July 30th, 2007 § § permalink
Just finished reading “Ivan’s War, Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945″, by Catherine Merridale (Picador). For those of you who might still be trying to understand the scale, enormity and shear incomprehensibility of those six, bewilderingly catastrophic years, you might want to pick it up at your local read store. Ivan’s war starts out slowly but once Catherine Merridale gets her grove on she manages to portray, with great skill, the Red Army and the men who filled its wretched ranks.
Believe me, I tend to be more easily mystified than heartbroken, but she managed the unthinkable and flipped this state of mind on its head. I soon found myself mourning and grief-stricken for the victims of this supremely Soviet state, and its uniquely echanting combination of totalitarianism, Stalinist ideological rigidity, and the absolute, unrelenting carnage brought onto them by Hitler’s equally mind numbingly hateful brand of collective insanity. There may never be any words strong enough to express the misery of the “frontovikis” during and after the Soviets’ “Great Patriotic War”.
Ever-since the fall of the Soviet Union, the reconstituted Russian state has opened its archives to greater scrutiny and researchers like Ms. Merridale have been allowed to dig in and conduct interviews with former Red Army soldiers and officers. Russian and foreign historians will no doubt have a field day with its archived decades but what is certainly not going to change is that there is, and will always be, far more ways to die at the hand of man, than there are ways for men to peacably live by it.
Given that we are such damm bloody apes, let’s stop pretending and go for a rename. How about Homo hemohabilis? Sounds nice, and beside, chicks will dig it…..and to further my case; it is widely believed that reds and oranges are meant to wet our appetite and stimulate our rage. I presume that way back when, the sight of a hominid’s blood soaked hands, still whispers sweet nothings to this primate and comforts the murderer to live and mate another day. I’m down with that….. ‘Hominid’s delight’…!
Which reminds me: Odile Crick, illustrator and lifetime mate of Francis Crick, of “Watson, Crick and DNA”, LLC… died July 5th, in La Jolla, California. She sketched life’s double helix for her husband who could not draw for shit (Francis H. C. Crick died in 2004.). I guess that’s how you might be remembered if your husband and his lab mate helped discover life as we know it. I guess that’s better than, “she once cooked Francis some steak and peas….!”.
Her DNA has dearly departed but is survived in a brother, Philippe, and two daughters, Gabrielle and Jacqueline; two grandchildren; and four step-grandkids(her DNA, not exactly, but she loved them just the same anyway). BTW, Watson’s sister, Betty, was recruited to type Watson and Crick’s research paper on DNA, keeping it as they say, all in the family. Can’t wait to read that obituary….
July 25th, 2007 § § permalink
There were a lot of flags in that classroom, even when you turned off the lights. Couldn’t get away from July’s 4th. As for myself I take the 5th.
July 24th, 2007 § § permalink
Funny thing is once you start writing one you start to read them too…. Birds of a feather, I gather; or could it be that even-though no one reads mine it is heartening and within the range of possibilities that someday, after paying my dues online, I will have a readership of mine. I can’t say that I am too concerned about it because I really enjoy writing, and besides, it keeps me busy and my mind occupied, like the hands in the devil’s playground.
The devil’s playground….. I wonder what that looks like and what kind of rides does it have? Is it like Great America or Six Flags, like the ones they have in Baghdad?
In other news: My friend Marissa just started a blog too and posted a good one about donuts and a 4 point 2.
July 23rd, 2007 § § permalink
I found this cardboard flag floating over a kids’ classroom earlier this afternoon. Seventh and eigth graders sit beneath it and doodle, sculpt, glue, paste……space. When I went to middle school, the only decoration which graced our walls was a small crucifix; overlording and hovering above us forty two, twelve year old convicts.
I am not much of a flag waver but the American flag, and those gold visors astronauts wore, to protect them from exploding eye sockets, always remind me of Apollo eleven’s baby steps; when I was six and missing my front teeth. They are forever etched in my mind as the only colors in that otherwise greyhish universe. As for crucifixes, they remind me of how interminable this kid’s universe used to feel and how much like penal colonies these institutions used to be.
In other news: “It means nothing to me. I have no opinion about it, and I don’t care”.
Pablo Picasso on the first moon landing, The New York Times, (1969-07-21)”.
July 20th, 2007 § § permalink
Since all we get these days are data files and images, is it too much to ask to get to know what Mars sounds like….?
Like any self respecting fan of all things celestial, I take great pleasure in reveling in the facts that no matter how self-obsessed or delusional I may get, there is always a place, far from where I dwell, where I can go and marvel at the unmentionable vastness of the known universe.
A few weeks back, in early July, I went camping in the Sierra Nevadas where, as luck would have it, this god fearing, prostate packing, 42 year old’s tool, made him get up and take a mid-summer’s night piss on the closest evergreen he could see. Not too close to my tent as one might suffer the consequences….. le lendemain…..but not too far either, as to not fall, and off that precipitous cliff he might have imagined. Being that it was the middle of a dark and moonless night, it seemed reasonable to assume that a precipice might be harder to anticipate if your neck is cranked way back, looking up and away.
I like to wonder as much as the next guey**, but plunging to my death while relieving myself, is a stunt I’d rather wait to taste just before I finally take my last steps and kiss The Little Prince’s cape…… But when I do, we’ll kiss and greet on both cheeks, and I’ll finally get to piss on that snake, the one that looks like those hats men used to wear, before JFK caught a bullet with the back of his head (if he had worn a hat, that fateful day in Dallas, instead of baring his head to an assassin’s rifled gaze, he might have lived out a more lead free and prosperous presidency).
There’s nothing like looking up at the sky and pissing on the ground beneath it. There’s still nothing like reminding the forest and the beasts that a man will pay twenty bucks to stay the night, eat a steak and drive home the next day. It’s not every day that he gets to piss on a stump beneath the Milky way……Just another way to further remind this here Universe, that free will and a tank of gasoline brought me here, while ‘they’, will spend the rest of their natural living days trying to open garbage pales or chase down four legged protein shakes…….
At the very least, not bothering to treck on over to the latrines, at three o’clock in the morning, feels better than splitting open my chin on the bathroom sink…….and it’s good way to keep my feminine side humming………since whatever estrogen I have coursing through my veins needs as much tending, as the peaches in Voltaire’s silk breeches; those same treatises where Buddha meets Plato meets Rousseau meets snow globes or the cold wet steel of a French Guillotine (I have a hard time believing that Voltaire did much gardening and will presume that he meant it metaphorically).
As I stood there, I thought about the fact that there are millions of great images of Mars, Saturn and the Moon***, but that galactic sound files are not that easily found or downloaded on the information super highway. I understand, but regret that because there are no molecules for sound waves to travel within the vacuum of space, that there is no sweet celestial music for us to hear. Nevertheless, Mars has an atmosphere and that ought to be worth at least an MP3.
The only space recording I have ever heard came from what the Cassini/Huygens probe sent back and recorded while descending into Titan’s atmosphere. That was sweet… but in the future, can I please listen to other atmospheres.
In other news, landslide and meteor strikes; how on earth are we supposed to get out of the way if there is not a sound to be heard on either side of the Moon.
* Multi-year mission to Saturn and it’s moons.
** Guey. That would loosely translate as “dude”, in Spanish.
*** Hell, as we speak, they are sending a giant camera to Pluto which will reach the icy body in a little more than a decade.
# Also commonly known as the Red Eye nebula.
July 18th, 2007 § § permalink
My friend Raul posted an image by Peter Henry Emerson who “was one of the first vocal proponents of “naturalistic” art photography (photography done out in the field) at a time when most art photographers worked exclusively in the studio” and it got me all thinking and shit.
Looking at these photographs reminded me of how great it would have been if photography had been invented by amphibians, in a Cambrian swamp the size of Switzerland. I’d kill to see some pics, of the first flowering plants, Napoleon and Josephine or Polynesia, circa 1465.
Emerson(1856-1936) quoted*: “I have…I regret it deeply, compared photographs to great works of art, and photographers to great artists. It was rash and thoughtless, and my punishment is having to acknowledge it now… In short, I throw my lot in with those who say that Photography is a very limited art. I deeply regret that I have come to this conclusion…”
History proved him wrong, even if it took far too long. After him came the throngs who blissfully ignored the ruminations of a man who lacked the imagination to understand that, given time, any new form of self expression will eventually blossom.
Over time, artistic expression accrues and grows like those interest rates your bank charges. Despite what he thought, there is nothing like traveling back in time and seeing what it really looked like; at least through someone else’s eyes. To my eyes, it’s actually more interesting, than any thought he might have ever had in his lifetime.
*Via Raul Gutierrez.
July 17th, 2007 § § permalink
I am currently in the process of writing and editing a white paper for submission in the “Dawson City, Boeuf/Meyer/Ju’dGazon, Neo-pictorialist Ontological Filipo-Acadist journal and foundation”; an on-line, bilingual, Canadian bimonthly publication and society, dedicated to the advancement and promotion of contemporary post-Jungian cross-gender boundaries in French Canadian neo-pictorialists. Here are a few excerpts in lieu of a preview…..
In other notes, I originally delivered a ‘pre-print’ version of this paper, in lecture form, to the Supreme First-Nation Tribal Gerontology Leadership Council for the Preservation and Advancement of Pre-Columbian Lingual Atrabilism and Gender Representation in Sub-Arctic Agrarian Atavistic societies.*1
“Post-Jungian empirical naming conventions and cultural appropriations in French Canadian contemporary Photography”. Authorship by Olivier Laude, ‘Proboscis Annum’ Post Doctoral recipient of the Judith Butler Gender Prognosis Honorary academic medal, awarded yearly to an outstanding post-doctoral candidate involved in the promotion and dissemination of academic excellence in the fields of Lingual Atrabilism and Pre-Columbian gender representation in sub-arctic neo-agrarian consanguineous societies.
Post-Jungian literary critics have only recently started dissecting the contemporary ontology of sub-arctic still-pictorialists and are presently adopting interdisciplinary gender-branding polities to deconstruct social and cultural post-reconstructivist cross-gender appropriation theories in urban and pre-urban socio-representative agrarian societies. Once the exclusive neo-conformist stomping grounds of post-modern gender theorists these institutionalized social constructions, or “artifacts”, have recently been adopted by Acadians, who, ten to twelve years ago started using the pictorial representation of their “non de plume” as boundary cannons; itself a revolutionary and transformative ontological construct designed to outline the regenerative nature of perceived cultural exploitations at the hand of filipo-lingual deconstructivists…………..Unwittingly, subsequent generations of Acadian pictorialists quantified these empirical and cultural appropriative naming conventions within the same socialized interpretative and anti-deterministic “artifacts” as their filipo-lingual theoritical nemesis……….More recently, an ethno-political fracas over the abuse and overt use of Antonio Gramsci’s theory of hegemony has both prefigured and enriched the current social and resulting filipo-Acadian discourse by injecting much needed Durkeimian dialectics between Filipo-lingual pictorialists and Filipo-Acadists……….. Might we be living in a time when these feuding and long standing epistemological rifts between Filipo-pictorialists and Filipo-Acadists are to be resolved once and for all ? We shall see……
In the meantime, I am looking forward to seeing you all next spring at the 53rd annual convention of the “Dawson City, Boeuf/Meyer/Ju’dGazon, Neo-pictorialist Ontological Filipo-Acadist foundation”, in Dawson City.
*1-I understand this method is unorthodox but ‘in the text’ annotations were deemed necessary to these pre-journaled intrusions .
*2-Courtesy of the “Dawson City, Boeuf/Meyer/Ju’dGazon, Neo-pictorialist Ontological Filipo-Acadist foundation”.
July 12th, 2007 § § permalink
“How the White House flunks history”, by David Halberstam, in this month’s vanity Fair; and everything else . I recommend it, my words exactly, except it would have taken me decades to write and research it.
July 12th, 2007 § § permalink
If I am not mistaken, I think I first saw “The treasure of the Sierra Madre”, the 1948 John Huston film by the same name, in January or February of dos mil tres. I might rank it as my all time favorite, not just because it is a film fantastic, but because it so closely matches my own aesthetics. Anyway, I have little to say besides professing my love and admiration for such a great movie. Rent it, buy it, steal it, do whatever best suits your spirit, but see it before you meet, “The” Great Spirit; which, as you may already know, can happen, quite suddenly, to you and me. Please to admire the scouting, the light on the cacti, the cinematography, and the acting, if you fancy that sort of thing.
I do not own a copy of the film and have only seen it once but I remember watching it soon after having a psychedelic black and white dream, which found me skinny dipping, under the keels of World War II battleships. Bathed in moonlight, the great ships were being shelled by unseen and murderous aerial bomb attacks. Thankfully, they seemed to always miss the mark, their blind and angry marksmanship resulting only in creating beautifully lavish underwater vortices. To my submarined eyes it looked like mixing galaxies with egg whites, sea salt and half and half. My dream had matched the mood and contrast of the Sierra Madre’s black and whites; if not for my bit parts.
July 11th, 2007 § § permalink
Here are a few more “Art Speaks” I am now bound and determined to collect feverishly. May be someday, they’ll be worth something. I will start a new category called “art speaks”. Every week or when I fancy it, I will collect these priceless gems from one web site, which shall remain nameless, and post them with or without wisecracks.
This one does not have the prerequisite glibberishness but I like it. It sounds so, how to say? Like a very small marketing niche. Definitely not selling out.
“artist name withheld’” exquisite photographic prints focus on the offbeat subject matter of piles of yard waste in suburban California towns, with an emphasis on the regions surrounding San Jose”.
Run of the mill literary work, a good primer and a collector’s must.
“San Francisco-based ………. continues the multi-volume cross-genre narrative work begun in his Micro-climates. Hopping from fragmented shards of poetry to cerebral prose to an odd and funny one-act play, …………sardonically explores the follies and momentary pleasures of existing in a jarring landscape saturated by media, detritus (real and imaginary), and other humans, a place where we occupiers find ourselves continually re-occupied by malevolent…well…unknowns.”
Bust the move…… gently.
“A formalist with a brimming, elegiac soul, D….. will gently rock your attitude toward cinematic landscape.”
Bravo…? It takes guts to use a word like that.
“After about three minutes I began to be aware of the subtlety of rhythm, within each shot and shot-to-shot, which carried each cut, causing each new image to sit in-the-light of those several previous…a little short of a miracle. Bravo!”
I am not sure if I am supposed to be offended or run to Yoga class.
“From P…… the particles are still there and the light is still there, but now there is the distinct impression of watching air blowing sand, yet the air is as transparent as the viewer’s mind.”