Monday, April 29, 2013

ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing): Jason Collins' bravery

"Some people insist they've never met a gay person. But Three Degrees of Jason Collins dictates that no NBA player can claim that anymore. Pro basketball is a family. And pretty much every family I know has a brother, sister or cousin who's gay. In the brotherhood of the NBA, I just happen to be the one who's out."
Sunday, April 28, 2013

Friday, April 26, 2013
"Imagine a roomful of people with these glasses on, some reading Yelp reviews to themselves, some making movies of themselves, and some making movies of the people making movies themselves. Others are taking pictures while still others are trying to navigate the menu by jerking their heads around, winking, blinking, and rolling their eyes in various patterns. Does anyone but me see this as overt insanity? It's like a scene that should have been in Woody Allen's Sleeper."

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sign in Stranger

My friend and occasional collaborator Jamie Tolagson writes from Victoria, BC to alert me to Ms. Kushner's well-reviewed second novel.  "This seems almost ridiculously pertinent to your interests." AND HOW.  Nevada; Land Art; 1970s artworld politics; stripped-down sentences; an I-wonder-what-might-be-out-there sensibility that jibes precisely with mine.

"I had immediately wanted to see this thing [Smithson's Spiral Jetty] made by a New York artist in leather pants, who described more or less the slag-heap world of the West I knew, as it looked to me, and found it worth his attentions."

"Certain acts, even as they are real, are also merely gestures."

For the Spiral Jetty, substitute various locations in the Lower Mainland, California, Europe, Israel & etc.  Dru and I once looked for the Spiral Jetty on the way back from Vegas sans map and failed to find it, though our experience did share many parallels with Kushner's artist protagonist's.

(Thinking, too, viz. Kushner's Spiral Jetty, of Heraclitus, via Smithson, via Latta: "The most beautiful world is like a heap of rubble tossed down in confusion.")
Friday, April 19, 2013
Steely Dan
Thursday, 15 August 2013
Redmond, WA

Thank you, CHRISTOPHER BRAYSHAW, for your purchase
Thursday, April 18, 2013
"In 20 years people will say, there used to be poets & artists living in Mount Pleasant, on Commercial Drive." (C. Burnham)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Via L., via our friend William J. Waffle, with copious thanks:

"The 'internet,' also known as the 'world-wide web' [sic] is a bi-polar electronic Leviathan that has erupted on the world scene in the past two decades.  In its benevolent manifestations, it has enormously increased and expedited access to useful information of all sorts, increased global awareness of myriad events, facilitated family and commercial communication across national boundaries in the blink of an eye and helped topple dictators; it is probably fair to say that its advent is of no less significance than the invention of the printing press.  However, just as the printing press has been put to odious use from time to time, the internet has its own Jekyll and Hyde nature: it is a near certainty that future generations will look back at these decades, obsessed as we are with the twin behemoths of  'reality' television and the 'ooh, look at me, I must tell the world what I had for breakfast' narcissism of social media and at the billions of hours thus lost to a near psychotropic electronic escape from any useful pursuit and wonder if Aldous Huxley only got a few details wrong in Brave New World For the purposes of this case, the relevance of the internet is its un-policed 'garbage in/garbage out' potential and its free-market-of-ideas potential to lure in otherwise pleasant and unsuspecting folk with all manner of absurdity and silliness."

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Making Pearblossom with strong coffee's kind assistance.

Cezanne, David Hockney, Ed Ruscha, and Jack Pierson are apparently this project's special friends.

"Lately, he says, he's been working like that: making instinctive decisions and following through on whatever idea he has, as long it's something he imagines he'll still want to look at and won't mind having his name associated with after the project is done. 'It's like a message to the one other chic person in the world who shares my taste.'"

Image: Jack Pierson, McCarren, 2010.  Folded pigment print.
Monday, April 15, 2013

Friday, April 12, 2013
In Chinatown

En route to collecting an order from Arsenal Pulp Press.

Hon's on Keefer = hopeless, a shell of its former self. Maxim's = A++ pumpkin-and-walnut single-serve pie, deep funky forest-floor umami flavor.

Hon's lazy Dandanmian = overcooked noodles, hoisin, sriracha. Glop, glop, the end.  Scattering of green onions. My white ass can make a better simulacrum.
Thursday, April 11, 2013

This ends well:

"'We have elected to put our money and faith in a mathematical framework that is free of politics and human error,' Tyler Winklevoss said."


Also pertinent:

Scrip -- from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Strategic Considerations



Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Drone is Not a Bullet With a Name On It. A Drone is a Death Sentence Addressed to 'Occupant'

Read more here:
"'I have never seen nor am I aware of any rules of engagement that have been made public that govern the conduct of drone operations in Pakistan, or the identification of individuals and groups other than al Qaida and the Afghan Taliban,' said Christopher Swift, a national security law expert who teaches national security affairs at Georgetown University and closely follows the targeted killing issue. 'We are doing this on a case-by-case, ad hoc basis, rather than a systematic or strategic basis.'"


Listening: Art Pepper Meets The Rhythm Section (1957)

Reading: Mark Mazzetti, The Way of the Knife (2013).  Anyone tempted to think of drone assassination as a bloodless, high-tech solution to conventional ground warfare needs to read this clear-eyed expose of the CIA and Department of Defense's adventures in Africa, Pakistan, and Afghanistan ASAP.  One logical extrapolation from Mazzetti: "covert" drone warfare appeals to Republicans and Democrats alike because it's asymmetrical; Al-Qaeda doesn't have Predators and Hellfire missiles and likely isn't getting them any time soon.  Thought experiment #1: How likely is this asymmetry to persist?  Thought experiment #2: Will attacking the 2055 version of the USS Cole and/or the US Embassy in Kenya be easier or harder with, a/ a boat or truckload of explosives, or, b/ a 3D-fabbed and printed homebrew drone and missiles?
Bonus Round: Thought experiment #3: Once again, it's 2055.  Some clean-cut young fellows, maybe Saudi engineering students in the US on a visa, unloading a black object the size of a river raft from the back of a rental van on Lakeshore Drive. Soon their strange buzzy machine wobbles into the air. Is this handbuilt technological marvel headed for, a/ a sightseeing flight over Lake Michigan?  Or, b/ the Sears Tower?

Tuesday, April 09, 2013
The palliative care ward at Burnaby General is quiet, painted mostly in violets, pinks and blues, with light brown curtains over the windows to block the brightest sun.  Today, a light overcast grey spring is visible behind them.  White star magnolias in a little hidden courtyard. Beyond those, evergreens.

My friend J. lies drawn up in a narrow hospital bed, much thinner than when I last saw him. Without his thick glasses his eyes are a bright, bright blue.  The brown-grey stubble lining his cheeks looks good on him.  Dying, J. seems a younger, much happier man.  The worry lines that, for as long as I have known him, have deeply creased his forehead and the sides of his face have faded.  Now his skin is thin as paper, and smooth as a child's. Seated on the bed beside him, I want to reach out and stroke his forehead, as I might a baby's, or my cat's.  I don't, of course.  Instead I shake his hand, and am surprised, as always, by its warm strong grip.

It's a cliche to say that someone dying is "at peace" -- J. is vehemently not "at peace" -- "Fucking cocksuckers!" -- but he seems peaceful, and largely lucid, as Richard and I bullshit with him for forty-five minutes, trying and mostly succeeding in demonstrating our love by not discussing his cancer, preferring to focus on past book scouting trips, sketchy so-called "dealers" unloved by all of us -- "Cocksuckers!" -- and the mechanics of fitting several hundred boxes of booze, or surplus bookshelves, into the back of a rental van.

"When I'm gone..." says J., wistfully, contemplating the prospect of his widow moving out of the Lower Mainland and back to the community where she can be among friends, men and women she's known her whole life.  "She can go back to [SMALL BC TOWN].  Why would she stay? She'll be happy there.  When I'm gone...."  But he's here today and his eyes are bright and his hand is warm in mine.
Saltz, via Steven Tong:

"At a Chelsea opening, a good Los Angeles dealer chided me for not going to art fairs, not seeing art in L.A. and London, and not keeping track of the activity online. He said I 'risked being out of touch with the art world,' and he was right. It got me down. As recently as four or five years ago, I could have crowed that because I see so many gallery shows every week, I know what’s going on. That’s slipping away, if it isn’t already gone.

I brooded for months over this. Then I started thinking it through, and instead of focusing on the 'being out of touch' part of what he said, I started thinking about 'the art world.' Something clicked and brightened my mood. There is no 'the' art world anymore. There have always been many art worlds, overlapping, ebbing around and through one another. Some are seen, others only gleaned, many ignored. 'The' art world has become more of a virtual reality than an actual one, useful perhaps for conceptualizing in the abstract but otherwise illusory.

Once we adjust to that, we can work within the new reality. If the galleries are emptier, the limos gone, the art advisers taking meetings elsewhere, and the glitz offshore, the audience will have shrunk to something like it was well before the gigantic expansion of the art world. When I go to galleries, I now mainly see artists and a handful of committed diligent critics, collectors, curators, and the like. In this quiet environment, it may be possible for us to take back the conversation. Or at least have conversations. While the ultrarich will do their deals from 40,000 feet, we who are down at ground level will be engaging with the actual art—maybe not in Chelsea, where the rents are getting too high, but somewhere. That’s fine with me.

Looking, making, thinking, experiencing are our starting point. Art opens worlds, lets us see invisible things, creates new models for thinking, engages in cryptic rituals in public, invents cosmologies, explores consciousness, makes mental maps and taxonomies others can see, and isn’t only something to look at but is something that does things and sometimes makes the mysterious magic of the world palpable. Proust wrote, 'Narrating events is like introducing people to opera via the libretto only.' Instead, he said, one should 'endeavor to distinguish between the differing music of each successive day.' That’s what we do when we look at art, wherever we look at it, however much noise surrounds it. In galleries we try to discern 'differing music,' and it’s still there right now. I love and long for it."


Bean Leaves 1, Bedbugs 0

"Using a casting process similar to one a sculptor might choose, the scientists replicated, with polymers from different epoxies, the geometry of the trichomes, the sharp point on their tips and their flexibility and strength. Sometimes the tips of the hooks broke off during the molding process, resulting in a hybrid of biological and fabricated materials.

On the natural leaves, bugs were snagged, on average, after six steps, or locomotory cycles. (In one cycle, each of the insect’s six legs moves once). Once stuck, they tried to free themselves, but they usually ended up just flailing in place around the impaled limb."

David T. Alexander, Build Up Over Terrace Mountain, 2011
Monday, April 08, 2013


Study for Pearblossom, 2013
Saturday, April 06, 2013
Waste My Time, Please


BUSY CJB:  Sorry, no.

FOP:  Why the hell not?


The Williams Lake Song
Words & music by LJH

Williams Lake, oh Williams Lake
Is it my soul you seek to take?
I tried to escape your evil grasp
Travelling an hour and a half
By fleeing to Quesnel,
a different kind of hell,
And finding that I had to return
A three hour round trip journ...ey

Hotel rooms are few and far between
And everyone was very mean
A convention for concrete is in town
And so my fortunes have gone down
The Sandman's basement room
Cold as a deep dark tomb
I wish it wasn't beside the pool
I wish I hadn't been such a fool
To come to Williams Laaaaake.

I might fly on the 9 am
Or might go through this all again
Quesnel might be my only chance
I'm running out of underpants
The weather's supposed to get worse
Now I'm feeling really cursed
Please feed the waddling pussy cat
And at my house please hang your hat
(At least until I can get back)
From hideous Williams Laaaaaake.

So now I leave you, bid adieu
And hope you know your luck for true
To be at my place in the city
With that wondrous perfect kitty
Without the snow and with hot water
(I guess I sound just like a martyr)
I can't help it and as for your pity
Held captive in this city
The ugly Williams Lake....
Friday, April 05, 2013
This, exactly:

"In this sense, his pieces can be considered parallel systems that generate supplements or excesses of meaning that are superimposed on the work from which he has departed."


"Rather than 'trying to trace a unique originality' he strives to develop 'an expansiveness and productivity of readings.' In other words, he attempts to create a project that starts from a specific space or referent and may be extended in through time, thus giving rise to a combined process of re-contextualisation and translation; a project that at once questions and updates the traditions of institutional critique and site-specificity. We find ourselves before an 'iterable' concept of the work of art, where each successive presentation produces transformations, new meanings and interpretations and where the various aspects related to the dissemination of the work [...] become a key part of the artistic project."
"There was no intention of escaping as there is no real place to escape in Powell River"

There are some stories on the BCSC website whose granular-detail narratives rival Elmore Leonard's and George V. Higgins'.  This is one of them, worth perusing in full.

"[31]         The plaintiff was asked about his current employment and employment history.  At present he helps out his mother, who has a serious illness.  His wife, who formerly worked at a dollar store, is not presently working.  He is not working now either.  His last full-time work was four years ago, working at McDonalds, where he worked for a year but was fired for being late.  Before that he did seasonal work on a prawn boat for a couple of months.  Before that he lived in Surrey and worked for three years at two different mills.

[32]         He is 30 now and his sole source of income is the child tax credit of about $1,000 per month.  His only asset is a car.

[33]         His understanding is that Mr. P. is on disability.  He agreed that Mr. B. has a decent-paying job, has a nice truck, had a lot of cash in his wallet and owns a house.

[34]         Mr. J. has run across Mr. B. on a number of occasions subsequent to the subject incident.  He denied demanding $2,000 from him.  He said he ran into Mr. B. at Walmart once and asked Mr. B. if he had figured out who had done the B & E at his house and Mr. B. said 'You.'  Mr. B. then offered him $3,000 to back off.

[35]         Asked if he said on one occasion 'I am going to get a house out of this,' Mr. J. admitted that he made that statement.  He denied ever threatening to blow up Mr. B.’s house or truck.

[36]         Asked about the dirt road in question, he agreed that anyone could have come along but there are several routes to West Lake and the one they were on was the less travelled route.

[37]         Asked about what marihuana he was smoking he said it was 'regular stuff.'  He said that he smokes marihuana 8-10 times a day and is used to it.  He admitted that it has definitely affected his memory in that it makes it harder to remember but it does not make him remember things that did not happen."

Insert in My Obituary, Please

"[A] researcher, expert viewer, fan, performer and at times, an incorrigible multi-tasker."

Dear JZ:  You are wrong; there are precedents.

Push Comes to Love

"To be normal would be abnormal. To deliver easy-listening singer–songwriter material might just – like Monty Python’s comfy chairs – produce the greatest discomfort of all. The crowd could, of course, find some brainy relief in pondering how the performance rated alongside Prina’s eponymous sculptural installation, one version of which is currently on view in the Whitney’s galleries. But then there was the playlist: which were covers, and which were not? And did you dare admit to your dinner date that you’re not actually intimately familiar with Joan Baez’ oeuvre? 'I’m seeking to establish a stress test,’ Prina told me. ‘Can what I did be lodged within a Conceptual art practice?’"
Thursday, April 04, 2013

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing): David Byrd, Clouds, Anthony's Nose, Bridge (178), 1974
I mentioned the Arbitrary collected snowflakes. Actually it was searching for a pair of identical ice crystals. It had - has - a collection; not holes or figure break-downs, but actual samples of ice crystals from every part of the galaxy it has ever visited where it found frozen water.

It only ever collects a few flakes each time, of course; a saturation pick-up would be ... inelegant.

I suppose it must still be looking. What it will do if it ever does find two identical crystals, it has never said. I don't know that it really wants to find them, anyway.

But I thought of that, as I left the glittering, grumbling city beneath me. I thought - and I still dream about this, maybe once or twice a year - of some drone, its flat back star-dappled, quietly in the steppes or at the edge of a polynya off Antarctica, gently lifting a single flake of snow, teasing it away from the rest, and hesitating perhaps, before going, displaced or rising, taking its tiny, perfect cargo to the orbiting starship, and leaving the frozen plains, or the waste of ice, once more at peace.

Dear IMB,

Walking on Glass changed my life when I found it, aged fourteen or thereabouts, in the "New Arrivals" section of the West Vancouver Memorial Library.  I reread it a year or two ago; it still holds up, all those correspondences between the three narratives, the games' complexity & futility, the way far future & Scottish present alternately stand apart & intermingle.

I bought all your first editions for years, even going so far as to track down UK hardcovers of the Culture novels, which weren't widely available in Canada.

On my first cross-Atlantic trip I went to Scotland.  I bought the UKHC of Feersum Endjinn on the day of its release in Aberdeen and read it on the overnight ferry to Shetland.  That phonetic Riddley Walker-esque voice will stay with me the rest of my life, along with the flat North Sea, the summer fog, the unfamiliar islands rising up out of the mist the next morning.

I suppose this is all a way of saying, thanks.  Your careful, imaginative, and deeply humanist writing touched me at a time in my life when I was badly in need of a wider, more ethically inclusive perspective on the world.  Culture, plural, rabidly Other.  Identification with the transgendered; mad; kinky & obsessive. Without your books I would be smaller, narrower, more conservative.  So thanks again, from someone whom the fine example of your writing helped grow.
The People Who Make Things To Appeal To Everyone Vs. Everyone Is Much Weirder Than We Initially Thought

"Choice rules. The dominant realization of the post-Cable, Internet age is that You Don’t Have To Be Here. There is nothing holding you here. You can click out of the window. You can wander off and eat a sandwich. Appointment viewing? You can watch it on your own time. Want to watch something before you go to bed? You can watch Anything In The World.

The fact that this was not always the case explains a lot of the most popular television in the past. You want to watch this show about David Hasselhoff and a talking car? Is anything else on? Well, fair.

We want Everything Now. I want to watch an episode of a TV show and I want to go online and be able to figure out what that thing was that Jim whispered just before the commercial break and What It All Meant For The Season Arc and I want it Immediately! And it’s there.

We live in an era where I will become actively upset that a five-minute Google search has not instantly brought me, for free, footage of an obscure television episode from the 1970s.

But then, you were at the mercy of whatever they had for you."

"If this exhibition should come to pass, it has the potential to mark yet another turning point in our city, where artists and the institutions that serve them are less an autonomous presence than co-opted agents of emptiness, motivated not by curiosity but by its opposite: fear."

Citizens vs. the water table.  August's motif visible at far left.  Undepicted: birdsong, yappy little dog, the steady thrum of a nearby freeway.
Monday, April 01, 2013

Amazon Announces Purchase of English™

"Oral speech will remain free, Bezos said, so long as it isn’t written down or recorded by an electronic device. Every English™-speaking person will be allowed a 'fair-use' quota of 500 words per day, which he or she can use to send emails to friends, make grocery lists, comment on Facebook posts, or write self-flagellating journal entries. For those who exceed their daily quota, Amazon will offer a variety of licensing options ranging from a simple per-word fee to so-called Unlimited Scribbling™ plans for novelists, bloggers, and others who can’t stop writing even if no one is reading their work."

Pigeon Photography

"When one of his pigeons lost its orientation in fog and mysteriously arrived, well-fed, four weeks late, Neubronner was inspired with the playful idea of equipping his pigeons with automatic cameras to trace their paths. This thought led him to merge his two hobbies into a new 'double sport' combining carrier pigeon fancying with amateur photography."

The peanut gallery adds, helpfully (hopefully): ROSE TRAIN?

Culver, 2013.  A site I've been searching for off and on for approximately seventeen years, finally located via Street View and a lot of driving around. The field grass is soaking wet and, in places, more like standing in a shallow brown lake with vegetation growing up out of it.  It's not a spot I'd personally choose to recline. The little bare tree by the gate, the real subject of this picture, was not yet in leaf, but should be by August, when I hope to make its approximately life-size portrait.

Scrim, 2013

Picture for Rose, 2013

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