Tuesday, December 9, 2008

LCD Soundsystem - Losing My Edge



Ah, how I feel. Also, because they've taken down "New York, I Love You, But You're Bringing Me Down." Which is worth a look, you should find it. Also, James Murphy's brand of incredible danceable melancholy is worth a song in itself.

The Mae Shi - Run to Your Grave



Fun video, fun song.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Monday, October 6, 2008

More Fulton Lights



Continued props to AG. This video is very cool, made long distance. Here's a little 21st century backstory from the auteur.:
A music video I made for Fulton Lights. Starring lead singer Andrew Spencer Goldman - despite the fact we've never met, and he lives in New York and I live in London. Through the magic of the internet machine and technology we overcame that slight geographical hitch.

(If it's glitchy and stuttering - hover over the video and turn off HD mode. It won't look as pretty but...)

Fulton Light's incredible new album can be listened to, and even downloaded, here:
fultonlights.com

I'd love to hear what people think of the video.



Give the director props on Vimeo.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paul Newman, RIP



Does anybody represent what was great about America in the second half of the 20th century more than Paul Newman? In movies and in real life? Will be sorely missed...

An appreciation from NYT.

Two more rememberances, from Stephen Metcalf and Dana Stevens, on Slate.com. Metcalf puts it close to the mark with this closing bit:
Paul Newman reminded us—with a smile, a twinkle, a total economy of gesture—how infrequently the beautiful are comfortable in their own skin, how infrequently the elect are gracious. He enters, and immediately, the pantheon of Grant, Tracy, and Stewart, for reminding us of that magical Emersonian place, of America in its own imagination of itself, where the superhuman and the all-too-human become indistinguishable.



Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fulton Lights


Happy to report AG's new record as Fulton Lights is pretty damn good. You can listen to it for free, here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Agency Life

All life we work but work is a bore / If life's for livin' then what's livin' for?
- Ray Davies, The Kinks, "Oklahoma U.S.A"


EM rightfully called it out over dinner last night - maybe I'm not cut out for office work, because my tolerance for bullshit is too low. Maybe that's why, despite the neat literary narrative trick that Joshua Ferris' employs in his quite enjoyable Then We Came To The End, in which our perspective is implied and subsumed in the narrator's royal 'we,' I still most closely identified with Tom Mota. Yes, vulgar and slightly unhinged Emerson-quoting, clown-suit wearing, paintball-shooting Tom Mota. Imprison, then enlisted, then dead Tom Mota. Also, the star of the show.

Let me take two steps back. First, yeah, I'm not sure I enjoy spending all of my time and creative energy working for other people, but that said, I'm pretty good at it, and I've thus far managed a string of pretty reasonable gigs - enterprising, creative, and cubicle-free. So, in a world of complaining, I can't complain. And the work, while often too consuming of my time and mental energy, has also been reasonably intellectually challenging and has, if not added to the sum total of good in the world, probably not detracted from it. And I've made some friends and won some respect along the way. And probably learned a few things.. So, as Carl Spackler might say, I've got that going for me. Which is nice.

Second, in our lives, we spend maybe eight hours a day working and eight hours sleeping? Something like that? So it is amazing how few really useful or interesting novels there are about work (or sleeping, for that matter). Particularly good old fashioned, 20th century American office work. TV shows? Yes. Movies? Maybe. I guess those are the appropriate media. But novels? Nicholson Baker's Mezzanine, maybe? Richard Yates' Revolutionary Road, perhaps, although that had a good bit of sex, insanity, marital strife, and abortion in it, none of which really constitute much of my work day. Some Updike that I've missed, perhaps?

Which is what makes Joshua Ferris' Then We Came To The End such a pleasurable read. It is slightly cartoonish, but does a great job of elevating the everyday drama of office life to the appropriate levels of meaning, humor, and warmth. The work, a team of creatives in a large advertising agency in Chicago on the downswing of the dot-com boom, is surely recognizable to anyone who has worked in a creative field, or heck, in any professional services industry. The odd contours of office camaraderie, the strange insistence of minor professional triumphs and failures into your psyche, the tchotchke's that stand-in for personality and a personal touch, the elevator banks, and the office lighting.

It is all wincingly recognizable, and all laid comically bare. The read is quick and well-paced, and wrapped with enough grazing passes at the soul of the organization man and the small flourishes of craft (those that put the meta in fiction), to balance being an enjoyable subway read (as you head to your office) with taking heavy-handed swipes at the raison d'etre of your workaday life. Certainly recommended if you've ever had the pleasure of nine to five work.

Sound Travels


I'll do a short set of posts on Norway soon. But to get you started, check in on AG's travel blog, Sound Travels. The man behind Fulton Lights has taken off to see the world, spread the word, play some shows and, well, I don't know. Get up to as much no good as one can. I am envious and the swell of demand in my own soul for a third-life crisis grows stronger by the day.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

One Hundred Years From This Day...


The Library of Congress's excellent Flickr page has a collection up called News from the 1910s. Lots of striking photos in the set. The photos above include Teddy Roosevelt, P.T. Barnum, William Jennings Bryan, and two entitled "Indians at Dedication" and "Bulgarian Giving Water to Dying Turk, Adrianople." How far we've come, from a world on the brink of tumult, a nation demanding to be entertained, and presidential candidates laying claim to the need for reform in government.

Justice Stress

I am not particularly a fan of Justice, but DL sent around a link to the video for "Stress" from his trip to BUG 09 in London and, having not seen the video before, damn. Pretty raw stuff, even if contrived for the video. I guess I'll relate the strange and senseless act of violence that I was tangentially involved in a few weeks ago, but living in New York city in 2008, sometimes you forget that the world can still be a pretty bleak and violent place.


MondoGDL


Life and how to live it. Friend and ex-colleague AK always seems to have a bead drawn on that one. Heck, I think I'd rate him as one of the coolest people I know. Lately, he's been living in Mexico, with his wife and two young kids, renovating a house in Guadalajara, and seeming to have an all around great time. He has started a blog, MondoGDL, chronicling the art and culture of Guadalajara. Serving half as a guide for locals to find out about art and movies, and half as a kaleidoscopic view of high art, indie music and movies, and Guadalajara's culture, definitely worth a look from time to time. Also, as a general comment, it's amazing how deeply turned on further and further corners of the world are to the aesthetics and actual art that falls outside of the mainstream. Another hash in the plus column for globalization, I suppose.

Andy, still waiting for a report from a Chivas match...

The First British Hydrogen Bomb

Photos and video from H-bomb test sites never fail to amaze. Pure violence, but also pure art, beautiful and comic.

Waterfall Rap

Well, a little vulgar, but still pretty funny.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My Gal: Saunders on Sarah Palin

From The New Yorker, in case you missed it. An excerpt:

Explaining how she felt when John McCain offered her the Vice-Presidential spot, my Vice-Presidential candidate, Governor Sarah Palin, said something very profound: “I answered him ‘Yes’ because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can’t blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we’re on, reform of this country and victory in the war, you can’t blink. So I didn’t blink then even when asked to run as his running mate.”

Isn’t that so true? I know that many times, in my life, while living it, someone would come up and, because of I had good readiness, in terms of how I was wired, when they asked that—whatever they asked—I would just not blink, because, knowing that, if I did blink, or even wink, that is weakness, therefore you can’t, you just don’t. You could, but no—you aren’t.

That is just how I am.

Do you know the difference between me and a Hockey Mom who has forgot her lipstick?

A dog collar.

Do you know the difference between me and a dog collar smeared with lipstick?

Not a damn thing.

We are essentially wired identical.


Read the rest.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

La Cabina



A few comments on this one. First, about YouTube and user-generated content sites, in general. Aside from the fact that the landscape of content on these sites, and the internet in general, is populated by an astonishing amount of total, crap, whose worth and total meaning I'm not sure we'll ever fully get our minds around enough to appreciate, I am often pleased that some otherwise forgotten gem has found new purchase through on the democratic plains of the Internet.

Second and third, on this marvelous little film that RM brought to my attention. I always enjoy watching films, often of an earlier period, that are able to so simply and subtly convey a fairly complex set of ideas and emotions (humor, absurdity, dread) without recourse on a verbal narrative. The true power of the camera in telling a story. It seems a forgotten art, in today's cinema, at times.

And I always enjoy art, often seemingly of an earlier time, and often of different countries, that so gleefully embrace existential dread as something fundamental to be grappled with in modern society. That some small choice lacking in distinction can ensnare you in the most awful of moments. The mocking of children, the lack of sympathy from your friends and neighbors, no acknowledgment or recognition of your condition from passersby, and a steady, uncontrollable journey to meet a fate you did not desire and could not imagine. Brutal.

La Cabina is dark and funny and, in the end, a little ridiculous. But well worth watching, parts 1-4.






Costumed Croquet in Golden Gate Park


For MM's birthday, 2006.

Anatomy of a Socially Awkward Situation

Quick shout-out to SA, HR, and JW for the charming and funny shorts they have been creating, illustrating the Anatomy of a Socially Awkward Situation. Check out the videos. I especially like the touch of skeeviness at the end of episode 4, "Baby Busted."

The Art of the Title

The Art of the Title, a site that collects opening and closing title sequences of films and TV shows. The archive isn't quite full yet, but certainly enough of interest initially, and hopefully, continued posting of great title sequences.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Sleepwalk



Listening to the radio the other day, heard an interview with some young, new band that has a surf-rock sound. Apparently, they are from South Carolina, and the beach music from there is more like raved-up Motown than the Beach Boys. Think "Shout." Got me thinking about the beach and music, and while I wasn't a beach kid, I did grow up in a beach town, and the beach really is a great place to hear music. Got me thinking about this song, imagining what it must have been like to first hear this on the AM radio in 1959... and what I'm missing out on, that surprise and delight at hearing a haunting, new melody, since I don't really listen to the radio, and I don't really listen to pop music.

A Man Needs A Garage



May not warrant watching all 8 minutes, but here's a pretty cool old fella making some pretty old-style machinery. Love it. Courtesy JP.

Reminds me, so slightly, of The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations’ Millenium General Assembly. About that here.

Italian Motorcycle Display

Monday, July 21, 2008

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Kangaroo / We Are The World



JWW woke up early, apparently, and bored.

Both videos demand answers. What were they thinking would happen with a boxing kangaroo? And what are the Japanese thinking? Just across the board, at this point...

Summer of '68

A brief reflection on a post I just made: being a part of the last generation that remembers life without the Internet or globalization does not make me particularly proud. It's better than being born later, sure. But it's not the velvet generation that I would have loved to have been a part of (though, of course, had I been born then, I wouldn't have lived so well...)

The Magnum photo gallery only goes to prove it. Wouldn't you kill to be a part of that? So cool in every respect.

In case you can't tell: The Band, Zappa, Chuck Berry, Aretha, Mick and Keith.

Pechu Kucha



"The result, in the hands of masters of the form, combines business meeting and poetry slam to transform corporate cliché into surprisingly compelling beat-the-clock performance art."

Yeah, right. Well, actually, I'm intrigued. Although I'm never sure why PowerPoint became the subject for art. Oh, right. It started as a joke.

Truth is, given that I live regularly with the form (and hate it), I think that the poetry slam transformation of a business meeting should become a de facto standard in the meeting rooms of the world. What is a virtuoso performance? Say what you want, quickly, directly, and get the hell out. We'd be better for it, and less spiteful of our jobs. Come on, America!

Mexican Weekend

The margaritas should be as large as a neurosurgeon's head - Mexican proverb

Not infrequently, it occurs to me that I'm a member of a unique generation, for whom two things are true. I can remember life without email and web browsing and I can remember a time when ethnic food was exotic in a strange way, not an exciting way. When it was harder to keep in constant touch with faraway people, particularly in the frivolous, everyday way allowed by email and Flickr and blogs and the lot. And when sushi was something that only New York yuppies or California weirdos ate, and where, if you grew up in the suburbs, you were lucky to have a single greasy Chinese place serving pu-pu platters and a Taco Bell. A time, the 80s, specifically, before the two great themes of our generation became manifest: globalization and the Intenret.

One strange remnant of this disconnected provincialism held over into New York when I first arrived here eight years ago: it was hard to find really good Mexican food. Why?

It didn't really make any sense, but it was almost a truism. And not even in comparison to the excessive pride that San Francisco takes in its burritos. Even compared to the odd Mexican restaurant that you might find at the bottom of Federal Hill in Providence, or on California Avenue in Palo Alto.

No more.

Unplanned, but not unappreciated, I spent a weekend eating Mexican food recently, and I can heartily recommend two New York venues.

First, Nolita's Cafe El Portal, which I visited with friends following after work drinks. Cozy, inexpensive, and quite delicious (at least if you're hungry and a little drunk), the real winning touch is that, while waiting to seat you in their small, sunken dining room, they will bring you frozen margaritas in plastic cups for you to enjoy on the sidewalk. Drinks on the sidewalk. Ole!

Second, Brooklyn's Hecho En Dumbo, in my favorite neighborhood, for its feel of secret abandon. Traditional Mexican fare, classed up in that way that certain neighborhood's demand. Also, atmospheric in the right ways. Not everything was a home run, but the sopas with crab meat were delicious, and the spicy pork tacos were the bomb.

Finally, worth a mention, less for the food than the frozen margaritas, the venue, the crowd, the green-friendly ethic, is Habana Outpost. Go there after a summer rain, where it's not as crowded, everything is just as good, and there's likely to be a MeetUp.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Rave: Sze Tsung Leong





One of the best shows I have seen this year. A couple of weeks ago, ED and I took a break from being perpetually stressed out by our jobs to wander around Chelsea on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon. We saw a few good things, a few less good things, and one incredible show. Sze Tsung Leong's Horizons at the Yossi Milo gallery.

Admittedly, the collection was right in my sweet spot, but the photographs worked at so many levels for me. First off, they are gorgeous - expansive landscapes, evoking the basic geometry of the horizon, all sharing a common framing and visual syntax. The subject matter, impressive in its global scope, ranged from cities to people to landscapes to seascapes, all bleeding into washed out skylines of gray and white. Each of the photos evoked a common density, bleakness and dullness, which certainly characterizes one aspect of a world overrun with industry, people, buildings, and things. Within the scope of this commentary was enough room for the constant, irrepressible beauty of people and of nature and, at some basic level, of the capacity of human industry. From the good comes the bad. All of this wrapped up in a wonderfully curated show, where the prints were all hung level, to create a common horizon across all of the photographs. Well worth a look, and while much of the photos can be seen online at the artist's website, they are even more powerful when viewed together.





Rave: The Big Sleep

Alright, so I haven't been writing much about music lately. That's not because I haven't found that many good albums (it has been a little slow), but more so that I haven't had as much time to listen in depth, and haven't had that much time to write. I can recommend, in the last few months, the new Times New Viking (if you like GBV), the El Guincho record, and parts of the new Dengue Fever record. Also, I've caught up on and really like Brigthblack Morning Light and Robert Wyatt's Comicopera, as well as most of The Thermals record.

But, the new album from The Big Sleep - an immediate cause for praise and recommendation. A great, atmospheric, moody, dynamic collection of songs that also really fucking rocks. I saw the band open up for The Hold Steady last summer in Prospect Park, and hadn't been that immediately taken by a band that I'd never heard before since seeing the Arcade Fire open for the Wrens so many years ago at the Knitting Factory. They came out sounding assured and complete, with a sufficiently distinct sound to make me hungry for their album - whose release I apparently missed in my winter haze, but which I stumbled upon the other night. Worth it, as it consistently brings an alternating palette of sonic and lovely, just what I love so much in a good rock and roll band.

I am hoping for a show in New York soon, and if anyone wants to join, well, you can join.

Mike Ross: Capitol Hill

Friend and sculptor Mike Ross, responsible for the monumental and mercurial Big Rig Jig, has created a bit of undeserved controversy that is apparently jeopardizing his new sculpture, proposed for the interior of a Seattle subway station. The sculpture, which would involve disassembling two decommission fighter jets and re-assembling them into a configuration that was supposed to represent (I believe) doves is clearly intended as a critique of the military-industrial complex and the war machine, in general. Apparently not what local Democratic activist groups think.

Learn more here.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Blessings

What is going on in China? Overall, the Zhang Huan show Blessings at the Pace Wildenstein gallery didn't move me much, but the centerpiece, a sculpture over 15 feet tall and 25 feet long, made entirely, and very clearly, almost nauseatingly, of cowhides, was pretty mind-blowing. I'm not sure I fully got what was going on, either as art or as commentary, but in terms of causing a visceral reaction, it certainly caused one.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Altmejd's Monsters

Last weekend (or maybe even the weekend before, it's hard to tell these days), ED and I wandered out to Chelsea to drink some lemonade and look at some art. A handful of galleries had shows bearing mention, but we'll start with David Altmejd at the Andrea Rosen Gallery, which CD had previously recommended. While I could describe at length the odd creatures that had been assembled in the service of art, I'd recommend you swoop through and see for yourself.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

MUTO

An incredible animation of street art, courtesy JJK:


MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Simon Stabs


Simon Stabs was easily my favorite thing at the ITP Spring Show. As always, the young nerds were up to lots of cool tricks (and lots of half-baked ones). And I forgot how cute/hot/nerdily-androgynous the young nerd community can be...