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Rarely has reality needed so much to be imagined. --Chris Marker
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Saturday, December 28, 2002

Reading the Book magazine article on Donna Tartt in the library today, I found mention of a revealing piece she did for Harper's in '92 on growing up Gothic in Mississippi
What my great-grandfather did prescribe for me -- along with whatever medicine I got from the doctor -- were spoonfuls of blackstrap molasses and some horrible licorice-flavored medicine that was supposed to have vitamins in it, along with glasses of whiskey at my bedtime and regular and massive doses of some red stuff which I now know to have been codeine cough syrup. The whiskey was mixed with sugar and hot water; it was supposed to make me sleep and help me put on weight, both of which it did. The reasoning behind the cough syrup remains obscure, as a cough was not among my symptoms. Perhaps he was unaware the syrup had codeine in it; perhaps he was simply trying to make me comfortable in what he thought were my last days. But, for whatever reason, the big red bottles kept coming from the drugstore, and -- between the fever and the whiskey and the codeine -- I spent nearly two years of my childhood submerged in a pretty powerfully altered state of consciousness.

When I remember those years, the long, drugged afternoons lying in bed, or the black winter mornings swaying dreamily at my desk (for the codeine bottle, along with the licorice medicine, accompanied me to school), I realize that I knew, even then, that the languorous undersea existence through which I drifted was peculiar to myself and understood by no one around me. Hiss of gas heater, sleepy scrape of chalk on blackboard. I saw desolate, volcanic landscapes stirring in the wood grain of the desk in front of me; a stained-glass window in the place of a taped-up piece of construction paper. A wadded paper bag, left over from someone's lunch, would metamorphose into a drowsy brown hedgehog, snoozing sweetly by the garbage can.

7:39 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Seller's market for fine art: waiting lists and open checkbooks required for that piece you want . . . next year

6:58 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Nice little tempting review of Talk to Her

1:29 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

New Sterling & Gibson

Bruce Sterling's new non-fiction Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next Fifty Years is just out.

William Gibson's Pattern Recognition is due in February. There's an excerpt on his website. One review calls it "doubtless his best work since Count Zero. . ." Appears to be set in the near-present.

This is a new Gibson site I guess. There are links to a blog and Q & A, but no content yet.

I've added music links for artist's sites and sites on writers and books at left. The choices reflect what I've so far come upon and writers/musicians I like.

4:20 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Friday, December 27, 2002

R.I.P. George Roy Hill

While I liked Butch Cassidy and Garp and even Thoroughly Modern Millie (I was a kid) at the time, I think Slaughterhouse-Five is my favorite of his films. That I've seen anyway. It actually did justice to the book.

Though I never got through The World of Harry Orient, that was pretty good for its time too.

Not a bad record.

4:31 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

The "new Gutenberg"

A while back -- way back when I posted to Metafilter -- someone pointed me to The Noise of Culture : Literary Texts in a World of Information by William Paulson referring to Brian Eno's comments about noise and music in his "diary". I was looking for info on it since a cheap copy came up on half.com (it's an expensive textbook for graduate studies mostly, apparently). That led me to this review of the first edition of Jay David Bolter's Writing Space: The Computer, Hypertext, and the History of Writing, which inspired Eno to call him "the new Gutenberg".

Another expensive text in its second edition, which of course updates the first considerably, since the first came out in '91. There's (natch) a $10 e-text available (see title link above), but only for Macs.

Anyway, looks like it's up there with Kevin Kelly's Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems and the Economic World, Eric Davis's Techgnosis and Frances Cairncross's The Death of Distance: How the Communications Revolution Will Change Our Lives on my list of ...whatever you call books like this, that I want to read.

There really isn't enough time.

Anyway -- funny how that circled back to Eno, eh?

4:40 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Stephen Holden on The Hours

Have to admit this has been a better year for films than I've recently seen. It's still a handful of what are probably very good films with a big dropoff after, though.

1:56 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Thursday, December 26, 2002

Dan Savage defies the Behavior Police
"No one ever spoke up for the sinners," he says. "No one will come to the defense of pot smokers. No one will come to the defense of adulterer. I wanted to put those things in a book and throw it back in (conservatives') faces."

Skipping Towards Gomorrah does just that as Savage takes a road trip exploring -- and often partaking in -- the seven deadly sins with regular practitioners of the moral offenses.

"There's no shortage of people in this country who will not shut up about their private lives," he says. "A lot of people are sick of being told they're sinners. This is going to sound awful. I picked sins that had appeal to me. I may be the only American who got to write off his prostitution bills last year."

3:18 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

David Sterritt's picks of the end-of-year harvest of films

Here's a couple you might not have heard of:
The Believer, directed by Henry Bean. This trailblazing indie drama had trouble reaching theaters at all with its disturbing fact-based story of a Jewish neo-Nazi, brilliantly played by Ryan Gosling, who argues for his repellent convictions with the skill of a preacher and the intensity of a master demagogue. A more timely exploration of real-world bigotry is hard to imagine.

In Praise of Love, directed by Jean-Luc Godard. The most revolutionary cinematic maverick of the '60s has grown more unpredictable with the passing years. His latest feature has an elliptical story - about a restless movie director, an elusive actress, and an elderly couple with a haunted past - along with an unfliching moral sense and an unconventional structure. It's puzzling, challenging, and passionate. Which means it's quintessential Godard from start to finish.

3:08 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

The Payphone Project

Obviously a labor of love, the listings might be a little out of date -- the Arizona page doesn't have the 3 new area codes added in the last year or two.

There are also some photos of payphones around the world (like this solar-powered one in Uganda's Lake Victoria) and recent references to a disappearing technology in the media.

Like most people I've had mixed feelings about payphones. But I'm in no rush to get a cell. Hardly ever talk to anybody on the phone anyway.

12:27 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

New Massive Attack 100th Window is out in England I take it; in the states in February [melody nelson]

Only 1 original member apparently. Still, I liked Mezzanine a lot. Have to sample it.

5:52 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

For Christmas observers
Harmony In My Head

Whenever I'm in doubt about things I do
I listen to the high street wailing sounds in a queue
I go out for my walking sailing social news
Don't let it get me down I'm long in the tooth

When I'm out in the open clattering shoppers around
The neon signs that take your eyes to town
Your thoughts are chosen your world is advertising now
And extravagance matters to worshippers of the pound

But it's a harmony in my head
It's a harmony in my head

The tortured faces expression out aloud
And life's little ironies seem so obvious now
Your cashed in cheques have placed the payments down
And there's a line of buses all wait to take you out

But it's a harmony in my head
It's a harmony in my head
It's a...

It's a harmony in my head
It's a harmony in my head
It's a harmony in my head
It's a harmony in my head

Whenever I'm in doubt about things I do
I listen to the high street wailing sounds in a queue
I go out for my walking sailing social news
Don't let it get me down I'm long in the tooth

'Cos it's a harmony in my head
It's a harmony in my head
It's a harmony in my head
It's a harmony in my head

-- Buzzcocks (Steve Diggle)
[thanks to The World According to Ralph]

3:16 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Not only does McCartney want his name first in Beatle songwriting credits, now he's been granted his own coat of arms

All Hail the Emperor of Pop.

Long may he rust.

2:05 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Now this I'd love to see
"Pink Flag" with stage direction & design by Jake & Dinos Chapman.

"send" with stage direction & design by Es Devlin

WIRE recorded their first album "Pink Flag" for EMI in 1977. With 21 songs in 35 minutes, it has become one of, if not THE, seminal art punk records of the '70's. Since their inception, WIRE's work has been defined by an inability to stand still. Through punk, psychedelia, and various twisted pop and experimental electronica, the band has remained in the musical vanguard (despite having disbanded twice for several years) whilst still creating a plethora of solo recordings, including music for dancer Michael Clark & more recently, writer Iain Sinclair's films & spoken word events.

Performed for the first time ever in its entirety by WIRE, who better to tackle the presentation of the art-punk icon Pink Flag than contemporary visual artists Jake & Dinos Chapman,who themselves make this their theatrical design debut.
Of course I'd need hundreds of dollars and a way to Cross Borders in our Craven New World.

Anyway, I can listen to the Wire EPs, which is like grabbing hold of a live high-voltage...cable.

The send full length comes out next year.
"send" embodies WIRE's latest work, broadly self described as Third Millennium Punk, it is rare to find such diverse publications in agreement as Artforum, MOJO, New York Times, the NME & The Independent that this is their best work to date.
If you haven't heard this material, do so immediately.

2:30 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Monday, December 23, 2002

R.I.P. Joe Strummer

I can't believe this.
[Billy] Bragg said his political imagination had been fired by Strummer, after seeing the Clash at a famed Rock Against Racism show in east London's Victoria Park.

"I have a great admiration for the man," he said. "His most recent records are as political and edgy as anything he did with the Clash. His take on multicultural Britain in the 21st century is far ahead of anybody else," he told the BBC. "Without Joe, there's no political Clash and without the Clash the whole political edge of punk would have been severely dulled."
Too soon.

Thanks, Joe.

6:11 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

AOpen's PC audio card based on vacuum tube tech is getting mixed reviews

Anyone tried it?

6:03 PM - [Link] - Comments ()


Reading about the re-issue of Gary Lutz's Stories in the Worst Way (published by 3rd bed), I found reference to his literary web site 5_trope


1:38 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

I'll never read the definitive new book on the Battle for Leningrad in WWII, but the statistics on the Eastern Front campaign mentioned in this review are numbing
The clash between the Wehrmacht and the Red Army was the largest and most ferocious war in history. The main scene of the Nazis' defeat, the Eastern Front claimed 88 percent of all German casualties in the Second World War, and the death of as many as 35 million Soviet civilians and 14.7 million Soviet soldiers. The armies struggled over vast territory, in a seemingly unremitting series of battles of unprecedented scope: in a single battle, at Kursk (the largest in history), at least 1.5 million Soviets and Germans fought.

1:11 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Don't think I've ever even heard of Alasdair Gray's Lanark, but I think it might be a good read for me, being an anti-bildungsroman

12:55 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Sunday, December 22, 2002

The Ghost Parking Lot Project

Cars were buried in asphalt in 1978 in a Hamden CT parking lot as a SITE project. They look different now.
While this Pompeii parade may have been a telling Statement in 1978, it has since decayed into a crusty eyesore -- exactly the kind of Sci Fi End Times effect we appreciate. The asphalt on top of the cars is crumbling -- torn up by skateboarders and the elements? -- and exposing rusting sheet metal beneath. Weeds grow wherever the rot is most pronounced; abandoned shopping carts litter the area.
Back then America seemed way above the clouds, untouchable.

Now the site seems positively gothic. Check the short QT driveby.

11:03 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

I hadn't heard of Samantha Morton when I saw Jesus' Son on HBO early this year -- but I've been following her career very closely since then

That was a fairly dark and challenging but rewarding movie, but she and Billy Crudup really worked it. That girl has some rage to call on. . .

Aside from her new film Morvern Callar sounding like it might be one of the more interesting films of the year, the soundtrack looks pretty damn cool too. (I enjoy Aphex and BoC more in the context of a movie than by themselves myself.)

Back to Samantha: I might even rent Sweet and Lowdown now, and try to hunt down Under the Skin at the local video stores. Callar probably won't make it anywhere near here, but I'll wait for the tape.

3:32 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

What Not To Wear

Judgement TV moves to the wardrobe, adding class terror to the mix

3:01 PM -
[Link] - Comments ()

"a Breughel painting come to life"

A O Scott's review of Gangs of New York

That quote would get me in the theatre all by itself. But the fresh historical context (for anyone but historians) of the New York draft riots of 1863 in American history would make this essential viewing for anyone interested in American history anyway.

Though GoNY is far from dry history:
The New York evoked in Amsterdam's voice-over is "a city full of tribes and war chiefs," whose streets are far meaner than any Mr. Scorsese has contemplated before. The Butcher has formed an alliance of convenience with Boss Tweed (Jim Broadbent), the kingpin of Tammany Hall, and together they administer an empire of graft, extortion and larceny that would put any 20th-century movie gangster or political boss to shame. Rival fire companies turn burning buildings into sites of rioting and plunder; crowds gather to witness hangings, bare-knuckled boxing contests and displays of knife throwing.

As new immigrants, from Ireland and elsewhere, pour off the ships in New York harbor, they are mustered into Tweed's Democratic Party and then, since they lack the $300 necessary to buy their way out, into the Union Army. Occasionally a detachment of reform-minded swells will tour the Points, availing themselves of the perennial privileges of squeamish titillation and easy moral superiority. This anarchic inferno is, in Amsterdam's words, not so much a city as "a cauldron in which a great city might be forged."
Years in preparation, this could easily be Scorsese's masterpiece, and would be worth seeing for that alone.

As Scott mentions, the POV of women is given short shrift here, and Kevin Baker's book Paradise Alley (which I've posted about) would be a great companion piece to the film, I'm sure.

9:57 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

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