Monday, June 30, 2008

dude i got so many bug bites

Martin Creed is going to have this piece in the Tate that will be a runner running across a gallery every 30 seconds. I don't know anything about art and the way things are going may never see London but I am glad this is happening in the world, because who hasn't seen a huge expanse of museum corridor and wanted a little bit to slip across it faster than one ought, and because who hasn't seen Band of Outsiders, and because I just read this dull book that started with a snarky but engaging opening scene that has two aspiring teen bohemians sitting in an art museum with a pair of binoculars to observe the bourgeoisie so these lil rapscallions can read their expressions in an attempt to ascertain what the middle-aged and sensibly dressed reap from Art. Everyone sometimes turns around at the movies for a sec to look at the expressions of people looking up at the screen; at the Olafur Eliasson exhibit part at the MoMA, all everyone did was take pictures of themselves and their friends as the whites of Stephanie's eyes turned pink. The point is, the way people move through these spaces (bodies dashing through Chelsea! eyes slowly-slowly finding a way across a big Poussin painting!) is at least ridiculous in a small way, and I think this idea is ignorant, good-type.

Oh real quick fore I go to early pre-long-work-day sleep, here are the movies I've seen lately:






Saturday, May 17, 2008

Mister Lonely, or, Ask Me About Unwound

Ok, I saw Mister Lonely last night and am still reeling a little bit from the experience. I
wait one second: I am listening to New Plastic Ideas for the second time this week, that being the first time in a year and a half or so; this HOLDS UP like nobody's business, and none of the bands of now that go for the pounding dark vibe have anything on this band, who maybe were the only or last people to get the loud/soft dynamic shifts powerful without corniness. By Leaves Turn Inside You, which I'm not sure if I like any more, they, too, had gotten a little too "experimental." This record might actually be punk? It has a great guitar sound. So usual.
ANYWAY I gotta go on a long bike ride, but I also want to know, what did you think of this movie if you saw it? I went into it not really expecting to like it and left not knowing what I thought. Some parts
this song I am listening to is kind of post-Nirvana, hmm
The weird thing, I think, is that you think it'll be whimsical (the bad kind of whimsical, wait, there's no good kind, but you know what I mean?) and it isn't. I mean you think it'll be hipster-dreamy but it's just dreamy; Herzog's presence aside, parts of it seem very Herzog-y, with a small, bizarre, and beautiful thing happening in a big expanse of space. In other parts that you'd expect to be lush and over-the-top, Korine shoots in really tight focus on people's faces, which grounds you in the characters' emotions, and ultimately each main character's personality overrides the weird mise en scene, rather than sinking back into decorative weirdness. Does that make sense?
It has false notes, for sure, and despite the movie's surface earnestness (it's about faith), you wonder where the irony lies, if anywhere.
Oh shit, I am gonna be late! More later. Bike time!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


Don't they know, at the haircut place, that I haven't had my hair cut since November or possibly August? Can't they see that I look like a feral metal dude? How could they have mistaken my "Wednesday" for a "Friday?" I protest this dreadful mistake by holing up in my room with books/computer/guitar to spite the nice weather.
onetwothree this is what I've been thinking about

The vague resemblance Serena VanderW. bears to Laura Palmer--the haunted blonde, misunderstood, caught in webs of intrigue which, it seems, she cannot control, except when you realize that perhaps she has, indeed, a deep and terrible grasp of her surroundings.

Why it is that so much art devotes itself to itself: we watch movies about making movies about artists making their art, we read books about writing writers, but we don't make movies or art or write; we come home from work, cook pasta and consume and think we derive something about talent or torment or the relevancy of the beautiful to a prosaic way of being.

Which is obvs not to say that one should read books like this one about strategic personae one can adapt to push forward positive change and get ahead within one's organization, just that it's sometimes hard to bring things to bear on each other. The Poussin show at the Met was really great.

Also, Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love were about my age when they got married, which, the more I think about it, makes no sense at all, both these two facts and the fact that I'm thinking about it. Also, I saw the Daniel Johnston documentary, which proves that the best documentaries tend to depict moments or people who document themselves (cf Capturing the Friedmans).

As a Lord of the Rings-influenced big-budget martial arts movie featuring a training montage wherein a pudgy film nerd buffs up and sprouts a ponytail,The Forbidden Kingdom may prove the least cool movie in the history of cinema and probably, the more references one catches to other kung-fu movies or to LOTR, the wider the chasm separating one from "acceptable" grows. I could still maybe pole vault?

listen to the New Bloods. That's it, i think.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

walking down the streets of paradise

Come out to the release party for perhaps this city's only dance-related zine (coordinated by Ana), tomorrow night at Sound Fix!

Also, read Hannah's photo blog about her Argentinian adventures.

Finally, you should probably listen to Pour Down Like Silver.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Memories of Murder

One expects the unexpected in a police procedural so automatically that the twists become formulaic: the first suspect won't pan out, the corruption at the heart of the law and the cop-criminal slippage usually starts to unfold about 2/3 of the way in. Memories Of Murder sticks to the formula partially, which makes it an incredibly weird movie. As in Law and Order, you see only hints of the policemen's private lives; the film focuses on the case, a serial rapist and murderer terrorizing a village in 1980s Korea. This movie--it is so strange.
First, the film plays much of the investigation for laughs. The cops bumble around, employing idiotic strategies (at one point, the lack of pubic hair at a crime scene convinces one that the criminal must be a hairless monk, prompting him to camp out in bathhouses, investigating his fellow bathers), seem generally ignorant, act cruelly and beat suspects out of sheer stupidity rather than vindictiveness. The comedy runs through the whole movie, but the wackier the cops seem, the more the film emphasizes their helplessness. In an early scene, they can't prevent a tractor driver from running over a footprint; later on, they sit in their office knowing that a murder will take place but unable to do anything to prevent it.
The movie's stock characters--the sharp city detective, the old chief of police, the murderer--act atypically. The man from Seoul has sharper investigative skills than the small-town police (who also don't shape up to impress him, as they might in a different movie), but proves equally unequipped for this case. Rather than affecting those around him, the irrationality of his fellow cops and the crimes' cruelty take an abrupt, heavy toll.
The DVD case describes Memories of Murder as a "moody thriller," which I first found unapt but think might be accurate--better, it's rueful, all about missed opportunities and disappointments, but this tone is unexpected in a movie about what this movie's about. It also puts a weird cast on the actual scenes of brutality, of which there are a few, that are horrifying and, more frightening still, inevitable.
I find this movie hard to describe. It came recommended really ardently from a few disparate sources, and it definitely hits you a lot harder after you finish watching it than while it's actually unfolding in front of you.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Both proprietary brands!

1. Trader Joe's Jumbo Raisin Medley. I barely liked raisins, only had odd-hour cravings for them and appreciated their presence in oatmeal, oatmeal-raisin cookies, and bran muffins, till I got this. About five of these raisins basically comprises a snack, and if you ever heard the phrase "plump and juicy" applied to a raisin before and looked down at teensy dried nuggets in your palm as the corners of your mouth turned down involuntarily, you should wait in that line, man. THESE RAISINS ARE AMAIZINS! I won't use them in my oatmeal--it's be like using Macallan for a whiskey and coke or something.

2. Archer Farms Jamaican Spice and Black Pepper and Sea Salt-flavor Baked Potato Crisps. You buy these at Target and at Target only; luckily I work near the hellacious Atlantic Avenue Mall, which is redeemed from fire and brimstone by these chips' righteousness alone (although the $14.99 Xhiliration bra special at Target also wins them points. I can't go in there and not buy chips and a bra! What the fuck?) These broad, flat chips have a brittle texture and lack the slightly sweet taste that bring down Baked Lays in my estimation. They're light while not lite, but the seasoning really makes them. When Archer Farms says pepper they mean real coarse-ground black pepper, that lingers in the corner of your mouth. Jamaica BBQ has a savory jerk taste underlying the pepper, while the black pepper chips simply have MORE PEPPER. Geniuses! My office can take down a big bag of these lickety-split.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

ignorant: the book review corner

People tell me I write how I talk but I hope that's untrue: the language I speak comes haltingly, broken unevenly into measures by "like"s, "I mean/guess," and a lot more shits and fucks and goddamns than my audience should accept. I resolved to quit "like" more New Year's than I can remember, but it takes such a pervasive role in my vocabulary that when I speak formally, to superiors at work, say, I might utter "yes, like, this situation . . . " realize that I've just used "like" improperly, and turn the actual situation into a hypothetical: "Yeah, like a situation wherein x might happen is analogous to the situation we're in" rather than "Yeah, our situation is x." And more minds than mine have drawn broader conclusions about this generation from our linguistic limp--things are not, for us, they are like this or like that. But I digress.
Since I read anything I see that has to do with meth addiction (I also feel compelled to read cookbooks and top 10 of anything lists, that's not what this is about here), I read the excerpt from Nic Sheff's meth addiction memoir Tweak, which was linked off an article in the Times. Here's a quote:

"I guess I've pretty much spent the last four years chasing that first high. I wanted desperately to feel that wholeness again. It was like, I don't know, like everything else faded out. All my dreams, my hopes, ambitions, relationships -- they all fell away as I took more and more crystal up my nose. I dropped out of college twice, my parents kicked me out, and, basically, my life unraveled."

This is amazing! What a mess, man, what an onslaught of cliches and nervous modifiers and "like"s and unnecessary adverbs. This phrase represents the core of this book, the truth of the devastation of this kid's life, and it's inept. One should not be allowed to get away with writing like this, much less earn a publishing contract from Simon and Schuster. But then, talk to me when you see me about inarticulateness and likely I'll look at you from behind a chunk of hair, scratch my nose, push up my glasses and say "Basically, like . . .fucking, like, we don't know how to talk anymore." So in a way this terrible writer has perfectly captured heavy sentiments for the era of the idle rich meth addict--he has no art, he could've done better but instead he did drugs. Is this prose commendable for its honesty and aptness or loathsome for its ignorance?
I saw about an hour of Into the Wild, which worked in a similar way: to express the naive alienation of its protagonist, the film's director (Sean Penn, I think) employs the dullest MTV techniques--slo-mo, split screens, topical Eddie Vedder songs--in a movie with themes (the romantic innocent trapped by society trekking out into the hills) for which this stylistic crap could not be less appropriate. . . OR IS IT?

Anyway, I have seen some movies lately, including Annie Hall, The Panic In Needle Park, J'entends plus la guitare, 10 Rillington Place, and Nobody Knows. Unlike Into the Wild, these were mostly good, particularly J'entends.

Based on Philippe Garrel's affair with Nico, the film has one topic--how love works--and cuts out any dross that might not relate to this particular thing. You don't know what any characater save one does for a living, the interiors are sparse, the camera lingers on faces, faces and pays attention to conversations, not actions. It is about the Frenchest thing I have ever seen.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Heroes, pt 2; 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days

In a world saturated with the bad kinds of bad attitudes, Mark Bittman's bad attitude serves as an exemplar, a how-to guide for maintaining a bad attitude in the best way. He scorns this and turns his nose up at that, but concludes with gentle affirmations: I'm so against these nerds who say vinaigrette's got tricks, so against them; making vinaigrette's actually so goddamn easy I'm going to do it, and guess what, you can too.

There's a part in 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days when the protagonist scurries through a grim sector of a city in the middle of the night, the camera hovering over her left shoulder like a zombie-cam in a horror movie. Patches of the city appear in the shots' margins and you see the most indescribable, unexpected colors--a blurred grey-brown, a hazy purple-orange--and you sense the character's panic and displacement so sharply.

The film has one near-insurmountable problem. One of the main characters elicits incredible empathy, while the other--the person whose not-unsympathetic predicament sets everything in motion--is basically a psycho hose beast, a cowardly, thoughtless, simpering ingrate. I'm unsure whether the other character's depth compensates for this other lady's obnoxiousness. I wonder if having the antagonistic woman (the one who needs the abortion) be the person with whom one's sympathies would naturally lie represents an attempt to challenge the audience, or if the director spent himself while layering the other character with complexities?

One conversation in this movie between the protagonist, Otilia, and her boyfriend, just does not relent and probably will remind you of something you've thought and experienced yourself if you've ever cared about anyone, that is about one thing very specifically but more generally describes pressing against the limits of your love and trust for someone and discovering the indistinct but extant point at which you must care about yourself more than you do about him or her.

So, way to go, Cannes jury, I guess, this was a really good movie. It also did that trick with sound effects editing (cf. No Country For Old Men, um Last Days, a lot of other recent stuff), where everything sounds incredibly clear and present; a ball kicked against a car like a gun going off, a cigarette inhaled so deeply your throat hurts.

Monday, February 04, 2008

stupor bowl!

On consumption, briefly: I find high-life-type shopping fraught; whereas at H&M, say, you just have to confirm with yourself that you like and look decent in a thing and assess the odds that someone you know already owns it, at whatever Williamsburg joint with enticingly small SALE sign, you must answer all these questions and then determine to what extent in buying X thing for Y money, you'd have to consider yourself your own class enemy, and then work out weird equations where ZP.B.R.s + Qbags of lentils / NGreyhounds + Cdelicious hockey puck-sized chocolate chip cookies from the bakery near job = Dress G - the square root of cell phone bill or whatever.

Alas, and anyway, my love for lentils will never die. But anyway again, did you watch the GODDAMN SUPER BOWL?

I only saw half, or rather, I saw the last 2 minutes/25 minutes of the first half, the dullish Tom Petty halftime biz, and the second half. I spent the first half, to be fair, at the New Museum and eating a next-level good bougie Mexican sandwich that contained the exact same ingredients as Madeleine's 7-layer dip, which I consequently had to exempt myself from eating. The New Museum's exterior leaves no surprises for the innards: it's yeah, three big concrete spaces atop each other. Most of the pieces in the current exhibit left little impression, although I found myself stealth-affected by Martha Rosler's collages that merge pictures of models and interior design magazines with pictures from the war; they're so obvious that when you find yourself struck by them it's kind of a double blow. But I digress.
At one point during the game, my friend Alex asked me if I'd fallen asleep since I'd been pretty quiet for a while and of course not, I was literally biting my nails. When I watch the Mets, I often grow quiet and nervous and all, but that's got a context, right, an allegiance. This game, though, proved its worth. I care nothing about the sport, feel similarly dispassionate about the two teams--though I sure wish no well for Robert Kraft--but the hometown boys' balancing of ineptitude and luck with skill and tenacity proved gripping. Gripping! Football! It is amazing how sports viewership works the same way as one's own little life: that you have to try not to hope too hard for things lest an excess of wishing fuck with your fortunes.
In other news, I saw a fantastic psuedo-ethnographic silent movie from the 1920s called Chang, d. by the same guys who made King Kong which featured the slaughter of about 5 leopards, 2 tigers, and 2 goats and the abuse of countless other mammals, human and otherwise, and in spite/cos of that, was totally fascinating, both the things it showed and how it showed em.

Monday, January 28, 2008

your gardens and bridges green with shit came running i'm back


This is a painting a friend of a friend of mine made called "DEATH TO BLOG," but this blog lives; listen, I got a real job, where I make phone calls and fill out purchase orders and try to learn FileMaker Pro and act very concerned when paperwork goes astray, and it is at a non-profit so my heart's supposed to be in it, which means first, less blog-time and second, when I am not at work I want not to see a computer but rather to listen to Morbid Angel or Fleetwood Mac, steam myself some vegetables and mix up some tahini sauce, drink this one kind of $10.99 shiraz, and read novels so late into the night that I cut it real close arriving at this real job every morning, and I'm gonna take my tax refund post-my tuition write-offs and get "wack boug" knuck tats. SIKE! I'm not hating, I promise.

The best snack I've eaten since I stopped posting in this blog is this kind of Ritz Cracker I can't find a picture of on the internet because I can't recall its name, but their thinness amplifies their faux-butteriness in a sort of sharp, irresistible way. I ate them in my coworker's car somewhere in New Jersey.

The best movie I have seen, by far, is not really a movie but rather the 6-hour or whatever TV version of Fanny and Alexander.

Let me say first that I haven't liked any of the three or four other Bergman films I've seen; I find their intensity both forced and coercive. I had no idea that he could (or would) do something like this.

After you watch something for that long a period of time, you necessarily feel a little shaky heading back out into the world. When you sit in front of a TV for six hours (and I can recall for you one particular string of Memorial Day Weekend Law and Order franchise marathons), you stand up and feel blunt all over, your muscles slack and your brain unable to point itself directly towards anything you'd want it to focus on; you open the wrong door in the kitchen looking for pretzels, you wander into dark rooms thinking "ah, this is just my parents' house, but the TV has just told me a criminal's likely lurking here, but I'm too checked the fuck out to remember to turn the light on and find out one way or the other." That's why going to the movies in New York is the best--as soon as you leave the theater, you're shocked, cold-water style, into being a person again, since it's bright even though it's night-time and you need to wend your way back to the subway and skirt the usual cabs and jocks, and what stays with you from the movie in those moments are probably the things from the movie, whether moments or moods or whatever, that were the truest. When I left Fanny and Alexander, I felt confident that I was walking around in a world where I might come across a ghost at any moment and it'd be cool, just kind of the way things are.

"Sumptuous," I think, one might call this in writing its DVD-box blurb. I wrote that thinking of the red velveteen interiors of the opening Christmas segments, of the loving shots of the smorgasbord and of the beautiful grandmother (this blog, I swear it, is going to have a long post on amazing old ladies someday soon), but the adjective might apply as well to the emotions expended in the film. One could as easily describe the professor uncle's infantile rage/affection towards his wife as "lavish" as one could term the set design. As soon as the movie goes over-the-top, though, it slips back into something recognizable or genuine.

Let me digress for a sec and talk about There Will Be Blood, a movie so perfect in its pitch and tone, so well-shot and controlled for almost precisely its first half, that loses itself so badly in its second (I drew a really accurate hand-graph of the movie's failures at a party a while ago that I would reproduce in Paint except I'm on a stupid Mac). Anyway, Fanny and Alexander never unwinds like that. The terrifying but lil'cheesy girl-ghost-twins appear for no longer than they ought to and do not return; the old Jew's legend flies repeatedly off into a fantasy realm but lingers on his face and closed eyes, letting you feel as bewitched by his own tale as he and Alexander.

The closest thing I have experienced to watching this is the times when I'd sit and watch as many episodes of Twin Peaks as I could get from Kim's, but F + A has depth in addition to its trickery, where TP (which I'm not hating on, hey!) settles itself in vague irony. Nonetheless, you rouse yourself from the couch and don't even need to dream about B.O.B. since you imagine him so vividly around the corner. That's how alive Fanny and Alexander is, I guess I mean to say.

Anywayx2, it's about a big tight family in turn-of-the-century Sweden, and what happens after tragedy strikes it suddenly and tears little Fanny and Alexander and their mother away. You should watch it, I think, and since it was made for TV, whatever I said above, you can totally see it at home, since they just show it in HD in the theater anyway.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Towards the end of Lords of Dogtown, arrogant skate-shop owner Heath has been abandoned by the Z-Boy skaters for better and more legitimate sponsors, for drugs or trouble. Fame and women drift away, and he finds himself reduced to sanding surfboards in the back room of what was once his own shop. His hair mangy, a cigarette drooping from his lip, he notes "Maggie May" coming on the radio and sings along, as much as one can sing while you're sanding and smoking. The moment has a weird and rueful power and represent, for me, the apex of Mr. Ledger's acting prowess.

(I'm back, Layla)