Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Chris Ware designed the cover for Fortune Magazine, and then they rejected it.
From Fishbowl NY:
Tiny figures celebrating with wine and music on top of the golden skyscraper. One helicopter shovels money out of the Treasury building while another dumps bills on the rooftop revelers. Greece's Treasury, meanwhile, is empty; orange-clad prisoners sit in Guantanamo Bay; and in Mexico, workers sit cramped in a "Fabrica de Exploitacion."
Don't forget to embiggen »
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
There's just not much knowledge of Arizona in our country.
You think about Arizona and you think of the desert. What can the desert offer us?
Sergio Garcilaso, an international business professor at Panamerican University in Mexico City, commenting back in February in the Arizona Republic about the chasm of indifference that exists between Arizona and Mexico.
The piece made an effort to encourage economic activity between Arizona and Mexico -- and to point out to Arizonans the advantages of paying more attention to Mexico as a whole country, rather than banking on its relationship with Sonora alone:
For years, Arizona has tied its economic development with Mexico to that of neighboring Sonora, a sparsely populated state that accounts for only 2.3 percent of Mexico's 103 million people and 2.6 percent of its gross domestic product.
This would be the same state of Sonora that just boycotted their annual trade meeting with Arizona for the first time in 50 years. They did so in protest over “the country’s most retrogressive, mean-spirited and useless anti-immigrant law” -- as it was called by the Archbishop of L.A. (according to the Economist).
Noticeably, there was very little headline coverage of Mexican President Calderon's denouncement of the law in U.S. papers, even though the International press gave it full spread attention. The Guardian is just one example »
Criminalising immigration -- which is a social and economic phenomenon -- this way opens the door to intolerance, hate, discrimination and abuse in law enforcement. My government cannot and will not remain indifferent when these kinds of policies go against human rights.
-- Mexico's President Felipe Calderon
Monday, April 26, 2010
In a studio, where the pickup is close to the piano, you can achieve a very similar effect to that which the listener enjoys at home. The relationship of the piano to a microphone which is, let’s say, eight feet away is very similar to the relationship between the listener at home and his speakers. There’s a one-to-one aspect in both situations. But no such relationship exists when one is sitting on a stage, like the Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow, and projecting a Bach Partita to the first row of seats and to the top balcony simultaneously.
So the result was that the record made in the summer of 1957 [just after Gould concluded a far-reaching European tour] is a very glib, facile effort, because a series of little party tricks which just don’t need to be there had been added to the piece. Now the interesting thing is that, at the same time, I also recorded the Sixth Partita, which I had played very rarely in public. I did play it once in the Soviet Union, and, I think, maybe once or twice in Canada and the States prior to that tour, but no more. Then I recorded it, and that’s a good recording. No party tricks.
Pianist Glen Gould in an 1975 interview in Toronto, reprinted by the inimitable Lapham's Quarterly.
I read Gould's account of why he preferred to record in a studio compared to performing to an audience a little while back, and it's rattled around in my brain relentlessly, alongside William Gibson's observation (as cited by mrtn) that blogging while trying to write a novel is like "boiling water with the lid off".
The collected cacophony of these two is probably why I haven't blogged the stories that are shouting for my attention now, the hard ones, the ones that have been sleeping a long time and now seem ready to run. But it is why I booked a room of my own, as a birthday present to myself, where for four days I plan to write.
With the lid on.
It won't be enough, but it will be a start.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Flowers are easy. I suspect they trigger the same reward center in the brain that Platek and Singh uncovered in their waist-to-hip-ratio study. It’s hard to deny they’re sexy. With petals unfurled and stamen at the ready they’re also undeniably fecund -- fecund being one of those reproductive terms that is not the least bit sexy.
I try to avoid shooting them for same reason I don’t shoot and post naked people.
But when they spread wide just outside your kitchen window in the dawn and the dew, you kind of feel like you have to pay them the courtesy of your attention.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Friday, April 23, 2010
You can fake it with a few iambic pentameters; a scattering of withalls and verilies; but while the discipline of his measured verse is something to marvel at, Shakespeare's stunning talent lies in his insight into the human character, and his ability to portray people and their failings with wit, compassion and heart stopping beauty.
To be bawdy and bold and brilliant all in a tightly-turned phrase. To revel in the fire and tension and play between people engaged; to lift the scrim on our tangled webs; to be brave enough to say it.
Good luck with that.
Yet herein will I imitate the sun,
Who doth permit the base contagious clouds
To smother up his beauty from the world,
That when he please again to be himself,
Being wanted, he may be more wondered at
By breaking through the foul and ugly mists
Of vapours that did seem to strangle him.
Henry IV, Pt 1, I.ii. 175–195
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Eyjafjallajökull Volcano, Iceland acquired April 15, 2010
Originally uploaded by NASA Goddard Photo and Video
We are its passengers rather than its masters.
A woman identified as Ms. Sandweiss, wife of Professor Eric Sandweiss, by the New York Times.
Ms. Sandweiss was referring to the forces of Nature in light of the unexpected extension of her family's Italian holiday due to the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
The basic concept of curvilinear slope for presentation of painting and sculpture indicates a callous disregard for the fundamental rectilinear frame of reference necessary for the adequate visual contemplation of works of art.
From an open letter in 1956 to Mr. James Johnson Sweeney, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, signed by visual artists -- among them Willem de Kooning and Robert Motherwell -- in protest of the construction of the Guggenheim Museum designed by the architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
Republished in the Spring 2010 issue of Lapham’s Quarterly.
Update: They went ahead and built it anyway.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
(film editing for Dog Day Afternoon earned
Dede Allen an Oscar Nomination in 1976)
Miss Allen, though she read Eisenstein on a Los Angeles streetcar, is not a theorizer and will generalize only to the extent of suggesting that film editing is both a talent and a craft. She talks in terms of specific films and specific personalities.
Robert Wise, whose “Odds Against Tomorrow” was her first major assignment, she credits with having given her confidence to experiment, to work with her own interpretations of a scene. She remembers once reversing an optical so that, in the Wise film, Gloria Grahame, instead of lowering her eyes in a doorway flirtation with Robert Ryan, raised them to give a quite different meaning to the scene.
She recalls Wise saying delightedly: “It is different working with a woman!” To which Miss Allen answered: “I should hope so.”
From Vincent Canby’s 1972 New York Times piece: Dede Is A Lady Editor.
Esteemed film editor Dede Allen passed away on Saturday.
It’s a trip reading Canby’s 1972 piece on her and her work in which the overwhelming observation seems to be: My god! Look! A lady! Editing film!
Yes: She did.
Craig McKay spoke to her influence on his work yesterday on NPR:
I can remember one of the first things she ever said to me. She says, you have to cut with your gut. And what that meant, I came to discover over the years, was that this process is not really so much a thinking process as it is an intuitive process. She was an intuitive editor. And I think she passed that along to me, along with so many other great editors that she's single-handedly responsible for creating.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Sunday, April 18, 2010
The thing that set OK Go apart from their perfectly serviceable opening acts last night at the Metro (The Booze and Earl Greyhound); that sets them apart from any live performance I’ve seen recently, is that these guys know how to play.
I don’t mean instrumentation, although they have that down -- I haven’t yet met an OK Go song I didn’t like -- I mean they know how to PLAY.
You’ve seen the treadmill video, and the Rube Goldberg contraption that recently went viral. Both have that something that goes on when they take the stage. There were no treadmills last night, no dominoes or paint guns (although the confetti blaster drove the crowd nuts), but that same spirt of fun turned everything they touched to gold.
The intimacy of the space of the Metro made a difference of course; we landed prime balcony seats, so we could be geezers and sit on our bums while the rest of the crowd crushed in tight on the floor. Their playing to a home town crowd also contributed -- OK Go gave their first CD release party at the Metro, and opened for folks like OMD on the same stage -- and they seemed happy to be home in Chicago. But it was more than that.
They were having fun, and they let us in on it. Like the best kind of far away friend who shows up for a weekend and fills the house with laughter and long nights and all kinds of catching up. Or that time when you were 10 and you spent whole summer afternoons choreographing dance routines with your big sister until you achieved perfect synchronicity.
They did that thing all of us should be doing every day when we get busy with our work, whatever work it is that makes it all matter. They did that thing Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi calls flow.
Jesters, artists, seers. They remind us.
Thanks, guys. Needed that.
Saturday 17 April 2010
p.s. OK Go is on tour, OK? Go!
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Air Traffic over Britain, courtesy of the BBC. Except when it isn't, courtesy of Eyjafjallajökull.
Looks like I'll be rescheduling that London trip again, given that, according to the Times:
The perfect combination of calm atmospheric conditions and unrelenting activity of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano means that the cloud could loom over Britain until late next week.
While there could be brief spells when the plume clears parts of the airspace, it is not certain that these will be long enough for airlines to resume flights.
This would be the same trip that I rescheduled in September when I came down with the flu, and picked April 22nd at random, because April seemed like a good time to go to London.
Except when volcanoes blow.
But odds are Earl Greyhound will be up first.
(Do we really need two opening acts? Really?) Her afro's super cool, so I'm keeping an open mind.
Posting by cameraphone.
Took a brief and lovely walk through the Bald Cyprus and Slash Pines of the Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary just outside of Naples, Florida yesterday morning. Just after dawn became day.
I had an hour before I had to hit the road to the airport, so I listened to the admonishments of the signposts that urged 2.5 hours to do the whole route and took the shortcut back. Which meant I missed over half of the boardwalk. Which I regret.
With a little leg I could have pulled of the whole stroll in the time I had, although admittedly I would have had less time to hang out with the pileated woodpecker who burrowed the bark just off the trail (shoulder height. could have touched him if I tried.). And I may not have paused long enough to see the nesting Swallow Tailed Kite through the scope that the folks at the interpretive center had left on the trail, sited to the tip top of the tree tops.
I most certainly would have missed the endangered Wood Stork (the second of the trip) glide low and slow over a boggy spot where I was gazing at a Limpkin.
It's a beautiful, brilliant, rare kind of place, that in just an hour put right a good share of what I had broken in my soul through over work and too much fuss about things that just don't matter all that much.
I hope to get back.
Posting by cameraphone.
Friday, April 16, 2010
I have all I want.
Grigory (Grisha) Perelman, "the fearsomely brilliant and notoriously antisocial Russian mathematician," uttered through the closed door of his apartment on March 23rd of this year to the folks who tried to award him the $1M dollar Clay prize for proving the Poincaré Conjecture, according to the New York Review of Books.
Perelman is in the habit of refusing prizes. According to the same piece he turned down the Fields Medal in 2006 for the same proof, saying: “Everybody understood that if the proof is correct then no other recognition is needed," and in 1996 he refused a prize from the European Mathematical Society because "he believed that his work was not complete, that the judges were not qualified to assess it, and that he, not they, should decide when he should receive a prize."
Martha Glesson's book on Perelman, Perfect Rigor: A genius and the mathematical breakthrough of the century was also reviewed by the New Scientist back in November »
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Dear Reader, she napped.
p.s. also with me here: dragonflies that hover and whir; sandflies that nip at my fleshy bits; a massive hawk that I thought at first was a buzzard who prowled and stuttered along the water's edge until he dove and nailed his prey; and what might have been a solitary flamingo, looking for his clan. (Or a heron. But that beak wasn't quite right for a heron.)
Posting by cameraphone from Naples, FL and almost in love with the world again.
Update: It was an endangered wood stork -- not a flamingo -- something I figured out this morning when I visited the Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. (Told you the beak wasn't quite right.) And they were sandpipers, not terns.
and another update: Ramones Karaoke has correctly identified my hawk as an Osprey. here's more on that »
Sunday, April 11, 2010
This will never be
the same simple pie
for about a thousand drachmas
in Kikitsa's little stone taverna
up in the Zagohoria
the northwest reaches of Epirus
The flour is different;
the cheese, homemade,
certainly is different;
and the result here
is my humble attempt
Diane Kochilas, prefacing her recipe for Tiganopitta Epirou, or Skillet Pie from Epirus, in her cookbook: The Food and Wine of Greece.
I had a pie like the one Kochilas describes, but it was on Crete, not in Epirus, in a little hard-scrabble mountain town called Kato Afrata, a short drive from Chania, which is where it had been recommended to me and my traveling companions.
Or rather: where She had been recommended to us. "She" was Roxani, and she was reputed to make the best cheese pies on the island of Crete.
They were delicious, and fresh, and hot from the skillet. There were spinach pies too, but the cheese were exemplary.
But what I remember about the stop in that little out of the way place where it surprised me anyone could make a living at all running a restaurant, was her Alexander, who ran the restaurant with her. The kindness that coursed between them as they conducted their business and welcomed these American travelers (the only guests just then) and fed them well and smiled to be recommended by their friend in Chania.
The way they endearingly and enduringly (in a way that made me ache) loved one another.
Here's Kochilas' recipe for that cheese pie:
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup grated feta cheese
1. In a medium-sized bowl, sift together flour and salt. Make a well in center and add warm water and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Mix until a dough forms and knead in bowl for 5 to 7 minutes, or slightly longer, until dough is smooth and silky to the touch.
2. Divide dough into several balls, and roll out each on a lightly floured surface to a 1/2-inch-thick circle a little smaller than the base of the skillet. Dot with feta, fold into a crescent, and flatten with rolling pin or fingertips to a circle about as large as the base of the skillet. Heat remaining 1/4 cup olive oil in a large heavy skillet. Fry until golden brown, flipping to cook on both sides. Repeat with remaining dough.
3. Serve warm.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
It is a damned place. It sends shivers down my spine. First the flower of the Second Polish Republic is murdered in the forests around Smolensk, now the intellectual elite of the Third Polish Republic die in this tragic plane crash when approaching Smolensk airport.
Former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski remarking on the early morning crash in Russia that killed everyone on board -- including "Polish president, Lech Kaczynski, and dozens of the country’s top political and military leaders", according to the New York Times.
The dignitaries "had been due in western Russia to commemorate the anniversary of the murder of thousands of Polish officers by the Soviet Union at the beginning of World War II.
"The ceremonies were to be held at a site in the Katyn forest close to Smolensk, where 70 years ago members of the Soviet secret police executed more than 20,000 Polish officers captured after the Soviet Army invaded Poland in 1939."
I smell trouble.
Saturday, April 03, 2010
The New York Times has posted an interactive heat map of the cab activity in Manhattan. Pickups and drop offs across time of day and day of the week using real data.
If you love information design, or simply love that feeling of mastery that arises from commandeering a cab in Midtown when it's your one hope of getting where you need to go within the brief window you have to get there (I love that feeling), you won't want to miss this »
I voted for you. But don't tell anyone.
A male farmer and constituent in conversation with Cambodian Parliamentary member Mu Sochua, cited in today's New York Times.
Mu Sochua has recently traded defamation lawsuits with the country's Prime Minister, Hun Sen, after he referred to her with the phrase cheung klang, which means "strong legs", and is an insult when used to describe a woman in Cambodia.
She lost her case, and was convicted in the counter suit that the Prime Minister filed against her (at the same time he stripped her of her Parliamentary immunity). She has refused to pay the $4,000 fine, saying: "Paying the fine is saying to all Cambodian women, 'What are you worth? A man can call you anything he wants and there is nothing you can do.'"
She's currently on the campaign trail, three years before the election, because she's excluded from most media coverage, due to her gender. Everywhere she goes she adopts the deference expected of Cambodian women. "I walk into a cafe and I have to think twice, how to be polite to the men," she said. "I have to ask if I can enter. This is their turf."
Friday, April 02, 2010
John Neuhart, a former employee of Charles and Ray Eames, and his wife Marilyn, are auctioning their Eames collection next Thursday, April 8th, at the Wright Auction House in Chicago.
More likely than not, if you're in the market, you can score a chair.
More interestingly, you can score a rare piece of industrial design.
Like a pair of the plywood splints that the Eames designed and manufactured for the US Government during WWII, the production of which provided the seed money for their later success.
I have my eye on the trim tab for a Vultee BT-13 airplane in lacquered spruce and enameled aluminum. I don't know why, but I think it's lovely.
Also appealing, if you have $15K (or more) to blow on a dollhouse, is a scale model of the Eames' Office where John Neuhart was employed:
This scale model, constructed on a one-quarter inch to one-foot scale, is a replica of the Eames Office at the time of Charles Eames death in August of 1978. Painstakingly constructed over nearly a decade John Neuhart, with the assistance of Marilyn Neuhart, aimed to recreate the office with precision. With a demountable roof and cross beams the model reveals the 10,000 square foot interior equipped with appropriately-scaled furniture, the equipment and tools of the Eames Design Office, as well as the graphic displays decorating the walls at that time. Signed with applied studio label to corner.
While you're shopping, give a listen to the audio interviews with the Neuharts that the auction house has also posted. (The first of these provided my title.) It seems the Eames' were terrors to work for. The image archive is pretty captivating too.
Thursday, April 01, 2010
As I predicted, everyone from my mother to the maid has simply assumed that the rain that deluged the blood-spatterers at the gates of the prime minister's house was a direct divine intervention in the affairs of Thai politics. The idea that it could simply be a cosmic coincidence has never occurred to any of them. Unless you understand this, you will never understand Thailand.
Water is at the very center of the Siamese worldview. Before there were roads, there were waterways. The alluvial-rich central plains have enough water for two rice crops a year and are the heartland of the establishment; the drier northeast can only sustain one crop a year, and is the heart of Thaksin country. It is an inequity that goes beyond money, and money alone can't fix it.
Right now, it's still the dry season: the rain that descended on the red shirts was therefore unseasonal. By definition, therefore, it was providential. There it is.
Opera composer Somtow Sucharitkul commenting on recent Thai protests on his blog Somtow's World.
Found Somtow's blog via the Guardian as I crawled out from under a rock this morning (crazy at work, lately; promises to be crazy for a while longer yet) to get my mind around what the bloody protests of mid-March were all about.
Of interest: the New York Times reports this morning that mobile-driven flash mobs have played a role in rallying the protesters to action, but it was Somtog who voiced the unsettling possibility that the mainstream media has only danced around:
There is in this country an enormous gap, financial and cultural, between city and country. This gap has been heavily exploited by the architects of this protest, but, contrary to what the western press seems to think, it is not what this present struggle is about.
It is in fact an incestuous war between two elites: an old-style, gentlemanly elite and a flashier, no-holds-barred elite. The poor have been duped into serving as collateral damage.
The actual struggle, the one to narrow the gap and to bring the entire kingdom into the modern age, has not even begun to be fought. We must give it time. To demand all the results immediately would be to insist that Magna Carta, the Reformation, the Restoration, the Industrial Revolution, and the New Deal all be squeezed into about fifty years.