My semi-regular house-cleaning of links, desktop jpegs, miscellaneous likes and dislikes I might not otherwise post…
1. Steven Soderbergh, list-maker
A compulsive list-maker myself, I could relate to the impulse that led director Steven Soderbergh to keep track of all the movies, books, tv shows, plays, etc, he took in over the course of a year. I’ve done the same thing with books for the past four years and, together with my friend, for the same length of time, all the movies we’ve watched. Soderbergh seems to be a real student, watching The Social Network around six times, and Raiders of the Lost Ark - in black and white no less - three times in a week. On the last page there are also lists of essential books on film, films notable for their cinematography, screenplays, and editing.
2. This cartoon (from Crimes Against Hugh’s Manatees)
3. A Roberto Bolano piece…
4. Amazon now selling reduced-price Kindle with ads
Still, books are one of the last ad-free zones, and by showing ads on an e-reader, Amazon risks alienating some users, he said.
“There’s been research that shows that if you put an ad in an environment where people are highly engaged, that kind of intrusiveness can really backfire,” he said.
Part of me hopes it does backfire, that there is a backlash against this kind of thing. I have a kindle. It’s a nice toy. But I can already see it won’t be a satisfying long-term replacement for books for me. And it’s true: books represent a kind of retreat, both in terms of mental space and physically - the clean, uncluttered pages themselves, with only the odd, forgivable ad for the publisher’s other titles, from electronic devices, ie. ad distribution machines. I’m leery.
5. Lil’ Kim / Nicki Minaj / Ganguro
Speaking of branding, here’s Lil’ Kim (thanks for the correction, AJ) selling herself body and soul to Louis Vuitton, and then Nicki Minaj on the cover of V. 1) This is how the Gaga generation pop stars deal with a corrupt, capitalist culture - not just by joining it, but binging on it, making everyone want to vomit on it. 2) I can’t say that’s not a powerful, disturbing portrait. Pretty radical femininity.
It reminds me of Japanese Ganguro fashion…
6. The Brooklyn Rail / John Yau / Tom Burkhardt
I mentioned Brooklyn Rail and its interviews (specifically John Yau’s) not that long ago but it’s still on my desktop, as it were. This month’s issue has three interviews with painters, none of which I knew about before and all worth checking out. (I love that they prioritize painting, when museums are on this installation bender).
One artist interviewed this month, Tom Burckhardt, seems to be in that flirtatious place between abstraction and figuration that a lot of artists, the try-anything type, are thriving in right now. What he says about wanting to have to really work to make his paintings art and wanting to start from the assumption that painting is dead made sense to me:
“My thought for that work, which carries over to this work, is that I feel that when a painting is hung on the wall in a gallery with nothing on it, it has this assumption of quality, it’s already 50 percent on the way to being a work of art. Sometimes I find I am dissatisfied with looking at art where I feel like there’s only another small percent added to that scenario. You know there’s an atmosphere, a context of the whole thing, which builds it up to a point where the person, the maker, doesn’t have to participate very much farther. I want to find a way that’s work intensive and Calvinist about really putting something into it that matters to me; that is time, and process, and things like that. I like this idea of beating the premise down to the ground somehow, in a good natured way, where the very idea of painting is kind of squashed down flat somehow and I am almost endorsing this idea of painting being dead. That seems like a great starting point. Rather than taking that pronouncement as an insult, I think that it is terrific because then it all becomes available to me in a way, from the starting point of painting perhaps being so-called dead.”
I like the look of this Rorschachy color/shape/variety set of his, too - a little like Ellsworth Kelly or Helio Oiticica…
7. This poem - it’s been making the rounds on Tumblr and it’s pretty good: Courtship, by Mark Strand
There is a girl you like so you tell her
your penis is big, but that you cannot get yourself
to use it. Its demands are ridiculous, you say,
even self-defeating, but to be honored, somehow,
briefly, inconspicuously in the dark.
When she closes her eyes in horror,
you take it all back. You tell her you’re almost
a girl yourself and can understand why she is shocked.
When she is about to walk away, you tell her
you have no penis, that you don’t
know what got into you. You get on your knees.
She suddenly bends down to kiss your shoulder and you know
you’re on the right track. You tell her you want
to bear children and that is why you seem confused.
You wrinkle your brow and curse the day you were born.
She tries to calm you, but you lose control.
You reach for her panties and beg forgiveness as you do.
She squirms and you howl like a wolf. Your craving
seems monumental. You know you will have her.
Taken by storm, she is the girl you will marry.
8. Diane Fawcett illustration
One of the kids I teach on Saturdays showed me a book he’d been reading with these really great, kind of scary illustrations in it by someone named Diane Fawcett. She has a website with everything from textbook diagrams to Twilight shit on it.
9. This sketch of Swinburne
…a reminder of a time when real men walked the earth, and promptly caught pneumonia.
priceless anecdotes drawn from my real experiences and souvenir jpegs of lost time
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