Sunday, September 11, 2016

Saturday afternoon, Hoboken, NJ

Chill afternoon doing some around-the-apartment stuff; mostly routine, with the extra addition of disconnecting the cable box in the penultimate step in my cable company cord-cutting.  

Ideas for the new slogan for the cable TV division of Optimum/Cablevision:
"Staggeringly poor service for stunningly rich prices!"
"Our team is perfectly friendly, just not actually helpful."
Used the time to do some reading & writing, and have a listening session for a couple new acquisitions:

Amazing.  You have no idea.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Adventures in Public Art

Couple items from HyperAllergic, which has fast become one of my favorite sources for news from the art world.

First this, (read it!) about the amazing Carol Highsmith's billion-dollar scuffle with Getty Images over them charging for images THAT SHE DONATED to the Library of Congress.

And then getting even closer to home, this one, about the controversy over some Mr. AbiLLity street art (commissioned street art, mind you) in Jersey City. This is a city dear to my heart, likely the place I'd move to if I were moving to the area today, but which needs to get its ish together stat.
photo: @lifeisamother/Instagram
Between this nonsense at the Newark Ave. pedestrian plaza, and the ongoing obstructionism over at the Loew's Landmark Theater in Journal Square... it hath made me mad.  I mean, ok sure: Getty Images, eff them, what do you expect? (let's hope the courts make them pay richly for their greed)  But Jersey City ought to be a place that looks after the people who live and work there.

I know Mayor Fulop has his hands full fighting with Chris Christie, and I won't argue with that, but come on - this?  Stymying the artistic voices - the local, homegrown or transplanted artists right there in the middle of the living, breathing city - that actually add to the community?  Step it up, JC.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016


Vantage from one of the days I was shooting The Accidental Wolf.

Channeling Coppola via Columbus Circle.

The night before, I got to drive around Hell's Kitchen with this rig strapped to the passenger door.

Should be a very good series - I'll let you know as things are released...

Monday, July 25, 2016


Three Shakespeare plays over three nights, Thursday through Saturday.  One was free, one pay-what-you-want, and one was the opposite of free.  Each has something unique to offer to this summer's Shakespeare season (made a little extra juicy by this year's commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death.)

Troilus and Cressida from the Public/NYSF at the Delacorte; As You Like It from The Cradle Theatre in Prospect Park; The Merchant of Venice, which is the contribution to the Lincoln Center Festival from Shakespeare's Globe.

As I've said before (and will say again), I'm an actor, not a critic; no desire to pick these shows apart.  Dan Sullivan (whom I've known for a while) takes a really good swing at the very tricky pitch that is Troilus.  The curveballs of love and politics, the high heat of war, the secret signals that hold together the batteries of diplomacy and military intelligence.  Homeric Greece and Troy find their way to an Orwellian present of perpetual war.

Rebecca Etzine (whose tumblr I've admired for a while, and whom I had the pleasure of meeting at the show on Friday) delivered an As You Like It that is even more distinctly of today.  A young company of young artists turned a wooded part of Prospect Park into the forest of Arden - a few extra twists of gender and sexuality, plenty of playfulness, and a healthy dose of irreverence result in a show that is compelling, contemporary, and - most importantly - alive.  They're moving camp to Ft. Greene this weekend; check their website.  Cory missed this one, sadly; hey, this heatwave is a real thing, and not everyone's appetite for Shakespeare is quite as bottomless as mine, especially given that on the docket for the next night was...

Last and emphatically not least, Jonathan Pryce was Shylock in what is of the most brutal, and certainly one of the best, productions of Merchant I've ever seen.  While the staging and design is firmly in 16th Century Venice, the anti-semitism conjures all-too-current outbreaks in Europe and America.  Never (in my experience) has Shylock seemed so justified, never has Jessica been so disdained (even after her 'voluntary' conversion and marriage to Lorenzo), never has Antonio been such an asshole, and NEVER has Portia been such a snotty, snobby, vindictive prig (while still managing to be the smartest person in the room).  The final, added scene of Shylock's forced baptism was bitterly piercing.

Not much visual stimulation for you today, but here are a couple shots of Shakespeare's birthplace from our trip.  [What?? A side trip to Stratford-upon-Avon when we went to London?  Hey, he'll only have a 400th Deathiversary once.]

A couple exteriors of the gables.

A shot of a little one checking out the signatures scratched into the birthroom window.

And - why not? - a couple shots from Anne Hathaway's cottage, including Rudy, Cory, and Mol checking out the epic garden.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Common Ground


"If you assume that there is no hope, you guarantee that there will be no hope.  If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, that there are opportunities to change things, then there is a possibility that you can contribute to making a better world." - Noam Chomsky

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


Pride March this past weekend, with the Anti Violence Project's group, particularly with Cat and Cleo, Cheri & Sadie, and of course Cory.  A good vibrant, loving group of people, and supporters for miles.  

The news reports talked about the somber tone in light of Orlando, and I won't pretend there weren't moments, or that there weren't tears.  But Stonewall had also just been declared a National Landmark, and love is love is love is love is love.

Tonight I was reminded at a screening of Neil Gaiman's exhortation (reminiscent of Bernstein's): in the wake of adversity, make good art.  A gathering like this, with family, friends, supporters, allies of every shape and size, counts as some version of that.

Friday, June 24, 2016


Brooklyn, that is.  Not Brexit.  That's a whole other box of wine.

Last weekend we went to our 2nd Celebrate Brooklyn show so far this season [the first was the amazing Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings.]  The opener was the formidable Kristin Hersh, sans Muses, but fully loaded with guitar and growl.

Next up were the Violent Femmes in all their glory.  I managed my expectations pretty strictly, having last seen them way back when in Madison, (practically a home town gig for a Milwaukee band) at something like their height.  I was just a kid, but it was on the short list of highest energy shows I had seen, and the crowd responded in kind.  Gordon Gano told the (extremely) college-centric audience at the Civic Center something along the lines of "You guys are making us feel like we made it to the Final Four."

Might have been a line he used everywhere.

This show was a lot less collegiate, and the middle-aged family folk in the chairs up front kept their prospects parked in their seats almost until the end of the set, but Gano and Brian Richie put out plenty of wattage across a fabulous range of instruments along with John Sparrow on a variety of percussion including-but-not-limited to Webber grill, Blaise Garza on that gigantic contrabass sax among other things, and the mighty Horns of Dilemma.

All hail summer at the bandshell.

Now please excuse me while I have a cup of coffee and a Brexit Burrito and figure out what the hell we should do next.

This just in: According to the Times "Google reported a spike in (UK-based) searches for "What happens if we leave the E.U." And the question "What is the E.U.?" was the second most popular question in Britain"  In Britain.  If you're a little queasy, you're not alone.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Avant Garde

So this is kind of exciting.

All issues of Avant Garde Magazine have been made available for online viewing in their entirety.

It ran from 1968-71, 14 issues in total, published by the controversial Ralph Ginzburg.

Not universally beloved; there was particular loathing from some of the font fanatics (not to say fetishists) of the world (and support from others) against Avant Garde typeface created by art director Herb Lubalin.

You can view the issues online here, or download them courtesy the brilliant Internet Archive here.

Monday, June 13, 2016

After Orlando

The rational, measured, intelligent response that Obama gave to that gun guy at that town hall a couple weeks ago has been making the rounds an extra special lot in the last 48 hours.  Understandably.

Last night it came to me that there most certainly ARE some people who want to do away with all personal possesion of guns, or at least handguns & assault weapons: either repeal the 2nd Amendment or drive through the courts an interpretation that limits the right to bear arms to that well-regulated militia it mentions.  I don't happen to agree with them most of the time, although days like this make me step back and give them a little extra time to make their case, but these folks do exist, so we don't need to pretend that they don't.  Some of them are friends, and some of them are really smart.  

As far as I can tell, the "get rid of all guns" crowd is a pretty fringe-y minority, numbers-wise.  Important to be there though as a rhetorical balance to the other side of the scale, which is the "let anybody who wants one get as many guns, as powerful as they can carry, whenever they want to" crew.  I do not tend to lend them a friendly ear, nor do I generally have a great deal of respect for the "intelligence" at work in their reasoning.  ["More, and more deadly, guns in nightclubs will make things safer!" Right. Next.]  

Here again, I don't think we're talking about too many people in the "AR-15s for Everyone!" camp, although this wing of the argument is vastly more funded, and many many times more influential in terms of lawmakers and policy.  And here is where the anger gets hard to control.  Because it has been well demonstrated that a vast majority of the U.S. citizenry, including citizen gun-owners, wants some restraints placed on our current, nearly unfettered access to guns designed for the purpose of killing people. And yet the belief persists that limitations - which would strike most Americans as quite reasonable, not to say blindingly obvious - are actually intended to be the trickle that leads to the stream that leads to a gush to a flood of GUN GRABBING courtesy of the Feds.

Which it wouldn't be.  Did you notice we are talking about America?  How do you think that would play out?

But a trickle leading to a stream leading to a gush of being a lot more thoughtful about where and how and what kind of guns we want to have around might be a movement we could get behind.  Because as it is, we have a situation where - between this unprecedented civilian availability of assault weaponry with unprecedented speed, power, and capacity on the one side, and the literal militarization of local police forces on the other - we are in an arms race with ourselves.  And I for one am not the least bit interested in seeing how THAT would play out.

I could go on and on about the intolerance, the homophobia, the rush to link the murderer with a terrorist network that seems to have been barely aware of him, and by extension to a religion that would, and in fact already has, roundly condemn his actions, and much much more that is already being said out there. But one other thing I want to mention right now: please don't let the obsession with the perpetrator lead to ignoring the victims.  Let their names be known, let their stories be told, let their memories be honored. And while we're at that, please don't let the carnage at Pulse completely drown out the heartbreaking murder of Christina Grimmie, gunned down at the age of 22 by a fan while signing autographs and working the merch table after her own show the night before the Pulse massacre.  

Rough couple days for Orlando.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Reading Replacements

Last Saturday night we went to an event at Little City Books in Hoboken - a combination book release/signing, discussion, and concert, all in celebration of Bob Mehr's Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements.

The 'Mats are one of the all-time great bands as far as I'm concerned, and the I-haven't-finished-it-yet-but-so-far-it's-more-than-worth-the-effort book has drawn attention from some pretty fab people.

Michael Hill, who helped the band navigate Warner Brothers.  Or tried to.

The interlocutor was Bob Mehr himself, writer and raconteur extraordinaire.

Glenn Morrow's Cry for Help

Jennifer O'Connor

Freedy Johnson with Dave Schramm.  Take that in for a second.  Dave also answered Morrow's Cry for Help from the sidelines.

More Freedy

The Dead Wicks.

It's not a big place (true to form) but we packed it pretty good.

From what I could tell, they sold all the copies they had of the book, and gave away all the Replacements gear (in exchange for donations to the bands) too.  It was a superfun night; happy to have done it in Hoboken rather than the Strand - though it did mean we had to miss the 75 Dollar Bill/Little Black Egg show.  You can't do everything.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

How to Get Ahead

In Sri Lanka, anyway...


From a Sri Lankan propaganda/PSA film.  Or so we were told by the amazing Station Manager Ken on the unparalleled WFMU.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Zaha Hadid

One more image to add to the vast gallery appearing everywhere celebrating Zaha Hadid.

This is from the Guy Fawkes trip a couple years back.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Good Friday

From a bus on West 23rd Street, Good Friday afternoon.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Happy Daylight Saving Time, Ides of March, St. Patrick's, All That

This year they decided to put the New Hampshire primary right at the end of the trifecta that was Super Bowl Sunday, Asian/Lunar New Year, and Mardi Gras.  I started writing this post way back then.  And a lot has happened since.

Putting aside a discussion of the Dems (for the moment) to share a few words about Donald “Making America Great Again” (Which slogan, as has been pointed out, is intended to mean "making America white again."  In case you weren't clear on that.) Trump.  Or Drumpf, as the case may be.

And I do get torn about making fun of the guy.  This whole post started with that GIF way down at the bottom. (You'll get to it; you've probably already seen it.)  Because while pretty much everything he says and does warrants making fun, it's getting less and less funny as the primaries wind on.  The notion that he has any real understanding of, or even much interest in, actual policy crumbles upon the slightest scrutiny.  So what’s going on?

Well, a couple things pop to mind off the bat.  Here’s a guy who was born into money, and plenty of it.  He took a look at the options and made some choices.  My guess is that he was drawn to gambling, and sees the obvious truth in the maxim that “the house always wins.”  So, since he had the cash and saw that it's more lucrative to be the house than the gambler, he bought some ‘houses.’  Even when they didn’t win (you know, those bankruptcies in Atlantic City, the University, the Steaks, the list goes on) well, gaming the system is his game, so he made it work, and made it fit in with a pretty clear addiction to being the center of attention

He’s also a proven showman of the huckster variety, with a Barnum-worthy eye for the audience.  And it may be that his true talent lies in media manipulation.  And now that he's running for President, not just as a punch line in the late night comedy, but a real honest-to-god frontrunner, that audience is America.  Which has shown itself to be hungry for the hatred, the racism, the puffed up machismo, the gutter sniping, the name-calling.  It's not just the latent intolerance rearing its head after the perceived indignity of living with a President of Color for 7 years, and having to suffer through progress in gay rights and access to health care.  It it not just that a large portion of the populace is frightened at the idea that a woman should be permitted (or - say it isn't so! - possibly be in a place to do the actual permitting) to have control of her body; and not completely comfortable with the notion that her worth might not be wholly dependent on her appearance; and thoroughly confused, gobsmacked, terrified by the idea that gender itself may be a fluid concept. It is not just that people have those bigoted reactions, though it most certainly is partially that.  The embrace of the neighborhood bully shouting down the nerdy wonks in the debate club also comes from years and years of pent-up frustration resulting from seeing crony capitalism strip wealth away from the population at large and concentrate it among a very small number of people gaming the system. Never mind that Trump is one of "them" - his 'telling it like it really is' (which, let's not forget, is not-very-clever code for racism, sexism, dominance fantasy, and discomfort with outsiders), he is speaking for "us."

And that dualist formulation is suuuupes a problem, because it's never never never as simple as Us vs Them.  I am about 99.5% positive that I have friends and/or family members who support this guy, just based on the numbers.  And we should be very-clear sighted about the alternatives in the Republican party - not one of them offers anything remotely worth voting for.  And I have zero problem condemning the philosophy (if you can call it that) driving the white-supremacist, sexist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, plain old hateful ideas being spouted.  But the people who have those ideas - not often very fully thought-out (how could they be?), but viscerally, authentically bubbling up from the gut - they live here too.  "They" have a voice, they get a vote, and you are probably related to and/or friends with some too.  Is there a chance they will change the way they feel?  Some of them will, maybe, but history (remember that?) shows pretty clearly that it's hard to get a whole bunch of people to face that mirror and realize that you've been doing it wrong.  [And don't forget, when we're Us and Them-ing it, "they" are all hoping that "we" will face that same mirror from the other side, see our reflection and make the same conclusion.]

I guess I'm going to want to post this before it turns into a book outline rather than a blog entry.  But before I do, I want to point out that - for all his many, many failings - Señor Trump is simply reflecting the racism and extreme intolerance/intolerant extremism that has been developing for years, in America and abroad.  Carefully cultivated by the Republican Party and its media wing? Sure. But really - it's been doing just fine growing wild on its own too (and not just in the GOP, while we're telling the truth about things).  And the non-Donald Republican rivals are not improvements, in any real day-to-day way: although they might pose slightly less risk of complete destruction of the American two-party system (a bad thing?) they do stand for policies that essentially do away with any part of government that benefits workers and the general population, while enhancing those parts of the government that prop up corporations and the wealthy, and expanding the military and hastening conflict (while, paradoxically, ignoring the needs of actual soldiers and returning veterans).

SO - are the Dems the answer?  Never, not really.  They are, of course, about a hundred times better than their opponents on the other side of the aisle, but if you're flipping through the Book of Perfect People, I don't think you'll find either Clinton or Sanders.  It is a very short book.  

What you want to do is vote for the presidential candidate you agree with most, AND - and this part is extra-special important, and you'll be making a big mistake if you overlook it the way people seem to do every year - the people you agree with most in your other national, state, and local elections.  And then - and here's the part people really forget about - stay engaged.  Because there is no elected official completely impervious to pressures and temptations of elected office.  Stay out there, stay active, keep talking and keep listening.  It's only - only - ongoing social movement that causes anything to happen that really benefits the people.


By the way, what the fuck did he think he was doing when he sat for this shot?  Even the most experienced falconers use a glove.  Of course, they also have a clue about how to approach and handle a bird of prey.  [And, ummmm, yes: that's a metaphor for the unspoken Big Bad risk associated with any of the fellows running for President Right Wing Nut Job: global nuclear annihilation resulting from overwhelmingly misplaced responsibility.]

Friday, February 26, 2016

Early Work

Our first stop on our first full day in Barcelona.

Bell Esguard, one of Gaudi's first jobs.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Yo La Lucier

Continuing adventures in music.

The Ecstatic Music Festival at Merkin Hall.

Yo La Tengo performing the music of Alvin Lucier.  Bringing it to the molecular level, taking microphones to the scale of microscopes.

Georgia on the triangle. Silver Streetcar for the Orchestra. Who knew so little would yield so much?

James on the balloon.  Actually all three of them did this piece, Heavier Than Air, joined by Lucier himself! It involved them speaking memories into the balloons, which acted as a sonic lens focusing the sound, so it was clearer when aimed in your direction, and more diffuse when aimed somewhere else. (According to the program the balloons were filled with heavier-than-air carbon dioxide, which I'm guessing is a fancy way to say people inflated the balloons by blowing into them.)

Ira on the guitar, calling an audible.

I didn't get a pic of him playing the teapot. Take my word for it.  Nothing is Real.

There was a dual guitar microtone duel, and they did some YLT songs too.  They played, we listened. Damn good. 
Of course, that's just my opinion.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Casa Comalat

Not Gaudí this time.

Casa Comalat was designed by Salvador Valeri i Pupurull

One question possibly worth asking: does your building (painting, photo, poem, music, play, work) make the world more interesting, or less?

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Back to Barca

Not a Madrid match or anything, but it was fun to be there.

Do I have true afición for fútbol? It is fair to say I do not.

But we were there in the crowd, we heard the beat of the drum, we saw Messi score.  And although they blew the lead against Deportivo to settle for a loss-like tie, it was well worth the trip to see Barca on their home turf.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Bicycle Chandelier

More Ai Weiwei.  Who knows something about blogs.

Chandelier sculpture from the 2015 exhibition at the Royal Academy in London.

 Constructed from beaded bicycle frames.
 Medium of mobility, not-quite-pedestrian, quotidian symbol of China, dripping with faux crystal.