August 2005 Archives

For several months in 1999, it seemed the only reason I even had an email account was for sending and receiving copies of this article from The Onion. Then the chain was broken, The Onion had no online archive, &c., &c., no need to bore you with the details. Now that the paper has made their entire archive available online, I have a reason to log back in to my hotbot account. Thank you, The Onion!

"I was at the Olive Garden by Woodfield Mall," Koechley said, "when I noticed a small sign stating that the restaurant was one of over 1,500 Olive Gardens nationwide. I didn't think about it at first, but later on it hit me: There are only about 40 of them in Schaumburg. Where are all those others?"

Schaumburg Man Dimly Aware Of Shadowy, Non-Schaumburg World Out There
[theonion.com via waxy]

mvdrv_pav05.jpg

1ST TIME ON MKT!! Gdn! + outdr spc, [several, actually]Estate Cond. Nds TLC. EUR2.5M obo. Principals only.

EXPO-Tower - Pavillon der Niederlande [ebay.de, via archinect]

In the magazine header, image: newyorker.com
Issue of 2005-09-05
Posted 2005-08-29

GOINGS ON ABOUT TOWN
MOVIES, THE THEATRE, NIGHT LIFE, CLASSICAL MUSIC, ART [that's all I could dig up.]

THE TALK OF THE TOWN
COMMENT/ WAR AND ANTIWAR/ Hendrik Hertzberg on the Presidentís oppositionóat home and in Iraq.
TSK-TSK DEPT./ NORíEASTER/ Ben McGrath on a stickler for storm names.
PUBLIC SAFETY/ CAR SEAT LADY/ Michael Agger on a woman who's made child safety her business.
THE BOARDS/ ALDA ONSTAGE/ Lillian Ross visits with Alan Alda before ìGlengarry Glen Ross."
THE FINANCIAL PAGE/ CHECK, PLEASE/ James Surowiecki figures out tipping.

PROFILES/ Mark Singer/ GONE FISHING/ The chef who catches your dinner.
[That would be David Pasternack, co-creator of Esca, btw.]
LETTER FROM ECUADOR/ Calvin Trillin/ SPEAKING OF SOUP/ The culinary approach to Spanish.
FICTION/ Tony D'Souza/ "Club des Amis"

THE CRITICS
A CRITIC AT LARGE/ Jane Kramer/ The Quest/ A cookbook lover in search of the perfect recipe.
BOOKS/ John Updike/ Paradises Lost/ Rushdie's "Shalimar the Clown."
ON TELEVISION/ Nancy Franklin/ Dealing Housewives/ Potheads in paradise.
THE ART WORLD/ Peter Schjeldahl/ What on Earth/ A Robert Smithson retrospective.
THE CURRENT CINEMA/ Anthony Lane/ Officers and Gentlemen/ "The Constant Gardener."

ONLINE ONLY/ Q. & A./ The Table Comes First/ Adam Gopnik talks with Daniel Cappello about preparing cuisine vÈgÈtale, and what food says about national character.
FROM THE ARCHIVE
ONWARD AND UPWARD WITH THE ARTS/ The Soul of Bouillabaisse/ A. J. Liebling chronicles a search for an elusive fishóand for the secret behind bouillabaisse./ Issue of 1962-10-27

One week of The New Yorker not enough for you? How about 80 years worth? Buy The Complete New Yorker, an 8 DVD-ROM set and companion book complete with every page of the magazine, ever, through last September, at Amazon.

August 28, 2005

Akinori Oishi's Microfilms

aki-oinishi-wave.gifRegine links to several examples of Japanese graphic artist Akinori Oishi's work, but my favorites are the micro films. Tiny loops formatted as animated gifs, they remind me of the best of the AIM buddy icon movies. These are older, though, from a pre-Euro Europe, around 2001.

check out micro films by Akinori Oishi, also his blog [via WMMNA]

A friend just told me she is going to Devil's Tower in Wyoming for a screening of Close Encouters of The Third Kind. It's part of a 21-day tour called the Rolling Roadshow that screens films where they were shot.

Films we've already missed: The Last Picture Show [Archer City, TX]; Once Upon A Time In The West [Monument Valley, AZ]; Planet of The Apes [the first one, Lake Powell, AZ]; and Repo Man [in LA somewhere, just yesterday].

There's still time to see The Goonies, though, and the movie tourist-weary locals only delayed the Sideways screening not cancelled it. Gives you more time to kick your tacky merlot habit.

Rolling Roadshow 2005 [presented by Austin's Alamo Drafthouse Cinema]

August 26, 2005

Worth The Wait

2046_wong_still.jpg
Given its subject--loss and longing that spans and haunts the characters' entire lives--wouldn't it be perfect if the two+ year delay in bringing of Wong Kar Wai's 2046 to theaters was somehow intentional, planned, not just a part of the marketing, but of the movie's experience itself?

It was a gorgeously made film, with incredible cinematography [pace Christopher Doyle], sound, music, acting, production design. But it's so sad, relentlessly sad. Maybe not the best movie to see alone and away from home.

The Zone 2 DVD of 2046 has been out since May [or mai, comme ils disent]

August 23, 2005

Art: We're Here To Please

Regine just posted about some artists in the Hungarian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale who made portable chairs available to visitors, [correction: turns out the chairs were sponsor-driven, not artist-driven.] and it got me thinking about the customer service side of artviewing, especially in a setting like Venice.

So much art is about the White Cube, the experience of seeing it, a "critique" of the institution/process, but yet so little of that actual process is actually addressed. A curator friend once told me of escorting her trustees around Venice (the last one, when it was August-hot at the June opening), and they actually had to debate going to see some art based on whether or not the venue was air-conditioned.

An artist like Francesco Vezzolli makes his art movie-trailer-short, sex-filled, and full of fashion and celebrity in order to stand out from the blur of Venice's gossip-saturated, art-overloaded opening festivities. But that's just a shrewd reading and anticipation of the setting.

I just came back from Tokyo with a hoard of Takashi Murakami fans, which they were handing out to people as they got off the Roppongi subway stop. It's not art, I know, but it's an artist's move, based on a retailer/developer's understanding of the viewer experience.

Then there's Rirkrit Tiravanija's meals, or last Venice's Utopia Station, to an extent. Or 2001's Venice cafe collaboration between Olafur Eliasson and Tobias Rehburger and ___ [I forget, but it doesn't matter, because apparently it was altered so badly the artists removed their name from it. Somewhere in there, it lost the sanctity that non-artists grant to artwork.]

So what I'd love to see, I guess, is some kind of art-as-customer-service, someone who toys with or explores or highlights the fact that viewing and encountering and contemplating art is often --not exclusively, or even mostly, but often, and especially in the event-centered cases of fairs, biennials, and openings where much of the "art world" places itself-- a cultural experience, an activity that its viewers choose over shopping, movies, other forms of travel or tourism, reading, what have you.

Anyway, just rambling when I should be heading out. It's so hot, I think I'll take one of these fans.

Metropolis Magazine's short interview with Rick Smith is so dense with fascinating information, I'd have to excerpt the whole thing, so just got read it now.

He talks about convincing Frank Gehry to buy CATIA, the aerospace industry CAD/CAM software that revolutionized Gehry's--and, increasingly, other architects'--practice. He talks about how he helps Richard Serra make those Torqued Ellipses. [I love that Serra makes them by hand, with lead sheets and wooden elliptical forms, then converts them to information -- "height, radius, angle"--for fabrication. It links them to those plaster models of mathematical equations Hiroshi Sugimoto photographed.] He talks about the organizational behavior challenges of architectural practice; when someone instrumental to such far-reaching changes on the profession talks about collaboration vs competition, architects around the world should perk up their ears.

Unfortunately, even the title of the article tells me Smith's message is not gonna get through to large swaths of stratifying, pigeonholing, black-framed eyeglasses-wearing divas.

The Engineer Supporting Serraís Sculptures [metropolismag.com]

Lactaid Commercial [May 27] - Greenwich Street near 12th: Interior still shoot. Parking taken to unload cows. No complaints.

...

Law & Order [January 28] - Commerce: Strikes again. Despite assurances that company wanted a better relationship with the community, another disruptive shoot & angry residents. Interfered with garbage pickup and mail delivery. Resident returning from Europe told his cab couldn't go to his home.

...
Synergy- In Good Company óUniversal City Studios [May 20] - MacDougal & Bleecker: Big scale shoot with Dennis Quaid & Village beauty Scarlett Johanssonó so, of course, we love her -- great location people & extremely generous contribution ó recipients include Washington Square Music Festival, Caring Community, Visiting Neighbors, Greenwich House Piano Fund, Bailey House, Merchant's House Museum.

From the 2005 Greenwich Village Film Shoots Report Card, compiled by the Greenwich Village Block Associations [gvba.org, via nyer]

In the magazine header, image: newyorker.com
Issue of 2005-08-29
Posted 2005-08-22

THE TALK OF THE TOWN
COMMENT/ SACRED AND PROFANE/ David Remnick on the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.
NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH/ SHAKEDOWN STREET/ Ben McGrath on how a block is making the ìSex and the Cityî tour pay.
TROUBADOURS/ PICK SIX/ Nick Paumgarten shops for CDs with Richard Thompson.
INK/ NOT A WORD/ Henry Alford hunts down a phony dictionary entry.

SHOUTS & MURMURS/ MICHAEL KUBIN AND DAVID MOORE/ THE NUCLEAR CLUB/ Application for membership.
DEPT. OF PUBLIC HEALTH/ Malcolm Gladwell/ THE MORAL-HAZARD MYTH/ The bad idea behind our failed health-care system.
FICTION/ Alice Munro/ "The View From Castle Rock"
THE CRITICS
BOOKS/ Peter Schjeldahl/ Art as Life/ The Matisse we never knew.
THE THEATRE/ Hilton Als
The Ballad of John/ "Lennon" and "Dedication or The Stuff of Dreams."
POP MUSIC/ Sasha Frere-Jones/ Real Simple/ Emiliana Torrini's spare new album.
MUSICAL EVENTS/ Alex Ross/ A Little Late-Night Music/ Mostly Mozart reborn.
THE CURRENT CINEMA/ David Denby/ Dirty Business/ "Pretty Persuasion" and "The Aristocrats."

FROM THE ARCHIVE
THE TALK OF THE TOWN/ Painter in Town/ Murdock Pemberton reports on Henri Matisse's visit to New York City./ Issue of 1930-03-28
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August 22, 2005

L.A. In A Nutshell

"Reasons for ever wearing anything like this have nearly disappeared from my world, and yet I love this pervy and glam Christian Louboutin shoe."

A quote from artist/screenwriter/NY-expat Theresa Duncan's newly launched blog, The Wit of The Staircase [named after l'Esprit d'Escalier, French for "what you should've said instead"]. Like the protagonist in Patrice Lecomte's sublime film, Ridicule, Duncan's an observer/participant in the deeply superficial royal courts, only hers is Hollywood.

Perfect for playing Six Degrees when you need to go from Pynchon to Christian Lacroix.

The Wit of the Staircase [theresalduncan.typepad.com]

Doom: The Movie seems about as stupid as Mortal Kombat: The Movie. At least they didn't blow $1mm on a script by Alex Garland.

See the Doom trailer
[apple.com, via fimoculous]

If it's any consolation, Japan looked like it had been plush carpetbombed by penguins, too.

WPS1's Stephen Schaefer did an interview with Luc Jacquet, director of March of The Penguins, which was first broadcast on July 18th. [scroll down]

Beyond The Subtitles: Luc Jacquet Interview
[wps1.org]

August 21, 2005

Strictly Murderball

Radar Online has a print-sized [i.e., too short] q&a with Murderball co-director Dana Adam Shapiro, but it's mostly about his novel [The Every Boy] and his childhood. It's interesting that filmmakers don't get asked how autobiographical their work is as much as novelists do.

On A Roll [radaronline]

Meanwhile, Murderballer Mark Zupan talks to WPS1's Stephen Schaefer as part of a cross-country, film-promoting, drink-a-thon, which he also blogs about on mtv.com. Zupan is like the wheelchair guy on Jackass, if Jackass had a wheelchair guy, so most of his schtick is about being such a badass.

Beyond The Subtitles: Mark Zupan Interview
[wps1.org]
Rock & Roll, Mark Zupan's blog [mtv.com]

J.G. Ballard takes a new look at the films of Michael Powell on the centenary of his birth.

I think of Powell as a prophet whose films offer important lessons to both film-makers and novelists, especially the latter, who are still preoccupied with character and individual moral choice. My guess is that the serious novel of the future will be serious in the way that Powell's and Hitchcock's films are serious, where the psychological drama has migrated from inside the characters' heads to the world around them. This is true to everyday life, where we know little about the real nature of the people around us, and less about ourselves than we think, but are highly sensitive to the surrounding atmosphere.
The Prophet [guardian]
the National Film Theatre's Powell retrospective continues through the end of August. [bfi.org.uk]

In the London Review of Books, writer Iain Sinclair sets out to visit the now-nearly invisible WWI memorials in some of London's train stations:

The panels advertising the war dead are invisible to through-shuffling station users, clients of apathy. The false ceiling doesnít help. Nor the perch of CCTV cameras keeping vigil on the permanent queue for the cash machine. Search the list for a lost relative and you are bang in the middle of the surveillance frame. Cameras are spiked like hedgehogs. Anybody withdrawing money, buying a railway ticket, is guilty. You are in the stationís memory loop, on tape: part of the involuntary cinema of metropolitan life. This occulted corner is designed to be restless, to keep you moving. It bristles with the ëSecurity Awarenessí notices that signify a contrary condition: the impossibility of free transit. Exhausted travellers spurn the memorial plaque: 11 columns with around 86 names in each.
Museums of Melancholy [lrb.co.uk]

August 18, 2005

On Shooting In August

I shot another short while I was in Japan; more on that soon, I hope, but one of the overriding impressions I came away with was that shooting outdoors all day in the deadheat of August is, well, hot.

Seems like the crew of Diggers and I will have something to talk about. This winter.:

ìItís kind of like Breaking Away Ö but with clams,î laughed Paul Rudd. He was sweating profusely on the set of Diggers, a coming-of-age film about clammers set in the 70ís in Long Island. It was roughly 95 degrees out, without a single cloud to block the punishing sun in East Moriches, Long Island, a still-wanker-free stretch of Hamptons-adjacent shoreline known best as the memorial site of the nearby 1996 T.W.A. crash.

The crew, in a dizzying array of straw hats, sunglasses and miniscule clothing, sweated silently while a beleaguered bit player, a Dachshund named Nola, slept fitfully on the one available canvas chair. Everyoneís stoicism was understandable. In front of the cameras was the heartbreaking sight of two of the filmís stars, Mr. Rudd and Ron Eldard (ER, House of Sand and Fog), decked out in thigh-high rubber waders, lumberjack shirts and wool hats; in movie-land time, it was autumn. ìThese guys must be dying,î whispered a P.A.

Indeed, moments later, the gentlemen would walk under a black tent set up for the camera monitors and unsnap the top of their waders, pointing themselves at the fan just so. ìTheyíre all angelsóPaul particularly,î said a producer. ìThey never complain.î

ìItís not true suffering. This is still better than being a coal miner,î said Ron Eldard later. The actor was sitting in the local elementary school, which was being used as a makeshift catering hall, wardrobe and all-around air-conditioned haven. ìThis is one of those movies where you can sit in an air-conditioned school auditorium and youíve moved up, you know?î
Among The Diggers, by Sara Vilkomerson [nyo, expiring link]

August 18, 2005

If I Can't Have You...

I've gotten some pretty angry emails since my International Freedom Center post comparing GWB's cult of infallibility to Kim Jong Il's. Most of them single out my insensitive characterization of 9/11 family member Debra Burlingame as a toady, unwitting or not, for the current administration.

I'm no pundit, and I don't honestly know why anyone cares what I think, but let me say it straight out: I think both the IFC and The Drawing Center should be removed from the WTC site as it's currently planned. From the beginning, I've thought they were, respectively, an awkward, artificial, potentially controversial sham born out of political expediency, and a wholly inexplicable, inappropriate mis-fit with the site. Both institutions were canaries in the coal mine of the WTC rebuilding process; that they're now controversial and should not be part of the WTC Memorial should've surprised no one observing this Georgian (Bush or Pataki, pick your poison) mess.

So on the basis of outcome alone, I would say that Burlingame and I and Jarvis--and now the FDNY, apparently--can agree on the most appropriate outcome: no Other Centers at the World Trade Center site. We only disagree on the reasons (i.e., the politics) why.

Burlingame has repeatedly put herself, and by implication, the families of 9/11, at the service of GWB's political agenda. In this case, that agenda is served by deflecting responsibility for the Snohetta Centers debacle away from the Bush/Pataki crowd who made this politically exploitative bed. And every time the stalking horses of "America-bashing" and "liberal, politically correct" historical revisionism are cited as the reasons for these institutions being cut--and no mention is made of Pataki et al's long record of pandering and political manipulation of the WTC rebuilding process--that obfuscatory agenda marches on.

klein_dytham_minamiazabu.jpgThis new building is across the street from my in-law's apt. in Tokyo, in the Minami Azabu neighborhood about 5-min. walk from Roppongi Hills.

It just went up a few months ago, and the evening I went over to examine it close up, the young Japanese architect happened to be there with a photographer, taking pictures for the firm's website. These pictures, in fact, at Klein Dytham.

The site used to be a tiny parking lot, he said, but then the road/sidewalk was widened, cutting into the lot. As you might expect, there's a tiny little service core in the tapering end at left, but if there's a basement, its entrance is well-hidden. Basically, what you see is what you get: a rare spec building with a strong architectural presence.

Now, one day back from Tokyo, just as I'm about to post this, I find that Regine has already scooped me on the building that I've been walking by almost daily for the last month.

Billboard House Moto Azabu
[huh? klein-dytham]

The other Greg Allen, I mean. The Chicago one. The Neo-Futurists, of which that Greg Allen is a co-founder, are performing next week at the Fringe Festival. What are they doing, you ask? The Last Two Minutes of the Complete Works of Henrik Ibsen. It's part of a Chicago fringe theater mob takeover of the East Village.

The Neo-futurist's site has info on the production, while the Int'l Fringe NYC site has info on the performances. So break out that $20, and you get change back.

In the magazine header, image: newyorker.com
Issue of 2005-08-22
Posted 2005-08-15

THE TALK OF THE TOWN
COMMENT/ Mired/ Hendrik Hertzberg on President Bushís science of evolution.
GONE FISHING/ Snakehead, the Sequel/ Nick Paumgarten goes hunting for a killer fish.
CLOSE READING DEPT./ O.B.L./ Lauren Collins talks with Osama bin Ladenís editor.
FIELD TRIP/ The Pre-Season Kid/ Ben McGrath on a prolific teen-age football writer.
THE WORLD WIDE WEB/ Hello, Loneliness/ Evan Ratliff on an unlikely place to make friends.


SHOUTS & MURMURS/ Joel Stein/ THE NEW ARMY RECRUITING PAMPHLET
THE POLITICAL SCENE/ Dan Halpern/ LONE STAR/ Kinky Friedman on the campaign trail.
FICTION/ Gina Ochsner/ "THICKER THAN WATER"

THE CRITICS
POP MUSIC/ Sasha Frere-Jones/ Overdrive/ Kanye West's high-octane ego.
BOOKS/ Ian Buruma/ Kimworld/ Inside the North Korean slave state.
A CRITIC AT LARGE/ Jim Holt/ Say Anything/ Three books find truth under cultural and conceptual assault.
MUSICAL EVENTS/ Alex Ross/ All About Schreker/ A forgotten fin-de-siËcle composer.
DANCING/ Joan Acocella/ After the Fall/ Has Russian ballet finally found a way forward?
THE THEATRE/ Hilton Als/ A New Age Oedipus/ The Five Lesbian Brothers update a myth.
THE CURRENT CINEMA/ Anthony Lane/ Mad About the Boy/ "Asylum" and "2046."

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Did you know George W. Bush shot a miraculous 11 holes-in-one on the first round of golf he ever played? This and other such signs of his divine leadership in the face of terror will soon be on display, if Debra Burglingame, in her infinite wisdom, permits it. She campaigned for Bush, though, so I'm optimistic.

Freedom Center's Place at Ground Zero in Question
[nyt]

maman_roppongi.jpg

Art is used to lend Roppongi Hills, the massive land grab mall/office complex I'm loving hating these days, cultural credibility. Minoru Mori, the developer, clearly fancies his development is Tokyo's Rockefeller Center--and, by extension, he's Japan's Rockefeller.

At least two pieces of large-scale sculpture that were previously shown at Rock Ctr are currently installed at Roppongi Hills: Takashi Murakami's Mr. Pointy & co., and Louise Bourgeois' Maman [above].

Maman was first shown at the Tate Modern's Turbine Hall. But for some reason, organizers at neither previous venue thought to turn the work into a cafe.

david_in_japan.jpg

Walking along the street dividing Shibuya-ku and Minato-ku (ku's are wards, as if the Lower East Side had its own government bureacracy), I was startled to find a life-sized bronze cast of Michelangelo's David, as the central element in an ugly, low-rise concrete office building. There's a granite plaque at the foot of the statue, but it only gives basic info on the original. And the stone's grain is so pronounced, it's nearly impossible to read. All very odd.

onna_traincar.jpg

This is the entrance to the Women-only train car on the Tokyu line. There are enough pervs to require this sort of thing, it seems.

Meanwhile, although the Japanese have 42 different words for "excuse me," there is no way to say "Rethink the hair."

waketokuyama.jpg

Near where we've been staying in Tokyo is this striking building, which I had to check out. The screen-like facade turns out to be cinder block-colored bricks set on end in a blackened steel frame. A meter back is the entry courtyard and the stark glass box of the restaurant, which feels suspended in the thick forest behind it. Of course, it's on a busy corner of a major street (gaien higashi-doori, if you're coming).

The restaurant is called Waketokuyama, and it's apparently the Per Se of Tokyo, from the stunningly simple cuisine made with super-fresh ingredients, to the difficulties of getting a reservation. We'll still look into eating there, but it was the architecture--by Kengo Kuma--which first caught my attention.

Kengo Kuma and Associates
[kkaa.co.jp, such a big browser window for such little pictures]

The NYT Magazine has an excellent firsthand report from the set of Red vs. Blue. It turns out that a few scrappy creative types are actually making movies inside of video games. If this catches on, it could be revolutionary. I mean, it's pretty funny to imagine those faceless soldiers in Halo having inner lives and existential crises. haha.

Now if only this upstart medium had a name...

8/05, 4,500 words: The X-Box Auteurs [nytmag]
Previously: Waiting for Halo; 11/04, like, 100 words: Virtual Warriors Have Feelings, Too [nyt]

I still have a place in my heart--and fortunately, a spot in the old collection--for Takashi Murakami. The Louis Vuitton thing was rather masterful, and the sheer superfluity of luxury and fashion maps rather well onto some of the more expendable aspects of contemporary art, too.

Likewise, I'm not unappreciative of Murakami's own creation myth, in which he and his characters subverted and exploited the banal world of Japanese idol-centric television, even as they were, in turn, exploited by the media for their own ends.

And when the set of Tongari-kun characters, including Mr. Pointy and his crew, was installed at Rockefeller Center, I was happy to go celebrate. [Here's Gothamist's report.]

tongari-kun_roppongi.jpg

But for some reason, it gives me a creeped out, sinister feeling seeing the identity characters he licensed to the massive, city-soul-sucking Roppongi Hills development, and then seeing the whole place decked out with banners celebrating Murakami Month, aka the same Tongari-kun/ Mr. Pointy sculptures from two years ago, installed in a lotus pond at the complex's center.

The Mori Art Museum and its adjacent mall are full of Murakami goods, of course, dolls, t-shirts, towels, stickers, but nothing sums up the uncritical celebration of megalomania and the unholy confluence of conscience-free art, urban planning, and commerce better than this: Roppongi Hills Monopoly, featuring Takashi Murakami's characters. It's about 5,000 yen. Of course, I bought it.

murakami_mori_monopoly.jpg

This is the Tadao Ando building complex that the ego-mad developer Mori Minoru is finishing on Omotesando, what was once the heart of alternative cultural Tokyo. With a slew of LVMH brand glass curtained flagships all around it, it should really complete the look.

tadao_ando_dojunkai.jpg

Muji doesn't inspire ecstatic fandom so much as subdued dedication. Otherwise, I'd turn into a screaming screaming junior high school girl every time I walked into one of their stores.

muji_shelving.jpg

This Muji modular shelving system is one of five Muji products that received International Forum Design Awards in Hannover, Germany this year. Made from stiff, square-edged, recycled cardboard, and flush-fitted matte plastic joints, the system snaps together easily in a myriad of configurations. It's clean and extremely functional, but yet it's not thoroughly boring like most shelving. And it's cheap, too.

You can see all the components online at the Muji net store [in japanese]
Square paper tube rack system [ifdesign.de]

A gravestone shop I pass on the way from the hotel to the supermarket offers cute gravestones as an alternative to the traditional obelisk variety. I asked, and they're not just for decorating your Japanese garden. Couldn't bring myself to ask if they actually got permission from Sanrio and Disney for these, though. It didn't seem polite.

hello-kitty-tombstone.jpg

disney-tombstones.jpg

They're about 140,000 yen each, and look like they were computer-carved from a smaller doll. The Kitty actually has a bow in contrasting red granite, and an actual hoodie, much like Degas' Dancer has an actual tutu. Yes, I just compared Hello Kitty to Degas.

My thumbnail generator's on the fritz, but here are some pictures I've taken around Tokyo using my Sharp TM-150. It's pretty sweet for a phonecam, because it has a rather rare combination of decent megapixel camera and removable SD memory for cheap and easy mass image transfers.

First up is this Business Software Association commercial running on the Tokyu train:

bsa-jp-ad.jpg
Translation: "Company presidents who make you use illegally copied software are the worst!!"

bsa_japanese_ad_2.jpg
"Hello, is this BSA?"

He said Pitt and Jolie remained 'in character' through most of the two-day shoot, while the photographer orchestrated their performance in the manner of John Cassavetes, a pioneer of cinÈma vÈritÈ."
At least he's stealing from someone dead this time. He once did a photoshoot with Justin Timberlake all beat up and stuff, that was practically a bruise-for-bruise remake of then-barely-heard-of Roe Ethridge's bloody Andrew WK portrait which was featured in the same magazine.
andrew_wk_roe.jpg justin_arena_klein.jpg

Well, helloooo:

[Klein lapdog Vince] Aletti credits the photographer with being highly attuned to the pop culture zeitgeist and being able to capture a certain look or attitude just as it gains traction: "Klein is really good at picking up on some hunger for whatever crazy imagining that we have about celebrity."

Toward that end, Klein helped rehabilitate Justin Timberlake's image with a 2002 Arena Homme magazine cover. Looking distinctly unlike the boy-band front man he had been up until that time, the singer appears beaten up, dirty and bleeding at the gums.

Celebrity vÈritÈ [lat via defamer]

First of all, this whole Bathing Ape thing? Chill the flip out, people, it's just not that cool. Bape is just Gap for the overly self-involved.

Anyway, TMN's mention of hopstop.com, a site for figuring out subway-to-subway trips in the city, reminds me it's time to post about Norikae-Annai, aka Transfer Info, which is the same service for Tokyo.
It's insanely helpful, if not as easy to start using cold; it gives you multiple trip options, indicating the fastest, cheapest, shortest on-train riding time... For untangling the spaghetti bowl that is Tokyo's train/subway system, it's pretty much indispensable.

I've got picture of Tadao Ando's controversial new Jingumae apartment buildings nearing completion on Omotesando, the treelined main st of Harajuku. Ando's concrete grid with a milky glass skin is starting to peek out of the scaffolding. Unfortunately, much of the opposite side of the street is now glass skin, too, so the street's getting homogenized pretty quick. The interesting part of Ando's buildings may be the courtyards, though. [Mori--who else?--tore down the Dojunkai Aoyama apartment buildings, revolutionary but crumbling 1927 concrete-and-ivy structures that served as incubators for much of the neighborhood's alternative art and design scenes over the years. Oh well.]

march_penguins_thumb.jpg
Those penguins
are everywhere. Remind me to include subjects in my next documentary that translate into cute plushtoys, because they have marched into every corner of the city.

August 1, 2005

On The Train From Tokyo

Around 7 o'clock on a crowded Sunday evening train away from Tokyo's destination-filled southwest side (Roppongi, Aoyama, Shibuya, etc.), a couple in their late forties/early fifties sat quietly in the car's corner seat. They were dressed, but not dressed up; he held a slim, pink, rather glossy shopping bag on his lap. They didn't speak, but just sat quietly and contentedly next to each other. When you know someone that long, that well, a silent train ride home is barely a punctuation mark, an almost imperceptible breath in a decades-long conversation. Is that what it's like to be old and married, I wonder?

Mamonaku Touka-Ichiba ni tsukimasu. Touka-Ichiba desu. They announce the next station, and the train begins to slow down. The man quietly hands the shopping bag to the woman, and they match glances and slight nods, or was it just the swaying train? No. Eyes forward, he gets up and joins the dozen or so people pressing out door. The woman, bag on lap, looks, not after him, but away, out the window. Not following his exit, she's a woman who went into the city for the day. Maybe I--no, there's a ring.

She adopted the precise mid-ground-focused gaze of Tokyo commuters; surrounded by people and ads and scenery and stuff, she expertly looked at nothing. She didn't move much, except for the rocking of the train, until Machida, when we all shuffled onto the platform. She held the pink shopping bag and a small black purse in the crook of her arm as she left for home.

Since 2001 here at greg.org, 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 greg.org that time.

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

find me on twitter: @gregorg

about this archive

Posts from August 2005, in reverse chronological order

Older: July 2005

Newer September 2005

recent projects, &c.


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

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

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

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

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

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TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -
about

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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

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"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.


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

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

archives