favorite writers (such as Dostoyevsky) from the local libraries in which he often found shelter.

After moving to California, Tully began writing in earnest. He also became one of the first free-lance writers to cover Hollywood. His journalism and celebrity portraits appeared in Vanity Fair and other leading magazines of the day, from Scribner’s to True Confessions. Tully was highly paid for his no holds barred accounts.

Tully wrote about Hollywood celebrities (including Charlie Chaplin, for whom he had once worked) in ways that the studios and the stars did not always find agreeable. For these pieces, Tully became known as the most-hated writer in Hollywood. It was a title he relished.

His first book, Emmett Lawler (1922), was originally composed as a single paragraph of 100,000 words. In an autobiographical statement published in 1933, Tully wrote “My first book was bad, and is now forgotten. I found myself, I think, in Beggars of Life, which I wrote in six terrifying weeks, while living with a bootlegger.” The book was “intended as a compilation of dramatic episodes in the life of a youthful vagabond, which I was for seven years.”

Published in 1924, Beggars of Life was the first of five autobiographical books Tully regarded as part of a larger single work. His “Underworld Edition” included Circus Parade (1927), “a series of none too happy and often ironical incidents with a circus,” Shanty Irish (1928), “the background of a road-kid who becomes articulate,” Shadows of Men (1930), “the tribulations, vagaries, and hallucinations of men in jail,” and Blood on the Moon (1931). Of his books, these autobiographical works were the closest to his heart.

Tully also wrote celebrated novels about Hollywood, Jarnegan (1926), boxing, The Bruiser (1936), and the down-and-out, Laughter in Hell (1932). Shortly after publication, a novel about prostitutes set in Chicago, Ladies in the Parlor (1935), was seized by the police due to claims it was obscene. Most copies were destroyed and today it is a prized rarity.

Tully’s last book, A Dozen and One (1943), includes an introduction by Damon Runyon. It features biographical portraits of 13 famous people he encountered during his life including Chaplin, H.L. Mencken, Jack Dempsey, Clark Gable, Diego Rivera and others.

With the May, 2011 publication of their long-in the-works biography, Bauer and Dawidziak will take to the road and revisit some of the cities and towns the hobo author once stopped in decades earlier. They even plan on visiting a local jail where Tully was incarcerated for vagrancy.

Whether or not Tully’s work will strike a chord with contemporary readers remains to be seen. It could take time, as Tully is an acquired taste. Certainly, readers of Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowski, William Vollmann or Stephen Elliott will find something of interest in Tully’s stories and prose.

His champions Bauer and Dawidziak have described Tully as “the greatest long shot in American literature.” Considering his ramshackle life, it is a miracle he wrote at all. If you’re a sucker for neglected books or lost classics, the work of this “literary bum” is worth a gamble.

(HUFFINGTON POST  12.8.10)

Thomas Gladysz is an arts journalist and author. His interview with Allen Ginsberg on the subject of photography is included in Sarah Greenough’s “Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg” (National Gallery of Art, 2010). And recently, he wrote the introduction to the Louise Brooks edition of Margarete Bohme’s classic novel, “The Diary of a Lost Girl” (PandorasBox Press, 2010). Gladysz will speak about “The Diary of a Lost Girl” at the Village Voice Bookshop in Paris on January 13, followed by a screening of the film at the nearby Action Cinema.

BEFORE THE BEATS: PART 1

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“THE WEIRD WORLD OF BLOWFLY”

09/19/2011

probing the life and mind of Clarence Reid…

by BILL GIBRON

It’s not an unusual story per se. The music business is literally riddled with the carcasses of former artistic greats who’ve been conned and cast aside. Nor is it bizarre for a one time Billboard fixture to fall on very hard times. Unlikely comebacks are also part of the pattern, as is fanboy worship that can often work against the individual in question.

In the end, a documentary about a defeated former superstar has to play by a certain set of narrative beats, lest we lose the melody all together. Perhaps this is why The Weird World of Blowfly is so refreshing. Yes, it offers up the typical riches-to-rags trajectory we just discussed and showcases an unfairly dismissed genre icon. But more so than most Behind the Music overviews, this movie makes the case for Clarence Reid, aka the infamous filthy ‘rapper,’ as his own biggest champion…and worst enemy.

Reid, a fixture in the Miami music scene since the ’50s, forged a career out of writing, producing, and occasionally recording, his own uniquely funky soul songs. By the ’70s, he was penning hits for Gwen McRae (“Rocking Chair) and her husband George (“Rock Your Baby”). Yet there was another facet to Reid’s career, one built on the back of those secret scatological gems of the era — the party record. Made famous by comedians such as Rudy Ray Moore (Dolemite) and Redd Foxx, these X-rated recordings flew under the mainstream radar, picked up by fans looking for something a little more rude and crude. Reid’s raunchy alter ego was named ‘Blowfly’ (after his grandmother’s critical comment about his talent) and consisted mainly of the singer mocking popular hits, adding his own curse-laden lyrics to the tune.

The Weird World of Blowfly picks up nearly 40 years later. It highlights a series of missteps by Reid (desperate and nearly bankrupt, he sold his catalog for a pittance years back) as well as his tenuous relationships with family, friends, his own race, and his new business manager, Tom Bowker. Set against the backdrop of an attempted return to the limelight, we get the typical talking head accolades (from such standard sources as Ice-T, and such unusual fans as The Dead Kennedy’s Jello Biafra) as well as some sit down moments with the star. In between, concert footage argues for the 70-year-old’s continuing viability as a performer, as well as the numerous uphill struggles he faces as a forgotten fixture in rap and hip-hop’s history.

This is not just some saccharine overview. Reid is a feisty, angry individual and director Jonathan Furmanski makes sure to highlight his cynical, curmudgeonly personality. Before a show, our subject screams about his pizza touching the seat cushion of a chair. Later, he delivers a stinging denouncement of all African Americans. While his ex-wife and two children are interviewed (and they all have wonderful things to say about him), he seems unable to connect with anyone on a compassionate level. Even fans flummox him, a combination of arrogance and obliviousness destroying a perception of appreciation.

One of the most telling scenes comes early on, when Reid is asked by a famed German rock band to open up for them on a European tour. Fans who’ve come to see their favorite black leathered metal gods give Blowfly an immediate thumbs down. Later, when faced with even more heated hostility, he breaks out a lewd lampoon of The Clash’s hit “Should I Stay or Should I Go” and the hand sign throwing throng suddenly love him. It’s a perfect dichotomy and allusion to Reid’s professional life. Though he wants to be taken seriously, it’s the vulgarity the audience values.

(AMC FILMCRITIC  9.15.11)

“THE WEIRD WORLD OF BLOWFLY” 2010 directed by Jonathan Furmanski

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the films of ALEXANDRO JODOROWSKY…

09/17/2011

PART 3: JODOROWSKY’S DUNE

the unmade epic that aimed to spice Geiger, Dali, Welles, Jagger and Floyd…

by ALEXANDRO JODOROWSKY

“To show the process of illumination of a hero, then a people, then an entire planet (which in turn is the Messiah of the Universe since in abandonning its orbit, the holy planet leaves to spread its light through all the galaxies)…

I didn’t want to respect the novel, I wanted to recreate it. For me, Dune didn’t belong to Herbert just as Don Quixote didn’t belong to Cervantes.

There is an artist, one alone among millions of others artists, who one time in his life, by a piece of divine grace, receives an immortal theme, a MYTH…I say “receive” and not “create” because works of art are received in a state of mediumness directly from the collective unconcious. The work overtakes the artist and in some way it kills him, because humanity, in receiving the impact of Myth, has a profound need to erase the individual who receives it and transmits it: his individual personality hampers, stains the purity of the message which, at the root, asks to be anonymous… We don’t know who created the Notre-Dame cathedral, nor the Aztec solar calendar, nor the tarot of Marseille, nor the myth of Don Juan, etc.

One feels that Cervantes gave HIS version of Quixote–of course incomplete–and that we carry in our soul our total character… Christ didn’t belong to Mark, Luke, Matthew or John… There are many more gospels called apocryphal and there are as much lives of Christ as there are believers. Everyone of us has their story of Dune, their Jessica, their Paul… I feel fervent admiration towards Herbert and at the same time conflict (I think the same thing happened to him)… He hampered me… I didn’t want him as an advisor of technique… I did everything to keep him away from the project… I had received a version of Dune and I wanted to transit it: the myth had to abandon the literary form and become image…

In the film, Duke Leto (father of Paul) would be a man castrated in a ritual combat in the arenas during a bullfight. (The emblem of the Atreide house being a sacred bull…) Jessica–Bene Gesserit nun–, sent like a concubine to the duke to create a daughter who would be the mother of a Messiah, falls so much in love with Leto that she decides to blow a link in the chain and create a son, the Kwizatz Haderach, the saviour. In using her powers of Bene Gesserit–as soon as the duke, madly in love with her, confides his sad secret–Jessica lets herself be inseminated by a drop of blood of this sterile man… The camera followed (in the script) the red drop through the ovaries of the woman and accompanied its meeting with the ovule where, by an miraculous explosion, it inseminates the egg. Paul was born of a virgin, and not by the sperm of his father but by his blood… In my version of Dune, the Emperor of the Galaxy is mad. He lives on an artificial planet of gold, in a palace of gold constructed according to the non-laws of anti-logic. He lives in symbiosis with a robot identical to him. The resemblance is so perfect that the citizens never know if they are facing the man or the machine… In my version, the spice is a blue drug of a spongy consistency filled with a vegtable-animal life endowed with consciousness, the highest level of consciousness. It doesn’t stop taking all sorts of forms, shifting without cease. The spice continually reproduces the creation of innumerable universes.

Baron Harkonnen is an immense man of 300 kilograms. He is so fat and heavy that, in order to move, he needs to continually use antigravitational bubbles attached to his extremities… His delusions of grandeur have no limit: he lives in a palace constructed as a portrait of himself… This immense sculpture stands on a sordid swampy planet…In order to enter the palace, one has to wait for the colussus to open its mouth and stick out a tongue of steel (landing strip…) At the end of the movie, the wife of Count Fenring bounds towards Paul, who has already become Fremen, and she slices his throat. Paul while dying says: “Too late, you can’t kill me… because…” “Because, (continues Jessica with the voice of Paul) in order to kill the Kwizatz Haderach, you would have to kill me too…” And every Fremen, every Atreide talks now with the voice of Paul: “I am the man collective. He who shows the way.”

Reality transforms rapidly. Three columns of light shoot out from the planet. They mix. Sink into the sand of the planet: “I am the Land that awaits the seed!” The spice dries up. The sun trembles. Drops of water form a piller surrounded by fire.

Filaments of silver surge from the spice. Creating a rainbow. They merge into a cloud of water, producing a red “lava”. Then vapor. Some clouds. Some rain. Some rivers. Some grass. Some forests. Dune becomes green. A blue ring now surrounds the planet. It separates. It produces more and more rings. Dune is at present an illuminated world which traverses the galaxy, that leaves it, that gives its light–which is consciousness–to all the universe. In order to conceive this final sequence of transmutation of matter, I had the chance to come in contact with some real alchemists… Some mysterious beings (one of them seemed to have more than a hundred years, an advanced age which yet permitted him to move about with the energy of a young adolescent) approached me because Dune could be a philosophical stone, the stone which changes all the other metals into gold… In this sequence, they described what really happens when they transform, in their alchemical ovens, matter… For the “guerilla” war that Paul and the Fremen lead against the imperial army, I had the chance to contact a guerilla expert in South America… He had fought in Bolivia, Chili, Peru and Central America… His precious information brought to the story a soldierly reality…

When Jessica becomes the supreme mother of the Fremen and has to go through the ceremonies of initiation, learn sorcerors’ medecine and contact other dimensions of reality, I knew of gypsy magical medecine through Paul Derlon, already deceased… And the ceremony of magic mushrooms and the miraculous operations by the witch Pachita, a being who had way more powers than the so-called Phillipino surgeons. My son Brontis, who had to play Paul, was initiated at age nine by a legendary bodyguard–Jean-Pierre Vigneau–at knife combat(real combat), at karate, at archery… He received lessons from an almost real mentat–Michel de Roisin–who possessed an encyclopedic brain… I remember seeing him give Brontis a lesson on the fable La Cigale et la Fourmi which lasted more than fifteen days… Through the verses, he described a whole age and its civilisations.

With the production, we traversed the Sahara. I wanted to film Dune in the Tassili, braving with the actors, the thousands of extras and the technical teams, the torrid heat and the dryness to get a real lunar landscape… The Algerian government was very interested by the project…

One time, divinity really wanted to tell me in a lucid dream: “Your next film must be Dune”. I had not read the novel. I got up at six in the morning and like an alcoholic who awaits the opening of the bar, I waited for the bookstore to open to buy the book. I read it in one stroke without stopping to drink or eat. Right at midnight, the same day, I finished reading it. At a minute after midnight, from New York, I called Michel Seydoux in Paris… He would be the first of the seven samurai that I needed for the immense project. Michel was for me a young man (26 years old) without experience in the cinema but his society Camera One had bought the rights to The Holy Mountain, my last film and had distributed it very well… He told me: “I would like to make a movie with you.” I didn’t know much about him but, by intuition which surprises me today, seeing him, despite his youth, I recognized in him the greatest producer of this age… Why? Mystery… And I wasn’t wrong. When I told him I wanted to purchase the rights to Dune and that the film had to be international because it would be more than ten million dollars (a fabulous sum for that time: even Hollywood didn’t believe in science-fiction films, 2001 would be unique and unsurpassable) he didn’t move a muscle: “Alright. We’ll meet in two days in Los Angeles to buy the rights”. He hadn’t read the book… I think that he still hasn’t read it because the prose of Herbert is bored him… And the rights could be bought– easily because Hollywood found the book unfilmable and non commercial… Michel Seydoux gave me a carte blanche and an enormous financial support: I could create my team without economic problems. I needed a precise script… I wanted to direct the film on paper before filming… Now all films with special effects are made like that, but at that time this technique wasn’t used. I wanted a comic artist who had the genius and the speed, who could serve as camera and at the same time give give a visual style…I found myself by accident with a warrior: Jean Giraud alias Moebius(at the time he hadn’t yet done The Airtight Garage). I tell him: “If you accept this job, you have to abandon everything and leave tomorrow with me for Los Angeles to talk with Douglas Trumbull(2001 A Space Odyssey)”. Moebius asked me for some hours to think it over. The next day, we left for the United States. It would be a long story…Our collaboration, our meetings in America with strange illuminaries and our conversations at seven in the morning in the little cafe that was the base of our work and was by “chance” called “cafe Univers”. Gir made more than 3000 all marvelous drawings…The script of Dune thanks to his talent is a masterpiece. You can see the characters living, you follow the movements of the camera. You visualize the editing, the decors, the costumes…All that with, each time, some strokes of a pencil…I was behind his shoulders asking him for different points of view…In directing the actors, etc. We had filmed the movie…

For the third warrior I needed and ingenious dreamer who could paint the space ships in a different way than the American films. That’s why I wrote to Christopher Foss, an English painter who illustrated science-fiction book covers… Like Giraud, he had never thought about cinema… With great enthousiasm, he left London and came to settle in Paris… This artist, with the ships that he produced for Dune put a mark on cinema. He could create semi-living machines that could metamorphose the rocks of space with colour… He could create “battleships made thirsty dying century after century in a desert of stars waiting for the living body who would fill empty reservoirs with subtle secretions of its soul…”

After I found Giger, the Swiss painter whose catalogue Dali had shown me…His decadent art, sick, suicidal, genial, was perfect to create the Harkonnen planet… He made a project of the castle and the planet which really touched metaphysical horror. (Later he created the sets and monster for Alien.)

For the special effect, thanks to the power that Michel Seydoux gave me, I could refuse Douglas Trumbull… I couldn’t swallow his vanity, his big boss airs and his exorbitant prices. Like a good American, he played at looking down upon the project and tried to mix us up by making us wait while talking with us the same time as ten other people on the telephone and finally by showing us the superb machines that he was trying to perfect. Tired of all this comedy, I told him to fuck off and went looking for some young talent. I was told that in L.A., it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. I saw in a modest amateur science fiction film festival a movie made sans moyens that I found to be marvelous: Dark Star.

I contacted the young man who had done the special effects: Dan O’Bannon. I almost found myself with a wolf-child. Completely outside of conventional reality, O’Bannon for me had a real genius. He couldn’t believe that I could confide in him a project as important as Dune. He was forced to believe it when he received his airplane ticket for Paris. I wasn’t wrong: Dan O’Bannon later wrote the screenplay for Alien and many other successful films. With Jean-Paul Gibon, who was the executive producer of Camera One and loved the project as much as we, we left for England to find the musician. A vital aspect for me: each planet had its style of music, for example a group like Magma could realize the Harkonnen warrior rhythms which would be capable of cristallizing the beauty of the sand planet with its mystery and its implacable force, the strange symphony of rings of giant worms.

Virgin Records met with us and offered us Gong, Mike Oldfield, Tangerine Dream. At this moment I say: “And why not Pink Floyd?” The group at that time was having such success that almost everyone considered that an unfeasible idea. I had the chance, thanks to my film El Topo, to be known by these musicians. They happily agreed to meet us in London at Abbey Road Studios where the Beatles had recorded their success. Jean-Paul Gibon was very pleasantly surprised that the group would see us. At that time, I had already almost lost my individual consciousness. I was the instrument of my sacred, miraculous work where everything could happen. Dune wasn’t at my service, I was like the samurai that I had found, at the service of the work. They were in the middle of recording Dark Side of the Moon. Upon arriving, I didn’t see a group of musicians in the middle of making their masterpiece, but four young guys eating fried steaks. Jean-Paul and I, standing in front of them, had to wait for their voraciousness be to satisfied. In the name of Dune I was taken by an anger and I left slamming the door. I wanted some artists who knew how to respect a work of such importance for human consciousness. I think that they didn’t expect that. Surprised, David Gilmour ran behind us giving excuses and made us attend the final mixing of their record. What ecstasy… After, we attended their last public concert where thousands of fanatics cheered. They wanted to see The Holy Mountain. They watched it in Canada. They decided to participate in the film by producing a double album which was going to be called Dune. They came to Paris to discuss the financial part and after an intense discussion, we came to an agreement. Pink Floyd would do almost all the music of the film.

With the best music on our side, I started to look for actors. I had seen Charlotte Rampling in Zardoz. I wanted her for Jessica. She refused the role. She wanted at the time to do two or three commercial films, the life of love interested her more than art. David Carradine came to Paris, interested by the role of Leto. The actor that I wanted the most was Dali: for the small role of the mad Emperor… What an adventure!…

Dali accepted with much enthusiasm the idea of playing the Emperor of the galaxy. He wanted to film at Cadaqu”s and use as his throne a toilet made up of two intertwined dolphins. The tails would form the feet and the two open mouths would serve one to hold the “pipi”, the other to hold the “caca”. Dali thinks that it is in very bad taste to mix the “pipi” and the “caca”.

He was told that he would be needed for seven days… Dali replied that God made the universe in seven days and that Dali, not being less than God, must cost a fortune: 100000 dollars an hour. Probably upon arriving on the set, he would decide to film each day no more than an hour for the same price.

The Daliesque happening would cost us 700000 dollars. We asked him for time, a night, to make a decision and we left each other. That night, I tore a page from a book on the tarot; it had a card reproduced on it: the Hanged Man. I wrote him a letter saying that the film couldn’t pay him 700000 dollars.

For 150000 dollars, I wanted three days and no more than an hour and a half of filming. I also wanted to have a polyethylene puppet, his replica, to use as his double in the film. Dali got angry. He cried: “I’ll have you like rats! I will film in Paris, but the set will cost you more than the landscape of Cadaqu”s and the cadre of my museum. Dali costs 100000 an hour!”

Bitter, he calmed down and accepted the idea of reproducing him in plastic if after the film the sculpture was given to his museum. We decided to definitively finish with the contract the next day. I had a discussion with Jean-Paul Gibon and we arrived at the conclusion that it was impossible to haggle with Dali. I meditated for a long time and I took this final decision: I reduced the role of Dali to a page and a half of script. I accepted his price, 100000 dollars an hour, but I would only use him for a single hour. The rest, I would film with his double. Dali couldn’t allow himself to go back on his price. We went to see him. I gave him the little page and a half and Dali accepted the proposition because his honor was safe. He would be the highest paid actor in the history of cinema. He would earn more than Greta Garbo.

Dali, with enthusiasm, showed me his wooden bed as the sculpture of a dolphin. A worker was there, already making the blueprint of the dolphin to make the toilet. As much for Dali as for me, the card of the Hanged Man on which some words were written served as a contract. Dali liked the aristocracy and like all men of noble spirit, he respected his word.

I liked fighting for Dune. We won almost all the battles, but we lost the war. The project was sabotaged in Hollywood. It was French and not American. Their message was not “Hollywood enough”. There was intrigue, plunder. The storyboard was circulated amongst all the big studios. Later, the visual aspect of Star Wars strangely resembled our style. To make Alien, they called Moebius, Foss, Giger, O’Bannon, etc. The project signalled to Americans the possibility of making a big show of science-fiction films, outside of the scientific rigour of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The project of Dune changed our lives.

All those who participated in the rise and fall of the project of Dune have learned to fall one and a thousand times with a fierce stubbornness, until learning to stand up. I remember my old father who, while dying happy, told me: “My son, in my life, I have triumphed because I have learned to fail.”

(THE SYMBOL GROWS)

also, check out this – “Dune: Book to Screen Timeline” – that charts all the attempts to produce the film, including ones by Ridley Scott and Arthur P. Jacobs…

see also — the films of ALEXANDRO JODOROWSKY: PART 1 and PART 2

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SNIFFIN’ GLUE…

09/15/2011

“and other rock’n’roll habits…”

from THE INDEPENDENT UK

Mark Perry would like to make something clear. He was not responsible for that immortal image – reproduced in Jon Savage‘s monumental history of punk rock, England’s Dreaming – which featured diagrams of finger positions on a guitar for E, A and B7, with the caption: “Here’s three chords. Now form a band.”

“That wasn’t in Sniffin’ Glue. It’s so mythical now, but it never was. I’ve had to put so many people right,” he shakes his head. “I’ve had people tell me I’m wrong, saying ‘Course you did it. Don’t you remember?’ I wish I had. It’s a great idea. It was perfect. It keeps getting quoted as a Sniffin’ Glue thing. It shows you how easy it is for these things to happen.”

But it’s not surprising really. Since a 19-year-old Perry founded the UK’s first punk fanzine in 1976 and, in a remarkable display of editorial integrity, closed it a year later despite healthy sales, Sniffin’ Glue has been more talked about than seen. Shutting it is something he doesn’t regret a bit.

“By the end you can see it’s lost the thread a bit. Punk had already got to another stage. All the bands were signed, it was on Top of the Pops, the papers had younger writers. So we thought ‘let’s end it on a high and make it a legend’. And it was a legend a year after it had finished, and has been ever since. Which is much nicer than being a boring old magazine which has been around too long.”

With yet another burst of interest in Britain’s last socially divisive pop explosion coinciding with the release of Julien Temple’s final word on the Sex Pistols, The Filth and The Fury, (itself a Daily Mirror headline) the time is ideal for the publication of Sniffin’ Glue – The Essential Punk Accessory. It consists of a reprint of all 12 issues (plus the bonus of a tiny Christmas 1976 special called Sniffin’ Snow) and an excellently illustrated history of the magazine and its times, largely told through a highly entertaining conversation between Perry and his school friend and collaborator, Danny Baker.

Though its production values were inevitably non-existent, much of it is still entertaining today, and not only for nostalgic old punks. Even at the time it didn’t hesitate to criticize the less savory aspects of the scene. “We were seen as the great banner wavers of punk, but, if you read it, we were always questioning it – the violence at gigs, how the Pistols fans were just a bunch of posers. We knock the Clash for signing to CBS. We were arrogant in a way, but that’s what it was about. I think that comes across nicely,” Perry says, clearly delighted that his teenage opinions have lasted the course.

Surely, though, it must have been odd to find yourself turned almost overnight from a bored bank clerk to “Mark P”, Voice of Youth? “It was strange. I’m not sure it could happen now in the same way. But around ’76 there wasn’t much going on. There were hardly any rock mags, and because it was so limited where it could be written about, when punk came along there was an opening for someone like me to come along and write an alternative viewpoint to Melody Maker or NME,” he recalls. Not that Perry was a likely trendsetter.

“It was a weird thing for me to do. I was a quiet person at school. I was in the background, I wasn’t a leader. I always hedged my bets, I wasn’t very confident. Danny was a loudmouth, but we all followed a guy called Steve Micalef who later helped me with Sniffin’ Glue.” Micalef, or Steve Mick as he frequently appeared in the pages of SG, seems to have vanished into the bohemian demi-monde of Brixton.

“Somehow punk came along at the right time for me. Because I was the first one, those of us who were lucky enough to be there at the start, the innovators if you like, got carried along with it,” Perry says, as if still amazed by events. “After two or three months I found myself on television and in the papers.”

In this media-saturated age it’s difficult to comprehend just how distant from their audience rock stars were at the time. “I think people forget. Me and Danny talk [in the book] about how rock used to be on the margins, it used to be underground. Yeah, it got in the charts, but they weren’t the celebs they are now, they didn’t knock around with prime ministers. And I think it was better like that. It’s so assimilated now that everyone’s so cool with it. As Danny says, ‘No one cares what music you like anymore.’ You can like a bit of house, a bit of drum’n’bass, Johnny Cash, Sex Pistols, Oasis… Alright, we don’t want to be beating each other up over it, but let’s have a bit of belief, a bit of faith in something. When I was into ELP, kids at school used to say ‘that’s rubbish’, and I used to think ‘they don’t understand me’ and it’d make you feel good. At the time that was a serious choice – you were into prog rock!” This middle-aged man, hardly looking older than his spiked hair and safety pinned days, obviously misses that inherent confrontation.

“I have arguments about this sort of thing all the time,” he admits. “Take hip hop. How do they allow that parental warning sticker? So you get chucked off the label. Form your own label! We haven’t really changed at all. We just think we have.” He resorts to a mock-Cockney whine. “It’s not like The Good Old Days. I sound terrible, don’t I, but I long for rock to produce that excitement again.”

Perry retains his enthusiasm to this day, planning to release two albums later this year with his long-running band Alternative TV, though his day job is with the Employment Service, a long way from Baker’s television and print ubiquity. He does have certain regrets about encouraging neophytes though.

“Any idiots could get on stage, but is that a good thing? Let’s face it, the more bands you get, the more shit you get,” he observes, recognizing the same problem with the dance music of the past decade which initially took many of its cues from punk. “Everyone’s scared now. It’s like ‘everyone should have a go’. No! If it’s shit tell them. They’ll still have a marvelous life without it.”

He’s right because he still cares, and because this mild-mannered fan of Sixties Britpop and Supergrass, given to picking up lost country rock classics in second-hand shops, can proudly say of his baby that “at its peak it was the greatest rock’n’roll mag in the world, because it was truly part of what it was writing about, and it was writing about it as it was happening”.

(THE INDEPENDENT  5.31.00)

Sniffin’ Glue: And Other Rock’n’roll Habits: The Essential Punk Accessory” 2009 Omnibus Press

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REVOLVING DOORS…

09/13/2011

Man Ray and pochoir

by IRITH HADAR

Man Ray (1890 Philadelphia – 1976 Paris) created Revolving Doors between 1916 and 1917 as a series of collages made from brightly colored translucent paper, which became the major exhibit in his third one-person show at the Daniel Gallery, New York (1919). In 1926 these images were published as pochoirs (true to the original) in a portfolio, and in 1942, noticing that the early collages began to fade, Ray reproduced them in oil on canvas. These paintings appear in several photographs taken in his studio.

Revolving Doors is not the only instance in Ray’s oeuvre—which is typified by self-references and quotes—where images are re-executed in different techniques. At least one image in the collage version of Revolving Doors (no. 5, Legend) was formulated earlier (albeit in a different structure) in an oil painting (Legend, 1916). The need for freedom and ingenuity which guided Ray’s work in all media, and his awareness of the significance of the context in which the works are viewed, were tied with the license to (frequently) revisit a former invention. Thus, in printing the collage images, Ray relinquished the uniqueness and singularity of the “original” for the ability to disseminate these images in the context of the Surrealist avant-garde, whereas 25 years later—in an entirely different cultural era—he revisited the images originally created as an innovative, avant-garde collage, fixing them in a durable, traditional painterly medium.

This oscillation among media was a pivotal element in Ray’s artistic practice. His definition of himself as someone living a double life as a painter-photographer indeed echoed the professional “categorizations” prevalent in his era; at the same time, however, in rejecting his ascription to a specific medium, as well as in the inventiveness which characterized his practice, and the underlying principle of his work—whereby the practice serves the image, and the medium selected for its execution (painting, photography, cinema, object) is the one deemed most suitable for articulation of the idea—Ray emphasized art’s conceptual aspect. The explicit pleasure with freedom and the joy of playfulness only enhanced Ray’s attentiveness to the possibilities introduced by the contingency or chance inherent in the creative process. Let us remember that play and amusement, as modes of inhibition-liberating stimuli, were considered a serious matter in the Dada and Surrealist circles, a fact which did not prevent Marcel Duchamp—Ray’s patron, friend, and chess partner—from describing the latter somewhat critically: “Man Ray—synonym of the masculine gender… pleasure playing and pleasuring.”

In 1916-17, when he initially formulated the transparency games in Revolving Doors, Ray was in the midst of his discovery of photography—which theretofore served him mainly to document his works—as a relevant artistic medium. The photographic thought and its means are clearly discernible in these papers alongside painterly thought, whereby I refer mainly to the applications of light, which will later become central to Ray’s photographic work. His interest in light resulted in an engagement with glass plate negatives (cliché-verre) and solarization, leading to the invention of the Rayographs (photograms with an aspect of depth). In his staged photographs, Ray thus structured juxtapositions between shadows and objects, bright and dark areas, flatness and depth, charging a surprising dramatic effect with familiar motifs (such as portraits or still life).

The images featured in Revolving Doors are not abstract. The forms originated in objects which Ray found engaging, kept in his immediate vicinity, and even presented in many paintings and photographs. The flat images of the given object appear as the silhouettes of a colorful light projection, yet their coloration is based on the primary colors of matter—red, blue, and yellow, and the hues created by their overlapping. The intersection also generates the appearance of a third dimension, which is enhanced against the whiteness of the paper—as if the layers of paint, the contour outlines, and mainly the scratched silvery overcoat on the last print in the set (Dragonfly) are not fixed on the same surface. Ray’s use of primary colors is not aimed at the scientific or the “essential,” but rather accentuates the choice of readymade. Much like his objects, which served as a source for forms, the red-blue-yellow are indeed given—albeit under the specific, random circumstances of their formalizations, combinations, and superimpositions, they spawn an unexpected formal and colorful wealth, and are perceived as frames of the “decisive moment” extracted from a sequence of occurrences in progress. Aptly, the pochoir technique used for the images’ reproduction is likewise based on concealment and exposure.

(ARTDAILY.ORG)

examples of Revolving Doors can be see on display through 12.31.11 @ The NY Public Library, NYC

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DJOKOVIC!!!

09/12/2011

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the ZANCIG CODE…

09/09/2011

the secret system behind the 19th century telepathy gag…

by TOWER PROJECT

Julius and Agnes Zancig were Danish stage magicians who were billed as “Two minds with but a single thought”. Born Julius Jorgenson and Agnes Claussen, they were childhood sweethearts who were reunited and married later in life. They took their mind reading act on the road and toured the world before eventually settling in America.

Agnes would roam the audience blindfolded whilst her husband would stare at an object, number or word in a book. She was seemingly able to read his mind and tell the audience exactly what he was looking at any given time.

The act led to a minor scientific controversy and so in 1906 the Daily Mail set the couple a series of tests. The reporters became convinced that what they were witnessing was true telepathy and the couples fame spread. The couple were further tested by the Society for Psychical Research and the British College of Psychic Science who both proclaimed them the real deal.  The Zancigs went on to publish several books under the names Prof. and Mdme. Zancig.  The stage act continued until Agnes died in 1916. Julius tried to continue the act with various others, including the fantastically named Syko the Psychic, but never managed to achieve the same level of success that he had with Agnes.

The secret to their act was revealed by fellow magician ’Alexander the Crystal Seer’ in 1921. The Zancigs had devised an extremely complex verbal code which allowed them to communicate what Julius was seeing whilst leaving the audience clueless. It had taken them many years of practice to perfect the code and this perhaps explains why Julius was never able to replicate his success with another partner. The code was considered by many mentalists to be one of the most complex two-person code systems ever used and books are still published today which describe the method.

(TOWER PROJECT  10.20.10)

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DOUG…

09/07/2011

tracking a character name through television and film…

Lawrence Tierney as Dougy Madden...

Douglas ‘Dougie’ North Williams LeClair (“Days of Our Lives” (1965), Mikey Martin)

Douglas (Douglas (1970), Rolv Wesenlund)

Doug (“One Day at a Time” (1975), Greg Evigan)

Doug (The Last Song (1980) (TV), Kene Holliday)

Doug (“Family Ties” (1982), Crispin Glover)

Dougie (“Family Ties” (1982), Joseph Gordon-Levitt)

Dougie Turnball (“Taggart” (1983), Joe Mullaney)

Doug McKenzie (Strange Brew (1983), Dave Thomas)

Doug (Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984), Peter Barton)

Dougie Slade (“EastEnders” (1985), John Bowler)

Dougy Madden (Tough Guys Don’t Dance (1987), Lawrence Tierney)

Doug (Secret Admirer (1985), Courtney Gains)

Doug (The Hills Have Eyes Part II (1985), Martin Speer)

Doug (“The Adventures of Superboy” (1988), Barry Cutler)

Dougie (“Rab C. Nesbitt” (1988), Charlie Sim)

Dougie (Saturday Night at the Palace (1988), Arnold Vosloo)

Doug (“Snoops” (1989), Adam Silbar)

Doug (“Coach” (1989), James Carroll Jordan)

Dougie Milford (“Twin Peaks” (1990), Tony Jay)

Doug (Jacob’s Ladder (1990), Brian Tarantina)

Doug (“Home Improvement” (1991), George DelHoyo)

Dougie Franklin (“The Red Green Show” (1991), Ian Thomas)

Douglas ‘Doug’ Yancy Funnie (“Doug” (1991), Billy West)

Doug (Dead Again (1991), Campbell Scott)

Douglas (Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), Ken Gibbel)

Dougie Boudreau (“Grace Under Fire” (1993), Walter Olkewicz)

Dougie (What About Me (1993), Dee Dee Ramone)

Doug (Six Degrees of Separation (1993), J.J. Abrams)

Dougie (“The Tales of Para Handy” (1994), Sean Scanlan)

Doug (“Friends” (1994), Sam McMurray)

Dougie (“Caroline in the City” (1995), Jonathan Slavin)

Doug (“Relativity” (1996), Adam Goldberg)

Dougy Flynn (“Safe and Sound” (1996), Sean McGinley)

Doug Thompson (Happy Gilmore (1996), Dennis Dugan)

Doug (“Bloomin’ Marvellous” (1997), Tim Preece)

Doug (“Charmed” (1998), Allen Cutler)

Doug MacCreadie (“All Saints” (1998), Samuel Atwell)

Doug (“Time of Your Life” (1999), Scott Rinker)

Dougie Raymond (“The Vice” (1999), Marc Warren)

Doug (“What About Joan” (2000), Aaron Himelstein)

Douglas (“Still Standing” (2002), Samm Levine)

Dougie (“Mile High” (2003), Steve Bennett)

Dougie Taylor (“New Tricks” (2003), Steve Speirs)

Douglas (“1-800-Missing” (2003), Adam MacDonald)

Doug (The School of Rock (2003), Chris Stack)

Douglas (Douglas (2003), Joe Cronin)

Doug (The Grudge (2004), Jason Behr)

Doug (“My Name Is Earl” (2005), Jonathan Slavin)

Doug (“Grey’s Anatomy” (2005), Gary Hershberger)

Doug (“How I Met Your Mother” (2005), Nicholas Roget-King)

Doug (“The Bad Girl’s Guide” (2005), Christopher Gartin)

Doug (“‘Til Death” (2006), Timm Sharp)

Doug (“Men in Trees” (2006), Daryl Shuttleworth)

Doug (“Windfall” (2006), Joel Geist)

Doug (“The Singles Table” (2006), Jordan Belfi)

Doug (“The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman” (2006), Johann Urb)

Doug (“Kyle XY” (2006), Jeffrey Ballard)

Douglas (“The IT Crowd” (2006), Matt Berry)

Doug (The Devil Wears Prada (2006), Rich Sommer)

Doug (The Lake House (2006), Scott Elias)

Doug (The Ex (2006), Bob Stephenson)

Doug (Alone with Her (2006), Colin Hanks)

Dougie (Delirious (2006), Teddy Eck)

Douglas (Babel (2006), Trevor Martin)

Doug (“The Flight of the Conchords” (2007), David Costabile)

Doug (“Skins” (2007), Giles Thomas)

Dougie (“Carpoolers” (2007), Tim Peper)

Dougie (“Satisfaction” (2007), Matt Boesenberg)

Dougie (“True Dare Kiss” (2007), Nick Fletcher)

Dougie Ellington (“Party Animals” (2007), Terence Harvey)

Douglas (The Dinner Party (2007) (TV), Jamie Campbell Bower)

Doug (King of California (2007), Paul Lieber)

Doug (The Reaping (2007), David Morrissey)

Doug (“Never Better” (2008), Christopher Fairbank)

Doug (“The Starter Wife” (2008), James Sie)

Doug (“Valentine” (2008), Nick Ballard)

Dougie Jackson (“The Border” (2008), Nicholas Campbell)

Doug (3 Days Gone (2008) (V), Patrick J. Adams)

Doug (Max Payne (2008), Maxwell McCabe-Lokos)

Doug (Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008), Chris Messina)

Doug (Extreme Movie (2008), Steven Christopher Parker)

Douglas (Train Master (2008), Noah Smith)

Doug (“Cougar Town” (2009), Ryan Biegel)

Douglas (“Trauma” (2009), Tim Kniffin)

Dug (Dug’s Special Mission (2009) (V), Bob Peterson)

Doug (Spring Breakdown (2009), Jonathan Sadowski)

Doug (Etienne! (2009), Jeremiah Turner)

Doug (I Love You, Man (2009), Thomas Lennon)

Doug Billings (The Hangover (2009), Justin Bartha)

Doug (The Booby Trap (2009), Tyler Porter)

Douglas (Where the Wild Things Are (2009), Chris Cooper)

Douglas (Waving at Trains (2009), Pete Postlethwaite)

Dougie Rogerson (8 Weeks After El Crazitan (2009), Shane Dunlop)

Doug (Elevator Girl (2010) (TV), Benton Jennings)

Douglas (“Just William” (2010), Edward Piercy)

Douglas (“Parenthood” (2010), Adam Harrington)

Douglas (“Lip Service” (2010), Anthony Strachan)

Dougie Boden (Cemetery Junction (2010), Stephen Merchant)

Dougie Vollero (Killers (2010), Ric Reitz)

Douglas (The Other Guys (2010), Zach Woods)

Douglas (Douglas (2010) (V), Raymond McAnally)

Doug (“Good Dog” (2011), Jason Weinberg)

Doug (“A Little Bit Of Heaven”) (2011), Johann Urb)

Doug (A Thousand Kisses Deep (2011), Jonathan Slinger)

Doug (Love Birds (2011), Rhys Darby)

Doug Whitney (“The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret” (2011), Spike Jonze)

Dougie (Bridesmaids (2011), Tim Heidecker)

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“THE HANGOVER…TOO”

09/05/2011

new work by David Kramer opens this wednesday..!

from MULHERIN + POLLARD

When asked the proverbial question, “Is the glass half full or half empty?” David Kramer’s response is something along the lines of: “Why? Don’t we have any more?”
David Kramer makes art work that tells jokes and stories or creates visual puns all asking similar types of proverbial questions and then questioning why the stock answers never quite seems to fit. Using advertisements and lifestyle magazine images, often from his youth in the 1970’s, Kramer is on an eternal mission looking for clues as to the whereabouts of the “Good Life” and the American Dream often depicted in these pages. His own proverbial questions often shape up to questions of why hasn’t his own life lived up to the promises doledout by both Hollywood and Madison Avenue.

A boozy humor is at the center of Kramer’s work. He laughs at his own eternal optimism. He steadfastly plows forward, cataloging the good life and sprinkling on top of it his singular brand of humorous copyright which often sells the viewer on the joke that he knows we are all by now “in” on. The joke that the American Dream seems to be maybe not much more than just a dream, and that all of the rumors about the mighty American will to succeed has maybe turned the page to a more lazy and tempered success story. The Hollywood ending is better off left to Hollywood and forgotten a soon as the lights go on and we leave the theater.

For this exhibition, The Hangover, Too, his first with Mulherin + Pollard, Kramer has built a wine bar into the gallery surrounded with his paintings drawings and sculptures from the past year. The wine bar is part joke about the lamenting and whining artist who spends his time drinking away his valuable time medicating his state, and also a reference to what Kramer sees as the only viable industry left in the American cannon: building theme park type places of recreation to distract ourselves from the business at hand, to sustain the greatness and promise that this country continues to boast of long after the flame has turned to a flicker.

Also on view is a sculpture, Mexico City Highway, a miniature stretch of roadway that passes through the Favela. Kramer has provided in the sculpture a roadside billboard, which depicts an image of an obviously white couple of models feeding each other chocolates. A scene which he has translated from his own trip to Mexico City this year, where he saw a society that has learned to accept the idea that the riches of a nation could be rationed into the hands of a few while the masses are left to only desire what they are allowed to see in advertisements, but my never own themselves.

David Kramer was born in New York City where he currently lives with his wife Susan Mitchell, and their son Martin. He has exhibited widely around North America and Europe, including recent one person shows at Armand Bartos Fine Art (Seems like We’ve Down This Road Before: A survey of works 1987-2010) 2010, Aeroplastics Contemporary, Brussels (If you really Want Me To Go Away, Just Give Me What I Want…) 2010, and with Galerie Laurent Godin , Paris (…Because I Am Not Richard Prince) 2010. He is currently a Special Editions resident at the Lower Eastside Print Shop in NYC.

(MULHERIN + POLLARD  8.25.11)

more images of David Kramer’s work here

David Kramer “The Hangover…Too”  9.7-10.2.11 @ Mulherin + Pollard 187 Chrystie Street, NYC

opening 9.7 wednesday 6-9 pm…

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CARBON NEGATIVE CEMENT…

09/03/2011

material of the year…

by RITA CATINELLA ORRELL

For the second year in a row, a concrete-related product has been chosen as material of the year in Material ConneXion’s MEDIUM Award program. Material ConneXion, a global materials consultancy and library, awarded Novacem’s Carbon Negative Cement as the winner. This follows last year’s inaugural winner, Concrete Canvas, which won for its Concrete Cloth cement-impregnated flexible fabric technology.

According to Dr. Andrew H. Dent, Material ConneXion’s vice president, library and materials research, half of the roughly 500 materials considered for this year’s award were related to the building arena. “That wasn’t intentional,” explains Dent. “We don’t think we need to represent one particular area of the materials industry, in the same way that we didn’t have sustainability as a main attribute when choosing the materials.” The jury was more focused, says Dent, on products that “herald some real change for the future.” The high percentage of building materials signifies a push in that area toward both innovation and sustainability, says Dent.

Typical cement is responsible for approximately 5 percent of man-made carbon dioxide; the emissions are caused by the processing of limestone and raw materials and the burning of fossil fuels. Novacem’s carbon negative cement replaces calcium carbonates used in typical cement formulation with magnesium silicates and uses a lower-temperature production process that runs on biomass fuels. Novacem associate engineer Daniel Bowden says that while the cement is still in development, they are already achieving strengths of up to 80 Mpa. Dent says the cement was the clear winner. ”If implemented, the material would take care of most of construction’s attempts at carbon reductions in one fell swoop.” Bowden says that a commerical rollout is currently planned for 2014–2015.

Out of the nine runner-ups for the award, four are construction materials with notably green attributes: Saratech Permasorb Wallpaper, which removes toxins embedded in wall surfaces; Lumisys transparent LED signboard that uses low-energy, long-life LEDs; ECOR panels made from cow manure and other recycled content; and Eco-HPL, the first high-pressure laminate made without phenol-formaldehyde.

Dent thinks industry certifications, though often limited in scope, are what give building material companies an advantage: “Construction is one of the few industries where there is a clear framework of what you are supposed to do.”

(ARCHITECTURAL RECORD  8.11)

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“KEROUAC AT BAT”

09/01/2011

on Jack’s imaginary world of sport…

by CHARLES McGRATH

Almost all his life Jack Kerouac had a hobby that even close friends and fellow Beats like Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs never knew about. He obsessively played a fantasy baseball game of his own invention, charting the exploits of made-up players like Wino Love, Warby Pepper, Heinie Twiett, Phegus Cody and Zagg Parker, who toiled on imaginary teams named either for cars (the Pittsburgh Plymouths and New York Chevvies, for example) or for colors (the Boston Grays and Cincinnati Blacks).

He collected their stats, analyzed their performances and, as a teenager, when he played most ardently, wrote about them in homemade newsletters and broadsides. He even covered financial news and imaginary contract disputes. During those same teenage years, he also ran a fantasy horse-racing circuit, complete with illustrated tout sheets and racing reports. He created imaginary owners, imaginary jockeys, imaginary track conditions.

All these “publications,” some typed, some handwritten and often pasted into old-fashioned composition notebooks, are now part of the Jack Kerouac Archive at the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library. The curator, Isaac Gewirtz, has just written a 75-page book about them, “Kerouac at Bat: Fantasy Sports and the King of the Beats,” to be published next week by the library and available, at least for now, only in its gift shop.

Mr. Gewirtz said recently that he had included much of the fantasy material in a 2007 Kerouac exhibition he mounted at the library, and had planned to add a chapter about the fantasy sports in the catalogue but ran out of space. “I’m glad I waited,” he said, “because it forced me to go into it all in much more depth.”

Among other things, Mr. Gewirtz has learned that Kerouac played an early version of the baseball game in his backyard in Lowell, Mass., hitting a marble with a nail, or possibly a toothpick, and noting where it landed. By 1946, when Kerouac was 24, he had devised a set of cards with precise verbal descriptions of various outcomes (“slow roller to ss,” for example), depending on the skill levels of the pitcher and batter. The game could be played using cards alone, but Mr. Gewirtz thinks that more often Kerouac determined the result of a pitch by tossing some sort of projectile at a diagramed chart on the wall. In 1956 he switched to a new set of cards, which used hieroglyphic symbols instead of descriptions. Carefully preserved inside plastic folders at the library, they now look as mysterious as runes.

The horse-racing game was played by rolling marbles and a silver ball bearing down a tilted Parcheesi board, using a starting gate made of toothpicks. Apparently, the ball bearing traveled faster than the marbles, some of which were intentionally nicked to indicate equine fragility and mortality. So the ball bearing became the nearly invincible horse Repulsion, “King of the Turf,” whose legendary speed and stamina are celebrated in Kerouac’s racing sheets.

A byline that frequently appears in the racing sheets and the baseball newsletters is “Jack Lewis,” an Anglicization of Kerouac’s French first name, Jean-Louis. Jack Lewis, you learn from a careful reading of the sheets, is also a “noted turf luminary,” an owner and trainer who happens to be married to a wealthy breeder and whose 15-year-old son, Tad, is “expected to become a greater jockey than his immortal dad.” In baseball, Jack Lewis is a scribe and the publisher of Jack Lewis’s Baseball Chatter, and he appears occasionally both as a player and a manager.

That Kerouac, growing up in Lowell in the 1920s and ’30s, would turn out to be sports-obsessed is not much of a surprise. His father was a serious racing fan who for a while supplemented his income by printing racing forms for local tracks. Kerouac himself was a good enough athlete to be recruited by Frank Leahy, then the football coach at Boston College. He picked Columbia instead, because he was already dreaming of becoming a writer and thought New York was the place to start.

And that Kerouac had an active fantasy life hardly distinguishes him from other teenage boys. What’s remarkable about his fantasy games, however, is their elaborateness and detail. The players all have distinct histories and personalities. A single season could last 40 or 50 games, with an All-Star game and a World Series, all painstakingly documented.

In an introduction to “Kerouac at Bat,” Mr. Gewirtz suggests that Kerouac was trying, in part, to escape the pain and confusion he suffered from the death of his older brother, Gerard, when Gerard was 9 and Kerouac just 4. But whether he knew it or not, the creation and documentation of fantasy worlds were ideal training for a would-be author.

The prose in Kerouac’s various publications mostly imitates the overheated, epithet-studded sportswriting of the day. “It was partly homage,” Mr. Gewirtz said, “and perhaps partly parody, but every now and then an original phrase leaps out.” For example, the description of a hitter who “almost drove Charley Fiskell, Boston’s hot corner man, into a shambled heap in the last game with his sizzling drives through the grass.

Mr. Gewirtz said, “I really like that ‘shambled heap.’ ” Another description he enjoys is one of an overpowering pitcher who after defeating the opposition by a lopsided score “smiled wanly.”

Kerouac wrote his last baseball account, two mock United Press International reports, in 1958, but he continued to play the game and to tinker with its formulas, making them more realistic, until just a year or two before his death in 1969. His friend the poet Philip Whalen was probably the only one of the Beats who was familiar with this side of Kerouac.

“I don’t think the others knew,” Mr. Gewirtz said. “Or if they did, they didn’t learn it from Kerouac. I think he was worried they might think it childish.” But in Mr. Gewirtz’s view Kerouac’s interest in playing and writing about this self-contained imaginary world goes a long way toward dispelling the familiar criticism of him as less a writer than a sort of inspired typist.

“I think Kerouac had a photographic memory — a visual photographic memory,” he said. “These games were real to him: he saw them in his head, where he was able to store everything. To me it’s another indication of the kind of mind that allowed him to be the writer he was.”

(NY TIMES  5.15.09)

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“THE KILLING”

08/31/2011

the ultimate noir cast…

by CHUCK STEPHENS

Stanley Kubrick’s labyrinthine 1956 heist flick The Killing—an exploded rethink of John Huston’s The Asphalt Jungle and eventual template for the narrative convolutions of Reservoir Dog—became an instant facet in the jewel that was film noir, even as it refracted many of the cinematic crime bedazzlements that had preceded it. Much of its pleasure lies purely in its casting of an array of filmdom noir’s familiar faces, the movie’s every heavily shadowed curve and intentionally left-rough spot tricked out with class-act fillies and brick-headed galoots from Hollywood’s brightest galaxies of second- and third-rung heroes. Not even Sterling Hayden—one of the brashest, snarlingest leading men the screen has ever known—could have muted the charisma that surrounded him on The Killing’s set, not even when it came from men like Elisha Cook Jr., who seemed half his size, or frails like Coleen Gray, so meek she threatens to dissolve altogether under pressure of mere proximity to the man she loves. Everyone gets their own ripe mouthful of hard-boiled dialogue in The Killing, much of it supplied by a modern master of the form: Jim Thompson, pulp fiction’s furthest-out practitioner of stream-of-cracked-consciousness and creeps-giving conversation. Thompson had recently relocated to Hollywood after the publication of two of his magnum opera, The Killer Inside Me and Savage Night, when Kubrick hired him to collaborate on a screen adaptation of novelist Lionel White’s racetrack caper, Clean Break. The first product of the reportedly strained, multifilm collaboration between Kubrick and Thompson, their incendiary script for The Killing remains cinematic legend, lightning trapped in a jar—and their cast conspires to breath sulfur and sadness into every line. Could any other group of actors have come together as such a finely calibrated machine of mirth and menace, or imbued the film’s fractured narrative and hell-forged moral nuances with as many scents of poison or shades of existential disarray?

Sterling Hayden (Johnny Clay)

Born Sterling Relyea Walter in Upper Montclair, New Jersey, in 1916, then adopted at the age of nine and renamed Sterling Walter Hayden, the swaggering, six-foot-five-inch leading man once acclaimed as “the most beautiful man in the movies” came to Hollywood from a seafaring background, and returned to the sea repeatedly throughout his career, including sailing supplies from Italy to the Balkans for the OSS during World War II, for which he was multiply decorated. He remained close to the sea throughout his life, penning a lengthy account of his love of sailing in his 1963 memoir, Wanderer, while living in one of the pilothouses of the mighty ferryboat Berkeley, then docked in Sausalito (the North Bay city where he would spend much of the rest of his life.) Both gentle and gigantic, Hayden could easily have dominated any film in which he appeared but always remained a thoughtful and carefully modulated performer, paying tremendous attention to—listening to—the actors who worked with him. No wonder he produced most of his greatest work for directors known for eliciting unsettling, off-kilter performances from their actors: Kubrick (as The Killing’s luckless Johnny Clay, and later as Dr. Strangelove’s loose atomic cannon, General Jack D. Ripper), Nicholas Ray (as Johnny Guitar himself), John Huston (The Asphalt Jungle, where he furiously demands of people, “Don’t bone me!”), Francis Ford Coppola (as the corrupt cop in The Godfather), and Robert Altman (as The Long Goodbye’s outsized, unhinged, and unavoidably Haydenesque fading writer, Roger Wade). One of the greatest of Hollywood’s twentieth-century leading men, Hayden made a number of appearances on Tom Snyder’s Tomorrow Show in the seventies, fascinating—nay, altogether addictive—clips from which can be found scattered on YouTube. Hayden died in Sausalito in 1986.

Coleen Gray (Fay)

Born Doris Jensen in Staplehurst, Nebraska, in 1922, Coleen Gray became a contract player for 20th Century Fox in 1944, stopped acting for a couple of years after having a child in her midtwenties, then rushed back on-screen with a series of standout (if largely underplayed, as was her wont) roles at the forties’ end. Though she shot her scenes as John Wayne’s ill-fated betrothed for Howard Hawks’s Red River in 1946, the film wasn’t released until ’48, by which time Gray had been featured in two 1947 favorites: with Richard Widmark in Henry Hathaway’s snickering Kiss of Death, and with Tyrone Power in the geek noir milestone Nightmare Alley. In the fifties, she continued down noir’s crooked highway in The Sleeping City and Kansas City Confidential, and supported Ronald Reagan in the Allan Dwan western Tennessee’s Partner. By 1960, she was reduced to sucking men’s pineal glands dry in search of eternal youth as The Leech Woman. Though she worked in television for several decades, Gray increasingly turned her attention to her religious and political beliefs in the sixties, testifying before Congress in 1964, as part of “Project Prayer,” in favor of prayer in schools, and later working with born-again Watergate crook Chuck Colson’s Prison Fellowship; she also appeared in the Reverend Billy Graham’s 1986 production, Cry from the Mountain. Gray currently resides in Los Angeles.

Vince Edwards (Val Cannon)

Though eventually better known as the suave, pensive surgeon Ben Casey (the title character of one of early sixties television’s most popular medical dramas), Vince Edwards—a former national championship swimming star from Ohio State University (born in Brooklyn, 1928)—kicked off his headlining screen career as Hiawatha in Kurt Neumann’s 1953 western of the same name, and could occasionally be found playing handsome, cold-sweat psychopaths in crime thrillers throughout the fifties. The pair of films Edwards made with director Irving Lerner—Murder by Contract and City of Fear—are both masterworks of late-model noir: in the former, Edwards is a contract killer with the pathological patience of Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman and a mortal fear of murdering women; in the latter, he’s a feverish escaped con carrying what he thinks is a container of dope—though it’s actually full of radioactive powder that’s slowly causing his innards to mutate and melt. (Martin Scorsese has professed his fondness for both of these low-budget, stylistically inventive Lerner sleepers.) Ben Casey had been a Bing Crosby television production, and Crosby encouraged Edwards’s singing career throughout the sixties as well. Edwards also directed several episodes of Ben Casey, and later directed episodes of the original Battlestar Galactica. He died in Los Angeles in 1996.

Jay C. Flippen (Marvin Unger)

Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1899, and billing himself as “the Ham What Am” by the midtwenties, the craggy, snaggly-faced Jay C. Flippen—veteran vaudevillian, early radio sportscaster, jazz singer, blackface comedian, and friend of the great African American performer Bert Williams—cut a broad if little-recognized swathe across much of twentieth-century culture. A stage performer infrequently seen on-screen until the late forties, he appeared as “T-Dub” in Nicholas Ray’s They Live By Night and soon became a familiar Hollywood face, working with director Anthony Mann and Jimmy Stewart in Winchester ’73 (where he’s kissed by Shelley Winters), Thunder Bay, and The Far Country. (The palpable homoerotic dimension of Flippen’s love for his former cellmate Sterling Hayden in The Killing lurks only barely beneath the surface of many of those Mann/Stewart films as well.) Flippen shared the screen with Marlon Brando (The Wild One), John Wayne (Jet Pilot, Hellfighters), and Henry Fonda (Firecreek), and sang in Fred Zinnemann’s Oklahoma. He turned up often in early sixties television, on sitcoms like The Dick Van Dyke Show and Ensign O’Toole. A leg amputation left Flippen in a wheelchair in his later years, but he continued acting at the peak of his powers through his final, and perhaps most memorable, role as the Manichean Nixon-era power broker Luther Yerkes, in Russ Meyer’s (woefully undersung) censorship satire The Seven Minutes. Flippen died in 1971.

Ted de Corsia (Policeman Kennan)

As blocky and imposing as an onrushing Mack truck, Ted de Corsia, born in Brooklyn, 1903, began his film career fairly late in life, debuting in 1947 as a sneer from the shadows in Orson Welles’s The Lady from Shanghai, and famously fell to his death from a steel-girdered bridge in Jules Dassin’s The Naked City the following year. He became a regularly featured film noir nightman and frontier badass for the remainder of the fifties. De Corsia worked for directors as varied as Vincente Minnelli (Kismet), Joseph H. Lewis (the same year’s The Big Combo), and John Sturges (Gunfight at the O.K. Corral), and had appeared in André de Toth’s Crime Wave along with his Kubrick costars Timothy Carey and Sterling Hayden in 1954; in 1956, the year he appeared in The Killing, he performed in at least six other features and more than half a dozen TV shows. Bat Masterson, Rawhide, Green Acres, I Dream of Jeannie, Get Smart, The Monkees—the burly, often comedic but always potentially brutal de Corsia continued to be an omnivore of television guest slots until his death in Encino, California, in 1973.

Marie Windsor (Sherry Peatty)

“I don’t think I’ll have to kill her,” Sterling Hayden muses with a grin over Marie Windsor’s pretending-to-be-sleeping body in The Killing. “Just slap that pretty face into hamburger meat, that’s all.” More than a few film noir fellas have felt that way about the characters that the strikingly big-eyed Marie Windsor specialized in: gold diggers, two-timers, doe-eyed spider women, lethal dolls. (“I know you like a book, you little tramp,” Hayden later snarls at her. “You’d sell out your own mother for a piece of fudge.”) Born Emily Marie Bertelsen in Marysvale, Utah, in 1919, Windsor—a onetime Miss Utah who studied acting with the immortal Maria Ouspenskaya (sayer of The Wolfman’s immortal “Even a man who is pure at heart . . .” sooth and also acting teacher to, among others, Elaine May)—has become one of the legendary figures of film noir, an O.G. queen of the Bs best remembered for films like The Narrow Margin and Force of Evil. In fact, she appeared in genre nuggets of every stripe, from straight-up westerns like R. G. Springsteen’s Hellfire (one of Windsor’s personal favorites) to Preston Sturges’s western farce The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend, the 3-D science fiction hokum of Cat-Women of the Moon, old Hollywood wheezers like Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy, and Roger Corman no-budget drive-in quickies like Swamp Women. She even played Josephine to Dennis Hopper’s Napoleon in Irwin Allen’s The Story of Mankind; the Marx Brothers and Vincent Price are in it too. Windsor won a Look magazine award for best supporting actress for her part in The Killing, and remains a favorite of noir aficionados everywhere. Though largely retired from screen acting by the midseventies, she stayed busy as a painter and sculptor and was active in the Screen Actors Guild. Windsor died in Beverly Hills in 2000.

Elisha Cook Jr. (George Peatty)

The quintessential American character actor, Elisha Cook Jr. (Cookie to his friends) held center stage at the fringes of Hollywood cinema for decades, appearing as all manner of bug-eyed mugs and heat-packing psycho-sidekicks in hundreds of film and television classics. The word gunsel seems carved to fit Cookie, as John Huston must have seen at a glance when he cast him as the slapped-around pistol punk Wilmer in The Maltese Falcon. Cook got his first big break in theater, anointed by Eugene O’Neill himself for a memorable part in Ah, Wilderness! in 1933. His first picture was shot in New York in 1930, but his film career proper began in Hollywood in 1936: by 1941, the year he appeared in The Maltese Falcon, Cook had already worked for directors Mervyn LeRoy, Robert Florey, Tay Garnett, and John Ford (in Submarine Patrol). Endless inimitable turns in film noir staples ensued: across from Humphrey Bogart again in The Big Sleep, seconding Lawrence Tierney in Born to Kill, and perhaps most indelibly as the speed-freak drummer in Robert Siodmak’s extraordinary Phantom Lady. (Cook would later claim Barbara Stanwyck as the foremost influence on his acting.) An encyclopedia would be required to trace Cook’s myriad TV appearances from the sixties to the end of the eighties, and he continued in features nearly as long: slain in Shane and deformed by Boris Karloff in Voodoo Island in the 1950s, back in Rosemary’s Baby, Blacula, Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, Robert Aldrich’s Emperor of the North Pole and Wim Wenders’s Hammett. A lifelong outdoorsman, Cook was born in San Francisco in 1903 but for much of his life kept a residence far from the film business, in a cabin in the High Sierras; he died in Big Pine, California, in 1995.

Joe Sawyer (Mike O’Reilly)

“Tough-looking, square-faced, fair-haired, large-headed, solidly built American actor who played top sergeants, taxi drivers, crooks, sailors, and sundry denizens of working-class districts” is how David Quinlan’s once-indispensible Illustrated Encyclopedia of Movie Character Actors sums up Joe Sawyer (born Joseph Sauers in 1906 in Guelph, Ontario)—not a bad description at all, never mind that Sawyer was Canadian. My parents’ generation grew up knowing Joe as Sergeant Biff O’Hara in the Rin Tin Tin dog-adventure movies and radio and television shows. John Ford used Sawyer (then still Sauers) often in the thirties and forties, in The Informer, The Grapes of Wrath, and many other films; so did Raoul Walsh and Charles Vidor—indeed, it would be difficult to find a major Hollywood director from the Golden Age who didn’t direct Sawyer at one time at or another. IMDb lists more than two hundred film and television appearances, many of them uncredited, and there were probably many more: Sawyer appeared in sixteen films in 1936 alone. Sawyer died in Oregon in 1982.

James Edwards (Parking Attendant)

A forerunner of Sidney Poitier in the struggle to bring dignity to Hollywood roles for African Americans, James Edwards (born in Indiana, 1918) earned a B.S. in dramatics at Northwestern University but turned seriously to acting only after being wounded in combat during World War II; his first big break came from Elia Kazan, who directed him in the controversial Broadway hit Deep Are the Roots, where he costarred with Barbara Bel Geddes. He had a beaming, sometimes glowering countenance and a lush sonority in his delivery that riveted the viewer to whatever he was doing—a talent that led to a standout turn in Mark Robson’s Home of the Brave in 1949, which should have made Edwards a star but instead, after much critical praise, left him feeling embittered and betrayed by Hollywood’s high racial walls. He continued acting—in Sam Fuller’s The Steel Helmet, Douglas Sirk’s Battle Hymn, Anthony Mann’s Men in War, and as one of Lawrence Harvey’s ill-fated platoon buddies in John Frankenheimer’s paranoid masterpiece The Manchurian Candidate—along the way becoming friends with Woody Strode, the athlete turned John Ford mainstay with whom Edwards would share many of his struggles in the industry. Though his final role was as George C. Scott’s valet in Patton, Edwards never lost the poise and bearing he’d carried with him throughout his career—or the intensely human seething that seemed always just below his placid surface, raging to break free. Edwards died in San Diego in 1970, only fifty-one years old.

Timothy Carey (Nikki Arcane)

One of the most gargantuan and adorable scenery chewers the cinema has ever known, the six-foot-four Timothy Agoglia Carey had a growl so loud and a grimace so creepy he could have frightened Beelzebub off a toilet seat—and a warm if slightly warped grin so goofy and infectious he could charm a kitten out of a tree. A beatnik/hepcat/margin dweller before there were terms for such things, Carey was born in Brooklyn (are you sensing a pattern here?) in 1929. He was fired from the set of Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole (for scene-stealing as an extra) almost before his career began; appeared across from Robert Mitchum and Susan Hayward in Henry Hathaway’s White Witch Doctor, with Brando in The Wild One and One-Eyed Jacks, and, uncredited, in André de Toth’s Crime Wave and Elia Kazan’s East of Eden; got mercilessly stomped (for real) by Richard Widmark in a scene for Delmer Daves’s The Last Wagon; and showed up as the face of evil in Bob Rafelson’s Monkees’ trip Head and on a hundred other oddball occasions, from Mermaids of Tiburon (a.k.a. Aqua Sex) to Beach Blanket Bingo and Chesty Anderson U.S. Navy. Carey’s career cornerstones include his work for Kubrick in The Killing and Paths of Glory and for John Cassavetes in Minnie and Moskowitz and The Killing of a Chinese Bookie. In 1962, Carey wrote, directed, and starred (as God) in The World’s Greatest Sinner, a monomaniacal vision of scuzzball grandeur with a soundtrack by Frank Zappa; his years-long plans to complete and market a TV sitcom pilot called Tweet’s Ladies of Pasadena never came to fruition. In recent years, outtakes from the photo shoot for the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album have revealed an image of Carey, posed holding his rifle in The Killing, positioned directly behind, and entirely occluded by, George Harrison’s head in the finished LP sleeve shot—lurking, once again, in the shadows of the glamorous, at once present and gloriously little-known. Carey died of a stroke in 1994.

Kola Kwariani (Maurice Oboukhoff)

“Kola (Kwariani), 280 [lbs.], was a brutal Georgian who learned wrestling from his mother, a six-foot-three-inch 205-pounder. Kola’s mother learned wrestling from her mother.” So wrote Gay Talese in the New York Times in 1958 of Kola (Nicholas) Kwariani, who was known in New York chess-playing circles simply as Nick the Wrestler. Born in Kutaisi, Georgia, in 1903, Kwariani spoke eight languages and wrestled Gene “Mr. America” Stanlee in a famous golden era match. Though his film career was confined to his work in The Killing and a 1952 episode of Columbia World of Sports entitled “Rasslin’ Rogues,” Kwariani’s outsized presence, innate intelligence, and extraordinary cauliflower ears made a lasting impression. Moreover, Kubrick gave him one of the best speeches in the film, and it’s well worth remembering here: “You know, I have often thought that the gangster and the artist are the same in the eyes of the masses. They are admired and hero-worshipped, but there is always present an underlying wish to see them destroyed at the peak of their glory.” Kwariani died in New York in 1980.

Jay Adler (Leo the shark)

Born in New York City in 1896, Jay Adler—brother of the famous teacher, Stanislavskian, and Group Theater founder Stella Adler—came from an acting dynasty and enjoyed a long and varied career on Broadway, in Hollywood, and on television, with bits and standout small parts in Robert Wise’s Three Secrets, Joseph H. Lewis’s The Big Combo, Vincente Minnelli’s Lust for Life, Alexander MacKendrick’s Sweet Smell of Success, and Jerry Lewis’s The Family Jewels. He died in Los Angeles in 1978.

Tito Vuolo (Joe Piano)

“Squat, voluble, and Italian-born, Tito Vuolo could not avoid being typecast as the jolly Italian in office,” writes IMDb minibiographer Guy Bellinger of the actor behind The Killing’s motel operator Joe Piano. So thoroughly does Bellinger seem to grasp the Vuolo gestalt that we’ll quote him at greater length: “Vuolo portrayed dozens of Italian barbers, pizza makers, vendors, grocers, waiters, hotel or restaurant proprietors. He played them well, but he was at his best when he was not restricted to stereotypes, particularly in films noirs where his good nature created a powerful contrast with the atmosphere of moral decay prevailing in such films as Kiss of Death, The Web, T-Men, The Racket, and, what is probably the best of them all, The Enforcer, as the taxi driver witnessing the murder at the beginning of the film.” Little more need be added, other than to note that Vuolo was born in 1893 in Gragnano, Italy, worked (often uncredited) for directors Michael Curtiz, Stanley Donen, King Vidor, and Anthony Mann, and died in Los Angeles in 1962.

Joe Turkel (Tiny)

Joe Turkel worked thrice for Stanley Kubrick (tying with Philip Stone for most credited appearances in a Kubrick film): first here, in what amounts to a glorified if pivotal bit as second gun in The Killing’s climactic shoot-out (you’ll glimpse him in one other scene too, if you’re quick), then as Paths of Glory’s Private Arnaud, and finally—and perhaps most famously—as Jack Nicholson’s chimerical bartender Lloyd in The Shining. Born (like so many of his Killing castmates) in Brooklyn, in 1927, Turkel is also intimately familiar to his many fans as Blade Runner’s Dr. Eldon Tyrell, the replicant industry pioneer and power broker who meets a squishy end at the hands of one of his proudest creations: Rutger Hauer. Deep genre divers will also remember Turkel as Jake “Greasy Thumb” Guzik in Roger Corman’s great 1967 pop art/gangland mashup, The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Now retired from acting, Joe Turkel lives in Southern California.

Rodney Dangerfield (Onlooker)

The thirty-five-year-old Rodney Dangerfield (born Jacob Cohen in Babylon, New York, in 1921) received neither respect nor screen credit for his legendary (if peripheral) “role” as an onlooker during Kola Kwariani’s racetrack dustup in The Killing. Fans of the harried-to-the-point-of-hallucinations comic genius’s Easy Money and Back to School—and even hard-core Rodneyists who go all the way back to 1971’s The Projectionist—must, however, now admit that the Dangerfield filmography truly begins here, in these few fleeting frames from The Killing, back in 1956. Dangerfield died in Los Angeles in 2004.

Art Gilmore (Narrator)

You may not know Art Gilmore if you fell over him in the dark, but if you were going to the movies or watching TV in the mid-twentieth century, you’ve heard his voice a hundred times. The narrator of countless coming attractions trailers and educational shorts, and the voice of dozens of unseen radio announcers in movies (Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, for one) and on TV shows, Gilmore (born in 1912 in Tacoma, Washington) finally began to come out from the sound booth and appear on-screen around the time he started working for Dragnet creator and entertainment mogul Jack Webb in the early fifties; in the sixties and seventies, he appeared frequently as police captains and lieutenants on the Webb-produced hits Adam-12 and Emergency. Gilmore’s voice also introduced Ronald Reagan’s career-changing speech “A Time for Choosing,” in support of Barry Goldwater at the 1963 Republican National Convention. Sonically inclined liberal cineastes have been searching for ways to forgive him ever since—even as we admit that classics like The Killing couldn’t possibly have been the same without him. Gilmore died in Irvine, California, in 2010.

(THE CRITERION COLLECTION  2011)

“THE KILLING” 1956 directed by Stanley Kubrick

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