Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Age of Consent (live, 1983). Marek Bula's recent opening at Dadabase, ably curated by my pal Katie D. Ryan Aronofsky's bright blue toque visible at middle left.

I saw you this morning
I thought that you might like to know
I received your message in full a few days ago....

From Spaceflight to Attempted Murder Charge -- via the NYT, an excellent Bruce Sterling/Elmore Leonard collaborative novella (or bad Movie of the Week) undoubtedly in the works...

"Police officials say [Novak] drove 900 miles to Florida from Texas, wearing a diaper so she would not have to stop for rest breaks. In Orlando, they say, she confronted her rival in a parking lot, attacking her with pepper spray.

Captain Nowak was in disguise at the time, wearing a wig, the police said. She had with her a compressed air pistol, a steel mallet, a knife, pepper spray, four feet of rubber tubing, latex gloves and garbage bags.


The police report, by Detective William C. Becton, said that Captain Nowak said she had not intended to harm Captain Shipman and said she believed that 'this was the only time she was going to be able to speak' with her. The compressed air pistol she carried 'was going to be used to entice Ms. Shipman to talk with her,' according to the report.

Detective Becton wrote, 'When I asked Mrs. Nowak if she thought the pepper spray was going to help her speak with Ms. Shipman, she replied, "That was stupid."'"

ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing): The Bad Arts

The world woke up one day to proclaim:
'Thou shalt not take part in, or make, bad art.'

Seven-odd minutes of pop nirvana, picking up steam as it goes. The musical equivalent of a Team Cat trek up Grouse Mountain from sea level. 1:22's thump-thump bass (Roethke's shaking). 3:30's guitar break, that opens my heart no matter how many times I hear it.

Emerging, sweat-soaked, from the trees below the chalet. Clouds moving above the city, English Bay and the Fraser delta shining in the dappled light.

Why did you spend the 90s cowering?
Why did you spend the 90s cowering?

My Beck Depression Inventory keeps dropping. Root causes? The incrementally longer days. Magnolia buds covered in dew at the corner of Oak and Broadway. Keefer's recent trek through Surrey. ("3:43pm, view of same house," in gallery 2, fills me with all kinds of complicated feelings; it's a picture that captures, in a simple and spectacularly unselfconscious way, many of my half-formed ideas about the collision of landscape, spatial abstraction and the supernatural).

When signs become impure again,
the crowd doesn't know where or when

to let it all hang out.
Bloodlet yourself, street style!
You got the spirit. Don't lose the feeling.
Monday, February 05, 2007

Recent reading: as above. I'd been hearing about this one for a while, but the everything-but-the-free-set-of-Ginsu-knives tone was offputting. As it turns out, You Can Be a Stock Market Genius is a lucid and well-written discussion of "special situation" value investing: mergers, spinoffs, bankruptcy, "risk arbitrage" & etc. Loads of real world examples, with step-by-step calculations that even this gift C+ in Math 12 could follow, and -- even better -- a colloquial, you-can-do-this tone that brought my Beck Depression Inventory score way, way down from last week. "The idea behind this book was to let you know about a snowball sitting on top of a hill, to provide you with a map and enough rope and climbing gear so that you can reach [it]. Your job -- should you choose to accept it -- is to nudge it down the hill and make it grow." Corny perhaps, but the metaphor speaks to me.

Oh Death, Where Is Thy Sting?

Yet another context for ghosts: the opening credits and first scene of Lars Von Trier's Riget (aka The Kingdom). "Tiny signs of fatigue are appearing in the solid, modern edifice." Well, yes, exactly. Not to mention the director's gleeful shifts from uninflected realism to full-on techno-gothic noir (those white hands, pushing up through the grave's wet soil; the wall of blood; that explosive Kraut-rock score, packed with orchestral oomph and flourishes). And the phantom ambulance. The short post-credits sequence with the sleepy and puzzled orderly wandering out through the automatic doors to examine the ambulance up close reminds me of Robert Bresson, and enormously affected me when I first saw it at the Pacific Cinematheque in the early 1990s.
Sunday, February 04, 2007

ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing): That Time is Now (via JT)

Untitled poem-painting by Kenneth Patchen (from the sequence Wonderings, New Directions, 1971)

Philip Guston, Multiplied, 1972

Further contexts for ghosts: Patchen's lumpy spirit-animals and Guston's late "cartoony" renderings of Klansmen and household objects. Relatives, too, of my Incredible Talking Cats, lares, "little household gods."

Guston faced down immense critical and public pressure to renounce figuration and return to the gestural abstraction for which he was then best known. According to Arthur Danto, "Guston's transit from abstraction to cartoon was cruelly [and representatively] portrayed by Hilton Kramer in a widely cited review as a passage from 'mandarin' to "stumblebum.' The term 'mandarin' was intended to diminish what had set Guston apart as an abstractionist. The paintings were too dainty, too delicate, too light and airy by contrast with the heavy pigment of the true expressionist to be considered authentic. The new ["cartoony"] paintings were then seen as an opportunistic bid for that missed authenticity. They were coarse, juvenile and demotic." And Patchen always stood apart from any movement, repeatedly resisting the Beats' attempts to co-opt him on board their rapidly accelerating wagon. Guston's and Patchen's example -- the straight-forward pursuit of personal concerns, with no regard to careerism or public success -- is one I really admire, and just as important to the ghosts as better-publicized contexts like Yoshitoshi's prints or Jack Spicer's spooks.
Saturday, February 03, 2007

One Hundred Famous Ghosts (37), 2007

Another "stunt double" replacing an insufficiently scary original. A little surprised to find these guys growing progressively more whacked out and expressionistic as they go. #47 (below) must be a George Clinton relative, P-Funk shades and all. And the little red guy above is not pleased to be sighted. The ghostly equivalent of one of those tiny barking dogs whose self-image is of a much larger, more dangerous animal.

Ghosts are cast-offs, things no longer performing an original function, visibly changed by their passage through time.

One Hundred Famous Ghosts (47), 2007
Friday, February 02, 2007
The middle-aged couple beside me at the Starbucks condiment stand is breaking up.

"No," she says, "I want you to know. I'm extremely appreciative. I thought you'd be defensive--"

He's trying to make some point, speaking so fast and low I can't follow. Pouring cream into his coffee, so focused on what he's saying that he pours unceasingly, overflowing the paper cup. Tan-colored cream pools on the countertop.

"No. I thought you should know--"

And I'm out of there, I'm gone.
Best headline-transformed-into-band-name-ever: SEX LAW UNDER FIRE

North Shore Tree, 2007

Two days off sleeping and walking in the sun. An Anodyne Inc. distribution while I was gone:

Dominion Citrus Income Fund (DOM.UN) 12,346 units x .01/unit = $123.46

Cash balance, $144.12

"She felt saturated with her own competence" (Keith Maillard, Gloria)

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