Saturday, August 12, 2006

Gato Barbieri -- his Last Tango in Paris filling the room
Kind words about the ghosts from Isola-di-Rifiuti's John Latta (ex- Rue Hazard, ex- Hotel Point), a fiercely independent poet, thinker, photographer:

"I am certain that 'seeing' is all, and that 'seeing ironically' is nearly, of late, all we do. Is it that before seeing occurs, a sort of interposing scrim must be present? (One scrim is 'irony,' another 'awe,' another 'beauty'? 'Scrim' is used to identify period, or fashion.) I keep thinking of Christopher Brayshaw’s photographs, a series called One Hundred Famous Ghosts. An unfinished series that begins with some unassuming pictures of the commonest urban dejecta, tossed off plastic shopping bags. Not prettify’d, not ironized, just undeniably made noticeable, 'seeable.'

One long weekend in New York City, I saw Brayshaw 'ghosts' everywhere—detritus made present—all, I think, one asks of art. (All art is able to do.)"

Raindust, 2006, by special guest photographer dru B. dru's Flickr photostream has lots more, plus copious frame-within-the-frame annotations. My current favorite: a rare shot of our friend Guy Edwards, now deceased, in his duct-taped pants, hacky-sacking a pile of orange autumn leaves.

Withdrawn From Circulation (2.0)

Staff member X inadvertently picks up yesterday's copy of Griffin and Sabine and attempts to sell it to a customer. A panicked-looking blur with Ralph Steadman eyes leaps between staff member and customer and repossesses the offending tome.

"What was that all about?" inquires X, not unreasonably, after the customer's departure. So the whole sad tale is told.

"What is it with that book?" X wonders, upon the tale's conclusion. "Griffin and Sabine is the devil!" Then, having been promised anonymity, recounts the following, even sadder tale:

X once dated a woman, Y, who broke X's heart. Early on in the relationship, Y gave X a copy of Griffin and Sabine, explaining, "I think you'll really like this." X did, at first. The book, by Canadian writer/illustrator Nick Bantock, consists of a series of lushly illustrated postcards and letters between two lovers, one of whom may or may not be the creation of the other's imagination. So far, so good...that is, until X opened one of the book's envelopes and found a typewritten letter to Y by Y's old boyfriend, Z. Heartbeat accelerating, X opened the next envelope. A handwritten poem by Z, to Y. And so on.

X's analysis of the proceedings: "Z gave Y this 'special' book; she said, 'Thanks baby,' put it on her shelf and never looked at it...till she gave it to me! It was a real watershed in the relationship."


ART (Aesthetically Rejected Thing): shitting one's pants while answering the phone.

At the store, during work hours.

Suggested course of action: don't ask. Seriously. Don't ask. And if you were planning some "industrial espionage" by crawling through Pulpfiction's mighty (locked) dumpster, you might want to give tonight a pass. Tomorrow's not looking too good, either.
Friday, August 11, 2006
"Critic's notes" handwritten in the inside front cover of a New Canadian Library paperback edition of Hubert Aquin's Next Episode:

"1. The earthquake note.

2. Getting rid of the dresses

3. A book of practical spells

4. Falcon."
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Self Portrait (365 x 3)

Silly "trip-hop" soundtrack, but a pretty solid idea, and visually compelling all the way through.

Withdrawn from Circulation

Much amusement at the shop over the arrival of signed "gift" books, particularly those sporting long, heartfelt, and thoroughly cliched handwritten declarations of love on the flyleaf or the title page (Jonathan Livingston Seagull; Griffin and Sabine). So tonight, when an old flame arrived offering not one, but three Nick Bantock books for sale, I had the good sense to surripticiously check them all, quickly locating the embarrassing handwritten cliches, the all too familiar signature, and the inscription, "Valentine's Day 1992."

Lots of physical symptoms we won't dwell upon, followed by the growing conviction that the book in question is going back into circulation sometime shortly after hell freezes over.

(Update, having just re-read the offending passages with granular attention: flashes of the nascent "uninflected realism" the author would later inflict on the Internet's tubes and on the local visual arts community, plus great dollops of suffering purple prose. Not a total write-off, but, like I say, not for sale at Vancouver's Favorite Used Bookstore any time soon).

Untitled (Truman), 2006

D. in the approach gully, Mount Strachan. About 1000' of snow, loose rock, black flies, comparatively stable rock covered in slime and running water, mosquitoes, hellebore, wet blueberry bushes, wet krummholtz, miscellaneous biting insects, etc. A great half day out!
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
One of Our Submarines -- live Golden Age of Wireless track for those who somehow missed Mr. Dolby up until now. Computer drums, weird electronic effects reminiscent of radar noise from bad 1970s war pictures, the bleached-blonde synth-goth leaning over his keys.

Thomas Dolby, The Golden Age of Wireless, 1982. Purchased (cassette tape), also c.1982, at A&A Records in Park Royal's south mall, with money made by scavenging bottles, cans, and marine batteries out of the dumpsters at Thunderbird Marina.

Mancini -- an appreciation by Mr. Fagen

"Beatsters! My brothers in the subculture of the Early Resigned! Remember it now. You lie if you say you don’t. First, we’re enticed by a suspenseful, highly stylized teaser. And then we thrill to that driving boogie ostinato on bass, doubled in the lowest octaves of the piano and tripled by raunchily picked electric guitar, the same bar repeated throughout, never changing; the drummer is on auto-cook. Brass, voiced close and tight, plays the angular, blues-based theme. On the screen we see the title animation; a pseudo abstract expressionist canvas with cryptic, splattery forms pulsing in the foreground. Even then we may have suspected it was jive, but who cared? The titles, action-painted on top of all this, told us the show was created by Blake Edwards and that the music was by Henry Mancini."
ABC Funds' Irwin Michael interviewed by ROB TV
Received in the mail, verbatim:

"Dear Bookseller:

We have enclosed for your perusal some descriptive material regarding Divorce! But, on My Honeymoon! by Kelowna, British Columbia resident Joanne Kemila. This poignant book shares a personal struggle from ruin to reformation.

Having a newly published author in your local area presents unique opportunities to the bookstore. Foremost among them is the chance to invite the author in for an autograph signing. Such an event can only burnish your business as a cornerstone of the community's literary realm."
Today's playlist: Dusty Springfield, "Twenty-Four Hours From Tulsa."

Oh, I was only twenty-four hours from Tulsa
Only one day away from your arms
I hate to do this to you
But I love somebody new
What can I do?
And I can never, never, never, go home again...
IRRITATING LOCAL ACID CASUALTY: Anne Rice...she builds universes like Isaac Asimov...should have stuck with vampires...zombies, mummies, Christianity...

CJB: Next time I see Anne, I'll take your critique up with her. Thanks for coming in.

ILAC: Okay, great! [exits]

ILAC: [popping head back through door] You were just kidding, right? You don't really know her?

CJB: Nope! Just "playfully flaunted irony."

ILAC: Just thought I'd check!

Walter Becker Blindfold Test, via Thomas, where today Mr. Dolby expressed interest in touring behind my pals. Needless to say, should this ever occur, I will be immediately booking time off work so as to be front and center at the shows. Mr. Dolby's "One of Our Submarines," "Flat Earth," and "Budapest By Blimp" have been an enormous influence on me, to say nothing of his goth-BDSM-nerd persona. Richie Rich with a lab coat, synthesizer, aviator goggles and black vinyl pants!

"EMERSON LAKE & PALMER: 'Promenade' (from Pictures at an Exhibition, Cotillion, 1972)

WB: At first I thought that was gonna be a power trio playing an instrumental version of 'Incense and Peppermints.' Then I realized it wasn't gonna be that, but I still wished it would've been, 'cause that would've been better than what it was: a ponderous series of unrelated minor triads played on an organ, then there was a solo played on a Moog synthesizer or some such piece of equipment. Not my cup of tea. Maybe it was Emerson, Lake & Palmer. One star."

2006 Summer Bloom of the Amorphophallus titanum "Corpse Flower"
Sunday, August 06, 2006
Bite & Burn
More art criticism, a brochure essay on Jason W.F. Fitzpatrick published by Toronto's Open Studio in June 2006.

Jason W.F. Fitzpatrick is a Vancouver-based sculptor and installation artist whose works evolve out his process-based reappraisals of minimal abstraction. Early minimal artists like Tony Smith, Carl Andre, and Richard Serra stressed their work’s kinship to the toiling bodies and hard physical labor required to realize sculptural objects from industrial materials like rolled aluminum or rusty Cor-ten steel. A performance like Serra’s
Splashing (1968), which consists of the artist aggressively tossing molten lead into the corner of a room, recalls Serra’s summers spent working in steel mills and shipyards, and the aggressive physicality such work requires. Serra’s performance materializes this energy not as the object of a disinterested, aestheticizing gaze, but as a process constantly in flux, which refuses to settle in any fixed or final form. Whereas the art of sculptors like Donald Judd and Andre luxuriates in the sensual aspects of industrial materials – the opalescent shine of polished brass or the hoarfrost patterns of brushed aluminum – Serra’s process-based abstraction relentlessly deflects attention from art’s materials to the mind that chose them, and the physical actions -- splashing; joining; gathering; scattering; binding -- that activate them as “art.”

Following Serra, Fitzpatrick’s art begins with the recognition that the artist’s body is just as much an art material as aluminum, Plexiglas, or molten lead. Fitzpatrick’s readings of minimal and process-based abstraction are also deeply informed by the thinking of the German artist and social philosopher Joseph Beuys, whose performances and “actions” employed unconventional sculptural materials – fat; felt; wax; honey -- as symbolic equivalents for the body.

For Bite & Burn, Fitzpatrick’s new exhibition at the Open Studio, the artist has constructed a small chamber out of plywood inside the gallery. Viewers cannot enter the chamber, but they can peer into it through spaces cut into its sides. For the exhibition’s opening, Fitzpatrick will enter the chamber, where a Toronto tattooist, specially commissioned for the occasion, will create an original design down the artist’s spine. Pain and blood are unavoidable byproducts of the tattooing process. During the session, “monoprints” made with a mix of tattoo ink and the artist’s blood will be taken directly from Fitzpatrick’s back. After the opening, the prints will remain in the gallery along with the unoccupied wooden chamber as Beuysian relics of the opening’s process-based performance, proof that his performance’s energy has not dissipated but changed.

Many decisions are contained in Fitzpatrick’s working process. Though made with unconventional materials, his “monoprints” are technically conservative artworks created through the application of a surface to a pigment emulsion, a process the artist can direct, but never entirely control. The unoccupied tattoo chamber can be seen as a minimal artwork in its own right, the equivalent of one of Carl Andre or Sol LeWitt’s serial constructions in plywood or fir. But Fitzpatrick’s aim in developing Bite & Burn is not to parody minimalism or process-based abstraction, but to deflect them, checking their formal and conceptual progress just as an athlete might by applying body English to a billiard or basket ball, thereby putting a new spin on things.

In Fitzpatrick’s hands, this straight forward process seems more unusual than it really is. Similar operations unfold all the time in film, music, and, needless to say, in social history, too, as purportedly “incompatible” versions of the same ideology meet, collide, and collapse…or, less often, mingle, as each form absorbs its other and carries that other within it, as a kind of trace, or psychic scar.

Artistic modernism has long been considered a “strong force” to be resisted at all costs. Strategies of resistance have been theorized at some length. Deleuze and Guattari’s allegory of the rhizome, a series of interlocking social networks dispersed into those historical cracks and crevices where modernism cannot easily penetrate, and Italian philosopher Gianni Vattimo’s notion of “weak thought,” a kind of parodic thinking that deforms modernism from within like termite tunnels through a board, are two concepts that come to mind. Fitzpatrick takes a different tack, pitting two “strong” forms of sculptural modernism against each other, with the artist’s body the ground zero on which these forces meet and mingle.

In Fitzpatrick’s view, modernist abstraction and Beuys-esque social allegory turn out to have much more in common with each other than partisans of either form might be tempted to admit. Modernist abstraction has always been at pains to distinguish itself from popular culture – from tattooing; from the kind of ferociously loud growling guitar rock music that will serve as a backdrop for Fitzpatrick’s opening night performance. Similarly, Beuys’s admittedly rambling and pretentious invocations of German mythology and folk history have often seemed diametrically opposed to the formal and intellectual concision characterizing the work of modernist sculptors like Andre and Serra. To Fitzpatrick’s credit, his work effects a synthesis of these two ostensibly incompatible aesthetic positions, using his body as the ground on which this process unfolds.
Here Come Those Santa Ana Winds Again

Well I should know by now

That it's just a spasm
Like a Sunday in TJ
That it's cheap but it's not free
And that love's not a game for three...

ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing)
: Frank's Chile 'n Lime

"FRANK'S® RedHot® Chile 'n Lime™ Hot Sauce is a party-hearty surge of flavor. A heat wave of chile and spice blended with a tangy burst of lime, it's a match made in hot sauce heaven."
Love Comes Quickly

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