November 30, 2006

Saint Elizabeth

Saint Elizabeth


No, not one of my nakeds, just something that combines two of my stronger obsessions, my neighbourhood and a much more familiar landscape…. (Part of a series I'm working on elsewhere).

November 26, 2006

Useful Idiots

Tony Judt's recent multipage rant in the LRB takes apart what passes for the "left" here for its ... well, for its everything, especially its blindess on Isreal.

But the "Israel thing" here isn't really about Israel (or even Left-Right politics), it's about America, and America's self-image, and America's rooting for a country (Israel) that reminds a lot of Americans of what they tend to think America used to be, a David against Goliath, a chosen land, a self-reliant, self-made people on the frontier. Never mind that in this case (as in the US, come to think of it) the frontier's been carved out of someone else's land with huge subsidies (like, oh, say, California), and that David has an indulgent, heavily-armed much-bigger-than-Goliath big brother standing just behind him, threatening to smite anyone who gets out of line….

November 23, 2006

Serious Hairy White Guys

Watching a smiling animated Billy Preston surrounded by serious hairy white guys in bad 70's suits in some sort of Concert For Bangladesh on PBS the other night: I never found (and still don't find) Preston's playing terribly interesting, and it still doesn't much grab me, but this time around, after all those years in Oakland surrounded by all the Sounds, suddenly there's this flood of recognition (after a couple of decades it almost seems genetic), that Gospel sound, that Gospel movement, that Gospel declaiming, it's suddenly in a deeply familiar context, I can almost hear the chorus and response in my mind. It's hard to see how you'd get stuff like that without seeing and hearing it around you…

November 16, 2006

… Same As the Old Nude

Mars pleads to Make Pluto A Planet Again but I haven't the heart, and I wander down to Moe's where I buy three books: Hal Foster's "Design and Crime", a small book on typography, and a reduced-for-sale "NERVE / The New Nude" put together by Nerve's Genevieve Field.

"The New Nude" is one of those very turn-of-the-century books published Before It All Went Wrong, when earnest playfulness and self-proclaimed transgressiveness seemed the very model of cool hipness. It's a sort of slightly down-market version of the rather tin-eared grownup stuff that Aperture's so good at (and that mostly just comes across as twee in this context).

But there's some good images in it, if you ignore the words — stuff I've never thought of, stuff by some of the unusual suspects like Robert Maxwell (no, not that Robert Maxwell…), Nan Goldin, FiLH (Frederic Goudal, who was one of the first people I linked to back in the Paleolithic era of the web when one did such things), or Sylvia Plachy — and after poring over it for a while at home I come to the obvious conclusion: I don't do nudes, I do nakeds. You'll probably never see my nakeds in the smooth City galleries (or in a nice coffee table production like "The New Nude"), unfortunately. Not because of the images themselves, but mostly because I can't do the words that talk up the subtext, that flesh out the gloss, that subtitle the obvious (and if you read "The New Nude" you might well come to the conclusion that the new nudes are just nakeds clothed in words…).

November 12, 2006

Californialand

"[W]hat is perhaps most Californian about Hollywood films is not necessarily the specific representation of California locales or experiences but the very ability of the place, indoors or outdoors, to represent any experience whatever." — Dana Polan in "California Through The Lens of Hollywood” (in Barron, Bernstein and Fort's "Reading California").

I'd be more inclined to say it's also less to do with representing any experience whatever than with representing no experience whatever, in all the different nuances of the phrase.

(Polan — like so many others here — seems to assume that everyone grew up with an image of California (from movies or cartoons, or even (especially!) Disneyland), but I had no mental image whatever of California until I was an adult — it just wasn’t an explict part of my consciousness at all. It’s very Californian to assume it must have been….

To give it its due, Hollywood has a long rich tradition of dismantling its own myths in things like noir; but it’s also a very Californian exceptionalism thing to believe it’s important and necessary to do so…).

(Part of California).

November 07, 2006

Rather Interminable

During one of those interminable retrospectives on Dan Rather that CBS has been showing lately, Rather remarks that so many people (himself included) were shocked by the Kennedy assassination because they felt it was the sort of thing that "just couldn't happen in America".

But the Kennedy assassination — and the associated phenomena over the years — has always struck me as a canonical American event: the use of guns, the fact that he was shot in a car, the paranoid conspiracy theories, the self-pity… above all, the belief that this quintessentially-American event couldn't happen in America almost defines it as American.

November 02, 2006

The Sound Of The Sound

The Sound Of The SoundThe Tactics MySpace page — soundofthesound — is under new management and I'm going to at least try to keep it up to date and relevant over time. It's still a little unformed, and, given the limits of MySpace, will never be exactly the smoothest or nicest-looking site in the universe, but it's a start. And it (sort of) coincides with the new CD release, which you can (or should be able to) read about there. Check it out, as they say (especially the links to Thomas T.'s YouTube site with Astrid Spielman's live videos of the Excelsior gig in the Tactics MySpace blog entry).

(Part of A History Of The Sky and Punk (and Later)).


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