In helpful, 2x2 grid format:
April 2004 Archives
April 30, 2004
April 30, 2004
Even with all their vaunted number-crunching abilities, it seems no one at MIT can say exactly how much Simmons Hall, their new Steven Holl-designed, sponge-inspired, suicidal plunge-preventing dorm actually cost.
Can't? Or won't? Metropolis reports a dispute--and a possible lawsuit against Holl--is brewing over $30-50 million in cost overruns. One inside source says of the whole construction experience, "Itís a terrible combination of hubris and ignorance."
Rejecting any assertion that his clients are dissatisfied, Holl said of his work at MIT, "It was a great honor. Great architecture is important to making daily life more inspired."
Let's see now, MIT... I guess that leaves ignorance for you.
[Update: Why not ask Holl or MIT about this next Saturday at the The University as Patron of Cutting Edge Architecture forum? (thanks for the heads up, Javier!)]
[Up-update: MIT flak denied any lawsuit plans to archinect, blamed journalist's 'opportunism.' Still, that's better than hubris or ignorance.]
April 29, 2004
Whether it's momentum, or a mindshare takeover, or a drive to push the site out of the nest and let it learn to fly, or the fact that I've changed 200 diapers in the last three weeks, I've been posting on daddytypes.com a lot more than here lately. And for that, I apologize.
Of course, if you're interested in anything like the following, stop on by:
April 28, 2004
Inspired by Tyler@Modern Art Notes's to-bid-on list for the upcoming contemporary art auctions. I don't think I'll be bidding against him on anything, especially now that he's lining his pockets with all that ArtsJournal loot. Too rich for my blood.
But a flip through the catalogues turned up at least one must-get work. If Sotheby's estimates are right for this storyboard Robert Smithson made for his Spiral Jetty movie, I may need to talk discreetly to someone about the street value of a small, cute, baby girl. She's very advanced for her age and sleeps through the night.
"Smithson equated film stips to historical artifacts trapped in frames, with the movie editor acting as a paleontologist in reconstructing the whole. Smithson wrote 'The movieola becomes a "time machine" that transforms trucks into dinosaurs.' In its storyboard format, this detailed drawing by Smithson embodies his notion of historical evolution, fragmented over time, like pages torn from a book and scattered - a scene he enacted in the realized film of Spiral Jetty."
Related: Smithson on the Jetty and geocaching
"Certainly the show is inventive and cool looking. The voices, most done by the creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, are also hilarious. (Cartman's pronunciation of 'authority'ó aw-THOR-eh-tah ó is unaccountably perfect.)"
- Virginia Heffernan, writing in today--2004--'s NYT.
How, exactly, is South Park's moral stance and religiosity-bashing any different now than during the last seven seasons, when the show repeatedly featured Mormons, Christian popbands, Satan taking over the world (and dating Saddam Hussein), and, um, Jesus hosting a public access show?? If Matt & Trey ever pit Jesus against Santa, though, you'll know they've gone too far.
Bonus question: How long for a weblog is reduced to screaming at the New York Times?
Hint: It's less than 3 years.
April 27, 2004
The article makes it sound like the two novice filmmakers are out more than $235,000 for production and post- to make their film, even though $150K of that is to Chinagraph, a post- house where Gramaglia's brother works, which is listed as a production company for the film. That's how indie docs work, my friend, you get your family to do a lot of work for free. So $65K out of pocket for a feature documentary? Nice work.
No, their real problem is entirely of their own making, and it's captured perfectly in this anecdote from the film's screening last year at Slamdance:
Penelope Spheeris, the director of the punk rock documentary "The Decline of Western Civilization" as well as "Wayne's World," introduced "End of the Century" at the Slamdance festival. Afterward, she found Mr. Fields. "She was like, `Wow, do you have all the music rights?' I was like: `Yeah! Sure! Totally!' I had no idea what she was talking about."Yes, they made a movie about a band without getting rights or releases for the interviews, performances, footage, or music.
Similar thing happened to a friend of mine, whose parking lot documentary about Deadheads screened at Sundance, but the band harshed their buzz. Ultimately, they had to release it without the Dead's music, causing it to stink like the inside of a fry god's rusty Honda.
A rule of thumb for all you dumbass, cheapass filmmakers out there: Get and use Michael Donaldson's Clearance & Copyright: Everything the Independent Filmmaker Needs to Know. Bonus: In Filmmaker, Donaldson talks admiringly about Morgan Spurlock's deft lawsuit-dodging while making Supersize Me.
April 26, 2004
I like Kill Bill vol. 2, but I'd like to see it together.
I LOVE George C. Scott's warroom performance in Dr Strangelove. What comedy.
April 26, 2004
THE TALK OF THE TOWN
POSTSCRIPT/ David Remnick remembers Philip Hamburger
COMMENT/ ON THE AIR/ Elizabeth Kolbert on the Presidentís murky environmental policy.
THE MOVEMENT/ CHANGES/ Rebecca Mead attends a feminist-movement reunion.
DEPT. OF STYLE/ WORD PROBLEM/ Gary Bass on defining genocide at the Times.
SPRING FEVER DEPT./ SUBSTITUTE/ Austin Kelley examines the Columbia teaching assistantsí strike.
THEATRE/ Stalkers and Talkers/ John Lahr/ Sondheim and Stoppard on Broadway.
BOOKS/ Did Brown Matter?/ Cass R. Sunstein/ On the fiftieth anniversary of the fabled desegregation case, not everyone is celebrating.
THE ART WORLD/ Bare Minimal/ Peter Schjeldahl/ Views from New York and Los Angeles. ["Thereís the rub of minimalism, which always endorses some or another faceless power." Schjeldahl manages to write a review that pretends Felix Gonzalez-Torres--and Robert Gober, and Anne Truitt, for that matter--don't exist.]
THE CURRENT CINEMA/ In the Name of Love/ Anthony Lane/ "Laws of Attraction" and "Monty Pythonís Life of Brian."
FROM THE ARCHIVE
A REPORTER AT LARGE/ A Meeting in Atlanta/ Bernard Taper/ Issue of 1956-03-17/ Attending a N.A.A.C.P meeting with Thurgood Marshall and others.
THE TALK OF THE TOWN/ Bettmann Archive/ Philip Hamburger's first piece for the magazine/ Issue of 1939-04-08
Philip Hamburger's last piece for the magazine, from the issue of 2003-12-08
Addendum: You don't have to read it at work, you know. They will send the magazine to your house, if you pay them.
April 25, 2004
This Guardian exclusive wins the award for best comic timing of the week. It's a diary of a young man who hooked up with Kevin Spacey online. Money changed hands. Drinks were plied. Gifts and trips were showered. Video was shot. But this time, apparently, no cell phones were stolen.
According to the Guardian, Spacey has set up a whole website just to meet young men who are ready to "do what it takes" to break into the film business.
April 25, 2004
In BFI's May 2004 Sight & Sound, James Bell looks at the world of British shorts. His findings: proper support is very important, but hard to come by; when you need it most, there can be no reaction at all; when they can't get someone else to do it with, people turn to handheld electronic devices to help them shoot, then they complain that it's "not like the real thing"; people are going online for some action; the word "gag" comes up a lot; it rarely lasts longer than five minutes.
If this sounds suspiciously like the situation in our American shorts, just remember: in the UK, the whole thing's funded by the government. [via GreenCine]
April 23, 2004
It's a fine hook to hang a puff piece for the Guggenheim's minimalism exhibit on: Tour the city with the curators and uncover the minimalism all around us. Should be ideal; so why would I rather take my chances on the Baghdad-Najaf local?
Is it the idea of riding around in a van all day? The constant competition for most nerve-fraying whine between Nancy Spector's 3-month-old baby and chief curator/clotheshorse Lisa Dennison? ("There is a very real danger that I will start to shop, so we'd better be brief.")
No, it's the depressing realization that these supposedly high-octane New York artminds, augmented by artist and prolific writer Liam Gillick, couldn't have come up with a more unimaginative, uninformative itinerary. With the exception of Donald Judd's own studio/house in SoHo, their minimalist sites barely warrant looking up as your cab goes by.
Jil Sander (by Spector's husband) instead of Calvin Klein (by maxi-minimalist and Judd cut-and-paster John Pawson)? The window at the Time Warner Mall instead of the Rose Center Planetarium (which did clear-glass curtainwall first, infinitely better, and happens to be by an actual architect)? Richard Meier's silly Asia de Cuba or whatever the hell it's called? (My guess: Lisa's idea.)
And the piece de resistance: the Seagram building instead of something actually minimalist, like _____(I'm thinking.) This minimalist braintrust actually drinks the Miesian Koolaid, that it's all about "structure as the expression of the buildng." Mies was as much about decoration as the next classicist, it turns out, as the renovation of his IIT in Chicago proved. His structure was a veneer on top of the actual structure: aestheticized, artificial, techno-classicist.
[Update: I am not all right on this Mies nonsense, but it turns out I'm even lazier than a vanful of curators. And I'm too bored with their conceit to care. If you're really interested in minimalism and the grid and its influence on the city, go read the chapter on how laying out the grid led to the development of the skyscraper in Koolhaas's Delirious New York.
April 20, 2004
The following were not reasons for my not posting for five days:
April 20, 2004
INT - A SCRUFFY CONFERENCE ROOM, LATE AFTERNOON
One by one, the bleary-eyed IndieWIRE staffers stumble into the room, looking in vain for the bagels and coffee.
No one even looks up. Managing Editor WENDY MITCHELL, facedown on the table in a slowly expanding pool of drool, stirs briefly at the sudden noise, but doesn't move. From this position, her jacket collar separates from her neck, which turns out to be covered with fresh hickeys..
JONNY LEAHANWhere's the spread? Who the f(*& schedules a meeting this early and doesn't order breakfast?
He headnods to WENDY, who still clutches a MoMA giftbag from the night before.
BRIAN BROOKSNan da, korya!, baka-baka-shii jikan tsubushi. Hima ja nai, ore. Maa, jitsu wa hima da kedo... J.D. ASHCRAFT(wearily spitting out the punchline to an office joke gone stale) Suntory Time!
ANTHONY KAUFMANCut with the Lost in Translation, already.
BROOKSOre no daihon was saisho datta! Sofia no Tokyo Story to zenzen chigau!
KEN TABACHNICKDude, she beat you to it. It's over . She won.
Write about something else, Kahane. Move on.
April 19, 2004
You know how, in The World According to Garp, Robin Williams buys a house right after a plane crashes into it, because, hey, what are the odds of that happening again?
If you ascribe to a Garpian worldview, I invite you join me on Server30 at totalchoicehosting.com, where you'll now be safe from DOS zombification and 5-day reconfiguration of all your websites.
April 15, 2004
The classic "Cinderella story" speech from Caddyshack was written as an interstitial camera shot...Ramis took Murray aside and said, "When you're playing sports, do you everjust talk to yourselflike you're the announcer?"When [I] asked about "the whole 'Cinderella story' from Caddyshack and that shot of Bill golfing under Mt. Fuji," Sofia didn't register. "I never saw it."
Murray said, "Say no more," and did his monologue in one take.
- Tad Friend's great piece on Harold Ramis in the New Yorker.
Buy Caddyshack on DVD and carry it around with you. Give it --and a stern talking to--to Sofia Coppola when you see her.
Buy Murray's book, titled--you guessed it--Cinderella Story: My Life in Golf. [Or don't, if the "See Inside!" excerpt is any indication.]
April 15, 2004
If you're planning to bumrush Bill Murray tonight at BAM to pitch him your 12-page script ["INT - ASSISTANT GREENSKEEPER'S HOUSE - NIGHT"], you're a bigger chump than your ex said you were: it was Tuesday.
Don't worry, you can still send a message "to" Bill at The Bill Murray Message Board, "just in case that actor ever visits this site":
Date: 2/12/2004 - 9:42 PM
Comments : I am, at this moment, watching you on Letterman. and was very touched by your "psychic pull" remark re: your six children. I, admittedly, teared up as you said it - I have two children. (& love them dearly a good part of the time.) However, we are feeling that the psychic pull is more of a HAUNTING as our son enters young adulthood. I think boys should be banned! Girls are moodier and in a much more "in your face mode" but manageable. My question is, how can our 20 year old son and his two roommates generate a $400.00 cable bill for one month? We live in Vermont - not frickin' L.A.. Please do not reply. I have had two glasses of Kendall Jackson and have NEVER before posted a message to a board/chatroom (cmpd wd?)My husband is out of town and I am just exercising a wild hair.
[4/21 Update: Check Joey's play-by-play account of BAM's Bill and Elvis Show at Tale of Two Cities. The line TOTC's been waiting his whole life to hear from Jim Jarmusch ("It was so much fun getting Bill in a room with RZA and GZA.") does absolutely nothing for me. I now feel very very stupid.]
April 15, 2004
Police arrest 2 under new 'anti-camcording' law 15 Apr 2004 10:07am EDT - By Jesse Hiestand The MPAA announced Wednesdaythe first arrests under a new California law targeting movie pirates who use camcorders in theaters. Min Jae Joun was arrested on suspicion of violating the anti-camcording law after theater personnel saw a red light from his camcorder during an April 10 screening of The Passion of the Christ at the Pacific Theatre at the Grove in Los Angeles. Joun's next hearing date is May 5 in Los Angeles' central arraignment court. Also arrested on suspicion of the misdemeanor charge was Ruben Centeno Moreno, who allegedly recorded The Alamo on April 12 at the Pacific Winnetka Theatre in the Chatsworth area of Los Angeles. A projectionist observed a light from the video camera and confirmed it using night-vision goggles, according to the MPAA. No hearing date has been set yet for Moreno. [via IMDb]If you can actually tell me which of the three highlighted parts of this story is the craziest, I'll paypal you a dollar.
April 14, 2004
There was a day when a story like "Architectural Team Is Chosen for Trade Center Memorial" would be frontpage news.
And there was a day when an LMDC statement like "[Building the memorial]' would also likely require removal of some remnants of the former W.T.C.'" would set off alarm bells all over, seeing as how there are very few actual remnants left.
And there was a day when a lengthy article in the Times castigating Daniel Libeskind's Jewish Museum as a theme park of facile, emotionally manipulative kitsch--and a functional failure as a museum--would ignite a firestorm of debate.
That day is not today.
[Michael Kimmelman casts his critique as a cautionary tale for New York; but like belated credulous investigative journalism about WMD claims, this stuff would've been nice to hear before we got lured into Libeskind's quagmire.]
April 14, 2004
At that graduate writing lecture? The one on the front row of the auditorium, with the grimy totebags stuffed with sheafs of paper? The old dude, who kept asking about, didn't you ever notice in Shakespeare's Titus how...? and how Nabokov subconciously cribbed then referenced some German short story in both Lolita AND Pale Fire? The one who then pulls out some sweat-curled manuscript he's been writing in his paperback-stuffed rent stabilized apartment on 108th st, where he's figured out his Grand Unification Theory of Literature, if only you'll read it, you'll see that it's...
No, the other one, the one who keeps talking about Skull & Bones? Yeah, yeah, that's him.
Well, he has a 10,000-word column in the New York Observer. No, seriously. Like every week.
April 13, 2004
Also noted: Troops greet each other with, "Who's your Baghdaddy?" No mention made of Hajji. Ancient "Stairway to Heaven" still inexplicably popular.
Line the reporter, Thom Shanker, is most pleased to see make the editor's cut: "Let it be recorded: Soldiers assigned to civilization's cradle will rock."
April 13, 2004
Still damp from that Prada encounter Sunday, Herbert Muschamp barely has time to come up for air before resuming the position he knows so well: kissing Diller & Scofidio's ass. Is this really fit to print?
13Musc gets worked up by the high colonic of glass and plasma screens D+S have planned for Lincoln Center's West 65th St conduit, but he ignores the real news.
Apparently, Diller+Scofidio went all HotPR4Third; the firm is now called Diller + Scofidio + Renfro. [italics mine; you never know with these design types.]
That's right, the expert on the "problematization of media spectacle in public space,"-- and hot teen actor--Brad Renfro has joined the firm. No wonder Herb is swooning and lilting so hard.
April 12, 2004
THE TALK OF THE TOWN
COMMENT/ ESCALATION/ David Remnick on the widening war in Iraq.
OUR CONSTABULARY/ WANTED/ Ben McGrath on the secret life of city marshals.
THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL/ PARDON?/ Joshua Kurlantzick on whatís bad about John Kerryís good French.
CAMPUS POSTCARD/ A PILE OF PAPER/ Evan Ratliff on a collegiate parody publication.
THE FINANCIAL PAGE/ HAIL TO THE GEEK/ James Surowiecki on how the Bush Administration has politicized economic data.
SHOUTS & MURMURS/ Ian Frazier/ He, the Murderer
THE POLITICAL SCENE/ Elizabeth Kolbert/ Stooping to Conquer/ Why politicians mock themselves.
DEPT. OF SCREENWRITING/ Ian Parker/ Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk./ The Three Stooges meet the Farrelly brothers.
PROFILES/ Ben McGrath/ The Radical/ The big mouth behind "The Boondocks."
ANNALS OF HOLLYWOOD/ Tad Friend/ Comedy First/ How Harold Ramis changed Hollywood.
FICTION/ Steven Millhauser/ "Cat 'n' Mouse"
BOOKS/ Jim Holt/ Punch Line/ The history of jokes and those who collect them.
ON TELEVISION/ Nancy Franklin/ Childhood Inc./ The business of child stardom.
THE THEATRE/ John Lahr/ Unnatural History/ Studies in psychology and slickness.
MUSICAL EVENTS/ Alex Ross/ The Sonata Seminar/ Leon Fleisher's exuberant exploration of Schubert.
THE CURRENT CINEMA/ David Denby/ Chopping Block/ "Kill Bill Vol. 2."
FROM THE ARCHIVE
THE TALK OF THE TOWN/ Geoffrey T. Hellman/ Plummie/ An article about P.G. Wodehouse/ Issue of 1960-10-15
April 11, 2004
WTF? Herbert Muschamp in today's NYT Magazine: "[Miuccia Prada] has made the world safe for people with overdeveloped inner lives. [I guess, by selling bagsful of $480 polo shirts to armies of style-free mooks and molls from Manhasset.
[And by commissioning some hapless fop to recreate--and gut of all meaning beyond hip association through sheer and empty aestheticization--an actually controversial and culture-changing documentary by Pier Paolo Pasolini, which had already just been remade a couple of years before by some Italian TV producer.]"
April 10, 2004
I usually confine my viewing of OLN, the Outdoor Life Network, to pen-to-pen coverage of the Professional Bull Riders Tour.
On Saturday, Bush and his father were to go fishing at the ranch's bass pond with a crew from the Outdoor Life Network's "Fishing with Roland Martin."I'd imagine Roland & Co. would need at least a month's leadtime to put such a shoot together. Coincidentally, it's been just over a month since White House producers--and sportsman voters--heard a report on NPR where "the hook-and-bullet crowd" voice opposition to the Bush administration's environmental policies. Roland's crew is joined this weekend by the NRA and conservative/moderate conservation groups mentioned in the story.
The White House approached the network about coming to film Bush, who is eager to cultivate an image as a sportsman with the millions of voters who hunt and fish. The crew was to bring its own boat for the shoot on the small pond. [emphasis added for ironic effect]
Although manmade, Bush's bass pond was not actually excavated for the shoot. The CSMonitor even mentions it in a WH Press Office-stocked feature on Bush's Crawford ranch:
A USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll shows that 55 percent of Americans believe four weeks is too long for a president to be away from Washington. Keenly aware of the image of a slough-off president - the Washington Post calculates that Bush has spent 42 percent of his presidency at vacation spots or en route - the White House refers to this as a "working" vacation. The president has planned about two trips a week to spread the gospel of "heartland values." Last week, much of his time was taken up with the televised announcement of his stem-cell decision.The date of that article: August 14, 2001.
Still, there's no doubt the president is enjoying considerable down time. He's gone on long, early morning walks with his wife, golfed with friends at a nearby course in Waco, fished, and jogged through canyons on his land - where he's also building a nature walk. [emphasis added]
April 10, 2004
-- and crying, because we bought the last bottle of Kosher for Passover Coke at the Safeway.
Why? Because on Saturday morning, while all the Jews slept in their beds--with their appliances turned off--NPR broadcast a story about the little batch of Coke made with actual sugar instead of the Archer Daniels-Midland-preferred corn syrup [note: creepy link], and, in a fit of manufactured nostalgia, all the goys in town emptied the shelves of this sacred beverage.
April 9, 2004
A Wednesday night visit to the West 46th Street spa supported both the guidebooks and the women's accounts. Face down on a massage table, a reporter found it hard to even notice whose hands were at work.
But when asked in Spanish, the masseuse said her name was Rosa, she was 19 and from Ecuador, and she had lived and worked there for a year and a half, seven days a week, for $300. That day, she had started at 10 a.m., and said she might finish at 2 a.m.
"It's hard," she said.--Women Complain of Hellish Life at Upscale Spa, by Nina Bernstein, NYT
April 9, 2004
David Dunlap reports in the NYT that the city's powers that be are moving in on the WTC Memorial site: Some of the biggest development-savvy architecture firms are vying for the role of associate architect on the WTC Memorial. [Gothamist has links to the firms' corporate sites.]
Meanwhile, the LMDC announced a 24-person advisory committee for the Memorial Center, the 65,000SF underground space which will house artifacts from the attacks. Included on the committee is Lowery Stokes Sims of the Studio Museum in Harlem, a Memorial juror; the head of the Landmarks Commission; Tom Eccles, head of the Public Arts Fund; and Raymond Gastil, of the Van Alen Institute.
April 7, 2004
Andrew Sarris writes a highly satisfied review of Dogville, but only after an extensive apologia for Von Trier and apologetic justification for deciding to see it in the first place.
Did everyone used to have to equivocate so much for not hating movies by socialists?
April 6, 2004
The Japanese word for neighborhood is kinjo, which transliterates as "place nearby." Did Nick and Meg and co. have this in mind when they launched Kinja? Who knows?
I'm trying out Kinja Digests as maps to online neighborhoods where my site and my attentions can be found: film and filmmaking weblogs and the mutually admiring community of (mostly New York) weblogs who introduce me to much of my news.
April 6, 2004
It is well known that polygamists were big fans of healthful eating. Thus, this recipe from the Seven Wives' Inn in St. George, Utah* for the most excellent granola I've ever had:
8 c. old fashioned oats
1.5 c brown sugar
1 c almonds (or more, to taste)
1 c raw cashews (or more, to taste)
1 c coconut
1 c sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, or a mixture of both
1.5 c wheatgerm
0.5 c water
0.5 c vegetable oil
0.5 c honey
0.5 c creamy peanut butter
2 t vanilla
1-1.5 c raisins or craisins (optional)
Directions: Stir to blend: oats, sugar, nuts, seeds, coconut, wheatgerm. Combine water, oil, honey and pb in saucepan; bring to boil, stirring until pb is dissolved. Pour over oat mixture, stir to coat thoroughly. Place in a single layer on 2- sprayed 10x15 pans. Bake at 200F for 60-70 min. Cool. Stir in vanilla and raisins. Store in airtight container or freeze for longer term storage (e.g. Second Coming, Apocalypse, etc.).
* In southern Utah, locals call the readily identifiable polygamists on the street or in the store by the vaguely pejorative "polygs."
April 6, 2004
After a night of hanging out with The Man, and sipping from the firehose of his conversation (hey, whatever it takes to get the movie made, right? ahem.), it's no surprise at all that there are fansites dedicated to picking apart the film references in Quentin Tarantino's own movies. Now there's a festival, too: The Kill Bill Connection at London's ICA.
The Guardian's Steve Rose is at first fascinated, then typically put off by QT's virtuosic-bordering-on-pathologic quoting, but his look at Kill Bill-ism makes for interesting reading nonetheless.
[update: With barely any overlap--and a lot less judgmentalism--David Kehr charts some of Tarantino's references in the NYT, in case you can't fit reading a UK newspaper into your shedule (sic). ]
April 5, 2004
April 5, 2004
TALK OF THE TOWN
COMMENT/ RELUCTANT WITNESSES/ Hendrik Hertzberg on how the White House still isnít co–perating with the September 11th commission.
THE RADIO DIAL/ DUMBASSIFICATION/ Elizabeth Kolbert on the dÈbut of Chuck Dís public-radio show.
ON THE HORN/ 976-GONE/ Nick Paumgarten on New Yorkís information-hotline king.
PEPE LE PEW DEPT./ BRUSH-OFF/ Liesl Schillinger on the French, foreign relations, and drinking in the city. ["Or maybe it was a question of chic. I do not know." -How often have I asked myself this question?]
NAME GAME/ READY, ATTACK!/ Ben McGrath on title overlaps in fiction and nonfiction.
ANNALS OF NATIONAL SECURITY/ Seymour M. Hersh/ The Other War/ Why Afghanistan is going badly. ["As of today, Clarke said, 'the U.S. has succeeded in stabilizing only two or three cities. The President of Afghanistan is just the mayor of Kabul.'"]
FICTION/ Ann Beattie/ "The Rabbit Hole as Likely Explanation"
POP MUSIC/ Sasha Frere-Jones/ Doomís Day/ Madvillain redeems the pretensions of independent hip-hop.
BOOKS/ Spheres of Influence/ Nicholas Lemann/ How the government helped build Americaís media might.
THE THEATRE/ John Lahr/ Hide and Seek
Tricks and treachery in "Sly Fox" and "Sarah, Sarah."
THE CURRENT CINEMA/ David Denby/ Feel the Earth/ "Iím Not Scared" and "Twentynine Palms."
FROM THE ARCHIVE
PROFILES/ Without a Doubt/ Nicholas Lemann profiles Condoleeza Rice/ Issue of 2002-10-14
PROFILES/ The Counter-Terrorist/ Lawrence Wright profiles the F.B.I. agent John OíNeill, who died in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center/ Issue of 2002-01-14
April 4, 2004
The Guardian reports on the miracle of Matera: Gibson raised the Italian hilltop town from the economic dead when he chose it as the main location for filming.
And Blessed are The Extras, for they shall obtain EU60-90/day
Not only were 600 of "the swarthiest" locals picked as extras in the film, but the town has been born again as a Christian tourist site. Antonio Foschino documents the local production of The Passion on his website, Sassiweb.it--The gregorio.org of Matera, he provides a Passion Package Tour; book early.
At least until high season starts, the town's hotel maid won't charge you a euro to tell about helping Gibson convert the minibar in his suite into a prayer altar. But at the site of the crucifixion scene [above], enterprising craftsmen are already stockpiling hand-carved Matera/Golgotha paperweights, the perfect complement to those Nativity Stone crosses you bought from Ricardo Montalban. [While supplies last. Supplies of rocks in Italy.]
Did Gibson's inspiration for shooting in Matera come from Richard Gere, who made King David there, or from the last Christ movie to be shot in town, Pier Paolo Pasolini's [ who the Guardian gleefully calls "a gay, Communist atheist,"] Gospel According to Matthew? Who knows? But Mel did describe his reaction the town had on him: "The first time I saw it," he said, "I just went crazy, because it was so perfect."
April 3, 2004
Under the easily ignorable aegis of curating objects in the WTC interpretive museum, the NYT's David W. Dunlap touches on some of the most poignant and painful memories of the attacks--and the lives of people lost in it.
He leads with the kind of powerful, personal experience New Yorkers will recognize from that day: seeing a mundane object--a shoe on a rooftop, in Dunlap's case--in a terrible new way. He then explores creating the experience of visiting an emotionally resonant, historic space.
April 3, 2004
Sculptor Anish Kapoor's design for a memorial to the 67 Britons killed on September 11 was selected for inclusion in the British Memorial Garden, which will be created at Hanover Square in lower Manhattan.
Unlike the much-publicized [mea culpa], frenzied competition for the WTC Site Memorial, Kapoor's memorial design was selected the old-fashioned way: The British Memorial Garden Trust invited "twelve of Britainís most celebrated and critically acclaimed artists" to submit proposals, and, voila, nine months later (and six months overdue), the winner is announced. Without a peep from the US media, as far as I can tell.
Kapoor will create a 6m black granite monolith with a highly polished rectangular chamber in the center, which, the artist says, "reflects light so as to form a column, which hovers, ghost-like, in the void of the stone.
"This very physically monolithic object then appears to create within itself an ephemeral reflection akin to an eternal flame."
Kapoor's intensely fragile sculptures of raw pigment can be seen at the Hirshhorn Museum and at my friend's house, where he has a little note for the cleaning lady reminding her not to dust, for heaven's sake.
April 1, 2004
I grabbed an image from each of 35 massacre cuts in The Godfather's baptism/massacre sequence to use as reference for shooting. Given the conditions, however, and the fact that I was also a co-host, with a speech to give, and I had major ass to kiss, this served as only the roughest guide.
I needed at least one shot of me, though, and so when my co-host Hilary and I went up to the podium, I gave my running camera to the nearest pair of hands I could find--Bill Murray.
Murray played along, and in fact, started filming Hilary's dress, chest, earrings, and hair, which cracked everybody up. Anyway, by the end of the night, I think I got enough footage that formally references Coppola's original, but is, of course, completely different.
When another speech (the intro went too long for the taste of at least one big cheese producer) said how MoMA was interested in great films, "not just films from India or Senegal or someplace," several stunned people turned to look for a reaction from the rather great Indian filmmaker Mira Nair--who was sitting right behind me. She didn't flinch.
Quentin--who was sitting next to me--was a rockstar, and we talked endlessly about making and remaking movies. Gus Van Sant's Psycho was, he said, his favorite movie of 1998, and he had non-stop praise for Eric Zala, Jayson Lamb, and Chris Strompolos, the three teenagers who spent seven years making their shot-for-shot adapation of Raiders of The Lost Ark.
My wife couldn't come at the last minute, so I turned her seat back in, not knowing who I'd get as my seatmate. Just before the lights went down, a very genial and genteel-looking older lady was escorted in. Somebody's mother, I figured; did they plan to leave her at the hotel if they couldn't score her a ticket? Turns out her name was Lillian Ross. She's a writer or something. Didn't get the details. Very nice. She borrowed my cell phone to call her son, who I met later at dinner. Also very nice. But not related to any of the filmmakers there, as far as I could figure.
Anywho...the gossip, the first blind item on greg.org, blind because not stupid; I'd still take their meeting:
A very recent Oscar winner told me, at the party, about meeting a fellow nominee, i.e., one of the losers--who actually had two films nominated--so technically, a double loser. Upon being introduced--by the Mayor of New York City, no less--the loser replied, "I can't believe you won; your film was so boring!"
I'll leave the comments open for a while this one.