weekend silliness: 4 muzzled Wolverines and 6 Nymphet Sisters

•September 13, 2009 • Leave a Comment

File the following under: Things You Wish Would Appear Magically on Film:

The Circus-Circus is what the whole hep world would be doing on Saturday night if the Nazis had won the war. The ground floor is full of gambling tables, like all the other casinos but the place is about four stories high, in the style of a circus tent, and all manner of strange County-Fair/Polish-Carnival madness is going on up in this space. Right above the gambling tables the Forty Flying Garazito Brothers are doing the high-wire trapeze act, along with four muzzled Wolverines and the Six Nymphet Sisters from San Diego.

So you’re down on the main floor playing blackjack, and the stakes getting high when suddenly you chance to look up, and there, right smack above your head is a half-naked fourteen-year-old girl being chased through the air by a snarling wolverine, which is suddenly locked in a death battle with two silver-painted Polacks who come swinging down from opposite balconies and meet in mid-air on the wolverine’s neck. Both Polacks seize the animal as they fall straight down toward the crap tables – but they bounce off the net, they separate and spring back toward the roof in three different directions, and just as they’re about to all again they are grabbed out of the air by three Korean kittens and trapezed off to one of the balconies.

Meanwhile, on all the upstairs balconies, the customers are being hustled by every conceivable kind of bizarre shock. Shoot the pasties off the nipples of a bull-dyke and win a cotton candy goat. Stand in front of this fantastic machine, my friend, and for just 99 cents your likeness will appear, two hundred feet tall, on a screen above downtown Las Vegas. Nintey-nine cents more for a voice message.

Jesus Christ. I could see myself lying in bed in the Mint Hotel, half-asleep and staring idly at the window, when suddenly a vicious Nazi drunkard appears two hundred feet tall in the midnight sky, screaming gibberish at the world: ‘Woodstock Uber Alles!‘

Who else but Hunter Thompson.

That seamless blend of imagery and the authorial message is something I envy in text. That ability to shfit scenes and perspectives without any discrete borders or shift in focus of the eye. There’s video, but text achieves the same effect without the specifics of real world color and settled composition, in some sweet spot of free association and directed imagination. But at the end of the day, it’s a flashy photograph that makes me feel in the world and wanting to touch everything.

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Randall Museum

•September 10, 2009 • Leave a Comment

The Randall Museum is a strange little place.

Hin Chua

•September 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment


Hin Chua

I’ve been following Hin Chua’s work before I saw anything of the fine art photo world, so I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the middle photo offered as a Troika Editions print. Too bad the exchange rate cancels out the affordability. Else, I’d snatch it up!

Mike Reinders

•September 8, 2009 • Leave a Comment


Mike Reinders

I love the simplicity of his website, and I love his work. The statement is at the ends of the series.

Olivia Arthur

•September 7, 2009 • Leave a Comment


Olivia Arthur

Olivia Arthur is one of those photographers whose work I saw on the Magnum blog a while ago and didn’t pause too long at, but then I looked more carefully and though, what the hell was I thinking, it’s incredible! The second picture is actually a prison dining room. Knowing that changed the photo for me completely.

a story of stuff

•September 6, 2009 • Leave a Comment

“I have been through hundreds of towns and cities in every climate and against every kind of scenery, and of course they are all different, and the people have points of difference, but in some ways they are alike. American cities are like badger holes, ringed with trash, surrounded by piles of wrecked automobiles, and almost smothered with rubbish. Everything we use comes in boxes, cartons, bins, the so-called packaging we love so much. The mountains of things we throw away are much greater than the things we use. In this, if in no other way, we can see the wild and reckless exuberance of our production, and waste seems to be the index.”

– John Steinbeck, Travels With Charley

Two interesting videos about stuff. First, the Story of Stuff, “a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns.” Aimed at kids, but what that really means is that everything is said very simply and directly. Definitely a liberal point of view. I’m of two minds about the political spin – if they had toned that down, maybe there’d be more of a chance it would be played in more classrooms.

Second, a TED Talk featuring Jan Chipcase, who talks about cellphones and calling cards being used (and importantly, reused) as a method of transfering and loaning money with interest. He makes the distinction between the stuff that we own, carry, and use. In developing countries, a whole industry has sprung up involved in fixing cellphones and other electronics. It’s pretty telling that when I take my cheap phone or shoes or printer to a repair shop and ask for it to be fixed, the repair guy inevitably asks me why I don’t just buy a new one. Well, isn’t it obvious? Because I already own this one!

On a positive note though, I did run into a branch of the Berkeley tool lending library. (There’s also a version in Oakland.) You need a tool, you borrow it from the library instead of buying it from Home Depot for one project and then letting it sit in the garage. This could work for some types of toys and sports equipment – instead of a garage sale or hand me downs, just donate to the local toy library. This would solve the problem of kids getting bored with toys a week after you’ve bought them, and you’d only buy them if the kids break them. It seems pretty obvious – to avoid having housefuls of stuff, just share some commonly used things within a community. Why should a library be limited to books and media? Sort of like Zipcar.

Slaves to the Visual

•September 5, 2009 • Leave a Comment

You know when you start a blog and have a bunch of ideas for posts and it feels great? But then you starting slacking but still have new ideas and then it turns from feeling great to having a huge list of catalog of unfinished things that beseige your mind like an bunch of squatters? I’ve been sitting on so many ideas and drafts for so long that they have begun to rot beneath me like a tower of wilting cabbage. Excuse the ripe metaphor, er simile. If I don’t start tossing some out, I will slowly sink into this liquid rancidity and drown in a horrible but very vivid way.

I had written a somewhat whiny rant, but instead of inducting myself into the pissant hall of fame, I decided I’d do well to bow to older and wiser heads. Then lo and behold, I found a lovely little piece by Benjamin Weissman as I was digging through back issues of the Believer, 10 of which I’d purchased for $2 each years ago either out of love for McSweeney’s or to stoke some cheapskate bargain-hunting urge. It is a preface to a piece on ten LA artists, but he talks about how his relationship to art galleries has changed as he got older:

When I first went to galleries as a nineteen-year-old snotnose with my high-school surf pal Christopher Williams. We used to tear DeKooning labels off the walls of a swank West Hollywood gallery and reapply them to car windows or just bring them home and put them in our notebooks. The prank seemed justified.

Most of the galleries we visited back then reeked of bourgeois conservatism. They seemed antithetical to the seething impulses that were coursing through our feet, hands, noggins. Artworks spoke to us, they said, revolt, smash, peel labels off walls, and then, prove your own worth, go home and contribute to culture, don’t be a loser. After graduating from CalArts Chris and I started showing at various galleries and I found my way into writing fiction. As kooky fate would have it, Chris began showing at the very same gallery we had earlier vandalized.

As I got older I realized that galleries performed a remarkable service. They did the hellishly impossible: they sold art. And the gallerists, those well-coiffed characters who always seemed more like undertakers or the nervous leaders of a new but not very popular church, kept the walls painted white and the lights turned on.