May 2003 Archives

Maybe it was the way Rory flaunted his expense account by overpaying for pizza. Maybe it was the promise of more back issues of the New Yorker, (Anthony Lane's X2 review gets a specific mention. Whose yer publicist, Tony? Day-amn!)

Whatever, it worked. The Guardian's Rory McCarthy meets, profiles, and signs Salam Pax to write Baghdad Blog for the paper. It'll be what Britons call a "fortnightly" gig. [putting that in cross-Atlantic perspective: less than Tina Brown, Columnist but far more than Tina Brown, Talk Show Host.]

My question, of course, if they're calling Salam's column Baghdad Blog, does that mean I can keep I think so. I think it's what's best for the Iraqi people. And besides, what kind of American would I be if my pre-war Iraq-related assurances and assertions didn't turn out to be hollow and wildly discredited?

Because people are asking. From his online bio:

"[I'm/He's] a seasoned pianist/composer with a wealth of straight ahead jazz credentials as well as an impressive body of movie soundtrack work...

In 1975, [I was-- I mean] Wolff was hired by the great alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderley, who also enjoyed a wide appeal at the time. "When I was with Cannonball, Miles would come to check us out. Everybody checked us out. There was a real scene surrounding that band. It was like you were on a wave of forward motion." ...

Taking his talents to television, Wolff became the musical director for the popular "Arsenio Hall Show."


May 30, 2003

If u need to find me

I'll be in Times Sq, picking up a new Amex. I'm the one NOT wearing cargo shorts.

Only a couple of weeks after Agent Smithing my brother's early adopter, $10/month-for-life Netflix account, I've run out of movies I want to rent. Or more precisely, movies I want to rent that Netflix actually has. (Note: if you're reading this from Netflix, my brother lives with us now. As do his wife and their two lovely children. Coincidentally, after tiring of Pooh's various adventures, my four-year-old niece suddenly developed an interest in Ozu and Tarkovsky.)

So, please help me fill my Netflix queue with films I haven't thought to rent.

And in the mean time, sign yourself up at GreenCine, the San Francisco Pink Dot to Netflix's Kozmo. They have everything and a great film weblog. While you're at it, read this fascinating analysis of Netflix's DVD allocation system to see just how unprofitable my brother is for them.

[Update: thanks, Sacrifice is actually already in the mail, and Bottle Rocket's on the list. Paul Krugman recommends Wag the Dog. Here's my rental queue: Koyaanisqatsi, Dancer in the Dark (finally. I walked out of the theater after 10 min.), The Manchurian Candidate, Rashomon, Sokurov's Mother and Son. Watched and mailed back: Badlands (again), Hedwig & the Angry Inch, In the Bedroom. ]

[Unrelated: can anyone explain why I have the song, "Come on, be my baby tonight," from idiot David on The Real World: New Orleans stuck in my head? Whitney, where are you when I need you?]

[via TMN] Tim Judah, the eyes and ears of The New York Review of Books in Baghdad.

Amir, a man in his forties, seemed close to tears. "I have heard there is an underground prison here," he said. "Did you see it? Do you know anything about it?" Just behind us was the part of the prison that housed the gallows. He had not seen it yet, and I did not mention it.

Short Cuts, 2003, Elmgreen & Dragset, image: Fond. Trussardi

"After an imaginary trip through the center of the world, a white car and its caravan have appeared at the center of the Galleria, cracking the floor and destroying its precious marbles." It's by some friends, the artists Elmgreen & Dragset, and was installed in the center of the Mall of Milano by the Nicola Trussardi Foundation.

Some merchants complained about the piece and damage to the "precious marbles." I think the bigger worry is that the piece'll get subsumed by the guys on Jason's Matrix thread. I mean, the Merovingian may swear in French, but he clearly buys his marble in Italy.

The LMDC held a forum for the public to tell WTC Memorial Competition jurors what kind of memorial they want, and how to make it relevant to future generations. [Check here for an archived webcast.] In the 1,000-seat auditorium, approximately 500 seats were filled, 300 by firefighters and their families, who clearly came to the meeting with an impassioned, cohesive message: rescue workers must not go unrecognized in the memorial. Let me come back to this.

  • This, my first-ever public WTC event, was emotionally exhausting. Whatever effects I may still feel from the attacks, it pales in comparison to the formalized anguish that is central to Ground Zero Process veterans. It plots somewhere on the scale between consuming and addictive.
  • Nearly everyone was representing, reading from prepared (and, once their affiliation was known, largely predictable) statements. Twice, though, when rancor seemed ready to spill over, unscripted and wrenching comments from a family member silenced the room.
  • What can sometimes seem like another bullet point on the Memorial Guidelines suddenly felt like the memorial's very essence: for at least a quarter of the families the WTC site will be the only grave they will ever have. "Give us somewhere to go."
  • Because of the nature of their daily lives, firefighters and their families are more pre-something...prepared, I guess, for sudden (but not entirely unexpected) loss. Their culture is fiercely attuned to it. Other such "cultures" can learn from them how to come together and mourn and remember. But I think the ultimate unifying factor for all the people killed is not victim, target, rescuer, hero. It's daily life. These people were killed (or injured, or they made it out or sacrificed themselves for others) while living whatever lives they chose, and the memorial should reflect that.

    [I said as much when I decided to make an impromptu statement; it's a little over two hours into the stream. Details later.]

  • May 28, 2003

    Puttin' the W into WMD

    W as in Whitney. Houston. She met with Ariel Sharon while visiting "family and friends" in Israel.

    Houston's no stranger to Mid East politics. Last fall, while the US was cookin' up wild reasons for invading Iraq, it ignored the horrors Saddam Hussein inflicted on his people during sham elections: non-stop playing of his campaign theme song, Houston's "I Will Always Love You." I give Sharon six months, max. [thanks (?), Gawker]

    May 27, 2003

    note from the acela:

    there is a high correlation between the annoyingness of a persons ringtone & their slowness to answer it. this is especially true of the 1812 overture ringtone.

    Gus Van Sant, protege and DP accepting the Palme d'Or,

    Swearing may be better in French, but teen shooting? That's best en anglais, mon ami. Gus Van Sant just won the Palme d'Or and Best Director awards at Cannes for his latest film, Elephant, which is Columbine-esque, but actually based on the late Alan Clarke's last film, a 1989 short about killings in Northern Ireland.

    Check out a review from Elvis Mitchell, wild, anti-american reports from those lushes at the Guardian, and an interesting theory of Cannes' gunloving esprit at the GreenCine weblog.

    So Friday, when I responded to a friend I haven't seen for a while, a friend who, after guessing incorrectly on my email/domain format, spammed every possible combination of greg@, gregallen@,,,,, etc., I somewhat haughtily included a this URL in my coordinates: Somewhat haughtily and somewhat hastily.

    When I sent the email, I was at #5, but yesterday, when I showed off to a good friend, Haniel Lynn, I'd dropped below 20. (I'm back at #6 now, so I don't know what's going on.) What we do know: I'm superficial (i.e., I cared enough about a one-name Google ranking to show-and-tell people), and relying on Google for any sense of your own self-worth is dubious at best.

    [update: Read Jeremy's discussion of how other first-name-search-obsessed people fared in Google's recent PageRank machinations. Misery loves company. (Thanks, Tyler.]

    That's when Haniel showed me his own Google-induced folly. Somehow, the Wharton Usenet servers attached his name to someone else's lameass 1995 review of the 90's Manchester band, Stone Roses. (Haniel Lynn's graduate class of 95; the reviewer is an undergrad, class of '96.) Whenever he'd show up at a new client's office, or interview someone for a job, they'd try to work Stone Roses into the conversation. Or if they didn't, they'd quiz his colleagues after he left, impressed but confused at how an X'ed up groupie could find his way to McKinsey. All they really did, though, was blow the cover on their Googling.

    My advice to Haniel: be on more panels, get quoted in articles more, and (obviously) get a weblog.

    "Winning the war's easy, it's winning the peace that's hard." Even in this season of sequels, the media seems uninterested in the Iraq followup story, even when it was so heavily foreshadowed in the first script. Eh. Nothing to see here, folks, keep moving.

    In a service to fans of the original GWII, though, and in hopes of keeping interest alive until the sequel, I have consolidated all the posts into one spot--what do you call it, a sublog? Makes for easy readin'. Now how about them tax cuts?

    USS Arizona Memorial, image:

    In today's NYTimes, Sam Roberts looks for Lessons for the World Trade Center Memorial" in the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. I don't know what he finds, though. Opened on Memorial Day, 1962, four years after Eisenhower authorized a memorial at the site, and more than 20 years after the actual attack, the Arizona Memorial is more the product of inertia and circumstance than of design. The Arizona remained in place partly out of respect, but also because technology didn't exist to raise her. Honolulu architect Alfred Preis' design was selected from among 96 submissions in a public competition.

    Over 6,000 people have registered for the WTC Memorial competition, Roberts reports.

    And on the front page of the Washington Post, Timothy Dwyer profiles Julie Beckman and Keith Kaseman, the young NY architects who won last year's Pentagon Memorial competition [see related posts and links here.]

    May 24, 2003

    Cremaster Roundup

    The Cremaster Cycle is now playing in LA, Berkeley, SF, and Chicago. Wider exposure goes hand in hand with wider discussion, as these two very interesting links show:

    Mario and Matthew, image: gamegirladvance.comWayne Bremser's article, "Matthew Barney versus Donkey Kong", for the video game magazine GameGirl Advance takes a look at video game character, mythological, spatial and narrative elements in Cremaster 3. That's the one where Barney's character scales the levels of the Guggenheim, passing various obstacles along the way. The hermetic logic of Mario's quest stacks up well against the esoteric, Freemason-inspired obstacles the Entered Apprentice confronts in C3. Bremsen loses me a bit, though, in his critique of the current Guggenheim installation-as-interface.

    I once compared Mario to Gerry, Gus Van Sant's nearly dialogue-free desert movie, which is similar to C3 in another way: some people had a hard time staying until the end. Anyway, the idea that everything we need to know, we learned playing Super Mario holds great appeal for me.

    For a very thoughtful, engaging, film-savvy discussion, check out Scott Foundas' interview with Matthew Barney on Indiewire. While all the hype's about finally being able to see the Cycle in "proper" (i.e., numerical) order, Foundas puts forward an interesting argument for watching them chronologically. The ambition and production values evolve, obviously, but you can also see shifts in the visual language Barney references, from sports broadcasting (C4, C1) to narrative film (C2, C3).

    Once the films are done, the tendency is to see them as the objective; their form overpowering their function (at least for Barney). His discussion here of the films as object generators sounds more persuasive and interesting than in any other interview I've read. And this explanation of the limited edition laserdisc distribution model puts the horse back in front of the cart

    Barney: Part of it had to do with figuring out a way to fund it. Looking to the thing we knew best, which was how to edition and distribute artwork, that's what we did. We made an edition of 10 out of the [first] film, divided the budget by 10 and sold it for that. So, at least the film would break even and the work that was generated out of it could start to fund the following film.

    Apparently, he'd cut yer ass off in a bumper-stickered Volvo. Drive safely. God (&I) CU

    Hmm. In order to run them through military tribunals, the guys (and kids) at Guantanamo are finally getting defense lawyers, which means they may finally be charged with something. Sounds like progress. On Google News, the link reads, "Prosecutor says tribunals will be fair," but when you click through, the actual Wash Post headline reads, "Both sides say tribunals will be fair trials." Of course, you'd expect them both to say that, since they both report to the Pentagon's general counsel's office.

    What I didn't expect is the chief defense attorney, Col. (I swear) Will A. Gunn, saying, "I immediately recognized the glamour position was that of chief prosecutor, the opportunity to be America's hero."

    And speaking of glamour in the courts (and glaring shortcomings in the justice system), over at The Morning News, glamblogger Choire Sicha does a play-by-play of his stint on jury duty. Alas, he didn't get picked for a trial.

    I realize now, too late, that if only I'd been reading W, not The Believer, my own jury duty report and reflection would've been much spicier. Not that it'da been much use for the fellas in Guantanamo, though.

    It's Wednesday. I clearly wasn't set on posting this, but then I read James Norton's The X2 Guide to US Foreign Policy and figured, what the heck. All that purely Revelations-based analysis of the latest End of The World was leaving me unsatisfied.

    Goodbye Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker! Hello Nephi and Mormon and Moroni!Not listening too closely to the sermon Sunday morning, I cracked open the ole Book of Mormon for a diverting read. (Just letting the Bible fall open's far more unpredictable, what with those vast stretches of Old Testament, and that giant concordance and dictionary tacked on.)

    [Background: Joseph Smith translated the BOM from golden plates unearthed by an angel in upstate New York. It's the religious history of pre- and post-Christ-era believers in the western hemisphere. I'm sure there's a more overtly persuasive description at]

    Anyway, the book fell open to Alma, ch. 51, smack in the middle of the long account of the wars between the Good (believing) tribe and the Evil (fallen) tribe (the Nephites and Lamanites, respectively, although < SPOILER ALERT > they switch places later on), a section I'd always imagined was there to encourage teenage boys to keep reading and make more enthusiastic missionaries.

    It's 67 BC, and there's political turmoil afoot among the Nephites, which is filtered here through the all-knowing perspective of the AD 400 editor/abridger (Mormon) and the stiff 19th century prose of the translator (Smith). Still, it seemed annoyingly topical.

    5 And it came to pass that those who were desirous that Pahoran should be dethroned from the judgment-seat were called king-men, for they were desirous that the law should be altered in a manner to overthrow the free government and to establish a king over the land.

    6 And those who were desirous that Pahoran should remain chief judge over the land took upon them the name of freemen; and thus was the division among them, for the freemen had sworn or covenanted to maintain their rights and the privileges of their religion by a free government.

    7 And it came to pass that this matter of their contention was settled by the voice of the people. And it came to pass that the voice of the people came in favor of the freemen, and Pahoran retained the judgment-seat, which caused much rejoicing among the brethren of Pahoran and also many of the people of liberty, who also put the king-men to silence, that they durst not oppose but were obliged to maintain the cause of freedom.

    8 Now those who were in favor of kings were those of ahigh birth, and they sought to be kings; and they were supported by those who sought power and authority over the people.

    9 But behold, this was a critical time for such contentions to be among the people of Nephi; for behold, Amalickiah had again stirred up the hearts of the people of the Lamanites against the people of the Nephites, and he was gathering together soldiers from all parts of his land, and arming them, and preparing for war with all diligence; for he had sworn to drink the blood of Moroni.

    Tad Friend Segwayin' down the Champs Elysees,

    Put this in the "seems so wrong, feels so right" category*. Tad Friend & some friends conquer Paris on some Segways. Sure, it's a corporate boondoggle, but that just adds to the giddy, entertaining genius of American Empire.

    I remember when a New York friend--who affected a bilingual answering machine message and pretended to forget words like "fork" ("Give me that, how you say, fourchette.") after a measly three-week sejour, a three-week sejour--took the new, how you say, Roller Blades to Paris. She was not only an alien, she nearly killed herself ten times a day trying to skate over all the paving stones. Well, she should've waited. Segway sails over them and their crazy unpaved parks with American savoir faire, technologically superior, aloof, and head-and-shoulders above the shockin' awed crowd.

    * Nothing smacks the smugness right off your face like Googling for half-remembered "something so wrong/feels so right" lyrics. Let's see, did I hear it from The Backstreet Boys, Bryan Adams, Taylor Daynes, Air Supply, or Tia Carrere in Wayne's World? I'm now available for iTunes Music Store commercials.

    In the the Observer's "Satisfying Mr. Soderbergh", Rebecca Traitser writes about Warner Brothers' drawn out search for someone to head up their long-planned specialty film division. One of the key requirements of the job: make Steven Soderbergh happy by releasing his films properly.

    One name that being bandied about was Elvis Mitchell, the aim-for-the-blurbing-bleachers NYTimes critic. But whoever the new studio head is, Traitser lays out a combination of director-sympathy and strategy-awareness that makes me think she's gunning to succeed him.

    1. Kudos to the Guardian for enlisting every film monkey who can type to produce their extensive Cannes coverage. (Granted, Brits::Cote d'Azur, fish::barrel, and it's not exactly a hardship post, either.)
    2. Or maybe it is. The Guardian crew seems to be suffering from serious alcohol-free delusion. The evidence is in the writing:

  • Trapped in the (presumably dry) media lounge, Matt Keating is forced to piece a story together using only quotes from his partying fellow journos.
  • The two main themes of Fiachra Gibbons' Cannes diary are old stories of old British actors' penchant for bluedarting (hint: there's a Badass Buddy icon for it.) and complaints about being barred from the bar at the Matrix Reloaded party.
  • The result? A crazytalk-filled, sobriety-induced revenge piece, "Taliban Thinking", where he draws a bizarrely Stryker/Wolfowitzian conclusion about Animatrix. "As with the Terminator, which uses the same thin philosophical veil of man versus machine, the message is simple. If the rebellious robots had been stamped out straight away, Zion would now be safe. [italics added]
  • Then, Gibbons' colleague, Andrew Pulver, also slams Animatrix but for another, wrong-end-of-the-telescope reason. "Attempting to dress up the fictional man/machine conflicts with images from contemporary political protest (The Million Machine March and the like) was not a good idea. African-Americans, Chinese democracy activists, liberal demonstrators - the implication is that they will enslave us all. [Italics=kooky theory #2]"

    Am I high? Just check out Fiachra's last report from France. Garcon, get these people a drink toute de suite.

  • iTunes, iPod, iMovie, iCal, iLife, I know what company all these brands come from. And I know what company immediately came to mind when I heard Microsoft was calling their "so stupid it must be a mistake, a hoax, or an Onion story" toilet an iLoo.

    What I don't get is why, when Microsoft sidles up Apple's brand, lets loose with this iLoo story, then walks away making a dumb face, trying to pretend they didn't cut the cheese, no one calls them on it. Not even a "Dude!"

    It's like Bush's people planting a silent-but-deadly one about John Kerry, saying "He looks French."

    The beginning of the war will be secret, Jenny Holzer
    balsa postcard from
    Printed Matter

    Every evening at dusk during the Cannes Film Festival, the artist Jenny Holzer is projecting cinema-related quotes from actors and filmmakers onto the ugly wall of the Palais des Festivals. You can follow along on the Festival's pretty info-packed official site. Holzer's Please Change Beliefs was the first great piece of web-based art, produced in collaboration with my friends at ”da'web. There's tons of Holzer's work, including the balsawood postcards above, at Printed Matter

    I won't reveal it here, and I can't verify it until I see the movie again, but Clark Kent has put out an annotated transcript of The Architect's explanation to Neo of The Matrix. And before you get into any heady arguments over the philosophy of Matrix Reloaded, read Ken Mondschein's excellent, spoiler-filled analysis at Corporate MoFo. Enjoy, and keep coming back.

    In a NY Times editorial, President Jimmy Carter warned that "the aftermath of a military invasion [of Iraq] will destabilize the region and prompt terrorists to further jeopardize our security at home."

    But that was way back in March, ancient history. Just go ahead and ignore it...And anyway, he was so wrong, because it's the terrorists who are destabilizing the region. The military invasion's got its hands full destabilizing Iraq.

    I have to admit, I was kinda bummin' for a while. The week HBS's most powerful alum decides he wants to fly in a fighter jet (n.b.: not the one he went AWOL from during Vietnam), my Wharton alumni magazine arrives in the mail with the cover story: "Wharton entrepreneurs capitalize on trends in the food industry" about a dude with a crepe stand.

    But then a boost to my alumni pride, via this exchange (in the article not about blogging):

    And then there was the tall, good-looking young blond woman holding a purse made out of a Mexican cigar box. She had on a sunburst-print minidress by Ms. [Benhaz] Sarafpour.

    I [fashion reporter Cathy Horyn] asked her if she worked for the designer. "I'm a student at Wharton," she said. "At the University of Pennsylvania."

    Adopting that tone of voice reserved for small children, I asked the woman what she wanted to be when she grew up.

    "Well, my dad's in real estate, so I'm planning to go into that."

    "And what's your name?"

    "Ivanka Trump."

    [Sidebar: Never mind that Ivanka's been modeling for six years, since she was like 10, and that Horyn should've seen her in several shows, at least. I'm sure the NYT would never run a reporter's so-good-you-can't-bear-to-factcheck-it story.]

    Thanks to a 13-year old niece of Boing Boing, I found Badass Buddy. It's a site with 1,200 AIM free buddy icons, a collection which, over 2+ years, has evolved from simple riffs on the little AOL dude (you know, the one who hooked up with Sharon Stone) into a unique medium of its own.

    In addition to the predictable ones--Fart, Spongebob, Jackass, School Sucks-- BAB has created little narratives that are HI-larious, timely, touching, and pretty damn cool. To tell these tiny stories, BAB sometimes treats the icon window as a screen, or as a camera. And they adapted some recognizably cinematic visual language, including "camera" angles and movement (e.g., pans, zooms), lighting effects, editing (shot/reverse-shot, establishing/close-up, jump cuts), even Bullet Time.

    But they also play off the unique characteristics of the medium--a medium which was probably never intended as one, but which has been embraced and exploited to express the worldview of an IM generation.
    But as soon as I try to decide which buddy icon I'm gonna use, an alarm sounds in my head, which brings me to the Honda Element. It's ugly, I know, but I like it, and I kinda want one. The wife's worried it might be Pontiac Aztek-ugly (i.e., lame and embarassing) but my gut tells me it's Citroen 2CV-ugly (i.e., cool and if you just don't get it, you're lame). I'm almost always right about that kinda stuff, though; that's not the problem.

    The problem is something new to me, age-appropriateness. According to Honda, the Element was designed as a "dorm room on wheels." According to the auto industry's demographic master strategy, I shouldn't want a "dorm room on wheels" any more than I want a "living room on wheels." But even if there were a "loft on wheels," my indignation at being so target marketed would probably keep me from buying it. (It's a Gen-X thing, you wouldn't understand. Unless you read Newsweek.)

    But if I buy an Element, I worry about two equally bad scenarios: 1) it's only marketed as designed for the under-30 demo, which means it appeals only to people over 35, who try too hard. I buy one and subsequently telegraph my aging wannabe-ness. Call this the Miata Scenario, and if you're old enough to remember the launch of the Miata, give up. It's already too late for you. 2) it's actually designed for the under-30 demo, and they embrace it. I buy one and become as lame as when your dad starts saying he's "down with that, yo" to you. Call this one the Badass Buddy Scenario.

    panawave and mirrors,

    Unless I missed the evite, the world didn't end Thursday. (And even if it did, Armageddon's no reason to stop weblogging.)

    The Pana Wavers above are using mirrors to deflect scalar waves, not just to create wonderful photos. There are more in Mainichi Daily News's Pana Wave photo special. [It reminds me that our inaugural Netflix movie was, fittingly, Agnes Varda's wonderful obsessed-with-death-in-long-lost-Paris film Cleo de 5 a 7, the Criterion edition. Varda uses mirrors beautifully through most of the film, at least until the superstitious Cleo breaks one. It's 1960, B&W, and all the cars in Paris were Citroens. Heaven.

    Anyway, here are a couple of 1959 (!!) photos I said I'd post, from Yukio Futagawa's stunning Nihon no Minka, a painfully rare book on Japan's long-lost rural architecture. They're old, but eerily topical: a rural road, a house with a powerline. Is it just me, or does reliving the 1950's suddenly not seem like a bad thing, at least aesthetically?

    Nihon no Minka, 1962, by Yukio Futagawa, BSS

    Nihon no Minka, 1962, by Yukio Futagawa, BSS

    You know how Justin invented Shoutcast so he could listen to Loveline in Arizona? Well, if weblogs never existed, I'm sure they would've been invented yesterday as a way for everyone in the world to review Matrix Reloaded. [Warning: major spoilers and countless review links in Jason's comments thread]. Until Nick and Meg figure out how to find me the good ones, though, I'm sticking with the pros. Like that Agent Smith of MR reviewers, David Edelstein, who first loves, then hates, the movie in Slate, The NY Times, and Fresh Air.

    Matrix Reloaded, I swear I had this idea before seeing the movie.  Anyway, mine is completely different.  image:slate.comSure, I could write how the rave reminds me of that annoying "let's target the 'urban' demographic" Kahlua commercial a few years ago, or how I actually apologized to the people sitting next to me for laughing so hard at the Merovingian (who hangs around the corner at Bilboquet like all the time) how the unexpectedly Chicago-esque editing destroyed the lyricism of some of the fight scenes, or how righteous Trinity's hack turns out to be.

    But forget the movie; what interests me, is, well, me. What does the Matrix mean for my Animated Musical, my Terminator-meets-West Side Story? There were a couple of "great minds think alike" points that made me cringe at first, until a bit of satisfaction kicked in, at my occasional avant la lettre similarity to the Wachowskis' script. On others, I got what they missed. Eat my dust, Wachowskis. I mean-- I mean, let's have breakfast.

    Basically, then, I was fine about it, at least until I came home and read Joyce Wadler's opening party pitch to Joel Silver for Matrix: The Musical. I'm typing this in the fetal position, btw.

    on the set at the Waco Economic Forum,
    Shoot the conference title from this preset camera position;
    state seal and flowing flag when allowed to shoot head-on.

    Sforzian Backgrounds. So that's what they're called. At least that's what Elizabeth Bumiller's NYT article calls those glib slogan-filled, PowerPointy, made-for-TV backdrops that show up behind Bush whenever there's a camera around. They're named for Scott Sforza, a former TV producer, who is finally getting credit/scrutiny for his tireless work behind the scenes in this White House's quantum leap in visual image control.

    Sforza spent days "embedded" on that aircraft carrier, prepping for Bush's staged arrival. "Sforza and his aides choreographed every aspect of the event," Bumiller writes. White House cinematographer (yes, there is one) Bob deServi gets credit for angling the ship just right and timing the spectacle so they can take advantage of "magic hour" lighting [a recurring subject here].

    It's about damn time we get a Making Of piece. The best DVD's now are full of this stuff. Hell, I just saw Making the Animatrix on MTV2, a meta-meta-program on a meta-meta network. (making of animated spinoffs of a movie; spinoff channel for videos for songs. Please keep up, people.)

    For the screamingly obvious manipulation/staging of these images, it's pretty inexcusable that we've had to wait this long for someone to report on it. (OK, ABC buried one mention.) I mean, Scott Sforza only has 25 Google hits, and just one ancient credit on IMDb. If some premium cable channel offered a Sforza commentary track for all Bush's appearances, I'd definitely subscribe.

    Seeing the errant boom mike in one shot of What's Up, Doc? was my first realization of the filmmaking process White House DP Bob deServi: "You want it, I'll heat it up and make a picture."
    Surprisingly, though, the White House website has tons of media-critique-ready photos which unintentionally (?) reveal the machinery behind these made-for-TV-and-only-for-TV images. The bird's eye view of Bush's Waco Forum shows the press getting their White House-designed shot, complete with Sforzian Backgrounds. And check out this photo from a beautifully lit deServi production of Bush and Putin in St Petersburg, which has a boom mike hovering in the foreground.
    DiServi's speed dial is mostly floodlight rental agencies To light this shot, deServi shipped floodlights from the UK

    And this pic captures the elaborate staging elements imported to Romania for White House Productions' biggest (pre-tailhook incident) show, a 2002 Bush speech in Bucharest's Revolution Square. (Sforza even put up a little "Romania" banner, just in case you didn't recognize that other flag.)

    The sheer volume of photos on the White House site reveals another Sforza favorite, what Bumiller'd call the "men without ties" background, for those ops when a giant slogan just won't do. He used it at Tailhook, when he put soldiers Skittles-colored turtlenecks in the background. Last month, in an uncrowded but well-draped Boeing factory, Sforza had Boeing workers perch on top of an F-18 to be seen listening to Bush's Iraqi progress report. Looks a lot like last August at the fair, where he arrayed some farmers on tractors and bales of hay. But not so fast. Sometimes, he uses the "men without ties" wallpaper-style, and sometimes he actually puts them into the Sforzian Background. (Note: the last one has stock photos so nice, Sforza used them twice. Check out the SB in this elaborate 3D setup for conservative conservatism, which looks to mean "black people in front.")

    So, with this media manipulation thing, just like with that whole neo-con American Empire thing, the "run by and for corporations" thing, the "we need and may use new nuclear weapons" thing, with this supposedly secretive administration, there's actually plenty to see. It's not that no one cares. It's just that the White House makes it so easy to not report it.

    I [Heart] New York, in Arabic, Maurizio Cattelan,
    I probably shouldn't post this until I get mine, but the artist Maurizio Cattelan created this shirt in a limited edition of 48. It's for sale at Printed Matter, the cool-since-a-long-time-ago artists' bookstore in Chelsea.

    Update: Jeff Jarvis wondered, rightly, if the shirt actually said "I" and "New York" (the heart, I can read). An interesting question, and not. It wouldn't be beyond Maurizio to use illegible/nonsensical script. As it turns out, at Social Design Notes, John recreated a flyer he saw in the EV around Sept. 11. To this unaccustomed eye, the scripts are, indeed, different. But whether it reads "New York," "NY," "Now Yak," or "Newark," I can't say. FWIW, Japlish or Engrish, the Japanese mangling of English is a more powerful phenomenon than the corollary, Americans randomly tattooing themselves with Japanese characters they don't understand.

    Last year, I wrote about the utterly moving experience of On Kawara's work, One Million Years (Past) at Documenta XI. Now, I find the brilliant art site, ubu has put out a 73-minute excerpt of One Million Years (Future) in mp3. (Heads up: it's 105Mb.)

    On Kawara exhibition, On Kawara @ Dia, 1993, photo: Cathy Carver, image:

    Originally intoned for the first time in an exhibition at Dia in 1993, "with the CD the amount of time is limited, 74 minutes [sic], and contains a set number of years (1994 AD to 2613 AD), thus transforming the infinite time of the exhibition into the finite time of the CD."

    From their About page:

    UbuWeb posts much of its content without permission; we rip full-length CDs into sound files; we scan as many books as we can get our hands on; we post essays as fast as we can OCR them. And not once have we been issued a cease and desist order. Instead, we receive glowing e-mails from artists, publishers and record labels finding their work on UbuWeb thanking us for taking an interest in what they do; in fact, most times they offer UbuWeb additional materials. We happily acquiesce and tell them that UbuWeb is an unlimited resource with unlimited space for them to fill.
    On Kawara bonus: Dia: Beacon opens this weekend.

    A Brooklyn artist, James Peterson, has created a mural in Tribeca that has some people upset. See it at Gothamist.

    I'm busy with some offline writing (just wait and see), but in the mean time, I felt the gaijin's obligation to provide some context for the recent one-eyebrow-raising >> reach-for-the-doorlocks reports of that road-trippin' Japanese cult, Pana Wave Laboratory. Their site is only in Japanese

    Panawave, image: rickross.comFirst the bad news: despite the promising name, the cult makes its money from herbal supplements and water purifiers. So no trip-hop CD is in the works.

    Now that that's out of the way, the world will end tomorrow. "[Armageddon] will be caused when electromagnetic waves strike the Japanese archipelago and the delicate gravitational balance between the Andromeda nebula and other nebulas is altered," warns Chino, Pana Wave's leader. (from a great Mainichi Daily News article, with pictures. SMH has another caravan pic. Cult critic Rick Ross has a Panawave news page. This message board is for people waiting for Zeta Planet X to arrive and reverse the earth's poles. It's due tomorrow, too. Busy day.)

    Did I say tomorrow? Japan's 12 hours ahead of the east coast right now, so it may end by lunch. Chino didn't say what timezone she's calculating from.

    TV Asahi screengrab of the Yamanashi-ken domeIn neighboring Yamanashi, Pana Wave built a complex of Armageddon-proofed Fuller domes (Erecta, the manufacturer, issued an online disclaimer.) and filled them with animals (13 dogs, 70 cats, crows, a mini-pig, and an iguana). But then they went on the road, MDN reports, to save Chino from deadly EM waves. These aren't normal EM waves, though, they're called scalar waves, theorized by Nikolai Tesla. They're produced by power lines, which Pana Wave has painstakingly sketched out. In grand Japanese tradition, Pana Wave also created a simple, explanatory cartoon of friendly EM waves combining into evil scalar waves (the mean red one says, "I'm a scalar wave!"). Interestingly, at the April 2000 INET-Congress in Bregenz, Austria, one Prof. Konstantin Meyl announced he'd actually produced scalar waves using Tesla's methods. (See a critique here.)

    grabbed from grabbed from

    Pana Wavers wear all white and drape white cloth all around them, deflecting scalar waves with mirrors. Chino et al are seeking a place, any place, where they can escape what they see as an ecologically disastrous paved, wired grid. Right now, they're draped out in Hachiman, a tiny rural town in Gifu, an area of central Japan where I happened to live (another story). Here is an official Powers of Ten-style map of Gifu, which, coincidentally, places Hachiman at the center of the world.

    [The mountainous regions of Gifu have some of the last, best examples of classical Japanese farmhouses, known as minka. The greatest architecture photo book I know is Nihon no Minka, by GA's Yukio Futagawa. Around 440 pages of gorgeous 1950's B&W photos of traditional Japanese architecture, 99% of it gone by now. Remarkable images of unpaved roads, thatched roofs, and nearly power-line-free vistas. Published in 1962, and reworked in 1980 into Traditional Japanese Houses. I bought the only original I ever saw, at Roth Horowitz. When it was still on Thompson, Perimeter had the reissue. If anyone has the original, it'd be Book Cellar Amus in Osaka. That guy has everything. If the world doesn't end, I'll scan some images.]

    Tama-chan, from the Guardian

    Of course, no apocalyptic cult story would be complete without a media-darling seal. Tama-chan wandered into a polluted Tokyo river last August, and became a cuddly symbol of Japan's need to face its environmental problems. Pana Wave revealed they were behind controversial failed attempts to capture Tama-chan, who, Chino warns, is the only one who can save us now. [hmm Leia wore white, too. Coincidence?]

    Wave UFO, Mariko Mori, image:

    In the mean time, the art world's own Tesla Girl, the heiress Mariko Mori, just opened Wave UFO at 56th & Madison. She's collecting brainwaves and projecting a mind control video inside this pod. From the brochure: "Wave UFO seamlessly unites actual individual physical experiences with Mori's singular vision of a cosmic dream world." It was first exhibited at the Bregenz.

    On a different (?) note: For an absolutely riveting collection of interviews with both survivors and attackers of the 1995 Aum Shinrikyo subway gassing, read Haruki Murakami's Underground. One reviewer says, "Unlike a journalist, Murakami doesn't force these searing narratives into tidy equations of cause and effect, good and evil, but rather allows contradictions and ambiguity to stand, thus presenting unadorned the shocking truth of the diabolical and brutal manner in which ordinary lives were derailed or destroyed."

    I've held off for a few days, waiting to finalize the list of participants, but in the mean time, I created a separate page where I'll post charette-related items. Tentative date: Wed., May 28, one day before the competition registration deadline.

    There is still space for another person (or maybe two), to join, so if you're going to submit a proposal to the WTC Memorial competition, you may want to join our discussion.

    On his ever-interesting Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall has some good book recommendations for people trying to figure out what just happened--and what's still to come--war-wise. Of note: The Iraq War Reader: History, Documents, Opinions, compiled and edited by Micah Sifry and Christopher Cerf. (Click through and give Josh, not me, the Amazon fees for these.)

    Also, lest you were distracted by the man in the plane over there, grave things are still happening in Iraq. Josh excerpts a Newsweek article about missing radioactive material, due to the US's utter failure to secure Iraq's known-to-Hans-Blix-at-least nuclear sites. Fortunately, the uranium and other material can't be used to create a nuclear bomb, it's only useful for making "plenty" of some totally far-fetched, obscure, never-happen device called a "dirty bomb." Why are people wasting time on such implausible terrorist scenarios??


    It took police more than seven hours to shoot and capture the gunman who opened fire in the newly opened Peter B. Lewis Building for Case Western's business school. It was "almost a cat and mouse game," said Cleveland Police Chief Edward Lohn. Why so long? "As the SWAT team entered the building, they were constantly under fire," Lohn said. "They couldn't return fire because of the design of the building. They didn't have a clear shot."

    The design, of course, is by Frank Gehry, an architect whose work has never been described as "SWAT-team-friendly." [Since when is "designed to give a clear shot" considered a desirable building feature?! -ed.] Gehry was brought in by Lewis, Cleveland's biggest philanthropist (except when he's cutting off all the cultural organizations in the city and calling for the replacement of CWRU's entire board. Another story.), to work a little of that Bilbao magic, to create an instantly recognizable architectural signature, an icon, his (Gehry's? or Lewis's?) own Fallingwater. [Insert Falling Ice joke here.]

    In a moment of Any Publicity is Good Publicity, perhaps, Cleveland's mayor gloated of the city's newest signature architecture: "This building now becomes a homicide site," a backhanded reference to Bilbao, Spain, where Basque terrorists failed to blow up Gehry's Guggenheim building (with grenades in flower pots in Jeff Koons' Puppy actually. Bilbao still wins on style. Another digression.)


    Quake programmers take note: Floor plans are available. Unfortunately, the video walkthrough (boldly titled, "Risk, Learn, Grow") is currently offline back up! controversy's over.

    Wave UFO, Mariko Mori, image: Tom Powel,
    Wave UFO, Mariko Mori for the Public Art Fund
    image: Tom Powel,


    A promising DIRECTOR wanders into the atrium to examine Mariko Mori's Wave UFO, a large, shiny pod-looking art object nestled among the towering thickets of bamboo. A YOUNG ARTIST mills about, hesitant to approach him.

    YOUNG ARTIST Um, Excuse me.


    Did you have a film in the MoMA Documentary Festival?

    (shocked, confused, with a hesitant inflection)

    I saw it. You spoke after, too. It was really nice.

    Thanks. (stammer) Thank you.

    The two chat briefly, then the ARTIST leaves. Suddenly, from out of a clump of bamboo, CELEBRITY, THE CRUEL MISTRESS appears, looking a lot like the Black Queen in X-Men5: The Hellfire Club. She has been observing the scene, unnoticed. She approaches the DIRECTOR and places her black-gloved hand on his tensed-up shoulder. Startled, the DIRECTOR turns around.

    CELEBRITY, THE CRUEL MISTRESS So, the tables have turned.


    The gawker is now the gawked.
    But remember, only the first one is free.

    CELEBRITY, THE CRUEL MISTRESS disappears behind the shiny pod, and the DIRECTOR looks around, appearing nonplussed, but secretly high, and already (zeta-)jonesing for another hit.

    May 8, 2003

    On X2, briefly

    Good movie. Nice bones tossed to the comic book readers. Just a suggestion: maybe if their hair wasn't so uniformly weird, people wouldn't hate the mutants as much.

    Skoal. For the third time, Norway merits an entry in First, it was for an examination of non-violent resistance to the Nazi occupation. A few days later, it was for an underground WWII protest song. Now, keeping the Orwell thread alive, it's a Norwegian parliamentarian's nomination of Bush and Blair for the Nobel Peace Prize.

    Pity the deadline's passed for 2003 nominations. If they'd been eligible for this year, and won, they could've showed up Carter, who won last year "for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts" blah blah blah. Fast wars, fast peace prizes, eh, Jimmy?

    I just found this bizarre "feature" on my My T-Mobile two-way text messaging site. It's called the Funny Message Generator, and it inserts one of the following allegedly funny phrases into your message. IDGI. Here's a screenshot

    > Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.
    > He/she was so ugly that whenever they would go into the bank, the electric eye would water.
    > You are unique like everyone else.
    > Why is abbreviation such a long word?
    > ywnbwihttygmac--You will never believe what I have to tell you. Give me a call.
    > N-Sync and the Spice Girls are the same band. Have you ever seen them at the same time?
    > U R it. Write me back.
    > Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.
    > I need your help stamping out, eliminating and abolishing redundancy.

    Guy Maddin, image:

    Also from the Voice: I have no idea what to make of Guy Maddin's production diary for his newest film, The Saddest Music in the World, but it's good readin'. Something to do with a legless Isabella Rossellini. Don't let the film's absence from Maddin's IMDb entry get to you, either. (I mean, if Charlie Kaufman's brother can get nominated for an Oscar...)

    Maddin's got a joint at the Tribeca Film Festival and a Dracula: The Ballet movie opening at FilmForum next week. Really.

    I don't mean in the sense of "So, what do you do?" for people whose profession (e.g., writers, filmmakers...especially writers) might not appear to involve actually doing very much.

    I mean in the nosy sense. A boss or busybody or fisher of insider information might ask you what you're working on, leaving you to wonder what, exactly, they're getting at. To avoid the appearance of micromanaging, hovering, or intrusion, the passive aggressive boss might install cameras ("They're just webcams!" he might say chirpily.) and offer assurances that they'll only be accessible "to Charles and James and myself," and all they're for is to "read the whiteboard in the lab" or to "see if you're there before coming over" (telephones being an outmoded way of contacting you, apparently).

    Then, when the "webcam" is installed, and it turns out to be housed in a little smoked glass dome, and to pan and zoom, via remote control, then your boss really will know what you're working on, because now, he can follow you around the lab with his camera. At meetings, the webcamming managers will giggle at their new toy, which in the very techy, science-y, even, culture of your workplace, is now an object of gadget envy, by people who don't work within its lens's reach, of course.

    Monitor, 1998, Craig Kalpakjian, Andrea Rosen Gallery, Monitor, 1998, Craig Kalpakjian Andrea Rosen Gallery,

    In the first week, you'll know your boss knows what you're working on, because it'll turn out the "webcam" can read a monitor on an experiment--oh, and your computer screen--from across the room. It can zoom in on your colleague's nascent ear hair, "Did you know Craig has ear hair?" becoming a topic of conversation among the admins in your bosses' offices. IT people you've never met will smile at you in the hall, and say hi like an old friend. Occasionally, a stranger'll just drop by to chat; she'd always meant to introduce herself before--you seemed so interesting. Her eyes dart furtively to the black dome and back as you talk, and you say to yourself, if she were a cop, she'd blow the sting.

    Your neck and shoulders will seize up by the end of the week, and only when you point out to your male colleague that they're checking out his ass, too, you know, will his disgust for the ideological implications of these controlling cameras overcome his entrenched gadgetophilia. When you impose on the head of the project for a few minutes of his time that afternoon, he will explain the extremely circumscribed authorized uses--and users--of the camera and he'll reassure you that any fears you will have are unfounded. Then he'll ask, in confidence, why, have you heard something different? Then you'll unfold the totality of the harsh spotlight you are under, the misuse and intrusion that inexorably attends the installation of surveillance cameras, and that will missioncreep back, as long as the cameras are there.

    Late on that Friday afternoon, a stern mass email will go out--he's a pretty no-nonsense guy, all said and done--from the project head, "the cameras will be disabled immediately, pending the development of an appropriate use policy." An IT guy you've never seen will say hi to you as if you'd shared an office once when he comes to hastily remove the cable. When you come in on Monday, you'll be surprised to see the cameras gone, even their bolt holes puttied and painted over. You'll login to your email to find another mass email from the project head, announcing the cameras' demise, timestamped Saturday evening.

    This surveillance camera drama is brought to you courtesy of my wife and her colleagues at NASA. See performances with far unhappier endings, by the Surveillance Camera Players, at "Psy-Geo-Conflux" this weekend, a culture happening you'll still not quite grasp after reading this Village Voice article. I do get that the cool Wooster Collective folks'll be doing a walking tour of street art, though.

    Been fielding some interesting responses from people on the WTC charette, including several about the word, "charette." A couple of people said it's snooty, a couple complained that it's architect-y, a couple complained it's French. As they say in darts, nice grouping. Please feel free to call it a roundtable, a workshop, a klatsch, hell, call it a "freedom cart" if your politics demands. Just call.

    Several folks, including me and the aforelinked Jeff Jarvis, have been concerned about how the competition requirements (one 30x40-inch board) may skew against non-architects' proposals: no slick, no realized, no comprehensive, no chance. This prompted me to track down Maya Lin's 1982 account of entering the Vietnam Memorial competition, which she only published in 2000 in her book, Boundaries.

    Even in my last WTC memorial post, I was unconciously channeling Lin's essay. I mean, I knew she shows up in my script for Souvenir (November 2001), but still. It was the degree to which the Lutyens memorial at Thiepval influenced her that sets S(N01) in motion. Here's part of what she says:

    To walk past those [75,000] names [on the Thiepval memorial] and realize those lost lives -- the effect of that is the strength of the design. This memorial acknowledged those lives without focusing on the war or on creating a political statement of victory or loss. This apolitical approach became the essential aim of my design, -- I did not want to civilize war by glorifying it or by forgetting the sacrifices involved. The price of human life in war should always be clearly remembered.

    But on a personal level, I wanted to focus on the nature of accepting and coming to terms with a loved one's death. Simple as it may seem, I remember feeling that accepting a person's death is the first step in being able to overcome that loss.

    I felt that as a culture we were extremely youth-oriented and not willing or able to accept death or dying as a part of life. The rites of mourning, which in more primitive and older cultures were very much a part of life, have been suppressed in our modern times. In the design of the memorial, a fundamental goal was to be honest about death, since we must accept that loss in order to begin to overcome it. The pain of the loss will always be there, it will always hurt, but we must acknowledge the death in order to move on.

    What then would bring back the memory of a person? A specific object or image would be limiting. A realistic sculpture would be only one interpretation of that time. I wanted something that all people could relate to on a personal level. At this time I had as yet no form, no specific artistic image.

    The use of names was a way to bring back everything someone could remember about a person.

    With this powerful realization--which perfectly met the competition requirements of including the names of all 57,000 Vietnam casualties on the memorial--Lin's submission was so simple, it prompted one judge to react, "He must really know what he is doing to dare to do something so naive." She submitted "drawings in soft pastels, very mysterious, very painterly, and not at all typical of architectural drawings." In fact, she spent more time on the one-page essay, which she felt was critical to understanding her idea. (This text is on the official NPS site.) The takeaway from this: Your proposal can be compelling enough to win, if your idea is compelling enough to win.

    May 7, 2003

    Film Credits

    Graydon Carter better get a haircut. According to this Observer article, he may be due in court, to explain why his first film, The Kid Stays In The Picture, the Robert Evans story, is reminiscent of, inspired by, slightly similar to an utter appropriation of the 15-minute film director David Weisman's made as a pitch for an Evans documentary. If your tendency is to dismiss such claims as weak attempts at coattail-riding, please reserve your judgment until Carter explains his "the producer thanks" credit for Hector Babenco, the director of Kiss of the Spider Woman. Brilliant story. [Read my first KSITP post, and listen to an excerpt from the, ahem, addictive audiobook.] front of my house. Bringing the car into the city + alternate-side parking + pumping WiFi out your window = posting from said car, now double-parked, waiting for the Brownies to pass you by.

    A couple of people saw some cynicism my last post on the WTC Memorial competition's designation as "open to all" and "part of the mourning process." It was partly a reaction to that member of the axis of eager, Jeff Jarvis. And there's my (not unfounded) skepticism about poorly guided democratic/populist design solutions. But mostly, it was about my own ambivalence about the process itself, what role a memorial there will play, and the use/impact/value of my own response.

    I made a film about memorials, which looks at how people and places mark and deal with terrible events. I intended it to be something useful to people--to New York--for dealing with the WTC attacks. It occurred to me that the WTC Memorial competition is precisely when I/it can be of some use. But since it's not in any way definitive, or authoritative, or even necessarily that influential, the way it can contribute is as one perspective in a discussion among equals. If I am ambivalent-yet-still-interested in proposing a design for the WTC Memorial, there are probably others in the same situation.

    WTC Memorial site, image: LMDCFor me, and you (if you're in the same competition boat as me), I'm putting together a WTC Memorial charette.

    What's a charette, you say? In architecture, it's a quick-fire, problem-solving design exercise. When MoMA held one to select their architect, participants whipped up their ideas, models and sketches and submitted them in a shirt-box. Even though it's called a charette, this exercise will put more emphasis on discussion and problem-solving and less on specific design. The goal will be to discuss our own real--not hypothetical--questions, ideas, and challenges around making our proposals for the WTC Memorial. Then, after an invigorating, thoughtful, and (hopefully) interesting charette, we'll all be primed to make our proposals to the competition.

    Here's how I envision it so far:

  • It'll be a small group (8-10 people max; I already have 4), with an architect moderating, but with a healthy mix of professionals (architects, artists, designers) and amateurs (everybody else). Importantly, there are no armchair generals; each participant must be registering for the competition. (For those who want to follow along, we'll put it on the website.)
  • If you already know exactly what should go on the WTC site, congratulations and best of luck. This charette won't be of use to you.
  • Demagogues need not apply. Since only brilliant people will participate, there will be no need to prove our brilliance to each other.
  • This isn't a way to find a partner, join a team, or crib designs from others. If some people click and decide to work together afterwards, that's cool, but it's not expected.
  • Thoughtfulness is expected. Experience and expertise are welcome; credentialism, however, can wait in the hall. If you're seriously entering the competition, and you have questions and issues around the memorial, mission, design, or competition, you're qualified to participate.
  • How much preparation you do is up to you. At minimum, though, be familiar with the official competition materials. The charette should be a means, not an end in itself, though, so don't go overboard. If it contributes to the program, I'll show my short film, Souvenir (November 2001).
  • Logistical details are TBD, but it'll be a couple of hours, on an evening or weekend, near the end of May, in NYC. If you've got ideas for a place, network, or other useful resources, don't be shy.
  • Don't think this is at all a proprietary deal, either. If this group fills up, and you want to start another one, be my guest. To participate, or if you have any questions or suggestions, email me at wtc< at > greg org. Pass it on.

  • NPR's Fresh Air may be the only media outlet with a linguist on its masthead. Check out Geoff Nunberg's fascinating 29 April discussion of the Right's writers' distinctive and repeated and rhythmic use of conjunctions, a rhetorical device known as polysyndeton. Nunberg (whose site at Stanford has a transcript and extensive excerpts in the footnotes) traces polysyndeton's "voice of the common man"-ist usage from Walt Whitman through some thought-provoking film world sources.

    May 4, 2003

    On First Films

    John Malkovich has been doing the media circuit for The Dancer Upstairs, his directorial debut, and it sounds pretty respectable.

    It got me thinking, so I made some Amazon lists for your blogger-/info-/shopper-tainment:

  • Directors' famously first movies
  • What I really want to do is direct, movies by ____-turned-directors.

    Bonus links [thanks, Fimoculous]: 25th Hour author David Benioff writes in the Guardian about adapting his nearly unpublished novel, first for Tobey Maquire, then for Spike Lee. He sounds a lot tougher than he did in W Magazine. Maybe it's because he's sharing writing credit with, um, Homer on his next movie.

    Or because he's published alongside Thomas freakin' Pynchon, who takes a thoughtful, ultimately optimistic look at Orwell's 1984.

  • A controversy is brewing over Daniel Libeskind's design for the WTC site, which is moving, rapidly and significantly, from what he'd originally proposed--and won with. The NYTimes' Edward Wyatt is on top of things. Yesterday, he reported on a study which showed one of the Libeskind design's core elements, the Wedge of Light--a zone where unobstructed sunlight shone in between his buildings every Sept. 11th morning--was a physical impossibility. Busted, Libeskind tried to pretend that, all along, the Wedge wasn't literal but metaphorical. From someone whose design is based on making symbolism and metaphor into the literal and physical, it's an unconvincing crock.

    Today, Wyatt collects some other opinions, including one from "Dream Team" member, Richard Meier (himself no slouch in the not-coming-clean-about-your-WTC-design department), who asks, "How could you not take it literally?" (Remember, a Liberty Wall, symbolizing the Constitution and a 1,776-foot tower are the other major elements of the design.) In addition to the collapsed tower fragment-shaped, tic-tac-toe buildings, the Dream Team proposal included a garden of trees and lights,in the shape of the Twin Towers' shadows, which would have extended across the World Financial Center and into the Hudson. It was a moving design; I hope they'll pony up $25 and enter it in the memorial competition.

    Other changes Libeskind's made so far: making room for the MTA's bus station by shortening his foundation wall from 7 stories to 3 (roughly the depth of the Rockefeller Center skating rink), placing said bus station under the designated Memorial site, encasing said wall in a "glazed screen," and cantilevering his museum over the footprint of the North Tower. Maybe these were all part of his winning proposal. Why not ask Libeskind about that?

    Tina Brown, image: nbcmv.comHear she got some friends together and put on a show. Missed it. Sushi & too-low-flying airplanes in Arlington. When Tina first broached Topic A, she threatened/promised more Larry than Charlie; if Gawker's transcript of the Brown-on-Diller&Gladwell action's any indication, she delivered. We can't say we weren't warned.

    But in her Times column, she kicks herself ("I should have booked Celine Dion."), Philip Johnson-style, who quickly called himself a whore before anyone else could beat him to it. But in an article where she also describes the dismal White House Correspondents' dinner, is not the whores, or even Celine Dion (ba-dum-bum), but a horse, whose image lingers longest. Not just any horse, mind you, a "Republican warhorse," the best the dinner could do in the "celebrity" department, Bo Derek.

    Bo Derek, in Tarzan, image:"Horse," a not-unimportant word to the actress herself (more on that later), turns out to be one of only nine words (7 distinct words, 9 total) I actually remember hearing from Bo Derek's mouth, in a torturous scene from Tarzan, the Ape Man. Derek, as Jane, and her father (played by the late, lamenting Richard Harris) had been captured by (literally whitewashed) savages. As the savages prep her as an offering to their Chief, Bo, on all fours, moans the immortal line, "They're painting me! They're washing me like a horse!" It's worth noting that the director who put Bo in this scene was her husband (and Richard Harris age-alike), John Derek. (See another clip here for some equally unforgettable readings.)

    Rather than buy this horrible movie (which is only on VHS, anyway), why not get Bo's revealing new book about her relationships with her creepy old ex-husband and his other ex-wives, Ursula Andress and Linda Evans. It's title? Riding Lessons: Everything That Matters in Life I Learned from Horses Let's see Rick Santorum explain that one. Forget Celine. Tina on Bo and Rick: now that's a 3-way worth watching

    Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

    Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

    comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
    greg [at] greg [dot ] org

    find me on twitter: @gregorg

    about this archive

    Posts from May 2003, in reverse chronological order

    Older: April 2003

    Newer June 2003

    recent projects, &c.

    Our Guernica Cycle, 2017 –
    about/kickstarter | exhibit, 2017

    Social Medium:
    artists writing, 2000-2015
    Paper Monument, Oct. 2016
    ed. by Jennifer Liese
    buy, $28

    Madoff Provenance Project in
    'Tell Me What I Mean' at
    To__Bridges__, The Bronx
    11 Sept - Oct 23 2016
    show | beginnings

    Chop Shop
    at SPRING/BREAK Art Show
    curated by Magda Sawon
    1-7 March 2016

    eBay Test Listings
    Armory – ABMB 2015
    about | proposte monocrome, rose

    It Narratives, incl.
    Shanzhai Gursky & Destroyed Richter
    Franklin Street Works, Stamford
    Sept 5 - Nov 9, 2014
    about | link

    TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -

    Standard Operating Procedure
    about | buy now, 284pp, $15.99

    CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
    Canal Zone Richard Prince
    YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
    Decision, plus the Court's
    Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
    about | buy now, 142pp, $12.99

    "Exhibition Space" @ apexart, NYC
    Mar 20 - May 8, 2013
    about, brochure | installation shots

    HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
    Printed Matter, NYC
    Summer 2012
    panel &c.

    Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
    background | making of
    "Richteriana," Postmasters Gallery, NYC

    Canal Zone Richard
    Prince YES RASTA:
    Selected Court Documents
    from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
    about | buy now, 376pp, $17.99